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Long read: The beauty and drama of video games and their clouds

"It's a little bit hard to work out without knowing the altitude of that dragon..."

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Games of 2010: Robot Unicorn Attack

There will be no shame.

Like a comet made of gold, glitter and Lady Gaga's eyelashes, Robot Unicorn Attack circled the Earth and filled the firmament with its irresistible radiance for the whole of 2010. It changed lives. It challenged sexualities. It involves pressing two buttons. It is undoubtedly the greatest game of all time which features a Robot Unicorn, unless you're a metalhead who digs its sequel.

Robot Unicorn Attack is a shameless Canabalt clone. Well, that's not quite true. I Must Run is a shameless Canabalt clone. Robot Unicorn Attack is just a gleeful mad riff on Canabalt, which has the frenzied energy of something that seemed like a good idea when someone brought it up in the pub, prompting a mass of gags between all the devs, before they went into work the next day and - through a just-so disassociating hangover - coded the whole bloody thing and then left it to the lawyers to worry about licensing the Erasure song.

The idea is simple. You run from left to right, in an infinitely scrolling world of random. If you hit anything, you die. Which is the first main difference from Canabalt, where momentum management was a key part of the game. If you hit something you explode, sending your crying unicorn head to its bloody doom. The difference changes the character of the game, and for my money increases the excitement. Losing momentum is boring. Like an inexperienced teenager rushing orgasm-ward, Robot Unicorn Attack starts fast and then only accelerates towards its prematurely sticky conclusion. The question is how long you can delay that moment.

It differs from inexperienced sex in a key way - dolphins appear partway though. Dolphins don't appear during sex, unless Miami's American Football team are latecomers for an orgy you've organised. Or if you're having an affair with a dolphin, and its spouse comes home half way through. Oh noes!

The second change is that rather than a one-button game, it's a two. One for jump, two for charging forward. Also, the jump is doubled. Yes, the game allows you to double-jump, which - as my good friend John Walker will argue at the slightest provocation - automatically improves anything. There would be no suicide precipitated by clinical depression if we could actually double-jump on Earth. Truth. The charge allows you to bash through obstacles, streaming rainbow colours behind you. It also allows you to zap forward briefly, so getting through a precise point or grabbing (the third change) a floating fairy which boosts your score. The game's really about chaining jumps and charges together to do exactly what you want.

The other noticeable difference is that you play a Robot Unicorn. Obv.

He's a charismatic lead. I don't suggest you Google for fanart with SafeSearch off - unless you've got a thing about engorged and rampant rainbow-haired unicorns, in which case you're sorted for an afternoon of onanism - but enormous amounts of it exists. He leaps and bounds, mane colour-circling all the while, proud desperation personified. He knows, as the game puts it, that persistence is futile, but he has a dream to chase anyway.