The Rare Replay collection came out this past week, to nearly universal acclaim. It’s an incredible collection of mostly incredible games from over two and a half decades of gaming history, and it serves as a reminder of just how far the medium has come in that time. But it also serves as a reminder of just how difficult it is to preserve our history.
Hordes of undead plague the earth, and the only one who can stop them is a bikini-clad samurai cowgirl. Abandon all hope of taste and decency–this is Onechanbara Z2 Chaos.
Games about games are usually terrible. They’re usually a collection of memetic in-jokes and corny parodies designed to cover up the inadequacies of uninspired third-person shooters and platformers, existing more as quick gags to punch up trailers and marketing materials rather than real tributes to the medium of games. Martin Scorsese’s 2011 film Hugo was a tribute to movies, but it wasn’t a collection of jokes about cinematography and editing, or barely subtle references to characters of great movies past. It was about people. It was about the relationship between people who love movies and the people who make them. The wonder and joy in how Hugo portrayed that relationship reminded me of my passion for games, and made me wish there were a game that so artfully explored its own medium.
The Magic Circle is a game about the relationship between the people who love games and the people who make them. But where Hugo was joy and wonder, the Magic Circle is fear and paranoia. It’s about the love of a medium turned to dangerous possession. It’s about the digital identities we create out of our own insecurities. It’s about the void that the act of creation fills in us. It’s about the control that we have inside digital worlds and the vertigo of having that control taken away.
After sixteen–SIXTEEN–Tiger Woods games, EA has finally found a new mascot for its golf series. As somebody who doesn’t follow golf, well… Well, let me tell you everything I know about Rory McIlroy. He looks vaguely like Paul McCartney. He has the highest stats in this game. He stares with dead, soulless eyes, unblinking, eager to consume mortal souls.
Okay, maybe there’s less supernatural consumption, and maybe more golf. You know, blue skies on a Sunny afternoon, a gentle breeze and a challenging but none-too-stressful game of skill to pass the time. It’s always seemed like hardcore gamers are a bit more interested in golf games than other sports titles. Maybe we think it’s a good substitute for going outside.
Kratos may be the biggest asshole in games. There’s more straight-up evil out there, certainly, but in terms of just being a straight-up, unabashed JERK, Kratos has probably got ’em all beat! He’s just so angry all the time! He’s just gotta get out those chain blades and murderize some guys! He’s all about murderin’ gods and bangin’ goddesses, and if you think that’s crass, well… that’s kinda the point. God of War is all about sex and violence, this kind of just glorious, unrestrained spectacle.
Stretchmo is a joyful collection of bite-sized puzzle challenges which stretches the Pushmo concept into what feels like its logical conclusion. It succeeds in expanding upon that original concept in a way that the previous sequels have not, and basically just gives you more Pushmo with new mechanics to use, which is a definitively Good Thing.
Last year’s Wolfenstein: The New Order was an astoundingly pleasant surprise–a single-player only shooter that committed to creating an exciting campaign and compelling story. It mixed old-school, over the top action with sympathetic characters to create an experience that was plenty ridiculous, but one that had a lot of heart. Now developer MachineGames has elected to follow-up with a prequel in the form of Wolfenstein: The Old Blood. This standalone downloadable offers much of the original game’s great action and creates some memorable moments of its own, but never manages to reach the heights of its predecessor.