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What's better: feelies, or RULES OF NATURE?

Vote now as we continue deciding the single best thing in games

Last time, you decided that parrying projectiles is better than a customisable horn honk, and I wholly agree. I adore my collections of GTA clown cars but it's no match. This week, we must choose between two slightly wistful things, one that's come and gone and one that's confined to a single game. And, ah, I cannot deny having been influenced by last week's vote for one of these options. What's better: feelies, or RULES OF NATURE? Vote now!


Before you start playing a game these days, you'll likely have learned all about it world from watching trailers. Once upon a time, you might first immerse yourself in its world by rummaging through documents and artifacts from it while waiting for the game to install. Because some games (particularly adventure games) often included an assortment of physical objects, 'feelies'.

Feelies were often presented as objects pulled from the game's world: ID cards; blueprints; schematics; paper maps; cloth maps; iron-on patches; jewellery; newspapers; magazines; a paper chef hat; sunglasses; postcards; letters; badges; a blob of pocket fluff; a golf ball; and storybooks. I missed the golden age of feelies but do still fondly remember opening my MechWarrior 2 box to find propaganda documents. I had no idea what they meant but was enthralled and even more eager for the installation to finish.

The experience of a game is more than just the time you're actively playing it and feelies especially could blur the edges of reality and draw the world close around you.

Some games included feelies as anti-piracy measures, items that the game would ask you to reference at key points. I remember murdertaxi game Quarantine included a sheet of "pedestrian weight to impact ratio" data I needed to look up when I launched the game, which still fascinated me as a weird document from its world. And others, hey, they just bunged in promo materials and novelties like t-shirts and posters and toys, which I know many remember fondly.

You do sometimes still see feelies these days but they're mostly confined to expensive Collector's Editions and deluxe re-releases. Between the cost and a shift to digital releases, it seems unlikely they'll make a mainstream comeback anytime soon. One of the potential best things in video games is already behind us.


There is one moment in video games which never fails to bring me joy. Whenever it pops back into my head, I'll watch a video on YouTube then beam for a good ten minutes. It's a moment which is absurd yet captures so much of what I like about games. It is the end of the fight in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance when a robot dinosaur the size of a building tries to cleave the cyborg ninja Raiden with its sword, so Raiden draws his own little sword and blocks the dinoblade. At this point, the metal soundtrack introduces the lyrics layer with a shout of "RULES OF NATURE!" After stopping the bus-sized blade, Raiden swings the dinosaur into the air and runs along its sword, slicing as he goes before chopping off the limb and landing in a cool ninja pose. He, of course, does not look at the explosion behind him.

It is a perfect moment of video games. Technology and art and unreality unite in ridiculous spectacle. I just- sorry, hang on.

Okay, back now. I needed to stop writing to watch that video again. Magic. Pure beaming.

"But Alice," a cynic might think, "this is just a quick-time event. You mashed three buttons then the game did all the work for you. How could the best thing in video games be basically a movie?" Ah! The context for this tomfoolery makes it even richer. Metal Gear Rising is also a game with a ludicrous skill cap, full of techniques to discover and master without the game explaining (it's even reluctant to admit it has a dodge move). It's also a game whose prescient fever dreams of US politics culminated in a villainous politician vowing to "make America great again" by overthrowing the government. And it's a game where you swordfight a robot dinosaur in the tutorial level. Yep, that's the third fight in the game. Perfect.

This is only one moment of one game, never to be repeated, but it still might be the very best thing.

But which is better?

Look, the fact that I whisper-shout "RULES OF NATURE!" every time I read the words in this post which I myself wrote means there's no other choice. In the end, it has to be this way. And as much as I enjoyed feelies decades ago, these days I'm just not keen on (doubtless) paying extra to own lots of little bits and pieces I'd quickly shove into a drawer. But what do you say, reader dear?

Pick your winner, vote in the poll below, and make your case in the comments to convince others. We'll reconvene next week to see which thing stands triumphant—and continue the great contest.

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About the Author
Alice O'Connor avatar

Alice O'Connor

Associate Editor

Alice has been playing video games since SkiFree and writing about them since 2009, with nine years at RPS. She enjoys immersive sims, roguelikelikes, chunky revolvers, weird little spooky indies, mods, walking simulators, and finding joy in details. Alice lives, swims, and cycles in Scotland.

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