The Best Things In Games Are Pointless

The Best Things In Games Are Pointless

If you'd told me a while back that the best part of Mario Kart 8 would be Luigi's cold, unyielding stare, I wouldn't have believed you. But, here we are, and there's Luigi's icy death gaze, and the truth is it is actually my favourite part of the game.

As soon as people started playing with Mario Kart 8's slow motion playback, they noticed it -- Luigi's ruthless eyes. It's the stare of a stone cold killer, the glare of a man who thinks only of victory. It's the look of Javier Bardem in No Country For Old Men, a hateful rubbernecking that seems to plead "Do you feel lucky, Toadette? Well do ya, punk?"

The Best Things In Games Are Pointless

Luigi's resting bitch face isn't going to change the gaming world. It doesn't seem to be an intentional design decision meant to push units, but rather an accidental consequence of Mario Kart TV. But it is the definition of a feature that I want -- unintentionally silly and functionally useless.

The marketing gears that decide how games are presented have a tendency to take whatever game they're pushing and break it down to its constituent parts. It would be like if someone at Wendy's tried to get you to eat a burger, but first sent you a million emails about different kinds of cheeses, bread options, additional pickle packs and condiments, without actually telling you how the damn thing tastes. And for the most part, the stuff that's being pushed on you are features you couldn't give a sideways fuck about. The end result is that AAA game development can read like an excel spreadsheet made by an alien trying to understand the human concept of "fun".

But if I looked back on games that I really loved, the things I cherished were immensely useless. Intentional choices like the hum button in Transistor or happy accidents like the spycrab walk in Team Fortress 2 stick out in my memory.

The Best Things In Games Are Pointless

And I'm not the only one. Luke Plunkett loved being able to flourish his lightsaber in Knights of the Old Republic. Yannick LeJacq loved wearing stupid hats in Gears of War 3. Kirk Hamilton adored pointlessly jumping in Ni No Kuni. Hell, Goat Simulator is basically a game made up entirely of pointless crap, and that's exactly why everyone adores it.

The Best Things In Games Are Pointless

So let's celebrate the immensely useless. Let's champion the things that don't get focused tested into the dirt, the gorgeous accidents and the inspired choices we never would have dreamed to ask for. Because without them, the world of gaming would be more homogenous, sad and calculated than it already is.

What's your favourite useless feature? Post in the comments below.


Comments

    A boy and his blob 2009.

    The hug button.

      Baw, went to try find the "making of" video that was a bonus unlockable in the game, showing one of the dev's kids hugging a beanbag as a reference shot. But either my google-fu is not strong enough, or nobody's thrown it up on youtube.

    The idle animations in the original Crash Bandicoot are a personal favorite of mine. Completely worthless in terms of gameplay but they added so much to the characterization that I used to sit and watch him spun Wumpa on his finger for... well, not long, but you get the drift.

    Senran Kagura Shinovi Vs.

    The Dressing room viewer mode touch functions :3

    I think I spent more time during my years of WoW just jumping around trying to climb to the top of things than I did actually playing the game.

      Thats what I do in the Elder Scrolls games. I think I must have jumped on every house in Cyrodiil

    Character creation tool for Cryptic Studios City of Heroes (rest in peace), really flexible and creative solutions created unique characters or close facsimilies of popular branded (copyrighted) heroes and fictional characters.

    You could spend days just creating characters before you got past the tutorial. Costume competitions were plentiful with people giving away a fortune for people to turning up in the best looking character.

    Character creation was a game upon itself.

    Making a guard's head in the MGS2 demo into a pincushion with the tranquilizer gun. Well, I guess it wasn't POINTless...*tumbleweed*

    clicking melee in Blood Dragon when out of range of enemies to flip them off accompanied with Michael Biehn's husky "f#%$ you", I think I flipped off like 90% of the enemies in that game.

    In GTA 4 and 5 I always, ALWAYS, turn on my highbeams. Whenever I crash or hit something, if the car is damaged and a piece falls off I get annoyed, but if one of my lights get smashed I get angry.

      ha, I'm the same, I can smash the sides, back and roof and don't care, crack a headlight and I'm like "shit off the the pay n spray"

    Not pointless, but pretty sure unintentional game design - Beatle Adventure Racing, and the crazy sideways cartwheel jumps you could do when you deliberately drive up a ramp with two wheels and boosted at the top. My friend and I spent hours and hours attempting to actually flip the car upside down... the game never let us.

    The deep voice taunts on Rise of Nations. "Yeeeessss". "Cuz you NEED that"..
    The 'stinky fart hand wave' that accompanied the French 'No' voice in the BF 1942.

    Standing idle in GTA San Andreas and waiting for a npc to say something to CJ. Then would press right on the D Pad to reply negatively and if the npc attacked me I would proceed to murder them. If they kept on walking, I would leave them be.

      This, but trying to make someone attack me in front of a cop, and then sitting back and watching the ensuing shootout.

    Being able to fish a turd out of a toilet and throw it around in the locker room in the first level of Duke Nukem Forever. Every time you pick up the turd, Duke endlessly complains about how terrible it is and wonders why anyone would do this until you finally get bored and move on.

    A brilliant allegory for the game itself.

    Waving your arms hysterically while idling / running / standing on the podium in Kinect Sports. It's so damn good:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxTRrQtJ6N8&feature=youtu.be&t=36m6s

    Being able to smack each other in Little Big Planet when you play local multiplayer by flailing your arms around. and then fighting over who gets to control the big controller.

    or fighting over who gets control in Mario Kart Wii by pressing A first.

    Maybe my family have an issue with control.

    Petting/picking up cats in Twilight Princess.

      Wait, what? You can do that?
      Also, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. Seeing Samus's face reflected in her visor, and the blue veins that would spread over her face during the course of the game as she became more and more corrupted.

        Sorry, the petting part I think is from my faulty memory. But I do know you can pick up cats.

        I've always liked cats and I just liked the attention to detail how Link picks the cat up and let's its front paw rest on his shoulder.

    The ability to kick NPCs in The Simpsons Hit & Run. There was absolutely no point in doing it, as you get nothing for it and there were faster ways to attract police attention, but man did I like doing it!

    The button on your action bar that lightwell was bound to in vanilla WoW

    "Work, work." and "Something need doing?" will always be stuck in my head.

    Last edited 07/06/14 12:04 am

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