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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?) I’m pulling double duty for all you lovely people, for reasons I don’t quite understand, although I’ve been led to believe that a koala will be saying my name. Look forward to that, I guess!

Today I’m going to talk about a game that I should have talked about last week, but then E3 happened. You can’t 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, I’m going to talk about that little indie game I promised you. I mean, it’s 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 don’t 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 can’t 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 I’m 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 aren’t just ‘rectangles’. They’re characters. People, almost. They even have names! The red rectangle above is Thomas, obviously, but there’s 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 Assassin’s 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 ‘observe’, Chris is a bit of a grumpy dude mostly because he’s 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 she’s 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. Doesn’t sound too special, does it? Well, what makes Claire so utterly amazing…is that she thinks she’s a superhero. With a superpower that consist entirely of ‘swimming’ she has taken it upon herself to save her ‘posse’ 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 it’s difficult to keep a straight face. The way he talks about her needing a cape, or spikes being her kryptonite (“And not the rubbish red kryptonite either, the proper radioactive green stuff”) 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 you’ll even forget that they’re 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 “rude” the other rectangles are being to Laura, you can really picture his grumpy old man face. That is, until you remember that ‘Chris’ is just an orange square. I actually think that little fact makes the dialogue all the better. There’s just something special about Claire the superhero when you remember that at the end of the day, Claire is just a big blue square. It’s very difficult to capture into words, but there’s a unique kind of humor in assigning thoughts and feelings to a red rectangle, or how he applauds the tall yellow rectangle’s jumping abilities. Especially when it’s done with the devotion Thomas Was Alone has.

Thomas Was Alone is a pretty short game, doesn’t have particularly difficult puzzles, and doesn’t 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 I’ve 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). I’ve 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, you’re up.

Go check this game out, it’s 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


Monday - Lord Spencer
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[YOUR NAME HERE] - We want you!

Current "Bloggers Wanted" assignment

Villains that did nothing wrong

Villains in all media, not just video games, can end up being a dime a dozen. Far too often, a villain's motives boil down to "I am a bad, and so I do bad things. Fear me." While this format has worked for countless stories, at this point in my life (the ripe old age of 20) I’ve become jaded and grumpy, finding myself rolling my eyes when I see yet another antagonist wreaking havoc with no background or reasoning presented as to why they’re being such a butthole.

What’s far more interesting to me is when a villain’s motives or actions come across as justified, perhaps leaving you rooting for them to defeat the protagonist [insert Elder God Tier villain meme here].

My favorite example of this would be Meruem from the Chimera Ant arc of Hunter x Hunter. While he doesn’t necessarily fit the exact mold I laid out above, he’s easily one of the most dynamic and curious villains I’ve ever come across. For the sake of not spoiling what is perhaps one of the most exciting, action-packed, and tear-inducing arcs in anime history, I won’t delve into the details of what makes Meruem so great. Instead I encourage anyone who hasn’t seen Hunter x Hunter to set aside some time and plow through the series. Really, it’s that good.

But hey, that’s just how I feel. I’m sure there are folks out there who prefer their villains to be simple. If I ever met one of these theoretical people I might have a panic attack, but I’ll deal with that should the time come. I’m sure after some deep breaths we would get along. Maybe we could even snuggle, should my husband allow such an event to transpire.

All said and done, we arrive at the topic of this month’s Bloggers Wanted: Villains that did nothing wrong. Due to communication errors, this entry in the hallowed halls of Bloggers Wanted is a tad late. Regardless, all you have to do is head over to the Community Blog section of the site, and whip up a Cblog about a villain who you feel was secretly the good guy all along.

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