Saturday, December 10, 2011

Out of Place Gaming Moments

One very important factor that can make a game great is immersion.  We want to feel like we are in the world created by the game developers, interacting with everything and everyone.  Occasionally game devs throw in Easter eggs or other features that completely pull you out of that immersion.  Sometimes it's a welcome change, sometimes not, and sometimes it's just plain weird.  Previously I covered the strange and out of place giant heart in GTA IV, and today I'm going to talk about a couple other gaming oddities that seem out of place in the worlds they try to create.

Blitzball, from Final Fantasy X

When you hear the words Final Fantasy, what comes to your mind is most likely lengthy quests, epic boss battles, and......underwater soccer matches?  Ok probably not so much with the soccer, but unfortunately those of us who played through Final Fantasy X had no choice but to add this awkward event to our list of experiences.

You're pretty much screwed every time this happens.

Mini-games are no stranger to Final Fantasy games, remember all the hours you spent in the Gold Saucer amusement park in Final Fantasy VII?  In FFX, the team-based underwater sport known as Blitzball feels completely out of place with the monster-slaying, temple-exploring aspects of the game, but that could be forgiven if the mini-game was fun.  It is fun right?  Wrong.  Blitzball is a sloppy mess, an attempt to mix together turn-based battle and a sporting event, with disastrous results.  Your teammates are severely underpowered, the opponent AI is awful and unfair, usually ganging up on you and leaving you no choice but to fumble the ball.  The very last thing that could redeem Square Enix for introducing Blitzball into the world of Final Fantasy would be if this mini-game was optional.  But alas, nobody who plays through FFX can escape its clutches, seeing as you must complete at least one Blitzball match in order to advance in the game.

The Super Mario-style level in Star Trek Elite Force II

This is actually a pretty funny addition to Star Trek Elite Force II, even though it is in the form of a hidden Easter egg.  When playing a Star Trek-themed first-person shooter, the last thing you'd expect to encounter would be a side scrolling level in the vein of Super Mario.  However in this game it does happen.  At one point you can find a hidden warp pipe, shaped just like the nice green ones we all know and love.  Entering the warp pipe shifts the game to third-person view and takes you to a platforming level that clearly pokes fun at the mustached plumber.  Don't believe me?  See for yourself:

Honorable Mention: Everything in Conker's Bad Fur Day

This game is like one big episode of Monty Python, you never know what kind of level you'll end up in as you progress through. What starts off as a simple story about a drunken squirrel trying to find his way home soon evolves into a completely crazy adventure unlike anything you'll see even to this day.  One moment you'll be inside a giant mountain of dung fighting a living (and singing!) piece of waste, the next moment you'll be battling dinosaurs in a prehistoric-themed level, or pulling off slo-mo moves in a world that pays homage to the Matrix. It's unexpected, and everything is pretty much out of place, so this deserves an honorable mention.

This post has barely scratched the surface of out of place elements in videogames, what kinds have you encountered during your years of gaming?


  1. Everything in Link's Awakening

  2. Very true! Even though it was all a dream sequence it was still very Zelda-ish

  3. It's interesting you mentioned "Blitzball", because while I have not played the Final Fantasy games, I can recall seeing a friend playing Blitzball in FFX...though he seemed to actually enjoy it.

    As for "out of place" gaming moments, I can't think of anything specific right now...but if I do, I will make another comment, as I'm sure there is at least one that is escaping my memory right now.

  4. Your friend must have been way more dedicated to FFX than I was! Because you can level up the skills of your team and get much better, but I kept losing so much that I never pursued it.