By Jared Newman | Tuesday, August 25, 2009 at 4:19 pm
Back in the day, video games had God Mode. You’d enter a cheat code, and suddenly your video game avatar was impervious to damage. Suddenly, the most difficult challenges were a walk in the park.
The upcoming button masher Bayonetta is bringing back this cheat in a more sophisticated way. The game’s “Automatic” mode, available to people playing on “Easy” or “Very Easy,” turns most of the controls over to the computer. Players need only tap the punch button to successfully navigate a level, while the computer targets enemies and times the protagonist’s jumps.
I wouldn’t call auto-play a trend yet, but Nintendo confirmed a similar feature in New Super Mario Bros. Wii, due out in November. By selecting “Demo Mode,” players can watch the computer coast to victory when facing a tough spot. Nintendo reportedly plans to use this feature in future games as well.
But Nintendo’s feature is intended, at least partially, for young players. Bayonetta, on the other hand, is rated M for Mature, so the “Automatic” mode is essentially a cop-out for grown-ups who are really, really bad at video games.
My problem with this — as with the God Modes of yesteryear — isn’t simply that it’s tantamount to cheating, but that it robs people of a fundamental gaming experience. No matter your skill level, everyone has moments of frustration in video games, but when the challenge is legitimate, it’s beautiful. Through repeated failure, you begin to see opportunities. Then, it’s a matter of perseverance, correcting your mistakes until you’ve mastered the challenge in its entirety.
The satisfaction that results is not the same as cruising through the game’s easier segments and leaving the tricky stuff up to an auto-pilot.