Only two episodes in, the new Kotaku Splitscreen has already gone to hell. It was bound to happen, but I never thought we’d get there so fast. This week, we journey to the heart of hell and perform a dissection, picking apart the vaunted warm place’s past and present as it pertains to games. Do you like Hades and Satanic panics? Then you’ll be a Satanic fan-ic of this episode.
First, we talk about our personal video game hells, the miserable sections and segments that you’d want to trap us in for all eternity if you were The Devil Himself. Then we take a trip into the increasingly distant past of the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s for a speedrun of gaming’s many Satanic panics, focusing on Dungeons & Dragons, Mortal Kombat, and Doom. Finally, we discuss what our good buddy hell has been up to lately in games like Hades and Baldur’s Gate 3. Also, we review 2020, aka Hell’s Own Year.
Get the MP3 here, and check out an excerpt below.
Ash: My personal hell is games with poor collision detection. Games where you hit the button, and it doesn’t do what you’re supposed to do. Missing collision detection or eaten button presses. So I know I’m pushing the button, and my character if it’s a platformer will jump and maybe grab for the ledge they’re trying to jump to, but not grab the ledge. Or instead of jumping onto a platform, they jump off into an abyss because for some reason it just does that. That’s hell. I know I’m doing it right, but I’m still not...doing it right.
Fahey: Have you played Fall...Fall Out Boy? I wanna say Fall Out Boy. That’s great. Have you played Fall Out Boy, because speaking of hell, Fall Out Boy. No, Fall Guys. It’s purposefully made like that, so your buttons aren’t always quite exactly what you want them to do, and you might miss jumps.
Ash: That was one of the things I was thinking about. That works.
Fahey: Well thanks, Fall Guys. The most popular game in the world—you’re hell. Good job.
Ash: Well actually, Fall Guys is fun, so maybe that means I’m actually a sadist? Is a sadist the one who hits people, or are they the one who likes getting hit? I’m not sure, and I should know this.
Fahey: I’d like to apologize to sadomasochists around the world for the simplistic description. It’s not all “Hit me, OK I’ll hit you, I love hitting you, I love being hit.” It’s a little more complex than that.
Nathan: We’re misrepresenting you. There’s more nuance.
Fahey: Speaking of nuance, Nathan, what is your video game hell? It is your turn.
Nathan: I have a real one and a hyper-specific one that is rooted in recent events. So the real one is, I really don’t like doing things over and over. I especially don’t like it when it happens not during a climactic boss fight where it’s supposed to be challenging, and if you finally manage to overcome it, you get the gratification of having won, and you’re like “Yeah, I overcame this big challenge that was supposed to be a big challenge.” What I hate is when it is some random fight in the middle of a game that you can tell the developer didn’t intend to be that difficult, but for whatever reason, it plays to your exact weaknesses. And so, you end up trying over and over and over and failing repeatedly.
And let’s say, on top of that, because it wasn’t intended to be that challenging, there’s a fucking 10-second cut-scene that plays ahead of it every single time, that you can’t skip. So at that point, the cut-scene becomes this “Fuck you” to the player. And you’re like “I just want to be done with this.” But I’m not someone who has the willpower to step away from that and take a break. Instead, I must do it. So my personal hell is keeping at something like that for an hour or multiple hours, and then finally pulling it off, and feeling nothing. Because you don’t feel anything after that. You just feel like you wasted a lot of time. You feel frustrated. You’re like “Alright, I never want to do that again, but also, I’m not happy that I did accomplish it.”
Ash: So you really didn’t like that Demyx fight in Kingdom Hearts II, huh? “Dance, water! Dance!”
Fahey: You would hate Crash Bandicoot 4, because there are so many levels where you’re gonna die a hundred times. There’s a counter at the top of the screen that shows you how many times you’ve died. I got to triple digits on several of the later levels. I hated them. I kept pausing the game, putting the controller down. I’d come back an hour later and try 10, 15 more times. That was pretty hellish. But what is your other video game hell?
Nathan: Alright so, my other one comes specifically from the game Hades. Ash, you’ll be able to identify with this. So you know the little Satyr guys in Styx? The ones who make that horrible phlegmy coughing sound and spit poison on you? So like, specifically if someone were to make a level that was just 100 of those of guys surrounding me. Maybe I would still have a little pool where I could cure myself of the poison, but it wouldn’t matter because I’d just immediately get hit again. And they’d all be making that horrible, horrible noise that I cannot get out of my head.
Fahey: OK, you need to make the noise before we go on.
Ash: Please don’t do that. It’s right in my ear.
[Nathan and Fahey make horrible noises at Ash for multiple consecutive minutes.]
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