Posts Tagged ‘video games’


by Kevin L. Clark

Here, we spotlight the movements, mods, and works of art within gaming culture for your ultimate enjoyment. The weekly post is your central point to see just how video games influence the world around us.

For anyone above the age of 30, growing up, and realizing that you’re an adult is a daily exercise in futility. Unfortunately, those of us who are still in love with gaming, realize this double-edge sword and attempt to circumvent Father Time. According to Kill Screen Daily‘s Jess Joho, that is probably the quickest route to insanity, but who cares when you’re having fun, right?! Peter Padder Pauleypop is an interesting new game that made its debut this past week and explores the panged existence of becoming a grown up. Inspired by the Final Fantasy game, Illusion of Gaia, players are isolated and full of anguish. What’s crazy is that one moment you’ll feel the creak in your dusty and old bones, and the next you’ll be enjoying the game.

The name Koji Kondo is an indelible part of gaming history, specifically to those who love Super Mario Bros. Having been tied to the title since 1985, his composition for the Mario games through 1996’s Super Mario 64 have endeared him to the masses a lifetime over. Add to that, the 53-year-old composer and sound director was the main wellspring of inspiration behind the audio in Zelda’s Ocarina of Time, then you can understand just how important Koji Kondo is to the gaming community. In an exclusive interview with Gamasutra, Christian Nutt chats with the legend about his work over the years, his advice to other game composers, and what players can expect from 2015’s Mario Maker for the Wii U.

Smosh Games always comes with it when it comes to the Honest Game Trailers. The team’s latest finds them revisiting the operatic, super-dramatic, post-apocalyptic survival game The Last Of Us. The (honestly) superb game still prompted questions about the hyperrealism of the world, as the folks picked relentlessly at Joel and Ellie’s emotional journey. NY Videogame Critics Circles own, Evan Narcisse, provided us with the laughs. Extra points go for the creative names given to the characters from the game. You can watch this hilarious video by clicking here.

If you see anything that you feel is culturally relevant, artistic in merit, or just all-around cool for gamers — please don’t hesitate to let us know @HaroldGoldberg, @KevitoClark, and @HarryRabinowitz.

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by Kevin L. Clark

Here, we spotlight the movements, mods, and works of art within gaming culture for your ultimate enjoyment. The weekly post is your central point to see just how video games influence the world around us.

You may be stuffed full of turkey and other tryptophan-like substances, but that does not stop gamers from wondering the latest about Zak Penn’s Ready Player One adaptation. Based on the Ernie Cline book of the same title, Warner Bros. managed to scoop up this digital delight back in 2010. For those who don’t know, the plot develops around a Willy Wonka-esque innovator who creates a futuristic world where everyone lives in virtual reality. When that man passes away, a group of players must exhibit knowledge of all things pop culture, music, and games from the 1980s. Penn recently did a new interview, which confirms that the Ready Player One movie is done and talks about the obstacles of video game licensing. Nerd Report‘s Fred Topel penned the story.

Bill Nye may be your favorite science guy, but there can be something said for scientist who attempt to break down gaming in a scientific fashion. Arjun Keval Joshi of NintendoLife broke the hearts of many Super Mario Galaxy fans when he recounted a study from the Department of Physics and Astronomy, which broke down the small planets Mario traverses in the game. Using the surface gravity of Earth as their measuring mark, the students came to the conclusion that places like the Gold Leaf or Cosmic Cove galaxy would “likely explode in real life.” With not enough mass to produce a stable body, these minuscule planets would destroy all in an explosive blaze of gold coins and mushroom matter. If you want to know the particulars in full detail, you can read the actual paper by clicking here.

Did you know that Pixel Perfect had a plan to celebrate the Nintendo classic, Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out, on its 25th anniversary?! RetroPete at 8-Bit Central had been following the developments for the definitive book for awhile. The 240-page, unofficial encyclopedia for the NES game had a successful Kickstarter campaign, but failed to receive Nintendo’s blessings to release the book. Although the Brownsville Bomber, Mike Tyson, got a copy of the hardcover book, the supporters behind the project all went without due to Nintendo’s “complicated licensing issues.” Thankfully, Pixel Perfect has decided to allow interested readers access to the book in PDF form! By heading over to Pixel Perfect’s website, you are just a few short clicks from being able to learn more about Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out game than Conan O’Brien!

If you see anything that you feel is culturally relevant, artistic in merit, or just all-around cool for gamers — please don’t hesitate to let us know @HaroldGoldberg, @KevitoClark, and @HarryRabinowitz.

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Mario Cartridge

by Harry Rabinowitz

“Can I take a look?” Rebecca asks me, gesturing towards the blue-screening copy of Mega Man III.


I open the lid of the Nintendo Entertainment System, a piece of equipment a little under a decade older than me, caress the cartridge of Mega Man III out of the system and pass it to Rebecca, a visiting videogame preservation expert.  She flips the large square upside down.  It rattles a bit.

“What’s that?” I ask.  “Sounds like a bead or something.”

“It’s bad.  Really bad.” She frowns.

Rebecca explains what the sound means.  I ask more questions, naturally curious about games and a console I never had the pleasure of owning.  It gets complicated.  About a half-hour later I get the gist of it.

That copy of Mega Man III is dead.  We won’t be able to get it to play anymore.

I work in the NYU Game Library.  Every day, I sit at my desk placed in front of hundreds of cartridges.  Atari, NES, N64, Sega Master System, SNES, GameBoy, you name it.  I’ve probably only played three of them.  Slowly but surely, each and every one of these games will degrade.  The cartridge might get “finicky”.  The consoles might run a game strangely.  And one day, a Legend of Kage or Zelda II with have its final death rattle.  It might literally start rattling, or just show a silent blue screen, and that’s that.  If I were more versed in this kind of hardware, I could open up the cartridge and try to bring it back.  But I’m not, and I don’t know a single person in my generation who is.

60 years from now will people still be able to play any of these NES cartridges?

Videogames are not like other art forms.  We cannot just put a copy of The Legend of Zelda in a glass display somewhere and be satisfied.  To understand a game, you need to play it.  With companies like Sony and Microsoft abandoning backwards compatibly, the likelihood that my stack of PlayStation 2 games will ever see playtime is shrinking every day the console gets older.  Nintendo is trying its best with the Virtual Console store, but they do not offer nearly the amount of titles that sit behind my work desk.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure how to physically preserve the consoles and games I work with everyday.  But I do know how to digitally preserve them.

I am, of course, talking about emulators.

Things for from grim to hopeful (albeit a bit complicated) with the turn of a page…

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As we approach the holidays, Circle members have been hard at work bringing you reviews, news, and the latest happenings in games!

Jorge Jimenez reviewed the hotly-anticipated Xbox One exclusive, Sunset Overdrive, over on Dualshockers.  Jeff Bakalar also reviewed the game over on CNET.

Craig Goldstein talked with police to compile a list of law enforcements’ favorite games.  And yes, Lego Batman is one of them.

Samit Sakar reported on Extra Life’s annual “Game Day,” where participants raised over 5 million dollars for charity.

Jason Cipriano gave his review of Platinum’s The Legend of Korra, the developer’s first licensed, download-only title.

Lucas Siegel reviewed Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved, the Kinect-based music adventure by Harmonix.

Jeremy Voss picked up (and most likely put down)  Alien Isolation.  Reads his thoughts on Shouts From The Couch.

As an extra bonus for the week, we’re also spotlighting Chelsea Stark‘s exclusive look at Condition One‘s first Oculus Rift documentary entitled Zero Point.

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In which an ardent, young writer channels the ghost of George Plimpton, co-founder of the The Paris Review and legendary participatory journalist. Here’s what he learned.

by Jason Tabrys

I discovered one thing quickly. Eric “Problem” Wright, Zach Farley and Steve Gibbons clearly have a lot of fun when they play Madden Football, a game that they’ve each been playing since the mid ’90s version of the game premiered on the Sega Genesis. But while they love the franchise, playing it nearly everyday is serious business, a part of their jobs. Wright is a champion pro-gamer and Farley and Gibbons literally write the book (the Prima guide) on Madden Football every year.

Wright’s pursuit of playing Madden professionally started in high school when he stepped away from playing real sports like football and basketball after being introduced to the existence of The Madden Challenge. The sight of a winner holding a check for $50,000 didn’t hurt either.

“I knew I wasn’t going to make it to the NFL; that’s unrealistic. You see the numbers of the people who make it there, so why not try Madden?”

Though Wright, 26, wasn’t an immediate success, he soon found ultimate glory as the winner of ESPN’s Madden Nation (which brought him his own big check for $100,000). Victory in the Madden Challenge followed in 2008, 2010 and 2013. Wright tells me that if there were a Madden 2015 tournament next week, he’d be ready.

Employed full time in an unrelated field, Wright’s part time job as a pro gamer has taken him on 18-hour drives from West Covina, California to Denver and to Dallas. His supportive mother served as his carpool partner on early road trips.

Wright is focused on maintaining his edge for competition while playing against a group of friends who also play on the circuit (and the occasional random opponent online). But it’s Farley’s and Gibbons’ job to make everyday Madden gamers into better players.

To do this, the two 28 year old friends who have been playing Madden together since college to refine their skills and write their guide book while occupying a Boston office 11 months out of the year. They also run MaddenTips.com, a site where they sell a bundle of their offensive and defensive playbooks (and Eric “Problem” Wright’s playbook) to those seeking an advantage over the competition. The pair also posts tips and top plays on the Prima Games YouTube channel.

It’s also their responsibility, in their role as a part of EA Sports’ Gamechangers program, to help make a better game by traveling to EA Tiburon. There, they advise the Madden developers and get their first hands-on with the game. That’s where that 12th month goes.

“We always try to get 1,000 hours of play time in before the game comes out. That requires around a month of living in Orlando, Florida so we can play the newest builds and talk with the people who actually make the game on site. This means being away during the summer when our friends are at the beach getting a tan. The only tan we get is from the brightness of the TV screen.”

Isn’t being away difficult? “Sure, you are excited to get home after long trips. But Madden is not only our job but our passion, and it’s great when those two things overlap.”

These guys clearly put in the time and they clearly have no shortage of passion. But how good are they at the actual game? I mean, really? I mean, I felt I was pretty good, too. And I love Madden a lot. I decided to find out first hand in an online match versus Zach Farley.

How did our adventurer fare in his match? Find out on the next page…

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This week, we have features, interviews, videos, explainers, and reviews, all from the lovely members of the Critics Circle.

Harold Goldberg published his long-in-the-making, 5000-word cover story on League of Legends, eSports, and Cloud9 HyperX over at Playboy Magazine.

Alex Navarro sat down with Vinny Caravella for another GiantBomb quick look, this time for Duck Dynasty.

Ben Gilbert educates the masses on Google and Oracle’s upcoming (and ongoing) legal battle over coding and Android.

Adam Rosenberg interviewed creative director Jens Matthies about Wolfenstein: The New Order and its incredibly deliberate design choices.

Jeff Bakalar reviewed The Evil Within, Shinji Mikami’s latest entry to the survival horror genre.

Anthony John Agnello reviewed Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, the follow up to 2012’s Persona 4 Arena, which is the fighting game spin-off of 2008’s Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4.  It’s a bit complicated…

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by Harry Rabinowitz

I don’t like playing games in public.  I get self-conscious, embarrassed, like I have a group of critics watching my every move, even when no one is paying me any mind.  I want games to be respected by everyone, and when something inherently silly, childish, sexist, stupid, mundane, poorly written, or poorly designed happens in the game I’m playing, I can’t help but turn around to see if anyone’s noticed.

And half the time, someone does notice.  I have the pleasure (and curse) of playing games around game designers.  Designers can strip a game down in a matter of seconds, either making you look smart for choosing to play that game or look like a tasteless buffoon.

Most days, it’s the latter.  Recently, I was watching a friend of mine play Final Fantasy XIII, a series that I am very familiar with, but an installment I have not touched.  Throughout the play session, I was intrigued by the battle system, character progression, story, and world.  Only an hour or so in, I hadn’t really decided if I “liked” the game or not.  Like many JRPGs, the character designs were easy to poke fun at, but I made fun of Snow’s plaid waist scarf and Vanille’s triple stringed yo-yo staff thing in an endearing way.

That is until one of the many MFA game design students begins to take note of the game.  After watching for about four minutes (and calling a robotic scorpion boss monster “cute”), he stated, “So this game is just walking down hallways, watching cutscenes, and rolling a bunch of dice?”  My friend replied, “basically”.

Final Fantasy XIII, 6 years in development, millions of dollars in the making, broken down into a sentence.  After hearing that, I looked back at the game and it seemed like trash, an utter waste of time.

This is why I don’t like playing games in public.  It constantly feels like I need to defend the game I’m playing, or even my right to play it.  After watching a five minute long cutscenes with shaky dialogue, I feel like I need to explain why this is worth my time to the board of “proper game designers” behind me.

But after playing one game demo in public, I threw all this out the window.  Bayonetta 2 showed me that, if I’m having fun, maybe I shouldn’t feel the need to defend myself.

It helps that Bayonetta 2 is utterly insane.  You can see what I mean for yourself on the next page.

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