My artsy geek alarm sounded when I saw Killer 7 sitting in the used rack at EB Games. I’d heard good things. Or, if not good things, that it was a total trip to play with buckets of style. It was pretty much mandatory that I pick it up for the $10 they demanded, since if nothing else, I could keep it in my game rack to create the illusion of depth. It’s like Proust. Nobody reads Proust, but people think you’re smart if you have it on your shelf.

A few nights ago, I popped it into the Cube and spent about 3 hours with it, and I was digging on it. I’m not one of those conservative types that freak out when a game starts doing things differently. I’ll chill and wait to be impressed. So I was chilling, taking little mental notes on the plot and figuring out the control scheme, enjoying my life on the cutting edge of artistic gaming.

Even on the cutting edge, though, some things can’t be escaped. Even in an artsy, mind-warping game like Killer 7, you’re going to run into…tutorial text. They obviously spent a lot of time writing a twisting story and perfecting the art style, and it shows. This was a labor of love. And then right in the middle of this highly polished labor of love was the weakest copout since the crate puzzle, page after page of small-print text that should’ve gone in the paper-thin manual. I love my Gamecube. As a gaming platform, it’s an awesome little machine. But it’s a terrible, terrible e-book reader, and it did yank me completely out of the game because I go from being in a cool, artsy world to squinting at pages of tiny text. I really wish they’d spent more time on, say, a cool way of teaching me to play the game to go with the really cool game they developed.

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