Although the "sandbox" game is becoming more and more popular as gamers realize it's really more fun to just run around doing whatever you want with a missile launcher than it is to follow what a game company calls fun, most games still have a linear order: complete this mission to get that doodad and complete the dungeon. But computers take everything awfully literally, and sometimes that translates out to some very fast (and sometimes hilarious) shortcuts.
By Dan Seitz
10. Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Zelda seems to come up a lot in our video game articles, so why should this one be any exception? True, it's easier to complete the temples in the order you're supposed to, but why bother?
For example, to complete the Spirit Temple, you don't need the hoverboots, just the Longshot and some fast fingers to trigger the double jump, which will solve the silver rupee puzzle in that temple. Or you can complete the Fire Temple without visiting the Forest Temple and picking up the bow.
We wish we could do this in our daily lives. Like hitting the strip club while avoiding going to the ATM, or getting right to the nookie without going to the romantic comedy. Wait, we can do that last one with a good bottle of wine.
9. Final Fantasy
Source: Square Enix
Role-playing games are always tricky, and they take some of the fun out of role-playing, namely outwitting the DM and ruining his carefully planned adventure (you call it being a munchkin, we call it careful manipulation of the rules). Fortunately, if the programmers are the DMs, they've set themselves up for failure, at least as far as the original Final Fantasy is concerned.
Basically, once you clear the first dungeon, you can track down the items you need to fly around in your pimpin' airship, hitting every dungeon and looting it, and then coming back to the second dungeon and laying complete waste to the second boss in the game, who otherwise is a total pain in the ass.
Somehow, we think the developers have been getting back at their fans ever since.
8. Enter the Matrix
Source: Shiny Entertainment
Enter The Matrix tried hard to be a lot like the first Matrix movie. Instead it was more like The Matrix sequels. Tragic, we know, but on the bright side, the hacking minigame was pretty funny and you got to see Monica Bellucci and Jada Pinkett-Smith lock lips, so it wasn't all bad.
It did, however, crank the difficulty factor through the roof in some levels, but Shiny, the developers, at least hid some useful solutions. For example, there's an insanely difficult level late in the game where you have to avoid the Smith clones destroying the Matrix. Getting through this level is a nightmare as Smiths attack you left and right. But, by disobeying some instructions, you can skip to the fun parts. At the beginning of the level, the game tells you to go left. But if you go right, you can skip the level entirely.
Kind of like how you can just watch the first Matrix and forget entirely about the rest of them.
7. Super Metroid
Super Metroid was a teenager's wet dream back in the early 1990s. Complex, detailed worldmaps that rewarded exploration by giving you more health and ways to blow things up? Seeing Samus in a skintight outfit for completing the game quickly? Hell yes. But the one problem was dealing with some of the bosses. Some were weak, some were strong, but all of them were pretty well-timed to keep the game difficult.
Good thing you can just play them in any order. There's nothing compelling you to fight the bosses in order; with a little ingenuity, and a lot of repetitive jumping, you can fight them in whatever order you want. Of course, you'll spend fifteen minutes in a morph ball laying down explosives to blast yourself over an "insurmountable" barrier, and finding the items is more fun, but this isn't about fun, dammit! It's about cheating!
6. Deus Ex
Source: Ion Storm Inc.
Deus Ex combined the best of FPS play with the best of RPGs. You had a skill tree to update constantly, terrorists to kill, and lots of fun to be had, mostly by skipping huge parts of the game by exploiting the physics engine.
For example, in the opening of the game, open the doors to the UNATCO base and throw a gas grenade at them. Congratulations, you just beat the entire first mission. There are so many ways to break the game that there's actually an entire walkthrough dedicated to it. Have fun!
5. Postal 2
Source: Running with Scissors
We'll give this to Postal: few game franchises have ever worked quite so hard at being obnoxious and offensive to every single human being on the planet. We're pretty sure the Dalai Lama would clean out the Running with Scissors offices with an Uzi and not feel bad after doing it. That "marching band" level is...well...it's certainly memorable. On the other hand, at least they kept Gary Coleman working, so that's something.
Anyway, we were talking about ways to skip levels. The library level catches on fire at one point, and the quickest way out is blocked by flaming debris. It'll kill you instantly, but if you light yourself on fire, the game will see you as "on fire" and let you jump through, completing the level. And, trust us, if you're playing Postal 2, any excuse to skip playing a level is a good one.
4. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island
If there's one kind of sequence breaking we love, it's boss skipping. Let's face it, bosses aren't fun. They're repetitive. They have a pattern they repeat, and once you learn the pattern, you hand out the smack, finish up the quicktime events that are obligatory ever since God of War made them awesome, and move on to the parts of the game that are actually fun. Which is why Yoshi's Island earns a place on this list.
It comes at the end of Level 3-8. You can kill a Piranha Plant that gets turned into a boss if you time it right, which changes the cutscene at the end and skips the boss battle entirely. This also means fewer chances for little Mario to get knocked off your back, resulting in the single most annoying sound ever created by Nintendo (at least until Slippy the Frog came along).
Halo can be a tough game, and the "Assault on the Control Room" level can really test your patience. Basically, you have to fight your way to the control room, and then defend it against wave after wave after wave of enemies until your thumbs get sore. Good thing you can just skip it.
With a couple of fancy moves, the level lets you grab a couple of Banshees and just fly straight over the map. You won't trigger any enemies, so it'll be completely empty and you can just zip right through to the end with nary a Covenant soldier in sight. Or if that's too hard, just jump off the bridge in the later part of the level onto the buttress in front of the Forerunner shrine. In short, there's no reason to actually play the level as Bungie intended, especially since it's more fun to outwit them.
2. Fallout 2
Source: Black Isle Studios
Fallout 2 is, of course, a much beloved franchise featuring cheery fifties design, post-apocalyptic wastelands, lots of fun Vaults to explore, and new skills to learn. It's one of the few games where you can become a porn star. It's so incredibly open ended with so many solutions to the quests that you can play it repeatedly, just by messing around with your stats. It's one of the few games that really is different every single time you play it. Or you could skip all that and finish the game in 15 minutes.
How? By using reverse-pickpocket to slip explosives into the pockets of a bunch of NPCs. It takes a little luck, and knowing who to wipe out, but time it right and the game's basically over before it begins.
You've got to love an RPG, of all things, that redefines the term "speedrun."
1. Warcraft III: Reight on Chaos
Source: Blizzard Entertainment
Speaking of boss battles you can skip, we thought we'd save the best one for last.
Warcraft III has one of the most infamously painful final levels in gaming history. You're defending the World Tree from Archimonde, who's pretty much unstoppable. You can kill him, with the equivalent of bombarding him with envelopes and hoping he bleeds out from the paper cuts, but what you really have to do is slow him down enough for a 45-minute timer to run out, and then you see the final cutscene. Yeah, you can't even really beat the boss. You can only outlast him.
Instead, hide ballistas in the trees, and destroy the base the undead are building when your first base falls. Archimonde only advances when a base is destroyed, and without a base, the undead can't keep trying to eat your brains. So he'll just sit there, and you can either bash him to death with ballistas at your leisure, or go catch an episode of Deadliest Warrior while you wait: he's not going anywhere.
Don't you just love thwarting annoying missions?