Shall We Play A Game?
Though I would love to, today I won’t be reminiscing on a young Matthew Broderick and his early film career (but he was dreamy in WarGames). Today I play gaming ambassador and I smack Roger Ebert the fuck down. Nothing against Ebert, I’m actually upset that he’s no longer doing ‘At the Movies’ and that they “hipped up the show” and replaced him with some ‘dude’ who dunks his hair in a gel factory before showing up to the set, but Mr. Ebert said that games cannot be art and today we have definitive proof that it can. Being of geek culture, I’d heard of a game called Braid for a while, long before I had an Xbox and everyone raved about it and this week it was on sale on Xbox Live so I
plopped down $10 bucks and got it and you know what? They’re right. Braid is pretty damn good it’s also good and damn pretty. The backgrounds are broad brush impressionist styled moving paintings which look, and I believe were, done by hand, the games’ story is classically told, though separated from the gameplay and open to interpretation, which some find a turn off, but it works within the context. I mean, look, everything doesn’t need to hold your hand and tell you what everything means, why would you knock someone for leaving an artistic story open to interpretation, this is not reality television, they don’t need to repeat the same scene 4 times just you can blindly make sure that you’re getting the entire thing drilled down in baby sized bites, think for yourself. Wanna know one of the best movie endings? Lost in Translation, why? Because YOU get to imagine what they say at the end, you have to imagine those words and that made it BETTER!! But anyway, back to Braid. Being that I’m actually speaking about a game and the hallmark of a game should be gameplay, some disagree, we call those people EA, but if a game doesn’t play well, then it shouldn’t be considered a great game, you know since the object of a game is to play it. Braid is that quintessential, “easy to pick up, hard to master'” type game, which is good. It starts as a standard platformer like Super Mario Bros from the NES or Donkey Kong (even going so far in one level as to pay homage to DK, my favorite classic game, which makes me smile).
It plays in general classic Mario platforming formula, where you normally start at far left of a level/world, make it to the far right end of level, do what you gotta do to get there in between. The trick is, you have to manipulate time in between and really, every puzzle within is built upon that fact and built upon it well. The control is simple to grasp, but the execution of some of the puzzles WILL take a minute to figure out. But what I like is that, while it may be difficult, it’s not maddening and almost always rewarding once it “clicks”. Oh, you also you can’t be killed, sure you can die and you WILL, sometimes on purpose, but that X button is always there to bring you back in time, before you mistimed that jump or missed hitting that koopa troopa knockoff or missed that key and/or puzzle piece and you WILL miss some keys a/o puzzle pieces but you “don’t never run out of the…going-back-in-time potion”. And, even if you can’t figure it out immediately, you can skip a puzzle or section and come back, it is usually easy to get to the next door within the level and get to the next part, even to the end of the world and back and all points in between, just remember that you are actually there, primarily, to get the puzzles and the keys and possibly save some mysterious princess and in between it all, completely rewire how you think about the time/space continuum and some gaming in itself (there is a world where walking right moves time forward and left moves it backward and your brain may explode, but it’s still kinda fun, but seriously, if your brain explodes, you should get to a hospital, it may be fatal). So anyway, for those w/o an Xbox 360, Braid comes to Windows Computers in March, I say to look for it, check it out, find a demo, the game will probably run $10-15 (it’s normally $15 on Xbox Live Arcade, on sale this week for $10), the developer is a guy named Jonathan Blow, who pretty much envisioned and created this bitch himself, wanting to make a statement on gaming, using $180,000 of his own cash to make a definitively indie game. I haven’t finished it all quite yet, but I hear it is kinda short (but so is super mario bros), but here’s the catch, if you LIKE variety in games and WISH they could be reminiscent of the classics while still moving forward, simpler, yet smarter, then you NEED to support the ones that work and this one is probably the prime example of a game that needs to and should be a grand success to get more, real, good, games that follow in its spirit (note: developers, I said spirit, not clone. I want variety, I don’t want ‘Cornrow’, ‘Weave’ and ‘Ponytail’ to all come out this summer, saying “It’s like Braid, but more hip-hop starring Soulja Boy Tell Em”, that’d really piss me off). Mainstream and Casual gaming consumers can ignore this game and that’s fine, but do NOT get mad when there’s nothing else left but Halo 43 and The Ghost of John Madden 2016 (w/ Brett Favre coming back from his 12th retirement) on the gaming shelves. I warned you.
Tangent: There is an infamous video of ‘Soulja Boy Tell Em’ (I can’t believe a human answers to that name) talking about Braid on youtube where he completely misses any point that could be made about Braid (he pulled his video offline, but he also missed the point of the internet and doesn’t realize that, SHIT DOESN’T JUST DISAPPEAR ANYMORE ONCE IT’S GONE LIVE! It really hasn’t done that since like 98, archive.org, bitch), but that’s ok, because Soulja Boy Tell Em (still actually his name) is a fuck who stumbled into fame yelling “You”, arguably more catchy than an average person and he’s also legally talentless and fucking brain dead. This part is a lot less about Braid and much more about Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em, whose name is not so much a name as it is; a nondescript & incomplete sentence containing what could be a title, but still not really a true name (sure he ‘tell em’, but tell em what exactly? Probably something retarded enough to make “em” retarded too, kinda like cooties, but hopefully more curable, as we’re a long way from a real cooties cure). SBTE, also contains; a job title, a child labor law violation, an impressive mangling of anything resembling English spelling and syntax, and, I’m not sure I’ve pointed this out, possibly the dumbest effin name you could give yourself, all at the same time, there may even be an improper fraction in there or directions to his house, so congrats to Soulja Boy Tell Em 6/3rds House Frum Da Lef, you win the Idiot Olympics! It would really be an amazing artistic feat if it wasn’t actually the equivalent of a jackass who unknowingly found an authentic Jackson Pollock or Monet painting at a yard sale or something, then stumbled into fortune, with his sole factor being, “it went ‘good n’ shit'” with this couch he took off the sidewalk, all covered in ketchup and mustard stains. Soulja Boy, YOU are why “they” hate us. So what I’m saying is…fuck Brett Michelle. (sorry, inside joke. Hi Sam!)
Somebody please tell me why selective murder isn’t legal?