Riches to rags. A story told time and time again. Jordan Belfort, Allen Stanford, yes even M.C. Hammer know of the short trek back to the poor after journeying to the top of the mountain.
Most of this is a simple process of over stepping boundaries. They know where it went wrong because they were the number one cause of it being gone in the first place.
In video games, we the player, are not always privileged to that process. Sometimes we are struck down by asking simple questions like “Why?” or even the dreaded “How come you did that?”. Yes, we are stripped of everything and expected to work to get back to where we were only a few seconds ago.
That’s right. Today for the Black Tie Event we ask the question “Where did my shit go?!”
Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
The Legend of Zelda series tells many tales of a simple boy striving to make something of himself. Spanning across multiple consoles (yes… even the CD-i, someone had to play them), almost everyone has journeyed the path of Link, a lonely elf taking the task of rescuing Princess Zelda upon himself with little help from those around him.
Then why would you just take everything away from him?
So your skipping along in the fields of Hyrule, taking out baddies left and right. Crush the 3 dungeons and have collected the appropriate number of stones to open the Temple of Time door to claim your Master Sword!
Playing through this game again recently, I wonder if taking the Master Sword is actually the wrong move. They seal your spirit away for seven years! Seven! All of the people you know, loved ones, are now coming to terms with your seven year disappearance and think you dead. Gannondrof has followed in behind you to take his place to the throne and turned Hyrule into a depressing land of death and decay. On top of all that, the old guy who’s been watching over you these past years is taking away your weapons.
That’s right. All of the cool stuff you’ve been using only fraction of a second ago (to you anyway) won’t “work” anymore. No more Deku sticks, no slingshot, no boomerang. Nothing.
Adult Link can’t use a slingshot? It doesn’t make any sense. If anything, the slingshot should work better now due to Link gaining strength being that seven years have passed. No more boomerang? I just can’t comprehend it. But no. Navi says no, and that’s how it stays. No explanation. No reason. Just no. You’d think if Link was going to talk in any of the Zelda games, this would have been the moment.
As an added bonus, they leave the items in your inventory just to mock you. Darkened out and no way to assign them, but you know they’re there. Oh, you know it. Just laughing in your face.
Mega Man series
The blue bomber will always hold a special place in my heart. There’s nothing like using an enemy’s weapon against them to completely destroy the forces of evil. Sequel after sequel, Mega Man continues his reign to battle Dr. Wily with the help of Dr. Light.
After so many sequels, so many weapon upgrades, where did they all go?
Following the Mega Man time line, it’s only been two years between Dr. Wily reprogramming the original Robot Masters Guts Man, Cut Man, and friends to his creation of Top Man, Spark Man, and Snake Man. Two years. How did Mega Man lose or “forget” all of those abilities in the span of two years? Was technology not up to snuff enough to hold all of the Robot Masters weapon upgrades?
Why can I not use Rolling Cutters on Snake Man? Or the Ice Slasher on Top Man? That would have slowed him down real quick.
But no. It’s like Dr. Light had to wipe Mega Man’s hard drive before he was allowed to add any new weapon upgrades. You would think in a world where technology is practically endless, especially enough to create a robot that has advanced artificial intelligence, you would think hard drive capacity would be a thing of the past.
Why not just put the information into the cloud? Sure you might have to worry about someone hacking into it, but as long as he has an encrypted password, it shouldn’t become an issue. Just doesn’t make any sense.
Final Fantasy 2 (Final Fantasy IV in Japan)
Easily my most favorite RPG for a console ever. Hands down. Great story, amazing characters, just all around a great game.
You play as Cecil, a dark knight and the captain of the Red Wings, an elite air force unit of the kingdom of Baron. He’s commissioned to collect powerful crystals throughout the world by order of the King himself. He’s not happy with the task, but he does his job with the best of his ability and he is a total bad ass.
In the intro to Final Fantasy 2, Cecil and his shipmates are attacked by monsters and Cecil, alone, defeats them. Conjuring magic from the depths of hell in the form of a Lit-Bolt and a Fire Bomb doing massive amounts of damage and destroying everything in it’s path. 1 against many. Cecil comes out the victor.
After watching this as a child, I couldn’t wait to start taking out monsters as Cecil. Only, I found out, that I don’t have any magic spells. No Lit-Bolts; no Fire Bombs. Nothing. I can’t do any magic. But… I just…. I just saw him do it!?! He totally owned those monsters in the beginning with these crazy items or spells and now I have nothing? But why?
And to top off this donkey dung sundae, the items of the Lit-Bolt and the Fire Bomb don’t exist in the game. At all. It was just a facade. A cruel joke to lure innocent gamers into the game only to let them find out that these things really don’t exist. Sure there are similar magic that can be performed with the same result, but Cecil will never be the one extending his rage on enemies in such a way.
Oh, and he becomes a huge let down when he transforms to a White Knight. Lame. GAWD!
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Ah, Castlevania. There’s nothing quite like taking the fight to Dracula and watching him fall from grace in his own house.
Symphony of the Night for the PlayStation is really a milestone in the series. It moved the player away from the “room by room” level progression to a more open landscape, sprinkle some RPG elements into it, and put it on a great console for its time and you’ve struck gold. You even get to replay the ending from Rondo of Blood killing Dracula at the start of Symphony of the Night. I’ve always admired this development tactic in video games. It shows that the developers honor those before them and it shows the player that it’s about to get real.
Then appears Alucard, Dracula’s son (actually “Alucard” is Dracula backwards *fun fact*). This guy is a beast. Coming from other Castlevania games, you’ve gotten use to the slow transitions, the knock back, and the limited use of long range weapons. Alucard is no Simon Belmont. This guy is a hard hitting, fast pace, killing machine. No more four shots with the whip to take out a baddy. Oh, no. That’s not Alucard’s style. This guy is only down for 1-hit deaths. And he’s got them in spades.
So, you’re cruising along, slashing and killing everything in sight, then you come across Death. Death kindly asks you to stop your attack on the Castle of Dracula. Oh course, you refuse, but by doing so, you lose everything. I’m taking everything. No weapons, no items, no power ups, nothing. It’s the biggest let down in video gaming history. By far.
I can’t express into words how unbelievably bad ass Alucard is in the beginning then just to lose everything… I turned it off. I’m not kidding. I started the game, got to Death, lost everything, thought to myself “Well, screw that!” and powered off. I went back eventually but it was a few weeks before I could allow myself to be a stooge to a video game.
The biggest question that’s raised among all of this is why? Why do some developers feel the need to give their players a max out character only to take it all away a few moments later? Do they feel that this will showcase the player what could be only if you work hard enough? I don’t think I’ve ever played a game that, in the end, didn’t come out a better version than going in. I mean, we are suppose to relate to these characters to keep us playing and giving anyone that much power at the beginning is crazy fun. But then to turn a 180 and send them back to the dark ages? I’ll never understand it.
What other games like the ones above have haunted your dreams at night? Be sure to leave a comment below and if you’d like follow me on Twitter @erichunter that would be awesome. We can cry together.
And always remember to stay classy. Someone’s got to do it. It might as well be you.