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
Kids are assholes. I committed so many terrible acts as a kid. When I was six, I stole a bunch of random objects from around the house and hid them in my closet. When I was eight, my friends and I bullied the same two classmates every recess. When I was ten, I wrote a fake note from my friend’s crush in order to humiliate him.
Why did I do those cruel things? Because I could. Because it made me feel powerful. Because I had no empathy for other people.
Eventually, I grew up from an immoral child into a somewhat decent adult. I credit a lot of my moral development to The Legend of Zelda series, in particular Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. Taken together, they showcase the development of ethics in a young boy. Continue reading The Legend of Zelda: A Guide to Being Good