Joined 10/12/2012

Remember, always remember, to watch out for fireballs!

12 Posts
In the first Watch Out For Fireballs, we did a show about the evolution of a series. For the second, we went with something closer to a revolution. Adventure games simplified their parser through the years, starting with straight up text (Use lamp on torch) to a verb based system (like Monkey Island) and eventually moved to this entirely contextual, one click interface. How did this change the game?

Myst is a product of this entirely. The puzzles deal with mechanics, literally, because when you only have one possible interaction with something, "operate" makes the most sense. The nouns you interact with in Myst generally are just switches, buttons and levers: perfect for this sort of set up. This could lead to a purely puzzle based experience but the game deals out narrative in an interesting way: entirely through background text and images. Indirect, like Half Life 2. You don't know exactly what happened, just that something has, and you piece together the story slowly and methodically. You do so by exploring these deserted environments and the feeling of isolation is powerful.

That said, there's a huge divorce between play and story. The hardest part to get used to is that it feels a little like story bits are separated by puzzles. The puzzles are sort of flood gates between bits of narrative. In other adventure games, the puzzles and solutions are often tied directly to what you're trying to do (fool a guard, get a trinket out of a sewer). In Myst, you're often just trying to get somewhere or get past a literal gate. This is jarring if you're not expecting it.

There are some BS puzzles and I mostly favor adventure games a little closer to the narrative side of the axis but this is a must play and available on just about everything.
There's a joy to be had in perfection through simplicity. The kind of perfection that comes without dizzying highs. Revolution over evolution, etc. That's what I think of when I think of Mega Man X.

Mega Man 2 was my first NES game (along with SMB and, puke, Operation Wolf) and my imagination was ignited by the setting and concept. There's something elemental to the idea of killing an enemy to get his power. It's why ancient tribes ate the hearts of their enemies. This game allows you eat metallic heart after metallic heart until you have the power of a dozen tribes. Mega Man X perfected what Mega Man 2 started and that's why we chose it for the first episode of Watch Out For Fireballs.

Every aspect of the earlier Mega Man games is improved here. The levels are more complex now that the wall climb allows verticality and, in a move few games have replicated, the order you tackle the stages greatly changes their content. The way this blew my mind as a child....

This game not only rewards reflexes but also exploration. By searching out of the way places and applying your myriad powers in creative ways, you can get a host of upgrades that, in turn, unlock further exploration. This metroidvania touch works wonders, elevating the game from an arcade platformer to something more.

Since you're going to be spending so much time dissecting these levels, it's a good thing they're varied and interesting and it's a good thing the music is top notch. One of the top 5 SNES games, I'd say, and one of the greatest platformers ever.

What do you guys think?

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