Or a necessity? I dunno. Maybe my brain is wired differently, but I never felt like I needed a map for 2D games like Metroid (or Zelda or Metroidvania, etc.). I mean, you're exploring, right? Don't you just kind of keep track of which paths you've gone down in your head?
The exception, I suppose, would be dungeon hacks with no real sense of place. Like old-school RPGs. Ones with static screens or even just text. Etrian Odyssey seems like a fun spin on this concept - a game partially built around cartography. I should really crack it open.
Now, when it comes to 3D games... hmm. I guess ginormous games like the Elder Scrolls stuff (or even Wind Waker) need a map. But I find them unnecessary in the type of structured games that are far more prevalent these days. Metroid Prime would be a unique exception, since it's such a labyrinth.
I recently drew my own maps when I played Blaster Master, but it's not something that I really want to get in the habit of doing for most games. That took hours upon hours for me to do, over a few days. If a game provides its own map system (and it's functional), then I'm pleased.
I remember being VERY excited for Phantom Hourglass and the touch screen. I was really hoping I could use it more than what the game let me do. In a more complex Zelda game, I think it'd be super helpful to jot down little notes to yourself.
I'm not one to write down notes on paper, because chances are I'll lose it, or I don't want to take myself out of the game. But I could see myself doing something on WiiU, writing little quesiton marks or other notes when I encounter something fishy. Maybe a crack in a wall, or an out of reach chest I can't get to. When I come back to that area, I'd remember that there's something there.
Even something simple as little pins to put on the map as reminders could be cool. Maybe they could light up like the waypoints in Arkham City.
I thought Retro nailed the maps (more or less) in the Metroid Prime games. I still really have yet to find a map in a Zelda game I really like. They're either not nearly detailed enough and too small, or they're VERY detailed, but require me to pause the game whenever I want to look at it (SS).
I'd love them to keep that level of map detail on the next Zelda and pop it on the tablet. Then maybe I can add little pins to the map and interact with it. I think if they don't do something like that, it'll be a huge missed opportunity with the WiiU tablet. Even if we're still using motion controls, that should be an option just to keep next to you. A little Adventure Journal, if you will.
I was just thinking about this, actually. The Wii U tablet would be perfect for marking up maps, adding pins and the like. I've recently hit a roadblock trying to 100% the first two Metroid Prime games: I can't for the life of me remember which items I've already collected, and where. This means even cheat guides aren't very helpful - I'd have to revisit every location that had a powerup in hopes of finding one I haven't collected yet. All this could be solved with a map that lets you keep tracks of such things. This goes for heart pieces in Zelda games, too. I'm seriously considering starting over and writing down the names of the rooms where I find stuff.
Your own town and you have to use a GPS? Come on man, even if you live in a big city, you should be able to figure it out from streets. GPS is a perfect example of technology that certainly has its use, but people relying on it has made society as a whole stupider. It's proven that people actually learn how to get to a place by following directions, but do not by using a GPS.
THIS. 100 x THIS.
I have a pretty damn good spatial memory & sense of direction. Back when I was a kid, every car trip we went on I'd spend it looking out the window, taking note of the landmarks etc etc. So when it came to riding with others and giving them directions to get to these places, no hassle.
My brother on the other hand didn't pay attention to squat and of course relies entirely on his satnav. Worse still is a friend of mine. Generally when he comes over to hang out, we head of to the local KFC to grab dinner. Its all of 5 minutes and 3 turns away. But I have to give him directions *every single time*. Why? Because he's used to his satnav and has absolutely no sense of direction whatsoever.
It's a crutch and people will be *literally* lost without it. Shambolic.
I LOVE GPSeses. Just tell me where to go, my robotic master...
@Zero Maybe people without families eat crackers... I don't know. Frankly, I don't want to know.
It's not like non-privileged people go out to fabulous restaurants all of the time. It's just as easy to hit them from a suburb. Plus, food is everywhere these days: Magazines, TV... that's everywhere! But I don't really follow chefs. More just food trends, in general. I'd just as soon go to a great authentic place, anyway.
@PogueSquadron Have you used the Game Notes feature to draw maps? Has anyone?
Ranges from unnecessary to essential, depending on the game.
If it's a smaller game with a lot of diverse and well designed locations, I'm usually fine without any sort of map. If it's a 2D game in general, I'm usually fine without a map... a game like Grand Theft Auto? I couldn't possibly play it without a map.