…and for the record, you’re all invited to the party.
So what have we learned this year? Well…
- The secret to indie game development is pigeons.
- Assholes are assholes. Except when they’re not.
- Atlus’ Catherine is the perfect antidote to a break-up.
- It’s all in the beard.
- Once you’ve cleaned out that filth-soaked brain, giving yourself the willies becomes good, wholesome fun.
- I can get a bit too enthusiastic sometimes, okay?
- I’m an unashamed Final Fantasy 7 fanboy, sure, but that shouldn’t make a difference when I tell you it’s the best game ever. Not at all.
- Expectations are made to be broken.
- Converge. Batman. Fez. Totes.
- Knee-high leather boots? Tight straps?? Skimpy underwear??? Oh, never mind, it’s Sean Connery.
- That film got bomb-ass titties
- The vocalist still needs a new toga.
- And finally, perhaps more relevant now than it was last year:
Here’s to another year
Around two weeks ago, Spydersvenom – fellow writer of words and game guru-in-training over at Gaming History 101 - posted an article entitled ‘Adventure Gaming is Dead’, a depressingly well-written piece that dragged one of my most cherished genres out into the back yard, forced me to make eye contact, and then shot it in the face.
If my recent bit on Silent Hill 2 didn’t tip you off, I become woefully sensitive if you criticise the object of whatever flavour-of-the-week nostalgia trip I happen to be on, and my reaction to this article proved no exception. Such is my devotion to the adventure genre, I’ve spent the last few days listening to Bobby Bland and crying myself into a stupor, stopping only to curse Spydersvenom’s name into the sky at chosen intervals.
You see, his argument is one that I’ve come across a few times before in my blind fandom, and it’s one that I’ve never really been able to counter. As he notes, even Ron Gilbert – the crowned king of adventure gaming – has been dismissive of the genre since the late 80’s; even more so in the wake of its disappearance from the public eye in the 90’s.
‘Adventure gaming is dead’ is a phrase I’ve come to embrace, as if I were the last man on a sinking ship; the resolute captain going down with his vessel, if just to fill the shoes of Captain Ron Gilbert, who took the life boats to shore over ten years ago. View full article »
Something of a new tradition has developed in my household, one which might sound familiar to a few of you reading this: watching old VHS tapes. For lack of a better term, I’ll refer to the practice as ‘tape-diving’, although conceptually, ‘Russian roulette’ also fits the bill rather nicely.
To elucidate: in the back room of our house, we’ve recently discovered a bounty of long-lost, home-recorded VHS tapes; all unmarked, and each as potentially life-draining as the next. The only way to find out what’s on a given tape is to insert it into a player and strap in for 180 minutes of 90s-era terrestrial TV, which – as I’m sure anyone who lived through that particular decade can attest to – is a dangerous proposition indeed.
Here at el casa Snacked Up, we’re an unwittingly stubborn bunch, so much so that we’ll gladly see most tapes through to the bitter end, whether it means watching Hocus Pocus in grain-o-vision with bad tracking, or even a twenty year old S4C documentary about sand cultivation. To quote (with a similar degree of cynicism) Chuck Moseley: It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it.
This perhaps explains how I found myself locked into a viewing of a forty-year old film called Cherry, Harry & Raquel over the weekend – my first encounter with director Russ Meyer. Strange as it may be to think View full article »
Sometimes, it’s hard to identify what makes a game worthwhile. The enigmatic appeal of dying a thousand times playing Super Meat Boy, for example, should prove alien to anyone who hasn’t spent time in and around its world – especially when it’s held up against its bigger, more forgiving brother, Mario.
In a similar vein, at first glance, Drox Operative is nothing more than Diablo in space, an ARPG made interstellar, complete with an isometric viewpoint and an emphasis on filling your cheeks with as much loot as possible. It’s fundamentally familiar, a fact that works in the game’s favour given the bumps of its indie presentation, but one that also brings to mind the image of a little brother desperately trying to imitate big brother’s walk. While comparisons to the recent resurgence of the genre in Diablo III and Torchlight 2 aren’t too offensive, they also do little to describe the idiosyncrasies that make this sibling so special.
So yes, you click on things a lot in this game, and while Drox Operative falls into the genre’s trappings in so much that it’ll put you at severe risk of RSI, it also innovates enough within those constraints that it jumps ahead of its peers, for both better and View full article »
As far as religious creeds go, ‘the gun is good and the penis is evil’ surely ranks amongst the quirkiest. ‘Love thy neighbour’? Peace and harmony? Pshaw. As I’ve come to realise, penis envy and violence are the staples of any good weekend – not to mention film – an idea that Zardoz confirmed for me earlier this week.
Taking place in a desolate post-apocalyptic Ireland, Zardoz depicts humanity on its knees, split between three segregated societies. The Brutals; savage zealots governed by a stone god called Zardoz, follow the aforementioned creed to the letter, while the Eternals – an immortal group of scientists and thinkers – hide in a secluded utopia called The Vortex, safe from the Brutals’ genocidal sprees. In between these two opposing sides rest the Apathetics, people that are… well, a bit apathetic towards everything. Needless to say, over the course of the film’s runtime, the three groups intersect a fair bit.
Sean Connery plays Zed, a Brutal who discovers the world of The Vortex, but perhaps more importantly, wears very little except a red diaper and a pair of leather boots for the duration of the film. Most likely owing to his egregious defiance of the laws of fashion, taste and aesthetics, Zed is subsequently View full article »
You know that bit in most classic sci-fi series, when the intrepid crew of adventurers end up in a hostile region of the universe; sweating bullets and cursing into the cold vacuum of space?
Do you remember the inevitable part after that, when the alien menace-of-the-week would close in with laser-guns stacked high, firing blasts into the protagonists’ ship; stopping occasionally to laugh over the intercom, as if to let the viewer know that shit had just been taken to a Martin Lawrence degree of reality? Depending on what your sci-fi of choice was, maybe the comic relief character would crack wise at this point, space-wood splintering all around him; sparks flying across the bridge as sirens go off, red lights blink, and the captain is thrown across the room in a seemingly endless barrage of explosions. Against all odds, though, View full article »
2012 was an odd one for the world videogames, not least because it marked the seventh year of the current generation of consoles. If E3 was any indication, the glossy boxes that have been sat under our televisions for so long are no longer games consoles – 2012 saw them make the leap into the coveted status of ‘entertainment centres’; which perhaps explains why I spent most of the year waiting for the next big Netflix release.
The current climate in console development seems to be one of alienation; if you aren’t willing to fork out forty pounds on the next glossy shooter, it seems like this generation has already been and gone. Like everyone else, I got roped along into the likes of Amalur and Dishonoured, both of which proved to be hollow imitations of ground well-travelled ten years ago; and as much as I enjoyed Mass Effect 3, it did nothing but damage the series’ legacy with an astounding lack of spit-shine and rational thought. Even my shining beacon of light – Hitman: Absolution - turned out to be nothing but a dwindling flame in the end.
As a result, most of my favourite games appeared on the PC this year, in most cases developed by independent developers. By my estimation, until some new hardware gets announced, the Indies are ruling the roost – not necessarily a bad thing, but I can only stomach so many ‘quirky’ pixel art styles in one year.
Though I hope I don’t sound too cynical. For any and all complaints, 2012 is also the year that I really learned to appreciate what videogaming could do. Atlus’ Catherine, a 2011 release that only washed up on European shores this February, probably hit me harder than any other experience to date; and acted as the first jab of a one-two punch along with View full article »
This is probably the most difficult list of the year for me. One look at the contents of the archives here on the blog should be an indication that my movie-watching habits are erratic at best, and that Snacked Up’s 2012 was lean for films. I spent my year catching up on the highlights – and positive lowlights – of years gone by; I learned to love Melancholia and Moon, and feel my brain dribble out of my ears watching the likes of Outcast and Killer Elite, but somewhat neglected the year I was in. So yes, I may have missed Looper and Argo, but on the plus side, I got to avoid Total Recall.
I did manage to make my way to the cinema enough times to feel ashamed for Marky Mark Wahlberg, though – and to learn that South Wales, Indonesia, and Linkin Park combine to make martial arts special again. I witnessed Pixar’s descent into colour-by-numbers with Brave, and got all excited for Iron Sky, which saw the glorious rebirth of ‘high schlock’; swatting down the industry’s raging hard-on for exploitation and instead going for the kind of goofy shtick that makes low-budget cinema so endearing. Also, The Avengers happened.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved The Avengers as much as anyone else, but given that it turned out to be one of the most successful films of all time, and in turn was seen by just about everyone who could conceivably be reading this, I don’t think you need me to tell you about it. It has superheroes, it has some not-so superheroes, and it has a man with a bow who likes to pretend to be a bit of both. Cities are ruined, Bruce Banner gets angered, and Robert Downey Jr. steals the whole thing without even trying, by virtue of the smuggest, sexiest goatee conceivable. As one of those pesky View full article »
I’ve never really mentioned music here, perhaps owing to the breakneck speed of that particular industry. It seems that by the time you truly learn to appreciate one release, another five hundred have come and gone in the interim, all of which are equally deserving of a stand in the limelight. I’ve always viewed music as something that warrants a dedicated blog of its own, one conducive to shorter, rapid-fire updates: something which you sure ain’t getting here.
Looking back over the year, however, I can’t help but feel that too much came out in 2012 not to warrant a quick look back. Considering this is the year that saw Psy orchestrate a successful bid for world domination, I’m surprised there were enough raw materials left to press discs that didn’t have the words ‘Gangnam Style’ printed on them, let alone to facilitate the continued rise of the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Frank Ocean. 2012 was somewhat of a poster year for experimental, intelligent hip-hop, but more than that, also saw the Deftones’ return to form, Carley Ray Jepsen’s dating masterclass, and the dawn of hamburger-based horror in music videos. We’re truly living in great times.
Tying in with my upcoming run-down of 2012’s videogames, it also wouldn’t be proper if I didn’t give mention to two soundtracks that, like Darren Korb’s work with Bastion last year, watered pants worldwide– Hotline Miami’s eclectic compilation of electro and psychedelica, and the ambient blips of Disasterpeace’s soundtrack to Fez. Throw money at them – they deserve it.
Anyway, here are my top 5 albums of 2012. You’re more than welcome to tell me how wrong I am, and I’m equally welcome to curl up in a ball and cry when you insult my taste. Give it a go; we’ll make a party of it. View full article »
Chances are, if you owned a Playstation 2 and/or were alive during 2002, you came into contact with Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. A critical and commercial powerhouse, Vice City continued the franchise’s rise to global infamy after the success of its predecessor, Grand Theft Auto III, and helped validate the fledgling open-city genre after a number of early imitators almost declared it dead in the water (funnily enough, including Rockstar’s own publishing effort, State of Emergency). It may not have reinvented the wheel, but given Vice City’s reception, you could be forgiven for assuming that it had.
So unless that ‘2002’ bit up there tipped you off, it might come as a surprise to learn that – as of today – Vice City is ten years old. Ten. Years. If you’re anything like me, you might have just felt a sudden burst of a condition commonly known as ‘feeling old’; symptoms of which include a sinking feeling in the chest, and a tendency to imagine yourself in a mystical place known only as ‘back then’. Scary, right?
Rockstar have commemorated my newfound old age with a special edition re-release of the game, which is available on the app store right now. Despite being well aware of its impending arrival, I returned to the shores of Vice City over the course of the last week and played the game through one more time, if just to see what’s changed over the last ten years, before Rockstar inevitably retconned the whole thing and coded in a working flashlight. If you go no further, let it be known that a lot has changed since 2002, and very few of these changes have worked View full article »