September 1, 2007 4:01 PM | Simon Carless
Having just debuted his Independent Games Summit lecture video, I had a chance to go check out Jonathan Blow's blog, and there-in he has a very interesting post on Space Giraffe, dealing with the minor critical dust-up currently going on over whether Jeff Minter's new XBLA game is, uhh, any good or not - and suggesting: "Dare I say that Space Giraffe is something like the arcade game analogue of Ulysses? Is that controversial enough?"
Blow notes: "The first time I saw Space Giraffe, I didn’t realize it was an excellent game. Jeff Minter was showing it off at the Game Developer’s Conference, and it looked just like Tempest, except you could push guys off the top of the web sometimes. And Jeff kept saying it wasn’t Tempest. But he was not sufficiently able to communicate to the audience why the game was interesting."
He then explains that his opinion of the game started middling, but ratcheted up super-high: "As you proceed through the levels, the enemies not only get more numerous, faster, and more devious, but the game also pushes you deeper into the land of warped perception, and then demands that you see through that. Well, often you can’t. At first. And then you start to see the patterns, and then you break through, and then you are sailing through this batch of levels, dancing the whole time. This game is about expanding your perception. It demands that you learn to see."
My own views? I am obviously pre-identified as a Minter fan, having set up his GDC appearance in the first place. Overall, I've been enjoying Space Giraffe. I haven't played the game quite enough yet to know for _sure_ (only have the one Achievement), but my main observations are that:
- The obfuscation in terms of so much blurred craziness happening onscreen is perverse but addictive - some of the key gameplay cues could stand out a lot better. Yes, it's intentional. But it's a bold, alienating move. I think the basic game itself is harder to grok than most other Minter titles I've played, especially with the enemy-pushing angle being so key. Yet I love it, and I'm going to play it a _LOT_ more.
- I personally think the game should have launched at 800 points ($10), not 400 ($5), because its appeal is definitely hardcore gamer-specific. I'm a little concerned, looking at the high-score tables so far, that the same XX,000 people would have paid twice as much for it - and the pricing structure should have been set up a bit more like the Japanese super-niche dating titles, which deliberately price higher for a limited audience. Just my 2c.
Anyhow, Minter has spotted the Jonathan Blow post, too, and his reaction is, well, cute: "I think at this point it's all beyond me now. We've been hated and loved for it, it's the best game ever and absolute rubbish, we are great, we are evil, we're the future and the past, we are masters, we're incompetent, we are ERROR_SUCCESS and ERROR_ERROR. At least we provoked a response. I think that's good. I feel like I'm Schrodinger's cat." Meow.
Categories: Xbox 360