|Courtesy Of Lost Garden|
The Definition Of Game Mechanics:
“Game mechanics are rule based systems/simulations that facilitate and encourage a user to explore and learn the properties of their possibility space through the use of feedback mechanisms.”
I’ve been thinking back to some of the games that I loved to play over the years and thinking about the mechanics of those games that made me realise what was possible to achieve in the medium. The best mechanics seem to hook you and here’s 8 that hooked me….
When I first played MGS I’d never come across a stealth game before and I never even knew the genre even existed. My first few hours with the game were magical as I played a game that was totally fresh to me. The whole notion of AI who were there to be outwitted made me feel like I was Snake. I was totally immersed in that world. Then the magic happened….I discovered the wall tap! Something so simple and yet so effective made me smile so much. Distracting genome guards with a tap on the locker to draw them over and then either skilfully hide and take your chance to dash past them or bring them over with a tap and then finish them. What an amazing piece of genius Kojima treated us to!
Who thought that a video game would give you the opportunity to sneak into a restaurant a mess around with a guys meal in order that an objective could be accomplished? It was beyond the realm of possibility as far as I was concerned. That was until I played this amazing game on PS2. This was the original game in the series and the mere notion of being a hired finisher was exciting enough. The controls in this game did take some getting used to but the awkwardness of the controls was far outweighed by all these possibilities of how to complete a stage. Without any sort of aggression, you were able to complete the task with maximum effect and then just stroll right out of there as though nothing had ever happened. Utterly brilliant, like nothing I had ever experienced before. This game was full of those moments but the fish mission still sticks in my mind until this day.
I’m not sure whether this counts as a game mechanic as such, I think it’s more of a feature but in sports games, I think that is a bit of a gray area….
Playing PES was always fun (PES 1-6 proved that). There was always silliness occurring on the field of play such as the ball hitting the bar and hitting the keeper on the back of the head which caused him to dive and then the forward misses an open goal. This would all happen within a split second and you and your mate would be rolling around laughing after the event. The thing was, in the early days of PES there were no instant replays! All that craziness had just happened and all you wanted to do was watch it over and over again and maybe even save it to the PS2 memory card. But alas you couldn’t. In the early iterations of PES, there was a half-time and full-time feature which showed you the highlights of the halves. These were normally pretty dour affairs though because the goalmouth scramble that you really wanted to see was always omitted in the favour of a long shot that bounced favorably into the keeper's arms. Then, along came PES 4 and with it came instant replays and the ability to save these to the memory card! Now I could save the golden moments that made this game so special. This led to me saving such classic moments as a throw in goal, a punch in the balls celebration, a player attaching himself to another player and then dragging him halfway across the pitch and the most impossible miss from less than a yard out!
For me, PES replays were a landmark in football games!
Super Mario Kart introduced a new style of racing game which was so much fun. This fun was brought about due to the perfect mix of characters, tracks, go karts and items like the red shell! No game at the time or since has been able to match the game of all games. For me, the one mechanic that really made this game special was the power slide. If you were to just dip into the game on occasion you would be able to play it and have fun without ever knowing the power slide existed….BUT if you were after record times and were striving to be the best amongst your mates you had to use that power slide. Just a simple press of the R or L shoulder button on the beautifully designed SNES pad would make your kart elegantly slide around that sharp bend and gain yourself valuable 100th of seconds. The beauty of the mechanic combined with that joypad was a thing to behold.
Do you remember the first time you rode a Yoshi?
That moment when you discover your new green buddy in SMW is the stuff of legend. It’s the turning point in the Mario series that says you are witnessing history.
Mario + Yoshi = SO MUCH FUN!
The developers were so clever when introducing Yoshi as they could have taken the easy way out and just given Mario another new power up and that would have been that. Instead, though they introduced a companion who you actually care for but also your Yoshi is a sacrificial part of the game as you send him to his doom on many occasions just to further your game. The thing for me that really stood out though was the fact that you didn’t just ride this little guy, you could also use him as a special move as he gulped down red or green shells and spat them out to clear the way for Mario. More genius from Ninty.
Having only ever encountered scrolling beat em ups, I never even realised that a one on one beat em up could exist. I didn’t see the original SF in the arcades until after SFII became the hit that it was. The thing for me that stood out from my very first moment of witnessing SFII being played was the array of amazing moves that I was seeing on the arcade screen. I couldn’t believe my eyes. What I also couldn’t work out was how these specials were being accomplished. It seemed like wizardry. It also seemed impossible. Then in a flash, I witnessed a DragonPunch. It was at that moment that I vowed to learn the specials and perform them just as good as all these cool kids in the arcade. For me, this game mechanic was the hook. I wanted to train and become an SFII champ…..a World Warrior! Capcom were onto something special and from SFII onwards the game has been all about these special moves that were tough to learn and tough to master but oh so rewarding when you managed to pull them off.
Before I played Sensi, I’d tried literally every football game you could imagine. Up until this point, my faves were Kick Off 2 and Microprose Soccer with World Soccer on the Master System coming in just because it was the only half decent footy game on the SMS. These games were good but all of them had their flaws and frustrations. When Sensi came along it changed all that. Football was fun again. Sensi was easy to play but hard to master. It was a hoot with 2 players and just as good on your own. Sensi was what I was searching for but the game mechanic that really sold it for me was the diving header. Getting your little player to connect with a curved cross across the edge of the area and then see it fly off of his noggin into the top corner of the oppo goal was perfection. Sensi had balanced serious and hilarious with great skill and had created this beautiful game of skill and luck and the diving header was the cherry on the top.
It was after school and I was off to mate Briggsy’s house to play on his Amstrad CPC. Briggsy had loads of games for his cool computer but there was one he kept talking about. Football Manager 2. We got to his house and disappeared into his room to play the game he had been talking about all day at school. It loaded up after dinner and we sat down to play. Briggsy took the lead on the management side of things and I just enthusiastically agreed with his decisions as he chose players on the transfer market, sponsorship deals and all sorts of other managerial decisions before it was finally Match Day! The match kicked off and it was then I was treated to one of the most exciting things in video games that my 8-year-old self-had ever seen. A computer game which was showing me highlights of the game that we were managing. It was tense and exciting as the engine picked near misses, dangerous attacks, and goals to display in this brilliant isometric match engine. It was the moment when I became transfixed by Footy Manager sims and also the turning point in the genre. Most other games were adopting the Teletext approach of match engine which just gave you a scoreboard of your game and other games going on in your league. This marvelous game mechanic from Kevin Toms blew everyone else out the water and created a generation of Footy Manager devotees.
Which Game Mechanics Hooked YOU And Didn’t Let Go?
Let Me Know In The Comments Box Below….
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