Leather Jacket Gaiden IV

Or, Why You Should Make Videogames.

I tell my friends they should make videogames. I tell you that you should make videogames. It might be a temporary kick, but there’s a part of me that’s convinced – no, certain – of the idea that videogames, as a form of expression, are a way of interacting with other people that don’t follow the same rules we’re used to. A game can be simple-looking, ugly, can be stupid, a game can be slow and clunky and it can break and it can be designed to oppose the player. If you want to write or draw, you might not be able to do that in a way that encourages the audience to engage with what you’ve done. Videogames, on the other hand, videogames beckon and whisper to the player: engage with me. Show me something of you, and I will show you something of me.

Let’s talk about a game therefore, that’s ugly and awful and so hard it can make Shufflejoy do nothing but growl. Leather Jacket Gaiden IV is not a good looking game. It is not, in the version I played, a funny game, either, because the game doesn’t have any of its dialogue. It doesn’t detect impact well, and the player character doesn’t have a lot of expression.

It’s also really fun.

Oh, this game is hard, toxically so – it’s enough that when my computer crashed and I couldn’t play it any more, I was exhausted by the idea of reaching the last boss in the same way. It lets you collect, it lets you jump, it lets you advance levels, but everything about this game, ugly as it is, is tuned in tight. It’s designed to be hard, but fun. It asks you if you can do a thing, then it makes sure what it’s asked you to do is hard.

Leather Jacket Gaiden IV isn’t finished. But it’s told me a lot of things about the person that made it, and I really enjoyed playing it. It’s challenging and fair and for all of its clunkiness, it plays fair with you.

Basically, it’s Dark Souls on a five dollar budget.