Video Game Rage – Life Systems



I didn’t think I would come across something that would anger me so furiously, so quickly. Colour me surprised, because here I am ready to rip into a new found annoyance in modern video gaming. Something that I shouldn’t even be having to bitch about because it’s something that shouldn’t even exist anymore. Life systems. A system that was created for the early days of console gaming, but even more specifically for the arcade. That’s right, the life system was made to get more coins out of the gamer’s pocket. Of course, this shouldn’t be too much of a shock to anybody with a brain. Arcades were made with difficulty in mind to get all your lives used up and more money spent to try again. A look at arcade beat ’em up re-releases like The Simpsons showcases the absurd amounts of deaths you’ll experience and, in turn, the absurd amount of quarters you’ll need to try again.

Insert coin.

Try again.

You died.

Game Over.

All common things you’d see back in the old days that meant you needed to try again. Currently in gaming when you die the game will say ‘you died’ or ‘you suck, bro’ but it will then quickly tap you on the head and push you back into the wild. Very rarely you’ll see the screen that says ‘Game Over’ because there’s really no point in just ending a player’s progress suddenly for an arbitrary reason. What’s the point in collecting lives in a game anymore? May I ask you that gamers? At this point we can try over and over again to get things right and, God willing, we’re going to.

Doo the thriilllerrrr

I’ve been playing Sonic Generations for a Zero Lives Left review and due to my own enjoyment of Sonic. I don’t want to dive too much into my thoughts on the quality of the game here, as that’ll render the review useless. However there is a fun little tidbit of Sonic Generations that I just need to talk about right now. And when I say talk, of course I mean rage.

What is the point of having a life system in your game?! Why on earth do you want me to start with a random amount of lives whenever I start the game and why do you want me to collect lives throughout the levels just to have me lose them all, only for me to get them all back when I ‘game over’. Seriously, that’s what happens when you lose all your lives. The game throws you back all five when you get their ‘game over’, then it plops you back right back at the start of your current level and says ‘go on now, my love, try again.’

Ultimately the lives are useless. There is legitimately no point to have lives in that game. They’re scattered randomly throughout the levels, so much to the point that I’d see one and think ‘that’s not worth it’ and then I’d keep going on my way. They’re useless because, like I said, when you die the game just puts you back at the start of your level and refills your lives.

Am I the only one who says how ass-backwards that is?

It’s a completely useless, stupid, unnecessary, idiotic and plain old dumb system to put in a modern game. I can understand it in an old game, where the game itself is actually like 1 hour long but the reason it seems longer is because you spend most of it restarting from game overs. However, in a modern game where the game itself last 6-10 hours (if good) or 2-4 hours (realistically) there’s absolutely no need to give a game over. Just plop them back at the checkpoint and let them try it as much as they want. Don’t just implement a system where if they die 5 times at one checkpoint they need to go all the way back to the beginning.

It’s bad.

It’s bad game design.

It should be nowhere near modern gaming.

The real big offenders are Nintendo and Sega. Why do you need lives in your games anymore? If somebody out there could give me a real answer that isn’t nostalgia I’ll accept it. The reason I discredit nostalgia is because is anyone really nostalgic for having a certain amount of lives? I mean can you imagine a game like Dark Souls had a life system to it? Sure, you’ve been doing great but you’ve died too many times at the Capra Demon so we’re going to send you back to the beginning of the game. Lives are artificial. They add nothing but fake difficulty to the game in the lamest way possible.


Well, back to Sonic Generations.

Yeah. Take your punishment Sonic.


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