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Why I Love...
Bonus Stage
Why I love... Loco Roco

Game of the Year!



Final Fantasy
By Ahchay

Real life is rubbish.

Sure, there's good sides to it (and we're pretty happy with our lot over here in Rodent Towers), but really who would want to play a videogame where you have to wake up at 5:30 in the morning, shave, go to the toilet, get dressed in real time, walk through the rain to the train station, get delayed because it's too hot or too cold or too wet or too dry or just too damn British, spill coffee down your shirt and then get shouted at by your boss by being late and all of that before you get to the fun bits. The least we'd expect would be a skippable cut-scene.

And that's sort of my problem with so many videogames. Get in a car and drive around a virtual Hawaii? If I was the sort to actually properly enjoy driving then I'd get in my Vauxhall Corsa and do it for real (actually, if I was the sort to properly enjoy driving, I'd probably have a 'better' car than a Corsa. But still.) Same with guns. If I really wanted to shoot an accurately modeled SP-45j then I'd join a gun-club - or the army. Guitar Hero? Again, why not just invest that time in learning to play the guitar for real? Like so many other things, it'll impress the girls a lot more than a 2/3 sized plastic replica.

Videogames are fantasy-fulfilment devices; they let those of us who will Never Play For England score the winning goal in the cup final. They allow us to indulge every Andy McNab daydream without actually going out and being shot at. They let us power-drift around a corner at 80mph without risking fifty grandís worth of damage that we simply cannot afford.

But my fantasies aren't about driving fast with a beautiful girl at my side (well, not all of them), they're not about being the lone soldier dropped 50 miles behind enemy lines, they're not even about owning a house full of cute little puppies that never shit on the carpet and never grow up.

My fantasies are much much simpler, and more complicated, than those. I crave new worlds, moons unseen by human eyes, oceans made of sunshine, flowers touched by grief and ships powered by imagination. My dreams are golden age space operas populated with Virgil, Hari, Luke and the rest, with the occasional cameo role for Alice and the Owl (and the Pussycat).

And the very best videogames are a shortcut to our dreams. They take us on journeys to distant shores, they let us run riot in worlds that don't exist - talk to the animals? Certainly Sir, step this way. Jump tall buildings with a single bound? Course you can, don't worry about gravity, we'll sort it out later. If I am going to pretend to be a lone soldier dropped behind enemy lines, then at least make it on a planet with two moons. And if I can be genetically enhanced as well then that'll be great ta. And a talking robot car would be useful while we're at it.

Which brings us to Loco Roco.

Loco Roco is the only game this year that truly took me to new worlds - a fantasy rather than an alien world maybe, but somewhere I've never been before and I loved every single second of it, I explored every nook and every cranny and not once did the smile leave my face while I was doing it.

If the Original Spirit is about mad invention, originality, joie de vivre and chucking more ideas into the pot than you can possibly actually use, then Loco Roco has it in spades and as such it is, without question, my Game of 2006.

February 2007


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