Latest Blog Posts

by G. Christopher Williams

3 Aug 2011


This discussion of Catherine includes some mild spoilers concerning a few of the game’s early game plot twists.

Quite a few reviews and discussions of Catherine have criticized Atlus’s new title for a disconnect between its gameplay and narrative.  Indeed, a review in Game Informer called the game’s block puzzles “shamelessly gamey and [also] out of place in the narrative” (Phil Kollar, “Catherine”, Game Informer, August 2011, p. 108).

Some criticism of the gameplay is unexpected, especially given Atlus’s fairly firm commitment to RPGs (thus, a puzzle game may come as a surprise to fans).  Additionally, this game, which has so intrigued gamers and the gaming press since screenshots began surfacing of the Japanese version of the game, is one that also was greeted with some concern when discontent grew among those same players and journalists about the idea that this was just some kind of “box shoving” game.

Which, more or less, it is.  Nevertheless, to write off Catherine’s gameplay as somehow disconnected from the sexual politics that is the central concern of the game’s narrative is to miss the most obvious metaphor that the game is interested in generating between plot and game.

by G. Christopher Williams

27 Jul 2011


Skinny may be a direct follow up to Thomas Brush’s haunting little flash game, Coma.  At least, the game is sprinkled with some secret items that allude to the previous title in the form of an empty bird cage, a fishing hook, and a gravestone. 

A direct relationship between the odd adventure of a seemingly comatose boy named Pete whose effort to free his sister from the basement (which comprises the majority of the plot of Coma) and the adventure of a skinny robot tasked with retrieving batteries to sustain human beings that have been jacked into some sort of hallucinatory subsystem by an AI called “Mama” is never made exactly clear in the new game.

And despite the probable near incoherence of the previous summary of the premise of the two games, nevertheless, there are some rather clear thematic parallels between both games, as well as a clear consistency in Brush’s aesthetic more generally.

by G. Christopher Williams

13 Jul 2011


This post contains major spoilers for Shadows of the Damned

Three things nagged at me throughout my playthrough of Shadows of the Damned.

The first thing was an odd one.  It was the name of Garcia Hotspur’s girlfriend, which is Paula.  I guess that it is just the thin quality of the premise of the game (more on that later) that made me immediately associate her with the similarly named Pauline of Donkey Kong.  Paula is abducted by a large monster at the opening of the game, hardly an original catalyst for a video game adventure (again, more on that in a moment), but still her name and predicament and blonde hair (the original versions of Pauline were blonde on the arcade cabinet of Donkey Kong) made me wonder if Suda51, aficionado of retro gaming, wasn’t giving a nod to “the original” girl abduction game.  Throughout my time with Shadows of the Damned, I kept looking for any other evidence of such an allusion.

by G. Christopher Williams

29 Jun 2011


I noticed that the Grasshopper Manufacture logo that appears in the opening screens of Suda51 and Shinji Mikami’s new game, Shadows of the Damned, is not the version that includes the motto, “Punk’s Not Dead.”  While I don’t feel like Suda51 has fully intended to step away from his infamous “punk rock aesthetic,” this latest game does leave me wondering a bit about the viability of that approach in the climate of contemporary gaming culture.

by G. Christopher Williams

22 Jun 2011


A fair amount of discussion of L.A. Noire has raised questions about how to classify this “game”.  Over at GamePro, for instance, Kat Bailey explains, “I feel like L.A. Noire is a success as a visual novel [. . .] it’s meant to be read and experienced as much as played” and that it is “arguable whether that approach is a good fit for the interactive medium of videogames” (“Second Opinion: L.A. Noire, GamePro, 20 May 2011).  Additionally, Bailey reiterates another criticism that has been leveled at the game that it “relies heavily on pixel hunting and guesswork”.

I spoke a couple weeks ago a little bit about how I felt that the forward momentum of the story and some of the player’s inability to do anything about it relates to the genre of noir itself (L.A. Noire: The Fatalism of American Sticktoitiveness”, PopMatters, 1 June 2011).  While that essay acknowledged the largely linear quality of the storytelling in L.A. Noire, still I find that the notion that L.A. Noire is somehow “not quite a game” because a lot of its choices lead in a particular direction or because the game mechanics include the necessity of a great deal of watching, observing, and pixel hunting is a notion that denies the rather integral relationship that exists between seeing and gaming.

//Mixed media
//Blogs

'SUPERHOTLine Miami' Is Exactly What It Sounds Like

// Moving Pixels

"SUPERHOTLine Miami provides a perfect case study in how slow-motion affects the pace and tone of a game.

READ the article