For the latest edition of Metagame Monday, the Metagame wonders: Which is more elegant, Street Fighter II or Flower?
Street Fighter II Before some of you scoff, think about what the second entry in the Street Fighter series really accomplished when it arrived in 1991. It popularized the 1 on 1, fixed arena fighting game with a combination of state of the art graphics, sophisticated gameplay mechanics (common motions such as the quarter circle + a button tap were new in that area) and an appreciation for interesting (if sparse) character histories that intertwine with each other. In an era without the Internet and a sparse selection of infrequently released video game magazines (for non-Nintendo games, mostly GamePro and the original incarnation of Electronic Gaming Monthly), there was a simplicity and direct appeal to the gamer that Street Fighter II offered: you learned from the mags, your friends or determine it yourself. There’s an elegance in refining the core experience down to a distilled point (in large part due to the circumstances at the time), and allowing the player to figure things out for themselves.
Flower This seems like the easier and obvious choice, right? Flower is a game that has been hailed by many gamers and artists alike as one of the defining arguments for interactive entertainment as art, and it has a uniquely compelling look and feel that has been recognized by prestigious institutions such as the Smithsonian American Art Museum in their The Art of Video Games exhibit. thatgamecompany is a developer that has made their mark with gorgeous, vivid games such as flOw and Journey that all share key traits such as graceful movement and a smooth, curved visual look that avoids sharp edges and geometry at seemingly all costs, except where used for effect such as the final urban level in Flower.
The elegance in this game extended to the movement sensor based controls, one of the few titles that really took advantage of the Dualshock 3 controller’s ability to send position in a 3-dimensional space. From gently tilting between the potted plants at the menu screen to the soaring epiphany of rushing through a field of lush grass and flowers that blossom under your touch, Flower has a sensuality and grace that defines it as one of the most elegant interactive entertainment experiences ever made.