The need to skip losing segments

It’s been said that video games as a whole have gotten easier as time has progressed. Back in the late 80’s/early 90’s games were typically harder than they are today. Game developers have since realised that making games that last forever doesn’t make a lot of financial sense. People’s lives are possibly busier these days too with less free time and more pressure and stress, so the gaming experience has evolved into a more forgiving beast. This is not always the case however.

There is an increasing trend towards game developers releasing revamps of old classic titles and with those revamps traditional difficulty levels are also making a comeback.

Take Mega Man Powered Up on the PSP for instance. A great reissue of a classic game, but boy is it hard in places. Bastard-hard I’d say. I’m currently trying to work through Cutman’s challenge mode:

I find myself at a stage in life where my patience for games that annoy or over-challenge me for no reason is practically zero. I won’t put myself through the pain. It’s not like back when I was a kid where a single game would have to last me months (as games were expensive) and I’d play it to death regardless. These days games are probably a lot cheaper in real terms (plus I’m an adult now and don’t have to rely on my parents to shell out for them). If a game pisses me off it’ll likely find itself at the bottom of a large pile of unfinished titles that may/may not have their sequels bought and I’ll just play something else.

I’m all for adding challenge to a game and I’m sure that striking the right balance between difficulty and reward is very hard, but one thing that increasingly annoys me are elaborate losing screens. For example, if you lose during one of the challenges on Powered Up you have to wait about 7 seconds while some chirpy fucking tune rings out along with the bouncy “FAILED” message in huge font, and during this time you can’t skip straight to having another go – you have to endure the rub-it-in shower of shit ceremony. It looks like Super Street Fighter IV is falling into the same trap, with finishing ultra move animations that can last 10-15 seconds – time the losing player has to spend having his/her defeat rubbed in his/her face rather than getting back to enjoying the game.

Maybe it’s integral to the professional rounding of a title that a game producer insists on the losing screen keeping with the flow of other interstitial segments, but I think there should be a way to skip these. I’m not saying an immediate cut-off after a player loses should be the default, as this would initially appear shoddy (like if a film suddenly ended and had no credits at the end). However, an option to quickly get back in the saddle should be selectable somewhere – it’d help reduce frustration levels and probably encourage end users to think more favourably of a title.

So come on developers; ensure the start button always enables a player to get straight back to the action if he/she wants to. Don’t make them sit powerless through the misery of defeat (even if you have spent a lot of time and effort making it look lovely).

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