The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time inspired a hatred of water-based levels within many members of the N64 generation; its Water Temple was, and still is, an incredibly divisive dungeon which to some sours an otherwise near-perfect game. We’re (mostly) cool with water levels, but not so much the other design staples to follow.
Using Peachette to avoid all contact with the ground is the correct way to play winter levels in New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe.
I have no issue with stories that take place in the ocean, like BioShock, but I always feel a certain degree of unease when I'm faced with an underwater journey in an otherwise dry game.
Whilst sub-aquatic sections aren't as ubiquitous in real life as I'd been conditioned to believe by the plumbers and hedgehogs I grew up with, not being able to swim has likely compounded my anxiety. Mario's ability to breathe underwater - a fitting trait for someone in his line of work - makes those levels the most palatable, whereas Sonic sits at the other end of the spectrum with that pant-shitting music that kicks in as he horrifyingly starts to drown.
Games about swimming are far fewer in number than games about war, and with good reason. As a community we've decided that being shot is more entertaining than taking a dip, yet developers often force us to stop having fun at predetermined moments anyway.
Tomb Raider is perhaps the biggest offender, forcing us to dive underwater in each and every instalment. Lara Croft is a terrible human being who gets her kicks from shooting live ammunition at the kindly old man who raised her, by the way - that’s the kind of person that likes to go swimming.
Listen at your own (and your pants') risk.
No one likes to be shushed. Whether at the library (if indeed they’re still a thing?) or perhaps a family gathering, people want the freedom to do as they please.
The same can be true with games, and nothing irks me more than a mandatory stealth section, especially when it flies in the face of the all-guns-blazing approach you were perfectly happy with up to now, thank you very much.
Stealth can be forced in, even to some success, as seen with the likes of Mass Effect 3 and Marvel’s Spider-Man, but when it's optional, and especially if you don't know it's optional, that's when things get really interesting.
In games like Deus Ex or the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077, which admittedly emphasise player choice as an ideal, the option is there to go sneaky if you want to take it, or you can just run in and shoot the place up.
In the end there's a satisfaction to finding out you can squirrel out if a situation, if that's what you want to do, but to mandate player behaviour more often than not feels unnatural and just reminds you that you're playing a game.
Deus Ex and other immersive sims do stealth right - they make it entirely optional.
Character creators have always been my least favourite part of any game they’re in. I can tolerate a dodgy level or mission-type because they’re usually a temporary grievance, but with character creators the pain is instant and often permanent.
When I start a game, I want to start the game, not spend half an hour worrying about eyebrow alignment and my avatar’s body mass index. Because I usually rush through these things in order to get to the good stuff, like in Mass Effect, I often end up creating a face that only a Systems Alliance can love, which I then have to stare at for the rest of the game, thus souring the experience.
For my first Skyrim playthrough I made a very generic-looking Nord character, which I rather creatively named Liam. It didn’t suit him, and instead of immersing me further it had the opposite effect whenever I saw it crop up in letters and messages.
By the time I realised how silly it was, I was dozens of hours deep and unwilling to either continue or start all over again. I have since tried restarting, at a much later point in time, with an Argonian named Bask, but there are only so many times one can clear Bleak Falls Barrow...
Liam the nondescript Nord probably looked something like this.
What typical gameplay sections can't you stand? Whether it's wonky driving stints in non-driving games, or maybe tedious escort missions, be sure to let us know with a comment below.