September 22, 2013 1:55 AM | Paul Hack
I have fond memories of browsing the local video store shelves as a kid in the 1990's, particularly the sci-fi and horror sections. I was astounded and tantalized by the lurid art on the front covers and by the vivid descriptions on the back. These movies on videocasette seemed all the more exciting because my parents wouldn't let me rent any of them. I had romanticized visions of being a video store clerk, the kind who knew every title in stock from back to front and could recommend the perfect film for any mood. Now I can live out those childhood dreams in VideoHeroeS, by Santa Ragione (MirrorMoon EP), part of the LA Game Space Experimental Game Pack 01 and also featured in this year's Fantastic Arcade.
Each game of VideoHeroeS takes place over the course of one day while you work the counter at a small video rental store. A series of 20 randomly chosen customers will show up and make a request. The requests are equal parts vague and specificYou can scramble through the shelves and make a selection for each customer, or you can dismiss them with a "Sorry". Several movies will usually satisfy the requirements of a particular request and net you $5 for the rental. There are always one or two movies that match a request perfectly, and these rentals are worth $10. If you give a customer something that does not satisfy them, you'll be docked $5. Your income at the end of the day is your score. The game ends prematurely if you hit $0.
The videotapes on your shelves are all real and the cover art and back-of-the-box descriptions are reproduced in accordance with fair use guidelines. Perusing your collection and reading all the plot summaries is not only fun, it's a good idea if you hope to become fast and accurate when fulfilling requests. You should be able to know the general location of each tape, as well as what it looks like from a distance.
You can zoom in on the shelves with a right click. Click and drag videotapes to examine the boxes. Select a tape and click "Take this" to give it to a customer, at which point you'll automatically gain or lose money. If you knock tapes off the shelves, they'll end up bouncing and floating around near the floor, where there is some sort of low-gravity field, apparently. If things get to be too much of a mess, just click the top icon on the right to repopulate the shelves. There's also an icon to change camera angles, but I generally stay in the default view..
VideoHeroeS fuses nostalgia with a solid, puzzle-like gameplay system, making for an experience you can really sink your teeth into. I can only hope this gets expanded into a bigger game, with more videotapes, more customers, and more ways to score or be penalized.
You'll get VideoHeroeS and thirty or so other games when you get the LA Game Space Experimental Game Pack 01 in exchange for a donation of $15. VideoHeroeS is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.