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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Gushing About: Hack n' Slash Games

     Ever since I was a kid I've been enamored by games where you get to run around as a guy with a sword and tearing hundreds, if not thousands, of enemies apart. But despite how fun it is,when there's nothing to do but that in a game, it gets really old very quickly. This topic came to mind when I was thinking about Hyrule Warriors and how it could take what I like about Dynasty Warriors and making it refreshing and interesting for more than one level.

     My first encounter with hack n' slash games (or beat 'em up games in general) was an arcade machine with Turtles in Time. I don't remember where I was, when this happened, or who I was playing with, but I remember this blowing my mind. The colors were amazing, you keep going to the right and fighting off ninja dudes and the music sounded great. I got to walk  around as a ninja with two swords kicking butt at every turn.

    That experience made me seek out more arcade machines whenever my family went out somewhere. Lucky for me there was a pizza place we frequented that had a Turtles in Time Machine as well as an X-Men one. I never actually thought of these games as the kind you could play for hours at home so I never got the chance to grow tired or bored, always wanting more. They were short games I could play a little with just the 4 or so quarters given to me.

     Things changed a bit when I went to McDonalds in 2003 and noticed a line of GameCubes in the play place. Most had standard fare games like Mario Sunshine and Mario Golf, but one had something I had never seen before. Those ninja turtle guys I hadn't seen since Turtles in Time in 3D walking around in a sewer fighting robots with comic style sound effect text popping up on each impact. It looked cool and reaffirmed my love for games where you run around beating the crap out of everything with a blade or two.

      A little later I got a hand-me-down Playstation 2 and played Dynasty Warriors (specifically #4) for the first time. It was awesome to slash through armies and level up my favorite guy (Xiahou Dun) to watch my weapon and magic become more powerful. But for some reason that kind of fun just doesn't hold up. I want more nowadays. I want to enjoy that kind of fun again  but it just won't stick without some way to split up the constant junk-food action sequences so the game has up and down tempos.

     It feels like there's a missing piece here. Dynasty Warriors has a good thing going for it, but gets boring at some point because the game never changes. I'm hoping the recently announced Hyrule Warriors manages to fix whatever is wrong with the Dynasty Warriors formula by mixing in ways Zelda games tend to split up action sequences. Some light exploration, interesting enemy types, and a few puzzles in between slashing through hundreds of foes makes for an awesome game in my opinion.

     I know for a fact that slashy games and beat 'em ups can work without anything extra because Castle Crashers was a blast to play all the way through. Multiple times even. Maybe there's a formula here I should tap into one day. Maybe in the far future I'll decide to make an action game that appeals to me perfectly and finds an audience that loves that kind of stuff the way I do.

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