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Aaron Waite Aaron Waite
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I Wear A 'Fez' Now

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Examining 'Fez''s spectacular nostalgia


I'm a wicked sucker for documentaries, especially (obviously) ones on gaming, so when I saw 'Indie Game: The Movie' finally up on Netflix, I decided that I had two hours to waste on the trials and tribulations of three different indie developers: Jonathan Blow (of 'Braid' fame), Team Meat (the sadistic creators of 'Super Meat Boy'), and one Phil Fish of Polytron Corporation.

While I was familiar with the first two developers, the only thing I'd ever heard about Phil Fish was various rumblings on the internet, generally involving words that are terrible to say and even worse to put into public print. Over the course of the movie, I watched him sway from hopelessness to hopefulness back to despondency as he poured himself into his game. His passion turned into a full on range of emotions, his frustrations dumping into every word he spat about his finances, his new, unstable code and his unsympathetic former business partner.

That being said, his trial through fire turned into gold. 'Fez' is easily one of the best throwbacks to the NES/SNES era ever created since those bygone days.

The basic concept that encompasses 'Fez's' world is the fact that nothing is quite what it appears, and your current perception is just one way of looking at things. At the beginning of the game, your character, a small, marshmallowish chap named Gomez, gains the ability to rotate his 2D world via a magic fez. With a new ability to see the world from different angles, all sorts of new possibilities to view the world and solve puzzles opens up.

But I'm not here to review this wonderful little game. I'm here to talk about how it's made me feel.

When I first saw 'Fez,' I thought it looked like an interesting take on the platformer genre; another game with another gimmick to make it stand out a bit from the crowd. However, when it finally came to the PC and I saw it was only nine bucks on Steam, I figured I'd give it a shot, mostly because I'm a wicked sucker, not just for documentaries, but also for throwback graphics.

What I didn't expect was the emotional response that 'Fez' would bring out in me.

The world is bright and colorful, with no enemies and no threat of dying. While this may sound like it would result in an incredibly boring game, it's actually one of the game's strengths. 'Fez''s world is a joy to wander through; the expectation of exploration bursts at every single seam. The puzzles are intuitive, yet clever enough that you'll have a grin on your face when you solve them. The soundtrack (albeit a bit repetitive in some areas) is a welcome complement to the on-screen whimsy.

'Fez' is pixelated innocence. It reflects a younger era of a gaming, an era of endless possibilities and hope. It's unmistakable, pervading each and every area. I know that I've said this far too many times in this column, but it reminds me of simpler times, a nostalgic presence that brought me back to playing 'Kirby's Adventure' and 'Ducktales' on my parent's old wood-framed Zenith.

I'm not gonna lie: I cried for the first 20 minutes of playing 'Fez'. There was so much good in it, so much right, and it reminded me of a time in my life that was carefree and seemingly perfect, I lost it. The weight of being an adult with responsibilities, bills, and other cares of this world, along with 18 innocence-killing years fell away for a few shining moments. So I cried, unashamedly, cried with joy at the fact that there was still something for this cynic to feel happy about.

Aaron Waite has decided that everyone that plays 'Street Fighter IV:AE' online is a big, fat cheater.


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