Tuesday, June 13, 2017

How Was I Supposed to Know THAT!? ~ Obtuse Things in Games - Volume Two

It was quite the busy day here at SuperPhillip Central, digesting all of the new trailers put out by both Nintendo and other publishers today. Now that we have a breather, let's see the return of a segment that I've wanted to continue for a very long time now. Finally, we've reached Volume Two of the weirdly titled "How Was I Supposed to Know THAT!?" This series talks about things in video games that are so hard to find, figure out, or solve that they're almost obtuse, if not counterintuitive. Volume Two starts with The Legend of Zelda before going a bit more modern with its picks. Do you agree with SuperPhillip Central's selections?

And here's Volume One for your convenience!

Whistle While You Work to Find Level 7 - The Legend of Zelda (NES)

The Legend of Zelda for the NES can be credited as one of the earliest examples of the open world sub-genre of game. It's no secret to everyone that NES games were quite obtuse for the most part, and that was a great deal of the mystique and made you feel like you were on your own adventure. Right away, you begin in a hostile land with enemies ready to send you, as the player, to the Game Over screen. There are few clues in the world, and what is on offer in Hyrule is all cryptic -- though in some part due to the funky translation of the game.

Players were left on their own to find where to go and even what to do to begin with. The main quest was to venture to Hyrule's eight main dungeons before tackling Ganon's domicile in Death Mountain. Of course, that meant meticulously exploring the overworld for helpful items to get through the game and reach different dungeons to earn pieces of the broken Triforce.

Some dungeon entrances were as simple as happening upon them through pure exploration. You'd just happen upon them, enter them, and if your luck was good, you'd be ready to take that specific dungeon on. Others required some examination of the world and just trying things out, One example is burning a lone bush in a forest to reveal the entrance to Level 8.

However, as a player of The Legend of Zelda in the early '90s when I was old enough to have a fighting chance at the game, one particular dungeon that stifled my progress considerably was attempting to discover the location of Level 7. The secret to finding it is in finding a woman who gives a cryptic clue when you give her one of three Rupee amounts, specifically the middle amount. The clue says something about a lake without a fairy, but that's the limit of assistance you get. Not only did the idea of not just spending the maximum amount of Rupees for the best clue not come in my mind (and most players' minds), but there is no hint at all that you have to use the Whistle found in Level 5 to reveal the entrance to Level 7. When you play the Whistle, the lake where there is no healing fairy dries up, showing the steps leading downward into this difficult-to-discover dungeon.

Secret Within A Secret = Secret-ception - New Super Mario Bros. 2 (3DS)

Let's go from one classic Nintendo franchise to another, though with an entry far more recent than Link's first outing. After all, this was Nintendo's day to shine at E3, and I think the publisher did a wonderful enough job to earn two places on Volume Two of these obtuse things in games. We turn our attention to New Super Mario Bros. 2, which didn't have a lot to separate itself from other 2D Mario games, especially of the New Super Mario Bros. series, but it was enjoyable all the same with some neat level design.

One of the fun things about the New Super Mario Bros. series was its inclusion of optional Star Coins to collect, three in each main level. This both encouraged and rewarded exploration that players might not have otherwise done. After all, is a 1-up really that big of a reward when they're so easy to get? Maybe if this were the original Super Mario Bros. NES trilogy it would be, where they're such a rare commodity, but this is the New Super Mario Bros. series we're talking about here. Other than Star Coins, many levels includes secret exits just like Super Mario World introduced to the series.

Most of the time the secrets in New Super Mario Bros. 2 are pretty intuitive. They're logical in the sense that if there is something off with a platform or something, most likely there's something there. However, this isn't exactly a rule to the game. One of the most challenging secret exits in New Super Mario Bros. 2 appears in World 5-1. In the level itself, you need to reach a rope Mario can bounce off of to hit a block that reveals a beanstalk to a bonus area. Inside this bonus area is a circle of revolving Parakoopas that guard an aforementioned Star Coin.

The thing of this is is that you wouldn't think there would be anything else in this room. After all, you got the Star Coin, and that was obviously all the room was good for. Time to fall down the hole and continue the level, right? Of course not, but that's not the rub here. The rub comes from the secret exit only being reachable by hitting an invisible block that reveals yet another beanstalk, and then taking that across two rings of circling Parakoopas to the secret exit. The invisible block in this bonus room is over an innocuous rope in the area, and completely unassuming. You dastardly level designers! This was the only thing in New Super Mario Bros. 2 that I needed to look at a guide for, as not finding that secret exit until then made me miss out on two bonus levels in the game.

Sometimes the Journey is the Reward - Mega Man 7 (SNES)

Despite being heckled by some in the Mega Man fan base, I quite enjoyed Mega Man 7, the only classic game in the series to hit the Super Nintendo. (But I would take Mega Man X1 - X3 over any classic Mega Man game any day. Truth.) Anyway, you can play through the game normally, going through all eight Robot Masters and then taking on the Wily Stages if you want, but Mega Man 7 offered the most longevity for one single play-through than almost any other classic series Mega Man game on offer.

One of the most time-consuming tasks in Mega Man 7 is done by finding Proto Man who can initially be discovered in a room Cloud Man's stage. This is performed by using Mega Man's trusty canine companion's Rush Coil to reach the area. Here, Proto Man gives the Blue Bomber a hint on what to do next, albeit however obvious it would be to use a flame weapon to burn down a forest's leaves. Regardless, continuing from here is something I didn't even know was possible. It's something that had eluded me for over 15 years since originally playing Mega Man 7 via Blockbuster rental in my childhood. Proto Man can once again be found, but his location is in such a "how was I supposed to find THAT!?" spot that it's no wonder I never found him as a kid.

Proto Man is next located in Turbo Man's stage, where he's hidden inside a false wall. Ah, the false wall, how I hate you. With no hint at all of a false wall being there, Proto Man was waiting for me to finally find him for a looong time. With another tip that goes in one eye and out the other (get it, since players are reading the dialogue instead of hearing it?), you finally can go to Shade Man's stage. With the mid-boss in that level, you have to destroy it a particular way to be able to go downward in the level to continue. A Sniper Joe, another enemy of my childhood alongside the false wall, stands before another false wall which leads to the grand culmination of all of this exploring -- the battle with Proto Man.

After all of this moving from one level to another and defeating Proto Man, he gives Mega Man his Proto Shield as a prize. In a cruel twist of fate, the shield actually is worthless if you like to use any type of substantial offense (like in, y'know, any Mega Man game for it to be fun), but alas, at least the journey was a fun one. It's just a shame that over 15 years of wondering about Proto Man didn't end with a more satisfying conclusion for me.

Nothing to Spear But Spear Itself - Final Fantasy XII (PS2)

Just in time for the PlayStation 4 remastering of Final Fantasy XII with Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age is this obtuse item in the game. Your mother should have taught you not to be greedy. Well, certain people in power in my country didn't get that lesson taught to them, but that's a post for another site. Back on subject, in Final Fantasy XII, if you're too greedy, then you might just give up a chance for one of the rarest weapons in the game, and you might not even ever have known it existed because of it!

It's Final Fantasy XII's Zodiac Spear. Usually you have to do something to get a really valuable weapon, but with the Zodiac Spear's case, you have to not do something. In this case, it's not opening four of the game's treasure chests out of countless ones throughout the game. These specific chests don't look any differently than any other in the game, so even if you know about this dilemma about opening chests, you don't know which ones not to open. If you don't even know that, then unless you're insanely lucky (opening a certain chest that ridiculously rarely gives you the spear right then and there), you won't even know the Zodiac Spear even exists.

What a Lloyd of Crap! - Tales of Symphonia (GCN)

For me, Tales of Symphonia fills me a nice sense of nostalgia. It was my first Tales game, and it was lovely game to play during one of my summers off from high school. However, until reading a Brady Games strategy guide on Symphonia much later after having beaten the game, I was absolutely shocked to learn about a piece of the game I never considered.

As Lloyd Irving, the main character of Tales of Symphonia, you occasionally get the opportunity to choose between two lines of dialogue for him to say to various characters. Seems harmless enough, and it did to me while playing the game originally at the time. However, what is completely left out by the actual game is a relationship system where these choices of dialogue affect how the numerous party members tagging along with Lloyd think about him, as well as affecting their affinity with him. Since I generally make the most rational of choices the first time around as main characters in games that give me this opportunity, I ended up with a default ending. That said, Lloyd can end up with any number of characters, and it can even affect the makeup of Lloyd's party in the long-term as one character can die with another taking their place.

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