Fruit Has Never Before Been This Exciting

I get stressed very easily. You have no idea how much a tough battle freaks me out or the mere thought that I might be unable to progress through a game, causing me to ponder with unease all the fun I might be missing out on if I’m never able to overcome the challenges set before me. I know these are just games. They are for fun, and thus, there is no pressure to complete them. There are no global consequences as a result of our inability to traverse a series of tricky obstacles or pummel a monster into submission, but that knowledge doesn’t seem to help. And yet, what would seem like quite a contradiction is the fact that I seem to like stressful games.

Or something like that.

You see, I recently beat my first Wii U game, Pikmin 3, and it pleased me to no end to find that the game involves a time limit like the first one did. You get a lot more time to finish the game (three times as much, I think, considering the first game gives you 30 days, and I beat this one in 57, with about 30 days worth of juice to spare), but the mere fact that I could no longer waste days collecting Pikmin (well, I clearly could, since I had a month to spare, but you know what I mean), along with a greater need to rush and avoid any meaningless dillydallying thrilled me a great deal. But, I get ahead of myself.

Pikmin 3 met and exceeded my expectations for this newest installment in the Pikmin series, but the thing I hoped for most upon my realization of its existence was that it would include a time limit. The very first Pikmin game gave the player 30 days to collect the pieces of Captain Olimar’s ship, or he would die. That’s right, he would run out of breathable air…and perish. And all those years ago when I first played the game, back when there was only one Pikmin game to play, I found it to be very challenging, but very fun and refreshing. Most games give you all the time in the world to complete. I mean, yeah, the Super Mario Bros games had a time limit for each level, but you weren’t hurting yourself any replaying a level just for the fun of it. The game itself had no time limit, and you could take years to beat it, and the game didn’t care. It just didn’t.

And yet, not only was Pikmin an interesting, new concept, where you’d sprout your own, little army of Pikmin in order to fight enemies and carry back pieces of Olimar’s damaged ship, the time limit gave it an urgency that made it more fun than you might expect. I played the game over and over again, and eventually, I could not only beat the game, but I could gather up every single item, including defeating the final, but optional boss. The time limit spurred me on and motivated me to see how quickly I could beat the game, and I can now beat it with a good amount of days to spare. How often, though, do you rush through, let’s say, a Final Fantasy game just to see how fast you can finish it?

And then, Pikmin 2 was released, and while it was a good game, I was disappointed that you were given all the time in the world to finish it. And the urgency was gone in more ways than just that, as well, because the goal of the game was to collect items in order to amass a large amount of money. No one’s life was at stake here. The game was still fun and challenging, but it missed a key aspect that I thought made the first game so great.

And so, when I bought Pikmin 3, I didn’t have very high hopes for it. Sure, I thought it would be a lot of fun, but I didn’t expect it to be as good as the first game, but you know what, it was. (Well, the first game will always be my favorite, but you can’t win against nostalgia.) In this game, three spacefarers crash on this planet and have to collect fruit for food. Now, if you ran out of fruit juice in this game, I think the consequences were less severe, and you could merely start again from an earlier day, but that didn’t prevent the immense satisfaction I felt from watching those bottles fill up with juice, and I was given more and more leeway to explore without the worry of diminishing food supplies. I loved that they brought back something from the previous game, and I commend them for making this the first Pikmin game I consider to have a true plot, even if it was a simple one.

Some of the games I’ve had the most fun with were games of this nature, including not just Pikmin 1 and 3, but The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, as well, which gave the player a mere three days in which to beat it, or else the moon would fall. Now, of course, in this game, you could start these three days over again as many times as needed, but it was still pretty cool, nonetheless. A time limit is not a terribly creative concept, but it’s still not used very often, and I guess I just like putting my gaming skills to the test and being forced to plan out my actions more thoughtfully, instead of my usual method of bumbling through a game and completing various tasks at random without any strategy at play. I like games that are more than mere games, that challenge you to think and plan more than simply jumping across platforms. I’ve heard it said quite often that many gamers can’t bring themselves to play through a game without motivation to do so or without an actual point to our actions, and these games mean that every action, every move that we make, has a point. If you make too many meaningless choices, we may fail, and it’s that pressure that causes these games to make me play at my best, and I love them for it.

Duckmin

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11 thoughts on “Fruit Has Never Before Been This Exciting

  1. I think the reason time limits are not so frequently used is that some people simply cannot stand them. However, with the goal of getting urgency across more effectively, I think games should use them more often in some specific missions.

    The urgency conveyed by games such as Majora’s Mask and Pikmin 3 is part of the reason they are so great.

    Majora’s Mask, more specifically, can get your heart thumping loudly if you are getting close to the entrance of a temple and the time is expiring. The feeling that you will lose all your progress if you don’t activate the temple’s owl statue before the world ends is an amazing rush. Speaking of which, I can’t wait to experience that again next month when MM 3D comes out.

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    1. Yeah, I get stressed easily, too, and most time limits do scare me, so it’s a bit weird that I like games like Pikmin and Majora’s Mask. I don’t want all games to be this way, of course, but it is this urgency that makes them stand out. I always panicked as I waited for the Clock Tower to open so I could reach Skull Kid, but it made the game feel more real because of the stress. You know, it’s not stressful when you reach the final battle in Skyward Sword (I’m being vague so as not to spoil anything for anyone) because you know the fate of the world will be unaffected by several hours spent completing side quests. But, you certainly don’t have that leeway in Pikmin or Majora’s Mask. That stress makes something as trivial as a game feel that much more real.

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    2. The time limit in Majora’s Mask was one of it’s best feature’s I’d say. Not only did it give you that nervous feeling about making sure your progress was saved, but it forced you to focus on achieving specific goals on each 3-Day run. You had to since the only “permanent” save was made when you went back in time.

      Did you hear that they’re doing away with that in the remake? Saving is going to be handled solely through owl statues, and rumor is that they’ll function like Ocarina’s menu saves. I hope that’s not true, as I feel it would take away much of the point of having a 3-Day cycle. Why worry about going back if your progress isn’t dependent on it?

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      1. Majora’s Mask was special because of those three days. Take that away, and it’s just another Zelda game. A good one, but it would no longer stand out as much.

        Do you mean you won’t lose your progress by going back in time? I wish they wouldn’t change remakes. People probably buy them because they were unable to get the original. I’m glad I can still play this game on the N64. The original is always the best.

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    1. I know, the fruit was lovely in that game. It all looked positively delicious, and I got strangely thrilled when the juice mixed and made different colors. This game might explain my recent desire to eat grapes lately.

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  2. Time limits done well make for an immensely rewarding experience. They make you feel like you’re getting things done. Time limits done poorly though….make you understand why people don’t like time limits.

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    1. Very true. I have suffered through games with badly done time limits, and all it does is make me angry. Games where it’s done well, like Pikmin, are fun because it is so satisfying to see how much you can cram into a single day.

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