Created By: ChosenCharacter on June 26, 2014
Nuked

Bad Game Design Preserved for Authenticity

When a game has some incredibly terrible ideas that are deliberately there to mimic older terrible ideas.

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Trope
Games in the 80's and early 90's had a lot going for them, chiptune, simple graphics, and god awful game design. This is because:

1. 'Game Development' was in its really early stages, and was still based on Arcade Machines designed to siphon money.

2. Memory limitations made it so that some ideas that would have saved some time for the player, such as a save system.

Neither of those are true today.

But since they WERE true, and nostalgia sells, they must hold true. For example, Fighting Games have notoriously awful controls that have been kept since the very first Street Fighter. This was because of the joystick and limited rooms for buttons. Modern controllers, however, can support several control schemes, and can be a lot more welcoming yet still remain tournament friendly (see: Super Smash Bros.) Yet since games like Street Fighter represent the 'golden age' of fighters, NEW fighting games STILL use the archaic, unforgiving, control scheme despite it building a massive barrier to entry for new players. This is why games like Skullgirls, by far one of the more welcoming games in the genre, are still pretty unwelcoming.

Other ways this appears are wonky platforming (1001 Spikes,) insane difficulty spikes (Spelunky,) and lack of options for new players to mitigate any of the above (almost all 'retro' games.)

See: Goddamned Bats, Fake Difficulty, Hitbox Dissonance, Nintendo Hard, SNK Boss
Community Feedback Replies: 17
  • June 26, 2014
    KTera
    Also see Retraux and Video Game Demake.
  • June 26, 2014
    DAN004
    Isn't this really just Ret Raux?
  • June 26, 2014
    ChosenCharacter
    No it's not, this is a little less obvious. For example, it's pretty clear Spelunky wasn't made in 1990.
  • June 26, 2014
    ChosenCharacter
    Actually, maybe I'm not clarifying: this is IDEAS that have been kept. The fighting game thing is the most obvious example, these are HD, fantastic looking games with a control system designed to be physically impossible with a controller or possible at the expense of your sanity.
  • June 26, 2014
    Generality
    Caps are probably the best example. It's still common to have stats limited to 99 or 255 because that was once the limit of hardware memory.

    Save Points are another. At one time saving data was so difficult that many developers opted for a level-based password system instead, as that didn't take up extra memory. Restricting saving to discrete points was the next best thing, as it required less information be recorded. Nowdays this system is maintained usually because it presents a moderate boost in difficulty, at the cost of frustration to the player if they have to play an entire level over and over again because they keep getting killed by the boss.
  • June 26, 2014
    ChosenCharacter
    Couple that with an uncessary life system ._. I wish more people pulled a Banjo Tooie and realized that their predecessors (Super Mario 64 and DK 64, mainly) had it wrong. Banjo Tooie removed its live system, perfected a non-linear progression, and the boss battles, though difficult, were totally possible AND if you screwed up you could do them again almost immediately. It ALSO had cheats that allowed you to regenerate automatically for an easier time and didn't punish you for it. Now if only they had fixed that goddamn Canary Mary bullshit.
  • June 26, 2014
    DAN004
  • June 27, 2014
    MorganWick
    Judging from the examples in the OP being in the description, and in particular the ranty nature of the fighting game paragraph, this seems to be uncomfortably close to YMMV territory, maybe even a Licence To Whine.

    Even if I give it as much benefit of the doubt as I can, the title and description say things don't change because of nostalgia, but since a lot of these are things that never changed, as opposed to something that got better but are occasionally left in newer games to evoke an older time period (which would be akin to Retraux used to justify Fake Difficulty), it's hard to say whether nostalgia is really responsible as opposed to simply doing things the way they've always been done because no one thinks to do it any differently or to avoid They Changed It Now It Sucks or Damn You Muscle Memory.
  • June 27, 2014
    Chabal2
    Possibly covered by Grandfather Clause as well- the Dragon Quest remakes kept having to find a save point just to know how much experience you need for the next level.
  • June 27, 2014
    DAN004
    I get the feeling that this is just listing things the op find outdated. The fact that some games still use them to this day means that, no, it's not outdated ad majority of players can put up with it.
  • June 27, 2014
    KingZeal
    I Wanna Be The Guy is full of this. It abuses, parodies, adn plays straight the Fake Difficulty trope in all of its most infamous forms, including blind jumps, unavoidable death traps, pixel-perfect jumps, and memorization-based puzzles.

    Also, I would avoid using Street Fighter and other fighters as an example. The reasons that the difficult button inputs are kept has as much to do with game balance as it does grandfather clause. For example, you're playing an entirely different game if you can do a Spinning Piledriver with a few inputs instead of a full 360 motion.
  • June 27, 2014
    ChosenCharacter
    Okay, yea, I was kind of ticked off when I wrote this but it doesn't come from just being ticked off. I think this is a legit thing that's going on - people literally sell retro games on their "Nintendo Hard Difficulty" which comes from god awful level design, that, well, looks like it came from the Nintendo Era, and it leave serious doubts to whether they could actually do any better. Things like Shovel Knight are okay, that's a game that seems to take the best and put it together, while things like Spelunky are not, where there are literally no options to costumize the game, it MUST be impossible, only 1% can beat it, because that's so retro it's mandatory. Heh, maybe the purposely brutal trope is its own, it does seem to be a popular selling point ._.

    As for fighting games, the control scheme is incredibly archaic, and it's not suddenly unbalanced when you can do the spinning piledriver in one second - most tourney level players CAN do it in very little time at all, it's just new players who can't do it without breaking something. I guess the big big big problem isn't the button inputs, but how little time you have to do them and how ridiculous they get. Does Vega's everything really need to be charge back triangle forward punch?

    Anyways, a re-write is totally okay, I don't think there's much case against this trend existing, though.
  • June 27, 2014
    surgoshan
    How about The Traditional Excuse, in which bad ideas and design are maintained BECAUSE TRADITION. All of a sudden, we're out of the realm of video games and into the wide world of tropes.
  • June 27, 2014
    KingZeal
    ^^ Fighting games have difficult inputs because difficult inputs are part of the Meta Game. For example, entire strategies revolve around the difficulty of doing a Dragon Punch after blocking down-back (making it possible for jumping attacks to beat a Shoto Clone), of Spinning Piledriver motions not normally being possible while walking (making it possible to keep Zangief away without fireballs), knowing when it's safe to jump in against Guile or Dee Jay (if they walk forward, then they can't charge down) and making Balrog/Vega/Honda lose their back charge by switching sides.

    This is the system the game is built on, and "good" players are just people who've learned how to exploit said system. While it's true that the best Zangief players can do SPD at the drop of a hat, they still need to do techniques like "Buffering" (hiding an input behind another animation that keeps the character relatively still, like a jab) and "karaing" (using the animation frames of one move, such as a standing kick, to move the character in a direction that will extend the range of the throw after the animation finishes). Learning to exploit the game system and the input commands is a huge part of fighting game strategy. If you change it, you are essentially playing a different game.

    It's kind of like how a major strategy of baseball is "pitching to contact". The common tactic of tiring out the pitcher so that their pitches become slower or less accurate is why they measure pitch counts. Likewise, the pitcher's desire to force the batter to fly out or ground out (and not simply strike them out) is another valid strategy. Using your fighting game analogy, this would be like asking that both pitching and batting become automated processes that eliminate human error. While sure, that may be the case, it pretty much changes the entire game everyone's been playing.
  • June 27, 2014
    Diask
    ^^ I'm sure this is Appeal To Tradition.
  • June 27, 2014
    MyTimingIsOff
    This reads more like a rant than a trope. "God awful design" is a complaint, not a trope. Anything tropable that could be extracted from this is covered by tropes we already have. Motion to discard.
  • June 29, 2014
    needsanewhobby
    Ascended Glitch is a subtrope of this.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=bpvf94f43d3abrfchyjamagl&trope=DiscardedYKTTW