Monday, July 28, 2014

General RPGs' Minigames 11: Hide and Seek

Ugh. Hide and seek minigames.

Hide and seek’s one of those things whose real life appeal does not translate well to video games, like fishing, auctions, and, in the case of turn-based RPGs, physical combat. In real life, you’re pitting your mind and, to an extent, your agility and flexibility against that of others, seeing who can pick the best hiding place, who can find it, who has the patience and self control to make the best use of a hiding place, who has the keen sense of sight, hearing, and, on some unfortunate occasions, smell,* to uncover those hiding. There’s usually also some sort of thrill of urgency to the game, as the longer people remain unfound, the more of a chance they have to make a break for home base or something (not that everyone plays like that, of course, there’s no real hard and fast rule about hide and seek beyond the 2 titular activities).

All of that’s pretty much out the window with a hide and seek minigame. You’re only pitting your mind against one or two (probably very bored) programmers, the same ones whom you’ve probably already matched wits with countless times before during the puzzles of various dungeons in the game. You pretty much only ever play the role of the seeker in a hide and seek minigame, cutting out half of the entirety of the game.** Oh sure, there are times in RPGs where you have to hide and stay sneaky, but those are for stealth minigames, and the ones you’re avoiding are inevitably just guards with a set movement pattern. They’re usually not actually seeking you, and in the cases where they are, they’re always doing a piss-poor job of it. There’s only one sense you’re ever using in the minigame, that being sight--there’s pretty much never any sound-based clues to your prey, as there might be in a real game. There’s no real urgency about it save the occasional arbitrary timer; those hiding just sit and wait motionlessly for you the whole time.

As well as all that, most of the hide and seek minigames I’ve played are illogical and dumb. You take the one in Breath of Fire 4, where you play hide and seek with some kids in a desert city near the beginning of the game (at least, I THINK this is an example of what I’m about to talk about; it’s been a long time since I played and I’m in no rush to relive it). Some of the hiding places the kids take are stupid because they’re only hidden from the player’s view of a skyward look. You’ll have to move the camera to locate them, because otherwise they’re out of your personal view. But from the perspective of the game character who is, according to the game’s story, actually looking for them, these spots at times should be very clearly visible!

And that’s the thing with these hide and seek games: so often the hiding places are just absolutely terrible, and would only be challenging for someone looking down from a bird’s eye view. Well that’s just fine and dandy for challenging the player, I suppose, but it sure as hell doesn’t make the slightest pretense at in-game realism. And if the damn minigame isn’t going to try to connect with the actual game events in any real way, why the hell should I give a crap about it? It’s just distracting and delaying me from continuing to experience the RPG’s storytelling properly, breaking immersion so I can go on what amounts, with no other actual human interaction, to a treasure hunt with no treasure.


* Yes, smell. I once played a game of hide and seek in which I located my quarry because no nook or cranny in the world could contain his unique brand of body odor. When I uncovered him and he groaned and whined, “How’d you find me!?” (because his hiding place WAS very good), I had the good grace to say, that I had “just had a feeling,” and not add that the feeling had been in my nose, and that it had been terrible pain.

** Please note that this is not to be taken as a suggestion that a hide and seek minigame SHOULD give the player the chance to be the one hiding. That’s all I need--a minigame where I just sit and wait for half an hour. My point here is only that the concept of hide and seek is irrecoverably cut in half for the minigame, a loss that there is no remedy for.


  1. And once again you hit the nail on the head though I'd like to say something about the very last part in my experiences you do get treasure in the from of rewards for putting up with this mess.

    Shitty ones usually but still.

    1. Well, I suppose that's a fair point, you often DO get some pathetic little minigame reward for your trouble. Sure as hell wouldn't qualify it as treasure, though. Still, you do have a point.

  2. Man, you sure know how to pick rant material that disgusts me.

    That is praise, to clarify.

    Majora's Mask had the best hide and seek game. Mainly because it's just a game of tag in disguise.