Casual Fridays: Upgrade Complete!
I think you're supposed to be edified by Upgrade Complete!. It's a game where you can upgrade everything: your ship, the graphics, the menu screen, the title logo. It takes upgrading to its logical extreme, and the idea is that you will play it, upgrade compulsively, and then be horrified by your behavior. You will Learn Something. Then you're supposed to retire to your private club of snooty game theorists, where you'll sit in the parlor in big leather chairs and puff on your pipe as you make various droll remarks about the pitiful tastes of the unwashed masses. "Can you imagine the fools, sitting there, upgrading their ships? Don't they know it's all make-believe?!"*
The people of Armor Games make games that teach lessons through satire. Upgrade Complete! teaches us that upgrade systems are inherently empty. A previous effort, Achievement Unlocked, teaches us that achievement systems are inherently empty. OK, so maybe they're teaching the same lesson over and over again.
The problem is that they undermine their own lessons by making their games so much fun. Fact of the matter is, the upgrade system in Upgrade Complete! is pretty great. So while I am supposed to be Learning Something about the Nature of Games Today, instead I'm more like, "THIS UPGRADE SYSTEM IS AWESOME AND HILARIOUS MUST UPGRADE EVERYTHING TO SEE HOW LOGO CHANGES." At one point, the game goes so far as to lecture you that maybe you should "rate" a game "more on how much fun you're having and less on how complex the upgrade system is." Boo hiss. I threw tomatoes at the screen.** Stop making me feel guilty about enjoying you, game. The complex upgrade system is what makes you fun.
So yes, we're probably bad people for getting a kick out of Upgrade Complete!†, but it's Casual Friday! No shame! Enjoy this funny, clever Flash game with our compliments.††
* Note: If you are a New Games Journalist rather than a snooty game theorist, change "leather" to "beanbag" and change "pipe" to "Yoshi-shaped bong." Also, instead of chatting about the hoi polloi, you will go on a long, indulgent digression about how the game made you feel, and how profound your experience was, and no, no, don't try to understand because it was so personal and nobody on earth can get where you are right now. Then you'll cry a little. Then you'll eat an entire sleeve of Oreos.
** Crispy Marketplace: Does anybody want to buy a slightly used MacBook Pro with mild aesthetic issues and faint (pleasing!) tomato aroma? If you need any references, SAILRMOON4EVA5000 rated me an "A+++++++++++++++" on eBay a couple years ago. Not to brag, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't go any higher than that.
† Actually, you're a bad person because you brought your PSP to work and you've been using it to play Monster Hunter all day on the company dime. Thought I couldn't see that, right? I have eyes everywhere. Every period on this site is in fact a tiny camera...........
†† I got in trouble for bragging last week. It turns out that editor Ryan Kuo was able to find the footnotes where I boasted about my staggeringly high Word Challenge score. But he'll never look in the footnotes to the footnotes! Meet you there!†††
††† Good, you made it. Did anyone follow you? There were no tiny period cameras following your trail? OK. So take a gander at that second screenshot above. That's my tricked-out ship. Every part fully upgraded. BOOM! Just try to beat that, readers. Oops, gotta go, I think they're coming. I'm going to make another footnote to cover my tracks, but disregard everything I say in it.††††
†††† So as I was saying, everybody's a winner, no matter how much you may stink at this game! You're all just super and I want to hug you.