Although my tastes have evolved and my particular interests have changed over the years, I think it’s fair to say I’ve always had more of an affinity for mechanically driven over narrative driven games. Of course, there have been plenty of story-heavy games which I have fallen in love with in large part due to the writing; THE SECRET OF MONKEY ISLAND kickstarted my passion for point & click adventures as a kid, and in more recent years I have sunk hundreds of hours into the YAKUZA games. And I’d probably be lying if I said the narrative and storytelling of DEAD RISING wasn’t a big reason I fell in love with that game, too.
Still, these examples all feel like outliers to me. If I were to attempt listing the aspects of a game that typically draw me in, I’d say it’d be kind of a toss-up between aesthetics, tone/atmosphere and game mechanics – if I enjoy the narrative it’s still usually secondary to one or all of those. Most of my favourite games or series of games are things like STRIDER HIRYU, VIRTUA FIGHTER, PRINCE OF PERSIA, BAYONETTA, BARE KNUCKLE, etc, etc.
Long story short, I tend to favour short-form, mechanically focused (if not mechanically dense) action games. Games which more or less inherently invite repeated play by making the act of playing the game the goal in itself, as opposed to making it to the end of a journey. This all probably informs my long held hot take: more often than not, games are like, way too long, man.
Continue reading Pacing, tempo and tedious grinds (or: “Short games are good, actually”)
For about as long as I can recall, I’ve been a big fan of Technos Japan. The DOUBLE DRAGON and KUNIO-KUN games were absolute favourites of mine in formative years, and almost certainly a big reason why I’m still very much fond of beat ’em ups. Although not every Technos and Technos-related game over the years has been of the highest quality, I’ll always have the utmost respect and admiration for the company and their games for their innovation, creativity and sheer personality.
Like many game companies from the 80’s, Technos eventually went under, even if some of the same people, brands and games stayed active in one form or another. As of 2015, The Technos brand and associated IP is owned by Arc System Works, who – so far – seem to be doing a commendable job keeping the spirit of Technos alive with quality re-releases and even brand new KUNIO-KUN games, among other things.
But perhaps the most delightful thing about Technos’s newest incarnation is how it seems to maintain one of the things that fascinate me the most about the company: their unusually relaxed handling of their IP.
Continue reading Thoughts on Double Dragon, Technos Japan, and a liberal approach to intellectual property
Guest characters and crossovers in fighting games is a tradition almost as old as the genre itself – Ryo Sakazaki was a secret “Dream Match” boss fight in FATAL FURY SPECIAL, Gouki was a secret playable character in X-MEN: CHILDREN OF THE ATOM, and the entire premise of THE KING OF FIGHTERS ’94 was seeing characters from a bunch of different SNK games share the screen with each other. Although the idea mostly started with developers having their characters make unexpected appearances for a goof, with time the concept of guest characters has increasingly become a means of cross-promoting other brands.
You could easily write an entire lexicon of guest characters, crossovers and cameos in video games, but today I wanted to focus on the various guests we’ve seen over the years in MORTAL KOMBAT. While by no means the first, MORTAL KOMBAT kind of ushered in the modern era of bringing in high-profile guest characters, especially as paid DLC – a practice which isn’t always well received by series fans, but unlikely to stop any time soon given that the guests consistently outsell any other character DLC.
My personal standpoint on guest characters in general is that it can be a bit of fun, but also a bit of a bummer for sure. In the case of MORTAL KOMBAT, I’m definitely in the crowd who will always have a ton of legacy MK characters I’d love to see over any potential guests, and I do find it disappointing to see guests making out a full 50% of the DLC lineup in recent MKs. That said, given that it’s inevitable at this point, I don’t find much reason in getting too worked up about it – If we’re getting characters I didn’t ask for, I’ll at least hope they are well done and incorporated well into the game! So as we’re waiting for the latest batch of guests to show up in MK11, I thought I’d take a look back at the last decade of MORTAL KOMBAT guests.
Continue reading Thoughts on guest characters in MORTAL KOMBAT, 2011-2019
With the 2019 retrospective behind us, let’s look forward to 2020. I actually ended up doing a surprisingly decent job of at least trying out almost all of my most-anticipated games of last year (though let’s ignore all the 2016-2018 games still sitting untouched on my shelves) – hopefully we can keep that trend up in 2020! On that note, what games am I actually looking forward to playing this year? Let’s find out!
Continue reading Ten games I’m looking forward to in 2020
I never feel too comfortable or interested in doing any kinds of ranked “Game of the Year” lists, for a number of reasons, not least that I typically don’t feel like I play enough games to really be able to do a meaningful ranking. However, between streaming projects and picking up a lot of random old Japanese games on a somewhat regular basis, I still end up experiencing a lot of games for the first time over the course of a year. So without caring so much about when a game came out (which I typically don’t, anyway), I thought it would be fun to highlight some of the non-2019 games that made the biggest impact on me in 2019.
So let’s get to it – Ten old games I really enjoyed playing for the first time in 2019:
Continue reading Ten old games I really enjoyed playing for the first time in 2019 [2019 Retrospective part 2]
So about a year ago I wrote an article about ten then-upcoming games I was looking forward to play in the year 2019. Before we get to some other end/beginning of year listicles, I thought it’d be appropriate to do a short followup on that article; a little mini-review to sum up my thoughts on each of the games (or at least confirming whether they came out and if I played them!). Without further ado, here’s “Games I’m looking forward to in 2019” – The Aftermath.
Continue reading “Games I’m looking forward to in 2019” – The Aftermath [2019 Retrospective part 1]
Well, unsurprisingly, it happened. After an already not-that-great run of at least trying to post with some degree of regularity, things fell off a cliff after a few months. Whoops!
I feel especially embarrassed about never getting to follow up on some of the speculative posts about MORTAL KOMBAT 11 and other stuff, but well, that’s life I guess. I, uh, will be able to write much more well thought out things on those topics now that I’ve gotten to meditate on it for a few months, maybe? Ummm… sure, let’s go with that!
I’ve also played a bunch of games over the past 6-9 months that I certainly have some Thoughts On, and that’s something I genuinely would like to address in written form. One of the original ambitions I had with this blog was to practice my writing, and specifically practice putting my rambling thoughts into somewhat-less-rambling into words, and then editing those words and perhaps learn to get my thoughts across without going on at absurd lengths.
On that note, this post is getting rambly and sprawling already, so let me cut myself off right there and just wrap up with this: I don’t feel comfortable promising anything, but I will at the very least try to kick some life into this website again, and write up some new stuff.