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angusm avatar 2:14 AM on 08.12.2008  (server time)
Instant Replay: Eternity's Child


It's a good game.


Well if you disagree I suppose I should say that you're entitled to your opinion and that we can all get along amiably despite our differences. But I'm not that kind of guy so, let's restart.

Nah not really, but seriously, it's a good game.

Now, I gotta say, I love it when a game surprises me. Especially those that just dumbfound me. Games that give that whole, "Wait, huh, what? Did that just happen? Shit! Fer real? Wow!". And that is exactly the feeling I had when I realized that after beating Eternity's Child, I wanted to go back and play it some more.

This is rare. I hardly ever replay games, let alone right away. What can I say, I'm not a fan of doing shit twice.

This got me thinking about the rare exceptions, and the only other games that come to mind that I can beat and then just jump right back into are Super Mario Bros., and Fancy Pants Adventures.

- 2D Platformer.
- Simple controls.
- Solid controls.
- Beatable in one sitting.
- Visually interesting.
- Brilliant level design.
- You can see what's coming.

Which leads me to believe that I'll probably wind up jumping right back into Braid once it's released on PC.

2D Platformers are my favorite, big whoop, wanna fighdabouddit? I can think of few other genres that can do so much with Left, Right and A. It's all about mastery of the controls and the levels. When I play a platformer I play it differently than I would a first person shooter. It's not about beating the game, it's about beating the game perfectly. It's about the challenge.

Of course this can only be true if the controls are solid. If the controls are precise. Controls are like hookers, if they're too loose, I don' want 'em. When I hit jump, the protagonist at my mercy better jump. And I mean right the fuck now! Not a few seconds after when the lil' guy feels like he's up to it. Of course it may have taken Eternity's Child awhile to get the responsiveness down, but now it's as tight as a twelve year old.

Patience? Well you might want to try the next store over because I sure as shit don't got any. I want something I can beat without having to pause or save in between. Overly long games do nothing but muddle the experience, like the Hoover Dam, they fuck with the flow.

Few people want to play ugly games and even fewer people want to play ugly games twice. A visually interesting and attractive game is much more likely to keep my attention for the same reason I'll pick up a Victoria's Secret magazine, I like having pretty things to look at, they make me happy.

Every game's got different mechanics, that give the game its feel. Smart designers make levels that compliment their game's mechanics. If you got good mechanics you make levels that show them off. Honestly, why wear a turtleneck if you got a nice rack?

Mario Bros. came from a time when you could count the pixels, giving you remarkably precise jumps as Mario hung off a ledge with one blocky toe. Its levels took advantage of this, with hidden blocks and jumps that could only be made with such an elevated level of control.

Fancy Pants meanwhile is all about speed, smooth transitions and rhythmic timing which is played up by its long winding levels, oil-slicked wall jumps, loop-de-loops and conveniently placed platforms that allow the smart player to jump back into the air as soon as he's landed, never having to stop moving forward.

Meanwhile Eternity's Child gives you control over your character's generous air time, brilliant bullet mechanics and one way platforms. This is reflected in its level design as you fall through gaps in spinning blades, beat otherwise unstoppable swarms with clever charged shots and navigate your way around increasingly cleverly positioned platforms that can only be jumped and shot through one way.

Finally, I think the major key to the replayability of Eternity's Child as well as Mario Bros. and Fancy Pants is their predictability. They didn't need to try and startle you with clever plot twists or jump-scares because the games had the balls to tell you, "this next bit is brilliant, go on, take a look."

In short, what made these games awesome the first time is the same stuff that makes them awesome the second, third, fourth, fifth and however many other times.

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