Thursday, February 5, 2009

30 Days UP - "I'm not asking you to leave, I'm just begging you to let me get some sleep..."

The one game I'm playing more than anything else started off due to convenience but quickly grew to be because of addiction. It's an action role playing game called"The World Ends With You," for the Nintendo DS (the system meant for long subway rides). It's got a quirky Japanese style to it which I can take or leave in a lot of games, but I think it serves this game very well, especially since it takes place on the streets of modern day Tokyo. The plot - which I'm still very much in the middle of - started off very slow, with a moody, brooding (again, very Japanese) protagonist and a quirky female sidekick that were very at odds with each other but quickly became an exciting story in the vein of a Battle Royale or perhaps, a Death Race.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the game its encouraging power up system. Your character in the game uses 'pins' as a way to battle, and these pins can power up in a number of ways. One way is obvious - using them in battle, and the other way is decidedly less so - you turn the game off. The internal game clock records how much time has passed between sessions, and when you turn it back on, you're rewarded with experience points for your pins. Then you play some more of the game, and you collect some more pins, and then you power those up. Certain pins can only be powered up through the "power-off" method, meaning you pretty much have to put the game down in order to really beef up your character in battle.

There was a funny moment the other day when I sat down on the train and I started to pull out my DS and I thought "if I just don't play for another couple of hours..." And that moment fascinated me. The game had convinced me not to play it. For the sake of...enjoying it more later? They definitely incorporated some kind of bizarre delayed gratification. I couldn't wait to play it again, and yet, not playing it was better for me in the long run. The torment!

Imagine if they something like that was incorporated into more games. Would if you could only get health back in the next Zelda by putting the controller (or sigh...Wiimote) down for a certain amount of time? What if you got put in jail in GTA and were given the option of losing progress, or money, or actually doing time, having to turn the game off for X number of hours? Would gamers throw up their arms in anger, or would it encourage more little mini "Pauses" throughout the world?

-Matt

PS: And no, giving up the game for a year wouldn't make my character in T.W.E.W.Y. some kind of pin-god. The game stops counting after a week. So they encourage you to take time off...but not, you know, too much time off.

Currently playing: Assasin's Creed, Super Smash Bros. Brawl (need...people...to play with), Rock Band 2 (man, tour mode takes FOREVER to beat!)

Currently not playing: The World Ends With You. Or should I say, currently leveling up in?