The Roundup: From Kirby To Civilization To Deathloop – And The Circle’s Nonprofit Work Gets A Nod From The NYC Mayor’s Office

By Ronald Gordon 

Hello once again and welcome back to another Roundup, the New York Videogame Critic Circle’s peek into the goings on of the gaming world both inside and outside the Circle. From news on how we at the Critics Circle have been engaging with the community to stories about recent games and the portrayal of wheelchairs in horror games, we’ve got plenty to talk about this time around. 

Nintendo seems to have taken the spotlight in terms of new game news. Not only were fans of Monster Hunter like myself teased with new content for Monster Hunter Rise with the new Sunbreak expansion, but fans of the Kirby franchise are getting a brand new game in the future. Kirby and The Forgotten Land is going to be fully explorational on a 3D axis, unlike the normal format of side scrollers Kirby has often been featured in. There’s also news on a new Bayonetta game which has sent the internet into an uproar thanks to her new design. Changing it up with her sporting a cutesy skirt and a pair of fabulous braided pigtails pproves that Bayonetta is both a Fashion Icon and an outrageously dangerous Witch. 

The Critics Circle has been making headway in interacting with the community and the Bronx as a whole. The Circle was named the key Bronx nonprofit by the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment thanks to the work done to engage with homeless centers in the Bronx during the pandemic. Some of the students involved in the Circle will be featured in a short documentary about the Circle’s work with the underserved. On top of that, more internship opportunities have arisen for those that are interested in taking a step into the world of Games Journalism. Partnerships with Rockstar Games, the DOE, DreamYard Project have helped the Circle become something that can better engage with the community that supports us, and we’re glad to say we’ve got so much more planned ahead. If you’d like more information on what’s been happening, feel free to read about it here.

Bobby Kent, a writer from the UK who contributes to the NYVGCC, recently wrote an article on the use of wheelchairs in horror games and why it’s problematic. As someone born with a Spinal challenge and who requires a wheelchair, Bobby found it troubling that wheelchairs used in Horror games and movies could be harmful to the Disabled community who need them for everyday use. “The use of the wheelchair is seen so widely by society to represent vulnerability, the presence of one can unsettle able-bodied audiences. This could be them, this could be their future.” He addresses the fact that the wheelchair portrayed in Horror media represents a weakness or a vulnerability. Although he is off put by the representation of something he can’t live without, Bobby does not want to see all wheelchairs disappear from horror media, only asking “that hopefully the able-bodied readers who took the time out to read this piece realise where that horror trope comes from, and accept that it doesn’t represent disabled people, old and young, in any way.” It’s a great article, I highly suggest giving it a read. 

Newest Intern Jeison Liranzo had the chance to play Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut for PS5 and the DLC that was added along with the expansion. Jeison played through and talked about how compelling and fun it was to see all of the new content put into it, especially the new bits of development for the main character Jin. “I found the storytelling of the game amazing because of how flexible it was: players learn about the new Mongol tribe and their leader the Eagle, while at the same time exploring Jin’s character in more depth.” Aside from story elements, Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut also added another enemy type and improved on some of the enemies combat abilities. Jeison details the gameplay, saying, “The creators also gave some enemies the ability to switch up their weapons and stance mid-fight, which means you have to pay close attention since you might have to, for instance, switch from water stance to stone stance mid-battle in order to respond.” The improved combat forces the player to pay more attention to their opponent in order to act accordingly.

Jade Entien, a valued intern in the Critics Circle who also streams on our Official Twitch channel, gave SUDA51’s new No More Heroes 3 game a playthrough and enjoyed it for its wacky antics. The No More Heroes Franchise has always been known for its out-of-the-ordinary story elements and plot, but as Jade says, “It’s the same old Travis but everything around him is going to hell. Wait, that’s not new!? Oh well, but it is the end of the world, a constant trope for sure, but not often as well as within No More Heroes 3.” Even if it’s the same old Travis Touchdown we all know and love, something crazy is bound to happen when he’s forced to take the main stage.  

Makeda Byfield, one of our newest interns from our Bronxworks partnership, reviewed Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and The Millionaires. In it, she relived a part of her younger days of playing through mystery puzzle games awakened by the various trials within. Having never played a game in the Layton’s Mystery Journey franchise, Makeda was able to critique the game with a fresh mind, “I mentioned that this is my first time playing a Layton game. Other reviews might compare the game to others in the Layton franchise… I will not be following in those reviews’ forms or opinions.” This tactic makes the review all the more unique because Makeda isn’t burdened by expectations based on previous play. 

The Critics Circle would like to welcome a new member into the fold. Alyssa Mercante, an Editor and Features writer for GamesRadar and a streamer on Twitch, recently joined the Circle and is now an official part of the NYVGCC Website. We highly suggest reading her work regularly and following her on Twitter. There, you’ll find links to stories such as as Halo: Infinite and Elder Scrolls 6 – and Pokemon games ranked from Worst to Best. Congrats once again to Alyssa for becoming a Member of the Circle!

Circle Member Christopher Byrd reviewed Arkane Studios’ Deathloop recently. In his article on The Washington Post, Christopher talked about how he felt the game had a certain way it held itself in terms of style and artistic choice. He writes in his review, “’Deathloop’ is keen to remind you of its video gameness. It celebrates its own artifice. It wallows in its own style.” He talks about how the game very much plays off its own tune and critiques the game makers for the “camp” style they chose to create. “Alas, I find it difficult to imagine anyone who isn’t partial to video game tropes loving “Deathloop.” Unless you’re particularly drawn to its vibe, it’s a shooter with good mechanics but not much more than that.” He says in his final thoughts on the game.  

Jorge Jimenez reported on the news of a challenge to Elgato capture cards for PC Gamer. Razer, which is known for its well optimized but also cost effective computer gaming items, recently announced two new plug-and-play capture cards to rival Elgato, the Razer Ripsaw X and the Kiyo X. “The Ripsaw X is basically Razer’s version of Elgato’s Cam Link 4K. It’s a plug-and-play capture card that outputs 4K at 30 fps through HDMI 2.0 and USB 3.0 connections,” he said in his report on the two new pieces of game capture tech. Not only are they keeping up with Elgato in terms of hardware capabilities but Razer’s alternatives are also less pricey: “The Razer Kiyo X retails for $80, and the Ripsaw X is going for $140. Both products are available now.” If you’re in the market for an affordable capture card, check out the article and learn more about them.

Circle Member Tony Polanco got the chance to review Death Stranding: Director’s Cut on PS5 for PC Mag. Much like Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut, Death Stranding: Director’s Cut sought to add new content and freshen up the already stunning graphics for the new gen console to handle. Tony thoroughly enjoyed what the Director’s Cut brought for the PS5, listing things such as Updated 4K graphics, Cool PS5 specific features, and seamlessly interwoven new content, as Pros to the game. The cons? Cumbersome save transferring and brief new story missions. “’Death Stranding: Director’s Cut’ on PlayStation 5 includes haptic feedback, adaptive triggers, and 3D audio, and they make the game world feel more immersive.” He wrote, mentioning the new PS5 exclusive features and how they improve the overall experience of the game. In the end, Tony believes that “Death Stranding: Director’s Cut is a fine upgrade for PS5. It looks and runs phenomenally, and the additional content and traversal features are naturally integrated into the game.”

Beyond The Circle

Sid Meier, the creator of the game series Civilization, the history-rife collection of turn-based strategy games, was featured in an article on The New Yorker blog site. The biographical piece, written by Neima Jahromi, detailed Meier’s life before creating Civilization, how he was involved in making board games like Pirates and how when the Atari 800 console was released to the public he began to make computer games like Hostage Crisis. All of these experiences leading up to the creation of Civilization which Meier wrote/ Jahromi mentions, “Civilization brought out the inner game designer in everyone.”

CEO of Epic Games and creator of Fortnite Tim Sweeney had some things to say about the state of the Internet as a whole and how it affects society today. In an article published on The Washington Post, written by Gene Park, Sweeney listed his grievances about what he feels is wrong with the use of the Internet in terms of the infamous Adpocalypse and how many sites and devices with access to the Internet are abusing the ability to spread ads to their Users. Sweeney says, “As we get out of this, everybody is going to realize, ‘Okay we spent the last decade being taken advantage of.’” His main solution for helping cull the amount of ads that Users are forced to bear witness to on a daily basis is The Metaverse, which Park vaguely described as “an evolution of how users interact with brands, intellectual properties and each other on the Internet….It would not be, Sweeney said, the manicured, ad-laden news feed presented by platforms like Facebook.” 

That’s all there is for this Roundup. See you next time when there’ll be more game news to report on! 

Bronx native Ronald Gordon is NYVGCC’s senior intern. Most recently, he became our first Rockstar Games intern, in partnership with the Red Dead and GTA creators.

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