May 03, 2006


So now you listen, 'cause I'm omniscient

So after months of basically gathering dust, I picked up my Nintendo DS again the other night and started playing Ossu! Tatakae! Ouendan! again. It was easy to do, it hadn't left the system since the last time it'd been powered on. This time, I'm slowly working on beating the thing on the normal difficulty--I'd done so previously on easy, which for me...wasn't.

The thing is, I'm terrible at rhythm games, always have been. The pat answer is of course that I have no rhythm--which is undeniably true. I already knew and accepted that. But it struck me, as my brain seized up the nth time on seeing and reacting to the proper sequence of contracting number circles to the beat, that there was a further neurological thing going on here, at least as regards games of the electronic variety.

The bulk of games I ever play are basically the polar opposite of rhythm. Rhythm games involve reacting to stimuli--that's the primary focus. The gamestate simply is what it is, and the player conforms his input to it. My brain handles the opposite much better--in which the gamestate is plastic by design, and the player's input conforms the gamestate to his will. There isn't a tempo to hold to, no beats to click to or lose life, other than a minimal needed to maintain the gamestate in an ongoing fashion. There's a chicken-and-egg situation here, inasmuch as obviously someone without rhythm will be drawn to that kind of thing more strongly anyway. But the taxonomical split hadn't really occurred to me before.

I think one of the reasons Rez is considered a classic by many is that it's one of those very few games that attempt, with varying success, to bridge the two types Rail shooters in general have arguably always done that, but I think Rez stands apart mainly because it does it deliberately rather than accidentally. (I know this because I'm telepathic, yes.)

Ouendan is pretty much the only rhythm game I keep playing and returning to even though by any objective measure I'm terrible at it. I think because it serves as a sanity test in that classic definition of insanity, you know, the one about doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

posted by Gar @ 9:04 AM
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