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You could say SNES classic Actraiser is the reverse of green – you rebuild civilization, turning open, unmolested fields into villages for your loyal subjects. But, as a recently revived god, your task is much more than “tell people to build houses,” as you’re also trying to rid the world of demons slowly sucking the life out of the planet.
Above: The world looks quite serene from your godly perch
You’ll teach your people to farm, to hunt, all the things a good god should do, but a town called Bloodpool has a larger problem - turns out their massive lake is now, well, blood red, poisoned by a nearby demon nest. After banishing the demons with a gift from your subjects, the lake returns to its clear-blue beauty.
Above: Bloodpool, pre-cleanup
Above: Ah, much better. Now about those demons…
This simple message, that poisoned water is bad, clean water is good, is awfully basic but welcome nonetheless. They even identify a little red devil as the culprit, perhaps suggesting that foul runoff and the like are evil deeds worthy of divine punishment. Or maybe not.
The thing that really gets us, though, is what happens in Kasandora, a town buffeted by desert winds and harsh living conditions. One man roams into the desert and dies, his body eventually found by fellow villagers. After suffering such a tragic loss, one man is so moved he invents a thing called “music” to memorialize the man’s untimely death. So very touching!
Above: Music is born, with properties that help calm a nearby rioting town
Above: The tune in question
These aren’t necessarily “green” moments, but the invention of music, and the reason why it was invented (honoring a fallen friend, soothing hearts) reveal a kind-hearted civilization that’s keeping everyone’s well being in mind – even the green land they’re slowly encroaching upon.
Environment saved: A decent-sized lake, probably the size of like six Viva Pinata gardens.
A whole game built around Mario cleaning up muddy graffiti has to make the list, but you’re just scrubbing down a swanky tropical resort and not an actual oil spill. Who’s to say Mario would even bother getting all dirty if there wasn’t a princess to save?
In terms of sheer brilliance and overall celebration of everything green, Flower easily gets top scores on the eco-meter. You play inside the dream of a flower resting on a city windowsill, acting out what we assume flowers dream about while they very helpfully convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. In this case, said dream is floating on wind currents to turn ugly, apocalyptic terrain into a vibrant showcase of nature’s bounty.
Above: This unsightly mess simply won’t do
Above: What one little flower (and a room full of overheated computers) can accomplish
Each level is a slightly grander dream, allowing the petal to restore more and more of the dilapidated surroundings. By the time you get to the final level, you’re soaring through a broken city, rejuvenating not just grass and trees, but also city parks, swing sets, buildings and alleyways. Rebuilding a human city doesn’t sound all that “green,” but take into account that you turn this heap of scrap:
The end result is a game that suggests man-made structures can still co-exist with magnificent trees, clear skies and plenty of intrinsically valuable greenery. Good thing such a powerful message was stated on $10 PS3-only DLC, probably the best way to reach the widest possible audience.
Environment saved: A broken metropolis, though it all takes place in a dream so there’s technically nothing saved at all. But we’re awarding high marks anyway.
In the future, mankind will assign his most mundane tasks to machines, ensuring that no child ever, ever has to swing on a rainbow again. Fun fact: Nintendo actually gave away seeds with this game… which was a Wal-Mart exclusive. Gesture negated!