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by Mike Schiller

17 Mar 2008

L.B. Jeffries posted a review of Steam’s excellent, groundbreaking downloadable game Audiosurf today, a game that we just can’t get enough of at PopMatters Multimedia HQ.  It’s nice to have a music-based game that doesn’t rely on any sort of latent musical talent, and the ease with which it can incorporate any piece of one’s MP3 collection is astounding.

Having played around with it for a while, we’ve found that Underworld’s “Dirty Epic” is a fantastic candidate for a fast-paced but relaxing ride (and a ten-minute one, at that), Wilco’s “Heavy Metal Drummer” is fun if you’re the type who likes rolling hills, and pretty much any spoken word piece (think audiobooks) is fun if you’re the type who thinks hopping curbs in your 4x4 is a good time.  Oh, and people seem to be enjoying “Through the Fire and Flames” a bit, too, as they’ve finally found a way to play that song that lets them hear the end.  No experience, however, has so far matched the good time to be had by playing the game with Akron/Family’s “Ed is a Portal”, which crests and falls so smoothly, building huge amounts of momentum for six minutes or so, after which you get about a minute of coasting up a hill for a cool down.  The combination of fantastic song and fantastic track is a sort of synergy that has, until now, been nearly untapped in gaming.  Download the demo, and try to tell us that the ten bucks for the full-on experience isn’t worth it.  Once you’ve dropped your Hamilton, come back and tip us off to some new musical experiences that we might not have tried yet.  We’ll be eternally grateful.

by Mike Schiller

17 Mar 2008

I’m going to go out on a limb here, and guess that when you look at this week’s list of releases, there’s going to be one game that sticks out: Rainbow Six Vegas 2 releases this week, another entry in the inexplicably successful line of Tom Clancy games.  Ubisoft has gone ahead and said that Vegas 2 will be the last entry in the Vegas line of Rainbow Six games, but it’s hard to feel any sense of climax or finality when there will be more Rainbow Six games.  There will be more acronymical Tom Clancy games (GRAW, RSV, GRIT, SCDA, and so on).  We just won’t be slinking around casinos anymore.

So what’s the real star this week?

Condemned 2 looks like it’s at least as visceral as the somewhat overlooked first installment, even though Greg Grunberg isn’t involved this time around (because, I mean, Greg Grunberg.  That guy’s been excellent since at least Alias).  There’s a free ad-supported PC dance mat game that’s finally hitting wide release this week called Dance! Online, and the production quality is actually pretty impressive for free software.  You can use your keyboard, too, in case breaking a sweat isn’t your thing.

Still…Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword.  Have you seen some of the previews for this thing?  I always end up seriously impressed when a developer takes the Nintendo DS and makes it do things it was never meant to do, and Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword makes that underpowered little DS look almost PSP-ish.  The cinemas look true to the classic original, the gameplay looks innovative (swordfighting with a stylus is always good), and it’s a Ninja Gaiden game, so you know you’re going to be giving your DS the finger and throwing it at walls at some point.  This is a good thing for you, because you need a challenge, and for Nintendo, who will profit from all of the new DSes you have to buy because your old ones are in a thousand pieces on the sidewalk outside your house.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Diary Girl, a password-protected diary/PDA for your DS, which actually allows voice chat, which in turn means it has at least one leg up on Super Smash Bros. Brawl.  To this I ask: when do we get Diary Boy?

The scheduled releases for this week are after the jump.

by Mike Schiller

14 Mar 2008

“Friends are helpful not only because they will listen to us, but because they will laugh at us; Through them we learn a little objectivity, a little modesty, a little courtesy; We learn the rules of life and become better players of the game.”
—Will Durant, from The Mansions of Philosophy: A Survey of Human Life and Destiny

Welcome to Moving Pixels, the PopMatters Multimedia blog!

It has been over four years now since PopMatters started writing about games and other multimedia endeavors, a time that has seen the rise of casual gaming, a full console generation’s turnover, and the re-entry of the debate on violence in gaming into mainstream conversation. We have seen a format war fought and won, and we have seen the answer to the question of whether games can also be art shift from “maybe sometimes” to “often, yes”. Perhaps most importantly, we have seen the discussion of such questions expanded into an ongoing international dialogue via the increased prevalence of blogs and message boards as communicative vessels.

The multimedia writers of PopMatters would like to join in the discussion.

The aim of Moving Pixels is to analyze gaming in ways that go beyond the product reviews that our multimedia coverage has until now been limited to. This may include commentary on recent news stories, it may include write-ups on the latest flash games or particularly interesting websites, or it may delve into the state of the industry via the discussion of hot topics. We may even be inclined to provide alternate points of view on whatever game is being reviewed on a given day, or post a video that one of us found hilarious.

Our intent is not to take the place of the venues for gaming and internet discussion that already exist; our hope, rather, is to expand that discussion. Gaming is a part of our world, our culture, the culture of our parents and the culture of our children. A discussion of gaming does not have to exist in an insular world, it can infiltrate our books, our movies, our music. A web site can be an artistic venture, or it can serve to augment one. Most exciting of all, one gets the sense that we have only scratched the surface of possibilities in the realm of interactive entertainment and expression.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl has invaded my home in a big way, and I would be remiss if I were to suggest that, while playing it, I’m thinking of anything broader than disconnected thoughts; a typical Smash session might consist of “Runrunrun / SMASH FORWARD! / SMASH FORWARD! / jump OVER the Bob-omb / down-special / block / block / dodge / SMASH UP! / sayonara, Kirby.” Still, just because a typical game of Smash might not inspire poetry, exactly, doesn’t mean that the Smash Bros. series doesn’t shed light on interesting issues like the goodwill afforded by fanservice or humanity’s need for and gravitation toward competition. These are the types of discussions we hope to start here on Moving Pixels.

Thanks for coming by. Let us know what you think.

//Mixed media

Supernatural Sets the Stage for Season Finalé With “There's Something About Mary”

// Channel Surfing

"A busy episode in which at least one character dies, two become puppets, and three are trapped and left for dead in an unlikely place.

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