My main goal for 2006 is to write more about the stuff that inspires me. That’s why we play games after all; to be transported into worlds we could never see and feel otherwise. We play these grand adventures because we love the interactivity and the ability to step beyond the viewer and become a player in a story that can suck us in for weeks and months on end. Of course, these types of gems are sparse and perhaps they should be. I mean if every game was a top 10, we’d hardly ever appreciate one from another.
I know many people had such experiences recently with Shadow of the Colossus, a game that is so breathtaking in its scope that it gives us a glimpse into what the fusion of art and interactivity might finally be like. With each new year and each new hardware milestone, the game industry is maturing. True artists are beginning to flex their collective muscles more and more. We will see games as art, just give it some time. We will play the kinds of games that make us cry, think about life, and question anything and everything else in the known universe, just be patient. Movies and books have been around for a long, long time, but interactive media is just a baby. So let’s give the industry a little more time to get off the formula and move to whole foods. Baby steps, people, baby steps.
But surely you don’t need the most advanced hardware to make a great game? Right you are, dear reader, and this brings me to my most recent bout of inspiration—the Nintendo DS. I finally got one and am reveling in the utter glory of a handheld system for the first time since I was a kid playing Mario on the black and white original Gameboy. I can take it to work (not that it will improve my productivity, but the day will go faster!); I can play it on the bus; heck, I can play it while watching Cops marathons. Dear Nintendo, what about a waterproof unit so I can shower and improve my Mario Kart skills at the same time?
The perfect companion for the system, beyond the aforementioned Mario Kart DS, is Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow--a glorious, amazing, not over-hyped beauty of a game. Too many adjectives? Do I sound like I got kickbacks from Konami for writing this? Well I didn’t, but I can see your point. Here’s mine: this game is the ultimate culmination of Castlevania and is perhaps the finest game in the series (no I never did play that rare Turbo Duo version everyone talks about) but I did play most of the others beginning with the first one on NES and this series has grown in all the right ways. I’d go as far as saying this is one my favorite 2D adventures I’ve ever played. Yes it’s that good, unless of course you don’t like these sorts of game, in which case no amount of my urging will make you play it.
But for those of you with a DS and no Dawn of Sorrow, make it happen. The system is naked without it. It’s like going to church in your underwear. Put some pants on that DS people, it will thank you and your thumbs will thank you for offering up such a bountiful harvest of 2D goodness. Don’t forget, you can play it while watching Cops, which is a good thing for everybody. Seriously officer, I just found that 10 pounds of drugs on the street…really. Good times.