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Cblogs of 06/19/13 + 06/20/13 + Big Blue Square Superhero-isms


With Strider out on grad night (so when is somebody going to tell me what that means?) Iím pulling double duty for all you lovely people, for reasons I donít quite understand, although Iíve been led to believe that a koala will be saying my name. Look forward to that, I guess!

Today Iím going to talk about a game that I should have talked about last week, but then E3 happened. You canít help it! One moment you want to discuss some really cool little indie game you recently played, but then the next moment Mario is wearing a cat-suit, Donkey Kong fights Viking penguins, the Wii Fit Trainer makes it into Smash Bros., Xenoblade meets fucking Transformers, and in the end nothing else matters anymore.

But now that all of that is out of the way, Iím going to talk about that little indie game I promised you. I mean, itís not like there is big news this week anyway, right? Right. Besides, there will be plenty of Xbox One talk in the Cblogs without me devoting my -isms to it anyway. PLENTY. Which is to say GOOD GOD SO MUCH.

Ahem. Then without further ado: Thomas Was Alone.

It is the best thing.

For those of you who donít know, Thomas Was Alone is a minimalistic little puzzle-platformer. You control a team of rectangles in different shapes and sizes, all of which have different abilities, although all of them can jump to some degree. The tall yellow rectangle can jump really high, the short orange square canít jump worth a shit but fits through small holes, you get the picture. Most of the game revolves around getting the entire team from point A to point B, overcoming all the obstacles in the way. But Iím not going to recommend this game for its puzzles or its platforming. Quite frankly, both are kind of simple and barely worth the price of admission. What I will recommend this game for, wholeheartedly, is its fantastic writing and its character building.

You see, the rectangles in this game arenít just Ďrectanglesí. Theyíre characters. People, almost. They even have names! The red rectangle above is Thomas, obviously, but thereís also Chris, John, Laura and a whole bunch of others. The game brings these guys and gals to life through the use of a narrator, Danny Wallace (who did Shaun Hastings in Assassinís Creed according to Wikipedia), who describes what the characters are thinking at any given moment. His performance is excellent (he even won a BAFTA award for it), and it really manages to give these quadrangles unique and recognizable personalities. Thomas is a hopeless optimist who is easily blown away by any little thing he can Ďobserveí, Chris is a bit of a grumpy dude mostly because heís insecure about his lackluster jumping ability, Laura is an overall nice girl but seems to have this little problem in that all of her friends seem to disappear under mysterious circumstances whenever sheís around, and the list goes on. All of these quirks and characters are described in a very funny way, which literally made me crack up every time the narrator had something new to say (which is once or twice every level).

My absolute favorite character is Claire. The thing about Claire is that she is resistant to water. Whereas everyone else dies in water, Claire is the only one of the lovely bunch of rectangles who can swim. Doesnít sound too special, does it? Well, what makes Claire so utterly amazingÖis that she thinks sheís a superhero. With a superpower that consist entirely of Ďswimmingí she has taken it upon herself to save her Ďposseí of quadrangles from whatever dangers they may face. Just as long as said dangers can be overcome by swimming, naturally. The narrator talks about Claire with such unmistakable passion that itís difficult to keep a straight face. The way he talks about her needing a cape, or spikes being her kryptonite (ďAnd not the rubbish red kryptonite either, the proper radioactive green stuffĒ) everything he has to say about Claire is solid gold.

Overall, the narrator does a really great job in fleshing out the different characters, and at some points youíll even forget that theyíre actually just colored rectangles. It ties in really well with the story itself too, which deals with rogue AIs becoming sentient outside of human control. But when Chris talks about how ďrudeĒ the other rectangles are being to Laura, you can really picture his grumpy old man face. That is, until you remember that ĎChrisí is just an orange square. I actually think that little fact makes the dialogue all the better. Thereís just something special about Claire the superhero when you remember that at the end of the day, Claire is just a big blue square. Itís very difficult to capture into words, but thereís a unique kind of humor in assigning thoughts and feelings to a red rectangle, or how he applauds the tall yellow rectangleís jumping abilities. Especially when itís done with the devotion Thomas Was Alone has.

Thomas Was Alone is a pretty short game, doesnít have particularly difficult puzzles, and doesnít require lightning reflexes. But its ability to tell an interesting little story and create recognizable characters out of what literally are nothing more than colored rectangles, as well as it being one of the funniest games Iíve ever played (right up there with Portal and the Penny Arcade series, the latter of which I must remind you was written by people whose job it is to be funny) has earned it one of the tops spots in my list of favorite indie games (i.e.: my Steam Library). Iíve also JUST learned while writing this that there is DLC which is only a couple of weeks away tops from coming to PC. Smash Bros. hype? Move over. Thomas Was Alone DLC hype, youíre up.

Go check this game out, itís only like 8 bucks anyway.

* - While a lot of people weren't blown away by this E3, Wrenchfarm lists a bunch of games and tech that should get everyone excited. Just add the X trailer to that list. ADD IT WRENCH.

* - Farenheit writes a great article on The Last of Us. It's a good game, but is it really as good as people are saying?

* - This is probably the best blog on the Xbox One's policy reversal. Seph still sees problems on the horizon.

A - Apparently there were some problems with one of Jim's recent articles, and OpiumHerz calls him out on it.

A - Makster points out that multiple endings can be a bit of a bother, especially if one is the 'real' one.

A - Microsoft may have changed its policies, but if you ask Pope, the best exclusives are still on PS4.

A - Pedrovay considers yesterday's news a sure victory.

A - Meanwhile, Legenderry thinks Microsoft took a gamble on Sony, and lost.

A - But when all is said and done, there's still the Kinect. Also, Yogi thinks Phil Spencer has the most punchable face ever. I couldn't agree more. Seriously, find me any screengrab from the E3 showcase that doesn't make you want to sock him one.

A - Taterchimp looks at the Xbox One's policy reversal (I refuse to call it a 180) through the lense of PR.

A - The Defenestrator talks about the power of the crowd (or lack thereof) and the Xbox One.

A - Come for gadgeroo's talk about the Xbox One, stay for his decidedly sex-heavy analogies.

A - This is a pretty interesting point of view: Chrys thinks the Console War is going to be noticably less interesting with Microsoft stepping down from its big changes.

A - While Microsoft may have turned around, ManWithNoName think they're still in a ditch. After all, who cares about solving a problem you've created yourself?

A - There are still some people out there defending the Xbox One's now-reversed features. However, Caimdark explains that hoping for Microsoft to pull a Valve isn't very likely.

A - Linearity and a focus on shortterm goals in recent gaming hasn't done Klarden's sense of immersion any favors.

A - Bob bobserved the Xbox One and has some ideas about how it could have been done right.

A - A marvel fan relates how the Xbox One's failure in the eyes of gamers was mostly down to bad management.

A - While always-online is technically gone from Xbox One, RenegadePanda finds that we may still get it through the backdoor, i.e. "the power of the cloud".

M - Did you know we still have a Musing going on? GoForRainbow knows, and shares about his time playing a SNES in a van.

A - Jinx also still has problems with the Xbox One, especiallly the Kinect's privacy implications.

M - More musings as MarvelFan recounts his SEGA days.

T - So is AssCreed 3 good or not? Wormwood responds to some common complaints.

T - GRabbit would probably agree with Farenheit's blog up above; he didn't think The Last of Us is all that either.

T - Castlevania: The Adventure for Game Boy isn't as bad as JoelCouture made it out to be previously. Although I'm honestly not sure if he's being entirely serious.

T - DARK, a game that has recently appeared on Steam, reminds wormwood of Vampire: The Masquerade in all the right ways.

T - Makster stands up for Twilight Princess. I agree, it's a really underrated entry in the series.

T - GRabbit doesn't see the appeal in Titanfall. Since it's an FPS, I'm bound to agree.

R - GRabbit DOES, however, see the appeal in Animal Crossing: New Leaf. Which is to say digging holes.

C - Now why in the world would you use that writing style? Once you get past it, there are some ideas regarding a cool Batman game in this blog.

C - This blog on the Xbox One's policy reversal doesn't seem to add much.

V - Mikki Saturn talks about the Xbox One in video form.

C - Here's some 'suggestions' for Nintendo to improve its current image.

F - No, we won't.

F - Who the fuck are you and what the fuck are you going on about?

- ShadeOfLight
May you always find water and shade

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About CblogRecapsone of us since 11:27 PM on 07.02.2008

About Cblog Recaps

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The Adaptation

Some things don't belong in this world and yet they are conjured time and again by humans that wish to pay them tribute. A video game, book, comic or TV show becomes popular and later becomes adapted to another medium entirely or, worse, a mobile phone spin-off.

Sometimes you get Telltale's The Walking Dead and other times you get Super Mario Bros.: The Movie -- one a great tribute to the comics and TV shows and the other had its soul stolen and made a '90s movie executive's slave.

And here comes another classic game series with hopes of becoming a Netflix hit as I brace myself and hope it doesn't turn out to be a miserable pile of secrets.

Castlevania is a beloved series and with Konami it's sort of a surprise they'd do anything with it at all after running out the people that made their games good and running the franchise into the ground soon after. Yet here we are with an anime series debuting this week and I'm kind of excited for it.

History should leave me a bit more cynical, sure. I remember the Street Fighter live-action movie, the Zelda cartoon and much more, but Mortal Kombat was perfect in its camp and The Witcher games are pretty faithful to their source material. We even have games being adapted into other kinds of games by different developers. Borderlands is now a looter-shooter and a point-and-click adeventure and that works really well, actually.

So for this month's "Bloggers wanted," we want you head over to the community blogs and tell us about your favorite adaptations of games to other mediums or even your favorite adaptation of another medium to games. Use "The Adaptation: [Your game/title here]" in the title and place "Bloggers Wanted" in the tags.

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