Monday, November 23, 2009

Pulling a Braid

I consider myself a connoisseur of several things that would be considered part of popular culture – television and wine being my favorite. But recently I’ve tried to make my way back into video games. I don’t quite get it – I liked games in the 90s when we had Atari and Nintendo, but somewhere in the transition to X-Box and Playstation, I lost the love. Of course, it could have been college. And grad school. Anyway –

I think my big problem is that a lot of modern video games are FPS or MMO or RPG. To be frank, I don’t have time for that shit! Okay, I could get into FPS if I liked shooting people in the face, but I really don’t. I’m a non-violent kind of gal. And I liked RPGs in the 90s when it involved actually bonding with people (most of what I did was narrative writing RPGs online), but it got to a point in a grad school where I just didn’t have time to keep up with it anymore.

So – my dream game is one that has all kinds of intellectually challenging puzzles, isn’t too difficult to navigate (as I’m not too swift with the fingers on modern controllers), and doesn’t involve a ton of violence. Braid brought it in spades! I realize this is probably late, as I’m a late-comer since I only have Playstation and it was released a year ago on X-Box, but seriously. This game was AWESOME.

I love the 2D platform, though I know that makes me old-school, but the real selling point for me was the story line – it’s all about the complicated relationship between time and memory. The main character is remembering that he has to do something related to a past relationship, and the quest is all about that. In each level, he gets to manipulate time to a different degree, which I read as part of his nostalgia and memory related to the relationship in question (though others have posited this is about the atomic bomb despite other commentary). I like the idea that you can have a “shadow self” who will still do the same things you did before even if you rewind time, or having a “hesitation” point where you can stop time for a moment and make things move more slowly. Who hasn’t had a relationship or a moment where you wanted to stop time, reverse, and start over? Or where you wanted someone else to do the leg work for you so you could reap the benefits? Or where you wanted to pause time enough to take back something you said that can never be repealed? The themes were so salient that in addition the beautiful graphics and artwork, I would have been amazed. But the puzzles! Oh the puzzles! They were so intellectually interesting. And the ending – I was so in shock that it took me a few hours to process. Since I don’t want to give it away in case you play it, I won’t elaborate. But seriously. The BEST game I’ve played since I was a little tyke and first got Zelda.

1 comment:

  1. You know, Zelda for the Wii is a lot of fun. So is paper Mario, which is 2-D/3-D involved. Also, with the Wii, you can download old school games from the 80's and 90's. There are also a lot of other games for the Wii that are puzzled based. Resident Evil for example, you get to do a lot of puzzles, in fact in order to move forward in the game you have to do puzzles while shooting zombies in the face 3 times before they actually go down.

    Microsoft is actually in to works of modifying the Xbox360 where you won't need a controller at all to play the games. It will all be movement sensor, voice and face recognition. You can also scan objects into the game and be creative with it. It's called Project Natal.

    And they've also done something with it called Project Natal Milo.