Monthly Archives: March 2016

Good Deeds and Fast Speeds

It’s a strange phenomenon that the more time you spend on this Earth, the less time you seem to have to enjoy it on a daily basis. To be able to enjoy the things you once could fully invest a few hours into, sacrifices must be made to fit it into your schedule. You might watch a movie at 2x speed. You might just read the synopsis instead. You may even be desperate enough to just ask a friend for the jist of the plot and whether it was good or not, with no intention of ever seeing it yourself.

Luckily, within the world of videogames, there’s an entire community out there that are aware of your hectic lives and are hellbent on ensuring you can keep up your love for gaming! (Not really, but one can pretend.)

Speedrunning (or the act of completing a game as fast as humanly possible) can allow you to watch an entire game’s worth of content in a fraction of the intended amount of hours intended by the developer. It’s not just useful as a fresh new platform for entertainment either, it’s helping make the world a better place as well.

Although the speedrunning community has existed for over a decade at this point, it has in  recent years been brought into the mainstream of game coverage with SDA’s Games Done Quick charity events. The annual event has sponsored and has raised almost 10 million dollars overall! Charities sponsored include Doctors Without Borders, Organization for Autism Research, and the Prevent Cancer Foundation.

Along with preventing cancer (no big deal), the speedrunning community has grown to be one of the most cohesive and friendly environments, one that thrives on friendly competition. Runners often share tips and strategies (strats for short) on the latest glitches and shortcuts discovered in their most recent selected game.

Currently the world record for Super Mario 64, a game that is almost unanimously remembered fondly, is at a staggering 6 minutes and 44 seconds. Granted, this was heavily influenced by the use of glitches and exploitations of the game’s code, the speedrunner most likely spent entire days worth of hours perfecting his craft and memorizing every single footstep Mario had to make to achieve that. To see every frame of this poetry in motion, watch the video below.

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Connection! A Brief History of Gaming

Connection. That’s how it all started. Electricity powering the first pong machine. The most simple game made for two players. Connect a second controller and play with a friend.

Fast forward past the crash. The Nintendo Entertainment system was released. Two controllers and and countless games to play alone or with friends. A challenge that created a hotline that gives strategies for beating games.

The age of the arcade. Flashing lights and beeps reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. A place to spend quarters and make friends. Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter. Franchises that are still around today.

And what do we have today? The internet! All you need is an internet connection and you have access not just to video games, but to other players. We live in a digital age of gaming.

Video games and game related content from media coverage to tournaments are at our finger tips. Gaming has developed into a community of sorts, a subculture. Many of us find personalities in the community that we like whether it be YouTubers or Twitch streamers, and develop subcommunities around them.

We the players, the products of this digital age. We interact with each other and our games in search of fat loot and reaching the next level. All of us are connected. We play for different reasons, but we all play, and we all have that connection whether it be electrical, digital, physical, or spiritual.

Bloodborne! Dark Souls meets Castlevania

This post is a response to Wizard Dojo’s review of Bloodborne.

Bloodborne is a game that has been so well received that many fans of the Souls series have aptly renamed the genre “SoulsBorne.” The game follows the basic structure of Dark Souls with weapons, customization, brutal and punishing boss fights, and a stamina based combat system, but it flips the typical Dark Souls game structure onto its head.

Instead of walking around with your shield up, and carefully analyzing your enemy’s attack patterns before engaging them, you are encouraged to rush into the fray guns blazing and cleaver swinging. It caused players to sort of unlearn how to play other Souls games in order to really master the combat of Bloodborne. Until the DLC came out there was only one shield in the game, and it was a small piece of wood who’s sole purpose was to tell you that there aren’t shields in Bloodborne.

The game’s atmosphere is nothing short of haunting. Dark Souls is a game that keeps the player invested because of its difficulty and punishing death system. Bloodborne borrows that, and raises the stakes by adding a gothic atmosphere filled with all sorts of Lovecraftian inspired eldritch horrors. Playing the game alone is terrifying. The visuals are stunning and the enemy design is both varied and grotesque.  Blending elements of survival horror into a combat focused action RPG is something that I have only seen from the Castlevania franchise. Bloodborne truly transcends the RPG genre. Many consider it to be the best SoulsBorne game yet. I myself consider it to be the best and most challenging Castlevania game since Order of Ecclesia.

Translating or Transforming? Video Games as Films

Ever since video games reached main stream popularity in the 1980’s the industry has continued to evolve. We have watched games evolve from squares on a screen to visual spectacles. Games today include cutscene cinematics and storylines that rival and even surpass those present in film. According to an article published in GQ magazine, video games have become a much more profitable industry than film making. There is a clear market for film adaptations of video games. So why do they fail every single time?

That question has many different answers. David S Goyer, writer for Man of Steel and The Dark Knight Rises believes that the critical failure of film adaptations of video games is the main character. According to him video games are immersive experiences with an emphasis on the environment. Most games do not have characters that are well written enough to carry an entire story on their own. This is a fair point. The Super Mario Bros. Movie was a colossal failure because it did not portray the characters correctly. Who is Mario? He’s an Italian plumber. What does he do? He jumps on stuff to save a princess. Can that premise alone carry a feature length film? Possibly. Can it do so better than the game?  Probably not.

Wreck-It Ralph was a resounding success in 2012, but despite its visual style, countless references, and cameos from popular video game characters it is not a film adaptation of a video game. In fact the game Fix-It Felix was created after the film as a promotional tool. It is a film about a video game character, not an adaptation. This approach works. Characters like Mario may not be able to carry an entire film, but the inclusion of various video game characters like Ryu and Ken from Street Fighter allows for jokes and easter-eggs that keep the audience’s attention. Forbes writer John Gaudiosi believes that the film is a journey through gaming’s history that should be judged on its own merit even though it is not a translated work.

At last Disney has found the formula to the successful video game film. Instead of adapting an existing work, create a new IP instead and incorporate cameos and easter eggs that will engage the audience and keep their attention. Oh wait… This formula doesn’t always work does it Adam Sandler? Debuting in July of 2015, Pixels instantly ruined the credibility of video game based films that Disney had worked over twenty years to create. I’ll let CinemaSins take it away from here.