flOwing uphill

There is a certain delicious irony in the fact that the first game that has made me happy to own the tragically expensive PlayStation 3 is an $8 download. Based on a free Flash game. (I’m pretty sure that’s irony in the dictionary sense, too, not the fake Alanis Morisette definition.)

And really, flOw isn’t much of a game — more like a very pretty, very relaxing toy. My girlfriend pegged it: “This is such a game for stoners.” Sharkey calls it training wheels for Spore. I’m sure someone out there was like LOL ELECTROPLANKTON at some point. And all of these disparagements are probably correct! But it’s so lovely and mellow; I approve. And I’m not even a stoner.

But that doesn’t make the curiously sparse and uninviting PS3 library any less of a bitter pill to be swallowed. Sony’s apparent apathy to its new console has been baffling, at least until this morning when I had an epiphany in the shower (no, that’s not as dirty as it sounds) and realized that the PS3 represents the diametric opposite of the PlayStation 2. The PS2 famously used its inexpensive DVD playback capablities as a trojan horse to sneak into many gamers’ home and crush the Dreamcast, and there was suspicion that Sony intended to do precisely the same with Blu-ray. This was widely regarded as a boneheaded idea, since the demand for Blu-ray is substantially lower than interest in DVD had been, and the Blu-ray drive makes the system insanely pricey.

But that’s the difference between the two; Sony doesn’t want to use Blu-ray to leverage sales of PS3, it wants to use the PS3 as a way to inflate the Blu-ray installed base. Which also seems fairly boneheaded, but in a completely different way. This is probably not a major revelation to anyone else, but it’s news to me. Shut up. I’ve been too busy to pay attention lately, alright?

23 thoughts on “flOwing uphill

  1. I agree with you, especially considering the latest news on the hardware revisions in Europe. I mean, they’ve already taken away one of the major incentives, leaving us with the Blu-Ray Player and Cell. That’s a bit of a harder bargain for me.

  2. Wow, I hadn’t even heard about the loss of backwards compatibility. That’s the only thing the system is good for right now. Talk about horrible.

  3. Sony taking functionality out of a device is the supreme boneheaded move. The only rationale my brain can concieve is that they are trying to drum up demand for all those stacks of PS3’s in retail by making them seem rare or scarce. If you want a PS3 that can play PS2 games, you HAVE TO GET ONE NOW before they are sold out. It’s not a budget Blue-Ray player guys, it’s a collector’s item.

    Also: Making a song called “Ironic” that doesn’t contain irony, is in itself ironic. Give Alanis a little credit for blowing your mind.

  4. I like Sony well enough, but its continuous and unrelenting suiciding tells me to stay away for the sake of my own safety. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of anything less appealing than the PS3 that isn’t at least partially made out of feces. Doubly so if MGS4 ends up finding its way to the 360, as the rumors would have it.

    On your recommendation, I went to Turtle Tower with the lady this weekend. It was wonderful.

  5. Personally, if I bought a pricey gaming system, I’d be happy to see a good game for so cheap.
    Electroplankton was cool, but I definitely see the similarity in terms of “digital toy” status.
    P.S. You should update your sidebar links, Jeremy. The Gameroom Blitz is here now:

  6. I think that’s irony precisely in the Alanis sense. Insense. Incense? And yeah, Sony doesn’t care if the PS3 bombs as a game console, just as long as Blu-Ray stands a fighting chance. The funny thing (but not ironic) is that Blu-Ray would probably win or lose without PS3, dependless of its marginal effect on the whole, so Sony is simply screwing their moneymaker console brand out of sheer misguided stubborness. Oh, well. Guess it was fate, with the third time console curse? At least they’re making a spectacle out of it.

  7. Well, Mr. Parish, I’m downloading the game right now. You see, normally I wouldn’t have time to come and drop useless banter onto a ingeniously crafted personal web page. No, sir. But because games on PS3 take hours to download (yes, even the ones under 150 MB), I have all kinds of time. Would you like me to read War and Peace for you? How about something by James A. Michener? I could just write a polemic on the success of Sony, but, alas, it has already been written. Frailty, thy name is PS3.

  8. “Also: Making a song called “Ironic” that doesn’t contain irony, is in itself ironic. Give Alanis a little credit for blowing your mind.”

    That’s not the only thing she blows…


    Ok, not really so much at all.

  9. The PS3 is selling better than the XBOX360 did at its launch, yet no one called the 360 a failed console a few months ago. Nice try, though.

  10. I expected Sony to win yet another console war until they finally revealed the PS3’s price. I also underestimated the charming, innovative potential of the Wii until I actually played it. Live and learn I guess. I’ll still probably end up buying a PS3 eventually. I have no rational explanation why. MGS4? Whatever will let me sleep easy at night I suppose.

  11. The PS3 is selling better than the XBOX360 did at its launch, yet no one called the 360 a failed console a few months ago. Nice try, though.

    Sony did.

  12. Ok, guys, the TF comment threads are usually a *break* from the constant console bickering on other gaming sites.

    Anyway… the only thing that really bothers me about this whole fiasco is, what the hell am I gonna play my great PS2 library on if the PS3 continues to screw up so badly that I never buy one and my old original-run PS2 finally gives up and dies completely on me? Bah.

  13. This ‘no PS2 chip’ thing sounds suspiciously like a marketing stunt trying to move PS3s off store shelves. It sounds too similar to Rockstar’s “OMG GTA3 IS VIOLENT BUY BEFORE IT IS PULLED FROM STORE SHELVES! I RED IT ON TEH INTARDNET IT MUST B TRU!” strategy. I wouldn’t put it past Sony at this point considering some of their most recent marketing schemes (ie PSP-blog). They’re just tryin to blow everyone’s brain harder than Alanis Morisette. Because blowing is all Alanis Morisette knows how to do.

  14. It might be worth picking up a cheap new PS2 right when they finally discontinue those, just as insurance.

    I’m not one for conspiracy theories, but it is kind of weird how this might end up driving sales for both consoles, at least temporarily. I’m sure that must have gone into their decision-making, even if it wasn’t really the goal.

  15. I don’t believe that Sony would do something as crazy as announce cutting a feature in the European PS3 in order to scare people in North America into buying a PS3. That’s pretty insane, even for them. But it could have that effect inadvertantly.

    So, industry types, how long do you think we have until true backward compatibility is cut in US models of the PS3? I have around 300 games from the last two generation that I want to be able to play (reasonably) properly on my HD set, so this is actually an issue for me.

  16. After my initial post, I rechecked the machine to see if Flow (sorry, flOw) had finished downloading. It hadn’t, so I played some Crackdown.

    When I was finally able to play it, however, I couldn’t believe how engaging it was. The motion control actually works and the ‘gameplay’ — for we all know that it’s a ‘non-game,’ so says 1up’s Luke Smith — hearkens back to a time when Mom would ask me to get off the game and brush my teeth. ‘Just one more level!’ But was it just one more? Absolutely not. This is how I experience flOw this morning when my girlfriend sat next to me and reminded me that the yard needed mowing. ‘Just one more, ahem, level.’

    Forty-five minutes and a thoroughly fascinated girlfriend later, I was playing as some other creature, mowing down on more diatoms, or whatever those are supposed to be. I haven’t been this happy with a less-than ten dollar gaming purchase since Geometry Wars, way back in February of 2006. The staff at 1up continue to influence my spending habits; I’ve purchased Viva Pinata and Hotel Dusk because of the reception from the Ziff’ers.

    If you have a PS3 and are patient, give this game a shot. Oh, and my experience wasn’t through LSD colored goggles.

  17. Allow me to interrupt the console warring by thankthankthanking you for mentioning Arcana on this week’s Retrounauts. While as a game it was just decent (all right, the story was good… for 1992), it hits my nostalgia buttons big time.
    One thing you didn’t mention, though, was that Arcana had insanely good music. Understandable, I guess, as it’s been so long since you played it, and you probably don’t remember.

  18. Mister Raroo said, “You spent $600 on a PS3.”

    Yes, and I also signed up with the Air Force for six years. I was always taught that two wrongs made a right. Now I’m married to a fat chested blond with a trust fund.

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