Wednesday, June 20, 2001

Creampuff conquest

Posted By on Wed, Jun 20, 2001 at 12:00 AM

Interactivity: the chunky line that separates movies from video games. To paraphrase Syd Field, screenwriter extraordinaire, a good script has a beginning, a middle and an end. The audience watches; the credits roll.

Yet, the idea behind gaming is to involve the audience, to make them the aggressive player instead of the passive onlooker. To be a “gamer” is to indulge in the experience — to play God on an electronic canvas.

Then there is the creampuff perspective.

Years ago, a bloated little creature toppled into the interactive universe. His motives were cute and simple: Inhale baddies, locate a target and exhale with precision. His name is Kirby, and he has clobbered Planet Nintendo with lollipop-baked worlds ever since his introduction in 1992.

In his latest escapade, “Kirby Tilt ’n’ Tumble”, the cuddly, pink hero strays into a more innovative habitat — and by all means, it explodes the definition for interactivity, so don’t bother consulting Webster.

Here, Game Boy Color enthusiasts are literally able to control the on-screen action by the motion of their hands. Simply grasp your Game Boy firmly, power up, and maneuver cute Kirby as if he were a marble in a rotating-base maze. Tilting to the left rolls Kirby to the left. Pivoting down rockets Kirby forward. Flipping the Game Boy abruptly will even make Kirby hopscotch over chasms.

And it actually works, absent of any glitches this game critic usually expects of up-to-the-minute technology.

Or maybe it isn’t so pioneering after all.

See, the game cartridge utilizes motion-sensor micromachining, enabling gamers to guide Kirby throughout Dreamland — the exact same thingamabob used in airbag sensors, available in most newer model automobiles. The end result is superb, to say the least.

Dozens of levels and uncountable hours later, you’ll still be begging for more. There are puzzles for inquisitive minds and fast-paced action — the adorable kind, mind you — for fast-paced action geeks.

Just don’t attempt playing in a moving car. Potholes tend to confuse little Kirby’s tilt-response acrobatics.

Jon M. Gibson investigates the triumphs — and pitfalls — of games and other technological poundcakes. E-mail him at letters@metrotimes.com.

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