Tuesday, November 06, 2007

This is what video games are all about

I'm not going to link anything on this post. If you want to know what I'm talking about, do yourself a favor and just play the games.

First, a post that is a few years late. Katamari is simply great. Graphics are for suckers, you don't need anything more than a few polygons and brick-like objects to make a great game -- just raw creativity, and the balls to release a game that's "just fun" in an age of "ultra-graphic epic adventures with twisting storylines". Somehow, Katamari brings back the early 80's arcade philosophy of concept games -- you come up with some innovative game mechanics, and develop your game around it. Everything -- graphics, storyline, controls, objectives -- is simplistic and fun. Slap on some completely insane dialog, a J-pop soundtrack that's as weird as possible, and you get the most innovative game since the first videogame crisis...

UNTIL NOW. Which leads us to...

Forget about the other games on the Orange Box. Portal alone is worth your 60 bucks. There will be cake at the end. It is quite similar to Katamari -- it's a concept game, simplistic, fun, and has a completely insane character giving you missions. But... the concept in which it's based is much more filled with possibility. By playing the game, you're really "thinking in portals". The physics engine is perfect, gives you almost absolute freedom, and every experiment you do with portals and gravity comes out as a whole new way to beat the levels. The physics insanity comes packed with dialog (or rather monologue) insanity. Your only interaction during the game is with an increasingly insane passive-aggressive UI. Imagine 343 Guilty Spark + HAL9000, and add lots and lots of passive-aggressiveness, and you're getting close to it. Four hours of increasing insanity, physics-bending action and humor, and then, at the end, the cake: the credits song. Best credits song ever. All in all, this game is the best at everything it does: the physics engine is fantastic, the gameplay is fun, every line of monologue is comedy gold, and you get cake at the end.

I really hope these two gems are a sign of a new golden age of video games. I love the visuals on Gears of War, the action in Halo, or the art in Bioshock -- but it's nice to see new life in an area that was almost forgotten -- Pure unadulterated FUN.

Oh, did I mention the cake?

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