[Weooo Weooo! Fun Police is a quick look at questionable design choices in popular games]
Sometimes, developers take risks. Visionary directors might have a specific gameplay element that they want to introduce; in their minds, it’s revolutionary; but as a gamer, it just makes you want to pull your hair out!
Dead Space was a massive hit immediately upon release. Hailed for it’s innovative “non tank” controls and a return to an environment that was (gasp!) actually scary, the game was a 15-20 hour action packed romp through an infected mining ship. Read on to find out when I momentarily stopped having fun, and why!
After getting acquainted with the game’s easy to pick up controls, you’re given an abundance of toys to play with, and more than enough equipment to enjoy yourself. Even though you can only have four active weapons at a time, you can mix and match from a myriad of choices, all with an alternative method of fire. Best of all: the game holds your hand with dynamic on-screen tutorials, explicitly tells you how to solve puzzles, and has a stable of non-challenging enemies!
You’re having a blast, so what could go wrong?! Three words: asteroid mini game.
Why it’s Weooo Weooo worthy:
I’ll first add a tiny disclaimer: by no means am I bad at video games. My favorite genre is hardcore action, and nearly always, I complete the top “xtreme death suicide crap your pants” difficulty. “Dead Asteroids”, as I call it, managed to have me throwing my controller at the wall in mere minutes.
Simply put, asteroids are pelting your ship, and until you can get the auto-targeting system back online, you have to fend them off with a seat-turret similar to the Millennium Falcon’s. You have 85 health to work with, and the larger the asteroid, the more damage it does to you when it collides with the ship.
Dead Space’s Asteroid mini game was mind blowingly frustrating for two reasons:
1) It didn’t explain one vital detail: each cannon was a different trigger
During my first ten attempts, I was just using the right trigger to fire, which only activates the right cannon. Every other challenge in the game explicitly tells you how to activate equipment needed to progress, but the Dead Asteroids just kind of says “good luck!” Eventually, I realized that by pressing both triggers at the same time, I could fire a double laser that nearly pushed the cannon to overheating, but blew up large asteroids easier than normal.
2) The asteroids were on a random pattern sequence, seemingly did random damage, and shot at you at random velocities
As soon as you think you’ve “learned” the pattern, you realize that it’s on a random sequence. The game builds up your hopes through the first three attempts or so, having you think “oh, I think it was like this last time! I got it now!”, only to shortly utter “oh…I don’t remember this” moments later. Also, each attempt, by pure luck, could either be incredibly easy or impossibly hard. To give you a bit of perspective; on my fifth attempt, I had a large asteroid zoom at light speed into my hull and do twenty damage right off the bat, followed by a few swift medium asteroids that flew right into my blind spots in complete opposite directions from one another (a 7-10 split, if you will). On my successful attempt, I only had two sluggishly slow asteroids make an appearance at a much later interval, and every smaller size asteroid neatly kept to the middle of the screen.
To top things off, there’s an achievement associated with this ordeal:
Shortly after geeking out at the Star Wars reference, you’ll want to start throwing your controller against the wall in 3…2…1…ignition!
After all was said and done, was Dead Asteroids really that bad? It’s certainly not enough to say, detract points away in a review score, but it is a rather odd design choice. After holding the player’s hand to such great lengths to the point where the entire game can be classified as “easy”, it makes you wonder why such a difficult, and tacked on mini game was thrown in. Did you have a tough time with Dead Asteroids, and take solace with the legions of youtube users who cringe at sight of the above video?
Stay tuned for the next edition, which will feature Prince of Persia.