Friday, August 19, 2005

games and diversions

No, no fabulous dream journeys to far-flung planets. Instead, I've been exhausted these last few days with waking darkearly and going to sleep late, and somewhat intensive work in between. To prevent overload I've been blowing off steam with lunch-hour Flash games.

I've been enjoying point-and-click adventures that don't involve health points or clocks, and found some terrific ones on the "Jay is games" website. Jay Bibby is a student of game design and keeps a blog reviewing games he's enjoyed, which seem to number in the thousands. His standards aren't super-high, but for a game to be included in his list, he has to find some redeeming quality: art, music, playability, etc. He sometimes add games by request. Check out: http://www.jayisgames.com

If you're a cheater like me and the comments in Jay's blog are not enough for you to finish a game, the members and admins of http://www.nordinho.com/ have written walkthroughs for seemingly every game I've tried.

After two weeks of this I have gone from super-clue-free to almost adequate at these things. Games of this genre seem to fall to the extremes of logical versus illogical. Logical involves finding keys under pillows or in drawers, and apparent goals (which may be why escape-the-room games are popular right now.) Illogical would involve things like having to teach the duchess to do the butt dance, which causes her to fall into a well, and when you rescue her using the bucket, a key comes up with her too. Or, with further degrees of separation yet, to get the key, you need to talk to the horse that was laughing its head off watching the duchess, and it will, in the spirit of camaraderie, carry you to a remote cave where you find a salesman who will give you a statue, which you must crush with a rock (which may also take some doing to get) because the bloody key is inside. I despise illogic of that kind, especially when shaking the statue does not give an encouraging rattle. I find no enjoyment in experimenting with every single item in the inventory on every object in the environment. I also hate extensive dialogue, which seems to be an excuse for the game's programmer(s) to show off how witty (in quotes, double-quotes and triple-quotes) they are.

Games I've particularly enjoyed, rated as 1 to 10 on my personal easy to hard scale. All can be found on Jay's website. Everything is G-rated except for the Anode and Cathode games, which might be rated PG by extreme right-wing Christians because they involve a pursuing a woman.

The Dark Room (8) - this will push your logic figuring out what the goals are in each room, and even getting to the rooms. It's a very well-done game, attractive, good gameplay.

Hanamushi's game called Pokko's Friend (3) - lush, original graphics, a bit frightening, and a moral to the story (see Jay is for the explanation). Some of Hanamushi's other Flash works are downright disturbing to this Westerner, though Japanese might not find it particularly so.

Treasure Box (2) - a Rube-Goldbergy, Monty-Pythonesque sort of thing

Anode and Cathode's La Maison (4) and La Musee (6) - pretty, and are continuing parts of a story

Shift (3) - also beautiful graphics, though a bit flower-powery

Kao Fu-Sen's game about a headless girl trying to get her head back (3) - the introduction and the ending make it worthwhile. Make sure you watch it all the way to the end, after the credits.

Samorost (5) - great graphics and delightfully whimsical

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