Video and computer games are not really my cup of tea. Yes, as a kid I played my fair share of Mario Brothers on my old first generation gray Nintendo box, but the games these days have gotten so elaborate, photorealistic, and violent that they’ve lost all joy for me. But a few years ago I did discover one exception. Orisinal, the “personal playground” of flash game designer Ferry Halim, is an oasis of innocence and charm in the increasingly intense world of computer gaming.
Playing an Orisinal game is like being in the best children’s book you ever opened. It’s a world filled with leaping frogs, quacking ducklings, sliding monkeys, exuberant puppies, flowers, bubbles, and balloons. The enemies in the games are snails, puffer fish, bouncing bunnies, ladybugs, “cranky” crabs, or falling acorns. The premises are simple, based around natural or childhood themes, yet the situations are novel and sometimes comical. In the game Bugs, you’re a little girl trying to blow a bubble and keep the ladybugs from popping it. In High Delivery, you use a fan to blow a bottle hanging from a upward-floating balloon towards magically-suspended roses, which appear in the bottle when caught. And in Chicken Wings Are Not For Flying you throw umbrellas to chicks jumping out of their nest so that they can have a soft landing on the ground.
The soft palette and charming style of the animation, plus the original situations and sweet music, make the Orisinal games a great example of joyful aesthetics that are approachable to both children and adults. You may find the games don’t reward serious playing — I confess I just open them to check out the illustrations but don’t really make an effort to play them — but they’re still very enjoyable and inspiring just to look at for a little while.September 1st, 2009