Anarchy in the free play – the joys of chaotic gaming
Completing all the quests feels like a momentous achievement. Getting that golden 100% on your save file isn’t bad either. In gaming, completion is often everything; inflated egos and bragging rights last for weeks.
Yet for all the strain and countless hours you’ve burned, something’s missing. Ultimately, you know you’ve taken the boring path, you’ve gone straight from A to Z and simply haven’t had a walk on the wild side. But don’t get frustrated. The game developers know you need to let off steam sometimes and go off their beaten track.
While recent gaming phenomenons like Fortnite stick to straightforward, linear objectives, it’s important to acknowledge those game developers who understand your need for rebellion. Here are the finest video game examples of sticking it to the man (or animal, as will become clear).
Animal Crossing: New Leaf (Nintendo, 2012)
The adorable animal series might not be a clear candidate for violence and chaos, but you’d be surprised. Sure, putting on a different T-shirt and hat to trick Jingle into giving you more Christmas presents was amusing, but it never quite scratched that seemingly unreachable itch.
After offloading millions of bells to the capitalist raccoon, Tom Nook (7,595,800, to be precise), you need random citizens upon whom to take out your deep-seated rage. For some unfathomable reason, it took Nintendo three iterations to finally understand this necessary action. While the humble net was previously only allowed to fulfil its passive purpose of catching bugs, in your role as the Town Mayor, it now serves a far more enjoyable one.
Of course, you’ll want to be discerning in your choice of victim. There will always be one villager who’s gone too far, whether it’s an annoying catchphrase or an irritating refusal to let you take a nice piece of furniture during a scheduled visit to their household.
Once you’ve got your target secured, simply wait until they’re walking outside, wield your net and get hitting. One hit will just get a confused reaction, so make sure that you hit that jerk three times in order to get the desired indignant speech, followed by an angry facial expression when you’ve ceased the one-sided discussion. If you have a particular hatred for this villager, then keep whacking them with that net on a regular basis, and they’ll eventually pack up and leave town. Mission accomplished.
New Super Mario Bros Wii (Nintendo, 2009)
Nintendo delivered a similarly deceptive instalment in the Mario Bros series a few years earlier. At first glance, it’s all bright colours and creative platforming action.
If you delve into the layers of multiplayer, however, things get far more chaotic. On the one hand, you can choose to have a relatively calm game with your fellow comrades as you progress through the levels in a mannered form, helping them reach higher places by letting them bounce on your head.
On the other hand, you can also mess up the entire operation by picking your friend up and gleefully chucking them into a hole, a nearby enemy or even lava (providing they don’t escape into weeny bubble before they reach their doom). My personal favourite for complete disorder is level 8-7. It’s all well and good chucking other players into a Goomba in world 1, but nothing beats the thrill of a four player match on a skeletal rollercoaster that constantly dips into lava.
Although it’s difficult to chuck people off when the rollercoaster is travelling fast, it’s also possible to make a well-timed jump and send them plunging to a burning death anyway. The prime times to catch them off-guard, however, are in the short moments of relaxation as the rollercoaster slows down. Be on guard during this period, however, as your supposed friends are probably thinking the exact same thing. Trust nobody.
The Simpsons: Hit & Run (Radical Entertainment, 2003)
Matt Groening’s beloved animation also takes on a more riotous character in this brilliant entry. Although the Grand Theft Auto series is more famous for its free-world anarchy, Hit and Run remains one of its finest clones. The meagre plot centres around a conspiracy involving Buzz Cola, where you have to complete various missions to save Springfield. However, the real amusement comes from hitting pedestrians, then attempting to drive away from the cops.
Besides all the collectables of gags, outfits and cards, you can enjoy a variety of amusing reactions from the displeased Springfield citizens after they’ve been knocked over, and the developers make the correct choice to include all the original voice actors in the game.
Insulted responses range from logical complaints like “What the heck were you thinking?” to more bizarre and amusing observations like “This is one weird place”, before the aggrieved citizen continues with their daily routine of walking back and forth. Although crashing into objects is often the objective of the missions, it’s still important to take a break from the main objectives and cause some disarray every once in a while.
The Sims Series (Maxis, 2000 – present)
Although I didn’t play The Sims too much in my younger years, the music of the Grim Reaper’s approach as my brothers played was enough to send my three-year-old self bawling and running out of the room in terror. All the hard work cultivating a measured and vibrant personality gone to waste over a failed rock-paper-scissors battle with Death.
However, there are other moments when the death of a Sim is wholly necessary, and must be enacted by their own creator. It’s not an easy decision, but, ultimately, it has to be done. In tragic cases such as these, the most efficient method is a quick drowning. Simply lead your sim down the ladder into the pool to have a nice swim. Then, when they’re lulled into an enjoyable session, just pause and whisk that ladder away.
While most human beings would have the good sense to just exit the pool with a meagre bit of core body strength, the humble Sim appears to have no such common sense. When you start the game again, they’ll flounder pathetically and then sink. Goodnight sweet prince/princess.
Roller Coaster Tycoon Series (Various developers, 1999 – present)
Like their Sim counterparts, the tourists who have the wisdom to enter your rollercoaster establishment are not the most discerning of human beings. While the game developers probably expect you to create a nice little world full of health and safety regulations, they also seem to allow you to create the complete opposite. Although the financial incentives to complete a fully-formed rollercoaster are clearly there, so too is the option of constructing a wholly incomplete ride that will inevitably lead to mass homicide. But for whatever reason – maybe just pure nihilism – the citizens don’t seem to mind. They’ll get onto a fifty foot spiralling ride with no end and fly off into Valhalla just for the sheer thrill of it.
If you need a violent release from linear repetition in your gameplay, look no further than these classics.