Recently in Video Games Category

Smashy Smashy

I'm playing Smash Brothers Brawl right now.

Why aren't you?


Oh man, watch this video for the upcoming game Fez:

It's a 2-D platformer in a 3-D world. It's pretty astounding.

Dos Vedanya

In less crappy news, Game|Life reports that Red Alert 3 will be coming in the near future. Red Alert is Command & Conquer's campier, zanier offshoot, fueled by Cold War paranoia and featuring Soviet Lazer Squids and American Attack Dolphins. No details on Red Alert 3 yet beyond its existence.

Also still no announcement of a Red Alert-style communist spin-off for the Mario games, though clearly the masses are clamoring for one:

Get the Heck Out of Here, You Nerd!

I should have posted this weeks ago, when it was actually relevant, but:

Capcom's releasing a remake of Bionic Commando on XBox Live Arcade and the Playstation Network, called Bionic Commando Rearmed, to build excitement for the release of the new 3D Bionic Commando game for next-gen systems.

I'm highly excited. Bionic Commando, as the quotations at the start of the trailer make clear, is one of the great video games. I think what really makes Bionic Commando is its well-implemented physics. The game has a somewhat unique play mechanic: It's a platforming game where you can't jump. Instead, you have a bionic arm which you can extend to grab onto things. Once you've grabbed something, you can retract the arm to pull yourself up to it or you can use the arm to swing back and forth and propel yourself through the air. The controls are perfectly smooth and the physics are such that everything you do feels natural and intuitive.

More on this later. Bionic Commando was to be the next game in my long-abandoned Year of NES series, but I've been reluctant to write about it because it's territory that's been so heavily mined that I as worried that I'd have nothing interesting to say about it. But I've got a few ideas and should have something shortly.


Go download Passage now and play it. It's a simple game, takes no more than 5 minutes to play, very small, plays on any computer you care to imagine. You should play it with sound. More than that I don't want to say. Discussion in comments.

Carrie Brownstein on Rock Band

Via Mighty Ponygirl, Carrie Brownstein, former guitarist of Sleater-Kinney, on Rock Band. She falls a little bit into the specious "why not learn to play a real instrument and form a real rock band?" argument, but it's a very good read overall. Now, why aren't there any Sleater-Kinney tracks in Rock Band yet?

Go Bears

Hey, the marching band for my alma mater, UC Berkeley, performed a pretty awesome half-time show for the game against Washington State a few weeks back. It's video game-themed, and both the instrumentation and the choreography is extremely well done. You can watch it below:

Quick Gender and Video Gaming Post

I am constantly annoyed by the fact that you can't have a female video character who is not conventionally attractive, often in a goofy over-exagerated way. When such concerns over the sexualization of female characters are expressed in internet fora, the common rejoinder is something to the effect of "Well, men are objectified too, with all the muscles and such!" To which the feminist reply is that "the muscles and such" are generally some criteria relevant to the game character's role in the game's universe, whereas the female character's sexual qualities are entirely tertiary. Male characters are attractive (if they are attractive; you'll see a lot more not-conventionally-attractive male characters than you will female characters) because it's instrumentally useful; female characters are sexy for sexy's sake. And in general it's annoying because it reinforces the notion that women are to be judge by their sexual attractiveness first and by their other qualities only as an afterthought.

For example: Kotaku can't post about game designer Jade Raymond without making the post about how hot she is. Never mind that she's the head designer on one of the year's most anticipated triple-A console titles, that she has a computer science degree from McGill, one of Canada's top universities, or her work on The Sims Online. She's a woman so the main point of any article on her focuses on her looks. When was the last time you read an article about a male game designer that addressed appearance in any but the most superficial way (e.g. "He looks disheveled and unkempt," or "he looks exhausted" or what not)? It doesn't happen.

This is part of the problem, and it's a broad cultural thing. Part of the solution is encouraging media that doesn't reinforce the worst aspects of the collective psyche.

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