Love & Hate: Gameloft

Hey! You take your shirt and your sex and you get out of my Arkanoid!

Oh, Gameloft. You’re oh-so European.

I’ve been checking out Gameloft’s WiiWare offerings since their release of Block Breaker. I have sort of developed this love/hate relationship with their games. On the one hand, there’s this shiny polish on their stuff and their solid attention to detail, but on the other, there are these gratingly annoying little nuances to their games which I find just loathsome.

Sometimes I wonder if the problem is that Gameloft is European and I’m…well, not. Is it just a cultural misunderstanding? Is it just that they want to eat haggis and foi gras and I want to have a burger? Is it just that I like one, long solid ringer sound when I make a phone call, and they like 2 shorter ringy-ding sounds? I dunno. But I will say this: what Gameloft considers to be “cool atmosphere” in a video game is just sickening to me. Good god, was I playing Block Breaker Deluxe or watching a fucking porno? All the pink neon and scantily clad, gaudy scumbagesque characters turned me off. I could do without the story and the lingering smell of sex when I just want to play Arkanoid. Same thing in Midnight Pool: they made a great pool sim, but what’s up with that creepy cop? That guy is really looking at me like he wants to do bad, awful things to me with his night stick. And I am not happy about that. It’s like some weird concept of what Americans might “think” is cool, but it really comes off as how some horny Bulgarian guys might dress while at a NYC nightclub. “Two Wild and Crazy Guys” comes to mind.

Next is the game design. Gameloft does this right when it’s a game where the model is tried and true and little creative interjection is needed. Pool, Bowling, etc. They do just fine here. Good physics, the rules are all correct, and the feel of the controls are spot on. Block Breaker, where you need decent level design and creative powerups, just falls horribly flat. Some of the levels aren’t challenging; they’re just downright annoying. You can get the ball stuck trying to hit one lone brick for a friggin’ hour. Not because you suck, but because you have to hit the brick in ONE TINY SPOT in order to eliminate it. Its either that, or all out madness with explosions on the screen to the point where you think “Do I even need to be here? What am I contributing to this?” Just crappy game design decisions. However, if you’ve got a rack of billiards balls or a set of 10 pins…the computer isn’t really creating the challenge. The player is. Gameloft has done well with these sorts of games.

Anyway, that’s my little rant. At the end of the day I guess I do like Gameloft. You can tell they care about quality…they work hard. They just have to maybe focus group their stuff a little more.


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