Tag Archives: Lost Woods

A tale of my most hated tailing missions in videogames

gd post worst tailing missions in videogames

Gather round, dear Grinding Down readers, and I’ll tell you a mighty fine tale…all about tailing. Whatever you do, don’t look up the urban dictionary definition for it.

For those that are lucky and have never played a game involving a tailing mission, you are basically tasked with following a non-player character to a designated area. This is either done on foot or in a vehicle. However, more often than not, your target cannot be alerted to your presence; if they are, that means your mission to be like a ninja failed, and you’ll have to start it all over. Like many, I do not enjoy these missions, despite being full of patience, and some are more loathsome than others, especially when silly things like artificial intelligence, geometry glitches, and randomness are actively working against each other. They are lengthy, generally due to the fact that you are often following someone moving at a leisurely pace, and checkpoints are usually non-existent.

Many bad tailing missions stick out in my mind after all these years of gaming, and below are a few that I’d like to highlight as particularly bad. In fact, I might even say I hated them.

“The Siege of Charles-Towne” from Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

This is the one that got this nugget of an idea about a list of tailing missions started, way back when I was actively playing it. Sorry, I’m sometimes slow with these posts or lose interest only to come back to them much later with renewed vigor. I generally enjoyed my time with Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag or, as my girlfriend calls it, “the turtle game.” See, one time she saw me playing it, and I was running around a beach area looking at the turtles scooting their way to the ocean, and thus the game will forever now be known as such. That’s fine, because this series is now 10+ games deep, and we need a better way to recognize them than just their generic subtitles. Honestly, I’m surprised it took us so long to use the word origins.

I know these games are pretty hit and miss with consumers, with ones like Assassin’s Creed III and Assassin’s Creed: Unity definitely in the miss column, but I liked a lot of what Kenway could do and even patiently dealt with the handful of tailing missions thrown at the man throughout the game. Still, they all got rated one or two stars when completed, but they weren’t too bad, all in all. Not when you compare them with Sequence 6’s “The Siege of Charles-Towne”, which literally has you in a boat…stealthily following another boat. Ugh. I don’t really even know how that is possible, but I guess if you sail smoothly enough and don’t startle any dolphins, anything can happen.

To start, you are steering a large boat around a small swampy location, at night, with lots of things to smash into. It’s like threading the needle with the lights out. Also, not sure if any of you have every tried to quickly course correct and shift directions in a boat, but it’s not a fast affair. Throw in the fact that you must be cognizant of both red and yellow circles on the mini-map while trying to steer, and you’ve got the recipe for one bad tailing mission. On a related note, I’m currently playing Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, at about 25% synchronization for those curious, and have not found too many troubling tailing missions…yet. I’m sure one will rear its ugly head soon enough.

“The Set Up” from L.A. Noire

la-noire-the-set-up

Ah, L.A. Noire, you big, gorgeous, empty-as-heck modern adventure game. About midway through “The Set Up” mission, Cole must remain incognito while tailing a woman named Candy Edwards. See, she might have information about why the professional boxer Albert Hammond won a fight that he was supposed to throw, which angered a lot of bookies and people betting on the event. For those that don’t know, incognito means things like, sitting on a park bench and pretending to read the newspaper, as well as avoiding getting spotted when she turns around to examine her surroundings.

As Phelps is tailing Candy on foot, he has to keep his distance and maintain good cover. If he gets too close, she’ll stop and turn around. Phelps will also comment if he is about to lose Candy’s. It’s pretty straightforward, but it’s a whole bag of boredom and constantly worrying about being too far or too near the target. There are invisible meters and vision cones at work here, and I still don’t know if seeing them would be better or not. There’s also an Achievement for tailing Candy without using any incognito or cover…which I’ve not popped.

In the end, it’s a tailing mission, where your movement is dictated by the target’s movement, and I’d rather spend my time closely examining matchbooks or pieces of fruit or interrogating suspects. Or even searching for those well-hidden golden film reel collectibles.

“Act 3” from Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

This one is still pretty fresh, seeing as I only just played Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots for the first time back in autumnal 2015. Earlier in the game, you had to track someone by their footprints out in the wild, and that was honestly fine. However, the streets of Eastern Europe are a whole different bag of messy worms, and Old Snake must tail a member of the resistance in hopes of him leading you to the hidden resistance HQ.

Now, if you follow him without being detected, he’ll lead you directly to the resistance HQ, which is where you can hopefully meet Big Momma. However, you need to keep a good distance away from him in order to avoid being detected, which means letting him get a decent head start and running into trouble. So, you not only have to follow this whistling fool without being spotted, but you also have to protect him from enemy soldiers piqued by all that whistling and various roadblocks. Frustratingly, he can’t witness you helping him either, otherwise he’ll get scared and run away.

I did not do well with this mission, and I felt like I stumbled the entire way through it, just barely surviving encounters and keeping the resistance man on track. It’s a major reason holding me back from ever revisiting the game.

“The Lost Pilgrimage” Korok trial from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Once you make your way through the Lost Woods and get to Hyrule Forest proper in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, you can attempt to complete four Korok trials. One is given to you by a Korok named Tasho, who tells you about friend Oaki, who set off to find a shrine alone. Oaki really wants to make it all the way to the shrine by himself, but Tasho is worried and wants Link to follow along after him to ensure he makes it there safely. Alas, this is an instant-fail stealth tailing mission, which means the moment you are spotted it is over and you have to restart from the beginning. It’s a severely outdated design and a fun-sucking vacuum cleaner if I ever saw one.

Okay, so, some issues. One, Oaki is dressed mostly in bland, gray clothing, which makes him hard to see in the foggy Lost Woods. You have to rely on sound more than anything due to all the gear he is carrying. Two, this is still the Lost Woods, and so if you veer off the main path too far, the fog sucks you up. A kind soul might imagine this simply plopping you back on the beaten path to continue forward, but no, it just fails the mission outright. Gee, thanks. Okay, so these issues took a couple attempts to figure out and get used to, but then I lost all hope when, without warning, Oaki turns around and runs straight at Link, spotting him instantly.

Ugh. I attempted this mission three or four times, wasting a bunch of my stealth potions too, before giving up on it entirely to focus instead on rebuilding Tarrey Town. Y’know, an easier, less punishing task.

Well, those are the tailing missions that stand out in my mind as bee aye dee. That’s bad, if you couldn’t figure it out. What ones have you not enjoyed over the years? Or, if you are in the mood to play the devil’s advocate, tell us all about how much you love closely and quietly following someone around a limited environment without ever getting spotted.

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Stuck fast in the puzzle mire that is Paper Mario: Sticker Star

paper mario SleepingWiggler

What is wrong with me? I’ve traded out one extremely challenging game for the time being–Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner Overclocked–for another. Namely Paper Mario: Sticker Star. Though those two games differ quite dramatically in what makes them challenging: one demands a clearly strategic mindframe that needs precise execution to equal success, and the other asks you to know things you probably couldn’t ever know unless you looked them up in an online walkthrough. Like I did last night. To find the third Wiggler segment, so that I could keep playing. Whatever.

Originally, I purchased Sticker Star the same time I got Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask, with Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion following shortly thereafter. That was both a great and troubling time for my Nintendo 3DS, as it meant I had to pick something to play and stick with it lest I fall down the rabbit hole of dabbling in everything, but getting nowhere. At this point, I’ve now completed Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask (yay!) and Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion (boo!), but that didn’t mean I jumped back into our paper-thin Mario’s latest adventure. No, instead, I journeyed through Pokemon White 2 and then made the, as readers know, futileness attempt to get further in Devil Summoner Overclocked. But since that last game has broken my spirit a bit, I’m now back to peeling stickers off walls and filling out the museum like an addict.

Despite my save slot showing that I have logged around eight or so hours, I am not very far in Sticker Star. I’ve opened up the forest world on the left and the desert world to the right, but only have one collected jeweled crown in my book. As well as one piece of “scrap” and three pages of random items, like a lighter, boom box, and giant fan. I’m unsure of how to progress further in the desert-themed levels, especially how to get to the alternate exit in one specific level, and so instead of just spinning my wheels there I popped over to the forest world to see what still needed to be done. Seems like that adorable Wiggler is still missing two segments to his body, and one of them is located in the Bafflewood level, which riffs heavily on Zelda‘s recurring Lost Woods; it’s a giant maze, one that is endless unless you know the right path to take, which you can highlight by place stickers next to specific path exits. I already beat this level, having marked the true path, but no matter how many times I went through it or tried a different way to move here or there, I could not locate the Wiggler’s body segment. For the previous two segments, you could always spy them hiding in the open. Boo, wah.

And so I was forced to look up an online walkthrough, which told me that to locate the Wiggler’s third body segment you have to first go right, then left, then right, and then right once more. Not sure how I was ever in the world to know that, unless a Toad said something I missed. If I did miss some key dialogue, then sure, my fault. I came back to a videogame I haven’t played in a few months and acted a fool. I also had the sound lowered as Tara was watching her new Netflix obsession Monarch of the Glen, which means I might have bypassed some audio clues. However, if not, that kind of puzzle solution is just obtuse. There are no clues, no nudges in that direction; the entire time you explore the Bafflewood, any exit that is not the true exit drops you back to the beginning, and so you are taught early on to follow a single path. This puzzle breaks that mentality, but doesn’t tell you. Just assumes you’ll do it eventually.

Anyways, after all that Wiggler-rebuilding (the fourth and final segment was easy enough to find and rescue), I was able to get up to the third world’s boss, which is a large, poison-filled squid with something like 300 HP, only to have Mario’s butt kicked swiftly and efficiently. The squid’s poison attack not only weakens Mario, but also obstructs the screen, kind of like it did in Mario Kart DS, to the point that it’s hard to tell how much HP Mario has left and whether or not using a Mushroom is needed this turn. Not sure what I did wrong attack-wise, but I suspect I need stronger, shinier stickers to really make the damage count early on. Will try again, and then I guess it’s back to the desert world unless a fourth world of levels opens up after taking down the squid boss. Until then…