Bringing literature into the 21st century cheaply and cheerfully
Believe it or not, before we had Television, Facebook and Wikipedia, some people would actually go to a public place called a “Library” in which thousands upon thousands of books were stored. People would find it enjoyable to physically turn each page and reading the sentences that an author has written, trying to conceptualise what is going on in their story.
But before I patronize anybody any further, let’s just imagine over 100 texts from famous authors you’ve heard about in school or from down the pub in one, small cartridge that fits handily into your Nintendo DS. 100 Classic Book Collection is what that is all about. One could state that this game is similar to a Visual Novel, but I doubt that people who read Dickens would know what that is.
It’s time to get your head into some classic literature!
There are preferences designed to make this virtual world a bit friendlier. Much of the game is controlled with the stylus of the Nintendo DS, giving the game a charming authenticity and reviving that once praised past-time of turning a page. This also deduces the amount of time spent fussing over buttons for veterans (and I’m not referring to Daggerfall players). One may specify their hand orientation in order to turn the pages easier, perfect for a lefty like me. The font size is also changeable, although the only option is ‘small’ or ‘large’; more like ‘massive’ and ‘slightly smaller than massive’. After a play with the options, it’s time to get your head into some classic literature!
Your virtual books are presented on a virtual bookcase where you may scroll and look at all of the titles. If you have a book in mind, you can use the search box. The game even has a disclaimer saying that “these classic books of the past are presented in their original versions, and the texts may include words and expressions that could be considered inappropriate in a modern context“. In other words, don’t lynch the game developers if you felt that The Last of the Mohicans was a bit insensitive. I would also challenge the idea that the texts are in their original versions, because I couldn’t imagine France’s Victor Hugo deciding to write the entirety of Les MisÚrables in English (the very title suggests otherwise).
The game has many protagonists and a vast array of characters, from Moby Dick’s adventurous Ishmael to Great Expectations’ obstinate Miss Havisham. Authors include Shakespeare, A.C Doyle, Oscar Wilde, Charles Dickens, Jane Austin, Thomas Hardy, George Eliot and many more. It is even possible to download extra books if you have Wifi connection! HUZZAH!
Once those 100 books are in your back pocket and you’re ready to read ’em…where on earth do you start? The games one and only mascot is an owl – who I will be calling Mr Owl for the sake of identification – offers a little ‘puzzle‘ for you to decide. He may ask you questions such as “when you wake up, what do you do next?” and you are given a choice such as “go back to sleep“, “relax” and “get up and go out“. Complete his test and he will recommend a book to your perfectly surmised personality. You may comply to Mr Owl, or you can give my judgement a go:
Feeling ostentatious? = Read Macbeth, or anything by Shakespeare in fact.
Want to know what happens when a gypsie and aristocrat get together for some lovin’? = Read Wuthering Heights.
Thought that the songs were nauseating but the idea of a child’s liberation from poverty was a heart-warming one? = Read Oliver Twist.
I have loads more concise yet slightly shallow FAQs, but that’s all you’re allowed for now… moving on.
100 Classic Book Collection can be a substitute for that expedition to the library
There are certain categories that we do not expect to be filled to an amazing potential, such as the game’s graphics, per se. There are no illustrations and fonts are kept plain. The prettiest thing is probably Mr Owl, but even he looks a bit disgruntled. The simplicity of the graphics should make each book a better read.
Gameplay is simple but charming, such as the aforementioned use of the stylus. Also, the game demands that the DS is played on its side so it looks more like a book. You might get a bit of an arm ache because there are so many pages to be turned (they are seriously tiny) and maybe even an eye ache from the background light being constantly beamed into your eye balls.
The audio is another mediocre contender. Chimes are heard when you press buttons and you can even hear the page flop slightly when you turn it. There is also a small selection of background music to accompany you. The music is mostly ambiance, and you’re able to pick between schemes such as ‘beach’, playing the sounds of the sea and gulls, or “Moving Train”, giving eponymous connotations. There’s a little music too under the category of “Classic”; and I mean it when I say a little. You’ll hear some guy’s coarse midi interpretation of Pachabell’s Cannon and Chopin’s Nocturne in E flat. Stick to the ambiance, or just find your favourite place and read there, listening to the birds, or in my case, the radiator.
The pure pleasure of being able to read books that time remembered is satisfying enough. Some even consider 100 Classic Books Collection to be quite the chick magnet! The ladies love a bookworm who knows a few Shakespeare quotes; especially my mum. That said, people tend to walk away slowly when hearing the recitation of Lewis Carrol’s Jabberwocky. Those who are conservative about literature may believe and be fearful that 100 Classic Book Collection can be a substitute for that expedition to the library. Others would say it is keeping our literature alive in a modern era. I say, the content of more than 100 books for twenty quid is a bargain!
The Bad: Not that many books to choose from online; Text are large making extensive reading stressful;