When we get a time machine, we're not going to use it to win the lotto or kill Hitler. We're going to teleport to the offices of countless developers and scream “Whatever you do, don’t ruin your perfectly good game with a bunch of nonsensical bullshit!” before disappearing from existence. And if they listen, it'll have been worth it. Sometimes the smartest people waste their intelligence inventing new ways to cock up their games. Other times they include idiotic elements because they’re traditional, which is why we're going to cover them in leeches next time they get sick. Either way, we're going through some of the best games ever - and making them even better.
Yoshi's Island: No Screaming Baby Edition
Shigeru Miyamoto: masterful game producer, beloved industry figure and Dr Mindbender-level psycho-manipulator. Not sure about that last point? Consider Yoshi's Island, which was designed to do two things:
1. Be an excellent platformer, because that's what Mario does when he's not screwing around playing Tennis or Golf
2. Make sure players never have a child that might divert time and money from Nintendo games.
It succeeded on both levels, creating the world's first Pavlovian Platformer that makes players associate babies with rage and pain. Think about it: Nintendo coded a game to make the noise of a screaming baby - that's like inventing chocolate that attracts hissing spiders. But unlike babies, you're allowed to kill the spiders when they start pissing you off.
Against all odds, Nintendo found a way to make a game where you hate Mario. That should be impossible - any gamer who claims to hate Mario is lying, an idiot, both, or even worse, a Sega fanboy who refuses to acknowledge the ‘90s are over. Time to let go, man.
Dead Rising: Killing Otis
Capcom - fulfilling the male fantasy of just cutting loose and killing everyone in the mall, with the mall. And while the developers understood the sheer joy of killing zombie clowns with sledgehammers and made the lawnmower the greatest weapon in human history, they also added a sitcom-style nagging wife. Only instead of a wife, it’s a bearded old dude who’s constantly calling you on the phone, even if you’re surrounded by brain-munching deadites.
And while he’s chatting you up, you can’t attack. He effectively turns your arms off and forces you to avoid zombies while he gives you missions or, if you took too long to answer his call, chews you out. When someone butts in on the phone while you're surrounded by zombies, then complains that you're the rude one, that's so passive aggressive even Gandhi would slap him.
Metal Gear Solid 4: Significance
Metal Gear Solid is one of the sharpest kicks in the pants the gaming industry ever received. At the time, the closest competition was Syphon Filter, which now looks like putting a Care Bear up against Mike Tyson. If only someone had given Hideo Kojima a movie deal immediately after that, maybe he could have gotten his fill of non-interactive cutscenes (i.e., movies) and spared us hours of intense exposition in subsequent sequels. Instead, he’s spent his years researching the storage capacity of every medium he's ever worked in. Perhaps a new version of MGS4 with game on one disc, cutscenes on the other is a happy medium?