Monday, 30 January 2012

Shut the f@*# up Zelda

A problem I find in RPG games is dialogue that can’t be skipped. This usually isn’t a problem as the lore, background information or quest details being divulged are usual interesting and can be essential. The kick comes when you’ve heard the same thing 30 times before and you just want it to end.

As you may have figured from the title, the particular incident that spurred this blogasm was in a Zelda game. It wasn’t Lady Zelda that is responsible for this particular incident, but it was a snappier title than ‘Shut the f@*# up man who runs the bamboo pole slicing mini-game in Skyward Sword’. He was frustrating me to no end.

One of the many mini-games in Skyward Sword challenges you to cut a tall bamboo pole into as many pieces as possible before it hits the ground. The game rewards random prizes based on your performance. I had my eye on a particular prize as it was the last component I needed to craft snazzy new shield.

It took me dozens of attempts to finally claim the prize I wanted, manically swinging at the bamboo pole like a samurai lumberjack on steroids. Things were made frustrating by the chirping owner of the bamboo hut who insisted on pointing out my shortcomings with each failed attempt. You are forced to watch about six windows of agonisingly slow scrolling text between each play of the game. He is more than happy to let you play multiple times, he just insists on explaining the rules every time instead of asking if you just want another go.

Skyrim has got the perfect dialogue system in place that even reflects what most people could do in real life if they didn’t want to hear what someone had to say. When a character roots you to the ground because they fancy a chat, at any moment you can press a button and just walk away from them, as if they were one of those charity vultures you meet on the street. The only thing missing is a slight sigh of disappointment as you do it. It means you aren’t forced to indulge the majority of people if you really can’t be bothered talking to them.

A way to skip repetitive dialogue can’t be hard to implement and would make some games a lot better. It makes me think how much of Skyward Sword’s reported 30 to 40 hours of game time is made up of repeated text fodder you are forced to endure. Whilst some games use cutscenes in an equally incriminating way, at least they can be used to convincingly disguise loading times. I find it very hard to believe the long winded chats with Mr Bamboo Game between sessions are really necessary to reload and restore the virtual cane tower.


jen/haly said...

Ohh how I despise unskippable dialogue. Zelda is terrible for it and, as shallow it may sound to some people, it does affect my enjoyment of the series! I'm a fast reader, damnit, I want to be able to speed through dialogue!

Anthony said...

I always end up mashing the A button trying to make the text scroll faster, even though I always know it doesn't actually help.