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Thursday, Nov 4, 2010
As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of Super Mario Bros., a small group of games are solidifying into a Mario canon.

I recently visited Nintendo’s website commemorating the 25th anniversary of Super Mario Bros. to see how the company was publicly celebrating the milestone. It was reassuring to see Nintendo upholding and embracing the unapologetic quirkiness of its signature franchise. The growing collection of retrospective videos, speed runs, secret techniques, and glitches convey a nice sense of nostalgia while illustrating the series’s long tradition of challenging the player while encouraging experimentation and exploration.


While the site is a nice trip down memory lane, I think the most interesting aspect is the information that Nintendo has chosen not to include. Seeing as how Super Mario is perhaps the most prolific video game character ever, the relatively small number of games showcased as part of the anniversary is striking. By selectively including only certain Super Mario games to as part of the retrospective, Nintendo seems to be fashioning a canon of core titles.


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Thursday, Nov 4, 2010
Fable 3 has earned my everlasting enmity for abandoning its high level of choice and sophistication when I finally ascended to the throne, arguably the moment when it would have been most interesting to make important choices.

This discussion of Fable 3 does contain spoilers.


It’s no spoiler to say that at a certain point in Fable 3, your character becomes monarch of Albion. The fact that you’ll get to make royal decisions and decrees and manage the kingdom was one of the features that Peter Molyneux was talking up from the beginning of its marketing. The other big selling point in the advertisement for the game was the concept of revolution. And, as advertised, the game’s story does center around you starting a revolution against your tyrannical brother, but it is a revolution that you have no control over. There are allies to be won, but you can’t choose them (with one exception, who doesn’t end up affecting the game or story at all). To win those allies, you have to make promises. You have to make them. The game won’t proceed unless you make the promises that it demands of you. And while there are sections that allow for broad freedom, during which you can pursue side quests as you please, at a certain point you have to go off on a foolhardy expedition that makes no sense at all.  Though the plot clearly needs this expedition badly, you have no say in the matter. You don’t really even have the option to fail.


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Wednesday, Nov 3, 2010
If a Disney film were to feature a brothel, that brothel would surely resemble one from Fable III.

It isn’t often that one can describe something as “whimsical.”  Maybe the “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” scene from Mary Poppins (well, maybe the whole movie) or maybe something from a soundtrack written by Danny Elfman.  Perhaps, there is a magical formula for generating whimsy locked in some secret vault at the Disney or Pixar Studios, but there are few artists able to walk the line between heart warming and insipid to find that sweet spot that is the whimsical or the enchanting.


Peter Molyneaux has been lauded for his innovations in game design.  Often credited as the creator of the “god game” as well as admired for his ability to layer simulation upon simulation upon simulation in the Fable series, the man is a remarkable game designer.  What his team at Lionhead Studios has been able to do beyond merely design unique and innovative titles, though, is to generate a world in the Fable series that is not only ambitious in terms of design but is also able to produce that “lightening in a bottle” quality that one doesn’t usually see except in really masterfully crafted material targeted at younger audiences.  Put simply, Albion is uncompromisingly whimsical.


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Tuesday, Nov 2, 2010
While purchasing a game the other day, the cashier asked to see my ID. I joked that I couldn't look that young to him, but he answered that it didn't matter. His computer would not allow him to complete the sale unless he ran it.

It’s election day here in the States and also the first day of the hearing for Schwarzenegger v. EMA, the United States Supreme Court case which will potentially decide the legal status of video game regulation in the country. Much of the game industry and blogosphere has come out against the bill at the heart of the case, which industry spokesmen say will not just regulate sales of games in stores but effectively censor game content.


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Monday, Nov 1, 2010
The weekend probably saw its share of ghosts and goblins dropping by your doorstep. Those same little ghouls have inspired the Moving Pixels Podcast crew in a discussion of horror games.

The weekend probably saw its share of ghosts and goblins dropping by your doorstep.  Those same little ghouls have inspired the Moving Pixels Podcast crew in a discussion of horror games.


Each of our contributors put together a list of their top five horror titles, judging them by their ability to scare, repel, and otherwise provoke.  Our lists are surprisingly eclectic and may at times challenge what constitutes horror in games altogether.  So, join us for a discussion of slashers, things that cannot be named, and other things that go bump in the night.


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