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How Sayonara Wild Hearts Reinvents the Music Game


Or more accurately: How I got stoned and thought Sayonara Wild Hearts was really neat...  

Billed as a “pop album video game”, Sayonara Wild Hearts has the unique distinction of being as much an album as a game. The game’s 23 levels are essentially tracks: you choose a song and are treated to a sort of interactive music video; the songs and videos flow into each other, and after beating the game you unlock the option to play the entire album, uninterrupted.

This is not exactly a rhythm game; your musical abilities will not be tested too hard. Though the gameplay is timed to the music, and focussing on the music will certainly help your performance in attaining a high score, the rhythmically retarded such as myself can still enjoy the game, relying on visual cues.

The actual gameplay is essentially an endless runner game, which is constantly transforming. The game employs an extremely simple control scheme where the left stick is used for movement, and occasionally you will have to press the A button, in time with onscreen-prompts. If you miss a prompt, or run into a wall, you will be reset to a checkpoint, never more than a few seconds earlier in the song.

Not wanting to interrupt the flow of the music with constant screw-ups, and hoping to achieve a better-than-pathetic high score, the fast-paced gameplay commands your complete concentration, while the game meanwhile overwhelms your remaining senses with its insane audiovisual experience.

This is genuinely one of the most visually stunning games I’ve ever played, featuring gorgeous cel-shaded graphics and a trippy expressive colour scheme employing a lot of purples and pinks. The music is also genuinely something I would actually listen to; featuring an electronic dream pop soundtrack with a beautiful vocal reminiscent of the Chromatics… It’s great, and it’s a perfect fit for the visuals and vice versa. I love it.

I’ve never played anything quite like Sayonara Wild Hearts before; it feels more like a concept album - where the video game aspect is just part of the “concept” - than it does a “music game” in the play-along-to-random-songs sense that I’m used to. And I was hugely impressed by that.

I have of late been more frequently, erm, engaging in recreational drug use, and as such I’ve found myself more drawn to art that, shall we say, feels complementary to the aesthetic of the cannabis mind-state. In other words, the more sensual and less cerebral mediums. My movie/TV choices as such have been more audio-visually decadent and plotless (adult swim’s Off the Air is amazing), I’ve been playing fewer videogames, and mostly I’m drawn instead towards the experience of just sitting in the dark and listening to an album.

So long story short, I got stoned one night, and trying to find a game that I hoped might keep my attention, I pulled Sayonara Wild Hearts out from my backlog. And it certainly fit the bill; what a sensory roller coaster ride the game turned out to be! I had a beautiful time with it, and I think it’s the best game I’ve played in quite a while.

I highly recommend anyone who hasn’t seen the game watch the trailer; if you’re like me you will be sold immediately.

So that’s my review of Sayonara Wild Hearts. Besides that I’ve also been playing Moon: Remix RPG Adventure, which is good. I wrote about Moon and Love-de-Lic on this blog a long time ago, but now the game has, after 23 years, finally gotten an English translation and official release in the West, and I was pretty excited for it (it came out on my birthday too!)… I’m still in the middle of playing it, but… this game deserves publicity. It’s like a mix between Undertale, Minit, and Yoshiro Kimura’s own Chulip… only it came out originally in 1997, which is pretty crazy. The game was way ahead of it's time, and still holds up. Buy it. In fact, buy all of Onion Games’ releases!

Anyways, that’s what I’ve been playing. What’s new with you, dtoid community?!?!

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About Grethiwhaone of us since 12:06 PM on 12.01.2010

PSN ID:Grethiwha


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