Hidden Information in Video Games
Video games strive to tell players enough information for them to adequately grasp the mechanics, often with tutorials—but not so much that everything is spoon-fed to them. Not every single formula for a game needs to be revealed, but we want to at least be aware of major concepts.
For example, many minute details in Pokémon games aren't given, like the exact bonus of having an "increased critical-hit rate" move such as Slash. However, we're told of important ideas, like how each element has its strengths and weaknesses.
Unfortunately, some games fail to provide integral knowledge, drastically hampering players in hidden ways. To see what I mean, let's examine six games that withhold vital information!
6. Reduced Experience to High-Level Characters in Persona 5
The Game: Persona 5 balances gameplay between the daily life of a high schooler—studying, hanging out with friends, and working part-time jobs—with defeating enemy Shadows in a mysterious realm. Characters do so using summoned creatures called Persona.
The Missing Information: In role-playing games such as this, many players "grind" or repeatedly defeat enemies to level up. Grinding itself can become boring, but players enjoy feeling overpowered once they've accumulated extra levels. However, in P5, enemies provide drastically reduced experience points to high-level characters.
This wouldn't be so annoying if the game actually revealed it. After defeating a lower-level Shadow, the game may claim you earned 80 experience, but if you examine your character, you'll notice you only received 20. Thus, players are tricked into thinking they're steadily gathering experience when they're hardly collecting any. Persona 5 is a fun game but secretly extends its most dull sections—grinding.
5. Opening Treasure Chests Makes the Ultimate Weapon Unobtainable in Final Fantasy 12
The Game: Debuting on the PlayStation 2, Final Fantasy 12 integrated exploration with combat and possessed a politics-heavy storyline that captivated most fans. It also introduced a unique way to customize upgrades using the License Board, where players chose how to spend their hard-earned experience points.
The Missing Information: The best weapon available, the Zodiac Spear, can only be attained if certain bizarre conditions are met—the treasure chests noted below cannot be opened. To be frank, this was an absurd idea (never explained in-game) that turned treasure troves into traps, sealing off the ultimate weapon. What player in their right mind won't open a chest when spotted, especially if the game never warns them of the unforeseen consequences?
Thankfully, the updated game on the PS4, Final Fantasy 12: The Zodiac Age, lets you obtain the spear without having to worry about chests.
Outside Old Dalan's place
Royal Palace of Rabanastre
Southeast corner (contains an Elixir—stinks to have to skip it)
Southernmost chest in the Confiscatory
Sixteen chests will be arranged in a grid—leave 'em alone
4. Enemies Appear Faster When Attacked in Plants vs. Zombies 2
The Game: Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time tasks players to defend against the undead using various lawn defenders. As a real-time strategy game, every second you have counts, and despite the cute aesthetics, many levels are quite challenging.
The Missing Information: When zombies first appear, players often instinctively begin placing offensive plants to defeat them—bad idea. It turns out that the sooner you attack and defeat the first zombies, the sooner the coming waves arrive. If you assault the initial enemies right when they enter, you're missing out on dozens of precious seconds to place resource-generating plants on the map; better to stall foes with defensive units.
Plus, other important details are absent from the game's plant guide, like Primal Wal-nut's ability to absorb three hits rather than one from fearsome Gargantuar Zombies.
3. Enemies Level as You Do in Final Fantasy 8
The Game: A controversial entry, fans either love or hate Final Fantasy 8, which features a bizarre plot and unique Junction-Magic system. I'm in the former, as I enjoy the atmosphere, music, and action despite some odd design choices ...
The Missing Information: As previously mentioned, grinding helps RPG players prepare their characters for upcoming battles. Simply put, the more enemies you kill, the higher your level and the stronger you become. However, Final Fantasy 8 secretly levels up enemies when you gain levels, mitigating the entire point of training. Because of this, several players suggest FF8 is easier when rushed through at low levels; hard to blame them when the alternative is amassing experience and unintentionally strengthening enemies.
2. Random Questions Determine the Game's Difficulty in Kingdom Hearts
The Game: Kingdom Hearts blends Final Fantasy characters with Disney ones to create a unique but beloved action-roleplaying experience. Most of the titles in the series simply ask players to select a difficulty when they begin their playthrough, but the first game, well...
The Missing Information: The original title asks players a series of seemingly-random questions listed below. Unbeknownst to the average gamer, their selected answers dictate the rate they will earn experience. For example, choosing the last options slows your experience gain to a crawl until level 40, essentially setting the difficulty to hard mode.
Another choice made early on also heavily affects the game: you choose to keep and discard a weapon from a sword, staff, and shield. The exact details of the choice aren't revealed to players, but at least here, the general stat changes are.
What Are You So Afraid of?
- Getting old.
- Being different.
- Being indecisive.
What Do You Want Outta Life?
- To see rare sights.
- To broaden my horizons.
- To be strong.
What's Most Important to You?
- Being number one.
- My prize possessions.
1. You Can Trap Yourself in the Final Area of Super Metroid
The Game: Released on the Super Nintendo, or SNES, back in 1994, Super Metroid offered a classic action-adventure experience. The project impressed audiences with its open world, creepy atmosphere, and engaging combat.
The Missing Information: Like many games, Super Metroid possesses a "Point of No Return," an area that, when crossed, closes off everything except the final portion of the game to players. The problem? In some titles, there's a save point after the PoNR, meaning gamers can inadvertently trap themselves in the last section.
Even once the final boss is beaten, many players still enjoy exploring the rest of open-world adventures and completing side quests, particularly since games often feature post-endgame content to discover. However, saving after the PoNR prevents them from ever being able to do so (unless they restart from the very beginning).
Super Metroid isn't the only game where players can accidentally seal themselves into an area. A small sample of these titles is listed below.
Games Featuring Points of No Return With Save Points
"The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time"
If you own the original version, don't save it when fighting Ganondorf, or you'll be permanently stuck in his castle.
Don't use the save point after the boss gauntlet, though a New Game+ option somewhat mitigates the issue.
"Star Fox Adventures"
Don't attain the final Krazoa Spirit in the Walled City shrine until you've concluded all business elsewhere.
More Puzzling Video Games
Despite griping about their clouded concepts, I honestly enjoy every game on today's list, and I recommend playing them yourself—especially now you're armed with the information they won't tell you. With several more misleading titles, we'll undoubtedly return to tackle more baffling communication errors, but for now, vote for your favorite title, and I'll see you at our next gaming countdown!
© 2017 Jeremy Gill
Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on July 26, 2017:
Thanks Poppy! I love Final Fantasy, but like you say, it has a bad tendency to conceal important info. Another good example is the ultimate magic in FF7, Knights of the Round, which can only be obtained by having a Gold Chocobo. Obtaining one involves, you guessed it, a crazy number of specific steps no player would stumble upon without a guide.
Like I don't mind being challenged to find powerful items, but at least give hints as to what the challenges are.
Poppy from Enoshima, Japan on July 26, 2017:
Good list! Final Fantasy seems to have a lot of secrets or ridiculous steps to take that are impossible to work out unless you look it up online or buy a guide.