C.A.M.P. is no fun

And not the pitch a tent, bumpy ground for a bed, oh-god-there’s-a-snake-in-my-sleeping-bag kind of camping, though I’m not too fond of that either. I’m talking about PlayStation C.A.M.P., a program that Sony started in Japan in 2008 to give hopeful game makers with limited access to a design team a chance to see their dream games come to life. It’s a great idea that’s produced some captivating game concepts but so far the Creative Audition Mashup Project has left me with less money and even less rewarding gameplay.

Trash Panic and Patchwork Heroes are both products of this program and both wowed me on their art style and concepts but ultimately let me down. They’re too rigid, with Trash Panic playing like a logic puzzle with only one correct way to win and Patchwork Heroes not much different. I wanted a funky, physics-y Tetris but what I got was Boxxle. I wanted Qix with big airships to dismantle but I got, well, Qix with big airships that had to be hacked up in pretty specific ways.

With an emphasis on fresh, undiscovered talent I guess I assumed that C.A.M.P. would turn out more radical new ideas, not just clever art. Maybe the Japanese just can’t get that unshakable dedication to a perfect execution out of their collective subconsci and maybe that’s a little impromptu insight into why game design in the East continues to falter.

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