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Easy Gaming: Killjoy or Actually Pretty Awesome?

In this blog, I'm going to turn the average gaming convention on its head, so don't mind me.

Recently, it appears to me that any gamer worth his or her salt is interested in hardcore games.  Mostly these games require a hefty amount of skill, dedication and practice to get good at, and each person who plays said games wears a heavy and well-deserved medal of honor (and gamerscore) to show their worthiness at gaming.  While many people might play basketball or baseball and still many others might constantly be increasing their skill with Photoshop and their other art skills, the one thing that tends to be true in all of these fields is that most people who are truly passionate about their hobby do not take that hobby lightly.

And this is ok.  For some people.

For me, I would have to say that although you could classify me as a "hardcore" gamer (I beat Etrian Odyssey without using a medic, and I've beaten both Disgaea 1 and 2 as well as most of the extra stages), I also enjoy games that are...well...easy.  This is not to say that I enjoy inane baby games that practically play themselves for you.  But I do tend to enjoy games that I can pick up and play pretty quickly but still enjoy without having to encounter many (if any) "rage quit" moments, as I believe they are commonly called.

Now, you might disagree with me (and that is all fine and dandy, but this is my blog-ehehehe), but I think that there is a place in gaming for games that are not only simple to master, but generally unstressful to play.  And just in case you were hoping that I would share with you some of my favorite "easy" games, YOU ARE IN LUCK!

I have a nice handy dandy list here, and I want to share it with you.  I promise, this is going to be easier than you think. ;D [/pun]

Super Princess Peach (DS)

This is a vastly underrated addition to the Mario Universe.  Unlike most Mario platformers, you play as Princess Peach, running off to save Mario and Luigi, who have been kidnapped (role reversal FTW!).  However, as platformers go, this is a lot more forgiving.  First of all, you have a talking umbrella that you can use to semi-float from platform to platform (similar to Peach's floating dress power in Mario World 2), and you also get various "emotion" options that you can use to affect your environment in a myriad of ways (for example, you can cry, causing plants to grow, or get angry and stomp around, burning enemies.  While it's kind of sexist to use the old "women are soooo emotional" trope, it's kind of understandable considering that Peach herself IS a princess and she DOES have a magical umbrella (and possibly magical other things that we don't yet know about considering how much that dress conceals).  And, seriously, after seeing fires shoot out of the front of Mario's pants, I'm willing to believe that anything is possible.

 

Typer Shark (deluxe) (PC and streaming online)

I like Typer Shark because it's got a very simple concept-keep yourself from being eaten by typing the words on the sharks.  Yeah.  It's definitely a simplistic concept, but it's surprisingly addictive (and unless you're willing to debate furiously on controversial topics, there is no better way to increase your typing accuracy and WPM).  It helps that the game also has special characters, a pretty generous points system, and special moves (like the shark zapper) to help you when you're getting in the danger zone of possibly losing.  All in all, a very easy concept and executed in a completely straightforward manner.  But just because it's easy doesn't mean it isn't enjoyable (and actually helps you learn to spell/type faster!) NOM NOM NOM.

Peggle (DualShot) (DS)

When I first heard of the concept for Peggle, my response was "REALLY? ARE PEOPLE THAT STUPID!?"  But then I actually played it and maaan was I wrong.  True story:  When I was first pregnant with my daughter, I had pretty icky morning sickness (I never threw up or anything, but it was still really bad).  Unfortunately for me, this meant that over the course of a couple weeks of playing Disgaea on my PSP while I was feeling nauseous (to try and keep my mind of of it) I instead taught my body to become nauseous every time I turned on my PSP even once the morning sickness passed.  So, suffice to say, I had to take a break from that handheld and instead I decided to try Peggle for DS. ZOMG, I was hooked instantly.  I pretty much played Peggle for my entire pregnancy.  It's actually a lot like a flashier more colorful game of pachinko, and since it has some aiming capabilities, the bank-shots and other such things are what makes the game still keep its appeal even though it is ridiculously simple to play.  Honestly, I don't think you'll be disappointed.  Between the addictive sounds that each piece makes when you ricochet off of them and the points they give you for owning on a level, this game is really worth playing, even though it is quite easy indeed.

Bejeweled (PC, Phone, iPhone, etc-pretty much if it has a screen, it's got a version for it)

Bejeweled is also a game that I initially scoffed at due to its simplicity.  Seriously, swapping around a jewel is pretty lame on paper, but in practice, it's wickedly addictive.  And since you don't really end up doing all that much in the game, it becomes mostly a game of spatial thinking-figuring out how chain reactions will work out (or you can just be random and see if you can get chains to happen by chance, which works too).  Even though a chimpanzee could probably play this game, it's still fun.  If you like Bejeweled, but you like DS, there's a similar game called "Zoo Keeper" (I own a copy), and it is quite fun indeed.  I highly recommend it for anyone who is a fan of Bejeweled.

Pokemon Trozei (DS)

Pokemon Trozei is one of my favorite puzzle games ever (maybe next to Magical Drop), but basically, it's similar to Bejeweled if you were to mix the gameplay mechanics with Planet Puzzle League (another great game).  You start out making pokemon matches of 4 (horizontally or vertically) by sliding the rows up and down or side to side.  Then you need to match 3 then 2 and then it just starts making absurdly awesome and quick chain reactions to the point that it's possible to clear the whole screen.  I love this game simply because it does get to levels where the pokemon start dropping faster and faster (and I suppose it could be considered "harder" at that point), but it still has fairly simple gameplay and it starts out so easy that most young children could probably be up and playing it in a matter of minutes.

QuickSpot (DS)

If you were wondering what could possibly be even "easier" than a game where you basically move one or two little items, prepare to be amazed.  You may think that this game looks stupid.  And that's perfectly ok.  That's exactly what *I* thought when I first saw it.  Basically, this is the game version of your favorite "what is different on both of these pictures" puzzle from the Sunday Comics.  Obviously, the levels start out easy, and you have to circle the differences within a set period of time.  But eventually, the differences can become quite challenging, and you can even wirelessly play with your friends.  I used to play Quickspot with 6-7 friends on their DSes (humorously enough, this is probably the only game I've ever played wirelessly with friends on a regular basis), and you can basically trip each other up if you get enough points with tactics like making frogs swim across the screen or have it blur out and into focus.  There's even a "leaf" part where you blow into the microphone to blow the leaves away so you can see.  While this may not be the sort of game that some people would enjoy, it certainly goes beyond what I think most people would expect (plus there are some great images in the game too).  it would be really fun to play with your kids and not only that, but it increases spatial and focus brainpower.

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Most of these games have an easy concept, easy game execution, and simple gameplay.  While they may have certain parts that become somewhat more challenging as time goes on, largely they are far easier than any "hardcore" game would ever be, even on the first level.  However, the "hardcoreness" level isn't exactly required to make a game great.  To some extent, enjoying an easy game is a lot like enjoying a nice, ripe sliced apple.  Even though the flavor is simple and clear, it's also textured and delicious.  While more complicated, harder games are like a princess cake-full of layers, a tough outer surface that doesn't want to be penetrated, a lot of fluffy heavy substance and the myriad number of flavors from the marzipan, heavy cream, yellow cake and jam.  Both are delicious, and neither is objectively "better" than the other.  But easy, simple games really excel in one way that more hardcore games often cannot-and that is in the relaxation factor.  When a game is easy and simple, it is easier to relax during the game instead of get wound up and even more stressed out than before.

Of course, these games are also usually priced as pretty affordable (you can get most of these for 10 bucks or less, although Princess Peach might be higher since it's Mario themed), so these games are also easy on the wallet.

But as usual, I am also interested in your thoughts.  What do you think of so-called "easy" games? Do you believe that they are just fluff and crap or do they have a valid place in the gaming marketplace? 

Until tomorrow!

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