Non-RPGs are also sometimes guilty of artificially extending their gameplay. One that Nintendo seems to be guilty of as of late is the endgame fetch quest. After plenty of momentum, having to search for the pieces of the Triforce in The Wind Waker
or look all over the game for the nine Sky Temple keys in Metroid Prime 2
. Similarly, utilizing multiple dimensions without suitably expanding on those mechanics is a recipe for disaster. While Castlevania: Symphony of the Night's
inverted castle forced the player to do something new with the level design, Harmony of Dissonance
included a two-dimension castle that only offered an offensive color scheme with very similar gameplay, making the actual game seem very sparse of content. Finally, backtracking is another technique that infuriates most gamers. Outside of the Metroidvania subgenre, in which it is usually pulled off well, a game like Kingdom Hearts
showed how annoying backtracking could be in 3D; trying to find all the Trinity Marks to get the secret ending was far too exhausting for what was essentially a 1 minute trailer for Kingdom Hearts II
And what do these methods end up doing? They keep you playing the game longer. Sure, that may sound like a good thing, but consider that they are essentially diluting a game with some added value that doesn't really need to be there. Is it that much better in the long run?
No, it's not. I'd much rather have a tight, concise gaming experience than a long, bloated one. Take a look at Resident Evil 4
. It's only about an eight-hour game, yet it's eight hours of pure awesome. This fall's Portal
is another great example. Some lament its criminally-short three-hour gameplay, yet ask anyone who played it if there was any time in the game where you were not having fun. Like movies, a longer playtime does not automatically equal a better game. So the next time you complain about a game being too short, remind yourself of how much fun you had with the game, because if you didn't have much fun to begin with, I doubt it would have been solved by lengthening the game.