Picture this: it’s a hot summer day, hanging out in the family game room, or perhaps relaxing at the cottage. It’s not the kind of day for being out on Xbox Live while playing Call of Duty or trying to advance up the ladder in StarCraft II. Players looking for something less intense to play, and Games for Lazy Summer Days are here to help. Many of them are hidden gems, but others are well-known games that deserve a second look on the kind of day when gamers just want to chill.
Prince of Persia (2008)
The 2008 reboot of the Prince of Persia series didn’t last, leaving this game as the only story in its particular setting and timeline. Published by Broderbund for just about every platform available to video gamers. While it has its flaws, there’s no faulting the gorgeous visual design, which gives the player the feeling of adventuring through a living oil painting. The platforming in Prince of Persia isn’t a major challenge, and it’s easy to blow through the game in a day or two. In the right mood, however, the rhythmic acrobatics that the prince and his companion Elika use to traverse the world feel very satisfying, and the beautiful world is worth exploring.
It’s understandable that gamers didn’t appreciate Prince of Persia at its original price point, but it’s worth a go at the low price it can be bought for today. Don’t expect a fairy tale ending, however, as the game ends with an obvious opening for a sequel that will never be made. Also, don’t bother with the downloadable Epilogue. It contains too many of the game’s faults and not enough of its strong points, plus it doesn’t actually end the story as its name might imply.
Little King’s Story (2009)
Don’t let the storybook graphics fool you—Little King’s Story is a game for grown-ups. It’s an unusual strategy game with a wicked sense of humor and a colorful cast of characters. At the beginning of the game, a lonely little boy enters a magical land and is crowned monarch of a run-down kingdom. At the behest of his new “friends” and advisers, he takes on the quest to rebuild his kingdom and conquer the world. He must battle a series of wacky fellow monarchs that spoof aspects of modern culture ranging from television to the garbage crisis. The satire is sometimes silly and sometimes sharp, but definitely makes the game best appreciated by adults.
The Little King travels the world with a train of servants, ranging from soldiers, peasants, and hunters to chefs and carpenters. A diverse army is necessary in order to overcome environmental obstacles and take down foes, with the battle system involving literally flinging followers at the puzzle or enemy to be tackled. The controls can be awkward at first, but the game provides shortcuts that make it relatively easy to sort, manage, and deploy followers.
There’s a lot to explore, and though the gameplay can get a bit repetitive after a while, it’s overall one of the best games for the platform. With tons of charm, excellent graphic design, and a wicked sense of humor, it’s a crying shame that Little King’s Story got lost in the piles of shovel ware that crowd the Wii shelves in game stores. Wii owners who haven’t experienced Little King’s Story should track it down and remedy that fact ASAP.
De Blob (2011)
In de Blob 1 and 2, the player takes the role of a cartoonish living ball of paint that also happens to be a freedom fighter. You see, the evil ink blobs of the INKT Corporation have drained the world of all its color and enslaved its citizens in a life of endless toil. The player controls de Blob, who joins an underground rebellion and sets about revitalizing the world by picking up paint, then bouncing off buildings and objects, restoring their color. Of course, INKT isn’t going to take this lying down, and de Blob must tackle the INKT soldiers who oppose his campaign. There are also various challenges to complete, including painting things in specific colors, defeating tough enemies, and racing across the rooftops.
It’s very satisfying to restore the world, which springs to life as the player fully paints various areas, but the games truly shine in the audio department. They’re underscored by an ever-evolving jazzy soundtrack that changes as the player progresses through the levels. Different colors add different tones and instruments to the music, so a yellow Blob causes the music to sound sunny while a blue or purple Blob causes it to be drearier. The music also changes in intensity depending on how much paint power de Blob has and how the player is progressing.
This gives a natural impetus to play well and to keep on truckin’ through the levels. de Blob is a good game on its own. But de Blob 2 is available on more platforms and has more varied gameplay than its predecessor. The de Blob games are great fun for all kinds of players and are perfect for lazy summer days.
This week, we’ve featured games with a style all their own. These games are audiovisual treats, and any quirkiness only adds to their appeal. The first is a well-known game that’s worth experiencing despite its flaws, while the last two are hidden gems that deserve to be excavated during the dog days of summer.