Some games are hard, some games are easy, and some games just let you put your brain in neutral.
Of late, I’ve been playing a lot of PSOne games, almost certainly because of the second-hand PSOne I picked up recently. That kind of thing does tend to reinvigorate one’s interest in a games catalog.
The PSOne gets a lot of scorn for being the first of the “proper” 3D consoles, and as such having a lot of games that visually haven’t aged all that well.
I’m not going to argue that, because there are a lot of games that are, frankly, polygonal nightmares. They weren’t that flashy back in the late 90s, and they’re even worse now.
It’s been a long, long time since Battle Arena Toshinden was a selling point for the PS1.
However, amongst the polygons is one of my favourite games for simply kicking back and enjoying. For those times when I want to play a game, but not either have it too easy, or too hard. Just something relaxing, but challenging.
An “in the zone” kind of game.
For me, that game is Vib Ribbon, a cute, musically inspired endless runner that I genuinely had no idea was a relative rarity on some shores, thanks to Sony’s curious release patterns for it.
It was rather common here in Australia (or, at least, I can say that I seemed to know an awful lot of folks who had played it back in the day) but I can recall Americans going NUTS when it appeared on PSN for them, because it was otherwise an import title from Japan for the USA.
Then again, Vib Ribbon is itself rather weird. If you’ve never played, it’s an endless runner/music game, where you’re tasked with surviving as long as possible through a musically-generated set of shapes that correspond to face and shoulder buttons on the PSOne controller. Also, you’re a rabbit, except when you’re a Princess, Frog, or Snake with a TV for a head.
Of course, these days Vib Ribbon would probably be filled with DLC. If anyone’s considering that, I’d suggest the above as the Australian version. Who wouldn’t want that?
Vib Ribbon’s conceit is that the entire game loads into the system memory, and you can then use any music CD to actually “generate” the levels. There’s a little cheating that goes on here, because even if you do opt for a slower track, over time Vib Ribbon will throw more complex shapes at you.
Still, it’s a game that I find myself easily slipping into. It’s not supremely difficult (apart from the mild difficulty of unearthing my CD collection), but with the right music, it can still provide both amusement and that rare chance to get “in the zone”, where I’m effortlessly flipping around complex shapes and surviving through lengthy music tracks.
Although on reflection, it’s probably a very good thing that it can’t hook into Spotify, Apple Music or Google Play Music. I might never stop playing it.
Additional tip: Don’t throw Weird Al Yankovic CDs at Vib Ribbon. The results can be… dramatic.
Got any favourite games (retro or not) that you use to chill out with? Tell me about them below!