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English bloke. Binge drinker and ASBO gamer. Player of old games and new, I like tattoos, strong drinks, loud music, Scottish sun sets and traveling. I am also Determined to convince people of the merits of Fox McCloud's' thousand yard stare.


haunting


I look like this in my mind:



I actually look like this:



Charlie Brown seemed like a accurate avatar, he teaches children life can really suck sometimes.



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PSN ID:Baboon_Baron
Steam ID:BABOON_BARON
Wii U code:BaboonBaron
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So I’m currently playing Earthbound, after years and years of it being talked about in hallowed terms I knew it was a game I would have to devote some time to. But despite its engaging story and great characters I couldn't shake off one stand out point…
 
these kids parents are awful.
 
And I mean really, really bad. They show next to no concern for their child’s safety and often are a comic relief interspersed with the occasional cash injection.
 
And from this it got me thinking. We have discussed and debated about women, gays, trans and minorities in gaming, but have we ever looked at the portrayal of parents? The answer is a resounding maybe.
 
Once I’d started I couldn't stop thinking of more and more examples of neglectful, incompetent, cruel and sometimes damn right homicidal parenting figures. Screaming right in at number one, “Dad of the Year” himself, Ethan Mars from Heavy Rain might display emmutttuns (never gonna stop being funny) but he is a dreadful parent! Even at best possible play through, his actions are all reactive rather than protective and forward thinking. Ethan, as the protagonist represents the playable parent, which is somewhat of a rarity in games. What is very common is the idea of reactive parenting, which Ethan has in spades.

Reactive parenting is as lazy a plot device as DESTINY is. No, not the plot to Destiny, I mean the idea of a protagonist reaching their destiny is lazy…. My god Bungee did you give video game bloggers a second thought when naming your game?!..... rude frankly.
 
Think of how many games that have replaced “it’s your destiny” with “because of your family”. It’s a staggering amount. From the basic “because Daddy says so” of Assassins Creed II, to the slightly more caustic “because I’ve murdered them” of God of War, the sins of the parents are visited upon their children. This is a cheap and easy plot device, and it is a particularly potent one. As we all have parents in one form or another.
 
And this is when the options begin to open up…. A bad or abusive parent provides a good antagonist that people can relate to. Just like Limp Bizkit, we’ve all got mad at mom or dad. Perhaps the parents were killed? Or perhaps they were captured? Or hurt? Or displaced? All very easy ways of making the player emotionally invested as they can relate on a basic level to this parenting nightmare.
 
Maybe our hero does not have parents? Well this means they are completely free to pursue the adventure. The player can build on that initial fragility of being alone and isolated, and begin to be empowered into the portrayal of the character. Whilst it is perhaps lazy story telling, it does mean that the player does not need a frame of reference. And particularly empowering to younger players, who a sense of adventure and independence is mostly a fantasy.
 
This is perhaps why Earthbound and Pokemon jarred with me. There was no tearful scene of loss, Momma kissed our protagonist on the check and wished them luck as they set out to risk life and limb. Without one of the aforementioned lazy plot devices, it seems very very strange to allow a young hero to risk everything, and this some how be FINE for their parents. But by getting rid of them through, they present both catalyst for adventure, but also a breaking of society’s chains, allowing a young hero particularly to do the extra ordinary. Similarly this is true of when cast in the role of the grieving hero, the (relate able) loss works well to spur on the protagonist to complete their adventure and save the day/princess/universe/last sandwich/what ever.
 
Does any of this really matter? NO! Of course it doesn’t! It is a simple observation of how parental bonds (and the lack there of) provide regularly used plot devices to frame our interactive dramas around. Lazy it may well be, but it is an emotive one. And when on the rare occasions a protagonist does have a happy family life, it seems somewhat strange. Although, to paraphrase Futurama, “I’ve noticed it…. I can’t un-notice it!”
 

I may have ruined video games….
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Do you remember that episode of the Simpsons where Bart and Lisa find the old alternative ending to Casablanca?


That. That’s why there shouldn't be a sequel to The Last of Us. Or at least, why there should not be a direct sequel.
 
Let me explain, The Last of Us represents a watershed moment for video games. Not just because it’s a superb game with well crafted characters, but it is nearly unique in this medium in that it is a complete story from beginning to end. The end does not represent “I have defeated the boss”, the antagonist is not vanquished and the princess is not saved. The story does not focus around those tropes which makes it one of the very rare occasions when a video game story can come to a complete conclusion.
 



What sets it ever further apart from other games is that the journey of Ellie and Joel cannot be repeated without utterly diminishing the first game. Imagine if you will, that after Super Mario Bros, Mario and Luigi were so exhausted from their adventure that they decided to arm themselves with revolvers and gas up the 4x4 in time for Super Mario Bros 2. This is a ridiculous comparison, until you consider the world of The Last of Us, where planning and paranoia as a result of experience is the basis of the universe. To reduce Ellie and Joel to the same people they were at the start of the first game would to not only undersell the sequel, but would detract from the fantastic work of the original. Even more crucially, to begin a sequel with these two war torn, broken souls would change the face of the game play and undermine the universe its set in. It would be inconceivable for Joel to risk anything ever again, and it would be impossible for Ellie to return to her childlike innocence. After the experiences of the first game, it would be very difficult to have believable character arc that DIDN'T involve paranoid fear and isolation.  
 


 Not making a direct sequel would also be good for the industry and for us as consumers of it. It is not impossible to imagine that in a few years it will be possible to study video game criticism at university. Just as my parents balked at the thought of a degree in Film and Television, so too will my generation wonder if these kids are throwing their lives away. But to even have this as a possibility (and for games to be art, they must be critiqued) then we need to make sure that the industry that they belong to is not constantly ruining debate in pursuit of the almighty dollar. It is conceivable that assassins creed could be studied for its some what devil may care attitude towards history. However, I would be very surprised if its story was ever to be studied in any depth. One of the main reasons for its unpleasantly convoluted meta-story is that emphasis was placed on making yearly installments ad infinitum, rather than putting together a beginning, middle and end style story. 
 
That’s not to say that Naughty Dog’s world should be left to be forgotten about. The Universe itself has plenty of potential. Even further stories involving one of the two protagonists could be a successful continuation, building on the previous story and fleshing out the character and the way they have developed since. But if they go the easy route, and re-hash the whole thing, It will only be to the detriment of all that The Last of Us has succeeded in achieving.
 


I hope you see my logic. I’m not trying to spoil anyone’s fun I’m really not. I think the greatness of The Last of Us will only truly come to light years from now. Reminiscent of the Shadow of the Colossus band wagon, The Last of Us will only gather momentum, but shameless cash grabbing could de-rail that wagon and drive it straight into Disappointment Gorge, only to come to a rest at the bottom of Shattered Dreams creek.
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Dear Tim,
 
There's something I've got to tell you, but I don't want to make you uncomfortable. It's time I'm honest about my feelings, you've been such a positive element in my life. Don't worry, I'm not in your garden peering through the window, that's probably Brittany, but you have created some of the most wonderful games I've ever played and I wanted to say thank you.
 
Picture if you can, a young boy of about eleven years old, sick as a dog and staying home from school.  He reaches for a game his parents had bought him For Christmas, that game was The Secret of Monkey Island.  That little boys life was changed for the better.
 

 

It[font=Arial Unicode MS, sans-serif] i[/font]s a trite phrase that gets thrown around far too quickly, but truly this game changed so much for me. It was like discovering Monty Python or Jack Daniels for the first time, something that makes you want to stand up and shout THIS! THIS IS WHAT ITS ABOUT! Truly Monkey Island did this for me. I've never laughed so much, scratched my head so much and most of all been swept up by the adventure so much. I played the game to death, day and night, constantly getting stuck on the puzzles. And it being the pre-internet days, when you got stuck in an adventure game, you[font=Arial Unicode MS, sans-serif] a[/font]re really stuck. Eventually I finished the game, but not before my heart had been filled with quick quips, pirates and the second biggest monkey head I've ever seen. The impact I can't understate, thank you Mr Schafer.
 
But it's not just one game, lots of developers have released one game that sticks with a young nerd. You see, a little later on you brought out another game that made my heart leap. It might not have been to everyone's taste, but I adored Full Throttle.
 

 

Again, it perfectly hit the level of action, story and adventure, I remember it fondly as well as it was the first game to make a tear come to my eye. When Ben found Corley's body I remember laughing back a touch of sadness as our hero does the same. It's a game full of quotable moments, and like all great adventures it was full of wonderful characters. But the part that made it truly special, was Ben himself. I didn't play full throttle until I was a teenager, and at that perfect time of angst and rebellion I could relate completely to Ben and the Polecats, and escaping into the dystopia of Full Throttle was perfect.

 

So as you can see I really do enjoy your output on more than just an entertainment level. But there's one game left that I want to thank you for. A game about love, a game about death, a game called Grim Fandango.

 

 

Another one of your superb adventure games again with a cast of memorable and lovable characters, but what made Grim so special was the poetry of the writing. Manny was a wise cracking protagonist, but he had a heart and was following it to the ends of the afterlife.  Grim Fandango for me, encompasses all the different emotions that one can go through in a love affair, without cramming emotions down my throat it shows had even those who have been hurt can learn to love again, and when love touches you, it will consume you completely for better or ill. See, the funny part is, I missed a lot of this on my first play through. I was a young man and thought I knew the world. Now that Im a gnats pube away from thirty I can see some of the more subtle aspects of it. Now I have loved, and I have lost, and whilst I still having skin, I have learnt the hard way love is for the living and see myself in that chain smoking skeleton. Wrap all that in a macabre art style that I adore and has influenced my heavily tattooed body, Grim Fandango has a very special place in my heart.
 
So thank you Tim, you've made three games that hold a special place in my heart. They might not be to everyone's tastes, but they are classics and perfect to me. Keep doing what you[font=Arial Unicode MS, sans-serif] a[/font]re doing good sir


Thank you. 
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For all your Ryu's, Forrest Law's and Ivy's there are some unsung heroes that also went for the warriors crown. Here are my top ten fighters who could'a been contenders if they'd only been given a fair chance.
Clay Fighter's Helga


A curvaceous opera singer from the great north made completely from clay, Helga had all that was needed to make it as a legendary fighter. When she isn't encouraging others to improve their body self image she would be performing moves such as the Arm pit of Doom and the Viking ram.
A strong independent woman with a nontraditional sexiness, Helga was let down mainly due to being stuck in a pretty crappy game. It's a shame as she was a great character.

Rakuga Kids 'Mamezo 



If you've got a N64 And don't have a copy of Rakuga Kids your really missing out on some absolutely mental fun. A cartoon beat em up based around the imaginations of children. And none of the characters sum up that brilliant idea quite as well as the villainous and bully character of Mamezo. A wild Machiavellian rogue with a kick ass green cape, he summons rockets and household items to assault the other characters.
But none of this compares to his taunt... He blatantly showing his buttocks to the player complete with wiggle. Nothing quite infuriates like a good ol' moon. Mamezo was a wonderful character, and it is with a sad heart he is remembered by only a few faithful to ridiculous slapstick violence.

Primal Rage's Sauron



Ahhhh Sauron, the god of hunger and thirst. According to your wiki your a "good guy" but as far as if can see your just a very large T-Rex. I suppose it wouldn't really be fair to have standard humans going up against a dinosaur, but it would still be nice to see this highly unoriginal member of the Primal Rage crew brought back for another violent romp. I would definitely shell out a couple of bucks to see a dino god tearing off Shang Tsung's head. Or actually just footage of Sauron doing basic household tasks would be plenty funny.

Virtua Fighter's Goh



YEAH! We definitely need more Virtua Fighter in our lives. And as an additional addendum we definitely need more goth fighters such as the mighty Goh. The assassin with a deep and profound love of the Cure, was always my favorite character, I like the way he stood out like a sore, clearly deranged thumb in the Virtua Fighter line up, let's hope he's cracking skulls again if there's ever another offering.

Ready to Rumble's "Big" Willie Johnson



Good show old bean! Nothing causes more enjoyment for me than a comedy Brit in a video game and "big" Willie Johnson might just be the best. Rubbish at fighting but hilarious to use, he has an amazing mustache and the gumption to go ten solid rounds.
I haven't seen much about a new ready 2 rumble, but I would definitely love to see "big" Willie back in style.   Even just to see him do that wind up fake punch one last time.

Destrega's Raone



Destrega made a little impact back in the Ps1 era (though this may be wrong, 98 is one go my "lost" years) it has an interesting take on the fighting genre with an increase in risk and reward and a decrease in traditional skill. No one else in the cast was anywhere near as memorable as Raone. Filling the "big boss right hand man" role, it was his crazy eyes and frankly hilarious hat that sticks in my mind. History may have forgotten this also ran, but I refuse too.

MK Armageddon's Meat



Oh Meat! You truly personify the completely balls to the wall madness that the PS2 era mortal kombat represented. Actually on second thought, Meat and MK Karting are about equal in the "look I've jam in my trousers" scale. A Normal guy with no skin, armed with a meat cleaver. That's pretty much all you need to know about Meat, literally no effort was put into him at all. And this is shame, as he has the capacity to be a great MK character, getting the right divide between totally creepy, and slap stick ridiculous. Fingers crossed for him in MKX.

Power stone's Jack



You may have noticed from my list I do quite like my weirdos, and so with great love and respect let's hear it for jack. Possibly a hundred years old, perhaps he's 40, he can run on the tips of his knifes and can change into a clown. Look at him, just soak up the sheer mental 3am decision nature of Jack. Wrapped in bandages because being wrapped in bandages is cool. He's almost like a combination of our last two heroes....

Fighters Destiny's Pierre



Clowns suck. Fact. I have never met anyone who genuinely enjoys the company of clowns. Perhaps other clowns, but that's about it. Enter Pierre, the French clown with a perchance for kicking the fuck out of people. Like a chubbier Pennywise, he walks the line between creepy and just plain hilariously bad. It seems that for a period in the late nineties you couldn't have a least one clown character and one covered in restraints which leads us nicely too...

Soul Callibur's Voldo



Okay so he's been in all the soul callibur games so far, but really compared to Cervantes and ivy, Voldo is just in his own league. Both creeping out players and in all possibly awakening hidden sexual desires. He should be the true star of the series, adorning box art with his mouth piece and blind fold. You want to stop kids playing violent games? Put this dude on the cover! If you not completely convinced, remember he sometimes kicks seventeen shades of brown out of his opponents with a set of tambourines. TAMBOURINES! Nuff said.

I've stuck to favorites from my own collection of games, do you have any unsung violence dealers that don't get enough attention? Let me know! If we end up duking it out though, You have to let me fetch my bandages, mouth piece and clown make up. 
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Presented for your reading pleasure, a monologue on the crippling boredom and frustration when installing new software.   



God this is so boring.... That little bar is gradually filling, but I swear time is going slower than it normally does. This reminds me of five minutes till the end of school when I was a child. Except this is so much worse. It CLAIMS I'm but minutes away from my new interactive masterpiece but I don't think it's telling me the truth. What to do.... What to do.... I could...
 
CHECK MY PHONE


There's usually something cool on that.... No wait there's not, it's a Tuesday evening. No ones doing anything on Facebook except complaining about their jobs or their partners. Twitter? Oh that's cool, that guy I like has made a responsibly witty observation. Just gonna pull refresh,.. And nothing's happened. Sigh, don't wanna start up a mobile game, that seems wrong whist waiting for this new game to load. All the Destructoid fairies will be asleep as I'm on the other side of the planet. 14%? Is that all? Are you kidding me? I suppose I could....
 
MAKE A DRINK


But it's only 8 o'clock. I really want a martini or a whiskey.... But that seems a little of an overreaction to a small bar moving very very slowly. Damn, has the Playstation froze? No, it seems to be okay... Still making all that noise like a 56K dial up, I'll settle for a coke. It's too early for beer, and it's too.... TUESDAY to get drunk. Perhaps it's closer to being ready. 29%? You kidding! This is worse than Metal Gear Solid 4! I can feel desperation creeping up my spine, time to....
 
STARE AT THE WALL


I mean really stare. I don't think I've ever stared at this wall so intently. Look a crack! The woman in the shop said Snowfall would be a calming color, but I don't feel remotely calm. I've been working all day and all I want to do is slaughter/race against/punch in the face a few losers/zombies/poorly thought through antagonists. Man, this wall is making it worse. Dammit I'm gonna...
 
PUT SOME MUSIC ON


The following songs make watching a bar fill up much, much worse:

[font=Times New Roman]   [/font]The Mexican hat dance
[font=Times New Roman]   [/font]Surfin' bird - the Trashmen
[font=Times New Roman]   [/font]The Spanish flea
[font=Times New Roman]   [/font]Popcorn - Gershon Kingsley
[font=Times New Roman]   [/font]Vienna - Ultravox
[font=Times New Roman]   [/font]Time is running out - Muse
 
Dammit, that's not helped I'm gonna...
 
LOOK OUT THE WINDOW


Man look at all those people who aren't waiting for a bar to fill. That girls out jogging! That's a really healthy thing to do! Maybe I should go out running? Nah, what if there was a tiny amount of burning coal on my new game and my telly is about to burst into flames, I'd want to be here for that. Aww its starting to rain, I made the right decision. Ah 69%?!? Are you kidding me? Although... That gives me an idea...
 
MASTURBATE FURIOUSLY


 
Ah, nearly there....shoulda started with this... Much needed.... Aww damn is that the intro starting!?!


 



Awwww this is awkward. 
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Gray Times
9:12 AM on 06.21.2014

Pieces of Heart is an ongoing series where I pick out a forgotten classic from my game library and give it a long overdue moment in the sun. For all your Zelda’s and Last of Us’es there so many unsung heroes. Today it’s a little different, today we’re going to focus on a game on one of the current gen consoles, but dammit if it wasn’t one of the best games I played last year, and dammit more people should appreciate its brilliance.
 
Cor blimey me ol’ china, zombies have invaded London Town in ZOMBIU.
 

Those funny hats are made from real bear fur... true story. 

 

One of the Wii U’s launch titles and the “adult” offering from Ubisoft, ZombiU is a first person survival horror game. With the emphasis on survival as you will die, over and over again. With each death being permanent, you assume the role of the next faceless survivor, and have to track down your own shambling corpse to reclaim your weapons. The story goes for a quirky take on the apocalypse foretold many moons ago trope, but is forgiven by being based on genuine British history and folklore.
 
There are many aspects of ZombiU I adore, but it’s the level of innovation that I love. Ubisoft poured so much into this terrifying game that makes it a classic. And I do mean terrifying, as a horror game aficionado, I know scary, and Zombiu has it is swathes. All these little extras combine to form a truly superb game which sticks with you long after you’ve changed out of your brown trousers.
 
Your character sucks. A stroke of genius this, you play as a Londoner, any one of a constantly repeating list of nobodies that make up the city. Your not ex-SAS, you’ve not got survival training, your cold, scared and desperately putting your faith in the mysterious contact on the other end of the radio.  This means you can’t kill zombies quickly- its exhausting work killing things, you can’t shoot very well and you make sad terrified whimpers as you tentatively explore. This changes common confrontation into a Dark Souls level of cat and mouse, where every mistake could be your last, and everything carries a terrifying risk.
 

Honestly hofficer.... I've only had a hupple of hales.

 
The setting is awesome. Okay, so I’m bias, I live in the UK, and have always thought more games should be set here. And while it seems to be a London by numbers effort with both the Tower and the Palace visited, the European desolateness of the game adds to the atmosphere. Filth litters the streets, dark shadows of forgotten monuments and century old buildings follow the horizon and there are hardly any guns. HARDLY ANY GUNS! IN A ZOMBIE GAME!? Yup. And it works brilliantly, left to fight mostly with your trusty cricket bat, it just intensifies the hopeless beauty of a ruined London.

 
The game pad is justified. To look in your inventory, you look down at the game pad, using the touch screen to move items and read documents. It’s a simple idea, but executed perfectly, as whilst you faff about, the horde is continuing its shambling campaign to eat your flesh. Nothing to my mind (I’ve not tried VR tech yet)  has matched the sheer engrossing terror of running out of bullets, running to a corner of a room and having to tear your eyes away from the screen to look through your inventory for something, anything, that will stop the fetid corpses seconds away from your position. It really is heart in mouth stuff. Like Lone Survivor or Silent Hill 2, this game should be played in the dark, with like minded people, as the atmosphere is practically a solid. It is that good.
 

although with the Wii U's battery life... we're fucked.

 

It is by no means perfect either, but if you can look past a few flaws and irritating quirks, there is an amazing game. It is a dark and horrifying experience, one that is true survival horror, where you are horrified and must fight to survive, rather than mowing down hordes of the undead in-between bro-fisting your co-op ‘leet hacker pal. This is a cold, painful, traumatic game, just like survival horror should be. Now post E3 the Wii U is looking more and more like a reasonable purchase please don’t forget to pick up this gem. You won’t regret it.
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