Color Guardians is the second game that my three-year-old and I have played together from start to finish in his relatively brief gaming career. The first was Table Top Racing: World Tour, another freebie courtesy of my PlayStation Plus account that lent itself to cooperative play using a single controller. This time around we navigated our titular protagonists through a world drained of all colour (yes, my spelling will clash with the game’s title throughout this post) by the evil Krogma for reasons we still aren’t quite clear on but were surely nefarious.
In case Color Guardians is as unknown to you as it was to me, the basic mechanic is that your character runs continuously through each level, weaving through the three lanes in order to collect coloured orbs and avoid various pitfalls. The player controls the lane changes as well as their character’s colour, which when matched correctly triggers obstacles such as gates, bridges or springboards and yields maximum points from the glowing orbs. It basically boils down to “see an approaching red item, get in the correct lane and press square to turn red”. Unless the item was something hazardous of course, in which case you just collided with it and are dead. Pretty simple stuff until the speed and variations start stacking and putting your twitch reflexes to the test.
Color Guardians has a touch of Guitar Hero about it, but ends up being less of a rhythm game and more of a crazy-button-mashing game (with Donkey Kong Country-esque minecarts).
The most surprising thing about our experience with Color Guardians was how invested in the threadbare plot my little boy became. When we weren’t playing he’d be asking me to discuss how the characters need to pop the bubbles or dodge the goblins or throw bombs at Krogma; this game clearly captured his imagination and won his heart. Were I playing Color Guardians for my own enjoyment the total experience would have lasted about 10 minutes, most of which being taken up with downloading, installing and deleting. But as of this week we’ve completed every single level and even gone back to the beginning again to find all the added collectibles that are kindly strewn through the world after your first playthrough. Thanks for that, Fair Play Labs…
So anyway, after the boy makes it through the first 20 seconds of a stage and dies, he hands the controller to me with a look that says “Daddy will beat this easily and I’ll never look up to him again should he fail”. Or maybe I’m projecting a little there. At first this was no big deal and I was the gaming master he deserved and, I subconsciously worried, expected. But then things got a little trickier. And then a LOT trickier. The final boss battle in particular was another of those valuable persistence training exercises I examined recently. I tried explaining to Master Three, gently and clearly, that I was unable to overcome Krogma after the first ten or so tries and that we needed to take a break and come back fresh (perhaps after a good night’s sleep and some caffeine) if we hoped to win. He took this news as well as could be expected, so my ‘game time is up’ phone alarm happened to go off and we went to play outside instead. Luckily for all involved there is a happy ending to this tale with a couple of days consideration and practice resulting in mastery of the boss battle sequence and eventually taking down that nasty Krogma for good.
The game’s reward for this feat of over-the-hill reflexes and pattern memorisation was the “All Safe!” trophy and a lifetime supply of collectibles thrown across the map to go back and hunt down. Even better, however, was the enthusiastic high-five and admiration of my boy. His affection may not be reliant solely on my Color Guardian skills, but it was nice to get the job done in the end and to do it as a team.
Thanks again Fair Play Labs, and this time I mean it.