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
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
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