Sometimes, you play a game you have no real vested interest in beyond simple curiosity/boredom. Sometimes it’s great, sometimes it’s not. Sometimes, regardless, you play it for just a little bit too long. And sometimes, games journalist or not, when you finally stop playing it you realise don’t really have any meaningful reaction to what you’ve experienced. “Yep, I just spent some time.” For me, that used to apply to coverdisc demos of any old guff, installed and played simply because they were there, but most recently it’s been to webgames.
Unfortunately, when you co-run a PC games blog, whatever stumbles randomly across your RSS feeds before the first coffee of the day has fully absorbed into your arteries carries with it a terrible sense of guilt. “I should be playing something I can write about. What can I write about this? Oh God, what can I write about this?”
And so, Cheese Dreams, which was today’s pre-breakfast pastime for me.
I think I enjoyed it, but it didn’t leave an indelible impression. It’s a remarkably polished 16-bit-esque platformer, employing a concept so high it somehow folds back around into oddly ordinary – you play as the moon, kidnapped by giant evil space-mice and searching for escape from their trap’n’puzzle-laden starship. There’s a heavy, heavy debt to platform stalwarts Sonic and Kirby, but something about it – possibly the setting, possibly the puzzles – raises a faint, welcome aroma of The Lost Vikings.
Where it seems fairly clever is in the reductionism of the control set, something I’m always fascinated in (Trackmania, the staple of this most recent gaming week, is a fine example of that – the degree of acrobatics and finesse it allows, or crucially at least seems to allow, from four cursor keys, is truly remarkable). Here, your only controls are left and right – the moon, being round and bouncy, hands all vertical control over to elasticity and gravity (and, occasionally, anti-gravity). So, there’s a interesting degree of physics involved – momentum and inertia, rather than purely timing, are vital to progress. It’s not a new idea, but it seems to work well in a switch-flipping, baddie-dodging puzzle environment.
But it’s perhaps a little too cute and it’s not making any post-modern statements about the nature of videogaming or whatever, so you’ll probably spit at it. Which would, I think, be a shame. But I don’t know for sure.