February 29, 2008 4:00 PM |
[Jump Button is a new weekly column by Drew Taylor, written specially for GameSetWatch, that focuses on the art and substance of video game culture.]
It's almost two in the morning, I'm dosed up on pain killers and my right wrist is sprained—possibly fractured—from a relatively nasty motorcycle accident I had earlier in the day. But that doesn't stop me from wanting to play 'just one more mission' of the addictive PSP rhythm/attack game, Patapon.
The narcotic effect is partly attributable to the simple (yet strategic) gameplay, insanely catchy rhythms and clever fusion of RPG-lite and rhythm/action genres. But it's the crazy-cool graphic style of French artist Rolito (real name Sebastien Giuli) that has me gripped in a 'fever'.
I want to see more.
Visually, the 35-year-old artist's work on Patapon is like Willy Wonka meets Frank Miller's 300. A candy-shaped universe full of strong geometry and complementary color palettes. Cave paintings for a Disney-Pixar audience.
Cute, cyclopsian eyeballs on legs—armed with bows, halberds and axes—march to the beat of drums, battling giant fire-breathing dragons. Brave armies endure scorching desert sands, fight beasts of gargantuan proportions, and sail across vast oceans in Viking boats. Trees with scratchy heads dance to the sound of trumpets. Bird-riding warriors rain spears down on their two-dimensional enemies, while catapults lay siege to cowboy forts and medieval castles.
'Some of my inspiration comes from Pre-Colombian and primitive arts, but not only,' explains Rolito, in sentences of broken English. 'This spiritual/mystic aspect is rooted in my passion for mythology, antique civilizations, the unexplained and impalpable. The part of mystery is really important to me, and my work; this is—for sure—what gives [my art] that bizarre and poetic side.
'I think my characters have their own evocative power. There's no need to read any story about them; if you see them you can feel the innocence and poetry. It's a world between the kid world and the adult world, a place where everything is possible.'