To: The Game Industry
From: Gen Katz, Editor
Topic: Observations
Date: Oct 2009

Looking back a year it seems that I have once again slipped the October date. Games keep calling to me each time I look around - "Look at Me!", "Look at Me!", "Me, Me!". Some things stand out.

A huge preponderance of game area on the Wii - more that are necessary for active sports. I'm beginning to miss the simpler controllers. Lots of games are pushing "family play". I wonder if this is really going on. If you look at the adverts, there are these families sitting on the sofa, all are grinning and pointing their remotes. Not in my house. Maybe once in a while an adult will help a kid through a rough spot - but we are all about doing our own thing.

XSEED/Media Vision came out with a novel control mode for their DS game, Wizard of OZ: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road - the tracball - and it works just like a tracball. Speed is controlled better. Swipe it fast and your characters runs, but you can also move inch by inch and turn. Once you set the ball rolling - it has momentum and continues to roll and move the character. The next best thing about it is that because the ball surface is large and responsive you can "feel" it instead of looking at it - you can use your eye power on the top screen where the action is.

A couple of games this season are composed of mostly wandering about. In The Path, each of six sisters wanders though the woods to grandmothers house, with the focus on how and where they wander. JU-ON, a haunted house simulation has each of four family members wandering through dark and depressing rooms with only a flashlight for illumination. Both games end in death of your character, and I mean dead, dead, not to be resuscitated. The games came out around Halloween but will linger 'till Christmas.

Clever techniques for object creation have grown since last year's Drawn to Life. In Scribblenauts - you "spell" the object you want to help you navigate the side scroller - you need to be able to recognize words, but then there is Boy and his Blob, where feeding the Blob jellybeans will cause it to turn into helpful objects.

Two incredibly beautiful games, Muramasa - The Demon Blade and Trine are so gorgeous that you want to stop the game so you can immerse yourself in the fantastic environment. Which reminds me that it's been sixteen years since Myst appeared on the scene, with Cyan continuing the Myst mystique until 2005. I miss those lands and Peter Gabriel's haunting voice work. They are my benchmarks and, to date, have not been surpassed.