Example: “Sorry, I don’t like Dark Souls. No it’s not a bad game, it’s just coffee to me.”
Example: “Final Fantasy IV was alright on the SNES, but they came out with a Proper Remake of it on the DS which was way better.”
Example: “Yeah I was going to release a video analyzing the new Kingdom Hearts trailer, but I had to mute it due to Copywrong.”
Example: “Yeah Phantom Hourglass was pretty fun, but I’ve never really wanted to go back to it. Bit of a popcorn game.”
Example: Well teeeecchcndkfnsfically, Obi-Wan didn’t lie to Luke about his father, from a certain point of view.
Example: While there’s plenty of story in the later games, Kingdom Hearts 1 is a total SNES RPG. So many details you need to infer.
Example: When Humanity first found the Azimdi, their friendship and cooperation led to the foundation of the Concordat and allowed for a massive technological and magical revolution. Thus, for both species, meeting one another was their Vulcan Moment.
Example: It’s hard to sometimes remember that each city in Final Fantasy VI is supposed to represent an entire city-state or country, rather than a town with five buildings in it. Buncha MMO Scale all over the place.
Example: I love Kingdom Hearts as much as anyone, but man those games have a lot of No Music moments in them.
Example: While I rather enjoy several games in the series, Modern Warfare 3 was a clear-cut case of Transformers 2 Mentality.
Example: I’m sorry but in my blunt opinion, now days marketing for video games is a total Diamond Industry. No where near worth as much as it charges.
Example: James Raynor tries his best to be The Mario, but the Koprulu Sector just doesn’t want to let him.
Example: For all his faults, Laguna is the kind of person most people just tend to like. He’s definitely an O’Brien.
Example: The Nameless One might be a bit of a Sisko, but the Practical Incarnation was definitely more of a Justice Lord.
Example: It’s such a tragedy how much of a Krennic that Ted Faro was, considering all he accomplished.
Example: We could argue back and forth about Moriarty and Vic Fontaine, but there’s no denying that The Doctor grew into a full fledged sapient and sentient entity over the course of Voyager thanks to Droid Effect.
Example: Seifer reached a point after a certain ways through Final Fantasy VIII where Seesaw Effect started to take hold, and he just started doing more and more horrible things.
Example: While I praise many things about Heroes of the Storm, the strong Familiarity Effect from having so many memorable characters to play as and against undeniably increases my enjoyment.
Example: So there I was, playing Alpha Protocal, and I only had a second to choose an option and one of them said ‘pants’… so I picked it and holy crap, not what I was going for at all..
Example: If I’m to be completely honest, the concept of Shovel Knight just sounds pretty stupid, but damned if Cloud Effect doesn’t make the game awesome.
Example: Man, I really thought Andromeda had a lot of potential. I was even excited for it. But holy moly it turned out dull.
Example: Y’know, on paper the Expendables really shouldn’t be the kind of movies I like, but Flash Gordon Effect really helped elevate them in my mind.
Example: Man, when I was first playing Gothic I was getting crushed, but after I started figuring it out I just started breezing through.
Example: Don’t mistake me, I really enjoyed Neverwinter Nights, but Shadows of Undrentide and Hordes of the Underdark blew it out of the water.
Example: A lot of JRPGs tend to have a lot of Dragon Quest Effect to them. Like Undertale. At first glance you’d assume the whole game’s a comedy, nevermind how horribly dark, serious, and deeply character driven it is.
Example: So many works have Dr. Who Syndrome it’s hard to fathom sometimes. I mean, think about Warcraft, where effectively nothing happens in ten millennia, then all of the sudden everything’s a whirl of activity in the last century or so.
Example: I would argue that Modern Warfare was a fantastic, artistic piece of amazement. But in my blunt opinion, Modern Warfare 3 didn’t have the slightest idea why the original was such a work of art, and clearly fell victim to Bullet Point Syndrome.
Example: Most of the Sith on Korriban are hilariously victims of Vampire Ego Syndrome. A little bit of ability to push an object with their mind and they think they’re gods amongst men.
Example: What few side quests are in Just Cause 2 are way better than it’s main plot, complete case of Skyrim Syndrome.
Example: Man, people will just not shut up about how awful Force Awakens was. I genuinely enjoyed it, but I’m afraid I’m getting a bit of Pendulum Theory in liking it more than I should.
Example: I hear people all the time talking about how awful WoW players are, but I’m pretty sure that’s just Sample Size Theory in effect. I meet far more pleasant and nice people than I do not.
Example: Several monsters in the Witcher series aren’t actually that strong or tough, if you know what they’re weak to and how to fight them. While not deliberate on the behalf of any given organization, there’s some definite Masquerade Theory going on in that setting.
It is also possible to have a good overall presentation of the other 5 elements and yet lack good core gameplay mechanics. No Man’s Sky, for all its flair and good design, as its core was immensely boring and disinteresting. Final Fantasy XIII has brilliant interface, excellent music, great graphics, and some of the most disinteresting leveling and combat in the series. And the last of the Kane series, Command & Conquer 4, has a nice UI with good music and graphics and just generally overall bad core gameplay.
Stellaris, bizarrely, has an absolutely excellent Interface that takes very little time to get used to and a lot of ‘at-a-glance’ information. Earthbound, while not the most sophisticated of older Dragon Quest-style RPGs, nevertheless has tons of convenience features that let you equip items from the shop menu, compare and contrast easily, and even the ability to interact with the environment one-handed. Homeworld Deserts of Kharak is one of my personal examples of textbook good interface, with almost everything readily available from one screen, and tons of information neatly displayed. And some games, like Freelancer, just instantly click with the player so they don’t even have to think about what’s where, because it all makes sense instantly.
Some excellent games with lacking or actively bad UIs include: Europa Universalis IV, for all its excellent aspects, has an Interface that takes forever to ‘get the hang of’ and eventually reach a point where you can do what you wish to do in the game. Similarly, Zelda Phantom Hourglass, while generally a pretty good game, relies on using the stylus and touch screen to physically play the game, which can be tough to use for some and actively aggravating for others. I of course am pretty infamous for refusing to replay Skyward Sword given the fact that the motion controls cause me literal, physical pain to play. And there’s also the recent Star Fox 0 and its bizarre double control scheme, which some can acclimate to and some cannot.
Zelda Link To The Past is an example of a game that, to this day, has aged quite well. Everything is immediately distinguishable from each other, and you can tell the types of tools you can use where based on repeated visual styles. Wind Waker would be another example, though I hate to keep using Zeldas. Virtually every Metroid game falls into this category, but probably strongest is Super Metroid, where the level design and visual presentation thereof informs the player’s journey and both assists and encourages exploration. And of course, Symphony of the Night is an amazing masterpiece in terms of animation, presentation, distinction, and general visual design.
On the flip side, Doom 3 is a game with atrocious visual cues, bad lighting, and repeated graphics. Even worse than that is the old Quest 64 game, where in several areas the textures are repeated so often that you can literally get turned around without even realizing it, nevermind the uninspired enemies or lack of any visual flare. And one of the worst of all, Daggerfall; for all its positives and up sides, the visual design is some of the worst I’ve ever seen, with near constant repeating textures in same-looking areas, inside and out, as well as making it difficult to know what one can properly interact with unless it’s moving and/or attacking you.
Homeworld… well, all the Homeworld games really, have fantastic overall sound design. Not just in the ships and how they move, or the ambient noise that mixes beautifully with the music, but the chatter that helps keep the player immersed and invested. Half Life 2 lets the player literally feel what’s happening next thanks to fluid voice acting, clear and distinct sounds helping to distinguish different types of actors from each other, and the horrifying sounds of most of the game can contribute to an absolutely incredible, immersive experience. But special credit must be given to Zelda Ocarina of Time, a game that can and has literally been played blind thanks to the mind bogglingly good sound design in every facet and aspect.
Of course, most games merely have good sound design, the type you’re not supposed to notice. Thus, bad sound design tends to drag one out of the experience, jarring the player from what they might otherwise enjoy. Mega Man X7 isn’t a particularly good game overall, but special mention has to be given for the colossally bad sound design that spams the player with useless voice clips, doesn’t inform the player upon certain actions, or triggers at wrong moments. Sonic Adventure 2, an otherwise fairly enjoyable game, has some truly face palming sound design, which is especially egregious for a Sonic game, and shows up most noticeably during cutscenes as voice actors are almost impossible to hear. But worst of all has to be Ride to Hell Retribution, and its face palmingly bad design of sound effects, voice clips, and general direction.
Some games can be elevated in enjoyment with the inclusion of good music. Gems like Morrowind (or any game by Jeremy Soule) are a good example, as is the otherwise lackluster Final Fantasy Mystic Quest. Similarly, some games use music very particularly and only in certain sections, such as the Homeworld games, or Half Life. And some games prefer for the music to effectively form a backdrop to the main focus of the game, something pleasant but not meant to be focused on, like Knights of the Old Republic or Mass Effect.
Of course, some games don’t use music particularly well. As mentioned earlier, some games like to repeat a single song to the point where it becomes irritating or frustrating, like in Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories which repeats the same two songs over and over for cutscenes. Many older games suffer from the problem of being unable to properly ‘save’ the player’s ‘place’ in a song, leading to everytime one enters or exits battle the song starts over, which can get old quickly. And then there’s games like The Old Republic which, while having relatively good music, actively rehashes many songs from the movies (often in ways that don’t make sense or aren’t thematically appropriate), and has the problem of certain events repeating the same songs over and over.
A great example of a game with excellent flow that doesn’t follow normal patterns is Earthbound, a game that slowly winds up until the finale, then slowly winds down up to and including the ending. Chrono Trigger is another fantastic example of proper flow, actually having two separate patterns of pacing to it that bisect the game and both flow smoothly into each other. And probably one of the textbook examples of proper flow and pacing in gameplay is God of War 2, which starts strong, shifts down, and doesn’t linger too long in any given tone or type of mechanics.
Of course, a good game can have bad overall flow of action. Shadow of the Colossus, while a fairly excellent game, alternates wildly between excessive valleys followed without build or preamble by intense and awesome fights, then plummeting right back into the valley of exploration, which can cause a rather lurching tone. Similarly, while an otherwise fantastic game, Zelda Wind Waker follows a consistent flow right up until a certain point in the game, at which point the game slams on the breaks and everything slumps uncomfortably in tone and style. And while many people would argue the quality of the game as a whole, Dragon Age 2 suffers severely in terms of flow as each combat section lasts too long even on easier difficulties (making them drag and overstay their welcome), dungeons are too short and offer too little activity other than travel, and dialogue and NPC moments are spaced oddly throughout.