Arthouse Games reviews Paradroid (C64)
I don’t want to turn into one of those people that does nothing else but link out to other sites for news… I’m looking at youTIGsource! … but Jason over at Arthouse Games just posted a retro game review of Paradroid worth reading. Read his review first, then continue here for my comments on it…
Since I haven’t played Paradroid yet, I certainly don’t have much to add to his review. However, the way that the review is written is important. Continuing from yesterday’s criticism that very few game reviews ever bother to do much more than describe their “reaction” to a game, I think Jason has done a good job showing what a stronger or “deeper” review might begin to look like. How is his review different from the average game review?
In the second half of the review, after he has introduced some of the core game mechanics, Jason tells us why the circuit-board mini-game is both sophisticated and congruent with the rest of the game. Where the average cRPG has the player killing sewer rats that have nothing to do with the story or plot and thus feels contrived or tiresome, Paradroid manages to integrate the building block-style growth mechanic into the theme of the game perfectly. There is something deeply integrative and “beautiful” (says Jason) about that kind of design – which I agree with.
Now, what makes this important? Well, what he gets at in the review is that some games have a beauty to them. Some are beautiful in terms of their artistic/graphical presentation (like Beyond Good & Evil), but others are beautiful in terms of other things like their game mechanics (like Paradroid). Some games, like Okami, seem to blend both game mechanics and artwork together to create a truly beautiful experience. I won’t review Okami here, but its particular blend of japanese myth, stylized art, and game mechanics (that use a ‘paintbrush’) give the player an absolute sense of integrated beauty. To put it simply – the entire game (art, design, mechanics) shares a central metaphor (a japanese painting) that it rarely deviates from. And while Okami probably won’t change your life or make you a better person, but it is a beautiful thing to witness.