Gameplay always trumps graphics for me, but there are the occasional videogames where the graphics or art style simply just can’t be ignored. It almost gets in the way of whatever you’re trying to get character X to do, and you have to give in, take a hit, sit back and gaze upon the sweat and tears of artists and designers and visionaries alike.
In this generation of gaming, high-res graphics are pushing the boundaries of real and unreal, bringing in unbelievable lighting, textures, and movement. Those cars in the latest Gran Turismo games might as well be plucked right off some heavily raced and televised track; those plants and jungle bushes in Uncharted are covered in bugs, and you know it; those faces in L.A. Noire are true faces, skinned off their respective actors by sick-minded men like Dr. Hannibal Lector and tossed into the game to give you a realism unlike any you’ve previously seen. There’s a new level of game graphics, as well as a new horde of gamers demanding they get better and better. That’s cool and all, but I’m a firm believer that we’ve reached the peak–or a few feet from it–and that this is as good as it gets, which is fine because realistic graphics are not the be-all, end-all, and you just have to look at the indie gaming scene to see what can be done with less…or more creativity.
Games like Limbo, PixelJunk Shooter, Bit.Trip Void, and The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom all stand tall with stellar gameplay and a look to match it. Would Limbo have been as haunting as it was if you could actually read the little boy’s expressions? Most likely no. Would those quirky pie puzzles feel as quirky if it wasn’t for that silent films-esque presentation? But enough about those titles. Let’s get wet.
I think Aquaria has a fantastic look to it, nailing a world we honestly don’t know too much about and only get to glimpse sparingly through documentaries or movies or fascinating photos. Like in Finding Nemo, the scenes set underwater in the wild ocean where life is all colors and bubbles were a sight to behold. It’s so foreign and strange under the water, and yet it can be equally calming and uplifting, just floating in the blue, weightless, full of wonder. There are two men behind Aquaria, Derek Yu and Alec Holowka, and Yu was the lead artist. His work gives Aquaria a hand-drawn, storybook style, complimenting the 2D exploration gameplay. It looks gorgeous in screenshots, and then doubly in action. Loneliness is an important theme and feeling in the game; one certainly feels all by their lonesome when swimming gently through open waters or the kelp forest. Items are more detailed in the foreground, but blurry shadows and outlines of other structures in the background give off a great sense of scale. And brain coral never looked so brainy.
I do vow to return to Aquaria and Naija’s troubles someday, maybe a day when my Mac isn’t on the verge of breaking. At least for one more look at beauty in motion.
Posted in 30 days of gaming, artwork, backlog, entertainment, musings, videogames
Tagged Aquaria, Finding Nemo, Gran Turismo, graphics, Humble Indie Bundle, indie, L.A. Noire, mac, Uncharted
So, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about time and money and videogames. Because, as most of us know, they all go hand-in-hand with each other. You need money to play games; you need time to play games. You also most likely need a job, but the Catch 22 of that is if you have a job, you have less time, but more money.
To be truthful, I have enough money for games, but not enough time, and that therein causes me to feel guilt about buying new games when I’ve yet to get through a good chunk of my collection. I mean, I did toss down $5.00 for six games thanks to the Humble Indie Bundle, and of them, I’ve only played a few hours of Aquaria. Haven’t even touched the others yet. Problem? Problem. Plus, I’m still working on Borderlands, Pokemon HeartGold, playing Dragon Age: Origins a second time, and a slew of other abandoned children.
Right. Chances are I’m just babbling here, but basically, I’m not going to be making a Purchase of the Month for May 2010. Generally, I allow myself to buy one new videogame–often ranging in the $30 to $40 range–each month as a reward for working hard and staying alive. However, I have more than enough on my plate right now, and there’s actually nothing terribly new calling out to me…save for Red Dead Redemption, which a lot of reviews are giving the thumbs up on. Yet…I still do not enjoy GTA IV and think maybe, just maybe, I should stay away. Who knows. I might cave over summer; I’ve always wanted to ride a donkey into the sunset.
I do, however, know with certainty some of my next purchases. And here they are:
- June 2010: LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
- July 2010: Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies
- August 2010: ???
- September 2010: ???
- October 2010: Fallout: New Vegas
And that’s really all I know at this point. Nothing else on the radar. Nope, not even Fable III. Feeling kind of meh about it at this point. But I do like having a battle plan and things to look forward to…
Posted in entertainment, musings, nintendo DS, purchase of the month, RPGs, videogames, xbox 360
Tagged Aquaria, Dragon Quest, Fable III, Fallout: New Vegas, Grand Theft Auto IV, LEGO Harry Potter
I stumbled across the Humble Indie Bundle yesterday, and I’m now here to tell you this is one helluva deal.
I’m gonna steal words from the give-awayers themselves since they can better explain what’s going on here:
The Humble Indie Bundle is a unique kind of bundle that we are trying out.
Pay what you want. If you bought these five games separately, it would cost around $80 but we’re letting you set the price!
All of the games work great on Mac, Windows, and Linux. We didn’t want to leave anyone out.
There is no middle-man. You can rest assured that 100% of your purchase goes directly to the developers and non-profits as you specify (minus credit card fees).
We don’t use DRM. When you buy these games, they are yours. Feel free to play them without an internet connection, back them up, and install them on all of your Macs and PCs freely.
Your contribution supports the amazing Child’s Play charity and Electronic Frontier Foundation. By default, the amount is split equally between the seven participants (including Child’s Play and EFF), but you can tweak the split any way you’d like.
I use a Mac laptop at home, and it’s definitely not a gaming computer (in my mind), save for some Facebook applications and…er, Chess. But they said “all of the games work great on Mac,” which immediately piqued my interest. Plus, I have a Wacom tablet for drawing, and it comes with a mouse that now finally has a purpose. So I plopped down a couple of bucks (more than a penny, less than $10.00 because I’m not made of money, kids), got an email, and immediately started downloading World of Goo, Aquaria, Gish, Lugaru, and Penumbra Overture.
Now, of these five games, I’d previously heard of two, and then of those two, I’d played one of them before on the Wii. That game being World of Goo. But the screenshots for Aquaria really stood out, and so I loaded that one up first and found myself falling in love. Hard. I can already tell that it was lovingly created, and the hand-painted scenery and aquatic life are really impressive. I mean really impressive. As are the shafts of light bursting down from cave walls. Graphics-aside, the gameplay is simple but gradually growing more complex as songs are learned and recipes are found. I’m liking it very much so far, as it’s a genuine mix of Super Metroid and Ecco the Dolphin, a mix unlike any other, a mix that is relaxing and fun, surprising and mysterious. I know this game–and many of the others in the bundle–came out some time back, and I’m a bit bummed to only be discovering it now.
I was gonna talk a bit more about Aquaria here, but this blog post has run a little long. Will save it for next time! So, yeah, the Humble Indie Bundle. Get to it before time runs out!
Posted in announced, artwork, entertainment, links, releases, videogames
Tagged Aquaria, Gish, Humble Indie Bundle, Lugaru, mac, PC, Penumbra Overture, World of Goo