Monday, July 27, 2015

The Perfect Summer Game Pt. 4

July is coming to a close but it's still hot and muggy out there. The inevitable truth is that at some point you're going to have to stop playing video games and go outside. Maybe you're going on a road trip, maybe you take the bus to work, or maybe you'll be stuck in a tiny room with big windows waiting for someone to change your oil. When you're away from home and you have nothing to do but sit and wait in the blistering heat, there's nothing like a bunch of minigames to take your mind off things. Now, in my last post I said today's subject would be "games where you hang out with people and do stuff because that's a big part of summer," and that's still true. The two minigame compilations I played this week have stories that revolve around people doing social activities. They're also both DS games. This week I killed time with Napoleon Dynamite: The Game and Feel the Magic: XY/XX.

Napoleon Dynamite: The Game is based on the Napoleon Dynamite movie. It was released years after the movie so it avoids the rushed movie tie-in fate. The game loosely follows the events of the movie, using some creative license to come up with more minigames. Napoleon's llama Tina escapes and Napoleon must find her before his grandma returns. This is what drives the story. Each minigame is either an event that happened in the movie (like the tetherball challenge) or derived from some aspect of the movie (for instance, one minigame has you hunting wolverines with a friggin' 12 gauge!). The dialog is cut straight from the movie, there's a ton of attention to detail, and each game is different from the last.

I bought Napoleon Dynamite: The Game on clearance for laughs and I remember really disliking it. When I was thinking of summer games I decided to reevaluate this game, and it's actually really fun. I can only think of a few negative things to say about it: some characters are in the game but have their likeness changed, while other key characters are missing from the game entirely. The button controls do not always work well, but most games have both button controls and stylus controls. Also, the rhythm minigame and fighting minigame appear multiple times in the story mode with slight changes. I guess that could be seen as a negative. Honestly though, the fighting bits are probably my favorite. For something that's just a tiny part of the game, you can tell 7 Studios spent a bit more time on the combat. I don't mind it showing up multiple times since each instance has more and more enemies and different scenery.

If I had you at "minigame" but lost you at "Napoleon Dynamite" then maybe Feel the Magic: XY/XX will interest you. The name might not ring any bells, but you might recognize the graphical style from the more popular follow-up game, Rub Rabbits. Feel the Magic: XY/XX was a launch title for the Nintendo DS. Instead of focusing on fancy graphics, Sonic Team decided to create solid gameplay that showcases the DS's potential. Yeah, it's one of those games that asks you to "Yell at the DS!" making you look a bit silly if you're in public, and just as silly if you're not. The game focuses on The Guy who is trying to win over The Girl. He does this with the help of the rub rabbits (they're like wing men but more dedicated). Each ridiculous minigame is an attempt to win The Girl's heart over. Her affection only lasts about as long as it takes to cross the street, and you'll constantly be trying to get it back. While this would make for an obsessive, one-sided, short-lived relationship in real life, it makes for gameplay that's entertaining to play or watch. The minigames all make use of the stylus and occasionally other input. They range from exciting rhythm games to slightly disturbing games where you wipe dirt off The Girl's face as she blushes and moans.


The graphical style I mentioned earlier is very distinct. The game takes advantage of the DS hardware to render simple 2D and 3D vector graphics. There is not much detail and color, instead negative space is used to make the simple graphics stand out. Most of the levels have minimal backgrounds with the exception of a few fully 3D sections.

After you beat Napoleon Dynamite and Feel the Magic you can play the individual minigames. They both have stuff to unlock which extends the length of each game a little bit. It wasn't too long ago that I would've passed up a game because it was only minigames. Now I'm realizing that flash games filled my mindless-fun-gaming need and they have become a thing of the past. I've learned that a few good minigame compilations are nice to have in your collection to pass the time when a full gaming session is out of the question. It's nice to have something simple to pick up and turn off whenever. I particularly enjoy playing a few games before falling asleep.

While they're both about hanging out and doing stuff...neither one is inherently summer. Napoleon Dynamite is set during every season except summer (unless you count the wolverine hunting minigame). Well, I'm running out of summer (and summer games) and this project has gone on long enough. Come by next week to see which game I decide is the perfect summer game.
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