The Disembodied Soul of Ground Zeroes

On my third infiltration into Ground Zeroes Camp Omega, I found an electrical panel that allowed me to cut the power to the surrounding facility, disabling all the lights and the several security cameras so I could quietly rescue the prisoner at its belly. It was the latest in dozens of exploitable gameplay options built into Omega that proved it was a dynamic, multi-faceted place that enabled and rewarded a variety of playstyles. The first game powered by the Fox Engine, GZ introduces players to the new levels of agency offered in the second part of the Metal Gear Solid V saga, The Phantom Pain; ideas that evolve the classic Metal Gear design. Continue reading “The Disembodied Soul of Ground Zeroes”

Mega Man 9’s Speed Metal

Mega Man 9 fixed Mega Man by distilling the Blue Bomber’s staid gameplay to its essentials: moving and shooting. By striving to limit itself to the restrictions of twenty year old hardware, Inti Creates game highlights how bogged down with its own design the series core gameplay had become over its evolution. What they made is a long lost NES game.

The story immediately sets the tone in sprites full of personality. Having again been defeated by our blue hero, Dr. Wily swears off his evil ways. But its not long before the residents of Monsteropolis are in danger from a collection on renegade robots again. But its Wily that steps up to protect the city, claiming innocence and insisting the robots were created by the good-natured Dr. Light. To clear his name, Mega Man heads out.

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Spelunky

This review is for the XBLA version of Spelunky. There is an extremely similar free version online, but this critique pertains to the specific changes made for the console release.

Embrace Death and Rise Above It

Most great things are difficult to qualify in words. You can tell somebody that the Mona Lisa is a great painting of an ugly lady, or that Blade Runner is a great movie about robots, but that does nothing compared to watching Rutger Hauer deliver his final soliloquy while slowly deactivating in the rain. It’s not solely what something is objectively that’s important, its the lasting effects of experiencing something that make it impactful. With that said, Derek Yu’s long-worked-on Spelunky  (there’s a free version online showing just how long it’s been tweaked) is not simply an indie platformer hell-bent on crushing your spirit, even if sometimes it’s hard to see past that.

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Mark of the Ninja

The stealth action genre has long been an echo chamber unto itself.  While many games have integrated its core ideas, its pure form hasn’t evolved much since Metal Gear 2 on the MSX.  It’s a genre that many critics have argued relies too heavily on trial-and-error, exists as puzzle games in action-game skin.  Mark of the Ninja shrugs these distinctions off while living inside them.  It’s a smart title that promotes a different kind of stealth: action not patience; the hunter, not the prey.

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Bastion: The Kid’s Fairy Tale

A child’s eyes see a simple world.  For centuries, fairy tales have been tools to give those eyes a view on the world they might not see on their own.  They are a means of teaching lessons and giving metaphors, to see villainy and sorrow overcome by heroism and bravery.  In Bastion, Supergiant Games has crafted a new fairy tale in videogame form, one that allows you to revisit your youth while celebrating the games you loved when you were small and the world was big.

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