I had this blog all planned out in my head. I was going to write about the Wii U and my mounting excitement about its arrival, and the way that this crested when it arrived at my desk today. It’s actually sitting just to the left of me, in its box and just waiting to be plugged in.
My colleagues even worked out which of our monitors had an HDMI input in case we wanted to bust it out and give it a quick go. I very nearly connected it up and loaded Nintendo Land for the first time to bring you some quick thoughts on just how the console is.
There’ll certainly be a lot of that in the coming days, and I’ll be writing some broad opinions on the console just as soon as I can.
However, for now I want to spend a moment talking about something else.
Pft, who uses the hammer?
The stress that work has caused has been alleviated by a new distraction we have in the office, an arcade machine. It has a pretty wide selections of games on it but there’s one that’s got me completely hooked: Donkey Kong.
No-one else is really interested in playing the game for some reason, they’ve got Chase HQ and Street Fighter II to keep them occupied.
I’ve toyed about with the other games on there, and even spent a reasonable period playing the Mega Drive version of Sonic the Hedgehog 2, but it’s only Donkey Kong that keeps pulling me back and I can’t help but ask why?
Realistically it seems to come down to one key factor: simplicity. The game is ridiculously simple in terms of gameplay mechanics; move left, move right and jump. There’s the hammer too if jumping’s too good for you but I just stick to those three core concepts. Whilst platformers have grown over the thirty-one years since Donkey Kong was first released, most of the truly great ones still have those three concepts at their core and have tried to maintain that simplicity.
That’s not to say that modern, complex games aren’t as good as something from 1981; I love the depth that games like Assassin’s Creed can provide or the mayhem that can spread out from a single gunshot in Grand Theft Auto.
I certainly wouldn’t want those games to vanish off the face of the planet or roll the clock back, but it just seems harder for a big complex game to sink its hooks into you in the same way.
Look at the success of simple games on mobile platforms. The brilliant simplicity of games like Canabalt or Temple Run contributes to the “just one more go” mindset far more than any huge, complex world does. I’ve lost hours promising myself that I’ll have just one more go at Angry Birds or the arcade mode in New Star Soccer, and although Halo or Arkham City can have this effect on me it’s rarely as pronounced.
If you simply must know something about the Wii U then I can tell you that the GamePad is surprisingly light and comfortable to hold, and the the gloss finish on the main console looks very nice. And yes, tonight I’ll go home and unbox my Wii U, hook it up to my TV and enter into the next generation of gaming, but for now I’m going to sit here and marvel at how Jumpman’s barrel based plight can keep me coming back time after time, hour after hour.