ust over a year ago, I imported my first video games from Japan. For around $120 I received all seven of the original bit Generations cartridges for the Game Boy Advance. While each title offered something truly unique, effectively bringing Atari 2600-era innovation into the twenty-first century, one stood out in particular. Orbital's graphics were simple and its controls even simpler, but from a design perspective, it was perhaps more elegant than any game I'd played in a decade. It's only fitting that this should be the first bit Generations title to be ported to Nintendo's current home console as WiiWare. Meet Orbient, first in the new Art Style franchise.
For a platform that relishes in accessible experiences, Orbient is the very pinnacle of simplicity.Orbient immediately stands out for eschewing what's become the Wii's bread and butter — not only does it not incorporate any of the Wiimote's motion-sensing capabilities, it allows players to shape entire solar systems with just two of the controller's face buttons. Players begin each stage as a small sphere floating through a larger star system. By changing the gravitational polarity of their sphere with the 'A' and 'B' buttons, players are able to both absorb smaller planetoids (thus increasing the size of their sphere) or coerce other stellar bodies into an orbit around their own.
One might think that this formula would grow old: consume planets; coerce others into orbit around you; repeat. Luckily, the game's designers were far from resting on their laurels. Simple star systems not unlike our own quickly give way to others which are as wondrous as they are challenging. While one level may see you maneuvering to avoid a pulsar's whipping satellites, another has you gracefully snaking between the stars of multiple binary clusters. One needn't grasp astronomy to understand the obvious — Orbient is pure gaming magic.
Examining the bit Generations titles, one will quickly recognize the stroke of genius that ported the franchise to the Wii. For a platform that relishes in accessible experiences, Orbient is the very pinnacle of simplicity. With or without the minor graphical update it received for its WiiWare debut, this is one title that everyone owes it to themselves to experience.