'Tis the season to be gaming (fa la la la laa, etc)

· by Steve · Read in about 3 min · (483 Words)

It’s that time of year again, when we’re inundated with the release of more games than we could ever possibly play. I know that a huge proportion of game sales are made in the run up to Christmas, and thus that it makes complete sense for everyone to try to get in on that action, but you can’t help thinking that good games inevitably get missed in the festive bun-fight.

This year I have an extra platform, which means more games than usual. I’ve been fortunate enough to get Super Mario Galaxy, Mass Effect, Assassin’s Creed and Halo 3 for Christmas, and I’ve at least managed to play each of them a little so far. They’re going to last me several months together I’m sure, which is good because Rock Band is not coming out over here until March.

Out of all of these, Super Mario Galaxy shines the brightest by a noticeable margin. It looks gorgeous despite being on a ‘previous gen’ (technically at least) console, and is the purest distilled fun I’ve experienced in a while. It’s a game with no delusions of grandeur, no Hollywood envy, no trying to be something it’s not - it’s a pure game and utterly revels in that. The levels you play in are completely bonkers, but somehow just make sense when you play them. It took maybe 5 minutes for me to adjust to the ‘weird, I’m playing a platform game which doesn’t have a consistent up or down’, and from then everything just kinda works, even though it should be confusing. It’s a piece of genius - I must admit I was a bit skeptical, given how utterly disappointed I was with Super Mario Sunshine, but Galaxy really is the welcome revival for the blue dungaree’d one that the reviews said it was. I’m only a little way into it, but so far it strikes me as probably the finest example of the craft of game creation I’ve ever seen, a Mona Lisa or David of the form. Undoubtedly many ‘hardcore’ gamers will ignore it because it’s a bit kiddie-looking, doesn’t have guns / fast cars, and doesn’t have a colour palette made up of entirely greys and browns (you know, the ‘realism palette’), but they’re missing out. It’s got variety, immediacy, it’s intuitive, and is just a ton of fun. I want to go play it now in fact. 😀

I’m enjoying Mass Effect and Assassin’s Creed too, both take a little more getting used to in terms of getting comfortable with the control systems and play styles, but both are great fun, in completely different ways (to each other, and to SMG). More on those another time. Halo 3 I’ve only played briefly, and whilst it’s been fun I do wonder what all the fuss is about. More on that in another post too, once I’ve had more time with it.