If you’re looking for gameplay breakdowns or an in-depth investigation of mechanics you’re not going to get them here. Instead, what you will get here is a look into the story of why this game is so great and how it came to be. And the story of that story.”
I’ve been playing video games lately. By playing I mean watching my kids play them on an AppleTV and every now and again giving it a go, roughly 2 minutes for everyone 100 minutes of theirs. This might not be hard to believe with all this self isolation stuff going around, but it might if you knew that I haven’t played a video game in about nine years. I’ll tell you what brought me back.
“What was it Jim? Was it Skyrim? Was it Juggalo Death Match IV 1 that brought you back to this wonderful interactive format?”
No. Something much better than all of that put together, and it’s called “Uphill Rush Water Park Racing”. It’s essentially Sonic the Hedgehog from about a million years ago, except you’re riding water slides on an inner-tube on which you can somehow go uphill, or rather upstream. You even collect coins floating in the sky with the same sound even. It basically makes no sense.
The best part is this is this is the visible (and playable) product of that cruel moment when a group of designers just ran out of ideas and said fuck it. I can imagine the conversation now, game designers, programmers and artists pensively tapping pens on blank sheets of paper in a conference room with fluorescent lights glaring overhead, distressed to no end and visibly sweating with angst. Bob finally breaks the uneasy silence.
“So listen John, I got nothing.”
“Yeah me neither.”
“So what did you do this weekend anyhow?”
“Oh yeah, you know, just took the kids to the waterpark and…”
A game was born. Sometimes I just want to hug an entire industry, and this is one of those times. The games industry has given our perturbed and anxious lives a thing of such simple joy I could cry.
But who are Bob and John? Chances are that’s not their names at all, it’s more likely Bas and Jan and they work at SpilGames somewhere on the outskirts of Amsterdam next to the airport. It now makes absolute sense that this comes from a nation a non-trivial amount of which is below sea level and who’s storied history is in fact chock full of water engineering feats 2. It stands now to reason that this could only come from the Dutch. Or some kid from Nebraska who just loved water parks as a kid, ended up baked out of his mind on the streets of Amsterdam for nine years until he discovered his long lost passion and talent for making side scroller games. Chances are it was both.
Chances are also that games can be simple. They can be mindless, light fleets of fancy with demo-scene versions of arena rock soundtracks that just sort of make you smile. The thing is that this is what games are supposed to be. Things you play, not jobs. Games like the previously mentioned Skyrim are more like jobs than games, and we don’t need any more jobs, especially these days. We need the inside equivalent throwing rocks into a pond or breaking twigs, something to do with your hands to take your mind off the fact you’re not supposed to be sitting with a friend and just chucking rocks and making the time pass.
This doesn’t exist by the way, I looked high and low for a video game. However, there are plenty of in real life “professional” wrestling Juggalo death matches. How nobody has capitalised on this in video format for my kids I can’t understand. ↩︎
It makes also absolute sense that the Netherlands has tons of waterparks as well ↩︎