Developer: Sophie Houlden
Launcher Quote: “On this day in 1997, a game that meant a lot to me was released.
It was the first game to give me a very particular feeling, one that was powerful enough to make me want to make games myself.
With this little game, I’ll try to share that with you.”
Sophie’s entry today reminds me of games of the 90’s as well, but in a very specific vein. Adventure games, where you’d start out from nothing and end up as a hero, were fairly common during this time period, and the progression experience by the hero and their faithful ninja-kicking dog companion is very reminiscent of that process, right down to there being a goal, a boss that appeared to be the final boss, and an actual final boss that was pulling the strings from the shadows. It’s a plotline that seems a little predictable for what it is, but after rolling through games like Earthbound, Shining Force, Final Fantasy III (now known as VI), and Zelda: A Link to the Past, it never really got stale or less exciting to me.
The pixel graphics bring me further back in that genre, though, with Maniac Mansion, Resident Evil, Myst, and a bunch of other games where you’re needing to progress through trials and tribulations, solve some puzzles along the way, maybe gather a companion or two, and ultimately, win out against the last of the last bosses having solved their not-so-obvious-at-first-but-totally-clear-later weakness. These kind of games were simple in their plot but straightforward and earnest in what they set out to do – challenge you to be the hero, use your items and your head in a smart way, and triumph over a very clear moral compass of good vs. evil. It’s definitely part of the charm, mostly because of the fact that while I can appreciate the nuance and grey area of today’s offerings, a simple and very direct adventurer’s game gives you a game experience without frills, where you can undoubtedly succeed and feel a sense of accomplishment doing so.
In these games, the finish line, though it may extend a little ways like it did in Sophie’s game, is always clear and the path linear. Yet sometimes we do need that kind of straight-lined experience in games, especially as it relates to adventure, where escapism is one of the primary reasons people play games. We may never crack a whip like Indiana Jones or swing the Master Sword like Link, but we can live that adventure, in a small and self-contained way, for just a little bit of our gaming time. Like most hobbies, games are fun when you have a varied diet of enjoyment.