While game news is light, and we're reminiscing on a gaming year gone by, I thought I'd take the time to write about the games that defined my year. They weren't necessarily classics -- some I absolutely hated, some I fell head over heels for, but they're all worth discussing. Today we're looking at my favourite iOS game of 2011: Collision Effect.
To an extent all video games are abstract, but some more than others. Even games that grasp at realism are mere representations -- you couldn't genuinely mistake Modern Warfare for real life conflict, but that's hardly the point. Likewise your Angry Birds experience on iOS is hardly an accurate look at what would occur if you actually rounded up a group of birds, placed them neatly in a line before using a slingshot to fire them towards freestanding structures housing a group of real life pigs.
But conversely, even at its most tenuous, most games do have some form of link to our version of reality. Angry Birds features a representation of birds. Flight Control has planes, Fruit Ninja has fruit. Even if these representations are an excuse for a slick game mechanic, we know what we're here for because we can describe it in terms that are easily communicable.
In Fruit Ninja I'm slicing fruit, in Flight Control I'm helping aeroplanes land, in Cut the Rope I'm cutting rope.
Collision Effect, however, exists in a vacuum. In Collision Effect I have no bloody idea what it is I'm doing. I'm just doing it.
Part of me wonders if Collision Effect would have been more successful if it were called, I don't know, 'Exploding Hamsters' and it forced you to magnetically drag hamsters together and make them explode for some reason. That's far easier to spread via word of mouth than 'erm, you make the blobs come together and you get points for combos'. It's far more relatable, and far more merchandise friendly.
But Collision Effect isn't like that. Unlike every other game mentioned above it's based solely in the world of the abstract. When you play Collision Effect you sever all links to reality; you let them go and indulge in something pure. There is no frame of reference. Nothing in Collision Effect could ever be made into a plushie. It's a game in the most old fashioned sense. It exists in and of itself. Period.
To describe it is to instantly nullify its effect, and the sheer joy that comes from engaging with it. Just watch...
Into a desolate canvas of darkness, coloured circles approach. If you hit one of these circles, other circles of the same colour move in a direct trajectory to that point. If one coloured circle hits another coloured circle, the game is over. If you can somehow managed to juggle all these colours and make them collide with objects of similar colours within a second of each other, you can build up combos, and increase your score.
See? Pointless. You can't relate. You can't describe Collision Effect, you can only play it, and inevitably fall in love with it. Then grimace as you fail to describe what makes it so magical.
Even Pong was a clumsy attempt to replicate Tennis; Tetris an attempt to create order from regimented chaos. Even Geometry Wars has you shooting at something. There is an attempt to represent a thing. Collision Effects, sans any real basis in the real world is simply indescribable.
Maybe that's the best way to describe Collision Effect.