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And We All Played Braid

Over the weekend, I took a spin through my new game section here on GeekGirlfriends.com and bought myself a game. My son Cole (13) was playing a complicated war game with his friends (over a voice connection) on Xbox Live. My daughter was playing with her Nintendo DS. No one wanted to talk to me so I thought, “Why not join the gaming fun?” I chose Braid ($14.99 after a free trial) because it looked pretty.

I’m usually frustrated by “Action” games that make me start over every time I die – again and again. What can I say? I’m a clumsy gamer. But practice makes perfect, right? And, besides, I read somewhere that action games improve the players’ vision by improving their contrast perception by as much as 58 percent. My eyes aren’t what they used to be, I reasoned. Maybe this would help?

As soon as the game’s music started, both kids ditched what they were doing to watch me play. (Apparently watching Mom fail at something is entertaining.) And suddenly everyone wanted to talk to me. “Oh, cool! Braid,” said Cole. “I’ve heard great things about that.” (Where does he hear this stuff?) Ava put a hand on my shoulder to offer moral support; she knows I’m not the most agile gamer. In fact, I’m a little pathetic. I got stuck after about ten minutes and whined, “Cole? Help!” (This is what Ave does too. It’s effective.) He loves to rescue lost gamers so I was quickly sorted out and moving up to another level. He even offered a few pointers to keep me from falling into the lava pits. “Don’t just kill the monsters,” he told me, for example. “Bounce off them. They will help you jump higher.”

The game has a story line about a princess that was a bit lost on me. But the art is lovely. It is a little like those episodes of The Adventures of Gumby where he and Pokey go inside books. Only this book is made up of beautiful watercolor paintings. And since the “Shift” key gives you an instant recover, my tendency to stumble and fall to my death was not as aggravating as it sounds. In fact, I enjoyed myself. But adventure games are not my forte. Cole is the expert. So I asked him to play and review the game for us. It’s not every day his Mom buys a game and asks him to play. So he jumped right in.

Here’s what he had to say:

“Braid has very beautiful landscapes with well-drawn animations and sprites. When you first play Braid, right off you can tell it’s a very deep game. You start in a burning city, on a darkened bridge where you only see the silhouette of your character, “Tim.” You walk off the bridge and into the light of a street lamp. A constellation in the night sky blooms above you, and you walk into a house. Keep in mind that Braid is a platformer, so it is mostly puzzles. When you get to actually playing the game and get a bit into it, you’ll find that the game is a lot like Mario. The main enemy is a very goomba-like creature called ‘Monster’ who are constantly getting shot out of cannons or walking mindlessly off of cliffs, and are more of a “jump boost” than a challenge to fight. But one of the main tools you use in the game is Tim’s ability to turn back time, which is needed to complete a number of puzzles in the game.”

I don’t know if my vision is any better. But we certainly got our money’s worth in fun.