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by G. Christopher Williams

24 Aug 2011


Okay, so we all know that that the list of launch titles for the Nintendo 3DS failed to provide the most compelling reason to make an early purchase of Nintendo’s most recent handheld. We also know that really no Nintendo hardware should ever be launched without at least one such title (that isn’t a port of an older game) that contains the word “Mario” in that title (or at the very least, “Zelda”).

That being said, what I really don’t understand about the 3DS launch line up is its complete (or near complete) ignorance of the heart and soul of 3-D as a medium: action and salaciousness and, of course, salacious action.  Now, I come to the discussion of this most recent round of the “3-D revival” (a revival that seems to occur at least once a decade, since at least the 1950s) as a skeptic. “They” tell me that this time is different, 3-D is here to stay in general (in the movies, on television, in video games) and this time it will not be a mere novelty. The tech is better, and, thus, it will integrate with various visual media and become a normative part of those media.

Sure.

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.

by G. Christopher Williams

10 Aug 2011


My fellow Moving Pixels contributor, Kris Ligman, said recently of Catherine that it is “not as misogynistic as I’d feared.”(Catherine Is Fun to Play but That’s About It”, PopMatters, 8 August 2011).  I’m not quite sure how misogynistic she expected Catherine to be, but it is definitely a game with a plot that is not especially sensitive to its female characters.  A clear and stereotypical binary is established between the two female leads.  Katherine, the protagonist Vincent’s longtime girlfriend, largely serves the role of “the shrew” throughout the story.  While the younger woman in Vincent’s life, the succubus Catherine, serves the role of “the slut.”  However, the plot falls very much into the tradition of farce, a form of comedy in which such extreme stereotype, is generally the rule.  Farce is not especially known for its fully rounded characters, as it wants to include broadly drawn characters to allow for the potential for social critique as well as the most absurd humor possible.  After all, such comedy is usually comprised of a parade of fools that we are intended to laugh at, not necessarily sympathize with. 

The extreme negativity towards femininity extends into its portrayals of men as well, though.  In this regard, the farce is often as much misandrist as it is misogynist in its portrayal of its cast.  This seems to me to be the case with Catherine, as its distrust of women in controlling men (through nagging and ultimatum in the case of Katherine or through sexual manipulation in the case of Catherine) is—at least during the bulk of the story—equal to its distrust of men to basically be capable of getting their shit together.

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.

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Cage the Elephant Ignite Central Park with Kickoff for Summerstage Season

// Notes from the Road

"Cage the Elephant rocked two sold-out nights at Summerstage and return to NYC for a free show May 29th. Info on that and a preview of the full Summerstage schedule is here.

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