I played a lot of Magic: the Gathering for a few years back in the 1997 range. I spent a fair amount of time and money on the game, but eventually I ran out of people to play with, and that pretty much ended my Magic career. My wallet was thankful, though I always missed playing. Fast forward a few (quite a few) years to 2012 when Magic 2013 for iPad was released. Card games on the iPad seems to be a natural fit, and I was excited to pick it up.
Firing up the app for the first time, I immediately noticed how many screens there are before I could make it to the main menu. A few weeks ago I mentioned how video game intro videos must die, and it’s never been more true here. But it’s not just an intro video – it’s a whole series of screens that are absolutely useless to the user.
Borderlands is a series that’s absolutely driven by the desire to collect loot. When the original Borderlands was released back in 2009, I heard it referred to frequently as “the Diablo 2 of shooters”. It’s fitting then, that Borderlands 2 has a limited edition that comes with a replica loot chest.
All of the guns and other loot in the Borderlands series are randomly generated, and while the story is great, finding a legendary rocket launcher is really the reason to play. Collecting more and better guns is as good a driving force as any to play a game, right? But managing all that loot can be a challenge, and for a game that’s as loot-driven as Borderlands 2 is, Gearbox could have dealing with all of those sweet, sweet guns a little bit easier.
One of the many game modes in the EA’s Madden NFL football series is the “Create a Superstar” mode. It puts an RPG-esque twist on winning the Lombardi Trophy by letting you “level up” your superstar’s skills as you gain experience. This concept certainly isn’t novel though – I’ve talked a little bit about a similar mode in MLB 2K12 recently.
Since you are creating a superstar after all, there are quite a few details to be worked out – from hair style to shoe color and all kinds of things in between. Madden NFL even includes an extensive list of colleges that your superstar could have attended. I’m not sure exactly how many there are, but it’s a ludicrous amount. And this is where the problem comes in – EA might have picked the worst possible way for players to select a college.
Ah, minigames in RPGs. There have been a lot of classic minigames over the years that introduce really random tiny games into otherwise unrelated titles. Probably my favorite was the Triple Triad game back in Final Fantasy VIII – a simple collectable card game, but oh-so addicting. Final Fantasy actually has a long history of random minigames that can suck up a lot of your time while not really having anything to do with saving the world.
Gambling minigames are relatively common in any game that has you amassing a fortune. Yakuza 4 might be the king of minigames, and it has no shortage of ways to separate you from your hard-earned cash. But onto business – the most recent game I’ve been playing is The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings for the XBox 360. It features, among other things, a little dice poker minigame that lets you earn credits (Orens in this game) by beating your friends. For such a simple concept, it somehow manages to get nearly everything wrong. Here are five ways that dice poker in The Witcher 2 has an absolutely terrible interface.
By all accounts Brutal Legend was a game that wanted to be noticed. Unfortunately it wasn’t always for the right reasons.
One thing that was universally acclaimed about the game was how it was absolutely dripping with personality. This was clear by the main menu, which was built to mimic an old vinyl record. The game’s intro video claims “it’s not just going to blow your mind…it’s going to blow your soul”. By strict usability measures the menu isn’t perfect, but I’ll take having my soul blown over Jakob Nielsen’s approval any day of the week!