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ANIMAL COLLECTIVE HERO
BY NATHANIEL MISSILDINE
We all wish we could play music like alternative supergroup Animal Collective, but whoís got the time? The latest interactive experience, Animal Collective Hero, captures the unique stylings of this critically acclaimed Baltimore troop in one heady yet wildly straightforward game. For beginners, all thatís required is a sense of rhythm, a love of musical experimentation, an ability to stare into space marveling at oneís consciousness within a world that becomes more beautiful as it falls to pieces, and a gaming platform. The rest is self-explanatory.

HOW TO PLAY

Animal Collective Hero is a fun, simplified version of the real thing. Your ergonomic controller -- a lifelike walrus body suit -- includes a series of buttons that let you play everything in the Animal Collective catalog.

Index finger: Yellow. Hooting Cacophony button.

Middle finger: Blue. Sound Like a String of Chandeliers Dropped Carefully Over a Waterfall button.

Ring finger: Green. Sound That Makes All Other Contemporary Music Sound Distant and Stilted button.

Pinkie finger: Red. Precise Word for the Exact Emotion Youíre Currently Experiencing button.

Sixth Finger: Orange. Tribal Drums.

First, make sure everything works. You will need to go through this step again after about the 2:00 minute mark, as the first tune recreates the look and sound of a game console malfunctioning. Youíll need flawless timing during this crucial sequence. This is achieved by recoiling at the displayed image that resembles a scrambled cable channel and button-mashing to its accompanying music until you give up in frustration and yank the cord out of the wall. You should go ahead and attempt to return the game for a full refund. Once you reach the store, realize that you tapped out the notes of the gameís screwy melodies across your dashboard and are now seeing wavy confluent patterns in clouds and the clip-on tie of the flunkie at the Best Buy returns desk. You also forgot to take off the walrus body suit, so thereís little hope for you anyway. Return home to try once more, only to discover youíve mastered the game. Youíll now need to set aside the weekend.

Looking at the screen again, it becomes clear that you were fooled by a hilarious optical illusion. You see everything now, a man with complicated head gear bobbing over a keyboard, someone at the microphone prancing around like an injured flightless bird, and another who canít stop staring directly back of you. You also may see the band members.

In the center of the screen are various-colored streams and floating icons. Whirling around among them is your hit zone. Some of these even correspond to the controller buttons, though we couldnít possibly begin to tell you how. Your job is to strike the right notes when the correct icons enter that hit zone, by using a precise formula involving twelve-tone technique, catastrophe economics, and Carl Jungís concept of individuation.

Now youíre ready to begin!

TIPS

Start with songs you find catchy and may have already listened to Ė ďWinters LoveĒ for instance. After practice, you can advance to the tunes you know without ever having actually heard.

Keep in mind that most tracks are seven different standard indie songs sped up and played at once. The red button will save you on more than one occasion. Pay careful attention to the moments when each separate tune converges into a singular sustained harmony. The game provides you with a moment to lie down briefly at this point. 

Donít skip ahead through lengthy periods of repeated noises. The long-awaited change arrives just as youíre about to give up all over again. You will then receive the highest score for winging it carelessly through the remainder of the song.

Use your whammy bar or cross-fader, if that makes you feel better about yourself.

Also, donít pay too much attention to the tips people give you, as a general rule.

In fact, what are you still doing standing in the middle of the room surrounded by all this crap. This is your freaking life weíre talking about here.

WARNINGS

If you suffer from nothing, consult a doctor immediately.

If Animal Collective band members show up in your living room asking for clues on how they recorded this music, humor them. Work on your fretting while waiting for them to finish talking.

Do not attempt to form a religion around the game as youíll be forced to explain yourself to others and wind up quoted out of context by Bill Maher. 

If you find the game too difficult, try ratcheting down to something simpler like Arcade Arcade Fire.

If youíve beaten all songs and youíre still not completely satisfied, for that necessary sense of accomplishment, why donít you return to playing games involving stealing cars and carrying out mafia hits.

Otherwise, dance, you doggone pasty, precocious angel of ascendant glory, dance.

Dissonance comes in many forms. The world has never been this crowded, nor this intimate. Also, you are a vision of grace and, at the same time, may be damned to hell. The only way to reconcile such contradictions in your life is by whaling on that Hooting Cacophony button.

You may have several knotty, cosmic questions resolved by now. Although it may be true that a lifetime of wisdom is compressed into an epiphany, itís still best to take off that walrus suit every so often or risk overheating. As a conversation piece, however, hang onto the tusks.

Finally, donít forget that the game is not for everyone. Even if itís for you, youíll benefit from getting out of the house and doing something. Try mini-golf, for instance. Just remember to bring a date for your own good. From here on out, things may get weird.

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Forevermore at http://eyeshot.net/achero.html

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