Nostalgia will always have its pull. In gaming, seems to have codified a certain baseline level of nostalgia. For example, the 8-bit/16-bit and RPG genres. This isn’t a negative, just an observation. The fantasy storytelling going on in contemporary RPG games is wonderful. My point is, there is a certain level of wistfulness in the DNA of gaming allowing for overt nostalgia as well as a kind of cultural memory shirking remembrance in favor of revelry.
It’s difficult to find a game that captures this kind of fun, this revelry, without being too trite in its referential nature. For me, playing Organ Trail was one such game.
This month I get to add the colorful and addictive The Videokid. This game is wonderfully simple yet challenging and infinitely engaging. Designed as a sort of parody of the NES game Paperboy, The Videokid takes its predecessor’s mechanics but revises the graphics.
Gone are newspapers, replaced with pirate VHS tapes delivered via satchel and skateboard. What we see in this version of the runner genre (where your avatar is in constant motion and you control movement) are bright Lego-esque blocks paying tribute to the 8-bit/16-bit world of the mid-80s people with a cast of retro characters that are not so much 80s as GenX iconography such as Tom Baker’s Dr. Who, Baywatch, and Lethal Weapon‘s Riggs and Murtaugh. There is an endless parade of characters making the game one that’s as fun to watch as it is to play.
As you skate tossing tapes through windows, hopefully into mailboxes, and dodging traffic like Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver or the cast from DuckTales, you collect points and coins trying to meet up with your girlfriend Jessica in the park. It’s a simple game but hardly an easy one. The characters showing up in the intersections and along the sidewalk that you have to avoid crashing into can become quite distracting. Often, I care more about knocking out all the CareBears than I do moving out of the way of the sedan coming up behind me and killing me.
I find this game infuriating. My best runs are ridiculously short, yet I can’t stop wanting to play. I keep coming back and going again and again. One of the nice things about this is how the developers keep a running tab for you so that no matter how awful you are (as I am) you can still save up enough coin to purchase avatar outfits. Currently, I’m embracing the Marty McFly-ness of the game using “The Slacker” skin. Point is, this little aspect adds just enough to keep you returning to ‘git gud.’
My only negative criticism of the game is that playing on my laptop the keyboard control is hyper-sensitive leading me to crash into more than a few things with surprising force. However, it’s a quibble. Even if we ignored the nostalgia gimmick, this game’s low cost and seemingly endless play makes it enticing and addictive. The Videokid is just fun.