August 18, 2010
In the gaming world, I would be considered a newbie, so I was excited to sit down with Austin Harley, one of HopeLab’s resident gamers, to learn more about the development of the the next installment of our cancer-fighting video game Re-Mission. As a research associate, Austin evaluates competition video games to gather insights and inspiration for Re-Mission 2. The following is a look at the top games that have captured Austin’s attention while he and the team think about best ways to boost the fun factor and health benefits of Re-Mission 2.
Rayman Raving Rabbids (Wild West Shoot-em-up level) for Nintendo Wii
About the game: Psychotic bunnies armed with toilet plungers and feather dusters – need I say more? The Rabbids , humanoid, mentally unstable rabbits, run amok on your screen speaking gibberish while (sometimes) wearing French-maid outfits or ninja suits. In one first-person shooter level of the game, your mission is to get rid of the Rabbids by launching your own plungers; it’s most fun when you hit them in the face!
What caught our eye: The game is actually comprised of about 70 different mini-games. (For my fellow newbies, a mini-game is an often-simple game that is played within a larger-scale video game; they can be anything from simple puzzles to shooters and beyond.)
“The simplicity of play and the collection of mini-games are our main points of interest in Rayman Raving Rabbids,” Austin explained. “Done well, mini-games can be a really great way to add variety to a game!”
Super Mario Galaxy for Nintendo Wii
About the game: This 3D game is not for those inclined to motion sickness. Super Mario Galaxy allows the player to fully circumnavigate small planets. While defying gravity, Mario’s mission is to save Princess Peach from evil Lord Bowser.
What caught our eye: The concept of “contextual learning” in this game is why the Re-Mission 2 team is logging lots of hours on Super Mario Galaxy.
Says Austin: “What Mario does really well is teach you the game without you really knowing you’re being taught. It’s a different and more natural approach than having to read a set of instructions before each level. This allows for more streamlined game play and helps keep the player from sitting there confused, wondering what to do next.”
Bioshock for Xbox 360
About the game: Like Rayman Raving Rabbids, this too is a first-person shooter game. You play the role of a plane-crash survivor named Jack, and your first source of defense is a wrench. While you’re not battling bad guys, you are hacking safes, locks, and vending machines that provide you advantages throughout the game (i.e. longer life, armor, more ammunition). Hacking is done through successfully completing a mini-game.
What caught our eye: Austin and the team are again focused on the use of mini-games.
“These mini-games,” Austin says, “give the player a break from the regular, often-intense first-person-shooter action. They are also used to unlock some sort of reward that helps you in the main mission of the game.”
Biology Battle for Xbox Live Arcade (located in the Indie Games Section)
About the game: A twin-stick top-down shooter game (yes, I had to ask the definition) that takes place inside a bacteria-filled microscopic cell. One of your joysticks controls your ship; the other allows you to shoot and kill the chaotic microbes. As you accumulate points by killing off the germs, the cell becomes more and more hectic and the number of bacteria and viruses grow.
What caught our eye: Says Austin, “This game has a particularly good cellular, biological aspect to its look and feel. It is a great inspiration for RM2.”
Biology Battle: Worms Mini-game for Xbox Live Arcade (located in the Indie Games Section)
About the game: There is no shooting, no jumping, and no grabbing hearts from chests. The object of this game is to accumulate as many points as possible by flying your little ship as close as possible to the worms without touching them. The closer you get, the more points you earn. But be cautious – if you touch a worm, it is time to start over.
What caught our eye: “Although this game is simple, there is a large risk and reward factor that invites numerous different styles of play,” explains Austin. “Your goal in the game is to get as many points as possible. One person may like to hang out at a safe distance near a worm which accumulates points slowly but also lessens their risk of dying and gives them more time to earn points in the end. Me, on the other hand, I like to get as close as possible. I accumulate a ton of points quickly, but I also die a lot more, so I risk letting the person who played it safe end up with more time than me to earn points! Accommodating different styles of game play is key to making a fun game that can appeal of many people.”
My time with Austin was fabulous. I’d have to say my favorite game was Rayman Raving Rabbids. The characters had such great personalities and costumes, and the game play difficultly was pretty minimal (for a newbie like me, ease of play is critical!).
If you have suggestions for games we should check out as we think about Re-Mission 2, feel free to leave us a comment, and we’ll be sure to check them out!
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