Monday, December 10, 2012

Hey Blizzard, you got a little Joust in my WOW

      I know this is probably nothing new to the World of Warcraft crowd, but I figured I’d share my thoughts on this homage to the classic arcade game Joust. Blizzard is no stranger to including homages to classic video games, especially with World of Warcraft. Between references to Super Mario Brothers and the Legend of Zelda, gamers have had a chance to experience plenty of silent chuckles amongst themselves.  But, hidden in the Firelands Hatchery (which is accessible via a portal in the Flamewake in Mount Hyjal) lies not only a classic arcade game reference, but technically a playable “remake” of sorts. 

Joust is the classic arcade game Blizzard felt needed to be revisited. Not only are the quests named “Wave One” and “Wave Two,” but they also have a quest that has you literally running over eggs. The controls are also simplified to be nearly identical to the controls in the original Joust. You press a single button to flap your wings and you use either keyboard buttons or the mouse to change your direction of flight.

Get ready for the First Wave... 
To attack your enemies you run into them. This all takes place in a multi ledge, lava filled, fire spewing 3 dimensional cave. Sounds like you have all the ingredients for a classic trip down memory lane... Unfortunately the controls get in the way of what could’ve been a fun modern remake of Joust. Blizzard decided to make the controls so unresponsive that you will be banging your head. Now the original Joust did have floaty controls, but the floaty controls worked in a 2 dimensional game. Imagine those same floaty controls in a 3 dimensional space. Add in enemies that fly in circles and change altitude in this 3 dimensional space and you have a recipe for poor game design. The floaty controls make it nigh impossible for you to change your course of direction. Imagine trying to drive a vehicle on ice. No matter how much you turn your steering wheel, the vehicle just wants to keep on sliding straight. That is exactly how your winged companion controls in this homage to Joust. As if this is not enough, the hit detection is also way off. At times you may fly right through your enemy, but not get a kill, yet other times you may miss your targeted enemy completely, yet get the kill. Everything thrown together seems terribly unbalanced. Enemies to me appear to inflict no damage to you, making the lava and fireballs the only thing you need to watch out for. 

Looks good, but how does it handle?

See those eggs? Have fun getting to them.

They even included lava, platforms, and fire.
      With all the painstaking detail Blizzard has included in their homage to Joust, it baffles me that they didn’t think to improve the controls. They clearly expected this part of the game to become popular, they included an option to replay the quests daily to earn experience! Using the mount flying controls and having enemies that attack and really hurt you would have saved this Joust wannabe and provided a fun romp down memory lane. Hell, fix the controls and add a score counter and you have a worthy 3 dimensional update to the classic arcade game Joust. As is, it is only worth a passing glance. 

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