What’s in Your Box: It’s Your Birthday
Kalvin Martinez / May 27th, 2017 No Comments
Each week, we here at Gaming Illustrated are always playing a number of different video games. However, we may not be talking about them in reviews or editorials. That doesn’t mean they aren’t worth talking about, but for any number of reasons an avenue to speak on them doesn’t come up. To remedy the issue, we’re going to ask our staff (and you, honestly) what’s in your box?
What’s in Kalvin’s Box
This week I am reminded of an old proverb, “No one has ever truly lived until they helped throw out nearly 70,000 dollars worth of spoiled food.” I have truly lived.
That’s how my week went, my level of exhaustion left me unable and unwilling to dig too deeply into any one game. So my box this week has primarily been dominated by small, easily digestible bites.
I checked out the demo for Birthdays the Beginning and the Global Testpunch for Arms.
Birthdays the Beginning is an intriguing little game. Part God sim and part Minecraft-esque sandbox, the game asks you to create and manage your own environment in the hopes of allowing life to flourish and eventually evolve.
In the demo, you get the conceit of the game, which involved you, the protagonist, finding a map in one of your grandfather’s old books. Tracking down the location transports you to this alternate universe, where a helpful sprite called Navi instructs you to help shape the terrain of the world and allow life to begin.
From the conceit, you get a ton of information thrown at you quickly. It can be hard to take it all at once. Luckily the demo holds your hand for a bit as you get your bearings. There are three core principles you need to comprehend: temperature, life form prosperity/extinction, and location. Mastering these concepts can help you shape the terrain and let life flourish.
Ushering in life isn’t easy, but you’ll manage. From single cell organisms to the earliest forms of flora and fauna, you will create your own menagerie of wild life and plants. As new species form the terrain changes from basic grey to more verdant surroundings. The demo only gives a hint of how the land will transform, but it is enough.
You don’t interact directly, your avatar does. It can manipulate single squares of land or larger plots as you decide how you want the world around you to look. The avatar can use items to stimulate evolution, form new life, heal, and more. Items are time savers. When interacting with the environment you are in Micro mode. Anything you do takes up health, but time stays still.
To heal and move time forward, which is the only way to form new species or evolve them you need to switch to Macro Mode. Macro Mode is where you can let time move forward and see how the environment nurtures and spawns new life forms. You can let time move normally or fast forward, but fast forwarding takes up health, which can be healed by passing time normally. It is a lot of start and stop resource management to make progress, but not too difficult to understand.
Birthdays the Beginning demo did everything a demo should do. It introduced me to the concept and gave me a quick peek of what’s interesting about the game and it’s systems. More than anything it made me feel sad when it was over and want to get the full game almost immediately.
Much like Dragon Quest Builders did with the Minecraft sandbox game, Birthdays the Beginning smartly presents the God sim genre with style and charm. It seems Japanese developers get how to present these difficult concepts in a straightforward and compelling manner where most Western developers tend to get bogged down in systems.
I’ll be the first to admit I thought Arms looked silly when it was announced during the Switch presentation. It was a goofy concept that the Japanese presentation didn’t sell effectively. Although the more I have seen of it, the more intrigued I have been to try it. The weekend Global Testpunch has been a great opportunity to try out the game and get a feel for it.
Arms is a game that you have to play to get fully. Seeing video doesn’t do it justice because the controls are so intuitive and unique that you need to get your hands on the Joy Cons to understand what’s cool about it.
Arms has a cool online lobby with people cycling in and out with different types of matches and people getting randomly paired up to keep the action going. Having only played a little bit of the Testpunch, it is obvious there is a lot of depth to the game that jumping into a quick match or two isn’t going to reveal completely.
Reading through some of the help manuals was super illuminating. There are a lot of special tricks each character can do that you don’t quite get from the game’s brief tutorial.
Arms went from a game I didn’t care about to something I can’t wait to play.
tags: Arms , Birthdays the Beginning , opinion , What's in Your Box