Into the zone
Very few people are good at something from the get-go. True mastery can take hours of practice, dedication and even some sleepless nights – and that’s just magazines. Videogames can be just as demanding. Plenty are purposefully designed not to offer shortcuts to victory: if you want to be the best, its creators say, you’ll earn it by the sweat of your brow. But this month’s clutch of Hype games offer a helping hand to motivate you in your quest for finesse. You catch more flies with honey, after all.
Sometimes the allowance is a mechanical touch, as in slick and silly shooter My Friend Pedro (p40). Fresh from working on LittleBigPlanet and
Tearaway, its creator wanted to develop his next game for a smaller subset of players determined to push themselves to the heights of gory glory. The alloted bullet-time in which you learn to execute flips, spins and richocet headshots is, therefore, generous. The same sense of charity is in Spin
Rhythm (p46): following a spin of the wheel, simply tapping on the beat afterwards sets you on the right colour for the next note, instantly making you feel more like a master DJ than someone with only a passable sense of rhythm, and inspiring a desire to improve.
Spelunky 2 (p44) aims to take a more holistic approach: now softened somewhat by his experience as a father, Derek Yu plans to establish a more nurturing atmosphere in the sequel to encourage players through strict challenges. It’s Tetris Effect (p36), however, that marries the two. Its Zone mechanic lets newcomers deal with complex setups without pressure, while also allowing seasoned pros to pull off some truly miraculous stunts. All the while, Mizuguchi’s infamous mastery of audiovisual elements synchronises with your actions, fuelling a hypnotic climb to the upper limits of your ability. The result is Tetris, transcended – a game full of the beautiful, aspirational feeling that there is infinite potential to be found in the most unexpected places.