Friday (Least) Favorites #1: Game Tropes That Can Die in a Fire

Perhaps a more clickbaiting title would be better: Nine CRIPPLING Flaws You Won’t BELIEVE Video Games Get Away With!

I understand why these tropes exist, but that doesn’t make them much less annoying. 

1. Poor Checkpoint Placement and Restricted Saving

Checkpoints ain’t perfect. The ones that are placed just far enough apart to force you to replay segments over and over can annoy.

Saving restrictions are trickier to pin down. Some games implement it into the gameplay, like in the early Resident Evil games as a method of emphasizing the survival aspect. Other games can force you into replaying segments of the game if you don’t know how long it will be between save points. It seems that PC games (and sometimes their console ports) and handheld games have a slight advantage in this regard. Several PC games let you save wherever you want with numerous save slots, and plenty of handheld games are smart enough to let you at least make temporary saves, perfect for their portable nature.

2. Boss Rushes

I hate boss rushes. So much. Boss rushes clearly pad out a game, and can also be a right irritation. How much they bug you depends on how much you like the game, and its bosses. With that in mind, a boss rush in a Platinum game wouldn’t bother me, but a boss rush in a mean old game like Magician Lord would. I didn’t like ML much…

3. Overly Long Minigames

Minigames can be a welcome change of pace, but other times, they wear out their welcome. Take the shooter segment in Platinum’s otherwise-legendary Bayonetta… please.

Formulaic JRPG Blue Dragon is another example that offers up some on-rails shooter minigames. If you fail them, you have to start them all over again, bringing us back to the first entry on this list. However, they don’t last very long and they’re mostly optional in sidequests IIRC. 

At least Blue Dragon’s Mechat ship looks cute.

4. Controls You Can’t Fully CustomizePlease don’t force me to play with an inverted Y-axis. This quirk can dovetail with the previous entry on this list. 

5. Permanently Missable Content

This isn’t so bad in short games and/or games with new game plus, but when you’re two-thirds of the way through a long RPG like Final Fantasy VII…

Perhaps the remake will fix this. After all, does anyone really enjoy missing the Alexander summon on a slightly tedious snowswept mountain area?

6. Escort Missions

The classic. These don’t seem to be as much of a problem these days, however. But most developers didn’t take the time to make escort missions enjoyable outside of Resident Evil 4 and Ico.  

7. Trapped!

When a free-roaming game suddenly cuts you off from that sweet, sweet open world without warning.

8. Repetitive/Unskippable Dialog and Cutscenes

To be fair, some pieces of dialog bear repeating. But Fiona from the janky Mercenaries 2: World in Flames parrots the same tip and dialog whenever you start the game and leave your headquarters. Every. Single. Time. Hell is other people, truly. Another example (without voice acting) is Otis from Dead Rising. If you got interrupted while trying to hear an update from him on the transceiver, he would complain and start the dialog over again. Later games in the series fixed this.

9. Weird Achievements

I used to care a lot more about cheevos than I do now (caring about them too much almost ruined my gaming passion), but there are still some achievements that are lulzy, like zero-point achievements. Why. This is admittedly only a problem on Xbox; the PlayStation Trophy system assigns at least a small point value to your overall trophy level. I think I have a game that has a zero-pointer for getting all of the other Achievements. Madness. 

To a lesser extent, viral achievements which only unlock if you play against someone who already has the achievement and achievements that require you to play against someone on your friends list are nice in theory, but have issues in practice. There is no guarantee that you will be able to play against someone who has a viral achievement, and you may not have a friend who is willing and/or able to help you unlock certain achievements. Then there are the games with multiplayer achievements whose servers get shut down, making those achievements lost forever. Annual sports games are egregious in this aspect because last year’s game’s servers will get shut down to encourage people to buy the new game.

Finally, and this is an issue that existed before the Xbox 360’s Achievement system, the achievements that require you to fail. Do you intentionally fail to get as many cheevos as possible, and to work towards 100% completion? Do you intentionally let characters suffer and die to get all the endings? An example lies within the Resident Evil Outbreak games, some of the more obscure spinoffs in the series.


These games had Event Lists to track how much of each of the 10 scenarios (five per game) you have experienced. Dying at certain points and getting bad endings were requirements to fully complete the Event Lists.

I love achievement systems overall, but some achievements have flaws.

Well, there were some of my least favorite design decisions and nitpicks in games. What are some of yours?