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Friday, January 06, 2006

Shadow of the Katamari

I've been alternating between We Heart Katamari and Shadow of the Colossus lately, which is a truly fascinating experience. To help illustrate that, I'm going to now review both games at the same time.

This game is astounding not just in it's unique graphic style, but by the fact that it revels in it's wild controls. There are times I just want to throw that Prince onto a ledge since all he seems to want to do is beat his head against it ... but it's not the kind of rabid frustration you find with, say a shooter that won't let you aim anywhere. I'm running my ass off across this vast landscape and while completely lost in the fact that not everything is under my control I'm enjoying every bit of it.

There should be some kind of award for game design where playing the game outweighs the fun of trying to finish it. I'm in no mad rush here to complete every objective or uncover every stone. This is almost not a game, it's a ride. Everything is a boss fight. Everything is a boss fight, which means that instead of hitting a treadmill every day to beat some crazy obstacle an annoyed level designer put in at three in the morning because hey, every damn game needs a jumping puzzle anyway, you are treated to a feast of events usually reserved for the end of the meal. It's all dessert with this game. It's a guilty pleasure, but it's one that you want to tell all your friends about. The game is pratically counter-culture in this day and age. It's not forty hours of gameplay because a company spent millions on assets but rather because you're likely to slow down, take your time, replay things over and over again. This is a game that found it's core and stuck with it.

Fans of the original can see the heritage shine through here but the game really manages to stand on it's own surprisingly well. It would have been easy to rely on all the same old tricks that made these developers famous in the first place ... but instead this game shows an amazing level of versatility from it's heritage. The breadth of different landscapes is interesting and invigorating and the new methods of gameplay are completely welcome.

One can only hope the developers keep this up, because this game shows that the earlier success was definately not a fluke.

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1 comment:

Jeffool said...

Head of the nail? Meet hammer.