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In the new hyperactive mode, wherein consumption happens largely for the sake of consumption, categorisation happens more readily, more aggressively, less critically. A director is washed. Your favourite is 🐐-ed. Films are kino or coal. Aesthetics are reduced to haphazard strictures, art pinned as frutiger aero, frasurbane, girlypunk neo-Y2K vectorheart nu-brute. Games are flavour of the month, kusoge, kamige, kiige, bakage, normiecore. Bring something up, and everyone has an opinion, a rote repetition of regurgitated refuse. Exhibit passion for that outside the zeitgeist, and be lambasted. Convey discontent with the beloved, be accused of poor media literacy. Are we even partaking of that which we parade around, or are we playing an elaborate game of telephone?
Even Burger King Orientation CD-i Training cannot escape unharmed. A wave of ironic praise and genuine befuddlement at why this exists, why it is revisited. One must be seeking attention for having such a quirky thing on their profile. It is impossible that it is enjoyed on a deeper level, as a response to a wider fascination, as a dive into historical (non-)import. The new hyperactive mode intentionally seeks signifiers which mark the self as interesting. An intentional facade which begs it won't be scrutinised.
But just because you have constructed this mask does not mean we all wear it. And perhaps I am being dismissive of your own thoughts. The truth of the matter is you don't care what I think, or why I feel a certain way. And to be fair, I feel the same animosity towards you. We are strangers at the conflux of comparison of preference.
I am filled with a genuine glee when I 'play' Burger King Orientation CD-i Training, but maybe it is best I keep the reasons to myself, as with so much else.
After all, you care not for what I think, so what is the difference if those thoughts are no longer laid bare.
The narration is smooth and deep, but fails to impart knowledge on the why of the Impressionists, opting instead for discussion of relations and painterly methodology. While this is fine for those already familiar with the subject matter, it assuredly would leave the casually interested in the dark as to what the point of it all was. Yes, the Impressionists sought an interplay of light and colour and open compositions, yes they painted en plein aire, yes they were rejected from the Salon de Paris, but why does that matter? Académie des Beaux-Arts is mentioned in passing, but little is said of the wilful rejection of contemporary standards.
Of interest must be the methodology herein. Outside those typically solitary narrations, much of the text exists as excerpts from correspondence. This holds true in the 'adventure' part of the game, and in the unlocked galleries of each artist's works. If a painting does have an accompanying document (in both French and English), it establishes some slight context, but leaves the work itself unexplained and unexplored. Perhaps a scholastic explanation of each work would be excessive. But as it stands, one is left wondering why these specific paintings matter. We are told Manet's Olympia was controversial and important, but not how or why. With the dictionary/encyclopedia ever at the ready within the program, it seems a misstep -- the primary sources could be front and centre, with greater detail and sources in that secondary space.
The loose gameplay of Night Cafe disappoints as well. Sometimes one wanders through each and every pre-rendered scene in a space, collecting objects or figures. These are then placed blindly onto a painted surface to reconstruct a relevant work, or are arranged into sequence despite the player having no means of knowing the solution. By way of example, in Theo van Gogh's apartment, sepia prints of Vincent's works are gathered, then put into frames labelled with years and locations. Two of these can be solved by comparing the tiny image to sketches on letters nearby. The rest cannot. Except there is no consequence for mismatching frame and picture, so just drag them one by one onto each frame to see what sticks. Absolutely nothing is learned here. The same holds true for when placing figures into a scene. One has no clue who these figures are, nor where they are situated, nor why this even matters. The figures aren't even named. The other puzzles invariably require moving sliders to change 3x3 tiles of paintings, only the sliders affect two tiles rather than just the one selected. It isn't challenging, only frustrating.
Despite doing nothing particularly well, Night Cafe nonetheless is a cute enough experience for the weary art history student. It is a short romp where I could smile in recognition of critical artworks, and raise an eyebrow at the inclusion of Post-Impressionists. Outside of that, there is little (if not nothing) to be learned here and not a shred of fun drawn from the adventure and its challenges. It is a testament to misplaced zeal in the heyday of multimedia, a presupposing that anything is implicitly interesting by virtue of being on a poly-carbonate optical disc.