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Thesaurus of Video Game Ideas

Adam Jeremy Capps

Thesaurus of Video Game Ideas

2023 Adam Jeremy Capps

A new public domain book

This is a public domain book. It may be freely improved and distributed.

Accessibility (how easy it is to learn)   The original Super Mario Bros has always been a template to teach the player how to play the entire game all in the first level. With powerup and enemy placement it guides the player into learning the game. Some minimalism is a good thing. There are so many convoluted elements in new games. They may seem like wonderful intrinsic designs but are just a bother to the player a lot of the time. A common complaint from modern gamers is that the tutorial “takes an hour.” And people look back to simpler times when you could just pick up and play a game.

After-Level Ideas (Bonus, “get a card,” flagpole, ect.)  In Mario Land for the Gameboy there was tricky platforming at the end of the level and if you could reach it then you get the bonus area. Some end of level things have you trying to touch the very top of something or another. Super Mario Bros 3 gives you a card, get three and you get a number of extra lives. Super Mario Bros 2 might give you a chance at some slots after the level. Under certain circumstances in Super Mario Bros and Super Mario Bros 3 there are fireworks after a level or a coin ship appears, respectively. Kirby had the neat animation of jumping on a star, twirling, and flying off to the next level.

The dungeons in The Legend of Zelda (actually called levels) give you an extra energy heart after you beat it.

In fighting games there is the fatality thing (in Mortal Kombat) after you win two rounds against your opponent. You punch in some buttons in a certain order to execute it. That later evolved into other things such as the more comical “friendship” and “ babality .” Then there was a certain level where you could just uppercut your opponent into a spiked pit, given you are on that stage.

In Street Fighter 2 there is the car smashing after a certain level. In Mortal Kombat there is the “test your might” thing where you smash increasingly harder stones.

Aircraft/ Spacecraft Games  In the earliest days of video gaming these were a staple. They flushed out the idea just as much as they could. There were ships gradually coming down in a row, more vertical flying, to the isometric, and thanks to vector based graphics there was a first person Star Wars shooter. The player might be centralized as in “Asteroids.” Or more complex than the rest as in “Centipede.” Galaga took on Space Invaders and made it both more graphically impressive and They can be ordinary and more realistic than others, such as simply flying a bomber plane in a war. Over time lots had been added, most of it either side scrolling or forward and overhead going.

Along the way you attach weapons on your ship. That is the typical powerup for such games. They include getting missiles, bombs, lasers, spread shots, spinning shots, and whatever inventive thing they could come up with. Some are more realistic than others such as those that put you into a war (1942.) Some are highly unrealistic, but not to any bother. They include fighting biological enemies. Sometimes they are “cutesy,” and in fact that is a subgenre of these games. They call them “cute-em-ups” instead of “shoot-em-ups.” These games often have you rushing to break apart obstacles, all while moving forward and unable to stop. As such you have to clear a path for your ship or else crash. In some of these games you pick up people and save them or you defend your own troops while blasting away at the enemies. You find helicopters being used sometimes. Sometimes you can even get off of your ship and act more like a trooper. Some games have shoot-em-ups in a double or multi genre game and it is always a good addition.

Animation There are a lot of possibilities when it comes to animation in games. In Prince of Persia the character realistically moves about. Some characters in games have a comical looking walking and jumping animation. They sort of do things like lift their knees and stretch out their hands when they jump. Some fall slightly down when they land and have to bring themselves back up. Some jumping actions are very “floaty.” The character’s legs might even move about when jumping, in such a strange way. Arthur from Ghouls and Ghosts both has a neat way of throwing weapons in mid air (as like a pause to more effectively allow him) or to double jump instead.

There is the death animation. Mario falls right off of the screen. Link spins around and falls. Some characters fall to their stomach. Samus from Metroid yells as her suit falls all apart. Mega Man blasts apart with round beams of energy spilling apart.

It is good to evolve the movement of your character. It can change a lot about the playing of it for better or for worse. Nintendo gave Mario a much different animation in their Super Mario Wonder game. That was the most evolved mario game in awhile. When Castlevania transitioned into the Metroidvania genre they made the character you play as more athletic. In some games you can evolve how you move about. That is especially so with Metroidvania games.

Among the different graphical styles there are the traditional pixelated versions and the modern pixelated versions, straight and real looking 3D, more cartoon like 3D, pre rendered graphics, super scalers, cell shading, literal real video, and the more artsy kind of stuff that is like an artist's unique painting. While people did not like the cell shading of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, or at least met it with some controversy, it did age well. People appreciate it more than Twilight Princess in fact, which was a reversal of what they did before with Wind Waker.

Imaginative drawing and animation is important in game making. Mega Man is a great example of how robots can be done in so many good video game ways. There are the larger robot enemies to fight, those that look like animals or strange machines. The movement of the robots are animated as they should be. They are animated as robots doing their own thing and acting as machines, machines of so many kinds.

A little animation can go a long way. In older times that was pixel shifting or color changing, at its most simple. Scaling sprites added a lot to games. Parallax scrolling does too, which makes the level seem to have depth as the background moves slower than the area where you are playing.

Areas   Diversity  of areas/levels has always been an important part of video games. Where would Super Mario Bros be if the first level was like all the rest? Would people ever have cared about the game if that was so? No swimming, no going into Bowser’s castle? Older platforming games had little differences. One area is ice, one underwater, basic stuff. Over time it evolved quite a bit. Going as unique as having a Holoween themed set of levels. “Mini world,” “giant world” too. A level on a train. That’s a common one and a good one whether in Ninja Gaiden 2 (NES) or Turtles in Time (SNES.)

Street Fighter 2 had the neat use of going from nation to nation with them each being culturally presented. Mortal Kombat gave us ominous backgrounds including some of the fighting opponents that had been chained up and the appearance of the final enemy, Shang Tsung there, watching you. These animated backdrops added a lot to the stages where you fought.

Older RPG games were quite simple in the background. The earliest ones had no background, just a black screen with you, your enemies, and your options. Later on, the type of background depended on the area where you were fighting. The enemies themselves related to the area. As for places you can go in an RPG they include: a town, a kingdom, a cave, the forest, the desert, the jungle, a high tower, inside a castle, inside a dungeon, a temple, a home, underground, on the water, in the water, a separate dimension, and even to the moon.

In a racing game the tracks can have their own theme. Those themes carefully chosen, developed, and rightly implemented are important. Super Mario Kart simply did what no other company but Nintendo could: to have recognizable tracks based on things like the Ghost house and Bowser's Castle. That’s because Nintendo has a lot to go off of and players immediately recognize these things.

The Legend of Zelda (the original game) had a graveyard area. You could bump into tombstones to make a ghost appear. After you have brought a lot on screen all you have to do to beat all of them is to beat the first ghost that was there. Then most of them turn into coins. I always liked the pond idea in that game too. Where you blow a flute and the pond disappears to reveal a lower area.

Final Fantasy 6 had some fascinating areas. From the ghost train going into the afterlife (where you do not belong) to the monster that you let suck you into a lower area, where you find a whole new character (Gogo.) You could be at the tip of a cliff where the game asks “jump down?” You’d think you would die but no, you find an interesting area down there. You find an air mask then go underwater. You view the world of the espers for a while like a movie is playing out. There are deep caves and caverns to explore. Each town is different, very much so. There is the ever raining town of monsters and thieves where you will find random battles. There is a town of wealthy people where they conduct auctions which you can participate in. Nearby is a great grinding area for money. There is the cavernous Narshe. There is an enemy camp you can sneak into. There is a time when you are on a raft. There is a time where you are falling down a waterfall and facing random battles while you do. Then there is the world of ruin after the regular world. Lots of good diverse areas are found in Final Fantasy 6.

Zelda: A Link To The Past had an alternate dimension, one that the player is thrown into by an evil wizard. They had the charming lost woods full of thieves and the moment you reach the end the little creatures scatter about, the sun shines down on The Master Sword, which you take in hand. It was a beautiful scene.

Best Adventure Game Ideas  There is the old idea of gradually reaching one place then another depending on what you have in your inventory. If there is a large boulder in your way, the lifting gloves will help you. Walls have cracks on the wall that you can bomb. A raft lets you cross the lake. A flute clears the pond and reveals a lower area. Those are Zelda ideas, however. It is the game maker’s objective to do the same thing their own way. The game can either be linear or not, meaning you must go from one place right to another then the next, or you can do what you want when you want. The reason for the great success of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is that Nintendo brought it back to its “do anything, just explore,” roots. That in fact had not been done since the original game. It is a great game of exploration with so much to explore and do in any given area. That includes finding weapons, which could be anything between a tree branch or a sword. Pitchfork there you go, bones of a skeleton there you go, now you’ve found an especially powerful weapon, and so on. Bombs to your heart's content, that was another part of the game.

So interactivity is highly important.

What will your treasures be? What reward will you offer the gamer for this and that? How can you change things up, such as graphically, area wise? What improves just traveling about? How useful are the things around the gamer? Are the non playable characters interesting or at least mysterious? Does it lend well to trial and error? Those are important answers to come up with.

Zelda had the chicken idea. Attack a chicken so many times and you are doomed. They will flock after you in large numbers until you are dead. In Zelda, just when you thought you had the best sword it is upgraded even further. Still the Master Sword, now enhanced by a master black smith. Zelda made it where certain things look suspicious. You have a candle and there is a bush. You burn it down and a room appears. Or the more common crack on the wall and the bomb. If there is an eye on the wall then you know you must sling something at it, arrow or slingshot.

There was the thing where your coins were your arrows. I thought it was a good idea. One underused. Getting a great big chest with an awesome thing inside, how can that ever get old? You never know what will do what and where so there is a lot of trying. Such as getting the flute and playing it at this spot or that. It is also a lot of fun how the world opens up over time. Such as a large boulder plus the titan glove, the magic book on the very top of a book shelf plus the dashing boot where you can run into it and knock it down, and so on.

Along the way, hack up weeds and see what comes out. Go fishing or swimming and fishing at the same time. Dig holes with your shovel and see what comes up. Use your flute in a strange area and have something awesome happen because of it. Provide things you can collect: that is an important one. A certain number of this or that gets you this or that and that should go beyond money. Plant in an “especially good” surprise. Give your player a sense of power, then, when they least expect it, double that power for them. Have them feel like they are evolving and improving. Make things very easy after they have been very hard. Give beauty to the world around.

Best Beat ‘Em Up Ideas   Lots of these are very simple but important. Have something you can throw at others whether it is a dagger or a sewer seal. TMNT Turtles in Time had it where you could fling your enemy right into the screen. Sometimes you can sacrifice energy for a powerful magic attack or weapon attack. And at least these three types: the brute (is slow but powerful), the magician (has magical power but no weapon), and the female warrior (weak but fast.) Include a best player point system. At the end of the level the best player gets the most points. Believe me, it will have players trying to be better than the other. There are power ups along the way, of course. Just give one even if there is more than one player! It is fun to fight over that or come to an agreement. Special jumping attacks can be added to the game.

Don’t let the player be so swarmed at any time so much that things are unfair. I am thinking of The Adventure of Bayou Billy which would have been a good game were it not for the unfairness of the difficulty. Poor Bayou Billy had no chance. Give the game a martial arts sense. Make the player feel athletic with what they do. Give them a bit of an escape route if the game has enemies coming after them from all over.

The areas you make are also important. Northing too bland, nothing too generic, nothing too repetitious, and you’ll do fine. You could travel back and forth in time, fight on an elevator, fight on a ship, fight on an airplane, fight on a train, whatever it is. I guess the question is: why is the player there to begin with?

Best Casual Game Ideas   The best casual game I have ever seen was ClubHouse Games, hands down. It included just about every card and board game you can think of and then some. That is a game that makes itself. These ideas for board games and card games already exist. I think they are underrated. They are the biggest “shovelware” games out there, the cheapest games you can find. Casual games as a genre go beyond board and card games. They include anything that you pick up and play and are done in twenty minutes. So that includes sports games, fishing games, puzzle games, and others. Could be based on a gameshow. Can be a gambling game. Online play adds a lot to it.

Try as they may, they have never made a puzzle game as good as Tetris. They tried too, believe me. Go for it though, maybe you can be the one person that does. Personally I think some Sudoku beats Tetris anyday, but that’s just me.

Let’s take a fishing game: what do you need for a good fishing game? I would say don’t boggle down the player with too many complex choices. That has been a fault of modern fishing games. As to what rod and bait to use and the science of where fish are and all else. So minimize that to start things off. It is important to actually see the fish underwater. That is a part of the fun seeing how close the fish gets to the bait. Buying equipment and tournaments are also fun, but again, only without too much complexity. Make it where the player can intuitively know where fish of different kinds hang out. Give them a boat to travel around on. You should do just fine with all of that.

Then a gambling game: They have it where you can only play the big boy games when you’ve won a lot of money. That gives you something to go after in these games. Just include the regulars at least: black jack, poker, slots, and roulette. The slots can be very graphically diverse. Maybe you might even make it where you can go from casino to casino.

I’ll just list here some examples of early sports games which players appreciate to this day: Tecmo Bowl, Punch Out, Madden’s franchise, the NES golf, Wrestlemania, and NBA Jam, they are all great games. There is an important question to answer: how do we translate a physical sport (something that is very physical) into a video game? It is not a one on one translation and it is important to remember that. Things like control and choices being executed as desired come into play. It is important to make it intuitive because that is one thing that the real thing and the game have in common: the intuitive makes you better at it. Some don’t even desire to really make it real-like. They make it more cartoon-like, do things like make “robot baseball,” “future football,” and things like that. So that is another option.

Best Fighting Game Ideas   An important thing I would mention here that is underused, but important: make your fighters relatable. A dinosaur like the T-Rex is in no way relatable. Neither are clay fighters or other such things. The best fighting games always had human characters. Whether Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, or Samurai Shodown, most of the fighters were humans. I think this is so because you can’t really be a non-human fighter that fights, if that makes sense.

There has been gimmick after gimmick but they don’t work well, especially if they go too far off course. What I mean by gimmick is things like dino fighters, robot fighters, clay fighters, ect.

The beauty of Mortal Kombat is in its “bloodsport” aesthetics. Down to the sound of the gong that is there. The music is purely martial arts death arena like. Goro was such a perfect enemy boss within it. Shang Tsung was like he came right out of a classic martial arts movie, only more brutal. You could identify that in him: that he was something you’d see in a good martial arts movie.

Moving on, combos are a good thing to include. You may like to add weapons, I’d say that is an underused idea. Button combo attacks are just indispensable. One important thing you can not overlook is the movement of the characters. Without that Street Fighter 2 would not have been a good game. They did really well in the character’s movements. The right mechanics, of an athletic kind, must be there. Feel fine with simple color swaps. Gamers eat that right up. Reptile is only a color swap of Scorpion, and Sub Zero just a blue color over orange or green, but they are all staples in their series.

Best Metroidvania Ideas   Metroidvania games cannot do without a map. By their very design they need one. The best way those are implemented is that the map appears according to where you have been. So by going around one area you now have a map for it. That shows you where you have not been. So the player explores the empty area of the map.

The player also has increasing access to areas according to new powerups they get. That might come from double jumping, flying, detonations, missiles, bombs, decreasing in size, greater tolerance to the environment such as cold or hot areas, or other things. The question to answer is “where can an ordinary person not go? And how do we make that person able to get there, reach there, enter in, remove blocks, obstacles, barriers, or things preventing them?”

Weapons are a very fun part of metroidvania  games. A popular form of that is the ability to steal an enemies power after you have beaten them another time. Those enemies that return every time you return to a certain screen, after beating them a number of times you take their power. That may mean that you summon them, take a magic power they had, or receive their weapon. As for weapons there are any type of gun you can imagine. Ones that shoot lasers, thick beams, shots that freeze enemies, missile shots, or even not weapon things like an energy based grappling hook. Some games go the more old style weapons, the fantasy kind over the science fiction kind. You name it: swords, axes, wands, mace, whip, of all different kinds.

Metroid gave you a freeze beam to freeze enemies and use them as platforms. It gave you a super bomb which spread across the whole screen. Samus had the dash-run at a certain point of the game which was a neat thing. Where you once walked you now blast right through. Double jumps and super jumps are nice things. Even the little detail of passing through a glass tube was a nice touch. In fact at a point in the game you blast a bomb in that glass tube, breaking it, and leaving it to the surrounding area.

And we cannot talk appreciation of these games without mentioning the monsters, demons, aliens, whatever they are. Who can beat Mother Brain in all of it? She was the most gruesome of enemies in metroidvania  games. A large brain in a glass tube which came into her whole body after so many attacks, and then blasted lasers through her eyes, most formidable ones, with only your Metroid friend to protect you.

In a good metroidvania  game you find pieces along the way that can be combined into special things. Then there is a non-playable character in the game that puts them together for you, giving you choices as to what you want to make them into. They’ll tell you what you are lacking in order to make this or that or what you already have enough of to make something.

Then there is the simple addition of getting to change your suit. That could be from a tailor like was done in Bloodstained: Ritual of The Night or could be just a suit upgrade such as one making you tolerant to lava pools in the game.

The setting is important in a metroidvania . Normally the setting is either ominous or gothic. They are demon infested, with cathedral places, add things like a blood moon, strange bridges to cross over, ghouls, ghosts, large monsters, formidable looking ones, the grotesque, strange exploration, strange areas. At the start of Super Metroid, Samus found her first powerup and this beam came right out of a camera above her and examined her. Things were ordinary at first but before long all sorts of enemies crept in, the music changed, as the world was notified of her presence.

For a good setting the making of the monsters is important. Making the exploration a fun thing is important, so always toss a treat to the player. The setting is important. The mood is important. The weapons and upgrades to them are important. The inclusion of a map is important and it should be easy enough to get from one place to the next. Those are the most important things.

Best Platforming Game Ideas A map is always nice. The kind that appears between levels. Those can be interacted with a bit. The one you find in Super Mario Bros 3 was much more interactive than the one in Super Mario World. I don’t believe you could interact with the one in Mario World in any way, actually. SMB3 gave you the cloud item to let you pass over a level on the map. It gave you a hammer to break a block in the way of a special place. It had the coin ship appear on the world map under certain circumstances. There were hammer brothers roaming around on the world map. Contact them and you will fight them, briefly, to win something. Then there were mini games found on the world map.

Mega Man gives you more and more weapons as you beat bosses to take their power. This gives you a wild variety of shots. Some are shield-like, some are large blasts, some go around in different ways other than straight forward, some freeze, some change gravity, some stop time, some are bombs you attach onto platforms, and even if the projectile itself is simple, what it does is not. For example Ring Man gives you a ring that acts like a boomerang. Then there is Frog Man’s power, which is acid rain from above.

Mega Man makes things easy once you figure out the right order of playing the levels. They are each vulnerable to one of the special weapons you get. It is a rock, paper, scissors sort of thing.

Who has ever tried to copy Mega Man? Only Mega Man does what Mega Man games do.

Secret exits are a nice addition to platforming games. Super Mario World let you know if there was one to be found in any given level. On the world map that dot would be red over yellow. If red then there was a secret exit somewhere or another. One of the best special areas in Super Mario World were the ghost houses. Another was the star world. Once you beat the star world the enemies are changed in the whole game. They are made up of the most difficult levels as well.

Everyone loves the giant world in Super Mario Bros 3. It is often cited as the most favorite level of players. Everything there is giant compared to the other levels.

Lots of platforming games are bland. They are what is called “collectathons.” You don’t do much more in the game than collecting coins or whatever else. Nintendo created Super Mario Bros and so many gaming companies copied the idea. They did nothing that reached the good innovation of Super Mario Bros 3. With all these gaming companies trying to make a game greater than Super Mario Bros they fell far short of the evolved form of it Nintendo reached in Super Mario Bros 3.

Ninja Gaiden is especially good in its athletic feel. It really feels like you are a ninja in that game with how you dash around, flip around, attach to walls, and strike or use special weapons. That is the key word for what is good about it: it is athletic. It was also a game that, though difficult, always had the same pattern. Getting good at it means learning its patterns.

Some good things about Donkey Kong Country: there was blasting through barrels. You could turn those barrels around before shooting yourself out. Collecting four letters: KONG, for a bonus area. The method of how you could play as big Kong or little Kong was nicely done. The other tags along until hit, then you switch to that other. You will find the other in a barrel coming up (hearing knocking inside) to get him back. Lose both characters and you lose. Then there was the cart level where you are racing forward on a cart which was a nice idea.

Make a wonderland. Do not be limited by “realism.” Games do not have to be realistic. Sometimes they should not be. Sometimes they are much better off when they are not. It is like a cartoon. People enjoy cartoons despite them being entirely unrealistic. Then there are movies, which even contain a lot of unrealistic fantasy but it is fantasy that people enjoy. Then there are entirely realistic movies and are a complete bore. So I will simply bring up that land of Mario: one of walking mushrooms, turtles, twomps, shy ghosts, walking bombs, slow cannon balls, flying ships, going down large pipes, Lakitus, and so on.

Best Racing Game Ideas  Mario Kart came right out of left field! They incorporated fun kinds of attacks whether throwing shells or dropping a banana peel. The landscapes were all unique, very much so, compared to the ordinary tracks of before. It made a whole new genre.

F-Zero has energy fields to ride over, to increase your energy, without which you will crash out. It’s a nice idea.

Some games are just one screen while you go around in a circle. Rock and Roll racing had rock music playing while driving around. That one was more isometric. There was even a fun racing game where you race on a unicycle without any person on it. Then there are the micro machine racing games where you ride in tiny form upon things like tables. There is Spy Hunter where you have weapons and get upgrades by driving into the back of a semi truck. Helicopters chase you in that game. Outrun had you knock down your opponents. Excite Bike was a fun side scrolling racer where you could make your own tracks. In that game you are always trying to keep speed while not letting your motorcycle burn out. There are steep places to drive right over and into the air. You might want a monster truck game. Or to drive in the water like in the Wave Racer game. If there is a vehicle for it, there is a game for it.

Some of the biggest fun comes from upgrading your vehicle. Where you win a race and are given money, used towards new tires or even a whole new car. It is fun to race in real world cities. It is good to have weapons if that makes sense for the game. Lush environments are a good thing, such as heavily forested areas. Then there is the battle mode option which is always a good thing to add.

Best RPG Ideas   Random battles are always put in question. One thing is sure: it isn’t good to be bombarded by them. When I was yet emotionally developed they would make me angry, in fact. So some games will show the enemy on screen and you can generally avoid them if you don’t want any fight. The reason for random battles to begin with was because of the limitation of technology. Back then having enemies on screen just took up too much game space. Some people still enjoy the old styles of RPG games as is evident in games like Octopath Traveler.

Having a trigger button is a nice thing to add. That is when you hit a button right before you land a strike, which increases the strike's power if done at just the right time.

Some games have you learn spells simply by leveling up, which can be considered an underused idea. Some games have you buy your spells. Some give you spells in magic stone form. Some games have you draw out the spell from the enemy (at least as was in Final Fantasy 8.) Sometimes it is just “oh, I remembered that spell!” In Final Fantasy 6 you got spells with espers and AP. Every win gives you some of those points and based on percentage you get the spell. So at ten percent you need ten battles of 1 AP to get the spell. If at one percent, that would be 100 points. If ten AP, one battle of 10 percent. Sounds complicated but was very easy to comprehend.

Spells can be either straightforward or quite inventive. The ordinary ones are things like fire and lightning. There is a kind that gives you some strategy. For example, shell, protect, and wall. You could make yourself less vulnerable to certain attacks through a spell. You can change the enemy's weakness through a spell. You can cast a float on yourself then cast an earthquake spell that would otherwise harm you. Such inventive things have been done! It goes far beyond curing or attacking. In some games you can cast cure on an undead enemy to kill it. Other spells include osmosis/ taking away the energy or MP of an enemy, vanishing them into another dimension, turning an enemy into an imp, making your enemy crazy through berserk, casting pre-life on your party which will automatically bring you back to life, spells of confuse, poison, and many more to name.

Let the player toy with their enemies, include strategic use of magic, give spells in levels, each more powerful than before, such as fire 1 then fire 2. Include things like tornadoes and floods, or other weather disasters. Just be creative. Spending time on those ideas is important.

A good story is essential to an RPG. It is indispensable. That isn’t easy. You must have the player run through the emotions: love, anger, betrayal, hope, desire to succeed, resolve, feelings of gaining more and more power, making the characters interesting, are some things to pull off, to execute well. Have your character win at the last moment. Have the boss battle be really long but achievable, given time. There are no stronger feelings of victory you can find in any other game, when it comes to that in an RPG.

For some, the best component of an RPG is the grinding. It is true that a person can take an hour or more just doing that. They want to be the strongest they can be from place to place. They enjoy the power gained. That can also be a ray of hope for them because no matter how difficult the enemy boss is, the player can always grind. Each town has greater weapons than the one before. Each enemy gives a little more experience points and money than before, as things have always gone in RPG games.

Just like in an adventure game, areas open up in RPG games. Some RPG games are more linear than others, however. Some require things like boats, airships, spells, objectives, to advance to the next area. I guess the good thing there is that there is a lot to be seen but not right away, it isn’t all at once.

Blocks there are those you smash and take the contents. There are those you just pick up and throw. There are those that move around. There are some larger than others which contain a super powerup. There are those smashed with hammers to get through. There are those hit  again and again to get coin after coin. Sometimes the powerup crawls out of it. Sometimes it bounces out of it. Some blocks are invisible. You hit empty air to find them, then a 1-up comes out. In Super Mario World, you can hit a switch in a special area and afterward blocks appear on the levels which keep you from falling into pits. Some blocks you hit and can temporarily move through them after you do. They turn back into solid after a moment. Some blocks maneuver around and you can ride on them. Others have wings and fly around. If you hit those you get something. Some you can only smash with a spin jump. Super Mario Bros 3 let you throw in a turtle shell to have the blocks smash one after another because of how they were all positioned. Some blocks contain vines that take you to an upper cloud area.

Bonus Levels And Areas Sometimes they are gamble based. Based on luck anyways. Take the memory card game in Super Mario Bros 3 or the vertical slots in that game where you match the mushroom, flower, or star. It is always a nice moment in a game. Donkey Kong Country had you ride on an ostrich or a swordfish in an area where there were tons of bananas to get in a limited amount of time. Sometimes in an RPG game you expect a random battle but get a treasure chest instead. Adventure games might give you a shooting contest, see what you can hit with your arrow. It may have you digging hole after hole in a limited amount of time to see what comes up. It may have you fishing. Mega Man has Top. When you get to Top he has his own screen. He goes towards you, something comes out of him, in a random way, which you get, then continue the level. Of course there is cloud land in Super Mario games. You’ll find tons of coins. Better than that is the coin ship. What an upgrade to an idea! The bonus area may require that you get all of a certain color coin, three perhaps, or four, and then a bonus area appears. Sometimes it is a hidden thing you find within a level. In Zelda it entailed bombing or burning down certain areas. Then a gambling person appears, or a person who outright gives you money, or as a joke “you have to repay me for breaking my door.”

Bosses  Bosses often have a weak point. That is usually something that stands out. Bosses often go from defense to offense. They often have you dodging a number of projectiles. They often have patterns in their attack. They are usually monster-like. They are sometimes based on the environment they are in, from desert areas to snowy ones and everything in between. Some bosses are a shadow or evil version of yourself. There might be a particular weapon or spell that works well against them. After defeating them you might gain a special new power as in Mega Man or take their possessions as in an RPG. You could obtain them as a summon if you beat them. They may offer you something if you defeat them, promising it to you if you do. Getting to the boss might mean beating one level or four. It might mean going through a dungeon. It might mean completing an objective before you can face it, such as gaining a special item, spell, or weapon, or proving yourself. The boss might come in three phases, especially the last boss, which is more and more difficult. They may have a small introduction. That may be rising from below, coming together/ compiling, they might have a speech, or maybe just a little animation and a title. There are side bosses that you do not have to beat to advance in the game. They could add something nice to you however if you beat them. They could just be for “completionists.” They can in fact be the hardest boss in the whole game, more difficult than the last boss in the game. Bosses can come in hidden areas. They can also come from certain conditions. In Final Fantasy 6 “Doom Gaze” appeared after riding around on an airship for a long time. Also there are legendary dragons that when you beat them all you get a very good thing. There can also be gimmicks surrounding the battle with them. Such as going in and out of pipes, fighting while on a tilting boat kind of thing, fighting while the walls get more and more narrow, having all of your metallic weapons taken from you before you can fight them (as was done in Final Fantasy 4.) Or things like taking the things they throw at you and throwing them back at them, fighting a set of four enemy bosses that dance around in a circle, or simply a disappearing and reappearing enemy boss. In The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past, there was a fake princess that wanted to be escorted out. But you bring her to a place where the sun shines down into the dungeon, and she turns into a monster, the enemy boss of that dungeon.

Bow and Arrow  There are all sorts of magic tip arrows you can use. If not magic, maybe something like a bomb tip. Naturally the ice tip freezes and the fire tip burns. There could be vines before a door or area you are trying to get to which can be burned down with a fire arrow. Freezing enemies gives you the advantage of making them imobile whether temporary or not. Bomb arrows just destroy every little thing. Then there are the especially powerful arrows, even meant for the last boss. Some games let you take arrows that were shot at you such as when they hit your shield. Some let you pick up the arrows you used which missed any target. The original Legend of Zelda made your coins your amount of arrows. They are always a nice weapon to have, especially in a fantasy game. But they are less rowdy than guns are, if that makes sense. They just quietly zoom through the air and are quite precise. I would even say that arrows are more suitable for video games than guns are, and if we are comparing things to the real world then the opposite is true. Targets can be obvious such as shooting an arrow at a depiction of an eye. To shoot one at a thing that stands out on an enemy (has a red spot or something.) Games with bows and arrows might include mini games where you shoot at moving objects, where you might win something. Some games let you shoot beasts and flying creatures to take their meat. Some games let you shoot explosive materials to blast up the whole area. Then there is the bow itself. Some make shooting arrows easier than others and in some cases are more durable where it is that weapons in the game are breakable. In the Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past, you throw your bow and arrows into a fairy pond and the fairy tells Link she will increase his inventory of them. Games may have you have a certain amount of them at first with how powerful they are. It keeps them from being exclusively used, invalidating the other weapons. In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, you could increase your bow and arrow inventory by collecting “Korok” seeds, giving them to a non playable character who uses them in his maracas, then does a little dance, increasing your inventory.

Branching Paths Castlevania 3: Dracula's Curse gave you one of two path options as you went forward. Mega Man gives you the choice between eight Robot Master stages to play in any order. You could find getting through daunting until you learned the appropriate order, which entailed getting the best weapon for the next enemy. In fact many games old and new have a similar set up. Think “8 Eyes” for the NES. Super Mario games let you roam around on the world map a bit. Super Mario Land 2 gave you some nice options on where to play where every area had a unique theme. Metroidvania games have it where you can explore a little more and more into any given area. You could enter into a painting where there are many paintings in a castle, as was done in Super Mario 64. Final Fantasy 8 had it where you could roam around a lot but when you were in the right direction you would get paid. You were after all a part of a team with an objective, one you are being paid to complete. A point and click game has you going back and forth from room to room until you use the right thing in the right place, and then can finally proceed. The Uninvited (NES) is a haunting game in that way. It gives you a feeling of being trapped and the need to escape into the next area. Sometimes it is just about going into a lower area. So you try to go down every pipe or whatever else. Getting above is the same affair. Once you do you are usually just more rewarded and short cut your way through. A fighting game might reward you for taking the harder route. That is that if you choose the harder difficulty setting you get to fight fighters that you do not in the easy settings, so more variety when you need it. Racing games can be the same, you get extra tracks if you choose the higher difficulty, tracks not played on the easier setting. Faxanadu was an early example of a game that was not linear. So was The Battle of Olympus.

Buying Buying  can be very straightforward. You go into a shop and buy something. The further you get along in the game the better things you can buy, the more money you are getting too. So you grind or do whatever else and get the thing that improves your power in the game. A good RPG will indicate to you what will improve your character before you buy it. That could just be an upward going arrow if it will increase your power, or if it is a downgrade to what you already have, then a downward going arrow. Some RPG games let you buy spells in the form of scrolls. Some elements in a game let you gamble with what money you have, possibly increasing your amount. That can be as simple as the NPC saying “let’s gamble,” you choose the amount resting in front of him, then just contact it. It could be a mini game you pay for or a traditional gambling thing. You could attend an auction like they did in Final Fantasy 6. For that game it was trial and error. You have a random chance of buying something great given you have the money. It’s not always coins you buy things with and it’s not always work that gets you money. You can find special gems to sell or other things you find in the game. In The Battle of Olympus (NES) there are olives as currency. That game has the neat system that if you want to continue directly where you left off then it will cost all of your olives. If you continue from the last temple however, which may or may not be out of the way, then it does not cost any of them. There are many temples in the game and the last one you prayed at is where you have that place to continue. You can sell your weapons for money. Some shops are in platforming games where they are tucked out of the way, more or less. Such as in Gremlins 2 for the NES, you find the shop along the way and could buy one of three things.

Final Fantasy 8 had you get an “income” which gave you money at random times, especially if you were doing what you were supposed to in the game. That idea isn’t often used. In Zelda games money can come from weeds you cut down with your sword. Some are placed in treasure chests. Some enemies drop them in those games. Coins have value based on their color in those games. An RPG may let you steal money during a battle with the thief job class. Or you get them after just about any battle you fight. Shops might be hidden, taking a secret entry to get to. There might be a merchant in the middle of nowhere in either an adventure game or an RPG. You might help the King then he gives you a cheaper price for all his kingdom has. In a racing game you can buy paint for your vehicle, new tires or whatever else, even new vehicles. Then there are whole games that are based on gambling alone.  

Challenge In older times challenges extended the playtime of a game, and games needed that due to limited space. You still want some challenge, enough to make the player proud as s/he accomplishes things. And harder enemies can be set aside for completionists. NES Ninja Gaiden games were challenging but at least had a pattern you could learn. Learning it can make things much easier. RPG games let you grind if you lack power. There comes a point where enemies are far easier to defeat in them after doing so. There might be a way around. In an adventure game you might find that more powerful weapon you needed to get through easier. In an RPG you might find that special weapon, item, or spell, or learn the vulnerability of an enemy. Sometimes it is intuition that makes the gamer better. In all of these the challenge is at least fair. It does not make things impossible and for them to stay that way. It is less frustrating. Unfair challenges caused by broken mechanics is a very poor design of games. There is the Mega Man concept where you are given eight choices. There is the best place to start out however as the weapon you get in that area is perfect against one of the next bosses. Extra challenges can be added after the game is completed. Like was done in Super Mario Bros, enemies in the game are changed to a more difficult kind. Then there is the objective of the completionists and getting the best ending. You get the best ending at a 100% completion. There might be side bosses you can beat but do not have to. If you do however, then I guess you deserve a reward!

Sometimes game makers give unfair AI to their games. For example in Mortal Kombat and in Super Mario Kart, the AI opponents can do things that you cannot. They react with an attack you cannot dodge, they give the opponent karts unlimited power ups, and such things. Some games have things easier in a lame sort of way. Like “corner cheese,” often found in NES games, where just being in the corner makes a difficult win come easy. Such as unending jump attacks in a fighting game. That causes the player to just use a jump attack the whole time. Games can be broken in other ways. You might shift around weapon handling systems as found in Final Fantasy 8 and its junction system, in a way that makes you all powerful. There might be that one weapon that makes the whole game impossibly easy. Those are called “broken” elements in a game.

Worst of all is the rare occurrence that things really are impossible. You simply cannot get through, cannot jump across a pit for example because a wall above prevents it. That happened in an old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle game in fact… not the NES one, some other. It has happened in the past that the game was unpassible at some point or another. Xmen on Sega Genesis required a code to win.

Challenges and Proceeding This topic is different from the one before because it means “being challenged.” Most often it is the player having to collect a number of things for a grand result, one where you can start the greater objective of the game. You have to get a number of things in order to get the Master Sword for example. Final Fantasy 6 had the funny element of facing a person with “great sword powers” that he bragged about to you. He presented himself as a great and powerful warrior you dare not fight. Then when you do, you beat him by just taking 1 HP from him. There is the challenge of beating a certain number of certain enemies like the eight dragons. There is the challenge of getting the right keys. That takes a more and more difficult dungeon to get through until you can unlock the last door. The challenge for you may be to solve the puzzle as in an adventure game. The challenge may be as simple as giving the right thing to the right person. It may be a “trade quest.” You might need the greatest sword to break through the magical electrical barrier. You might need a tool to get through. Like flippers to swim or strength gloves to lift heavy boulders. You may need the right spell in the right place.

You may have been separated from your party and have to find them one by one. A party member may have been put into prison and you have to free them. You may rush to stop a great disaster in a limited amount of time. An NPC in the game may require something from you in physical or do-for form before you can proceed. Fourth place is not good enough in a racing game. One round is not enough wins for a fighting game.

Character Control Casltlevania has the heavy lunge forward when jumping. As a result, lots of your deaths come from getting hit around the pit or missing the platform to begin with. Knees bend in that. Mega Man stretches his arms and legs when he jumps. Mario lets you hold back a little while jumping and that helps a lot when rejudging your jump mid air. Some characters flip when they jump. Ninja Gaiden does that well. Double jumps always help, such as in Ghouls and Ghosts. Jumping mechanics will be talked about more under “jumping.”

A hit can be precise or can be guess work of a kind. You either slash or stab with a sword. Some do a swipe as in Zelda games. Games sometimes implement target systems. That is where you choose what you want to hit then automatically do so.

Crouching can get you out of trouble. It lets you duck out of harm's way for a helpful effect. In Super Mario Bros 2 (USA) if you hold down the down button you can get a higher jump upward. It is good to have a number of weapons that cover every area. For example, overhead with an axe , straightforward for a dagger, and coming forward from your feet, and diagonally, such as the fire in Ninja Gaiden. That way you can defeat enemies you need to according to their movement. If you are having a hard time based on the nature of their movement then the right powerup will help you.

It’s good to have fast travel. So running in the game is always a good addition. In fact it can be better than running like in Super Metroid where you burst forward. Link having a sword while he dashed forward was a nice touch. In Mario 64 Mario leaped forward, which was also nice. Nintendo saw that there was a problem with flying while they were creating Super Mario Bros 3. If Mario could just fly over every level then why wouldn’t the gamer just fly over everything instead of playing the levels? So they made the build-up-meter (the “P-Meter.”) Mario had to have an empty area to build up flying speed, much like a regular plane. And Mario could not fly endlessly. He gradually came downward after a point. So the flying problem was solved. There are all sorts of different ways to fly and the Mario game has done just about all of them. Fly like a helicopter, like a plane, like a squirrel, like a balloon, where you could only go upward and forward, in a cape with an athletic touch, and so on.

Some games let you climb on walls and hang from ceilings. The Batman NES game did a good job at that and so did Ninja Gaiden. The thing Batman added to it was leaping from wall to wall. When Nintendo was creating the 3D world of Mario 64 they had to determine the best camera angle for that kind of game. They determined that slightly overhead was the best way to go. Like above a little and looking downward, they felt that was the best choice.

One important consideration for Street Fighter 2 was the character’s movements. They are not at all regular jumps and movements being done in that game. The people working on the game worked hard on character movement and each fighter shows it. All of them have their own kicks, jumps, and punches. An additional benefit to that was that you may know your own fighter very well, but your opponent does not throw hits like you do.

Swimming controls in games come in different forms. Donkey Kong Country let you swim on a swordfish, which helped a lot. A ride and a weapon at the same time! Mario floats slowly through and must avoid the enemies in a patient way. Only in Super Mario Bros 3 there’s a frog suit that lets you dash around.

Charging Up (in a hold down button kind of way.) That makes Link do a sword spin attack. It also had him dash forward with his special shoes. That makes Mega Man blast a more powerful shot. Later Mega Man games did that in more than one stage depending on how long you hold the button down. It is an idea with lots of possible uses.

Charming and Amusing Things It is relatable to the world of Disney. Disney worked on character after character and has a lot of them due to it. Nintendo is the Disney version of video games. Creating a lot of great characters can lead to so much. With all that Nintendo has created they can easily bring them into whatever genre of game, and have. That was first so with Super Mario Kart. Then there is Smash Bros, sports games of all kinds, party games, and individual games for their characters as well such as Wario Land or Luigi’s Mansion. That is the very reason why no other game company can make a Kart game like Nintendo can. How far would a Sonic Kart game go beyond a few characters, which are not so involved to begin with? The first impression of Super Mario Bros was that this was a wonderland. It didn’t make sense. It was better for not making sense. The idea was for a wonderful new land, that of the mushroom kingdom. Among the best of them were the walking bombs with eyes, the Lakitu, the twomp, the shy ghost and the shy guy, Bowser’s kids, plants that shoot fireballs at you, the goomba, to name a few.

Kirby was very charming, the cutest thing in all video games. There was just something about the movement of Kirby after winning a level or jumping on a star to get to the next place and is something you have to see to understand. There is the cute-em-up type of shooter, where it is that the whole game is rather childish.

Choices  It is always good to have different characters to choose from. You might not want to be convoluted, because the player would just constantly change between them without being involved in the rest. Might feel overwhelmed with them all. But even having only two different characters adds a lot. In Castlevania 3: Dracula's Curse, you could start playing as a different character at a certain point. That was well done in the way that the new character was actually a vampire, and so it was neat to basically play as the enemy. That and that he could turn into a bat and fly. Simon in the game had a variety of weapons. The new character had one magical shot and the power to fly. So that shifted the focus in a good way.

Things that shift your focus are a good addition to a game. You shouldn’t only have different characters but also give them things that make the game much different than the others do.

“Variety is the spice of life.” Take into consideration what different kinds of people there are and what they, individually, would appreciate. The original Zelda game was entirely about exploration. It was not linear like the games that followed, at least not up until Breath of The Wild which came much later. An adventure game being linear is not so much an adventure. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, went back to its roots: do what you want, just explore. Now it is in the top three Zelda games at least. For some the greatest Zelda game, and even for some the best video game ever.

Things like TMNT and the Simpsons go well into a beat-em-up. First, the characters are relatable to begin with. There is a lot of content behind them. We are familiar with them. They are not strangers to us. Second, being able to switch between them is nice. Like in the original TMNT game for the NES, you could switch between the turtles on the fly. In the TMNT beat-em-ups you get to use one of four weapons based on the Turtle you choose.

Other kinds of choice include: the difficulty setting, forms of attack, things of strategy, things to buy, the job class you want, your appearance, which level to play first, things to look for over others, where to go in a level, how to improve your character, things to learn, optional side quests, what mission to go on, your greater objective, where and when to grind, and in some games you can choose to be good or evil.

Choices is about taking the environment and giving the player a lot of diverse things to do with it, meaningful things.

Choices of Characters Final Fantasy 6 had the most playable characters over anything before or after it. At least up until now. They all did their own thing, very much so. Each had a side ability they could use. There was the gambler and his slot machine idea. The ninja that could throw things. The beastmaster that could learn monster attacks, the guy that could use tools, the woman that could morph into esper form, the woman that could absorb the power of magic into her sword, the girl that could paint a monster and immediately use its power against itself, the person good at stealing, and the man that could use button code attacks, along with others. They gave each character an ability that set them apart from the others.

Then sometimes you can build what you want your character to be via a job class.

Looking at Super Mario Bros 2 USA, you had four choices. Mario, who averaged out, Luigi, who could jump higher, Princess Peach, who could float, and Toad, who was simply quick. In a racing game you might find the slow but strong, the fast but more difficult to control, and the average kind. Golden Axe lets you choose between dwarves, warriors, magicians, and others. Magicians are weaker against attack but have the advantage of shooting from afar. Warriors get all of the weapons. The female warrior is quicker and more agile. The brute is really strong but slow.


Classic Tried-And-True Ideas Getting money and buying things is one of the most universal. It has many effects in the game: lets you get better weapons or items such as a great new sword, you can get services from it, you can buy a number of things that makes the game better and easier. You can gamble for that money. You can play a mini game for it. You can get it after a fight. You can find things to sell. You can find diamond gems to sell. They could just be coins on the screen that give you an extra life at one hundred. You might find a large amount in a treasure chest. You may find money from slashing grass. More on money elsewhere.

Leveling up is a classic idea that needs no improvement. Simply build up experience points to do so. It doesn’t only have to be in an RPG either. It can be in an adventure game, side scrolling game, or action game.

Having your enemy boss have a vulnerability is another classic idea.

Jumping in general is a classic idea. It is synonymous with video games. It is a part of the natural video game world. When we walk anywhere do we jump along the way? Do we ever jump when moving around, unless we are kids? So it might not be natural in real life but fits into video games perfectly.

Upgrading the sword. Having a master weapon whatever that is. Collecting a number of things in order to advance in the game, such as triforce pieces or the four crystals. Greater and greater access to the world is an idea often used. First you get a raft then a boat, then an airship. In Final Fantasy 4 you get an even better airship, one which can fly to the moon.

You just cannot separate magic from an RPG. Neither can you take out HP and MP. The more spells the better. As long as they are all worth using. Then there are stats in an RPG which RPGs really need. From power to speed to magic power to defense and so on. Being rewarded in a dungeon is always a good thing. Along the way you find a treasure chest with something that even changes most of the game because you can use it all over to do more. In RPG games grinding is a highly valued element. Players enjoy grinding in an RPG game if they like the kind of game to begin with.

A more modern appeal to games is that you can take a large number of things and combine them into something nice. So you get metal pieces and magic stones or whatever else to make a magic weapon. You might take different food and cook it which grants you special effects. It has been found to be a great idea and one that should be included in new games.

Platforming games need to have the ability to pick up things and throw them. An ability to fly is another good idea that everyone enjoys.  Metroidvania games need a map. Really large games need good transportation.

Color swapping might be a space-saving idea of the past but still comes off as a good idea to this day. They may only have different colors but are very distinguishable on that alone. You can tell Scorpion apart from Sub Zero and Mario apart from Luigi (even when he doesn’t have his taller stature.) Then in The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past, a change of color in clothing indicated greater defense.

Collecting a hundred of anything is a classic idea too, as are special coins during the level.

Climbing In a 3D game the climbing is usually taken care of, you just press up. Sometimes that might be a rocky kind of area where you need to maneuver around. Sometimes it is a cliff, sometimes a tower, or structure of another kind. Could be a temple, a castle wall, or home. The home might have a ladder for you. Games often have ladders to climb. Sometimes you climb on a rope. In a side scrolling game you climb on a wall. You might climb a vine in either a 3D game or a platformer.

Clothing And Suits You might get a series of armor like in Super Ghouls and Ghosts. First the silver then the gold. If you lose the weaker one Arthur is left in his underwear, hit once more and he is dead. With a fire powerup Mario turns white. With a leaf he dons a racoon suit and can fly. Then of course there are the others: the frog suit, the hammer suit, the cape suit, the squirrel suit, and so much more. Link’s suit was fashioned after Peter Pan. In some games the suit is important, it is more on display, such as in fighting games. In fighting games the player’s size and look is more prominent. With characters like Scorpion in Mortal Kombat the suit looks like a mix between a business suit and a ninja suit. Raiden cannot do without his hat, cannot be without it. Certain things add a lot to the character. Raiden would not quite be himself without his razor sharp hat.

A wizard often has a robe. We have a certain expectation of what a wizard should look like, a robe is certainly one of them. If they can’t get a sports license then they make them resemble the real thing. Samus and her suit evolves throughout the game. She is like Iron Man in a way… Iron Woman? At least in video games that is so. By the end of the game she has upgraded her suit greatly. She can now burst forward at great speed, can do limitless “multi” jumps, roll into a ball, latch onto things, and have a versatile amount of blasts coming from her gun.

Mega Man effectively uses a color swap to let you know what gun he has.

Sometimes suiting up is entirely cosmetic. You go into a clothing store in the game and get changed. You can be more exact with a tailor. Final Fantasy 7 did a cross dressing thing in a comical way. In Final Fantasy 8 Squall had his military-like suit. Just like cartoons they never change their clothing, especially in older games. Some suits protect you from the cold. Some from very warm areas. Sometimes for defense. In Final Fantasy 6, Locke could steal clothing at a certain point in the game. He stole clothing from some of the guards so he could sneak through.

Codes ( e.g., on the start screen, punching in codes in fighting games, pass cards, ect.) There is the famous “Konami” code. So many games made by Konami use it. You could bet that the game you were playing used it too. The code was up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A and Start. For a bit of history, codes were first made for the programmers to be able to more easily test the game out. So instead of going to the last level they punched in a code on the title screen to get them there. Then they left the code in, gamers found them, and they ended up being a popular thing within games. A Game Genie and later a GameShark device could change game code itself, changing key codes that manipulated things like number of lives. A title screen code can do a number of things. In Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 you could even unlock an early 80s type of mini arcade game. Often it is extra lives, continues, and level select. In Street Fighter 2 for the SNES you could put in a code that let the two players fight as the same fighter, which you could not do otherwise. Some are sound tests. Ninja Gaiden 2 had only that as a code. Some are more complicated. Sim City for the SNES had you do a series of things within the game to grant you a million dollars for your city, about more than you’d ever need. The original Final Fantasy let you pull up a mini game by using a code. You could bring it up at any time and if you win you get money.

Fighting games need them, absolutely. They go hand in hand. Button presses in code form allow for special attacks. Of course Mortal Kombat added fatalities to that. After an incredible amount of time the original NES Punch Out was found to have a 2 player code. It took something like 30 years to find it.

Maybe the most unique idea is found in StarTropics (NES.) The game came with a paper that you placed in water, which revealed a code. During a certain part of the game it alluded to that and asked you what that code was.

Coins Arcade games required extra quarters for extra lives. When playing Super Mario Bros at home you get coins in the game for the same thing. A hundred coins over a single quarter, but it won’t hurt your wallet! There is a kind of subconscious element to that. There is the common get a hundred and get something. Then there are the more hidden special coins that give you something greater with only four or so. In Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins, they took out the hundred coins for a life idea and let Mario gamble a certain amount. He could win a number of lives with greater chances to win according to how much he spent.

There are the blocks that you hit again and again for coins. There are special areas that are lush with them. Or you might find them in the grass you hack up. Maybe a treasure chest. Maybe outright given to you. Maybe an enemy drops them. Maybe you’ve sold something, an old weapon, or a gem you found. Maybe you have earned them. The blue one is worth more than the green, the red is worth more than the blue.

Collecting Get the  letters KONG and Donkey Kong will go into a bonus area. It can be as simple as that. Get four of something and get something special. The game world might be loaded with different things that can be brought together into something nice. That can be for weapons, items, powers, suits, magic, or whatever else. In food form it may raise your stats temporarily or permanently. So you find all sorts of metal, gems, biology (monster parts, bird feathers), magic dust, magic fluid, magic branches, with everything in the game having a possible use (at best.) With food there are apples, bananas, meat, mushrooms, and real and fictitious foods.

That may mean going into a shop. It might mean a specific shop. It may cost you to have things made from what you have. Or, as in Dragon Quest 11, you get a little machine you can use anywhere to make things out of what you have collected.

Collecting what you need may be a part of grinding. That can be for energy, for extra lives, extra projectiles like missiles in Metroid, bombs in Zelda, and so on. An extra nice place to grind is always extra nice. Enemies that automatically reappear are always helpful. In a random battle it is helpful to steal a potion or some such thing from an enemy likely to have them.

Sometimes the collecting of four things is much more complicated. It requires something such as beating four dungeons. At the end of the road might be the magical sword you need to continue onward. Some things might require you to look the world over for them, such as the case with espers in Final Fantasy 6 or Materia in Final Fantasy 7. In Final Fantasy 8 you could collect spells by drawing them out of enemies.

In Castlevania you collected hearts in order to use more of the special weapons: the axe , the cross, the holy water, or whatever else, could be used as many hearts as you have gained. Sometimes uses are mixed. Those hearts might also be your currency. Non playable characters may have you get them something, four of anything for example, a thing called a “fetch quest.” Those that you give them to may do something or another for you in return, and there are lots of things that may happen. Often in large 3D games there are the major things to get. You may even have to get them to beat the level or open up all new areas. They are things hidden and once you get them you can move on.

Combining  Some things have all different uses when you connect them to something else, and as such you can customize things into what you want them to do. Swords can be given magic power. In Final Fantasy 8 a magician places a spell into the sword of the knight (Vivi and Steiner.) Swords might randomly cast spells to begin with. When you read about them before buying them they say something like “randomly casts fire.” in Final Fantasy 6 a hidden person had something for you, the “ultima sword.” It was a sword with an esper stone attached to it. He said he could take the stone out for you or leave it attached, and so you choose. It turns out it is more preferable to leave it on.

With a whip you might find a powerup that makes it into a flame whip, makes it larger, or gives it a spike at the tip. A special item in an RPG, like a magical accessory, may let you use two spells at once. When buying potions you might be able to get two in one. One for health, one for magic, and one for both. Naturally the combined one costs more.

Then there is the mixing of materials that create something new. That can be food found and cooked together too for certain effects. The better and more rare the materials the better what it is made into. If the player beats a formidable enemy s/he gets a special thing from it. Then there are the junk throwaway things you come across like comparing silver to iron. A shop shows you what you have, what you lack, and with what you have what can be made. They may sell you the missing pieces too. You could roam around all over looking for what you need, then just accidentally come across it. It might be a rare drop to begin with. There are things the player may hold onto knowing that just a little more would provide something better than what he or she can have right then and now.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of The Kingdom put in a lot of ideas toward combining just about anything in the game. As a result you could combine a stick with a large stone for a makeshift hammer, you could add things to make boats, bridges, and vehicles. Nintendo was very inventive in its approach.

Combining things is integral to many puzzle games. Take Tetris, where the shape of blocks are put together in a certain way, or Yoshi’s Cookie where it is more literally combining, and Doctor Mario combining colors.

The Triforce combines power, wisdom, and courage. Simon Belmont combined the pieces of Dracula in order to beat him one last time. Of course things are never really done and over. Then you might just combine a fishing pole or vehicle in a racing game to suit your needs, more generally speaking. Accessories let you choose between two or more powers to have. Normally you are limited to how many you can have at once. It is an equip this or that thing whether a weapon or magic power and by finding the right mix you can get through particular areas in a better way.

Communication Link doesn’t even speak, but it works. Most games are narrated these days and it can be something as simple as Mario saying things like “just what I needed!” or as complex as a Resident Evil game. Gamers had Navi to bother them in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Sometimes the NPC gives you valuable hints. Sometimes they are too vague to be understood. Sometimes the translation ruins that altogether. With its wrong wording it cannot be understood. Then there was an instance in the original Legend of Zelda where the game hinted Pols do not like sound. In the Japan NES (the Famicom as it was called there) the second controller had a microphone on it. So you spoke into it to attack the Pol. The problem was that the NES second controller didn’t have a microphone!

Some communication is short. Some communication is drawn out. Some are in between the two. It was brilliant that in the original Legend of Zelda that there was a cave right before you at the start of the game. So you entered and the sage inside said “it is dangerous to go alone, take this!” It is a sword you get, then move on. In an old PC game, Betrayal At Krondor, you can hear from each player at any time in the game through the menu. They will tell you what is on their mind and suggest things to you. They might provide some story and background for everything too.

Goldeneye 007 (N64) would briefly tell you your mission and the rest is up to you. In “Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?” information meant everything. As with The Uninvited and Deja Vu on the NES. As with point and click games in general, text means everything. The game might let you choose the text box in different colors and designs. The game may let you skip the long talk if you have heard it all before. The game may let you ask a number of questions and the more you ask the more you know. Or giving you choices as to what you want from the person you are talking to. Dragon Warrior on the NES had it where you don’t just go up to anything and press a button to talk, but had to choose things like “talk” and “search” in a little menu.

You never know when a person may have more to say. You talk to them once and that may or may not be the last of what they have to say. Street Fighter 2 had a little text of a taunt towards the loser. Those appeared in between fights. In an RPG game the player goes all around talking to people and the more useful the things they say the better.

Color Swaps They are a simple way of making things different. You cannot very well be the same color as your fighter in a fighting game, although more modern games give the other fighter different looking clothing and not with color alone. The idea of Scorpion and Subzero being the same looking apart from a different color led to Reptile, Smoke, and Chameleon the rainbow colored. A new color of suit might mean you have greater defenses than before. A hotter fire, a blue magic fire, the ordinary orange, can be shown in color. A sword that is no longer silver but red makes it feel a lot more powerful, which it is. The same graphic but another color for a different powerup can be done.

Red potion means energy potion. Blue potion means magic energy potion. Purple potion means both. Orange sun means okay, red one means not okay. Red suit means no powerup. White suit means fireball powerup. Blue wizard means not so bad. Red wizard means better stay away. There are four dragons: the red, blue, green, and white. There are yellow rupees, red ones, and blue ones all equaling their own amount. If the screen is all black then the light is out, when it really is just everything has been made black.

Conditions & Conditional Things For temporary things there is the momentary invincibility or when time has temporarily stopped. You can only use a stronger blast by charging a weapon. The weapon itself may have to charge itself over time and you can only use it when it is fully charged, or at least take its greater power that way. You might get a blast from the sword but only at full health. Your weapons may break over time and you’ll have to find another. Or you may have to polish your sword and keep it sharpened as in Betrayal At Krondor. Then there are instances where you cannot go certain places without a special item or tool. We are familiar with those. Get the heavy lifting glove or the hook shot. Then sometimes you have to get a few of a given thing to access the next area. That can be more plain and straightforward or give you the objective of getting the greatsword or spell (which is more rewarding as well.)

You might need twelve hearts in order to get the magic sword or master sword as in some Zelda games. There are conditions to pull up secret fighters in fighting games. You sometimes have to prove your worth before you are going to be blessed or helped by whoever. You may be limited in the amount of weapons and powers you have. So through the game you collect more of them. As in Castlevania where it is that hearts give an amount of uses.

There can be a “limit break” kind of thing where an energy bar gradually goes up and once it does you get a special attack. You might get poisoned and have to heal yourself, otherwise every step you take depletes your HP. MP makes things conditional too. So do magic bars as in more adventure-like games.

Continues And Saves Some continues do not run out. You get as many as you need. Sometimes though they put you back a certain amount. The Battle of Olympus gave you two choices. Start again at the nearest temple you prayed at or sacrifice your olives to restart exactly where you left off. Then there are save points which are more or less easy to get to. Check points are dispersed here and there in platforming games. Once you have contacted them you can be sure you will continue from there, about halfway through the level. Players may even be eager to get to them. Sometimes they are placed in just a little bit more difficult a place within the level (its immediate surroundings being a little challenging.) Some games are very demanding in that you only get one life for the entire game. Not only that, there are some games where you will die with one hit.

Old RPG games had you written in a book or scroll, “I will write you in the scroll of life.” When speedrunning a game the player may “cheese” their way through by causing a game over, either for extra health as they don’t need the extra lives, or to start from elsewhere/ shortcut their way through. In some games you have to earn your continues by collecting a certain thing or things. That was done in Donkey Kong Land for the Gameboy. Extra lives mean extra continues  of course. But the way you get those extra lives is very diverse. The game may give you plenty of them or they may be scarce. Then a game may contain a way to get just as many 1-ups as you could need. As in the original Super Mario Bros, with its turtle-on-the-stairs trick, which gave you so many 1-ups that it glitched the graphics for them. You had to be careful, however, as getting too many extra lives would cause a game over the next time you died.

People have been able to glitch the game into giving extra lives, too.

The RPG player knows to save again and again. They never know if they are going to fall from an enemy and after all they have leveled up and gotten stronger since the last save. Older RPG games however only had a person like a temple sage to “resurrect” you from the last time you spoke.

In modern times saves are plenty, as are save points. Even back to Super Mario All Stars, the creators added the ability to save the older games it contained. Originally the games within it had no save option. Sometimes saves come after milestones. You may get one only when you beat a castle or dungeon.

Contrast Where things are the same, only different. Such as a dual world, one dark, one light. In some games there are day and night effects. Sometimes elements of the game are changed after you beat the game. That usually means that enemies are swapped with different ones which may even be brand new ones. If not beating the game itself, beating a certain area within it, as in Super Mario World. Contrast can put the level into three areas: upper, middle, and lower. Some items let you see things that you cannot without it.

Adding and changing characters provides contrast. Changing music can provide some much needed contrast. Straying away from monotonous music is always a good idea. Level differences are an element of contrast. A video game is boring without them. In an RPG that means that towns and kingdoms are all different with things like towers and caves added to those. A complaint about Castlevania 4 (SNES) was that the main weapon was overpowered, and so there was no use for the powerups in the game. So by having a balance of usability with power ups you can be sure they are all there for a reason.

A playing field can go far beyond just fighting. Some games give you plenty of reasons to look around and discover new areas. In an RPG game a player can expect new weapons, armor, and items in every town they go to. Sometimes they give you an idea that they evolved just in name alone. For example you start out with an iron sword and the next town has a silver sword. A similar idea can be done with spells, such as Fire 1, Fire 2, Fire 3, and the ultimate one named something like “inferno.” It is a good game making idea to give players the feeling that things are evolving.

For contrast there are vehicles. The most rudimentary may be a hovercraft, then a raft, then a boat, then an airship. It gives the character a feeling of freedom.

Cures and Healing You might find magical spring water that restores your energy. Those are often left in areas where you are meant to grind. If you are out on the field you may either have a sleeping bag or a tent. One refills your energy part of the way, the other fully restores it. Then there are the white mage spells of curing and healing. Some enemies may poison you, or perhaps plants, causing you energy to go down gradually until you heal yourself. Some items prevent you from becoming poisoned by anything.

In a beat em up game there are always those much needed energy refilling things. Of course there are levels of curing when it comes to magic. The lesser spells curing less with the upper ones going much further. Energy bars are a common element indicating how much energy you have left, as are hit points in other sorts of games. The curing item often comes across as a first aid kit in shooting games. Often the curing item relates to what the game is in one way or another. Like being a mouse and getting cheese, being a ninja turtle and getting pizza, which ninja turtles love.

Some games make you go to a person to be cured or healed. Naturally they charge a price, at least most of the time. Then there is Samus who attaches her hand to a machine. You could just go to an inn to replenish everything. If you are lucky you find a potion on the field, along the way, or one is dropped by the enemy you beat. In some new levels your energy is automatically restored. Sometimes in level 2 it is the same as where it left off in level 1. After Link beats a dungeon, not only is his energy restored but he gets a new heart.

Then there is taking the energy from an enemy and giving it to yourself, such as in an osmosis spell.

Dangerous Objects There is the classic spike. Don’t jump onto them or you’ll die. Those spikes sometimes come from above going downward. Sometimes they come out sideways. If the floor is lava then the player knows not to touch it. Sometimes bricks have skulls on them. Lakitu throws spiked turtles at you from above. Then there is the twomp, also a spiky thing. In some cases the walls might close in on you. Reminds me of the original Star Wars movie, used in Final Fantasy 4. Mortal Kombat took the spike floor idea and had the fighter uppercut the opponent right into it. Talk about a brutal rendition!

Sometimes they are more like things pounding down, like a stamp. Some platforms will outright flip you off of them in a trolly way. Some enemies throw hammers at you. Some walk around blasting cannon balls from their mouths. Fuzzy balls in Zelda are things you should not touch. Those games also have spiked balls that are like magnets that speed towards you if you get near. Or they just go back and forth.

Then there is the fire stick. It just rotates, but you have to maneuver the right way past it. Some platforms have a five second countdown and you can only ride on it for that long until it disappears. Some statues rotate around and will blast a beam from their eyes if they detect you. Some statues come alive when you bump into them.

Dark Things including the gothic, the wicked, spooky, and even the nefarious. Some games go fully into making the game as brutal as possible. Sometimes the point gets across with less as in the dark world or the world of ruin. In one world the enemies are human, in the other dimension they are pigs. Nothing raised eyebrows like Mortal Kombat did in its time. There had been violent things in video games before then, but they were graphically vague. It was assumed that video games were for kids and only kids at that time. In fact it was no different than going from PG movies to R rated movies. And so video games were given ratings just like movies were.

A game maker can be just about as controversial as they want to be. “The sky is the limit” when it comes to that. That’s why they say “controversy is cheap.” Besides, people have become desensitized to it. A game maker can have a style besides, though. Some games are just blood and gore without good content besides. Others can be quite stylish.

Some choose to be blasphemous when it comes to controversy. Some games put you into the role of a crime group member. Some put you as a murderer. Some can be survival horror just having you as a survivor against undead things. Then some have you as a fighter in a bloodsport kind of way.

In a much lighter tone, there are the spooky games like Ghouls and Ghosts and Castlevania. They have things like coffins rising from the ground and an undead creature coming out of them. Naturally they have bats. They have mummies, medusa, and dracula: they have the classic monsters as well as those from antiquity. They put those sorts of things to use. A lot of people who make good games know the old myths, stories, and descriptions of ancient monsters. The ordinary population however, might not. As much as people do know the old tales, the more they have to work with.

The gothic effect goes well in a Metroidvania sort of game. That includes things like a blood red moon, a graveyard, grotesque enemies, the demon infested, a fountain of blood, a library where books come alive, a clock tower (for some reason it works) a chariot with ghost horses, and things like evil fairies who are willing to help you. In fact all of these are found in “Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night.”

What the original Zelda did right was to bring a spooky feeling to its dungeons. The upper world had its adventurous tune but once you go underground things change, along with the music, which becomes something more ominous. Things can go from day to night and at night time the worst things come out. That’s as old as “what a terrible night to have a curse.”

Depth This includes things like replayability, versatility of playing, amount of content, and a large amount of choices and directions.

One popular thing to do is to have side quests in the game. The gamer can take them or leave them depending on the reward involved, and of course there needs to be a reward. There can also be a sort of thing to collect, a very good and useful thing, that is like a worldwide easter egg hunt. One such thing is a summon spirit and another may be among a big set of magical accessories to get. So the game is less linear with these things. They branch out. They require a little work and a lot of exploration.

Some want a 100% win. That might mean every level, might add to that every secret level too, or may mean to collect everything of a kind.

A little addition can add a lot of added play time. Like in Super Mario Kart and the battle mode. Like Exitebike and being able to design your own tracks. Like another character with different moves. Like the simple music composer in Mario Paint (SNES.)

In a side scrolling game you may have a choice of routes. The world you play in might seem limited at first, but then you travel to the moon where many things are found, even a race of people. Mega Man has that Brady Bunch kind of thing with Mega Man in the middle. He beats the eight robots, then his square turns into something totally new, where he goes to Dr. Willy’s territory. Side scrolling games can have an upper, middle, and lower area. Enemies can be beat in different ways according to how many spells you have. Every little thing can be gathered to make something from it.

Even in the earliest days of video games Pong had it where you could change the settings to change the game a little, but added a lot more playability at the same time. In RPG games characters can give you a lot of different ways of playing. You have one specialize in magic and the other on weapons, with all else thrown in like Monks and Bards. If RPGs have anything more than other genres of games it’s the amount of ways you can attack.

Stories can be quite deep. The soundtrack can go on forever, seemingly, or just be bleeps and bloops. Characters can change appearance over time. That might just mean that red is more defensive than green. Looks of your swords can be seen to change. You get lots of spells each better than the one before. There might be a character that uses tools instead and has many of those. Seemingly empty places can be later shown to contain things. You can always put your characters into a whole new dimension. Or, as in Final Fantasy 8, this big desert-like area turned out to have an invisible city filling its borders.

Dialogue Sometimes it is concise. Sometimes a bit wordy. Sometimes it is more balanced out than other times. Sometimes the translation is wrong, and comical. Sometimes the perfectly worst voice actor is chosen. They may include brief but enjoyable cut scenes. And NPC’s in an RPG sometimes have very useful information for you, were you to get lost. In an adventure game the sage gives you advice. Mission based games go over the mission with you and there you go: do everything that was just said and don’t make any mistakes! Super Mario World had a brick you’d hit that would pop up some information for you, in tutorial form.

Disliked Things These are ideas that sound good on paper but are not. These are just unliked game elements:

First, in Final Fantasy 2, things were set up so that whatever attack you used you become better at. So if you use a sword again and again you get better at that. That also means you get worse at magic and other things, in effect. It might sound like a good idea but wasn’t, so much that Final Fantasy 2 is considered among the worst in the whole franchise.

There are breakable weapons. This works in the way that there are weapons all over to find, with new interesting ones to get. That is if you include that design. Players however can be hassled by it. The smartest thing to do is make them last at least a while, a reasonable amount of time. You certainly don’t want to be hunting one down every five minutes. Betrayal At Krondor (DOS) had you polishing your sword… and had you buying polishing stones too.

It was annoying to hear “such a dangerous night to have a curse,” everytime that it got dark in Castlevania 2, which it did frequently.

Often it is the realistic that gets in the way. Remember, it is not the real world, the player wants a game. Lots of people like cartoons over movies and those cartoons could be in every way unrealistic.

Clunky controls are among undesirable things. Music that is just not good but rather one minute loops of a poor melody, is simply lazy game making. Players hate flying creatures. That’s practically an old saying. People don’t like “collectathons.” They don’t like “fetch quests.” They don’t like cut scenes that they cannot skip, especially after the fourth time! It is said a lot in modern times that the tutorials take too long. Some games have systems that the gamer will never fully comprehend.

Players do not like unreasonable challenges. There is the challenge you beat by becoming better, then there are the things that are just unfair. Like making them pull off this really tricky and difficult jump. That or enemy AI that can do a lot more than you can in a fighting or racing game. Being ganged up on is another one. The Adventure of Bayou Billy is one good example of that. It is when no amount of practice helps you that the challenge is all wrong. Then there are just things too cryptic to understand which gets the player completely stuck in the game.

Too many random battles can make a gamer pretty angry. Fast travel is always better than long drawn out walks in a game where you are just trying to get some place. Poor graphics can be a bad thing. Games that glitch out are no good. Some stories are so that the gamer doesn’t really care for it. And just a boring game with not much to it, is a game without joy.

Dimension Some new dimensions come from dreams. When you sleep in the game in a strange bed you might go elsewhere. In Final Fantasy 8 the characters would pass out and embody strange people on certain quests and journeys, temporarily, until the story came together. Then the game can be a dream as in The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, or Super Mario Bros 2 USA. Those games did things differently with the excuse of it being a dream.

Sometimes you get to the new dimension through a mirror or painting. Sometimes it may be a magical doorway. In Super Mario Bros 2 USA a special doorway appeared according to where you dropped a potion. If dropped in the right space there was something nice “on the other side.” You could call a bonus area a different dimension because you go right from your level to a special area.

The world of the game might reveal a moon or an entire civilization underground. Maybe that is just special underground dungeons that you find. All the screen shows is some downward going staircase, a small graphic. By going down you find a whole new area is there to explore. Then there is time traveling stuff. You live the past, the present, and the future, during the game, as was so in Chrono Trigger. You may gain a submarine in the game and find a whole world down there under the ocean. A complex game might have you going to another planet.

Diversity There are different characters used in different ways. They all have their own little ability or a lot of different abilities. One puts use to more metallic like weapons, some have magic at their disposal, some might be brutes, or Bards, Ninjas, you name it. In a fighting game it is a different suit, different person or being, and different moves. In a racing game, it is a different car and different environments. Each thing has its own story, every person has their own motivation, and each person goes about getting what they want and need in different ways. Some people may be courageous. Some in the game may be cowardly. Some, too bold, some, too cold.

In a platforming game there is a diversity of.. Platforms. They flip, they rotate, they disappear, they scroll, they turn, they make you leap up, they make you bounce, you can ride on them, they appear and disappear in patterns, they fly around, or you slide down them. Your suit may let you interact with the platforms. Such as throwing a fireball on an ice block or a hammer lets you break them apart.

In an open world game you could find a large number of beasts, creatures, beings, flying things, crawling things, and perhaps supernatural things such as fairies. Along with that you may find a wild variety of plants and food. The game may give you a little background on the plant you pluck. It may allude to how you can use it, such as incorporating it into a potion. You may just throw it into a pot and cook it to see what happens. Then there may be a number of different gems and metals found throughout the game, from amber to diamond. If it can be put to use in the game in any way, it may be found laying around. Then the environment itself can be very diverse. Popular ones include a temple, graveyard, forest, strange caves, and ruins. Some may be desert, others cold, with some mountains and valleys. Along the way a number of enemies may be found within their territories. You might find life at sea in some games. And different weather emerges from time to time.

While large waves are coming and going, Arthur must get onto a platform before the wave comes over him and drowns him. The ground shifts into hills in Super Ghouls and Ghosts. In one level Arthur is going around and up a large tower. Ryu fights on a moving train and so do the turtles in Turtles in Time. In the game Monster in my Pocket (NES) you play as the monster (Frankentstien’s monster) or the vampire in miniature form moving through a house. The point being that there are unlimited amounts of choices when it comes to a game’s settings (where the game is set.) There is the spooky/ gothic setting of Castlevania, a whole new kingdom (The Mushroom Kingdom, Hyrule), whole new worlds as in Elder Scrolls or in Final Fantasy games, some fantasy, some futuristic, and one leven can have you fighting on a train while another on a boat… or a space boat!

Final Fantasy 6 had you fighting inside and on top of a train. It had you fighting while going down a waterfall. It had you fighting on your airship.

Diversity comes in the form of: music, gear, weapons, tools, environment, magic, abilities and powers, powerups, locations, weather, job classes, characters, enemies, NPC’s, graphical styles, having multi-genres, vehicles, “moves,” mechanics such as how you jump, levels, sport teams in sport games, mini games, bonus levels, things to collect, things to gather, food, plants, certain valuable things, and having characters be different among themselves.

Dying  When you die in The Legend of Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link, you see gannon cackling at you. It was an early idea of being taunted for losing. In Street Fighter games they do the same thing. Street Fighter 2 had a dialogue screen that basically said “you messed with the wrong person.” Some arcade games really laid it down on you. They showed a ten second countdown while the player was about to be murdered. If you don’t put that quarter in you’ll die.

There are the death animations. Some have you freeze in place and fall apart. Mega Man bursts apart in all directions. Mario falls off the screen. Link spins around and falls on his face. Some games show you falling to your knees then falling on your stomach. Ryu from Ninja Gaiden freezes in place. Each has their own little sound effect when it happens. In Final Fantasy 6 the screen says “annihilated” while the music becomes sad.

Ways of dying include: contacting fire, touching spikes, falling down a pit, getting sucked into quicksand, being struck, losing all energy (hearts, HP, bar), not getting pass a poison, running out of time, being crushed, weather forcing you off of the screen, freezing to death, and drowning. More unique ways of dying include: there is a member in your party you must protect, if they die then you lose, failing a mission, or you might kill off an RPG character to give more experience points for the rest. In The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, you could steal something from a shop. The problem is, when you return the shopkeeper is rather angry and will destroy you with lightning. Then there is the fact in the series that if you strike a chicken one too many times they will all flock against you and there is no escaping them.

Earning Things It is the whole point of a side quest. They ask for your help, you give it to them, and you are rewarded for it. Grinding can be bittersweet in a monotonous but rewarding way. It can be a somewhat enjoyable compulsion. You don’t only get experience points but things the enemy drops and money, used towards better gear or protective items. That’s like the greatest pretend treasure in any video game and when you throw in an online component, even more so.

There are the “completionists” for any game, those that aspire to complete the game fully. That may mean all levels and all hidden levels. It may mean all monsters. Taking no shortcuts, finding every item, or whatever else.

Then there is the component of practice. With two or multiplayer games you want to be the very best. So if it is a fighting game or racing game you want the top spot. For some it is speed running. They want to beat the game quicker than anyone has before. Such a thing can drag out for decades. Every little trick is refined. Glitches are mastered. Every second saved truly counts.

The harder fights get the better pay. While smaller enemies produce smaller things, greater enemies will give you the best things. It could even make the rest of the game much easier. It can involve a long drawn out fight. Or it may mean looking the world over for the “four pieces” that when brought together form into something great. Or to fight the four dragons in order to get a great summon. Then just by going through and beating an area you can be rewarded by extra health and perhaps a weapon or tool.

If you can train a horse you get to ride it. If you want the truly best horse that is not so easy. If you save up your money you can get a better thing. If you get all of something within a level you are given a bonus level. If you accomplish something in a set time quickly you get something better than if you took much longer. In Final Fantasy 6 the characters were trying to escape an upper area onto the airship. That area was about to fall all apart. You notice you haven’t seen Shadow, a ninja character. The game asks if you want to wait a few more seconds. You are in a panic to leave however. But if you choose to wait a few seconds more, Shadow comes along and you take him with you.

RPG games also give you the reward of a summon after a long venture into a labyrinth, dungeon, or whatever other difficult area. The thief character can steal items that are more or less difficult to get. Some are very rare and may take hours of gameplay to finally snatch it… and players do try! You earn things just through tough exploration sometimes. Modern games can have such large towns that it could take thirty minutes or more to go through everything. Some games include an arena and the better you do there the better the prize. Sometimes in a game you help certain people and they are there for you in the game’s final battle.

Easter Eggs This is mostly things referencing other games. It can be more than that however. It may be a picture of the creators in a hidden place. In the Atari 2600 “adventure” game, you find the earliest easter egg: a hidden room that had the name of the guy who made the game. Back then game makers were not given any credit. So you might look through some strange window in a Zelda game and see a painting of Mario. (Mario Paint, get it?) Or you might have to go out of your way to find it such as climbing the tall beams of a bridge. They are usually well hidden.

Ending to the Game You may find quite formidable enemies as the last boss. They often come in two or three stages, one worse than the one before. Sometimes you can choose when to fight him or her (or it) at any time. Some games even let you from the start, although you are sure to fail if you get right into it. For some games it is about halfway through. It is where you know where the last boss resides. That may take a complicated area to get through in order to get to him. But the player has every opportunity to build up power before confronting him.

Sometimes it just means bringing together certain pieces. You don’t have to play the whole game entirely, just collect “all of the pieces” and once you have them you can go right to the last boss. You may instead have certain objectives before getting to the last boss, such as first beating the eight robots of a Mega Man game then getting through the fortress of Dr. Willy. You can choose the route in that game. In some games you might warp very close to the ending. Mega Man had the fortress, Bowser had everything possible guarding him.

There can be the full ending and the non-full ending. The better ending requires you to beat it in the more difficult setting or doing things before beating the game that you did not have to. Sometimes you get a sadder ending if you did not beat the game in full. Something like you saved the world but not everyone in it.

Then there is the ending to the game itself. In comes the credits. It may name off all of the enemies that were in the game like was done in Super Mario World. It could resolve the rest of the story. It could tell you the future of all of the people that were in the game. It could go through the characters one by one with that. It could be a twenty minute ending as was done in Final Fantasy 6. In Final Fantasy 8 they showed the main characters on camera. Like in a way that they were happy together. It may be a big reveal: you were asleep the whole time, you were just having a dream. There could be a final speech at the end. Then the game can be given a new beginning, a “second quest.” Or less fairly, you have to beat everything twice and nothing changes the second time.

Enemy Gimmicks For example, when you hit an enemy with a sword you get an electrical shock. There is a rotating statue with an eye and if you get in the way of its sight a beam blasts towards you. You can transform an enemy into a cutesy thing with a spell or with magic dust. Some enemies might pop their head out of a hole or water, blast you with something, then hide again. Some enemies ignore you entirely until you attack them. Some are statues that come to life when you bump into them. Then there is the wall hand in Zelda. It comes from above to grab you and take you back to the start. Mario has walking bombs. They go off after a moment. Then there is the shy ghost idea where when you are turned away the little ghost chases you, but not otherwise.

Mario in fact is loaded with such things. There is the Lakitu, which throws spiked turtles down on you. There is the twomp that comes down on you the moment you get underneath it. A large fish pops out of the water to swallow you, if it manages to then you’ll die. You ride on dolphins rushing forward in Super Mario World. Then there is the sun that dives down on you. “Couldn’t be the real sun,” as they say.

An enemy boss may be fought in particular ways. Like not knowing which hole they will pop out of. There are two that are fake and one real and you have to hit the real one quickly, else lose your chance. Some bosses are flying things that dive down on you. When they dive down however, they are vulnerable. Then there are those that toss things at you. Those could be living things, blocks, bombs, or little mechanical creatures. The boss may appear and disappear in unexpected places. They often have one small attack and one worse attack. They have pattern based movements sometimes so the gamer can figure them out. It could be that the enemy is getting closer and closer towards you as in the Final Fantasy tonberry or the monster wall from Final Fantasy 4.

There is the effect of striking a skeleton and making them fall apart. Then they pull themselves back together and become a threat again. Or the effect of striking a slime and it splits into two. Sometimes when you strike the head of a monster it detaches and comes after you.

Sometimes a treasure chest contains no treasure, just a monster inside. Some enemies try to take your belongings. An enemy may engulf your character or characters into an underground area. Sometimes there is a scourge of the air that you randomly fight if you linger in your airship for too long. An enemy may prohibit you from using metallic weapons through magic. Some enemies may cause you to hallucinate if you make contact with them. In Super Mario 2 USA there is a key you take but the moment you do you start being chased by a face mask like thing. That will continue for as long as you hold onto the key. In Kid Icarus (NES) an enemy that looks like an eggplant can turn you into one. In some games are wizards that turn the inanimate into bad things.

Enemy Mechanics/ Behavior/ Movement They can hop, they can walk, they can slouch, they can chase, they can spin, they can leap. Sometimes they can do things that you cannot, such as wall climbing or being unharmed by things that harm  you . Mario has it where one turtle walks off a cliff and another does not. Green and red respectively. Sometimes an enemy only comes after you if you stay too long in front of it. Enemies can fly at you in different ways. It can leap down at you. It could just fly around. It can hover above you. It can pester you. Some will not give up until they hit you. Some are not birds either but people or monsters with wings, dragons, or whatever else. Naturally they have their own mechanics. A bat isn’t going to do in the game what a large eagle would.

Some enemies make you hit them in the front. Some of those are dangerous as they constantly move around. Some enemies are very athletic. They just jump, flip, rush, and dash towards you while striking. Some enemy things only go up and down. Some only go left and right. And sure you can have a diagonal one as well. Some enemies have dangerous things coming out of them. Some fall apart when you hit them. Some are stunned when you do. Some are angered when you hit them. They may even ignore you otherwise.

Some come up out of a hole. Some come from above. Others can emerge from just about anywhere. A Tom and Jerry game has Tom coming out of a trash can to slash Jerry. Some appear out of thin air, like a wizard. An enemy may have multiple functions. Such as four pieces that do different things against you. In a fighting game they might have patterns they use like in punch out. They have their own martial arts style, punching differently and all else. A Metroid is something that would suck your energy dry like a monstrous tick.

Energy There is the HP kind, the meter kind, and the image kind (like represented with a heart shape.) There are different ways to make meters of health as far as how it looks goes. As for getting energy it could come in the image of something, Like a pizza for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It usually resembles something familiar with the character like a mouse getting cheese. Sometimes energy is also currency. Sometimes energy is also a special attack or lets a special weapon be used. You can sacrifice energy in some games for a special attack. You can choose to use it as weapons in others.

Energy can outright be drained from you as in an osmosis spell of an RPG or some vampire like monster. They may or may not take that energy for themselves, in other words steal it from you. There are potions for energy of course. There is the kind that restores only a little, to medium, to all of it. Then there are super potions that not only cures one of you party members but all of them. Sometimes you get your energy replenished in a station, like Samus attaching her arm into a thing that does so. In an RPG it may be a “health spring,” just go in front of a certain pool of water. In an RPG game the enemy may drop a helpful potion. Some cure potions come in the food you eat, or gather, cook, and eat for something more specialized.

In some games you have to help something like a witch so she can create potions to begin with. After you bring that person the needed ingredient the potion is made and sold to you. You might even get a free sample! In FZero there was a part of the highway that had an energy field. You had to drive over that to restore your energy, and were always needing to because without it you’ll crash out and die.

Enhancing Things Just when you think you have the best sword you find a black smith that can make it even better. You can enhance yourself using magical rings or earrings. Some are rather straightforward: they raise your defense or attack. Some are intricate. They give you certain abilities, raise your magic power, let you cast two spells, let you run, have spells automatically cast for yourself such as “wall,” or “regen.” They may have you protect the rest of the party if they are low on HP. They give the thief character greater ability to steal. I recommend looking into the relic system of Final Fantasy 6 to learn more. In the case of that, you can only have two relics equipped at any given time. That keeps you from becoming utterly overpowered and also gives you reasons to choose wisely.

There are the guns of a run and gun game and the weapons of a shoot-em-up. You start out with a “pea-shooter,” and, according to what you want, have the opportunity to get a laser, spread shot, hone-in-on kind of weapon, among others. Usually when you are hit or at least after you die, you have lost all of the enhancement you’ve gotten in a shoot-em-up. That gives you a special reason to not be hit or killed. The game is easier as long as you have those multiple enhancements. In a similar way, Link’s sword shoots out a beam of energy so long as he has not been hit. With health in full he has that power.

Then there is Simon Belmont with his whip. He gets a longer whip from area to area, and is known to get a fire whip too, but will lose the upgrade if he is hit.

Sometimes you can infuse weapons with magic. In Final Fantasy 8 there were all sorts of options to combine the power of things. It was called the junction system. You could manipulate stats that way. You choose the armor you want, the weapons, or wands for magicians, and other things to piece together your best self. You are working for and gathering throughout certain games to evolve yourself.

Mega Man gets enhancements according to what enemy bosses he has defeated. Samus Aran gets suit upgrades throughout the game. She adds more and more abilities and upgrades throughout the game. She goes from the bomb to the super bomb. She goes from the ball to the sticky ball. She goes from a jump to a double jump. She gets “step flying.” She gets more energy reserves. She gets stronger and more niche blasts from her gun.

Environment Whatever environment you find on earth you can find in a video game. In fact you can find inspiration from natural things. There are caves that go to who knows where. There are underwater areas. There are mountains with caves that could get you to the top, while winding around. There are cliffs with things sometimes, if you dare to jump down one. There are swamps, forests, deserts, cold areas, jungles, tropical areas, you name it.

Weather can come along with it. The wind can blow you away. The cold can either harm you or just affect the area. You can get lost in the forest. That forest can contain helpful fairies to find your way through. You can find food growing in all places. You can find precious gems. You can find a way to fish. You might have lava to avoid. You might have to dress well in the cold. Your stamina may not fare so well in the middle of a desert. There could be an evil mystery in the swamp. There might be an Australia type continent in the game with monsters and beings that are only found there.

You get through the environment in different ways. Sometimes you need a vehicle of one kind or another. It can snow, it can rain, there can be thunderstorms, there can be seasons, there can even be tornadoes. And if you want, it may not resemble the real earth at all.

Evolving A Character There is just something more tidy and organized about random battles. In a manner of speaking an action RPG has the cards all over the place. Gamers love to grind and a random battle does it best. It is the old idea of leveling up and affording greater equipment. Some things just don’t need to be fixed. It can be challenging to get all of the weapons and gear you need while throwing in the inn and some potions, but some players do.

The character can get greater tools along the way. Those tools open up new areas. It starts with a little bomb blasting a hole on a cracked wall to a dimension jump into The Dark World. Similarly there are new weapons to get over time, those that you get according to how far you have gotten in the game. Final Fantasy 7 had its Materia system that dispersed spells throughout the game.

Sometimes it is just in things you buy, whatever the genre of game it is. You may get a special item from an NPC. You might go out of your way to find and get a special item, a special weapon, or spell. It may mean looking in all areas for treasure chests. It may mean looking throughout a town to see what it has. It may be found in a cave. It may be gotten to beyond a waterfall after you get the swimming flippers. It may come from beating a great enemy boss.

You might have the choice of just what stat to increase. Whether it is strength, defense, magic power, magic defense, speed, vigor, or evasion. You might choose the route of job class and the more you master the more you can do and use (as spells are only for mages and fists for monks.) Metroidvania games have you evolve, giving you new powers and abilities. On the more Castlevania end of that, if you beat an enemy so many times, you take their power.

In a racing game you win to get money and use that money for better equipment. The same is so with a fishing game, only for rods and bait.

Exchanging/ Trading In some games you give something to someone and they will give you something else for it. Then in some games the pattern continues until you have traded three or more things. The last one is just the one you need. You could give a witch a mushroom and she gives you magic dust for it. You could give a note to an old lady and she will prepare a potion for you with it. You could give korok  seeds to a “thing” that uses them in his rattles, then he does a rattle dance and “poof!” your inventory space has grown. (I am referencing some Zelda games.) “One man’s trash is another’s treasure.”

Some items might be trade worthy and used as currency in that way.

Exploration and Exploring  Super Mario World will show you that a level has a secret exit when it has a red dot on the world map. The secret exits are usually easy to figure out, but add a lot to the game anyway. Point and click games have a lot of trial and error. You’ve got to examine everything and figure out its possible uses. Adventure games can be very trial and error too if they are puzzle based. It should be easy enough to connect the dots and hopefully not be too vague for the player. There is that cryptic thing in Castlevania 2 that gamers often bring up. When you reach a pool of water you cannot cross, you must have simon kneel for an amount of time to have a lower area show itself. Sometimes secret things are quite cryptic in video games.

An RPG game could have treasure in any given area. So when in a dungeon or cave or wherever else you must go out of your way a bit to find it. The secret might be to play a flute in a certain area. It might be burning down a bush. It could require a bomb. It could be just bumping into a statue to have it move, as when you touch it it animates. They are easy enough things to conceptualize for a game. (This) with (this) equals (this.)

The world can be lush with things to find. It can come in food form, mineral form, magic form, treasure form, life form, and so on. The world is not limited to what is in the middle. It has also the upper and the lower. It may even have a moon. May even have another planet. May even have another dimension. You never know what might turn up when you interact with any given thing.

Experience Points, Leveling Up, And Grinding These things are not at all confined to RPG games. You can even use them in platforming games. Simply make it where the more enemies you beat the higher your exp goes. When the time comes that you’ve gotten enough one thing or another raises, such as maximum health. Some like grinding so much that the genre is more suitably called “grinder” for them.

Some games give you spells as you level up. So one spell at level 10 and another at perhaps level 15. Of course your stats will increase per leveling up. Hopefully there is a variety of enemies to face while leveling up. Some give you more money than others. Some more exp, of course. Naturally the more you fight the same enemy the easier it gets. At first it might be difficult. Then you both learn its weakness and have gained enough levels to obliterate it.

Some games have it where the enemy is visible on the screen. Then you contact it and the screen changes into a side by side fight. Some are not seen and randomly appear. Sometimes you are given a path and as long as you stay on it no fights will happen. Sometimes you can get an item that stops random battles either temporarily or for as long as you have it equipped. Running away from a battle may be free, may be more or less easy, or difficult to, and in some cases you will drop money if you do. Then there are items that let you skip the random battle once they are used during a fight, such as a smoke bomb.

An easy enemy may pop up. One might, or two, or four, or six enemies may appear. A difficult one may appear. In rare occurrences a very difficult one may appear.

Extra Touches There are games that some people may call “well polished.” There can be “too polished” too, however. Imagine a painter who does not know when to stop. The original painting becomes something entirely different in the end. But a little extra animation can go a long way. And if, all of a sudden, you do find a better overall idea, then good.

It is in refining mechanics until they are engineered as good as could be. Some things one may hope would work, but simply do not, no matter how they are put to use. The game making process can take a lot of edits, a lot of refinements, these additions and those, before it has been made as great as could be. A strict deadline is no good. Perfection takes time. Many would-be good ideas were rushed. That is why Nintendo only allowed for a certain amount of games each year from any given publisher when it came to the NES. An endless amount of cheaply and quickly made games had ruined the video game market.

Sometimes a little goes a long way. Those are important to look for. Sometimes with just one change a bad idea becomes a good one. Sometimes the music is almost good, but not quite. Sometimes better mechanics and systems are needed. Hopefully everything doesn’t need to be rehauled. Some would release an imperfect game just for easy money. Some games are just poor copies of others. Some are born without any imagination, without any inspiration, without love and care.

Fighting Physics Street Fighter 2 would not have been what it was without its fighting physics, no doubt. Every player punches and kicks their own way. Chun Li is quite athletic, Guile is brutal, Zangeif is a brute, Vega is the only one with a weapon, his claws, and Dhalsim can extend his arms and legs. So they all have their own style and it truly adds a lot to the game. Fighting games before that generally gave you the same moves as everyone else.

There are combos that can be pulled off. Killer Instinct was built around them. “Double combo!

You have spin kicks in mid air. You have more forceful punches like Guile. You have a degree of athleticism, there are jump kicks, there are foot swipes to trip up your opponent. To have a better match-up, one player has the better punch and the other a better and more effective kick. Some are better at close proximity fighting, others are when they are further away.

With weapons, they aren’t limited to blades or guns. They can be like Scorpion’s hookshot, “get over here!” As he brutally says when he uses it.

Samurai Shodown had particularly large sprites, and the screen would even zoom in on them in certain cases. Some of its enemies were quite grotesque, even demonic. A lot of the physics is determined by what the fighter is itself. Not always a human. Sometimes a monster. Has been a dinosaur in Primal Rage and clay in Clay Fighter. The thing is, if they are not capable of martial art moves to begin with, then they don’t belong in a fighting game. Fighting as a tyrannosaurus rex may sound cool, but how are you going to do that?

Finding Your Way Out Of Trouble  (like you were imprisoned or placed in a bad place.) Maybe there is a guy with you that can help. Maybe he had even been waiting for you in a cell beside you and had been digging a hole for ages. That is what happened in Dragon Quest 11. He knew you were the chosen one so he placed himself in a cell long before you arrived. Final Fantasy 6 did something in a spectacular fashion. The whole damn castle went underground and traveled to a different desert. Sometimes it means sneaking through the back door. Sometimes it means escaping with a time limit as everything is about to go. Sometimes it means going into hiding for a while. Sometimes it means sneaking around and not being seen. That may include things like fake ID’s and disguises. Locke would steal the guard's clothing for that purpose. Then sometimes it is as simple as running away.

A teleport stone might be a good thing to have. It guarantees that you can leave a battle. You might need a vehicle to escape. Just when the enemy is about to get you, you jump into an airship and fly away.

Fire Fire is used a lot of different ways in video games. There is the lava pit of so many platforming games. There is the kind literally coming from a volcano in an area so warm you need a special suit to be there. There are the rotating fire sticks of Mario games. There are a number of spells based on fire in RPG games. The more simpler Fire 1-3 spells and also things like Merton and Inferno. There are lamps used to light up a dark screen. There is the fireball that Mario tosses. There are candles that have a magical effect or are just used to burn bushes. If someplace you need to get into has thorny vines all around it, fire magic will fix that.

Sometimes the flame has a face. Sometimes a candle walks around. Fire breath and dragons go hand in hand. Your sword may have the power of flames surrounding it. Fire melts any ice whether in an adventure game, platforming game, or certain other genres. Once melted you might get things frozen with it. Or at least remove a block in your way. In Mario games piranha plants spit fire at you. Simon Belmont can get a flame whip. Mega Man might face a fire based enemy. Samus Aran can travel through a whole lake of lava with a special suit. Skeleton dinosaurs come out of fire pits in Super Mario World.

Flying Things Some of the hardest regular enemies can be flying enemies. Sometimes however they are the easiest, like bats just fluttering around and not doing much in terms of movement. They can be eagles, bats, medusa heads in Castlevania, skull heads, really anything can be made to fly. You might attach wings on them for that, but you don’t have to. People enjoyed the fact that in Super Mario 3 goombas sprouted wings. Before that they were as simple as could be. All they did was slowly move from right to left before that. Now they have wings and are flying around! NES Ninja Gaiden games had such a powerful eagle diving down on you, and if it misses you it will come after you in another direction. Zelda (NES) however had simple bats that were no real trouble.

Super Mario 2 USA had you fly on a magic carpet. Your horse may fly. Your pet dragon too. Or an airship. Before you get an airship you get a hovercraft. At least that is how it sometimes goes. Your character itself may be able to fly. As far as that goes there are many different ways you can fly. You can build up speed like an airplane, fly as a helicopter, or a balloon. You might fly like a bullet while going upward then thrusting forward. Mario games have many other examples of that.

Naturally ghosts are things that fly around. Blocks can fly around, the kind you get things from, and might be evasive. Flying abilities give you access to upper areas. There’s no telling what might be up there. You can hover on a glider slowly going down. The Mario squirrel suit does the same thing. Kirby flies into the next level after getting onto a star that takes him there. You can ride on some enemies which fly.

Fun Things It’s always fun to get to the next area. Especially if level by level new things are offered. There are mini games that can be fun. Those can be all new games or based on traditional games. Those can be made up of card games, slots, chance games, guessing games, and get all of something games. There can also be a game within a game. That can be as simple as a one screen game similar to really old games. The game may even have an arcade room within itself.

Bonus levels are fun. Especially if you have earned them and they are not just a given. Those can be a hidden thing to find. It may mean maneuvering in a difficult way to a certain door. It might mean getting four of something. Sometimes it is more random, or at least seems random, requiring certain conditions. Those conditions could be having a certain amount of coins and a certain amount of time left on the timer.

Sometimes it can be pleasing to fight bosses. If it requires fun maneuvering then that can be so. Getting new things can be fun. In an RPG that would be getting enough money for some special stuff or stumbling onto some surprisingly good treasure. Even better, getting a great new spell. In an adventure game that would be some new tool that gives you greater access to the world, which in turn gives you more freedom and reasons to explore. The same goes for a Metroidvania game. Getting new abilities and taking them from enemies is very pleasing. In a platforming game it may mean getting a new suit, one that lets you do special things.

Puzzle games can be a lot of fun and easy on the player. For some gamers there is nothing more fun than grinding and leveling up in an RPG. Exploration can be fun especially if it is worthwhile. Two player/multiplayer games can be a lot of fun. Be it fighting games, racing games, beat-em-ups, online RPG games, party games, “clubhouse games,” or whatever else. Adding multiplayer mode in any game is always a good choice. It can make a lot of difference.

Amusing and charming things can be fun, such as The Mushroom Kingdom. If Mario was much more realistic then it would just not be itself. The athleticism of fighting games makes them fun. Getting better makes games fun. So give players room for growth.

Gaining Things  A good game gives you a little at a time throughout it. A good game has you looking forward to the next possible thing. New areas can be opened up because of them. New abilities can be found along the way. Those change the game in a way that you play just a little differently than before. So it is a thing of variety. It renews the game in a way. It gives the player a sense of accomplishment.

It could be any of these: a new vehicle, a new spell, new powers, a new weapon, a new defensive item, a new tool, new equipment, a new item, new food, a new enemy, a new character, a new set of NPC’s, a new town, a new home, a new kingdom, a new area, new environment, a new objective, a new piece of music, a new mini game, a new race track, some new controls, some new abilities, new summons, and new pieces or parts.

Often, gaining things entails getting a new tool or ability. After that you can go and get into places that you could not before. If it is an open world game then the map may be rather large and take quite some time to see all of it. An RPG game may have you going out of your way to find treasure. A platforming game may have a hidden spot in the level with neat stuff there. Even in the original Super Mario Bros you did not know which pipe might go down to something so you tried them all, or at least the one easy to get to. A popular element in today’s games is that you gather things and combine them. Those can be whatever: iron, silver, magic stone, staff, monster horns, spider silk, silver thread, and so on.

Then there are the farming simulators with all sorts of plants to grow and tend to, and perhaps farm life.

Now that games can have far more complexity than before the programmers place in numerous things to collect throughout the game’s world. At least in certain genres they do, such as an open world game. We have the Elder Scrolls type of fantasy game lush with things to collect. Zelda: Breath of the Wild, had numerous things in any given area to find and use. That can be food, both meat and plant, which offers energy and agility basically. Weapons break but they are strewn everywhere. That gives players the incentive to get new ones. Weapons can be as little as a branch or as great as The Master Sword, which does not break, and is the only weapon in the game that does not. Great idea!

And any kind of mineral/metal/gem to find. From amber to diamond. Get an axe , cut down a tree, get lots of apples.

Gambling Some games are specifically gambling games. They offer card games, slot games, roulette games, and the things you may find in Vegas. Newer games of the kind give you much more options to going into larger casinos. They provide much more variety than, say, NES games of that genre.

Gambling can be as simple as an NPC asking if you want to gamble and you have a chance of losing, winning, or breaking even. As such you make one of three choices. Number one, two, or three, and the right answer is randomly set. Then there is the chance game of picking the right treasure chest. The room is full of chests, nine of them for example, and you pick one. You might lose, you may try again and you might get the best thing by the fourth try.

Slots can be integrated into an attack. Such as in an RPG within a random battle, the gambler character can use slots and with a good roll a good attack. That was so in Final Fantasy 6 with Setzer. Mario Bros 2 USA gave you slots before the start of the next level. That gave you a chance at some level ups. You might go into an arena to fight a random person/thing and if you win then you get the prize. The game may simply have the option of playing black jack or poker with someone. If you want a good traditional card game/ board game kind of game, Clubhouse Games is highly recommended.

Game Over Screen Some games may taunt the losing player. Like in a fighting game the losing character is basically told “you messed with the wrong person.” Sometimes sad music plays when you lose. Sometimes a sound effect is played. Ninja Gaiden 2 (NES) has a very good one. Sometimes a screen appears showing you about to die or get killed if you do not choose to continue. They used to taunt arcade gamers that way. Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link was much more subtle, just having Gannon laughing at you.

There are different animations of the word “game over.” There are different fonts they use for it. It may roll like fluid. It may be italicized. Before it is shown, the player is shown to have died. They might fall flat on their face. They might blow up into different pieces like Mega Man. They may fall off of the screen like in so many platformers.

Gathering  Sometimes  things grow back in the game. You can take them, but they grow back after a while. That might be a special plant that does things which the others do not, and are valuable with what they do. There might be a certain area in the game where money is more abundant, so you often return for more. There might be an enemy with particular good drops which you fight again and again. There might be some recipe that you wish to put together.

With some things in the game “the more you have the better.” That includes arrows, bombs, money, potions, healing and curing items, helpful items that are dispersed throughout the game, and anything else of frequent use.

Getting a certain amount (for something to happen.) There is the classic idea of getting 100 coins for a 1-up. Differently, there are the four crystals or magic orbs (or by whatever name) to get before you can get the power you need to face evil. Then there are the heart pieces. Get four of those and your energy increases. They do not have to be hearts either. There are two kinds of coins, the ones for 1-ups and the ones for a bonus area. The latter requires, usually, four of them. There could be an objective to beat a set of bosses to get something you need. Like the four dragons, the five dungeon bosses, or whatever else. There could be a set of “special levels” or special areas to beat in order for something to occur. They sometimes take you off of the road from the ordinary.

If you absolutely get all of something you may get the special ending. For some there is a 100% completion objective. There can be weapon or item recipes: you need an amount of something to create them. Those things are specific in such a case. Castlevania 2 (NES) had you get all of Dracula's body parts to bring him back to life in order to beat him once and for all. The game may throw something like “we need these parts to get this thing to work” at you.

Getting Carried Away A game such as that needs many options and possibilities. It needs to be fun to explore. It needs good things all over. It needs the options of doing various things whether they are side quests, gathering quests, and so on. Then if the player wants something a little more challenging and a little less easy there are those options too. So they finally go into a dungeon where they know they will find something or face a difficult enemy knowing it will drop something nice.

Final Fantasy 6 had an appropriately named “Doom Gaze” enemy that you’d face if you were in the airship for a long time, aimlessly wandering around. As though “gazing” at the screen and not paying any attention. Smart idea!

There could be fun side options in a game that are good enough to really involve the players. Those can be little games within the game, card games, racing games, or going around to collect something special. Getting carried away in a game requires a lot of diversity. It would have you a part of a fascinating world. It would be full of mystery.

Another way of getting carried away comes from grinding. I have known of myself and others that it can mean being at it for a couple of hours or more. When it comes to finally finding out the secret of a puzzle in an adventure game, that can involve players for a long time as well. In a Metroidvania game it means looking all over the place. Let the player be rewarded along the way, whatever you do.

The story has a lot of power to involve the player. Take examples from the powerhouse stories of Final Fantasy games. They run the gamut of emotions. There is love and hate, grief and happiness, hope and loss of hope, plot twists, and if there is an emotion of any kind, the games have them covered. Who can forget the moment when Aerith was slain by Sepheroth or when Kefka managed to throw the world into ruin?

Ghouls and Ghosts and Monsters  Some go the grotesque route. They are more evil than just spooky. Then some go the more spooky route. There is the light hearted Halloween kind and the outright Satanic kind. No joke, they can be quite blasphemous. Some games might be called “an evil work of art.” Monsters can come out of nowhere. Like in Final Fantasy 4 they were happily going along their way in a ship when Leviathan suddenly appeared. Kraid in Super Metroid was a monster that came up from below and towered over you. Samus would just suddenly enter into a room and be trapped inside with monstrous aliens.

Sometimes they only come out at night. In Silent Hill a siren would sound letting you know that that time has come. Whatever traditional monster there is can be used whether from a hundred year old horror story or the monsters of antiquity. A common one is somewhat more modern: the undead. There was the zombie shooter The House of the Dead. Then there was SplatterHouse. That game had it where you were no different than those horror figures you cut through.

In fact a lot of inspiration can be taken from horror movies. Some are licensed versions. There’s the Alien series of video games based on their movies. There was even a Texas Chainsaw Massacre video game on the ancient Atari 2600. Some of these are hack and slash games. Some are horror survival games. Some include a haunted house and those can be either scary or light hearted (light hearted like Luigi’s Mansion or the ghosts houses of Mario games.) In the case of scary ones, you never know what will appear and at what time. You must “stay on your guard.” You have a gun for protection or the more brutal chainsaw might be used.

Goro from the original Mortal Kombat was a great design for an enemy. The four armed monstrosity was quite intimidating. The game Blasphemy was just completely.. Blasphemous. They put horror into religious concepts. That was a Metroidvania game, naturally. Those are so often at least gothic, filled with demons and all sorts of evil things. They in fact get quite imaginative when it comes to monster design. The worst and scariest things you will ever lay your eyes on is included in them. The east knows their monsters and demons!

The Dark World of Zelda took human fighters and made monsters out of them, like turning a knight into a pig knight. Super Mario Land 2 had an enemy with a Jason (Friday the 13th) mask over its head. Bats, skeletons, ghosts, spirits, human animals, slime, centaurs, giant squids, vampire, mummy, frankenstein, zombies, medusa, kraken, evil clown, psycho, mother brain, Pan, evil sprites, talking trees, graveyards, jack o lanterns, headless horseman, witch, warlock, are some choices.

Gimmicks   There is the “sphere system” of Final Fantasy 10. That was such that you could branch out where you wanted your magic and abilities to go. The more sphere points you got the better claims you could make. Then there is the junction system of Final Fantasy 8. You basically combined weapons, items, and magic, to manipulate stats. For Final Fantasy 7 there was “materia.” You chose the right combination of things to boost your power, in that. There is the common element of a trigger, where it is if you hit a button right before you land an attack, the attack is boosted. Or in Super Mario Kart (SNES) if you start your engine right between the second and third traffic sign beeps you get a boost of speed.

Another gimmick comes from the charge button. You simply hold down the attack button to increase your attack. Such as with Mega Man sending out a stronger blast that way or Link doing a spin attack with his sword that way.

And there are button combos that give you special attacks. Such as in so many fighting games. You press up, down, up, down, A, for example to pull off a special attack.

Enemies can be made to do unique things. Imagination and enemies go hand in hand. You don’t want all of the enemies doing the same thing to you, for sure. So you imaginatively come up with the idea of a Lakitu, the little guy in the cloud that throws spiked turtles at you. In an RPG it can go beyond spells and physical attacks. Such as the “tonberry.” It creeps towards you. After every attack it gets a little closer. If it gets right up to you it will stab you and kill you. Then there is the “don’t attack when it is in its shell” sort of thing. The shy ghost was a great idea. It would only chase you when you were not looking at it. These sorts of enemy gimmicks go a long way in making an enjoyable video game.

The game may have a side card game of a newly created kind. You can collect cards, win cards, find them wherever, get them when you beat any boss or creature, and use them in a game.

 A game can be made into a multi genre game. In Bionic Commando you didn’t even jump. You used a hook shot throughout the game to reach higher places and grab things. At one time it was a gimmick in a video game to use weapons during a race, such as in Spy Hunter. Exitebike lets you build tracks and that adds a lot of fun.

Then sometimes the whole game is based on an all new idea. There is the unicycle racing game (uniracers.) There is Marble Madness. There is Paper Boy. There are sports games that are done differently, not real-world like, such as Mutant League Football. Nintendo has been known to create all new games built around gimmicks. Such as Cadence of Hyrule, Donkey Kongo, Stylus games through its Nintendo DS, and motion based games through its Nintendo Wii. They even invented the first LCD “calculator graphic” games in its Game and Watch series.

At one time or another it was all a gimmick. Such as HP and MP in a video game. Someone had to have been the first to put it into a video game.

Gradual Things  Some games have energy replenished over time. There is the Regen spell that does that. It regularly drops you some HP at a consistent rate. Then there is “poison” that does the opposite. Some enemies damn you with a spell that kills you with a countdown above your head. When it gets to zero, you die. Some weapons gather energy over time. For as long as you don’t use it the more powerful it gets. Use it awhile and the energy is gone again. You can also gradually lose energy by being in a certain room, in a pit of hot fluids, or standing/being on something you should not be.

Night gradually comes then day gradually comes. The game may only let you do certain things at certain times.  The game may say to wait three days. Perhaps that is how long it takes to forge a sword or prepare something for you. New areas gradually open up. Some games give you an income that comes regularly on a schedule. Sometimes you have to wait around. That may go something like wandering around talking to your party in a room when suddenly the door opens up and the story proceeds. Or you could be on a ship talking it out. You could be wandering around “times square” waiting on orders for what to do next. Some games may have you doing things in order to get through the next area then the next. There may be some objectives to that. It could be on a large scale or a small one such as giving someone 500 coins to help you. It could be that things only appear after you’ve done certain things, which before were nowhere seen in the game. A whole invisible city may even appear.

You might have to restore certain things or get them operating again before you can continue in the game. In a plan you may have one set of characters working on one thing while you are working on another. You may even switch story lines taking care of everything in turn. You may come to possess some mysterious people in the game as in Final Fantasy 8. You see through their eyes and witness their adventures and it does not make sense to you until the end of the game. It happens a few times during the game after the characters simply pass out.

Graphic Styles It began with one screen games, things as simple as PONG, becoming something more graphically impressive such as Galaga. Then there were scrolling screens. They would either go left to right or up and down. Some of them went all around. There were isometric games. Those are diagonal. The vectrex had vector graphics, which were more line based than pixel based. A certain Star Wars game is a good example of those. Dragon’s Lair used a laser disk, literally making a game out of a cartoon. Sprite scaling came about. Parallax scrolling was a nice touch. 3D came about. There was the Virtual Boy as well. Super Nintendo had its Mode 7. Both Sega and Nintendo came out with a chip enhanced cart. For Nintendo that was, of course, Star Fox. For Sega that was Virtua Racing. Literal 3D came about. Some games had real video in them. There were pre-rendered graphics. That allowed Donkey Kong to compete with new systems. Cell shading became a thing. “2.5D” took old styles and mixed them with new. In fact older styles of graphics began to get more appreciation after the novelty of 3D wore out a little. The newest thing as of now are augmented reality glasses. Screens have gotten larger, for sure. Some people who play old games prefer them on CRT Tv’s.

Having Fun “Is it fun?” is an important question. A game that lets you play around in a lot of different ways is fun. Things with secrets are fun. When leveling up is a pleasurable experience (and not taxing, boring, or without substance) it is fun. Exploration is fun when there is lots to find and use. When you really feel like you are getting better at the game, that’s fun. When enemies are imaginative they are fun to see and go against. Getting to the next area is fun whether it is a town, a level, a mysterious place, or whatever else. Getting new items and tools to get to an area you couldn’t before, is fun. Getting new weapons and gear just to make you stronger is fun as well.

Here are other fun things:

A good cut scene, figuring out puzzles and secrets, finding treasure, being well rewarded for something, getting new characters, a good story, a story you want to be a part of, a story you want to move forward, new spells, finding an easter egg, a fun to use powerup, a simple and fun to use system, digging, fishing, mini game, bonus game, collecting, gathering, recipes to create things, flying, an airship, nice vehicle, some gambling, a narrow escape, taking the power and abilities from your enemies, imaginative worlds, enemies that have you attack them in fun ways, mechanics can be fun to use (double jumping, wall climbing, wall leaping, the way you attack, and a feeling of athleticism), the feeling of a worthwhile quest or journey, and winning a difficult game can be most satisfying.

Healing In the old days of RPG games you had to talk to a priest to “get resurrected” or cured. They quickly found out that a medical herb is just more convenient. To have an inn heal you was put in at some point. Little cure spells lead to larger ones. That only makes sense within the whole leveling up system. Then at one time or another they thought to give you a tent instead of an inn, for further convenience. They must have said “but let's make the inn cheaper.” After all, tents would have invalidated an inn if it cost the same. There are sleeping bags too which do not fully heal, unlike tents, and of course those are cheaper.

Some games have no energy bar or HP. Like many platforming games. Larger Mario means he can be hit twice. Arthur in Super Ghouls and Ghosts loses his armor until he is in his underwear. If hit after that he is dead. Energy “bars” can be as simple as three dots (or up to three dots.) An image can be the bar. Normally that image is the same as a curative item. For example Link’s energy bar is a heart and hearts you get will raise your energy. During a beat-em-up the players may fight for the energy raising thing. They may quickly say they need it more and take it. Final Fantasy 6 had “Life 1, 2, and 3.” Life 1 returns you to life with just a little HP. Life 2 returns you to life with full HP. Life three automatically returns you to life with full HP (do you can use it on a person still alive.)

In some RPG games there is no returning your character to life until you break a curse. Such as with an enemy that petrified them or made them undead. So you have to “uncurse” them before you can continue using them. Sometimes the best option is to just kill them off and bring them back to life. As the status ailment only lasts as long as they are still alive. There is the regen spell, it gradually restores HP. There are certain spells of certain healing properties whether healing poison or berserk or imp or whatever else.

There are normal curing items and spells of varied potency. Then there is elixir which cures all HP no matter how high one’s HP can go. Then there is the mega-elixir which does the same, only for your entire party. You may find items of powerful curing before you get something like Cure 3. You have to pay or find those however, and they could be limited. There is the spell of osmosis which takes energy from your enemy and gives it to you. There is no reason why the same thing can’t be in other genres of games.

In some games your energy may automatically restore. Only in a heat of a battle that is hard to escape you still have to be careful. In some games, a save point might restore all of your energy. In others, a check point does, as with Mario getting bigger just by getting to one. You might find a water pool that restores energy. That can be just about anything, a statue of a god could do the same thing for you. Donkey Kong Country gives you the two hit system but gives you two different characters for it. Kong is hit and you switch to Diddy. You find Kong later in a barrel, that is your healing thing in its own way. Then in Ninja Turtle games you have four turtles you can switch between as desired. Once all of their energy is gone, you lose.

Sonic The Hedgehog games use coins as energy.

Dragon Warrior 2 (Dragon Quest 2) on the NES turns the font into shades of red when you are low on HP, and it is a nice effect. Then there is the more common non stop beeping when you are low on energy. Just as well the look of your character may change when s/he is low on energy. In some games the music speeds up when you are low on energy.

Helpful Beings and Helpful People Some will just outright give you something, whether an item or money or whatever else. In the original Legend of Zelda there was a guy in the cave that said “it’s a secret to everybody” and gave you some rupees. They might ask something for you and give you something in return. They may have good advice for you, cryptic maybe, and maybe too cryptic. The more you talk to in an RPG game the more you learn about the story and what to do. Along the way the NPC’s may help you in ways beyond words. A merchant out in the middle of nowhere is helpful, and feels necessary for a game. Getting back into town is just a nuisance sometimes.

Some characters in a game might come and go. They are not regular party members. They are nice to have around for as long as that is so, hopefully. Shadow from Final Fantasy 6, Proto Man from Mega Man, and Alucard from Castlevania 3, are three examples. They might just save your life and leave. Some NPC’s may be able to forge your sword and make it even better. Some may be willing to give you a special potion if you give them some materials for it. A king may let you loot the treasure in his castle if it is that he depends on you.

The gods may bless you with power as you are acting out their purpose. For example in Altered Beast. The level starts with the words “rise from your grave!” You may have people backing you up in other ways. After all, you are the foreseen hero and the only one who can save the world. By the end of the game you might have the whole world behind you and everyone is there to aid you in beating the last boss.

Getting help can come at a price. You cannot proceed without giving them an amount of cash for example. Or you have to find them something. They may want you to prove your worth. You might get help from an airship captain. You might get help from a scientist. You might get help from a witch. You might get help from a king. The question is, what kind of help would you get from such a person? Meaning that a witch will help you in her own way and a mechanic in their’s. As such you can figure out help coming in a variety of ways.

Houses In real life you can’t just enter into a home and smash all of the pots for treasure. A game is not real life however. Treasure can be found in homes in these ways: from dressers, book shelves, behind a bookshelf, pots, treasure chests, on tables, in a box, or just sitting there. They can even be found just by going up to a grandfather clock and pressing the examine button. You could find something beneath a bed. The bookshelf can contain helpful information. Might be an occult sort of thing. Might have a fun magazine. As for the fireplace it may make you say something such as “ouch!” Some games have it where the people inside might say “what are you doing going through my things?!”

Some homes may have a crazy person inside. Someone bonkers that lives out in the middle of nowhere for example. It could be a witch’s house, where you can take nice potions and magical items so long as she isn’t around (and let’s hope she doesn’t find you.) There could be hidden places inside the home such as a basement or a way to get onto the roof. The house could be your own to begin with. It may have its household come and go at certain hours. It may have a bed in it that you can lay on and get some restorative sleep. The house itself can be in ruins, part of a whole town that was ravaged and put into ruin. Maybe those that ravaged it left behind a few things.

The house may be a mansion with so many things to explore. It could contain magical paintings. Maybe it is haunted and you need to break the curse. If you do, its owner will reward you. The house may have your friend inside who helps you every time you visit them.

Then there are different styles of houses including: a wooden house, cabin like, brick or stone made, a clay house,a metallic one, an underground house, two stories or more, large and small, with or without a basement, has a ladder to get to the roof, well furnished, poorly furnished, barely held together, Hobbit-like, a tree house, a hut, a large tent, made of ice, made of candy, has a tunnel going under it, leads to the sewer, painted well or poorly, looks wealthy, looks poor, has stained glass windows, a beast rug, interconnected with other homes, residence of a famous person, a nobody, a scholar, or whoever else.

Hidden Area The sewer may lead you into some hidden place. Removing things obstructing an underground staircase takes one into a dungeon. That could be by burning down a bush, blowing up a cracked wall, playing the flute at a pond, in referencing Zelda of course. The whole city may be invisible to outsiders. That until they want you to be there. That they need you for some special purpose and reveal it to you. Or atlantas, the hidden undersea civilization. The under-sea area may be found in a newly obtained submarine. An airship may even take you to the moon.

An enemy may engulf you into an underground area. You find it or it appears for some reason and it sucks you in. It may require a certain tool to find. The original Lost Woods had you go through the forest in a pattern. The Breath of The Wild Lost Woods had you escape fog that would suddenly appear, or else you would begin all over again. Sometimes it is in an act of faith. The game asks if you want to jump off of a cliff. You’d think it would kill you but it doesn’t. It takes you to a cliff area. Then there are pits in platforming games perhaps just a little out of place. You jump into it and find you go down into an area instead of dying. Instead of a pit that might be quicksand.

Sometimes they pull the “its behind you” trick in a platforming game. You have just started the game. You are on the first level. You think to go forward just as in any side scroller. But if you go backwards instead there is something there. A platforming game may give you a potion to drop and accordingly a new little other dimension appears. Where you drop it determines where the door takes you. That was an idea of Super Mario Bros 2 USA. The original Super Mario Bros would let you get to the top of the screen with some maneuvering, skip all of the level, and go to a warp point.

Sometimes the hidden area is behind a bookshelf. The gamer may not think anything is there but there is. There is a staircase. If you bump into a certain statue it may come alive and move, revealing a staircase. An adventure game requires a lot of trial and error. You don’t always know what using something in one place will do. It is a simple concept. Just ask yourself how a certain tool can be used on a certain thing. Fire burns things down. Rafts let you swim across. Bombs break cracked walls. A picture of an eye on the wall, well, it would seem an arrow would be the right thing.

Sometimes the answer can be cryptic. In Final Fantasy 4 you had to drop coal down a well out in the middle of nowhere. That led to a great underground area full of dwarves. In Castlevania 2 (NES) you had to kneel before a pond for some seconds before a lower area was revealed. In Super Mario Bros 3 there was something the same. There was that white platform where you had to hold the down button while you were on it. Then you went behind it, continued forward, and got a magic flute out of it. Were it not for the NES based movie “Wizards” or some guide to the game, no one could have figured that out.

NPC’s can either be cryptic with their hints or be more helpful.

Hidden Things Corridors can be large and confusing but you never know what you may find or miss by not going through all of them. Just for the fact that they are large and confusing hides what is there. Simon Belmont cracks his whip at certain stones which break apart revealing something useful. Sometimes things need conditions to appear. Such as a set amount of money and timer left on the clock when you beat the level. Then for clocks, you may go up to one and it asks for the time. If you set the right time you get the chainsaw, as in Final Fantasy  6. Some things need weapons, tools, or items to get to. You could pass by something a hundred times feeling there is something there before you stumble across what you need and connect the dots. You might see a circle of rocks with one missing. Then you place a rock in that empty spot and “poof!” something appears in the middle.

Ideas That Are Discouraged Clone games or too heavy an influence from another game only makes an “ugly cousin” game. It is the other idea, only done in a strange way. Sometimes it is obvious too. Too tight a deadline can be a disaster. Wandering around in ideas for too long can cause bad things. What I mean by that is getting lost in details which aren’t too important. Perfectionism in the wrong places can be bad. It just wastes time that is better spent elsewhere. What is important is playability, serviceable mechanics, good music, and enjoyment of the game. If you can play the game the whole way through and enjoy yourself then it is a good game.

Really long drawn out tutorials are bad and only indicate that the system you made for the game is too complicated. Music from a person who isn’t well versed in composition can lead to music that sounds like it came from a ten year old. You need the right team overall. A great team makes a great game. A great team loves what they do. They are eager to do the best they can do. Blandness is a bad thing. That is, a game that doesn’t have much substance. Some of those have been called collectathon platformers. You basically only play the levels to get the game's versions of coins. It is bad when there is very little to even do in the game.

Unfair difficulty is bad. Fair difficulty is okay to an extent but unfair difficulty never is. The gamer needs to be able to control the player, for one, and not be ambushed and beaten to death as what happens in The Adventure of Bayou Billy. But sometimes it is the player’s fault. They may have bit off more than they could chew and were meant to face that enemy after they became more powerful, not before.

Take a look at the game Seaman for Sega Dreamcast and you’ll see an example of a game that is just too weird to enjoy. Some synopsis ideas are brilliant. Others are not. Making the player do things they’d rather not is a bad thing. Those include any idea that is a chore. It is difficult where it doesn’t need to exist. Such as “if you don’t sleep you’ll die.” Fetch quests that go on for too long are bad. Just making the player do dull things is too.

Imagination  (like a Lakitu or walking mushroom) Video games give you lots of freedom to use your imagination. If anything, people want an escape from the ordinary world and that is not found in a game too relatable to it. A whole new world of characters and character worlds can be made by game makers. That is certainly a worthwhile effort as it can build into many different and rich franchises. The best cartoons have a wide variety of characters, each well done. Disney has that magic. Nintendo does too. Unfortunately most game makers only focus on one character. They don’t even focus on many different imaginative enemies within the game. They exist without real importance if they exist at all. Nintendo however has The Mushroom Kingdom, Hyrule, and then some.

Final Fantasy is certainly an exception. Almost every game is different from the one before. They reuse ideas from previous games however to do them differently. So there is Cid, usually the airship captain but sometimes in a different role, who plays a different part. There are certain enemies that return such as Cactar and the formidable Malboros. Summons return in different forms such as Shiva, Leviathan, and many others. Then Chocobo reappears in one way or another. The overall theme is usually defeating an evil dictator, one that wants to enslave the world. So Final Fantasy has a lot to go off of because of past imagination (good imagination.) Really good ideas as such are timeless.

There is the bland kind of enemy. They have their place in a limited way. Like the goomba, they just exist. They just slowly walk around. At least the design of the goomba was imaginative and works well within The Mushroom Kingdom. There is more to the hammer brothers. They leap around tossing hammers at you and usually come in twos. Then there is the imaginative enemy Lakitu. Considering Mega Man, the enemy bosses were not made by the programmers. They were designed by ordinary people in a contest. Those that made the best boss got it in the game. It is also nicely imaginative when it comes to different robots/ machines in the game.

Super Ghouls and Ghosts had coffins rising up from the ground, it opened, and a zombie came out. In Castlevania the skeletons throw their own bones at you. Some imaginative concepts for a game are: Marble Madness, Paperboy, Burger Time, Dig Dug, and Bomberman. Those are lesser successes than: Froger, Pac Man, Tetris, Super Mario Bros, Zelda, and Metroid. Those games were firsts of their kind. Before Tetris there was simply nothing like it. Before Super Mario Bros and Zelda there was simply nothing like it. And Dragon Warrior/Quest was the first true RPG and became the basis for its genre.

Interaction (with environment, NPC’s.) “NPC” means Non-Playable Character, if you need to know. Sometimes you need something and only a seller has it. Sometimes they desire something from you and if you give it to them you will be helped by them. Sometimes they have a side quest for you. Sometimes they have useful information. Sometimes they outright give you something. Sometimes they give you a better idea of the world around you. Sometimes they have some stories for you.

Sometimes you stumble into them. With some you have to go out of your way to find them. Sometimes they may have orders for you and some of those you cannot ignore. They may only have a few words for you such as “the princess is in another castle,” or “oh it’s awful, the king has been transformed, please get the wand to turn him back!” Or, “it’s dangerous to go alone, take this!” Some lines are straight to the point. The NPC may be an integral part of the story. Sometimes an NPC has to be escorted somewhere. Sometimes one escorts you somewhere. Sometimes a group of them has a dance for you. Some are silly in one way or another. With some you have to pay some cash or give some item to them in order to advance in the game.

In some games, the NPC helps you through by unblocking something or they transport you to someplace. Some NPCs sell services to you such as bringing you back to life or making you stronger. They may be a tailor for you that you can get a new suit from. They can operate various shops and other helpful establishments. They may even own an auction house or arena. You may pay them to make something for you. You might give them the necessary components for that. They may improve your weapon. They may have a requirement for you in order to take what they have. Such as having a certain amount of hearts in order to get the magic sword in the original Legend of Zelda.

Inventory Super  Mario Bros gave you no inventory. Super Mario Bros 3 stored the powerups you won and let you equip them before you start the level. They were shown in a lower bar on the world map that you could pull up, select from, and use. Super Mario World gave you a one inventory thing in a square at the top of the screen. You can pull that down and use it when you want. Some games only let you equip two things at a time. You can have any mix of two. In that way you don’t become overpowered and the game has you more carefully choose, giving value to the options. Of course it doesn’t have to be only two. It can be whatever number best suits the game.

Normally you have a limited amount of inventory but not necessarily so. You can increase your inventory during the game, too. That itself has been done in imaginative ways. For example Link throws his bow and arrow into a fairy pond and a fairy emerges with thanks, telling Link she has increased his inventory of it. Then there is the Korok seed lover Hestu. He/it uses his magic maraca to increase your inventory. That is, if you would find Korok seeds for him, which he uses in his maraca. Final Fantasy once had you stuff your extra inventory into a giant chocobo bird.

If your inventory is full then the treasure chest closes and the game tells you “inventory full.” Or the game just tells you that you cannot carry any more. Some games give you a trash icon within a menu to just throw something away. Once you get a better weapon you can sell the old one. If enemies drop useless items you can sell those. An RPG has you carefully equipping your gear to manipulate stats. It may even go far beyond just extra attack or defense. When fighting some bosses it is essential to equip just the right things based on what the enemy does to you and its vulnerability.

Some games let you combine the things within your inventory. Such as mixing a magic thing with a weapon. A very elaborate one was the junction system of Final Fantasy 8. A more simple example was materia of Final Fantasy 7. Super Metroid has the body of Samus in her suit for things of inventory. You go to her hand and choose the cannon. You go to her body and change the suit. Sometimes an inventory system is very grid-like. Per rows of squares you add or change this or that. Each row is for its own thing (magic, weapon, shield, and so on.) The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past, just had a big box with the image of everything (bomb, hookshot, bottle, boomerang, ect.) and you simply highlighted it and set it to a button. Then there may be so much inventory that you have to flip between screens. They may be organized into types.

Invincibility  When you get an invincibility item you may start to glimmer while the music changes. That lets you perfectly know you are invincible and for how long. Mario does it with a star. Ninja Gaiden 2 (NES) has fire going all around you. Mega Man from Mega Man 4 has skulls go all around him, something he took from Skull Man. Some items make every enemy freeze in place and render them harmless. You may disappear and when you do, nothing will harm you. That lasts as long as your magic meter, perhaps. You may have a powerup that briefly makes you into a statue. It is a very short lived invincibility in Super Mario Bros 3. The player may have an aura of energy that cannot be penetrated. WIth certain spells and items in an RPG you may find that the enemy cures you when they try to attack you. Sometimes when you are in a vehicle nothing can harm you.

Job Classes   There have been many ideas for job classes in an RPG game. Here are the best ones: Archer, Bard, Beastmaster, Black Mage, Blue Mage, Chemist, Dark Knight, Dragoon, Fighter, Freelancer, Gambler, Knight, Merchant, Monk, Ninja, Paladin, Red Mage, Scholar, Summoner, Thief, Warrior, and White Mage.

They can also include things such as: Dancer, Geomancer, Gunner, Hunter, Magic Knight, Sage, Samurai, Soldier, and Viking.

In fact you can make a job class out of just about anything. It could be a vampire, a mechanic, a psychic, or a pirate. The two important questions are: “how fun would it be to do those things,” and “what abilities would such a job class offer?” If it offers some good abilities according to what it is, then it is a good idea.

A black mage may turn into a black wizard. A white mage may become a white wizard. A monk can become a black belt. A knight may go in the direction of becoming a magic knight. Soldiers can become a paladin and so on. First you must master the job class before it.

White mages heal, black mages attack, red mages do both, and blue mages take the power from the enemies you fight. They may even take the enemies they beat as a future summon. They could have a “capture” ability among their abilities. They can only capture those enemies that are just about to die and not before. Archer gets the bow and arrow. Gunner gets the gun. Ninjas get shuriken, and so on. So whatever the item or weapon it is, it is available to certain job classes and not others. Some can cross over more or less. It is up to you if you want it to be something like “the Ninja can only use ninja swords.”

You get normal experience points and then you get job experience points. One is normally higher than the other. While your job class level goes up you get new abilities. For example the mages get more magic. Knights get more sword techniques. Thieves may get “mug,” where you attack and steal at the same time. Blue Mages get that “capture” ability mentioned. Gambler now has a slot machine attack. Knight may get something such as “protect” a character low on HP. Martial artist job classes get more moves. Bravely Default (Nintendo Switch by Square) has a lot of good examples and excellent uses of the idea. Some examples include:

“Black magic is stronger but costs more MP.”

“Black magic is stronger when the last digit of your MP equals 0.”

“Resture 30 MP at end  of turn.”

“When KO’d, damage all enemies.”

“50 percent chance in dealing double damage, 50 percent chance in dealing none.”

“Earn 150 percent money after battle.”

“50 percent chance of curing status ailment at end  of turn.”

“Physical attacks steal MP.”

“When KO’d, use a random summon.”

“Steal 2 items instead of 1.”

You can find more ideas from things like Magic The Gathering cards or things of Dungeons and Dragons.

Jumping While jumping around in real life doesn’t make any sense, it makes perfect sense in a video game. Mario’s original name was “jump man.” If there is any name for a video game superhero it is that. Jumping comes in many forms. The right jump for your character is very important. A whole game can be ruined or off without one. There is much more to it than you might think. First, the momentum can be different. Some games let you change your mind in mid air. So Mario can turn backwards a little if you want him to. Some jump far and fast. Some have short jumps. The Legend of Kage had you doing super jumps, to say the least. A Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon kind of jump (martial art movie reference.) Then some characters let you jump higher than others within the same game. You might get a super jump out of holding down on the down button for a moment. You then flash showing that your higher jump is available. As with some games you can do a spin jump. As such you can land on things you cannot with the normal jump, else you die. Or you break things apart from below you that way.

Then there is double jumping. It has saved many characters from death. Arthur in Ghouls and Ghosts does it well. Samus has a multi-jump, can triple jump, quadruple jump and so on. Simon Belmont has a sort of lunge that is just enough for a player to manage. Going from platform to platform is an issue with new players in that game. Some characters have a flip jump. Mega Man stretches out his arms when he jumps. Link from The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Adventure has what should have been for Simon Belmont. Some are realistic jumps as in Prince of Persia, Another World, and Blackthorne (SNES.) Some characters automatically jump from platform to platform as in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Super Mario Bros 3 has you jumping around in a little boot. Shoes can give you better jumping abilities, in different ways. Some jumps are awful. The body kind of goes all over the place. They are more like a lunge. They are simply hard to control.

Then there are platforms that let you jump higher or bounce. There is the Dragoon of an RPG which jumps off screen and returns downward with an attack after a while. The perspective of the game is important when it comes to putting in its jump mechanic. Isometric games can be a problem that way. Although Super Mario RPG did a good job with it. In 3D games the camera angle is important. When making Super Mario 64 Nintendo determined that just above the shoulder was best. One thing can be said, those narrow platforms that certain games expect you to land on can be quite intense!

Less Used Ideas once there was a “draw magic” ability. You could take spells right out of enemies. Bionic Commando had a grappling hook instead of a jump. In the NES game “Willow” the bushes start to shake when enemies are coming out. You pick up a key and a face mask starts chasing you until you use or drop it. In the original Legend of Zelda your coins are your arrows. In Final Fantasy (NES) once you get the ship you can punch a code and a puzzle game will appear. For every game you win you get a 100 gil. Upward scrolling games are less common, such as Kid Icarus. The 3D Battles of World Runner was a unique forward scrolling game. Act Raiser combined a strategy game (in a “god game” way) with side scrolling. The Lost Vikings was a platformer where you switched between 3 vikings, each doing a certain thing the other cannot in order to solve puzzles.

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Adventure, and Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest, are the only ones of their kind. Zelda 2 at least inspired some good games such as The Battle of Olympus, Faxanadu, and Simon’s Quest. There are many games that are one of a kind. You’d be surprised. How many Marble Madness games are there? How many are inspired by it? There have been lots of Mario, Zelda, and Pac Man clones, but some games have never been cloned. Even some that were very popular. Qbert, Paperboy, Gremlins 2 (NES), Ecco The Dolphin, Altered Beast, Kid Icarus, Act Raiser, Snake Rattle n Roll, examples are easy to come up with.

Liked Things  the things that gamers like about games. Gamers like these things: gaining and spending money, grinding and leveling up, gaining new abilities, good graphics, good cut scenes, good mechanics, good music, good story, good items, items found at just the right time, good weapons, good powerups, fun tools, fun spells, funny elements, exploration, becoming stronger, beating bosses, two player fun, multiplayer fun, engaging puzzle games, gambling, interesting enemies, unique enemies, enemies fun to go against, some challenge, fun, imaginative things, finding things, treasure, athletic feeling mechanics, variety, lots of weapons, lots of powerups, lots of enemies, lots of characters, lots of magic, lots of areas, lots of levels, lots of suits, lots of places, surprises, a fun world map, a useful map, speed in a racing game, new equipment for a vehicle, diversity of levels, changing things up (same thing, only different), special code button attacks, charging a weapon, finally getting “the ultimate” thing, taking power and abilities from enemies, becoming you enemies (like in possession), bonus levels, secrets, fun platforms, mysterious places, really scary games, FPS games with good guns and hiding spots, getting a new vehicle, going to another world, going to another dimension, going to another world, going to the moon, every character having unique abilities, switching between characters, gathering/ collecting things to make something from it, stealing things from an enemy in a random battle, wall climbing, flying, double jumps, getting the highest points or ranking, multiple endings, multiple paths, things like auctions and arenas in a game, little games within the game, an arcade in the game with old games there, choosing your look, your appearance and clothes, emotionally stimulating things.

Licensed Games It is well known in the gaming community that LJN was the scourge of video games. They had awfully made licensed games by the plenty. If the mechanics were not entirely broken the rest of the gameplay was. Throw in some very bad music (sometimes just beeps and boops) and you have your LJN game. Games were not ready to be based on movies in the NES days. How can a person take a movie and stuff it into an 8 bit machine? They were usually like any other game of the time. You collect stuff and you platform around. You would not even know it was based on a license were it not for your character appearance, the attacks they performed, and the thing they collect. In Tom and Jerry that would be cheese for the mouse while you play as a mouse.

Sunsoft however made some excellent licensed games. Such as Batman, Gremlins 2 (NES) or Fester’s Quest (which some like and some don’t.) Sun Soft is also well known for having really good game music. Kids' eyes open when they see a game based on some movie they love. Star Wars has always gone well into a game. Yoda’s Story (Game Boy) is certainly an exception. The SNES Star Wars games are really challenging but they are good games. The Star Wars arcade game that Atari made uses vector graphics and pits you against the death star in a stunning way. There are so many good examples: Star Wars Rogue Squadron, Star Wars Battlefront, Star Wars: Knights of the Republic, and there is even a nice chess game with Star Wars characters if you like that.

Licensed games need lots of console power to do well, at least some of the time. Take something like Lord of The Rings for an example. And compare the Gamecube version to “J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of The Rings, Vol. 1” on the SNES. By the way there was never a volume 2 to that. The Gamecube version puts you against the enemies in good 3D form. You can identify your characters just as well. That makes every difference. You could say that Star Wars: Battlefront did the same thing compared to older games. There was the Atari 2600 Star Wars where you went in an endless loop fighting against shapes of an AT-AT. The SNES Star Wars 5 did things a bit better. You could now sort of fly around the AT-AT and get a better impression of it. In 3D space however, it all feels so much more like being in the movie.

Lower Area At best, the lower area is there to add a lot to the regular playfield. There are the middle, upper, and lower areas to venture into. The lower area can be more mysterious than the middle one. Sometimes there is water there you can go into and explore a watery area. That is if the game lets you breathe underwater. Then some games only allow for you to temporarily breathe underwater. Others let you do under certain conditions such as Sonic making contact with bubbles for more air time. Some games give you lower dungeons. Of course Zelda has lots of those. Mario goes down a pipe to get there. In Final Fantasy 4 you dropped a coal down a well and a series of events led you to an entire underground world full of dwarves.

Final Fantasy 6 even had a castle that could travel underground. (What an unexpected moment in the game! No one would have ever thought.) At one time in the game the castle got stuck underground opening up to an entire area down there to explore. Later in the same game the Zone Eater enemy swallows you in, bringing you to a lower area where you find the character GoGo. A Metroidvania game has you going deeper and deeper into the planet, at least sometimes. The further you go down the weirder things get. A submarine might take you deep into the sea. To get to the lower area in Mega Man you just jump into a pit. Gamers might have been surprised with that at the time. Don’t pits always kill?

It could be a subway area you go down. Maybe a city has a whole lower area community. You might find yourself roaming around an underground sewer. Like in TMNT or some such thing. You might find yourself in an underground prison that you must escape. Maybe there is quicksand that only sent you someplace below. Then there are graveyard areas to go down into, like a tomb. Or something as simple as a basement.

Magic Just about any game can have magic in it in one way or another. There is of course its placement in RPG games. It is there in Adventure games although is less prominent. Fantasy based beat-em-ups such as Golden Axe lets you build up power to cast a spell. The fighter in a fighting game may have magic powers. Shang Tsung of Mortal Kombat is something of a sorcerer. You can have magic power in a platformer game, or at least some of the enemies can. It is used in point and click games. There are spells of so many kinds. You find the traditional real-world magic idea of the elements (fire, air, earth, water) so often the basis of the spells. There is black magic (attack) and white magic (cure) and the less common ones such as blue and gray. Blue magic is based on controlling life such as that of enemy beasts. In that you take their power. Even less common is gray magic. It is also known as “effect” magic, it is only good or bad depending on how you use it.

The amount of spells can be far lower than what you might find in an RPG game. You may have, for example, 10 to 15 spells. Link can turn himself into a fairy in Zelda 2. He can give himself a super jump with a spell he gets from a mage. More common spells extend your abilities, raise your attack, health, or defense, give you a fire based attack, make you temporarily invulnerable, or let you teleport.

Sometimes magic is attached to a weapon or item. It can cause a sword to randomly cast fire magic for example. How you get magic may mean you get it in fluid form. Might mean you use it according to the MP you have. Could only require having an item which has unlimited and unrestricted use. Sometimes you can only use it once per level. Sometimes you sacrifice your health energy to cast it. Sometimes it is found in a scroll. Sometimes you level up to get it. Such as level 10 giving you a new spell. Sometimes you buy it, even in a shop during a platformer game. Sometimes summons and learning spells go hand in hand such as in Final Fantasy 6 with espers. Some spells require you to equip something while gaining points of a kind to learn them. You get those points after fighting an enemy. Then sometimes you just find them in treasure chests, from people, or out in the field. With the Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, you find them as emblems.

There are spells that can: cure, brings characters back to life, “pre life,” regen (gradually and automatically raise HP), healing spells such as curing poison, attack, manipulate stats (raise attack defense, raise magic defense, raise attack power, raise vigor, raise speed, raise luck, and so on), spells of fire, ice, wind, water, that split the ground apart, that floods, that cause a tornado, strange energy, that turn enemies into imps, into pigs, that zap them out of existence, that has magic against your character bounce back to your enemy, taking the enemies HP or MP, confusing the enemy, poisoning them, making them berserk, that gives power to another character’s weapon, that has you float, that lets you teleport out of a battle, that uses an enemies power against them, that uses the power of beasts you’ve beaten before and collected, that which summons beings and spirits, sleep puts the enemy to sleep, paralysis, stone/petrify, scan (determine the enemies weakness, power, HP and MP.)

Magic can add a lot of strategy to a game. In its simplest form it makes things easier, even things thought impossible before getting the spell. There are enemies susceptible to certain spells and not others. There are tricks to execute against certain enemies. In one fight a spell may be of little use but in another is essential.

Magic Accessories A game may have you equip them as rings, necklaces, earrings, or bracelets. If it can be jewelry in real life it can be in a game. Often there are squares after each one which you occupy with the ones of your choice. You could be limited by, say, four or five at once. That can be any number. Accessories can do simple things or special things. Some may only add to strength, defense, or give you a spell. Some might block status ailments from affecting you (such as poison.) Some can manipulate stats. Some take your main ability and improve it. For example, stealing becomes “mug,” where he both attacks and steals. Things may be more specific such as “autocast cure when HP is low,” or “protect party members low on HP.” Some may let you double cast magic or use magic at lower MP. More inventive ones do things like let you equip things you normally cannot. For example a black mage can now equip and use swords. You might add to your HP with an accessory. You may double experience points or money gotten after a fight.

An accessory may take the weapons you have and give them magic power. For example if you have a certain sword and have the ring (or whatever it is) that sword will now have magic beams. An accessory may let you see through walls. You can get a “flee” ring that lets you automatically leave a dungeon. That’s better than finding your way out. In Willow (NES) there is a magic ocarina that teleports you to certain places you’ve previously visited (of which there are up to six. Once you have visited them you can choose among them.) Crystalis (NES) does the same thing with warp boots: warp to any village you have previously visited. Crystalis also has: “Deo’s Pendant” (slowly restores MP.) A gas mask (protects you against harmful gas found in a swamp.) Leather boots protect you against poisonous marches and sand. Power ring raises the power of your sword. Another in the game raises your shield power.

In The Battle of Olympus (NES) there were shoes that let you double jump and walk upside down on a ceiling. In that game they were used to dodge enemies.

Maneuvering  Some games may include one gravity element or another. One makes you upside down on a ceiling. Another may strongly make you float upward such as in Star Wars on the NES. There is nothing so athletic as Ninja Gaiden games. Hits feel like they land perfectly. In Ninja Gaiden 2 you can jump into a pit and just narrowly attach to the side, where you can safely cling and continue downward. All of the powerups in the game are very useful and easy to understand, and therefore easy to use as you want to. The game itself expects some athleticism from you. It is a quickly moving game.

Double jumps are always helpful. They give you more possibilities to land and reach things as you want to. Some games give you a triple jump or unlimited double jump. Being able to turn back from your jump helps to. So if you’ve suddenly seen you made a jumping mistake you can turn back at least a little. Wall leaping is simply fun. There might be no more reason for it than that, but it is at least fun. Some games give you an auto jump.

Platforms come in many forms. Some are narrow, which is very frustrating sometimes. A platform may disappear and reappear. Those may be done in patterns. Like Mega Man finding the right order. Some either break apart or disappear after a countdown. Some tilt. If you aren’t careful you will drop from them. Some give you a small or a big bounce. Some give you a super bounce. Some have danger spots you must get in between. Other platforms let you travel on them.

Marble Madness is a game purely about maneuvering. Super Monkey Ball is much the same. Fighting games are based a lot on maneuvering. In Tetris you maneuver blocks. In most puzzle games that is the case. The idea may be put into an adventure game as like moving statues or blocks the right way. In a platformer you may have to go under and over in the right combination to go further. For example you go through the very top platform, then the very bottom, then through the very middle one, in order to pass. Zelda had the same basic thing in the original Lost Woods. In racing games you maneuver your vehicle. You might want to barely squeeze into the shortcut. You may narrowly avoid going off of the track. The racing track itself might have pits in it. Then there are any number of obstacles to avoid. Perhaps an oil slick was left by another driver. With a bow and arrow you maneuver your shot. Some enemies make you nervously maneuver such as the Darknuts in Zelda. You can only hit them from behind and they are constantly moving around. If you get in front of them you’ll be harmed.

More 3D games means more versatile movement. So you need things like targeting enemies, flipping backward, and dashing to the side.

Maps It is essential for Metroidvania games to have them, especially in the more complex modern ones. They work very well that way. They show the gamer where they have been and not have been, and may include some indication that there is something there that you haven’t gotten to yet. Therefore the player goes there and tries to figure out what they need to do to gain access to that area.

In a dungeon Link gains the map and compass. A grid-like map appears that is not unlike Metroidvania games. It shows you where you haven’t been and where treasure is, and where the enemy boss is. Older maps are grids. In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild, Link climbs a large tower, does some stuff up there, and the map for that area is shown. There are many towers each for its own region.

Sometimes you can get an arrow to help you. You decide on an objective and an arrow appears that guides the way. A map can be very detailed. It may let you zoom in on it. Or they can be very simple. When on an airship you might get a flat map or a map that looks like a globe with all of its continents. The map may be very nondescript. Just a flat paper that gives you shapes and dots. In that case you have to memorize what the dots are. In The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, they used mode 7 (sprite scaling) for the map. In some games you buy the map. In some you find the map.

Some NPCs may put a dot on your map to let you know where to go.

Menus Players can become adept at flipping through menus and choosing things. When I first saw a person playing Crystalis they were doing just that, and I was totally confused with what was happening. I know from my own experience that after time you can get really used to using menus, even ones that are complicated. Some menus have you flipping through pages. Each page represents its own thing, for weapons, tools, magic, or whatever it is. Some are one page with the access on the left hand side. So a row of items to access is in list form on the left hand side. Super Metroid shows the suit of Samus and you go through her arm and other parts to equip or remove things. An RPG game may give you a portrait of a character to access. In the same game you can push characters to the back or front row. Front equals greater attack and back equals greater defense. That’s done by just pressing a button on the portrait.

Sometimes a menu can be very simple. It depends on the game. Some games only need one page for a menu. Older Mega Man games are that way. You basically just choose your gun, little robot dog, or use an E Tank. In Super Mario Bros 3 the whole inventory was just a long rectangular row at the bottom of the screen. That was where powerups and tools were stored.

Mini Games These are carnival-like fun. There are guessing games. There are card games. There are gambling games. There are shooting games. There are digging games, fishing games, bow and arrow games, machine games, claw vending machines, finding the right one games, slot machine games, more elaborate card games, random luck games: the right answer changes every time, balance games, and grappling games. it can be a pinball game within the game or a much more simple arcade game within the game. It can be a puzzle game of any kind. The mini game can be a racing game. That may include horse racing. It can be a sports game: baseball, basketball, bowling, pool, golf, whatever you want. It can be a fighting game. Final Fantasy 6 had an arena where you choose a character and bet with one of your items. The better the item you choose the harder the battle and greater chances of getting something good, if you win.

With a fishing game you must get the largest fish. With a racing game it is a race to the finish. Sometimes it means getting somewhere within a certain amount of time and there are no other racers.  A shooting gallery has you hit moving targets. There can be a rock paper scissors kind of mini game. In slot machine games you might collect lottery tickets as was so in Dragon Warrior 2 on the NES. With those, little graphics of shapes were used– very simple. A person in town lets the person use their tickets. A mini arcade game within a game may be something similar to an early 80s arcade game. They can be more complex if you wish them to be. Card games can include “memory,” poker, blackjack, or a newly made and complex card game as found in either Final Fantasy 8 or 9.

Final Fantasy 7 had lots of mini games. You could arm wrestle, breed a chocobo and race them, there was a submarine game (fight other submarines and avoid mines, possibly get a very good Materia), a roller coaster game where you shoot at targets getting more points based on their difficulty to hit, an excavation game takes the digging idea much further. You can higher up to ten diggers at a cost, give them an area of focus, and possibly find something good. Then there is a basketball mini game.

Final Fantasy 9 had a jump rope mini game. Also a frog catching game. Some mini games would have you find things like you find easter eggs. Sometimes they entail hitting the right button at the right time.

As for getting the mini game to begin with, as mentioned Dragon Warrior 2 gives you slot machine tickets (called lottery tickets.) It may simply come from entering into a building where it is held. Maybe you might call an auction house a sort of mini game as well. Sometimes it takes a hidden entrance, especially in platformers. Sometimes it means getting to a place that is difficult to get to. They might be found later in the game such as the grand Golden Saucer in Final Fantasy 7. The first two Mario Land games had you maneuvering to a higher exit and if you do then you get the mini game. Some games have you collect four of anything, such as the letters of KONG in Donkey Kong Country. Of course that can be any number, even only one, such as one special coin for the mini game.

Sometimes getting the mini game is conditional. Sometimes it is just plain random. Super Mario Bros 3 would have the conditions of so many coins and amount left on the timer when you complete a level. Then a coin ship will appear on the world map. The original Final Fantasy had you type in a special code to access a puzzle game. Beat it and you are given 100 gil. Later iterations of the game gave you better things if you won the puzzle game. Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 had a password that gave you an old kind of space shooting game.

Mixing A blue potion replenishes magic power. A yellow one increases health. A green does both. In a racing game you can put in new parts and paint your vehicle with the parts and color you want. You may be able to choose the look of your character, their clothes, hair style, ect. In an open world game you can gather and cook food. The recipe determines the effect when you’ve eaten it. It might raise stats, boost health beyond its normal limit, make you invulnerable to certain things, heal certain ill conditions you may have, or store a certain amount of health. In some games you mix magic accessories. Usually the amount you can have equipped at any time is limited. In an RPG game you may be allowed to use four characters in a battle when you have more than that in the game.

Momentary Things/ Quickly Passing Things Normally an invincibility factor is temporary. Things can go from night to day and back again. A storm might pass through the game. You may be turned into something you don’t want to be, such as a pig, but it is temporary. You might get a temporary raise in attack power because of an item you pick up. Sometimes a bonus level gives you a quick and limited time within it to get every special item you can. Sometimes that is only a one screen thing though without the timer.

Money Money makes the game world go round. You can get money by winning a battle, finding it in a treasure chest, finding it just laying around, finding it floating in the sky, in a brick you smash, in a wall you smash, by selling what you own, by selling precious stones you find, by selling anything you find in the game world, it may be just given to you, you have an income in the game just from playing it, sometimes you put in real world money to get it, you can get it from smashing pots, cutting grass, digging holes, in a barrel, in a bookshelf,  it can be a coin, it can be gold, just a thing call gill or any other new name, it can be in the form of a diamond, it can look like a crystal, like a rupee, looks like a dollar sign, looks like a ring.

Money gets you weapons, armor, magic accessories, or items (potions, elixir, life restoring items, items that you can throw, that boost stats, that are one time magic spell items, an item to let you sleep in the field and restore health, items that cure poison, that cure petrify, that cure imp, that boost your speed, that lets you teleport elsewhere, and that lets you escape battles. In Gremlins 2 (NES) the game had tricky jumps past pits and one of the things gizmo could buy was a balloon, which automatically picked him up and let him float past it. In some games you might find only three things to buy but they are all very useful, at least hopefully.

Some games require you to buy a certain thing in order to advance. Some come from long periods of grinding because the player is interested in every little thing a shop has to offer. In a platforming game you might find a shop tucked away as is so in Kid Icarus (NES.) At its simplest can get a magic power, a power up, a new weapon, a magic weapon, potions, and a healing potion that might be needed. At its most complicated there might be pages and pages of things to buy.

Sometimes you can gamble to get more money. Sometimes you find a hefty amount in a treasure chest. Sometimes you find a diamond out in the field. In some RPG game areas you might find an especially large amount of money gained per battle. In the original Legend of Zelda the graveyard had lots of money for you. You bumped into tombstones and ghosts came out. You could have ten on the screen. You only have to kill the first ghost and all of the others are beaten, which may bring up a lot of coins.

Sometimes a game gives you a convenient merchant out in the middle of nowhere. In a platformer game it may be tucked away in some upper area or found on the world map in between levels. In an overhead game it might be along the way and easy to find. It even has a sign for you letting you know you’ve arrived at a shop. An RPG game has their shops. They have the kind for items but also those for services or perhaps renting a vehicle. You can even attend an auction with your money. Gambling places can come in many forms. You can have card games, slot games, things that have been discussed earlier. The further you get in the game the better the items get but they also cost more and more.

Some RPG games even have a merchant job class. They get better prices, they haggle. They barter. They find things better. Octopath Traveler (Nintendo Switch) has the following for its merchant job class: “Pay money to summon hired help to the battle field,” “get money from a single foe,” and “get additional money after battle.”

Some neat things you can buy include: meat that gives you the kind of random battle you want. An item that lets you repeat random battles in order to get quicker money and experience points. Mushroom dust turns enemies into funny things. If you fall into a pit you are automatically saved. An item that raises your health bar maximum. Time in a game area within the game such as the Gold Saucer or Final Fantasy 7. That may include an arcade room. Souping up your car with the best of things. Buying a whole new suit. Buying a great gun as in an FPS game. Things that let you get around faster. Things that even out or reduce the difficulty. Things that let you go underwater. Buying a frog suit perhaps. Things that let you reach new areas. Whatever you sell in the game “the neater the better.”


Monsters Modern times are all about the most grotesque things you can put in. At least in horror games they are. “Little Nightmares” is one such game. They have gotten good at making the scariest things possible. Here’s a list of some well made monsters in video games: The Metroid, Mother Brain, Kraid, Gannon, Bowser from Super Mario Bros (his original form looked psychotic instead of cartoonish), Goro from Mortal Kombat, Pyramid Head from Silent Hill, The Witch from Left 4 Dead, Michael Myers from Dead By Daylight, Lisa from P.T., and the monsters of Blasphemy and other Metroidvania games. Resident Evil has some of the best examples.

Monsters do not have to be evil looking. They can either be humorous or just for fun. There is the ghost house of Mario games. There are lots of games such as Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, Monster in my Pocket, and Castlevania which go on a halloween/ classic monster type of theme. Super Mario Land 2 even had a whole Halloween based world. Instead of Goombas there were similarly shaped things with a Jason mask on. So there are zombies coming out of their coffin.

The list of possibilities include: The old trio: Dracula, Frankenstien, and The Mummy. To make it four, there is The Werewolf. You have bats and pumpkins and whatever Halloween thing. You might throw in far older ideas such as Medusa. Naturally you’ve got to include walking skeletons. As well as zombies, ghosts, evil spirits, cloaked guys, wizards, witches, warlocks, monstrous aliens, vampires, headless things, slime, psychos, talking trees, devils, demons, monster heads like of eyeballs, evil little creatures, black cats, evil fairies, graveyards, swamps, blood red moons, hell, haunted homes, possessed cathedrals, black candles, brutal weapons, mis-shaped humans.

Mood Moods can include: the humorous, the scary, the exiting, the fun, the amusing, intensity, romance, determination and resolve, eagerness to get further in the game, “holding out hope,” happiness, joy, sadness, even tears, anger, interest, wonder, the surprising, doubt, curiosity, feeling powerful, feeling too weak, feeling proud, “at last” you beat something or got further, relief, and simply having fun and a good time.

A powerful story can lead you to run the gamut of emotions. You can find people online who tear up over certain games. It takes a great story to make that happen. Video games can be a very tension-release thing. There is a sort of therapy where you tense your muscles then release them. Video games can do the same thing after it is that you have invested hours into beating an enemy and finally. Of course that can be just getting to the next level, figuring out a puzzle, or other such things as well. An enemy boss in an RPG can go on for twenty minutes or more. All the while you have just barely held on. Then that “snap!” comes letting you know you’ve won.

Final Fantasy 8 was the most romantic in its series. At one point you bravely choose to save your love interest who is lost out in space in a space suit running out of air. So you boldly leave the escape pod and go to her even though that may mean losing your life too. But with great luck an airship out in space is there and you both enter into it, eventually coming back down to the world. Other Final Fantasy games had romance in them too. Final Fantasy always pits you against a dictator who is trying to take over the world. They make him a formidable enemy throughout, as a very bad thorn in one's side. A haunting figure that comes and goes and you know you must face him/her/it sooner or later.

There can be sad points. Like Porom and Polom sacrificing their lives to save the party in Final Fantasy 4 and the very well known instance where Airith is killed in Final Fantasy 7.

Games however do not have to even have a story to be fun. “Just save the princess.” Zelda games and Mario games do not get deep into the story. They give you a simple basis over lots of detail. Some games are just a fun thing to experience. Those who played Super Mario Bros for the first time really didn’t care about there being a story or not. The manual that it came with said that the wizard Bowser turned the people of a kingdom into mushrooms and blocks. There aren’t even a lot of people who know that.

On the other hand, some games depend on their stories in order to be good and to evoke certain emotions.

Scary games have all of its tricks. In Silent Hill you are free to wander around a while but beware of the sound of a horn. That means the evil things are about to come out. You never know what is around the corner or what has crept up behind you. They are vicious towards you. You have to make sure they are dead and stay that way. There are just too many of them. You need to get into someplace but there is a particularly bad monster inside. You are just wanting to get out of a horrible place.

The Most Powerful Things (weapons, items, spells, enemies.) Something has to be the most powerful of its kind. In Ghouls ‘n Ghosts it is the gold armor. While the Hammer Brothers suit is not the most powerful it is the most fun. Final Fantasy has its Ultima spell. Zelda has its Master Sword. Sim City has its sports arena to buy and place.  The best suit raises your defense the most. The best fire spell is more flashy with its graphics. I love in Final Fantasy 6 how Fire 3 (Firaga) is like a little atom bomb. There is The Golden Sword. There is the Light Arrow. Then there is The Mirror Shield. Even after playing through a game multiple times, those are the best highlights in the game. As for tools (titan gloves, hook shots, ect.) the last one should be simply the best one. The best airship not only zooms by better but can take you to the moon. It looks better in its appearance too.

There are small bombs and then there are super bombs. There is the most powerful character to find. That can be at any point in the game. In a tier list you might place one or a couple in the “god tier” list. Sometimes it is because of some manipulation you can perform which breaks the game. The programmers did not intend on it. But through some certain actions you can make them the most powerful in the game. Off hand however those characters may appear to be really weak. Then there are those who are obviously the most powerful and are indispensable. If there is a complex system within the game that enhances weapons you can be sure someone has figured out how to adjust a weapon into something so powerful that it breaks the game.

A cure potion restores a little HP. An Elixir restores all of it. A Mega Elixir restores all  of your party’s HP. Life 1 brings back to life with limited HP. Life 2 brings back to life with all HP restored. Life 3 preemptively brings back to life. Sometimes the best weapon against a monster isn’t a weapon at all but a simple life potion. That is the case with some undead enemies. There can be a most powerful weapon overall but yet some weapons against certain enemies are better than they are. Mega Man has the E Tank. It restores all of Mega Man’s energy. Then there is the M Tank which restores his energy and all of his robot power’s energy.

Goldeneye 007 had the “golden” gun. One shot and anyone’s dead. Mario Kart has the blue shell, it finds the first place person and makes them wreck. The best weapon and character in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles NES game was Donatello, whose bow had a powerful reach.  

Movement Sometimes arms go up and outward when a character jumps. Games like Prince of Persia have you grab onto the edge of a wall and pull yourself up in a realistic way. Some characters flip when they jump. Some lunge forward in a way that is difficult to control. Those things have been discussed in the topic of jumping.

Dragon Quest/ Warrior had it where you could only see the enemies in a random battle (not your party.) Final Fantasy had the enemies to the left and you party to the right. As such you could see neat animations of your characters. You could see them swing their sword according to what sword (or weapon) they had. You could see the status ailments of your characters. You could see certain movements from them.

Betrayal At Krondor (PC) was an RPG that had the battle fought in a grid. You strategically moved about in it while fighting. When they were creating the first 3D Zelda Game, Ocarina of Time, they had to consider new things: for example, how was a bat going to be fought in open space? That is much more complicated than just moving around in a 2D way. So they created a targeting system. To help things more they gave Link an auto jump.

Weapons can be made to cover all areas. The versatility of where they go can let the player fight how and what they want to. A thrown axe  has an arch, swords protect you from enemies close to you, a whip or bow lets you attack from a distance, daggers act like a bullet, and so on. As such all areas are covered. Movement changes a lot when you hop on a beast and ride it. Donkey Kong has a lot of those, there is Yoshi, then Little Nemo: The Dream Master, and Adventure Island includes them. They can do things that you alone cannot. They can burst into places, fly, and a sword fish underwater is like a fast weaponized ride. In Super Mario World you are given four Yoshi’s of four colors. One can fly, one can pounce, one shoots fire, and one is just regular. There are even spiders to ride and webs to make. Just about anything can become a ride and allow you to do different things at the same time.

A good fighting game has a martial arts feel to it. They all punch and kick in their own ways. They all jump and attack in their own ways. A good fighting game will make you feel like a fighter who takes advantage of their style. Sometimes it is good in a racing game to allow for “tucking the corner.” In an underwater area it is good to add some sort of thing that lets you move around better. Like the frog suit of Super Mario Bros 3 or the Rush Marine vehicle of Mega Man 4. Going faster in Super Mario Bros by holding down a button made the game better. Sometimes adding things like double jumps, wall climbing, running, flying, suits, and rides, makes every difference.

The game may give you a vehicle. Sometimes they are completely your’s. Sometimes they are rented. Sometimes you have to buy fuel for it. Sometimes they are hovercraft. Those can only go over certain environments you cannot traverse on foot. Some fly. They come in any appearance. Final Fantasy 8 had one which looked like a red dragon. It had claws as well. Kind of felt like riding a red lamborghini in a Final Fantasy game. Vehicles will be discussed in their own topic.

The way the game is played depends more on how you have set up your character’s movement. It is also determined by how the enemies themselves move. There are jokes online about Mario playing in a Sonic The Hedgehog level. Suffice it to say he did terribly at it. One does not place Ryu Hyubusa in a Mario level. Mario may have a hard time landing on narrow floors but in an overhead game like Gremlins 2 (NES) it is even more difficult.

In the deeper details of things there are considerations such as will the sword swing or peirce? Can Mario just fly whenever he wants to or should he be limited by building up P speed first? In Breath of The Wild Link is limited from reaching upper areas by how long his stamina wheel lasts. Is the character movement as designed just not working out? What is the solution to it, what should be changed?

Moving Objects Around You may do so with a teleportation power. There are some that can be picked up by hand. You can lift the enemy itself and throw it. You can do the same with bricks of all kinds. You can pull up plants and throw them. You can pick up a pot and throw it, smashing it and taking what’s inside, plus hurt an enemy at the same time. You can push an object out of the way, such as a statue. You can pick up big boulders not knowing what is underneath. You may even pick up a potion and drop it in any area to see what alternate dimension opens up (Super Mario Bros 2 USA.) Puzzle games are purely about it. So are strategy games.

Multi Characters Halfway through a game you might meet a new character and decide whether or not you want to take him along. That is what happened in Castlevania 3: Dracula’s Curse. You are Simon Belmont with a whip. He is Alucard who can turn into a bat. The new character in that game was worth being there, offering something new to the table. During the course of an RPG you may get new characters throughout the game. They each have their own unique ability or abilities. Some are magicians, others warriors, a bard perhaps, maybe a monk, a thief, and so on. A beat ‘em up may get you three or four fighters to choose from. One may be slow but strong. One may be fast but weak. One may have magic. Another may use weapons. In The Simpsons Arcade game and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle beat ‘em up games they simply base things on what is already there. Certain things go very well into beat ‘em up games.

Mega Man basically becomes all of the robot characters he beat. He takes their power anyway. Kirby does the same kind of thing. He becomes the character he swallowed. Super Mario Odyssey more literally lets Mario become anyone or anything. He just throws his hat at it and then he becomes it. It is always a good addition to a game to take the power of something else. An RPG game may do so with their blue mages/ beastmaster abilities and magic. Super Mario Bros 2 also has four characters to choose from before the level. One is averaged out, one is fast, one floats, one jumps better. The whole idea is for each character to have their own talents. In Monster in my Pocket (NES) you have the vampire, or the monster (frankenstein.) Players want options to how they play and gamers play things differently.

In a fighting game there can be a number of different fighters to choose from. That number has grown significantly in newer games, to say the least. Some have you playing as old horror characters such as Freddy Kruger, Jason, or Michael Myers. Some may allow for playing as the ninja turtles, Robocop, or The Terminator. There was even a joke of a fighting game where you could play as the actors from Full House. They all have their own style of fighting, their own powers and their own abilities. Mortal Kombat has unlockable characters. Such as Reptile which you can only play when certain conditions have been met. At least that was how it was in the original arcade game.

In other games you might only get new characters under certain conditions. You might find them as you find a treasure. In some games the new character is very temporary. Four examples from Final Fantasy 6 are: Bannon, GoGo, Shadow, and the ghosts from the phantom train. Some games give you a shadow of yourself such as in Ninja Gaiden 2 on the NES. While not purely a multiple character thing it is at least a doubling of who you are.

Multi Genre Chrono Trigger, the RPG on the SNES, had a point in the game where you raced another in a vehicle. Batman Returns for the Sega 32x had a moment of racing in a game that was not otherwise a racing game. In Blaster Master (NES) you went from side scrolling to overhead. Contra (NES) had some forward looking stuff for contrast. Rygar puts overhead with side scrolling. Guardian Legend had the overhead with a space shooter. Bayou Billy (NES) combined a sort of beat ‘em up with a shooting game in which the NES zapper could be used. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Adventure, combines side scrolling with overhead stuff. So the question is, which two would you mix?

With some games the next game in the line comes into a different genre. As well, old characters may be brought into a whole new style of game much like Mario went to an RPG and surprised the whole world. All the characters of Mario were put into a Kart racer and for the first time you could play as Bowser in a Mario game.

Music Some games just would not be the same were it not for its music. That goes in different directions too: the music is so bad it ruins it, or the music is so good it makes it. Some music is exceptional, some is average, and some is simply unacceptable (we are eyeing you, LJN.) The Bleeps and Bloops may be acceptable in hardware that can do no better (that is antiquated) but not for things as basic as the NES. People rate Nobuo Uematsu and Koji Kondo rather highly. The original theme to the original Legend of Zelda might not have ever been. Koji Kondo wanted it to be “Bolero,” the modern classical music by Ravel. The problem with that was that it was still under copyright during that time so it could not be used (which Koji Kondo did not know at first.) He then created his own theme for Zelda with his own talent and the rest is history. He would go on to make many excellent soundtracks for Nintendo.

SunSoft is known for good music. Betrayal at Krondor (PC) has an epic soundtrack, especially with the CD audio version. There are some themes that some gamers like more than others. There are some more popular than others. People love Green Hill Zone from Sonic The Hedgehog. Tetris on Game Boy has some great music which unfortunately wasn’t used much after the Game Boy version of the game. You find great themes here and there in video games and some collect it in vinyl form or CD form. They could have the digital, they prefer the physical, and they are available on old formats to this day. They are the pinnacle of modern classical music. Classical meaning orchestrated and instrumental. They are quite nice compared to the atonal music typical of the early through mid 1900s. Were it not for video games the genre of music may be dead. In fact you find many modern orchestras playing its music over things such as Beethoven.

There is the “CD quality” music, then there is the purely old synth sounds. A composer may only have four tracks to work with. Some do a great job nonetheless. You might be fooled into thinking 16 bit music as actually orchestrated, at least to a point. Modern “notation software” is used in movies and no one knows the difference. Good music requires a well educated composer/ musician. It is especially so for the more classical music kind. They need to be pros at constructing melodies, theme transitions, and things such as tonality. If they are not educated very much then they are just putting notes together. It also requires a degree of natural talent.

Highly repetitive music is bad, and sometimes cannot even be called music. Sound effects might get in the way, the annoying kind. Some games just throw in old classical music and sometimes it is obvious, it is such a famous piece of music, and things like that feel lazy. Some themes are a total rip off of some other game’s music.

Every character has a theme. Every mood is presented with its own music. The gamer can even guess what is to come when the music changes. There is the sad theme, the romantic one, the intense one, the happy one, the joking one, and so on. Music should evoke feelings of one kind or another. If the game is not very mood based then it should just be suitable for whatever else. There can be a lot of music. Music for every town and kingdom. Music for every cave, every area. When you shift into the other dimension, the “dark world,” the “world or ruin,” then the soundtrack may change altogether.

Mystery In the game Myst you are trying to find out how you got somewhere. In Uninvited (NES) you are trying to find your sister in a very creepy haunted house. In Metroid you are trying to find Mother Brain, if that counts as mystery. The world itself in Metroid is mysterious. So is that in Zelda games, especially the first one. The first one just throws you right in and as they say “it doesn't hold your hand.” The questions might be asked “where am I?” “How did I get here?” “What do we do next?” “Who's causing all of these problems?” “Where do I find (?)” An element of mystery might be solving a puzzle. It may be just trying something on something to see what happens. New areas can be mysterious such as caves and forests, especially with what they may contain. You might find things you didn’t see before. Something might stick out like a sore thumb but you don’t know right away what to do with it. Objects anywhere in the game can make you feel that way. They hint at something being there. That may require a tool or an action in order to learn what it was.

Nice Surprises One nice surprise is when a character suddenly joins your party. You might get a little introduction for them. The screen may zoom in on them and give you a little background. That may even indicate you just got someone new. Finding a great new magical accessory is a nice surprise. Like getting a cure magic item you were really needing or one that casts some other useful spell. Seeing these magic items that manipulate stats and do special things is a good thing to see from town to town. Every new town has another set of them to buy. A twist in the story can come as a surprise. You might even find out the main enemy is your father or brother (or mother or sister.) It is a nice event when you get to a new area. It is a nice event when you get an airship.

There may be something you were looking everywhere for. You know that there are a certain number of things in the game. You are down to perhaps your last few. Maybe you have only one more to find. So you search everywhere and at last you find it. Or the moment when you have laid the last blow on the final enemy and defeat it. Especially in an RPG you don’t know how long that will take. It can take twenty minutes. In a platformer you may fight for three minutes before you win. The same with other genres. It is also fun to see what the new random battles will be in any given area.

The biggest surprise in Zelda games are the treasure chests and what they contain. What they contain changes the entire game. They let you do things you could not do before. They give you greater access to things in the game world. They let you attack in new ways, sometimes very fun new ways.

A great cut scene suddenly showing can be enjoyable. Getting to the next level in an RPG game is something the gamer is always awaiting. In some RPG games you get new spells just by leveling up. In other RPGs you go to shops to buy new spells and it is always fun to see what the next shop’s spells will be. The game may come to a point where you get to ride a horse and that can be a nice surprise. And any great new and useful thing is always a nice surprise.

Objectives There is the common “find four of something” in order to progress. Those might be things that others or another is after. They impart great power to those who have it so it is a race to get them. They may be things that only you are after in the game. Once you have all of them you are more powerful in one way or another. You are granted the Master Sword, so to speak. In Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest, your objective is to reconstruct Dracula’s body for one last fight. In some games it is about saving the princess. In most Final Fantasy games (if not all of them) the objective is to defeat an evil dictator. That always makes for an interesting and formidable enemy.

Your objective may be to find something for someone. With that thing they have what they need to help you. In a very open world game your objective can be what you want it to, with many to choose from. So you can go around finding relics, gathering food, finding money, precious stones, new places, new areas, go fishing, exploring, whatever you want to do. The game may put you through a “conditional objective” such as keeping one character in your game alive while you are escorting him. The moment he dies, you start all over. Another example of that is getting out of a place as a timer goes down. Once it gets to over. The game may have you carry a torch someplace without the fire going out, so be quick. (You are bringing a magic flame to someone to light their magic furnace.) That was from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. And another of those would be “do not shoot any civilians.”

Final Fantasy 9 makes you win at least one of their card games in order to proceed. There is a card game within that game. Your objective may be to destroy something that bad people are using or about to use. The game may have you as an assassin in the game. The game might have you get something of great power before someone evil gets it. The game may put you against an evil corporation. The game may set you out on one mission or another such as in a 007 kind of way or in a Metal Gear kind of way. It might have you sneak into someplace to steal something. You could be a soldier, a spy, hired help, or a secret service person in those regards. You could also fly a spaceship for any mission assigned to you. Your objective might be to save someone's life or to find them or protect them. Your objective might be escaping from an enemy camp or from enemies which have taken over a whole town, and you must sneak out. Your objective might be to escape to someplace else and you could be on the run a lot. So the game gives you inventive ways of hiding and finding your way around from being spotted.

You may be looking for something to save your loved one from dying. You might be looking for something which breaks the curse that one of your characters is experiencing. The game may have you prove your worth before proceeding. Your objective might be to find a hidden area.

Obstacles Your obstacle may be that you are trying to solve a puzzle. A hard to beat enemy may be your obstacle. You might have to level up a lot before you can beat a difficult enemy. You may find yourself in a confusing labyrinth. You may have to pay a fee before you can go any further, a “bridge fee.” Going beyond the obstacle may require a special weapon, tool, or item. You might have no possible access without them. You may be put against 8 great bosses, dungeons, or stages as in Mega Man, before you get to fight the last boss. Some NPC or another may require you to prove your worth before you are given your quest. You might have to win a race in the game before you can go on. Some non racing games add that kind of element to them. You might have to be in the top three of any given thing before you can advance.

One Screen Games  Among the most popular are Pac Man, Space Invaders, Frogger, Galaga, Asteroids, Donkey Kong, Qbert, and Tetris. Tennis is normally a one screen game other than perhaps an added perspective. Bowling and pool could very well be too. Some sports games offer you one screen while with others the playfield is too large for that. Among most of the first games there was pong. Meaning a lot of people were just making pong games and pong systems in gaming’s earliest days. One screen games are the kind that one programmer could put together. Pac Man on the Atari 2600 was a poor port. I personally remember first playing it. I thought “this is junk.” “This is unacceptable.” A modern programmer improved the game and brought it so much closer to the original arcade game. That proves that with care, love, and time, games can be made so  much better.

These games run off of a gimmick. You don’t need a lot of ideas for them. You need only a few good ideas for the whole game. You have to be inventive though. Frogger is as simple as crossing the street and river safely. Burger Time is a little strange, but fun. You put hamburgers together by dropping its pieces down. Some are “get to the top” games such as Donkey Kong. Some are “get all of something” games such as Pac Man. Some are “remove everything” games such as Space Invaders. Some are “just stay alive” games such as Asteroids or Battle. Then some just have you get to one corner of the screen. Some try to emulate sports games. With modern technology these things are child’s play. The retro gaming community is alive and well however. Homebrews are often being made for things like the Atari 2600. Old games are being re-released by companies, too, in cartridge form, complete with a box and manual. They even add a light at the top of the game in a nice way.

Tetris, Columns, Doctor Mario, Yoshi’s Cookie, are good one screen puzzle games. You could use Sudoku for a game as well. You can put card games old and new into a one screen game. Such as Uno or Skip-Bo. (Of course some would require a license.) Certain board games can be fitted into a video game with just one screen, such as Chess. LCD games can actually work well for some ideas. They can pull off Sudoku in a nice way. Same with slots, poker, and blackjack. There are some things that LCD works fine with. However there are modern screens that do it much better without costing a lot.

Options and Choices There is the choice of the difficulty level. They make things easier in a number of ways. They give less health energy to enemies and more to you. They make power ups and energy raising things more common. They limit the amount of enemies too. In racing games you can choose the difficult courses or the easier ones. Choices of vehicles are there. There are character selection options. There are choices of weapon options. There are choices of powerups to use. There is the name selection option. There are choices of job class. In an RPG you can attack or defend. In a Mario game you might want the fire power or the flying one. Sometimes the situation calls for one weapon over another. Naturally you are going to want a bow and arrow for flying enemies.

In an open world adventure game you can choose what to beat first and then what will be taken on after that. A game may let you choose your appearance. A world map in a platformer may be more or less linear. Super Mario Wonder has it where some world map areas can be freely roamed around, as in an overhead way. In some cases an RPG game may give you two new towns to explore at once instead of just one. In some games the path branches out into two or more options. Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins, let you beat the “worlds” in any order.

You can also choose between side quests. You can take them or leave them. You are told your reward for completing them and determine if it is worth it. You can warp through most of the game or beat it from beginning to end. In some RPG games you can determine where you want your magic learning to go. They have “paths” to take in learning magic. You can gear it towards certain things over others. Some games let you choose between being good or evil. Each has their rewards and consequences. The game may have the hardest enemy be something you don’t have to fight at all in order to win the game. If you do you get something special and you have that as an accomplishment. Some gamers choose to beat the game 100% and the game determines exactly what that means.


Pace The pace can be slow and leisurely or quick and nonstop. Ninja Gaiden (NES) is a very non-stop game. Mega Man is sometimes  a slow game. It is at least average pace throughout. There are moments in the game that slow you down however such as when a larger robot enemy appears or when Mega Man has to carefully maneuver himself to get through. When you start playing a Mario platformer game you start out slow and careful. Once you’ve gotten good at it you just zip through certain levels. Sometimes the game has a slow auto scroll to it. Auto-scrolls determine the pace entirely. Beat ‘em ups portion the pace. You beat one little area and then a sign that says “Go” appears. So you proceed. Racing games can be super fast as in F-Zero. They can also be without real speed as in a more overhead kind of racing game. Then some have a limited basis of speed such as in Excitebike.

Some games call for slow patience. Like Monkey Ball and Marble Madness, going too quick can have you fall and lose. Some require quick thought like the later levels of Tetris. With some games, once you learn the patterns, you can get through them fast. Like in Ninja Gaiden. In some games you can be stopped in your tracks because of a puzzle. You might spend days or more trying to figure it out. Unless you use the internet, that is. With some games you can take all the time you need and with others there is a time limit. In some games the time is the whole thing like going through four quarters in an American football game.

Passwords and Codes There are the old devices of the Game Genie and the Game Shark. You could do really strange things to a game with those. They don’t look pleasant though, the changes they make. The changes they make essentially just warp and break the game. They produce chaotic results. What they were normally used for was for help though, not level distortion. They gave you things such as extra lives and invincibility. Passwords were originally created to help the programmer test the game. They just left the codes thinking no one would ever figure them out. People did though. However, Super Punch Out! for SNES had a code that took thirty years to discover. It puts in a type of 2 player thing. There is the famous Konami code as it was used in so many of their games. Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A and Start. That’s the code. It is most famous for being in Contra, giving you extra lives in such a difficult game. Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 had a code that brought up an old arcade like game (a one screen thing, a space shooter.) Final Fantasy (NES) had a code that brought up a puzzle game and if you beat it you are given 100 gill. Later iterations of that game gave you something better.

While Ninja Gaiden 2 (NES) just gave you a sound test. Some are more creative than others. NBA Jam had a lot of neat codes. It has codes that let you play as Al Gore or former president Bill Clinton. GoldenEye 007 gives you the golden gun with a code. That’s a one shot your dead gun. There are the level selection codes in some games. That’s as simple as it sounds. Just choose which level you want to play instead of working yourself there. If you name yourself Zelda in The Legend of Zelda, you will start out on the second quest. Sometimes that is the code, just the name you choose. In Metroid (NES) if you put in the password “Justin Bailey” then you’ll play Metroid as Samus (without the suit.) However there is speculation that that was more of a glitch than an intention.  Super Mario Bros if you hold down the A button while “staring again” you can continue. The game has no other option to continue. In Duck Hunt (NES) there is a code that lets a second player control the birds that the first player shoots down.

Fighting games basically have codes for special powers. Sabin used those as well, in Final Fantasy 6.

Saving a game in old games requires a battery in them. Those batteries however can last an incredible amount of time, for 10-15 years. Putting in a new battery is no real issue. Get your security screw, pry out the old battery, and place a new one in. Those batteries are easy to find too. Some just tape the new battery in. Other people put in holders and sometimes those holders make it much easier to change the battery the next time it needs to. However, passwords just make sense for really old games. That is unless you have to put in all kinds of confusing gobble-de-gook. It can be as simple as four letters or numbers placed in. Mega Man has a little grid (something I enjoyed writing down as a kid.) Castlevania codes were simple. Then you get to games that are perhaps a little too complex for passwords. They may have you typing in long lines of numbers and letters, maybe even symbols. Worse than that the letter O looks like the number 0 in some of those games. If, however, the game is simple enough for a simple password system, then why not? It is never going to depend on a battery.

XMen Mutant Apocalypse (SNES) is a good example. When passwords were becoming a thing of the past X Men Mutant Apocalypse used them. You only had to match the right faces when using it. That game made it easy and fast to guess passwords, too. It was easy to flip around the faces and press start again and again. I used to toy with it all the time. Sometimes it glitched things out. Sometimes it took me right to one level or another with my mutants being in different conditions. It was a game genie that ruined my experience with The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. What is the point of playing any game where losing is impossible?  

PassageWays The game can offer you lower areas such as in Pitfall or in Super Mario games. They are often shortcuts with nice things down below. Some games have you escape through a sewer below a prison. In Dragon Quest 11 you are put into prison at one point. You are the chosen one in the game. Someone prophetically knew you would be there. So he had himself imprisoned and awaited the day he would be placed beside you there. In the meantime, he made a really big hole. Then there is just the Final Fantasy 8 element where you are going through a lower sewer because your intended escape route was blocked. Caves can have a lot of crevices to explore. Sometimes you might just find a lower staircase hidden behind a bookshelf. The 2D game makes it look just a little like it is not entirely against the wall. Uninvited (NES) had you testing and trying everything in order to get into the next room or building. There were certain little hints, but not enough of them. A map can show you where you have been and where you have not been. They may indicate that something is in a room you haven’t gone to yet. Such as in Metroidvania games.

Some games require a special vehicle in order to pass through. That could as well be a magic power or money to give someone to receive their permission. Some games have levels to select from and you only need to get through one of them in order to get to the end. After all, you are just trying to get to the end and there are different paths to take in doing so. Among the strangest passageways is in Final Fantasy 6 when a castle which can travel underground gets stuck.

Patterns  The  ghosts in Pac Man each have their own patterns programmed in. They run around and react to Pac Man differently. Qbert is very pattern based. Some games are about learning patterns as an enemy has their own programming and becomes predictable. Sometimes the enemies will always do the same things and the more you practice at it the more recognizable it becomes. You get to know what to do piece by piece. Sunrise and sunset are both patterns. Some NPC’s do different things during the night and for various other reasons. So when you’ve done certain things in the game they have changed. They may be doing different things by then or have something else to say. Harvest Moon is full of schedules and predictable patterns. Once you’ve plucked the fruit off of something it may grow back a few days later. Then there are weather patterns from high winds to thunderstorms. Some shops may evolve their inventory and over time you can get new things from them.

The pattern in Space Invaders is that you shoot a whole row and the next row comes down faster. Then the next, and faster again, and so on. By the time you are on the last ships the game has them coming down very quickly. It wasn’t even a programming intention. It in fact was a bug in the game that they decided to keep in.

Personalization/ Customization A racing game is always a lot more fun when you can pick and choose what parts to add to your vehicle. New things are gotten from money you win, such as coming in first place. They can include a new paint job, new tires, new engine, boosting components, and in some games, weapons for the vehicle. Some games let you personalize your appearance. They can get really specific in fact. From clothes to body form, you might even look close to your real self. A game may let you choose what music to play, especially in more simpler games. In Super Mario Maker you can make the whole level yourself or play one that someone else designed. Some hacks of games make things incredibly difficult just to see how many can get through them. You might be surprised at the talent that emerges from it.

With job classes you can choose what abilities, magic, and power any character has. When it comes to having four characters there are a lot of directions that it can take. Games like Octopath Traveler and Bravely Default have many abilities to learn based on that. Then in some RPG games there is a system that guides you into what abilities you want to learn. You get special points in the game and can basically choose paths like learning attack magic, curing magic, or sets of abilities. In other games you can choose what to learn and when. Such as in The Legend of Zelda: The Adventure of Link, you can choose to raise attack, magic, or life. That is done through a regular experience point system.

Pits (and what’s at the bottom) It can contain a whole kingdom that you knew nothing of before. Or it may have a dark feel to it and just be both a coin gaining area and shortcut. Some may be graveyards. Of course you find ghosts down there. It could be a tomb with treasure. It could be a dungeon. It could be the home of, say, a thief. It could be occupied by a monster. It could be part of a large and winding pit of a cave with lots of mystery to it. It could be a sewer beneath a city. There are lots of slime monsters there. It can be a subway area. It could be an abandoned subway area with lots of bad people there. It could be gotten to by climbing into a well, or a pipe. It could literally just be a hole in the ground. The game may ask you if you want to jump off the cliff. If you do, you don’t even die, you just land a little below the edge. A fighting game area may have a pit in a certain level that you can uppercut your opponent into. In Mega Man the pit is the next area, sometimes. In Ninja Gaiden you climb down into them by attaching yourself to a wall. The pit may be hidden, obscured by a bush or heavy boulder. Some have coins, some have weapons, some have treasure, some have health-increasing things, some contain fairies, people, creatures, monsters, or whatever else.

Platforms Lots have been done with platforms in games. There are the ordinary kind, you just use them to get around wherever you are trying to go. Some make you bounce. Some break apart from beneath you. Some do that on a timer. The timer is shown and when 5 gets to 0 the platform disappears. Some appear and vanish. Some do that in patterns so you will have to guess where the next one will appear. Some platforms tilt. Some let you ride on them, they move above or forward. Some make you be on them to avoid something, such as waves coming down. Some platforms are also bricks you can smash, in Mario style. Simon Belmont smashes them with his whip. Some are death platforms. You cannot land on them without damage or dying. Sometimes they show skulls on them, other times they have spikes on them. Some are staircases. A platform may be slippery. A cloud can be a platform. A flying enemy can be too. A gravity effect can make the ceiling into a platform. In The Battle of Olympus (NES) you gain the power to freely walk on the ceiling, as wanted. Samus freezes enemies and makes them into platforms. Sometimes you can make them magically appear. With a P switch in Super Mario World you can make helpful platforms appear throughout the game. Platforms can be very narrow. Some can have enemies all around them. Some platforms are enemies. Some of those fly. Platforms can be large robot things as found in Mega Man. A large tree can be a platform (Donkey Kong Country– SNES.) The sails of a ship (Bart Vs The World– NES), the roof of a house (The Addams Family– SNES), a bubble (Cool Spot– SNES), are all platforms. In an overhead game things get more tricky. Gremlins 2 (NES) is a strong example of that. Overhead games are, in nature, 2.5D. Isometric games are not ideal for it either. In a 3D game auto jumping and auto grabbing onto them helps a lot.

Point And Click  This used to be a novelty on floppy disks. They began as “text games.” An answer to every question had to be programmed into it. The guide may give you a few sets of questions that commonly have answers to them. Some have graphics and some do not. Those with graphics may have limited animation, just normally giving you one page from place to place. Some already have the questions and things as options. For example you don’t type in search you just click it among other words. Those words may be “search, use, take, look at, give to, open, close, use, hit, leave, speak, pick up, push, and pull. The Uninvited (NES) gave you a trash area. You could throw away anything other than things you needed. The game let you know what you needed and what was really trash by what it allowed you to throw away. That is good, with so many things you could collect. There are lots of trials and errors in these games. King’s Quest was a game that was lovingly made by Sierra and Roberta Williams.

Powerups Some let you fly. Some let you fly in different ways than others. Some are airplane like (build up speed while running), some are helicopter like, some are more gliding like, some make you into a floating balloon, some let you swirl while going up, some let you multi jump as much as you want, some give you wings, some give you capes. Then some let you float down in different ways. For anything that flies in the real world, it can be a flying powerup in a game.

Some games give you fireballs. Some give you ice balls. Super Mario Land gave you a bouncing ball. Some multiply yourself, giving you shadow selves that imitate everything you do. Some are weapons: whip, longer whip, sword, longer sword, boomerang like thing, dagger, axe , sickle, spear, lance, bow, bow and arrow, shuriken, hammer, and fire attacks in different forms. Some powerups can be spells you cast. Some give you invincibility. Some give you gimmick weapons as in Mega Man: a weapon that hones in, a metal blade, a large ring that acts like a boomerang, drill bombs, bubble bombs, other kinds of bombs, bubble lead, time stopper, top spin (tornado like), rain attacks, gravity weapons, a water wave weapon, bounce ball, and normally an invincibility weapon has things flying in a circle around you.

A powerup may change enemies into coins. They might let you run faster and blast through everything. It may let you become larger or smaller. It could be greater and lesser armor. In Kirby you swallow enemies to be given their power. Some games have them in bricks, treasure chests, others in orbs, in Metroid a statue holds the orb, or they can be in candle form. In Ninja Gaiden (NES) they were different from level to level. In some games a god-like character gives you special power. You can have some of them be more common than others. You can make some easier to get than others.

A powerup can change how your gun acts in these ways: a wave like shot, a shot that hones in, a spread shot, or a strong laser shot. Those are so in run-and-guns and shoot ‘em ups. A shot may freeze an enemy. Some games have an item that temporarily raises your attack or defense powers. Some have charge up buttons.

Progress  Grinding is one of them. We all know what grinding is. It is gaining more experience points and leveling up. That does not have to be limited to RPG games either. Not only do you level up you also get more money for better items and equipment. Castlevania and Ghouls ‘n Ghosts show you a map in between levels. It is a nice touch. It shows you where you are about to go. Giving the player a cut scene from area to area is always a nice reward. Link gets a treasure chest with a weapon or tool from dungeon to dungeon. In some cases they are found in the real world. They open up new areas in lots of places and give him new ways to attack. Gamers love it when they go from weak to strong. Gamers love it when they beat a difficult level or boss, “finally!”

You may be assigned a task in order to progress. That can be any number of things. It can be a fetch quest. It can be proving your worth. It can only happen after becoming strong enough. It might mean doing an errand for someone. They might have you free someone. That someone may be calling out to you telepathically. You might be told “the first thing to do” in some way or another. The player is focused on the here and now but the objectives change throughout the game. The first level is mastered and now it is time to tackle the next.

Progress means different things for different games. In a Metroidvania game it means exploration. In an Adventure game it might be that plus puzzle elements. In an RPG it means grinding. In a racing game it means becoming accustomed to the tracks. In a city builder it means refining everything. In a point and click game it means trial and error. In a platformer it means things like patterns and maneuvering correctly. In a fighting game it means anticipating what the player is going to do and learning action/reaction. In Punch Out! It means learning how the boxer behaves. In a shooter it means things like hiding, evasion, and getting to the better things first. Sometimes it means learning the enemy's movement and methods. It means learning what they do and when. In all of them it means practice.

Some games are more intuitive than others. Practice should pay off. The game should not be broken with unfair difficulty, which can be something as simple as jumping on one platform to another. The “pixel perfect” jumps as they are sometimes called. That or just rotten mechanics you can never adjust to. Patterns are nice to include. They can be learned over time while the game gets more predictable. “There’s more than one way to skin a cat,” if one thing does not work for the player then you can always include option B (or C, or D.) As such you give the player a different way through and they will find it if they look hard enough.

Pure Fantasy Super Mario Bros stood out precisely because it was other-worldly. It was the Mushroom Kingdom. It was the first Alice and Wonderland of video games. It proved that people don’t want video games to be highly realistic. People play them to go someplace else. The best answer to the statement “this doesn’t make sense” is “that’s because it is a video game.” There are movies totally fantasy and those made to be as real as possible. Then there are cartoons that aren’t at all, such as Spongebob Squarepants. They live at the bottom of the sea… where there is a beach. You have Spongebob living in a pineapple. But no one says, “this doesn’t make any sense.” Likewise, a game doesn’t have to be like a cartoon trying to be a movie.

Putting This Upon/In That Or Striking This With That Super Mario Bros 3 gave you a hammer to use on the world map. With that you can smash into an area of the world map that you could not otherwise go. Mario more normally smashes bricks from below. Some puzzles involve dragging a statue to a certain place. Some are bombs against cracked walls. Some curtains can be split in two with your sword. Some obstacles can be hammered down. Some have you burn down bushes to reveal something. Some barriers are beaten with a gun or a weapon blast of some kind (like arm cannons or magic wands.) You might have a potion you drop someplace to make a doorway appear (Super Mario Bros 2 USA.) Simon Belmont strikes bricks with his whip and when he does health restoring meat may appear.

Sometimes one thing placed on or in something causes something to happen. You open the underworld area of Final Fantasy 4 by placing a coal into a well. In Super Mario World you take a key to a keyhole and go through the secret exit that way. New levels appear from that. You see the giant treasure chest but now you have to find the big key. Fire can destroy obstructive vines or ice. Some games have you swing your sword. Others give you the stab mechanic. Wands may be less powerful but give you greater distance. A bow can give a distance attack. A boomerang can be used to hit switches. Axes can chop things down. A bow and arrow can send things down or be used to hit a magical target. They all have their place and purpose in the game.

Hats can be magical. When Mario throws his hat on anything he becomes that thing, in the game Super Mario Odyssey. Masks can be magical as in some Zelda games. What you wear may empower you in one way or another.

Puzzles   The game Boxel for Gameboy has you place boxes into certain areas with tricky maneuvering involved. It is like a single mechanic from something like Zelda put into one game. A lot of puzzles are about putting this here and that there. Tricky maneuvering makes that harder. Sometimes it is more about pulling and pushing. Sometimes magic is added to it. Puzzle games are about putting the right piece into the right spot. You can reorder and adjust things a certain amount to do so. In Tetris you must decide mid air, before it lands. In some puzzle games you can adjust things that have already fallen. Figuring out a puzzle might require a tool. That can add up to trial and error plus attentiveness. New tools might be hidden in the game and gotten by other tools. You are given a sort of hint. In The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, you play the flute before a statue of a bird. The only hint is: the flute sounds like a bird. You might pass by that statue a hundred times before you connect the dots.

The difficulty of a puzzle may be enhanced by confusing corridors. You  may need to flip switches in certain ways, those which block and unblock you. That could mean you lift a bomb and toss it over the obstacle to blast the switch. The switch might control water levels and you’ll have to go back and forth on them. The upper area may be connected to the lower. As with falling down just the right hole to the right spot below. The game may have you pulling every tool and weapon out of the bag to see what happens when used on certain things. There may be an enemy who can only be beaten with a certain thing.

Puzzles can be outright easy: you push something, you light the torches, you beat a certain enemy and get a key, you beat all the enemies on screen for that, you bump into a statue that comes to life, and so on. Then sometimes a puzzle is more elaborate. You save a “false princess” in a dungeon who seems to not want to go outside. Eventually you bring her into a room with light shining down on the floor. Once she goes under that light she turns into a monster. The big boss of that dungeon. (The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.)

Sometimes when you figure one thing out you figure all the rest of it out. It no longer puzzles you. Such as learning for the first time that a bomb will blow apart a crack in the wall. You may find out that dashing into a crack wall with speed boots does the same thing. That an arrow shot onto this makes something happen. And learning that a tool you have can be used in more ways than you knew. As for games other than Adventure games or literal puzzle games, there are Metroidvania games. Once Samus learns she can freeze enemies and use them as platforms, returns to a place she hasn’t visited in awhile, uses her new found powers there, use a super bomb in that glass tube she passed through so many times, turned into a ball and mini bombed herself into new areas, and tried just about everything anywhere, then she can win the game. The map in Metroidvania games lets you know where you have gone and where you could go. That is the only hint you really need in those games.

Quests You might have a major objective put before you. You might have a minor one to deal with. You could have a “medium” one, and you can have many throughout the game. To start out, the game may have you prove your worth. Only then are you proven the chosen one or whatever else. You could just be put on an errand and things get more complicated. You could be put right into the action. The game may put you right into your purpose after some dialogue explains that, then you proceed. The game may have you start out as the bad guy. In Final Fantasy 4 you do, as Cecil the airship captain who slaughters to get the magic crystals for his king. He has some remorse over that. In Final Fantasy 6, Terra has been brainwashed by a slave crown and working for the bad guys in the game. They want something a little better than a crystal. They want the espers. Those look like rupees.

Final Fantasy 8 opens with two in a military academy fighting each other. You are given your last lesson which serves as a tutorial in the game. Before long you have graduated and are at the graduation dance. After that you set out on your first mission as hired hands. So your quest is military based for much of the game.

You may have a “get the four of (   )” thing. Such as the four crystals or the four magic orbs. That includes beating a set number of enemies. You may be after the right weapon or spell you need against the main enemy. Things may be linear: beat every dungeon or area in a certain order. Or it may be more open: beat this, don’t beat that, it isn’t entirely necessary to beat everything. There is the common save the princess thing. You could very well be saving a loved one of another kind though. Once you beat one plane of being there could be the next: light world/dark world, world of ruin, going to another planet, the underworld, or the moon. Your objective might just be to find a special person. It is only from that person that you can get what you need. You might be a part of a resistance. You might be on the run as such. You may be earth saving “terrorists” as in Final Fantasy 7.  

Races (species) There are the common ones: elf, dwarf, goblin, troll, dragon, and fairy. There are the less common ones, which may have existed in some long ago myth. There are centair enemies in Zelda. Then there are the newly invented ones such as the Mog and the Chocobo. A good game may include a large number of never before seen enemies. That is always good to bring substance into a franchise, one which is entirely yours and not found elsewhere. An important question is “how do they act?” How do they use their weapon or powers against you? What is the best way to beat them, what weapon/power should you use and how? Are they neat additions to the game? It all adds a lot of variety if they all have their unique ways of doing things and unique ways of being beaten.

Real Video This goes all the way back to Dragon’s Lair, a 1983 video game made from laser disks. When CD games started to become a thing lots of game makers wanted to make “FMV” games. One popular example is Night Trap on the Sega CD. They were usually just guided video kinds of things. In fact there was a VHS machine video game at one time. Sometimes the effect is more subtle. Games may use pre-rendered graphics. Such as in Mortal Kombat. That may be just a one screen graphic for a game, because of limited space.

Rare Occurrences The thief job class in a game might get you some of the better things in the game, only with one percent or lower chances of getting it. Gamers in older times did not understand why at the end of a Mario game fireworks were sometimes shown. Nintendo Power even failed to tell gamers why it happened. Then later it was learned that it happens because of an amount on the timer and an amount of coins you have when you beat the level. Super Mario Bros 3 did a similar thing with coin ships. Similar conditions would make them appear on the world map. Would a gamer not know that it would be taken as some rare and random occurrence. The bane of Super Mario Bros 3 speedrunning is “three hands.” In the last world Mario crosses an area which he may or may not be pulled down into. “No hands” means that he will cross by without going down. There are 0-3 hands possible. Sometimes an enemy has a rare attack but is devastating when they use it. In some games there are slot machines. They can just be a gambling thing whether for more money or a prize. They can also be an attack from a gambler sort of job class. WIth a great deal of luck you’ll get something nice out of it.

Top in Mega Man might give you something dumb or something great such as an E tank. When Mega Man goes up certain ladders there is Top  in its own room. An item comes right out of its head. What lots of people do not know is that if you go back down the ladder without getting what he dropped, he will have something else when you go back up. That can be done until you get the E tank or the extra life. Sometimes you desperately need an item and it seems like the enemies will never drop it.

There is the regular moon that comes up every night. There can be a blood moon too, more rarely. The game may have precious rare gems such as diamonds. A storm may come once in a while. There may be a one time thing in the game and if you miss it you are out of luck. There are the better horses to take and the lesser ones. One might even be a unicorn, the only one in the game. Megalixirs  are an uncommon thing. They restore all of the energy of everyone in your party. There are those kinds of items that you have to spare as they are hard to come by. You might have a shovel and dig and dig and dig before a really good thing comes up.

Reaching New Areas  That can be done with a number of different vehicles. Boats, rafts, hovercraft, airships, trains, and so on. It might need a special spell. It might take a special sword, one used to slash apart a barrier, or one to set fire on your obstacle. It could require a tool. Heavy lifting gloves get boulders out of the way. Bombs blast apart walls. Hookshots let you cross large pits. Arrows send things tumbling down, such as a ladder. Boomerangs hit switches. Magic flute music can cause new places to open. Flippers let you swim across. Words of magic reveal a doorway. A magic candle can burn down a bush. Magic capes can let you safely cross a large amount of spikes. Becoming a fairy in Zelda 2 lets you cross large pits. They all answer the questions “how can something block you and how can something unblock you from it?”

Samus Aran finds her way through with weapons such as these: missiles, super missiles, bombs, super bombs, ball form, freeze shots, grappling shots, great speed, multi jumping, and bursting upward. In The Battle of Olympus (NES) you can summon Pegasus with a harp, who takes you to a far away land. In BloodStained Ritual of the Night (Switch) you take a really goth-like horse and carriage to a new area. Flying things often take you to new places. In Willow (NES) the flute can take you elsewhere. In Kirby games Kirby hops on a star to go to the next area. In Mario Bros 2 USA Mario gets into a small space ship.

Sometimes things are just totally tricky. Like Link in the Lost Woods. In the original game he had to go through the grid-like forest in a particular pattern. In Breath of The Wild he had to avoid the fog because if too much of it appears then he must start all over. Sometimes things can be down right cryptic such as Simon Belmont having to kneel at a certain place for a certain time (then a lower area appears.)

And in a non linear game there are all kinds of objectives to meet before you can advance in the game.

Receiving Hints  So many were bothered by Navi, the fairy with hints that no one needs. You might find a Sage in certain rooms which have a line or two to say. They are more or less understood. They are either perfectly helpful or too difficult to understand. RPG games are all about what the townsfolk say when it comes to hints. You might get two or more hints through them for the same thing. So if you could not understand it from one person, then maybe you can with the next. Sometimes a game has a “hint brick” or something like it. It may be a thing on the wall where telepathy is used, or just communication technology.

Maybe tutorials are like classical music. By the late 1800s classical music had blown out of proportion. You had 100 men orchestras. You had music such as that of Listz which was nothing more than showing off keyboard talent. The music was becoming too complex and bloated. Then in the early 1900s something happened. It all just blew up. It became an atonal sort of music. Structure was thrown out of the window. It sounded like little children were the music performers (which isn’t any exaggeration, it really did.) But people loved it! Just do whatever you want and leave it at that. People grew tired of the intent-listening, if that makes sense. They wanted something of freedom.

Repeat Playing A game with a second quest is one idea. That may just be reordering things and changing the enemies around. For 100 percent completionists there is that. Maybe they’ve beaten it regularly but now want the 100 percent. If a game is a good one for speed running then speedrunners will endlessly repeat it. In older times arcade games were made to be difficult in order to get more money out of them. That translated into early console games. There is the saying “NES hard.” With a limited amount of space for any game, it was the challenge which made it last long as a game. Grinding adds a lot of playtime too. While the game may be a small amount of hours long, grinding can add an hour or more to every session. A game may have you on different paths to beat it. You choose which path you want in that case. Then when you beat it again you may try the paths you didn’t play before. If there are secrets to the game you have not yet figured out, then maybe in the next playthrough you will. Some games are so open world that they are inexhaustible with new things. Lots of the player’s time is spent in discovering new things, doing things differently, with so much to learn. Then some games just never get old, such as Tetris, as simple as it is. In some games every game is different and it is as simple as that. Such as board game video games, party video games, card games, chess, and so on. There is a game called Clubhouse Games which is a great instance of that. You can add to that sports games. Nuance is important (little things that make big differences.) You could include those elements into any game. You can add a sports game, card game, ect. Into any video game.

Risk Taking Some games let you fight a particularly difficult boss and get a great thing if you win, without being required to. Some games have an enemy that is stronger than the last boss. You don’t have to fight them but you can if you want to, if only for the challenge. Some games make something that looks deadly a good idea. Such as jumping into a certain pit. That would harm you if done anywhere else. Some games have a pick this one or that one thing where there’s a good choice and a bad choice. A game may even let you go straight to the last boss, or at least mostly so. Only trying too soon can have you obliterated by it. Final Fantasy 6 had you in a floating continent where you rushed to escape after you’ve dealt with it. With seconds left the game asked if you wanted to wait a moment longer. Why? Some gamers would say “hell no,” and leave. Those who chose to stay longer however will have Shadow, a certain character who comes and goes, to keep. You were waiting for him to catch up to you. In Super Metroid there was a room with nice little animals in it. At the end of the game you are rushing out. A timer is about to blow up the planet. If you stop by that room however you might just save those animals in the knick of time. In Final Fantasy 8 you were given a cursed lamp. That was early in the game. When you open it, which you don’t have to, but if you do you will face Diablo. If you win the battle then you will have him as a summon.

Running and Gunning There are different kinds of guns you can get. One the “pea shooter” or just regular bullets. A spread shot does what it says. A laser shot is the most powerful. A homing shot hones in on enemies. And you might get things like grenades too. Just shoot a powerup symbol to get what gun you want. Normally in these games getting hit once means losing your special gun. Contra (NES) has the regular side scrolling level and a first person sort of thing as well. With Contra 3: The Alien Wars, you could grab onto things from above while you shoot. You might find yourself on a helicopter and things like that. The ground may break up while you are on it. Then new things come up from below. There are lots of explosions to be had. Sometimes you have to kneel to beat them, or else get hit. Sometimes you can hop into a vehicle such as a tank. Sometimes fire comes up from below and all around. Sometimes whole buildings fall down. At the end of a level you find a boss of one kind or another. Could be machinery, could be an alien, robotics, or whatever suits the background of the game.

These are good two player games. They are not always side scrolling. They are sometimes very platform based. They are mostly the same. I would not label an FPS game a run and gun game however. Journey to Silius (NES) sort of had you all over the place. You might call an overhead game a run and gun. Jackal (NES) is one example of that. All the things are the same really, the only difference there is it is an overhead game instead of a side view game. Then some of them are more accurately “walk and gun” games, with Robocop (Arcade) as an example.


Scrolling Parallax scrolling is where two backgrounds move at different speeds, and it gives a game a 3D effect. Sprite scrolling changes the shape of sprites for a 3D effect as well. Sideway games only go from left and right with a certain amount going up and down. Sometimes there is more going up than down. There may be a single level that only goes up, like one where you go up a tower. Wizards and Warriors (NES) has many small platforms. You go in all directions with them. Some games only go from left to right such as Excitebike (NES.) Some games do not scroll, but basically go from screen to screen with a pause. In Super Mario Bros you could not go left beyond where you are.

Some games are forced scrolling. They auto scroll. They can auto scroll in any direction. In some racing games the car doesn’t actually move. It may move very little, like tilting to the left and right. The race track itself gives the gamer the impression that their vehicle is moving. In reality the vehicle never leaves the middle of the screen.

Searching  Final  Fantasy 6 had a whole piece of music called “searching for friends.” After the world was thrown into ruin by the evil Kefka all of your characters are split up. You start the world of ruin by escaping a sad place on a raft. Overtime you, as just one character now, Celis, find all of your old friends and then some. There are some treasure chests that bring a “woah!” from you. Then there are some that make you utter “eh.” Zelda games even put the good stuff into the large treasure chests. The playfield can have lots of things to find in so many different ways. Maybe the game gives you a shovel and you get lucky and find something good. Heavy lifting gloves move things out of the way bringing up an area with something nice. Maybe it is after a waterfall. Maybe it is in some kind of place that seems like nothing could be there. Maybe it is found in  a sneaky corridor such as behind a bookshelf. In a 2D game you might get the slightest impression that it is not exactly against the wall. On rare occasions a monster might suck you in. You might not even know it does that until you’ve fought it many times. What’s more, it is just on this tiny island with nothing else there. And by beating the thing you don’t get nothing out of it. It doesn’t give you good experience points. When you are sucked in by it however, you are taken to a lower area where you find a whole new character named Gogo. (Final Fantasy 6.)

New tools and abilities get you new things. Looking everywhere in a  “leave no stone unturned” way. Bookshelves, barrels, treasure chests, pots, and certain other things have them. A thing may be in the game that has something when it is that every last one of the rest of them does not. That makes the player think they shouldn’t bother. Things that stand out can lead you to getting something. Like there is a fish flopping out of the water and a pond nearby, so you pick it up and throw it in. There is a circle of rocks except one is off to the side. So you complete the circle and something appears in the middle. There is a large eyeball picture you shoot an arrow at. To invent one, there could be a sad plant that isn’t getting any sunshine. The other flowers are happy in the sun. So you cut down the tree behind it, it gets light, and rewards you.

Secret Entry  There is the old trope of getting someplace via the sewer. The sewer route lets you either sneak in or escape. You might have a fake ID for the train. You might have a stolen one for the military base. You might have to find a key to get in. You might need a tool or item to get in. You may need a weapon to get in. You could be in a room that has a large curtain which you split apart with your sword. In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, there was a town that did not allow males there. So Link had to dress in female form. Sometimes it is finding a backway in. You may go down into a pit or through a hole. You might break in in a sneaky way. You may get help for sneaking back into town. You may obscure who you are in order to do so.

Services In old RPG games you had to pay a priest to resurrect characters who had died. You could pay a stable to hold your horse. Some games let you rent vehicles or horses. Some are inns to rest in. Some are blacksmiths which improve your weapons. Sometimes you buy magic scrolls to learn magic. There are shops selling any given thing. In some games you can hire soldiers to help you in battles. Some people don’t want money, but for you to get them something, and in return they give you something for it.

Setting The King is after the four crystals, the princess needs to be saved, someone else needs to be saved, you need to defeat a dictator who is growing in power, going against tyranny, going against an evil being, something wants to enslave the world, something wants to destroy the world, a sorceress wants to compress time (Final Fantasy 8), you want people to stop harming the planet (Final Fantasy 7), each character has their own motives, you are the chosen one, you are thrown into a quest, the gods or a god needs you, you are an assassin, you are a bounty hunter, you want revenge, you want power, you want the greatest treasure, aliens are overtaking the world, the world became full of zombies, evil entered into the world, everyday it has more monsters, the plot is very shallow sometimes (someone stole all of your bananas– Donkey Kong Country.)

Shooting Things In Different Ways With an arrow you can shoot a rope apart and have something come down that way. You could shoot down a bird for meat. You can shoot down an annoying bat with arrows. You can blow things up with a bomb arrow. You can one shot kill with an especially powerful arrow. You might even give the player an arrow that seeks out enemies. Then there are fire arrows that set things ablaze. There are ice arrows that freeze things.

A game may give you things to hit with an arrow to make something happen. Some enemies can only be beaten when you shoot an arrow at its eye.

With guns there are plain bullet ones. There are single shots then machine guns with many rapid shots. There are guns that kill with one shot, guaranteed. In a more fictional way there are spread shots, laser shots, shots honing in on enemies, circular acting shots, wavy acting ones, and guns with larger bullets.

Then there are slingshots. Just collect special stones wherever they are found. There is the hookshot which draws you into what you shoot it with. Boomerangs come back to you, and shurikens can as well (Ninja Gaiden.) Some games give you shurikens. Sometimes those are expensive, but they are powerful. Wands can make for fun shots. You light fireplaces so much easier that way. There are fire wands, ice wands, then just wands of different energy styles. In an RPG a wand may give you a random spell of one kind or another. It may be specifically for that too. Such as a fire spell or a cure spell wand. Spells are often a cast only thing but finding a wand that casts the spell is a fun thing to find and use.

Then there is Mega Man who gets new guns every time he beats a boss. Those have been elaborated on elsewhere. Each new gun he gets is typically not just a pea shooter. Pharaoh man sort of does, basically just giving you a large ball over a small shot, both are chargeable shots (hold down a button and it will be stronger.)

Side Options  Maybe there is an auction house you can go to in hopes of getting the biggest prize. It could be an arena in which you fight in ways not found elsewhere in the game. The world map may provide you with things to do on the side, such as little games. There can be little games in just about any genre of game. It can be a race of some kind, like a horse race in an adventure game. Could be on a Chocobo. They may have you finding things with a shovel. You could hire others to dig for you. There can be a place to fish. It can be a “pick the right one” thing. It can be a gambling thing. In a very open world game you can go off and do whatever you want. There are always many different options in those games. The game may have different modes of playing. There can be a two player option, a battle option, a time trial option, or a game within a game. Then there are side quests in various forms.

Simplifying Things  Things  can get convoluted over time. An argument for retro gamers is often “things were just easier back then.” There were no long and drawn out tutorials, for one. There were no big systems to learn. There were not many buttons to press: two L and R buttons, two thumbsticks, four action buttons, a D-Pad, a trigger button, a home button or two.. Old styles are being returned to. The pixel kinds of games with not too much complexity to them. A smart person can learn the system so well that they can break the game (make it become impossibly easy.) While the player that doesn’t want to be burdened with the system of the game will just throw whatever together and ignore that part. Human instinct says that more is better. Movie makers think ‘we need an awesome chase scene’ and make it last fifteen minutes in the movie. Believe me, by the end of it, they no longer care. What was at first thrilling lost its place a long time ago.

Simulations Sim  City went from a basic city builder to something much more complex. Every detail was there, down to the pipe system for the city. SimCity 4 was the pentacle of the city building franchise. You just did not need anything more or new after that. Naturally they wanted to continue the whole franchise but it had basically reached perfection. There are many things that can be simulated: the city builder, sim people, sim theme parks, farming sims such as Harvest Moon, Sim Trucker (travel the real world), flight simulators, and strategy things. If you got a lot of money in SimCity via taxes you can put an arena in your city. That grows your population, which is the goal of the game. If you placed an industrial zone near the people then people won’t live there. If crime areas come up then you can place a police station there. You might have a bus system lead to commercial zones. You can have trains. Do especially well and you start to see skyscrapers. You can choose what kind of power station to put up: solar, coal, solar, nuclear, your choice. They put in advantages and disadvantages. Nuclear is cheap but if it blows up you’ll have a serious problem.

Farming simulators give you better and lesser crops. It has you rationing things. It works on seasons. Different seasons have you do different things. It isn’t only plants, but meat and milk too. With what you sell you buy and the more you work the better. The shops contain things you need: like gardening tools and seeds. You can have tools as simple as a shovel and one as complex as a nice tractor. The game may have a real clock in it. If you don’t visit your farm after a certain amount of time, things can be lost. There are changing priorities in those games. You choose which to focus on sometimes. Other times things need your immediate attention. So games like Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing keep you busy.

The questions involved are: how do things work together and what harmony can be found? How does one thing affect the rest? Is the player able to find the result they want? Are the problems practical and realistic, or are there unfair results? So does what you do cause what you wanted it to? Is growth apparent enough, does the work pay off? Are results predictable? Are there enough new things to be found? Does the game make you feel like you can evolve things, especially in the process of learning things?

Second Quest A second quest gives you further gameplay by adding new enemies, changing the enemies of the game into something else, or by recording things more fully.

Secrets  A secret can be an invisible brick or something else that you hit. It can be a visible brick that Simon Belmont hits with his whip, and health restoring meat appears. It can be found in a tricky corridor. It could be a path/entrance  that could be called “camouflaged.” That might make the player think that nothing is there but something is. Sometimes the player is tricked into thinking to get out of quicksand but by going all the way down there are things below. The same can be so for a pit. Donkey Kong Country throws you into the game but it turns out if you go backwards on the first level you get something. Sometimes a secret requires a certain weapon, tool, spell, item, or powerup to solve. What happens when (this) is used on something? Sometimes certain conditions must be met (a time of day, the right number of something or another, mixing (this) with other things, having a certain amount of hearts to get the magic sword, being at the right level, flipping switches in the right order, talking to a particular person first.)

The game might have you help someone in a not so apparent way. Like you see a fish flopping around and you toss it back into the water. They might hint at what they want. You might have something on you and when you talk to someone they offer you a trade. They may simply have you take a note to a witch, and she makes you up a health potion for it. Sometimes a series of events must be brought out as one thing leads to another. So you have to have four of something, you go on a fetch quest or a trading process, Sometimes things are random and call for luck, you have to order things a certain way, and “one thing leads to another.

Here are some good examples of secrets:

In Mortal Kombat you get Reptile by earning a Double Flawless Victory without blocking and then perform a Fatality.

In Mario Kart (SNES) hold down the acceleration button just before the second light lights up and continue to hold it until the race starts. You’ll get a boost of speed.

To get the chainsaw in Final Fantasy 6 you must set a clock to the right time within a certain town. Everyone in town is telling you the time, but they are all lying to you.

In Castlevania: Symphony of the Night Activate the fairy card to use the familiar and travel to one of the game's chairs (the telescope room on the Outer Wall has two) and sit down (by pressing ) for a moment. The Fairy will sit on your shoulder and after a few seconds will start singing a whole song to you while you rest in a chair.

In Metroid (NES) there is the Justin Bailey code (password) that has you play as Samus without her suit.

The  “ Chris Houlihan Room” in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, was created because Chris Houlihan won a contest in Nintendo Power. You have to basically glitch your way into it. It leaves me thinking that the glitch process was deliberately programmed into it. 255 rupees are inside his room and a sign has his name saying it's his room.

Glitches As for glitches there are the common wall clip ones. There are the ones where you get stuck inside a wall and move around in a certain way to zip forward, even to the end of the game. Then there are the things that screw with the games programming so much that it takes you to the end of the game. They are all acceptable in speed runs too, unless the speed run specifically says “glitchless.” So speedrunners exploit glitches all of the time and are always looking for more. Some speedrunning has gotten so perfect that a split second is important.

Sneaking Around As long as they don’t hear you, you are safe. If they do hear you, you’ll see an exclamation mark above their head, as in an alerted and shocked fashion. You can go behind one thing or another and get closer. You can escape into a little room. You can find one hiding place or another as you infiltrate a place. It is actually an old idea, even Metal Gear on the NES was using it. In a multiplayer FPS game there are the better guns and equipment to get before the other player(s) get to them. The more you learn the area the better. In an open world adventure game there might be really dangerous monsters to get around. In an RPG you might have to escape through certain corridors, such as underground passageways. You may find a different way into any given place, places you are not supposed to be.

Spending Time On Non-Playable Characters A big reason they are normally there is to provide story or advice. You could get stuck in the game were it not for them. Maybe they might blacksmith your sword into something better and say “come back in three days.” Maybe they may ask you to do something and if you do they’ll reward you for it. Getting your help may mean getting them something, saving someone they love, or to take something to somebody else. Some of them might want you to escort them to some place. Some of them might be damaged and need your help, in healing form. You could help someone being jumped by monsters or people as well and if you save them then you’ll be rewarded for it. Then sometimes talking to someone was a bad idea, as you are a wanted person or something like that. They can also have a whole side quest for you. Some you find may fight for you in an automatic way (you cannot control them yourself, but they fight for you on their own.)

Sound Effects  Bloops and bleeps lack substance. While the death sound effect may only be a few notes long, there is a long of uniqueness possible. There are sounds possible which can be very fitting. Ninja Gaiden 2 (NES) did an excellent job with it. In 2D Final Fantasy games you can hear the clanging of certain weapons and the glass like sound from wands, as I can best describe it. Weapons have different sounds and it adds a lot to the games. So if it is a swoosh, a blast, a cast, a stumble, a toss, a snap, or a crack, then come up with the best way to hear them. It can be annoying though if every little thing you do has a voice to it. Such as every time you jump “whoo hoo!” and every time you get an item “just what I needed!”

Special Conditions/ Conditional Things Some vehicles only let you traverse in certain ways. A hover boat goes over marsh, a boat goes over water, an airship however lets you go anywhere. Some access to the game is limited by what tools or abilities you’ve gained. Some things can only be gotten with a certain amount of health or a number of special items gained (the four crystals or whatever.) A weapon may give you a greater attack when you are at full health, such as energy coming out of your sword. In some games with a certain amount on your timer and with a certain amount of coins gained as well, then a special thing occurs. Sometimes your weapons break after so many uses. Sometimes they have to be polished. Sometimes blades go dull in a video game. Then sometimes you have to prove yourself in order to begin your quest.

Get four special coins for a bonus room. Get to the exit which is harder to get to to get one. Arrows are great but are limited, unless the game lets you pick them back up. You might even take the arrows that hit your shield. A boomerang however comes back to you, so is not lost. Some power ups are limited by how many powerup points you have. Spells depend on MP. If you want a mega shot then you can throw your weapon at the enemy (usually an RPG thing.)

You may only be able to travel in the deep cold with some kind of special suit. It may be that you must warm yourself by a fire on the way there. You might only be able to get into a certain place at a certain time. Bad things can happen at night. On a full moon or a red moon different things may happen.

In Final Fantasy 8 you can spot a UFO in different areas. Once you have seen them in all of the areas you go to Grandidi Forest. Land your airship on top of a canyon near there. Then wander around until the UFO appears. Destroy the UFO. Fly over to the crater where Balamb Gardens used to be. Wander around until you find PuPu. Fight PuPu and you will get the PuPu card.

Special Effects If a programmer really tried, then they could make a superb game. They’d pull every programming trick they can to make it so. So much can stand out like a sore thumb. In effect you could have a beautiful painting basically which has an ugly smear in the middle. Pac Man on the Atari 2600 was unacceptably bad. I remember feeling that way as a little boy. The first thing I thought was “this is unacceptable.” A person recently decided to make the game better. He even used the same amount of space for the game (a mere 8KB.) He made a great game with what he did, too.

There are in fact many examples of this. People go in to improve the sound, the graphics, the translation, and everything else. In the end they make a game that would have been grade A instead of a D or an F.

Parallax scrolling creates a 3D look by making backgrounds move at different speeds. Sprite scrolling can make a 3D effect. A cart can be enhanced to do more. Such as the FX chip and Star Fox (SNES) or Virtua Racing for the Sega Genesis.

Special Hardware  Dragon’s Lair used a laser disk. The Vectrex used vector graphics (lines instead of pixels.) The Game And Watch used LCD (calculator) graphics. The Virtual Boy had 3D technology using mirrors and things. Some games used 3D glasses. Some used VHS tech for games. There was a time when CDs were an all new thing. Floppy disks have been used, carts, even cassette tapes have been used.

In the earliest days there was the Odyssey and TV overlays. They were screens you placed on the TV to enhance the graphics. Motion sensors have been used, touch pads too, light guns, cameras, guitar peripherals (guitar hero), mouse pads, even sonar, musical keyboards, and sewing machines have been attached to consoles/ the Gameboy. The Gameboy in fact has the strangest among them. There were these beefy attachments for the gameboy that provided light, a magnifying lens, and sometimes all new buttons to place over the regular ones. There are primitive motion sensing products such as the power glove and the Sega Activator. There was the ground pad, the “powerpad.”

Some people just wanted an arcade stick for their games, so there was the NES Advantage. There was actually a controller that could be twisted in the center, made for racing games, and a lot of people actually like using it. Some carts have motion sensors within them. Some have rumble built in. Some old carts take your handheld and let it go online. There was the so-called Sega “tower of power,” you take a Genesis and add the CD add-on, the 32x as a new cart, and the result was this bulky thing. Sonic and Knuckles let you attach one game cart to another. Then there was the Game Genie and the Game Shark. They reprogramed the games in certain ways. Turbografx 16 had Hue Cards which were not much larger than a credit card.

Then there are modern mods for old systems. They let you use HDMI instead of older connections. They give light to a game boy screen. They let you attach SD cards with ROMs on them. They just improve its tech and appearance.

Various kinds of LCD games have come about and some ideas are more fitting for the technology than the others. There was Game and Watch and actual game watches as well. Game and Watch was re-released with a real screen on them. One included Mario games and another contained Zelda games taken from the NES and Gameboy.

There are clone systems, flash carts, and emulator systems out there. There are “classic” systems with licensed games. So with what might have been $50 per game when they were first out, and the system itself perhaps $200, and with 20 games that comes out to $1,200.. Might cost $100. Not to mention the space saved. Things like Pac Man used to take large circuit boards. Now the file size is trivial, to say the least.

The future of hardware contains things like VR gaming, augmented reality, smart glasses, streaming games, and all digital games. There will always be people doing their own thing though. The Atari 2600 is being re-released again, actual cart port and everything. Retro gaming is alive and well. There will always be players wanting to do one thing and other players theirs.

Special Locations Places  that “stand out.” Final Fantasy 8 had a whole city appear out of nowhere. It was invisible up until a certain point in the game. It was a highly futuristic city, one whose technology went far beyond the rest of the cities in the game. Final Fantasy 6 had Zozo. It was a city that always had rain coming down and was like nighttime there all the time. It was a city where you would face random battles. Strange people and monsters were all around. Super Mario World had the star levels. If you beat all of those then you get the second quest sort of thing. That is, certain enemies are changed into other things. Final Fantasy 4 sent you to the moon. Zelda: A Link to the Past, sent you to the Dark World. After Mega Man beats the eight robot masters he is taken to Wily’s Fortress. The last track of Mario Kart is the dazzling Rainbow Road. Final Fantasy 7 has the Gold Saucer. Final Fantasy 10 had its Spring Scene. While Tidus was at a spring with Yuna they romantically connected with the song “Suteki Da Ne” playing.

Speed In a game where you can choose one of a few characters, the trait of one of them might be being faster. One vehicle in a racing game might be the fastest, at the cost of being more difficult to handle, to balance things out. In Final Fantasy 6 you get the “sprint shoes” which let you walk much quicker. You still get the same amount of random battles as it turns out, however. Link gets the dash boots. You can get by much faster on a horse. Doesn’t have to be a horse, can be all kinds of beasts, or vehicles in the game. Some games give you cars. In a racing game there is the triangle you go over that boosts your speed. There are limited amounts of “nitro” you may have. The mushroom in Super Mario Kart makes you faster. In a fighting game one character may be the fastest. Samus Aran is very fast with a certain suit powerup. She gains so much speed that she can blast through things. Speed in an RPG game means your turn comes up faster. As a status thing to increase that happens. Or you can cast “haste” on yourself. Some games may give you a train. Some let you rent cars. Some give you airships or spaceships that make things so much faster. Then some games let you run when you hold down a certain button. In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, you roll forward. In any case, gamers want things to be faster instead of walking.

Spells Traditionally there are black and white magic spells. Final Fantasy 6 included “gray” magic, or, “effect” magic. It alluded to gray with a gray dot. White had a white dot, black a black dot, “effect” had a gray one. Red Mages can cast both white and black magic. Sometimes you learn new spells as you level up. No more needs to be done. At a certain level you get a certain spell. Sometimes you buy the spell, such as in the form of a scroll. In Final Fantasy 8  you drew out spells, taking them right from enemies who would cast them. Final Fantasy 7 had you finding Materia. Final Fantasy 6 had you finding espers. As such they can come from anywhere: an NPC, from a treasure chest, purchased, dug up, even from an auction house. Then some spells are learned in a sort of branching out system where you can determine the route. You can work your way towards one spell over another. They all cost “AP points” ; those points get you further along.

In a beat-em-up such as Golden Axe, you might choose a wizard or sorceress character to fight as. Usually the case goes that they can hit at a distance but are weak with swords and weak in general. They take more damage when hit compared to a warrior. These games usually give you a mega spell after you’ve collected a certain amount of points or something else.

In an adventure game you might have the spell to temporarily increase your defense, increase offense, or heal yourself. You might be able to turn into a fairy and get around easier, as long as your magic lasts. You can get a super jump spell. You might learn them from sages. A sage might cast a spell on you theirself. You might pay money for that. You could do quake-like attacks with a spell or a fiery attack with one, damaging all enemies on the screen. You could use magic to set lanterns on fire. You can cast magic with a fire, wind, or ice wand.

In a Metroidvania game you can take an enemy’s power and abilities, some of which is magic. Some of it involves summoning. For example after you beat a fairy a number of times you learn the ability to call on them. You might summon weapons as well such as large swords that move all around the screen. Then some is just fire and ice stuff (a more traditional kind of spell.) Some of it involves enhancing the way you move around or get through things. If an enemy can move a certain way you might learn that from it. You can get things like double jumps and wall climbing. Sometimes you might collect pieces you put together, and when brought together they become a magical item.

Here are a list of spells: cure (and cure 2 and cure 3), life, life 2 restores life plus all HP, Life 3 might preemptively bring back to life, poison, healing status ailment spells such as curing poison or blindness, elemental spells such as fire, water, earth, and air, lighting spells, drain (take away an enemies HP), bio– a biological sort of spell, petrification (turns enemies into stones), death– automatic death, when you can get it to work, Holy (or the one attack spell that a white mage can cast), things like “flare” go beyond just a fire spell, banish– send your enemy into another dimension, meteor, quake, tornado, flood, scan– learn an enemies hp, mp, and weakness, slow, haste, rasp– take an enemies MP, protect and shell (one raises defense against physical attack and the other against magic), sleep– put your enemies to sleep, confuse– make your enemy act erratically, stop– cause the enemy to be on pause, berserk– make your enemy go crazy, float– has you float which is good defense against an earthquake attack, imp– turn your enemy into a little monster, toad– to a toad, zombie, a zombie, reflect– all spells return to their sender, vanish– make it harder for the enemy to hit you, escape for escaping a battle or an area, Regen– gradually increase HP (and one for MP), Blind and Silience– make your enemies unable to physically attack or cast spells, double– cast it and now you can cast two spells at once, triple, for three, and then spells can be mixed into one such as a spell that casts blind and silence at the same time. Taken from Final Fantasy.

And then there is summon magic and blue magic. Blue magic takes an enemies powers and abilities to take as your own and sometimes involves calling on that monster to help you after you’ve captured it. Sometimes in RPG games certain characters are the only ones able to use certain kinds of magic. Like Mog with his “dance” magic, they have a sort of style behind them and their spells are learned in ways different from other characters.

Spirits and Ghosts Once Link gets past the Lost Woods in his first game, he finds a graveyard with a ghost there. If he bumps into tombs, then more come out. He could have twenty on screen. The only way to kill them is by killing the first ghost. After that they are all killed at once and many of them turn into coins. In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Link went after ghosts (called Poe) with his bow and arrow. By getting all ten he gets a useful bottle. The Shy Ghost in Super Mario games will only chase you when you are not looking at it. Pac Man had ghosts! In the phantom train of Final Fantasy 6 you walked around a train full of ghosts, some that would fight you, some that would sell you things, and some that would join your party temporarily. They had a “possess” attack which could knock down enemies in one turn. Ghostbusters was a video game– more than just once. Luigi’s Mansion (Gamecube) basically did the same thing. Locke brought his loved one back with a phoenix stone and she told him “let the past go.”

Start of the Game/ Title Screen Some are called “doesn’t hold you hand” games. You got to learn things on your own in those games. The original Legend of Zelda is a good example. “Take this and look around,” with little hints to be found as to what to do, where to go, what to get, and so on. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to that Past has a great opening. It starts in the rain with the princess calling you from a dungeon. Final Fantasy games always have great openings. From Cecil on the Airship, the music video of Final Fantasy 10-2, or the highly abstract cinematic imagery of Final Fantasy 8. In Dragon Quest there were characters going after an evil being and once they got to him he sent them away. They woke up in a bed not remembering any of it. Super Metroid shows some gruesome occurrences in the title screen. The music fit the screen. Mega Man games had some nice cinematic openings. The first level in the original Mario Bros game is known to serve perfectly as a tutorial. Yet it has no words or directions for you. Sometimes a title screen gives you a good example of how to play. Like seeing Mario doing different things in the title screen.

A lesser known example is from Ys 3: Wanderers From Ys (SNES) and seeing is believing. It’s a great opening. Mario 64 lets you warp Mario’s face with the controller. Mario Paint lets you mess around with the words “Mario Paint” on the title screen. Hitting each letter causes certain things to happen. Super Mario RPG had a nice opening to it. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, had a good opening to it. The music that went with it took that further. The whole thing was dream-like. Castlevania 3: Dracula’s Curse, had a film rolling like it came from a classic monster movie (which certainly it is about the classic monsters found in them.)

Stats (RPG) Here are a list of stats: Strength (increases damage done by physical attacks), Agility (increases things like a special attack meter more quickly), Stamina (greater defense against things like death attacks), Magic (increases the power of your spells), Attack (increases weapon damage), Defense (raises defense), Evasion (less likely to be hit), Magic Defense (greater defense against magic), Magic Evasion (more likely to not be hit from a spell), Speed (your actions are quicker or your turn comes up quicker), Luck (you are more likely to hit a hard hit.)

Stealing Stealing is an easy way to get something like a potion. In most games you may easily get small things but the rarer and better items/ weapons have a low “drop rate.” Thief is a popular job class. Their gear contains things like “mug.” That lets you attack and steal at the same time. There was a whole game about stealing called “Thief.” In The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, you can steal something from the shop. Beware though, because the next time you return to the store the shopkeeper has a fatal lightning bolt for you. A Link to the Past had enemy people who dashed into you and made you drop things like money and arrows, which he took. Gannon is known as “The King of Thieves.” Zelda games in fact are centered around thieves. Sometimes you are only stealing from enemies who would abuse the power gotten from a powerful thing they own. Sometimes they are after what you have. While games don’t count it as stealing, you are basically stealing when you enter into homes and ransack them for what they have. In a Kart racer you might find a powerup that lets you take another’s powerup.

Story The  “Hero’s Journey” is a template that can be found online which describes what most heroic journeys are like. A good story requires a good narrative hand. A knowledge of plot design goes much further than from the hand of the uneducated. Good stories are made up of clearly defined characters, interesting characters, characters you want to be. Their journey should mean something important for the player. The player might find the character relatable. A good story is emotionally stirring. The player should desire to become stronger. They should have a feeling they are evolving and things are worth doing. There can be exciting plot twists. There can be sad parts to the story as well as parts that evoke other emotions. They may contain romance in them. The story should not be confusing. It should not be more drawn out than it needs to be. It should not be boring. Too much elaborated on and an endless feeling to it is too much. Every character should have their own personality and to some degree, their own motives. Those can change over time, however, as the character evolves.

Then there are games that simply need no story, certainly not a deep one anyway.

Store Merchants can be placed anywhere. They can be along the way in an open world. They can be in the middle of a level in a platforming game. They can be in a hidden area in an adventure game. They can simply be in shops. They can be without a merchant, just allowing you to buy things in between levels. Some games only sell you three different things throughout the game. Such as in Gremlins 2 (NES) where Mr. Wing only sells health potion, a balloon, or an extra life. (The balloon picks you back up from a pit you fall into.) Some shops only let you buy one thing at a time. It makes you have to use it before you can buy another. Then some games have larger inventories, but still limited ones. Stores in an RPG game have better and better gear from town to town. You can sell what you no longer need. They are separated based on what they sell. One for weapons, armor, items, and some more specialized stuff such as things of magic (you can buy new spells or magic accessories.) Some stores only let you rent out things. Once you die, they automatically return to the store. That occurred in The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds.

Some stores sell services. They may bring a person in your party back to life, let you rent a vehicle whether it's a horse, beast, or car. In Dragon Quest there was a lottery system. You gained lottery tickets in the game and tried your luck at winning something. Some shops only sell you things after you’ve helped them get what they need. So you bring them a mushroom or something and they make potions from it which you can now buy. Some shops cook for you. Some combine things you have found into a weapon, item, or something else. The graphics for the shop can be an image of the shopkeeper as a portrait facing you. That can be the upper body or whole body. Some games show the shopkeeper in a sideways fashion.. Kid Icarus (NES)  jumps up towards the one he wants to buy. Some shop items come in lists. Some are just a cursor as they are so simple.

Strange Enemies (like walking bombs or walking candles and twomps.)  They make a wonderful world. Final Fantasy has Cactuar, the cactus that attacks you with 1,000 needles. They have Tonberry, who sneaks closer and closer towards you with a knife. An eggplant in Kid Icarus turns Pit  into an eggplant. Mortal Kombat had Goro. Mario had: Lakitu, the shy guy, the shy ghost, the goomba, bullet bill, the piranha plant, and Bowser, the turtle dragon. Zelda had the Poe, the Octorok, and Skulltula. Final Fantasy had the Marlboro, the hell house (which was literally fighting against a house in a random battle), Humbaba/ Phunbaba from Final Fantasy 6 was a strange demon in the game. It was in fact based on an actual demon in Mesopotamian mythology. In Final Fantasy 4 every single enemy boss was strange, and in such a good way.

Metroidvania often has such strange enemies that they seem like they’d come out of the worst nightmare, such as in the Switch game Blasphemous. Metroid’s Mother Brain, the large brain in glass, was one awesome idea. The game series “Little Nightmares” is loaded with very creepy and strange enemies. Out of Street Fighter you might call Blanka the strangest one among them. Then there is Pyramid Head from the Silent Hill series. Super Ghouls And Ghosts has plenty of strange enemies. With all that’s been listed here you can see that they are all distinct and recognizable from where they are from, and not elsewhere. The game maker has a lot of liberty to dive right into their imagination in making the strangest things possible.

Strange Games

* = a little strange, ** = medium strange, and *** = very strange.

The whole game ***The Uninvited (NES) is a strange one. **The Immortal (Genesis and others) was strange too. Other games in the strange list are: *Altered Beast, *Drakhen, ***Seaman (possibly the strangest on the list), the fighting game *Ballz, the fighting game ***Sausage Legend, ***Little Nightmares, *Earthworm Jim, *Bart’s Nightmare, *Fester’s Quest, **Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, **Clock Tower, *Ecco The Dolphin, **Dragon’s Revenge (pinball game set in hell.) **Devil’s Crush is another strange pinball game, *ToeJam and Earl, **Night Trap, *Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

Strategy Sometimes it is just about learning enemy AI. In a fighting game it is pulling off combos or finding that thing that always leaves the other player vulnerable. The good player will always choose their fighter after the other player does, as they know who works best against that one. In an RPG or action RPG it is about grinding. Beating the boss may seem hopeless but with enough grinding the player can do it. It also involves finding the enemy’s weaknesses. That might mean trying everything on the enemy. There could be one attack that works well on it but is just about useless everywhere else in the game. The player may have the chance to manipulate stats in different ways by what they equip and take. The enemy may have a counterattack to a certain attack you lay on them, and as such is better off unused. Some RPGs give you a grid like system that incorporates strategy based on how you move about.

In a racing game it could be about drifting around corners. It might be about using a powerup at just the right time. It could be about buying the right upgrades. It could be in the choice of vehicles.

In an adventure game the gamer must keep an eye on the whole screen. It is all largely about how you maneuver. It is about finding the right weapon and using it the best way you can. Some enemies are more vulnerable to certain things. A bomb might take them out in one hit while the sword takes several hits. You need the bottles and the potions, you need an increase in inventory, and those things don’t come free. Your experience becomes your strategy.

Sometimes the best strategy is in mastering the game’s mechanics. Sometimes it is learning patterns. Sometimes it just takes experience. Games like Super Mario World were hacked into the most difficult games one could possibly put together, and yet people are able to beat them.

Structures You might have a large tower. In a platformer game you would go around and around and higher and higher. In an RPG you might find random battles as you go upward. Then there are rooms along the way, some of which have treasure. When you reach the top you fight an enemy and get the treasure of the tower. Then you might have the player jump from tower to tower in order to get to the top. Just going up one of them can’t be done because in one tower the way is blocked off. So you go higher on the second then leap back to the first. The tower can be a clock tower, a popular thing for Metroidvania games.

The structure can be a temple. Maybe the ghost of a priest is there or something. In older RPG games you knew where kingdoms were by the shape of a little castle. A 2D game can have you on a wall with different doorways. A whole town can be that way as in Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest. With Zelda 2 that was a little less so but you could get a jumping ability that let you get into homes you could not otherwise enter. In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, you climbed up large towers in order to get access to an area map. You slowly crawled up them, resting a moment along the way, and sometimes had to burn down thorny vines before you could climb them. Some games have an “escape through the roofs” element to them. That is, you go from roof to roof so you are not seen. Final Fantasy games sometimes have tall prison structures. First you get lucky in escaping and then you have to sneak out. You might find your weapons and go from there, and get access to the elevator from a certain room.

Styles of Graphics There are the older ones: pixel based, LCD based, vector based, and  laser disk based. To help the pixel based graphics there was sprite scrolling. Sometimes there were pre-rendered graphics within pixel graphic games. There was parallax scrolling for a 3D look. Some games used real-video graphics. Then came polygons. Cell shading became a thing. The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker was detested in its time over being cell shaded. So the next Zelda game was intentionally made realistic. However, Wind Waker aged well and people appreciate it much more than they initially did. In fact it is remembered more fondly than Twilight Princess. Different philosophies came up, if you will. Realism was being realistic. Things might be made to look hand painted. They may decide on cartoon-like graphics (such as Cup Head.) Fantasy Realism is when things are realistic, only within the confines of fantasy. So in other words in a fantasy world those graphics would be real to them. There is the 2.5D style which is part 3D and part 2D. And monochromatic games are games that are in black and white. There are lots of unique styles. Paper Mario makes everything look like it was made of paper. Yoshi’s Woolly World made the graphics yarn like. Some games do not graphically fit in with their genre. Such as a “cute-em-up.” It is not a space shooter so much as it is a shooter in candy land.

There is the isometric which is played diagonally. Side view, overhead view, first person, third person, or a mix of them.

Suits  Suits can raise your defense. That can be as simple as a color change. Red gives you greater defense than green. Or it can be more elaborate, such as armor. The greatest suit in all gaming must be the power suit (the suit of Samus Aran) in Metroid. First she has an arm cannon gun. You get greater missiles for it. You get different sorts of shots for it such as: a freezing shot, the wave beam, the plasma beam, the hyper beam, the spazer  beam, and the charge beam. Later on her suit becomes so defensive that she can travel through lava. Then she gets things like double jumps and the ability to roll into a ball.

Mega Man has a nice suit as well, or more like nine of them. 8 from robot masters, and his original one. So everytime he beats an enemy he gets their suit and their suit each has a special sort of weapon. You could have things rotate around you making you invincible so long as you have “suit energy.” Your “bullet” may go out like a snake. You might have gravity power over things. You could attach a bomb to certain things. There is also the drill bomb. You might have a large and fast ring that acts like a boomerang. You could just have a large and powerful saw. You can stop time with certain weapons. You can send down damaging rain. There are weapons that hones in on enemies.

In Final Fantasy 6, Locke stole suits from guards that were keeping him from getting around and escaping. They looked embarrassed when you took them, and off you went with none the wiser. The game may let you have different kinds of suits for appearance purposes only. Then those with purpose might come in different styles too. You can get one armor that does the same thing as another, only one of them looks better to you. You can find a tailor in the game sometimes, who has lots of clothes to change into. Sometimes you have a larger part in creating the clothes yourself. Sometimes they are just there as a gimmick. Such as having a retro gaming shirt in a video game that has nothing to do with the game you are in.

Summons  You could say that Pokemon is a game of summoning things. The game is mostly built around capturing monsters and things and summoning them. It might not be a magical kind of summoning. More like throwing a ball to do so and saying “(    ) I choose you!” But it is still the same thing. Final Fantasy builds its summons largely around things in old myths… from every culture you can imagine. Sometimes though that is more abstract, such as “Alexander.” Some of them are all new ideas such as “brothers” in Final Fantasy 8. Sometimes they are called summons, sometimes they are called Guardian Forces. They have been called different things from game to game, such as “espers” or “ aeons .” They are the graphically impressive part of the game whether they provided slick graphics in the older games, more cinematic ones starting with the Playstation, or at least made gigantic in size in more recent outings.

In some RPG games it is a part of the Blue Mage job class or the “Summoner” job class. In some cases you can capture an enemy in an RPG game and call on it later. It then appears to fight for you instead of fighting you. If you do not literally make the enemy appear you can instead use its power. So if it has a special fire attack then you can use that. Sometimes you get a summon after beating them in a fight. Sometimes they come in stones that are dispersed throughout the game and are even found in an auction house. In older RPG games you might be able to buy them at a store. In Final Fantasy 6 some espers knew you were on their side so for the sake of their race and the world itself, they turned themselves into stones. Something that could only be done by sacrificing their lives. The only way to fully give you their power.

Swimming/ Underwater Stuff In some games you can breathe all you want underwater. In some you have limited breathing. Then in some, just by touching any body of water, you die. The conditional breathing can be from a meter, once it runs out you drown. It could be from getting one bubble after another as in Sonic The Hedgehog. It might mean you need an underwater apparatus. That can be as simple as a mask or as large as a submarine.

In Donkey Kong Country you can ride on a swordfish. It can dash forward and poke enemies. In Super Mario Bros 3 there is the frog suit that gives you much better control over swimming. In Super Mario Land you can ride a submarine. Another platformer, Mega Man 4, has the same thing. In The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, you get flippers that let you swim. You can even swim under a bridge and find someone resting there who will give you a bottle. In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, you might find some fish and treasure underwater. Link in that game has limits on how long he can be in the water. Wind Waker is just the opposite, as Link spends a large amount of time out on a boat.

In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (NES) you had to turn some switches off while avoiding electrical barriers and plants that string you. In Little Nemo: The Dream Master (NES) you can become a frog, fish, or hermit crab in order to swim. Ecco the Dolphin (Sega Genesis/ Mega Drive) is all about swimming, as you are a dolphin. In that game you can bounce sound off of things, talk to other fish, and use sonar as an attack. In E.V.O.: Search for Eden (SNES) you evolve creatures from the sea. In Sim Earth (SNES) you basically do the same thing. In Final Fantasy 6 you go underwater with a breathing mask. Being 2D the idea worked well enough. You have an opportunity in it to either get treasure while down below or to miss it. Being underwater in the game is temporary. Some RPG games give you a submarine. After all, they give you just about any other vehicle. Final Fantasy has you encounter the great Emerald Weapon underwater, with one great materia gained from winning. In Super Mario World there was an underwater level you went to known as the ghost ship. It took the shipwreck idea, added ghosts, and made a level out of it. Chrono Trigger (SNES) has a whole underwater palace. Then there was the notorious Water Temple from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64.)

In Grand Theft Auto games however, water equals death. More on “water” later.

What is found underwater: squids, octopus, more or less ordinary fish, sharks, dolphins, jellyfish, sting rays, fish with luminescence, whales (Mega Man would have something like a large robot whale), lobsters, shrimp, crabs, turtles, star fish, swordfish, electrical eels, plants that do various things, puffer fish, are some to choose from. Then there are more inventive ones: like Rip Van Fish from Super Mario World. It is seen sleeping with Z’s all around and when you get to close it wakes up and chases you.

Some underwater life chases you, some you have to maneuver around the right way, some move all around, some only move up and down, some swallow you whole, some poke you with a spike or spikes, some you cannot touch, some you can ride.

Underwater things are a popular part of video games.

Switches And Levers They can be used to drain water in order to get to a particular place. They can block and unblock ways to get through. As such they can be tricky. While one switch opens up one place, it blocks another. A switch can activate any given thing. Sometimes it activates things further away. Sometimes it starts a thing back up. It can simply turn lights on. They can turn things in the game on or off.

Switching Between Characters  The Lost Vikings let you switch between three characters as the basis for the game. One viking in the game can do something the others could not. So one by one you get through the levels. One viking might be able to jump higher and flip a switch that can get the rest through, for example. You can switch between turtles in many TMNT games. Each had their own weapon and ability. The same went for The Simpsons (arcade.) In RPG games you can switch between party members typically using four at a time. They may have a meeting place for you if you wish to do so. That could be within a city or on the airship. Sometimes it can be just through the menu. Final Fantasy 6 had a strategic element of switching between characters. They were used to prevent the enemy from reaching a certain area. Those enemies were all over so you had to switch among your characters to fight them off.

Sometimes a platformer lets you choose between different characters. You can do something like choose the high jumping one over the fast one. In the middle of Castlevania 3 (NES) you can choose between Simon or Alucard. Alucard had only one weapon but could turn into a bat and fly. Mega Man can switch between different enemy powers he gained from the robot masters he defeated. Sometimes in Metroidvania games you can become your enemy after beating them so many times. Then in Super Mario Odyssey you can become them by throwing your hat onto their head.

Swords  One  sword or another in the game has to be the most powerful, as it should be. Yet just when you think your sword cannot be any better you find a master black smith or do something like go from the Master Sword to the Golden Sword. In RPG games some swords randomly cast spells. The ragnarok sword gets you the Light Bringer (Final Fantasy 6) after you bet on it in a battle in the arena. Things often evolve with swords and you can see so by name. The first is the “wooden” sword, then you may get copper, then silver, then golden, then diamond, or some such thing. In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, your sword broke. However, there were plenty of new weapons to be found. More accurately, all of them broke except for one: The Master Sword. And what an incentive! In Betrayal at Krondor (PC) you had to polish your sword with a polishing stone.

Link can shoot out a beam with his sword, when he has full health. He has a charging ability for his sword. The player holds down a button and he’ll do a spin attack.

You might have a large sword but it comes at the cost of carrying a shield, as it must be held with two hands. As for using your sword, some games have you stab, others have you slash. In a 2D RPG you just see its animation after you tell your character to use it. The animation is a nice addition however. It is good to actually see that sword you bought. Maybe the game might have a He-Man sort of thing where the sword itself gives the player greater power. Graphically, swords can range widely. There are ninja swords, samurai swords, battle swords, short ones, gladius (Roman), long ones, broadswords, rapiers, sabres, a claymore, scimitar (or other curved blades.) The game might have it where only a Ninja can use a Ninja sword and a Knight his own. Then some inventiveness might be applied such as Cloud’s buster sword or Squall’s gunblade. And anyone can identify the Master Sword by appearance if they know anything about Zelda games.

Taking An Enemy’s Power Pokemon is largely about capturing enemies to use their power against other enemies. Then they gain that enemy to use on yet more. The Blue mage ability in an RPG game allows you to capture and use the power of enemies you find, just the same. It does not have to be confined to a job class in an RPG. Individual characters may have that power right out of the box. Gau from Final Fantasy 6 is one example. Gua was confined to his own continent when it came to gaining enemy abilities.

In Super Mario Odyssey you just throw your hat on any enemy and become it. In Kirby games you swallow enemies to take their power. In Mega Man you get the power of the robot masters once defeated. In some RPG games you beat a summon being then can summon them. Final Fantasy 8 gave you a “cursed lamp” early on. You can open it at any time. When you do you face Diablos. Beat him and you can summon him. Metroidvania games are full of ideas. After you beat an enemy a number of times you can gain their power or call on them for help. Sometimes you can’t keep the enemy's power. You can copy their actions within a battle and that’s it. Sometimes it is not an enemy you take abilities from. In Little Nemo: The Dream Master (NES) you feed any number of beasts to ride and get around on better.

Things Unique, Imaginative, And Influential The whole of the mushroom kingdom (and now with Super Mario Wonder, the Flower Kingdom.) The whole of Hyrule. Zebes  of Metroid, Mega Man where every little thing was robotic, Street Fighter 2 which set the fighting game in motion and defined it, Mortal Kombat as it stood apart so well and took a more “bloodsport” like style, the spooky setting of Silent Hill, Hell on Mars with “Doom,” Wolfenstein for having put forth the FPS games to come, the happenstance of Tetris being made (the first great video game puzzle game), the places of Castlevania, Super Ghouls and Ghosts with its variety of levels and gothic style, the underwater domain of Ecco The Dolphin, Sonic The Hedgehog which was a game that set itself apart from Mario and yet was good, Phantasy Star which held different ideas apart from typical RPGs of the time, Dragon Quest which came to define what a good RPG could be, Ninja Gaiden for its very ninja like/ athletic feel, Zelda for creating the open world adventure game, Resident Evil for having mastered the horror genre of games, Final Fantasy 7 which popularized the RPG in the west, Super Mario 64 which set forth what 3D games should be, Pac Man and Space Invaders which were the first among popular video games. And a few more to mention for uniqueness/ imagination/ influence: Qbert, Donkey Kong, Frogger, Paper Boy, Marble Madness, Pitfall, Bionic Commando, Zelda 2, Earthbound, Mario Kart, Prince of Persia, The Organ Trail, SimCity, and Pokemon.

Clone games are games that are largely the same as another game. They are games that “jumped on the bandwagon.” They end up looking like ugly versions of a better game. Everyone knows they copied something better. Sometimes the new game is even better at least in some ways. The player cannot get past the fact that it comes across as an “ugly cousin.” When a game has established many of their own characters, each lovingly made, and various substances for their games not found elsewhere, they truly have a lot to work with! It will be carried far into the future if they do it the right way.

Things That Have Ruined Games In The Past A game can be entirely good but bad mechanics can ruin the entire thing. If you cannot jump or move around right, if things are “clunky” and proper movement cannot be executed, then the game will fail. Some gamers might use the words “floaty,” “stiff” and “jerky” when defining bad controls. Bad music can take a pleasant game and give it something annoying. Like the music is too simple and repetitive. Or the music is just awful and all over the place. Really bad graphics can ruin a game. If the plot is just childish and uninteresting then that serves the game no good. That was the case in Final Fantasy Mystic Quest: a childish game with juvenile dialogue and gameplay. They wanted to give Americans an RPG that wasn’t too challenging or complex. Sometimes the setting just doesn’t work out. Like taking Mario and putting him in an educational setting (Mario’s Time Machine or Mario is Missing– SNES.) If the game has no depth then it will not be enjoyable for very long. Some of those are “collectathons,” games that include collect-the-coins (or whatever) and not much else. Games that were influenced by Super Mario Bros did all they could to do the same thing better. Compared to Super Mario Bros 3, they were way off mark. What they made was shallow compared to what would become of Mario in Super Mario Bros 3. They wanted to be that thing but fell far short.

The Video Game Crash A rushed game can ruin it. In 1983 games were a dime a dozen. People just rapidly made games with no quality control. That led to the infamous video game crash of 1983. A once strong market fell flat. Nintendo had to sneak in presenting their product more like a VCR entertainment center sort of thing, avoiding the label of a video game console. They presented it more as a toy with “Rob the Robot.” They set up some standards and rules for anyone making games on their console. They limited how many games could be made for the NES in any given year. Therefore game makers were forced into taking more time on their games.

Then lack of quality can make a game fail. Just the fact that it is mediocre will limit people from buying and playing it or even remembering it.

Things to Find Along the way you might find precious stones and gems. When you get to the river you might find fish to eat. Along the way you might find a treasure chest. You can find trees of nice fruit. You can hunt beasts and things that fly to eat their meat. You might find a camp of monsters, defeat them, and take their loot. You may find weapons, items, armor, and magic things in the different places you go. You find various kinds of monsters depending on where you are. You may come across a place to rest and restore energy or something like a pong with hearing water. You find all kinds of NPC’s within town or out in the middle of nowhere. Sometimes people may have a home out in the middle of nowhere.

Certain things you find may be especially helpful. They may increase your overall energy or give you a power that up until then was unimaginable. You can take things from enemies you encounter. You might find a new party member or character whether in a platformer, RPG, or otherwise. You may find a tool used to find yet more things, things you could not reach before. You can find an area with a potent gun and armor. You could find the bonus area in a platformer. One might have a special suit somewhere hidden. There is a secret exit to be found. You might find things in pieces which can be brought into new things. A certain person in the game can bring it all together into a weapon or something else. Then like in Dragon Quest 11 you got a portable machine that does that for you. In Final Fantasy 8 you found specialized cards and magazines. In some games you find pieces of spell books. There are special coins to find which bring you a bonus area when you have gotten, say, all four.

Throwing Shurikens are perfect for throwing. Boomerangs are good for throwing too. So are daggers, swords for a special attack, spears, tridents, sling shots, fireballs, bouncy balls, ice balls, bombs, enemies you pick up, plants you pick up, bottles, pottery, potions, holy water in a bottle, bricks, wands throw magic, “Gil Toss” in Final Fantasy turns your money into a weapon.

Time (slowing, pausing, limit, countdown, and time travel) There is the Time Mage job class in certain RPG games and there is a lot to work with there. Along with slowing down, making faster, reversing time, and stopping time, they can also warp time and affect gravity. Some spells do those things: slow down enemies or stop them and speed yourself up. Some games give you a get-out quick thing because when the timer reaches zero the entire place will be blown to pieces. Then some games just give you a time limit in different ways. That is as simple as a game over when the time runs out. In some cases you can choose your time limit and the lower you choose the greater the reward when your thing is accomplished (you have a set amount of time as chosen by you to finish a task.) You might be going into a large home to get someone out but there are fire enemies slowing you down. You have a limited time to get her or him out before the home burns down completely. Or you might be trying to get to someplace before another does. If he, she, or it gets there first then you’ll have lost.

Some games have a time travel component to them. Two good examples are Chrono Trigger and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time. It can be set up as such that the past you go into affects the future. It can be that you are just going back and forth in time giving you levels that range from a place of dinosaurs to a futuristic place.

Then games have a night and dark cycle in them. Some even go from season to season. At nighttime the spooks come out. People have their doors closed. But it may give you an opportunity to fight better monsters, more rewarding ones. A game as well can have certain celebrations during certain times of the year. Games like Harvest Moon and Stardew Valley are largely based on seasons.  

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask gives you a limited amount of time to change  the  future by going back and forth in time. If you fail then a monster moon will come down and destroy everything.

Title Screens Some games have the current area you are in in the title screen of the game. So if you are in a certain town then that will show in the title screen. Some games have a bit of cinematics at the title screen. Final Fantasy 6 led you from the title screen into the game. You watched the cinematics on the title screen then the game gave you control. Mario Paint lets you fool around with the words “Mario Paint.” Mario 64 lets you warp Mario’s face in a new (at the time) 3D way. Mega Man and Ninja Gaiden games on the NES had some nice cinematics on the title screen. Sometimes a game has a full orchestra with excellent graphics on the title screen. Castlevania 3: Dracula's Curse, had the effect of film rolling as though the whole thing is a classic monster movie. Some games show you what your character can do, as a small tutorial, as in Super Mario World. Super Metroid had an ominous title screen with all the scientists in a lab having been slaughtered. The Legend of Zeda: Ocarina of Time had an excellent title screen. “Like a dream” with perfectly suitable music. The original Legend of Zelda gave you the best information. It showed every special item and weapon to be found in the game. The player then knew what they found and what they lacked. Donkey Kong Country showed an old ape playing an old record. Then the younger ape came down with a boombox and the game let you know that this game was new, not the old Donkey Kong.

Tools Tools can do much more than can be mentioned here, but here are some fun and popular ideas: the hookshot takes you from one spot to another by pulling you in. The hammer can bust things apart. Gloves that let you lift heavy things. A bracelet that lets you lift things you cannot otherwise (and does not have to be because it is heavy.) Flippers or devices used to swim/ go underwater. A bottle, wallet, bags, or pouch. A net to catch bugs or fish. A shovel to dig. A fishing pole. A flute (for transport, to wake sleeping things, or for other uses.) Boots that enhance how you walk (stop you from floating, makes you float, or lets you move faster.) Boots might also let you traverse poisonous marsh and sand (Crystalis– NES.) A gas mask in Crystalis lets you enter gaseous areas. A tool that lets you know where nearby things are (by playing a sound.) The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has the hang glider which is fun to use. Then there are certain tools that let you see things in different ways. Some may reveal hidden passageways such as Samus Aran with her X-ray ability. Those would be for adventure games.

In a platforming game there is the flute that sends you to a “far away land.” There is a hammer you can use to access an area on the world map which is blocked off. That’s so in Super Mario Bros 3 and Zelda 2. In Faxanadu (NES) there was the Mattock which broke down walls. There is a potion you drop to reveal a door to another dimension. There is a watch that stops time. That can also be an hourglass. There is a balloon to buy which saves you from a fall into a pit, should that happen. Bionic Commando doesn’t jump. He uses a grappling hook. The Simpsons: Bart Vs The Space Mutants (NES) Bart has spray paint and he must paint aliens and alien things with it as the gimmick for the game. Mega Man has his robotic dog rush to help him, whether for jumping higher or flying around.

Final Fantasy 6 had a character with the special ability of using tools, from the bio blaster to the chainsaw. He had: the auto crossbow, noiseblaster, bioblaster, flash, drill, chainsaw, Debilitator, and Air Anchor (instant kill against certain enemies.) Dragon Quest 11 gave you a machine that lets you combine different items into certain things. A glove might increase attack power. A thief bracelet can make stealing easier.

Among the best relics in Final Fantasy 6 are: A growth egg that doubles the experience points you receive. Those that prevent ailment effects such as poison and petrification. Auto cast regen, or shell, or protect. Casts float on any who wear it. One that auto casts “shell” when you are low on HP. Make counter attacks happen. One that changes the steal command to mug. Reduces MP cost to 1. Boosts maximum HP by 50%. Same with MP. Changes the attack command to jump. Increases the chances of a preemptive attack. Can now hold a weapon in both hands. Attack four times per turn. Every character can equip any armor. Stop all random battles. Cast “reflect” on its wearer (all magic will be sent back to its sender.) A physical attack never misses. Cast two spells at once. Increase chances of stealing. Restore HP with every step taken. They have always brought fun and strategy to the game.

Transforming The Environment/ Area And Environmental Transformation Some games have weather patterns that can be quite complex. There are raging storms at times, snow storms too, and hard weather in some games. In a more simple way a platformer may have windy areas. Levels can be based on things from desert to snow. Some games may require you to wear a coat or something when you are in cold areas. The same can be said of hot areas such as volcanic ones. There can be a blood moon which changes things in the game. There can be lightning to avoid. Rain might make it difficult to climb. Fog can make it difficult to pass through an area. In the cold you find thick coat enemies and beasts. In the desert you find things like scorpions.

The whole game world itself can change whether you slipped into a bad alternate dimension or you survived a great destruction of everything and must start over. In Final Fantasy 4 there is a time when you drop a coal into a well and a hole opens in the world. You can enter down into it with your airship and find a race of dwarves there. In Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts the terrain changes as you move along. For example, hills form while you go forward.

Trial And Error  Granted the gamer just doesn’t just look up the solution to something online, a gamer can spend days, weeks, or more trying to figure it out on their own. When I was playing Final Fantasy 8 for the first time in the year 2000, I got badly stuck. The internet was around but not altogether common yet. So I went to the mall which was miles away. When I got there I found a Final Fantasy 8 strategy guide, peaked in, learned what I needed to do, and went home. Compare that to the three minutes I may have spent looking it up on my phone. Game makers can make puzzles but they’ve become like a puzzle book that has all of the answers in the back (within one’s reach.)

Adventure games have you using everything on everything. Sometimes they allude to what you need to do. It is good to have one hint or another. It is good to have some indication of what you need to do. The original Legend of Zelda showed you what kind of things you can find in the game and that was a lot of help. They’d show things like cracks in a wall letting you know you can bomb them. There is a pointless pond out in the middle of nowhere so you play your flute and something finally happens. You see a bush, you have a candle, why not try burning them?

Point and click games are more trial and error than anything else. You can’t go into the rooms nearest to you without having tried every last thing. Such was the case in the NES game “The Uninvited.” Which is a quickly beaten game if you know what you are doing. If you do not, then you can expect to be playing it for five hours or more non stop.

In an RPG game trial and error is about finding your enemy’s weakness. One spell could be a complete dud over all yet be just what you need against a particular enemy. There is some strategy involved while trying to find the right mix of attacks and self helping spells. Thieves are a really hit and miss thing. You might get something great after trying again and again. Or you might just get a small potion and that’s it.

The game may have you set up a series of events the right way. Instead of getting through something easily the game has you go step by step in a strict order of actions. So not until you find this thing and give it to that person who gives you a code to give to someone else, who lets you pass through, and so on, when the thing you gave him was just a bottle on some table. Sometimes you have to talk to just the right person. Sometimes you have to have a particular item in your inventory before that person will even talk to you. Sometimes it is putting a random thing on another random thing or inside it. Sometimes the corridor is a bit confusing or hidden in some way.  

Transforming and evolving RPGs are always fair enough. You can always level up more to make your chances of winning greater. Lots of players will go the extra mile too, grinding for hours at a time. It increases your stats, it gives you money for better equipment, and sometimes gives you points to learn magic spells with (and in some RPGs you get new spells as you level up.) Then there are the more difficult to find weapons and armor that comes from things like treasure chests and beating certain enemies.

As far as you get in a game you can get more and more powers and abilities. They say that good classical music starts with a few instruments and adds more and more as the music goes on. The same can be said of games. The further you go along the more you get. By the end of a Metroid game the suit of Samus is fully loaded. A feeling of freedom comes with that, like going from unable to able. In Mega Man he will have gained eight new attacks. In Mario games he might reach a point where he can get a special suit only found once or twice in the game. In Zelda, Link will have a nice assortment of weapons and tools by the end. It can be said for many games: the NES Willow, Faxanadu, Crystalis, Battle of Olympus, all give you better things as the game goes forward.

The game may save the best for the last. Like in Final Fantasy 6 when the esper stones became available. You only had to equip them. The game then gave you AP points. You gain spells according to those points, specific spells from specific espers. Suddenly you had something great to look for in the game. Those things could be anywhere, even in an auction house. You know you got the best spell  you can get when you get the Ultima spell, at least in most games in the franchise.

Then evolving in the game can be done through the RPG job system. As such you can pick your own talents and direction of abilities and powers gained. Bravely Default has them and they are new among RPG games, currently. A newish franchise called Octopath Traveler also uses job system things. So if you want to be a mage, a knight, a monk, a thief, a merchant, a warrior, a ninja, or a samurai, then you can do so. There are second level job classes too, sometimes. Those are obtained after mastering the first level of the job class, giving the job classes themselves levels.

Transportation and Travel The game can give you greater and greater forms of travel as the game goes on. You might start with a hover boat only able to go over marsh. Then you might be given a boat to go over water. Then an airship takes you to the sky. You might even get a secondary and better airship. That one may even take you to the moon. Then there are horses and beasts to ride on. If the game is being silly it can let you ride on bears. You may put in an all new sort of beast to ride, one not seen on Earth. With horses you get the good ones and the bad ones. You can get fast and strong horses or slow and ugly looking horses. Maybe the game has one horse that is the best of them all, a unicorn or something.

You can rent a car. You can pay for gas and go where you want to in it. You can steal a car in the Grand Theft Auto games. Just take what you want. You want that Lamborghini, then it's yours. You might just take the train in the game. In Final Fantasy 8 the whole party passed out and viewed the lives of some mysterious people through their eyes. Or in Final Fantasy 7 when you were sneaking through on a train with fake IDs. Final Fantasy 8 had a red dragon-like airship with claws. Those claws came in handy at one point. Squall and Rinoa were lost out in space in their space suits, seemingly, when off in the near distance that airship was seen, the Ragnarok.

In simpler games you just get a raft. You quickly pass down a little bit of water to an island. Rafts can be used in more complicated ways. There was a raft ride in Final Fantasy 6. You went down the water in different directions finding the right path at the end of which was the first Ultros fight. Then later in the game Celes woke from a coma. The world was put in ruins by Kefka. She was with her friend Cid there on a small island. She tended to Cid who was dying. She returned to him with some fish. He was dead by then. He left a note for her saying there was a raft downstairs. So she took it and traveled to the nearest continent.

Sometimes there are quickly moving cart levels, as in mine cart levels. Donkey Kong Country has one. Final Fantasy 6 had the same thing but in a Mode 7 style.

The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, had a lot of focus on traveling on boats. You have pirate-like settings in some games. In Final Fantasy 4 you are out in the middle of a sea on a boat when suddenly Leviathan appears. If you are in the air for too long Doom Gaze appears (Final Fantasy 6.) In Final Fantasy 4 there was one Chocobo that could fly. It was a purple Chokobo, apart from the rest. In Final Fantasy 5 you can ride on dragons. Some games let you ride on large birds. With some you sound a flute and a bird appears that takes you to where you want to go. Willow (NES) used an ocarina for that. Later, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, would use the same idea.

In Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (Switch) a person with a horse carriage takes you to the next area. It was a gothic sort of game. He was called The Coachman and he takes you across  “the garden of silence.”

Traps There is the old trope of helping the enemy without knowing it. They know only you can find something you are after so they follow you around. They might even deceive you into helping them by pretending to be the nice guys. In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, there are the people of the Yiga Clan. It is a group trained to serve Ganon and defeat you, the hero of Hyrule. When you come across them they look totally normal. They seem a bit suspicious however, being out in the middle of nowhere. Their dialogue with you seems a bit suspicious too. They allude that they are against you. Then they “spill the beans.” They outright say they’ll destroy you and then they come into their real appearance. Suited as a Yiga with their red suit and strange mask.

Sometimes you think you’ve gotten a treasure but no, a monster comes out of it. At least in some games if you beat that monster you get something nice. The floor can fall out from beneath you. You can get a thing you think is valuable but it’s cursed. In some games you might be on the run and with the least of mistakes you could be discovered. Regardless you end up at some place where they knew you’d be and take you in. Then you have to escape prison. It’s an “I knew what you’d do” sort of thing. Then there is the old idea of taking people hostage to get what you want from them.

Treasure can be: a needed potion, a greater potion harder to find, hidden, gotten after you defeat someone or something, found in a dungeon, found in a tomb, a labyrinth, a forest, a cave, a castle, a town, a house, an abandoned place, an ancient place, a tower, underwater, a book shelf, a pot, a barrel, a person, a swamp, has a weapon, has an item, has armor, has magic, has money, has tools, treasure chest requires a key, treasure given to you, a boulder of gems, valuable fruit, valuable other food, traded for, auctioned, from store, from special place, out of the way, only reachable under certain conditions, only reachable with certain things/ tools, only appears later in the game, found from digging, found from mini games, found from fishing, gotten from gambling, found in upper or lower areas, is invisible (only found after contact “bumped into”), dropped, stolen.

Two Player Aspects Mario Party, beat ‘em ups, run and guns, FPS games, card games, “clubhouse games,” sports games, racing games, and fighting games, are all far better when they have two players/ multi players. Then there are the things like Terminator 2 Arcade and Aerosmith Revolution X, which are nice two player gun games. Some games have you take turns if you are going to play two players. Like switching between Mario and Luigi. In Super Mario Bros 3 they included an original Mario Bros (not Super Mario Bros, just Mario Bros) two player game that you can go to at any time. Bomberman is a nice two player game. Sometimes they are competitive: you go against the other player or players. Sometimes they are competitive in other ways. A beat ‘em up might show who did better in any given level. And sometimes one player helps the other. You might split that into teams mixing all of those up. They fit Pac Man into a two player game. They had to change things around to make it work such as limiting how much of the screen can be seen. They made Tetris a 2 player game. Anything can have a two player component to it.

In the game Tecmo Super Bowl (NES) Bo Jackson was unbeatable. Therefore any player who chose his team (The Raiders) was unbeatable. There can be some funny things going on. Like the other player cheating with a code. It’s annoying when the other player in a fighting game has only jump kicks for you. Some players will do whatever it takes. The more educated the better. The other player might know where the especially good gun is located. The other player might choose a fighter they know is better than the one you chose, when it comes to fighting that one.

People fight each other for the powerup in a beat ‘em up game. Like in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time, one pizza appears. Those increase your energy. Only one player can get it though. So they either compromise and the lower energy player gets it, or the other player rushes towards it, regardless.

Ultimate Things Ultima spell is the ultimate spell. The Master Sword is the ultimate sword. X-Elixir is the ultimate potion. The mirror shield is the ultimate shield. Taking a look at it you can see why that is so. In fact ultimate things deserve an ultimate look. Among fire spells fire 3 is the best. Fire one is like a little flame. Fire two is like one a bit stronger. Fire 3 though is like a little atom bomb blast. The ultimate thing might only come from obtaining hard to get things (like those gotten from beating six dungeons.) It might only come from beating some formidable dragon. It might be the hardest treasure to reach. It is often not gotten until at least midway through the game. Sometimes it is only gotten when you are just about to go to the final boss.

Then sometimes it just costs a hell of a lot of money. Sometimes it is stolen by a thief with incredibly small odds to get it. In Final Fantasy 6 there was the arena where you can put things up for bet. So you put the second best sword up for a bet to get the best sword, if you win. Sometimes it requires a lot of luck. Such as having the ability to take monster powers with the greatest one coming from an enemy that rarely appears.

Sometimes the ultimate thing is obtained after going through a mini mission/ quest. It might entail going through a difficult and confusing area. You might have to defeat five hidden dragons found throughout the game to get it. Sometimes you get only one chance to get it. You can miss your opportunity as the game world changes to something else. Sometimes they are limited in number. For example “light arrows,” of which the whole game may only give you a quiver of ten.

Underused Ideas Here are some: auctioning things off, drawing in magic, what weapon you use you become better at, a red moon changes everything, you get spells as you level up, different ways of getting spells (not just one way), mech suits, randomizing, getting a balloon will save you from a fall, an enemy turns you into something like an eggplant, a game like Actraiser, talking to your whole party within the menu, not coins for extra life but for extra hits, shoveling in a game, dystopian cyberpunk games, hang gliding down a mountain, use of idols/ gods and magic symbols, using and learning a new language, the world of ruin or alternate dimensions, time travel, earning a continue by getting four of something, building your own race track, a code that pulls up a puzzle (if you win it you get money), auto pay in the game when you are doing the right thing, getting a raise if you especially do a good job, overcoming your dark side to become something like a paladin, futuristic racing games, two characters to play as (when one dies you play as the other and within the level you can get the first one back– like in Donkey Kong Country), music composition elements, transforming into a beast within a platformer as in Altered Beast, a pin ball element within a platformer game with some things such as slots included, code inputs for an RPG game similar to those used in fighting games (like Sabin did in Final Fantasy 6), memory card games, bouncy ball powerup, reversing or slowing down time.

Unusual Mechanics  There is wall climbing but wall leaping is less common. There is Bionic Commando (NES) in which you get around with a grappling hook, and do not jump. Star Tropics (NES) has you really methodically jump from spot to spot. Simon Belmont has this uncommon lunge of a jump. Legend of Kage (NES) has you jump incredibly high without a powerup. Some RPG games put you into a grid when you are fighting. That makes it so where movement has a strategic element. An example for that is Betrayal at Krondor. Kirby swallows his enemies. Sometimes licensed games bring with them mechanics that probably would have never otherwise been used. If not licensed, then a sort of copy of a thing's idea. For example Ghostbusters games and using a plasma gun. That idea would be used later in Luigi’s Mansion. Then there is Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure where you get into a phone booth and maneuver an area of tubes to get to certain places. It would never have been used in a game were it not for the movie it was based on. In DuckTales (NES) you jump on enemies with your cane. That’s just because Scrooge McDuck had a cane in the cartoon. The Immortal (Genesis/ Mega Drive) had an unusual battle mechanic. Chrono was unique with it as well. You could move around to a certain degree making the whole thing a fine balance between turn based fighting and movement based fighting. In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time (SNES) you can throw your enemy right towards the screen. In Donkey Kong Country you can roll forward and attack. There are different ways to fly, some of which are common and some of which are rare. Mario games focus a lot on those types of things. You can find the typical ways of fighting in an RPG and the less common kinds. Punch Out (NES and SNES) took a boxing game and did it a different way (you could argue in a much better way.)

Unusual Ideas  Licensed games have a way of being unique. In fact, except for them you might not see the idea used again anywhere else. Take the game Cool World (SNES) for example. Some games were just influenced by movies such as the case with Metroid and Alien. Nintendo has more innovation than anyone. There was a time when Super Mario Bros was an all new thing. It would certainly come to define what future platformers would be. In Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, Yoshi can swallow enemies and make them come out as eggs, which he can shoot. There was a game called Uniracers where you raced on a unicycle. There was a micro machine racing game. Fighting game themes can go in any direction. Many of them are one of a kind..  One and only of their kind. There are certain games that are one of a kind: Qbert, Paper Boy, Marble Madness, Actraiser, Ecco The Dolphin, and Bomberman for example. These games have received very little to no clone game adaptations. Other games have been cloned a great deal. Some however, remain one of a kind in full.

Super Mario Bros 2 USA fooled us all. It was actually just a reskin of Doki Doki Panic. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Adventure, did things differently. So did Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest. Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 didn’t even have Mario in it. The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, gave the game a cartoonish cell shaded look. By the time a sequel to Kid Icraus came out (Kid Icarus: Uprising) they decided to 3D it. Eventually Castlevania games became what would be called Metroidvania games.

As technology evolves so do video games. In the process many things have been tried and either failed or succeeded. Those that failed might be given another try and will then either move forward or not. The Wii with its movement control did not quite catch on. From what I hear people found the idea tedious. Maybe they didn’t want the real  life like exercise  of swinging a sword. Sometimes the tech just needs to catch up. Like going from a large and clunky VR system which didn’t much play 3D games to begin with, to something as simple as a small thing over the eyes (augmented reality.)

A game’s uniqueness depends on unusual ideas. However, some ideas are proven good and are irreplaceable. There is no reinventing the wheel sometimes. Having money and a shop for example works as is.  

Upgrading Things The game's best black smith can take your best sword and make it much better. The game may allow you to improve your suit more and more. That can add weapons to it or greater defensive ability. It could as well give you certain new abilities such as jumping higher, rushing forward, becoming smaller, giving you weaponized jumping (if anything contacts you while jumping it will be harmed), and so on. You may get a collection of weapons for your robot suit or some such thing. It can be as simple as going from the green tunic to the red one which is more protective. Then there is the Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts game where you get lesser armor or greater armor, gold armor. The arrows you get can become more and more powerful, such as from wood to gold/ light or something else. You can have a boomerang and a magical boomerang later on. All throughout an RPG you can get better and better swords, armor, items– everything. You can get greater and greater travel abilities like going from a horse to a car or a boat to an airship. You can even get a new airship better than the first. You can upgrade your stats through leveling up. You can have a person work on any given thing for you in order to make it better. Some swords gain more power the more you use them. Other items and things may evolve automatically over time.

Inventory can be upgraded allowing you to carry more. An NPC may have that happen. In The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, you throw your arrows into a pond. You don’t know it is a fairy pond. You do so the first time and think you are just throwing stuff away because nothing happens. After a few times a fairy appears and thanks you, then she raises the amount you are able to carry. So that is an elaborate way of upgrading your inventory.

Sometimes getting a great new ability just comes with the place in the game that you arrived at. Tellah of Final Fantasy 4 “suddenly remembered his old spells.” Then sometimes a bracelet or some such thing makes your sword more powerful.. Makes any sword you carry more powerful. Sometimes you have a choice in what direction your new abilities will go. Such as in an RPG game where you can choose where you want your powers to go through AP. The higher amount of points you have (after beating enemies) the better such things you can get.

In racing games you can win races, get money, and buy new equipment for your vehicle (or get an all new vehicle.) In a fishing game you can get better fishing equipment (even a new boat.) In a gambling game you can win enough money to go to the big casino. Sometimes you have to do certain things to unlock new games within a game. Such as in Clubhouse games. If you win certain games the game gives you more card games or whatever else. In a fighting game you might unlock new fighters. In a shoot ‘em up you get better and better shots from the “pea” shooter to the spread shot.

Upper Areas You can climb mountains. Sometimes that takes a stamina bar, other times just climb all you want when you want what you want. Maybe you just climb a beanstalk. Sometimes you get there by flying. Sometimes you are always going up as in Kid Icarus. Sometimes you fly on or in something to get higher. Kirby gets shot up in a star. It might be a rocket, an airship, a flying carpet, or a flying creature picking you up and taking you somewhere. Sometimes you are shot up like in a cannon or some sort of barrel or pipe. Sometimes it is an anti gravity thing. Then it could just be a staircase you climb. It could be a tower you wind your way around. Then maybe you cast a spell and fly from it.

The upper area might be a place on the clouds. It could be a floating continent. It could be the top of a tower or skyscraper-like building. It could be a place where the gods dwell. It could be a different realm. There might be platforms up there. You could just start at the bottom and not until you get the ability to go up you cannot go there.

Variety  It’s becoming more common that you can switch from 2D to 3D. Such as in new Dragon Quest games. That or flipping between the original version to the remastered version on the fly such as with Tomb Raider 1-3 Remastered. Sometimes that is not about switching but is just a game that has 2D parts to it along with the 3D (Super Mario Odyssey.) Multi genre games provide more variety. More fully orchestrated music provides variety. When NPCs are not the same every time you see them, that’s variety. There can be a lush amount of weapons and items. There can be suits that you make yourself. In a fighting game you might get your favorite character and pick out a suit for it among a number of different ones. New fighting games give you a hundred different fighters to choose from. You can choose between the fast but hard to control car or the slow but easier to control one. In a beat ‘em up you can choose between different ninja turtles, the warrior or wizard, and whatever else. Teenage Mutant NInja Turtles (NES) lets you change between four characters on the fly.

Graphical differences are always good. So are styles from place to place. Super Mario Bros could not have done so well without getting into the water, going down below, and entering castles. The game would not have been itself without them. Styles of towns might be that one is rich, one a sea port, and another is full of thieves. Graphics and the world can change completely in the Dark World or the World of Ruin.

Characters can be very distinct in appearance and in what they do. In Final Fantasy 6 every character had their own ability. Sabin could do input-codes to pull off martial arts. Cyan can do his sword technique. The longer you waited as a number grew, the greater his sword attack. Terra could go from human to esper. Egar could use tools such as drills and chainsaws. That says the least, there are fourteen characters in the game. Getting new abilities is always a great thing to include in a game.

After you beat a game you might get a second quest. Good side quests can give you an alternative. The game can be an open world game with many different things to do: to find and cook food, find items, find weapons, find useful NPCs, learn the story better, find gems, hunt meat, hunt monsters, take treasure, discover new areas, go fishing, use every weapon or tool you have, use your abilities in certain places, visit the towns, buy things, experience good and bad weather, become more capable of reaching more, face minor enemies or more difficult ones, mini games, gambling, riding a horse, a vehicle, stealing cars in some games, and just have fun with what the game provides.

Vehicles The vehicle idea can have you start out small and get around just a little more, unto getting an airship which takes you anywhere. It could even take you to the moon or another planet. Among airships in the franchise Final Fantasy 8 had the most distinct one: looked just like a red dragon, whose claws were operable. Cars may require gasoline or energy to operate. There is a hovercraft that goes over marsh. There is the boat and the submarine. Maybe there are pirate ships and pirate vessels. You can ride on trains. Final Fantasy 6 had you in a castle that could travel underground. Final Fantasy 8 took a whole military base (The Gardens) and gave it the ability to fly. That was a later in the game thing that came as a surprise. Blaster Master (NES) lets you go in and out of a vehicle. Sometimes the vehicle is a mech suit. Sometimes a tank. Tank fighting games are a lot of fun. It might be a fighter jet as in Top Gun (NES) or it could be a much older fighter plane as in 1942. There is also Afterburner. You could be in a helicopter fighting through.

In racing games there are: cart racers, regular vehicles, “wave racer,” smaller cars as in Micro Machines (NES), monster truck vehicles, motorcycles (Out Run and Excitebike are two good ones), F1 racing games, spy hunter (car has weapons and things like helicopter enemies), the futuristic (F Zero), and a racing game can have be in the air. Star Wars Episode 1: Racer, had you in a pod racer. In a beat ‘em up you might get into a vehicle. In a shoot ‘em up you might hop into a tank. Racing games are often a part of a game that is otherwise not a racing game. The first level is a platformer, the second you are racing, then back to normal.  

Vulnerability/ Invulnerability Giving you character momentary invulnerability after being hit should not be overlooked. Without that, a player can be ganged up on without any chance. That includes things like landing in spikes so that they can get out. In Super Mario Bros you get a star which makes you invulnerable. Lots of games have things going around you such as fire in Ninja Gaiden 2 or skulls in Mega Man 4, and as long as they last nothing can harm you. Some games make time stop as an invulnerable element. Some games make you disappear and the enemies either cannot attack you well or attack you at all. You can get a balloon item in Gremlins 2 (NES) which lets you raise right out of a pit you fell in, should you fall into one. An RPG may give you a preemptive life spell. When you die you are brought back to life. Sometimes it is hiding behind something. Sometimes you can stun an enemy and pass right by it. An RPG may give you additional power when you are low on HP.

Poison takes away HP with every step. All sorts of other status ailments are there and require specific items to get better. Imp, zombie, silence, dark, berserk, being some of them. If you cannot cast magic you are vulnerable. If you cannot move because of paralysis you are definitely vulnerable. If your whole party becomes zombified then it’s game over. In an adventure game there may be circumstances where your shield is taken. That makes you vulnerable to arrows and other things. You could be vulnerable to either the cold or heat if you are not dressed right. If your armor is outdated that may make you vulnerable. Being out in the storm may subject you to lightning. Being in the water too long may drown you. Some enemies will take all you have and must be avoided. In an RPG game you may fall asleep in an inn when, in the middle of the night, someone takes your things.

The game may change you to a pig or some such thing and while that way you cannot attack or defend yourself. If you fly around in the airship too long you may face Doom Gaze (Final Fantasy 6.) And of course if you are low on energy you leave yourself vulnerable until the next potion comes. A person can be in a dungeon or some such thing without enough potions.

Versatility It is good to have everything covered. For example, when one thing doesn’t work another will. So you have weapons that go in every direction. You have enemies that are weak against one thing but strong against another. Then the player discovers the best thing to do while playing. What is a different character if they do the same thing as everyone else? Of course if you are going to have different characters then they should do different things. You can take one of the earliest gotten weapons in the game and yet it works best against a later enemy. In that way the weapon never loses its purpose. Some spells might be duds overall yet work great against certain enemies. There was a mostly worthless spell in Final Fantasy 6 called “X-Zone.” Leap Frogs as an enemy had the most money for their defeat. The richest city in the game had them nearby. And X-Zone worked very well against them, taking them all out in one hit.

It’s all an “if not in one way than another” thing.

Wands  can be of ice, of fire, of lighting, of wind, or other things. They may shoot shapes out such as triangles. An enemy's wand may transform things into enemies (like bricks into them.) Sometimes you have the power to transform things with them. They may randomly cast spells when used (especially in RPG form.) They are the only weapons that mages may use. Apart from attacking enemies with them you may light fires with them. With the ice wand you can freeze enemies. Wands give you the advantage of distance attacks. Some require magical energy to use, or MP. Some give you limitless shots.

Warping/ Teleportation Super Mario Bros 2 (the Japanese game) gave you a backwards warp as a troll. It traps you in an area where you have to go down a pipe that restarts you. Sometimes the warp zone takes you a little further, sometimes further than that, or even to the end. You might need multiple warp paths or warp causing things to get to the end. Some can take a game that would take hours to beat and beat it within minutes with a complicated glitch (The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and Super Mario World are two examples. You can pretty much right away get to the end in those games using a certain glitch. The same thing is doable in Super Mario Bros 3, only later in the game (world 7.) Then some games have pass codes that let you select the level you want.

Willow (NES) had an ocarina that called upon a dragon to transport you. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past basically did the same thing. Super Mario Bros 3 had the warp flute. Final Fantasy 4 had the serpent road (A.K.A. The Devil’s Road) which took you from one spot to another in an effortless way. You can go down a pipe, get shot in a cannon, ride a star, or drop a potion above a vase (Super Mario Bros 2 USA) as your warp thing. You may just enter a kind of energy field and it happens. Sometimes it is done in a special room, especially in Metroidvania games.

Sometimes an enemy sends you to some place you’d rather not be.

You can teleport out of a fight in an RPG. You can use the same thing to teleport from a dungeon or anything you are deep into instead of working your way out.

Water Sometimes  you raft across, sometimes you boat across, sometimes you swim across. Sometimes you dive right in, sometimes you automatically die if you do, sometimes you die if inside for too long and sometimes you can swim unconditionally. In some games you go underwater with a submarine or a device. The conditional aspect may just be a meter. When the meter goes down, you drown. You might have to collect bubbles for extra breath. Maybe you have an oxygen tank. Some games have you surfing on the water. Some have you racing on the water as in Wave Race (N64.) Others have you fishing in it. Some mix up swimming with fishing. Sometimes a great monster comes out of the sea. In Cool Spot (SNES) the first level is a fun beach side level. When you fight at the beach in an RPG you face sea creatures. Link once washed up on shore after a boat wreck. The game starts with him at the shore of some dream place. The game may have you on a war boat rushing your way to shore.

What’s underwater includes any living fish you can think about plus any the game maker invents. You name it: jellyfish, octopus, squid, star fish, dolphin, shark, swordfish, puffer fish, tuna, bass, piranha, sting rays, electric eels, sea turtles, crabs, lobster, shrimp, horse fish, luminescent fish, whales, seaweed, and underwater plant life. In some games you can swim on fish. Like in Donkey Kong Country, you can swim on a swordfish and have a ride and weapon at the same time. It lets you dart forward when you use it to attack. It could be a suit that lets you swim better. Like the frog suit of Super Mario Bros 3. You might be in a mini submarine. The game may let you transform into a swimming creature. Or you are just down there as your regular character, perhaps facing float-like mechanics.

Water can come in the form of rain. Rain looks good in things like 2D overhead adventure games. It is a nice effect. For it to suddenly start raining can come as a surprise. A place may have rain start up the moment you get there. You could be near the end of the game when a place you’ve gone to many times starts raining, as a nice effect. Then there are thunderstorms which makes things slippery (as you are trying to climb) or makes you susceptible to lightning strikes.

There are fishing elements in some games and in some games the whole game is fishing. Fishing may just be a side thing to do. Then in the fishing genre of games you are given a pole, fishing line, bait, a boat, and everything else. You find just the right spot to fish and throw your line. You gain money and buy better things to fish with.

Water spells in an RPG game include “flood.” Water in the form of rain. Sometimes you can freeze water. Sometimes you can clear a pond with a flute, revealing a lower area (The Legend of Zelda.) Sometimes fairies are related to water in a game. Sometimes a dungeon is water based and includes things like switches that drain or fill areas with water.

Weapons A simple platformer may give you something like 4-6 powerups. Those may be things such as a dagger, shuriken, ax, flame power (powerful flame going up diagonally), holy water and cross boomerang (Castlevania.) With four to six good ones placed in the game that’ll do. Then some games give you a great amount of weapons. They are either all over the place, the shop has a thick inventory, or you can combine just about anything using weapon recipes with what you find. Then you have a distinct look for every weapon. All of the swords look much different. Some are rather plain. Some are highly embellished. The same with an ax or any other weapon you find, even the bow and arrows.

As you progress in an RPG you get better weapons along the way whether from the shop, dropped by enemies, or found in treasure chests. In an adventure game you can get them from enemies and treasure chests too. Also in stores. You can find a blacksmith to make your sword even better. Perhaps you can cast a spell on your weapon. It may already have one attached to it. Even a boomerang can have a better version. The first one regular, the second one the “magical” one. Weapons may randomly cast spells.

A wand can cast cure, shoot out fire, have a spell attached to it, transform an enemy, transform other things, cast fire or ice on anything, possibly burning something down or freezing something else. Arrows for a bow can have regular arrows or all kinds of inventive arrows (freeze arrows, fire arrows, bomb arrows, or others.) A whip gives you a nice distance shot, straight ahead. You might upgrade that into a fire whip, a chain whip, or one longer reaching. A bomb can be powerful against pesky enemies. Some weapons can have dual purposes. One of them may have nothing to do with attacking. Such as bombs and cracked walls or a hookshot and slinging yourself ahead (while you can still poke enemies with the thing.)

In a shoot ‘em up you get a range of guns. They include the pea shooter, the laser shot (limited range but powerful), the spread shot, and the shot that hones in on enemies. They may add a grenade to that. Airplanes have missiles, bombs, and guns. A car may have such things as in Spy Hunter (NES) which was like a fight on the road with special weapons. In a beat ‘em up you might throw a sewer manhole, a trashcan, the weapons an enemy drops, or your character may have their own weapon to begin with. In a kart racing game you have what you do. Whatever foils your enemy. The worst luck is the banana and the best is the blue shell (Mario Kart games.)

Some common weapons in video games include: the sword, the wand, bow and arrows, slingshot, boomerang, orbs you shoot out, guns, things you pick up and throw, the shuriken, a fireball, a flame power, dagger, ax, hammer (more or less), staff or stick, bombs, magic attacks, spear (more or less), missile, grenade, flamethrower, and whip.

Some weapons not frequently used in video games include: Holy water, a bouncing ball, the yoyo, the spiked mace, nunchucks, sai, Rygar’s “disk armor” (NES), spirit sucking machine, cane (like in Duck Tales– NES), dart gun, trident, spear gun, magic powder, Fester’s lightning gun in Fester’s Quest (NES), bee in a bottle, spray paint in The Simpsons: Bart Vs The Space Mutants, stone wheel (Joe and Mac– SNES), the screw attack in Metroid (when you jump you spin around with energy and if any enemy hits you it is damaged), a BB gun, Wayne’s World (NES) has a guitar for a weapon, Who Framed Roger Rabbit (NES) has custard pie as a weapon, Cool World was a game based on cartoons and had a pen and eraser as weapons.

Weapon Mechanics speed, movement, and usefulness are the key words. You have to determine how far something will reach. Maybe it goes to the end of the screen as a boomerang. Maybe the sword has just the right length. And is the sword going to swing or is it going to stab? Some targeting help would help a lot. That when you are using a bow and arrow in a 3D game it is not so much guessing. Pick the right size. See what works best. Everyone would agree that in the TMNT NES game Donatello has the best weapon: the bo, simply because of its reach. The other turtles don’t have nearly as good weapons in the game. Which is fine, it has you value and preserve one character, adding some strategy to the game.  

Weather (wind, snow, warm, ect.) The snow is slow going when it comes to walking on it. The wind blows towards you, making you take your time. You’d fall into a pit if you tried crossing while it was blowing against you. Then it blows for you and you can leap forward. A thunderstorm may have the danger of lightning. The rain may make climbing more slippery. Rain can be a great setting as it was in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Some platforming games include a desert area and a snowy area. An open world game may limit your ability to go right into snowy places. They require the right clothing. Then in the hot summer sun dress less. Maybe things can even flood in the game. There may be a tornado thrown in. You could destroy your city in SimCity with one.

Wording An  infamously bad translation once read “all your bases belong to us.” Some games never even receive a translation, save a fan translation. Some games can be wordy with their story.. Can get quite boring. It is like in a movie where there is a twenty minute chase scene. The movie maker knows that everyone loves a good chase scene. But after ten minutes it had gone from exciting to utter pointlessness. It’s always good to be cohesive. Shigeru Miyamato prefers gameplay over story. That shows with so many of his games. They are great games while not having much in the way of stories. Things too deeply gotten into can be confusing. A little can go a long way.

More Books About Video Games:

Notebook of New Video Game Ideas 1-7

Each notebook of new video game ideas is handwritten, illustrated, and contains all new ideas for new video games. They are free help for any game maker. They are in public domain and may be freely used. They can be found as free ebooks under the name Adam Jeremy Capps.

Another such book is the book “All New Video Game Ideas,” which is typed in instead of handwritten.

Video Game Making Philosophy

Is covered in my books “The Game Maker’s Bible,” “The New Video Game Idea Book,” and “Making A Great Video Game.”

I am also a Chistian writer for things pertaining to Christianity. As always they are found free as ebooks and in the public domain.

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