Keyboard Geniuses

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon

Superhorsing Around

Highlight from the week’s comment threads.

By Matt Kodner • May 24, 2013

Keyboard Geniuses is our weekly glance at a few intriguing, witty, or otherwise notable posts from the Gameological discussion threads. Comments have been excerpted and edited here for grammar, length, and/or clarity. You can follow the links to see the full threads.

Best Worst Movie

We welcomed back our monthly video talk show, The Digest, this week, and started with the ’80s action-movie sendup Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. John Teti was joined by Drew Toal, and the two feasted on Haribo gummies—not unlike how a Blood Dragon snacks on the cyberhearts of the game’s hired goons. Taumpy Tears had a movie pick for those who liked the game’s humor:

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 it 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 voiceover.

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 he even throws in some stop-motion monsters for nostalgia’s sake. The opening scene of the movie had me worried, as it 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.

Stauf It To You
The 7th Guest

Danny Gallagher interviewed Rob Landeros, one of the creators of The 7th Guest, a spooky PC game graphically ahead of its time (and famous in the Kodner household for scaring the poop out of my pants when I was little). While some folks disparaged the game’s poor acting, Mr. Glitch rushed to its defense:

For what it’s worth, I love the hammy acting in 7th Guest. I think it was entirely apropos to the game’s style, which to me seems like the video game equivalent of a Hammer film. Sure there’s a lot of scenery-munching going on, but there are some genuinely disturbing moments in that game, too, and they really hit home because you’re not expecting them. Just when you get comfortable with Stauf as a cartoony mustache-twirler, he becomes a genuinely menacing character. To me, that’s much more compelling than a generic Big Evil character who is menacing from the get-go.

Pluperfect Ugly remembered playing the game with a couple of boarding school pals up to no good:

The 7th Guest probably ranks in my top three all time fondest gaming memories. At the time, I was in boarding school, and after lights out, a few of us would pretty regularly sneak out and congregate in somebody’s room to smoke cigarettes and read X-Men comics. When one of my friends got The 7th Guest with his fancy new CD-ROM drive, it was all about puzzles and Stauf. Sure, the acting was cheesy, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say there was some legitimate heebie-jeebies going on.

The game played great as a “crowd game” as well. One guy would be good at word puzzles, somebody else could do the logic puzzles, and so on. When we got stuck on the chess puzzles, we even had to draft a kid from the chess club to come beat them. I tried to get into The 11th Hour a few years later when I was in college, but playing it alone just wasn’t the same, especially without the inherent, illicit thrill of having to stay quiet and keep the lights off lest we get caught by the dorm director.

We Want Superhorse! We Want Superhorse!

Sam Barsanti brought us another edition of The Bulletin, our weekly news roundup. Sam took note of an upcoming Scribblenauts game that promises to include every DC Comics character ever. Warren Peace dropped by to make sure the lesser-remembered DC folks gets their sworn moment to shine:

So Scribblenauts is going to include every character that has ever appeared in a DC comic? That doesn’t sound likely. I’ll be watching for screenshots of lion-head Superman, Toxl The World-Killer, Supergirl’s pet horse/boyfriend, and the mutant gang from The Dark Knight Returns.

And I’ll go ahead and shill for Beppo, Superbaby’s favorite pet supermonkey.

Eat Up
Don't Starve

In the last of this month’s Digest episode, John and Drew reconvened to discuss Don’t Starve, an inventive “roguelike” survival game. John liked that it, along with other recent indie titles, embraced a kind of “make do with what you’ve got” approach to adventures. HobbesMkii agreed and came up with an interesting idea for a role-playing game:

Teti’s comments about how games prior to this point have been a “have it all” approach got me thinking that a role-playing game where it would actually be difficult to come out ahead in the economy, and you’d have to go into fights with less-than-stellar equipment, could have some fun to it. I feel like most RPGs have economies that are easily conquered, and that sets the tone for the late game, where you’re an unstoppable death machine. And especially with the prize nature of loot dropping, the Big Bad is almost always done in by some wondrous weapon you picked up 10 levels back.

For instance, I’ve been playing a lot of Fallout: New Vegas (still the Revue Club’s Game of the Week!) and have amassed over 40,000 bottle caps, which is well more than I could ever use on anything, save possibly repairing weapons (but, of course, repair kits aren’t that expensive).

A Brief History Of The Doodle
Ballpoint Universe

In Anthony John Agnello’s review of Ballpoint Universe, a hand-drawn shooting game that embraces the doodle, he likened the typical high schooler’s doodle-filled notebook to the enigmatic Voynich Manuscript. CNightwing dropped in to teach us the historical value of the doodle:

What you’re describing are known as “glosses,” and I only have any knowledge about this because my girlfriend studies linguistics, where they are quite important in deciphering how languages have changed in the past. If she reads this, I’m sure she’ll describe my explanation of what she’s currently working on as butchery, but here goes. Since Ireland was so very Catholic, they liked sending out monks to the rest of Europe to convert people. As a result, there’s an important manuscript in St. Gallen in Switzerland, which is essentially a Latin/Greek textbook, and which was copied by various monks as part of their duties. The glosses of interest are written in Old Irish, basically as margin notes that helped them understand the manuscript contents, and some of these got copied themselves, a bit like that copy of Animal Farm you were issued in high school. Because these sets of notes are years apart, you can try to trace the changes made in the language of the margin notes. This is, of course, a simplification, but glosses are more than just doodles!

All’s Unfair In Games And Games

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For this week’s Q&A we asked which games have been the most unfair to us, the loyal players. Joe Keiser remembered an entirely stupid part of King’s Quest V, and Girard linked us to a compilation of all the ways the game would unfairly kill you:

The game is almost comically sadistic:

Lokimotive remembered a different kind of quest. This time…in space!

If the game would at least give you a hint that you may be screwing yourself, then you might have a chance, but as Joe points out, it often actually encourages you to screw yourself.

And there are moments where they just fuck with you because they can. In Space Quest IV, at the very beginning of the game, you can pick up an “unstable ordnance.” The game notes that maybe this isn’t the brightest idea, but it also gives you 100 points. (Sierra games had point systems which were mostly based on you making progress in the game: picking up helpful items, solving puzzles, etc.) So now you’re thinking, “Well, I just got 100 points, clearly this thing is important, even if it is unstable.” But no. It’s not, the only thing it does is blow you up at a crucial point in the game. There’s no way to avoid being blown up, and the item is entirely useless, so theoretically, there’s no way to conceivably get that 100 points. When you put the unstable ordinance back where you found it, you lose points. HOWEVER, you only lose 95 points, meaning that you net 5 extra points. If you don’t take part in these shenanigans, you’ll never get all the points in the game, which has no discernible effect, other than you not getting all of those points, but still, the whole thing makes a good illustration of how Sierra viewed their relationship with players: They were not there to make your life enjoyable or to dole out fun; they were there to fuck with you.

Luchadorks

Anthony John Agnello also popped up on The Digest this week to chat about Guacamelee!, the luchador-themed platformer. Noted commenter and comic artist Effigy Power was inspired and graced the Gameological email inbox with this tableau:

Digest Luchador comic

The depiction of our critics’ physiques may be a tad generous in its lack of doughiness. A tad.

High Juarezolution

Drew Toal took a peek at a few newly released games for Out This Week. In response to a jab at the new Call Of Juarez: Gunslinger game, Fluka pointed out a handful of interesting things about Gunslinger:

The Rock Paper Shotgun review of Call Of Juarez actually made the game sound fairly clever for a linear, man-face-shooter. The whole thing is basically one man’s unreliable narration of a bunch of tall tales, and the scenario and enemies will change as he gets heckled by his listeners, or decides to elaborate on a detail. Apparently, there’s even a segment where the narrator leaves to go to the bathroom, and the game starts looping. This particular game’s not really my thing, but I love it when people explore games as subjective stories. More unreliable narrators, please.

So I guess the lesson here is “Don’t judge a game by its ‘Call Of’ prefix.” Well, folks, that’s it! Thanks for reading and commenting, and we’ll see you next week.

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51 Responses to “Superhorsing Around”

  1. The_Helmaroc_King says:

    Minor correction:

    “In response to a jab at the new Call Of Juarez game, Fluka pointed out a handful of interesting things about the original:”

    The link from Fluka is for the recent Gunslinger, not the original Call of Juarez.

    • Captain Internet says:

      Friday is no time for pedantry! Except to say that it’s actually Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, and it’s really good.

      • The_Helmaroc_King says:

        I felt that was implied, but yes, I meant she was talking about Call of Juarez: Gunslinger. Unsurprisingly, I failed to be pedantic about my pedantry. Curses!

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    • Fluka says:

      Yep, that’s correctamundo!

      (Also, I think this is the second time I’ve gotten a stud for reposting Rock Paper Shotgun material, woohoo!)

    • John Teti says:

      Thanks for that correction. I’ve fixed it, and we apologize for the error, Fluka!

  2. stakkalee says:

    And so we come to the end of another week.  Our most commented article was the Q&A on unfair games which had 292 comments, nearly a hundred more than the WAYPTW thread.  Our Top 5 Most Liked (non-KG) Comments are:
    1) @cloks:disqus gets 26 likes performing a service for our deaf readers.
    2) With 24 likes Kevin Johnson (@facebook-501651:disqus) worries that someone might be abusing the technology.
    3) @Mercenary_Security_Number_4:disqus gets 16 likes for praising clarity.
    3) And tied for third, @PugsMalone:disqus knows about some superior machines.
    5) With 15 likes @Spacemonkey_Mafia:disqus tells us about a new feature.
    We have one new member of the Plaid Jacket Society today – @PluperfectAwful:disqus makes a splash right out of the gate, getting his jacket with his first comment! Glad to have you aboard!  And on to our returning members: with their second mentions @TaumpyTearrs:disqus and @WarrenPeace:disqus get their first studs! @CNightwing:disqus gets a second stud, @Mr_Glitch:disqus gets a fifth stud, and @Fluka:disqus and @lokimotive:disqus each get their eighth!  The imaginary hepcat @HobbesMkii:disqus gets his fifteenth stud, and it’s a good thing @Paraclete_Pizza:disqus busted out that Youtube link, because otherwise @Effigy_Power:disqus would have tied it up!  As it stands, Eff gets her 23rd stud and Girard gets his 24th.  Well done everyone!
    And now Linkdump: Grab Bad edition!  Random House UK will be experimenting with a new model for selling interactive stories.  In honor of the new season of Arrested Development, Capcom gets their Funke on! And who likes animated GIFs?  That’s it for this week.  Enjoy your gaming, and remember to keep it scintillating!

    • Fluka says:

      I *do* like animated GIFs!

      I might have posted it before, but another random link for your weekend linkdump amusement: a tumblr blog full of bizarre, humorous marginalia from medieval manuscripts.  Warning, there are lots of penises!  Also lots of cats.  Humanity: it hasn’t changed in the past millennium.

    • The_Helmaroc_King says:

      Sir, I must object! I have been snubbed!

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      The High Priest and Priestess of Gameological aren’t tied yet?  Good.  I’m thankful the equilibrium holds.  I’m not ready for Ragnarok just yet.
         August, maybe.  After I’ve seen Pacific Rim.

    • Cloks says:

      I’d just like to thank Drew Toal’s severed head. Couldn’t have done it without him.

    • Effigy_Power says:

      My grand artistry undone by a Youtube link. This will not stand, you capricious feline.

    • The_Helmaroc_King says:

      In less self-promotional news, I’ve been trying my darnedest to make a top-comment-finder using the DISQUS API. If you want to build your own, I’ll say this: I like JavaScript, and it can work, but it probably won’t work in your favorite browser… unless your favorite browser is Internet Explorer, 8 or later.

      I’m at work and I don’t have a copy I can share right now, but I did manage to write an HTML/JavaScript page that works in IE8+. I would’ve liked to make it work in Firefox, but to be frank, there’s some security issue or another that crops up when making AJAX requests across domains. I don’t know which other browsers share this issue. If you have IE8+ and want to try it out, I can try posting a copy online later. Pastebin seems like the easiest option, but if you have another idea I’d be open for suggestions.

      • stakkalee says:

        Awesome!  Please post the code when you get a chance – Pastebin works for me.

    • Merve says:

      Adding to the linkdump: the Game Rumour Generator.

      “Sega AM2 are combining Solitaire with Bomberman. The twist? It’s technically a new version of Android.”

      • Fluka says:

        “Atlus are combining Space Team with Space Team. The twist? It’s a retro 8-bit demake.”

        *Furrows brow.*

        • Merve says:

          My favourite so far: “Brenda Romero and her husband are combining Dark Souls with Dwarf Fortress. The twist? It’s a documentary about the founding of Polygon.”

        • The_Helmaroc_King says:

          “Dave Perry and the other Dave Perry are combining Mario with Minesweeper. The twist? It’s westernized for a western audience.”

          I admire their commitment to redundancy.

        • Jackbert says:

          “Kojima Productions are combining The Incredible Machine with Dark Souls. The twist? It’s a dating sim.”

          I would like this to happen, thank you very much.

    • NakedSnake says:

      The Q&A on unfair games really struck a nerve, it would seem.

    • WarrenPeace says:

      Woo, I’m a stud! Or something like that.

    • Girard says:

      Even though I know what that Capcom link is, I can never not click on a link to it. The Dr. Wily bit always leaves me rolling.

      Also, I guess, ultimately, I’ve benefited from playing Roberta Williams games now. I feel conflicted about this fact.

    • Mercenary_Security_number_4 says:

       I always like it when I make the list for things I don’t remember saying.

    • The_Helmaroc_King says:

      Well, I may have spoken too soon when I said the JavaScript only worked in Internet Explorer; for one reason or another, it’s working in Firefox now. Not sure why, but I’ll take it. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone has changed a setting on the server, but that’s just speculation on my part.

      Onto the main event: here is the unofficial Gameological Comment Reader; the link should be good for thirty days, give or take. To use the reader, save it as an HTML file to your PC and open it with your browser of choice. The only two browsers I tested were IE8+ and Firefox, so buyer beware for any others. If you get any messages about blocked content, allow it or the page won’t work. If you get any alerts when loading the page and nothing appears, chances are your browser doesn’t support the necessary objects, but I suspect most any recent browser will support what it needs.

      Now, once you have the page up and running, how do you use it? The page has a certain… utilitarian aesthetic, if I’m being kind, but it’s relatively simple to use. You may want to have the page open while you read this so you can follow along.

      First, you need to find the threads for a given week. The date/time on each thread comes from the DISQUS system and won’t necessarily match the date/time for the actual article, so you need to perform a little bit of work to find a specific week’s threads. The two text boxes are for entering the date range to search by; the first is the lowest date to filter by, the second is the number of days to allow from then. I’ve seen Monday’s threads created as early as Friday, so I suggest starting the search from the previous Friday or earlier. By default, the text boxes are populated with the date for the previous Friday and a ten day window from then. Once you have a date range you like, press the “Get Threads” button and the page will call the DISQUS API to retrieve all of the threads in that date range.

      Luckily, each week’s threads seem to be contiguous, if out of order; the plus and minus buttons can be used to select or deselect everything after a given line, inclusive, which can be used to select one contiguous group. You can also check or uncheck the box next to each thread individually. The links on the right go to the actual articles in case you need to double-check anything, but the links occasionally don’t match up with an article. There may also be empty threads in the list, but there’s no issue if you include those in the selection for the week.

      Once you’ve selected the threads for the week, pressing the “Get Highest Posts” button will call the DISQUS API to retrieve the combined posts from the selected threads, ordered by “Likes” descending. The page has to pull every post made on every thread selected, so it can take a few moments, but a week’s worth of threads doesn’t take too long in my experience. By default, the page will display the top 50 posts, but you can choose to look at however many you want. You can also use the links on the right of each post to see each comment on the actual article, assuming the thread had a proper link. If the commentor’s username and chosen name are different, both will be displayed in the list; e.g. “paraclete_pizza” is the username for Girard.

      I think that covers the majority of everything on the page. It’s not perfect, so you might run into an issue here or there, but it was working the last time I checked. I’m willing to answer some questions or provide a little assistance here or there if anyone asks, but to be frank I’m not going to play tech support for every issue. Anyone who wants to is free to play around with the source for the page, but there’s no warranty or guarantee; if something changes on the server to break the reader, well, you’re outta luck unless someone spends the time to bring it up to speed.

      Have fun!

  3. HobbesMkii says:

    I did it! I’m back!

    Subsequently, my work suffered this week.

  4. aklab says:

    Topical post! 
    There’s a cutaway gag in Arrested Development, in the season 3 episode “The Ocean Walker,” that my sister swears is a Chrono Trigger reference. She found exactly one blogger on the internet to back her up. I’m still not convinced. What do you think?
    http://blog.strafenet.com/2009/07/07/the-best-chronotrigger-reference-ever/ 

    • NakedSnake says:

      The audio clip is so short that it would be impossible to verify. But it’s hard to deny the connection between sound and theme.

  5. NakedSnake says:

    Castlevania 3

    Retro-Grade: Fresh Prince of Bel-Air meets the Perfect Storm.

    Castlevania 3 is a classic action-platformer that serves as a standard bearer for the
    brutal difficulty of NES games. The game really works because of the
    strong focus on level design. Each level is extremely distinctive, with
    its own enemies, backgrounds, and obstacles (for example, at one point
    you go from a clocktower, to a swamp, to a ghost ship, etc.). What’s
    more, none of the action within these levels gets repetitive. You get
    the sense that Konami has a clear vision for how each section of the
    level should play, and you have to adjust your strategy and approach
    constantly.

    For an NES game, there is a lot of diversity of gameplay and
    replay value. You can pick up one of three “spirit companions” along
    the way (including Alucard in his first ever Castlevania appearance),
    who you can switch to at any time and each one plays very differently
    from Trevor Belmont. The game also features a branching path, so you’ll
    get the chance to play different levels and bosses on subsequent
    playthroughs. It’s a good thing that Castlevania 3 has all of that
    gameplay diversity, because you’re going to get to know every aspect of
    the game intimately if you want to have any hope of beating it. Just
    memorizing the levels won’t be quite enough, though, as random enemy
    spawning means you’ll always have to be ready for evasive maneuvers.

    Furthermore, unlike Mega Man, which pairs challenging level design with
    tight and responsive controls, the controls are part of the challenge in
    Castlevania. For instance, you can only jump set distances and cannot
    change direction once you have jumped. Or to use another example: there
    is a meaningful delay from when you press the attack button to when the
    attack happens. In a way, the play experience is similar to the original
    Resident Evil games, where the difficult controls were themselves a
    gameplay mechanic. Just like in Resident Evil, though, this contributes
    to gameplay experience, forcing you to be more methodical about your
    actions and keeping the tension level high at all times. Overall, this
    is a great game that is ahead of its time in many ways, but is still
    firmly rooted in the NES “game over” era.

  6. Effigy_Power says:

    Damn your Earth-holidays. I want gaming articles!

    • neodocT says:

       *Pokes @Effigy_Power:disqus*

      I couldn’t find any worthwhile gaming articles to read today. Some stuff about the Xbox One, but nothing that hasn’t been said already. I did toy with the idea of photoshopping a Kinect into the Venture Bros.’ Grand Galactic Inquisitor (“Ignore me!”), but couldn’t pull it off.

      So… what did you play this weekend?