Ninja blade creates frustration by reaction time

Problems

Before beginning I need to mention that it is not a game review. It is about a couple of problem related user experience.

1. The keys: Ninja Blade is a fast-based action game. There are two different types of game play experience in this game:

  • Combat: like other typical fight games, you have swords, can jump, and score by killing enemies. Like the picture below:
  • Keypress: during the parts of the game story that are like a movie, the player is requested to press certain keys quite fast. See the images below:

The second game play experience is what this post is about. If you haven’t played the game, assume that a movie is playing (which you have absolutely no control on what is happening) but in order to progress through the story of the game you have to press certain keys on your game controller. The requested keys appear on the screen and within a very short time, you should detect the key and press it. Being a casual game player (about 1 hour per day in average for the past 3 years), I find it quite hard to press those keys on time. When I searched the Internet I found out that I’m not alone. In fact his is one of the reasons the popular game review site GameSpot.com gave a low score to this game. If you miss the keys, the story (the movie) rewinds back for a few seconds and plays again (quite boring) and expects you to press the same keys faster (quite frustrating). In the options menu, it is possible to make the game easier (“Easy”, “Normal” and “Hard”), but there are only two possible options for the speed of keypresses: “Normal” and “Hard”!

2. Such a frustrating game is not easy to play. You may get tired and take a break. But quite surprisingly the save function only saves the level you are playing. Each level takes about an hour. In other words if you want to save your progress after 45 minutes of playing a level, you can’t. Either you have to finish the level or you have to play it from the beginning the next time!

Solutions

1. There are two simple solutions to the first problem:

  • Eliminate the key press game play altogether. It’s not fun to look for which is the next key rather than enjoying the amazing cinematic of the game.
  • Make the response time of the key presses longer. This will greatly reduce the frustration.

2. Many games have an auto-save feature that saves the last checkpoint the player has been playing. Ninja Blade has that too. But when user turns off the console and comes back again, the game starts from the start of the level. It’s good if the next time the player can play from almost where they left the game (last checkpoint). It’s a cool feature. Not many people like to play a scene twice and it’s even worse to force them kill their time that way.

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