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Show Your Game Who's Boss
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posted by: Chris Martin
date posted: 12:00 AM Tue Jul 26th, 2005
last revision: 12:00 AM Tue Jul 26th, 2005

A great number of games only last their users a lazy weekend. Some just go on forever. And then there are those that up the difficulty as you progress until all you're seeing is red, and a "Game Over" screen. Some of the more famous games that do this are Ninja Gaiden for Xbox, God of War on PlayStation 2 (especially on God difficulty), and even the brilliant Resident Evil 4 can, at times, try one's patience.

Ne'er you fear, dear reader! We've put together a list of quick tips to help out in nearly every situation. These tips will not work in all games - fighting games notwithstanding - but I hope they help in the most difficult games out there. 

1. Learn the Controls

Though this might seem obvious, sometimes going over the control scheme can be a great help. zSB(3,3);if(!z336){var zIsb=gEI("adsb");if(zIsb){zIsb.style.display="inline";zIsb.style.height="0px";zIsb.style.width="0px";}var zIss=gEI("adss");if(zIss){zIss.style.display="inline";zIss.style.height="0px";zIss.style.width="0px";}} I know I sometimes forget about those "white" and "black" buttons on Xbox, or even that elusive "Z" button on GameCube. Take some time to get a handle on the controls before you jump headlong into the game.  In the long run this will save on much frustration. While many games walk you through the control schemes, some do not. Remembering, in a pinch, that R2 makes you hide or that the white button turns on your flashlight can be the difference between life and death.

2. Save Three and Save Often!

Possibly the biggest sin all gamers are guilty of is not saving often enough. While some games, like Resident Evil 4, only let you save at specific intervals, some let you save any time you want. If a game lets you, save before you try waking that guard or sneaking past security.

Because it is possible to save after a key event has happened, I've found it useful to rotate saves - that is, make three or more save games that you circulate. Keeping more saves allows you to revisit earlier gameplay in case you missed a key item or need to redo anything essential.

3. Magic Before Items

In games that feature both an inventory and a magic bar (sometimes called mana bar, I've found using magic before dipping into the inventory a safe play. The best example for this is Diablo II. Use mana first as it will often replenish itself over time; this can cut back on potion use and allow you to keep those potions for when you really need them.

4. Don't forget to Reload!

Always reload your weapon when the smoke clears.  Don't wait to do it in the thick of battle. In Resident Evil 4, having all your guns reloaded before a battle can mean the difference of killing all the enemies, or becoming their lunch.

5. Exploit Weak Points

Every boss has a weakness. Sometimes it's hitting a head, or shooting an eye or a glowing red spot on his chest. It does vary, but there are specific things you can do to increase your chances of surviving. First, not all weapons are created equal. Figuring out the best weapon to attack the weak point can greatly help your chances. Second, learn the boss's pattern. Some bosses (well, nearly all bosses) have a pattern of moves they go through before they become vulnerable. Sometimes these patterns complicate as the boss becomes damaged. Learn the boss's pattern and then get ready to attack its weak point.

This technique extends to more than just bosses. Regular enemies too can be exploited. In games like Final Fantasy IX, some enemies are more vulnerable to magic, while others are strong against it. Find and exploit their weaknesses to defeat them.