The fifth-best game of all time that features getting inside cardboard boxes
“Papo & Yo,” the latest in the Mainstream Art Game canon, stars a boy who works his way through a surreal city along with a monster. There are puzzles, but they only serve to maintain a certain rhythm in the flow of the graphics. Challenges are limited to some simple switch-hitting and some simpler platform-jumping, and are simple enough that the inclusion of hint boxes in every other room borders on insulting.
And yes, the monster. He’s only mechanically interesting at first glance. He follows along, led by the odors of coconuts and the sounds of frogs, both of which he constantly wants to eat. Never mind any ideas you might already have: All you ever have to do is get him to sit on a switch or fall asleep on some cardboard so you can bounce off him. He’s the key to most of the game’s locks - you just have to hop around and rearrange the rooms to get him to the door.
You can go ahead and think of “SSX” as the new “Sonic the Hedgehog,” if you’re the kind of dude that really knows what was good about “Sonic the Hedgehog” - which excludes everyone who currently works at Sega (ha!). It’s not, really, about snowboarding; it’s about flying at as ridiculous a speed as possible while trying to cling to some shred of stability. Each of the game’s mountains even starts to take shape like a “Sonic” level, filled with loopy, branching paths, some vague optimal route hiding underneath the knots.
Other major, less-expected inspirations come from, of all things, “Demon’s Souls” and Facebook. Eccentric multiplayer mechanics ditch simultaneous racing and opt instead to stick ghosts of every one of your runs into every one of your friends’ games. This is definitely awesome, especially if you’ve got a couple real-life friends playing alongside you. A friend of mine just beat one of my times on an early track by 0.03 seconds, (“Just smoked your time, bro.” “Does 0.03 seconds really count as a smoking?” “YES.”) and yeah, there’s his ghost, following the same paths I took and just barely edging me out in the end.
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