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Games Of April 2013: Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon

Just when you think ’80s nostalgia has reached its peak, a work of retro genius like Blood Dragon comes along.

By John Teti • May 20, 2013

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is “And Now For Something Completely Different: The Game.” The developers at Ubisoft Montreal took the technological underpinnings of Far Cry 3 and used it to build an over-the-top parody of ’80s action movies, ’80s cartoons, ’80s fashion, and so on. All the pulpiest aspects of the hot-pink decade have been condensed and twisted into the adventures of one Sergeant Rex Power Colt. Drew Toal, whose passion for the B-movies of the era knows no bounds, was an obvious choice to talk about this one.

This week we’re snacking on Haribo gummy candies. I always thought these were Japanese, but after my wife brought some back from a recent trip to Berlin, I realized that they’re German. You know, you base your whole life around certain immutable truths, and then one day, boom. In any case, they come in a bunch of odd flavors, so they were inevitably going to get the Digest chat-’n’-chew treatment at some point. Today we sample the cola flavor. You can’t see it in the video, but they are shaped like little bottles of Coke. Taste is a bit different, though.

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  • HobbesMkii

     According to Straus-Howe Generational Theory, Drew is Gen X, but Teti is a Millennial.

    • The_Helmaroc_King

      I smell a sitcom!

      • HobbesMkii

        One’s a mustacheless child of the 80s and the other is…um…also a mustacheless child of the 80s. Now they have to appear in the same series of monthly videogame internet talk shows and it’s ToalTeti-ly Crazy

        Starring Drew Toal as “Drew Toal,” John Teti as “John Teti,” and featuring Mandy Patinkin as “Uncle Pete!”

    • Captain Internet

      Well- that would depend on whether his 31st birthday was this year or last

      • http://gameological.com/author/johnteti/ John Teti

        My birthday is in November, so Drew was correct that we’re both technically part of Generation X. (At least by this definition!) Of course, the fact that someone could straddle the lines between generations just goes to show how necessarily arbitrary the lines are.

        • HobbesMkii

          Yeah, Straus-Howe notes that if you’re on the border, it’s likely you’ll share the “characteristics” from both cohorts but identify with one more than the other. And as @paraclete_pizza:disqus points out in his Glenn link, Straus and Howe aren’t beyond reproach (I chose them because they’re popular and I own their book): 1982 was chosen for the cohort start merely because it meant people born that year would turn 18 in 2000 (ironically, that would still be before the turn of the millennium on January 1, 2001). 

          As Joel Stein’s recent TIME magazine cover story demonstrates, generational divisions are both arbitrary and incendiary. They sort of have to be, I guess. It’s sort of like dividing history into Ages: When does “the Gilded Age” or the “Age of Enlightment” end? Damn unyielding decimal system for tracking years!

        • HobbesMkii

          Also, with this new information about the month of your birth, I’m that much closer to seizing your identity and fashioning a new John Teti to purchase items by credit card in Russia!

        • Effigy_Power

          @HobbesMkii:disqus: As if you’re going to have time to do that. I will counter your efforts by ensnaring you in a long, protracted debate about the Bronze Age/Iron Age gap.

        • HobbesMkii

          @Effigy_Power:disqus I hope we’re talking about comic book ages!

    • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

      I really enjoy Joshua Glenn’s generational periodization scheme (and its distinction between numerical decades and cutural decades is pretty useful, too). If you scroll down a bit on that page, you can see the whole scheme mapped out, with links describing each generation.

      Though at some point he adjusted it so that I went from being the equivalent of a ‘Generation Y’ to being the equivalent of a ‘Millennial’ (you’ll notice the recent generations cut off at 82 and 92 rather than 63, 73, etc.), which chafed me a bit, as I was so used to feeling smug and superior toward Millennials by that point…

      • NakedSnake

         Generational labelling is like horoscopes: there’s enough personality traits in there for anyone to find something that fits them. That said, it does seem like they need a generation between X and millennial.

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          Generation labels have the same pitfalls of most enormous generalizations in that there are invariably a jillion exceptions to any schema. However, in their defense, they’re a bit more relevant that horoscopes since cultural trends/eras actually do affect how people turn out, whereas ‘the movements of the celestial spheres’ have bugger all to do with us and our lives.

          • NakedSnake

            Whatabout da movement of these spheres? Ayyyy. But yea, I take your point. I just think it’s funny whenever I read a horoscope or a description of a generation or whatever I always see myself distinctly in the description until I realize that there’s something there for everyone to identify with. Like Homer, when he’s listening to Lurleen Lumpkins “Your Wife Don’t Understand You…” and he’s going “Yea. That’s true. That’s right! Except for the part about the pickup truck.”

        • boardgameguy

           TV told me growing up that I was part of Generation NeXt: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4GR0Zv0hm0

          • NakedSnake

            I remember that, as well as the attempts to promote “Generation Y”. As a youth who wanted to cast off the yolk of my older sister and cousins, I did not appreciate being cast as some kind of derivative of Gen X. Even worse was the fact that the other name for us was the “Echo Boom”. Is there any way to describe my generation without resorting to subsets of other generations? I guess that in the end I must subscribe to Mr. Girard’s theories.

        • Thats_A_Paddlin

           I always thought it had more to do with when you were actually born and statistics than personality traits.

          • NakedSnake

            If you were born in 1982, you get to choose.

        • Thats_A_Paddlin

           Then I am definitely firmly in Gen X.

          • NakedSnake

            Who knew that they would some day be the better option?

    • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

      And John Teti’s hair is a member of The Greatest Generation, obviously. That deep voice!

      • Effigy_Power

        No wonder he was vocal coach for President Roosevelt’s fireside chats… back when it was fashionable to stick an onion into your belt rather than work for one.

    • http://gameological.com/author/derricksanskrit/ Derrick Sanskrit

      Ick, how did I get lumped in with a group of kids who don’t even remember pre-9/11 standup comedy?

      • George_Liquor

        What’s the deal with airline food, anyway?

  • Citric

    Dammit, I’m younger than Teti, I don’t wanna be a millenial!

    Also, dammit, I wanted this to be a reply to Hobbes, not its own thread.

    • HobbesMkii

       We all wanted that, Citric, we all did.

      • THE_PRESIDENT_OF_DISQUS

           Not all of us, friend.  I get a penny for every new thread started!
           Thanks again for using Disqus!  And look for Disqus for petz, coming third quarter 2013!

        • Jackbert

          Something about these indentations reminds me of @SpacemonkeyMafia:disqus…

        • Spacemonkey Mafia

          I’m sorry, @Jackbert:disqus , I was just in the bathroom.  What did I miss?

    • Effigy_Power

      Oh boohoo. I am older than Teti and now his hair is approaching mine in fabulousity. At least I am Core-GenX and not some Johnny-come-lately. ^_^

  • Citric

    Blood Dragon is easily the best thing I spent $15 on this year. So wacky and fun!

    Also, this weekend I bought expensive sodas, and Fentimans stuff – especially the Dandelion & Burdock – like drinking god (Okay the Shandy was a letdown but otherwise great stuff). Just because they also make a delicious cola, to make you forget gross gummy cola.

    • DrFlimFlam

       I tried to get some more time in with it this weekend to see if it was just, “Hey, look how 80s we are!”, and while I don’t LOVE it, it certainly holds up as a game beyond the aesthetic. Sometimes games that want to look or feel so specific forget there’s supposed to be a game underneath all of that, but with FC3 as a foundation, Blood Dragon is more able to have fun with its conceit.

      I just hope my guns start to feel more powerful soon.

    • GaryX

      I really want to play it. The soundtrack for it alone is really great. I think I’m holding off, though, until I’ve saved up to build my computer (which as of last night’s estimate, seems to be hoving around $1200 to $1300 so woof, it’s gonna be awhile).

      • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

        hooooooly shit that’s a lot of money to blow on a pc. Does that total include a new monitor/keyboard/mouse/etc as well? 

        • GaryX

          Nope. I’ll probably just have it running to my TV until I get around to getting a monitor. Have a mouse/keyboard though. The main thing is that I need a good GPU and processor to be able to handle work stuff–it wouldn’t be for games besides in passing. I do a lot of CAD, Revit, Rhino+Grasshopper, rendering in vray & maxwell, etc etc stuff both for work and on my own (along with the adobe staples), so I need it to be able to handle that stuff really, really well. I could probably write it or part of it off somehow–need to look into that.

        • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

          @GaryX:disqus Oh, goodness. I was gonna say, you absolutely do not need to spend that much on a kickass gaming rig. If you need a workstation that’s different. Fun times! Especially if you can write some of the expenses off!

    • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

      Fentimans Dandelion & Burdock is the best. It’s the perfect thing when you want a fancy non-alcoholic option. 

      • Citric

        The only problem is that it’s not available in any local stores, but the organic market chain I bought it at is expanding to my town one of these days.

        They are going to bankrupt me I think.

  • CNightwing

    Haribo macht Kinder froh und Erwachsene ebenso.
    Do you feel glad?

    • Effigy_Power

      What about Erwachsene who are Kinder at heart?

    • Zach_Annon

      You know, I always thought that Haribo was a Mexican company, because I would see them all the time at convenience stores and grocery stores growing up in Phoenix.

  • TaumpyTearrs

    For everybody who has been enjoying Blood Dragon lately, I have a movie suggestion:

    Manborg – I picked this up for $10 at Best Buy because the synopsis was admirably insane, and it turned out to be a perfect companion to Blood Dragon. Manborg embraces and eviscerates 80s action and sci-fi movie cliches, and even has some video-game referencing humor. For example, one of the heroes is a martial artist named #1 Man. He looks quite a bit like Liu Kang from Mortal Kombat (he even does the flying kick!) and he speaks in badly dubbed voice-over.

    This kind of humor can be really hit or miss, and as the movie started I wondered if I had made a bad choice as I remembered other parodies that run out of steam or recycle the same jokes. Luckily, this is not one of those cases. While Manborg does have some wonderfully specific references (the opening credits/Manborg’s creation is dead-on), it also has its own silly sense of humor that allows for jokes and character beats beyond the stuff they are parodying. And the parody stuff gets taken beyond simple referencing, like another hero Justice, who speaks with a terrible fake Australian accent and turns almost every movement into a flourish or pose.

    This movie was made mostly by one guy, and obviously for no budget. He uses constant green-screen and cheap computer-effects to create his futuristic dystopian setting, and even throws in some stop-motion monsters for nostalgia’s sake. The opening scene of the movie had me worried, at is was hard to watch due to how it was filmed or edited, but that must have been a stylistic choice because the rest of the movie didn’t bother me. 

    I definitely recommend checking this movie out, it makes a perfect companion to Blood Dragon and at around 70 minutes it doesn’t wear out its welcome (although the first 5 minutes or so are pretty weak, so don’t bail on it immediately.)

  • Effigy_Power

    I don’t know if Drew just came straight from a wedding or a Used-Car-Salesmen Convention, but that getup is quite something. I can’t help but notice that it would have looked cool with a mustache, but who has the time?

    • HobbesMkii

      I think he and Teti were in a grey suit jacket-off.

      • HobbesMkii

        Innuendo! Ha ha!

        • George_Liquor

          Ha ha ha… Multiple entendres!

    • Drew Toal

      Can I interest you in a turd brown 1973 Dodge Dart? 

  • Raging Bear

    “Haribo™: We make soft drinks hard.”

    • boardgameguy

       They also sell a pack in the UK called Tangfastics that mixes the fizzy cola with cherries and other oddities. It’s really good.

  • Destroy Him My Robots

    The secret to enjoying cola gummy is biting off the top end first to pretend you’re opening the bottle.

    • DrFlimFlam

       It helps to make overly cartoonish gulping sounds.

  • NakedSnake

    So did anyone else watch Star Trek Into the Darkness this weekend, and then spend the rest of the weekend playing FTL?

  • Cloks

    Topics for discussion on Digest Videos: The hair choices of Teti and guest, snacks, deep thoughts about offhand remarks.

    I’d like to break that mold and say that this video has made me want to purchase Blood Dragon instead of largely ignore it, like I did with Far Cry 3. It looks like a fun blend of good video-gaming and humor plus it’ll probably be hell of cheap during the Summer Steam Sale.

  • Thats_A_Paddlin

    Is it worth pausing Deus Ex: Human Revolution to play this?

  • Thats_A_Paddlin

    Not to sound like a jerk, but I’m surprised anyone wouldn’t know that Haribo is German candy. 

    • cokebabies

       I know mostly because of the Germany pavilion in Epcot.

  • RyanTheBold

    Oh, you’re married?

    Yes. To America. 

  • Professor_Cuntburglar

    It’s funny how the Far Cry 3 engine tells the story of Far Cry 3 really badly (how is this white dude from the suburbs suddenly an unstoppable killing machine?), but it tells the story of Blood Dragon really well (because you are literally an unstoppable killing machine).

    I kinda wish Far Cry 3 had just been like Blood Dragon to start off. It’s basically a Rambo simulator anyway.

  • KidvanDanzig

    John I’m p. sure that system / engine programmers aren’t optimally useful doing anything else with their resources besides what’s in their job description. I’d think that most games, even those not on proprietary software, require some amount of engine work, since middleware and the like is in a pretty constant state of flux.

    Besides, being the way it is now a lot of gamers seem to expect a linear progression in engine development over time – see the startling number of critics / gamers who seemed to regard Fallout: New Vegas less as its own game than a retail-priced DLC for Fallout 3, despite pretty substantial (radical, even) changes in gameplay, simply because it used the same underlying engine. If you turn out a sequel with similar-seeming assets you’re regarded as making a kind of premature cash-grab. It wasn’t always that way.

    • Boko_Fittleworth

      Isn’t he implying that it’s a question of where the money’s going (i.e., engine programmers versus writers, level designers, etc)?

  • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

    As someone who was born just after the ’80s ended – I’m young; deal with it – I can say Blood Dragon is still hilarious. Maybe it’s because enough of ’80s pop culture filtered into my childhood, or perhaps it’s because today’s action movies and video games still feature over-the-top sequences and cheesy one-liners. Either way, even if I can’t place the specific references that the game makes, I at least have a general idea of what it’s parodying.

    • http://www.facebook.com/JamesMauriceAlexander James Alexander

      People seem to think pop culture falls into the ether the year after it is created. I was born in 1986. But I’d seen Predator/Terminator/Top Gun/Karate Kid etc in the 90s so this was still as nostalgic as ever.

      Ten years from now are we Gen Y people question whether people born at the tail end of the Clinton administration have seen the Matrix or Buffy and Fresh Prince reruns?

  • LeGrandSigh

    Teti, the first thing that came to my mind within seconds of starting this video was that you need a haircut. And then you addressed it! What am I thinking now?

  • CoRaMo

    Riding the Battle Armored Dragon Assault Strike System was BADASS (wait a minute…).

  • http://www.facebook.com/JamesMauriceAlexander James Alexander

    Those of us who were born in the late 80s and early 90s still saw 80s movies, just on TV/VHS a few years later

  • https://profiles.google.com/113800602827782371311 IndustrialPope

    the name Haribo has a clue to it’s origin, it stands for joHAnnes RIedel, BOnn 

    know you know. :-)