On Papo & Yo (Minority)


I just finished the first stage of Papo & Yo by Minority Studios on the PS3 and I was pleasantly surprised. Despite relatively weak scores (Metacritic score of 7.1), the game is an incredibly refreshing experience. It tells the story of a young boy and his best friend ‘The Monster” as they solve puzzles and try to solve The Monster’s “burden to kill”, which it cannot stop itself from doing. The game world reminds me of La Perla, Puerto Rico – one of the poorest yet most colorful, friendliest yet most dangerous sectors in Puerto Rico, perhaps even the Caribbean.

 

The game mechanics themselves are interesting and innovative, but not entirely groundbreaking. There have been puzzle-platform games before, some of which even attempt to tackle deep topics, as anyone who played Jonathan Blow’s Braid will no doubt say. However, where Papo & Yo tries new things is in the approach it takes to puzzle-solving. Instead of using standard cookie-cutter puzzle formulas, like the Zeldas of late, it tinkers with the concept of space. The world of Papo & Yo is as much a space you explore as it is a space you solve. Players don’t simply move boxes around to reach ledges – they move buildings to access caves that lead to a way of reaching the ledge.

The game is all around imaginative, the world i colorful and engaging, and the story as a metaphor is deep and engaging if you think about it, and fluffy and sweet if you don’t. It’s an all around great game that you should give a chance.

So the gist of it is, as I wrote on my Facebook wall:

If you have a PS3, you should try Papo & Yo (PSN). Get the demo, and if you like it buy the game. Minority deserves to be rewarded for this game. It takes a lot of courage to make something that’s not a clone of something else, and these developers went innovative with this one. The main character is the least traditional looking kid (which in itself takes courage to implement in a game) who is trying to escape the wrath of “The Monster” and eventually cure it. The game is a puzzle-platform game. the world is imaginative and although some of the puzzles are a bit obvious, the game is enjoyable as a whole.

What makes it more interesting is the context of the game – it represents the struggles of creator Vander Caballero as a child with his father’s alcohol and drug abuse. The game is imaginative and the symbolism deep.

If you want a break from killing people in Modern Warfare or throwing Hadokens in SF4, then give Papo & Yo a try. You won’t regret it. And in case you haven’t seen it, here’s the trailer for the game that was dedicated “To my mother, brothers and sister, with whom I survived the monster in my father.”

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About Quijano

Johansen Quijano is a professor of English in The University of Texas at Arlington, where he is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in English. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in the Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Development focusing on TESOL, and a Master’s Degree in English Literature. He has published and presented on a variety of topics including video game studies, popular culture studies, education, teaching methodology, language acquisition, romantic poetry, and victorian literature. His research interests include the above-mentioned topics, narrative, interactivity, simulation, new media in general, and 18th century literature. He also enjoys creative writing (fiction, historical fiction, and poetry), and reading all kinds of epic literary works - from the Epic Poem of Gilgamesh to Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series.

Posted on September 15, 2012, in Video Game Commentary and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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