I've been watching the Netflix Daredevil series and so far it's good. It's so good in fact, it's made me rethink my entire opinion on Daredevil -- which prior to this last week had been an exaggerated shrug with maybe a sarca...
When I was a little boy, Mortal Kombat was a tough sell around my home. Like most pre-adolescents of the era, I was darkly attracted to the idea of ninjas and movie stars decapitating each other in bouts of gladiatorial combat. After years of family-friendly games, MK's edgy aggressiveness seemed like tantalizing forbidden fruit and I ate it up. I played it in the arcades every chance and I couldn't wait for a home version where I could practice fatalities in the privacy of our den.
Unfortunately for me and my desire to rip the beating heart from my opponent's rib cage, my mom watched the evening news. Night after night, MK was described by reporters and senators as a murder simulator; a malicious product designed by sick men for the express purpose of desensitizing and warping young minds. It all seems hilarious and idiotic in hindsight, but at the time the concern was real. These were respected authority figures after all, why wouldn't she believe them? Soon I was banned from playing MK at the arcade, and the notion of getting a home copy was dismissed out of hand. There was a dark period of time when it looked like I'd be doomed to never enjoy the simple pleasure of hurling another Kombatant to the spiked bottom of the the Pit ever again. Tragic.
Way back in 2009, Charlie Brooker’s Gameswipe had this cutting observation about the po-faced nature of military shooters. During a particularly grim scene in Call of Duty: World at War, Brooker flambés several soldiers, only to hit the pause button for a sip of Diet Coke. It was a swift reminder that for all the talk of valour, Call of Duty has always been about playing army men in the backyard. Eventually, it got to a point where serious real world messages sat awkwardly next to hyper-realised spectacles.
And those aiming for the banter of Generation Kill always gave us Navy SEALs instead.
Battlefield: Bad Company was different, though. With a plot lifted straight from Kelly’s Heroes and an attitude more in line with Robert Altman’s M*A*S*H, the boys from B-Company were designed to lampoon and buck the trend. They were cynical, subversive, Machiavellian, and all the more humorous for it. This wasn’t a game about faux-heroics. This was about getting your own reward on your own terms. And by the end of it, you really wanted them to succeed.
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 EarthBound, one of my favorite games of all time. Feel free to share some of your own favorite things about the game in the comments!
Netflix is reportedly making a live-action television series based on The Legend of Zelda.
The news immediately sent the country, nay the world into mass hysteria. Some folks expressed unfettered glee. Others were upset, their minds drifting back to 1993 with repressed memories of the Super Mario Bros. movie seeping up through the floorboards of their tortured psyches.
I'm sure you've heard the bizarre news. Netflix is working on a live-action The Legend of Zelda series that is described as, "Game of Thrones for a family audience," which is kind of like if Breaking Bad was about Peanuts characters in a lemonade stand competition.
I think Netflix is missing a huge opportunity to take J. K. Rowlings' Game of Thrones style--nudity and blood and tits--and present an aging Nintendo fanbase with a gritty re-imagining of the universe, but I'll respect Netflix's direction and cast a Legend of Zelda series where throne ascendancy disputes get solved like the time on Fresh Prince where it turns out Uncle Phil is really good at billiards.
Not everything on television can be mature content for grown ups about dragons and skeletons, after all.
It’s not often I pause an interview because a sizzling plate of loaded fries, topped with thick diced bacon & monterey jack cheese, was just dropped in front of me, but maybe that’s because I don’t conduct many interviews in my home town of Buffalo, New York.
Buffalo is the capital of bar food, all of it delicious and incredibly fattening. It has to be. If you aren’t at least a couple pounds overweight, you will probably freeze to death. Between the fries and chicken fingers, I probably gained a solid 2-3 pounds during my lunch interview with the guys behind the Buffalo Game Space. By the time the check had been paid and we began heading for the door, we probably talked about the addictive relationship Buffalonians have with bar food more than the videogame-related project we had met to discuss.
Knives in games are weird. They're either way too weak and flimsy to be any fun (the weapon of last resort you mess around with for a few moments to delay dying or before you restart from your last, hopefully ammo-rich, save), or, by design choice or fluke, they are ridiculously overpowered and silly. I still giggle whenever I come across some hype-video of a CoD player running around with a combat knife, humbling scores of modern Spec Ops soldiers all decked out in the latest in high-powered assault weaponry.
Outside of trolling and goofing around, knives in games often just don't feel very good. They're not satisfying to use, or to fight against. That's why we have to celebrate the outliers. Those rare beautiful games that make it a joy, not a chore, to dive in up-close-and-personal to try to stick a piece of metal into another human being.
Celebrities are making games now, this is a thing we're going to have to live with. Kim Kardashian's done it, RuPaul's done it (and apparently her game is surprisingly fun, as our Jonathan Holmes discovered), and of course, 50 Cent beat them all to the punch years ago with his towering monument to self adulation, 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand. Hell, the Duck freaking Dynasty crew put out a timid Grand Theft Auto clone last year. The nerve.
As an abrasive former class-warrior, I already bristle at the sheer commercial gall of celebrities slapping their name and likeness on a box to try and pump a few dollars out of some gullible fans. But even more than that, I look at the stars who have dipped their toes into the videogame world and I think “what a waste.”
Reality stars? Rednecks? Narcissistic rappers? Why are these boring walking brands making games, and where are the pop icons and eccentric artists that could actually do an interesting job of it? Where are the weirdos and oddballs that populate my playlists and DVR recording schedules? If celebs and other artists are going to be making games, I've got a few suggestions.
Yes, it's now 2015--though I'm still writing 2014 on all my checks!!!--but how can anyone do a definitive Game of the Year award until the year is officially over? Until that big dang ball drops down in The Big Apple, the Big City, New York, New York baby! What if Valve decided to stealth release Half-Life 3 on 12/31 like Beyoncé in 2013 or Run the Jewels 2 this year? It would be everyone else with egg on their face and my face wouldn't be covered in egg at all.
So I hid the prediction too well. Like any good prediction, it would have been forgotten if it hadn't come true at no cost to my reputation, but if it did come true? Man, I'd be direct linking that piece of soothsaying ad nauseum (by the way, sources tell me that Half-Life 3 is going to be released on April 4, 2015).
Unfortunately, this prediction did come true and 2014 was the worst year since 2009 and I don't even get to take credit for calling it. But I won't bore you with My Bad Year. Instead, I want to award Clover Studio's God Hand with the Steven Hansen's Destructoid's Game of the Year 2014 Award for Best Game of the Year from 2006 because 2014 kind of sucked.
It's 2015. It's an age of sexiness and carelessness, a time when Snapchat and Tinder are far more popular than table etiquette apps (much to my chagrin). Yet, this blasted Internet webpage is writing about decidedly unsexy topics like Arizona. Is our target audience residents of retirement homes and scorpion-sting medical wards? No. God no.
I think it's time we freshen things up around here. According to Twitter (hey, I'm hip enough to tweet), One Direction is quite the popular topic these days. All the teens are constantly concerned with Liam's, ummm, "endowment," and how all sex is bad unless it's with Harry.
After perusing the band's Wikipedia page for two minutes, I got to wondering. What if 1D (that's what the kids call them) is really singing some well-veiled gaming anthems? Sure, on the surface, the songs may appear to be ballads crooning to the loves of their lives that week, but I'm pretty sure the love of their lives for forever is gaming.
These are the top One Direction songs that describe indescribable gaming moments, and it's definitely not a reach at tricking people on search engines. Definitely not.
It's an annual tradition: Making resolutions to kick off the New Year. There's a whole new arbitrary set of twelve months in which to better ourselves. Or, you know, make the same mistakes we made in the last dozen. It's finally time to quit smoking or start going to the gym. Whatever.
Here's a bunch of words about what videogame companies should do to shape up in 2015.
You thought Steven Hansen's Destructoid's 2014 GOTY awards were done at three, come sambuca con la mosca? That we want health, happiness, and prosperity, rather than four (death)? We're up all night to get unlucky my friends. And to drink a bottle of Chartreuse so that our New Year's Eve vomit looks like Ecto Cooler Hi-C and the Streets of San Francisco run green with ghost spume.
I believe it was communist philosophers Groucho Marx and John Lennon who said, "The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas," and that's, like, so true! A distanced citizenry treated as targets (consumers) versus an engaged citizenry treated as co-conspirators and friendos can lead to anti-consumer practices. That's why the open nature of crowd funding and early access development has been big this year, as invested fans have helped bear titles that did not need mass market appeal. Sometimes you can use a little help from your friendos, because we're all in this together, man.
Invisible Inc. is das kapital example of Early Access success and the winner of the Steven Hansen's Destructoid's 2014 GOTY award for Best evidence that we should go full communism.It is, by a wide margin, the game I have played most this year, and it's not even "finished." And, hey, maybe it sits on the wrong side of its tekno-Cold War-era aesthetic (the English-speaking side), but that angular 2D art and XCOM-like turn-based stealth are fresher than you might think given I just used a 20-year-old game as a reference point. Seriously, though. Turn-based stealth. It's amazing.
Someone once told me I talk like Jeff Goldblum. This is not true. I also don't look like Charlie Day, Peter Frampton, Bret McKenzie, Michael Sheen, or Dikembe Mutombo. But at least I appreciated the former (tip: don't tell people who they look like; it is confusing and uncanny at best, offensive at worst). If I could channel a fraction of Goldblum's swarthy, gangly, aloof sex appeal or ability to vomit stomach acid onto his food while his shedding, greasy hair starts to look like a perm, my life would definitely be better. Especially if I had the vomit thing.
And so it is that the third Steven Hansen's Destructoid's GOTY 2014 award is for the Best interpretive representation of Jeff Goldblum. If you missed them, here are the awards for illiteracy (Best willful misspelling in a title) and Best musical.
Because I am being sneaky/horny and using a shirtless Goldblum to adorn this post rather than art from the winner, now it feels like I have the element of surprise on my side and I'm pussyfooting around giving the award. Juking left, juking right. Will there be a world-shattering upset? I can feel you tittering with suspense as if you were hanging on Jeff Goldblum's every word and "Look," hand gestures.
Without further stalling, I hereby award Transistorthe Steven Hansen's Destructoid's GOTY 2014 award for Best interpretive representation of Jeff Goldblum! Supergiant's sophomore effort is almost cool to a fault. It is aloof, but with a sumptuous, angular aesthetic that mirror's Goldblum's icy-hot mystery.
The people at Telltale Games are wizards. There's no other explanation. They have an uncanny ability to coax money men into handing over the keys to some of the most valuable properties in the entertainment business. Then they seemingly have carte blanche to toy with things people hold dear, churning out officially sanctioned fan fiction right and left like there's no tomorrow.
What a dismal showing this year. Last year had Frozen, which tailed into this year, world without end, amen, with a long icy tail like Halley's comet. When are we going to have the "Let it Go" of videogames? We'll never have made it as an artform until games can produce a number with such virality and ubiquity that I start to wonder, "Wouldn't my life be better without a son," and "Remember the end of Ichi the Killer, with the sewing needles? That movie had some good ideas."
Here are some of the so-called "big musicals" of 2014 that failed to register a single musical number: Alien: Isolation. Dragon Age: Inquisition. The trailer for the new Star Wars film. Bayonetta 2. Dark Souls II. Embarrassing.
While no one put their bach into it to interrupt all sense of tone and pacing with a barrage of gaudy sung intermissions, I hereby award Kentucky Route Zero Steven Hansen's Destructoid's GOTY 2014 for Best musical, namely for its one stirring musical number in Act 3. This is quality over quantity folks. Kentucky Route Zero's first two parts are enough to make it one of the best games of last year, and the lone Act 3 enough to make it one of this year's best--and the best musical.
First, the number pop ups organically, at a place you might expect song singing to happen, rather than in a prison or a dementia care home or the post office or just generally a place where you might not expect synchronized singing of thoughts and emotions by patrons. Oh, also a hair enhancement clinic. That's another one where a musical number feels out of place. Anyways, the sensibility of the time and place clashes beautifully with the levels of mediation inherent to the genre and toyed with in the mechanics. Just play the damn thing, the whole of it.