Category: Lists

Four games to play when you don’t have much time (and one wildcard)

The Supper: sadistic speciality on a plate

Octavi Navarro | Steam

Love a top-down view.

I’ve long been a big fan of Octavi’s pixel art and, more recently, his adventure games. The eerie feels in his earlier games reeled me in (Midnight Scenes, The Librarian), and while The Supper is a different vibe, it doesn’t disappoint. This one swaps the chiaroscuro for rich colour and less subtle animation, but both those things complement the pixel style just as well.

Look at those gorgeous reds.

Described as ‘bite-size’ in the introduction and a little bit hand-holdy at first, I wasn’t sure I’d like it as much – but as the game progressed I loved the development into a gory, dark point-and-click. In fact it combines two of my favourite pastimes – cooking and the macabre.

I urge you to join Ms Appleton as she cooks up a feast for her customers, guided by a mysterious disembodied voice. That’s all I’m going to say in terms of the plot. Zzzzzp. It also worth noting that I was unexpectedly moved by the ending – something few pixel artists can achieve of me!

Delores: a blast from the park-a-boo

Terrible Toybox | Steam, GOG, Xbox One, PS4, Android/iOS, Switch

Cheese!

You don’t have to be a fan of Thimbleweed Park to enjoy this one, but it helps. I was pleasantly surprised to hear news of a spin-off from the 2017 game developed by LucasArts alumni. Then stoked to hear it was about Delores. And humbled it was being offered FREE to cheer up fans during shitty times.

It’s essentially a ‘complete the checklist’ minigame, initially conceived as a prototype for Ron Gilbert’s new engine; you play as Delores, now a journalist working for Nickel News, tasked with taking snaps of various objects and occurrences around Thimbleweed Park. It cleverly utilises ‘found art’ from Thimbleweed Park (so don’t expect a whole new game) and is broken up into six tidy segments – there’s no ability to save, but once you’ve completed a set of tasks you’re rewarded with a new set.

Tick! Tick! Tick! Ooh a speck of dust…

This was right up my street for a short game. I’m a slightly OCD completionist so I took great joy in looking for the solutions and ticking off those lists. It’s not too taxing but provides enough challenges to be satisfying (and highly addictive in my case!) The tasks are creative, and polished with the same dry humour we saw in Thimbleweed Park.

And that lovely soundtrack is back, mmm.

Kill Yourself: dark humour done right

Gugames | Steam

This dude’s unlucky.

Some might be put off by the main objective (right there, in its naked glory in the title) but hey, if we can’t look death in the face, let’s vicariously find the most inventive ways to achieve it. In all seriousness, I’ve faced some dark times and I still really like this game – the humour is very tongue-in-cheek, and the cartoon style provides enough detachment for me. The design is pretty no-frills but I like that – nice chunky pixels (noticing a pattern?) and a refreshingly straightforward point-and-click interface.

Damn.

The aim is to find all the different ways to top yourself, by combining and manipulating objects and features of the house, in classic adventure game style. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s an easy game, though – there are some really great, challenging puzzles, some of which require very lateral thinking. After solving a handful, new rooms are revealed with more puzzles.

The mechanics are nothing new but it’s the concept that’s so original. A daring move from the developer but one that pays off. I’m fed up with all these ‘nice’ games – I’d like to see more dark and uncomfortable topics, provided they’re done right.

So if you fancy something a little different, I highly recommend this. There are 30 different endings – so you better get on it!

Among Us: trust no1

InnerSloth | Steam, Android/iOS, Switch (Xbox soon)

Best selection of hats in a game, ever.

This one has really done the rounds, so you’ve probably heard of it. I played it as a way to stay in touch with friends during the pand-ovid-ona and it did not disappoint. The game places you and 3-9 other players on board a spaceship, where one player is an intruder set on taking you out, one by one. Think virtual Murder in the Dark (not that it’s ever actual murder in the dark… oh you know what I mean).

Each crewmate has a list of tasks to complete around the ship (which themselves are quite fun!); the objective is to complete all of these, or expose the intruder before everyone is killed. If you’re the intruder, you get to stealthily murder each player (and sabotage things on the ship, which is less fun) while pretending to carry out your duties. Whenever a dead body is discovered, everyone can have a chat and vote on who they think is the culprit (with the imposter playing along, which can make for some amusing revelations at the end).

It’s brilliantly suited to mobile gaming, and the potential for cunning and flabbergastery is endless.

Green: I saw Blue kill Red in the engine room! It’s him!’
*everyone votes Blue*
GREEN WAS THE IMPOSTER.

I’ll certainly never trust my friends again.

WILDCARD: Rubik’s Cube

Okay, not a video game, but this is what happens when you watch The Speed Cubers on Netflix. (I’ve moved on to chess now, obviously.)

I haven’t touched one of these for five years or so, but it didn’t take long to remember how bloomin’ addictive those little coloured squares can be. It’s more than just a fidget spinner though – there are methods and mechanics to learn to get you to that final, tidy block. I don’t normally enjoy cheating (yes, that would be ‘cheating’ to me) but it’s actually fun understanding how the intricacies of the puzzle work.

My favourite thing about it is its portability. You can play anywhere – on the couch, in the bath, on the loo (what?) and it looks nice on the shelf. I’ve just remembered that a friend once dressed as a Rubik’s Cube for a hen do (slightly less practical).

Of course, it takes time and finger flexing to master the complete process, and none of us (that I’m aware) are about to star in The Speed Cubers 2. But it’s simple, classic fun from the good old days – and you don’t need a computer!

Four games I’d like to finish but probably never will

In a lot of ways I consider myself a completionist, but there are still some games I never got round to finishing for one reason or another. I’d like to take a moment for the ones that got away.

The Witness (2016)

screeenshot from The Witness video game
Although I didn’t finish it, The Witness remains one of my favourite games of all time

I loved this game so much. It’s one of the few open-world games I’ve enjoyed playing. I’ve never been a fan of games that require me to wander around for ages encountering things that may or may not be useful. Don’t get me wrong – I like a nicely drawn backdrop and mystical scenery, but I also want to be actively engaged and solving puzzles.

Thankfully, The Witness combines both these things. The island on which you find yourself is incredible.  There are mysterious structures dotted around beautiful vibrant nature. You can be walking through a multicoloured field and out of nowhere emerges a platform with ropes and pulleys, a tantalising maze or a curious group of trees that seem to form a pattern.

The perfect subtlety between what is just nice artwork and what might be another puzzle waiting to be solved is what makes it. It’s serene and exciting all at the same time.

Why didn’t I finish it?

You know, with this one I got really quite far. I must have been near the end (I won’t say how I know this – spoilers!) and yet I lost interest. At this point in the game I was searching for those final pieces of the puzzle to no avail. I didn’t want to cheat, nor could I ask for help.

And I guess this is where the downside of open-world games comes into play; non-linear gameplay makes it difficult – if not impossible – to ask for hints. IGN provides a good walkthrough that details the different puzzles in different areas, but to suddenly view the game in such a structured, compartmentalised way seemed to do it a disservice. Plus I’d got so far on my own that it seemed a shame.

Obduction (2016)

screenshot from Obduction video game
Nice scenery, now show me the puzzles

Conversely, Obduction was a stark reminder of why I generally don’t enjoy open-world games.

I’d heard a lot of good things about Myst, and then spotted Obduction in the Steam sale. It sounded great on paper – a first-person puzzle-solving adventure following the story of a person transported to an alien world that looks just like home. While it wasn’t my usual style, it looked interesting and hey, I enjoyed The Witness.

Unfortunately, I was stumped and frustrated right from the get-go. Where am I supposed to go? What are these train tracks and levers that appear to do nothing? Where’s everybody else? When will the puzzles start?

Why didn’t I finish it?

This was a little too open world for me. I couldn’t figure out where to start, and I got fed up with wandering around. Puzzle elements weren’t really highlighted in any way, and it was all a bit too, erm… mystical. The scenery is gorgeous, but after so long tracing and retracing my paths it didn’t matter.

Checking back through some walkthroughs and reviews, it’s likely I became too impatient too quickly. People have even compared it to The Witness and The Talos Principle (which I also loved), but for me it didn’t cut it. I don’t want ‘slowly unfolding origami’ as one reviewer put it; I need to feel like I’m making progress.

Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders (1988)

screenshot of Zak McKracken video game
‘Insert cashcard for airport transit’

I was excited about exploring another of LucasArts’ adventure masterpieces, and Zak didn’t disappoint. Great artwork, great puzzles and some of the best wit I’ve seen in an adventure game (see above). Oh, and the killer intro. Zak had all the classic point-and-click nuances and I was hooked. It’s certainly one of those I’m most sad about not finishing.

Why didn’t I finish it?

Hey Zak, it’s me, not you.

I think this is another example of my slight aversion to the non-linear nature of some games. Yes, I know I’m an adventure gamer and that is usually how they work, but this one just had too many variables for my poor little brain: darting between different locations; switching between characters; and the knowledge that I could flunk the game by running out of money or making an unredeemable mistake early on (which I did, when I took off from Mars too soon, doh).

If it was a case of one of those elements, I could cope. But trying to save at different points just ended up very confusing because a lot of the time I couldn’t remember what I had and hadn’t done, and in which playthrough of the game (given I had to restart a few times). Like The Witness, this also made it hard to ask for help.

It’s a shame – looking back at websites and screenshots of the game does make me want to give it another go. Maybe next year I need to reign in my doggedness in the face of a small hint or cheat. I’ve found a list of all the dead ends (not actually that many) that I could prepare for, which would help.

Populous (1989)

screenshot from Populous video game
It may look peaceful now, but you wait

Populous was great, and highly addictive. Even if you didn’t have a God complex (and especially if you did) there was no greater feeling than playing the omnipotent deity over swards of teeny tiny land-dwellers. Building your territories and impatiently watching your mana increase until you could hit that armageddon button was an investment worth making. During less patient moments an earthquake or volcano was almost as satisfying.

It was something quite innovative back in 1989 and became one of the best-selling PC games of all time. The world editors allowed players to design their own landscapes, making it even more fun and dishing out more of that sadistic control.

Why didn’t I finish it?

Seriously, do you know anyone who’s finished Populous? There are 500 levels. It’s like listening to all five Tool albums back to back. Howlongtobeat.com says the main story takes an average of 13 hours to complete, but bear in mind that back in the day you couldn’t save your game, and while the likes of GOG.com make it easier today, I like to play a game in the tough ole way it was intended (Here she goes again).

The four pillars of giving up

So taking these four examples, the reasons for my abandonment appear to be stubbornness (The Witness), boredom (Obduction), brain freeze (Zak) and intimidation (Populous). There are other examples too, such as shoddy mechanics, unclear objectives and simply being distracted by something more fun.

What games do you wish you had finished? What are your abandonment traits?

Five games that gave me Tetris Syndrome

Tetris Syndrome is the result of repeating an action to the point that you start to act out or hallucinate the motions in real life – like piecing Tetris blocks together. It’s not limited to gaming, though that’s where the idea comes from.

Tetris Syndrome is also known as Tetris Effect, but that now means something else in our gaming world.

1. Tetris

tetris-mega-drive

No surprise there.

I regularly envisage things slotting together when I’m out and about – brick walls, high-rise buildings, people in my yoga class. It’s ingrained from years of playing Tetris, though it’s even worse when I’ve just been playing it. Sometimes I involuntarily fit blocks together in my mind as I’m drifting off to sleep, or just waking up.

On the plus side, it’s very useful for packing for holiday, cramming useless items into tiny cupboards and stacking the dishwasher. That sounds facetious, but I really do believe it helps. How can it not? It’s not like all those years of rotating shapes was a complete waste of time. Is it? IS IT?

2. The Witness

D7ezL3pXoAAD4-W

Seriously, I really did draw a mental beam of light down my cat’s arm.

Anyone who’s extensively played The Witness will know that a large part of the game is spent trying to draw light beams from anything that remotely resembles a circle with a path under it. It means your brain is trained to look for this pattern everywhere – and it doesn’t take long before that extends into real life.

Cats, shower heads, fried eggs, zebra crossings… I’m surrounded!

Finding these pathways is kind of a side mission in the game, and as such the player is only partly engaged with the idea as they go about solving the main puzzles. I think that’s quite key – it easily becomes a subconscious pattern-seeking compulsion because it sits in the back of your mind, even when you stop playing.

3. Thimbleweed Park

Thimbleweed Park speck of dust

In Thimbleweed Park you can pick up tiny specks of dust while exploring the kooky town. It’s also an achievement to collect all of them, so that was me addicted from the outset. The fact that I’ve spent so much time playing it means I am now cursed to spot a tiny pixel of dust wherever I go.

Sometimes this is actual dust when I’ve been lax on the cleaning, so not all bad.

There’s also an achievement for not collecting any specks of dust, which I dutifully fulfilled. I think that merely enhanced the syndrome, since you still have to notice them to avoid picking them up.

4. Doom

Doom 1993

I’ve been playing Doom a lot lately (you haven’t noticed?)

This is really quite embarrassing, but I’ve found myself strafing around the house a few times. Yeah. Picture that for a moment.

If I go through a narrow doorway and I’m looking for someone (human/feline), an apparently innate instinct makes me flinch to the side when I see them. I think this has a lot to do with the fact that I’ve been trying really hard to improve my strategy in Doom instead of relying on my weapons. Particularly when it came to that cyberdemon – I think that was when I was at the peak of my household strafing.

Who knows, it could come in handy one day?

5. The ‘undo’ shortcut (okay, four games)

command-z

This is a super weird one. You know Command-z (Control-z on Windows)? At my last job when I used InDesign extensively, ‘undo’ was a useful shortcut. I’d use it all the time. I like to think I was meticulous rather than constantly making mistakes, but that’s beside the point.

Around the time of a really heavy workload I’d catch myself thinking I could undo my actions away from the computer. So I’d put something in the cupboard at home and then think, no wait I still need that, UNDO. Or I’d turn the TV over then want to turn it back again. UNDO. It was a very weird point in my life. It was extremely subtle and I only just caught myself doing it, and would then think, what the… what am I DOING?!

Of course, it would be pretty handy having an undo button in life. Though if everyone did, it could get messy.

Am I worried?

No, not really. I quite like these little intricacies of our brains. It means there’s a lot of complex stuff going on in there – and a lot of it subliminal. There’s evidence that programmers who develop Tetris Syndrome get better at coding. Our brains are learning these patterns in case we want to use them again.

And when you’re (still) trying to beat the world Tetris record, that can be handy.

Have you been affected by Tetris Syndrome? I can’t provide a Helpline, but I would like to hear about it in the comments.

Postscript: favourite video game music in 2018

The games I’ve played this year have introduced me to some great music. Here are my three favourite pieces, and why they stood out.

Maniac Mansion (DOS) – main theme (Chris Grigg and David Lawrence)

When I first heard this I was (aptly) blown away. It’s bold, exciting and pretty admirable for its time. The layering works brilliantly, building up from a basic signature tune to a really epic piece. Just when you think it’s done, that shrill refrain kicks in (0:41), perfectly timed with the chainsaw.

The rawness of the DOS version will always be my favourite rendition. The other versions are just over-produced for my liking (especially you, Nintendo).

Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge (SE) – Dinky Island jungle (Peter McConnell)

This is just so beautiful. I was fully engrossed in the game but when I entered the jungle area the music stopped me in my tracks. The gentle, zen-like notes breeze in softly, then some bird tweets are sprinkled over the top. So very subtly, the main theme creeps in just enough to remind you what game you’re playing, without breaking the mood.

It’s also so well placed. After the pelting action of LeChuck’s Fortress in the chapter before, the nice, calming return to nature is just perfect.

Unforeseen Incidents – hotel lobby (Tristan Berger)

In a similar way, the music in this scene takes a gentle, soulful turn. It’s very Twin Peaks, and likely a homage in keeping with other elements of the game (especially the setting). I’ve chosen a scene with the TV playing – while those sounds slightly overlap the music, I really like the neon glow it adds. The whole scene is beautifully low-lit and mysterious.

Similar to the jungle in Monkey Island, it serves as a bit of down time from the main action in the game, and the music really complements that.

What video game music have you enjoyed this year?

My 2018 in video games: a (short) review

I played a lot of video games this year. I’m not even sure how I’ve fitted them in. This probably means there’s something much more important I forgot to do.

Anyway, here’s a rundown. Sometimes reviews like this can get a bit rambly, so I’ve restricted myself to five descriptive words or phrases per game. This will be interesting.

The Cave (Double Fine, 2013)

TheCave-Monk

Expertly interwoven, multifaceted, well-built, colourful characters, smooth gameplay.

8/10

What Remains of Edith Finch (Giant Sparrow, 2017)

Edith-Finch

Clever mechanics, engaging, sensible length, nice visuals, weak story.

7/10

Maniac Mansion (LucasFilm, 1987)

Maniac-Mansion

Classic adventuring, tricky puzzles, dark humour, fantastic theme music, mean dead-ends.

7.5/10

Thomas Was Alone (Mike Bithell, 2012)

Thomas-Was-Alone

Quirky, stripped back, insecure cuboids, relaxing, nice puzzles.

6.5/10

Midnight Scenes: Highway and The Goodbye Note (Octavi Navarro, 2018)

Midnight-Scenes

Moody noir, eerie, bitesize fun, simple puzzles, beautiful art.

8/10

The Secret of Monkey Island (LucasArts, 1990)

Monkey-Island

Laugh-out-loud humour, genius puzzles, no-die safety, great unfolding, must-play classic.

9/10

Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge (LucasArts, 1991)

MI2

Wet-myself humour, self-referential, ahead of its time, brilliant score, brave ending.

10/10

Inside (Playdead, 2016)

Inside

Dark humour, mysteriously dystopian, gory puzzles, oozing atmosphere, flat ending.

8/10

Little Nightmares (Tarsier Studios, 2017)

Little-Nightmares

Other-worldly horror, amazing graphics, great monsters, pulse-racing, slightly frustrating.

7/10

Hidden Folks (Adriaan de Jongh, Sylvain Tegroeg, 2017)

Hidden-Folks

Charming, light-hearted, amusing sounds, creative, mindless fun.

8/10

A great mixture, and I enjoyed every one of them. I’m looking forward to what games 2019 brings!

Postscript: my favourite video game music in 2018

First games on my first platforms

Over at I Played the Game! Rob wrote a great piece about the first games he played on new consoles. I thought that was a rad idea and he suggested readers write their own, so here we go.

I’m including desktops and handhelds, otherwise this would be very short.

Amstrad IBM CPC (MS-DOS): Battle Chess

Ah, sweet DOS. Nothing beats punching those command lines on the keyboard (until you’re punched back with Abort, Retry, Fail?)

I got my Amstrad for Christmas in the 1980s. I wanted a Mega Drive, but my parents went for something ‘educational’. On Christmas Eve, once I was tucked up in bed my parents retrieved the computer from its hiding place and had a sneaky game of Battle Chess in the living room. They loved it.

On Christmas Day when I opened my gift they relayed their excitement and I was quite intrigued. That’s undoubtedly why Battle Chess was the first game I played on my Amstrad, choosing it over the other preloaded ones (delaying my love affair with Prince of Persia). And they were right – the game was genius. I wasn’t great at chess, but I loved watching the animated characters battle it out in exceedingly graphic, bloody confrontations. Everything about it is so dark – the bishop has a blade concealed in his staff, for goodness sake!

I think my favourite kill is a queen attacking a pawn. When she zaps his spear he turns and looks at the player as if to say, ‘what the hell?!’

Sega Mega Drive II: The Lion King

The-Lion-King

My continuing pleas for a console were answered (thanks ma and pa!) and now I had the best of both worlds.

At the time the Mega Drive II shipped with Disney’s The Lion King, so naturally I played that first. Not quite the gritty ruthlessness of Battle Chess, but a fun platformer with some really nice graphics.

I remember finding it enjoyable but tricky to master. Moving from keyboard to controller, I guess my fingers were taking a lesson in dexterity. But the range of eye-catching levels and accompanying music tracks were great. Luckily I knew the cheat code so I could sample all of them (Right, A, A, B, Start!) I bought lots of other Disney games after that, including Fantasia, Aladdin, The Jungle Book and World of Illusion.

Since I played The Lion King, every cat I’ve owned has been subjected to a Lion King Lift. Everything the light touches… is our kingdom.

Nintendo DSi: Bomberman Blitz

Bomberman

I had my Mega Drive for a long time – I even took it to uni. So jumping ahead about 15 years(!) my next console was the Nintendo DSi. I always thought the ‘i’ stood for ‘interactive’ because it came with WiFi. I’ve literally just discovered it represents an individual person and also the camera’s ‘eyes’. Okay.

While I’m a Sega girl at heart, there were some good games on this fun little handheld. I jumped at the chance to revisit the classic arcade franchise, Bomberman. Kind of like Pacman with less contact and more strategy, I liked the challenge of trying to outwit your opponents using a range of special tactical items like the remote control bomb, power bomb and pierce bomb. Another bonus was that in this version, if you died you could commandeer a cart on the sidelines and zip up and down throwing bombs into the arena. Revenge from the grave.

I liked the ability to ‘build’ your own game and experiment with different custom parameters, such as setting the number of CPUs and their skill level, enabling and disabling certain power-ups and choosing from a range of level designs.

Playstation 4: CounterSpy

Counterspy

I’m cheating again, because this isn’t my console per se. It’s my husband’s.

But I had to give this mention because it introduced me to CounterSpy.  I’m not normally a fan of stealth games, but I fell in love with the artwork and feel of this one. Set in a cold war scenario with a Bond-worthy soundtrack and jagged, retro graphics, your objective is to stealthily take down spies and collect enemy plans before aborting the weapon launch at the end of each level. Get spotted, and an alarm will sound and you’ve got to get out of there!

This game did strange things to me mentally. I became quite on-edge, and the failed patience and intense nervousness I felt in the game started seeping into my real life, and in the end I had to stop playing it for the sake of my loved ones. But it was fun while it lasted. Maybe I’ll give it another shot one day, on my own, from a bunker somewhere in the hills, far away from humanity.

Interestingly, I’ve just discovered that Dynamighty (the indie team behind CounterSpy) was founded by John Elliot and David Nottingham, who previously worked at LucasArts.

Android OS: She Wants Me Dead

SheWantsMeDead

Remember that time you stepped on my tail? Elbowed me out bed?

I’ve included a mobile game because again, I rarely play them, but the premise for She Wants Me Dead was absolutely right up my street – your cat wants bloody, gruesome revenge.

I’d never played a rhythm game before, and this one really grabbed my attention. The atmospheric, noir visuals are mesmerising, on a par with games like Limbo and Little Nightmares. The splash of red when a sharp object slices you contrasts nicely with the colourless backgrounds, giving it an artsy, Sin City feel.

The gameplay is pretty unique – in order to defeat the multitude of gory traps set by your cat, you must time your movements with the music. This makes for really nice, smooth gameplay (if you get it right!) and that lovely, eerie juxtaposition of sinister action overlaid with a lighthearted ditty.

I think that wraps it up. That was a nice trip down Memory Lane!

So to continue to pay it forward: what were your first games?

Idle pleasures: the best idle animations in videogames

Yeah okay, this isn’t about language. But communication, loosely?

I recently played a bit of Cosmic Spacehead, an old Mega Drive game, via the RetroPie. It’s a somewhat rare combination of platform and point-and-click adventure. Bing! goes my nostalgia-meter.

While I was happily playing, something struck me. If I left Cosmic for a few seconds – I mean, literally, count one, then two – he would yawn. This is quite irritating. I guess it makes sense in the faster paced platform levels (which ‘sew’ together the main adventure) – but surely the nature of a point-and-click requires a fair bit of stopping and thinking? Give me a sec, dude!

Anyway, this led me to think about different idle animations in videogames, and which ones are my favourites.

Fifth place: Sonic the Hedgehog – impatiently waiting for you

I couldn’t write this without mention Sonic’s signature foot-tapping. His sardonic expression with furrowed eyebrows really adds to it. And this makes so much sense for Sonic, who would probably atrophy if he stood still for longer than half a second (or, you know, get shot by a bee bot). Classic retro idleness.

sonic

Fourth place: Crash Bandicoot – splat ‘n’ shake

A detailed character like Crash lends itself well to idle states. There’s variation in this one, too, which puts it above Sonic. Crash might just look from side to side, or he’ll scratch his head, play with a yo-yo, tremble in the cold – or pick up a fruit, throw it in the air, watch it land on his face, and spin to get rid of it. Bravo.

Crash’s idle animation

(excuse the shoddy footage – Youtube couldn’t help me here)

Third place: Ristar – I’m so cute

This little dude has a different idle animation for each level, so extra marks for that. The best one has to be the snow level, where he builds a tiny snowman and beams with delight. I mean, look at the detail in that.

Interestingly, according to the wiki page, most of Ristar’s idle animations were removed for Western versions.

ristar-snowman

Second place: Earthworm Jim – not to be left to his own devices

Earthworm Jim boasts a variety of eight different idle states – and who couldn’t be impressed when he removes his head and uses it as a skipping rope? That’s imagination. Imagine being in the board meeting about that. I also snigger when he shoots himself in the face.

First place: Commander Keen – shout when you’re ready

This has got to be my all-time favourite, and is the first one I thought of for this article. It starts off fairly innocuous – Keen looks at his watch, puts his hands on his hips and shrugs. Then he gets so fed up that he sits down and starts reading a book, turning a page every few seconds. That’s just piss-taking at its best. The ultimate narky reproach for your procrastinating hands!

And then there’s the Easter egg in Commander Keen 4, which I only found out about recently. In the Pyramid of the Moons, leave Keen standing still on the moon carving and he’ll pull down his pants and show you his butt. Mooning on the moon, geddit? Apparently he only does it once, which might be why I’d never noticed that as a kid.

Resources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idle_animations
http://crashbandicoot.wikia.com/wiki/Idle_stance
http://ristar.wikia.com/wiki/Ristar