At a basic level, there are few more deeply felt and enjoyable game mechanics than OutRun’s driving and drifting. Though the original arcade experience could be punishing and gameplay sessions are usually very quick until you have gained enough experience and skill. Which is why, in addition to the fantastic new 3DS version of the original arcade game, OutRun 2006: Coast To Coast’s extensive port of OutRun2 SP is so brilliant, building an extended experience and a variety of remixes on the incredibly strong central experience. Considering that, Outrun 2006 presents a very interesting waypoint on the debate between depth versus breadth, as despite all its various game modes the game is entirely about drifting along 30, 60, and 90 degree turns while avoding other cars on the road. It is pure depth and so tightly constructed that it remains a compelling experience to return to year after year.
The original Bayonetta flew slightly under the radar but upon discovery turns out to be quite the little masterpiece. It's a character action game that both summarizes and deepens the history of the genre, especially looking back. It's fitting that this would be the game to do it too creator Hideki Kamiya raised the bar first with 2001’s genre-defining Devil May Cry. Thankfully Bayonatta has come up for fresh appreciation lately with a Wii U re-release alongside it's sequel. Despite missing out on a lot of this character action genre, completing Bayonetta for the first time has me reading and playing up on my history and appreciating just how mechanically satisfying the genre can be.
The HD versions of the original trilogy of Ratchet & Clank games offers a unique look at AAA game development in the early 2000’s. The update in resolution works particularly well for this series as the cartoon graphics and strong art style don’t age nearly as poorly as some of the more realistically rendered games on the Playstation 2. Furthermore the platforming, exploration, shooting and weapon-switching still remain compelling from a basic gameplay perspective. It’s clear that the game was developed in an era of stricter formulas and padded playtimes but the combat and level design are allowed a chance to shine due to several smart decisions made early in development on the first title.
I completed Shadow of the Colossus just a few months ago, nearly 8 years after it had first been released for the PS2. Thanks to a smart HD update of the game for PS3, I was saved a hell of a lot of blur and came away finding the game just as wonderful as I had anticipated. This was a game that had remained special across the years, much more so than you would expect from a third-person action game. What is it then, that is special about this game? Is it just the premise of fighting awe-inspiring boss monsters or is there something truly special in its approach?
Starting up a new series of blog things that will capture design thoughts after I’ve just completed (or near-completed) a game. It’s a good exercise to write things up and I’m hoping to get even more now, by making it public and potentially embarrassing. The process of spinning thoughts into a full, legible essay-thing will ideally refine my thoughts and aid my overall thought process. So! To kick things off, I’m going to tackle the recently-released Shadow of Mordor.