Greatness Awaits

Before you continue, watch this video.  Don’t just skip over it and say you watched it.  I’ll know if you do.  And we will have a conversation:


I love this commercial.

I love it for the unabashed smugness of the narrator, I love it for the weird-ass stuff happening in the background and, most of all, I love it because it makes me proud of my video game accomplishments.  I’ve rallied rival civilizations against a common threat.  I’ve fended off countless alien invasions.  I’ve inspired an army to fight on despite impossible odds.  And I’ve done all of these things from the comfort of my couch, often with a purring cat sleeping on my lap.  While I am more proud of the accomplishments that I’ve made in real life (because, you know, it’s real life), there is a part of me that can’t wait to charge proudly into a virtual world to collect golden points and the heads of vanquished foes.

There are three games that are currently on my plate: The Soviet-era border inspection bonanza that is Papers, Please; Rogue Legacy, the dungeon-crawler that keeps it all in the family; and The Bureau: XCOM Declassified an ambitious prequel to one of my favorite games of all time, XCOM: Enemy Unknown.  I had lots to say about my experience, and SLUG magazine was nice enough to publish that action.  Check this out, along with some other reviews of recent titles by my fellow SLUGgers.

Also, here’s some gameplay for Crypt of the Necrodancer.  As soon as this hits Steam, I’m so downloading it:





If We Cancel the Apocalypse, What Video Games Will We Play?

Nuclear Grunge Sign - Sepia

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to attend E3 in Los Angeles (I dare you to read about it here).  While I was there, I noticed a pattern among several upcoming games–they all take place after the world as we know it has been ravaged by nuclear war, zombies or aliens.

I found this interesting, because it’s not just the video game industry that has cashed in on this post-apocalyptic goldmine.  Take a look at the most popular movies, TV shows and books, and you’ll notice this pattern as well.  We’re obsessed with the end of the world.

It’s a phenomenon that isn’t lost on me.  When I watched Night of the Living Dead for the first time, I found myself romanticizing the zombie apocalypse.  And why not? I wouldn’t have to go to school anymore, I could take whatever I wanted and maybe that girl I liked would finally see what a badass I really was after I saved her life by decapitating her zombified father.

It’s not hard to romanticize a world where each survivor is a lone gunman (or gunwoman) that is in complete control of his/her destiny.  It might involve scavenging for food, it might involve plugging someone who was once your friend, but it would be 100% your call.  I get it.  It’s cool.  But it’s also kind of scary.  Are we so sick of the way things are that we’d be willing to have it all flushed down the toilet regardless of the result? Is that why we’re obsessed with the end of the world? Or is it just that cool?

Either way, it’s tough to get around the nightmarish reality of surviving a hostile wasteland teeming with acid-spewing mutants and giant insects.  This is where video games come in.  I will always appreciate the fact that whenever I feel like roaming the skeletal remnants of my hometown in search of adventure, I can pop in my copy of Fallout: New Vegas and get it out of my system.

There’s Always Room for Giallo


I suppose this all started as a result of the following unholy union: iTunes+Castlevania: Symphony of the Night+morbid curiosity= ?. It was a cold, dark night. While slouching in my chair, eyes half closed with a clear stream of drool issuing from the corner of my mouth, I was poring over the current Genius recommendations that iTunes had for me. The songs all bled together into a cacophonous mass of sights and sounds. Unable to handle the sheer psychological stress of the depths of which I was traversing, I blacked out. When I came to, my computer screen greeted me with this disturbing image:


Had I been in full posession of my faculties, I would have just closed iTunes and forgotten that the whole thing had ever happened. But at this particular moment in time, I did click, and I did listen. As the audible insanity of Goblin assaulted my mind grapes, a slew of haunting yet familiar images started to form within my nebulous brain. A castle, inverted. A male hero who was drawn with a very feminine facial structure. Bats, fish-men, skeletons, zombies, and…Death Incarnate! Was it? It was! Castlevania: Symphony of the Night! The salacious synths and guillotined guitars of Goblin could have been pulled directly from the haunted screens of the aforementioned graphical distraction!

Having long abandoned my sanity, I probed deeper into the mystery of Goblin. After wandering lonely online avenues that I will not reveal, my search lead me to an Italian dude, his trilogy of witchcraft, and the terror of….Giallo.THE DUDE: Dario Argento, master of Mediterrenean macabre! THE TRILOGY: Le Tri Madre (The Three Mothers), wanderers across the wide world of witchcraft! GIALLO: It’s description is to terrible for my fingers to form into words…behold, if you dare!

The unbridled terror that presented itself after my frenzy-induced Google search caused me to black out for a second, and more prolonged period of time. I awoke around dusk of the following day, covered in dozens of ham and cheese Hot Pocket wrappers and lying face down in an unfamiliar parking lot. I arose to observe my surroundings. The parking lot belonged to a local video rental chain. Disobeying the last shreds of humanity that were faintly screaming for me to halt and return to my normal, God-fearing ways, I entered.

I was drawn to the horror section like a vulture to a rotting bison carcass. Almost purely involuntarily, my hands reached for Suspiria and Inferno (comprising volumes one and two of the trilogy) but where was the third? Where was Mother of Tears? Ignoring all sense of public decency and decorum, I approached the counter attendant and urged her to contribute to my insanity by locating volume three of the trilogy. When she could not, I thrashed and I bellowed, knocking over a shelving unit filled with Jujy Fruits, Sno-Caps, Dots, and Junior Mints…sweet memories of a world of which I was no longer a part. I fled the scene with my prize and swiftly returned to my abode to obliterate what was left of my sound mind. I watched them both without pause, but without the third film, something was incomplete. Now, I am but a wanderer, searching for this last volume that will either bring me peace…or damnation.