To start, a disclaimer. I'm going to be talking at length about the game JUJU
in this blog. Given that someone as verbose as I am can explain the entirety of the plot in about 3 sentences, I don't think this really needs spoiler tags, but if you're at all concerned about this ruining your experience of playing the game, you have been warned.
JUJU is a staple platformer. It feels an awful lot like a slowed down Rayman. It's entirely reminiscent of Mario. The graphics are cute and intended to appeal to children, or at least a younger audience. The game has a strong music theme, and one of the mechanics is that occasionally you'll need to "play" music by pressing
to progress through the level. Normal enemies can also be distracted by your musical abilities, allowing you move past or defeat them while they are entranced by the tune. The level designs are interesting and gradually build in terms of challenge eventually coming to a few that are a little tricky, but nothing that raises it to the level of "hard."
The game has a 1.38 total game ratio, which definitely seems to agree with my assessment that it's not hard, and 37.8% of those who start it have 100%-completed the game in terms of achievements, again a strong point indicating the game's relative simplicity. When the game went on sale a few months back I took a look at these factors and decided to buy it. The price was good, the game seemed simple, and it was likely to appeal to my own children and give them a 'starter platformer' just as I had Mario on the NES. In that sense, it's been a success. I've played it with all of them, even the three year old--though that didn't go very well. For as 'easy' as JUJU is, it's too much for someone that young.
And the truth is, that JUJU is probably too much even for my older girls. It's a platformer with training wheels, but the difficulty does ramp up as the game goes on, and while the game is forgiving about deaths, there will be a lot of retries.
I had a guy on my friends list contact me because he saw I'd been playing it wanting to know how hard it was. I answered that there are some tricky parts and the final boss is a right bastard, but it is called an easy game and it is pretty easy.
For a game with a big "music" theme, the end boss music was truly terrible. You'll get to hear it a lot too, since the fight requires ~160 seconds of perfection. Needs more Estuans interius ira vehementi.
All of that to preface a simple point. Easy isn't always easy. The game was easy for me because I've got a lot of experience in jumping platforms in video games. My kids lacking that experience found it nearly impossible without my aid, which the game was generous in allowing through it's "bubble" mechanic. This kept it an enjoyable experience for everyone. But even my experience wasn't enough to get through everything. There were several levels, even before the final boss, where I would die repeatedly working out the timing sequence for a set of platforms. If you die enough times before reaching a check point the game will give you an option. "Do you want to play in easy mode?"
Easy mode? What's easy mode? Well, it doubles your health to four hearts as seen in the screenshot above, and may make other elements of the game easier too. I'm not sure. See, I didn't use it. Ever. It's not that easy mode disables the achievements, nor did I have any other practical reason. I didn't use easy mode because I wanted to play the game "as designed" which would, in turn, make the achievements more difficult. Not that anyone would ever see or know or be able to tell--except me. It was all about pride.
I find I do this to myself frequently in the achievement hunt. There's an easy solution to an achievement but it's just TOO easy. I'll skip it and go for it "legitimate". I'll set up insane achievement combos just because I can and because it amuses me to see them queued in my feed in a particular order. Here's a great example.
The top solution is brilliant. It's so simple and obvious that I didn't see it. I did the achievement the much harder way shortly before I joined the site. That brutally simple solution is upsetting to me, or at least it was. It's too easy. So I added my own solution, my first on the site. In no way is my solution better for earning the achievement. It's just better for earning the achievement in a harder way
A similar situation occurred while I was playing JUJU. I'd read through the achievement list so I knew I had this one coming:
But I didn't read how to properly unlock them, so reviewing the levels I had, it seemed that this was actually some kind of boss rush mode. So shortly after beating the final boss I went back and played the "golden mask" final boss mode. In this mode, you have a single heart. One hit and you're dead. I'd just spent most of the previous hour memorizing the attack patterns of the final boss, so I was able to do this pretty quickly, three tries if my memory serves. And when I finished, lo I did pop an achievement.
Aha! I'm on the right track. Let's do the other bosses now too. It's a good thing I knocked out the hard boss first. Oh, wait. That's the wrong achievement.
I'd made my life far harder than it needed to be. I'd golden masked the final boss, even though there's no reason to--for achievements. Sure, I felt accomplished, and I get to tell this story, but there's no shiny link to it for me to share on TA, except this blog, I guess.
Don't get me wrong. I was still pleased with myself for doing that, but suddenly my reward was diminished. We've always known there are some weird bits of psychology involved in the achievement hunt. This was just another example for me.
At about the same time, I'm playing Cars
. Cars has an even lower ratio (1.16, with 51.8% of all starters 100%-completing the game). Cars is a pretty straight-forward racing game with a host of mandatory side-activities. It's a solid showing for a 2006 movie tie-in. But what brings it into this conversation is that there are cheat codes that don't disable the achievements. What is a pretty easy racing games can become a ridiculously easy racing game--thus lowering that ratio forever. And here I am, racing at normal speed like a sucker. Why? Because of pride.
That said, I'm definitely turning on the cheat codes for this POS minigame.
And finally, I'm reminded of one of the things that brought me to TA in the first place. LEGO games
. I've built this whole series of meta-rules about the cheat codes in LEGO games. Depending on the game you can unlock all of the "cheats" without even needing to do the collecting. That's verboten
. But in almost all cases, you need the cheats (at least the stud multipliers) to earn a sufficient number of studs in a reasonable period of play to earn the total stud achievements, so it's not like anyone completes those games without cheat codes. But I won't turn on the stud multipliers until I've hit the "True [Studfinder]" milestone for every level. And on and on the meta-rules go. They make sense in my head, but not from an efficient gameplay standpoint.
If the goal is to get achievements (and it is) and to get through the achievements quickly, e.g. to score points for the GTASC, then using easy mode and cheat codes is common sense. I didn't buy Cars for an amazing game to play. I'm not playing it this week and last because I'm itching to spend time with Lightning McQueen. I was playing because it was easy points and the team needed points. And ultimately, we needed more points than I got. If I'd turned on easy mode or cheat codes from the start, maybe I'd have earned more achievements. If I'd swallowed my pride and actually read the achievement descriptions and how to get them I could've saved 10 minutes on that damn final boss. At the very least I'd have gotten through the achievements I did earn faster and gone to bed before 4 AM.
There's a word for pride that goes to far. It's hubris. I seem to be filled with video game hubris and it's a little disconcerting to come face to face with it.
Posted by Xpovos
on 29 March 17 at 16:08
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