Tag Archives: cancer

I’m finding it difficult to criticize I, Hope

I, Hope was created without the objective of making a profit. Developer Kenny Roy is teaming up alongside the GameChanger Charity to ensure that all proceeds for the game are donated to said charity, which supports children and children fighting cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. It’s a beautiful thing, really, though now I feel somewhat bad because I got my copy through Twitch Prime’s free games of the month thing. Hopefully Twitch is donating some funds their way based on the amount of service subscribers they have or something like that. All that said, I wish I, Hope was better than it ultimately is, and I’m finding it difficult to criticize a game with such an earnest cause and outlook. Still, I must.

I, Hope is the coming of age story about a young girl named Hope whose town has been taken over by Cancer. The game is not trying to be subtle whatsoever with its narrative. You are Hope, you are battling Cancer. Other games have tackled this subject, such as That Dragon, Cancer and Re-Mission, though I can’t speak about how on the nose or not they played it. As Hope, you are traveling to a bunch of islands to collect tools to help her on her quest to push back Cancer, and to get these tools, she’ll need to defeat monsters and solve various puzzles. It’s a typical third-person, character action game in the veins of Devil May Cry and Bayonetta, but with the violence toned way down, no insane combos, and graphics that look like they’d call the PlayStation 2 home, not that that’s a bad thing really. Actually, now that I think about it, the game also reminds me a bit of Invizimals: The Lost Kingdom.

The gameplay consists of you, as Hope, running around a somewhat sparse level, attacking cancer-infected monsters with your staff and solving environment-based puzzles. The problems start immediately. The jumping and attacking don’t feel great, and I even fell through the world a few times, popping the “That’s not how the story went…” screen, which brings you back to a checkpoint. Trying to move objects is basically a dice roll as to whether or not you can even move the block when you hit the button to lock on to it. You also acquire some abilities, such as being able to see hidden elements with the goggles or freezing moving platforms with a cymbal thingy. Each world seems to end with a boss fight that often requires you to use that island’s specific power to defeat it. Also, you can collect letters to spell hope, which unlocks some extra content–I think it’s just a soundtrack selection–from the main menu.

I got to the end boss of the third island, the volcano-themed heckhole, and called it quits, something I really don’t like doing in any game. Sure, sure, I’ll walk away from a game or take a break, but always with the intention to return to it eventually. With I, Hope, I was saying, “Nope, no more.” The cause is good, the gameplay is not, to the point of it being frustrating. I found next to zero coverage of the game on YouTube, but one person did play through the whole thing, and I’m glad I stopped when I did because the puzzles seemed to only become more maddening as Hope gathered more tools and tricks to use against the Cancer tentacles. It also ends abruptly after a light-bouncing-between-mirrors puzzle that we have all experienced before in games like Beyond Good & Evil and the Professor Layton puzzle games, on both a down and up beat. I just don’t know.

I, Hope has one thing going for it–its unceasing amount of support for those fighting cancer. Me too. Cancer sucks, hard. As a game, one for all ages, but seemingly geared towards a younger group, it’s both bland and underdeveloped, and I found nothing satisfying in either the platforming, combat, or puzzle solving, and those are the three main elements that make up Hope’s quest. I am all about supporting causes for cancer research, and this is one of ’em, but a word of warning–you’ll be extremely disappointed if you also want a good game to play out of the donation.

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Games Completed in 2011, #25 – Yard Sale Hidden Treasures: Sunnyville

It might not look like it, but this is going to be a sad Grinding Down post.

Yard Sale Hidden Treasures: Sunnyville, from what I can tell, is one of the last games my mother got to play on her Nintendo DS before she passed away this past December. I remember the day Tara, my sister Bitsy, and I went out searching for Sunnyville at Momma Dukes’ request; we had to even ask the GameStop employee if he had any clue of its existence as I couldn’t find it among the thousands on the shelves. Somehow, he did though, and we got it for her, knowing that it, at the bare least, was a bit of light and distraction during chemotherapy. It’s not a great, amazing game, but it is of the ilk that she loved: finding hidden objects. Her collection has several others from this breed, and she always devoured them within a few days, and then I’d play them after her, and we’d make fun of the lame attempt to add a story to these things and just agree that finding random objects on a random photo brimming with randomness would be more than enough.

And that all basically applies with Sunnyville, too. It’s attempt at a story is modest, but still hilariously unnecessary: you’ve just moved into the neighborhood, into a very empty house, and you decide to scour your neighbors’ yard sales for key items to spruce up your house and possibly win the Superstar Homes magazine contest. And that’s what you do. Go to a neighbor’s house, find items on a list, eventually whittling it down to one or two pivotal ones, find those, and move on. Once you’ve got enough room dressing to complete a section of your house, you’ll see a “before and after” shot of the room, rest up for the night, and start all over again the next day. You need to complete eight rooms, which takes eight days, which really takes…I don’t know. I played this game with little drive, here and there, finding a few items during my lunch break and so forth. My Nintendo 3DS says I logged just under 3 hours in the game; that sounds about right.

My mother played Sunnyville twice, completing it fully both times. I know this because of the three save slots available, two are in her name. I’m not sure if a second playthrough is any more different than the first. I’m glad she got a lot out of it though. Once she was finished with Sunnyille, she passed it along to my wife, Tara, with a short, hand-written note:

Sigh.

Naturally, I miss my mom. Playing this game didn’t do anything to lessen the hurting in my heart; it only allowed me to follow in her proverbial touchscreen taps, relax with a game that helped her relax, escape elsewhere momentarily. Again, not a great game, but one I’m emotionally connected with, hung up on. Would sure love to know what Momma Dukes thought about all the punny names for the neighbors as they got me to even groan every now and then. I can’t wait to see her again.