Features// SPOnG's Sick Sixes of Gaming: Sand

Posted 14 Feb 2013 12:01 by
What is Sand? Well the Oxford English dictionary defines it as:

“a loose granular substance, typically pale yellowish brown, resulting from the erosion of siliceous and other rocks and forming a major constituent of beaches, river beds, the seabed, and deserts”

I don’t know who this Oxford bloke is but he’s managed to sap all the fun out of the word. In truth humans love sand so much that the moment they see it they strip down to as few clothes as possible and run around on it. For some that’s not enough and they even pop their underwear off and let their willies and boobs dangle about. That’s not for me, but I do like sand.

Recently there has been an uproar on social media sites questioning how this beloved granular substance is misrepresented in Videogames:

@kieraongillen: It just makes me sick. Every sand I’ve seen in games is stereotypical bullshit.

@Edgonline: We actively mark a game down that has shit sand in it. It makes our industry look dated.

@GarnetLee: If I ever meet the guy who did the sand in Banjo Kazooie, I’m going to need to be held back. #smashhisheadin

Here at SPOnG we always try to focus on the positives. So, while the rest of the gaming world bitches and moans about prejudice sand, we like to look at where it has been done right.

So here it is, ”SPOnG's Top Six rundown of the Best Sand in Videogames” by me, David Turner of Joypod.

#6 Shifting Sand Land Sinking Sand – Super Mario 64
This is probably my most controversial one. Although some see it as painting sand in a bad light, I see it as empowering the yellow dust.

Put it this way, when I was battling Bowser at the end of the game (sorry for the spoiler) I took a moment to look up at the dinosaur.

Here was a prehistoric lizard, 20 times the size of me, breathing fire through his mouth and trying to stamp on my tiny Italian body and all I could think was, “What chance have I got against this fella, when earlier, sand killed me?”

So, I put the pad down, turned off my N64 and never played the game again. Well done sand, you defeated me.

#5 The Beach – Crackdown
Those of you who have played this game will know the exact part of the open world I’m referring to. Right at the beginning of the game you spawn close to a pier on a beach. If you’re a normal gamer you’ll run off and work on getting missions completed.

If you’re a normal human - like me - you’ll squeal with excitement the moment you see the beach and go and run around on it. THE FUN DOESN’T END THERE. Because on the beach is an extremely large amount of explosion barrels.

Life doesn’t get much better than sand and explosion barrels. Seriously, my wedding was shit compared to this.

#4 Sand – Journey
There is a shit ton of the stuff in Journey. Honestly, everywhere you look there’s sand and some other bloke running around in a scarf.

When I experienced sliding down a sand dune in Journey with a complete stranger as a co-op partner, I was completely blown away.

I immediately booked a flight to Magaluf, found the biggest sand hill I could and started beeping at the locals in a hope that I could recreate my Journey experience in real life.

Unfortunately, no one was interested. I slid down it on my own and it was shit. It really was the worst holiday I’d ever had and I'd rather not talk about it any more. Thanks.

#3 The Beach - Dead Or Alive Xtreme 2

You see the cool thing about the sand in this game, is erm, you know. The sand is really realistic and the sound of it is great too and it’s really yellow I think.

I love the way it flicks up and yeah. Listen, it’s just really good sand.

#2 Sand - Spec Ops The Line

Spec Ops The Line is a game that looks like a generic shooter at first, but the deeper you get into the story, the more you realise that every aspect of the game is a social narrative on wars and the games that portray them.

With the game set in Dubai, it is full of lovely sand, which at first just seems like normal sand. But the longer you play, the more you realise that the sand represents Margaret Thatcher’s move to privatise many British public-owned assets in a failed attempt to boost economic growth in the early 80s.

The message is clear, and the moment my dad looked over my shoulder and saw the sand glistening in the sun, he shed a tear for what his great country was.

#1 The Desert - Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

While watching a developer session on Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, Nolan North proudly proclaimed that the team - himself included - visited the Sahara Desert to research the movement of sand and how it reacted to touch.

Putting sand to one side for a moment, what the fuck was Nolan North doing there?

“What was that guys, we’re going to the Sahara desert?” Nolan asked.

“No Nolan. We are. You’ve recorded all of your lines a few months ago. I’m not even sure why you’re here. I mean we’ve stopped paying you, you know that right?" the guys responded.

Despite that little chat, Nolan still got on a plane, probably bored the development team to death during the flight by telling them all about the one TV role he’s had in the past 20 years and walked around the Sahara desert looking and Sand.

This is just conjecture, but I bet he was naked too, and tried to tell everyone that it was an acting technique.

Despite all that, the sand looks pretty good.

So, there we go: Sand. Astonishing stuff. Keep your eyes out for more "SPOnG Gaming Lists" or even better send your ideas into feedback@spong.com with the Subject Line: "My Amaze Idea for a Game Related Top 6!"

(Maybe a Top 11 or even a Top 3 will get in as well... who knows?)

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Ilfana 15 Feb 2013 12:24
Nolan was there because he does all the MoCap for Nate. Very hard to walk on sand, you know? :)
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