Richard Jones' Log: Recent Video Games

Sun, 23 Jul 2006

I've not posted much about video games here for a while. Recently I've had a chance to try out a few new games while I'm hanging out for Half-Life Episode 2, Spore, Team Fortress 2 and Portal (three of which arrive in the same package; no idea how I'm going to cope).

We Love Katamari
Have played it for about 5 hours so far. It's certainly a great little idea, I'm enjoying it heaps and it has more gameplay depth than I'd expected. In my opinion it's let down by what I see as a couple of big flaws.

It's really, really hard for anyone who isn't already a (seasoned?) video game player. Rachel (who doesn't normally play video games) has real trouble just trying to finish the first non-training level. The controls are the most bizzarely convolutely I've seen in all my video-gaming experience. Seriously, push both sticks forward to go forward. Both sticks left to turn left. Both sticks back to go back. In my universe we use a single stick to do those things. Having ... some experience with games under my belt I could adapt to the controls pretty quickly.

Also, the incessant rambling of the King harks back to Metal Gear Solid 2. So much inane, unnecessary monologue. In the middle of it some really important stuff is mentioned, like how to play a given level. Because you're sick of sitting through the King's (sometimes amusing) barking mad ravings, you just skip it. And then you have no idea why the level you're on seems to be finishing.

Narbacular Drop
Is a cool little game. Nowhere near as riddled with bugs as some people would have you believe (I made it through from start to finish in one sitting and witnessed only one bug). Makes me even more keen (if that was possible) to see Portal in action.

The Bub's Brothers
I wasn't a huge fan of Bubble Bobble but this multiplayer variant is really quite cool - and runs on a bazillion platforms to boot.

Comment by Sean Reifschneider on Wed, 26 Jul 2006

Dude, did you just say "harks"?

As far as the controls go in Katamari, you make it sound like you would only ever use the two sticks in unison... Both sticks left strafe left, left stick down right stick up rotates right. And then, of course, you have the flop them both up and down move.

I actually like the controls, and I'm not exactly what you'd call a video game addict. The PS2 will sit idle for months between my playing a few games.

I agree with you on the kings ramblings though. It would be nice to have a "just the facts, maam" mode. Like the "Come again, Pikey" subtitle mode in the movie Snatch (where there are subtitles only when the Pikey is speaking.


Comment by Richard Jones on Thu, 27 Jul 2006

The core of my concern is that the most common movement (forward, backward, left, right) requires movement in unison.

Generally speaking, games for dual-stick consoles have had a consistent input scheme: one stick moves forward, back, left and right (strafe) and the other stick rotates the character. These controls are significantly easier on a new player because they can almost ignore the second stick until they have the first stick mastered. It also has the benefit that you can look around the game world quite easily - something else that's missing from Katamari...

And I'm glad our colonial English amuses you :)