The Immortal (is Not Fun)

I was very saddened by the loss of Nintendo Power. No, I did not have a subscription for much of its existence but I appreciate its legacy. Nintendo Power offered a small glimpse into the future of games and the not-so-Mario games of the current Nintendo generation. Although my memories are weak with age, I will never forget the one game that necessitated the existence of the Nintendo Power magazine:

Oh god, why?!

Electronic Arts presents: You are going to want to kill yourself.

The Immortal is an isometric adventure game where you take the role of a wizard-looking man who is on a journey to escape a dungeon and potentially rescue another man from maybe another another man. The Immortal also happens to be a port of an Apple IIGS game. Let me first mention that I had no idea a computer called the Apple IIGS even existed until now and that the most bearable part of The Immortal, the graphic violence, is severely toned down in the NES port. Also, it’s probably worth noting that I wish this game was never made.

I was not prepared.

Prepare to continue dying.

To say the least, The Immortal is a very hard game. More accurately, The Immortal is so difficult that it borders on being a psychological test. It is designed to be extremely unforgiving and extremely trial and error based. This game loves you kill you. It loves to kill you constantly. I loves killing you even though you are careful. This is mostly because everything will kill you. In fact, in 75% of the cases, there is no way to tell what will kill you until you are killed by it. If you are prepared to be killed, you are prepared to play The Immortal.

Getting killed every 20 seconds isn’t necessarily the worst part of this game. The worst part of The Immortal stems from what I would like to call its “bad adventure game” aspect. A good adventure game rewards you for thinking abstractly enough to figure out the puzzles. A bad adventure game gives you little to no clues to complete necessary puzzles and punishes the player for attempting creative solutions. In the first level alone, there are three items that will instantly kill you if used. This wouldn’t be so bad if you weren’t limited to 3 lives. Yes, after 3 deaths you must start over from the beginning of the level. The Immortal’s main issue is not that it is a bad adventure game, it’s that it’s just too frustrating to play to have an enjoyable, rewarding experience.

In order to get any enjoyment out of this game, you must be using a guide. When I was a child, I watched my brother play through this game using his trusty Nintendo Power. Nintendo Power was known for containing vary detailed guides and their The Immortal guide was top-notch. The puzzles and proper orders to complete this game are far too challenging to attempt without a guide, especially with the 3 life limit. Nintendo Power was a real life saver. Using a guide, you can turn The Immortal from an aggravating, brain-melting death-fest to just an aggravating death-fest. Although it’s no longer brain-melting, it doesn’t make it any more fun.

Please do not play The Immortal. It is not worth it. Or maybe it is… what do I know?!

Every Unique Death in Level 1

Immortal, The (U)- death

You will see many of these. Some of them more than once. The rest more than 10 times.

  1. Worm trap
  2. Ground flame trap
  3. Goblin smack
  4. Wall fireball
  5. Bat attack
  6. Using worm bait
  7. Arrow from wall trap
  8. Hidden pitfall
  9. Using mushroom spores
  10. Invisible Shade enemy
  11. Falling down ladder hole
  12. Reading Amulet incantation
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Useless Bugs and Glitches (are Fun)

As a computer scientist, I understand that as the complexity of a computer program goes up, so does the chance of bugs. Especially when it comes to video games, it is exceedingly difficult, if not impossible,  to consider every single scenario of user input during every single possible state of a program. Many video games are plagued with bugs and glitches whose effects can range from “helpful” to “progress destroying”. These are all nice and exciting but what about the bugs that can be described as “not useful nor hurtful”? Before I go on, I define a bug or glitch as “an unintended effect of a programming error or oversight”. This might actually be the exact definition of a bug or glitch… whatever!

This post is dedicated to all those video game glitches out there that don’t particularly do anything yet I am still compelled to perform them. In honor of these programming errors, here are some notable examples:

Legend of Zelda: Links Awakening (GBC) – Forest Mystery Tile

Those moblins will have nightmares for years.

Link has no qualms with tearing the world apart piece by piece.

Whats happening:

Link picks up a piece of the forest scenery and it instantly becomes a rock. The rock behaves like normal rocks and can be thrown at enemies.

How to perform:

While in the forest, any top-right corner tile acts this way. There are several occurrences of it in the forest. Just walk up to it and pick it up using the bracelet.

My best guess as to why it happens:

This is most likely an simple oversight when configuring the tiles. For whatever reason, the specific type of tile was set to act like a rock and a normal wall. This may have been used in this fashion early in the game’s development or may just have been a mistake. At some point, that tile was changed into a normal forest tile and nobody remembered to check the attributes. The probably didn’t catch the error because it operated correctly as a wall tile. It’s not a very technical guess but it may be somewhat correct.

Why it’s Turbo-Awesome:

Have you ever got so mad you just wanted to take a chunk out of the world and throw it at someone? This glitch lets you do just that… as long as you’re in the forest.

Marvel vs. Capcom (ARC) – Spider-Man’s Anti-gravity Attack

mvc_spiderflip

I bet hit spider-sense didn’t see that coming.

What’s happening:

First, Spider-Man throws Captain America and then performs a normal standing roundhouse. Next, Spider-Man throws Captain America and performs an aerial version of the roundhouse even though he never jumped.

How to perform:

With Spider-Man, perform a throw using the heavy kick button. As soon as the throw completes, hit any attack to perform the aerial version while floating slightly above the ground. The timing is extremely difficult and is easier if you just repeatedly press an attack as the throw is ending. I believe it works with any attack but the kick shown looks the funniest, in my opinion.

My best guess as to why it happens:

The fighting game genre is incredibly complex with thousands of combinations of inputs, states and reactions. There is no way for me to know exactly what is happening. If you watch the throw, it puts Spider-Man into the air as he spins the opponent around. During this time, the game sets Spider-Man to a “aerial” state. When Spider-Man finishes the throw, he lands and then it resets his state to “standing”. I believe there is a brief period between “throw” and “standing” where the game sets the speed and position of a “standing” character but is interrupted by performing the kick, leaving Spider-Man in an “aerial” state. Due to this, Spider-man does an “aerial” attack even though he is on the ground with no vertical velocity. After the attack is finished, it rechecks Spider-Man’s position and correctly sets his state as “standing”.

Why it’s Turbo-Awesome:

It’s really easy to do and looks awesome. It’s almost like a secondary way to taunt your opponent! After a spinning your opponent around, you spin your self around just for the heck of it!

Super Mario Bros. 2 (NES) – POW to Heaven

I know Luigi can jump high but not <i>that</i> high.

This is most certainly not the Mushroom Kingdom.

What’s happening:

Luigi is launched into the air via log until he hits the top of the screen.

How to perform:

Throw a POW block and have it hit the ground while you are standing on a falling log.

My best guess as to why it happens:

I have no idea. POW blocks have always done strange things. Honestly, I have no clue why this would happen. It doesn’t make sense at all. Nintendo, you so craaaazy.

Why it’s Turbo-Awesome:

FLY, LUIGI! FLY! No further comments.

Blaster Master (NES) – The Suicide Mobile

Those damn Lightning Beings are getting crafty...

Jason must have pissed off the wrong people…

What’s happening:

When Jason enters the tank, it immediately explodes, killing poor Jason in the process.

How to perform:

While in the tank, take damage until you have one hit left. Then, while on the ground, take one more hit and immediately exit the tank. Jason will jump out before the tank gets a chance to explode.

My guess as to why it happens:

When you get hit, you have a brief period of invincibility. This allows you to some breathing room if you are surrounded by enemies. Many games implement this feature as it would be unreasonable to have your entire health bar drained in a fraction of a second for colliding with an enemy. As far as I can tell, the game only checks to see whether the tank should explode when it is not in the invincibility state. Thus, when you get hit, you have a brief moment during the invincibility state to have Jason jump out. When Jason jumps back in, since it is not in the invincibility state, the game checks if the tank have any health, confirms it does not, and explodes it.

Why it’s Turbo-Awesome:

Every single time I plays Blaster Master, I have to perform this glitch at least one time. It is always hilarious to see something suddenly explode. Just watch that GIF a few times. Poor Jason has no idea what’s coming and then BOOM! Pure, useless, buggy satisfaction.

So, What’s the Deal?

Video games are designed to be fun but remember that these games are designed. People sat around and planned and programmed how they want you to play their game. What I find to be incredibly fascinating are the things you can do that the game was never designed to do! Most games have several of these oversights in them which allow the player to escape the designed rules of the game. Some of the most interesting times I’ve had with video games is when I am testing and pushing the limits of what the developer intended.

I am compelled to perform these glitches whenever I play these (and other) games as it reminds me that video games do not just a belong to the developers. They belongs to those who want to experience it. It belongs to the players. Video game players willingly enter the worlds created by these developers just to experience the world the game can offer. These little glitches and bugs represent a portion of the game world that the player experienced before the developer even knew they existed! Video games developers work extremely hard to give us a chance to have these experiences, intended or not. So remember, when you’re playing a shiny new game and something a little out of the ordinary happens, sit back and enjoy it. With all the quick patches and updates that come out for games these days, these experiences might not last.