Video games are a complicated business. Any given game has had tens-of-thousands of man hours put into its creation. From the concept to the box art, there’s a lot which needs to come together to create a masterpiece. That also means that there is a lot that can go wrong. And, like a stray nostril hair in a bowl of ice cream, it only takes one, small unpalatable aspect within something to turn you off the whole experience.
Some games fall into this trap, an otherwise excellent experience can be brought to a screeching halt while you are forced to piddle through some terribly designed or obnoxiously long section. Worse still, otherwise excellently executed games can fall short at the first hurdle and burden you with irritating controls that make what should be a pleasure an irredeemable chore.
In short, one terrible gameplay mechanic can cripple an amazing game and tear it down from the lofty status it probably deserved into mediocrity. With that in mind, let’s join hands together and explore the murky waters of games who had everything in the bag, and threw it a way with one, stupid, pointless, failed gameplay mechanic.
6. Castlevania Dawn Of Sorrow - Magic Seals
Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow was the first Castlevania game released on the DS. It was also released fairly early in the fledgling handheld consoles run, far back in the sepia-tinged past of 2005. This meant it was the first Metroidvania game a lot of gamers ever got to play, but it also meant it was burdened with the responsibility to incorporate the DS touch screen mechanic gimmick in any way possible. In Dawn of Sorrow, this takes shape in the ‘Magic Seals’ gameplay mechanic.
The feature works thusly: upon defeating a boss, a symbol will briefly appear on screen. This is the ‘Magic Seal’. You are then required to draw that symbol from memory in order to seal the boss away. If you fail to draw it correctly, or even just draw it correctly but start from the wrong point on the screen, you fail to seal the boss. It then regenerates a load of heath and the fight continues. Better luck next time, I guess.
It’s a terrible idea because the task has nothing to do with your combat skill or anything going in within the fight at hand, and punishes you harshly for failure. It also completely interrupts the flow of the narrative and boss-fight induced tension for a few moments while you do the drawing mini-game. It’s a blatant, hashed out addition designed only to utilise the DS touchscreen hardware that the game really had no need for. All in all, an unfortunate and unnecessary addition to an otherwise excellent installment in Castlevania franchise.