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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.

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.

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Best of the Moving Pixels Podcast: Further Explorations of the Zero

// Moving Pixels

"We continue our discussion of the early episodes of Kentucky Route Zero by focusing on its third act.

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