Console Rage

Gamestyle Archive intro: the site was all about fun and honesty. This feature from April 2001 shows a bit of both about an age old topic. At first I was struggling for the writer but then I recognised the examples so its JJ.

Rage is everywhere these days and we’ve all had at least one experience of something blowing up in our faces.   It may be someone jumping out of his or her car and shouting abuse (road rage) or a shopper breaking down in the aisle of the local supermarket (trolley rage).   Other known rages are air rage, raith rage, reddie rage, work rage or even bank rage.   Yet long before these symptoms of modern life became widespread, an underground rage known only to game players existed on the small screen and blighted their lives.   This is known as Console Rage.

Console Rage comes in many forms and can reduce even the most stable person into a shaking, crazed and disturbed animal.   It can produce physical and mental affects – perhaps even resulting in damage to the environment or innocent bystanders.   Gamestyle thought it was about time to uncover the facts, horrific tales, and shattered dreams with a view to producing a guide on the warning signs and rules to avoid the Console Rage.

The stories of flying machines, snapped pads, crushed cards and broken friendships have overwhelmed us here at Gamestyle.   You need to know how much weight a SNES will take before it collapses or how flame resistant games are?     We have changed the names in order to protect the guilty and ashamed except Digital Disaster whose trail of damage could fill a branch of EB and currently has spent £120 on Psone pads alone.   He can even provide a unique style of home decorating yet to be seen in Changing Rooms.

The symptoms of rage are very obvious to the experienced observer but must not be confused with an addiction syndrome and are as follows:

  • Shouting.
  • Talking to the game (N/A in Hey You Pikachu/Seaman)
  • Pressing the buttons harder than usual.
  • Knuckles ready to explode through pressure.
  • Being unable to walk away and take a breather.
  • Restarting the level rather than playing through to its conclusion.
  • Oblivious to anyone or anything else.
  • Staring even straining at the screen.
  • Moving closer to the screen.

These are the warning signs that you must act upon, what you choose to do is up to you, either leave the building or remove the seemingly surgically joined person & console from one another.   It won’t be pretty but they’ll thank you for it later someday, perhaps.   If the person is mentally unstable and prone to violence (a common symptom with Console Rage) then we’d suggest leaving even if it is your own house.

Through research and the forums we’ve managed to put together what we hope is the definitive list of things that create Console Rage.   Games that may include these must be avoided at all costs and the preventative measures must be followed, otherwise…

1.Loading/Saving

The longer you have to wait for a game to load the more tense and wound up you will become.   This is probably why the PC has such a bad reputation when it comes to compatibility with games, direct X no. needed etc.   Anyone who owned a Spectrum will understand the length of time it took to load a game (errors were so common) and the tapes were easily damaged – meaning you had to start again from scratch.   One press of the break button during the game meant you had to reload again from scratch.

I wonder how often after a hard session of Football Manager you made a precious save – only to later realise that you hadn’t connected the ear/mic ports correctly or had the volume at the right level?  Many games such as Gauntlet (99 levels) did not include a save feature, which is a prime example of bad design and a slap in the face to you.   Spare a thought for Mr Jones who decided to play Gauntlet through till the very end.   He was nearing the finish when we noticed a burning smell.  Unfortunately he had left the Spectrum near a radiator and it had melted onto his desk, then the machine crashed.   He did what any civilised person should do, took a hammer to the machine and smashed it into pieces.

Saving on Phantasy Star Online has been the recent focus of much anger as characters have been lost (imagine hundreds of hours gone forever) or as happened to me, loosing all your item data.   As you are unable to transfer your VMU saves for this game, it makes the problem far more serious than it should have been.   These are the new risks, which we face with increasing regularity, as more complicated and online games become the norm.    Those N64 carts that have the saves built in seemed like a good idea at the time, until you reset the game a few times in quick succession only to lose that completed Goldeneye save that you had spent months on.   Not only losing the save is bad enough but the thought of having to go through the game once more to acquire the extras – it drove me over the edge and I almost never came back.

2. Third Party Peripherals 

Whether it is a memory card or controller, tales of defective peripherals are common today, as they were 5 years ago.   Those driven by price soon regret their decision.   You want to put your valuable, hard-earned data onto a fancy patterned or coloured card?   Your choice, just sit back and wait for that time bomb to go off.

An example from a colleague is when he lost his Vagrant Story and Front Mission 3 saves, which he put onto a third party memory card.   The cost was over 100 hours of work lost, we’ve all probably learnt the hard way but why do we keep repeating our mistakes?

Freebie items that you receive from high street retailers for pre-ordering a game must be handled with care.   There is a reason why these are being handed out.   That N64 pad which looks nothing like the official pad is being given away because its cheap crap & will cause permanent damage to your hands.   Precision control I think not.

3. Platform Games/Jumping/Cameras

If the devil created a genre then this would be the one.   That loveable Italian plumber would be his general and Miss Croft his lover.   Impossible jumps with dodgy cameras and no save points are the stuff of nightmares and a prime source of Console Rage.   From the tales that we have heard it is obvious that you agree and many games should be come with a government health warning.

Turok 2 not only had massive levels with few save points and many jumps; it was in first person throughout.   You’re on a roll, taking out the reptiles as they come and making good time.   Now the whole level comes down to a series jumps, no skill involved here, close your eyes, press that button and pray.   You think that they would have taken note of the feedback from the original game.   Take that cart and stick it up the programmer’s ass!

A nasty case of rage has been documented with the first Tomb Raider game, or to be more precise the temple room with the flames.   This involved a series of jumps across the temple floor while avoiding the timed flames.   After 30 minutes of fruitless attempts, Mr Smith broke down, screaming, jumping up and throwing the pad and console across the room.  Lost in his own personal hell for several hours, he could not look at or play with Lara Croft ever again, scared for life, even to this day.   The following morning he was onto Sony Customer Services to get his machine repaired.

Since the jump to 3D a dramatic increase in the number of incidents involving platform games & Console Rage has been recorded.   This is because no matter how good the developer, many still struggle to provide a camera that does not require constant attention and correction i.e. Rare.   Even static camera angles such as those found in the survival horror genre are not exempt from blame.

4. Guidebooks

Very much a product of recent times and mostly connected to the Psone and bad journalism.   It’s amazing how they can fit everything into such a small booklet (take note N64 magazine), except they don’t, and miss out things that they consider irrelevant – try playing the game while following one of these guides.   Guides given away with pre-orders (just like third party peripherals) should be treated with extreme caution.   Not only will they spoil your enjoyment of the game; more often than not you’ll be tearing the pages apart in sheer frustration.   Gamestyle firmly believe that if you’re spending £30+ on a game only to follow the guide, you are not getting value for money.

A group of friends were playing their way through Tomb Raider (Lara yet again) using a guidebook to help them through one of the later tricky levels.   They were taking turns playing and navigating; obviously they were heavily into the game by now, while the rest of us were paying little attention to what was going on.   Our attention focused on the twosome due to raised voices (edited version):

Friend 1: Something is biting me, it’s a crocodile

Friend 2: Nothing is mentioned in the guide about a croc in the water

Friend 1: Well I’m telling you something is biting my arse and I’m not imaging it mate, look!

Friend 2: You must have taken a wrong turn somewhere; there should be nothing in the pool

Friend 1: I’ve taken a wrong turn?  How about your naff navigation?   You’re probably on the wrong page!

Friend 2: Aye right, coming from someone that can’t find their way home after a couple.

Friend 1: I’m dead!   You’re f***** great – don’t become an air traffic controller.

A fight ensued which resulted in good beer being wasted and apologies all round, although violent, it was hilarious.   Games can ruin friendships, be warned!

As games have become bigger and more complicated the need for guides for many inpatient gamers has grown.   Surely the puzzles on Resident Evil don’t need explaining?  An easy rule is that if an item is in the game, more than likely you will need it at some stage.

5. Versus Modes

Ah yes, the source of much frustration and embarrassment to everyone so it seems.   If there is one thing worse than losing, it’s losing in front of your friends or unimpressed strangers.   You know the game inside out but lose to a button-bashing idiot, a fluke goal or someone who constantly performs throw moves – we know who you are.

The beat ‘em up is still the arena for game players to prove their superiority over others while the thrill of inflicting humiliation on another during Quake III is hard to beat.   Versus modes are about competition and winning, coming second does not matter, kill or be killed, pedal to the metal, you are the modern gladiator and you must win at all costs.  This is unfortunately how some people play the game, no wonder they get upset when they lose.

A bad loser is like an active volcano, ready to explode at any moment, for instance my mate who we’ll call, Guv.   I must admit that I am partially to blame – as anyone who knows about this will tell you.    The offending game is Soul Blade and the character is Taki.   I could perform any move or combo however I had invented the “three move winning formula”™ – everyone knew what was coming but couldn’t stop it.   Victory after constant victory followed.   Needless to say after a few weeks my friends’ patience began to wear very thin indeed.   Now Guv is pretty damn good at games and couldn’t accept the fact the Tekken 2 master (cough) could loose to a punk performing the same three moves.   One afternoon he finally let his frustrations get the better of him.   After a bit of verbal abuse he threatened to throw my console out of the window (not so bad as I’m on the ground floor) to which I replied that his machine would fly back in, to replace it.   After some more banter he promptly stood up, sighed, turned the machine off and walked out the door not to return (or speak with me) for a couple of weeks.   Now this incident should have been long forgotten but when importing Soul Calibur from Japan upon its release for the Dreamcast, my friends informed me that Taki was banned and not available.   I’m sure till this very day that Guv hunts me down first in Perfect Dark/Goldeneye on some revenge trip.

Now that we are seeing co-operation modes in console games I would expect more arguments about team members not pulling their weight or spoiling the mission for others.   Can you put your life in your partners hands?

6. Difficulty

Some games are guaranteed to have you banging your head against the wall, punching the wall in frustration or stomping in anger.   Gazza may have cried on the pitch but you’re most likely to see grown men crying over some of these recent examples; Goldeneye, Perfect Dark, Quake III, Soul Reaver, Shadowman, Gran Turismo, Pilot Wings, the list is endless.

We all prefer a challenge to a game that offers no depth but sometimes it can be taken too far.

7. Bad Design

Games that are poorly designed or just not finished, often make it out into the high street and are purchased by unsuspecting individuals.   Like lambs to the slaughter they purchase based on flash advertising, biased review and freebies.   This often occurs in the run up to Christmas when the pressure is on publishers to get that game out on time.   Programmers and game testers must laugh and joke amongst themselves at the torture they know you or I will endure while playing the game.   Several titles have been created with the player obviously last in the programmer’s thoughts.   How often do you read a review, which mentions a bad control system, bugs or basic flaws?   This problem is more common than you would think.

Did you ever try to dock a ship in Elite without the docking computer?   Spent hours trading and avoiding enemies only to see yourself killed by a bad-parking manoeuvre?   Bugs are often found in games when they should have been easily spotted for instance Wonder Boy for the 128k Spectrum, which was riddled with bugs and more often than not crashed on level 3.  Cue much anger and flying joysticks.

The Rules

You may have your own suggestions to add to the above list (we’d love to hear them) and based on the above we have created the Gamestyle rules to avoid Console Rage.   Read them, learn them, and spread the word.

1. Been given a freebie that is of dubious quality?   Why not give it to someone you don’t like, the thought of him or her struggling to come to terms with the product will give you immense pleasure.

2. When buying a platform game or any other that tries to hide its platform elements, ask yourself, do I feel lucky punk?  Well do you?

3. Most stores offer trade in prices, they will take anything.

4. Hype a game to your friends, one of them will take the bait and sell it to him, sucker.

5. Keep all alcoholic drinks away from the merchandise.    Remember alcohol leads to poor performance, which leads to humiliation then rage.

6.  Read the Gamestyle review before buying.

7. Find an activity to do while the game is loading, take the dog for a walk, make a cuppa or god forbid read the manual?

8. Try a different type of game, rpg’s for instance don’t have versus modes and you can play by yourself for hours on end without the worry of losing.

9. Avoid cute little characters – Mario, Rayman, Spike the dragon, Banjo, Abe.  Their cuteness factor is a trap.

10. Its your life you make one.

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