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Ico, Rez and Super Monkey Ball


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In terms of gameplay you're quite right [that ico's is an amalgam of earlier games]

i don't think that's true. i think ico takes 3d platforming and does something entirely new with it, simultaneously refining it and simplifying it to the point where the game is nothing but interacting with the environment. maybe in a superficial sense it is true that the gameplay remains derivative of earlier 3d platformers, but in a deeper way the implementation of whatever elements it has borrowed is so reformed that it may as well be called an original gameplay design rather than a reinvention.

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i don't think that's true. i think ico takes 3d platforming and does something entirely new with it, simultaneously refining it and simplifying it to the point where the game is nothing but interacting with the environment. maybe in a superficial sense it is true that the gameplay remains derivative of earlier 3d platformers, but in a deeper way the implementation of whatever elements it has borrowed is so reformed that it may as well be called an original gameplay design rather than a reinvention.

Switch puzzles, lever puzzles, pulley puzzles, do this to get there and do that... the actual gameplay tasks and goals all pretty familiar in itself, surely? Ingenius, true, and stripped of the superfluity of combat (mostly), but not a bolt from the blue.

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In terms of gameplay you're quite right, but ICO's art direction is in a league of its own. I genuinely believe that.

yes, but the most important thing, and i think this is what is at the center of ico's uniqueness, is that there is no discernable line separating the "art direction" from the "gameplay". they are not different aspects of this game, but they are totally intertwined. as a game, ico seems to be a whole, not a collection of interacting parts, which is what almost every game ever made (at least after the early arcade era of pong and joust) feels like to me.

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yes, but the most important thing, and i think this is what is at the center of ico's uniqueness, is that there is no discernable line separating the "art direction" from the "gameplay". they are not different aspects of this game, but they are totally intertwined. as a game, ico seems to be a whole, not a collection of interacting parts, which is what almost every game ever made (at least after the early arcade era of pong and joust) feels like to me.

Sorry, but no. You could easily turn the castle into a space station, and with that change of art direction would utterly and irretrievably change the mood of the game, which is one of the game's most important elements.

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Switch puzzles, lever puzzles, pulley puzzles, do this to get there and do that... the actual gameplay tasks and goals all pretty familiar in itself, surely? Ingenius, true, and stripped of the superfluity of combat (mostly), but not a bolt from the blue.

This is partly true, but every book uses a lot of the same words (or even plot-elements). Every person is more or less made from the same materials, but they all look different. For every Lord of the Rings there's 99 other Fantasy drivel books. The elements don't make the game; they're just part of it. What Ico does is using those elements to create an experience unlike any other. And I think that is what sets it apart.

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This is partly true, but every book uses a lot of the same words (or even plot-elements). Every person is more or less made from the same materials, but they all look different. For every Lord of the Rings there's 99 other Fantasy drivel books. The elements don't make the game; they're just part of it. What Ico does is using those elements to create an experience unlike any other. And I think that is what sets it apart.

Yes, of course. It's sublimely designed and beatifully concieved (although with a fragile sadness), I'm just pointing out that the gameplay's central ideas have been an important part of "adventure" games for years.

[edit]Indeed, it's testament to the game's mastery that it managed to reinvigorate what were once tired and forgotten cliches like lighting and carrying bombs. No mattery how derivative or isolable the component parts, they come together to create something unique. That's art.

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Switch puzzles, lever puzzles, pulley puzzles, do this to get there and do that... the actual gameplay tasks and goals all pretty familiar in itself, surely? Ingenius, true, and stripped of the superfluity of combat (mostly), but not a bolt from the blue.

what i meant was that the act of playing the game and the physicality of the environment--usually concepts that strike me almost separately in games--are absolutely the same. getting from one point to another in ico, for me, was not like i was a boy with horns, but like i was the whole castle complex itself. it was as much in the foreground, as much a character, as ico himself, and since the interaction between them is exactly what the simplified gameplay amounts to, there is a total sense of oneness for me in the game. it's not like a house where the carpet and insulation and boards and nails are fitted together; it's like a house that was hatched from an egg inside which these parts and materials incubated until they fused together completely. it's almost as if the game design had absolute uniformity and was just one thing, one idea applied to every necessary aspect of a game, so that the aspects are not even different from each other. so that, like i said above, there is no difference between pulling levers and art design and ico.

tell me if i've stopped making sense.

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what i meant was that the act of playing the game and the physicality of the environment--usually concepts that strike me almost separately in games--are absolutely the same.  getting from one point to another in ico, for me, was not like i was a boy with horns, but like i was the whole castle complex itself.  it was as much in the foreground, as much a character, as ico himself, and since the interaction between them is exactly what the simplified gameplay amounts to, there is a total sense of oneness for me in the game.  it's not like a house where the carpet and insulation and boards and nails are fitted together; it's like a house that was hatched from an egg inside which these parts and materials incubated until they fused together completely.  it's almost as if the game design had absolute uniformity and was just one thing, one idea applied to every necessary aspect of a game, so that the aspects are not even different from each other.  so that, like i said above, there is no difference between pulling levers and art design and ico.

tell me if i've stopped making sense.

I kind of get you- the tactality and solidity of the game world tangles the visible structures and the sounds of the fortress in with the invisible and silent machinations of the puzzles which make up the place and which are being messed with in your head, to give a sublime whole.

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Sorry, but no. You could easily turn the castle into a space station, and with that change of art direction would utterly and irretrievably change the mood of the game, which is one of the game's most important elements.

and what i think is that the gameplay would necessarily be something different. maybe you're right. especially from the prior-to-the-game point of view, maybe you're right, of course it wasn't incubated in an egg, either. but i've been trying to describe how the game feels to me and to think about what makes it so unique.

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Bollocks. I remember Ico for both. I like its gameplay more than that of the critically acclaimed Prince of Persia: Sands of Time. You rate the interaction between Ico and Yorda as a minor feature, I see it as the best in years. Ico was an experience, which can never be acclompished by nice visuals. The sense of depth in the game, the sense of immersion -- all those factors made Ico one of the greatest games.

Thats nice dear. I never compared it to PoP:SOT; I made the point nearly all its gameplay was derived from the Broderbund original.

Ico didn't have a single new idea. Even Yorda had been done before.

Thats not to say it wasn't very well put together, well structured (for the most part) and really very playable.

You contradict yourself, the sense of depth and immersion was entirely imparted by the visuals (and some lovely sparse sound design). There's nothing wrong with that, if you take a cold analytical look at the gameplay it's nothing special, certainly not a standard bearer for the puzzling/action adventure doo-dab.

For the record I love Ico, completed it twice. Yes it is a great game but it'll be remembered for its aesthetics and atmosphere, not its gameplay.

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I see what you're getting at now. I was dealing with the gameplay in purely mechanistic terms, as I tend to when breaking games into components. Of course, as a whole experience, the gameplay is reliant upon and tied into the art design and the characters and what it is you're meant to be doing. Sort of... the gameplay as I was thinking of it was the skeleton, you were thinking of the gameplay as a walking, talking creature.

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I kind of get you- the tactality and solidity of the game world tangles the visible structures and the sounds of the fortress in with the invisible and silent machinations of the puzzles which make up the place and which are being messed with in your head, to give a sublime whole.

yes, i think. i think that is at least some of what i mean.

another condition that comes out is the unprecedented concreteness of the physical 3d world. because you travel through everything you see, you can pause for a moment at any point, upon entering into any new area, and gaze about, zooming, looking far back towards a rooftop you traversed two hours earlier, and you can actually make out the route you took. you can identify distant buildings and remember what it looks inside them and what you did there. the world of ico was more real to me than the real world, where i get in my car and drive from one point to another without feeling that there is any meaning to the space in between.

in fact, the world's physicality may be my favorite thing about the game. it is something i have never, ever experienced anywhere else.

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in fact, the world's physicality may be my favorite thing about the game.  it is something i have never, ever experienced anywhere else.

I'm hard-pressed to think of a game which does the same sort of thing myself... the way you can sort of feel out the mechanisms and the tracks and that in your mind's eye. Traditional, very symbolic puzzle games were good at the clever mechanisms, but they never convinced you that you were dealing with something real. Most RPGs show you amazingly real settings but the just seem like papier mache backdrops with no real mechanisms behind them.

Probably got to the root of what made Ico so compelling when it came out, then. Not that this particularly helps D-Side's struggle to find newer, more interesting games to talk about.

Maybe I should ressurect the Boktai thread.

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the gameplay is reliant upon and tied into the art design and the characters and what it is you're meant to be doing.

there! that's exactly what i mean! or at least, this is the case with ico, and it is what i think a game should strive for and why i celebrate ico so much. *almost* any other game, i can play it and feel the parts, i can feel the influence of the art direction on the mood of the game versus the character's control and physics on my experience, etc etc. but in ico the physics is the art direction is the castle is yorda is the physics and what i am trying to say is so much more real than the pseudo-zen-fanaticism that this sounds like.

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Also, regarding physicality.

Super Mario 64 typifies solidity and physicality. It shares many of the traits that you have described above, yet it's never been highly regarded as a piece of art, certainly in the aesthetic sense. I wonder why.

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Also, regarding physicality.

Super Mario 64 typifies solidity and physicality.  It shares many of the traits that you have described above, yet it's never been highly regarded as a piece of art, certainly in the aesthetic sense.  I wonder why.

Hmm... good question.

EDIT- I was typing more there but I couldn't quite sort it out in my head. Hence the short reply.

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You know you're pretty obnoxious, don't you?

well, that depends on who's reading/listening to me. short answer, yes, i do. but i don't care. i'm excitable and sincere, so i'm bound to be. or maybe that's not true. but i don't care.

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Also, regarding physicality.

Super Mario 64 typifies solidity and physicality. It shares many of the traits that you have described above, yet it's never been highly regarded as a piece of art, certainly in the aesthetic sense. I wonder why.

Because really, games aren't art. They can look pleasing but fundamentally they fulfill an entirely seperate role to art. That's something we should be comfortable with. Any discussion to the contrary will, I guarantee, become immensely dull and insufferably tedious.

Oh and I'm with you on SM64 in gameplay terms. Now there's something to aspire to.

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Also, regarding physicality.

Super Mario 64 typifies solidity and physicality. It shares many of the traits that you have described above, yet it's never been highly regarded as a piece of art, certainly in the aesthetic sense. I wonder why.

because it didn't do nearly as good a job as ico did. super mario 64 only achieved one aspect of ico's physicality, and that is fully realized 3d landscapes that you travel over. i never felt as much in sm64 that i was a part of them. they were many, separate, and disjointed, unrelated in theme and physical location. you teleport around between different landscapes through magic paintings. you can never gaze into the distance and remember what it was like to be in a specific place two hours ago and what you did there. you don't feel any connection between the location of star 37 and star 65.

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Because really, games aren't art. They can look pleasing but fundamentally they fulfill an entirely seperate role to art. That's something we should be comfortable with. Any discussion to the contrary will, I guarantee, become immensely dull and insufferably tedious.

Good games' roles are to entertain and provoke thought. That, in my mind, consitutes art- Ode To Joy, Furious Angels, the paintings of the Scottish Colourists, sculptures by Rodin, and so on, all entertain and provoke thought in some sense. Of course, as I say, art is mostly subjective. What's your definition?

Edit- it should be noted, of course, that I don't consider all things art to be equal. There's such a thing as good art or bad art or better or worse art.

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For the record I love Ico, completed it twice. Yes it is a great game but it'll be remembered for its aesthetics and atmosphere, not its gameplay.

Maybe you are right, maybe you are not. But still everyone here seems to be stupid. It is all about the experience -- which is a cumulation of all factors. If we're using your criteria, no game can ever be considered a masterpiece anymore. Cause indeed, after almost three decades of gaming, practically everything has been done. Ico was the succesful cohesion of all of its parts. If what you say is right, that Ico is only a piece of art because its aestethics, then those aestethics are so great that they add so much to the gameplay that it still is a "true" masterpiece. You see, Van Gogh and Picasso or Mondriaan are three completely different things. Yet they are all considered art. Rez is like a Picasso, Vib Ribbion a Mondriaan and Ico a Van Gogh.

I really hate the discussion about "innovation". This is the keyword:

synergy [n]

1) the working together of two things (muscles or drugs for example) to produce an effect greater than the sum of their individual effects

Change that two things into multiple things or aspects, and there you have the definition of what describes a true masterpiece.

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Because really, games aren't art.

Forgetting the validity of games as art for a moment, why has the forum chosen Ico over SM64. That's the issue I'm trying to tackle.

because it didn't do nearly as good a job as ico did. super mario 64 only achieved one aspect of ico's physicality, and that is fully realized 3d landscapes that you travel over. i never felt as much in sm64 that i was a part of them. they were many, separate, and disjointed, unrelated in theme and physical location.

Indeed. The limits of contemporary technology, one would assume. But I don't see how being smaller and less linear makes SM64 a less worthy candidate for 'art' status.

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art [n]

Relevant:

1) the products of human creativity; works of art collectively; "an art exhibition"; "a fine collection of art"

2) the creation of beautiful or significant things; "art does not need to be innovative to be good"; "I was never any good at art"; "he said that architecture is the art of wasting space beautifully"

Unrelevant:

3) a superior skill that you can learn by study and practice and observation; "the art of conversation"; "it's quite an art"

4) photographs or other visual representations in a printed publication; "the publisher was responsible for all the artwork in the book"

To D-Side et al:

"art does not need to be innovative to be good"

Conclusion: Ico, Rez and Vib Ribbon are indeed art.

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Indeed. The limits of contemporary technology, one would assume. But I don't see how being smaller and less linear makes SM64 a less worthy candidate for 'art' status.

I guess it just wasn't different enough for people... things which give a different feeling (especially a maudlin one) tend to have an easier time of getting the art tag than games which give you a familiar, good, fun game feeling. It's certainly a masterpiece from what I've heard of it, and a revelation.

Some of it could come down to this "games for games' sake" modesty which many proponents of Nintendo have, or Miyamoto's own refusal that what he makes is art.

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