Things I’ve Done: Missed A Button (”Metroid Prime 3,” “Lair” Edition)

Did you ever play a game for a long time only to discover that you missed something about the controls?

Somehow you got through the game without ever figuring out that you could quick-switch your guns with a tap of the trigger button or get the map to appear by pressing L3?

It sounds crazy. And maybe I’m just a bad gamer. But that happened twice to me this past week, and it’s got me wondering if I’m truly alone.

Check out my two case studies after the jump and then let me know if these kinds of things ever happen to you.

[Spoiler warning: In the next paragraph I explain how the first new visor in “Metroid Prime 3″ works.]

Case #1: I’m 82% of the way through “Metroid Prime 3: Corruption.” I reached that mark Thursday morning. I’ve had the game’s Command Visor, which is used to control heroine Samus’ space-ship, since the start of the game, some 16 hours of game time earlier. I’ve used the Command Visor to summon the ship to various landing pads and to do some other very specific tasks that the game specifically calls for. What I didn’t realize until last night is that I can also use the visor to call my ship in for a bombing run of any outdoor area in the game. Doing so pretty much obliterates the opposition. How did I figure this out? By pulling up the Command Visor by accident during a firefight and noticing that it had a “bomb” option on it. I pressed Z and found myself (Samus, really) standing in a hail of bombs. Now I understand why I’ve been able to collect ammo for the ship. I had no idea! But how could I get that far into the game without being forced to use it? Odd.

Case #2: I’ve been playing “Lair,” which you may have already guessed, and recently reached the end of the game. That unlocked the in-game audio commentary. In the commentary for the final level, associate producer Chane Hollander provides some pro-tips for the game. One of them is to use the camera controls to look behind your dragon while you’re flying through a battlefield. While looking in that backward direction you can target enemies behind the dragon. And then, by pressing the attack button, the dragon will turn itself around (no 180 motion flip required!) and ram right into the enemy.

It’s a great technique. It really gives you a sense that you’re controlling the dragon-rider, who is in turn issuing commands to the dragon itself. And it feels fresh. The reverse-targeting maneuver feels like nothing in development studio Factor 5’s previous flight combat games, the “Rogue Squadron” series. (Factor 5 President Julian Eggebrecht likes it too. He told me: “I am one of the camera backflip and target players. Once I had latched on to this side-effect of our targeting system I used it all the time. It makes locking a dragon behind you very, very easy.”) I just wish the game shoved this control option in my face, because it would have changed the way I played the game.

How did I miss these things?

I am sure things like this have happened to me before, but I can’t, for the life of me, recall specifics. And for all I know I’m still missing them. Don’t tell me that there’s a button to turn Mario into a Koopa in “Super Mario Bros.” or something like that.

So is this a thing that only I’ve done? Or have other gamers out there also neared the end of a game while somehow missing a button, a command, a controller trick, etc.?

(Recent Thing I’ve Also Done: Watched Every Cut-Scene –“Heavenly Sword,” “Simpsons”)