Games that nag

(Last week got surprisingly busy for me so few posts. And don't worry Captain Arcolier will have a post up on Web Serial Tuesday soon enough.)

Last week I picked up Brain Age for the DS. It's an interesting title but I realized something. I don't like games that nag at me and Brain Age falls squarely into this camp. I bought it, tried it and thought "that was sort of interesting". Then I didn't play it the next day, and when I turned it own on the third day it complained about "missing me" the previous day. So today I thought "Hmm, maybe I'll play some Brain Age." and immediately followed that up with "Oh, but I didn't play yesterday, so it's gonna nag me." How is this a good feeling for a game to invoke?

Pushing past this I turn it on and I want to solve a Sudoku puzzle. Oh no, Professor what's his head wants me to draw a hippopotamus first. There is no button for saying "I don't want to draw a hippo right now." The drawing tools in it are sucky, and even in just a few days I've learned to really dislike the drawing things. But the game in it's high and mighty wisdom decrees when I need to draw. My desires as the mere owner/guy who plunked down $20 are subordinate to whatever logic drives the drawing nonsense.

So I just tapped the stylus on the screen and hit continue. And repeated that for the next two mandatory drawings. But it left a bad taste in my mouth. I'm sure when I stop using Brain Age it will be earlier than it would be if it just let me play when and how I wanted. What's weird is that this seems so entirely "un-Nintendo" at one level - but it's not. Animal Crossing (both the Gamecube and the DS version)? Constantly nagging you about spending more time in the game. You're not allowed to play multiplayer until you've finished the first hour or so of tutorial play. This is unfriendly game design and Nintendo needs to stop it. What's especially interesting to me is that this unfriendly "we control the horizontal" attitude seems linked to the games that are seen as reaching out to non-gamers. Is that really the winning strategy? I had less fun today with Brain Age because I felt like I was arguing with a stupid cartridge and I don't see why that wouldn't hold true for a non-gamer as well.