X problems in games that could have been solved with a simple conversation
Why do so many video game stories hinge on either poor communication from the cast or no communication at all? Greek tragedies killed him literally millennia ago, and he’s back with a vengeance in video games (and 1990s rom-coms). Too often, a little chit-chat would have gone a long, long way to resolving a situation before things got out of control.
Instead, the inhabitants of these fictional game worlds must deal with unnecessary consequences. You as a player have to endure a gauntlet of convenience as the narrative pieces have dropped fair so. It is unfair. It’s scandalous. And, my friends, it’s time somebody did something about it. There will be spoilers.
By the power invested in me, here is a complete list of very unfortunate video game conversation duds. Yes, I do this for a living.
ten Pokemon Black & White: N’s behavior is problematic
In Pokemon Black & White, N is a troubled teenager with a tragic backstory who serves as Team Plasma’s iconic pseudo-savior and ominously visits Unova during his off hours. Most people in the Pokemon world are either happy or a reasonable approximation. N, who will obviously walk up to anyone to inform them that the world is a cruel and unjust place, stands like a green bean in a pot of sweet potatoes.
This guy even rides a Ferris wheel by himself. You can’t tell me the ride operator doesn’t see N staring heartbroken at the stars like a teenage actor whose awful show on The CW was just canceled for the 2011-12 TV season. Nurse Joy and her Chansey should have detected something wrong with N from a mile away. Officer Jenny could have intervened. N would be forced to confess to Ghetsis’ plans. Crisis averted.
9 Mass Effect: Saren is a villain
Saren is a villain, but mostly because he’s been corrupted by the Reaper called Sovereign and brainwashed to do whatever he wants. He’s kind of a villain, to a point, even before that. But mostly, it’s Sovereign’s fault. Ish. By maxing out Mass Effect’s Paragon/Renegade conversation system, Shepard can eventually get Saren to admit that he’s being used to further Reaper goals. Unfortunately, this can only happen at the end of the game, when an invasion is already underway.
Shepard attempts to call Saren out on his bad guy behavior much earlier, but he lacks evidence to convince the Council. All Shepards really it takes, let’s be honest here, a massive injection of Paragon or Renegade points. Saren was then waving his claws all over his face, scratching profusely and admitting his sins around 73 minutes into the match. The end.
8 Sonic 3 & Knuckles: Robotnik is not your friend
At the start of the historic video game epic Sonic 3 & Knuckles, Sonic arrives at Angel Island with all the Chaos Emeralds stuffed, we’re-not-sure-actually only for Knuckles to crush him, scattering the emeralds. Idris Elba’s future Oscar-worthy character picks them all up, laughs straight at the camera, and walks off.
It is, of course, terribly wicked. But the thing is, Knuckles is convinced that Robotnik is good and Sonic isn’t. You’d think just one look at Robotnik would convince him otherwise, but he’s a red echidna, let him pause. Anyway, what if Sonic opened his mouth for, like, three seconds? “Hey, actually I’m good and Robotnik is bad.” Eight words, hedgehog. Eight simple words.
7 Tetris: me telling the processor to stop being good
I’m terrible at Tetris. I wish I was good at Tetris. If I could maybe get the CPU’s WhatsApp or something, slip into his DMs, and beg him to be gentle with me, this most imperative video game problem would be solved forever. Plus, it would be proof that humans and machines can co-exist, and it solves roughly a hundred other video game storylines simultaneously. You’re welcome.
6 Final Fantasy 7 Remake: Cloud and Aerith, also Aerith and Cloud
In hit Japanese role-playing sensation Final Fantasy 7 Remake, it becomes increasingly clear as the story unfolds that Aerith Gainsborough knows a lot more about what’s going on than she doesn’t. I’m ready to say it, even to Cloud Strife. And there are times when it’s made clear that Cloud knows things that he won’t share with anyone either, not even Aerith.
Cloud, stop dragging out Aerith’s sentences just when she’s about to tell us what’s going on in the flames with Remake’s plot changes. Aerith, don’t accept Cloud’s noncommittal grunts for an answer. For the love of Cosmo Canyon cocktails, you two are having a real conversation.
5 Super Mario Bros: Secret Service
It’s an old hat, I realize. “Why do they keep letting Peach get kidnapped?” “Listen, I’ll do it. I will do that his problem, not his. It’s not so much to defend the dreadful King of the Lizards as to impeach the most conservative princess in video game canon.
All Peach has to do is suck it up, buttercup, and officially request a Secret Service unit made up of no less than 20 black-clad Toads with guns hidden in their hats, ready to deal with any dastardly incident Bowser hopes for. cause. Yes, I said capital letters. Did you know that the toad’s head is a hat? Nintendo literally insists otherwise, but if Nintendo asked you to jump off a bridge, what would you do, you know?
4 Final Fantasy 6: Don’t Suplex Me, Brother
This isn’t so much a problem the player has to deal with as one that has plagued Phantom Train since 1994. Phantom Train, to be clear, is a boss battle fairly early in Square Enix’s sensational Final Fantasy 6. It’s really cool ! It transports the souls of the dead to their final destination! That’s great. It’s the kind of funky, hip thing that deserves respect and probably at least one dodgy shouto album in its honor.
Instead, the whole world knows Phantom Train as a meme because it’s possible Sabin, a member of the brawling party, literally suplexes him to death. Sabin suplexes the whole train. It’s unreal. And frankly, that’s not cool. It’s not hip, or awesome. This completely destroys Phantom Train’s glowing reputation. What was supposed to be going on here? Phantom Train could have – no, should have – kindly explained that no matter what happens when they clash, it would rather not be suplexed, thus turning into a global JRPG joke for the ages.
The Elder Scrolls: Blades is a free-to-play mobile spinoff of Bethesda’s insanely popular series about talking dragons and oddly intelligent hapless emperors. Players are tasked with doing a host of things in service of rebuilding their ruined city. But things are getting cumbersome, the temptation to buy microtransactions to speed things up is always looming, and frankly, I’m not convinced the city is worth it.
If the player character could contact Todd Howard, arrange some sort of free mobile spin-off lunch, and get Howard to admit that the grind only gets bigger over time, then the character could decide to leave what’s left of his vulture town and go do something else entirely.
2 Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire: Team Magma and Team Aqua
In Ruby & Sapphire, as well as their enhanced version Emerald and eventual sixth generation remakes, a pair of evil teams inhabit Hoenn. The Magma team’s ultimate goal is to add more land to the planet at the expense of the ocean. Team Aqua, on the other hand, wants to add more ocean by destroying land.
A real elementary student could have told them why their plans were stupid. God’s goodness.
Dear god, would one of you please say something already.
Next:Pokemon Trainers and Their Perfect Digimon Partner
You can’t really blame Nintendo for this one.
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