Game Diary: Taberinos

Tony Pa is a master of the simple-concept-elegantly-presented game.  Most of the games he’s developed take one idea – matching similar objects, shooting overly aggressive circles – and stretch it until it’s a small (both in terms of time wasted and actual computer memory used) work of art.

You can find all of his finished games here: click here.

I went through most of them a few months ago while stalling myself from writing.  The trouble I have with online (mostly) flash games is that they are designed to be casual.  This means two things: they are supposed to take only a few minutes to play; and they are created with the casual game player in mind, and therefore are easy to pick up and understand.

I don’t really care if they’re easy to understand.  I’ve enough experience with games that, if I wanted to, I could figure out most of them within the first few minutes simply by fiddling around.

It’s the first quality that’s dangerous for me.  See, I can never just spend a few minutes on a game.  Part of the reason I delved into casual games to begin with was because, before that, I’d find myself stuck with whatever current writing project I was on and would turn to a game instead, to loosen the mental muscles, as it were (and it was).  I’d get into an RPG like Morrowind or a shooter like Crysis: Warhead and suddenly find that hours were lost because I got lost in the story, in the what-happens-next of it all.

With casual games I thought surely this would never happen, because you can’t get lost for hours in a game that only takes minutes to play.

Argh.

My name is Andrew Kozma and I’m a casual game addict.

The first step is to admit you have a problem.  The second is to analyze that problem.  The third is to go back to the problem and try it out again to make sure it was really a problem in the first place.

Hence, Taberinos.

Taberinos is a simple game.  You have a ball.  There are lines.  Your job is to get rid of the lines by hitting them with the ball.  The game takes place in a rectangular 2D plane and the ball reacts with realistic physics as you launch it at the lines.  Really, it’s like playing pool, except with only the cue ball, and with lines instead of pockets, and with only a certain number of moves before you fail the level, the game is over, and you restart the game because you know, you know, that if you’d only been a bit more clever with your shots you’d be listed on the leaderboard now as a champion.  A CHAMPION TABERINO!

I’m lying there.  I don’t know what the taberinos of the title refers to.  Maybe this is a game meant to be played while drinking, and you’re a taberino for keeping a tab at the bar while playing the game, and when you lose you’re supposed to pay up, close your tab, and get the hell on home because surely you have more important things to do than play a flash game at a bar.  For God’s sake, don’t you have any friends?  Can anyone stage an intervention for this individual?  Please?

So, as you may have figured out by now, since I’ve stated it baldly, is that casual games for me cease to be casual.  Oh, they can be casual, since most eventually bore me (even Tony Pa’s, though I’m always interested in his designs), but every so often I’ll get myself trapped in a game rut.

I’m not sure what it is about Taberinos.  Maybe it’s the salsa music.  Maybe it’s the simply gameplay that seems almost like chance, but that I know I could figure out if I could just take the time, measuring angles and planning trajectories until the entire level is mapped out ahead of time and my click on the mouse button is the same as pressing the addition key on a calculator.

But, you know, more fun.

Damn you, Tony Pa.  Damn you for ruining a man’s life.

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