10S exemplifies some of the pitfalls and joys of straddling game genres
There is a new Undertale
and I have yet to play it. But whenever I think of Undertale
, I’m reminded of an aspect of its makeup that I still respect – Toby Fox somehow introduced Bullet Hell concepts to a really wide swath of Western players.
Bullet Hell, while not at all my genre of game, is a fascinating one with a very dedicated following and a relatively long history. It has never really caught on in the mainstream Western gaming tradition. The defining names of bullet hell – Touhou, DoDonPachi, Ikaruga, eXceed – they come from Japanese developers, and the successful Western Bullet Hells tend towards an emulation of the Japanese style. That general underlying concept, the bullets and enemies covering the entire field of play, can be interpreted differently while keeping the sense of powerlessness that one has in seeing the sheer force of hundreds of bullets intact.In 2015’s Undertale
, an RPG that hinged on bullet hell mechanics during every battle/interaction with other characters. In lieu of the typical spaceship, you control a little heart. All power is taken away from the player here, you fire no bullets back, you are purely evasive. This actually intensifies the natural sense of powerlessness against enemies that the Bullet Hell game creates. This leads to a central theme of Undertale
, you’re forced to reckon with the idea that your enemies aren’t really enemies, and you shouldn’t probably feel a sense of power over them in the first place.
There are better examples than this fight, obviously, but I think the surprises that lay in later stages are worth saving for potential new players
This system doesn’t seem to get listed as one of Undertale’s
defining features. It feels like the discourse around Undertale
focused mostly on the dialogue-box system of sparing others, the empathy the player feels for other characters, and the concreteness of any actions you take.If I had to give Undertale
a genre first-and-foremost, it is a Role-Playing Adventure Game with Bullet Hell and visual novel mechanics. This is incredibly specific, and doesn’t capture the entire game, but I think it’s an interesting exercise to take with games, creating boxes and placing them in there. It’s up to the audience to create these boxes, and while there’s nothing else precisely like Undertale
, those boxes can be helpful in finding similar cross-generic experiences.
This brings me to 10S
, a self-described “Tennis Hell” game from owch. 10S
serves as an example of generic blend. It’s tough. I never feel like I’m in control, which I guess is par for the course, and let me tell you, the tennis racket is not an effective offensive weapon. I actually feel that same sort of helplessness that I felt out of Undertale
, except in 10S
, it doesn’t really end. I feel like I’m constantly flailing, diving at tennis balls I can’t reach and fighting with one or two projectiles against enemies that can produce hundreds. My racket is no match for their power, but it’s what I have.In a normal tennis game, there are boundaries. Singles tennis is a game of power, and a game of wits. You have to play to your opponent, you can kinda predict where you want to go based on where they want to go, how you want to react to their actions creates a reaction in them. In being one half of the players on the court in a singles tennis match, you’re given a significant amount of power to begin with, and your success as a player is partially based in taking over more than half of the power on the court by your positioning and skill with the racket.10S
creates a fascinating sort of dissonance in power by combining these two genres. You’re put face to face with how powerless you can be. You can’t generally recover if you make a mistake. Your enemy across the net (or, rather, where a net would be) is always more powerful than you, which is the complete opposite of what tennis is.I find this game very difficult but I recommend readers try it. There’s a free demo, and the full experience is relatively inexpensive anyway.
I’m very early-in at this point, and I understand that the walls break down eventually and it becomes an open-world tennis experience, something I’m excited to see when I get to it. Also, two of this creator’s other releases (LONG LIVE THE AXE
and BEAT THE ART BREAKER
) will likely appear in my list of my favorite games from 2018
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