Remember When?: Hidden Meant… Hidden
It was about 15 years ago. I’m playing this new game my cousin had borrowed from a friend. He came over my house and we were all playing it. It was Mortal Kombat for Super Nintendo, heard of it? I was a little too young to know exactly what was going on. I’m sure they let me button mash for a while, but mostly I was the spectator. As they were playing I remember seeing my cousin pulling out a piece of paper. It was crumbled, but there was a lot of stuff scribbled on. Now looking back I know those were fatalities passed on most likely by my cousin’s friend. So, I remember having a good time… yellow ninja… blue ninja… cool. But wait one second! Where did this green ninja come from? (This was also around the time when Power Rangers introduced the green ranger so… Green = Awesome) Who was this mysterious green ninja and where did he come from!? Reptile? He’s so strong! How do I play as him? How do I see him again? Tell me! Today, I know everything about him. He’s a pallet-swapped combination of Scorpion and Sub-Zero, and you need to do a double flawless victory with a fatality. But the whole experience as a kid was so much fun. The mystery of this hidden character. But now, where is the mystery? Remember when hidden in a fighting game meant… hidden? Now websites and magazines tell us everything. What happened!?
Now don’t give me the fact that “it’s a new age, the age of the internet, news flows from one person to another much more easily now.” There are still some fighting games that continue keeping stuff hidden. In 2004, the people working with Mortal Kombat: Deception did an amazing job keeping the characters under wraps and no one knew who the hidden characters were until the game came out and people found them. Zombie Liu Kang? Amazing. This example shows you can still keep stuff hidden. So, why aren’t more companies keeping game characters hidden anymore? It’s so boring now. I’m unlocking “hidden” characters that I clearly knew was going to be in the game. Most recently Zero in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars. Capcom announces his inclusion months before release, but I ended up having to unlock him. It’s like Capcom wants to have the cake and eat it too! Draw all the Mega Man Zero fans to buy the game and knock out “hidden character” slots at the same time. What’s the fun in that? Unlocking him was just tedious. I could only imagine what the hardcore Zero fan must have felt.
I believe this has ruined a lot of fighting games for me. I truly believe Super Smash Brothers Brawl and Street Fighter IV would have been a much better experience if they didn’t tell us EVERYTHING about them prior to release. By the time I had both of these games in my house I felt like I was working. It was like a job to go through the game and felt no sense of reward. I knew all the modes in the game, I knew who was in the game, I knew everything there was to know about everything, because of the news released by Nintendo and Capcom. If each just squeezed one hidden character or hidden anything in the game, I would have been satisfied. But no. Imagine if they kept Sonic hidden? How much fun would that have been? Yes, it was exciting when the news broke out about Sonic, but that excitement wore off by the time the game came out. Anyone out there feel the same way or is this just me?