From water levels, to ice levels, to "moving" levels, to escort missions, many games have fallen into designing levels/missions for us with the same kind of challenges and mechanics. From our 8-bit days, all the way to the most modern of games, we've retained a lot of level types and a lot of these types have retained what makes them so annoying. Here are the most annoying types of video game levels.
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Protection, or "Escort" Levels (or "Missions)
Remember having to go home after a long day of school, then knowing your friends were going to be playing nearby, or going to the mall, or going out to the movies, and your parents said you could do all that... as long as you brought your little brother (or sister)?
That's what Protection Levels are like.
Remember that game you were having so much fun playing? Yeah, well now you have a little sidekick next to you, slowing you down, getting hurt (and often that causes you to have to replay the level more often than you would otherwise).
A lot of times, these levels are completely fun when done correctly. They add to the feel of the game and help you create an emotional bond with the character you're protecting, so they you actually care about the fact that they live. It puts you "in" the game.
But when done incorrectly (most of the time), these characters just act like a long tail that if hit, will kill you IMMEDIATELY.
Some examples are Resident Evil 4 (and 2) and most notably Dead Rising. Dead Rising doesn't just give you one person to protect. It gives you DOZENS. Sometimes you have a small crowd behind you that you have to keep safe, and apparently they're all paralyzed in every limb except their legs, their reflexes about 2 seconds behind yours.
And who can forget the final levels of ODST, as you have to protect a type of creature you've been blowing up the whole game. Oops.
It's awesome when two characters bond, but when you have to carry around dead weight, it becomes absolutely obnoxious.
Another example of this is the ENTIRE GAME of Left4Dead. It's an absolutely amazing game, but one of the most challenging parts of it is how you NEED your teammates, but if you play socially online, you're most likely playing with people worse than you. This turns Left4Dead into a protection level.
Here's a video of how to be a complete jerk during that game.
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Yep, they're the worst. And I don't just mean those levels where you're immersed exclusively in water. I mean levels where you're constantly in danger of falling into water, too. Those are the worst levels of Mario and have always, conceptually killed me. Why?
BECAUSE YOU CAN SWIM IN SOME LEVELS IN MARIO.
So why does water kill us sometimes? Does that 15 foot drop really kill you on impact? Even after making close to 100 foot jumps all the time, and even striving for them?
For some reason, for the longest time, water was the absolute DEVIL. These heroes who braved endless valleys and hoards, upon hoards, of unrelenting villains would completely bite the dust once they even TOUCHED water. Just like cats, only more annoying somehow.
And when you actually got to a LEVEL THAT WAS ALL WATER, people saw it fit to make it so that your character was always made of cement. Basically, you sink if you don't swim. With the amount of body fat Mario has, I call bulls**t on that.
Water levels don't only bring the game we were once playing to a complete standstill momentum-wise, but they annoy the hell out of us. Why?
Every creature in just about EVERY water level is more well-suited for the water than we are.
So why has this become such a long-standing game-level paradigm? Is it just easy to do? Are designers really just that uninventive with their environments? Either way, here are some examples as to why water levels are the worst:
1. Ocarina of Time - Water Temple Level
Sure, we could've included video of the Water Temple level , but then everyone would have to get new monitors this weekend. Also, BOOTS, really? Is Link really THAT skinny? Learn to swim.
2. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
This is easily one of the worst water levels of all time because not only is navigating absolutely horrible, but (like I said above) your character keeps sinking if you don't swim. Why does this matter? Because you're going to lose health each time you try to relax. And the fact that this is a TIMED level just adds insult to injury.
This level in this game taught me what rage was as a child, and I didn't appreciate it.
3. Star Fox 64
Remember the lamest level in the entire game? Yeah, that was the water level. Why? Because, for some reason, even though you're jumping higher than you've ever jumped and eating things off the floor in games all the time, they think that adding weight and slowness to water will make it more "real". WTF, Star Fox, really.
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By "Limited Vision Levels", we mean the kind of levels where for some reason or another, your vision is impaired in some way, shape or form.
For example, in Arkham Asylum, you have a BEAUTIFUL game, absolutely brilliant... where you have to use a separate kind of vision to be able to see well.
Halo ODST, you're doing most of your looking around town with your visor and a piss-yellow outline... why?
What about impairing our vision is actually adding to the experience in most of these games?
Okay, we get it, they're adding difficulty and therefore challenge to the game, but why do it in a way that is SO annoying? We'd rather deal with STRATEGIC difficulty, where my calculations as to how to beat the level have to be more sophisticated, than deal with the game just giving me a cheap handicap.
Sure, some games have done this well (Hard Rain), but most games that do this, just make it harder on you. The greatest and most annoying example?
PLANTS VS. ZOMBIES
Plants vs. Zombies is actually a better iPhone app than it is a console or PC game (tried them all), but what's the one negative about the whole experience?
F**KING LEVEL 5. Level 5 consists of round after annoying round of a fog coming over your field of vision that's basically the equivalent of an a*****e friend of yours coming along and slapping their hand over half of our screen.
This isn't added fun or experience. It's just a cheap handicap that doesn't challenge anything except our patience.
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While ice is technically H2O as a solid, Ice Levels DO NOT count as water levels, although they're annoying for a lot of the same reasons.
Ice and snow levels will do one of two things to you:
1. Slow you down and cause you to walk like you would in a sand level in a crappy game (not that annoying, actually, as you can usually jump to go faster) or
2. Make you into Tom Cruise from Risky Business with every move you make (no, not banging hot older women, but slipping and sliding everywhere).
The inhibited mobility creates a new challenge, but also creates a fear that we all learned falling off of the high rise grass-patches and to our long, bottomless demise in Mario games.
Sometimes we can use the ice or snow to our advantage, but for the most part, video games have decided that when in ice, a video game character NEVER has the right shoes.