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Priceless Play - 2 March 2019

If this website goes slower than 60mph, Keanu Reeves will yell at us

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Hey, why are people so tired on the first of April? It’s because they just finished a March of 31 days!

I was taking a casual stroll through the ‘net, and discovered the super legit wiseoldsayings.com page for March. There are a bunch of wise old authors saying wise old things about wise old March, though I’m particularly partial to “In like a lion, out like a lamb,” which the wise old folks over there seem to have forgotten. What gives?

Among the many multitudes of March, from Ides to Ash to Mardi Gras, March is a month of opposites; beginning in winter and ending in spring. Keeping this in mind, I’ve decided to dedicate this month in our little corner of RPS to opposites. Fast and slow, night and day, sword and shield… Structuralist opposites are all around us. Using one as a foil for the other can help to bring out what’s best in each. Below are some games which represent two sides of the same coin.

Fast and slow

When considering the opposites of fast and slow, I sort of shot myself in the foot. I’ve already featured a lot of my favourite games that play with time in a column about ten-second games and embodiment and movement, a sister to fastness and slowness. If you like, take a second to go give some of those a play, and if you’ve already given them a spin — come back here and see what else fast and slow have to offer this week.

Speed Demon by Incredible Ape

There are some high-speed games which leave me feeling anxious — Thumper, for instance. Or a rousing game of Dance Dance Revolution. But once I get into the rhythm, there’s something undeniably meditative about the whole experience. For that reason, despite the anxiety, I am often drawn to games which fly by at a punishing speed. For example: even though I am not terribly good and endless runners, I keep playing them them. It’s the perfectionist in me rearing its head, looking for any minuscule avenue for improvement. When a game is so easy to start and stop, as Incredible Ape’s Speed Demon is, it’s harder and harder to say no.

Speed Demon isn’t quite an endless runner, but it is good looking, fast-paced, and slick. Incredible Ape, the dev, has more than a few fast-paced pixel aesthetic games on their itch page, but I appreciate Speed Demon’s bare simplicity. I’m… a demon? In a rocketship. Fighting other demons? There are some demons that I can’t shoot, but some demons I can shoot. Some demons are real big. Does it really matter? The goal is to just “make it as far as you can.” Amen, pal.

Monocube by Gamepopper

Mooncube was developed for the fifth Gameboy Jam, an annual jam celebrating the 4-colour 160px x 144px aesthetic stylings of the old Nintendo handheld. Much like the beautiful simplicity offered in Speed Demon, the goal of Mooncube is “to go to the exit as fast as possible, all while dodging spikes, finding keys and using bounce pads to your advantage.” The game is fun, and the rhythm of play gets equally meditative. Except for when it’s frustrating. A little reminder that that which is difficult is surmountable with enough finesse and to the dulcet sounds of chiptune.

Oh, and you can “Hack the Palette” to change the game to reflect your fave colours. Extremely choice.

Slow Growing by Ebeth

Ebeth’s Slow Growing is the story of a snail who wants to grow a garden. It’s a quick play, joyful for its messages of determination and perseverance. Though you are but a small snail, you will make big things. Once you’ve given Slow Growing a play, it’s also worth it to check out Ebeth’s Morning Mushrooms, originally for the Flat Game Jam in 2017. Similarly short and sweet, Morning Mushrooms follows Ebeth out into the woods to forage for mushrooms before anyone else is awake.

Chasing Birds by David Czar

Chasing Birds, endearing little game that it is, is both fast and slow. You are a dog, who runs around. And thus, you are fast. You chase after birds who are also fast. The game is small, contained, goalless and endless. One might even say that it is… an endless runner. And yet, with its lush green field and low-poly pups set to the sounds of chirping birds and rustling wind, it is decidedly slow-paced. There is no consequence for taking a break. Your little pup will wag their tail, waiting for you to return. The birds will sit, fat and happy, until you run right into them. Things will pick up the pace in due time. There’s no rush.

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Who am I?

Kat Brewster

Contributor

Kat Brewster is a sometimes writer, sometimes game designer, and most-of-the-time academic based out of the University of California, Irvine. Kat's research focuses on play, the future of digital work, and queer archives. You can reach out on Twitter @katbamkapow.

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