I loved going to IKEA as a kid. My mom would drop me off at the child care section and go off to do some shopping. I would jump around the ball pit and play Super Mario Bros. on the NES. When my mom would pick me up, we would go eat. I would always get chicken fingers at the restaurant and then a cookie for the way home. With all those benefits, IKEA was my favorite shop to visit, infinitely better than my childhood nemesis Dillard’s.
That fondness has continued into adulthood but for different reasons. Recently, my mom and I took another trip to IKEA, so I could get some furniture for my new apartment. Upon first entering, we saw the ball pit through the window on the first floor. A twinge of nostalgia ran through my body. My disappointment was quickly replaced by excitement as we took the escalator to the second floor showroom. Continue reading A Trip to Ikea
Two dimensions are never enough. Plenty of 2-D video games, like Super Metroid and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, have exploration components. Link and Samus bomb walls to discover treasures and ascend to great heights to discover new locations. But the sense of exploration in those games is limited.
The addition of the third dimension increases the complexity of moving around a space. Your non-game-playing grandparents may look like passable Space Invaders players but may struggle to get out of a room in Grand Theft Auto V. Breaking away from a single plane of motion increases the complexity by an order of magnitude, but that difficulty increases the reward of being able to explore that space.
This was the revolutionary component of Super Mario 64; exploring a three-dimensional space can be rewarding on its own. In SM64, it was exciting to climb to the top of Bob-omb Battlefield, race to the bottom of Cool, Cool Mountain, or even just jump around the overworld castle. Continue reading Burnout Paradise Remastered: A Racing Platformer
Uncontroversial opinion: Kids dying from cancer is not a fun topic. In fact, pediatric oncology may be the most depressing subject imaginable. Yet the video game That Dragon, Cancer tackles such material head on. The game is an autobiographical work primarily developed by Ryan and Amy Green whose young son Joel was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
That Dragon, Cancer can be described as an exploration game, or derisively as a walking simulator. Most of the gameplay is spent wandering around an environment while hearing voiceover from the Greens. Yet despite its simplistic gameplay, this may be the most difficult game I have ever played. Most games are difficult in the same way that sports are difficult; they require effort, fast reflexes, and a hunger to win. That Dragon, Cancer is difficult in the same way consoling a loved one through heartbreak is difficult. Continue reading Games Do Not Have to Be Fun