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Gaming's most frequent design crimes Pt. 2

Mics, vague plots and escort missions...

On Part 1 of our crusade to take gaming's most frequent design felonies to task we took a look at Rubberband AI, as seen in games such as Mario Kart, unskippable cutscenes a la Metroid: Other M and Rayman 3D's Leaps of faith.

This week we're holding court for game's that make you look silly in public, leave you high and dry without a clue and force you to babysit. Court is in session...

BLOWING INTO THE MIC

Defendant: Diddy Kong Racing DS
The Charge: Making it mandatory to huff and puff into the DS's notoriously unresponsive mic, when a button press (or in this instance, doing absolutely nothing) would suffice.

Zoom

Case for the prosecution: Diddy Kong Racing DS begins life as a pretty awesome port of the N64 classic. Each level is faithfully reproduced, there's a reasonable sense of speed, eight players can race each other locally and Banjo is nowhere to be seen.

Then you unlock the second world - and the hovercrafts - and your world caves in around you. To boost-start these cretinous devices, you have to blow into the mic for three solid seconds. That's long enough to leave even a professional trombone player gasping and panting in a blue-hued heap on the floor.

When, after much CPR, you're finally able to continue with the game, you'll find that your DS's touch screen is now coated in a permanent haze of disgusting mist. Rubbish!

Case for the defence: We're only trying to make good use of the Nintendo DS's unique features! That's what we - Rare! - do! Innovate in irritating ways! In mitigation, we'd like to point out the other ways in which Diddy Kong Racing DS innovates.

There's the 'furiously rub the touch screen with the stylus to boost' mechanic (which is doubly engaging because you then have 0.1 seconds to find a home for the stylus before the race starts), some first-person shooting sections that are in no way tedious, and yet more blowy bits, this time in the main hub.

Also... ah, my lawyer has advised me to never, ever speak again.

Verdict: GUILTY

Judgement: So very, very guilty. We've been forced to replace your car's gas pedal with a giant toy windmill. Good luck getting to work tomorrow, you blowhards.

Chances of re-offending: 6/10. Even the likes of the mighty Zelda fall for this one. Cute when used as a novelty, mind.

VAGUE PLOT PROGRESSION

Defendant: Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes Of Light
The charge: Not making it clear where you're supposed to go or what you're supposed to be doing next.

Case for the prosecution: The 4 Heroes Of Light shows reckless disregard for its victims' mental well-being, and there is evidence of premeditated malice, your honour. Our detectives poked around its CPU and found evidence it had researched archaic torture methods as used by the RPGs of old - including this sadistic device from the brutal 8-bit era.

When you arrive in a brand new town, the defendant forces you to knock on every door, open every hut and chat to every single boring NPC to hear their stupid, obvious advice, until you finally find the one guy capable of giving you the information you need to press forward with the storyline.

Zoom

Case for the defence: I've chosen to represent myself, your honour. Here goes: Potions can restore your energy! Potions can restore your energy! You can buy new items from the village shop! Potions can restore your energy!

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