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EarthBound Book Review

An Autoludography

Earthbound Book Review

1995's EarthBound (SNES) is a widely known and beloved game, but one that sold so poorly upon release that it's probably beloved by significantly more people now than ever bought the original cartridges.

The Year of the Games 2013

A screenshot of The Last of Us

The simple fact is that picking the best game released in a given year is impossible. Even if someone managed to come up with some way to soundly measure an experimental 7-day FPS made by a small team against an open-world AAA game, nobody has the time in their lives to really give every possible candidate a chance. It's certainly a task that's beyond me, so I asked Mattie Brice, Michael A. Cunningham, Denis Farr, Darren Forman, Brad Gallaway, Brendan Keogh, Cameron Kunzelman, Kris Ligman, Gene Park, Lana Polansky, Eric Swain, Zolani Stewart, John Vanderhoef, and Dan Weissenberger to lend a hand. Here, without further adieu, are the games of the year.

A World of Canyons

Tales of Xillia Screenshot

Playing Tales of Xillia made me think of Final Fantasy, which was probably not the intended effect.

Things I saw at the Boston Festival of Indie Games

Candlelight Screenshot

A while back I took a quick swing up to MIT to check out the Boston Festival of Indie Games, which was a neat little show I really enjoyed visiting. Of course, as an indie show it had its fair share of games that needed tons of work or were just hopeless, but I got my hands on several really neat games, too.

Just for the trophy

The Last of Us Screenshot

I hate Firefly pendants. I don't really hate anything intrinsic to the pendants, of course. They're much too boring for that.

The Mirage

Remember Me Screenshot

In the wake of Microsoft's unpopular and ultimately reversed turn towards invasive DRM and daily activation requirements, there has been a renewed discussion of the economic challenges of AAA development and the supposed danger that used games posed to the industry. The standard excuse that it's too great a challenge to create games that achieve players' graphical expectations while still selling enough games to be economically viable in the context of a console exclusive has been trotted out, and as usual it is false, or at least lacking in perspective.

Anatomy of a poor choice

Mars: War Logs Screenshot

Mars: War Logs is a confusing game on many levels. It's set on another planet far in the future, but most of the fighting involves whacking dudes with a glorified stick. The player never sees the game's only real "war," and instead deals mainly with an internecine conflict concerning the main character Roy's guild. Yet, in the end, even the internal power struggles turn out not to have been the driving force for the game's violence.

Shooting and missing

BioShock Infinite Screenshot

The discussion around BioShock Infinite's combat doesn't just involve the question of whether its quantity of violence is essential to the story (yes), or whether telling a story where its quantity of violence is essential is interesting or worthwhile (no). Some of the discussion has centered around the question of whether the combat mechanics are any good. Eric Schwarz has written a fantastic post that describes most of the combat mechanics, and I want to expand on it a little. Even though I think violence helps to express the kind of character Booker is, I don't think the combat systems of BioShock Infinite do much to help characterize him, and in some ways actively oppose that characterization.

The Constant Monster

BioShock Infinite Screenshot

BioShock Infinite is a violent game, and it has to be. That's a contrast to BioShock, an equally violent game where combat conveyed nothing about its main character and had little to do with the game's themes other than spurring the player to engage in its various economies. Any stimulus—using plasmids to solve environmental puzzles, for instance—would have sufficed. That's not so in Columbia. Violence is essential to who Booker DeWitt is, and what Columbia is. Their story cannot be told without it.

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