The Bouncer was a simplistic beat ‘em up — but only when it wasn’t a cutscene ‘em up — and its tepid execution transcended neither. The game interspersed layers of brief, repetitive combat sequences amid a feature-length reel of ham-fisted cinematics, and then slathered skill upgrade menus and loading screen lore dumps in between.
The Bouncer aspired to be a hearty stew of gaming and film. Instead, it was a stale sandwich, cinematically bloated and lean on play.
Read More The Bouncer: Square’s Cutscene ‘Em Up Sandwich
For me, the venue’s heart and soul have always lived in the wealth of experiences that take players out of its space and into new ones. More than a video arcade, or restaurant, or esports arena, GameWorks is at its best as a hub world.
Read More GameWorks Redux: Vibing in Sega’s Lost Hub World
While I figure out what kinds of things I want to write for this blog, I thought it would be fun to collect a few things I’ve written/recorded for the Saturn and Dreamcast Junkyards over the last couple of years. Without further adieu, here are a few…
Read More A Junkyard Musings Collection
This isn’t really a full post but I’d just like to wish everyone a Happy Halloween(!) and post a pair of podcasts we recorded on the TitanCast for the spooky season. We did a deep dive on the Kenji Eno/WARP breakout horror adventure game, D, as well as a lengthy chat about Funcom’s Casper. My friends Derek and Roberto joined us for each of those, respectively.
Check ’em out (both the games and the podcasts)!
Read More Let’s Get Spooky!
I am fascinated by this era of Square. Not only did its output spearhead the early PS2 hype, but it sparked intrigue for the kinds of gaming experiences that would await in the new millennium. What would happen when a renowned gamemaker (mostly) synonymous with JRPGs takes a swing at other genres way outside its wheelhouse? What unique innovations would its interpretations contribute? And in what inventive ways could it fuck things up?
The answers, I’d find, were capricious and messy yet so bizarrely satisfying.
Read More Dare to Be Square: Getting a Grip on Driving Emotion Type-S
Despite their simplicity, WR64 and Blue Storm’s courses reward players ad nauseam for mastering the nuances of their layouts. They also feel like tangible settings, sewing rich identities from their vibrant aesthetics, distinct landmarks, and granular environmental details. So, the series’ locales are great fun to race around, but would I want to hang out there?Let’s rank them and find out!
Read More Ranking Every Beach in Wave Race by How Much I’d Rather Be There Right Now
So what’s up with the economics of this whole thing? How do Pokémon Centers — which ostensibly provide trainers with full medical services to heal their injured Pokémon for free — manage to stay solvent? Assuming they’re funded by some sort of public and/or non-profit subsidies, just how does that structure work? Who pays for it? How do its policies inform how medical services are rendered? And how are providers incentivized to administer that care? In other words: Is Joy really a sociopath or is she merely adhering to the rulebook propagated by a broken Pokécare system?
Read More The Joys of Pokénomics and Quandaries of the Pokécare Industrial Complex
I continue to relish the pastimes of summer gaming. Granted, I’ve grown more cynical over the years and the mass of toxic fandom cesspits, uncritically regurgitated nostalgia, and insatiable hype cycles ring hollower than ever. Still, I’ll take simple joys where I can find them. By wading through several summer-themed and summer-adjacent video games, I’m finding my beach, as they say. Whatever the weather outside — be it heatwaves, wildfire smoke, oppressive humidity, or January in July — I can count on these titles to bring the breezy summer vibes in spades.
Read More A Virtua Vacation: My Top Summer Gaming Destinations
Despite all the generic aspects of its world, I’m awfully surprised by the shitload of charm Quest 64 does muster. It’s a remarkably simple game but, as it turns out, that simplicity has its upsides.
Read More Quest 64 and the Simple Life (of Brian)
Beach Spikers is one of the most overtly summery games in Sega’s catalogue, which says a lot given the blue skies and seasides imbuing much of its work. Aesthetically, this game drips with sunny, summer vibes, with all the sandy beaches, palm trees, and rampant outdoor advertising that entails.
Read More Soaking Up the Sega Summer Vibes with Beach Spikers
It’s a tad inconvenient (and understandably frustrating) when your spear shatters into dust right when it’s needed most. However, at some point, I realized those moments of dread and panic are exactly what Nintendo likely had in mind when designing the game’s fragile weapons the way it did. In effect, the adventure truly begins when Breath of the Wild asks: “So now what?”
Read More Breaking of the Wild, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb Runes
I thought it’d be fun to escape to that hopeful, hovercraft-filled future we once dreamed of. Naturally, I dusted off my Nintendo 64 and assembled my small collection of futuristic/sci-fi racers. I planned to indulge in pure anti-grav glee, blistering 900km/h thrills, and maybe a few yuks from their aggressively ’90s UIs. That all happened, of course, but it was only the beginning. In revisiting these games today, I wanted simple fun. What I got was a renewed perspective on — and appreciation for — the genre.
Read More Reliving the Grand Pastime of Futuristic Racing Games
Through its infectious risk/reward hook, Tony Hawk tapped into a rare confluence of strategy, improvisation, and greed to paint the thinnest and most thrilling of lines between triumphant payoff and abject failure. In many ways, THPS appealed more to the score attack sensibilities of NiGHTS into Dreams, Crazy Taxi, or chain-based shmups than other popular conventions of the era.
Read More The Duke Abides: Revisiting Tony Hawk’s Xbox Debut
Between the AI toaster car and its human driver, a bond develops. I feel I’m beginning to connect with my new Toyota Pod on a deeper, more emotional level. I grow instinctually more attuned to its feelings, its need for kinship, and its hopes of a gentler and more just world. What was once a cacophony of haphazard beeps, dings, and lights has evolved into a discernable language, imbued with meaning. For the first time, we truly understand each other — and we are not that different.
Read More Emotional Engine: A Pod Race Odyssey
Existing neither as a fully-fledged simulation nor all-out NFL Blitz-esque arcade fare, NFL Fever 2002 stands as a reasonably accessible football game that feels surprisingly solid to play, albeit with tempered depth and charisma. Overall, it’s quite mediocre. As famed cornerback Richard Sherman might put it: NFL Fever may well be the Michael Crabtree of sports games.
And for NFL Fever 2002, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Read More A Defense of the Mediocre NFL Video Game
I’m in a pretty celebratory mood at the moment. I got the first dose of the vaccine, my bracket is still somewhat in tact (for now), and — with the looming 20th anniversaries of the Microsoft Xbox and Nintendo GameCube — I have the perfect excuse to rekindle my bizarre, nostalgia-fueled fascination with sixth generation console launches with a birthday celebration of sorts.
Read More An Xbox Launch 20th B’day Bash
Over the years, Deus Ex’s introductory Liberty Island level has been heralded for offering players myriad options to resolve its objectives, whether via stealth, hacking, diplomacy, guns, crowbars, and/or pilfering. Empowered by this freedom, I adore Deus Ex for letting me discover and express a nuanced, personal approach to play which reflects precisely who I am as a coward.
Read More Taking Liberties in Deus Ex’s Opening Level
I thought it’d be fun to use this site to chronicle some of my impressions and experiences in virtual spaces, and to work out my other random thoughts about gaming as a medium. Honestly, I can’t say how frequently I’ll post or how long I’ll keep it up…probably not often and maybe not long. I have no idea where this will lead but maybe that’s kind of the point.
Read More Something New