Join 3,524 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


The Ballad of the Space Babies
May 6, 2011 9:25 AM   Subscribe

Sword & Sworcery EP is "a brave experiment in I/O cinema with an archetypical video game aesthetic." To put it more simply, it's an arthouse adventure game with unique pixel graphics, available for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. Featuring music by Jim Guthrie, S&S is inspired by the Legend of Zelda, Carl Jung, Tim Schafer, and David Lynch. Trailer.

If you're still unconvinced, perhaps the second trailer, filled with spoilers of key moments, will convince you.

Sword & Sworcery LP - The Ballad Of The Space Babies is a full-length companion album featuring extended versions of the game's music, available digitally or on vinyl. Jim Guthrie used MTV Music Generator for the original Playstation, in conjunction with Apple's Garageband, to compose the soundtrack.
posted by JimBennett (64 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
There's so much more to discuss about this game: twitter integration, meta-humor, and voice-acting by Robert Ashley are a few examples. The game's key is the link between story, art, gameplay, and music. S&S really is a full-fledged experience, which is something seriously lacking in games today, especially on iOS.
posted by JimBennett at 9:30 AM on May 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Everything about this is interesting. This is the kind of thing I hoped the future would have.
posted by The Whelk at 9:34 AM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is the iPhone version difficult to play because of the small screen?
posted by jeff-o-matic at 9:36 AM on May 6, 2011


I've been playing the iPhone version - I"m about 1/3 through - and while I'm sometimes reminded that it was originally designed for a somewhat larger screen, if I hadn't known that I don't think I'd be saying "dammit, this isn't well-designed for a small screen."
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:38 AM on May 6, 2011


It was originally going to be an iPhone game. They changed course when the iPad came out. I've been playing it on the iPad over the last few weeks, here and there. It really is a pretty spectacular game. It's quite strange.
posted by chunking express at 9:40 AM on May 6, 2011


Yeah, the iPhone/iPod version is supposedly the developer's preferred version. I played it that way and the game didn't suffer one bit.
posted by JimBennett at 9:41 AM on May 6, 2011


Purchased. Goodbye weekend.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:44 AM on May 6, 2011


It's quite good. I wish the puzzles had been more interesting, but the art direction, characters, story, sound, music, and so on are all well-done and quite strangely beautiful. It's a bit like if David Lynch had directed Conan the Barbarian.

I hope there's more coming, a sequel or extra DLC or something. I want to spend more time in this world, with these characters.
posted by rifflesby at 9:53 AM on May 6, 2011


I played through this. It was definitely cool. The thing is it wasn't very good as a game. The puzzles were very samey, sort of opaque and arbitrary without ever being challenging. The world was small and sparsely populated. It was a triumph of art direction but it didn't really work, for me, as a game.
posted by I Foody at 9:58 AM on May 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm enjoying it so far, on an iPone 3GS (with a cracked screen!). It's nice for bite-sized chunks of game time in bed after the girlfriend has fallen asleep.
posted by adamdschneider at 10:03 AM on May 6, 2011


I hope there's more coming, a sequel or extra DLC or something. I want to spend more time in this world, with these characters.

Craig Adams has expressed interest in adding content to S&S, so hopefully they follow through with that.
posted by JimBennett at 10:06 AM on May 6, 2011


It's too bad it's an iOS exclusive. I saw this ages ago, but alas, have an Android phone.
posted by mysterpigg at 10:11 AM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's too bad it's an iOS exclusive. I saw this ages ago, but alas, have an Android phone.

Yeah, every time I hear about this, I get super-interested and then remember it's not on Android and get sad again.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:14 AM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


It was a triumph of art direction but it didn't really work, for me, as a game.

Hmm. I keep waiting for the real "game" to kick in, but I guess maybe it doesn't. It is still deeply cool, in any case.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:18 AM on May 6, 2011


This game is getting good press everywhere, but I can't say I liked it very much. The puzzles were poor, and while it was atmospheric, it was also very slow and tedious at times. A lot of the game is walking back and forth: the kind of thing that makes old Sierra adventure games so miserable to play. The game's unique, but that is mostly what it has going for it, and I don't think it compares favorably to experimental art in other media. As we start seeing more and more experimental games of this type come out on the iPad, I think this game will seem dated and like nothing special pretty quickly.
posted by painquale at 10:30 AM on May 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Is this something I would need an iSomething to play?

Because, instead of bitching that I don't have one, I would suggest a fund designed to buy me a better (not ATI 3000) graphics card and a copy of Left 4 Dead 2, so I can eat other MeFi's.

Just, ummmmmmm, throwing that out there.
posted by Samizdata at 10:31 AM on May 6, 2011


The previews were especially intriguing and I was pretty excited when they announced the iPhone version. I haven't finished it, but thus far my opinion of it is much like I Foody. It's a very attractive game from every angle. Graphics, sound direction, the wry dialog and descriptions of events and items, all of these things make for great atmosphere. As a game, however, it hasn't really left the ground for me. It isn't like the recent Braid or Limbo where the superb art direction further enhanced a solid gaming experience. Not saying it's bad, I'm enjoying what it does provide experience-wise, I just wish it was a more compelling package as a whole.
posted by eyeballkid at 10:32 AM on May 6, 2011


I've got this on my iPad, and it's awesome. Totally worth the $5!
posted by davidng at 10:35 AM on May 6, 2011


This game is getting good press everywhere

Am I the only person noticing that the gaming press seems to turn a less critical eye towards indie games that could either be described as quirky or retro?
posted by eyeballkid at 10:43 AM on May 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've had this sitting on my iPad for weeks now untouched, mainly because of all the glowing reviews. Normally, when I'm playing an iPad game (pleez to inject puzzle quest 2 into vein thankyou), I'm doing so while keeping an eye on the baby or Vampire Diaries* so, from what I've read of Sword and Sworcery, not in the perfect playspace. The perfect playspace, I am led to believe, being an isolation chamber.

* Yes. That OR is intentional. New Dads, at some point in your life it will be BABIES or VAMPIRE DIARIES. Grow your beard thick and long that you may hide your weeping.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:44 AM on May 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm playing the iPad version and I'm enjoying it very much - the audio especially is fantastic - but I wish they had spent more time on some of the gameplay elements. (SPOILER: I'm looking at you, Trigon fight. I have a shield, why the hell would I slap at a fireball with my sword?!)
posted by Sibrax at 10:50 AM on May 6, 2011


I also want to add: I specifically do not want a sequel. I would love to see them bring the same skill set and sensibility to a game that was more mechanically satisfying. When you get down to it the gameplay is touch screen elements in the proper order, and a dumbed down, slowed down, game of punch out where the challenge comes exclusively from a limited margin of error.

A while ago I played a game called Battleheart also for iphone/pad. It was a simple but well executed bare bones rpg with rts style mechanics. The only flavor was a short sentence of text like "Summersong Ruins: All that lies here are the sun-bleached remains of an ancient culture" and the graphics are cute but repetitive and the music is meh. I sort of wish the Sword and Sworcery people could have provided the chrome for this game rather than create a game that was chrome.
posted by I Foody at 10:50 AM on May 6, 2011


I Foody: I played through this. It was definitely cool. The thing is it wasn't very good as a game. The puzzles were very samey, sort of opaque and arbitrary without ever being challenging. The world was small and sparsely populated. It was a triumph of art direction but it didn't really work, for me, as a game

This is my experience with Art Games and by extension my personal opinion on Games As Art.

If it's Art, it probably isn't a hell of a lot of Fun. If it's all kinds of Fun, it probably isn't really Art.
posted by paisley henosis at 10:52 AM on May 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Anybody know what the difference is between the 4.99 and 2.99 versions?
posted by steambadger at 11:05 AM on May 6, 2011


Can't figure out what is going on. There is a little guy there and no matter what I do he just wiggles his hands and makes scratching noises. Is this somehow connected to the record player on the menu screen? Am I supposed to lay down some funky beats or something?
posted by Ad hominem at 11:10 AM on May 6, 2011


I would suggest a fund designed to buy me a better (not ATI 3000) graphics card and a copy of Left 4 Dead 2, so I can eat other MeFi's.

Oh hon, we play Realism Versus, which is an even brutal-er form of L4D2 Versus. Mice have been broken, friendships shattered, egos bruised. You have been warned.
posted by hellojed at 11:13 AM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


If it's Art, it probably isn't a hell of a lot of Fun. If it's all kinds of Fun, it probably isn't really Art.

Right, but I think a big part of the artgames movement is questioning whether or not games need to be "fun" at all. We don't criticize movies or novels or music for not being "fun," and it's weird that we hold games to a different standard. There's value in using game mechanics to cause the player pain or frustration (not that this specific game does that), and while that might not be "fun," it can enhance an experience. That's really what it all come down to - games can immerse one in an experience like no other medium, and that's Sword & Sworcery's thesis statement.

S&S has simple mechanics and puzzles, but that doesn't mean those elements are flawed. The gameplay takes a backseat. It's a component of the game, but it isn't the focus, and it's not supposed to be. That's why he game is so successful. It realizes that every single element - gameplay, story, art, and music - is crucial, and it balances them all equally. No on element is overpowering compared to the others. Complex gameplay would distract from the other elements - indeed, it would turn them into merely "chrome," background elements, whereas now they're so much more than that. That's my personal opinion, at least, and I feel like the developers approached it from a similar angle.

That said, S&S is not perfect. It's just trying to do something different than what you guys want out from it.

Anybody know what the difference is between the 4.99 and 2.99 versions?

The $5 version is universal binary, it works on iPad as well as iPhone/iPod touch. The cheaper version is not iPad compatible.

Can't figure out what is going on. There is a little guy there and no matter what I do he just wiggles his hands and makes scratching noises. Is this somehow connected to the record player on the menu screen? Am I supposed to lay down some funky beats or something?

If you're where I think you are, all you need to do is tap and hold on the guy to initiate the opening sequence. It's a little confusing, I know.
posted by JimBennett at 11:14 AM on May 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


There was a joke somewhere about "indy game ideas" and their translations. One was "Redefining game play" or something and the translation was "16 bit pixel graphics and chiptune music" or something. This reminded me of that.
posted by delmoi at 11:21 AM on May 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah I got it, figured out he was smoking a cigar. Thank.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:26 AM on May 6, 2011


JimBennett: Right, but I think a big part of the artgames movement is questioning whether or not games need to be "fun" at all. We don't criticize movies or novels or music for not being "fun," and it's weird that we hold games to a different standard. There's value in using game mechanics to cause the player pain or frustration (not that this specific game does that), and while that might not be "fun," it can enhance an experience. That's really what it all come down to - games can immerse one in an experience like no other medium, and that's Sword & Sworcery's thesis statement.

You're joking, right?

Go google "fun summer blockbuster" and come back and tell me how "fun" isn't a qualification for movies. In fact, let me fucking google that for you.

And books? lots of books are tagged as "fun" by Amazon customers.

But that's all a distraction, the crux of the matter is: games are the way societies pass on lessons though play. If a game isn't engaging then it isn't, in a very real way, actually a game at all. And fun-ness is one of the touchstones of engaging. It's "sweet" and "savory" BOTH in the engaging taste palate. It isn't the only one, that's true, but it is inherently a part of What Games Are exactly because it is the most fundamental mover in the group.
posted by paisley henosis at 11:31 AM on May 6, 2011


We don't criticize movies or novels or music for not being "fun,"

Maybe you don't. My people certainly do, but we're only informed misanthropes with a massive sense of entitlement. I'm not even sure if I'm being sarcastic about that.
posted by LD Feral at 11:31 AM on May 6, 2011


Go google "fun summer blockbuster" and come back and tell me how "fun" isn't a qualification for movies.

Yeah, but tell me house much "fun" you had watching Aguirre, the Wrath of God. Or Shoah. "Fun" and "engaging" are not necessarily the same thing. I think what JimBennet was getting at was that we judge movies and books by different standards according to their intentions; but games are always expected to be light diversions. I don't see why somebody shouldn't explore the notion that that boundary can be crossed. I'll definitely give this game a try.

But if I don't get to kill a few orcs, I'm gonna be pissed.
posted by steambadger at 11:39 AM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Go google "fun summer blockbuster" and come back and tell me how "fun" isn't a qualification for movies.

Summer blockbusters are supposed to be fun. Arthouse darlings are not.

Arcade games are supposed to be fun. Art games are not.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:53 AM on May 6, 2011


steambadger: Yeah, but tell me house much "fun" you had watching Aguirre, the Wrath of God. Or Shoah. "Fun" and "engaging" are not necessarily the same thing. I think what JimBennet was getting at was that we judge movies and books by different standards according to their intentions; but games are always expected to be light diversions. I don't see why somebody shouldn't explore the notion that that boundary can be crossed. I'll definitely give this game a try.

Games are supposed to be judged by different standards. You wouldn't say "gee this Monet would be amazing, but it is lacking the crucial two tons of bronze so it can't be a Great Sculpture, would you?

Games as such predate movies, TV and novels. They predate the written word. They predate homo sapiens. The point of Games is to reinforce advantageous behavior in a Play (to wit: not serious and hopefully fun) environment.

Football was invented to be a fun thing that motivates rich white kids to exercise. That's where it came from. The points and winning and losing and all of that exist to be a motivational tool to get them outside and running around. This is where all sport and all non-sport games come from. Chess and mancala are to get the brain rolling in a low consequence of failure arena. If they aren't fun then they will not self perpetuate and the Ivy lads will get fat and die or the princes will suck at strategy or whatever, to put it in Dawkins meme terms: As an organism, any Game which fails to be Fun will fail to perpetuate its target skills and is impotent.

tldr: games that aren't Fun work as well for Games as monkeys that can't fuck work for the future of monkeys.
posted by paisley henosis at 11:53 AM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Everyone! Listen up! From now on the cultural artifacts we have clumsily lumped under the heading "games" will be divided into two categories: "game" and "interactive art thing". Now you don't have to have this conversation ever again! You're welcome.
posted by IjonTichy at 11:58 AM on May 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


That said, S&S is not perfect. It's just trying to do something different than what you guys want out from it.

I didn't like it, but not because I expected it to be a shmup. I thought it was so-so on the standards it set for itself. Don't put in puzzles if you're going to make them boring and arbitrary. If you're going to make people walk back and forth to appreciate the scenery, make sure the scenery is interesting enough to support the time and the slowness of the walk has some real aesthetic purpose to it. Do not make me pixel hunt for no reason. Etc.

Would this game be a good experimental film if you just sat down and watched it? No. Do the interactive elements add enough to make up for the deficits? Almost certainly not. They are limited to walking along predefined rails (very slowly), solving bad puzzles that actually take you out of the world, fighting clumsy fight sequences, etc. The interactivity added very little to the experience.

The sound design was fantastic though... I'll give it that.
posted by painquale at 12:21 PM on May 6, 2011


Arcade games are supposed to be fun. Art games are not.

Right, but this sad dichotomy is exactly the weird defensive reaction-formation under discussion here. Just like in "ludology," where many game-studies academics seem convinced that only total adopting an attitude of total po-faced joylessness can make games into a proper object of scholarly study, this is premised on a completely bullshit notion of what capital-A Art is, and is for. It's as if the art-gamers have forgotten that Don Quixote and Ulysses are fucking hilarious, or that Manet's Olympia is erotically charged, or that Beethoven or Miles Davis make people weep for joy. What the hell kind of horrible art do people think is defined, primarily, by not being fun? I weep for the poverty of their aesthetic experience.
posted by RogerB at 12:33 PM on May 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


Huh, my friend brought this over to show off just last night, and now it's on my MetaFilters.

It actually looks pretty cool, I'm just still in a bit of a daze about this whole iPad thing in general. I figured tablet computers would one day be ubiquitous but I can't believe how quickly we're getting to that point already. I feel like one of the few in my social circle who doesn't have one yet. My mother-in-law has one, for crying out loud. As a one-time Mac zealot, I'm even more amazed that the company responsible for this is Apple. When I heard that they reported a more profitable quarter—not percentage-wise but in actual dollars—than MICROSOFT, I about crapped my pants. It's like I fell asleep one night and when I woke up the world had flipped upside-down.

Anyway, carry on. This is a future I can get behind.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 12:45 PM on May 6, 2011


It's not the most challenging game you'll play -- hell, it's not really challenging at all, but it's beautiful and funny and entertaining as all hell. I adored playing it. Gorgeous and engaging experience.
posted by middleclasstool at 12:49 PM on May 6, 2011


What the hell kind of horrible art do people think is defined, primarily, by not being fun?

Would you describe listening to "Strange Fruit" as being fun? How about reading Survival in Auschwitz? Would you say to a friend, hey, look at this awesome, fun painting I found on the internet, it's called the Guernica?
posted by IjonTichy at 12:52 PM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


What the hell kind of horrible art do people think is defined, primarily, by not being fun? I weep for the poverty of their aesthetic experience.

Well, I was exaggerating a bit for rhetoric effect of course. Neither arthouse films nor art games are forbidden from being fun, and certainly if either one had no joy or lightness to them at all they would be extremely marginalized members of their class, but "fun" is certainly not the primary criterion to judge them by.

I really think that this is an argument in which it is very easy to find yourself arguing with someone who just does not have the same frameworks in mind that you do, making real discussion pointless at best and frustrating at worst. If you truly think that something that is not fun is not a game, or that serious game criticism is all "po-faced joylessness", then I don't think we can have a talk about video games.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:57 PM on May 6, 2011


None of those things is art because it's not fun. If someone put Guernica next to a Krazy Kat comic and said "look, funny pictures are fun, but art pictures aren't fun" they'd get laughed out of an aesthetics class.
posted by RogerB at 12:58 PM on May 6, 2011


None of those things is art because it's not fun.

Yes, fun is orthogonal to whether or not they're art. ...I guess we agree on this? Fun is, however, central to whether or not a game is a successful game. So a "game" could be a bad game, or not a game at all, but good art.
posted by IjonTichy at 1:01 PM on May 6, 2011


Yes, fun is orthogonal to whether or not they're art. ...I guess we agree on this? Fun is, however, central to whether or not a game is a successful game.

There are certainly successful games that are grindily repetitive or otherwise unpleasant enough to be dubious for the narrow meaning of "fun" too. But I think we're really just after a deeper sense of what "fun" (or "engagement," that really is a better term) can mean at this point, so that we can capture all kinds of emotional and intellectual engagements with both art and games rather than sounding like one is always Serious Business and the other always pure brain-off recreation. What drives me nuts is just the po-faced simplemindedness about art that's implicit in the defensive ART IS SRS BZNZ attitude of too many art-games and game-studies people; it seems in every new discussion the art-n00bs need to realize that actually, real "serious" high art can be every bit as enjoyable as a good Zergling rush.
posted by RogerB at 1:22 PM on May 6, 2011


mysterpigg: "It's too bad it's an iOS exclusive. I saw this ages ago, but alas, have an Android phone."

It's probably similar to the feeling that Mac folks had for all those years of PC-only games. I'm surprised at how many people here have an iPad, I only know one person with one and have only seen them in the wild two or three times. I must not be hanging out in the right coffee shops.
posted by octothorpe at 1:40 PM on May 6, 2011


hellojed: " I would suggest a fund designed to buy me a better (not ATI 3000) graphics card and a copy of Left 4 Dead 2, so I can eat other MeFi's.

Oh hon, we play Realism Versus, which is an even brutal-er form of L4D2 Versus. Mice have been broken, friendships shattered, egos bruised. You have been warned.
"

I've played similar no-holds-barred games of L4D 1with fellow MeFi's before and come back for more.

Plus I REALLY want to jockey someone. REALLY REALLY want to. I have played before at a friend's, but it wasn't online.
posted by Samizdata at 1:52 PM on May 6, 2011


I played it on the phone and I loved it. I agree that the game isn't hard, perhaps not hard enough, but that didn't stop me from loving almost every second of it.
posted by crickets at 2:33 PM on May 6, 2011


There are certainly successful games that are grindily repetitive or otherwise unpleasant enough to be dubious for the narrow meaning of "fun" too. But I think we're really just after a deeper sense of what "fun" (or "engagement," that really is a better term) can mean at this point, so that we can capture all kinds of emotional and intellectual engagements with both art and games rather than sounding like one is always Serious Business and the other always pure brain-off recreation. What drives me nuts is just the po-faced simplemindedness about art that's implicit in the defensive ART IS SRS BZNZ attitude of too many art-games and game-studies people; it seems in every new discussion the art-n00bs need to realize that actually, real "serious" high art can be every bit as enjoyable as a good Zergling rush.

I agree completely, and I don't think anyone here is arguing that art has to be serious business. Sword and Sworcery doesn't take itself very seriously at all. There's a lot of humor in this game. That's part of why I think it's so interesting. Something like Jason Roher's Passage, which made a big splash when it was released, is completely humorless, and, frankly, pretty uninteresting.
posted by JimBennett at 2:41 PM on May 6, 2011


...real "serious" high art can be every bit as enjoyable as a good Zergling rush.

Of course it can. Some "real serious high art" is much more fun that light entertainment. Some of it's not much fun, but is rewarding in other ways. I suspect we're suffering from an inadequate definition of "fun" here, as well as a too-rigorous distinction between "art" and "entertainment".

For all I know, this game could be a barrel of yocks. Or maybe not. If you play it, and don't find it fun, feel free to call it something other than a game. It seems rather limiting, though, to decree that we can't have interactive whatchamacallits that aren't primarily intended to induce whatever reactions we have when confronted with fun.
posted by steambadger at 3:01 PM on May 6, 2011


I Foody: "I played through this. It was definitely cool. The thing is it wasn't very good as a game. The puzzles were very samey, sort of opaque and arbitrary without ever being challenging. The world was small and sparsely populated. It was a triumph of art direction but it didn't really work, for me, as a game"

Nice try, Ebert.
posted by symbioid at 3:04 PM on May 6, 2011


I/O here, meaning "interactive"?

Google isn't so good when you've had several gallons of scrumpy but, for some reason, that abbreviation makes me all warm and cardigan.

I've heard of this game. Need iPad. (Hadn't cared for the device before I held one the other day. All of a sudden, this ten year old laptop feels heavy on my thighs. Buy me iPad, someone, please.)
posted by run"monty at 3:10 PM on May 6, 2011


For those interested Craig Adams talked about creating the game on the latest episode of The Pipeline podcast.
posted by chrispederick at 3:31 PM on May 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


In the middle of the game right now, I understand that it might not be everyone's cup of tea but are there actually any games on the iPhone that are better? This is one of the few games on the platform that feels put well enough together to stand on its own.
posted by grizzly at 3:49 PM on May 6, 2011


I am going to do a little more participating in this. Like I said I think this game was cool and enjoyable and worth five dollars. I also said that it was not very good as a game. It wasn't that fun. I don't even think that games need to be fun to be successful as games. I think this game wasn't not fun for a good reason. I think it not being fun was a failure. It doesn't benefit that game that the puzzles are not challenging interesting or satisfying. It doesn't benefit the game that the combat is repetitive and slow and boring.

I think it could be possible to create a game that illustrates the desperate sort of choices facing people in refugee camps or a game that tries to illustrate the gross economic asymmetries that will necessarily emerge from repeated iterations of saving/spending cycles. I think these games could be successful without being fun and I think not being fun might be important to their success.

I think in braid {spoiler for an old game}

when you get the bonus stars which are tedious to pursue and it results in a worse ending rather than a happy ending that succeeds because the gameplay element isn't fun.

{spoilers over}

This game was not fun because the people who designed it were focused on things other than game play. It is fine to have that be your priority, but it isn't like they chose to have tedious puzzles that are almost all the same because they thought that was best, I think they did it because they couldn't think of a better way. Games can be art but just like a movie can aspire to be art and then have bad acting, or an incoherent plot, or sloppy editing that compromises its quality so to can a game aspire to be art but have bad game play which makes it less successful.
posted by I Foody at 4:13 PM on May 6, 2011


This game was not fun because the people who designed it were focused on things other than game play. It is fine to have that be your priority, but it isn't like they chose to have tedious puzzles that are almost all the same because they thought that was best, I think they did it because they couldn't think of a better way.

I agree with this to an extent, and I think this whole debate over "fun" really has very little to do with Sword & Sworcery (and it's an debate I helped start, I'm not pointing fingers).

I truly do believe the reason Sword & Sworcery's puzzles are so simple are because of the experience they're trying to create. Yes, it was easy and a tad repetitive to activate all of the sprites, but each one gave me a unique little thrill. Pulling across waterfalls like harp strings gave me chills. Finding the differences between the real world and it's reflection was something I was waiting for the entire game, and when I finally came across that puzzle, I was so excited. Each puzzle in the game serves the experience - or, at least, that was the goal. I think there's a few too many 'tap this many trees in this particular order' puzzles, and I'll agree that those are failures.

The combat, on the other hand, is sort of superfluous. It's not terrible, and I can sort of see why it's there, but it's just sort of unnecessary.
posted by JimBennett at 4:30 PM on May 6, 2011


Well, the main character is a questing warrior, and the game is set in Robert E. Howard's Hyborian Age (or at least a world with some identical place-names), so some form of combat is expected and (I would argue) necessary, just to fit the milieu.

I quite liked the combat, though I'll admit that it's the music for the fight sequences that excited me most. I do think it was mechanically sound, but perhaps it didn't go far enough. The enemies' patterns were easy to spot, and once you'd spotted them, it was easy to win. If the enemies were a bit more complicated, that would have improved things. I'd also have suggested adding a gesture to the sword button -- hold down the shield button to defend, flick the sword button upward for a stab, flick to the right for a horizontal slash -- and require different attacks for different patterns.

And yes, more puzzles like the reflections and waterfall harp, fewer like the sheep.
posted by rifflesby at 5:03 PM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, one thing that I definitely did not grok was the Twitter integration. This is a game where most of the enjoyment is in the exploration and funny dialogue, but the game itself encourages you to spoil those discoveries for your friends by tweeting the game text at them? And heavily encourages it, as the (umm forgotten his name. Cigarfella.) says several times that the game is more enjoyable if you take advantage of social networks. I never figured out what the game advantage of twittering was, if anything, though. I just felt like I was possibly being a real jerk by giving away some of the best moments of the game to people who hadn't played it yet, to no end other than advertising Superbrothers' game for them. So what's that all about?
posted by rifflesby at 5:15 PM on May 6, 2011


I liked this game a lot.
posted by danb at 5:53 PM on May 6, 2011


I am imagining a cooperative game via twitter. Your party is who you follow, you level up, get loot via the tweets you see.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:47 PM on May 6, 2011


I've been meaning to play and post about this for ages. Yay procrastination. I don't usually buy iPhone games but there's so much buzz I might make an exception.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:05 PM on May 6, 2011


(umm forgotten his name. Cigarfella.)

The Archetype
posted by adamdschneider at 10:09 PM on May 6, 2011


I think what I got out of the tweets is that they resulted in a lot of my followers expressing interest in what I was doing and starting up conversations. I even got a few interesting responses where the tweets would remind someone of a story that they'd tell me about. I don't know if that was the intended result of the tweets, but they certainly did encourage conversation from my followers.
posted by sadmarvin at 4:55 AM on May 7, 2011


"Fun" is itself an extremely impoverished substitute for those classic aesthetic values, pleasure and edification.

It's also a word that is unique to English, and which originated in American English.

A roller coaster is fun. Toilet Papering your neighbor's house is fun. Sitting in your cube to fill out TPS reports is decidedly NOT FUN, which is why, at the end of the day, pushing cubes around on screen, IS.

In other words, your "fun" is debased because your "work" is debased.

But please, by all means, do not read your addled aesthetic standards into the past.

The Illiad was not fun. The Orestia was not fun. Don Quixote was not fun.

Those things GAVE PLEASURE, which is, in a profound way, the opposite of fun.
posted by macross city flaneur at 11:43 AM on May 7, 2011


FUN + ART = FART

...or FUNT

anyway, I am seriously considering purchasing this game, which would make it the first thing I will ever purchase for my iPod Touch. Thanks for posting this!
posted by not_on_display at 3:37 PM on May 7, 2011


« Older "ALL U-BOATS. ATTENTION ALL U-BOATS. CEASE-FIRE AT...  |  Jerry Seinfeld launches jerrys... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments