Category: PC

If Mario had a therapist… on Braid (PC) and Jonathan Blow

Braid is not a fun game. And that’s the point. Or so indie games designer Jonathan Blow says. Convenient, you might think, but I suspect Jonathan actually means what he says. He’s one of those intellectual types who quotes James Joyce and Thomas Pynchon whilst denouncing the use of phrases such as ludonarrative dissonance. In Braid, Jonathan tried to make a game that was familiar and nostalgic, but also made you think about games as a form – it is a self-concious game, the thinking man’s Mario if you will. So how successful is Jonathan in realising his vision? Is Jonathan a pretentious genius or just plain pretentious? Continue reading

Tomb Raider-ing (Saturn) at 83.42% speed

I can remember the first time I became aware of the difference in speed between PAL and NTSC games. It was some time after I got my Gamecube when I recognised it. I’d always heard 60hz was better so I always picked the option when the game started but I never noticed any change until one day when I was playing Super Monkey Ball’s bowling minigame. This particular minigame features a rapidly moving cursor that requires ridiculously precise timing to aim your ball. At some point I noticed that if you played in 50hz mode, the game became much easier – the speed was reduced to the point that you could get the ball centre of the alley most, if not all of the time. Continue reading

A 17 year old’s thoughts on Portal (PC)

We have a sustained reaction to taking a linear route for an unspecified reason.

Me, aged 17. Or maybe I was 18. I’d prefer to say younger as it gives me a better excuse for why the article was so poorly written. And by that I really mean pretentiously written – it’s pretentious done badly.

I was reminded of my old article and the story behind it after my recent re-play of Half-Life. It all started when I read a poem about a dog with fleas. I remember sitting in my college’s canteen (that’s a sixth-form college, not university college) and happening on a very cheap looking student magazine. Flicking through the five or so black and white pages I saw there was a poetry competition and a poem about washing fleas off a dog was featured as one of the winners. I was dumbfounded. “Such a poem is fit for neither human eyes nor lips,” I said to my friend, Dan. (Later we found out the author was mentally disabled :/ ) Continue reading

Half-Life 1 (PC/PS2) and the writing on the wall

Replaying the original Half-Life recently has been fun for all kinds of reasons. After several years absence from the Black Mesa facility it all feels very fresh. Alongside the entertaining (if at times infuriating) gameplay, there’s the story. Obsessing over storytelling in games is nothing new for this blog and I’m afraid that’s where I want to go with this post too. There’s also a bonus at the end…but you’ll have to see. Continue reading

What is a videogame – the mystery of Broken Sword (PC/PS1/Wii/GBA/DS)

This post came out of United We Game’s What is a Game community writing challenge. I was already plotting a written piece of some sort on Shadow of the Templars, but wasn’t sure what my “angle” would be, so thanks to them. Really, thanks, because I’m not the only one with positive things to say about Broken Sword recently!

Videogames and books. Not the best of bedfellows, some might say. In the case of 1996’s Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars (aka Circle of Blood) though, there’s more than a little speculation online that Dan Brown took inspiration from its themes, setting, characters, plot – just about everything and anything – when he wrote The Da Vinci Code, published in 2003. Certainly it shares with Broken Sword a preoccupation with the myth (conspiracy?) of the Knights Templar. Now, I’m not really interested here in making direct comparisons between Broken Sword and Dan Brown’s novel. Instead I want to talk about what distinguishes these two mediums, novels and videogames. There are a lot of great features in Broken Sword – a strong story, believable characters and sharp, funny dialogue – but gameplay, it seems to me, is less essential to the mix. So my question is: would Broken Sword work just as well, if not better, as a novel? Could it have had the success of The Da Vinci Code, before The Da Vinci Code? What would be lost from the game if you took out all that pointing and the clicking? Continue reading