Monday, January 25, 2010

How to not make me play your game

Congratulations Sega, you've done it:

It's pretty simple how this was accomplished too:

1. After selecting Story Mode, they thrust me into an unskippable intro movie.
2. Followed by an unskippable "in-game" cutscene and another unskippable movie.
3. Which is then followed by another unskippable dialog scene. At this point it already feels less like Phantasy Star and more like Sakura Taisen.
4. Alright, I can finally start slashing! Oh what do you want now little girl? YES, I KNOW HOW TO FREAKING SLASH, THE GAME HUD ALREADY TOLD ME THAT.
5. Yay, I'm slashing things! Gah, why did the game stop again?! Okay, apparently Sega's tutorial and HUD designers never talked to each other when they were developing this.
6. Oh great, a dialog scene right when we're in the middle of a dungeon (did I mention it was unskippable?). Really great place to have some idle chit-chat which might alert the monsters' presence to our location. Brilliant writing there, Sega.
7. After several minutes this going off and on during the dungeon, we finally get to the boss, which was beaten without much of a problem and disintegrated in a puff of purple smoke. I SAID DISINTEGRATED IN A PUFF OF PURPLE SMOKE. Dear God, Sega's terrible at writing.
8. Oh great, another unskippable CG cutscene. And... hey, this is the same video that played if you let the Corporate Logos fly by after the game boots up. Except you can't skip it this time!
9. Then they started talking some more after this video, and around this point, I kind of gave up. I'm also giving up on providing screenshots for the game at this point to show you how tired I am at doing this.

If this is part of the result from Sega announcing that they're going to be an animation studio, then I have one message I'd like to say to these guys:

Leave this crap on your anime, not in your games.


  1. Wasn't this developed by Alfa System though, and only published by Sega? In which case blame Sega for farming out the franchise to a 3rd party without a clue, but really the blame should fall squarely with Alfa System. In which case, there's probably no connection to Sega's animation work.

    The sad fact is, today a lot of games are outsourced, and whenever a game is particularly bad, or not in synch with others in a series, I often find it's because they outsourced it. Which is why I've no interest in Dead Risising 2.

  2. There's definitely more to it than that; the art director for Phantasy Star Online became the producer of these games after Yuji Naka left the company, and it's really a few key people that can determine the quality of the game (New Super Mario Brothers DS for example was missing Miyamoto, one of the three key people needed to make 2D Mario what it is, hence why it felt really... bland).

    Inafune was also still involved with Megaman Zero even though the development was handed over to Inti Creates, and they've done a really good job with the series.

    And yes, the producer of Phantasy Star Portable 2 did dabble in actual animation, if we were to believe what Anime News Network says about him.

  3. I had a similar experience with "Mini Ninjas" on the DS the other day - the game starts off with countless unskippable cutscenes, dialogues, needless tutorials/fetch quests, and during the entire first chapter you spend about 10% (at the most) of your time with the game actually PLAYING it, and the rest with trying to figure out if there isn't a way to skip all this crap after all. After selecting "New game" on the main menu, it took about 15 minutes before I had my first enemy encounter, and over half an hour before my first chance to save the game! Extremely annoying under any circumstances, but absolutely unforgivable for a portable game.

  4. Touche dai jou! Most interesting, I did not realise the connections it still had to Sega.

    Who are the three Mario people though?

  5. I was curious why I liked the new Wii Super Mario Bros. and not the 2-D DS game, thanks dai jou bu for pointing out Miyamoto was missing from the development team. One person can make a big difference.

  6. 10. It didn't have Hatsune Mikku LOL J/K!

    In all seriousness, Phantasy Star stopped being good after the Genesis (I don't care about PSO).

  7. About 8, pretty much all sega games for a few years now have done this. Look at the Sonic games (Unleashed most obviously) and the attract move movies will just be a random movie from the game insted of ingame footage. Pretending a game is a CGI cutscene is an old trick that advertising people use to make crap look better.

    Also sega's CGI people are very good and they like to show that off. They also worked on some Japanese cgi movie, I think it was Appleseed but I may be wrong.

    Sonic 06 had 2 hours of (unskippable?) cutscenes. PSO (1st dreamcast version) had alot of text that took ages to go through aswell.

    Why can't Developers just let you play a game without having to read or watch huge amounts of crap!?

  8. Uggh, how annoying. You can trace this problem in a lot of game series. Even the great Super Mario series. The original, you can just jump right in and play. Part 3 made it a little more complex, with menu screens and inventory, but it was still great. By Super Mario World, they started giving us text boxes that tell us how to play the game. When they went 3d, it only got much worse. As a result, I usually just play part 1 when I'm in the mood for Mario.

    There's a real "myth of progress" in the video games industry. Most players don't realize it because they're too young to remember the older games. And even those who are old enough usually don't go back to the old stuff, so they lose the basis for comparison. And then it's easy to assume the newer games are better because the hardware is always improving and the audio/visual component along with it. But I'm telling you, just go back and play Super Mario 1. It's sublime, and has never been outdone IMHO. The closest there is to a perfect game.

  9. Zack, Miku is no laughing matter. It was mostly the reason I was curious about this game to begin with:

    Also, for those who're interested in the three people involved in making a real 2D Mario game, Iwata talks about it on Nintendo's site:

  10. I only care about this game because Sayo Yuuki from Shikigami 2 & 3 is a shopkeeper.

  11. 0______0

    I was being fatuous about the Miku thing, just a all-in-good-fun rib at your tendency to somehow include Vocaloid in every post. Never in a MILLION YEARS would I have expected it to actually be in Phantasy Star.

    My mind has been blown. 0_0

  12. Yeah, I wasn't too sure if you were going to pick up my sarcasm from my last comment. I was hoping you would since you did mention Miku. ;)

    Maybe it needed more CAPS FOR EMPHASIS or something.

  13. That reminds me so much of Phantasy Star Universe on PS2. Constantly breaking your game flow by long cutscenes of people talking endlessly about what amounts to nothing at all. But then again, that is the portable version of the PSU series after all.

  14. If you hold start, it'll skip the cutscenes. I didn't know that until someone told me though, since you have to hold it longer than you usually would.