I’ll be honest. I didn’t know what I was doing, I couldn’t see very much because it was dark and it was all a bit messy really. No, I’m not talking about my first time, but my experience of playing Rez on the Dreamcast.
Rez is one of those games I’d heard people rave about over the years and never actually played myself. I also discovered it was quite desirable on the Dreamcast, so I decided to “invest” in the game. I bought my used copy from eBay for about £40 – not the biggest investment I’ve ever made – but the case and disc looked new when it arrived.
I’d considered just sitting on my investment and waiting until demand forced prices up. Unfortunately, the sudden swell in demand for Dreamcast games did not materialise and it didn’t look like I’d get the 500% return I’d envisioned. In light of this revelation, I opted to play the game. After an hour or so, and having finished the four stages, I still didn’t really know what was going on, but I did understand why this game is held in such high regard.
Rez is an on-rails shooter. “Nothing new”, you might say. But this is a MUSICAL shooting game. Electronic music and shooting things entwined in a ball of…music and shooting. Yes, there is a story and an objective, but that’s not focus. If you want to know the story, read the manual, or the ridiculously tiny font that’s displayed throughout the actual game. No, the driving force behind Rez is “synaesthesia” and Rez delivers.
That sounds like a neurological condition, you say? Well, you’d be right. It’s the automatic experience of one sense in response to visual or auditory stimulation. I think. Something like that. It’s to do with the senses anyway. The game is pretty trippy and apparently the aim is for you to see and feel colour and so on. Somehow, it works.
Visually, Rez is fantastic and it sounds brilliant too. Despite the screen being so busy at times, Rez draws you in and doesn’t let go. Numerous times I was absorbed by the colours and shapes on the screen. There is a plot and an objective, but I won’t go into detail because that would miss the point. Rez is about the experience. Some of the team that developed this game also worked on Panzer Dragoon for the Saturn, and the similarities are obvious in the gameplay, but that’s all. Rez is a genre on its own – although I’m not sure the music shooting genre is overflowing just yet.
Rez is clever in that it doesn’t just use the visuals and sound as a gimmick. The pace of the soundtrack changes as you progress deeper into each stage. The more enemies on screen, the more frantic the visuals and sound become. Even though Rez can be very challenging at times, somehow you don’t get lost with all that is happening, nor do you lose concentration. I end up staring at the screen, barely thinking about what I’m doing, but managing to destroy the enemies and enjoy the beauty of Rez, all while in some trance-like state.
I guess the simplicity of holding a button and letting go repeatedly to target and kill does help. Aim at the enemies holding A, let go, job done. However, I prefer to target the maximum number of enemies as possible – this results in additional musical effects being added to the main soundtrack, giving you the impression you are making music. It adds a layer of replayability too; rather than just destroy enemies one or two at a time, aim for four or eight and reap the musical benefits. Of course, you’re not actually making music yourself, but it FEELS like it. And there’s that word again…feel.
Speaking of which, if none of the above has got your senses tingling, there is something that might. There is a rather seedy peripheral available for Rez, called the “Trance Vibrator” – a girlfriend may help in this situation. Rez’s creator, Tetsuya Mizuguchi, insists it was not made as a sexual aid, but it sure as heck looks like it. It’s a decent shape, vibrates in time with the music and changes intensity accordingly, and even comes with a “glove” to keep it clean from, err, dust. Yeah, dust.
It’s been described as the best peripheral ever by Screwattack.com and I can see why. If your girlfriend doesn’t like games and makes you participate in social things, like talking or cuddling or watching Marley and Me, then Rez and it’s stimulatory aid – sorry, “Trance Vibrator” (like that sounds any less suspicious) – might just be the thing for you. Imagine a world where you control the game AND your partner’s physical reactions. It would be like having three hands. This blog illustrates my point well. Note: it’s probably not safe for work.
Admittedly, it might be difficult to be absorbed by Rez when your trance-like state is punctuated by her vocal flourishes. At least you could carry on in this arrangement for a long time without tiring – just keep replaying her favourite level. Unfortunately, the peripheral isn’t available for the Dreamcast, but you can get the game and vibrator (never thought I’d write that) for PS2 on eBay.
I’m surprised no other developers have cashed in on this. Gaming for couples could be a whole new genre worth millions, and preventing women all over the world from becoming “COD widows”. Males will get the benefits of gaming AND a satisfied partner…at the same time!
Either way, Rez delights on many levels, and if the music shooting aspect doesn’t float your boat, then I’m sure the effects of the Trance Vibrator will be just as rewarding. Rez is the ultimate cooperative game. But I would make one suggestion: don’t buy a used one.