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My opinion on Backtracking and Items gained from it! I

Gamingtodaynews1e - My opinion on Backtracking and Items gained from it! I

I am a large fan of the Megaman X series. I love the design but find the backtracking to sometimes be unbearable or confusing with the backtracking item collection doesn't fit the main path/ boss order. I noticed that the item collection was impossible to find without a guide. That got me thinking… backtracking can really fuck up game flow.

Pokemon has some backtracking the problems with HMs that were used to artificially lengthen and restrict the player. I understand getting certain items as a form of progression but in most games, I've played it destroys the overall pacing of the game.

Megaman X3

I enjoy the level design that encourages you to change your common path, with Megaman x3 a game I love but takes a while for me to beat. Due to the impossible difficulty of the bosses without their weakness I found myself replaying cryptic stages 3-4 times. The game's difficulty curve and boss layout with their incredibly specific patterns. ie

Volt Catfish requires at least 2 heart tanks and Tunnel Rhino's weapon to beat.

So we need to start with tunnel rhino, his weapon is used to access 75% of the items but all of the additional items in his stage needs to be used with enhanced Volt Catfish tri thunder

The game all fits together so tightly with such an unbreakable closed cycle that trying to make your own path without a guide or a large knowledge of the game is near impossible.

So back to backtracking. I have yet to find an instance truly where backtracking doesn't break the game's pace or be unrequited to play the game in your own style.


Super Metroid

Metroidvania games, such as Symphony of the Night or Super Metroid use backtracking as a core design decision and i respect that dedication. The issue arises with the intentionally confusing and sometimes (for me that is) incredibly forceful cryptic nature of the puzzles and map. I understand that after getting the backtracked item, the player is supposed to use that item to progress. But when the item's use isn't fleshed out, or when its area of use is so specific in such a large map it doesn't make me say

"Yay! I figured it out"

it makes me feel like:

"Are you fucking kidding me, I was supposed to stand on the corner of the floor and drop a bomb on a tile that looks like every other tile?"

When the player isn't explained what a backtracked item does or how/where to use it it makes them feel like their efforts and time was wasted.

Moral of the story:

Explaining the backtracked item's mechanics is important if the player is to stop and break pace, especially if the level design, layout of bosses, and difficulty restricts/hinders the player's personal game style.

Have any of you found a great example of backtracking done well?

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