Beat The Winter Blues With Video Games

Winter has me down. Minimal sunshine and maximum snow are teaming up to ensure I maintain a miserable outlook for the next three months. However, I’ve got a secret weapon against winter blues: Adorable Video Games!

Casual, hardcore, girl, boy, or other, it doesn’t matter, sometimes you need dash of whimsy.

After spending eight hours in a cubical wondering if all that snow will be the death of me on my way home or if it’s worth it to leave the building for food, I’ve earned a little whimsy in my life.

“Oh, but cute games aren’t real games,” I hear the voice in the back of my mind say.

Ninety-percent of the games released for the Wii, the DS, or the female demographic are crap and make the God of Games weep (maybe that’s where winter comes from…?). Rather than playing them, my time would be better spent and my brain would find a better challenge, sleeping or watching DVRd daytime television.

“No, it wouldn’t! Remember Ninjatown and World of Goo?” the rest of my mind says from behind chattering teeth.

My freezing mind is right. Let’s look at some adorable games that can both lift spirits and challenge intellectually.

ilomilo (XBLA, WP 7)

I don’t know where to start, because from top to bottom this game is adorable. Ilo and Milo are Safkas and best friends. They’re such good friends, in fact, that they meet in the park every day to spend time together. Unfortunately, the park, made up of cubes –some of which are living–, isn’t always the same as they left it. Actually, it’s never the same as they left it.

You control ilo at one and of the park and milo at the other end, switching between the two with the push of a button. They often need to work together to solve the maze of cubes that the park has turned into.

The puzzles are challenging and the happy dance the pair does when they get together is heartwarming.

LittleBigPlanet (PS3)

If you go home to someone or are alone at the end of the day, LittleBigPlanet is the perfect way to wind down. Playing as an individual or with someone, the gameplay facilitates co-operation with both other players and the environment.

While the gameplay will embrace your soul, the game design will warm your heart.  The textures and styles used to create these determined little sackboys and the world they play in are straight out of a dream. A delightful dream where nothing is properly proportioned, anything is possible, and even though the rules were only vaguely explained, everything makes perfect sense.

Halo – gruntpocalypse (360)

Gruntpocalypse is a gametype in Halo: Reach Firefight where players must kill oncoming waves of various types Grunts until the round ends.” [source]

Grunts, unlike human opponents, are super cute and they don’t talk your ear off teabag your corpse.

They do, however, happily suicide bomb. They run towards you on their stumpy little legs with warm bombs clenched in their tiny, clawed fists.

If you play Gruntpocalypse and dig deep in the customizations menu, you can find and enable Birthday Skulls. With this feature enabled, Grunts explode into confetti with the sound of cheering children every time you get a headshot. It might be the most delightful audio-visual combination ever brought about by unabashed, detail-oriented slaughter.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii)

Mindless button mashing or strategic weapon usage are just two of the many ways you can choose to play Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Sometimes you just want you bust some sucker over the head with a magic wand until he falls off the level, or special move him so good he’s sent hurdling into the wall that keeps video game characters out of the third dimension. The game is goofy, lovable violence.

Nintendo and cute go hand-in-hand, and now brawling and cute do too.

There are so many unlockables, both meaningful (new playable characters) and not so meaningful (music), and modes to play. Before you know it, you’ll be arranging stickers to strengthen your characters, brawling the boss, and calling in sick to work, because you might just die if you don’t save your friends right now.

Ninjatown (DS)

This game is a comic, a cartoon, and tower defense. Tower defense has an amazing instant-gratification ability because you just need to finish this one (usually short) level or tweak this one element to feel triumphant.

Mr. Demon and his Wee Devils are coming down from Mount Feroshi to take over Ninjatown (and steal a super delicious cookie recipe) and you with the daft but good-hearted Mayor must follow the guidance of the ninja evaluation analyst to defend the town.

There’s humor, betrayal, and strategy!

In addition, if you buy the game new, you get stickers.

World of Goo (PC, MAC, Linux, iOS, WiiWare)

Each level in the games is a brief challenge. Start in one spot and build a bridge for the goo balls, using the goo balls, to the tube. The tube wishes to collect as many of the balls in a jar as possible.

The first few levels start out easy enough, where you often collect far more goo balls than your goal. Your brain is exercised but not too worked out.

On top of the DIY construction are the little things. The little things like the goo balls and the way their little faces waver between please and confused, and the signs, which guide you, left by “The Sign Painter.”

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