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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Apparently only right handers play videogames

It's not very often that I get excited over XBLA releases, however my lust for this one was almost palpable. Perfect Dark, the N64 classic was released today for the Xbox 360 as a downloadable title and no sooner had I risen from slumber this morning than that bad girl was in my download queue. One race in Pure later and I was firing up code and ready to go!

Let's see, yes, yes, options, start, singleplayer, hmm....that's annoying...options...controls....

Yes left handed gameplay support.

That is to say no support for swapping the sticks. There were control method alternatives, sure, but they seemed more geared towards moving the buttons around ever so slightly in order to make the game play more like your favorite FPS ("Spartan" and "Duty Calls" indeed, Rare, you have earned a single guffaw).

Now don't get me wrong, I'm left handed but not militantly so (if such a thing is indeed possible) and I did play through all of Bioshock with nary a swappable stick option in sight. What does irritate me however is that lo those many years ago I spent at a friend's house playing Perfect Dark, I distinctly remember there being not one but at least two options for left handed controls...and this was on a SINGLE ANALOG STICK CONTROLLER.

I get that porting a game is no small task, especially when it requires redoing a good amount of the graphics, but one has to account for a significant portion of the populace simply not being able to play your game because of this decision. It's not as though it's a life choice we can simply overcome, our BRAINS, our very engines of emotion and function are wired differently and an option to make things simpler for us would have been appreciated, especially since it USED to be there!

I'm continually mystified by developers who leave out left handed options or customiseable controls on the whole, particularly when Microsoft themselves have taken the pains to hardwire support for it into the console itself (your profile options on your Xbox allow you to set action games to left handed swapped stick support) and I was incredibly thankful for the "bumper jumper" setting in Halo 3 which eliminated my one hurdle at becoming good at the game. You ever try pushing forward on the RIGHT stick while pressing A? Task and a half, lemme tell ya.

I'm also confused by developers who don't count on the hardware supporting such a feature. Attempting to play Lego Batman with my niece garnered some initial confusion upon loading up the game when I was only allowed to move Batman around with the D-Pad or Right Stick. Switching my Profile setting to right handed allowed me to play the game normally, but there was NO in game option to select my preference.

Perhaps preference is too lax a word? Mental routing? Orientation? No, I think that one's taken.

All I'm saying is, game developers, we're here, we're Leftys, get used to it. And let us swap sticks if we want. S'all.

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