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9:10 AM on 01.27.2014

Is Toad Middle Eastern?

First, we discovered that the clouds and bushes in Super Mario Bros. were using the same sprite. 

Later, mankind theorised that the entirety of Super Mario Bros 3. was actually a stage play.

And now, I have unearthed the next “it was there all along” revelation of the Mario universe; Toad is Middle Eastern. Sort of, I mean, he’s not from the actual Middle East or Arab or anything, he’s a mushroom, but just roll with me here. 


Reason #1 – Look at Him



I feel like either I’m the only person in the world who sees this or everybody else in the world is aware of it and just never mentions it; but Toad’s design is heavily based on Arabic culture. When I was little I always wondered why Toad wore the same outfit as Disney’s Aladdin, but looking at it now I see that Toad is completely decked out in Arabic garb, not only is he wearing an Arabian vest and harem trousers (actually what they’re called), but the real cinchier was when I realised that his mushroom cap is supposed to be evocative of a turban. 


Reason # 2 – World 2 is Always a Desert. 



To date, the second worlds in Super Mario Bros. 2, Super Mario Bros. 3, New Super Mario Bros., New Super Mario Bros. Wii, New Super Mario Bros. 2, Paper Mario, Paper Mario: Sticker Star, New Super Mario Bros. U and Super Mario 3D World have all been desert themed. Assuming that Mario takes the shortest route possible to Bowers domain this indicates that the Mushroom Kingdom encapsulates or borders vast expanses of desert land, given how early in the game you visit I’m betting it’s the former, this means that the Mushroom Kingdom must integrate and share much of the land’s culture and people. 


Reason # 3 – Mushroom Royalty 



These fine gentlemen are the Mushroom Kings, appearing in Super Mario Bros. 3 as the lords presiding over the Mushroom Kingdom. You may notice than they all have dark complexions and several of them dress in style reminiscent of Middle Eastern nobility, except for the Viking and...um, potato? Let’s just assume they rule over the vassal states. Were that not to convince you enough have a look at this fellow...



That is the Mushroom King, the Mushroom King, as in Peach’s father. Appearing occasionally in the comics as a bumbling fool, this is the closest we've gotten to any sort of official word on big daddy mushroom himself, and as you may notice, he’s a goddamn sultan! In fact, it’s becoming more and more evident that Peach and Daisy are the odd ones out when it comes to the Mushroom aristocracy.


Reason #4 – Doki Doki Panic



Doki Doki Panic was the basis for what we in the west knew as Super Mario Bros. 2, what was originally an Arabian Nights themed platformer was reskinned to become a Mario game, and since Mario games were already surrealist nonsense very few changes needed to be made beyond inserting familiar characters. Toad replaced Papa, a squat man wearing an Arabian vest, harem trousers (again, actually what they’re called) and a turban, sound familiar? I’m not saying Toad is a rip-off, he was created first, more likely is that they wear similar clothes because vests were an easy way to distinguish the arms of a character, much like Mario’s overalls. The point is, Toad already looked exactly like his Middle Eastern counterpart, and the fact that Nintendo haphazardly smashed an Arabian Nights themed game into the Mario world doesn’t exactly hurt my case. 


Reason #5 – Nobody Cosplays Toad because it Looks Racist. 



It becomes shockingly obvious when you stretch Toad out to human proportions that this character is Middle Eastern. Anybody cosplaying as Toad is put in the unfortunate position of being mistaken for a genie by anyone outside the gaming community. 


Reasons #6 #7 #8 – So Many Other Things!



Am I the only one seeing this!? What about the Dryites from Paper Mario? What about the pyramids that appear in so many levels? Are Shy Guys supposed to be female Toads in burkas!? Okay, no, that one was stupid, but you can’t deny the irrefutable evidence that Toad, and evidently, much of the Mushroom Kingdom, are thematically and allegorically Arabic.   read


4:28 PM on 12.30.2013

2013 in Gaming: Better/Worse than Ever

What a year, eh? Another triumphant year for current gen consoles, the introduction of the next generation, the higher standards of AAA experiences and the greater exposure and availability of indie games. Yep, it’s a pretty great time to be involved in gaming.....

But fuck that, let’s complain and think up stupid categories for stuff I want to talk about. 


Fork-Tongued Merchant of Lies Award – Randy Pitchford



Gearbox were on a roll, the terrible-but-totally-not-their-fault-they-swear Duke Nukem had become little more than a bad memory, and they were basking in the afterglow of Borderlands 2’s critical reception, Gearbox had finally rid themselves of the stigma of releasing awful, broken games and were on the road to recovery. Then Aliens: Colonial Marines happened. Now, when most developers and publishers don’t have confidence in a game there’s a few steps they take to minimise damage, they don’t send review code to game websites, they cleverly edit trailers so as not to show gameplay for more that second-long flashes at a time, and basically release the game quietly and hope for the best. No hype means no backlash. 

But Gearbox took things in a different direction, deciding to instead embargo the review code till the game was released, falsifying trailers to the point of being unrecognisable, and going into a complete media shutdown, only breaking the silence to acknowledge the rare flicker of praise the game got. The only indication of the game’s quality we had was an unusual talk Randy gave at DICE a week before release in which he was adamant we recognise that other studios worked on the game. All this was bad enough before the accusations of embezzlement, the lawsuits, the finger pointing and that time he spent $25000 for a magician’s ponytail. But at least we know their true colours now, never again will they sink their teeth into one of our beloved...JESUS CHRIST TELLTALE, WHAT ARE YOU DOING!? RUN!! GET AWAY FROM HIM!

Runner Up – Peter Molyneux.

What was inside The Cube? A publicity stunt....damn it, Molyneux. 


Post-Trilogy Prequel in a Massive Franchise You Already Forgot About Award – Gears of War: Judgement



Gears of War was a big deal. Where Resident Evil conceived the over the shoulder shooter Gears popularised it, for better or worse, Gears of War played a part in shaping the current generation. You’d think the fourth entry would have done better. The prequel starring Baird, because apparently when your choice is between the fan favourite and a guy created to justify four player co-op the black guy still can’t be the lead, was released to average critical acclaim and poor commercial success. Could this be a sign that we’re finally tired of freakishly muscular men shooting aliens in the face? Or are we just tired of these particular freakishly muscular men shooting aliens in the face? Only time will tell. 

Runner Up – God of War: Ascension

Maybe we’re just sick of the Gs of War. 


Evil Genius Award for Achievements in the Field of Bastardry – Don Mattrick



The Xbox One reveal was a trainwreck, between the invasive concepts and attempts to control what we did with our games to the mixed messages and Don Mattrick’s displays of outright contempt for the core audience, it was almost as though he wanted the Xbox One to crash and burn. Not long after the PR disaster that was our introduction to the Xbone Mattrick left Microsoft for Zynga, it seemed he screwed up so bad he was fired...........OR WAS HE??? You don’t just clear up your desk and become CEO of the world’s leading casual game provider, Don knew where he was going well before E3, at best he was completely checked out at that point and didn’t care about the Xbox One, at worst, remember that Zynga is the company that constantly espoused the coming revolution of social gaming and the death of consoles. Don Mattrick wasn’t just jumping ship, he was cutting loose the lifeboats and poking holes in the hull first.

Runner Up – Randy Pitchford

Did I mention the whole Aliens thing?

Oddly Specific Genre Award – Aging Father Figure Travels Through a Hostile World With Young Woman



The Last of Us, Bioshock Infinite, and The Walking Dead are games about ageing men in a world gone to shit as they travel with and protect young women that circumstance has placed in their care, perhaps over time the women will begin to take care of themselves and toughen up as they come to terms with harsh realities of this world, perhaps the men will open up and let themselves care again, perhaps game journalists will call it “emotional” because our lexicon is severely limited and we have such low standards that making us feel any emotion at all is considered an achievement in this medium. Snark aside, it is promising that three games can be so similar yet offer different experiences, and all three can reach varying levels of success. Both game developers and players are reaching their 30’s and 40’s and many are now parents themselves, and it’s wonderful to see this shift reflected in gaming. 

Seriously though, stop it, we’re playing to get away from the damn kids. 


Runner up – Incredibly Boring Thing Simulators



They’ve always been around, but 2013 was the year the gaming community at large became aware of the incredibly boring thing simulators. Have you ever dreamt of delivering a crate of tomatoes from Southampton to Amsterdam? Of course you haven’t what’s wrong with you? But somehow there enough people out there to make truck, train, and airport simulators not just successful, but flourishing yearly franchises. We give Assassin’s Creed and Call of Duty a lot of shit, but how different do you imagine Tractor Simulator 2014 will be from Tractor Simulator 2013. What amazing advancements have been made in the world of tractor simulation since then?

Controversy That Missed the Point Award – Bros Before Hos



I’m not going to defend it, the God of War games are pretty vile in my opinion, they’re brutal, cruel, and borderline embarrassing for the industry. But for some people, a trophy called “Bros Before Hos” crossed the line. Half the women go around with their breasts out, every game involves having QTE sex with a random women for XP, this isn’t even the first game in the series built around viciously killing a trio of sisters, in the third one you have to kidnap a consort and mutilate her in some gears to hold a door open, and in the finale of Ascension you literally stab the final boss in the tits. But no, all that was fine, the real point of contention was a bros before hos joke that Adam Sessler misinterpreted. 

Runner Up – Like, 90% of the Other Controversies


Least Amount of Fucks Given – Hideki Kamiya



Hideki Kamiya wouldn’t give a shit if he had diarrhea at a scat convention. 




Schoolyard Slapfight of the Year – Marcus Beer vs Phil Fish.  



In what started as a (for once) completely uncalled for outburst on Phil Fish escalated into full on name calling and nonsensical “say that to my face over the internet” exchanges, things came to a head when Fish cancelled FEZ 2 and took his ball home while Beer’s mother called him in for dinner. Cliff Bleszinski, comically unaware of his position as King Dick of Dude-Bro Mountain, pleaded for Fish to return to the industry, but it fell on deaf ears. At the time of writing Fish remains secluded in his pillow fort and Beer was reprimanded by his superiors with no dessert for a week.   read


10:46 AM on 12.10.2013

Carry Over Saves Are a Near Impossible Dream.


Can The Walking Dead deliver on its promise of past decisions affecting Season Two?

Carry over saves were a revolutionary idea, the concept that decisions you made could have repercussions that went beyond just later on in the game, but could carry over into the next game altogether put a whole new spin on things. Your decisions went beyond the immediate conflict, was it wise to anger or kill a certain character or faction you don’t like? They might not appreciate that next time you run into each other. Or better yet, sticking by your convictions, even making the wrong call and having it come back to bite you years later in the next game can be immensely satisfying, it makes it matter, that your influence changed more than just the next line of dialogue. Truly, carry over saves left their mark on the face of the industry.

Weird, considering only one game series has actually tried it. 



With Season 2 of The Walking Dead looming over us this Christmas like an Anti-Santa with a sack full of harsh realities, and with it the promise of carrying over our decisions, I’ve decided to explore why this feature isn’t used more often. It can be devastatingly effective, it built Bioware one of the most invested (and rabid) fanbases in gaming, I might even go as far to say it’s something that can take game narrative to the next level. So why is it so ridiculously underused? Well, for starters...

It’s a logistical nightmare.

Having a decision leave big consequences in a game is hard enough, having it leave big consequences in the next game, yet alone a trilogy, is almost ludicrous. You need to create a tree of branching events that will matter to the player while not interfering too much with the main plot, and since games like this are very involved and responsive to fan feedback, that’s like putting together a puzzle before half the pieces have been made yet.


Fan-made chart depicting the various outcomes of the suicide mission. 

Take the decision to cure the genophage for example, factors in those events stretch across the entire trilogy, whether or not you killed Wrex, saving or deleting Maelon’s data, if Mordin survived the suicide mission, when and if you choose to reveal the sabotage, all these things change the characters involved, their interactions, and the context of the decisions you make. In one save I decided to do right by the Krogan and cure the genophage, in another with Wrex and Eve dead I decided it was in the galaxy’s best interest to sabotage it. 

Now consider that in addition to all those variables they also have to consider which team members are with you, their dialogue, all the incidental dialogue in the game world stemming from your decision, ensuring there are no continuity errors in each version of events, double the voice work for a Shepard of either gender, no, quadruple it because there’s at least two sets of dialogue depending on paragon or renegade speech options, and double the dialogue of everyone who speaks to Shepard to react to either of those speech options. That’s a lot of work, a lot of assets, a lot of money, and a lot of headaches. One wonders if it’s all worth it considering the other big caveat with carry over saves....

They only serve to shrink your audience.

Every publisher wants to sell as many copies as possible, they want to reach out to new players and get them interested in their product, that’s kind of hard to do when playing the last game is a requirement for your biggest selling point. It might be a good way to keep recurring customers, but assuming you got your new IP off the ground with the first game that’s not really your biggest problem. That’s why Mass Effect 3 had to introduce so many new elements, and why so many old elements couldn’t play a role too crucial to the plot.


Hey kids! Wanna play Mass Effect 3? All you have to do is find and buy a six year old game and its sequel and in about eighty hours you’re ready to go!

That’s why the Mass Effect 3 marketing was based around “Take back Earth” – it’s the only thing in the Mass Effect universe new players could relate to, that’s why Shepard is haunted by the Starchild – new players needed a face to represent what’s at stake, that’s why they included the everyman James Vega – to have someone as new to the world as they are, that’s why Felicia Day had to....actually no, there’s no excuse for that one. Mass Effect’s biggest strength, a consistent world and characters shaped by your choices, became its biggest weakness, all of it could alienate new players. Compromises have to be made.

It’s easy to forget, but nobody has attempted anything that ambitious before or since, the most we’ve gotten out of previous saves is a line or two of dialogue, maybe a cameo, if you’re lucky you might get some early XP or unlockables. Will The Walking Dead become the next game to carry on decisions in a meaningful way? Maybe, The Walking Dead works on a much smaller scale than Mass Effect, allowing it more freedom, but as evidenced by the different outcomes from episode to episode and 400 Days, it seems The Walking Dead is still beholden to the same limitations. Both also have a different approach, with The Walking Dead working more with the illusion of choice, rather than actually changing the outcome of most events.


Goddammit, Kenny.

Of course, just because carry over saves are such an undertaking doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be tried, look at what just attempting it has done for these games. Even getting us part way there has elevated them to new levels of critical acclaim and success. I do hope more developers venture into this relatively unexplored area of gaming, carry over saves might be a near impossible dream, but the rewards are there for those who rise to the challenge.   read


10:12 AM on 05.02.2013

Fanart Flops: Sonic walks with Christ, do you? (NSFW)

Welcome to Fanart Flops, the blog that insists fanart is one word no matter what spell check says. For those not in the know Fanart Flops is a collection of the oddest and most confusing videogame fanart by otherwise talented artists. The baffling, the bizarre, or just the out of context, all are gathered here for your enjoyment/horror. While I do try to avoid the more “raunchy” art out there nothing should be considered safe for work, and I will occasionally bend the rules if I think it’s worth the laugh (especially the last one here). 

We’ve got some real gems this time, you are not prepared for some of this stuff, I could literally explain that one of the pictures involves Garrus tied to a table being tickled with an electric whisk by the grandmother from Everybody Loves Raymond and you still wouldn’t be prepared for that image....and then there’s Scrooge....



Welcome back everybody!







I don’t think this is particularly bad, I just include it because it addresses Sonic’s weird double eyeball thing that I’ve brought up here before. 




Praise the sun, Banana Knight is here!




While this is clearly terrifying I’m really just using it as an excuse to bring up this piece....






So religious Sonic fanart is something I keep coming across that I can’t wrap my head around at all, can someone explain this? Did some church hold a competition or something? 














And a crucified Yoshi for good measure. 




Lion King fanart for inappropriate games is a whole other can of worms I may open someday.




Okay, I actually quite like this one.




Foxhound yoga, sure, why not?




Squidgirl snake, okay, whatever.




...you’ve lost me now.







Is it wrong that the thing I find most disturbing here is Sonic with his gloves off?







This is by far the best thing you will see today.




You clicked on Fanart Flops, you knew the risks.




“Assassin’s Steed!” – me while uploading this three days after first seeing it.




Pretty sure earth food would kill Garrus and that is definitely the thing to focus on here.







[Insert comment about Capcom shitting on MegaMan here]






You may recall a collection of Sly Cooper fanart on the front page not being received very well.












Stay off my turf. 




What little I recall of Gex involved him being a media obsessed shut in but I’m not familiar with the Gex cannon post Enter the Gekko. 




Yup, sexy Abe.



You guys in the LGBT community think you have it bad? Bioware doesn’t even consider ferret enthusiasts!



But I bet you didn’t even think of that.




Did ya?




Check your gay privilege, ferrets aren’t even an afterthought.




They demand equality.



I think we’re about tapped out for today, please remember to check with your consultant if your eyes burn for more than two hours. And I’ll leave you with this wonderful piece celebrating the return of Ducktales. 

  read


1:18 PM on 02.19.2013

7 Demos better than their own game.




WARNING: THERE WILL BE NO MENTION OF ALIENS.


There’s been a lot of talk of demos lately since it was suggested at DICE that demos hurt more than they help in terms of sales, to which we all responded smugly and said “Ha, only the rubbish games”. Well no, not exactly. The problem isn’t about us “finding out” that a game is bad, the problem is that the demo itself can often be a poor representation of the game. Being dropped into a random slice of the game with no context is jarring, there’s no build-up to what’s going on, it’s over by the time you get used to the mechanics, the bigger the game is the more story is left out for fear of spoilers, and it usually cuts off before you have a chance to really get into it and really see what the game is all about.

I hated the demo for Dragon’s Dogma, I thought it was clunky and slow. But after word of mouth spread I gave the game a chance and really enjoyed it. The demo for Ni No Kuni has completely soured me on buying the game, I keep hearing good things, but that segment they chose to represent their game was a bad decision. A game that’s a slow burn like Limbo may only come across as boring to many with just the small chunk they gave us.

But that’s not why we’re here, okay maybe it is a little, I do kind of want to prove my point, but mostly I’m here to have fun and maybe even save you a little money. The following are the exact opposite of what I’ve talked about above, these are bad games with good demos, or at least games that probably aren’t worth your money, not when they offer the best they have to offer for free anyway.



Kane and Lynch: Dead Men.



You may remember Kane and Lynch as the game that got Jeff Gerstmann fired, though some still speculate that it was just so bad it made him quit. But this game has worse offences under its belt, like a sweet talking demo that cons good people out of their hard earned money. You see, Kane and Lynch’s demo takes place exactly at the high point of the game, it’s still not particularly great, but it is the high point of this game. Disguised as window cleaners you’ll abseil down the side of a Tokyo skyrise and attack a bunch a Japanese businessmen for...some reason. Followed by an intense shootout through the luxurious (for a 2007 game) interior, and eventually spilling out into the streets while surrounded by panicking civilians desperately trying to escape the building.

The problem is that immediately after the demo ends is where the game introduces it’s “twist” and decides it wants to be a military shooter. Thus becoming a poorly conceived spiritual sequel to Freedom Fighters but with nigh invincible helicopter boss fights and more angry balding men.

Also at one point you fight a dump truck. Seriously, don’t buy this game.


The Club.



If you were to combine elements of racing games, arcade shooters, and a Tony Hawk style point scoring system you would have a beautiful game. If you hit that game with a van you would have The Club. The greatest complement The Club ever received is that it would have been a great game “on the PS2”. Really its only true fault is that I came out in the wrong generation, a few years earlier and it may have been a classic. The problem is that it was the last true “pass the controller” multiplayer game and it came out at a time when everybody was enamoured with online multiplayer.

As it stands, the demo will give you all you could want from that bygone era. DAMN THIS PLASTIC FUTURE!


Just Cause 2.



You have half an hour. Here’s a big slice of the map. Go nuts.

That is the premise behind the Just Cause 2 demo and it really is great. You’ll skydive, parachute, play around with the grapple hook, surf on a plane, and shoot red things till they explode. Thing is, that’s all there is to do in the main game, shoot the red things till they explode. That’s not to say Just Cause 2 is a bad game, but you will squeeze more fun into that half hour than you’ll get out of twenty hours with the real thing. You’ll experiment with the grapple hook before you figure out that it’s not as versatile as you thought, you’ll tie people to various moving objects before you notice that cords disappear after ten seconds and you can only tie one thing at a time, you’ll shoot all of the red things till they explode before you realise that it’s literally the only thing you do in the game.

With Just Cause 2 ignorance isn’t just bliss, it’s free!


Resident Evil 5.



Again, another game that isn’t exactly bad, but it does slightly betray your expectations. The demo is about scrambling for survival in a shantytown gone mad, and it really is a tense experience, even with the lady who heals you and helps shoot the monsters. But the demo is set before Resident Evil decided to jump the shark like a zombie on a dirtbike, soon you’ll be facing zombies with machine guns, blonde Neo, assaulting a rock, minigunning the aforementioned Motocross zombies, and shooting building sized tentacle monsters with space lasers.

Still, in retrospect it’s not so bad compared to 6.

Time Shift.



Okay, I didn’t play Time Shift, you didn’t play Time Shift, most of you probably don’t even remember what Time Shift is. But I think it’s safe to say that the novelty of slowing down time in the rain was about the apex of the experience.


Sonic Unleashed.



The Sonic Unleashed demo is set in that beautiful segment of the Sonic Cycle before we hear about the gimmick that ‘s going to ruin the game, like a happy family portrait taken before anyone knew Uncle Nick was a sex offender. You can see the beginnings of SEGA finally figuring out what to do with Sonic in a 3D world. Of course they had to screw it somehow and decided to make 70% of the game a poorly executed God of War clone starring a cross between a furry and Stretch Armstrong. But man, when you’re running around (at the speed of sound) you can almost trick yourself into believing they actually got it right for a while there, sort of, kinda.


SSX.


What you think you’re getting

Remember the original gritty SSX trailer? Well, make no mistake, that is the game you are getting when you buy SXX, they carried out as much damage control as they could, and lacquered the game in a slightly brighter tone, but it’s clear the foundation was already laid. The demo takes place in a bright and colourful stage (one of about three in the whole game) and provides plenty of opportunities for all sorts of tricks and excitement set to some of that young people’s music I keep hearing about. The full game is a different story...

Most of the game takes place on severe and harsh courses, it’s very clear the game was built on their original mantra of “survive the mountain”, you’ll fall off so many ledges and into so many bottomless pits that they had to add a Prince of Persia time rewinding mechanic. Then there’s the Deadly Descents, where the game throws arbitrary obstacles in your way, trees, rocks, white out, pitch darkness, blacking out the screen from lack of oxygen, the game does everything it can to get in the way of you having fun.


What you're actually getting

Should you enjoy the soundtrack, well that’s too bad, because if you want to accomplish anything in the game you need to keep your Tricky Bar built up, and when your Tricky bar is built up the only song you’ll hear is a dubstep remix of “Tricky” as a spectral Rev. Run chases you down the mountain screeching “yyyyyyyeeeeeeeEEEAAAAAHHHHHHhhhh”, it is terrifying and I’m pretty sure if you could turn the camera around you’d see his face chasing you in an avalanche like The Mummy.

Add on top a story full of pretentious vignettes filled with empty statements like ”I do this because I can. I don’t feel alive unless I push myself to the limit”. And a plot about a team of nine people jetting around the globe just to spite one guy, who by the way, accomplishes everything the team does, first, singlehandedly. Meanwhile Team SSX constantly talk behind his back and split the work between nine people, after a while it starts to feel like you’re playing the world’s first extreme sports bullying simulator.

It’s just...so...just play the demo.   read


10:04 AM on 02.03.2013

Sex: No. No no no no no no nonononononono. NO.

If you can’t do sex right, don’t do it at all. That’s why I don’t do sex, and that’s why developers shouldn’t either.

I’m no prude, sex is a natural part of life and an unavoidable storytelling device, the thing is I don’t think gaming can handle it well, I don’t think that’s going to change in the foreseeable future, and I don’t really think that’s a problem either. Are sex scenes ever necessary in a game? Can you name one game, just one game, that has done a full on sex scene well, one game where it makes sense in context, adds something meaningful thematically or storywise and is handled tastefully? I can’t.

Heavy Rain was so desperate to seem grown up that it shoved in an unnecessary sex scene while the main character’s son was still in immediate danger. God of War’s Kratos is a on an unstoppable rampage of vengeance fuelled by pure hatred and rage, except when he breaks character to have sex, sex we have to QTE our way through in exchange for red orbs. I’ve only seen one game with sex scenes that are there to actually convey something to the player, The Ballad of Gay Tony, and the only thing those gratuitous scenes are there to say is “Luis definitely isn’t gay, guys” because Rockstar knew GTA’s core audience wouldn’t take kindly to that.




Even with Hot Coffee you at least bought them dinner...


Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying sex should never be addressed, alluded to or implied in a game, I’m just saying there’s nothing to be gained from showing it. The fact that the two characters are going through with the act says all that needs to be said, all you have to do is make sure the player knows what’s happening and fade to black. Developers,fading to black is your best friend when it comes to this sort of thing. Plenty of games include sex without needing to show it, the Persona games only need imply what’s going on, Mass Effect can’t seem to make its mind up but generally fades away before things get too steamy, Catherine – the sexy-sexy sex game about sexy sex – doesn’t have a single sex scene in it. Even Fallout’s encounter with Fisto the sexbot is handled with more tact that Far Cry 3.

Besides, few things are more immersion breaking than seeing uncanny valley faces affect a look of “ecstasy”, and I don’t think using L.A. Noire’s expression capturing technology to replicate the perfect O-face is going to be any less disturbing. Not to mention that games are so bombastic and full of grandiose these days that a sex scene isn’t much more than a drop in the bucket. You want to show that two characters care for each other? You need to show some subtlety, have them sit on a couch and order pizza, a kiss on the forehead can say more than a romp in the bedroom.



But hey, if this screams romance to you who am I to judge?


I’m not saying games shouldn’t be able to have sex scenes. I believe gaming as a medium should have the freedom to tackle anything it wants, but if you were to ask on an individual basis, should this game have a sex scene? I will tell you no. Confusing isn’t it? Some people may think that games need to portray sexual relationships if they ever want to be seen as mature. I think those people need to grow up. Sex is not the be-all, end-all of a mature relationship. Nathan Drake and Elena for example, make a great couple because they have chemistry, they bicker and joke, the second game closes with Elena teasing Drake over crying and his fear of clowns, that’s a real relationship.

And on top of all of that, games are still a relatively new medium, we’re still figuring things out. What applies in other media doesn’t necessarily translate well into ours, in a movie sex is a thing between two characters, with a game you have to consider player agency, choice and consequence, what type of story you’re telling, the creators vision and whether it conflict with the players intentions – it’s already a mess before you throw in a sex scene.




So for now, I think games just need to learn to fade to black.



And for the love of God don’t make it interactive because...no. Just, no.   read


3:53 PM on 01.22.2013

The Big Bang Theory’s Greatest Game Moments.




Finally, we’ve received the social acceptance we’ve strived so hard for. For years we were the victim of bullying and mean spirited jokes but finally, finally, nerds and gamers are no longer singled out as socially maladjusted manbabies. And it’s thanks to shows like The Big Bang Theory that portray gamers in a positive light, that don’t rely on lazy stereotypes or defamation of our culture, that we’re at last being laughed with, and not at.

The Big Bang Theory, in case you didn’t know, is an incredibility well written show about a couple called Penny and Leonard an autistic man named Sheldon theoretical physicists who somehow can’t afford their own place nerds. In fact the writing is so good that the audience laughs at roughly every sentence and they even came up with a wacky catchphrase. Sometimes the nerds say nerd things, and sometimes they say science things, which is funny because everybody is laughing so it must be good.

The Time They Play a Game.




Oh man, look at them play those videogames, isn’t that funny? You know they’re real games-masters because of how they hard they type their keyboards, none of them even need a mouse. And real gamers use headsets to talk to each other even when they’re in the same room, they’re definitely not wearing them to undermine their image and make them look stupid in the eyes of the viewer. And look how seriously they take it, everybody knows videogames are trivial distractions.

Games Are Better Than Sex



Ha, you idiots, stop enjoying yourselves and objectify those women, those women who came to laugh at you.

Gaming addiction.



It was very brave of Big Bang Theory to broach such a serious topic as addiction in such a tasteful way. It showed how after just minutes of playing an MMO a person can become instantly addicted like it’s turbocrack. It’s also great how they implied that people playing online games are devoid of any real life accomplishments. I hope a lot of parents watched this episode, and remembered to fear gaming all over again. I can’t wait to discuss this down at the “virtual tavern”.


A Girl Plays a Videogame.



This is funny on so many levels. I mean first of all, there’s a girl playing a game, that’s already hilarious in its sheer audacity, but then the idea that she’s actually good at them? That’s just crazytown. But the icing on the cake here is Sheldon’s zinger about how attractive people can’t be good at games, hoo boy, they’ve got our number, keep reading ugly.


Wii Bowling Night.



Oh look, they’re taking games seriously again, isn’t that funny? Wii Sports has appeared in about five episodes of BBT during my research, and it’s always hysterical because they’re not actually doing the thing that it looks like they’re doing, but I chose this clip because it doesn’t just have fun with gamers, it manages to joke with Jewish people, homosexuals, the disabled too! No wonder this show is so popular!


A Girl Plays a Videogame Again.



Now that’s more like it, look at that stupid annoying woman, with her “pew pew” sounds and pink laptop, and her insistence that her boyfriend wear a matching outfit. She didn’t even know how to play the right away on her first time! That’s what it’s really like when a woman plays a game. At least I assume that’s what it’s like, I’ve never seen it happen, I’m just a stupid ugly gamer like the rest of us after all.

Games Are Better Than Sex Again.



Remember when Halo upgraded to Halo 3 and included all those hi-def graphics and enhanced weapons systems? That’s how you know the writers did at least four minutes of research. And of course sex hasn’t been upgraded to include those things, that joke made so much sense it gave me a migraine. But everything turns out okay because only a nerdlinger wouldn’t prioritise sex over everything else, like spending time with your friends, what a loser.


The Time They Name Some Videogames.



Hahahaha, the audience sure loved that one! You can really tell what huge nerds they are what with the massive collection of 24 games they’ve accumulated over the last five console generations. They don’t even have the right consoles to play some of those games, that’s how dedicated they are and how well thought out that skit was. But really the true genius here is how just saying the name of some games is the punchline, it’s almost as if the idea that someone likes the biggest entertainment medium in the world somehow hilarious.


Thank God we have shows like the Big Bang Theory to represent us in the mainstream, people were almost beginning to judge us for themselves there, we sure dodged that bullet. I only hope that someday I can write something as funny and insightful as The Big Bang Theory but for now I guess I’ll just have to rely on these recordings of people laughing and this giant “APPLAUSE” sign to trick people into thinking something funny is happening.

  read


8:44 AM on 12.28.2012

Search my name? That’s just masturbation.

So this is a thing now. But after searching my name I only found out there’s a lot of sad people out there that share my name and feel the need to self aggrandise on Urban Dictionary. So unless you legitimately believe that on the day of your birth your parents said “This baby is obviously the Rambo of sex. We must think of a fitting name.” “Ronald!” then maybe it’s not the best place to find yourself.



I will however search the name I chose here on Destructoid. Because searching your name and then twisting it to stroke your ego? That’s just masturbation. And there’ll be no stroking or masturbation when searching for Handy!



1. handy 455 up, 264 down

to wrap your hand around a guys cock and vigoriously move up and down until the male begins to cum

I gave my boyfriend a handy and then had to wash my hands because there was cum on them.



3. Handy 69 up, 38 down

A hand job!

" I was on the rag so I gave him a handy to hold him over"



4. Handy 150 up, 129 down

Safe alternative to oral sex. Eliminates the risk of herpes.

Weinberg: Yo did she bitch suck you off?
Weinshel: Nah son, she just gave me a handy and split.



10. Handy 50 up, 55 down

To give a sexual favour using your hand

Jaydee gives good handys behind the bike shed



11. handy 36 up, 44 down

Slang term for a handjob.

"Handy" Mirandy gave Joel a handy in the back of the bus on the way home from band camp.



13. Handy 18 up, 32 down

Essentially a handjob except for a handy is often quick and on the sly. Ejaculation may or may not occur on the female, depending on the location recieved. In order to have a "sick handy" one must both turn down a BJ or sex in exchange for the handy, and must also bust a load directly onto the female in excess of 3 oz's of manjuice.

[i]Dr D got a sick handy from some bitch with a sideways puntang last night.[/b]



19. handy 6 up, 51 down

small skinny and like to suck on the cock

handy



22. handy 2 up, 63 down

Small Skinny and likes to suck on animals cocks

Handy


So there, I think we’ve all learned a little something about making ourselves feel good, getting in touch with yourself, and how to love yourself at least once a day. NO MASTURBATION WHATSOEVER.   read


2:44 PM on 12.13.2012

Metal Gear Rising: Impractions

Yes, that is a combination of impressions and reactions, expect much more wordbining in the spirit of Revengeance.


So, the Metal Gear Rising demo has been in the hands of those who bought the ZOE Collection for quite some time now, and seeing as it’ll soon be in the hands of you handsome people via standalone demo I figured I would share my impractions (repressions?) now rather than rub it in your face two weeks ago.



The demo takes place with post-op Raiden soon after he gets his new body, sporting a new pair of even creepier high heel foot things and familiar bandana/impromptu eye patch – I guess he didn’t bother to get a new eye despite getting everything else, including his other, still working, eye replaced – and we’re introduced to blade mode with a quick tutorial.

Really it’s just a playground for cutting stuff up and to get down the basics of blade mode, one interesting thing is that you don’t need to “swipe” the analogue stick, just choose your angle of approach and let go, they let you do it either way but in my opinion swiping still just feels right. Another thing is that if you don’t want to wiggle your thumb everywhere you can just press Square or triangle for horizontal or vertical slashes, which is a nice touch when you want to just enjoy the spectacle or really go all berserker on something.

There’s also an equipable cardboard box tucked away in the tutorial, to reach it you need to cut down a pillar to make a ramp leading around edge of the area. I unfortunately never realised this and instead cut down both supports and spent ten minutes bouncing the bridge off Raiden’s head and kicking it around until it glitched its way into a makeshift slope for me. It was stutarded.



When the demo begins proper we get our first taste of combat and it’s a bit of a mixed bag. There’s nothing wrong with the combo system itself, it’s just that it’s not really explained to you in the demo beyond square for light attacks, triangle for heavy. The light combo string can go on indefinitely or be switched in to the heavy string at any time, by switching back and forth at different points in the combo strings is where new moves can be found, think Bayonetta but with more “free-form” switching back and forth between heavy and light attacks. It’s actually much harder to explain than it is to figure out for yourself. There’s also a lot more variety opened up by waiting half-second “beats” between attacks, but again without any explanation or movelist in the demo you just have to figure out what does what.

There are also unique attacks used with the analogue stick and either attack button, for example tapping forward twice on the stick and pressing triangle will give you a dashing strike a la Devil May Cry’s Stinger, moving back then forward with the analogue and square will perform a palm strike, and spinning the left stick with triangle will give you sword-foot breakdancing funtimes. I’d prefer a lock-on method for these moves as in DMC since I find that much more comfortable and intuitive, there is lock on system, but there might as well not be for all the good it does.

The parry system is well implemented once you get over your instinct to dodge roll in this sort of game, pushing the left stick and square towards your attacker will block it, time it right just at the last moment and a follow up prompt will appear allowing you to do all sorts of crazy shit, both of you will probably end up in the air, one of you will come down in pieces.



Basically the combat is a nice balance, there’s plenty of depth there to be uncovered for fans of Platinum’s signature action, in fact I know there’s tons of depth there but without a movelist or combat tutorial it’s like playing Street Fighter back in the arcade before you figured out how to throw a hadouken (and keep in mind that this demo is before you start unlocking skills and using secondary weapons). But new players and holdover Metal Gear fans can still have fun and get by with the basics, unless it pulls a Batonetta and things get balls-hard (blard) as soon as the demo ends.

There are some niggling concerns, I still hope a dodge is unlocked at some point, you can’t exactly parry a rocket or grenade and breaking into a ninja run not only breaks the flow of combat but has a slight delay, basically if you see a rocket coming and you’re not already moving it’s probably going to hit you. The camera can be a pain too, it doesn’t zoom out during combat, making it hard to concentrate on what’s coming at you when fighting people and Gekkos at the same time, meaning something will usually jump in from off-screen and hit you.

But those are all minor complaints when you can grab a Gekko’s head, gymnast swing between its legs and slice it to bits while flying up into the air upside-down, ripping out its heart is then optional if you’re feeling sassy. It’s definitely in line with Bayonetta and Vanquish in that it’s just packed with “holy shit did I just do that” moments, only now it really does feel like you’re doing them instead of just mashing square to make it happen. And precision chopping enemies to regain full health and batteries is an interesting dynamic, your health can end up dangerously low if you don’t pay attention but if you play smart you can instantly be back on top.




Rai-Rai’ goin’ Cray-cray
I won’t get too heavy into spoilers, really there’s not that much to spoil anyway, but there’s definite foreshadowing that Raiden’s starting to go off the deep end, maybe not MGS2 ending level crazy, but he’s definitely enjoying himself a bit too much. There’s been a lot of “guilty-pleasure guilt-trip” games lately, games that have you do something fun and violent but then turn you around and say “look what you just did”, I’d love to see Kojima take a stab at it, he might have even been the first one to do it with the whole Sorrow thing in the first place.


Codec Moments
Optional codec conversations, a personal favourite of mine, are back after being woefully underwhelming in MGS4. There’s actually a bit more banter reminiscent of Snake Eater, from conversations about life after SOP to support members making fun of Raiden’s unwanted nickname - “Mr. Thunderbolt”. It’s just a nice touch I’ve always liked about the series and I’m glad to see it back.


Can love bloom, even on the battlefield?
Metal Gear games have always been cheesier than Liquid Snake at a fondue party, and Rising embraces that and takes it to a whole new level. There’s a certain self awareness to it now, groan worthy lyrics kick in at the end of boss fights, characters sarcastically ask each other the meaning of life, and beyond the demo there’s apparently Ninja Turtle references and awful mariachi disguises that Raiden thinks are impenetrable.


Overall, Metal Gear Rising looks to combine the strengths of Platinum with the more “out there” elements of Metal Gear, so long as you don’t come in with any misconceptions of a focus on stealth or pacifist runs and just embrace the cheese then good times will be had. Really the main problem with the demo is it looks like it was built for the show floor, with a Konami person shoutsplaining the finer points as you play.   read


8:17 PM on 10.20.2012

It’s All About Context.



I’ve always been of the mind that while men and women are (obviously) equal they are not identical, and I’m going to speak really carefully here to get my point across without accidentally offending anyone, what I mean is that speaking on a broad scale men and women tend to be different. If I was born a girl I would be a fundamentally different person than I am now, whether by nature or nurture, I would not be who I am today, either because women are naturally inclined to go certain ways or because my experiences throughout life (school, friends, etc), especially in the developmental stages, would be different.


I always thought this was an important factor for creating a character, men and women aren’t interchangeable, but lately I’ve noticed a lot of games challenge this idea, with varying results, and now I’m starting to wonder if maybe it’s more in the world building that lets me buy into a characters opinions, gender or sexual orientation. You can’t just say character X is a strong woman, we have to know what it means to be a strong woman in the context of their world or it means nothing.


A lot of people believe that playing as female Shepard in Mass Effect is a better experience, but FemShep and MaleShep are exactly the same character. Same mo-cap, same combat abilities, same dialogue (barring romance), so what is it that makes FemShep better in some people’s eyes? Being female puts Shepard’s character in a completely different context.




Playing as a girl in Persona 3 can be a very different experience, playing as a girl in Mass Effect is nearly identical to a male. But both pull it off well in different ways.


Firstly, the context of the world. Part of the reason Bioware was able to pull off a protagonist that could be either gender so well is because Mass Effect is set in the future, it’s believable to assume that by this point humanity has achieved true gender equality, everybody treats Shepard the same no matter if they’re a man or woman, and no one bats an eyelid over their commander being a woman. Put this in contrast with something like Dragon Age where somehow humanity has overcome sexism, racism and homophobia which I find jarring in a medieval world where everybody still discriminates against elves or mages or what have you.


Then there’s the context of the characters actions. Even though male and female Shepard do exactly the same things, it says something different about the character depending on their gender. For example, in Mass Effect 2 there’s a renegade option to headbutt a Krogan to shut him up and establish dominance, when MaleShep does this (aside from being hilarious) it says “Ha, Shepard is so alpha that he headbutted a Krogan!”, but seeing FemShep loaf a Krogan says something completely different. To be honest, I don’t know what that something is, but it’s different and it’s interesting and I like it. Or hell, maybe it does say the exact same thing as MaleShep, but then it’s still different, it’s a member of the “fairer sex”, and a fairer species no less, establishing herself as the alpha male of these hulking space monsters.





It always surprised me to hear the Metal Gear games praised for Vamp being bisexual, I thought he was a rather poor representation, mincing around the battlefield, licking his knives, and just generally being a creeper, I though he fit perfectly into the trope of the Depraved Bisexual. But then I remembered, Vamp was originally intended to be a woman, but when a boss with water based powers was scrapped and Fortune was introduced, Vamp was changed to a man. Aside from gender and inheriting the now defunct bosses’ water abilities nothing else changed, including his relationship with Scott Dolph.




I wonder, would I have found Vamp as offensive if he remained a woman? Dancing around, licking blood off her lips and acting like the classic sexually charged vampire, you know, everything Vamp still does as a man? Was it my own perceptions or eagerness to hop on my high horse? Or should changing a characters gender mean more than swapping out their character model and voice actor. Honestly, I don’t have an answer to that question, I don’t know if there is an answer to that question, at best all I can say is judge it on a case by case basis.


While we’re on sexual orientation, Fallout: New Vegas also included lots of gay characters, including two of your possible followers. As characters, I thought they were great, to have gay characters whose entire being isn’t based around their sexuality was refreshing, it was just a part of the whole. But I find it impossible to believe how nonchalant they were about it, they live in a fairly uncivilised post-apocalyptic land, and if that wasn’t bad enough it’s in the ruins of a society based on Fifties values. The only way this world could be worse for gay people is if the super mutants were religious fundamentalists.




And then there’s the logical inconsistencies.


I get what the creators were trying to do, just like with Dragon Age, the developers were trying to allow for more player choice and to be as inclusive as possible, that’s great, I totally encourage that, but the worlds these games take place in aren’t that inclusive. Thedas and The Wasteland are so harsh and discriminatory that it’s jarring when characters drop the fact that they’re gay so casually. You can’t just transplant our modern values into these bleak and often malicious settings, not without some kind of justification at least, have someone say that differences like that stopped mattering once the bombs fell, that people kill each other for food, not whether they like boys or girls.


I’m not trying to say that the default for any fictional world is that homophobia should be present or assumed until we learn otherwise, maybe these things were just never an issue in these worlds, but the sad fact is that these issues do exist in our world, and the player will still notice them.


In Borderlands 2 people offhandedly talk about same-sex spouses and exes all the time and I can buy it because that game is off the wall and doesn’t take itself so seriously, and no, I’m not saying homosexuality isn’t serious and shouldn’t be portrayed that way, just that the setting isn’t as heavy as the other examples. Even though Pandora is basically Planet Texas, because Borderlands 2 is so flippant about everything it doesn’t break my suspension of disbelief when Sir Hammerlock mentions his ex boyfriend or when Axton comments on Salvador’s well toned ass. Kanji in Persona 4 is probably the most realistic take on the subject but that could, and has, fill an entire blog on its own.




Playing Uncharted as Doughnut Drake completely changes the context of why everything collapses under his weight and makes the game a story about Drake’s struggle with obesity.


We need to understand how these worlds work in relation to ours, if being gay or a strong woman isn’t a big deal in your world then you need to paradoxically give us a nudge and wink to let us know it’s not a big deal. You need to give us context, or let the player create their own. I’ve gone over this blog again and again and I’m still afraid people may misinterpret it so let me just be clear, I’m all for more diversity in games, I want them to be more inclusive, I’m just saying that giving the player more freedom can be a double-edged sword, doing so can sometimes lead to incongruity with the setting, and other times it can lead to us creating our own story, and that I’d like to see more of the latter and less of the former.   read


3:22 PM on 10.03.2012

Fanart Flops: Foot Fetish Krang Edition.

Welcome to Fanart Flops, the horrifying videogame fanart feature that did it first, Something Awful and Kotaku .......even though there’s probably a dozen people who did it before me.

As always, for those of you who don’t know (run, run away now!), Fanart Flops is not a collection of bad fanart, most artists featured here are actually quite talented, but unfortunately insane. Fanart Flops are the most bizarre and confusing pictures to be found on the internet, sometimes it’s a strange idea or concept, sometimes there is some reasoning behind it but we’re seeing it out of context, and sometimes it’s just “off” for lack of a better term.

I’m going to forgo peppering shitty jokes around every picture this time, I always felt I needed to contribute more than just uploading pictures for these blogs, but that’s because you don’t see the hours I spend searching for fanart that meets the ridiculously specific rules I’ve set myself (some of which I break this time around), and also because I have to suffer the really nasty stuff I can’t post here.

So check your sanity at the door, you won’t need it where we’re going.












Is it being pumped in or sucked out? Would either answer make you feel better?














































In fairness, they should have expected this sort of thing when they sexualised a gorilla.


























See, this is the thing about Fanart Flops, I know this is referencing something, I just have no idea what and it’s hilarious out of context.
































Gotta go fast?


























Okay, this one is definitely intentional, but “Krogan Kok” makes me laugh so hard I had to include it. That and I’ve see a lot of Mass Effect alien cocks in my search for Fanart Flops and this is probably the only one I could get away with posting.














It took me a while to get this one, then I did and began to hate the world in a whole new way.



  read


3:04 PM on 09.19.2012

I Gots Dibs on Gaige, yo.

Some people might think it’s stupid to stake a claim on a character we know next to nothing about and won’t get to use for a month, but I consider it prudent, because Gaige is most definitely the best character by far, so good Gearbox decided they could get filthy rich be releasing her as DLC, and by invoking the right of dibs I retain sole use of her until further notice.

“But Handy” I hear you ask, “stop doing push ups and tell us why she’s so great!”. Well...99...if you...100...insist.





She has sex with robots probably.

I’m assuming that’s what a Mechromancer does, romances mechs. Gaige can’t be satisfied by a mere human, to fulfil her insatiable appetite it takes pistons and gears and motors and chassis and a complicated system of pulleys and a lot of motor oil, and that is something we have in common.

She has a robot arm.

Not only does it make all reload animations 37% cooler but there’s a harrowing tale behind the mechanical limb that fills out Gaige’s inspiring backstory. Gaige lost her arm in a tragic accident that may or may not have involved robot-sex, but instead of overcoming her disability like those pussys at the Paralympics she built herself a robot arm, but the robot arm was too well built. Every time Gaige tried to take a drink or pick up the phone it would shatter in her mighty hand, and she would scream to the heavens, no longer able to finish her Dr. Pepper. Cursed by her own genius and unable to hold down her job as a handshake envoy to the germaphobic she moved to Pandora to escape people drawing parallels between her and Dr. Claw from Inspector Gadget. All of this is cannon, Anthony Burch told me.





She has a big fuck-off robot.

Axton has a turret, which is almost like a robot but much, much lamer, Maya need to ask enemies to be polite and hold still so she can shoot them, the only advantage to Zer0’s ability is that we don’t have to look at his stupid non-face, and Salvador needs to work himself into a frenzy to use both hands for some reason. Gaige, on the other robotic hand, need only call on her faithful friend D374-TP, or Deathtrap, to decimate the hoards of Pandora. Who needs co-op partners when you have a robot buddy to take on the wastes with you. Not Gaige, that’s who.

She’s a strong female role model

Unlike that trollop Maya, Gaige is a true shining beacon for women in gaming. While Maya pretends to be strong and confident in herself, her looks betray her attitude, only wearing a swimsuit and pants, making sure to pull them down just enough on one side so we all know it, with her glowing blue tramp-stamp and lipstick that belongs in a B-movie vision of the future where people add the prefix “cyber-“ to everything.





But Gaige likes to keep it casual, a simple skirt and hoodie, she doesn’t even care about that plaster on her face, maybe she’ll take down Handsom Jack’s empire, maybe she’ll laze around the house on Sunday, who knows. Topping it off with informal twin tails and thigh-high stripped stockings, not because they’re sexy, but because they remind her of her favourite movie – Beetlejuice. Again, all cannon. Ask Anthony Burch if you don’t believe me.   read





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