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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Isaac Kelley's LiveJournal:

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Tuesday, July 31st, 2012
7:24 pm
The Story of the Magic Rope

By Riley, Age 4

Once there was a boy tied up with a magic rope. A superhero named Lord Bravery saw him and saved him.

The boy went home.

Then Lord Bravery saw two supervillains, Cave Guy and Cobra Queen. He didn’t know that they were boyfriend and girlfriend. He beat them and threw them in a trash can!

Then Lord Bravery saw ten more villains! There were ten of them. The point is that there were ten villains.

Then ten superheroes showed up and they all beat the villains with Lord Bravery.

The point of the story is that a magic rope can have chemicals in it.

The End

Originally published at The Triangle. You can comment here or there.

Sunday, April 15th, 2012
2:23 pm
Review of Looney Tunes by Riley (Age 4)

I really like to watch Looney Tunes. If you like Porky Pig, you should watch Looney Tunes. I really like when Daffy drives Porky Pig nuts. I really like Porky Pig, Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny. It was very funny when Daffy was being painted crazy. Do you know who did it? Bugs Bunny! My favorite part is when they sing a song for the Bugs Bunny/Roadrunner Hour.

Originally published at The Triangle. You can comment here or there.

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012
3:55 pm
Snake? Snaaaaaaaaaaaake!

I have written a piece for the all-stealth-game website Sneaky Bastards, wherein I take an unpopular position.   Check it out!

Originally published at The Triangle. You can comment here or there.

Sunday, January 29th, 2012
3:25 pm
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Fucking Skyrim. It seems every damn person on the planet has played or is playing Skyrim (This may be slightly exaggerated.) If you like to read Game of the Year lists, Skyrim was the clear consensus GOTY. As I write this, a friend is IMing me to tell me about her love of Skyrim. This game is drowning in the combined sticky affection of both popular and critical reception.

There is a reason for all this love. Without a doubt, the game is a staggering achievement. This is the singleplayer computer equivalent of a Dungeons & Dragons campaign that has shipped 10 million units. That just doesn’t happen unless something special is happening. Skyrim gives you a giant open world absolutely stuffed with things to do, and gives you the freedom to explore that world as you see fit. Never has the illusion of the open world been so beautifully realized.

I hate Skyrim. I think it is a terrible video game.

The first twenty five hours I spent playing this game were amazing. The second twenty five were increasingly dull, frustrating and awful. Finally, I yanked the game out of my Xbox in disgust and mailed it far, far away from my physical body. Angry for the hours of my life it had stolen. Why did things go sour? This game presents an absolutely amazing world. Unfortunately the people who lovingly crafted that world did not make an amazing game to play within it.

This is a game with hundreds (thousands? Almost certainly thousands. Fuckloads.) of “quest objectives.” “Quest objective” being nerdtalk for “shit to do.” Every one of those objectives boils down to either “go somewhere and press the action button”, or “kill stuff”. Of course the act of going somewhere in order to press the action button often involves traversal through geography filled with hostile things that need killing. Most of this game is killing stuff. That’s pretty normal for a video game. The tragedy is that killing stuff in this game just isn’t fun. Well, not fun enough.

You fight a lot of dragons in this game, and the dragons that populate this world are big and scary and graceful and they feel well and truly dragonny. The first time I fought a dragon, it was amazing. The second time I fought a dragon, it was amazing. The third time I fought a dragon, it was amazing. The fourth time I fought a dragon was pretty damn similar to the first three times.

Skyrim actually has some very fun combat situations. The first dragon you kill is an exciting and unique encounter. The first dungeon you clear feels great and nails the atmosphere of a good dungeon delve. However, since this game lacks any depth at all to its combat, clearing out one dungeon is much like clearing out any other dungeon. Once I learned how to effectively sneak up on things and shoot them in the head, I had basically solved the game.

Everything about this game that doesn’t directly contribute to worldbuilding lies somewhere between mediocre and bad. The game has systems for “crafting” that make it very easy to create powerful and valuable weapons, armor, and potions. Crafting makes it so easy to earn money that the only problem with getting coin is that nobody has enough cash to buy your wares. This should break the game’s economy, but the solution seems to have been to not stock stores with anything worth buying.

Even worse, the best weapons and armor in the game are the ones that you make for yourself. This means you don’t need to loot dungeons for treasure because money is no object and you don’t need to loot it for gear because the stuff you make will be better. Skyrim is a dungeon delving game that takes away your motivation for looting. That’s some cripplingly bad design.

As for the game’s story? There is a ton of it, but it is all utterly uncompelling. Stiff and linear, most of the story beats involve listening to generic characters traveling down long expository paths of dialogue that all seem to arrive at “go kill this thing/dude.” The game’s systems of dialogue, combined with an adherence to doing everything in-engine in real time cripple the ability of the game’s writers, who are clearly trying to tell interesting stories but are unable to escape the constraints of the game.

Bad story, bad combat, and bad looting. It all leads to a hollow experience. But for all it’s ugly machinery, the world of Skyrim is a joyously beautiful one, and I tromped around it for over a full day’s worth of playing before the magic of the worldcraft started to wear off. I kept on playing it for another full day before I quit. And I quit pissed.

Fifty hours in, I had not completed a single major storyline. I had explored a fraction of what the game had to offer and I had no desire to see any of the stories through. I wasn’t invested. I wasn’t engaged. It was so unfulfilling. I felt owed an epic adventure but the game couldn’t keep me interested enough to get to the epic part.

I am aware that in this age of six-hour blockbuster games, complaining about a game that gets boring after fifty hours of play is crazysauce. But there is more to the worth of a work than it’s length. (In fact, video games are pretty much the only major medium where length is a significant qualitative factor.) Payoff is important. A game where you dick around until you get bored had better provide a complete experience in the off-dicking. I don’t feel Skyrim does.

No payoff, but still, this is a game that provided me with twenty five hours of great, compelling exploration. Can a game that does that possibly be bad? I’ve given that question a lot of thought and y’know what? Yup. Skyrim is a shitty game. It’s also an amazing game. Despite decades of review-score mentality, there is no reason a game cannot be both. Very few things are either “great” or “awful”. They contain facets. Unfortunately for Skryim, the more I played, the more the awful came to the fore.

Clearly, my opinion is in the minority. This game topped a lot of “best of” lists. Most people seemed to not have my issues with this game. I’m still trying to suss out why. Maybe I approached it in the “wrong” way. Maybe I’m less charmed by the endorphin ping of numbers ticking up than others. Maybe I’m just a grumpy old bastard. Whatever, the reason my takeaway from this game is largely negative.

Except…

There’s this moment in the game where I’m hunting a dragon. I’m letting the dragon fight with the local fauna while I slowly wear it down with a flurry of arrows from as great a distance as possible. I’m doing a pretty good job of ruining this dragon’s day, when I stumble over a resting grizzly bear, waking it up. And at this point I could care fuck-all about dragons because, this bear is going to kill me. I immediately start backpedaling furiously, dumping arrows into the bear as fast as I can. It doesn’t matter, this thing is going to close the distance and kill me with a single swipe. But before death can come, my view is filled with scary fucking scale and wing as the dragon I had been fighting lowers itself directly behind the bear. Right before the bear can kill me, the dragon spouts fire straight at both the bear and myself. The bear takes the brunt of it, shielding myself from a fatal blast. And the bear forgets about me, and goes to attack the dragon, while I get the hell out of dodge.

That encounter with the bear and the dragon is what I will take away from Skyrim. Not the tedious dungeon slogs, not trying to unload my vast potion overstock, not failing to give a shit about any of the quests. Ten years from now what I will remember is the moment the dragon saved me from the bear. And a moment like that is why video games are worth playing.

Originally published at The Triangle. You can comment here or there.

Monday, October 3rd, 2011
5:47 pm
The Apex

3.8 billion years ago life began with single celled organisms.  Over time, those organisms gave way to multicellular life, and from there, life just got more and more complex, until after billions of years we finally had animal life.  Over the next 600 million years animal life got more and more complex, eventually resulting in Homo Sapient, the wise man.

This is where things speed up.  Possessing the ability to use tools as well as a capacity for self-reflection, it took Man a scant 200,000 years to develop agriculture.  Farming lead to settlement.  Settlement led to civilization.  Civilization led to culture.  Over the next 10,000 years this culture evolved into to a beautiful social mechanism slowly and painfully spreading out across the entire landmass of the planet creating works of ever increasing beauty and complexity.  In the 200 years since the industrial revolution, things really began to speed up, and they began to speed even faster in the 20 years since entering the “information age”.
Now, a decade into what is laughingly called the “twenty-first century” terrestrial life has reached it’s apex.  All that replicating, that adapting, that striving has led to the single moment in time where, at long last this could exist:


That’s it.  The game’s over.  Time to put away the pieces and go home.

Originally published at The Triangle. You can comment here or there.

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011
7:31 pm
Me and Batman and Wonder Woman and Green Lantern
A Story by Riley  (Age 3)

Me and Batman looked for a cave to find bats because we like bats.  We tiptoed into the cave.  It was very very dark.  In the dark we saw two brown eyes.
And a black, long leg.
And another leg.
And another leg and another leg and another leg and another leg and another leg.
It was a spider.  it was so big.
I tried to defeat it, but it was too big so we ran away to my helicopter.  We flew away to the beach.
We brought goggles, a shovel, swimsuits, and lots of buckets.  There was a pink bucket, and a green bucket, and a yellow bucket, and a blue bucket.  I wanted everybody to have a bucket.  Batman had the yellow bucket.
We got out of our costumes and put on bathing suits.
In the ocean we saw a green tail.  Then we saw a crown and a face.  It was  mermaid.  She was nice but a little sad.  She was looking for all the other mermaids.
Me and Batman helped her find the other mermaids.  Then we saw another super hero with a lasso.  It was Wonder Woman.  She took off her costume and tiara and got in the water with us.
Then we saw another super hero with a power ring.  It was Green Lantern.
We got back in the helicopter and went back to the cave.
Wonder Woman got her lasso out, and lassoed it.  That’s what we did to the spider.
Then I felt something squishy between my toes.
Wonder Woman said “what’s so funny?”
I looked between my toes and there was a little tiny spider.  It was so nice.  The big one was so bad but the little one was nice.  We took her back to her mother.

Originally published at The Triangle. You can comment here or there.

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011
6:21 pm
Two brief stories about male anatomy

One day, when my daughter was around two she caught a glimpse of my penis. Her face absolutely lit up. “OH MY GOODNESS,” she breathlessly intoned. “YOU HAVE A TAIL!!”

More recently, during a trip into a public men’s room I explained urinals to her, and for a while whenever I was going to the bathroom we’d do the following routine:

*Knock knock*
“Hey Isaac! Are you going to the bathroom?”
“Yes, honey. I’m going to the bathroom.”
“Are you… STANDING UP?! Hahahahahaha!”

Originally published at The Triangle. You can comment here or there.

Thursday, April 21st, 2011
8:33 pm
111. Gargoyles

Gargoyles
Sega Genesis
Buena Vista Interactive
1995

This game is noteworthy for one thing, and that thing is certainly not the gameplay. The gameplay is, well, bad. However, if you are a fan of the show, this game rates a footnote in the Gargoyles lore for introducing the Eye of Odin as a Gargoylian macguffin.

Although, to be entirely clear, the actual eye of Odin already existed as a mythological macguffin.  The folks at Buena Vista Interactive didn’t say to themselves “Hey, there should be this goddy guy named Odin who can be an eyeball shy of a set.”  That idea totally already existed.  It was made up by a dude probably named Erik Erikson, or possibly Olaf McViking. I’m not sure on the specifics. The point is the guys making this game had the idea that this ocular stray could be a thing that got mentioned in their video game.

In what was a pretty silly act of cross-promotion, this macguffin not only got incorporated to Gargoyles cannon proper, but was eventually revealed to be one of the Three Supermacguffins of the Archmage. This is a franchise with a lot of macguffins.


The best part of all this macguffinry is that the Gargoyle clan had a big storage closet in which they kept all their inactive plot devices.  Mixed in with the flashlights and the vacuum cleaner, not only did they dump some of the most powerful magical artifacts in the world, they also stashed a comatose cyborg frankenstein gargoyle. I really appreciate that sort of verisimilitude.

Originally published at The Triangle. You can comment here or there.

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011
11:22 pm
110. Altered Beast

Altered Beast
Sega Genesis
Sega
1989

This is an almost unplayably shitty beat ‘em up. That’s pretty impressive, because “beat ‘em up” is one of the very easiest game genres with which to make a passably mediocre game. Punch, kick, jump, jumpkick, throw, a bunch of enemies, colorful bosses… you’ve got yourself a beat ‘em up.

The fundamental divide in classic beat ‘em ups is between the games with an isometric “3d” playing field and those with a single plane with platforming elements. The former becomes about crowd control, keeping yourself from being flanked, while the latter is more about carefully timing your jumps.

The makers of Altered Beast boldly rejected both choices, instead making the stunning choice of not creating any platforming elements, while also giving the player only one plane to fight upon, thus taking all of the depth out of an already shallow genre. This rough game structure is rounded out with terribly stilted fighting, muddy garbage graphics, an a vague cloud of shame.

This game was a pack-in game with the Genesis. Everyone who bought a Genesis got a copy. The NES came with Super Mario Bros., the greatest video game of all time. The SNES came with Super Mario World, a masterpiece showcase of what can be done with 16 bit hardware. The Genesis came with a kick to the teeth. It is pretty shocking that anyone ever bought a Genesis under these circumstances.

When I was a kid, due to a mishear on my part, there was a period of time where I thought that this game was called “Ultra Beast.” Frankly, that sounds like a much cooler game. Sometimes I like to pretend that somewhere there IS an Ultra Beast game, one where you turn into monsters and that is totally rad to play.

Originally published at The Triangle. You can comment here or there.

10:31 pm
2600-360: Does What Nintendoesn’t

Whew, finally made it to the Genesis. I’ve been waiting a long time to get here. Back in the day, there were two types of kids: Nintendo kids and Sega kids. The Sega kids alleged that the SNES was a namby pamby baby system, lacking in attitude. The Nintendo kids argued that attitude is all well and good, but at the end of the day the SNES had better games. I was a Nintendo kid.

I grew up pretty ignorant of the Genesis. I’ve played a little bit of Sonic and once I borrowed a friend’s Genesis for a month and played through Shadowrun. That’s about it. There are tons of games on this system that complete unknowns to me.  One of the main reasons I started this stupid little project was do delve into the mystery of the Genesis.  I’ve got a Genesis and a stack of games I snagged at a yard sale for cheap.  Time to fire up the Blast Processor.

Originally published at The Triangle. You can comment here or there.

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011
11:16 pm
Bands that sound like Supervillains

Radiohead

The Association

The Bad Plus

Tiger Army

The Space Cossaks

Wolfmother

King Missile

The Jesus Lizard

The Damned

88 Fingers Louie

Joykiller

The Stranglers

Twisted Sister

Ugly Kid Joe

The Vandals

The Beastie Boys

Primus

The International Noise Conspiracy

Black Rob

Lords of Acid

Meat Puppets

The People Under the Stairs

Smash Mouth

Originally published at The Triangle. You can comment here or there.

5:17 am
Bands that Sound like Superheroes

Outkast

Oysterhead

The Pharcyde

Rock-N-Roll Soldiers

Spacehog

Elastica

Citizen King

Diesel Boy

The Marvelettes

The Bravery

Supertramp

Method Man

Bash & Pop

Group X

Harvey Danger

The Unseen

Blur

Dan the Automator

The Righteous Brothers

The Orb

Pantera

Dinosaur Jr.

Electric Six

Miracle Legion

Originally published at The Triangle. You can comment here or there.

Friday, April 8th, 2011
1:32 am
PANCAKES

I wrote an RPG ruleset.   Since this is a 3000+ word post of limited interest, I have put it behind a cut.  I’d love for some feed back if you’re of the gamer persuasion.

Read the rest of this entry »Collapse )

Originally published at The Triangle. You can comment here or there.

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011
9:19 pm
Wednesday Muppetblogging
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Tuesday, March 29th, 2011
4:20 pm
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

More than any other type of culture, I absolutely love animation. Naturally, Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is very dear to my heart.  It was the first feature length cel animated film, released at a time when animation was otherwise limited to short gag features and short musical features. .  It showed that animation was capable of being scenic and lyrical and dramatic.  It is a masterpiece of filmmaking. It is also damn near unwatchable.

The film starts with a live action book being opened.  On the first page we read the following:

“Once upon a time there lived a lovely little Princess named Snow White.  Her vain and wicked Stepmother the Queen feared that some day Snow White’s beauty would surpass her own.  So she dressed the little Princess in rags and forced her to work as a Scullery Maid.

Each day the vain Queen consulted her Magic Mirror, “Magic Mirror on the Wall, Who is the fairest one of all?”…and as long as the Mirror answered, “You are the fairest one of all, ” Snow White was safe from the Queen’s cruel jealousy.”

Following that prologue, we see the Queen consulting with her Mirror. This is the inevitable day that the Mirror tells her that Snow White’s beauty has overtaken the Queen’s. This is not a subtle statement: The Queen looks in a mirror and it tells her that she is not beautiful enough, driving her into a jealous rage.

We now meet Snow White. She is shown to be beautiful despite her stepmother’s attempts at stripping her of any glamor. She is cleaning a wishing well and talking to the birds, who listen raptly to her every vapid word.  She is wishing that a man will come and take her away and treat her nice.

While she is singing her repugnant dreams into a wishing well, a handsome Prince arrives, and he is instantly smitten with Snow White, who plays coy. The Queen witnesses this courtship from a window, and this is her breaking point. To her, feminine sexual beauty is the only virtue of any importance. Now that her young stepdaughter is is an object of sexual desire, she has become an intolerable threat that must be dealt with.

It is an important point that “fairest” in this film indicates not just “beauty” but specifically the sexual beauty of womanhood.  The character of Snow White has hit that uncomfortable transition state between child and woman. She still retains the innocence of youth, but it is her nascent sexuality that causes her to become more fair than her rival. And in the world of Snow White the virtue of “fairness” is quantifiable. Something so important could not possibly be subjective.

So now that Snow White has surpassed the Queen in sexual desirability, there is nothing to be done but kill her.  A Huntsman is tasked with the job, and given a sweet-ass box for heart retrieval.

However, when push comes to stab, the Huntsman can’t off the beautiful princess and instead tells her to run and never come back.   It almost looks like Snow White takes an active role at this point in the story, running away from her-would be killer, but that isn’t really so. She is only spared because the killer cannot harm one as beautiful as she, and she only runs because he commands her to.  In fact, after her initial panic, she is embarrassed that she ever doubted that the universe would automatically protect her.

Snow White is now alone in the woods. She is so lovely that all the cute creatures of the forest are drawn to her, where like every living creature other than the Queen they hang onto every stupid thought she utters. Exiled from home after a failed attempt on her life by her only living relative, Snow White bemusedly wonders to her woodland friends where she will now live.  She doesn’t worry about her current lot, nor does she make any move to solve the problem herself.  And why should she?  The creatures of the woods love her, and they lead her to a small secluded cottage. “Just like a dollhouse.”

Despite the fact that this house is clearly lived in, Snow White has no qualms about letting herself in and poking around the premises.  The house is a dump and has tiny furniture, and from this she surmises that it must be occupied by children.  She enlists her animal friends to help her with doing the only thing other than wishing that she is good at: cleaning.

Of course, this house does not belong to seven children, it in fact belongs to seven dwarfs, who without a woman to clean for them, have no choice but to live in filth. First appearing at 21 minutes into the film, seen hard at work in a mine brimming with pre-cut gems,  the titular dwarfs come as a bit of a shock.  The film has thus far been astonishingly, gorgeously naturalistic, unlike anything the audiences of 1937 had ever seen. By contrast, the dwarfs are as cartoony and stylized as you would expect from a typical Disney short feature. It is quite jarring.

The dwarfs are genuinely great creations. They are caricatures, each built around a single trait, which is a delightful conceit that is quite well-realized. They are given some wonderful gags which are expertly animated. They stand as a fascinating contrast, against the lush naturalism of the rest of the film. I think in a different film that contrast could be used to great effect. Here, they simply fail to mesh with the tone of the rest of the film, especially since there is frankly nothing in this story that is serviced by the presence of seven comically lovable dwarfs.

At any rate, the dwarfs finish their day at the mine, and come home to discover that their house has been entered and that the intruder has cleaned it.  Their initial fear at this violation is played for comedy, but eventually they meet the princess-in-exile and a bargain is struck:  Snow White will be allowed to stay with them, in exchange she will keep house.

Now, obviously there is an unsavory aspect to a young woman staying with seven grown men.  Since her budding womanhood is at the heart of her character, the film can’t cast her as a child amongst men.  Therefore, the dwarfs are instead infantilized.  Although they are all smitten by the girl’s beauty, they are written as so childlike that they can not possibly pose a sexual threat.

Meanwhile, the Queen’s Mirror continues to tell her that she is not beautiful enough. And so she has discovered that Snow White lives and that she is living with the dwarfs.  Upon this discovery she hatches a complicated plan to disguise herself as a hag and in that guise gift Snow White a poison apple.  One may wonder why she doesn’t just send a squadron of soldiers to burn the dwarven hut to the ground., but it seems obvious that she fears Snow White’s power, i.e., her beauty.  After all, that beauty foiled the original murdering.

The Queen turns herself into a hideous crone. Of course she does. To her, this seems the perfect disguise. She fears nothing so much as beauty, so the uglier the person, the less threatening it seems. And of course, thematically, it means that she now has an exterior ugliness to match her interior ugliness.

As for the apple, it won’t actually kill Snow White outright, but will freeze her into a “living death” that can only be disrupted by “love’s first kiss”.  That may seem like a horribly foreshadowed loophole to jaded 21st century audiences, but the Queen is distracted by the sweet sweet notion of Snow White being buried alive.

The next day, when the dwarfs leave Snow White for the mine, the Queen-as-hag arrives, giving Snow White an apple.  This is played for suspense, as if the Queen is perpetrating a great con, when of course Snow White has no reason to question why a stranger would gift her with treats.  She expects special treatment.  After all, she is beautiful and a princess, which in her world is one and the same.

Snow White’s woodland animal friends know better than to trust an ugly old woman. They rush to get the dwarfs so that they can save the utterly incapable princess.  Meanwhile, the Queen tells Snow White that the poison apple is a “Magic Wishing Apple.”  And so Snow White once again wishes for a handsome prince to take care of her.  Then she bites the apple and dies.  Cruelly, we are denied the privilege of seeing her die on-camera.

The dwarfs, having arrived too late to save the princess, chase the Queen to the edge of a cliff, where she falls to her death, thus saving her from being bludgeoned to death by dwarven beating sticks.

But the princess is, to all intents and purposes dead.  Snow White is “so beautiful, even in death, that the dwarfs could not find it in their hearts to bury her.”  Instead they built her a glass coffin so they could look at her lovely, perfect corpse. Snow White is prominently displayed so that she may be mourned anew every day as the months pass.

Eventually, The Prince, who has no personality traits other than princeliness, finds the sleeping princess.  Without a word, without delay, he kisses her and she awakens.

That’s it. Without a word spoken between the two of them, it is understood that he will take her away to his castle.  She does not seem in any way surprised.  She is the fairest of them all, and this is sort of thing is to be expected.  She gives the dwarfs farewell kisses. Their use to her is at an end.

And they lived happily ever after.

Snow White is the story of a horrible young woman who exists to be beautiful and to let others take care of her. Her only skills are housework and wishing. Even if that wasn’t a morally repugnant message to be sending our daughters (which it is) it would be just plain bad storytelling.  Snow White is our protagonist and what she wants is for her problems to be solved by someone else. She is thoroughly awful.

The other day I got a call at work from my girlfriend.  She had found Snow White in the DVD player and needed reassurance that I hadn’t been showing this to our three year old daughter.  I reassured her I would never do that.  Straight up, this is a terrible, poisonous work of film.  How any parent could want their child to emulate this passive, entitled user of a character is beyond me, and yet the mulitbillion dollar “princess culture” has over the past decade become the single dominant force in girl’s entertainment.  It is beyond vile.

Great animation, though.

Originally published at The Triangle. You can comment here or there.

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011
5:27 am
109. Super Mario Bros. 3

Super Mario Bros. 3
Nintendo Entertainment System
Nintendo EAD
1988

This one, I played with my girlfriend. She is shocked by how terrible it looks. She’s racked up a fair amount of Mario 3 in the past, but always the All-Star remakes on the SNES and GBA. She’s never before played with the original recipe 8 bit herbs and spices. Compared to those excellent up-ports, no two ways about it, this game looks rough.

My perspective is a little different. I’ve played a lot of NES in recent days, so I’m very aware of the graphical range of the system. So, even though I’ve played this game over and over throughout the years, when I loaded it up this week, I was simply blown away by how amazing it looked. Just jaw-droppingly gorgeous. It’s a joy to just look at this game, let alone play it. Its visuals are crisp, beautiful and infused with a charm and personality that is second to none.

I mean, pretty much everyone who cares enough to have ever taken the time to pick a greatest NES game agrees that this game is it, right? Sure, that’s mainly due to the innovative level design, the seemingly endless volume of manic-clever ideas, and the perfectly frictive controls. But it is also because –on both the art end and the technical end– this is easily the best looking of its era.

Mario 3 is a marvel. It pushed the boundaries of Nintendo’s aging console hardware to the very limits. This is a game that was so badass that before its release, a theatrical feature film was made and sold around the premise of “Holy Fuckballs Look At This Game Mario Can Turn Into A Goddam Raccoon This is Crazy and Rad And Also We Can Now Play Video Games With Gloves.” The Wizard was a truly terrible movie, but when they unveil Mario 3 in that game, young minds across America were irrevocably blown.

Today, Mario 3 looks like a dinosaur. But you gotta admit that it’s a T-Rex. Most NES games are more like the Brontosaurus: They were the greatest thing in the world when we were six, but now we know that what we thought was real and awesome never even existed in the first place.

Super Mario Bros. 3, you are king of the Thunder Lizards.

Originally published at The Triangle. You can comment here or there.

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011
7:29 pm
Let's go back to church
Mu is a meme</p>

"Mu is a meme" is not a meme

“THERE AIN'T NOTHING WORSE THAN SOME FOOL LYING ON SOME THIRD WORLD BEACH IN SPANDEX PSYCHEDELIC TROUSERS SMOKING DAMN DOPE PRETENDING HE'S GETTING CONSCIOUSNESS EXPANSION.”

[info]hellmutt started it. 

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011
7:10 pm
108. Spy Hunter

Spy Hunter
Nintendo Entertainment System
Sun Soft
1987

“Car Exploder” would be a more accurate name for this game. Of course, “Car Exploder” sounds like a totally sweet game, and Spy Hunter is pretty much garbage, so it is probably best that this game has the name that it has.

They should totally rename the Burnout games as the “Car Exploder” series.

Originally published at The Triangle. You can comment here or there.

Monday, March 7th, 2011
5:45 am
107. Snake Rattle ‘N’ Roll

Snake Rattle ‘N’ Roll
Nintendo Entertainment System
Rare
1990

I have vague childhood memories of watching Snake Rattle ‘N’ Roll being played by someone, maybe an older cousin, maybe a baby sitter. I’m not clear on the specifics, but what I remember is that I was a little kid and they were a cool older person.

This game looked amazing. There was a dense amount of crazy stuff happening in a complex 3D environment. I couldn’t figure out what the hell was going on. It seemed to young me that this game before me was video gaming sophistication. This was the sort of complex, high-level video game I would aspire to play as a grown up.

Now, years later, I am a grown up. I have the wisdom that comes with age. With that wisdom, if I had the power to go back in time with a message from Future Isaac to Past Isaac, that message would be this: “Snake Rattle ‘N’ Roll is not as cool as it looks.”

Originally published at The Triangle. You can comment here or there.

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011
5:49 am
106. Rollerball

Rollerball
Nintendo Entertainment System
Hal Laboratory
1988

We hear the organ and rumble of the crowd. James Caan is not a man, he is a berollerskated god, his leather pants glistening in the harsh, artificial light. The chanting from the crowd gets louder and louder. “JON-A-THAN JON-A-THAN JON-A-THAN.” They have tasted blood and they demand more. Bones break. Lives shatter. Moon Pie won’t be alone in hell for much longer.

Rollerball is a competent-but-unremarkable pinball simulator. That is fine. However, when compared to the overwrought 1975 sci fi sports film classic of the same name, it’s got nothing. Frankly, I’d rather rewatch the 2002 remake than play this game. And that movie stars Chris Klein. Let that sink in. This game is less interesting than watching Chris Klein act.

Originally published at The Triangle. You can comment here or there.

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