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About
First and foremost, I'd say that I'm a quitter. I quit a lot of things. And the only things I don't quit I don't quit them because it would be harder if I did quit them.

Born on mischief night in the year 1984, I have gone on to fail to achieve many things and I hope to continue to do so until I fail to achieve everything. Hopefully, I will not fail in this. Or maybe I will. I don't know which one's better.

Upon receiving a bachelor's degree in film from Temple University, I returned to my homeland of Northeastern Pennsylvania utterly unsurprised that the only jobs available to me are telemarketing and assembly line work. Both of which I have failed at. Having lost my zest for almost everything, I seek solace in crafting intelligent and/or funny articles about gaming.

I won't hide the fact that I'm not good at games or maybe I just have gaming self esteem issues. In appetite, I'm certainly hardcore. I want to play as many games as possible and of every single genre available. In playing style, business casual. I'll turn off a game at the drop of a hat if I get disinterested or frustrated by it.

I own a Wii and an Xbox 360. I have no overriding preference for either. Bioshock was on one, Twilight Princess was on the other. In this way, they both have already made good on the financial investment.

I'm the Bus. Get on me. Please don't leave gum underneath my seats.
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Bus
7:22 PM on 09.09.2008

This is written in direct response to Chad's most recent article. Unfortunately, I seem completely unable to comment at all. So, I figured I'd spew my unpopular opinions on here instead.

I see the 'turgid videogame anonymity' reference as just a way of pinpointing the exact nature of the critic's issue with the film. I believe most nongamers find the amount of action in popular games to be repetitive, drawn out, and lacking in specificity. And I think it's disingenuous to deny them their honest opinion. Sure, you can quote some more artistic games that they haven't factored in as a rejoinder but even most gamers haven't played those. So, their ignorance isn't an aberration, it's the standard. For his audience, primarily nongamers, it's a great analogy. They all get it. You disagree because you aren't his audience and you wish he wouldn't honestly express his opinions of your medium because you do know more about it than him. So, to you, of course, they're all being short sighted but what are you going to do? Force them to play Shadow of the Colossus. No, we write another call to arms or "you're doing it wrong, movie critics" piece to put off any real action. Pondering why so many people view video games the way they do, that's more worthy of our time. Is it because the vast majority of games reinforce that attitude immensely and the ones who don't sell poorly and garner little attention? Is it because we view shorter and more accessible games with suspicion and/or contempt? And so on.

I also think it's kinda pathetic that everyone keeps commenting on these critics. I mean, don't you see the contradiction there? We keep saying "oh, those fools, when will they ever understand?" over and over again thus making their effect on the world as a whole so much larger than it really is. Epic Movie's and other films of its quality are brought up to denigrate the movie industry but its success also shows that your common every day movie goer doesn't listen to critics, let alone understand them. You keep bringing these people up, it's like being obsessed over an old flame. Or perhaps a relentless search for some ridiculous sense of acceptance like a goth teenager that really just shows how confident we all truly are in our artform. We're so confident we'll harp on forever about how the old guys that like movies just don't understand us.

Finally, comments in general are getting ridiculous. Any story that has majority approval gets evocations of love and worship. It creeps me out honestly. Thank god though that I'm here to be a consistent ball of negativity.








I don't believe anyone actually thought seriously about the question: are these reviews unprofessional? Important to recognize what we expect from professional criticism. An honest opinion for starters and that's certainly there. I have no reason whatsoever to believe either reviewer was paid off or compelled into lying or had any vindictive purpose in writing what they did. I wouldn't doubt a moment that every issue they brought up was indeed true. Assuming otherwise would be the height of foolishness.

Is it constructive? I would say, overall, yes but the particulars make it difficult to gain any positive benefit, benefit for the game, for the potential audience, for the developer, and for the movement that is indie game development. The concerns are all valid but the way they are voiced deadens their beneficial effect. What counter productive elements am I speaking of? We all get hung up on the score at the bottom but it's really the general tenor of the review that matters. Why then the puerile, unfunny, and unnecessary attempts at irreverence like "the controls are looser than a five dollar hooker?" Why the petty exaggerations likening the game to otherworldly hellish experiences? "Don't even say its name for that might give its already unholy form power?" That's not criticism. That's spiteful derision, only acceptable in a world where you never have to see the sadness of the person you're saying it to. You can't find anything good to say about the game? You're. Not. Looking. Hard enough. Because that is the refuge of people who enjoy pointing out failure as opposed to helping someone through that failure.

And that someone is hardly without blame himself. Luc, I can firmly and without reservation attest that PR is not your strong point and that, if possible, you should retain the service of someone far more capable than you of responding to something like this in a civilized manner. By communicating as you did, you merely reinforced the already overwhelming negativity towards your product. I understand that confidence is paramount when creating anything, without it you'd never get anything done and served up for public consumption, but you're teetering at the edge of arrogance. Please be careful.

And where does this leave us? An indie game developer who communicated with the Destructoid community now alienated and abused, childishly striking back at his tormentors as the ground crumbles underneath everything. Perhaps this particular developer was indeed a complete fucking moron who made a shitty fucking game. I don't know; I can't play it. But because we called him a complete fucking moron who made a shitty fucking game and we used words not that far removed from my profane exaggeration, why would anyone in their right minds ever want to share their dreams with us ever again?

I feel that, if this kind of interaction continues, the indie game movement will never take off. It'll never get the support that it needs from us, the people, because we won't be good enough to support it. When a small developer totally fucks up, we'll jump all over him and make him RUE the fucking day he decided to make a video game, the stupid bastard. And then the developer won't be thick skinned enough to exist on the internet, to take the good with the bad, to grow. We have to be better.

All of us, the reviewers, the audience, the developer, we all look at reviews as if they are the final judgement on a game. As if those 1's tell you everything that there will ever be of Eternity's Child. But development is iterative. Games are updated; transformed. Opinions change. The valid reviews posted yesterday are hopefully just the rough beginning of a pathway to something greater than what exists today.

Spero melior - I hope for better things








Guilt doesn't even begin to describe how I feel knowing that I like this game. Guilt sounds like it's just a stain on my clothes, easily dispatched by the rinse cycle. This is shame, dark bile surrounding my soul. But I just can't help it. I love camp and this game is the closest the entire industry has gotten to the euphoric heights of Batman & Robin.


Actually not the name of the newest product from the brilliant minds that brought you the Toilet Snake, as seen on TV by insomniacs

First things first, I would never, under any circumstances, advise you to actually play Sewer Shark. Other than shooting incessantly, you also make turns which are called out to you by your robotic buddy Catfish, proud owner of a delightful Cajun accent. Missing any one of those turns almost always leads to careening directly into a wall, raising the question "Can't this thing go in reverse and/or stop?" Also, CO2 levels will build up and require you to command Catfish to shit out a flare that will ignite the gases before your guns do. I can't even begin to cut through the deep metaphor that lies in a robot Creole pooping out fire balls to save your life. What's really amazing, and I mean this in no relation to the actual meaning of the word amazing, is that the first few enemies don't even attack your god damn ship. They just kind of hang around to be shot at. 50% of the game is spent just shooting defenseless animals. Take the noble ratigator. I don't have to tell you what it is. It's the only fictional word in recorded history that took less time to think up than it did to say it for the first time. Incidentally, a rock slide killed several people in Chile that day. Coincidences did not exist when Sewer Shark was borne unto this Earth.


The game play of Sewer Shark or a visual representation of the Internet? The world might never know

What other game lets you fight the evil tyranny that is STENCHLER. Commissioner Stenchler. AKA the asshole who gave Bruce Willis a parking ticket in Die Hard 2. On Christmas Eve, that son of a bitch. Stenchler's evil plan is...fucked if I know. He's your boss; he runs the Sewer Sharking racket and lives in posh Solar City which is, I suppose, what Malibu is called in the future. At first, he's impressed by your pest exterminating skills. He calls into compliment you usually while eating a comically gigantic piece of meat straight from the bone. It's the popular in morbidly obese circles 'Fred Flintstone diet.' In his last positive cutscene, he rips off his business suit to transition right to his swimming trunks. Then, he steps outside of his office which is just a crude facade constructed on the beach itself so he can go dance and sing. Later, he jetskis in front of the cheap blue screen the weatherman of Solar City normally uses.


He's splitting his time between eating his pasta and that bib that he's rocking

But then, he slowly, in the course of at most half a cutscene, gets really pissed at you for straying into Sector 19. Sector 19 was described by dirt encrusted hottie/Shark pilot Falco as "a sewer jockey's graveyard." Can you feel the gravitas, the pathos, the unending torment that is their life? They are modern man. The bodies of those modern yet still very dead men found out there had complete cranial evacuations or, in layman's terms, "something down there sucked their brains out!" Luring you into Sector 19 is “some kind of crazy looking thing” which is a bird made out the pure essence of rainbows. This is never explained whatsoever. Once you cross Stenchler's 38th parallel, he starts sending in robotic moles who only attack by running straight into you, usually at the very center of the screen. So, just leave the cross hairs there, find a rock to wedge down the fire button, then come back later when the game play becomes even less interesting. Eventually he graduates to unleashing ZERKS. "Brain-eating fireflies, what a delightful concept!" Oh god, yes it is.


It's only an optical illusion that this looks almost identical to the one shot above, after all there is an orange blob in this one

Stenchler kidnaps Falco and ties her to an unnecessarily slow killing mechanism involving a pole with a metal circle on top that will, someday in the even further flung future, make her explode after it gets heated by the sun. Look, watch that part of the game and see if you can describe it any better. Eventually, his evilness causes an uprising by the cast of Baywatch. He sits on his throne of lies demanding to know where his "egg celery pudding" is. It's dumped on his face and then he spends a full ten seconds screaming at the top of his lungs before holding off the insurgent forces with a lunch box filled with gray matter consuming insects. After a failed retreat, no doubt caused by his obsessive need to not abandon his fez before fleeing for his life, he is placed into an inner tube and rolled out into the ocean. A man who has killed viciously and for no apparent reason countless numbers of his own employees is dispatched like a minor annoyance on an 80's sitcom. Finally, the robot gets a lei from Stenchler's former bimbo and also a sprinkle of some robot loving. Jesus Christ.


Salacious Crumb fell on hard times after Return of the Jedi

My love for Sewer Shark really begins and ends with one man: Ghost. Ghost is your copilot and a five year old's version of R Lee Ermey. He strokes his vehicle lovingly with a crazed grin in his eyes. "Not everything on this baby's strictly legal," Ghost kids, knowing full well that there are no laws in the sewer. Filling his nostril with the fresh fucking scent of the piss and shit of Solar City's denizens: "There's nothing like the smell of the sewer in the morning. Smells like victory." To Ghost, rubbing your nose in feces is an acceptable form of celebration. He demands from you "1 million pounds of tube steak" the price of a ticket to paradise for him, you, and even that stupid robot.


What are you talking about? Acting is screaming! It's about emotionality!

More than any other moment, Ghost's challenge to the player to try out a new gun, made me love this game. He straps it on and lets you at it. The first time I played I thought a target would pop up but no. I didn't fire at anything and I failed. As in complete game over. After playing back to that point, I just laid into the fire button and blew the launch door right to shit. Ghost seemed pissed "You just took out the door, ace!" but then he got that wild eyed glare that said: "I love you in the most bat shit insane way it's possible to love someone else. You just used a gatling gun to blow open the door to my heart, Rat Breath.”

As you move through the game and Ghost thinks you're less and less of a worthless shit, he gives you new call signs. They go, in order: Dog Meat, Rat Breath, Exterminator, and finally Beach Bum which is "the highest honor a sewer jockey can receive." I remember being really impressed by the word 'exterminator.' So much so, that I forced my friends to name our bowling team that year 'The Exterminators' which just barely fit on the cheap ass bowling computer screens. I don't recall why I was so blown away but I was pretty young, perhaps 6, so it might just have been the first time I had heard it used.

What's amazing about all of this is that John Dykstra, two time Academy Award winner for the special effects in Star Wars: A New Hope and Spider-Man 2, was the principal creative force behind this...thing. Not surprising, however, is the fact (certainly not a coincidence) that Dykstra also supervised the effects for Batman & Robin. Neither Nostradamus nor the Mayan calender saw any of this shit coming.

Thanks to the miracle of Youtube, you don't need to play the game nor even watch someone else play the game. Just skip around to the good parts. It's not that hard considering the game is 40 minutes start to finish.

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Bus
12:29 PM on 04.13.2008

Shame. Disgust. Loathing. I'm not talking to everybody here. Many have said really inspiring, introspective, true things in the wake of N'Gai's comments on the trailer at hand. Many who dissented, did so in rational, respectful ways. If you fall into this group, I applaud you. I'm talking to those who turned on Croal viciously, ignorantly at the drop of a hat because of one disagreement. Here is a man who has repeatedly and consistently elevated the very essence of our mutual interest with reasoned and informed criticism time and time again. Apparently, up until just now. This man, seemingly well respected in gaming circles, is almost instantly abandoned by a nation of scared, defensive, pathetic individuals. Why? Because he's lying? Because he's deceitful or underhanded? Or maybe because he's just gotta prove that there's racism (or the appearance of racism) in that trailer or else he loses his membership in the black race? Or does he just see something that we might possibly never see? Either because we're white or we're from an area where racism isn't as prevalent or because we all know fully well that the black menacing figures in the trailer are zombies and only look like racial stereotypes.

But truthfully nothing's changed. He's still defending gaming. But now he's doing something far more difficult than rebutting a loon like Jack Thompson or shooting down ill informed Fox News correspondents. He's defending gaming from itself. From Japanese developers who don't know any better. From the incorrect assumptions of people who haven't played Resident Evil 1-4. Have no doubts about it: we live and play in a gated community and if that is to ever change we need to realize that the nature of a game is not common knowledge. You want video gaming to become a true art form? You really want that? Then, deal with some scrutiny and deal with it like an adult. Face it, react, learn, but don't attack. Doing so merely reveals how threatened you are and how small you've become.

Flags went up. "Here's another black guy, playing the race card, when will they stop this nonsense?" Right there, you've ceased to consider anything he has to say. You're not thinking of him as a person anymore but as a mouthpiece. Someone who doesn't feel, doesn't care, only does what they're programmed to do. Someone who isn't worth listening to. You have dismissed him. Utterly. And I don't think there's any crime against humanity that doesn't start with this crucial first step. Dehumanization.

I'm not here to talk about the trailer itself. Suffice to say, I agree with every single thing he had to say about it. However, I honestly feel that no internet discussion will ever convince a racist to abandon his ways. My own failings in this area were only fully realized when a good friend of mine pointed out how disgusting I truly was. I'm forever indebted to him and thus I know that it takes far more than a back and forth on some trivial issue with a group of strangers to change the nature of a man. So, in closing, all I truly ask for is faith. Faith not in some absolute infallibility of N'Gai Croal but in the belief that he is a good man and that his words always arise from a deep, abiding, and pure passion for gaming.

Title by Alex Bahr








This is written in direct response to Jim Sterling's article: Why do videogame movies fail so much?

In your mentioning of what film adds via adaptation to other forms of media, you neglect to say what it detracts. From a play it omits the proximity of having the action unfold in real time, mere feet from you. From a novel, it subtracts the timelessness of it, a sprawling story with an ever expansive world. This shows that any form of adaptation is a process of addition AND subtraction. Yes, movies adapted from video games would lose the interactivity but they would gain other things. The communal experience (absent from most single player games), the sense of time and of forward momentum, in some cases a tighter focus on narrative and character development, and so on.

You say adapting a video game suggest that they can't tell good stories. But does the adaptation of the Lord of the Rings novels into movies prove that the books don't tell a good story? Does The Godfather movie do it to its source? No. They prove that the story is so powerful that it can transmute into another form and retain its power. Its the highest honor a story can possibly receive.

I have to take the time to say that the reason Silent Hill didn't scare you was because it was terrible. As have all video game based movies. You said it yourself: you didn't care about the character Pyramid Head was chasing. The movie failed because it was poorly made. Empathy was not established. And, a large part of why Pyramid Head is terrifying is because of his psychological aspect, the meaning behind the scary image. Silent Hill, the movie, just trots him out there for a cheap fanwank.

When it comes to the issue of actors in a movie not being the same as their presentations in the game, this feels like an outright refusal to accept the possibility of a good video game based movie. Who's to say that the Bioshock movie won't find someone who brings even more nuance to the role of Andrew Ryan? On the subject of Bioshock, it seems to be the consensus that the narrative falls apart in the last third. Might not a film adaptation rectify this problem and display a fine work of world building to an even larger audience so that they too might be enhanced by its excellence?

I must announce that I am in the process of attempting an adapted screenplay (not affiliated with anyone actually thinking of making the movie, solely a personal project) of that game because I feel so strongly about it. I may fail miserably but I am passionate and, no matter what, it will be made with love. On that note, no games do not need to be made into movies. Nor should they unless there is some improvement or worthwhile change to be made. But can they? I hope so.








Where In The (Insert Milieu Here) Is Carmen Sandiego?

These earlier halcyon days were spent playing video games that all tried to teach me something. Gorillas aimed to provide me with rudimentary artillery skills so I could one day fight in the Simian Wars of 2032. The Oregon Trail was a lesson in the merriment of death and the enjoyment of the suffering of others. And Red Storm Rising, more so than even Red Dawn, communicated how utterly ridiculous the Cold War was. Carmen Sandiego, meanwhile, taught me that it was quite clearly awesome to steal things. Carmen and her merry band of thieves always managed to walk away with the craziest of objects. "Quick gumshoe, someone just stole the entire Gross National Product of Belize/the Mason-Dixon line/Alexander Graham Bell's catheter/happiness/your very fucking soul!"


So that's what passes for national treasure in Peru? Fucking llama paintings?

I doubted at the time that someone with a punny name like Hardley Worthit or Patty Larceny could piss their pants much less steal nebulous concepts like "all the banks of the Nile!" But hey, they did and, even if I easily tracked them down over and over again, they were out in less than a day and once again stealing some other ridiculous shit. So, crime might not have paid but it certainly seemed more interesting than traveling around the world and asking people "Did you see anything suspicious?" when you really should be more direct and inquire "Did the fucking Rio Grande just pass by here?" Listen, I don't need a warrant if the suspect has Yankee Stadium in his back pocket. It's called probable cause, god damn it. Look it up, Chief.


Look at that! That's how little they respect the justice system! The unmitigated gall of these magnificent bastards.

I think they really dropped the ball when it came to sequels. Sure, she traveled through time and the US and the world and even space. But what about invading my own body? Then, I could send in little nano-machines to ask my white blood cells for help reclaiming my duodenum. The brain could be the chief! Or how bout Where In Iraq Is Carmen Sandiego? Instead of a warrant, you need an exit strategy before you can apprehend the bitch. Common stolen objects are hope, peace, WMDs, and a functional democracy. For adults, CSI: Carmen Sandiego where you get to sit in a lab and conduct exciting tests while the in-game camera has a seizure and The Who's cultural relevancy is rubbed red raw.


Fun fact: 90% of the Ren Fair rejects pictured here have killed themselves.
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