Week of Games: 8 & 7

Tuesday 26 September (2006)

We’re already two down, and eight to go – so with no further ado, here’s the situation so far, and games 8 and 7 on the list:

9. Grim Fandango (PC)
10. Street Fighter 2 (SNES)

The 8th Best Game Everbeyond good and evil (gamecube)

Man, Beyond Good & Evil. This thing came out of nowhere. I loved my Gamecube, but there were so few games getting released on it in comparison to the other two main consoles that I was despairing. I had read in the official Nintendo magazine about this game, which they had seen at E3, and at first it really excited me – it sounded like a bona-fide adventure game. Then I read more, and grew depressed – in reality it sounded like a typical action game; another generic crapfest. Still when it was released it was the only new Gamecube game since Mario Party 32, and what was more, it was only £20. ‘Sod it,’ I said, and bought it.

This, dear readers, should be regarded as one of my better pieces of instinct in action. It really didn’t take me very long to fall in love with this game – it was a beauty to behold, it was charmingly Gallic, and it had actually created an entire world for you to play around in. There’s something about French computer games – they have a certain quality to them which makes them better than the sum of their parts. This is even more impressive in the case of Beyond Good & Evil, when you actually look at how good the sum of the parts is.

I mean, let’s take the most basic things first. Characterisation – the people in this game act realistically. The baddies are bad, and the good guys are good – and you can tell if two characters are friends, or if someone is scared or happy or anything really easily. The gameplay itself couldn’t be better – it’s like Starfox Adventures or Zelda – intuitive and simple, you control your player with ease and battles are a pleasure. But the gameworld – oh, the gameworld. This is where it all comes together. It feels like a real planet, whether you’re strolling around the town centre, driving your hovercraft over the ocean or soaring above the clouds in your spaceship. Furthermore, the game is populated not only with interactive humanoid characters (I say humanoid because there are different species of human – some look like goats, for example) but with a plethora of background flora and fauna. These animals do nothing to forward your progress in the game, but they make it feel like a real place – and you’re indirectly forced to seek them out, because of the single greatest innovation in the game – your camera.

See, Jade, the heroine, is a reporter – so it follows that she should have a camera in order to take photos of the stories she’s covering. This simple touch adds dimensions to the suspension of disbelief, because you really feel like a reporter – and as the plot masterly unfolds, you’ll find yourself caring more about the outcome of a game than ever before. It’s probably on a par, for depth of story, style and execution with Grim Fandango. So why is it better than that game?

In short; because it’s more fun. While the level of involvement you have with dialogue and puzzle solving is more limited than a traditional adventure game, the elementary moving from place to place, travelling, exploring and fighting is so much more involving. Shit, flying the spaceship is a game in itself. Grim Fandango tells an amazing story which you experience in the third person – Beyond Good & Evil tells an amazing story which you experience, if you allow yourself, in the first person.


The 7th Best Game Everday of the tentacle (pc)

Day of the Tentacle is arguably the most accomplished adventure game ever made. It is at the same time funny, complex, logical, insane and brilliant. Sure it might not be the outright funniest, or have the best story to tell, or even be the most entertaining – but it is in itself absolutely flawless. The reason for this lies in the sheer simplicity of the game – we are not given a vast gameworld to explore, but rather the opposite; a single house. The genius of it is the fact that you control one of three characters, each one located in the same house at different points in history.

As a result of this fact, unlike in any other adventure game I can think of, players can ‘make’ inventory items – you’re forced to think in new and different ways when it comes to solving puzzles. Instead of getting around obstacles, why not simply remove that obstacle? At one point early in the game a character is trapped up a tree – instead of finding a way down, you simply go to a point further back in time with another character and cut that tree down – and thus, it ceases to exist, and you no longer have a problem.

Day of the Tentacle is also the most non-linear game I’ve ever played. It takes the concepts started with Monkey Island and expands upon them – so non-linear is it, in fact, that when I first played the game in 1994 I didn’t even realise that there were goals I was trying to achieve. Really! I would just wander around the house trying things out (‘hmmm, I wonder if I can put the hamster in the freezer?’ / ‘I wonder what would happen if I swapped this left-handed hammer for a right-handed hammer?’ etc.) and seeing what happened when something worked.

It helps, of course, that Day of the Tentacle was made by LucasArts in their heyday. This equates to, basically, very high production values, and you can really see this in evidence when you play, from the spot-on voice acting to the immersive musical score. It looks more like a wacky cartoon in style than previous adventure games, extending the concept of adventure games being ‘interactive movies,’ and the interface is the simple, classic, verb icon scheme.

But most importantly, this game is really, really good fun. You can treat it like a novel (although it’s probably slightly more addictive) in that anytime you want to escape from the stresses of the world, you can start it up and gradually uncover more layers of the story, until eventually you reach the thrilling climax. It will entertain you with its humour, with its charming artistic style, and its professional vocal and musical soundtrack.

Day of the Tentacle is a game for the ages – unoffensive, challenging, funny, entertaining… genius.


2 Responses to “Week of Games: 8 & 7”

  1. Huzbo Says:

    Oh man, BG&E and DoTT already? And *Grim Fandango* yesterday?!

    I am becoming increasingly afraid of the rest of the list!

  2. stan Says:

    At least you know there’s only liable to be one Mario game. But which one?! And how high up the list is it?! If it’s even there.

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