Friday, January 2, 2009
Whoa!Totally #10: Machiavelli's Ascent
I'm not the world's biggest gamer girl. I think I can count on both hands the video games that have held me in thrall during my lifetime: Tetris, Dig Dug, Super Mario Bros., Zuma, every version of Katamari ever, Viva Pinata, Q-Bert, Frogger, Bioshock, and... ? Nope. That's it. Until now. The latest addition to that list, Machiavelli's Ascent, rounds out an even ten. It's a simple, charming, melodious, and horrifically addictive addition to the Xbox live marketplace.
That's why Machiavelli's Ascent is today's Whoa!Totally.
Adam's much more of a gamer than I am, and he goes through phases where he downloads a lot of free trial games and previews. Occasionally I look up from my computer and watch for a bit, just to see what all the fuss is about. Usually though, it's full of "Yes, my lord!" and "Kaito, you need this amulet to stay alive in the 24th ward!" and "Stay out of Leone turf, asshole!" In other words, not very interesting to me. I don't really like RPGs or FPSs too much; I'm more into arcade and strategy games with great aethetics & immediate competitive goals. Adam describes my video-game preferences as Othello-like: a minute to learn...a lifetime to master.
Anyway, when he loaded up Machiavelli's Ascent? Within 45 secoonds I was telling him to move over on the couch & give me the controller. 45 minutes later I was whoopping & hollering in encouragement and comiseration as we tried to best one another's scores.
It's so ridiculously simple, it's hard to believe how fun and addictive it is. The premise is this: you're a jellyfish on the ocean floor who wants to get to the surface. You press A to initiate your ascent, and use your right and left triggers to swim in either direction, but you can only keep moving upwards as long as you keep running into nutrient bubbles and starfish and stuff. When you're in the flow of things, there's nothing more satisfying: "chaining collisions to build up aurally stimulating combos." But if your jellyfish falls to the bottom of the screen without finding a bubble to propel him up again? Down, down, down he goes...back to the ocean floor to try again. Poor jellyfish! The saddest part is that no matter how hard he swims he will never ever reach the ocean's surface. :(
If you have a 360, check out the free trial of the game then buy it: it's only $5...and your girlfriend will like it.