In the Blog

A Few Good Games

April 9th, 2008     by Catherine Hayday     Comments

Videogames are the dead horse that we flog over social dysfunction. Kid punched another kid? Videogames. Kid didn’t finish homework? Videogames.

Whether there’s a connection there or not, videogames are not one thing any more than “movies” or “books” are. Absolutely, there are abominably crap videogames. And for the same reasons I will never see a Saw movie, I will never play Manhunt.

I’m not an apologist for the industry – it’s immature and caters to the audience it thinks it has and knows. You can wade through a bog of junk looking for a quality game. Same as you can with movies. But quality titles are out there. And they’re in a lot of gamers’ collections.

The little list I’ve posted below represent just a few game options that are mainstream, and popular, and widely available. They’re what come to my mind when a poorly put-together article blames videogames (singular) for a kid… I don’t know, not showing their student pass when they get on a bus.

So here they are: Six Good Games (with no dodge-y settings)

  1. Lego Star Wars
    Okay, so you take the Star Wars story, and then you redo it IN LEGO and make it a videogame! Oh George Lucas, hope is only 95% lost on you.

Play as Luke, or Han, or Leia, or Chewie, or R2D2, or Vader or… (but not C3P0, he’s so slow you can nap while he gets from A to B). Or pick a couple of your favourites, since it also makes an excellent two-player game.

Very forgiving (if you die you just come right back to life), gameplay involves using the force to assemble piles of Lego into vehicles, bridges, irrigation stations, etc, and fighting baddies made of Lego with your lightsaber (or using straight-up wookie rage if you’re Chewie). It’s Star Wars Legopalooza, population: you.

Warning: Highly addictive (and may induce some weird lego dreams).

  1. Wii Sports (See? Not too Playstation-centric.)

    Wii Sports was one of the first titles available when the Wii came out. Golfing, boxing, tennis, baseball, bowling. It’s the game that overenthusiastic new Wii owners were playing when they flung their remote through their plasma TVs. A good group game, and part of the new participaction spirit in gaming. (See also DDR).

  2. Katamari Damacy

    A brilliant surrealist game described pretty clearly by Wikipedia:

The game’s plot concerns a diminutive prince on a mission to rebuild the stars, constellations and Moon, which his father, the King of All Cosmos, has accidentally destroyed. This is achieved by rolling a magical, highly adhesive ball called a katamari around various locations, collecting increasingly larger objects, ranging from thumbtacks to schoolchildren to mountains, until the ball has grown large enough to become a star. The game falls under both the puzzle and action game genres, since strategy as well as dexterity are needed to complete a mission, but the game is fundamentally peaceful and a somewhat meditative game.
  1. Pixeljunk Monsters

    You (or you and a buddy) set up arrows and cannons and tesla towers and try and protect mini egg shaped villagers from siege after siege of spiders and flying helicopter beasties and giant rock monsters. Power up the towers with jewels or doing a little dance. Oh indie games…

  2. Super Stardust HD

    Okay, so there’s no sharks, but there are lasers, and lots of them. Need a little catharsis? Fly your wee spaceship around and around the planet and clear all the asteroids. Ice lasers, fire lasers, regular lasers… You can’t go wrong.

  3. Rock Band

    The only game where I’ve considered writing a thank you note to the developer.

It’s Karaoke Revolution meets Guitar Hero plus a drum kit. See the note, press the button (hit the drum, sing the song). Colour-coded rocking out.

It’s very peripherals heavy (and not cheap), but worth all the lost floor space. Pick a character, pick a style, get some tattoos and form a band to go on a world tour (earn fans, jets, roadies).

Harmonix have done an amazing job with this game. The drum kit in particular gets rave reviews for accurately simulating learning/playing drums. Each band has room for a lead guitar, a bassist, a singer and a drummer (the game will pinch play the other instruments if you’re short a band member).

Air guitar goes pro.

There are so many more either old, current, or coming soon games that are not the rubbish which get trotted out for the 6 o’clock news. There are games which are playful, light-hearted, engaging, funny, light, dark, nuanced and clever.

There’s a baby in them thar bathwater, and I’d like to try and save it.


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