Play Impressions: Revisiting Wrecking Crew and Wii Play

August 11th, 2009

I really did wish I had something to write here, but it doesn’t seem to be the case. I want to say that I’ve been busy with my final semester of uni, but I know that’s not true, besides attendance, of course. I just don’t particularly have a lot to say, nor have I made sufficient progress with anything I’m playing to say anything concrete. I’m not sure where the time is going, I’m just floating in liquid here. There are some minor commentaries that I’d like to air of two games which I’ve recently revisited.

Wrecking Crew

The first is Wrecking Crew; the NES puzzler which involving Mario as a demolition man knocking down slabs of cement and ladders in a screen-clearing puzzle format. I bought and played this title for the first time when re-buying my old NES stuff a few years ago and originally spent a solid 2-4hr play session joyously banging through the first 40 odd levels of the totalling 100.

Since then it’s been sitting on my shelf as I hit a slump at around the level 44 mark. Several of the preceding levels constituted a ditch of broken and/or incredibly irksome levels, so I stopped playing. Picking it up again though has taught me a few things about the game which I don’t believe I reported on the first time.

I originally felt Wrecking Crew to be a breezy, under appreciated puzzler, it’s still under appreciated but perhaps I understand the reasons for that now. The most severe problem with Wrecking Crew‘s design is that there are multiple avenues to complete each level (as a whole, each level can be regarded as an individual puzzle), yet, particularly in the later levels, only one avenue is ever the right one. Therefore in many cases the game will lead you down the garden path as you unknowingly make your way towards the wrong direction. This is exacerbated by the slow pace in which Mario both walks and knocks down structures and the superfluous number of items he has to destroy. For many levels it feels as though Nintendo cared more about making the design look pretty by cramming it with destructible objects, rather than showing consideration to the player who must individually destroy all said objects to much repetition. Additionally, it’s not always clear from the outset how one should approach each level as original ideas may fall apart once the enemies start moving around the levels, blocking pathways and obscuring outlets. Toss in a few broken levels and Mario’s jerk of a construction manager who chases him around some levels and it grows tiresome quickly. I just ended up sampling the final 50 levels as it never seemed worth the effort of nailing down that one series of moves to solve each puzzle. It’s an arduous task, with little reward.

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Still, I like Wrecking Crew. It has the stylistic charm and simplistic design of the early R&D1* games, plus a generous serving of 100 levels, most of which are decent, a handful excellent. It’s a shame that the later half had to take such a nose dive as I was seriously engaged for my first time around.

Wii Play

The other game I re-approached recently was Wii Play. Sure it’s the generic experimental offspring of Wii Sports, but it did only cost $10 with a Wiimote and many of the games are steeped in hardcore gamer sensibilities – why do people whinge over this game? I have an ultra skilled friend who has managed to attain platinum medals for pretty much all of the individual games, something which I find completely baffling as I can only muster a couple of platinums total, the rest varying from bronze to gold.

The assortment of mini-games each demand perfect precision and an earnest level of concentration to crack; the kind of abilities that can sometimes get the best of me. While I aced the Duck Hunt redux game in one fellow sweep, I didn’t fair too well in the other titles. The problem is that the games require complete concentration to the degree that you stop thinking about the game and allow the natural twitch sensation to take over. Doing this consciously on a whim, when you’ve got a ticking score displayed on screen can almost be sickening as I found was the case with the Ping Pong game.

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The rules of this game are incredibly simple, move the pad to hit the ball, try to keep the rally going as long as possible, in this case up to 200 rallies for a platinum medal. As mentioned though, said score tally builds in the top right hand corner of the screen which ultimately caused me to notice and constantly fail once I knew that the pressure’s on.

Always being weary of the scoreboard, I would notice when it came close to my previous high scores of about 160 and upon hitting that mark I would attempt to hit the subconscious zen. The problem is that hitting this mental slumber is difficult to do in a conscious state, yet the scoreboard almost forces you to notice. Trying despite this knowledge almost made me sick in the stomach. A very interesting game experience nonetheless.

*can’t quite put my finger on the internal studio, can anyone provide a point of reference?