For those too young to remember, the Pac-Man craze of 1981 and 1982 was insane. It was the videogame version of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, where an innocuous Japanese arcade game caught lightning in a bottle and connected with the zeitgeist in a massive, massive way. It was a major turning point for Gen-X pop culture, and along with it came every attempt imaginable to cash in on the game’s success.
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What sorts of video games represent the best that the entire medium has to offer? I talk to lots of people about games and the various answers to that question often fall into recognizable buckets. Super Mario Bros. or Doom for their ability to withstand the test of time and also for their long reach. Ico or Shadow of the Colossus for their ability to evoke a rich world through understated visual effects and mechanics. Journey for telling a poignant story while seamlessly (and wordlessly) connecting you to other people.
What sort of video game best represents the medium’s potential? It’s a question that inspires high-minded thinking and lots of pondering about the nature of art. It usually doesn’t elicit talk about cars that can do rocket-boosted backflips, but maybe it should. Rocket League is a ridiculous game, and it is a beautiful game.
Her Story kind of reminds me of collectible card games.
Okay, I know that that makes no sense. Just hear me out for a minute on this one.
This weekend I had the pleasure of watching two of the largest Smash Bros tournaments of all time at EVO 2015. Both Super Smash Bros. Melee and Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U had more entrants than any tournament for these games in the past, which is especially impressive, considering that Melee is almost fourteen years old. The Top 8, or the final leg, of both of these tournaments was exciting, filled with upsets, character diversity, continued rivalries, and great players. A Smash fan couldn’t have asked for much more.
Despite this, the problem of “camping” plagued the tournament almost the entire weekend. In competitive video games, camping is generally when one player or team gets a lead, then plays extremely conservatively, avoiding combat and action unless it is a perfect circumstance for them to fight. Basically, they want to force their opponent into an unfavorable position, then take advantage of their weakness.
This week, the podcast revisits one of last year’s critically acclaimed indie games, The Swapper.
Even through its game mechanics, The Swapper wants to ask big questions about the relationship between our identities and our bodies. So, we discuss how the game works and what it seems to signify about selfhood and possibly the nature of the soul through its philosophical, religious, and political ideas.