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'Magnet School: Introduction to a New Blog Series

This blog’s handful of occasional readers may have noticed that, over the past few months, little content has been posted here apart from weekly Obscurer Tribune issues. There is a reason for this. It has little (if anything) to do with “real life got in the way” or “I just needed a break” or any of the usual reasons why a writer might take an occasional, temporary step back. Truth be told, I have not “stepped back” at all.

Ladies and gentlemen of Destructoid, I have been busy.

Anyone who bothers to read the seemingly-throwaway opening and closing blurbs tacked on to the Tribune already knows that I’ve been up to something, though a number have probably wondered whether this clandestine “project” would ever actually see daylight – well, if you can believe it, the wait is over. My next (non-Tribune) post within this space will be its first “official” entry.

Before that, however, I want to take a brief opportunity to set the stage: this is the biggest endeavor I’ve yet attempted on this site, and I want to get all the exposition out of the way in one fell swoop before it begins in earnest. My fellow DToiders, I present to you my new blog series: ‘Magnet School.

So what exactly is going on here? Simply put, ‘Magnet School is my latest (failed?) effort to give readers some insight into the lesser-known realms of video gaming, albeit in a more concentrated form and on a larger scale than usual blog-format fare. Like most schools, ‘Magnet School is based around a specific curriculum, which is broken up into courses, which in turn are comprised of individual lessons. It’s not as complicated as I’m making it sound – the “curriculum” is simply a particular gaming genre that I’ve chosen to focus attention on, and “courses” are individual posts devoted to smaller sub-genres (or some other smaller category) from within the “curriculum”. Each “course” consists of three “lessons” – that is, information about individual games from each sub-group, which I consider to be the best and/or most interesting examples of obscure gaming to be found there.

Basically, I’ll make a whole bunch of posts in a row about one type of game, and each such post will cover three mostly-unknown games of that type.

Since this series is organized in a very specific way, I have to do all of my research and most of my writing for a “curriculum” before I can post even the first “course” – that’s what I’ve been doing these past few months, on and off. In essence, all that’s happening right now is the gradual refinement and release of the material I’ve compiled, distilled, and organized. At this point I can hopefully commit to a set schedule to complete this final task - for my first “curriculum”, I’m hoping to post one “course” per week on a consistent basis until all of them are spent.

Starting this coming week, then, I will do my utmost to make ‘Magnet School Monday a regular part of the c-blogs until my current “curriculum” runs dry.

What truly sets ‘Magnet School apart from most of my previous blogs, however, is that it follows a strictly fixed format, designed to ensure that every “lesson” is covered in the same fashion, and that no crucial piece of information goes overlooked regardless of subject matter. Each game-specific “lesson” featured in this series, without exception, will be analyzed and discussed under the following five subheadings:

“What Is It?” – The opening shot. Some standard statistical information about the game and its developer, as well as any other noteworthy factoids which can place either one into a wider and/or more interesting context.

“How Does It Work?” – Pretty self-explanatory - a straightforward rundown of the title’s most important gameplay mechanics and general structure, presented in an effort to give readers a solid idea of what makes the thing tick. Whenever possible I’ll include a gameplay video to accompany this segment.

“Why Should I Play It?” – The most important section, and in most cases the toughest one for me to nail down. Here is where I attempt to express just why I’m taking the time to talk about this game instead of another one; hard-and-fast factual information is now supplemented by more abstract and/or personal thoughts. Whether I’m focused on an overall level of polish, a flawed but intriguing departure from convention, or just an eye-catching visual theme, you might not agree with what I say here, but hopefully you will be able to understand why I’m saying it.

“Where Can I Get It?” – Letting someone know a game exists can only do so much good unless he knows where and how to actually play the bugger – this area is devoted to listing the consoles, regions, and altered titles under which the item in question is available, as well as a rough idea of how difficult each version might be to find.

“Anything Else?” – The wrap-up. A quick recommendation or three towards related and/or similar titles to the featured one which might also be of interest; also, miscellaneous thoughts and whatnot which just didn’t fit anywhere else.

And that, more or less, is what ‘Magnet School is all about – to give unusual, unknown, and underappreciated games an open, in-depth public presentation that they’ve likely not received elsewhere. I’ve no idea whether or not these segments will be any more successful than previous tries at persuading fellow gamers to branch out, but I do hope they can at least offer readers an oft-ignored window into parts of their favorite pastime that they never even knew existed.

Anyway, after spending so many words hyping it up, I also ought to offer a few brief caveats, just to make sure we’re all on the same page concerning what ‘Magnet School is, and what it isn’t:

First and foremost, despite my best efforts to cover as much ground as possible, these are NOT 100-percent comprehensive articles, if such things are truly even possible. I will inevitably have overlooked heaven knows how many relevant facts and/or worthy games to feature here, perhaps even a favorite or two of yours, but to put it bluntly at some point during my research I just had to draw a line and start writing. If you have any off-the-cuff suggestions for me to look into along the way, however, I certainly won’t refuse them – just be aware that your definition of “obscure”, among other things, might differ from mine.

Second, just in case my tenure around here hasn’t already made it clear enough, I am NOT a “high-level” gamer, and thus am not (and will not pretend to be) qualified to discuss any of these titles in terms of “high-level” play. I do attempt to describe and analyze all relevant aspects of each title as clearly and objectively as I can, but if you’re looking for an expert’s guide this simply isn’t where you’ll find it.

Third, while I’ve done my best to include ample images and other media within each “lesson”, tracking down usable pictures and videos for some of these under-the-radar titles is VERY difficult, and in a few cases I’ve had to settle for some less-then-ideal material. Hopefully this state of affairs won’t be held against me too much.

Well, I think that’s more or less all you need to know about ‘Magnet School, and my aspirations for it – once the series begins in earnest next week, I very much hope that you enjoy it, and that you’ll feel free to share any questions you might have with me.

…hm? Sorry, what’s that? Oh, silly me – yes, I did say that each “curriculum” would be centered around a certain genre, but forgot to mention which one I’d be starting things off with.

Then again, if you’ve been paying a little bit of attention lately, you should already know.

See you in class next Monday.
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About BulletMagnetone of us since 9:04 PM on 10.04.2008

Thanks kindly for paying my blog a visit.

I'm currently looking for paid writing gigs, so if you might want anything written shoot me a message (craighats at hotmail dot com).

In case the contents of this blog don't make it obvious enough, I have something of an affinity for slightly "offbeat" titles, so if there's something out there that few others cover, there's a fair chance I'm at least somewhat up on it.

If there's any sort of (reasonable) inquiry you'd like me to address, please don't hesitate to be in touch.

Below are a handful of recaps and other links (oldest listed first by section), in case you're interested - asterisks mark promoted articles.


'Magnet School


Curriculum: Puzzle Games

Course 1: Ochige 101
Course 2: Tossology
Course 3: Ochige 201
Course 4: Phys. Ed
Course 5: Ochige 301 (Adv.)
Course 6: Free Elective
Course 7: Ochige 401 (Hon.)
Course 8: Extra Credit
Graduation Speech



King of Fighters: Orochi Saga
Ar Tonelico II - Part 1 and Part 2
Prinny and Street Fighter IV
King of Fighters '98 Ultimate Match
Nintendo DS
*King of Fighters XII
How-To: Atelier Annie
How-To: Mushihime-sama Futari


The Forgotten Essentials

Part 1: RPGs
Part 2: Shmups
Part 3: Fighters
Part 4: Puzzlers


The Obscurer Tribune



Monthly Musings/Writers Wanted

The Fear: The End
*A Time to Destroy: I Cast Thee Out
*Expanded Universes: Triple Triad X
*Those About to Die: Nocturne's Demons
*Untapped Potential: The Second Dimension
*I Suck at Games: and I'm Here to Help
*The Forgotten: Real Life
*Love/Hate: The Weirdo, The Wall, and The Beast
*The Future: A Refreshing Cup of Hemlock
*More Than Just Noise: Digital Cheese LIVE
East vs. West: Where The Old Gods Dwell
Resolutions: Fresh Flowers
Collaboration: IF Only...
Violence: The Gatekeepers


Assorted Ramblings

Why Am I Here? (intro)
Non-Portable Portable Gaming
Hating the Unhateable
*Soul Bubbles, Mickey Mouse, Journey of the Self
Dreamcast: The Other Shmup Machine
One-Year Anniversary Reflections
Shmups: Gaming's EOE


Non-DT Writing


Saturn Shooter Rundown
PS1 Shooter Rundown
PS2 Shooter Rundown
Shmups 101
Shmups That Defined the Genre
"Hidden Gem" Shmups


Shadow Hearts


Unofficial Shmup Glossary (shmups.com, WIP)
My Backloggery (Warning: Inherent Shamefulness May Be Too Intense for Some Readers)