Saturday, December 29, 2007

High- and low-tech video games

Had my second taste of the Nintendo Wii this weekend at my friend Geoff's house. The game I played, Smooth Moves, is a truly hilarious collection of "microgames" that last a few seconds each, literally. You're dropped into a random, often very droll situation and required to figure out what you have to do, and do it, within seconds. It might be one of the best video games for parties ever, since it makes you do funny things, like chop at the air with the controller, and the game is funny enough that anyone watching may be rendered helpless with laughter. (Microgame examples: "Shave," in which you have to shave a man's face in, like, two seconds; "Drop," in which you have to drop the controller -- but you might not figure that out in time; and, conversely, "Don't Drop It," which is depicted above and whose object should be pretty obvious.) Though I merely watched others play Super Mario Galaxy, I have to say, it's more or less like Super Mario Brothers on acid. Which in this case is a compliment.

In lower-tech video game news, I learned that dozens of games for Intellivision, the game console that came out the year I was born, can be purchased for PC or Mac use. Before I spend a whole $30 on a 60-game package, though, I wanted to download a few games to try out. The nostalgia rush was immediate. Though I'm warming up to systems like Xbox 360 (Portal, in The Orange Box, is wonderful, and though I probably wouldn't want to play it, BioShock is utterly fascinating), I still have a lot of love for (relatively) simple games like Arkanoid, and Intellivision offered an enormous number of fairly straightforward, nonetheless addictive games. A few minutes spent playing Shark! Shark! felt like a trip back in time to the mid-'80s, when I was a chubby little kid who loved little more than sitting in front of the television set in the living room and disappearing into all sorts of games -- which, at the time, seemed very sophisticated and satisfying. (One of my all-time favorites, Tron: Deadly Discs, isn't in the group I downloaded for free, but maybe I can get it in the package, should I decide to splurge on it.) Anyway, it seems apt that my discovery of Intellivision's enduring legacy and my first real Wii experience should occur so close together. It's almost as if the Intellivision gods are smiling on my tentative venture into the exciting world of games in which three dimensions exist and plots have second and third acts -- interactive movies, really.

Speaking of movies: The Warriors is freaking amazing, it's coming to the Grand Illusion fairly soon, and somebody needs to go with me to see it.

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