I’m a bad, baaad gamer…

I decided to play a little bit of Lego Star Wars II tonight.   It’s a cute game, essentially a “platformer” with very prettily rendered 2.5d graphics.  That one sentence summary is doing the game a disservice- it’s quite large and reasonably faithfully reproduces the stories from the original three Star Wars movies, albeit with a humourous/comical twist. 

It is important to note that the primary target audience for this game is little kids, 10 years old or thereabouts.  I’d read about it and thought it would be a fun diversion now and then, so I bought it.  But here is the part where the wheels come off the truck: I’ve had to resort to a cheat / walkthrough (warning- spoilers at that link) in order to finish several of the levels.

I consider myself a moderately competent gamer- I’ve never claimed to be “elite”, but I do okay.  It is humbling to be reduced to “cheating” in order to figure out how to finish a level of…a kid’s game.  And not just one level- I’ve gone back to the above-linked walkthrough now three times.  Each time, I cleared out what I could see of the level and then spent another thirty to sixty minutes trying to figure out how to get further before “giving up”.

It is perhaps somewhat telling that I generally don’t have to resort to walkthroughs in order to finish a “big kids” game.  Halflife 2?  No problem.  Doom 3?  Easy stuff.  Gears of War?  I needed help with the very final battle with RAAM, but nothing else.  I am not too proud to resort to a Google search if I get stuck for more than an hour or so, but usually I can muddle my way through.

Yet a game designed for 10 year olds has stumped me repeatedly during the first few hours I’ve played it.   Worse yet, when I read the walkthrough I usually go “d’oh, why didn’t I see that?”.  You often have to use the abilities of the different characters in your party at a given point in time in a certain sequence (E.G.: R2D2 can hover a bit, Yoda is strong in the force, some characters are required to open certain doors, etc.).  The puzzles aren’t mind bending by any stretch, but for whatever reason I’m missing obvious things like spots where the afore-mentioned ability of R2D2 to hover can be used to get to a tricky spot. 

Of course, a lot of the time I’m getting hung up on things like not thinking to shoot flowers and wildlife on Dagobah in order to complete Yoda’s quests.  Who’d have thought destroying plantlife would make me One with the Force?

10 thoughts on “I’m a bad, baaad gamer…”

  1. ROFL!

    Sorry dear but what this means is that you need to have a second childhood. You are obviously thinking FAR too logically to play this game. That is like playing Mario (any incarnation), finding the secrets needed some serious sideways thinking sometimes.

    Have you ever read Ender’s Game? If so then sometimes I run across a few games that resemble the learning RPG game from the book. Wired, seemingly simple, but incredibly twisted. Oddly enough that used to happen in the old side scrollers more, for some reason. Maybe becasue with such limited graphical environments they had to be creative in how the players moved/interacted with it.

  2. Second childhood? I think I’m still on my first 🙂

    I read Ender’s Game many moons ago- I can’t remember much about it, though, other than a vague recollection of a child military prodigy with crazy strategies. I definitely agree, though, that there is a different kind of thinking going on in this game, and in platformers in general. I’m not sure whether it’s “logical” versus “illogical” thought, or what exactly.

    An example: Battle Darth with Luke…Darth jumps on raised platform with fans. Use force power to move objects to create ramp for R2D2 to reach control panel. Switch to R2D2 and use the droid to activate fans with control panel, blowing Darth off platform and back down to battle Luke…switch to Luke to battle Darth. Nothing mind-bending at all, really, but something about the character switching and layers of indirection is “different” enough to cause me to miss what seems obvious later.

    And I’m always walking off the edge of platforms and dying…I blame that on the camera controls, though, since I can’t turn to see around corners. But there was one spot in the swamps of Dagobah where I think poor Luke (carrying Lego-Yoda on his shoulders) died about 3 billion times jumping between 6 platforms. I laughed almost every time, though, because Yoda would always whip out his light sabre as he sunk into the swamp right behind Luke: silly green guy forgot to use his force powers, I guess 🙂

  3. Camera angles is another thing that will cause me no end of grief.

    But back to wired games: I love Zelda, the premise is simple for sure but there is some so very D&D’esque about the game that tickles fantasy funny bone. But The jump to 3D took the game in a whole new direction. The second game for the N64 (both rocked in my opinion) was really hard to get my head around. It repeated the same three days over and over… and this played havoc with items, completion of dungeons, and getting used to what you would lose and what you wouldn’t every time the clock reset. To add to that you also had the option to move time around (forward/back/reset to day one) of your own volition. I hated it when I started it, but it became one of my fav’s after awhile. It was just a neat idea still in the Zelda vien.

  4. Question: when you say “wired” games, what does the term “wired” mean? I haven’t heard it used that way before.

    Zelda is one series of games I’ve never played. I have never had a Nintendo, and (if I’m not mistaken) Zelda is a Nintendo exclusive. I’m sort of considering Kameo: Elements of Power– for some reason, the visual elements of that game remind me of Zelda, but I’m sure the game itself is not at all comparable.

  5. Umm… ‘wired’ should have been ‘weird’. *sigh* I can’t spell at the best of times let alone when the words are a simple reversal of letters. Sorry about that; the problems with typing at work is that if it looks mostly right I don’t catch the mistake.

  6. And yes, Zelda is a Nintendo game. That was the first console I owned so it was the third game I ever got into. I believe that was the second or third incarnation of the game at that point. It my opinion while the game doesn’t really change(i.e. Link saves Zelda) Nintendo really plays havoc (in a good way in my opinion), with the mechanics, game play, environment, neat stuff, etc…

    Unlike many game, it made the jump to 3D pretty well.

  7. I think console games come from the arcade tradition, and have almost become standardized over the years in that the people that play and write them expect certain things. It is sort of like crossword puzzles, where it really isn’t about being better with words or knowledge, but in knowing that “when they ask this, they are usually looking for that.”

    You come from a different background. And then there is the fact that you are an anti social hermit :p You play cooperative games, but you play your character and other people play their characters. Even remember in D&D, we used to come across groups where each player had multiple characters. That’s alien to you and I, so the idea of having to use each member of a group to solve a puzzle or combat by switching roles is just not natural.

    ( I think it’s some sort of sill social engineering to teach kids to work cooperatively but lets face it, they control all the characters … what it really teaches them is to order other people around without asking. )

    And of course you are old and slow and the average 10 year old would kick your butt 😆

  8. I’m old and slow…but I still enjoy my games 🙂

    I’m making good progress in Lego Star Wars II now, and haven’t had to refer to the cheat site for several levels. My score isn’t great, but then the folks who get really high scores play the levels over and over again.

    They do have a sort of reason, though, for replaying the levels. When you play through in story mode, you are “stuck” with certain characters appropriate for the scene. But each level has certain locked doors or secret areas that you can only access with characters you *don’t* have the first time through. Once you’ve completed the level, you can come back with any character you want…or even create your own character out of bits and pieces of the other characters. Like Darth ChewSolo, or Princess Han 3PO. I haven’t really done that yet: I’m not sure how much replaying I’ll do. We shall see 🙂

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