After all my years of gaming, I can only recall a few specific moments vividly by name or the tears that I cried as they truly frustrated me, the man with all the patience in the universe. Allow me to name them. That boss fight against Moldorm in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, especially when it could knock you off the level itself, forcing you to retrace your steps. The entire realm of Aquis from Primal, which is all about swimming, but not about good swimming controls. Lastly, there’s that wall jumping section in Super Metroid, which, to this day, is a mechanic I still don’t have down pat. Well, we can now add “Violet’s Crossing” from The Incredibles on the PlayStation 2 to this curmudgeonly list.
I’m actually going to talk a bit about the entire second half of The Incredibles, but I feel like “Violet’s Crossing” is such a special case of fail that it needs its own paragraph or two. Allow me.
For a level that many YouTubers seem to get through in about nine minutes, this one took me forty-one minutes and change; also, I stopped counting how many times I died after twenty or so, especially since you can kill Violet within seconds of gaining control. It’s a stealth mission and the only time you are in control of Violet by herself. For those familiar with the movie, her power is turning invisible, but the game limits this to only a few seconds. Four or three, tops. Your goal here is to reach the end of the level without being caught, as she is killed instantly when spotted, taken down by a single laser beam bullet. Guards are on high alert and can hear her sneaking by if too close or if she brushes against some foliage.
I like stealth, but I guess I should say that I technically like good stealth, and I’m thinking about Metal Gear Solid, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and Mark of the Ninja mostly. “Violet’s Crossing” is a terrible stealth level, seemingly created by developers that have never played a stealth videogame in their collective lives. There’s no map, the guards have no vision cones or indication of where they are looking, and you have very limited control of the camera–I wonder if I’ll say the same thing when I revisit Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Throw in a super short period for using her invisibility power, as well as one-shot kills, and this turns into a frustrating spout of patience, of creeping inch by inch forward, hoping to hit a checkpoint and not have to repeat everything over and over. By the end of it, I felt like an AGDQ speedrunner, following a specific path and doing certain button presses, knowing they’d work because I had memorized how the guards moved and where one had to go to avoid them. However, instead of waiting what felt like an eternity for Violet’s Incredi-power meter to fill back up with invisibility juice, I spammed another secret passcode.
The level immediately after this is probably the most fun I had with The Incredibles, as Dash and Violet team up to pilot a bubble shield ball thing and mess around with physics. Basically, you get to bounce around in a bubble, taking out enemy soldiers, turrets, and machinery, while occasionally hitting some sweet jumps. After this, it is back to the same ol’ same ol’, with Mr. Incredible fighting that very same tank mini-boss he fought a few levels back multiple times in a row. It’s maddening, especially since the only way to stay alive and not lose progress and have to do all this repetitive busywork over again is to spam health cheat codes. But get this–The Incredibles is so ridiculous that it doesn’t even have a full health or invincibility cheat code. All you can do is keep typing in UUDDLRLRBAS for 25% health refill….25%. Which depletes quickly when battling a fire-spewing tank. I mean, c’mon, the Konami code used to grant you 30 lives in Contra and dress Qwark up in a tutu in Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal.
Ironically, the final final fight against the Omnidroid is not too difficult and kind of fun, so long as you keep an eye on everyone else’s health meters. Plus, after you beat it, you can continue running around the area, throwing rocks and leaping into burning trash bins, as the credits roll. For some reason, it reminded me of a Tony Hawk level. Or maybe my brain was so relieved to be done with this draining process in poor controls and faulty design choices that I was already beginning to think about what to play next. Please note that I did not actually go play Tony Hawk next (more on that in another post).
Oh, and somewhere about halfway through the game, I unlocked “Battle Arena” in the menu option. No, it’s not a local multiplayer slagfest. In it, you play as Mr. Incredible or Elastigirl, placed an arena to face round after round of enemies, culminating in a final tank battle, everyone’s favorite from the main campaign. Why would anyone do this? Well, to earn more bonus items, also known as uninteresting concept art. Here’s the kicker: you get one bonus item at the end of each round, so if you want all twenty of them you’ll need to beat Battle Arena as both superhero spouses. No thanks.
I’m sure it is obvious now from this post and the previous one that I have not had a good time with The Incredibles. A part of me is deeply curious if anything got better in the sequel The Incredibles: Rise of the Underminer, but maybe I should just retire my superhero cape at the ripe age of thirty-one. Also: no capes.