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I’ve been playing the new Strider recently. It’s a Metroidvania styled game that has the player exploring a large map and finding items that help him or her access different parts said map. It’s one of the only styles of games that places the player alone in a giant labyrinth and forces him or her to find their way out. It’s a great way to make a game halfway between linear and non-linear. Another game sub-genre that uses a labyrinthine setting survival horror. Both are generally listed as action or adventure or action-adventure by publishers and retailers as both are quite similar. Both Metroidvania and survival horror require exploration of large maps and some light combat and item acquisition. The biggest difference between the two is a not a gameplay mechanic as much as a narrative mechanic, character development.
In Metroid, (A Metroidvania game), Samus, (The player character), is a bounty hunter that has to find her way alone through a maze of caves filled monsters. In the beginning, Samus can only jump and shoot. Throughout the game she finds items that award her new skills and weapons. By the end of the game, Samus has so many lasers and bombs and missiles and armor that even Tony Stark is jealous. The player character becomes an unstoppable powerhouse wrecking chumps left and right. This makes player feel powerful and the all the exploration makes the player feel like they earned that power. It makes the player feel like a hero, because its basically a variation of the hero’s journey.
Resident Evil was the first game to called a survival horror game. In Resident Evil the player controls Jill, (Or Chris, but let’s talk about Jill). Jill is a cop that has to find her way alone through a labyrinthine mansion while fighting of zombies and other monsters. The contrast is that Jill never gets stronger. Jill starts out as a cop with a gun and ends as a cop with a gun. While the monsters Jill fights get stronger, Jill stays the same. She doesn’t become a sci-fi super hero, she stays cop. Jill is a normal person thrown into in a crazy world. This makes the player feel weak compared the game’s enemy characters. The player feels like he or she can barely survive.
That’s the big difference between the two. Samus makes you feel like you can take on the world and Jill makes feel like you need to run from it. One builds you up while the other knocks you down. This one difference drastically changes the experience of the game. Even with so many similarities people don’t compare Symphony of the Night to Silent Hill or Fatal Frame to Strider because the games feel so different. That one thing makes all the difference.
That and platforming. Strider gots to have sweet flips.
Although I do enjoy the Galentines episodes of Parks and Rec, my favorite Valentine’s Day episode is The Simpsons episode “I Love Lisa,” from season 4. Is it because it is about the social awkwardness of young people? Is it because the episode features Ralph Wiggum, the non sequitur machine? Is it because the plot focuses on unrequited love and I’m just bitter? No, no and no. It’s because of the Monster Mash. Even though the episode contains both Valentine’s Day and President’s Day, the episode begins with a radio in the background playing Monster Mash and ends with a radio in the background playing Monster Mash. It’s a reminder that, in TV sitcoms, everything ends just how they start.
That and the mediocre presidents song. That’s pretty great too.
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