Making Pokemon Not Fun To Play!
January 13, 2021 1:14 PM   Subscribe

Speedrunning is more popular than ever, but inventive/crazy players are finding other unusual ways to play games. One is the search for ways to permanently soft-lock a game, that is, render it non-completable. Like: releasing all your pokemon, except for one Magikarp in the Pokemon League at the end of the game... wait, it's escapable? Fanbyte article: "Meet the Players Who Render Games Unplayable." Youtube playlist, Soft Lock Picking. A video from it, Escaping the Magikarp Trap.
posted by JHarris (13 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Saw the best version of pokemon today! Stopped at a bakery (Lyndell's in Bell Sq) and while locking bike, noticed a woman and three young girls talking about seeing the pokeman. It was on a cake on a high display shelf. Each kid got to be lifted up to see the pokeman. Best poke-group ever.
posted by sammyo at 3:17 PM on January 13, 2021 [3 favorites]

Oh, man, I love this premise and I enjoyed the Magikarp Trap vid and will be watching more of Soft Lock Picking. The idea of scraping your way out of a jam by painstakingly exploiting an off-by-one programming error is great, if the reality not so much. Has a very "four white mages in FFI" feel, but far more so.

I actually ran into a soft lock situation today, getting stuck in a set piece where you have to shoot some drones using the guns you had equipped at the start of the scene, which is fine unless you're me and you are trying to punch your way through everything and so have no guns equipped at all. Just poor testing, not a very interesting situation, and because of autosaves not more than a brief setback, but still it was a genuinely clusterfuck to be forced into by the game not knowing it had set a trap.
posted by cortex at 7:03 PM on January 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

Relatedly, on the 3DS version of the original Metroid if you enter an invalid password which will crash the game(running in an emulator, naturally), it can take down the whole system with it.
posted by StarkRoads at 7:19 PM on January 13, 2021

These soft-locks are so great. I love that they are generally not exploiting bugs in the games but instead rely on the player engaging in elaborate acts of self-sabotage.
posted by 3j0hn at 7:32 PM on January 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

At the end of the Electrode video, they reveal that the soft lock that happens if you enter Lorelei's fight with a fighting type, where her Dewgong always uses Rest and so could end up impossible to defeat, was special-cased in Pokemon Yellow, in that one instance the AI won't endlessly use Rest!
posted by JHarris at 10:23 PM on January 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

He attributes the thing about Lorelei's fight to avoiding the soft lock, but wouldn't be just as likely (or more) that they realized a final boss fight where the enemy does nothing but sleep is a bit boring and anticlimactic?
posted by vibratory manner of working at 12:03 AM on January 14, 2021

I've written more about it here [self link, apologies], in a post about architecture built for gun games from ages ago. but there are a few places in Halo where a jetpack will get you over a wall you're not supposed to be able to cross, and if you do, you find a whole bunch of spaces that will eventually be populated with enemies, but for now are all idling empty. Eventually you can find some spaces to walk through that trigger some enemies into existence, at the end of some long ravines that were empty when you walked through them moments ago, and if you clear out those spaces before going back to play through the game as intended, you eventually find... nobody.

A handful of expected monsters show up, but once they're done, a radioed voice exhorts you to finish the job, but there's nobody there. Suddenly, it's just you, alone on this island, with nothing to do. Your story silently hits a dead end. Nobody talks to you, nothing more can be done, it's just you wandering this lush, stale island forever.
posted by mhoye at 6:07 AM on January 14, 2021 [7 favorites]

If anyone remembers this 2012 FPP about a guy who had spent 10 real years and 1700 game years in a Civ II game that had turned into an apocalyptic wasteland of eternal war: since then people have found multiple solutions.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 7:17 AM on January 14, 2021 [4 favorites]

I'm of a generation that grew up playing video games -- whether you had pokemon blue or red was a hot topic in fourth grade -- and soft-locks of video games were an occasional component of my childhood nightmares. The thought of being in a video game but being trapped and helpless and nothing you do is capable of making progress, and it's impossible to reset, is still a feeling that still takes me to a bad place. I respect the technical knowledge and creativity that goes into playing games the "wrong" way, but for some reason I react to a soft-lock in a video game the same way I do to, say, something from a Saw film.
posted by Rinku at 9:46 AM on January 14, 2021 [3 favorites]

in Sonic Jam for the Sega Saturn they repackaged the first four Genesis Sonic games, and included some additional features (and bugs). If you play Sonic 2 on Easy mode, among other things the levels are edited to have fewer spikes. This results in one of the later levels having a spike pit get demoted to a regular pit, meaning instead of falling and getting spiked to death you fall and get stuck until the timer runs out. This is not an improvement.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:57 PM on January 14, 2021 [4 favorites]

I hate that pit! It's also highly frustrating if you fall into it as Super Sonic with a ton of rings. Why not just make it a death pit!
posted by JHarris at 12:48 PM on January 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

mhoye, this is late, but in the original HALO CE, on Assault on the Control Room, when you get to the bridge with the Banshees, what's supposed to happen is:

1) Door opens. The Covenant see Master Chief; an Elite runs to a Banshee and gets in it. You have to fight your way across the bridge, dealing with invisible Sword Elite + 2 Banshees circling above you + Wraith fire from below + pack of Grunts and Jackals.


2) you go through the door on the other side, fight through the level there, and then get in an elevator, fight through the level at the bottom, go out the door, kill the Wraith, and then fight your way up the hill until you finally get to the top, where there's another huge battle and you trigger the end-of-chapter cutscene.


A) if you kill that first Elite before he gets to the Banshee, you can fly it right off the bridge, skipping almost all of 2), straight to the top of the hill, which is completely empty, because none of the spawns have been triggered.


B) You can actually just jump off the bridge without bothering to fight anybody on it, and if you land on top of the giant flying buttress, you can just run all the way up to the top end of it, at which point you can just slide down the side to get to the top of the hill. Which, again, is completely empty, because none of the spawns have been triggered.
posted by what does it eat, light? at 8:15 AM on January 19, 2021

...or, alternately, this.
posted by what does it eat, light? at 9:37 AM on January 19, 2021

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