James Wallis levels with you


This post at Mentisworks, listing 27 of the top ‘artistic’ video games, has been much linked in the past day or so. It’s pretty cool; there are some excellent games on there–I might quibble with the inclusion of Orisinal, whose games are mostly orthodox though beautiful in style and execution, and September 12th which isn’t much of a game.

Coming along at the same time is a Japanese title, known either as Distraction or Pyo Pyo Fruits, which I’d put firmly on the list. It reminds me a bit of Bells & Whistles, a hugely underrated Konami vertical shmup from 1991 (in fact the English-language version of Japanese cult title Twinbee 91), only with… other stuff. Perhaps the fact it hits a nerve with me has something to do with my own imminent fatherhood, and my unvoiced fears about how that may affect my gaming. Play it. You’ll understand.

Games have won the right to strive to be art. But the first step along that path is for them to be about life. You can either put in years of work and produce something like Facade, or you can just hold a mirror up to life instead, and hope it’ll hit a nerve with the audience. Which is better: the Ring Cycle or ‘Love Me Do’?

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  1. Yoz says:

    I came across Bells & Whistles at the bowling alley in Finsbury Park… must have been ’93, ’94. The fact that I can still remember one random cabinet that I played maybe three times tells you the kind of impression it left. It was *delicious*.

    Today, I played the DS port of Namco’s Point Blank; not quite as pure in its sweetness as B&W, but still left me with a stupid great grin on my face. More, please.

  2. Michal says:

    Hi James. Just wanted to thank you for posting this on your blog. I have not actually come across it yet, so I’m glad to have found it. I will also check out your suggested game Distraction. I may be updating the list at some point in the future, as time allows.

    Take care,


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