The Angry Gamer 09.09.04 – Innovation Lost

One thing I really miss with gaming as a whole is “weird” games. We still get them from time to time, but for the most part, we’re stuck with sports titles that are nearly the same year after year (save for roster changes and minor gameplay tweaks), first person shooters, and immature violent titles.

Some of the best stuff in recent years are the games that confuse the hell out of people. I’m not talking about games that are so poorly designed that they make no sense; on the contrary, I’m referring to those so brilliantly designed that the gamer isn’t quite sure what to make of it. But they can’t stop playing…

Case in point is the music/shooter/wireframe-adventure Rez. Originally released on the Dreamcast in Japan, it got a US release on the PS2, yet it’s still unknown to most gamers. Describing the game is difficult (it really has to be played to be understood), but I shall try to sum up: taking a cue from Tron, you play the part of a digital avater flying through a computer system, removing program errors, bugs, and other nasties. Everything’s done in a wireframe or flat-shaded style; however, the graphics are razor-sharp (especially through a Dreamcast VGA box). From first glance, it would seem like any other rail-shooter, but one will quickly notice the difference: the sound effects. There are no laser blasts, explosions, static, or anything else of the sort. Every single sound effect in the game is some type of musical note or beat. Destroying enemies only adds to the techno soundtrack playing the background. Chaining up combos and such improves each song greatly. Who would’ve thought music and shooting could compliment each other so well? Great game, but not much exposure stateside.

Currently leading the pack of quirky games that actually do get some exposure is Nintendo. Granted, they screw just about everything else up, but when it comes to unique games, they’re up there with Sega. The ADD poster child Wario Ware is a perfect example of a completely random game rife with creativity. Who would’ve thought that 200-some-odd games that only last a few seconds could be so addicting? The strategy series Pikmin falls along the same lines, as does the infamous Digital Smack (i.e. Animal Crossing).

It’s shame that more funky games like these aren’t available, but sadly, that’s just the way the market works…