Being a Godzilla fan for virtually my entire life has shaped me in a way that I’m only starting to become aware of in recent years. I prefer practical effects over CG. I don’t trust movie and videogame reviews all too much. While a lot of fans—especially in comics—obsess over continuity and timelines, Toho Studios never gave much of a damn about such things for most of the Godzilla movies, so I’ve learned not to care much either. Playing a perfectly designed videogame, reading a perfect comic, listening to a perfect album—all of that is awesome, when everything falls into place and works so well, looks and sounds slick, but…I don’t know. For some reason, that isn’t as appealing to me as something that isn’t quite so perfectly put together. I like seeing when mistakes are made. I like awkward translations, weird cuts, proportions that are somehow off. It feels more human to me. I can relate to it better as an imperfect artist and imperfect person myself. I like it when things get occasionally sloppy. Continue reading Lousy, Shoddy Fun
I bought Splatoon a few days after it came out. I’ve been playing it every night since, barring one or two days. I’ve been trying to write about it for a week now. I’m in love with this game and its world and I can’t figure out how to articulate it.
To start, I love the world that this game is built around. The title screen when you load the game is an empty bedroom, presumably belonging to your Inkling character (I chose to play as a girl, of course), with a map of the room on the gamepad’s screen and spots of ink indicating you’ve gone out. Inkopolis is this bustling, lively place where player characters hang around. Music blasts across the hub area from speakers set up in front of the building, which serves as the game’s multiplayer lobby. It feels like Tokyoto from Jet Set Radio, or the way Shibuya was depicted in the World Ends With You, and I love that the music is actually a part of the world, that what you hear (some of it is known as “squidcore”) really is what everyone listens to in this particular inksplattering game culture. Continue reading SPLAT SPLAT SPLAT
I had just fought my way through a rather dreary village made up of rundown shacks built from rotting wood. I made my way into a large barn, occupied with only one foe, not too different from the other pitchfork and axe-wielding ghoulish figures I’ve been cutting down for so much of this game. I started towards him, but when he noticed me, something weird happened. He groaned, clutching his head. Before I could take the time to speculate what his problem was, his head exploded, with perhaps a dozen venomous snakes emerging from what remained of his neck.
The biggest snake of the bunch lashed out from quite a distance, poisoning me. Before I could use an antidote, I was struck by more of them, quickly dying. Continue reading An Incomplete List of Awful Things in Bloodborne
If I wasn’t playing videogames or watching cartoons as a kid, I was outside playing. I’d sink a lot of time into Pokémon, then go out and pretend I was my trainer from the game, going on adventures and meeting cute girls. Or I’d make up my own character who’d fight alongside Cloud, Barrett, and Tifa in Final Fantasy VII. I think most kids with active imaginations did this sort of thing, right?
Using the last of my Club Nintendo coins before they shut the whole thing down this summer, I downloaded EarthBound on the Wii U Virtual Console. I’ve tried playing it a couple times before on an emulator in high school, but could never get into it. Now, as an older, hopefully smarter person, fumbling my way through my late twenties and waxing nostalgic all too frequently, the game is a delight. It’s very much along the lines of how I’d play pretend when I was little, leaving the house to go on a big adventure to save the world, wielding a plastic baseball bat pretending it’s a sword—that kind of thing. Continue reading We Feel Groove!
I’m a fan of Suda51 and his crew at Grasshopper Manufacture. They make weird, crazy, unpolished, problematic games that are unlike anything else and I love them for it. I’ve mentioned before how Travis Touchdown from No More Heroes is not only a favorite videogame protagonist of mine, but also that I sort of base my clothing choices off of what he wears, which led one of the Gamervescent Overlords to tag that article with “Travis Touchdown: Sartorial Role Model.” I wake up laughing over that sometimes.
I’ve already written about Akira Yamaoka’s music for the Silent Hill series. It comes as no surprise that he’s best-known for his work on that series. I have to admit though, much as I love those collaborations with Mary Elizabeth McGlynn and Joe Romersa, Silent Hill was not my first exposure to his music, nor is it my favorite. For me, it’s his soundtrack to Contra: Shattered Soldier, composed with Sota Fujimori.
When I wrote that Ode to Wario that went up earlier this week, I was just joking about going to a bar with him. It wasn’t anything more than a silly visual that I had in my head, you know? You’d never find Mario or Peach watching a band play and getting beer spilled on them. I didn’t think much of it after I’d written the piece.
But then the stars aligned. My girlfriend talked me into going to a show one night at the Hideaway in Johnson City, and I decided to take Wario with me, get a picture of him with a drink to go with my Ode piece, and give people a few more chuckles.
You are a filthy slob and almost certainly a terrible pervert who shouldn’t be allowed around women or children. You’re a greedy jerk obsessed with gold, you wear complementary colors that are an eyesore with green elf shoes that don‘t match at all, you’re out of shape, you devour more garlic than any human being should (I try not to imagine the smell,) and something about your big pink nose and the mustache which grows from it makes me think you’ve got a nasty infection that won’t go away.
So why do I love you so much? Continue reading An Ode to Wario
I can only play Alien: Isolation for an hour or two at a time, once every couple of days usually. And when I do play it, I have a hard time sleeping at night. It isn’t necessarily because of how scary and stressful the game can get, although that is part of it given that I now jolt at every little sound I hear. It’s just that, once I’ve played it a little bit, I spend the rest of the day being unable to think about anything else. Not even Taylor Swift’s brilliant new music video can stop it. It may be a bit of a problem.
For one thing, it’s impossible for me to predict what’s going to happen in this game. First, there are the other people stranded on the Sevastopol with you. Some of them will shoot you on sight without a moment’s notice. Others will yell at you to back off and, if you listen and do so, will leave you alone after that. I hid under an operating table as a man whose partners I’d witnessed the Alien murder came into the room, gun drawn, shouting “I know you’re in here, I just want to talk!” I had no idea if he really wanted to talk or if he was going to kill me for letting his friends die. I didn’t have much time to think about it either, as a big problem with shouting is that you give away your position to the Alien, and, well, the Alien is obsessed with killing. Continue reading Perfect Organism
JENNIFER: Oh man, where to start?? I guess I’ll give you my meet-cute with RE4. I avoided shooters at all costs when my then-significant other started playing it. I think I actually bought it for him as a Valentine’s Day gift, but I wouldn’t play myself. I was traumatized from sucking so hard at my first attempts at Halo (and way-previous attempts at Goldeneye). I was so drawn into the atmosphere and the scares of RE4, however, that I kept asking my ex to play it so I could watch. When I took a job that moved me to another city for a month, I took the Gamecube, RE4, and a shitty little 12-inch TV and figured it out how to play it myself away from the potentially judgy eyes of anyone watching. Looking back, I can’t believe I was able to play on that TV at all, let alone from across the room! I made it up to the first El Gigante, died 23 times (I counted), then abandoned it until I was able to play on a larger TV, at which time I realized that I did NOT just suck at fighting El Gigantes, I just sucked at fighting them when I couldn’t see what I was doing. What was your first play experience with RE4? What were you expecting going in?
BRETT: I had played and beaten Resident Evil 2 in middle school thanks to an invincibility code on the N64 version, and while I sucked at it, I was OBSESSED with the GameCube remake of the original, so while I was a fan, I couldn’t claim to be a hardcore one.
I remember being really put off by RE4 at first. The over-the-shoulder camera, the heavier emphasis on action, it was a little off-putting. It was originally part of that Capcom 5 series of GameCube games that Mikami was doing, and it looked like the least interesting of the bunch. My two best friends bought it and loved it though, and one of them loaned me their PS2 copy to give it a shot. I didn’t give it back until I’d played through it three times, then got the Wii version a few years later. The Wii controls are so perfect that I’m afraid to go back and get the HD release for PS3, even after playing Shadows of the Damned, Dead Space, and now the Evil Within.
That it was like no other game at the time is insane, isn’t it? And now every other third-person shooter that comes out anymore lifts so heavily from it. And originally it was going to be more traditional; they were pretty far into development before Mikami changed his mind! Modern gaming could have turned out so differently had that happened.