(random thoughts: Fuck man, I wish I didn’t need an HD tv to read Dynasty Warriors 8’s small ass text. How fucking obnoxious is this shit?)

I was asked this question a few times by a Nafares about why a game would need or warrant multiple paths if the finish line itself remains the same. Ignoring the fact that it has been a series staple since… forever, there is no such thing as stupid questions. There are 2 good reasons for having multiple paths, especially in the case of any game considered a “platformer”.

1. Creating Depth

Considering all the advancements in game technology, you’d think there would be some desire to take advantage of it all beyond modeling textures. When one creates a world, it is usually expected that the world have distinct complexities in it’s wake. Reason being is that everyone loves exploring (when it isn’t for fetch quests, mind you). People love finding new areas to delve into. When concerning replay value, there should be a good reason for players to go through the same levels over and over. No one just likes playing through a particular level if they know full well what to expect. Linear level design is a deterrent of replay value, and is something that must be fought.

Linear design favors “scripted” games such as Donkey Kong Country Returns and Rayman Legends, but in a general sense, makes many video games a “one and done” session. It’s probably why Kirby doesn’t get much fame outside of it’s “cuteness” that Westerners recoil at.

Afterall, if linear design was the best way to make  levels, I might as well not have purchased a Piss Station 3 if I could get that same kind of stuff out of my Wii.

2. Deciding on a safer route.

The main reason is illustrated by this picture.

Gamers enjoy stimulus in more ways than just action. Sometimes, deciding on a different route to take makes the player feel clever or daring during play. For example, taking note of the sign above, it points out 2 different directions that imply “safer route” or “dangerous route”. When coming to these forks, the player can either decide to get to their destination peacefully, or decide that’s for pussies and go the dangerous route like the bad mother fuckers they are.

take Dynasty Warriors for instance. The goal is to kill a specific general, but there are 3 ways to get to him. Why? Well, this general might’ve implemented a strategy that makes your progress through one route a pain in the ass. Possibly boulders or ballista in place to prevent any of your men from getting to close. However, the general isn’t aware of the fact that his rear defense is… nonexistent, and there is a path through a mountain range that leads into his camp. And you can go undetected. It’s quicker to go through the ballista, but you’ll get some scars along the way. Or you can take the longer route without so much as a scratch and end the battle swiftly. Like Snoop said in that fucking terrible Startsky and Hutch remake “Why start at the beginning when you can go straight to finish?”

Or to use a more relevant example, the Aquatic Ruins Zone. Sonic and Tails has to make it to the end. There’s only one problem. Sonic can’t swim, and sure as hell no Sonic fan enjoys water levels (who does, anyway?). Lucky for you, there’s 3 routes. Top, Middle, and Bottom. The Bottom is of course, submerged in water, so you’re less likely to want that route. The Middle route is much faster, but not as safe as there are more enemies abound, as well as traps. The Top path is high into the air, above the cliffs. It’s the safest route out of them all. What makes this more significant than the DW example is that players need to put forth some effort into staying within the top path up until the end.

Sho wish we had another way around this bitch back in the day.

And of games that do not have distinct and consequential paths? Same shit. Some might be quicker than the rest (short cuts). Or they might contain goodies you won’t find on another route.

In general, the goal may be the same, but the journey that people take matters more than completing the objective. The point of multiple paths is player stimulus.You want to give the player a reason to keep coming back to the game (as well as the sequels). Be it a platformer or an FPS. Looking at the point from a mechanical/technical standpoint is ignoring the player and is instead focused on the game alone. Afterall, it is made for their sake.

I might go blind trying to read Koei’s bullshit… I swear, you need an HD tv just to see the HUD from Borderlands 2 even! Would you believe some asshole tried to justify this by saying “developers aren’t gonna waste time scaling up text for LD tvs” why the fuck not? They waste resources one everything else (if it aint rendering titties, I don’t care how good yo chairs look!)