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Grow Up (& more from my 24hr charity game-a-thon) – Gaming the Pandemic: Day 101

Content of the article: "Grow Up (& more from my 24hr charity game-a-thon) – Gaming the Pandemic: Day 101"

I'm going to split up games from my 24 hour charity gaming marathon over the next few days. I played 19 different titles, with more than half of them being from my back-log. Until now I've been playing one a day, every day, for as long as I've been furloughed from work…

24 Hours of Gaming – Games Five to Ten

Previous days' entries are linked in my profile.

Due to the support afforded my Grandparents the Macmillan Cancer Support charity is close to my heart. I recently completed their 'Game Heroes' incentive in which you raise money by gaming, non-stop, for 24 hours.

The first 4 games had given me issues – with Just Cause 4 crashing my whole PC and a random issues with my Amiga that made California Games unplayable – but it turns out that was just the start…

Game 5: Tony Hawk's Skateboarding (PS1)

Or Tony Hawk's Pro Skater as you probably know it. I guess they changed the name because, in Europe, 'Skater' – before this game came along, at least – was a word associated with roller-skating or ice skating. I know until this point 'Gaming the Pandemic' has been about clearing my backlog, but rest assured this is not the first time for me with this game – although it may have looked that way for the first few minutes had there been anyone watching.

The last time I played this I was clearing all the challenges on all the levels in a single run, needless to say that was not the case on this occasion. After a few bumbling efforts the muscle memory kicked in and I started to find a nice rhythm.

This game still plays like an absolute dream, and is definitely entirely worthy of it's 'Classic' status, I could have played it for hours but just as I was getting into it the battery on my phone (that I was using to capture) ran out.

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Game 6: Jet Set Radio HD (PC)

Forced back onto the PC, I nevertheless stuck with the theme and went with one of my favourite games of all time. Again, due to the length of time since I last played, and always having an eye on the Twitch Chat, it was a while before I got into the rhythm, but it came eventually – although I never quite hit the heights of the smooth lines and seamless transitions from twenty years ago, but it was still great to re-visit this masterpiece with its beautiful cell shaded graphics, immaculate soundtrack, and properly punk attitude.

Game 7: Parappa the Rappa (PS1)

With my brother-in-law on the way over to play the next game, and the camera already set up (and sufficiently recharged), I filled a few minutes with this rhythm-action superstar at the request of someone in the chat.

Unfortunately, I could not get the timing right to save my life – and after five or six failed attempts to beat the first level I was grateful when Bob arrived to put me out of my misery with some racing on the 360.

Game 8: Dirt 3 (Xbox 360)

We've been playing this game for, literally, years and have a five race championship set up that I loose every time – but this is more down to Bob being a complete racing game nerd than anything else.

After completing that (I actually beat him in the first race but it was all downhill from there) we tried out the Gymkhana mode – something I'd not played since the game was new. It was much more fun than I remembered and I even won a rudimentary 3 round championship before Bob had to return to work with his tail between his legs.

Game 9: Rez HD (Xbox 360)

While the 360 was on, and the camera set up, I couldn't resist a game of Rez HD. This is another of my all-time favourite games. I've played it endlessly on several different machines over many years and, in my prime, I've achieved the pink butterfly ending.

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On this occasion I died at the level 2 boss. I genuinely can't remember the last time I started a game of Rez and didn't beat it. I was livid! And turned to a game I hadn't played before for solace.

Game 10: Grow Up (PC)

There were three games I spent a long time playing in the whole twenty four hours, and this was the first of them.

Grow Home was a bit of a revelation when it was first released. Coming, as it did, at a time when Ubisoft were at their most insatiable; turning out yearly entries of all their franchises no matter the impact on quality. But Grow Home, a tiny, low-poly game about an unwieldy little robot called Bud using the flora and fauna of a strange planet to reach 'M.O.M.' (His mothership, high above), bucked this trend. It was a joyful little game that brought a powerful sense of genuine exploration and discovery to bear on the player.

Grow Up is the sequel to that game and, as much as there's no denying that it's 'more of the same', that can't be a problem when a game is this amazing to play.This time around there are more plants with more uses, Bud can even spawn any plant in his database anywhere on the plant to make use of it's properties; be that as a trampoline, a mini geyser, on any of the other actions, most of which build into the verticality of the game.

The game world is much bigger this time around and, to aid exploration, you quickly unlock a jet-pack and glider. There's a real danger this kind of mobility can break a game – robbing it of the effort and reward of exploration – but it's well implemented here and jumping from a thousand foot high star-plant and gliding around the world is blissful.

Helping in this regard is the incredible art style and beautiful world in which this all takes place. Looking down on this world as the result of a successful ascent is genuinely exhilarating, and the temptation to throw yourself into the air and fall/float/glide back to ground level is almost impossible to resist.

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I mentioned in the previous post that I'd played a game that used text dialogue and, unlike Yooka Laylee, managed for it not to be an annoying interruption to proceedings. Well, this was that game; in Grow Up the text is not only short and to the point, but often very funny. I felt none of the irritation I had with Yooka Laylee, and the support satellite, with whom these conversations invariably take place, feels like more of a real, likeable, character than anything or any one in Playtonics bore-fest.

Grow Up – A beautiful low-poly world to explore and likeable, funny, characters with which to do so. Completely charming.

Macmillan Cancer Support is a fantastic charity that does amazing work whatever else is happening in the world. Search for 'Macmillan Game Heroes' to find out more about them and the 'Game Heroes' programme.


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