Posts Tagged ‘video games’

A quick word about ‘Undertale’

January 6, 2017

After many months of my two kids (5 and 7) talking endlessly about the Undertale play-throughs they’d been watching on YouTube (this is a huge, huge thing for little kids, apparently), we finally got the game and started playing it together. The biggest source of frustration for me, and by extension for them, is how the basic gameplay mechanics involve what amounts to trickery on the part of the game. Everyone knows that the goal is to get through the game while killing as few monsters as possible. If the game made that simply difficult to figure out, fine. But what it does is present you with characters, your early ally Toriel being the best example, who are impossible not to kill unless you literally ignore all evidence the game provides to the contrary and keep doing the same seemingly ineffective shit over and over until, magically, it becomes effective. A game in which combat is an option but is to be avoided at all costs is a thoughtful evolutionary step for this genre; duping you into thinking it’s unavoidable unless you read the internet and find out you’re just supposed to ignore your lying eyes makes it much less so.

Cult Classics: A to Z

October 1, 2015


Like the castaways of Oceanic Flight 815 themselves, no one involved in the making of Lost had any idea how the journey they were about to take would change everything. Under the watchful eye of ABC executive Lloyd Braun (who was fired before his instant smash even reached the screen), hotshot director-producer J.J. Abrams, up-and-coming writer Damon Lindelof, and TV veteran Carlton Cuse crafted an endlessly unfolding puzzle box of sci-fi-inflected mystery, mayhem, sex appeal, and smoke monsters — set on a deserted island that became a character in and of itself. More than the often ridiculous theories fans generated to explain the show, it was the pulp thrills, the strong, diverse cast, and the fantasy of leaving your bad old life behind no matter the cost that made this show a pop-culture phenomenon. People are still debating the show’s loose ends, red herrings and divisive finale today.

I contributed bite-sized pieces on Lost, Star Trek, Twin Peaks and a few other treats to Rolling Stone’s Cult Classics: A to Z feature.

Carnival of souls

November 3, 2010

* Kevin Melrose offers a succinct summary of where the Supreme Court justices seem to stand on the video game-related First Amendment case currently before them. Keep an eye on this one. Scalia may be a crazy bastard, but he’s on the side of the angels now and then.

* While we continue to discuss Frank Darabont’s The Walking Dead in the comments below, do check out Sean P. Belcher’s take on the pilot episode. Not only does it use that music cue–you know the one–as a synecdoche for the entire episode, it also points out something I’d missed, which is that the episode title clears up a spelling mistake from Kirkman’s original comic that has bothered me for literally years.

* Sopranos/Boardwalk Empire director-producer Tim Van Patten is directing the first two episodes of Game of Thrones. That augurs well. Interestingly, the four directors involved in the first season are all directing contiguous runs of episodes, rather than being interspersed throughout. Also, the piece notes that the director of the original pilot, Tom McCarthy, appears to have been excised from the show entirely. It’s hard to know what to make of that, especially given that HBO’s executives were by all accounts (including their own) over the moon for that pilot. It has been extensively reshot, but the thinking was that this was due to casting changes for several key roles. Seems like there was more to it.

* Here’s a great little interview with Grant Morrison on his upcoming Batman Incorporated project by Wired’s Scott Thill, examining such touchstones as capitalism, the Arkham Asylum video game, the Brave and the Bold cartoon, and that “I wanna be a billionaire so friggin’ bad” song (not really). Great photo, too. (Via Kevin Melrose.)

* Speaking of Morrison, something big happened in today’s issue of Batman and Robin. It certainly surprised me! Let it surprise you by not clicking that link until you’ve read the issue, if that’s something you care to do.

* Interestingly, DC allowed newly minted Editor in Chief Bob Harras to emerge from his Republican Senatorial candidate-style media blackout to address the big Batman thing, and the big Batman thing only, it seems. I’m really looking forward to hearing what else he’ll do in that chair.

* I’m always fascinated to watch superhero fans react to a plot point as though it emerges from a vacuum wherein the skill of the writer and artist involved doesn’t even merit mentioning.

* Jeet Heer on racism, young Jack Kirby, and other things the Greg Sadowski-edited Golden Age comics anthology Supermen! can teach us about.

* Thanks to Brett Warnock for reminding me I forgot to link to Tom Spurgeon’s “name five favorite Top Shelf releases” Five for Friday feature. So many paths to take!

* Weezer’s Pinkerton gets a 10 out of 10 from Pitchfork’s Ian Cohen. I don’t know about all that, but it’s a great record, and there is absolutely a qualitative difference between the first two Weezer albums and everything else they’ve done since–it’s not simply a question of a born pop-rock star emerging during a weird alt-friendly era, disappearing, and then finding his voice as a musical mercenary.