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The age of the internet has provided us with ubiquitous
access to gaming guides and detailed walkthroughs that provide the expert knowhow
to overcome vexing areas. The debate
remains whether or not gamers should use guides. After all, a video game is a digital world
entirely constructed by human hands.
Each animation, environmental object, switch and character model is
built into the game as a conscious decision.
Therefore, all the clues we need to progress are available, if only we
can follow the developer's logic. But
games are meant to be fun and searching environments for obtusely hidden
objects is definitely not fun. To use or
not to use guides remains paramount in a time when information is only a click
away on the internet and is accessible wherever your smartphone gets
service. In the mid to late 1990's when
my brother and I sunk our time in a Playstation, Google did not even
This level results in a lava filled death, every time, but I always have a fun time trying.
My very first console and cheat code was with the Sega
Genesis. In fact, I have a Sega Genesis
currently set up in the guest room. My
games were limited but I enjoyed each one.
In my Disney Adventures magazine, now defunct, I spied a level skipping
cheat code for the Aladdin licensed game.
I was floored at the concept of bypassing levels that I did not complete
and I guiltily memorized the code despite my worries that I was cheating. Pressing A, B, B, A, A, B, B, A I amazingly bypassed
previously unseen levels able to only play for a few minutes until my curiosity
compelled me on. I sped through levels
abruptly stopping when I discovered the magic carpet level. To this day, I cannot beat the magic carpet
level after Genie's helpful hand instructing me up or down turns into a
question mark despite repeated attempts.
In the mid-1990's, for every holiday we received the latest
Oregon Trail with its accompanying guide.
The books became well-worn with folded corners on the pages detailing
how to treat dysentery or overcome being mauled by a bear. We played a myriad of PC games but without
guides the only information available was from the accompanying instruction booklet
that was inevitably lost. My summer
spent in the original Stronghold conquering all of modern day England is an
achievement I continue to quote as a gaming accomplishment and occurred on a
computer that did not even have internet access because the time period's home
internet connection was screechy dial-up that was only for the living room's
Numemon, I worked so hard for...googly eyes attached to neon green goo and a slobbery tongue?
My brother and I eventually branched off into the Playstation
era and we devoted our time to Digimon World.
We trained our critters obsessively for cool, not lame, transformations. Embroiled in friendly sibling rivalry I, as
the oldest, dominated our arena battles.
Naturally, I was having a great time.
My brother's friends played video games but mine did not. My brother spoke of game guides that charted
what was needed in order to attain the exact Digimon desired. I scoffed at the notion of "cheating" by
consulting a guide. In actuality, my conscience
was still guilty from my Aladdin cheat code.
Instead, I forced my critter into the gym, worked hard to train the
creature in a variety of useful skills up to the last second before it
evolved. Eventually, no matter what I
did, all of my creatures became Numemon, a pitiful champion level Digimon who
resembled green goo with eyeballs. I
An unexpected purchase that proudly sits and awaits the next guide I deem worthy of residing next to it.
I am not against guides and nowadays RPGs practically
require guide use in order to maximize a playthrough. In January 2012, after I continuously
returned to my smartphone while playing Skyrim I finally bought the guide which
now sits proudly amongst my gaming swag.
The large and detailed tome reminds me of poring over video game
instruction booklets. I read the
booklets during my non-gaming as preparation in order to maximize every second
of actual gameplay. Reading about the
Skyrim quest that I am currently engulfed in or recently completed ensures that
I do not miss rare loot or an optional storyline and became a fun novelization
of my Skyrim adventures.
Every weekday, I ride two buses on my travels to and from
work which is a lot of time to search the internet on my smartphone. During my
time so far with The Witcher 2 I obsessively checked guides to plan ahead for
branching storylines. The same with
Fallout 3, after I became embroiled in a quest I checked online guides for
anything I may have missed. In Fallout 3's
The Pitt DLC, I absurdly committed to collecting all 100 steel ingots. After I found about 70 on my own I pulled up
a walkthrough but in order to ensure that I obtained all of the ingots I was
forced to check all 100 locations individually.
This is not a recommended strategy for collecting the ingots. Also, I was forced to master jumping in a
Bethesda game which is a skillset that I had pointedly avoided. I am the player who circles the mountain's
base for the path, not the polygon mountainside jumping player.
Four leopards versus me and my currently equipped flamethrower or four leopards versus me and a bow? The bow seems like the fairest fight.
Most recently, in Far Cry 3 I was unexpectedly playing a
brand new release with little to no previous knowledge of the game or of its
franchise. I delved into the game
conquering pirate outposts, climbing radio towers, and frantically running away
from the island's native wildlife. The
hunting component requires tracking, killing and skinning the wildlife for
skins used for upgrading equipment such as wallets, quivers, and munitions pouches.
In fact, the island's map includes animal
icons for the general vicinity of each species' locations and hunting syringes
provide bonuses such as preventing bears and the like from attacking. An early focus on hunting and the equipment
upgrades results in maxing out the upgrades fairly early. Except for the "Leopards killed a villager's
wife. Hunt them with a bow provided at
the site of the attack" mission which translated into "Kill four leopards with
a bow and regular arrows." Four leopards and only a bow resulted in a hunting
mission that was simply an exercise in sadism.
However, the overall gameplay is clear.
See the boar icon on the map, fast travel to the nearest liberated
outpost, wander the land in pursuit of boar, kill and skin the boar, equipment upgrade
The legendary tapir! Far Cry 3, aka, The Animal Planet in disguise.
Quickly I progressed through the upgrades and suddenly I needed
4 tapir skins. As per my strategy, I viewed
the island's map, looked at the icons, and stated out loud, "What the hell is a
tapir?" I was not sure which icon was
even a rough approximation of a tapir.
The game features a handbook of explanations but entries are only
unlocked upon discovering an item or location.
Naturally, my smartphone sat next to me and as I considered
looking up a picture of a tapir, I stopped.
Despite my best intentions not to overly read about my most anticipated
titles I still watch gameplay footage, read previews, and peruse other players'
thoughts on the games. When I cannot
afford a title before a price drop I inevitably encounter small and big
spoilers before I can play the game even when exercising the upmost
While exploring the island I particularly enjoyed the discovery of the glider crashing upon use.
In Far Cry 3 I was given the surprising privilege of discovering
the game's secrets in real time as I played.
Each new mechanic and narrative twist was a revelation. This rare opportunity to peel back a game
only with playtime was a treat that reminded me of the pre information
age. Nostalgia is fun for a moment in
remembrance of the sense of discovery and satisfaction that gaming
provided. However, back in my Digimon
World era I was stuck with Numemon and my refusal to check a guide resulted in
me not returning to the game after the letdown of my highly anticipated digivolution. A moment in this current gaming age of gaming
without a wealth of pre-knowledge was precious and I will continue my
playthrough of my most recent purchase, Hydrophobia, without a guide
lookup. However, as I countdown to
Tuesday's Tomb Raider release, I will keep combing through the reviews grateful
for the opportunity to read reviews and watch gameplay as evidence of a good
preorder decision and to spur my
anticipation for the moment that it is my turn to play.
What is your favorite
What is your memorable
moment that compelled you to pick up or put down a game guide?
Have you or anyone you
know beaten Sega Genesis' Aladdin's magic carpet level?
Did you know what a tapir
was prior to reading this blog? If yes,
did you learn your tapir knowledge from Far Cry 3?
Thank you all for stopping by during your time on the
internet. Have a good week and as always
make sure to include game time in your busy schedule.