Hi, I'm 16 years old and live in England, outside London. I grew up in India, and grew up in PC gaming (as well as handheld Nintendo consoles) thanks to my older brother. The games I have fondest memories of were Worms, Counter Strike, Mortal Kombat and Pokemon. And Super Mario 64 BEST GAME EVER.
I felt like getting my thoughts out, so I decided to write a quick c-blog. Some of my arguments might be contradicting what I said prior - the only excuse I can find for that is that I wasn't thinking methodically and in an organised-fashion when i wrote this. I was originally gonna call it a rant, but it's not very rant-y at all, but anyways... Before I continue, I realized that some of the things I say have little to nothing to do with other things that I say, but here it is:
I hate it when games are spoiled for you. This is one of the things that have put me off a few games that are critically acclaimed which I spoil for myself. Although I can be as angry as I want at others, it's my fault for looking up some information about the game that I'm playing. For me, although gameplay is pretty important, I've always looked at single-player games as a way of telling a good story (although there are shitloads of games I love for gameplay: super meat boy, zeldas, counter strike, metroidvanias, old pokemon and many many more). Now there are games where I'm playing the game more for the story than for the gameplay, or rather, the only thing that's really compelling me to keep on playing is the story (such as Assassins Creed 1). This is a case where the gameplay could either be downright mediocre, or perhaps the gameplay is good, but that's not the reason I'm playing the game.
For example with Bioshock, I liked the gameplay, but not enough to say "I would happily play Bioshock even if the story was terrible and the gameplay was the same." With Bioshock, I had it on my PC, and when my computer crashed I was forced to stop playing Bioshock for around 2-4 weeks. During this period, I played other games, but I was still interested in Bioshock. I wanted to keep myself updated to where I had got up to in regards of the story and the characters, and I was interested in finding Irishman Atlas' last name. By doing this I had discovered his true identity, and I was shocked and I hated myself for looking this up. After reading this, and after getting my computer fixed, I didn't feel like playing Bioshock. It didn't have that same atmosphere. I was like a child being told that Santa isn't real.
Around a year later though, I picked up Bioshock again, and I liked it quite a lot. After making a fuss about the story and gameplay, the thing that I really liked is the atmosphere in Rapture. It's so dreary yet it's so full of life. Much like in Arkham Asylum, the underwater dystopia is filled with audio tapes about the history of Rapture and all the people which helped make it what it is. Furthermore the music and graphics were fantastic and just looking at things like the flow of water down corridors looks beautiful. I'm a music person in games - I always admire great music and for me that's a majority of what makes how great a particular world or level is. For me the music of a game (and for that matter a film as well) brings a place alive, especially in dark sad places like Rapture.
Another thing that was on my mind is Portal 2 - I'm finding it easier than Portal 1. I'm still playing Portal 2 (I know, it's been a little more than three weeks). The truth is I had just upgraded my graphics card so I missed my chance to play Portal 2 up until 2 weeks after launch. I was compelled to buy the game on my Xbox 360 but decided against it. I waited for my computer to be revamped so I could quickly download it from Steam and get started. I was anxiously anticipating Portal 2 and it was made worse by my personal delay.
Once I got my hands on it, I quickly leaped at any spare time I had to play the game, and the first 5 or 6 chapters or so were quite easy (maybe thats because I had already played Portal 1 and was quite used to the mechanics), but after that point it has started to get harder. One thing I've noticed is that unlike Braid and Portal, quite a few of the puzzles are very "Where's Waldo?" in the sense that it's all about looking around the level once you enter it, finding where all the interactions are, and then using them together. For example finding an Aperture weighted cube on a hanging platform, working out how to get up there, and then finding the red switch to put it on. Often its just using the gels with the walls that you identify first as useful, and then shooting out of a diagonal wall with speed by using the propulsion gel to run super fast into the wall. Saying these things might make you think that I'm disappointed with the game, but so far, far from it. Sure, there have been one or two puzzles that I have been quite disappointed with, but for the most part the puzzles are pretty good.
Although I like all the new game mechanics (Propulsion Gel, Repulsion Gel, White Gel, Hard Light Bridge, Thermal Discouragement Beam, Aerial Faith Plate etc.) and how they make you think differently, I think these new mechanics hide how fairly simple and relatively straight-foward the puzzles are (i.e. just combining all these different mechanics to solve the puzzle) in comparison to the first game. In the first game the puzzles had to be harder as there were only a few things you had to think about when solving a puzzle: your Portal gun, the red timer buttons, momentum and the ever-lovable Companion cube. Again it may sound like I'm bashing Portal, but I really loved the puzzles, and what I'm trying to say is that with less gameplay mechanics, the puzzles had to be harder, and they benefited from being harder and more thinking-oriented.
Going back to my original thoughts, Mother 3 is another game that has been spoiled for me (well, partially). I had gone on a holiday so I was interrupted from playing Mother 3, and soon after I had come back I'd lost my game save data. Now, I don't mind starting the game over but I'd rather not be interrupted again by the release of L.A. Noire. Again, there's nothing much else to talk about, as Mother 3 was spoiled to me in a similar manner as Bioshock: the internet told me things that I didn't want to hear. But this time the internet wasn't as blunt about it.
For this spoiler, I don't think I even got it from the internet, rather I got it from not playing the game too much and thinking about what had happened to Claus, and why I'm yet to play as him in the game. My guess: he was found by the Pigmask Army and was mechanised (or brainwashed) like the Drago in the first act. My idea has also been backed up by seeing "brotherly love" somewhere and the cover of Mother 3+ being of Lucas and Claus lying next to each other. This gives me the idea that they love each other but perhaps they have different ideas and approaches to life, giving me the idea that Claus is the final boss and there is a great big emotional plot point. Also when playing as Lucas 3 years later in the new world, travelling across the rail road to find Duster, a Magypsy teaches you how to use the PSI ability "Love", also saying that only 2 people in the world can use "Love". Hmmm, I wonder who that second person is.
I hate myself soooo much for ruining a perfectly good "cult following" game that has been raved about so much on the internet and on this very blog. Although I've pretty much ruined a very big chunk of the game for myself, I still love the music, the characters, the way the chapters are set out (multiple perspectives of same events = dynamism), the simple yet gorgeous graphics, the awesome combat system and the interesting themes looked at such as a simple village becoming a commercial city with its surrounding establishments (Club Titiboo), ideas of technologically advanced peoples brainwashing and changing simple farmer lives, and finally the dramatic scene where Flint (a protaganist) realistically, violently freaks out over the death of his wife - something I thought I would never see in a Nintendo game. Although this specific scene is a beautiful sad moment and I experienced it with its full effect, I feel terrible that I'm going to miss other scenes in later parts of the game all because of spoilers.
I hate spoilers. My word of advice: never look up anything remotely related to a game that you are playing or even have the slightest chance of playing. Because once you spoil a beautiful story-based game, you can't unlearn it. I wish The Haitian was real. So bad.
Braid (XBLA/PS3/PC/Mac) Publisher: XBLA/ Number None, Inc. Developer: Number None, Inc. (XBLA, PC)/Hothead Games (Mac, PS3) Released: August 6, 2008 (XBLA), April 10, 2009 (PC), December 12, 2009 (PS3) Price: 800 Microsoft Points, $10 (PS3, PC, Mac)
Braid is an Xbox Live Arcade Indie puzzle-platformer that has you solving physical puzzles by using the game’s time-based gameplay mechanics that the player-character, Tim, possesses. Throughout the game you have the ability to rewind time but in each world an additional time manipulation mechanic is added, such as the introduction of green-glowing objects that aren’t affected by the manipulation of time or the ability to have a shadow of yourself do the actions of what you just did before you reversed time, or being in possession of a ring that slows down time around it (time moves faster the further away from it). The game puts you in a central hub (a house) which gives access to the six primary worlds, represented by rooms in the house. In each world there are 12 hard-to-reach jigsaw puzzle pieces that you must collect in order to access the final world. The pieces usually involve a hard puzzle that you must solve to acquire the piece, and when you finally do get that piece that’s been tempting you to use a walkthrough but you didn’t, it’s a triumphant moment that you cherish. After getting all twelve pieces, you can now fit these pieces together on a virtual board to create a nice picture.
The puzzles have been devised exceedingly well, and that’s all in thanks of Jonathon Blow’s excellent level design - this small-team indie game has much better levels than a lot of “mainstream” games- each level in Braid has you thinking in completely different ways as the game puts you in different situations; you’ll never feel any repetition at all in the gameplay.
The learning kerb is small as the three basic (and only) buttons you need are movement by analog stick, the ‘action’ button (such as for pushing levers), and the ability to rewind time.
The narrative is done like that of Portal or Left 4 Dead – not shoved down your throat. In fact, there are no cut scenes and you can play through the entire game without being told anything about the story (apart from the end of each world where a fluffy brown dinosaur tells you, “I’m sorry. The princess in another castle.”)
The plot can be easily summarised that Tim is a man searching for a princess who "has been snatched by a horrible and evil monster." His relationship with this princess is vague at best, and the only clear part of this relationship is that Tim has made some sort of mistake which he hopes to rewind and correct, because “if you erase your mistakes, you don’t need to make them”. If you choose to immerse yourself in this twist on the traditional Mario plotline, you will most likely find yourself interested, as the plot itself is given in a non-linear fashion like that of Max Payne 2. There is storyline text to read at the entrance to the levels of each world, presented in green books on pedestals. These chunks of narrative evoke themes of forgiveness, desire, frustration and a hint of violence.
The presentation of the game is beautiful, and anyone who has played the game would agree that the game wouldn’t be the same if it wasn’t for the gorgeous watercolour artwork by David Hellman and the beautiful Celtic Cello strings heard in the euphonious soundtrack by Jami Sieber (even hearing the soundtrack in reverse as you rewind time is a pleasure to your ears).
Braid has received critical acclaim from every reviewer on earth, and for good reason. Even if you hate puzzle games, you owe it to yourself to own this game whether it’s for the music, the graphics, or that this game is recognised as one of the first art games. All in all, Jonathon Blow has given gamers a blessing, and in my opinion, he’s given us one of the best (if not the best) indie games out there.