Monday, 7 February 2011

Time to go to bed

Ever since the days of being a child, the concept of staying up all night has always been a somewhat magical and slightly naughty sort of thing to do. I could count the times I've done it on one hand, including all the times I've been utterly drunk where it is usually sometime before 6am that I'll collapse. I suppose I should count the build up and birth of my two kids as well, but it might have been frowned upon if I just slept through it all.

One such time when I stayed up all night was playing Shenmue on the Dreamcast. Before the days of work & responsibilites, I was so engrossed in the game that I simply couldn't even contemplate sleep. Due to a slightly annoying (...but very sensible) in-game curfew the Ryo was forced to go home to bed at 11.30PM each night. However, you could delay this by playing an arcade or even search for a bar at one point in the game. These times were precious and brought a new magic to the game - Ryo Hazuki himself stayed up all night.

What made Shenmue was that the in-game clock was pretty slow. You had to literally wait real-time minutes for a bus that would arrive on time at a set time. You had to walk for ages to get anywhere - there were no cars to hop into or any kind of teleporting to get you from A-B. And you felt like you really were wasting hours playing Hang-On or the boxing game when you really should be being a bit more responsible and hunting the bloke who killed your father.

Shenmue is not the only game to have an in-game clock of course. Games like the GTA series and Oblivion have gradually changing day and night cycles where sunrises and sunsets can be watched with awe from the top of a mountain. But the one game that tops the lot is Super Hydlide on the Mega Drive.

It was difficult to love Super Hydlide. It looked horrible and was full of bugs and bad collision detection, but it did game time very well indeed. You could keep provisions on you - 2 at all time that if in possession you automatically ate at set times of the day. If you didn't have any provisions you could still go out adventuring but your health would quickly start to deplete in a representation of hunger. It brought about a genuinely shit-scary situation of where you realised you were miles away from the town, completely without provisions and you had to leg it back, avoiding the beasties, just to get some food before you died a horrible hungry death at tea time. Why don't more games not make you die from hunger?

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