This is a simple game that brings us back to the exploring Worlds of the 8-bit systems, where with just a couple of buttons you can have loads of fun. This map style feels a lot like Castlevania where you can explore from top to bottom and from left to right.
The designer kept us interested by making the map different in every corner. This confuses the player but makes him want to explore more because every area is so different and with a different challenge. The purpose is always the same, find every diamond, however you have different puzzles, methods and paths to reach them which makes the game versatile and avoids boredom. The further you move deeper in the map, the more challenging it gets too. You first have little monsters and then a few devices that shoot bullets. This was a great idea, because when you have little to work with, variety is key so that the player doesn’t get bored and this is achieved here.
The choice of a sci-fi looking set is also interesting because it seems that players will be more involved since they will enter the skin of the character. It’s much better for the player’s sense of adventure if you make him an astronaut instead of a random guy in a house looking for his wife’s jewels for example. You are an astronaut, you are an explorer and adventurer: In a simple game like this, it’s very important to have something that hooks you, and exploring as an astronaut for diamonds, is the key.
It was nice to have this jump back to NES-style games and have this much fun with such simplicity.
Super Crate Box:
This game is by far the one I most enjoyed in the last four weeks! It’s addictive, fast-paced and packed with action! It’s a genuine retroaction game, where it appeals to all the senses of the player, a nice mix of sharp reflexes, keen eye and a lot of fun. The designer did an amazing job, because it also brings us back to the difficulty of games “back in the day”. I just finished GTA V, and I thought it was incredibly easy game, that didn’t bring that much innovation and then this simple game with a low budget comes along in the same week and actually makes me have more fun than the “super-large, multimillion budget game full with amazing graphics”. Ironic isn’t it? Super Crate Box, gives us the ability to change weapon every time a crate falls from the sky, to achieve a new level you have to catch a certain number of crates, while at the same time avoiding monsters or killing them with the given weapon.
The challenge is in the quantity of monsters and speed that they come at you, and the only way you reach the next levels, is doing what you did in the 8-bit era: training by doing. Trying over and over again. This is a nice change of pace of the recent games. The levels are good to look at, colorful which gives us a nice perspective of the game. This was a game I downloaded, and I will probably keep playing it for a while, thank you.
I Wish I Were the Moon
The simplicity of this game hides its complexity. The game shows a small boy on the moon and a girl daydreaming of having the boy’s love. The designers want to show us that our decisions can affect the outcome of a relationship, as in many games; the choices you make sometimes will affect the ending. It can be happy or sad, alone or with company, the designers make the players chose what will be the outcome to this small interaction and show us that sometimes life can be cruel and you are left alone and other times you accomplish your dreams. The characters looked cute and were nicely crafted and the music fit perfectly in this slow paced, calm and peaceful game but with a nice message behind it. They make us feel certain tranquility with this game, which is transmitted by the music, the nice background or the sound of the harp (you will have to finish a certain ending to hear this). This game was certainly a very nice surprise.
Don’t **** your pants
This game was incredible, I found myself trying to find all the endings for this hilarious game, with such simplicity the designers make us laugh and understand that any task, as simple as going to the toilet, can have obstacles like PULLING a door, which was ridiculous, I couldn’t-t open the door at first so I just took off the pants and defecated on the floor. It was a nice combination of old school text games and pixelated graphics. This game shows us that even a game as simple as this one can give us a sense of achievement, did you feel pride when you finally understood the steps to go to the toilet properly? I did, and found myself wanting to find all the possible solutions to the problem. This is a nice message too, no problem is unsolvable, and if you can’t open the door, just do it there. This makes us understand that sometimes the simplest task can be transformed in a mind game and makes us think about something that should be instinctive. When you go to the toilet, and it’s closed, do you do it on the floor? You knock, or pull the door. These designers made us think and took a logical approach to something as simple and instinctive as going to the toilet. It was clever and funny.
These two games show the power of imagination and how we can, with a simple background and one or two characters make several endings and even have that sense of achievement gamers look for in a game! On one side we have the emotional content of the couple and the other we have the comedy of a bald guy trying not to shit his pants. These two games show that designers can be powerful in the sense that can create an amazing experience with little material; it all comes from the mind and how far we can stretch your imagination. If someone told you: Make a game with two characters, a moon and a bird that flies around, what would you pull off? These games made me think outside the box and I’m really glad that they are pushing our imaginations further and we are extending our boundaries.
Thank you for reading,
Feel free to check those two games:
Warbler’s Nest Text-based game: http://jmac.org/warbler/play.html
The Warbler’s Nest: This game is very interesting in the sense that brings me back to the years of Zork (If you haven’t played it yet, you should) where imagination is what drives you. It’s like picking on of those books where you can chose your path or a tiny part of Dungeons and Dragons (at least the exploration part). These text-based games serve on main purpose and that is stretching your imagination. It’s up to the player to decide what he or she will do and face the consequences. This game however is quite limited in the options you have and it seems that you go in circles quite a bit before doing something productive to the story. This gives a little bit of suspense, nothing scary enough to frighten our generation who’s used to much more descriptive content. The description of the set is something that I thought they could have put more effort in, they describe a little bit, but in my opinion it could have been done better to give us a better image of our surroundings. Something also that I found that was a bit flawed was the fact that the same thing appeared if you wrote “look west” or “go west” that shouldn’t happen; If you look you see something, if you go, something new or more detailed should appear. I think it was over simplified. My view may be wrong or I’m being too picky but having played other text-based games I think this was too simple and the exploration very limited too. The concept was well thought out and the verbs used worked well too giving an inexperienced player in text-based games an easier way to pick it up, it was well done by the designers, because it was quite user-friendly but like I said before, oversimplified. The idea behind this is to put in a similar position to a Skyrim character, however you don’t see it, you have to read it to understand what surrounds you, the power of mystery comes from the words and this is done well, especially when you hear scratching behind the cottage. The text-based games were the pioneers of today’s Skyrim adventure games and it gives you a small sense of freedom when exploring though more limited than today’s games.
Looming: In Looming the main purpose is to explore and collect all the items, it is a well-crafted game, except for the sound which I found to be extremely painful and off-putting, after 2 minutes I had to cut the music off and just experience the game with no sound, I think they should have chosen something that invites more to exploration instead of this gloomy sound that can push away players. Two things I found to be extremely well designed: The character, so simple yet it works perfectly well, and I couldn’t stop giggling to the way he walked/run, which made it more amusing. Also it was well paced, so you could explore from a corner to another in a very quick way and wouldn’t get bored with it. This game has a key element of today’s games which is: the need for collecting items and exploring the world in every corner to complete the game. Nowadays the players are driven a lot by the sense of achievement and accomplishment (sound familiar?) and this is well implemented here, you start playing and you feel satisfied once you complete your list! This is a clever way to hook players to a game and make them come back to it, it has replay value. I think this is the proof of how a game that isn’t extremely good looking can make you addicted to it because you have something to complete.
If I had to compare the two, I would say that the first one you have better visuals. Sound weird because the visuals are just text right? Well, no. For me the visuals it’s what you see, and I can picture and imagine a World of my own in the text based game, while in Looming I have the barriers or the limitations of what I see on the screen is how the World looks like and it looks ugly. However I think the text is well written in Looming, better than in Warbler’s Nest. These two games gives us a sense of exploration that are implemented in today’s games just in other ways. Maybe you don’t have a trophy that pops up in Looming, but the sense of achievement when collecting the list of items is the same as if you collect all the items on a Uncharted game, you just don’t get “official credit” for it.
Thank you for taking the time to read,
For my Design tools, I had to analyze two games, Spent and Passage. You can play these games in the links provided:
The idea behind this game is to educate the audience on the difficulties that people with low income have. This works perfectly because the designer forces the player to take the role of someone who’s having financial problems and makes the player feel that he is in a real life situation! The game tries to shock us and it made me feel very uncomfortable because it felt like I was the person that couldn’t pay the gas bill or attend my son’s play and this particular media works perfectly because you have the feeling that it’s happening to yourself, while any other type of media, it would be more difficult to understand how the population with these types of income truly lives. Educate by experiencing and that can only be achieved if you play a game! The message that the game wants to send to us is clear: With low income, no choice is the good one. You will have either emotional problems (You can’t do anything with friend or family) or financial problems (you can’t pay your bills!). The game is supposed to shock the audience and it does that perfectly because you become aware of what’s going on in real life. Implementing the information and statistics during the game, was the best way to make the player read it, because it’s in-game information. Would you have paid so much attention if it was written on a piece of paper? I wouldn’t. The dark background clearly shows a negative message, the appearance of the game strikes us immediately as serious and depressing, which is what life is for some people. The designers behind this game made an excellent job, entertain while educating.
This game sends us a clear philosophical message about life. My interpretation is that the designers of this game want to show us that there are numerous paths through life with obstacles in any path you chose. As you walk through the game, you will encounter more and more obstacles (like in your life as you get older) and you have to get past them to proceed. The game, being a picture of life, ends of course as we all will: death. The two characters die, the end will always be the same, even if you chose to go through life alone or with someone you love. You can explore all the paths, but the ultimate end is the same for everyone, no matter what were your choices during life. The designers tell us that by showing us a nice evolution of the characters, the loss of hair, getting thinner and even with a curved back. You start alone, as in real life, you aren’t born with a partner, you walk through life with that partner who will eventually die and you will be alone again, it’s the cycle of life. The game allows us to go in a lot of directions because it’s what you can do in real life, you are not limited to one straight line, you can go anywhere and any way you want, however time does not stop. Same happens here, go wherever it pleases you, but you should be aware that whatever the paths you take, time doesn’t forgive and you will eventually grow old and die. The score points probably are a sign of how well you lived your life. Though this game sends a philosophical message, it took me three or four times to understand and clearly see (in full screen only!) the evolution of the characters, only then was I able to understand what the purpose of this game was. I think it could have been made it clearer, even if it’s unique by being pixelated, it’s an eye-sore and I don’t think the music depicts clearly the walk through life. However they achieved their main goal: showing how you can walk through life and obstacles, with or without a partner, explore, gather points or achievements in your life, but in the end you will die.