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Solipskier: Control reversal can work

September 25, 2010

But dear god is it hit and miss with it! We’ve all played the action flash games were you have to survive for as long as you can. This game is a little different because instead of controlling the skier, you control the ground. Yeah, that’s right, the FREAKING ground. It’s happening and I just blew your mind away.

There are many games of this ilk around, think of pinball games, where instead of controlling the ball, you control the paddles that send it rocketing towards high-scores. Or perhaps a more familiar game is LocoRoco on the PSP, where you control the tilting of the ground, this game has managed to keep me playing in for 2 years now so clearly it’s on a successful formula.

Solipskier runs along these lines, you don’t control your little skier, he does what he does without your input. What you do is control the ground underneath him. Or more precisely, you create the ground underneath him. By holding down the mouse key, you paint the floor. This control schema is really hard to get used to at first and results in many hilarious deaths.

This got me wondering about why the creators gave such a small window of opportunity to learn the dynamics of the game. Actually, they gave NO window. You’ll die really fast on your first few tries. There is no tutorial but with such a quick turn around in game play time, it’s probably not necessary. Also the animation of the little skier as he plummets to his death is pretty funny.

And that then got me thinking about why we take such pleasure at not only watching someone fail, but hurt themselves in the process. So much of this game is based on watching the inevitable death sequence play out and yet, we are somehow still entertained by this process. If we were the moral upright creatures we pretend to be, we’d be mortified by this, we’d reject it outright. Instead we laugh, giggle and LOL at the suffering of others.

Don’t believe me?

Ever watched a skateboarding video on youtube where the skater fails? I have. They are really funny and I dare anyone to watch one and NOT laugh. Hell, look at those ridiculous “Funniest Home Video” shows. They are based around pain and capturing it on film. How many people watch those abysmal shows and are honestly entertained. Personally, I take umbrage in the fact that they dub over the horrendous screaming of the victims with light-hearted comedic voices. Example:

In a cute voice:

“Oh no, I hope I don’t lean back too far on my chair and fall over onto that rake which will then hilariously impale itself in my spine. Whoops, oh dear that just happened.”

You probably laughed at that, and some part of you is probably expecting me to call you sick and get sidetracked on a tirade of condemnation. Well, I’m going to surprise you again by not doing that, but rather the opposite.

Watching people get hurt is funny. Why? Because it’s not happening to you. When I’ve gotten messed up publicly, through the pain, I’ve managed to laugh my ass off because I can appreciate what a funny spectacle it was. I mean how hard is it to jump a chain between two poles at knee height. Apparently too hard for me. And I have the scars to prove it. This leads me to suspect I am incapable of learning from my mistakes and walking around the obstacle, but you know what? That’s quitter talk there.

The only time I don’t laugh when I get annihilated is when no-one sees it. That’s the true irony of the situation because there is no redeeming worth to the spectacle. You’ve fallen and nobody is there to appreciate it.

Yet again I’ve gotten sidetracked mid-rant. It’s a beautiful Saturday afternoon, I’m currently recovering from a huge week so cut me some slack! Instead of bitching and moaning, enjoy the destruction in watching an hapless skier getting inevitably messed up over and over again on Soliskier right here.


From → Games

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