Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Day 16: Merlin's Walls

Quick, what's wrong with this picture?

That's right. It's sideways. The makers of Merlin's Walls thought it would be pretty awesome to make a home console game that plays on a vertically oriented monitor, just like arcade games. That's pretty spiffy except that it makes this game a total pain in the ass to play.

Let's assume for a minute that someone out there is willing to turn his TV on its side in order to play this game the way it was intended. First, his TV would need to be flat on the side so it could stand vertically, which very few modern TVs are. If it was, he'd probably have to unplug everything from it to make sure no cables get twisted or damaged in the rotating process. He might even have to take the TV out of his entertainment center in order to stand it on its side. And 15 minutes later, when he's done playing Merlin's Wall, he has to put everything back the way it was if he wants to watch TV or play one of his old-fashioned, horizontally oriented games.

And maybe Merlin's Walls would be worth all that trouble if it was any fun at all to play. Instead, it's boring and frustrating. It's a first-person maze game with no enemies to fight and no way to know where you are or where you're going. The walls all look the same. There's no compass or map. The only indicator of any sort is the timer bar on the left (top) of the screen, which only lets me know that the game is about to abruptly end.

Merlin's Walls is more an interesting, though totally impractical programming exercise than a game. Turn the thing 90 degrees to the left, throw in some monsters and give me a call.

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