Category Archives: GIMM-GP

Exciting Things Are Happening

There are several new developments going on around GIMMGP Headquarters, fair readers. Some fresh content on older blogs, a beautiful new art project, a tactical rebranding, and the debut of an Instagram account.  Let’s get to it!

PokemonPower1.1Longtime readers of GIMMGP may recall the creation of a Tumblr blog back in 2012 called Please Take One.  This site serves as a digital archive for Chip’s collection of rare and odd video game brochures.  After an extended hiatus, Please Take One is back to regular updates, and with Pokemon content, no less!  For the next several months on Please Take One, you will see multiple posts from the six “issue” run of Pokemon Power!  These mini-magazines were included as inserts in Nintendo Power back in 1998.  Pokemon Power features excerpts from the Official Pokemon Strategy Guide, fan art, a comic adaptation of the anime, and other neat goodies.  Be sure to follow Please Take One for all sorts of rare and nostalgic gaming brochures!

Meanwhile, over on Laura’s professional website, a new art project has appeared!  Titled the, “Tarot Deco Project,” this new series will feature gorgeous and gilded versions of the classic cards.  Laura plans to produce a piece for every card in the traditional tarot, starting with the Major Arcana.  Be sure to keep an eye on her website for regular updates, and check out her Instagram account for insight into the creative process for each piece!

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Finally, things are chugging along for Chip’s video game and beer pairings.  The next several combinations are planned and in the works, with many tasty brews being paired to games both relatively new and delightfully old.  He has also launched an Instagram account to share images of beers and games outside of the full length pairing posts.  With so much going on, this project has been rebranded Digital Draughts, to celebrate the delicious taste of a draught beer combined with the joy of our preferred digital pastime.  Please be sure to keep your eyes and palates here for future Digital Draughts posts, and follow the related Instagram account for all of the pours and plays between the main posts.

As always, thank you to all of our followers and regular readers over the last five years.  We look forward to sharing all sorts of creative collaborations and gaming goodness with you!

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Astral Breakers Mini-Review

Generally speaking, we are not a competitive gaming couple.  While each of us at GIMMGP has a genre that is our sport of choice (Chip- fighting games, Laura- racing games), these arenas rarely overlap in our play sessions.  However, there is one type of game at which we are both quite skilled and rather aggressive- puzzle games.  

Whether it’s Chip dealing out massive combos in Tetris Attack or Laura devouring piles of tasty creatures in Critter Crunch, the two of us have quite a bit of history with puzzle gaming.  Thanks to the rise of the handheld and mobile markets, we have been able to find plenty of great single-player options on our respective devices.

In spite of these portable offerings, we are always on the lookout for any fun puzzle games for two players on home consoles.  There is something wonderful about sitting side-by-side on the couch and trying to crush your loved one under a pile of brightly colored digital blocks.  Thanks to a recent release on the Wii-U eShop, the joy of puzzle game competition has filled the GIMMGP HQ once more.

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Like many puzzle games before it, Astral Breakers focuses on matching objects of like color (in this case, orbs known as Astral Spheres) and keeping your play area clear.  After dropping several spheres from the top of the screen, the cursor will begin to glow, meaning you have the option to make the next sphere an “Astral Breaker” for the current color.  These breakers are used to destroy clusters of like-colored orbs, thus keeping your play area clean while dumping loads of Astral Spheres on your opponent’s side.

Since the option to activate a breaker is within each player’s control, Astral Breakers allows for different play styles.  Some folks may choose to hold onto their breaker option, waiting until a massive pile of like-colored spheres are on the board before wiping them out.  Others will activate the breakers as soon as possible, dropping these little bombs on the board for future use.

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These options in play mean once again pitting speed versus cunning in the realm of matching colored spheres.  As Chip would try to set up two- and three-chain combos on the field, Laura would rush along, clearing her board as quickly as possible.  After numerous intense rounds with several close calls, it was Laura’s quick reflexes that won more matches than Chip’s meticulous planning.

Fortunately for Chip, there is more to this puzzler than just competitive play.  Astral Breakers features a cooperative mode called SuperNova, where two players work together to survive increasingly difficult waves of spheres being dumped onto the playing field.  SuperNova feels akin to arcade games of old, where constantly trying to improve your high score is the real goal.

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Along with competitive and cooperative multiplayer modes, Astral Breakers has a Story Mode for individual players, hosted by an adorable star named Kira.  The game also features a soundtrack of somber notes and relaxing melodies, perfect for keeping players cool during the more intense challenges.  The whole package is a wonderful puzzle title that is ideal for bringing people together to have some fun and compete for cosmic glory.

Be sure to check this game out, and while you’re at it, hop on over to the developer’s website for the equally adorable and lovely story behind the creation of Astral Breakers.

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Animal Crossing x Mario Kart 8 Mini-Review

Even though it wasn’t featured on either of our individual lists, Mario Kart 8 was easily GIMMGP’s Top Game of 2014.  This comes as no surprise to us, since Mario Kart was the reason we purchased a Wii-U.  From the moment we first raced at a friend’s apartment, we knew we had to have this fantastic game.

As Laura mentioned in our first Gateway Games post, Mario Kart is aesthetically interesting, technically manageable, and “not the least bit concerned with the proper physics of a dinosaur riding a motorcycle.”  The approachable gameplay and familiar Nintendo characters make Mario Kart 8 an ideal party activity.  The wide variety of tracks and vehicle options kept our attention for months, and a healthy amount of post-release downloadable content ensured we would come back for more.

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There have been two packs of DLC released for Mario Kart 8 so far.  Each of these packs adds two grand prix cups (for a total of 8 new race tracks), three new characters, and four new vehicles.  The DLC also features plenty of crossovers and cameos from other beloved properties, like the Legend of Zelda, F-Zero, and Animal Crossing.

We eagerly downloaded the first pack when it released in 2014, and we have more recently purchased the second pack since its 2015 release.  Now that we have had plenty of time to digest the latest Mario Kart DLC, it’s time for a mini-GIMMGP review!

Favorite New Race Track: Big Blue

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Chip is so pleased to see another F-Zero staple make an appearance in Mario Kart 8.  As much as we loved racing in Mute City in the first DLC pack, Big Blue is our preferred Formula Zero flavor. The track features plenty of nods to its parent series, including damage barriers, energy refill pads, and AMAZING music.  The soundtrack for Mario Kart already impressed us with its live band recording, so the dueling guitars and brass of Big Blue are especially exciting. We are also pleased to see another continuous track that is divided into sections rather than laps.

Runner up: Ribbon Road. It is delightful.

Loathed New Race Track: Cheese Land

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We never played Mario Kart Super Circuit on the Game Boy Advance, so neither of us have any prior love for its tracks.  So when one of the retro-remake courses happens to come from Super Circuit instead of our beloved Mario Kart 64, we are less than enthused. Cheese Land is a lackluster track, filled with garish yellow tones, grating harsh turns, and obnoxious moving obstacles. At least it’s not another Rainbow Road.

Runner up: Neo Bowser City. It’s very pretty, we are just terrible at it.

Chip’s Favorite Racer: Animal Crossing Villager

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It’s no secret that Laura and I loved Animal Crossing: New Leaf.  It was our mutual summer obsession in 2013.  I love the aesthetic of the Animal Crossing series, so I was eager to see its inclusion in Mario Kart.  The Villager fits my racing style quite well: a lightweight racer with solid turning skills.  Plus, the addition of the chic City Tripper moped makes my Villager look quite fashionable while she leaves other racers in the dust.

Laura’s Favorite Racer: Dry Bowser

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I inadvertently picked Dry Bowser the first time we played this DLC. What started out as an accident turned out to be a beautiful moment of serendipity. Do you know the feeling of finding a character in a game that truly understands you? Sure, he is a particularly fast, but this goes deeper than that. We are soul mates. The way he bullies the other players on the track. The way he breathes fire when excited or angry. How ridiculous he looks riding tiny motorcycles. Truly, we were made for each other.

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Achievement Unlocked: Published Gaming Magazine

Component is the realization of a dream: to make a gaming publication that celebrates the joy of a beloved pastime.  The goal of this magazine is to bridge the gap between players. To share personal experiences and individual viewpoints with the rest of the gaming world. To encourage others to forge their own connections, and share the joy that our collective hobby can provide.

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Each issue will have a central theme, and features a collection of essays and artwork on the subject of video games. Component is available as a print-on-demand magazine through Blurb and as an instant PDF, sold directly through the Component website. The editor and contributors of Component thoroughly believe in gaming for good causes, so 100% of the profits from Component will be donated to the U-Pick Video Game Marathon for Charity.

The first issue is filled with stories about our most cherished games. Some are first encounters where a lasting bond was established. Others are tales of transition, where these beloved games have stood by our side as a supportive medium. All of them reflect the wonder that can be found in moments of play and through them we share the happiness of a cherished hobby.

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Games highlighted in the articles and artwork of Issue One include Mega Man 2, Super Mario 64, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Metal Gear Solid, Spyro the Dragon, Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, Pokémon: Yellow Version, Halo: Combat Evolved, and Okami.

Component will be released semi-annually, and the second issue has a tentative release of December 2015.  Please be sure to follow Chip, the editor of Component, on Twitter (@gimmgp) for news about the magazine and related video game musings.  You can also check our Blog page for updates and other works from our brilliant and creative contributors.

Thank you for reading and please be sure to check out Issue One: Our Games for all sorts of gaming goodness.

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The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

Game: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
Released: Nintendo EAD, March 24th, 2003
System: Nintendo GameCube
Game started: February 15th, 2015
Amount completed: Defeated Kalle Demos in the Forbidden Woods, explored a handful of random islands, picked up so many pigs.

Chip’s Thoughts

Wind Waker did not make a great first impression in 2001.  When a demo reel debuted at Nintendo’s Space World trade show, the internet-at-large took the game to task for its cartoon visuals.  Most of the complaints lodged against Wind Waker were based on a sense of deception.  After all, it was only one year prior at the same trade show that Nintendo unveiled a demo video of a mature-looking Link engaged in an epic sword fight with his nemesis, Ganondorf.  Instead of this gritty and realistic Legend of Zelda game, fans were outraged to see a childish Link parading around in a goofy cartoon world.

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Of course, this feeling of betrayal was no more than a bloated sense of entitlement.  The cel shaded art of Wind Waker turned out to be a fresh change of pace and an intelligent design choice. Whereas other Zelda titles need to be remastered from the ground up to compete with the current market’s hyper-realistic graphics, Wind Waker’s aesthetic needs only a slight bump to HD to impress.  The cartoon visuals are timeless in the same way that classic Disney animated features are; bright colors and simple lines used to their fullest to craft a wondrous world full of fun characters.

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The wide range of expressions that can cross Link’s goofball face still delight me to this day. Additionally, the exaggerated facial changes serve a second function as intuitive clues for the player.  When Link’s large eyes glanced somewhere off-screen and his mouth narrowed into an inquisitive pucker, we knew to look around the room for hidden switches or objects. This sort of interaction with the player is much more engaging than interrupting gameplay to have a nagging fairy explicitly explain where to look for a solution.

Unfortunately, no amount of timeless visuals can make up for poor design choices.  Wind Waker opens with a quaint island village to explore, the potential of a legend to be fulfilled, and a quest with lovable pirates to save your sister.  Then, the story screeches to a halt and all fun is temporarily sucked out of the game, thanks to a dungeon filled with crumby stealth sections.

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Stealth is a gameplay mechanic that should NEVER be included in a game where stealth is not the focus.  It is already a challenge to pull off sneaking and silence as the central mechanic of a game, so adding it as an extra feature is a fool’s errand. Since Link made the transition to 3D, every game seems to feature some sort of frustrating stealth section that betrays the core concepts of Zelda gameplay.  Instead of learning to master his sword and delve into complex dungeons, Link has to slink unarmed in the shadows.  The penalty for being caught is equally frustrating- forcing the player back to the start of the dungeon as Link is automatically thrown into a jail cell every time he gets spotted.

Fortunately, this narrow stealth-based dungeon gives way to a huge ocean world covered in mysterious islands.  Exploring the waters of Wind Waker is a interesting alternative to the traditional Zelda adventure.  It’s easy to feel a sense of excitement as the wind picks up and Link hoists his sail.  The vast number of islands and environments to visit makes this seafaring journey seem epic in scale.  The game uses its cartoon visuals to reinforce a storybook aesthetic, providing the player with numerous colorful characters and scenarios with which to interact.

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Wind Waker did not make a great first impression on us in 2015.  An initially fun game filled with potential quickly gave way to one of the most frustrating moments in Laura and my collective gaming history.  But once we powered through this stealth-based slump, Wind Waker proved that its cartoon visuals and vast ocean journey have stood the test of time.  The vibrant and expressive characters were a delight to see, encouraging us to raise the sails and take to the seas for adventure.

Laura’s Thoughts

My time with Wind Waker can be summarized with the following:

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2015 is the Year of Making Great Art

For several years, my wife has been working hard to produce excellent art in her free time.  She has squeezed every spare hour to make fine work, some of which she has made exclusively for the viewers of GIMMGP.  Now that the new year has begun, I am happy to announce that Laura is pursuing her artwork full time as a freelancer!

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Specializing in concept art and illustration, Laura has launched a professional website where you can find some amazing pieces and read up on her big art series for 2015: The Tarot Project.  She also has several pieces available as prints through her Inprnt gallery.

What does this huge life change mean for Games I Made My Girlfriend Play?  After years of struggling to find time in between stressful jobs, we can finally stick to regular updates.  In other words, more posts and more awesome artwork for your viewing pleasure!

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As always, thank you to all of our followers and regular readers for their support over the last three years.  Please be sure to check out Laura’s professional website and let’s all look forward to a new year of making happy gaming memories with our loved ones.

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Taking Inventory

In video games, it’s important to regularly take stock of your inventory.  This is especially true of classic adventure games, where the items on your person are often the key to making progress (or surviving a minotaur charge).  Before the picture-heavy interfaces of the point-and-click games appeared, text-based adventure titles relied on a simple command from a player to see what they were carrying.  By typing “inventory” into the little command window, a list of items would splash across the screen, and a recent Twitter account is providing folks with the chance to check their virtual pockets once again.

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Andrew Vestal has created a Twitter bot that pulls from a list of over 1000 items to create lists for anyone who reaches out to the account.  Simply tweet “inventory” or “I” to @YouAreCarrying, and you will receive a random assortment of items as a reply.  All of these lists are made up of bits and baubles straight from old Infocom games, which can lead to a bit of confusion for those of us who haven’t played Zork before (get ready to Google).

A fantastic side effect of this digital delight is that so many people have taken the lists produced by the bot and drawn the results as a sort of self-portrait.  Mr. Vestal actively encourages people to share their labeled drawings with YouAreCarrying, which makes following the account even more enjoyable.  Laura and I decided to have a little bit of fun with our lists, by sharing our inventories and drawing each other’s picture.  Please enjoy the results below:

Laura’s Inventory, drawn by Chip: a white rod, a gun receipt, a large fly, a second seventeen-centimeter fromitz board, a pair of goggles, a laser, a lunch.

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Chip’s Inventory, drawn by Laura: a cannonball, a hatchet, plaster dust, a Remington, a small piece of vitreous slag, a bottle of Scotch, a zorkmid coin.

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Why not shoot a tweet to @YouAreCarrying right now and see what’s in your inventory?  The contents of your virtual backpack may surprise you.

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Co-op Recommendation: Battleblock Theater

BehemothThe PAXEast Expo Hall is something of an anxiety-producing beast.  There are legions of people packed into a convention center that has been lined with hundreds of booths, and each of these booths is filled with tons of mesmerizing media.  There are cardboard cut-outs and statues, fabulous prizes to be won and little tchotchkes to be gathered; every company and studio wants to grab your attention and get you stoked about their latest products.  Needless to say, attending a video game convention can be quite overwhelming.  Fortunately, Laura and I learned from our very first PAXEast to always visit The Behemoth booth every year, as it is the most inviting and honestly fun place to be on the convention floor.  Besides the neat merchandise and friendly staff, every demo station is built into a faux arcade machine where delightfully cartoony games may be enjoyed by a pair of friends.  It was here that my good friend Bobby and I first encountered Battleblock Theater.

BehemothGameAt the time, we had no idea what sort of game we were playing, or even what our motivation was in this strange world.  There were two adorable characters on the screen, one for each of us, and we led our little heroes through strange obstacle courses filled with acid baths, deadly spikes, and evil kitties.  There was no tutorial, save for a few signs that explained some of the button functions, so much of our time playing was spent experimenting with the game.  The first thing we found was our heroes could fight each other, which led to a few “accidental” deaths (a punch into acid here, a misplaced fireball there).  But not to worry, our characters would respawn immediately, bright, shiny, and new (thank goodness).  Then we noticed that we could stand on each other, as to reach higher items and areas (or to just sit on someone’s head while the other player had a nice nap).  From these simple yet unexplained rules, Bobby and I started to do everything we could to break this game.  We were tossing each other around the maps, bouncing off our heads to grab collectible items, and using our own projectiles to create new combos to destroy our enemies.  In short, this game was awesome and we wanted to play it all day.  But with a growing line behind us and plenty more to see in the Expo Hall, we pulled ourselves from the arcade machine and moved on to other booths.

Two years passed between our initial glimpse of Battleblock Theater and its public debut, but our fevered desire for this silly and fun game never faltered.  I purchased the game from the Xbox Live Arcade on the day of release, eager to find out the story behind our little cartoon friends.  I was not disappointed:

Battleblock Theater has the sort of story my friends and I would make up on the fly while chilling out and enjoying a couple of beers (read: drinking heavily).  I can only imagine how the pitch meeting went over:  “So, there’s a dapper gentleman, and he wants all of his friends to go on a cruise, but then they get shipwrecked on an island of evil cats.  And the cats, see, they put a cursed hat on the gentleman’s head, and then force his friends to compete in death relays for feline amusement.  What do ya think?”  And the narrator, good gravy, let’s talk about this guy.  An over-caffeinated storyteller (who does not pull his punches) comments on the player’s performance and provides all of the dialogue for Battleblock Theater.  So much of the game’s humor comes from the high-spirited and sarcastic comments being force-fed to the player.  These elements perfectly compliment the frantic gameplay and make for a colorful and manic cartoon world.

In an industry that emphasizes the need for high-rez graphics, gritty storylines, and massive online skirmishes, it is nice to see that some studios remember what first brought people to video games: discovery and fun.  The Behemoth makes games that are easy to learn, but they don’t bash the player over the head with rules and tutorials.  This allows each player the opportunity to discover new styles of play hidden within the basic rules of a game.  As Laura and I made our way through the many stages of Battleblock Theater, we continued to find novel ways of getting around and collecting items.  There was no single way to complete a level, and by carving our own path, the experience of play became much more personal and endearing.

In other words: stop what you are doing, grab a friend, and play Battleblock Theater.  It’s a fun time.

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Tomb Raider (2013)

Game: Tomb Raider
Released: Square-Enix/Crystal Dynamics/Eidos, March 5th, 2013
System: Xbox 360
Game started: March 6th, 2013
Amount completed: Finished the single-player campaign, currently trying to achieve 100% collection completion, haven’t even touched the useless multiplayer.

Chip’s Thoughts

TombRaider2013Whenever controversy hits a video game, the quality of gameplay and story seem to take backseat to media coverage of hot-button topics.  GTA: San Andreas became, “the title with a hidden sex mini-game” after the Hot Coffee debacle, Modern Warfare 2 was touted as a civilian massacre simulator thanks to the “No Russian” stage, and here we are now with Tomb Raider’s infamous near-rape scene.  When an interview with the executive producer implied that Lara Croft is captured and nearly raped by island scavengers, the Internet was aflame with comments and condemnations on the trials the beloved heroine was forced to endure.  Later, an E3 trailer showed the world that while Miss Croft manages to defend herself from her assailant, she would still face many violent and gruesome challenges in the reboot of Tomb Raider.  The developers were forced to defend their design and narrative choices before the game had even hit store shelves.

With the tagline, “A survivor is born” at the game’s helm, Crystal Dynamics explains that the suffering Lara Croft goes through is meant to establish her evolution from a bookish archeology grad into a hardened adventurer.  Now that I have played the game, I can confirm that Lara Croft does undergo a serious change over the course of Tomb Raider, but not necessarily for the better.

TombRaiderZiplineInitially, much of the gameplay in Tomb Raider revolves around the premise that this is Lara’s first adventure.  She does not have the experience of a battle-weary warrior, and the player’s limitations express this notion quite well.  For the first few hours of the game, Lara must rely on stealth and simple weapons to defend herself.  The player does not have an option of hand-to-hand combat or a melee weapon for quite a while; a crude bow and arrows are the only weapons provided.  Fortunately, the bow combat and mechanics are some of the best in gaming, so the gameplay is fun and engaging.  During this first half of Tomb Raider, the player is treated to gorgeous views and immersive environments where they must climb, sneak, and solve their way through this treacherous paradise.  But over time, Lara acquires the usual trifecta of guns (pistol, shotgun, rifle) and cover-based combat starts to creep into the game.

TombRaiderGunshotAfter a denouement where Lara and her crew discover there is a supernatural element keeping them on the island, Tomb Raider quickly devolves into a series of uninspired and increasingly crowded gunfights.  The young woman who used her survival skills and intelligence to save her friends has transformed into a vengeful bad-ass who mows down anyone who stands in her way.  Even the final moments of the game become nothing more than walking in a circle, slaying wave after wave of enemies, culminating in a bull-fight with a “big guy” enemy, and quick-time events with double pistols.

Overall, Tomb Raider is a beautiful game with responsive controls and plenty of interesting ideas.  It is a shame that what starts off as a product that stands out from its action-adventure brethren comes to rely on tired gunfights to get the player through the story.  How strange that after all of the trials Lara Croft has experienced, the survivor that was born turned out to be just another action hero cliché.

Laura’s Thoughts

It is not hard to see that Crystal Dynamics wanted to make Tomb Raider as good as it could possibly be, in order to appeal to a broad audience. It’s obvious that they tried really, really hard to make something that would appeal to the modern gaming community while not outright offending its female audience. For the most part, it does really well. I do love playing this game. Once they gave me the bow, I was in love. The bow is so much fun to play with and it is by far and wide the only weapon I use if I can help it. The environments are breathtaking. The cinematics are intense. This is undoubtedly a great game.

However, as I played through the story it was made abundantly clear that I was not the target audience for this game.

TombRaiderBowAt the beginning of the campaign I was given a bow and I loved it. I should have given it a name, I loved it so much. And all I wanted to do was make my bow as big and shiny as possible and shoot bad guys with it. And then huzzah! I got a stick! And oh, what a stick it was. I could climb with it and open heavy chests with it, and surely I would be given some sort of melee attack. But no. I don’t know if it was because of my frail woman-ness or general ineptitude but I was not really allowed to hit bad guys with it. This was a skill I needed to cultivate.

…ok fine.

TombRaiderFirstKillThen we come to the infamous scene where the player must help Lara fend off the unwanted sexual advances of a crazy island dweller… with quick-time events…  but don’t worry, if you don’t manage to “push x to not be molested” in time, you get to watch Lara get strangled to death. Every. Single. Time. Until you get the sequence and timing perfectly. About the third time this happens, it’s not fun anymore. By the seventh, it’s obnoxious and the gravity has long since dissipated. And by the twelfth, I want to strangle Lara myself for being so dependant and incompetent that she needs me to walk her through all of this again.

She then proceeds to have a rather noisy breakdown in the middle of an open field, where the guys she just snuck past, not 20 seconds prior, could easily hear her. Maybe after 20 minutes of watching Lara get murdered again and again, they got bored and went home. Otherwise, this part is a very good example of “things that are fun to do as a writer” and not “things that are fun to do as an audience”.

So now I have a gun. And this is when the game and I begin to disagree with each other. I was perfectly happy with my bow and was prepared to stealth-kill my way through this game because, quite frankly, I’m a coward. But now that I had a gun, the game seemed to think that I wanted to use it. Frequently.

So often it would try to tell me “Look! We gave you this noisier, less effective weapon. Isn’t that great?”

To which I reply “No thanks. I’ve got my bow. I’m good.”

“See!” The game retorts, not listening “You’re going to have so much fun with this” As waves of much better armed bad guys show up with assault rifles and flaming arrows and machetes.

To this I ask, “Can I just have flaming arrows instead? Those guys have them.”

“What? No, you can’t have flaming arrows. You haven’t even used that perfectly good pistol we gave you.”

“But I don’t like it”

“Well, too bad. You can’t have flaming arrows until after you learn how to hit people with that stick you’ve been carrying around the whole game.”

“Why do I need a gun before I learn to hit people with a stic–”

“STOP ASKING QUESTIONS!”

So I left it at that and continued with the story, which first seemed so engaging, then degraded into a series of WTF moments, including the three or four occasions where Lara could have simply shot the lead bad guy in the face (with my bow and arrows of course), but didn’t (particularly when she would just shoot the guy next to him instead).

After that, I really stopped caring about the story, and tried to trudge through it so I could actually have fun with the game. I made Chip play most of the frustrating bits since I continued to use my bow and arrow when it was not appropriate to do so.  After all, Chip is a boy, so certainly he loves shooting guys and blowing stuff up, right?

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Tron

Game Movie: Tron
Released: Walt Disney Productions, July 9th, 1982
System: Amazon Streaming Movies
Game Movie started: February 26th, 2013
Amount completed: We watched the whole thing, start-to-finish, in spite of seeing Tron: Legacy in theaters some time ago.

Chip’s Thoughts

We citizens of the nerd culture tend to be the biggest target for peddlers of nostalgic schlock.  Just slap some 16-bit pixel art or some Star Wars references on a t-shirt and one of our ilk will buy it, guaranteed.  Even with my rugged will-power and a stalwart wife by my side, I have fallen victim to geek kryptonite in the past.  Hence why I own a vast array of ironic video game t-shirts; I just can’t help myself.  However, I do have an immunity to one such disease of the memory: I have never seen the original Tron, not even parts of the film.

To this news, many of you may be calling for me to turn in my nerd card and resign from the elite club, for I am certainly not one of the chosen few.  Well, that’s just silly, you can’t revoke a lifetime membership.

TronDVDYou see, many of my friends watched Tron at an early age, so they grew up with the notion that just beyond the screens of their favorite games, rogue computer programs battled for survival in strange disc-based trials.  As for me, classic arcade games did not hide some dystopian world; they were simply entertainment that lacked the technology to tell the greater story a developer wished to share.  Over the years, Tron has held the same place as Doctor Who in my book: a geeky trope that plenty of people revered, but I never really understood the appeal.  So Laura and I decided to stage a viewing of the 1982 classic in our own home, which we coincidentally watched streaming over our computer (where Master Control would surely monitor our reactions).

TronDisksLet us be frank at the commencement: Tron is a dated film.  Back in the year 1982, I am sure the movie was a technological marvel, but in 2013, the movie shows its age.  The visual effects in the movie could be created by any teenager with a bootleg copy of Flash or Maya, and the technical jargon of the script can be understood by most of today’s internet-savvy generation.  The costumes are rather silly (and feature WAY too much moose-knuckle), and the data discs on each program has are obviously Frisbees with neon paint.  The soundtrack starts off as an intense symphonic masterpiece, but quickly devolves into out-of-place prog rock and synth noise, which seems dissonant and jarring.  Overall, Tron has not aged well and it shows.

TronFlynnandCoBut in spite of all the wrinkles and liver spots that cover this old movie, there is still some great magic at work in Tron.  As the games of today feature increasingly realistic character creation modes and greater immersion, there is still a disconnect between player and game world.  None of us can completely integrate ourselves into the games that we love, and that is precisely what Tron is about: a plain dude who is a bit of a slacker has been digitized into the world of the Grid, and in order to earn his freedom and fame, he must compete in classic arcade games.  This is the stuff of gamer dreams.

TronFlynnThe protagonist of Tron, Kevin Flynn, is a perfect hero for the nerd generation.  Here is a guy who would always prefer tinkering at a computer and playing video games than getting involved in corporate politics.  The irony of the situation is that his attitude has relegated him to being a mere arcade owner, forced to watch his creations only earn him quarters against the millions that his usurper has won through treachery.  Such a story transcends time as we live in a world with renewed interest in the indie developer underdog, fighting against the corporate robots who pump out sequel after sequel each year.  In a way, Tron was quite ahead of its time, offering a guiding hand into the world of video games to a world that was only just beginning to accept gaming culture.

By the end of the film, I was rooting for Flynn all the way.  I felt sorry for this downtrodden computer programmer who received no recognition for the games he made.  The more I grow to understand just how difficult it can be to produce a successful video game, the more I empathize with Flynn’s sentiment once he is dropped into the Grid: “On the other side of the screen, it all looks so easy.”

Laura’s Thoughts

There are some movies that stand the test of time. Tron stands up about as well as any other 80’s movie. Essentially, if you didn’t see Tron in your youth, then you’ve missed any opportunity to really like it. Watching Tron just really made me want to re-watch Tron:Legacy instead. The action scenes are better executed, the special effects are far superior, and the story is more engaging to the generation that grew up with computers. Granted, this should be expected from a sequel released nearly 30 years after the original.

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