The new issue of Nintendo Gamer is on sale now.
Let's get this straight: I love game maps. Not, to be clear, the ones you get on your telly when you press Start or whatever.
And where I press the button that closes the map when what I actually wanted to do was zoom in. Every. Damn. TIME. No, I mean the ones that are altogether scribblier and wonkier: your very own makeshift maps, doodled on a used envelope, a torn-off sheet of A4 pad or (less frequently) the back of the cat.
There's an amazing collection of handmade maps on - of all places - the online forum of Arizona prog-rock band Minibosses. Metroid and Zelda's worlds are things of beauty and wonder when they're made of felt tip pen, illegible scribbles and giant coffee mug stains, and stitched together with Sellotape squares. These days, floaty 'this way!' arrows in games have made map-making partly redundant - but we all still put pencil to paper from time to time.
That's all very nice, you're thinking, but where's the rant? It's right here. Because what works me up into a dribbling rage is seeing maps that lack two very important words: 'teleport point'.
Game worlds have got big. Bigger than the biggest things you can think of: elephants, or great big massive birds. Running across these huge worlds can take hours - but that hasn't stopped some dark-hearted developers denying us the ability to skip travel, forcing us instead to march zombie-like for miles in the name of 'realism'.
So let us state for the record Gaming Manifesto point four: let us go where we want, when we want. I don't like having to trudge back and forth between warp portals (Metroid). I resent waiting half the game to be able to fly about (Pokémon). Remember 2006's Driver: Parallel Lines, with its 200 square miles of realistic New York? Lovely - except that the realistic 15-minute drive between missions made us chew our own eyes out with boredom. Our own eyes!
Unless something amazing is going to happen on the journey it should be skippable
Unless something amazing is going to happen on the journey from point B to point A - and I'm talking nothing less than actual ready-toasted chocolate Pop Tarts jumping magically out of the Wii's disc slot - then it should be skippable.
Shigeru Miyamoto agrees. Maybe not about the Pop Tarts exactly. But when he ditched Super Mario Galaxy's hub world for its sequel's simple level select, he did it so we could focus on "the joy of the action instead of getting to each game course". Tetsuya Takahashi was listening: Xenoblade's insta-teleporting is exactly right, and kept us hooked on the game's monster shopping list of quests and side-missions.
More of that please, developers. And if your sinister side is left thirsting for a different way to annoy us gamers, why not try throwing in a few areas that look exactly like coffee mug stains? That'd really screw up our maps.