I've just jumped from an hour long session of playing Braid in to Geometry Wars 2. Both are excellent games, but Braid completely destroyed my ability to play GW2. I was playing the Braid levels where your movement is connected to the flow of time - when you move to the right time flows naturally, but retread your steps and you also revert into the past.
Having been stumped by one particular puzzle for so long (and finally solving it, thankfully) my brain was stuck in this way of thinking. When I grabbed the twin sticks to control my GW2 ship, I was confused as to why the enemies didn't reverse themselves as I travelled left. Naturally, it was game over pretty quickly.
It got me thinking, imagine a mashup between the two games in which the right stick (i.e. your weapons) and your left stick (your movement) could operate in two different time streams. Green square got you down? Just head back the way you came to reverse time, whilst your bullets remain firing behind you at the pesky green bugger.
Obviously this would involve reworking Geometry Wars into a sidescroller, but think of the possibilities. You could be presented with an entire screen of enemies, seemingly undefeatable, but by carefully navigating your way through time and space you could wipe them out one at a time.
Its just a random thought from my Braid-addled brain, but I'd love to see someone give it a go.
For those of you unfortunate enough to have never played a WarioWare game, a quick summary. WarioWare takes the concept of the minigame to its logical conclusion - the microgame, in which the player is thrown into all manner of crazy situations that they must react to in under five seconds. Half the fun of the game is simply working out what you are meant to do, be it picking a gigantic nose, conducting an orchestra, or one of hundreds of others.
The series started on Gameboy Advance, but the latest release was at the start of 2007 with WarioWare: Smooth Moves for the Wii. I got into the Gamecube version around the same time the Wii was announced, and immediately saw the potential for Wiimote integration. Nintendo didn’t disappoint, and with multiple ways of using the controller Smooth Moves was a great way to show off the new system to friends. Looking back however, I can see a number of ways the game could have been improved.
1. Downloadable Content
This game screams out for DLC. There are literally hundreds of microgames that are thrown at you, but at only five seconds each it doesn’t take long before they start to be recycled. New microgames could be easily and cheaply produced, and wouldn’t take up very much of the Wii’s scarce internal memory. A perfect comparison would be Professor Layton – although it turns out that the DLC puzzles were already present on the cart and you simply download an unlock key, it’s really cool to get a new puzzle each week. A similar system for WarioWare would keep me coming back for more.
2. More Gaming References
Some of the most hilarious microgames are references to other Nintendo franchises. You can find yourself shaking paws with a Nintendog, helping Windwaker Link get to dry land, or even using a Starfox fighter to take down ROB the robot. I’d love for Nintendo to expand this further, perhaps even to other companies’ games. Sonic and Snake have appeared in Smash Bros, so why not give us a five second Pacman or a quick Final Fantasy battle?
3. Customisable Multiplayer
As much as I love playing WarioWare with friends, multiplayer options are sorely lacking, particularly on Wii. All of the Smooth Moves multiplayer modes are of the “pass the controller” variety. Twelve people can play at once, but only as part of a “sudden death” mode. Other modes only allow an arbitrary five people, and wrap the microgames up in slightly contrived scenarios like a hot-potato mode where winning allows you to choose the next player, but losing ends the game for everyone.
The Gamecube version had many other silly modes, but the best was simply a versus mode in which up to four players could play with their own controller in both consecutive and competitive microgames. Ideally I would like to see a return of this mode, but also the ability to make my own. Let me select a time or score limit, a difficulty level, or even a playlist of microgames. Everyone has their own way they like to play, and there is really no reason WarioWare shouldn’t let you choose.
Finally, multiplayer should be accessible from the moment I put the game in. WarioWare is fun solo, but having to tediously unlock everything just so I can play it with friends is ridiculous for a party game. Come on Nintendo, I thought the Wii was for everyone! Make these changes to WarioWare, and you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who won’t love it.
The Guardian is fast becoming the most pro-gaming newspaper on the planet. Today, Catherine Bennett writes I'm game for Grand Theft Auto. You should be too. She makes the excellent point that Grand Theft Auto is probably the most difficult way for someone to experience violent media:
"With a violent and nasty movie, or corrupting literature, the thing is simple. You merely have to buy a ticket for, say, No Country for Old Men, or There Will be Blood, and watch it, with a keen eye for anything that might be violent or nasty. With books, you simply open, then read a copy of The Catcher in the Rye or, to go back a bit, Lady Chatterley's Lover or a bit further, one of those 18th-century courtship novels whose potential to enervate young virgins was discernible, apparently, within just a few minutes of scholarly inspection.
How different for the mature student of Grand Theft Auto IV, who discovers that acquisition of the game, an Xbox 360 and a working television will not be nearly enough to expose the sickening extent of its moral bankruptcy. For that, you need time, skill, dedication and, I suspect, youth. In fact, it would probably be cheaper, and easier, for any averagely underqualified adult who craves the excitement of casual violence in a context of social indifference to make your way to somewhere like Borough Market and snarl: 'Out of the way, bitch' at every double buggy."
It feels like the tide is slowly turning. Non-gamers are starting to "get it" whilst those who don't, or simply refuse to, fall by the wayside. It has only been a week since the release of GTA4 so it is perhaps too early to tell, but the moral outrage seems to have been contained. People are ignoring politicians like Keith Vaz, with his uninformed knee-jerk reactions, and finally waking up to the fact that gaming is here to stay.
A great article by Richard Bartle (co-creator of the first MUD) on the Guardian website today on why gamers have won and politicians should just stop fighting. A choice quote:
"Half the UK population has grown up playing computer games. They aren't addicted, they aren't psychopathic killers, and they resent those boneheads – that's you – who imply that they are addicted and are psychopathic killers."
I'm sure many of you have played 2 games at once. I know that I like to keep my DS handy when playing games with long load times - because after all, if you aren't gaming every single second, you're clearly doing something wrong.
Taking this a step (or 14) further, Grid 16 asks you to play 16 games near-simultaneously. You spend a few seconds on one game, jump to another, then another, and eventually back to the game you started with. It's quite like WarioWare, except that you pick up where you left off when returning to a game. Try not to let your brain implode, as I hear that can tickle.