Videogame Back to the Future

Videogame Back to the Future
For a designer as dedicated to "experimental gameplay” as indie iconoclast Jonathan Blow, it’s curious that Braid is so reminiscent of Super Mario Bros. But in borrowing Nintendo’s basics — 2D side-scrolling, goombah-esque baddies, piranha plants in green pipes — it utterly transforms them, and not just by replacing 8bit graphics and bleep-based melodies with impressionistic watercolours and sad strings. Braid’s meta is rife with melancholy, putting the stereotypical quest for a kidnapped princess into stark relief. This is a world ruled by causality and she’s missing because you messed up. Blow wants you to learn from such mistakes — not by re-starting but by rewinding and remembering what went wrong. Worlds are affected differently by this reversal, turning each into an exquisitely complex puzzle. Where Mario was about timing, Braid is about time as it pushes gaming to the next level.