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5:00 PM on 03.04.2015

Why do some developers shy away from surrealism in gaming?

When it comes to crafting videogames out of the norm, there’s one question developers should ask themselves: What are we afraid of? Games are the perfect medium for exploration of bizarre, unnatural worlds, and yet it s...

Brittany Vincent




What was the very first PlayStation 2 game you ever played? photo
What was the very first PlayStation 2 game you ever played?
by Ben Davis

Today marks the 15th anniversary of the PlayStation 2. In those 15 years, we've already had two more Sony console releases, but the PS2 is still near and dear to many of our hearts. The console gave us many of our favorite games, from huge hits like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Kingdom Hearts, and Metal Gear Solid 3, to more experimental titles such as Shadow of the Colossus, Persona 4, and Katamari Damacy. The PS2 had something for everyone, and many people consider it to be one of the greatest consoles of all time.

But where did it all begin? Everyone has their own special memories of when they first saw the PlayStation 2 in action, and of their very first time playing a game on the console. Whether you got the PS2 at launch, waited a few years before diving in, or played it at a friend's house, everyone had to start somewhere.

So what was the very first PlayStation 2 game you played? Here's what our staff had to say:

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Will Bethesda hurry up and announce Fallout 4? photo
Will Bethesda hurry up and announce Fallout 4?
by Nic Rowen

GDC is here, and as is the case with any big trade show or splashy industry event, I'll be on tenterhooks waiting to hear the one piece of news I care about -- When is Fallout 4 going to happen? For years I've expected the announcement “any day now” while Bethesda remains stubbornly tight lipped with every passing E3 and VGA ceremony. Still, like the child of a deadbeat father, I hold out hope that this time they'll surprise us and come through.

It's important to me because Fallout 3 taught me how to love open-world games. I thought I already did. Games like Oblivion and the GTA series were considered favorites even then. But in retrospect, I had a fondness for those games. An appreciation for them born out of respect to the jaw-dropping technical execution and the brass balls of the teams that designed them. When I actually played them, I was often a stressed out save-scummer, constantly scheming on the best way to tackle the game and maintain a perfect record. It wasn't until Fallout 3 took me, hand-in-irradiated-hand, on a guided tour of its desolate wasteland that I really learned to love.

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Experience Points .06: No More Heroes photo
Experience Points .06: No More Heroes
by Ben Davis

Experience Points is a series in which I highlight some of the most memorable things about a particular game. These can include anything from a specific scene or moment, a character, a weapon or item, a level or location, a part of the soundtrack, a gameplay mechanic, a line of dialogue, or anything else about the game that is particularly noteworthy and/or awesome.

This series will no doubt contain spoilers for the games being discussed, so keep that in mind if you plan on playing the game for the first time.

This entry is all about No More Heroes. Feel free to share some of your own favorite things about the game in the comments!

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Experience Points .05: Demon's Souls photo
Experience Points .05: Demon's Souls
by Ben Davis

Experience Points is a series in which I highlight some of the most memorable things about a particular game. These can include anything from a specific scene or moment, a character, a weapon or item, a level or location, a part of the soundtrack, a gameplay mechanic, a line of dialogue, or anything else about the game that is particularly noteworthy and/or awesome.

This series will no doubt contain spoilers for the games being discussed, so keep that in mind if you plan on playing the game for the first time.

This entry is all about Demon's Souls. Feel free to share some of your own favorite things about the game in the comments!

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Tingle is the heterosexual hero that gaming deserves photo
Tingle is the heterosexual hero that gaming deserves
by Ben Davis

In a recent Kotaku interview with Eiji Aonuma, the longtime Zelda producer confirmed that Tingle is, in fact, not gay. He's "just an odd person."

This isn't exactly riveting news, but it is interesting that so many people seem to be wondering about Tingle's sex life. He was even ranked as the number one gayest character in videogames by GayGamer. Of course, this is all based on stereotypes, since the games never specify his sexuality. Tingle is a self-described "fairy," which could be a slang term for homosexual men (or, you know, an actual fairy from the Zelda universe), and he has some rather flamboyant mannerisms. Some found his personality to be a distasteful gay joke, while others found him charming and were just happy to see more representation of gay characters in games.

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Experience Points .04: Catherine photo
Experience Points .04: Catherine
by Ben Davis

Experience Points is a series in which I highlight some of the most memorable things about a particular game. These can include anything from a specific scene or moment, a character, a weapon or item, a level or location, a part of the soundtrack, a gameplay mechanic, a line of dialogue, or anything else about the game that is particularly noteworthy and/or awesome.

This series will no doubt contain spoilers for the games being discussed, so keep that in mind if you plan on playing the game for the first time.

This entry is all about Catherine. Since today is Valentine's Day, I figured I'd pick a game that's all about love, sex, and relationships (and also cheating... uhhh...). Feel free to share some of your own favorite things about the game in the comments!

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Which videogame makes you the happiest? photo
Which videogame makes you the happiest?
by Ben Davis

Whenever you're having a rough day, there's nothing better than sitting down and putting on a game that makes you happy just to play it. Something that makes you laugh and smile, helps to relieve stress, or gets you to stop worrying about things for a bit. For some, this might be their favorite game. For others, it's more of a comfort game. Nevertheless, everyone has at least one game that makes them happy.

So, which video game makes you the happiest? Here's what our staff had to say:

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Jacob 'Humble' Browe talks Minelands: Call of the Border photo
Jacob 'Humble' Browe talks Minelands: Call of the Border
by Brittany Vincent

Jacob "Humble" Browe is a visionary. He's just shipped a multi-billion dollar game to hundreds of retailers across the United States and Canada, with additional release dates staggered across the world.

After running a successful Kickstarter that raised over $6.5 million to campaign for Avenged Sevenfold to play in his backyard, he then created a Patreon in an effort to supplement his crippling Starbucks habit month-to-month while using kickbacks from his millionaire parents to create Minelands: Call of the Border, the game that's got millions clamoring for a sequel only a day or so after release. Now he's making waves in the industry like we've never seen before. From humble beginnings, he's rising through the ranks of the video game business like a shooting star. It's going to be one fascinating ride.

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Experience Points .02: Shadow of the Colossus photo
Experience Points .02: Shadow of the Colossus
by Ben Davis

Experience Points is a series in which I highlight some of the most memorable things about a particular game. These can include anything from a specific scene or moment, a character, a weapon or item, a level or location, a part of the soundtrack, a gameplay mechanic, a line of dialogue, or anything else about the game that is particularly noteworthy and/or awesome.

This series will no doubt contain spoilers for the games being discussed, so keep that in mind if you plan on playing the game for the first time.

This entry is all about Shadow of the Colossus, one of my favorite games of all time. Feel free to share some of your own favorite things about the game in the comments!

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Majora's Mask 3D bosses are considerably different photo
Majora's Mask 3D bosses are considerably different
by Kyle MacGregor

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D is more than just a simple port. The portable remaster introduces sweeping changes, like adding fishing holes, apparently. Other things too, probably.

We can't divulge everything just yet, as there's a review embargo-shaped trapdoor under our feet, but some of the alterations to boss fights have seeped out into the Internet and the world at large.

While at PAX South over the weekend, I had the opportunity to demo the game, where I noticed Odolwa, the guardian of the Woodfall Temple, was a tad different than how I'd remembered.

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Experience Points .01: The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask photo
Experience Points .01: The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
by Ben Davis

Experience Points is a series in which I highlight some of the most memorable things about a particular game. These can include anything from a specific scene or moment, a character, a weapon or item, a level or location, a part of the soundtrack, a gameplay mechanic, a line of dialogue, or anything else about the game that is particularly noteworthy and/or awesome.

This series will no doubt contain spoilers for the games being discussed, so keep that in mind if you plan on playing the game for the first time.

With Majora's Mask 3D coming out in a few weeks, I figured it would be fitting to make the first entry all about The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, which happens to be my favorite Zelda game. Feel free to share some of your own favorite things about the game in the comments!

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I know how to save Call of Duty in a post-Advanced Warfare world photo
I know how to save Call of Duty in a post-Advanced Warfare world
by Nic Rowen

I don't think I can ever go back to the old style of Call of Duty.

I've heard some variation of that sentence at least once per week since the launch of Advanced Warfare, and if I were Treyarch or Infinity Ward, I'd be sweating right now. Not “oh, this room is a little too warm” sweat either. I'm talking a glossy, dripping, full-on flop sweat. Sweat so profuse it could be more accurately described as skin vomit.

Sledgehammer broke the code, solved the Sphinx's riddle, and threaded the impossible needle; the studio found a way to make CoD feel fresh and interesting again without screwing up the the basic formula. The developers took all the best parts of the CoD experience and added a sleek sheen of sci-fi gizmos, meaningfully different weapon types, and late-'90s mobility (basically rebuilding all the FPS tropes CoD played a massive hand in tearing down over the last decade), and it worked.

Even scornful hipsters such as myself, who have made sport of the series for years as an easy target for our snark, are giving Advanced Warfare a second look. A good long “hrmmM?” with a flirty upward inflection. AW coyly wiggling its exo-skeletal frame, like what you see?

People love it, and they aren't about to go back to slogging it on the ground with a crusty AK-47 or accepting the dolphin-dive as the height of combat mobility. So what the hell do you do if you're Infinity Ward or Treyarch? Halfway through production on your own version of the CoD experience, knee-deep in code, QA, voice work, and the million other pieces that eventually assemble a videogame, and you find out that THIS is what the people really wanted all along (even after harping on Titanfall all year)?

You pivot, that's what you do.

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Predicting Nintendo's next big crossover photo
Predicting Nintendo's next big crossover
by Kyle MacGregor

Somewhere on the slopes of Mount Nintendo there's an oracle that straddles a chasm wherefrom vapors emerge. She speaks in tongues, relying on an intern to interpret her enigmatic ramblings. The system has its misfires (this is how things get named Wii U, for example), but relying on these portents and premonitions has kept Nintendo in business for over a century.

In recent years, the oracle has spawned a number of bizarre crossover concepts, culminating in the creation of Hyrule Warriors, Pokkén, and Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition.

It's a fascinating trend, one I hope continues for a long time to come. Let's assume that it does. Let's make some wildly speculative predictions about what other mashups the future has in store.

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My name is Brittany and I'm a gaming sadist photo
My name is Brittany and I'm a gaming sadist
by Brittany Vincent

I ventured out to the vet's office a few weeks ago with a Miniature Pinscher in tow. Sam Fisher (the same of Third Echelon fame), my beloved pup, was to see the doctor for a regular checkup and heartworm test. While waiting in the lobby, I overheard other patrons discussing the abuse of a three-month-old Labrador puppy and the damage inflicted upon its tiny limbs. Tears welled up in my eyes nearly instantly. My fists involuntarily clenched themselves up, searching for the victim they would rain down searing pain upon should I ever meet them. 

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Gaming resolutions I'll strive to keep in 2015 photo
Gaming resolutions I'll strive to keep in 2015
by Brittany Vincent

No one ever keeps resolutions.

I tell myself every January that I'm going to stop inspecting cheese for fingerprints before putting it on a sandwich or that I'll actually start wearing something other than sweatpants and a hoodie out in public when it's cold, but it never happens. And it never will happen. What would I even wear? A pair of Uggs and leggings with some kind of lame scarf? How do you even wear a scarf? And what if my tongue somehow detects the wrongness of a fingerprint on the surface of my Deli Deluxe cheese slice? There are some questions we're just not meant to know the answers to, just like there are resolutions that we'll make and break in the span of 24 hours.

While sitting on my lunch break today I ruminated on the deeper meaning behind player agency, the male gaze and how it pertains to gaming, and whether Hatred should or shouldn't remain on Steam. After giving a glut of heady topics much thought, I decided I didn't care about any of them, so I started to write an article about my video game resolutions for 2015, none of which have anything to do with those concepts. Here's to being a better video game enthusiast gamer in 2015.

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