Friday, February 29, 2008

I thought the lines disappeared when you completed them

I got a new game recently.

It's not an adventure game, really, not the way one usually thinks of them. It's more of an adventure game motif that acts as a delivery system for a few (and by few I mean 135) logic puzzles.

And it's great. I love being able to work out the old "get the wolf, sheep, and grain across the river" challenge on a little screen, moving the animals and raft around with my stylus. And I love all the side quests that the game throws in, like the one where you collect parts to build a robot dog (which, along with zombies, melee attacks, and at least one sniper rifle, is on my list of "things that should be included in every game, ever").

So I'd say that I enjoyed the game. Or a least, I enjoyed 134ths of it.

But Puzzle 135 . . .


I'm not sure if you're familiar with L'ane rouge, but have a look. The name means "red donkey," probably because the first person who played it immediately screamed something about the inventor being a "communist jack*ss."

Does this kind of "sliding block" puzzle actually do anything to test your intelligence? To me it seems like a very good test of how long your brain cam be caught in a dangerous loop of arbitrarity.

Maybe solving it has nothing to do with how smart you are, it's just that you sure feel really smart when, after hours of pushing around little blocks, you finally get that big block out.

I wouldn't know. I cheated.

Now some would say that cheating defeats the purpose of playing a game. After all, you bought the game to be challenged, so by reducing or removing the challenge you've destroyed the game for yourself.

But that's not always true.

There is a difference between:

"This is an engaging challenge that I'm not willing or able to step up to."


"This is some bullsh*t."

Ever seen a movie that had some great elements to it, but ultimately flopped because the creators got in their own way?

That's roughly the equivalent of a video game that requires you to "press x to not die."*

And be honest, if you could pause your movie, go to a website, and find a code for your dvd player that let you experience the good aspects of the film without wading trough the missteps, wouldn't you do it?

*Resident Evil 4, I'm looking at you.

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