Weekly Video Games Thread Really Messed Up that Turn

Happy Monday, one and all! Welcome to the Weekly Video Games Thread.

Hopefully by the end of the working day, I’ll have one hundred percent’d Pikmin 4. Practically, I basically have; late last night I managed to beat the final night expedition, Nintendo’s latest “oh, you think we’re a kiddie company, eh??” comically nigh-impossible level, after a few hours of juggling four terrifying bosses at the same time. After that it was the final treasure, but I want to read all of the treasure guide and Piklopedia before officially leaving PNF-404. But still! What an adventure. I messed up some long dead family’s living room, I played in a sandcastle, and I managed to fight some amazing enemies. Beady Long Legs, Smoky Proggs, Wollyhops, Creeping Chrysanthemums, those brainwashing mushroom dancers. All these guys could probably deserve a prompt of their own.

Of course, it came at a cost. Hundreds of my poor Pikmin were slaughtered over the fifty-three days, even with me liberally using the rewind feature to avoid needless deaths (I beat the final, ultra-long cave and boss with only six deaths, but probably six hundred rewinds). Those poor guys are some of the saddest and more pitiful gaming characters. They get torn up, spit out, and sometimes you have to do that to feed Emperor Bulbax that exploding rock. And they have it good when you’re leading them, going on how they always seem close to extinction at the start of every game. Sakurai put it best: “Pikmin don’t have graves, you know.” And hell, even he couldn’t resist adding that snuff film he called a Super Smash Bros. cutscene.

…You know, this wasn’t the only Nintendo game of 2023 to give me terrible losses and painful forced hands. I also sacrificed and lost plenty of troops in Advance Wars Re-Boot Camp. And going back to my teenage years as a slightly more than casual real-time strategy fan, I lost quite a few people in ill-advised Starcraft skirmishes. You know, wargames, strategy games; they’re interesting things for the games industry. They have a certain dispassion to them, especially compared with the action games that tend to be the norm (Pikmin is an interesting melding of the two, actually, but I digress). You’re not an übermensch power fantasy; you’re a raving general power fantasy. And that comes with failures in which you’re not the one who dies.

So here’s the prompt: times you lost an army or a squad in a game, particularly ones that weren’t scripted or limited to the plot. You could talk about painful sacrifices done to win a battle or times you were just wiped out like, I dunno, Empress Bulbax literally crushing your entire army in one second. I imagine plenty of our X-Com and Fire Emblem fans have some stories to tell about this. But generally, let’s chat about the pains of leadership in these kinds of games.

And, as always, what did you play last weekend?