-by Dylan DiBona
I’ll never forget one day I was playing Twilight Princess HD. I died in the middle of a dungeon and thought “Damn! I don’t want to start from the beginning”. The game respawned me right outside the room I died in, I then remember thinking “What? There’s no punishment. What’s the point of dying?” It’s these conflicting thoughts that inspired this topic.
There are a few areas I feel like game designers never really nailed perfectly, death is one of them.
In Super Mario Bros. if you run out of lives even in the last world, you have to start all the way from the beginning of the game (unless you use a cheat). That’s far too drastic, and I’m sure it keeps tons of hopeful youths from beating the game after the downloading it from the virtual console.
Then there’s Super Mario Bros. 3 where if you get a Game Over you start at the beginning of the world. Not as painful but still annoying.
Fast forward all the way to modern Mario and you’re given rewards for dying. Players dub it “god mode” but if you die more than five times in specific recent Mario games, you will be given a white tanooki suit of invincibility. Doesn’t that seem like something you’d get for 100% completion in the N64 days? Now it’s given to you for failing.
It’s a see-saw of design; if we punish the player they could get too frustrated and quit, but if we make it too easy they might get bored or beat the game too quickly. There’s really no clear obvious answer for developers. Trying to “fix” this issue would require extra thought and work, maybe some developers just think their death punishments are fine.
I have a one proposal, it actually came from another Wii U game. I was playing Splatoon and while waiting in a lobby I was given a small mini-game.
I like the idea of giving me a minigame in between the real game. I thought back to Twilight Princess. What if Zelda ran on lives like Mario? If you ran out of these lives you would then have to earn some more in a small arcade-type minigame. I understand the flaws with this idea though: player frustration and lack of immersion are just a few.
It may just be impossible to give a universally accepted death punishment. Some players swear by the Dark Souls games, others find them too hard. Some people (like me) enjoy a good Kirby game, others laugh at the easiness. It comes down to the millions of different people and tastes there are. Who knows, maybe a game will add some color to this gray area soon.
So guys, what games have the most fair and unfair penalties for dying? Let me know down below and I’ll try my best to reply! As always, thanks for reading.