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Are boxes in video games art? Normally we would answer in the negative to that question. But the boxes in Child of Eden are an exception that transcends the rule. They are more than boxes. They are geometrically pleasing shapes inside a huge computer mainframe of the future in which the player must shoot a load of stuff like giant space whales and rescue Princess Lumi before she gets a virus and someone has to call help desk and get a bloke out to install the latest Norton Anti-Virus software but that might kill Princess Lumi so isn't actually a great idea.
Above: Norton Anti-Virus (left) might kill Princess Lumi (right). Norton Anti-Virus also comes in a box
Other boxes in video games just don't look as good as the boxes in Child of Eden. They shimmer and glisten and glow with the illuminative qualities of the impossibly clever data with which we presume they are made seeing as though they're inside a hard drive as opposed to, say, on the side of a dock waiting to be loaded on to a ship or stacked up in a warehouse waiting to be used as cover in a gun fight. The following image compares some really boring packing boxes in a warehouse from Mafia II with really pretty data boxes in a hard drive from Child of Eden:
Above: The boxes in the bottom picture are clearly much more like art
Another factor of Child of Eden's boxes that make them more like art is that when you shoot them they make music sounds.
Of all the games considered for inclusion in this feature, none provided a greater bounty of boxes than Super Mario 3D Land. We're spoilt for choice with this game. Just think about the plethora of boxy goodness. There's the traditional regular coin box, the propeller-hat box... Even the special power-up packing StreetPass gift boxes if you want to go beyond the traditional in-level cuboids. But the real winner has to be this little fella, if only for its brilliance-to-rarity ratio.
Above: There are worse ways of getting your head stuck in a box. Like, say, being Gwyneth Paltrow in Se7en
You go to headbutt - sorry, fist-smash - the box as usual… Only something goes wrong. Mario ends up smashing through the bottom of the box and getting his head stuck inside. Wa wa waaa… But wait, it isn't coming off! Mario's forced to run around the rest of the level with a box on his head, kind of like Solid Snake but without any of the dignity. You can still pick up a Tanooki tail when enboxed too, making it look doubly ridiculous.
Above: Wearing a one-piece animal costume and head stuck in a box? Suggest not losing a life right now, for your reputation's sake. It'll raise some embarrassing questions in the papers when they find your corpse
To make matters even worse, Mario seems to suffer a bout of hiccups while inside, resulting in a shiny gold coin gained for every involuntary diaphragmatic convulsion. The coins seem to come faster based on movement too, meaning that if you fall off a really high ledge you can actually manage to rack up some 20 coins before Mario exclaims 'waaaaah' and loses a life. We appreciate this is almost certainly counter-productive given that you'd need to score over 100 to make a lives-profit (not to mention the risk of the afore-stated posthumous embarrassment), but you've got to take the rough with the smooth.
Oh such a box is the Deus Ex box. Not since Hellraiser's Lament Configuration exhalted and damned its souls to the pleasures and pains of greater universal experience has a single box been so intrinsically bound to the process of existential human transfiguration. For you see, the Deus Ex box is no single, physical construct. Oh no, the material box is merely the key, the comprehensible human interface which corporeal man can grasp, and by which - if he has the brave will to grow, and the fearlessness to leave behind the comforts by which he is limited - he may win knowledge of the wider, unseen box which binds him. And through that knowledge, travel beyond and without it.
For the Deux Ex box, you see, is both the literal box and the very medium of transcendence by which one might think outside of the box.
Above: My God, it’s full of boxes…
Truly, Deus Ex is a game of openness and options. Opportunity can be crafted by many means. Physical and mental cybernetic augmentation is the seed which allows such versatility to grow, but surely the box is the vessel which holds the richest soil, and from which the greatest of flowers can bloom. Electrified water blocks your path? You could upgrade your skin with electricity-blocking EMP shielding, but what would truly be achieved by that? Such a solution would come from the superficial surface layer, not the depths of one’s own ingenuity. While said skin would provide a strong threshold against the outer electrical threat, it would also imprison one’s own inner spark. No, better indeed to harness the power of the box. See your problem through the wider, clearer lens of the multitudinous solutions the box can provide.
Above: This man is a veritable prophet
See the ways that the box can help you rise above your earthy limitations, both literally and figuratively. Stack, move, restack and shuffle your sturdy geometric friends, making them the new feet with which you walk on water. Similarly, there is no need to hide oneself away with technologically imparted invisibility when preying eyes look on. With careful thought, manipulation of the box will blind your predators to your presence, and also instil within you a greater understanding of the physical world around you and a more finely honed instinct for understanding your place within it. And with the box, there is no need to weather the infernal heat of the world’s chaotic lower circles. With the box you can ascend to true peace, easily reaching the calm above, where you might pass with quiet serenity. You know, by jumping on it and running along ledges. And stuff.
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