The early-to-mid 90’s set the stage for one of the most beautiful production company and development studio relationships to exist in video games with the pairing of Japanese companies Quintet and Enix. While their first game, ActRaiser, a mesh between classic platforming and Sim City style urban planning, was an insanely fresh, original idea that would lead to their eventual ‘Quintology’ it wasn’t until the release of their next title that the duo would really show their true genius.
Super Mario World starts at Yoshi’s House and gives the pudgy Italian plumber the freedom to explore the overworld to the left or right. To the left is Yoshi’s Island 1, a bright and colorful place with tank top-wearing koopa’s, small purple dinosaurs and giant goddamn bullet bills. Beat it and the area around will come alive underfoot. The path dead ends at the Yellow Switch Palace sitting on top of a cliff and the large button that causes matching boxes to fill in throughout the world. With this one action, large scale change has swept across Dinosaur Land. It will never be the same.
This review is for the XBLA version of Spelunky. There is an extremely similar free version online, but this critique pertains to the specific changes made for the console release.
Embrace Death and Rise Above It
Most great things are difficult to qualify in words. You can tell somebody that the Mona Lisa is a great painting of an ugly lady, or that Blade Runner is a great movie about robots, but that does nothing compared to watching Rutger Hauer deliver his final soliloquy while slowly deactivating in the rain. It’s not solely what something is objectively that’s important, its the lasting effects of experiencing something that make it impactful. With that said, Derek Yu’s long-worked-on Spelunky (there’s a free version online showing just how long it’s been tweaked) is not simply an indie platformer hell-bent on crushing your spirit, even if sometimes it’s hard to see past that.
A Much-Needed Validation of iOS/Android Gaming
I often feel anger towards people whom I know to be smart describing something as ‘stupid’. Partially because most of my favorite things are stupid, but mostly because it’s a cheap and lazy way to communicate one’s opinion on something without having to spend a second thinking about why they don’t like whatever it is they don’t like. And that’s sad because when it comes to judging something’s worth, it’s not only important to look at what that something is, but also precisely what it aims at being. Without doing so, nothing could rationally be considered a success. Being successful is everything.
Fez requires you to change your perspective.
You start in Gomez’s small room. Presented as a flat 8-bit, 2D side-scroller, the room is clean and well decorated, but is obviously a child’s. Gomez can run and jump but his only initial act is to leave. Outside is the beautiful, vertically oriented village and kind but simple residents. You are beckoned to the top of the village from a mysterious old man with an eye patch and a small red fez. He tells you that it’s an important day. That’s when the Hexahedron appears.