Monday, 27 October 2014

Give it up for the robot!

There was a period in my life a few years back that I call my Videogame Wilderness Years. A time where I was "in-between consoles". A time where I hardly played anything. A time where real life had got in the way. But then I discovered a few little flash games on [Adult Swim] arcade. I was a big fan of [Adult Swim]- I love Venture Brothers, Sealab 2021and Tom Goes to the Mayor - so the association hooked me instantly. Well now, I'm not gonna talk about Robot Unicorn Attack. In fact, we're not gonna talk about Robot Unicorn Attack at all, we're keep her out of it. Right now what I want to talk about is Give Up, Robot.

Matt Thorson's Give Up, Robot (2010) is a fiendishly difficult (mostly) single screen platformer flash game. The kaleidoscopic colours, incessant music and mocking robot voice taunts after every death make for an experience that puts you on edge and keeps you there. The mechanics are that of a simple platformer - in fact the mechanics reminded me of those ingenious freeware games I used to play on my Dad's Amstrad PC1512 back in the 1980s. There was something refreshing and sharp to them, and the addition of the grappling hook was an interesting new game mechanic.

The 50 levels pose a challenge and it become compulsive when you start getting momentum to fly past the levels as quickly as you can, until you get stuck. And you will get stuck. And then the frustration sets in. It's never the case you do not know what to do or how to do it, it is just that you need to perform the actions so flawlessly and pixel-perfect it becomes a real testing challenge. And it makes you want to give up. Not overwhelmingly, but it starts to niggle in your mind and soon the plausibility of just leaving the game becomes appealing. And just when you are ready to click on the tiny x in the corner of your screen somehow your timing becomes perfect and you manage to pass the level that has taunted. And you feel elated (Wow I'm writing in the second person a lot here - I must be reading too many Fighting Fantasy novels).

It is by no means a perfect game and won't take you too long to complete, but if you are feeling a little lost it is a little game that can grab your interest and make things seem appealing again.

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