Who knew that a Playstation Move would ever be useful?
Tucked away in a big open floor space at the back of the Main Hall of PAX, is a game that is slowly becoming the one thing people here continually want to play. Johann Sebastian Joust. In it, up to 7 people duke it out in a weird game that can only be described as “tag…but not tag…I mean you have to tag people in a sense…but you don’t! It’s like that game at carnivals that eletrocutes you if you touch the metal wires…BUT IT’S THAT WITH TAG!” I really can’t describe this game. You can only experience it for yourself.
In it, you have your Playstation Move and you slowly move around, not only focusing on your opponents but your Playstation Move controller. Music by J.S Bach plays at different speeds. If it’s playing slowly, you have to move slowly and your Move is more susceptible to powering down (causing you to lose). If it’s fast? Game on. You can move quicker and that threshold for loss is smaller. You see people going from stealthily moving around, moving hands at snail pace to knock others, to rapidly moving and grabbing their opponents. It rapidly evolves from being a gentle game into a full on brawl.
I think the appeal of this game is there’s no one fool proof strategy. The first game I played, I was in until almost the final seconds, the next I was gone before I even knew it. It’s a game of cat and mouse, with the oddity of being both the cat and the mouse. After myself, Doc and Pants had played it for a good ten minutes when we first got in today, we made a note to tell everyone we possibly could about it. We made a plan to go back with a group of friends and play the game later.
We made our way down back to the “jousting” arena with friends and tow. My partner Patience initially didn’t want to play as it looked weird to her. After some convincing, she was out on the floor, move in hand ready for combat. With the touch of a button, her Move was powered up and she looked at me, then back to her opponents.
“Get ready to Joust! GO!” boomed the speakers and she went from being calm and collected, into a suspenseful and erratic mess. She was crouching and leaping, clawing and grabbing, just so she could win. She turned and knocked someone’s hand. BOOM! They’re out and she’s gained some confidence. She stalks over towards her next victim. “FREEZE!” Everyone stops. Eyes are darting left and right. The music begins again and legs slowly begin to creep along. Suddenly the music ramps up!
Patience throws herself at the nearest person, hands flailing and grabbing wildly! She touches the enemy’s move and they’re out. But wait…there’s two red lights flashing…Patience looks down at her Move and it dawns on her that she’s gone too. She’s defeated.
She hands the Move back to the PAX Enforcer and she walks over to me. I go to give her a hug and tell her she did good and all she can scream at me is “THAT WAS SO FUN! I WANT TO PLAY AGAIN!” And within the next few minutes, the rest of our friends are out on the Jousting floor, getting to know and fall in love with the game.
What makes this game so appealing is it takes something that feels reminiscent of childhood, the game of Tag, twists and contorts the idea and makes it into something extremely compelling and fun to play. I’d always heard about the game on websites and previews, but never understood the appeal. There’s a frenetic energy, the heat of the moment if you will and the tenseness that makes it such a unique experience. You hear people talk about things and hear them say “You have to play it/see it to understand!”. This is going to be one of those times I say that. Johann Sebastian Joust is amazing. Everyone should play it. You have to play it to understand.