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by Kris Ligman

22 Aug 2011

A new puzzle game from the Atlus Persona Team, Catherine blends surprisingly difficult puzzle platforming with a strong narrative on masculine anxieties and adult relationships. Most interestingly of all, the game asks players to voice their own opinions on love, marriage, and children, but does it really demand a truthful answer?

Moving Pixels podcast regulars G. Christopher Williams and Kris Ligman are joined this week by Skyler Moss from Gamepad Dojo to discuss the game’s mechanics, characterization and gender representation. Disagreements over interpretation abound as we explore Catherine‘s morality system, multiple endings, and structural cohesion in attempting to marry gameplay to a very dissimilar plot—or is marriage even the appropriate metaphor to deploy here?

Secrets are revealed, plot twists are spoiled, and the titular Catherine receives a thorough deconstruction, along with several others of the game’s colorful cast. Can Skyler decide whether to agree with Chris or Kris and escape the podcast unharmed? When the night sky turns to glamor, anything could happen.

by Nick Dinicola

19 Aug 2011

Pixel hunting is considered the bane of adventure gaming. An object you need is only a few pixels in size and it’s hidden within the scenery, so you’re forced to point the mouse cursor at every object onscreen in order to see what you can interact with and what’s just part of the background. It’s the epitome of frustrating, unintuitive, trial-and-error gameplay, a cheap and artificial way of stretching out a game’s length. It’s a system so universally hated that even updates of old adventure titles find ways around pixel hunting: The downloadable special edition of Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge includes a button that highlights all interactive objects on the screen, so players can quickly see what’s interactive and what’s not. There’s no need to hunt anything.

But is pixel hunting really that bad? Or is just poorly implemented in most cases? L.A. Noire argues for the latter point by including its own form of pixel hunting, one that fits so naturally within its world that the hunt becomes an integral part of the game and one of its major selling points.

by Jorge Albor

18 Aug 2011

While playing Catherine the much anticipated erotic-thriller from Atlus, the occasional loading screen will feature a famous quote or saying appropriate to the game’s themes. Most of these quotes pertain to marriage, what it means to be a “man” or a “woman,” or relationships in general. During a particularly trying period for Vincent, the game’s often pathetic protagonist, words by the famous poet Ralph Waldo Emerson grace the screen: “We walk alone in the world. Friends, such as we desire, are dreams and fables.” Such an isolating belief, reflected in Vincent’s paranoia and solitude, stand in stark contrast to the game’s persistent references to widespread and shared decisions and mistakes. From the depiction of cursed men as sheep to revealing confessional statistics, Catherine attempts to dismantle individuality, insulting and devaluing the player in the process.

No matter how many minor decisions that I make throughout the game, Vincent will always be a selfish and incompetent boyfriend. I usher Vincent through poorly crafted lies and watch as he tunes out Katherine, his partner of roughly five years (Vincent cannot quite remember how long it has been), to manage one of his many panic attacks about a future he refuses to confront. Rather than deal with his emotional baggage, he drinks with friends and avoids dealing with the growing dilemma that is the coquettish Catherine and his cheating problem.

Numerous other men share Vincent’s deep character flaws. As Michael Abbott rightly points out, “Vincent is one messed up dude, as are nearly all the men present as NPCs. To Catherine’s credit, it shows us male characters that we seldom see in games—vulnerable, damaged, self-loathing—all gathered in a freakish final-exam-nightmare purgatory.” (”The Catherine Masquerade”, The Brainy Gamer, 9 August 2011). Indeed, nearly every NPC wrestles with the causes and consequences of his personal neuroses. Across the board, the cast of Catherine are painfully flawed.

by Rick Dakan

18 Aug 2011

Chapter 1 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 2 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 3 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 4 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 5 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 6 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 7 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 8 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 9 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 10 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 11 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 11 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 13 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 14 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 15 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 16 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 17 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 18 of Rage Quit as a PDF.

“Turn left in 300 yards,” said the voice from his phone as it continued to feed him turn-by-turn, GPS-based driving instructions. He was nervous as hell about the meeting. It would be the first time they’d seen each other in months, and Randal knew he was going to have some explaining to do. The fact was, he wasn’t even sure where to begin.

by G. Christopher Williams

17 Aug 2011

So I’m not a PS3 guy.  I have spent this whole console generation with my 360 and (unfortunately, for the most part) my Wii.

In general, I haven’t found this to be much of a problem.  With few exclusive releases on either of the two big consoles, I feel like I haven’t missed too much.  Mostly I have regretted lacking access to Metal Gear Solid 4 and God of War 3, two extensions of franchises that I admire.  The only real new IP that I have felt any strong curiosity about has been the Uncharted series—and mostly because the buzz among critics that I trust has generally been so positive about those titles.

I have been staying with my brother-in-law for the past few weeks, who owns a PS3.  I played a little bit of LittleBigPlanet which I found to be kind of “meh” (I hate those jumping physics).  However, then he brought home a copy of Uncharted 2, which I was kind of excited about.

But then I was kind of underwhelmed.

//Mixed media

U2's 'The Joshua Tree' Tour Reminds the Audience of their Politics

// Notes from the Road

"The Joshua Tree tour highlights U2's classic album with an epic and unforgettable new experience.

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