Friday, 22 November 2013

Google's Doctor Who game

Can we just take a moment to appreciate Google?

As a recently converted Whovian, I find it thrilling to see the BBC's treasured show being so celebrated here on North American search engines. (I was going to say "soils" but nothing really ever happens on soil anymore. It's all online, so we should start looking into language and idiom adjustments to reflect that.)

How excited was I, then, to find that Google had turned its theme into a Doctor Who game? Your choice of Doctor has to go through Dalek, Cybermen and Weeping Angel-infested obstacle courses and slowly collect the letters of GOOGLE. Not only that, but when you did die, you aren't forced to restart the entire game because the Doctor regenerates in one long cyclical train of eleven (soon to be twelve)  and yes, I did die so much that I went straight through all eleven and started back again with Mr. William Hartnell. But it's okay! Because you just keep going.

Although, there were certain things about this amusing pass-time that gave me pause (or anxiety).

First of all, the directions. It felt so much like SuperMario RPG that I was getting more than a little frustrated. Am I going left right or straight? Who knows because my brain can't keep up with this tilted lifestyle so I'm left wandering back and forth and jumping into the exterminating whisk of a Dalek. Good thing the Doctor keeps regenerating and has thrown out that twelve-regenerations-per-Time-Lord thing.

Secondly, I worry about the level of stress I get from playing these games. Even after I realize that I can regenerate countless times, going through each of the eleven faces, I find myself panicking when I can't run away from the super-speedy Cybermen fast enough and I end up hiding under the portcullis of a castle. And then when that spike in heart rate occurs, all that I've learned about directions goes flying out the nearest window (browser window  adjusted idioms). I start to freak out, unable to control the terror running straight from my mind to my fingers, and I'm running in circle-squares (remember the SuperMario RPG child who ran in circle-squares?) and eventually succumb to death at the hand of one of my most feared, most relentless and most overused enemies. (Seriously, every epic battle for the Doctor inevitably includes the reincarnation of one of these things. Speaking of their ability to come back to life and reproduce, whatever happened to the Doctor's daughter a.k.a. the tenth Doctor's real wife a.k.a. the daughter of the fifth Doctor?)

Thirdly, there's one particular weakness I found with the Daleks  at least in this game. I get that they learned how to climb stairs, gave themselves a paint job and can pivot their heads 'round while Rory tries to return their eggs, but in this game, you can stalk them just by merely walking at a safe distance behind them. Do they have technology to sense the presence of those behind them? You'd think they would have evolved (or upgraded Cybermen-style) to have some kind of 360 degree camera which, I recently read in CBC, now exists. If Kickstarter can create that, why can't the Daleks? I feel like they're now just one step away from Sontaran's version of kryptonite. To quote Donna Noble, "Back of the neck!"

But at the end of the day, who really cares? I loved it. But I may have loved it more because of my attachment to Doctor Who. I'm sure if it was a game that was any other theme, I would've been bored within seconds and given up. I wonder if I would enjoy video games more if I had a sentimental attachment to the story/characters/etc. The answer is obviously a resounding yes, but it's up to my friend to take that "a-ha!" moment and give me a game to play.

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