"Sayonara Wild Hearts", motorcycle jump

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Since there are concept albums in the world of pop, we would have to invent the term "concept arcade game" for Sayonara Wild Hearts. A rail racing game where each level is structured around a song that, put end to end with the other pieces, ends up composing the euphoric ride of a broken heart. The affair begins peacefully, by a moonlight escape, on the Debussy version synthpop. Responsible for collecting hearts, we run (from left to right) a girl running at full speed on a skate track suspended over a celestial abyss. As the fluorescent path twists into spirals and loops before simply disappearing under our feet, the piano piece moves in an electronic loop, sending the runner into a vertiginous tunnel re-woven with neon triangles. Notice to photosensitive, the graphic impetuosity of Sayonara Wild Hearts can strike.

The creation of the Swedes from Simogo is a motorcycle game on sweet electro-pop, before dressing up the fighting game in rhythmic mode, initiating races on foot or on reindeer, taking out swords and lasers. The ambient succeeds the dubstep under magic mushroom and, like Alice, the player grows and shrinks with each slam of bass before a clank of fingers at the wrong time opens the door to a gameplay on syncopated duplication where it comes to run on two tracks at the same time while on the screen only one is displayed for a second. During the hour and a half it takes to finish it, Sayonara will constantly redefine its contours, each song-level transforming the rules of engagement of what was initially a quest for the perfect trajectory.

Second state

The biggest madness of Sayonara Perhaps it is to introduce staging into a genre where one seeks rather to forget the signs of the technical dissociation game-player (commands, objectives, etc.) in order to achieve nirvana: the state of flow where the immersion is so deep that we blend into the game until no longer feel mediation between brain, body and screen. Sayonara constantly reminiscent of the player by tossing a third-person camera into a subjective view in the middle of a race, swaying counter-shots or overhanging shots that rob him of the ideal view to accomplish his goals. But the player-analyst, the one who hunts the score, willingly agrees to make regular adjustments – to know where he is, where he is going, and what freedoms he has – to satisfy the player-player, transported by the boldness of the title. Despite its way of thwarting the flow, the game has deep ties with those of the Japanese hypnotist Tetsuya Mizuguchi (who, from ground at Tetris Effect, has become the master of the game that plunges into a second state), especially in their way of simultaneously stimulating the eye, hearing and touch, in a shared conception of synchrony as a path to playful ecstasy.

But where Mizuguchi shapes his games around a minimalist optics, evading everything to the extreme, the Swedes of Simogo overload the screen of signals and signs as if to swallow all the pop culture of the world in a gargantuan mouthful . While the scenery scrolls at full speed, we must deal with the proliferation of markers typified video games (hearts to pick up, arrows to go faster, quick time events) and evocative images that turn the game into a temple otaku. Populated with fox masked bikers thrown in a forest at the Princess Mononoke, sound flashes at the Sailor Moon, poses torn from Persona from Atlus or the animated Trigger studio, Sayonara pushes vice to cannibalize the very story of the video game, transforming some of its totems (Tetris, Gradius, Outrun …) on track to the stars. The game could end up in tatters, torn by the immense energy of the vortex pop it causes. On the contrary, it seems to float, carried by an upward movement.

Cartoon acidulated

As discreet as a shop window in Akihabara, the acidic cartoon plastic helps to ensure consistency in the game, by working on a narrower chromatic scale (pink, blue, mauve). Who evokes, as aptly noted the site Polygon the colors of the flag of bisexual pride, fitting with the romance that draws itself in muted. In his development notebooks, the Swedish studio says it has thought of its creation in reverse of "Video games too often scary and unwelcoming, (…) inhabited by a unique profile: guys, guys, guys". Particularly generous in his timings, Sayonara is an inclusive experience, to the point of offering players to skip the passages that would be a little too difficult. If it is perhaps not the most ambitious game of the year (we regret for example the lack of interactivity of the music, put on the same rail as the player without it really influence on it), Sayonara Wild Hearts will certainly remain as the one whose joy was the most exuberant and communicative.

Marius Chapuis

SAYONARA WILD HEARTS of Simogo. On PS4, Nintendo Switch and Apple Arcade.

(tagsToTranslate) Sayonara (t) Sweden (t) Video game (t) Synthpop (t) Race (t) Popular Culture (t) Tetris (t) Sailor Moon (t) Polygon (t) Chromatism (t) Claude Debussy (t) t) Persona (t) Nirvana (t) Tetsuya Mizuguchi (t) Game

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