By using this site, you agree to our Privacy Policy and our Terms of Use. Close

I have a lot of interest in content that demonstrates itself and its medium unique and interesting. Junji ito is one of my favorite manga authors because of the way he uses panneling and page division to create tension and lead you to the next horrifying imagery. In movies, i love early ridley scott because of the way he uses the setting and the athmosphere of the location to create an audiovisual sense of place. And in videogames, i love the rhythm heaven games because they show the potential of using interactive mechanics to create investment on the player, and justify the use of cartoony and absurd scenarios.

Videogames, as i see it, have a better time integrating surrealism/sillyness to their main progression. A fairy tale about a plumber going through a kingdom of mushrooms to rescue a princess from a turtle-dragon can be made interesting or ever potentially good; but the effort required to justify the existance of the nonsensical enemies and choice of characters would make it so tiresome that a more organic-made story would prove itself more worth of investment. In games, however, the fact that you have your reliable moveset and the physics of the world remaining consistent helps making the scenarios seem easier to accept. The spinies may not have anything in particular to do with caves or sewers, but he exists the way he does to make it clear to the player that he can't kill him like the koopas, that he can't jump above him. So even if the logic of the situation is off, you still has a connection to the experience, you know the tools you have and you can imagine how to interact with the new surprises. It's an advantage that no other medium has.

With that said, rhythm heaven is my favorite example of the last paragraph's ramble. It's a simple rhythm game that divides itself in stages that are extrapolations of something that is vaguely close to real life scenarios or stories. In one stage you have to kick sports balls away in order for them to not bother your date, in other you are a very, very tired ring fighter covered with sweat, trying to answer the interview with a lady that speaks in a onomatopoeia of a real dialogue, and all of that while trying to keep the rhythm of the song playing. The songs and each individual player input to keep the music going creates a sensation of belonging to the game's stages, even if they are silly or absurd. And the fact that such strong connection can be estabilished regardless of the weirdness of the settings makes the experience unique, and it makes it satisfying in a way that would never work in any other medium.

My favorite example is the samurai minigame in rhythm heaven Fever. Its just a simple silly story; a pair of kids had their toy stole by some shadow/ghose, and the samurai goes to a cave to try to get it back. The player input required is equaly as simple; you just tap A to slash and A+B to slash multiple times(to stop the group movement). And yet, even being this simple and basic, it accomplishes something  the majority of AAA games fail completely: it makes me invested on it. It makes me invested on its illogical, silly experience. The conjunction of the music, aesthetics, player input and personality converge into a memorable experience.

It's not as if something like that connection could only work in that simplistic of conditions. It can be made into more games, and it should. And it should because then we would be getting more experiences that you couldn't get in any other medium. Not butchered, worse versions of movie and book stories, that are pasted together with the most basic and below-average gameplay. We don't need to strive to have experiences that are similar to those mediums to earn respect, we should be getting our new and earnest, unique experiences. That's what i believe and, among other things, want in a videogame.