3. In Assassin's Creed 2, The Past Talks to the Future to Talk to the Present to Talk to Us
Assassin's Creed 2 was the quintessential sequel. It took what was an interesting, though not actually very fun concept in its predecessor and made it into one of the best damn games of its console generation.
Besides kicking the series' gameplay in the ass and setting the groundwork for very nearly every major Ubisoft published game for years to come, AC2 clued us into the greater story at work in the historical/science fiction mash-up. Previously we knew that the centuries-old characters drawn on the boxes of AC games were just computer simulations. What we didn't know was that there were beings far, far older lurking in the games' narrative. It all begins after historical protagonist Ezio beats the ever-loving hell out of Pope Alexander VI. We're not kidding.
Once the papal pummeling is complete, Ezio takes a dip into an ancient, secret, and highly advanced vault. There he has a nice chat with an old holographic recording. Meanwhile his descendant, Desmond, looks on from the year 2012 -- a fictional character watching a recording watching a recording.
So far, so simple as far as video game plotlines go. Ancient civilizations of proto-humans leaving behind powerful artifacts? Hit me with something I haven't seen a million times. No, seriously. Please.
Well, Assassin's Creed 2 did just that. Minerva (the millennia-old hologram talking to the centuries-old Italian killer) turns to face the screen/player/Desmond in a show of entirely too meta-textual storytelling for our tiny minds at the time. She addresses Desmond, by name, in the present through the past in a recording left behind in an even past-ier past.
Unfortunately, 500 Assassin's Creed games later and that's still pretty much the narrative highlight of the franchise. While we were picking pieces of our minds up off the floor Ubisoft was apparently thinking about how to drag that plotline along for the rest of our natural lives. At the time, however, it was quite something to behold.
4. Animal Crossing's Mr. Resetti Takes It One Step Too Far
Animal Crossing is a family-friendly game series not-so-secretly filled with jerks. If it's not some needy neighbor refusing your friendship, or straight-up skipping town to escape your company, there's always Tom Nook with a baseball bat in hand and a leg-breaking look in his heavily lidded eyes. At least that's how it always seems when you just want to pick fruit and be left in debt-free peace.
But the real, walking, talking, drilling monster of the Animal Crossing series is Mr. Resetti. Cheaters -- that is inventive players -- may recognize the mole with high blood pressure as a form of punishment for resetting one's game without saving.
Resetting can at times be useful in Animal Crossing, as it lets you undo mistakes and retry activities. But Mr. Resetti don't play that way, and he certainly doesn't want you to either. Doing so in one of Nintendo's otherwise least-punishing franchise will incur his wrath as he burrows up seemingly from the underworld itself. He yells, screams, hollers, and shakes with a distaste for cheaters matched only by Joey Greco.
At the very least it's unsettling to see such an otherwise calm and consequence-free game suddenly take such a traumatizing turn. At worst, it's driven some presumably younger (younger, yeah, that's it) players to tears. Enough in fact that Nintendo decided to lobotomize Resetti's rage glands in the series' most recent entry. Not only is the anger management patient in waiting completely optional, you actually have to go out of your way to incur his wrath. It's just not the same.
Optional or not, Mr. Resetti's penchant for reaching out through the TV and punching players in their guilt centers doesn't just end with warnings, though. Should the player rile him up enough the mole man will make an example of your save file. Resetti can wrest control of your game, warn you about the ethics of too much resetting, and claim that he's deleting your save file entirely as punishment. The game will then -- in a show of dramatic irony -- reset.
Mercifully, however, it's all just a gag. That's a good thing, too, given how many hundreds of hours players can theoretically put into an Animal Crossing game. Resetti may be prone to anger, but at least he's not a masochist.