The 8 Ball 01.14.14: Top 8 Cute Games
Posted by Marc Morrison on 01.14.2014
From Kirby's Epic Yarn and A Boy & His Blob to 'Splosion Man and more, 411's Marc Morrison ranks his Top 8 Cute Video Games!
Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball. This week the topic is about cute games, with one semi-important caveot. These are games that we actually would play. There are a lot of games out there aimed for small children and such that are ostensibly all about being "cute". But those aren't games most teenagers or adults would be caught playing. So instead, this is more about games that people can play without feeling super-embarrassed about playing. Let's begin:
8. Nintendogs (DS)
Hey kids, it's the Tamagotchi idea, just 10 years newer, and with actual animals. Nintendogs (and the sequel with cats) is a good illustration of taking a novel idea (the virtual pet) and applying it to a system that can have good graphics with animals you can actually care about. It's really perfect for the allergic person, on the go. You can walk, brush, feed, groom, train, and talk to your dog as you please. A few mini-games can help your relationship with the dog grow as well, earning you new breeds for you to unlock and take care of. Either version, the DS or 3DS version is worth checking out, if you like that sort of thing at all.
7. Tail Concerto (PS1)
Speaking of games with dogs, let's move onto Tail Concerto. Tail Concerto is about you (Waffle) in a robotic police mech as you try and take down the evil "Black Cat Gang", with the pirate-looking Alicia being its leader, as well as your childhood friend/quasi-love interest. I found this game cute because I appreciated the art style, the slightly odd gameplay, and the unpretentiousness of it all. On the face of it, talking cats and dogs (one who pilots a mech suit) is pretty laughable, but the game plays it straight. The gameplay involves you shooting capture bubbles at the low-ranking cats, which you can then scoop up and put into your mechsuit. It's weird but kind of in an endearing way.
6. ‘Splosion Man (Multi)
‘Splosion Man is a cute game on the surface but becomes kind of terrifying when you think on it. You go through the levels as you terrify and kill the scientists, yelling out action-movie lines as you do so. You even can get two different achievements based around killing scientists and amassing a large number of meat from them. However, everything about the game is kind of played for laughs, which is the strength of it. The music is wacky, the lines ‘Splosion Man delivers are crazy/funny, and the obsession with beards seemingly began in this game. It's not "cute" to die 50 times during a hard level, but on the whole, ‘Splosion Man is interesting still. And the Donuts Song is catchy as all hell.
5. Spore (PC)
On the whole of it, Spore is kind of an odd misfire I think. The game never really came together in the way that they all claimed it would. The one highlight of the game was the creature creator, both in what you could design and how other people's creatures could propagate into your game. Even if someone tried to make the most terrifying creature possible, there was always some element of "cuteness" that was inherent to the creature creator itself. This is magnified once you hit stage two (the creature stage) and begin actually exploring the outside world. Then you can get to see how other creatures look and how you can interact with them. Spore has a lot of faults contained within it, but creature cuteness is not one of them.
4. Tiny and Big: Grandpa's Leftovers (PC)
The bad guy (Big) stole your deceased Grandpa's underwear, wears them on his head, and it gives him telekinetic powers. That is the story of the game. Hearing it is pretty insane but on the whole is kind of sweet. Adding to this is how Tiny himself is designed, kind of like a nerd, short and frumpy with some Coke-bottle rimmed glasses that he wears on occasion. But it's when you see Big trying to be an evil bully, wearing your Grandfather's underwear on his head, goes off the rails and can make you laugh at loud.
3. Prinny 2: Dawn of Operation Panties, Dood! (PSP)
A lot of Disgaea's franchise is so absurd that it becomes delightful. Almost all of the relationships in the series teeter on the metric of it being so absurd as to become cute. This is exemplified in the Prinny PSP spin-off series, specifically in Prinny 2. The story of the game is that the Phantom Thief has stolen Etna's panties and she sends out the dutiful Prinny squad to find them/stop the thief. The story goes in some incredibly strange directions, including an appearance by "Junkie Etna", which sadly isn't a heroin-addicted Etna. Throughout it all, the Prinnies remain the stars of the game and everyone loves machete-wielding demonic penguins, Dood!
2. A Boy and his Blob (Wii)
There are three things that make Boy and His Blob fairly adorable: 1. The boy's voice acting, 2. The overall look of the game, and 3. The hug button. A HUG BUTTON! The voice acting in the game is sparse, populated by the boy yelling for the blob and a few coos of affection, but it all sounds genuine and nice. The look of the game is detailed with a lot of foreboding colors, but the boy/blob stand out, and everything has an enjoyable style to it. Lastly, the hug button, which has the boy give a nice cuddle to the blob and the blob hug back. It's a very sweet moment, all around.
1. Kirby's Epic Yarn (Wii)
Most, if not all, of the Kirby games can fall under the "cute" moniker. There is something adorable about a character that is (basically) a pink marshmallow that can suck enemies inside him to get bigger. Who can also suck in air to float around levels. Kirby's Epic Yarn melded the Kirby gameplay with a yarn aesthetic which gave the game a striking look all around. Even though Kirby is only an outline of yarn, he has substance, and you want to hug him more, if possible. Kirby transforms as usual, not by sucking enemies up, but just by doing moves (like dashing), or collecting special power ups. Your main method of attack is a yarn whip, which you can use to grab enemies to kill them, or else pull the buttons/tabs in the environment which uncover different things. If you don't find joy in this game, you have no soul.
The Better Half with Liana K
Top 8 Adorable Games
There was a time when video games weren't the blood and guts fests they are today. There was a time when it was assumed that video games were for kids, even though they never really were. And there are still a decent number of games around that are all-ages, and I thought it would be interesting to challenge myself by creating a list of the games that make me squee the most. I probably have a different definition of cute than most people, so, congratulations, you're about to learn way too much about me. Here's the list!
8: Rayman Raving Rabbids
Poor Rayman. For years, he was eclipsed by his breakout co-stars, the cute-but-creepy, dancing, toilet plunger-wielding Rabbids. They even got their own TV show! I think many people forget that the Rabbids started off as bad guys, because their little costumes and slapstick antics are just so darned lovable, despite their obvious gastrointestinal issues. My personal favorite Rabbid? Super Rabbid. I mean, come on, that's hilarious!
Those of us who bought the full version of Spore got punked: the greatest enjoyment came out of the ten-dollar creature creator that was released to promote the game. While Spore had a lot of things wrong with it, what it did so very very right was allowed you to create an endless stream of adorable monsters.
6: League of Legends
The first time I played League of Legends, I got all pouty when I encountered Amumu the sad mummy. He was just adorable, and I felt bad hurting him. Of course, that didn't last long, because the little bastard demolished me, I started swearing, and it was on. But I still recognize that LoL has a definite cute factor, even if its players are potentially the biggest assholes on the whole internet.
5: Pokemon Gold
Confession: I love Snorlax. I think Snorlax is one of the greatest things ever. If Snorlax was a pet, I would adopt him. If he was a stuffed toy, I would hug him. At the height of the Pokemon craze, I had a Snorlax keychain. Snorlax, to me, is just love incarnate. I would make the annoying Japanese heart hands for Snorlax... okay maybe only if I was drunk, but I'd still do it! Also, the awesome thing about Pokemon Gold is that Snorlax's battle icon makes him look like he's ripping an epic fart.
4: LocoRoco 2
I'm not entirely sure how to describe the LocoRoco franchise. It has elements of Sesame Street, but it also reminds me of those weird Claymation cartoon shorts from the 1970s. The fact that LocoRoco's art style is vaguely disturbing just makes it more lovable to me, but the characters that slay me are the MuiMui, the little sidekick guys who just mind their own business and wear adorable costumes in their ant farm-like MuiMui house until the Moja Corps attack it. And like the Rabbids, Spores, and the earlier Lego games, the LocoRoco characters speak gibberish, which somehow makes them more cuddly.
Skylanders is pretty self-explanatory on a list of cute games. The thing that Skylanders does especially well, however, is that it manages to maintain something of an epic scope in its environment design and use of giant robots, while still being accessible to kids. Much of the Skylanders' cute factor comes from their "butt-kicking for goodness" quality... except for the Willikin, who are surprisingly disturbing. So who do I think is the cutest Skylander character? That would have to be Hugo the Mabu. Hmm... MuiMui... Mabu... what is it about cute sidekick naming conventions and the letter M?
2: Mario Kart Wii
I really want to punch Baby Mario. But Mario Kart makes up for him with the awesomeness that is Yoshi, Toad, King Boo, and Dry Bones. Also, Bowser on a motorcycle is hilarious. Sure, all the Mario games are cute to some extent, but only Mario Kart has that added "monkeys driving clown cars" element to it.
1: Little Big Planet
Sackboy and his friends are the hands-down winners of the video game cute contest, because they're adorable without having a run-of-the-mill animu art style. Sackboy just seems so very alive, so very determined, and so very much a reminder of a time where kids were allowed to be kids instead of ivy league school students in training. Everything from the textures to the super silly Sackboy outfits in Little Big Planet are high-octane whimsy, and Stephen Fry's masterful voicework is the icing on that cake. Little Big Planet is cute without being cloying, and that's a pretty massive creative feat.
Everyone's views on what is "cute" is different, so you'll likely have some differing picks than Liana and I had. I'd say my honorary ninth pick would be Costume Quest, but I talk about that game enough as it is. Here's my secondary list of games that didn't quite make it: Epic Mickey, Misadventure of Tronne Boone, Worms, de Blob, Crayon Physics Deluxe, Braid, Brothers, and Dust: An Elysian Tale
The General Roundup
As usual, I'll try and address a few of the choice comments from last week. I tried to focus on games that were either about space (specifically), or about space in relation to people exploring it. So some games didn't quite make that cut. Dead Space didn't make my list for two primary reasons: 1. It's not really a space game (outside of a few free-floating bits), it's more of a shooter. And 2. I didn't really like it. I could tell it was well made, but the game just did nothing for me. Plus, the PC port of Dead Space 2 was kind of hilariously busted. Starfox (at least original and Starfox 64) weren't really space games, they were more just shooters. And frankly, Arc Squadron has taken up the mantle of Starfox-type games, better than Nintendo has. The same issue I mention with Starfox also applies to Einhander. Super Metroid is a great game but barely has any story to speak of. I never got into the Space Quest games, but I did enjoy Police Quest ones. Also, I did mention Sins of a Solar Empire in my secondary list. I don't like that game at all, but it is well made and does have its fans, for sure.
Liana here: Many of you mentioned the omission of Dead Space on last week's list, and I'll agree that the original Dead Space is one of my favorite games ever! It was just that I chose to focus on franchises instead of individual games, and the weaknesses of Dead Space 3 meant that as a whole, the series didn't rank higher than the eight properties that made the list. But yes, Dead Space 1 and 2 were amazing games!
Top 8 Frustrating Games
Bonus: The cutest video on the internet currently (as read by Dave Lang, CEO of Iron Galaxy Studios):