Playing videogames

I’ve been awful recently and barely been playing much in the way of videogames BUT I have played some absolutely glorious videogames so let’s at least drop a blog post down about three of them.

Let’s start with a recent one:

HOHOKUM

“If only you could talk to the monsters”, Killscreen asked of Hohokum. “If only you could sit down and have a quiet word with Killscreen”, I asked of Killscreen. Alright, alright, it’s not just Killscreen who’ve pulled the “but videogames” angle on Hohokum but they’re the ones that went out the other side into batshit.

But y’know, I can sort of see this. If you approach Hohokum as a game to be solved then you’re going to be frustrated, you’re going to find it frustrating but y’know, also, shuuuuuut up. Shuuuuut up. Shut up because if you’re slagging a videogame off for not being like all the other videogames that are videogames, why are we even here? What’s the fucking point of doing anything whatsoever? Why bother? Fuck it, I QUIT, right?

My kid played one room of Hohokum for 2 hours solid. ONE ROOM. I’ve told this story twice on Twitter now because I’m old and when you’re old you get to repeat the same stories over and over again as if no-one ever heard them (it’s your reward for not dying sooner). I’ve also told it repeatedly because it’s an important point on what Hohokum actually is. It’s not work, it’s a messaround simulator. The esteemed and lovely Brendan Keogh described it as like a kid’s activity book and yes, this is absolutely what Hohokum is. But it’s the coolest fucking kids activity book ever! It’s the kids activity book that comes to life, sort of like what you were promised in eighties movies or something but not as crap as an eighties movie.

ANYWAY! There’s this room my kid found that was some sort of digital graph paper and he just flew around making shapes in it for two hours. TWO HOURS. ONE ROOM. Why? Because it’s play. Hohokum is a playful toy and if you don’t like playing, actual proper playing not any of this videogame playing stuff we do, I’m going to a) assume you’re a miserable human being and b) not ask you round for a game of Lemon Joust any time soon.

I can’t wrap my head around how anyone could think it’s hiding this deep dark secret of wanting you, making you, work for things or that it’s lacking substance but then, I never went into it expecting to solve it or unravel its mysteries. I went into it because it looked and sounded absolutely amazing and you know what? It really does. It’s an incredible thing. All the noises, all the little animations and when a little man flopped onto a mermaid I put down the controller for a minute or two because I was grinning too hard to hold things.

I sorta got thinking back to some of the hilarious (if you’re not on the receiving end of it) responses to Cara’s brilliant review of EDF2025 which pretty much consisted of Cara going YEAH BUT YOU JUST SHOOT ANTS A LOT and how the videogame world get their collective backs up over this when (and I say this as someone who loves EDF with all his heart) that’s pretty much all you do. EDF is not considered bereft of things to do, slender or shy of content or whatever-the-fuck-else even if it is shooting ants for 100 levels and sometimes the ants are robots or sometimes they’re spiders but really, you’re just doing the same thing over and over again. Then something like Hohokum comes along with hundreds of things to see and do and it’s slight, has no depth and I dunno, are you feeling OK?

Would a press X to murder button help? DO YOU NEED A LIE DOWN, EDNA?

This is the game that had TWO kids fascinated and quiet for hours, a one year old and a ten year old. And me. And Mrs B. I dunno, that’s NEVER happened in here before. Hohokum is just magic like that. Don’t solve it, play it.

More things that are about making people happy, yeah?

DON’T DIE, MR ROBOT

This is well cheating because you can’t actually play it yet and I’m sorry about that. It’s the game previously known as AVOID DROID but Lucas owns “droid” so no-one else can have it and how the fuck did we get here as a civilisation and what can we do to dismantle this sort of stuff?

Massive disclaimer that my fishy chum, Death Ray Manta, has his own stage in the game and that’s how and why I got to play it before the lot of you. I’d sort of agreed to this before I’d even really clocked too much about how smart the game would turn out. Now, if I’d known that it was the insane chaining of Every Extend (more so the Omega original than the faffy Q versions) coupled with an incredibly slick avoid-y game, well then. WELL THEN.

I’m a massive fan of Infinite States previous iOS title Frutorious partly because any game that features The Notorious FIG is off to a really good start and partly because it’s a phone-sling-em-up take on Rainbow Islands done in fuzzy felt and clay. SOLD. I’m hoping Don’t Die, Mr Robot makes a few quid for the folk over at Infinite States because these are the sort of really tight arcade games they make with fuck all cash, I’d love to see what they could do with a budget.

Anyway! Don’t Die, Mr Robot is a game where you collect fruit, lots of fruit, all the fruit and try and stay alive in increasingly mental arenas. It’s such a great handheld game, Manta or no Manta, I love it. It might not look like a million dollars in screenies and videos but it’s all there in the score chasing department and then some. It’s out on the Vita soon. It’s really so very good.

WE ARE DOOMED

Oh man, look, I find it really hard to write about We Are Doomed properly because it’s sort of like, I dunno, it’s like it’s one of my games from an alternate dimension where someone took it to this insanely polished level and made it really, really slick and good and oh man, We Are Doomed is just so bloody good. So good I could hate it for being that good if I didn’t love it so.

ALSO, it’s in colour.

Thing is, I play a lot of arena shooters. I make them because there’s a lot of permutations that people haven’t really fleshed out as much as I’d want so I’m just sort of filling in gaps there with my own thing but look, I’m going to come right out with this and say that there are videogames that deserve to be known as THE THINGS TO GO TO WHEN WE TALK ABOUT ARENA SHOOTERS. We have Robotron, we have Llamatron, we have Geometry Wars, we have Geometry Wars RE2 and we absolutely, if there was any fucking justice in the world, should be throwing We Are Doomed into the mix there too. Yeah, I went there. It is that good..

But this is videogames and no-one’s bothered to really write about the game at all or plug it much across the web-o-sphere and that’s shit. It’s worth playing for the room transitions alone but do stick around for one of the best arena shooters ever made if you’ve got any sense at all.

And the soundtrack. Oh boy.

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