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C-Blog of 01/28/13 + Wrenchisms


It is almost irresistible to compare Samurai Gunn and Nidhogg. They are both (mostly) local multiplayer games (Nidhogg has a currently broken online mode and they both have lacklustre singleplayer options) focused on intense competition between living players. They both make use of a sparse control scheme and very simple set of rules to contain a deceptively deep fighting system. Instead of relying on complicated execution or memorization, both games boil combat down to a matter of strategy, mind games, and creativity. Both are rendered with stunning pixel art and presented with masterfully composed music.

This is something of a growing trend in recent indie titles. Divekick could be said to do much the same, boiling down the complicated fighting game genre to two simple button presses, dive and kick.

But it was loaded down in baggage. The longer Divekick spent in development, the more it seemed to stray away from it's originally streamlined design. Extra characters with highly specialized moves, super moves and meter building, stat changing gems and alternating stances. The sardonic criticism of modern fighting games, particularly Marvel vs Capcom and the first iteration of SSFIV's Arcade Edition, which saw both games dominated by a select few characters capable of landing the eponymous dive kick and going into a victory deciding combo, got lost. Instead of sticking to those fundamentals, the Divekick devs layered in more and more gags, an extensive collection of in-jokes and references to a genre and community a little too in love with itself.

The result was a confusing compromise – a game designed to simplify the baffling fighting game genre ended up being just as weird and impenetrable to outsiders as any other title in the genre. Fighting game neophytes couldn't grok the Stream Monster's bizarre double jumping mechanic anymore than they could catch the reference to abysmal fans jeering at an online broadcast.

Nidhogg is pretty in love with itself too. This was a game that won the IGF awards, then spent two years quietly circulating trade shows, exposing a select group of individuals to it's peculiar style. The relatively few industry insiders and convention attendees who played it would go on to speak of it in hushed tones, like it was the VHS from The Ring. Before it was available to the public on Steam, it was hosted in a New York museum piece. Nidhogg is named after a Serpent-Dragon from Scandinavian myth. Victory in the game is rewarded by being devoured by said Serpent-Dragon to the uproarious applause of pixelated spectators.

Clearly, some art is going on here.

But none of that gets in the way of the game. There is something profound about the purity of play presented by the title. There is no fat to be found, just pure mechanics. Two buttons, four directional inputs, and a simple goal – kill the other guy and run like hell to the endzone. With that simple pallet, and a few understated stage obstacles such as pits, doors, and tall dry grass, Nidhogg gracefully opens up a world of tactical choices and split-second decisions.

When you press start to begin a fight, Nidhogg just dumps the two combatants into the stage. It doesn't even bother with an extraneous "FIGHT!" declaration, or a three second countdown for players to find their feet. It drops two dudes onto the screen, swords in hand and ready to stab, almost nonchalantly, as if you say "figure it out for yourself".

Samurai Gunn cuts straight to the chase too, no baggage. The characters are all functionally identical, offering only an aesthetic preference (ninja, topknot dude, puppy Samurai). Everyone works with the same rules and mechanics. The stages play on Samurai movie and videogame cliches.

It's slick, it's well presented, but it's clean. 

Do I think Divekick would have sold better without those extra characters and jokes? No. It is a fairly niche title to begin with and I doubt it would have performed better if they just stuck to Dive and Kick. Do I think it might have been a better game?


* - Corduroy Turtle's blogs always bring a smile to my face, but thanks to the inclusion of Krang, this one brought a smile to my heart.

* - An interesting blog about save scumming, perma-death, and the opinions in between.

* - Long John wants to see more long Johns. See what I did there?

* - You can't argue with the FACTS.

A - SpielerDad remembers when Bomberman with a multi-tap was a massive multiplayer experience.

T - Staying true to his "no new games" pledge, Better On Holliday scratches a few more names off the back log.

T - Yeesh, from what I understand, Tony Hawk was actually pretty salty that RIDE never took off. But with tales like this, what did he really expect?

Great blogs today!


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About CblogRecapsone of us since 11:27 PM on 07.02.2008

About Cblog Recaps


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Current "Bloggers Wanted" assignment

The heel-turn

Last week, in the quick posts of Destructoid's community, we saw the rise and fall of community manager Wesley J. Russow. He rose to prominence with his immutable power, only to see it come crashing down as the working class clambered beneath him and tore him down. Truly, the life and times of Westopher G. Raggamuffins was a lesson in live fast, burn hot, crash spectacularly.

Wes went from community darling to lovable despot over the course of a few days. It was a thing of beauty to behold. Truly, nothing is better to witness than a real-life heel turn. Wrestling is nothing without these terms after all. A "Face" is a good guy wrestler who fights the man, stands up for the little guy, and fights fairly while still winning. A "Heel", on the other hand, is a despicable, dastardly villain or even anti-hero. I loved Kurt Angle's antics as this gold medal Olympic winner turned wrestler who wasn't necessarily as likable as his gold medals imply. I loved hating that guy! A good heel is fun to hate, and there's nothing quite like the gasp of shock when watching the turn, when a face uses dirty tricks and turns into a heel.

Let me ask you this: is Kratos a hero? Before we see Kratos return in what I'd call Dad of War, let's not forget Kratos’ sordid past as a hero. In the first game, it was a revenge tale. It was a story of a mythical Spartan warrior who wanted revenge on the God of War who betrayed him. But as the series went on, it became a story about the lengths Kratos would go to justify his vendetta against people who wronged him. He would literally destroy the world just to destroy his enemies. Sure, we played as him, and we were taken on a ride, but would you really put your bet behind him and say, "Yeah, look at that hero!"

This month's Bloggers Wanted is about your favorite heel-turns or anti-heroes (in case a heel turn is too specific). Do you like it when Ryu turns into Evil Ryu? Or maybe you like Injustice, with its built in heel-turn Superman? I won't claim to understand the time line of Revolver Ocelot between Snake Eater and Guns of the Patriots, but I love that knucklehead.

To participate, just start a blog in our community section and title it "Heel-turn: [your blog title here]." Write to your heart's content, and if its up to snuff, you'll see your stuff published on the front page! Just remember, you're telling us about your favorite heel-turns and anti-heroes, not becoming one yourself, like Wes. Rest in spaghetti, never forghetti.

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