I love that games teach you how to play as you go. You’re no longer relying upon the instruction booklets, which could be missing if you bought the game used. All you have to do is fire up the game, deal with some sort of tutorial, and then you’re off and running. As you learn new abilities, find new items, etc., you may have a brief tutorial explaining how to do or use said thing. It’s awesome!
Know what’s not awesome? NPCs that constantly hang along for the ride and feel the need to constantly tell you what to do. I’m not talking about NPCs that fill in story information, give quests, or point you in the direction. I’m talking about the NPCs that never stop yammering in your ear.
The oldest offender of this practice is, of course, Navi from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. This little fairy is awesome at giving tips and suggestions for where to go and what to do next. She’s terrible at shutting up. Hey, Navi? Can I walk a few paces in this dungeon without you yelling, “Hey! Listen!” please? Would that be so hard? Just a few moments of peace and quiet would be really nice, especially since I’m already on edge because skulltulas scare the crap out of me.
As beautiful and amazing as Transistor was, the fact that the sword constantly talks to you throughout the game drove me up the wall. It’s like my kids are in the room with me while I’m trying to play. I have no idea if the sword even offered good advice, because I was so annoyed by it. I’m sorry Mr. Sword, but I’m struggling against this one boss, and I need you to stop talking.
Was the sword supposed to be like my kids? Because if so, you nailed it, fellow developers.
Both of those, and several other annoying yappers, pale in comparison to the biggest pie-hole offender of them all: Cortana from the Halo series.
I’m currently replaying the Halo games (but not the first one!) with my eldest son, and good God I forgot how annoying she was. I remembered that she was, in fact, very annoying, but I blanked out just how bad it actually is. My brain probably did so for self-preservation purposes, like it does after childbirth.
While replaying, it’s taking everything in me to not cuss at Cortana. I know I’ve called her a bitch several times in the past for constantly talking, but I can’t really do that in front of my kid. I have, however, told her on more than one occasion to shut up, because we’re a little busy right now.
Cortana has this nasty habit of telling Master Chief what he needs to do and where he needs to go over and over and over. Yes, hun, I know what I need to do, but you see all these Flood/Covenant/Prometheans here? They’re kind of making my life difficult. Either come in to help clear them out, or kindly shut your AI mouth. If Master Chief’s life isn’t under threat, she doesn’t let him explore for collectibles, either. There’s no peace from this woman.
Well, that’s not entirely true. She wasn’t around until the end in Halo 3 (probably why it’s my favorite), and then she dies at the end of Halo 4. I know that was supposed to be a sad moment, but I danced with joy.
The truth is, we need this bossy NPC mechanic to follow suit for all future games: just die already. No one appreciates you.