O-NEG 14: CellCraft
Ah, for some reason, I didn’t experience any Kongregate flash game withdrawal symptoms like I thought I would. However, I guess I do have to realize that without Kongregate, my life has no computer games in it anymore, and so this will most likely be my last O-NEG.
CellCraft is a nice little game, designed by Anthony Pecorella (Phoenix00017 of Kongregate), programmed by Lars A. Doucet (of Super Energy Apocalypse fame), and with art by Chris Gianelloni from BGroupProductions.
It’s an edutainment game, but wait wait let me finish! It’s a GOOD edutainment game. Not only is CellCraft EDUlious, but it’s also practices deTAINMENT. Edulious detainment, right?
Edulcorated sustainment aside, CellCraft manages to be both fun and informative at the same time. Though it’s only eight levels long, each level brings on a new concept and plants the concept firmly into our minds with a set of challenging (ok, fine, not really challenging) requirements to reach the next level.
It’s very interesting that Lars would be the programmer for this game – his Super Energy Apocalypse is revered by many as the best flash edutainment game at the time of its release (and probably even now). The concepts are similar – things are greatly simplified, using arbitrary units to count ‘energy’, ‘pollution’, etc. The same arbitrary units are employed in CellCraft – ‘one glucose’ can be converted into ‘two ATP’, or ‘thirty-eight ATP’ with mitochondria. It doesn’t really make sense, but the concept that mitochondria are far more efficient than the cell at processing glucose does get through.
There are a few quirks to point out, though – for one,
spelling mistakes the lag when playing. A second (a measure of time, not 2nd) is obviously not a second, and the mouse is slow to respond. Maybe that’s just me and the tabs I have open, though.
BUT I WANTED TO OVERSAVE
Ah, when I reinstalled Windows a few weeks back, all of my .sols were wiped. I thought this would be alright as I quit Kongregate anyways, but when it came to writing this post… grrr. CellCraft has absolutely no replay value – which might not be necessary for an edutainment game, as what’s the point of ‘re-learning’ things you already know? And if forget… well, there’s the replay value, in learning it again.
The music, composed by Hibiki Haruto, is worthy of mention. Though there are only something like six different tracks (some of them with extremely awkward looping, I’m afraid), they set a brilliant mood for the game. While other tracks may get on your nerves, the calming CellCraft in-game track never really gets boring… until about an hour in, by which time the game is already over! Yes, the game doesn’t go on for ages – it goes on just enough for you to understand basic biological principles behind a cell, with two final levels to ‘test’ your knowledge.
Of course, I don’t mean a written test – I mean a test in which you have to actually beat the game.
‘How does the game even work?’ you may ask.
You control a cell, and must survive against viruses.
Of course, there’s this really complicated plot involving platypuses and robots and asteroids and alligators but the main goal is just to survive.
An interesting thing to ask of CellCraft is who the player really is. In a game like MineCraft (see what I did there? hurr), the player is the pixelated person on the screen. In Super Mario, the player is Mario. In Dwarf Fortress, the player is a player – somebody who controls what things happen, who isn’t in the game. What about in CellCraft? You control a cell, but are you a platypus that controls the cell? Are you a robot which controls the cell? Are you the cell itself? We don’t know, and it probably doesn’t matter too much.
CellCraft’s really complicated plot involving platypuses and robots and asteroids and alligators is worth a chuckle, too. Apparently, a planet of platypuses send out their DNA inside an amoeba towards Earth in an attempt to save their species from a meteor. The fourth-wall breaking and sillyness of everything (as well as the creators’ acknowledgement of the silliness) makes the game much more fun than it should be. I won’t ruin the final twist at the end, except to say that man, that ending music was great.
CellCraft’s main focus is still educational, and that’s where it shines. CellCraft introduces a new cellular concept every level that must be used to beat it. You control what the cell does – does it divide a mitochondria into two to generate more ATP? Does it recycle a chloroplast because there’s not enough light in the level? Does it produce more slicer enzymes to destroy viral RNA, or more lysosomes to absorb invader viruses? Does it move towards the AA so that it can produce more ribosomes, or towards the glucose to get more fatty acids? CellCraft is a very interactive experience that will leave you entertained /and/ educated – truly an accomplishment.
The art and animation also helps you understand what’s actually happening inside the cell (at a much more complicated level!), and the polish on the game is really amazing. It’s a truly minor thing, but they even change background colour through the levels, showing just how much care was put into this game. Unfortunately, there’s no voice acting – though I imagine it’ll be hard to voice a platypus.
In conclusion, I suppose it’s summer, and I’m consuming a lot more (read: not much more) anime than I regularly do, and I suppose that’s been eating up the time that should’ve been eaten up by Kongregate. Interestingly enough, I’m not even Touhou-ing or forum-ing. Perhaps all of my time was sucked away merely posting on my blog (and you’ll notice the quality of my posts have risen by three arbitrary units).
I once did a project on amoebas when I was in Grade Two. We were supposed to be doing a project on animals, and so some people chose ‘Beaver’, some chose ‘Moose’, some chose ‘Igloo’, some chose ‘Maple Syrup’, that kind of thing. Since I was SO SUPER SMART AND COOL AND COULDN’T SPEAK ENGLISH I accidentally the amoeba and everybody laughed at me. Then I did a lot of research and I realized that if amoebas were really big I could hug one and it’d feel good but it’d probably absorb me and then I got really sad and cried a lot because I didn’t understand what was happening because I didn’t speak English in Kindergarten, but I learned how to speak English before Grade Two so I guess I wasn’t so super smart and cool as I had thought. But the thing was I had a biology unit and exam about cells when I was in my first year of high school and I completely fluked that with like a 27/45 or something low like that but it turns out I actually got 27/30 because the /45 were bonus marks and I didn’t actually fail and I actually made that up because it wasn’t the biology unit where there were a shitton of bonus marks, it was the unit on water conservation when the teacher decided to make the test out of forty instead of out of fifty, and so everybody’s marks shot up by 125%. Damn, I wish I played CellCraft before my biology exam, which I didn’t actually fail.