Old Games and Fridge Logic

November 29, 2010 - Games, Humour

When it comes to Older games; and even just games in particular, The developers obviously have to make some compromises; a game is never 100% realistic, even the most open sandbox game restricts your actions; Fallout 3, for example, while a vast world with numerous ways to complete the game and perform actions, still provides only a finite number of ways to go through the game; additionally, you can never “leave” the capital wasteland thanks to.. well, for no good reason. It just won’t let you leave thanks to invisible walls.

NES games, in particular, really use this. Take- Super Mario Brothers.

Right at the start, there is a goomba. If it happens to shuffle slowly into you, you die. Realistically speaking, being touched by a mushroom is not something that is usually fatal, even a anthropomorphized one that can magically move by changing the size of it’s feet.

it’s a permissible break from reality, given the limitations of the system, and in the name of fun. Extending this logic back into reality has some pretty interesting results, what with people exploding at the slightest touch, meaning that reproduction of our species is made both very impossible and all attempts to do so rather messy.

But wait! They wouldn’t explode, they would look to their right, hold up their arms and legs, and jump up several times higher then is physically possible and fall through the floor. Additionally, we will find that grabbing seemingly innocuous objects will grant us super powers; the leaves of any deciduous tree will allow you to become a mutant freak raccoon hybrid, while grabbing flowers will allow you to shoot fireballs.

Then you have the various games, such as contra, that represent bullets as slow moving projectiles. Allowing you to literally see the enemy shoot, the bullet come towards you, and effortlessly jump over it. It’s like the entire game is played in bullet time or something. Which naturally makes the game a lot easier, which isn’t saying much, as anybody whose played this game can attest. They may have made the bullet mechanic less frustrating, but they compensate by literally filling the screen with these bullets, especially the later levels.

Additionally, most games often represent lasers as projectiles that have an observable speed- see Goldeneye 007 for the N64 for one example- super metroid provides another, with the Plasma beam (which to my understanding is a laser).

a laser, by definition, travels at the speed of light, not something you can really “observe” in transit. On the other hand, the results from this particular difference are a lot more fun to observe; seeing a laser coming at you and blowing up your head, even though you died in the game would be a lot more “fun” then simply having your head explode for what seems to be no reason.

On the flipside, you often have games that perform what is known as “hitscan” testing. That is- the bullet is never actually “in-flight” when you shoot, it instantly hits the target. This is an acceptable compromise, since a game like Doom was both made many years ago (when computers weren’t as powerful) and the aim of the game is to kill evil stuff, not to learn about firearm ballistics. Some newer games try to avert this by actually having the bullets trajectory’s estimated and accounted for. This makes for more realistic gameplay, which can be just as fun.

Mario is an example of many of another interesting issue. for example, it’s easy to create a perpetual motion machine; simply find a koopa or buzzy beetle between two pipes, stomp them, and kick their shell. The shell effortlessly glides along the ground as if it was made of a completely frictionless material (despite mario’s clear ability to grip and move along it) additionally the shell will rebound off the pipes or blocks to either side in a perfect elastic collision and it preserves 100% of it’s horizontal momentum. Further, having two shells do this and collide causes them both to “die” (flip upside down and fall off the screen, just like how objects are destroyed in real life, right?) whereas one would expect they might bounce off one another. Actually, the reason for this I suspect is that a shell in movement essentially kills any enemy whose hitbox it collides with; in this case, both shells kill each other. (since there is no special case whereby a shell hitting another shell causing any specific behaviour). This is changed in Super Mario World, since making two movable enemies (such as upside down goombas, koopa shells, buzzy beetles, etc) collide will cause them to die but it also gives you a different amount of points; whereas on the first SMB two shells colliding would give you the sum of the number of points each shell is worth (depending how many enemies they have collides with so far) colliding two objects in smw would always give you 1000 points. additionally, you could just walk into a second shell or enemy while holding another and destroy both, while simply dropping the shell on said enemy’s head will kill them but preserve the shell. Really it’s a lot of rather complicated rules that make sense to people that play it but when you consider it it not only is entirely unrealistic (justified, it being a game designed for fun) it is also inconsistent even with it’s own rules (a ‘la the “drop or kick the shell to kill an enemy but preserve the shell, or keep holding it to destroy both)).

RPGs are of course not exempt from this, clearly because people don’t advance through levels nor actually acquire experience points; nor do they magically learn new skills out of nowhere when they acquire enough tech points or reach certain levels. Earthbound has this, when you reach certain levels, you instantly learn new PSI skills. “Ness realized the power of PSI Rockin’ A” for example. However, when you consider it, it doesn’t make any sense, realistically, whatsoever. “Wow, it’s a good think I killed that boss. Hey, I just realized I can kill shit with my mind, cool.”. You’d expect there to be some training involved. And then later in the game, Poo, a hilariously named character from the Far East area called “Dalaam” is whisked away by somebody who actually does teach him PSI skills. So it would seem that when you have PSI abilities, you can just walk around and kill things, using whatever you want and you suddenly learn new ones. Hell, you could even get Jeff to just kill stuff with bottle rockets while everybody else watches.

Ness: OMG! A blue swirl enveloped me, and now you guys have suddenly appeared next to me to fight a oak tree!
Jeff: Don’t Worry! I’ll launch a Big Bottle Rocket at it! *shoots bottle rocket*
Ness: OMG! the Oak tree exploded into flames
Jeff: ACK! I have taken mortal damage!
Paula: AHH! I also have suffered damage that will lead to my death
Poo: the flames missed me.

Ness: Whew, the battle is over, everybody OK?
Jeff: yes, thankfully despite having 86%A of my body covered in third degree burns during the battle in what would realistically cause me instant death, because the HP counter had not rolled over to zero by the end, I survived just fine with only a few scratches.
Paula: I’m a GHOST!
Ness: OMG! Watching you kill that Oak tree with a bottle rocket has caused me to learn a new psychic move, despite the fact that PSI healing Omega is clearly unrelated in any way to bottle rockets.
Poo: I can mysteriously speak english, despite being from a country on the other side of the world.
Paula: HELLO! I’m a ghost here! Not good!
Ness: here, Paula’s Ghost, have a cup of noodles
Paula: Ahh, much better, I have become corporeal again. That was odd. These are damn fine noodles.
Ness: OK, gais, let’s go to a hotel
*they all stay in a hotel*
Jeff: dudes, despite the fact that I didn’t get any sleep, my HP is fully restored!
Ness: cool. why’d you not sleep
Jeff: DUH! I was fixing this Broken Spray can, and when I fixed it, it became the DEFENSE SPRAY!
Ness: That took you all night? It’s a spray can. Why are you carrying around broken stuff anyway?
Paula: Hey guys I think if we battle a few more random enemies I might learn how to freeze enemies using PSI Freeze Omega!
Ness: Wow, cool, and then we can go and defeat the big bad enemy who has no true form and is a lampshade of all “ultimate evil” type enemies in all games.
Ness: dude, you never had shoes.
Poo: Oh.

This of course happens in nearly all RPGs…. and let’s not forget Final Fantasy’s thing where they always make the bosses like fifty times the size of your characters. (And of course the whole “I will walk forward and slash the air… TAKE THAT! numbers have appeared in front of you!” thing).

Additionally, when you kill enemies (in older games) oftentimes they don’t leave a body behind. In Chrono Trigger and final fantasy, for example, they just sort of dissipate. If that was something that occured in real life funeral homes would go out of business. Thankfully, in the game, they still leave plenty of lootz.

Several Shows on Television suffer this to a hilarious degree. CSI is a prime example, as well as NCIS. Whenever an episode has any sort of involvement of computer hacking or anything remotely similar, you may as well change the channel. It’s basically a stream of made up crap that means nothing at all. Let’s not forget the classic case whereby none of the computer interfaces are even vaguely familar half the time; you’d expect them to use; I don’t know, an OS that exists; however they all use some weird special OS whereby all fonts are at least 72-point and every single piece of text types itself out when you go to show it; showing that, despite the computers being super fast, they haven’t mastered the basic art of text display. Or more likely they made it look fancy for no good reason. Also, when they are comparing fingerprints, rather then the program, I don’t know, just saying a % of the database it’s gone through, it instead displays every single entry as it goes through the database. Apparently none of the people responsible for this realized how stupid and pointless and slow that was.

Another magic feature is the “enhance” option, which appears to be a part of anything that can handle images. Merely displaying an image in Paint, for example, and saying “enhance that” and pointing at a vague location of the screen tells the computer to enhance a 5 by 5 pixel area that represents a suspect/victims face, and then it magically extrapolates, using those 5 pixels, exactly what that person looks like in high definition. Of course this is entirely impossible with even the BEST software because it’s basically constructing data out of nowhere. It’s like having a picture of yourself from that only includes your face and telling the computer to give you body and then having it actually create what you looked like that day. The data is gone, or it never existed. no amount of “enhancement” is going to bring it back. Sure, you can apply various filters to highlight trends or patterns in the data that does exist, and so forth; but “enhancing” the image and causing missing data to be “interpolated” out of thin air is nonsense.

Star Trek, naturally, is no exception to this sort of thing; characters can perform about 20 different things on one console, while only tapping a few random buttons. And of course, the interface makes no sense at all; it’s a few colourful rectangles, only some of which have a random number over top of it, and yet everybody seems to know what each one does, even [i]aliens who have never encountered it before[/i]. If these aliens can do it, why can’t us viewers make sense of it?

And now I have totally forgotten what I was talking about. Oh well.

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