12 April 2012

Take My Control... Please!

Today's article is about Smash Bros., but it's really not about Smash Bros.

I originally intended to write about several different instances of what I've dubbed "Control Texture," but it's exceedingly rare. One could make the argument that that driving games have textured controls - there's a curve to acceleration, the car handles differently on different surfaces - but this is control which is still perfectly predictable.

That's why I focused on one game for the article, but I have another example of the effectiveness of textured controls.. Outside of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, the best use of random (but purposeful) control flaws is in Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem. As you encounter horrific monsters in Eternal Darkness, your character loses sanity, and eventually you experience fourth-wall-breaking "Sanity Effects." Bugs crawl across your TV screen, blood drips from the walls, and your character's head falls off and recites Shakespeare, to name a few of the many hallucinations. Afterwards, the game generally admits that it's messing with you. The screen flashes, and your character shouts, "This can't be happening!"

But sometimes it's more subtle. Sometimes your character will swing his or her weapon without input from the controller. You'll press left, and your character will drift right for a split second before obeying your command. I would argue that this fine texture - the barely perceptible randomness in the controls - goes further in toying with the player than any other effect in Eternal Darkness.

As the definition of video games expands, I want to see more of that.