Brat Farrar (bratfarrar) wrote,
Brat Farrar

Games Brat plays (or used to)

Not long ago, the topic of computer games came up while I was talking with a friend, and they made some comment about me liking a specific type of game that made me sort of stop and go, "I'm not sure that's true". So I thought it might be worth sitting down to try and see what commonalities there are between the games I've enjoyed over the years--and still enjoy now. (I'm not including time-grinders like Tetris or Bejeweled or Bubble Shooter.)

The biggest list is of games I've played extensively in the past but don't have any interest in anymore:

  • Lumpies of Lotus IV - My very first computer game, back in the days of green-on-black monitors--I used to play it as a little kid, sitting on my dad's lap and pressing the "F" key when there was a fight. There's a later iteration available on which just doesn't match the game of my memory--too many enemies, not enough supplies to boost your health as needed.

  • Chip's Challenge - 147 levels of top down POV puzzle-solving and monster-dodging. No story, just level after level after level of a wide array of, uh, challenges. This was probably the main game I played as a kid, just because it took so long to run out of levels. I revisited it a year or so ago, and while it still holds up as a game (despite the incredibly dated graphics), it just wasn't able to hold my interest for more than a day or two.

  • Hellbender - Aerial combat on an alien world; we only had the freebie trial level, but it was large enough that it was fairly satisfying as a game in and of itself. I logged a lot of hours playing it--even now, I can close my eyes and picture different chunks of the map. I tried playing the full version after high school, but got stuck on a level which was basically just an enormous 3D maze and quit, because that just wasn't what I was interested in.

  • Math Rescue (1-3) - This is what I played instead of Mario or Sonic the Hedgehog; it was slower than either of those, as you might expect, but a fun way to practice arithmetic. However, there's not really any reason to play it beyond that.

  • Submachine (1-10) - Point-and-click series with dimension-hopping, appealing graphics, and a whole bunch of deeply-buried backstory/lore spread across all the games. But I kind of suck at point-and-click games and so had to play each level with a walkthrough open in another tag.

  • Nightmare Town - Point-and-click series with really nifty graphics (the avatar I use for work-related social media accounts is a minor character from the series); not much in the way of a storyline, but a fun wold to explore. (Ditto the previous; I'm not joking about not being able to play point-and-click games.)

  • Bloons Tower Defense 4 (and 5) - Tower defense games, obviously; basic but appealing graphics, and a fun level of resource managment. But eventually it just grew kind of old, especially because Bloons TD 5 kept piling on new towers and a never-ending stream of increasingly difficult courses. After a while, it was all just the same thing, over and over, and the gameplay itself wasn't entertaining enough to keep me engaged.

  • Supermonkey 2 - Top scrolling shooter, and the game on this list that still has me scratching my head a little over it, as it's the only game of its sort I've ever played, and I have no interest in playing any similar games in the future. I think it was a combination of carryover from enjoying the Bloons TD games and a severe case of completionist OCD. (Perhaps spurred on at the time by a pile of new responsibilities at work?) Eventually quit when I realized I a) had come to kind of hate the gameplay and b) was risking carpal tunnel syndrome.

  • Zombie SAS Tower Defense - Kind of the same thing as the Bloons games, but there was something very satisfying about destroying piles of zombies. But the very limited number of courses meant that it played itself out relatively quickly, even though I did stay on it for a little while just to rack up the different completion awards.

  • Candy Box (and Candy Box 2) - Resource accumulation games, with really fun ASCII graphics. But there's not much in the way of gameplay, so another case of now that I've gotten all the way through and racked up the different accomplishments, there's not enough there to make it worth return visits.

And then there's the much shorter list of games I've enjoyed so thoroughly that I find myself going back to play them even over significant periods of time:

  • Portal (and Portal 2) - These games so perfectly hit my sweet spot that I spent about 3.5 days straight playing through them, and then several months later could've very easily spent a week playing through the 2-player mode with a friend, had the friend not eventually suggested we not do that. :P I love the gameplay an awful lot--the environment in Portal 2 especially, as it's large and complex enough to actually explore. I kept finding secrets that my brother-in-law (who loaned me the game) had no idea even existed, even though he'd played through the whole thing several times. After several years of thinking "I really ought to get my own copy so I can play it at home", I've started playing through Portal again and it's as much fun as I'd remembered.

  • Monument Valley - I love the graphics and soundscape so much--I've played through the main game and both appendices more times than I can count, just because it's so soothing. And it's the kind of spacial puzzle that I find very satisfying to complete. (Also, I've always loved Escher's impossible buildings, and this is a world where all of those things actually work.) I'm eagerly awaiting the Kindle release of Monument Valley 2, while also desperately hoping that they haven't spoiled the visuals and gameplay that I enjoy so much in the original.

  • Prune - Similar graphics and a slightly moodier soundscape, although the game itself is very different, as you're trying to prune trees so that they grow around obstacles and get enough sunlight to produce flowers.

  • SPACEPLAN - I talked about this one for a bit already, but definitely another case of an excellent soundscape and soothing game "play".

...So, trying to figure out commonalities, all I can come up with is that each of the games in the second category are ones that manage to be both aesthetically appealing and relatively frustration/tedium-free. Unlike the first set of games, which get boring after a while or physically/mentally unpleasant to play, these four are designed in such a way that they're relatively 'friction'-free, at least as far as I'm concerned. But I'm kind of surprised to see how wide the spread of genres is. (And to widen the spread a bit more, the game I'm seriously considering picking up next is Subnautica, a super-realistic alien ocean exploration/survival game. Because it's just so pretty and also I want to build a base that's full of aquariums because I love that kind of thing.)
Tags: reviews & recommendations

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