Many video games focus on tackling challenges and overcoming obstacles. Often, these come in the form of an adversary that must be fought and killed. While this may often be depicted in gruesome fashion, violence like this is not always necessary. Other times, art is the most powerful weapon.
Art is necessary for survival, not just physically, but spiritually as well. It is a tool that acts as a creative outlet, that allows people to not only express themselves but also to air their grievances against unjust systems of oppression. It can also restore beauty to what has become a sterile and cold world. These titles celebrate the power of human creativity.
Okami was Capcom’s best game that was sadly overlooked on the PlayStation 2. The Japanese Sun Goddess Amaterasu, who takes on the form of a white wolf, must fight the minions of the demon Orochi, and protect the land of Nippon, a fictionalized version of Japan.
One of Amaterasu’s greatest weapons is the celestial brush. At any time during gameplay, she can freeze time and draw on the scene. She can create bombs to destroy barriers, draw the sun or moon to change the time of day and create lily pads for crossing water. In combat, she can slash foes with a swipe of the brush, and even sprout happy little trees against them.
6 Epic Mickey
Epic Mickey came from Warren Spector, the man behind the Deus Ex franchise, and the now-defunct Junction Point Studios. While Mickey’s video game adventures have been lighthearted, Epic Mickey puts Disney’s iconic mouse in a slightly darker shade of ink.
In this title, Mickey ends up in a world populated by forgotten and abandoned creations, including his predecessor, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. He is armed with a magic paintbrush that can use ink to repair structures, as well as vanquish foes with paint thinner. Mickey’s actions will have repercussions throughout the game, so he needs to be careful with his choices.
5 Jet Set Radio
The Sega Dreamcast’s life was very short, but it made an impact on the gaming community whose legacy can be felt today. It boasted a collection of diverse games, including the stylish Jet Set Radio, which came to the West as Jet Grind Radio.
The rollerblading band of graffiti artists known as the GGs must navigate the city streets of Tokyo-to, where they have to compete against rival street gangs and dodge the police to bring their art to the city. The cel-shaded graphics give the game a unique identity that still holds up today, and the soundtrack is infinitely replayable, bringing a mix of hip-hop and funk.
4 Drawn To Life: The Next Chapter (Wii)
Developer 5th Cell created Drawn To Life, a 2D platformer game where the hero and all the hero’s tools are created by whoever wields the DS stylus. The game spawned a SpongeBob-themed spinoff and a sequel for both the DS and the Wii.
The Wii version of Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter from Planet Moon Studios serves as an alternate timeline spinning off from the original game. While drawing with the Wii pointer controls does feel a little clunky, it gets the job done. Players even have the freedom to choose where the head and limbs are located on the character, so one can easily produce Mike Wazowski eating tacos for health.
The Wii U may be Nintendo’s lowest-selling console of all time (besides the Virtual Boy), but it did have a great first-party lineup of Nintendo games. It also was the console on which Splatoon, Nintendo’s juggernaut shooter franchise, premiered.
Splatoon is a multiplayer shooter that puts human-squid hybrids called Inklings in the middle of epic battles. The teams do not shoot each other with lead, though. They cover the arena with their respective ink colors to claim as much territory as possible. Inklings can transform into their squid form to swim through their color and travel faster, while the opponent’s ink color will slow them down. When the results screen shows an overhead of the map, it looks like Jackson Pollock had a field day.
2 Marc Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure
Artist and fashion designer Marc Ecko brought the world Marc Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure back in 2006. The game follows Trane, an aspiring graffiti artist in the city of New Radius, where police brutality and media propaganda run rampant.
Getting Up is all about navigating the city and fighting back against corruption with Trane’s art. He has a selection of samples to choose from before officially starting a mission. He can use his art to tag walls and vehicles, and is able to get to those hard-to-reach places, thanks to the game’s Prince of Persia-esque climbing mechanics.
1 De Blob
De Blob, developed by Blue Tongue Entertainment and published by the late THQ, follows a rebellious blob as he helps fight back against the INKT Corporation, which has sucked all the color out of the world and forced the citizens into cubicle jobs.
De Blob can absorb and mix different colors, then jump at a building and splat it with paint along to a jazz-infused soundtrack. The colors revitalize public spaces and bring individuality back to the city. What looks like a cute game about coloring buildings is actually a revolutionary manifesto.
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