Hot on the heels of the first part of this website wide question I am pleased to bring you, yes you guessed it, part two. This time around the answers were given by Shaun Roopra, and his choice, could not be more different to mine if he had tried. Now feast your eyes on the second part of this feature.
1) What makes a Game special in your eyes.?
Magic. Energy. Imagination. Passion. A game is no mere cheap form of entertainment. When a button is pressed and a change occurs on-screen, it’s undeniably a magical feeling. What makes a game special to me is simply the same as with films or books or any other medium, it’s how much it can change me as a person. Nintendo usually channel an unbridled imaginative force that showers the player in joy. This is magic. It has the ability to give the player something back after playing the game, and is exactly what makes a game special.
2) What is more important, great gameplay or a great story?
Gameplay. Stories are human. We all crave a good story, but when it interferes with me doing something, then the magic is lost. Jim Jarmusch once said, “Life has no plot, why must films or fiction?” This perfectly summarises why gameplay is king. Interaction is more alike real life than entertainment. Reading about someone solving a mystery is in no way the same as solving a mystery yourself. The sense of accomplishment from doing something, morphs from a spontaneous event to the construction of a narrative. You’ve created your own story, which is ten fold more satisfying than being force-fed someone else’s. Great gameplay can be the basis for the player to construct his or her own narrative. Just imagine your own gameplay related stories you’ve amassed in your lifetime, and how special those are to you in comparison to any number of throwaway triple-A stories.
3) Which developer is your favourite in the industry today and why?
Grasshopper Manufacture will always be my favourite. They may have pigeonholed themselves in recent times, but there is still enough downright bizarre and obscure craziness that demands attention. People will always know a Suda51 game. Here is a list of notable games they created this generation: Contact, No More Heroes, No More Heroes 2, Shadows of the Damned, Lollipop Chainsaw, and Killer is Dead. All of these games have a certain spark that you wont find in other games. Suda may have peaked early in the generation, but he refuses to stay down. Although many of his games sold poorly, he always comes back with another outrageous idea. This passion is a fire that never waivers, and is a great inspiration to me.
4) What is your favourite game of the previous generation, and what made it special for you?
I’ve always found that there is a major difference between ‘favourite’ and ‘best’. The ‘best’ might not always do things that speak to the individual, however is an exceptional work. The ‘favourite’ is more personal, flawed and helps define the individual. My favourite game of the previous generation has to be No More Heroes. It helped define and show me how inspiration can be used to craft new ideas. No More Heroes is Alejandro Jodorowsky’s El Topo, Jean-Luc Goddard’s A Bout de Soufflé and Mel Brook’s Spaceballs all melded together with countless other inspirations. It has the spirit of punk, the heart of a samurai movie and the look of a comic book. This amalgamation of ideas was used to craft a post-modern, satirical video game that is unlike anything else in the gaming world.
5) If you could play one game this generation, what would that be?
Super Mario Galaxy is one of those games, a once in a generation explosion of immense creativity and virtuosity. How can this be topped? We’ve reached the end of an era, the pinnacle of platforming as we know it. 2010 birthed something of an oddity. A sequel. Can Nintendo do the unthinkable? The answer was a definite yes. Nintendo and Tokyo EAD not only topped the original Galaxy, they went further than any of us could ever imagine. Everything that, although charming such as the story, impeded the player playing the game, was flung directly into a black hole allowing the player to be immersed in pure, honest gameplay. If Galaxy 1 opened the door to paradise, Galaxy 2 hurled the door shut and let you forever free in ecstasy. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is the best game I’ve played in the last generation and thus the only game I’d play from it.
6) What sticks in your head as the games defining moment?
On a personal level, Slimy Spring Galaxy was the most affecting level in the game. The bleak, slightly comforting atmosphere that flooded that level left a strong impression. The ending of the level, which took me at surprise, is still one of the most beautiful moments I’ve experienced in a video game. Excluding this, the last Bowser level titled ‘Bowser’s Galaxy Generator’ was a monstrously brilliant experience. The soundtrack for the level was the first time that instead of the usual Bowser like theme, we were granted an incredibly heroic piece of orchestral music that just highlighted how far we’ve come. This was no longer the Mushroom Kingdom, and it just dawned upon me. The level itself was expertly designed, but the most stunning moment happened to be at the end. After travelling with Yoshi for a long stretch, once you reach the final flagpole, which leads to Bowser, Mario climbs the pole and Yoshi waves goodbye. This was something that didn’t need to be included in the game, yet added more than any number of cutscenes or dialogue could ever hope to achieve.
6) What makes your chosen game so special?
Super Mario Galaxy 2 is the very definition of the word special. 3D Mario usually is a once a generation game, yet Galaxy 2 broke that convention. It’s a game that looked like an expansion pack at first, but delivered beyond anyone’s wildest expectations. A game that champions an older, much simpler time where gaming was unapologetic about itself and only wanted to deliver some fun and happiness in equal measures. Galaxy 2 is nothing short of an inspirational work of genius. It gave me hope that no matter how good something is, you can always go further beyond.
There you have it. The second game has been added to the Thumbsticks.com games of the generation list, the gorgeous, ingenious and imaginative masterpiece that is Super Mario Galaxy 2, now stands proudly next to the grimy, intelligent, brutal, first person stealth game Dishonored. Both exceptional games in their own right, however different they might be. Whoever says that Nintendo don’t innovate on their previous works clearly hasn’t played Super Mario Galaxy 2, and people who say that stealth games as a genre is dying, clearly hasn’t played Dishonored. Thank you once again Shaun for putting forward your choice, and keep your eyes on Thumbsticks.com in the coming week for the remaining entries into our games of the generation list.