5kits
Vintage computing, old video games

Finished Pagemaster (SNES)

Do you remember this movie? I suppose I had seen it when I was little and known enough about it to get the video game tie-in. Apparently it has the guy from Home Alone and when he reads some book he enters this alternate universe and there’s cartoons or he becomes a cartoon or something like that. This another classic old ’16-bit movie tie-in platformer’- not quite as punishingly heard as some of the Disney ones (the Aladdin game, and the Lion King game, omg…) but it gets up there.

The game trolls you in some epic ways. For example, it might seem useful to grind lives for the last level. You would be wrong. You have effectively one shot to beat the last level. Why? Because at the end of the last level is a long, long path of lethal spikes, and- from all I can ascertain- you are supposed to take one long jump at the spikes, then carefully use I-frames to run that long remainder of the way and you barely have enough. You only have I-frames at all if you have an item to spare, it’s Mario style where power-ups are the only thing shielding you from insta-death. And you res with no power-ups obviously. And there are literally no power-ups present in the level. On the condition that all of these things are true, you can have 99 lives for the last level, it won’t matter- if you die you might as well hit the reset button..

One thing this game has, that I sort of miss, is some screen- could be the ending screen, could be the “I want to stop playing screen”, doing a “while(1);” basically. It stalls forever. Accepts no input. That’s where you just turn off the game.

Pagemaster’s ending screen does this. So does Chrono Trigger’s and Super Metroid’s and Super Mario RPG’s and EarthBound’s and Lagoon’s and like every RPG from that era.

An an example besides ending screens, SimCity (SNES) has an option called END. The game stops and it shows a simple animation of a moon sleeping. It will do this forever and you just shut off the console. The feature doesn’t modernize super well… You can kill the game process but it just doesn’t have that same “winding down” feeling. I sort of like it because it’s an option I can select when I really do want to stop playing, and there is nothing tempting me to go back and re-enter the game. Most importantly, the static nature of the screen takes me out of it. Actually modern MMOs- such as Blade and Soul, when I played it- do the exact opposite of this. If you select “Exit”, there will be a waiting period of about 30 seconds just to make sure you’re actually, actually sure. They probably have some argument about it curbing cheating or ragequitting. Yeah, for sure that’s true, yet I wouldn’t buy it’s not at least a little bit about hooking players in for longer. Even if it’s just a little bit.

February 9th, 2017 at 10:25 pm