Eurogamer Q&A: Desert Island Games

We’ve all considered the scenario, right? By some wretched twist of fate, you find yourself stranded on a desert island with just one piece of entertainment to last you the entirety of your indefinite stay, with only the palm trees for company.

It’s a big choice. You need to pick something that’s going to challenge you, or hold your attention long enough so you don’t go loco en la cabeza, planting a bloody handprint on the game’s case and treating it as if it were your new best friend.

It’s kind of dumb, given that such a fictional setup would at least require a limitless supply of power and possibly a TV and internet, but it’s something I’ve considered a great deal. Would I opt for something like Metal Gear Solid – probably my favourite game of all-time, BUT potentially not something I could play repeatedly – or do I choose something which still holds up when played hundreds of times, like Tetris?

Here are our picks:

Robert “Bertie” Purchese, Senior Staff Writer

I was once in a play about being stranded on a desert island, but it was OK because my character survived a plane crash with three others. Mind you, by the end of the play I’d killed two of them – and it was a comedy. So I’m a bit of an expert.

If I was stranded on a desert island and could play one game it would be Minecraft because it goes on and on and is endlessly… No shut up Bertie that’s boring. I’d get good at Fortnite. No that’s boring too. The game I’d really take is an absolute treasure: it is Timberman. Don’t tell me you haven’t heard of Timberman. It’s a mobile game made in Poland, where I seem to find myself rather often – perhaps it’s one of the planes there that will crash, although I don’t think we fly over many desert islands on the way.

Anyway the idea in Timberman is simple: you are a lumberjack and you chop an endless tree from either side using either thumb (or forefinger if you’re an advanced player, like me), dodging branches as you whack chunks of trunk and the whole thing drops lower. Sounds real easy don’t it? Yes, until your time runs out. To get more time you need to chop faster, so if you want the highest scores – and this is why I would take Timberman to the desert island – you need to find your Timberman trance and chop like your life depends on it. Where else are you going to find dedicated practice time like that?

Plus, it’d ease my frustration at not being able to chop down the one tree on the island sheltering me from the sun. And can you imagine the look on the sailor’s face when the boat eventually arrives to save me? Yeah, that’s right, sailor boy, that’s all me.

Christian Donlan, Features Editor

People often struggle to pick a favourite game, but nobody should struggle to pick a desert island game. This isn’t always the perfect game or even necessarily the one that moves you the most. It’s simply the one that you would be willing to play minute after minute, hour after hour, as weeks become months and months become years.

Robotron! For starters I am still terrible at it, and that’s after a decade’s playing. I sense beauty in the emergent flockings and bloomings of the grunts and the tanks, even if they still do me in with their hectic beauty. Still, I get better the more I play – I am better an hour in than I am after ten minutes – and I get much much worse if I play too long without a break.

You know what? I think this game, as well as being my desert island game, actually is perfect as well. It’s perfect in that way that only the best arcade games are: it asks something unreasonable of you, and very occasionally you are able to provide it. It’s a single-player game as befitting a scenario based on loneliness, and yet in its challenges and frustrations and penny victories it feels, more than anything, like a conversation.

Paul Watson, Social Media Manager

I’d take Overwatch with me.

I’d take Overwatch, because if I ever do find myself stranded on a desert island, there are two ultimate scenarios:

1. I’m eventually saved. By that point, I’ll have played so much Overwatch that I bet I’ll be bloody brilliant at it. I’ll join the London Spitfires and wow the world with my tropical island-honed skills. Of course, I never can resist the urge to pick D.Va whenever I play, so I’ll still be an incredibly inflexible player.

2. I’m never saved. I might initially miss the company of other people, but all I’ll need to do in that case is turn on voice chat for a couple of games. Then, I’ll more than likely be glad to be nowhere near the rest of humanity.

Oli Welsh, Editor-in-Chief

This feels like cheating, but there can only be one choice for me: World of Warcraft. It’s (almost) as brilliant as it ever was, and it’s the game that has everything. I could play it exclusively for years and never tire of it, and I know this because I have. Plus, if I’m stuck on a desert island, nothing could better give me an illusion of freedom and having a vast and colourful world to explore. Still the greatest.

Tom Phillips, News Editor

It’d be Tetris, right? It’d have to be. If I could find a way to peel off the Puyo Puyo part of Tetris for Switch I think it would be my favourite game full stop – desert island or no – and I’m decent at it, too. At least I think so, until I play against my fiance and she beats me horribly and I never want to play again. Would I be on this desert island alone?

Then there’s the other option – a video game with a story I would want to experience over and over again. Something big and sprawling. Mass Effect is my obvious choice, although it’s more of a trilogy. Mass Effect 2 on its own, perhaps, just to befriend those characters again. Who needs real-life human contact or a make-believe volleyball when you can go on missions with Mordin and Jack and Thane and Miranda?

But now I’m thinking bigger still. Skies of Arcadia, which I probably will never play again unless I am stuck on a desert island, is one of those 100-hour JRPGs seemingly forgotten today, but which I adored and want to find time to play once more. Fittingly it’s about air pirates and flying ships and a questline that will last you long past the point where your desert island’s rum, coconuts and packets of airline peanuts are all gone. If I could lie slowly dehydrating on a beach somewhere trying to complete a game again before I shrivel up completely, I’ll go with that.

What game would you take with you? Let us know in the comments!

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