Gaming's Oddest Means Of Traversal
It’s no secret that half the fun of the imminently destructive Just Cause 3 is spying a location in the distance and using whatever means necessary to get there, whether it be paragliding, skydiving in a wingsuit, or hijacking a military jet with the help of an absurdly competent grappling hook. But before Just Cause 3 spurred the creation of a thousand hilarious gifs, the world of gaming had plenty of odd ways to get around. These are the weirdest means of traversal gaming has to offer.
Squid Form – Splatoon
When considering the physics of a world inhabited by *** cephalopods and an immortal talking cat, is it really such a stretch to believe that a primary mode of transport relies on swimming through ink? Splatoon keeps players’ bipedal forms comparatively slow, forcing them to convert into an adorable squid to both move across the map faster and refill their ink. One special ability even gives players the ability to morph into the invincible Kraken. The only question is, since it’s a fact that cars still exist in this universe, why isn’t all transport done in the clearly superior squid fashion?
Rocket-Boosted Thighs – Vanquish
Before Platinum Games became a production powerhouse, its fourth title in under two years began to boost-slide its way into the hearts of a core fandom of action game fans. Vanquish, heavily influenced by the classic anime Casshern and gameplay of more traditional 2D “bullet hell” games, debuted to much critical praise thanks to its innovative sliding mechanic. As DARPA agent Sam Gideon, players use the Augmented Reaction Suit to wrestle control of a deadly super weapon from a robotic Russian army. Besides slowing down time when health drops dangerously low, the ARS allows its user to slide along the ground at breakneck speed, bypassing enemies and massive amounts of gunfire to grab a better vantage point.
Astral Projection – Driver: San Francisco
Patrick Swayze has nothing on the disembodied ghost of John Tanner, except maybe pottery. After a perilous chase with Driver 3 antagonist Jericho, race car driver-turned police officer Tanner is injured and put into a deep coma. Inside Tanner’s mind, things continue as normal for the high-speed sleuth, save for the addition of the new “Shift” mechanic. Shifting allows Tanner’s conscience to leap from vehicle to vehicle, possessing the driver while retaining his own persona, resulting in no small amount of hilarious encounters. Need a new ride? Take control of that lucky Dodge Viper driver. Losing ground on a fleeing perp? Possess the trucker coming down the next intersection and stop him dead in his tracks. Need to clench a killer stunt? That car carrier with the lowered ramp doesn’t look busy.
Morph Ball – Metroid
One of Metroid’s most important mysteries isn’t the ultimate fate of Samus’ adoptive parents, the Chozo, or Samus’ intentionally vague disposition. It’s actually how a six-foot-three-inches tall space bounty hunter manages to curl up inside of a ball roughly two-and-a-half feet in diameter. First appearing in the original Metroid as the “marumari,” Samus’ morph ball allows the hunter to slink through previously inaccessible areas, helping to define Metroid’s distinct interconnected world. Fans theorize that Samus is able to use the ball by momentarily becoming pure energy, indicated by the glow seen emitting from the ball’s seams. Others believe it has something to do with pocket dimensions. If you ask us, it’s probably the same technology as Pokéballs – but would that make Ridley Charizard’s son?
City-Issued Roller Coaster Claw – BioShock Infinite
Sure, plenty of games have their various grappling hooks and their rappelling ropes, but none come close to the absurd contraption that is BioShock Infinite’s skyhook. Originally used by young hooligans as a makeshift means to commit death-defying stunts on the city's precarious cargo transport rails, Columbia’s man of industry Jeremiah Fink eventually mass produced a more stable version for the city’s police and militia forces. Magnetic attraction allows for protagonist Booker to hop from one track to the next without worry of looking at Columbia from the bottom up. Just make sure to wipe off after accidentally gutting an officer with it. It gets a little messy.
Cannon-Mounted Quick Travel –Secret of Mana
With a glut of open-world adventures currently available, quick travel is as synonymous with gaming as health packs and power-ups. Sadly, most modern games can’t muster up the ingenuity to make quick travel as entertaining an experience as slaying monsters or discovering a new landmark. Square’s Secret of Mana was well ahead of the curve, even for its own time. Giant cannons spread throughout the world allow the player’s party to hop inside and hold on for the ride of their life. Using the SNES’ “Mode 7,” the normally flat overworld is rotated to simulate the look of the player’s party flying through the air at breakneck speeds. Nevermind the physics of breaking the stratosphere and landing miles away, only to dust off your tunic and continue on your merry way.
Electric Grid Grind – Infamous
Taking the same general tightrope mechanic they used in the Sly Cooper franchise, Sucker Punch enveloped 2009’s Infamous in countless ways to manipulate electricity for one’s own means, including high speed grinding. No, not the dance move (but let’s not rule that out for future titles), but the act of jet-setting on tall power lines or subway tracks spread throughout the city. The only question remaining (and it’s an important one, even in a world full of comic book villains and time travel) is how does series protagonist Cole Macgrath do it without frying his shoes?
Losing Your Head – Neverdead
Feelings on Rebellion’s undead shooter offerings aside (read Matt Helgeson’s review here), Neverdead’s head-rolling mechanic did offer one revolutionary (get it?) way to keep the fight going. When immortal demon bounty hunter Bryce Boltzmann takes too much damage, his limbs begin to pop off one by one, until the dashing rogue is reduced to nothing but a revolving cranium. Bryce must avoid further damage and literally collect himself by rolling around and reattaching his limbs, evidently never too bewildered that his brain would have no conceivable way to tell his arms to shoot while still grappling for his torso. It’s the Katamari Damacy spin-off you never knew you wanted.
Weird Giant Arm Tires – Twisted Metal
For a series built on absurd contraptions combining road rage and destruction, Twisted Metal’s Axel may ironically be the weirdest of them all. Trapped by his father in the diabolical machine when he was just a boy, Axel was left to roam the world for upwards of 30 years, repeatedly forced to participate in the Twisted Metal contest in the hopes of revenge and redemption. How his various special attacks (including a nuclear explosion) don’t toss his body right off is beyond even the most base level video game logic.
Horses On Skis, Robot Horses On Office Chairs, And Yetis – Japan World Cup
It’s not exactly news that a lot of weird games come out of Japan, but even we couldn’t see this bizarre racing title coming. In what we’re assured is a “100 percent accurate” recreation of Japanese derby racing, Japan World Cup allows players to compete for victory on some of the most valiant steeds since Epona. Such majestic creatures include an abominable snowman, a robotic horse that looks an awful lot like Mechagodzilla, and even a horse dragging a giant performance stage, complete with a singing J-pop star. Just stay away from our noble turtle races.