Capcom taught me a little lesson about games yesterday.

 A few weeks ago, I decided to fire up Resident Evil 4 on my Wii just to get back into a great game. I was starting from scratch without any of my old save files, but having played through the game a few times, I was pretty confident from the outset. However, after routinely killing the first few dudes in the first village, I came out of a house only to hear a faint, familiar sound growing louder. It took me a second to place, but then an alarm went off in my brain. "Hell no, I've been here three times before and Chainsaw Guy is NOT supposed to be in this village." I wondered if something about my new copy of the game was different, but it's not like they release patches for GameCube games. Of course, I then promptly proceeded to die, and since I had been so confident, I hadn't made use of the one save opportunity you get before that. This whole experience was a little off-putting, so I left the game alone until yesterday and didn't think about it much.
 
"What the hell, I'll give it another shot," I thought as I watched the opening cinematic. I did make sure to save this time, but to my surprise I waltzed into the village and cracked some heads without another cameo from the big ugly. At first, I was simply pleased with this, but it was nagging at me so I thought harder. Why didn't it happen this time? I hadn't gone into any of the buildings, but how could that have made a difference? Then it hit me. Before, I had grabbed the shotgun I knew was in one of the houses before finishing off the villagers. It hadn't been a conscious decision, just seemed like a good idea. This simple choice had a profound effect on my experience in what I thought to be a fairly linear game.
 
All I could say was, "Well played, Capcom." Many games have a variation of the "New Game +" system, and RE4 is no exception. However, what I realized yesterday is that sometimes a developer has enough sense to place the player in a scenario where their knowledge and experience from a previous play-through will work against them instead of giving them an advantage. What really surprised me was that I had known about the shotgun when I played through the game before but had never gone for it so early. It just further illustrated the fact that I didn't need to do so to clear the village. I got ahead of myself, and paid the frustrating, bloody price.
 
"Where's everyone going? Bingo?"

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