How A Flash Game Called Hug Marine Restored My Faith In Games

Free flash games aren’t supposed to make me this happy. I’m not supposed to finish a game, then immediately start it over again. The levels don’t change, the objective stays the same, yet I am compelled to play.

The game is Hug Marine, a small flash project built from the ground up by one single person, and damn it all if I don’t love every second of it.

Hug Marine is a pure platformer: left to right movement, one button to jump, and that’s it. There are no bad guys to fight, no battles to wage…the only obstacle here is the layout of the land and how I plan to traverse it. Simplicity at its finest.

In this current age of gaming, I shouldn’t be able to get sucked into a game like this. I have games with multi-million dollar budgets and state-of-the-art technology sitting five feet from me. I can take up arms and throw myself into the middle of the war in the Middle East, unsheathe my sword in the Faelands in the world of Amalur, or even blast off into Citadel Space whenever I want.

Yet all I want to do is hug.

Perhaps it’s the funky soundtrack that would make Toejam and Earl proud. Maybe it’s the cute little screens at the end of each level, when our hugging hero completes his mission. Or, better yet, maybe I just love how the game makes everyone who sees it happy. Every time I’ve shown this to someone, all of the following have happened in some fashion: toe-tapping, smiling, the sound of “daaawwwww,” and a warm, fuzzy feeling in the person watching it. How many games out there exist solely to make people happy? Better question, how many people are actually happy playing games anymore?

This upbeat, happy-go-lucky feeling is a breath of fresh air. I don’t know if anyone’s noticed, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find positive comments about video games. For every piece of constructive criticism or “hey, this game is pretty cool” comment, there are about ten profanity-laden rants threatening the creators or wishing for their deaths or accusing the publishing company of ripping customers off or whatever other negative thing they can come up with. Even when the complaints are valid, they are presented in a way that immediately renders the comment moot. A lot of gamers have forgotten, it seems, to actually ENJOY video games, instead turning to vitriol and hate when speaking their minds.

Hug Marine is a different story. Sure, the game is short and has some technical issues, but no one’s calling for the creator’s head. Every comment I’ve read has been appreciative, saying things like “I hugged my computer monitor when I was done” or “the creator deserves a big hug for this game.” One guy even spent seven minutes on YouTube giving his thoughts, initiating an Internet group hug at the end.

This is how video games are supposed to make players feel, and I feel like the majority of players have forgotten how to feel this way. We used to love playing games, love talking about them, love including them in our lives. Now it just seems like people want to spew profanity and hatred towards something they’re supposed to be enjoying. What happened to just APPRECIATING video games? When did we become a group who takes more pleasure in threats and hate speech than in having fun?

I implore everyone who reads this to give Hug Marine a go. Enjoy its simplicity. Enjoy traveling through the levels and listening to the sweet jams that accompany them. Remember that warm feeling that builds in you and remind yourself of it any time you play a game. Remember that it’s perfectly fine to actually like video games, whether simple like Hug Marine or the next big blockbuster. This labor of love is trying to spread happiness to everyone who plays it, so allow it to do so.

Then, when all is said and done, take’s the game’s final piece of advice: