What does a hardcore gamer do when he gets stuck in a game? He does this…

The painfully convoluted process of claiming my free copy of 3D Classics Kid Icarus on 3DS was a lot more hassle than I expected, but I’m very glad I did it. Not only because the new game is all the better for its ‘Original Mode’ with its tightened controls, but because the final fortress level got me proper lost. So, after an hour or so going round in circles, I did the unthinkable: I drew a map.

Yes, I know you can find the dungeon map and that you can buy a torch and a pencil to show you where you are and where you’ve been respectively, but it’s not as simple as that. Some exits can only be reached from the ceiling, which means you need to know exactly where you are at all times. This needed the big guns.

Of course, this is 2012 so the first thing I did was to try using the built-in Game Notes app on the 3DS itself. But opening and closing that took forever, so this is as far as I got with that:

Above: Crap resolution and slow multitasking means 3DS is not well-suited to cartography

So I thought long and hard to myself, and that’s when I remembered something from the hazy mists of my deepest memories. What was it called… A penguin? No, that’s too far. A pen and paper. So I placed technology on the sofa and went for a hunt. Having drawn a few scribbles to clear dust from its tip, I started drawing. And this happened:

Above: Obviously it wasn’t intended for worldwide publication so it looks a little scrawled. I might as well have put ‘By Justin Towell, aged 29 and 3/4’ at the bottom

It would have been quicker to go on Google, yes. But the fact is I was using my own initiative to overcome a problem and I suddenly felt very good about myself. Looking at the map, you can see my breakthrough moment, too. Having explored the rooms on the far left without drawing them, when I reached the top of the map, I knew the boss had to be somewhere up there. And it was.

Suddenly, I was out of the fortress and quite literally sky high as I sampled the 8-bits delight of free-flight in the game’s final aerial shootout. I shot the big eye thing. I defeated Medusa. And I watched the end sequence with the smug satisfaction that comes from beating a rock-hard game using nothing but my wits, my gaming skill and a pen and paper. Would I have felt the same if I’d looked online for a map? No. That would have been:

Above: The ‘real’ map. Note that it is identical, pixel for pixel, to my own map (cough)

We may well have had the Top 7 maps that do more than just show you the way to go (opens in new tab) recently, but for all their clever-clever, fourth-wall-bothering, hoity-toity, yes madam, twelve please, graduation ceremony worthiness… all of them are missing the point. Gaming shouldn’t always be about everything being given to you on a plate.

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