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A Virtua Vacation: My Top Summer Gaming Destinations

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.

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Ranking Every Beach in Wave Race by How Much I’d Rather Be There Right Now

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!

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The Joys of Pokénomics and Quandaries of the Pokécare Industrial Complex

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?

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Breaking of the Wild, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb Runes

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

Reliving the Grand Pastime of Futuristic Racing Games

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.

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The Duke Abides: Revisiting Tony Hawk’s Xbox Debut

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.

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Emotional Engine: A Pod Race Odyssey

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.

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A Defense of the Mediocre NFL Video Game

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.

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An Xbox Launch 20th B’day Bash

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.

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Something New

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 the medium of video games. 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.

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