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Monday, October 15, 2007
I, like many of you, have watched the Fez teaser video (see below) several times over since it was released by Kokoromi a few days ago. What we saw was a 3d world compressed down to one of four 2D projections, where only the 2D versions of the world could be navigated. My imagination sprang into the realm of puzzles that would be possible with such a system, though the video showed no puzzles at all. In other words, it gave us a glimpse of the technology itself without showing us what can be done with that technology, without giving us any idea of what it is like to play Fez.

Recently, Phil Fish, lead designer for the project, was nice enough to send me the one-level Fez demo for preview purposes. This, as I understand it, is the same build that was recently submitted to the IGF.

It took me a while to find a graphics card that could actually run Fez (it sounds like it's eventually destined for the XBox 360, alas), but I finally got the game up on a screen yesterday. Let me sum it up the experience with four words: IGF Design Innovation Award. Have I played the other 172 entries? No, but I don't need to. This little gem is neck-and-neck with Braid as one of the most interesting and innovative games I have ever played.

You can read the full preview at Arthouse Games.

Name: Fez
Developer: Kokoromi
Category: 2D Platformer
Type: License not yet set
Size: 14.6 MB (download not available to public)

Blogger Lim-Dul said at 10/15/2007 03:48:00 PM:  
Name: Fez
Developer: Kokoromi
Category: 2D Platformer
Type: License not yet set
Size: 14.6 MB (download not available to public)

Stop teasing us!

Must... resist... killing... for... Fez... ;-)
Blogger Shih Tzu said at 10/15/2007 06:13:00 PM:  
Cute and I want to play it! But I'm just curious, what makes it different from Crush or Super Paper Mario? (I've yet to play either of those as well.) It seems 2D/3D switching is starting to turn into a design fad.
Blogger Rey O said at 10/15/2007 07:52:00 PM:  
excellent write up - i'm super excited for this.
Anonymous Anonymous said at 10/16/2007 01:25:00 AM:  
Oh wow! What graphics card did you use then?
Anonymous Anonymous said at 10/16/2007 04:01:00 AM:  
how can it win innovation if its been done before?
that's just silly.
Anonymous Melly said at 10/16/2007 04:32:00 AM:  
Super Paper Mario was woefully underdeveloped in its 2D/3D mechanics. Crush seems much closer to what Fez is trying to achieve.

It still looks crazy awesome, and I want it.

Also, I'll be blunt, that review seemed to try to read way too much into the game.
Blogger Lim-Dul said at 10/16/2007 06:31:00 AM:  
Oh noes... Here goes the whole Fez vs Super Paper Mario vs Crush discussion again...

Read it on TIGSource because about everyuthing has been said there - and sadly much more...
Anonymous Anonymous said at 10/16/2007 08:50:00 AM:  
Whether or not Fez was (or wasn't) the first game to use this idea isn't important for me. It looks damn cool and I'll look forward to hopefully playing it on PC sometime next year :)
Blogger Dominic White said at 10/16/2007 09:41:00 AM:  
Crush: A platform/puzzle game about rotating a 3d camera around to create navigatable 2d layouts.

Fez: A platform/puzzle game about rotating a 3d camera about to create navigatable 2d layouts.

So, yeah - while Fez does look cool, I've already played a game that works on a very similar basis. Not only that, but Crush let you move around in 3d OR 2d, and also top-down.

Hoping that Fez has some surprises lined up.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not putting Fez down here - it looks like a ton of fun. It's just nothing I've not seen before.
Blogger Jason Rohrer (jcr13) said at 10/16/2007 10:45:00 AM:  

I think it is something that you haven't seen before. If you watch the Fez teaser, I don't think it gives you a very good idea of what it's like to play the game... It shows a bunch of free-cam rotation, and that's not a key component of the gameplay.

Really, you spend about 99% of your play time in 2D, and *never* actually "switch" to 3D at all... you just flip the world to select another 2D view of it. Moment to moment, the game looks and plays like a (very pretty) Cave Story, or something like that. The 3D nature of the world is pretty mysterious... you never get to walk around in it or otherwise grok it completely---you're limited to these 2D projections.

I haven't played Crush yet, but I have watched a gameplay walk-through. From what I see, it's primarily in 3D, but you get to "crush" it down to 2D periodically to bypass navigational obstructions. Heck, part of the scoring system at the end of each level tallies how many "crushes" you used. Super Paper Mario, on the other hand, was primarily a single-view 2D game, with a special 3D mode that could be used to bypass obstructions.

So, I would say that all three of these games approach 2D/3D/projection differently.

If you had seen SPM, you wouldn't look at Crush and call it "nothing new."

Likewise, Fez is something new: it's about a 2D creature, trapped in 2D-space, in a 3D world. As far as I know, there has never been another game like that. If there is one like that already, please name it.

Funny... this is like a replay of the discussions I had with folks when I wrote about Braid... Just replace Crush with Prince of Persia and replace "2d/3d" with "rewind time." Well, as with Braid, you won't get it until you play it, I guess.
Blogger Shih Tzu said at 10/16/2007 11:05:00 AM:  
Ah, OK. I should've figured this had already been discussed to death. Well, you can't blame people for immediately bringing those prior examples up. I bet Gish would've been derided as a Loco Roco ripoff if it hadn't come out first as well. Anyway, I hope it's unique and all, but even if it were a retread of the other two games somehow I'd still be interested, as I never played those.

Also, 3D cubes that pretend to be 2D Cave Story-type pixels = sexy.
Blogger Dominic White said at 10/16/2007 02:03:00 PM:  
Like I said, Fez looks cool and I definitely will be playing it when it's released. I'm not deriding it or complaining about it. Just saying that the concept of reconfiguring the level via camera repositioning has been covered before, and that Crush is a better comparison than Super Paper Mario, as it fits the concept of a platform-puzzler closer, even if it makes greater use of the third dimension as well.

With Prince of Persia, the whole time element was just a (very fancy) replacement for extra lives. It's not a fair comparison. Both Crush and Fez look to have their own takes on the core concept of altering geometry through camera movement, and I look forward to seeing what Fez does in the final product.

As for Gish/Loco Roco - perfect example. Two great games that both have their own unique takes on a roughly comparable game mechanic (amorphous blob character slides/melts/squeezes through physics-based 2d world), and end up playing completely differently despite their rough 'genre' being the same.

So, yeah. I'm not complaining. Just pointing out that Fez may not be as original as some people are making out. I'm rather surprised at how people are leaping to its defence when there's nothing to defend, as I'm not attacking it. I'll be among the first to download it when it's released.
Anonymous Kon-Tiki said at 10/16/2007 02:26:00 PM:  
Now that we're drawing comparissons... isn't this a bit like And Yet It Moves? >=P
Anonymous fish said at 10/16/2007 04:53:00 PM:  
man, i am *so* controversial.
Blogger Stwelin said at 10/16/2007 06:25:00 PM:  
Pull yer head outta yer ass.

har har *snort*
Anonymous Xander said at 10/18/2007 01:49:00 AM:  
He put "Let's get awesome!" at the end of the trailer. That's probably the greatest thing I've seen all day!

It's only 9:40am, but I reckon it has a chance of going the distance. Can't wait!