City 16's Top 10 Games of 2009: #9

The Year of Our Lord 2009 is coming to a close. Hopefully this will mark the end of having to say ‘two-thousand-and’ as a prefix to the year name and we’ll move to the more sensible ‘twenty’ . Sure we’d only be saving two syllables but over the course of the remaining 990 years of the millennium those two syllables will start to add up.

By which I mean to say the 9th best game of 2009 is:


If you read any gaming blog around the start of the year you couldn’t escape the talk of Flower, thatgamingcompany’s follow up to flOw. Chances are, however, it won’t be appearing on many Top 10’s around the internet because, inevitably, just as suddenly as the buzz surrounding the game came, it disappeared again. To be honest I was a little worried when I decided to include it on this list. Was the game really as good as we all thought it was back then? Did we all just get carried along by the hype and general feeling that this game was important?

No. It turns out that Flower is still brilliant. The game asks you to take control of a breeze within the dream of a flower, bringing life and restoring nature to the world by collecting petals as you travel past flowers, making them bloom. Needless to say it drew praise from critics and ‘games-as-art’ bloggers and criticism from the legions of forum-ites who, so upset with the lack of anything to kill, dismissed it as pretentious arty bollocks.

That’s a shame because Flower’s essential genius is that, aside from its ideas and themes, it is a really well made and enjoyable game. Three things deserve highlighting. Firstly, it looks beautiful. Surprisingly, given the theme, the visuals don’t look natural but are instead stylised with a hyper-colourful flair with each level having a distinctive look with a different colour palette to accompany it. Secondly the sound design is excellent. Every flower you bloom explodes in an orchestral flurry that, no matter when you trigger it, fits in with the background music. Essentially it does for orchestral ambiance what Rez did for Japanese electronica. Thirdly, and perhaps most impressively, the controls feel both natural and responsive. This was somewhat of a surprise because Flower exclusively uses the Playstation 3’s near universally terrible Sixaxis motion controls. To date it’s the only game that uses a motion controller that didn’t have me fighting against the control system to play it, and I include the Wii in that.

Of course, as is true with all great games, the overall experience is far more than the sum of its parts. Frustratingly, and I realise I’m not helping here, the weight of discussion behind it detracts from the actual product: simply a well made and relaxing little indie game. With that in mind I’ll finish with a video.


What could be better than blowing some petals around the place? Find out my 8th favourite game of the year tomorrow.


1 Response to “City 16's Top 10 Games of 2009: #9”

  1. 1 Izzi
    17/12/2009 at 12:17

    nice.. i hadn’t heard of this game before. (Probably cuz its ps3.)

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