[DEMO] My Life as Pokemon Goo

6 Dec

Demoman is a feature in which I make (incredibly harsh) assumptions about upcoming games based upon their (horrible) demos, while making observations about their purpose and importance.

Today’s victims: My Life as a Darklord, World of Goo, and Pokemon Rumble.

These demos are a bit unique. My Life as a Darklord and World of Goo have been out for months but have just received demos on the Wii Shop Channel, making them the first WiiWare demos Nintendo has released, along with NyxQuest and Bit.Trip Beat. They’re also quite good, which is a change from majority of the DS demos lazily thrown onto the Nintendo Channel.

These three demos are also unique in the way they present their gameplay. They each give the player a taste of what it’s actually like to play the game rather than an isolated fragment of a level.

My Life as a Darklord

A spin-off of a spin-off where the bad guys are the heroes, My Life as a Darklord is a strategy game set in Final Fantasy‘s Crystal Chronicles universe. Your goal is to protect the dark crystal atop your evil tower from pesky adventurers by building trap-filled floors and filling them with classic Final Fantasy critters.

Most demos would throw a boring tutorial at you explaining the game’s mechanics before leaving you to fend for yourself in a single level. Darklord, however, has its cast acknowledge that you’re playing a demo, but starts off as you would expect the full versions of most higher-end download games to begin.

You’re presented with a world map and the ability to use karma points earned in battle to expand your tower and level up your monsters. There isn’t much to do at first, but as you win battles, you earn access to different floors and monsters and the points to build more and increase their strength.

There’s a point where you would assume the demo should end, but it continues, presenting you with several more levels.

World of Goo

Much like Darklord, the World of Goo demo presents you with access to the world map where you unlock more and more levels, where the goal is to build structures around various obstacles to save as many goo balls as possible. The game’s uniquely-styled cutscenes play in between levels and you can unlock the World of Goo Corporation side game, which challenges you to to build the tallest tower possible with extra goo balls saved in the regular levels. This invites players to return to previous levels to top their high scores so they can have more goo balls to build with. There are also OCD challenges, which task players to beat levels in as few moves as possible.

The demo ends before you can complete the latter half of the first world, but by the time it’s over, you have experienced what it’s like to actually play the full version of World of Goo (one of 2008’s best games) and not just a couple examples of its basic gameplay.

Pokemon Rumble

It screams cheaply thrown together attempt to cash in on Pokemon fans early on, but Pokemon Rumble actually is quite deep for a fifteen dollar download, and its demo allows you to experience that.

Rumble is a beat-em-up featuring wind-up doll versions of pokemon competing in a free-for-all competition. You start off as a lowly rattata, quickly eliminated from the contest, but you’re given access to half a dozen levels to earn new pokemon and gears, which you can use to upgrade their abilities.

The levels are pretty straight forward point A to point B affairs with a themed assortment of pokemon in between. Occasionally a pokemon will topple over after being defeated, allowing you to add it to your party. Your team grows quickly, so you’ll always be using different and progressively stronger monsters.

Rumble doesn’t give off a very good first impression considering the graphics are noticeably toned down, many of the sound effects are taken from the Game Boy games, and the game play consists of relentless button mashing, but once you realize that the demo allows you to play through numerous levels, building and strengthening a team of dozens, you’ll find the gameplay is actually quite addicting.

What makes each of these demos work so well is the fact that they offer you a glimpse of what it’s like to play the full game, not just a fraction of one of the gameplay mechanics. My Life as a Darklord‘s demo could have easily consisted of a tutorial and a single level. Same for World of Goo and Pokemon Rumble. It’s pretty easy to summarize the mechanics of each, but games are more than just mechanics.

What you do in between levels often defines a game. Combat in most RPGs gets dull and monotonous pretty quickly. It’s the customization of your party where the real decision-making usually comes in, but just allowing a player to go through a few battles without being able to feel what it’s like to grow and improve doesn’t sell a game. Demos should sample a final product, not a gameplay mechanic.


2 Responses to “[DEMO] My Life as Pokemon Goo”

  1. Joe Nici April 12, 2010 at 4:59 PM #

    I’m a huge fan of your site and I check it regularly. Keep up the great work!

    • chasmang April 12, 2010 at 10:30 PM #

      Thanks. 🙂

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