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Feature

Final Fantasy XII and the glory of the grind

This article is part of PS2 Week, a full week celebrating the 2000 PlayStation 2 console. To see other articles, go here.  /// The first time I played Final Fantasy XII (2006), I didn’t get it. I liked it, I think—there was something unusually elegant about the game’s stern, philosophical conversations about honor, and the long loping lines of its battle system—but I got halfway through, hit a boss battle of five little goblins that wrecked my shit with a panoply of status effects, and called it a day. I believe winter break was ending, anyway. I mused over my failure…

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Feature

A people’s history of PlayStation Home

Released at the end of last year, Postcards from Home has the feel of a curio: a weighty tome assembled exclusively from images captured within Sony’s discontinued virtual world, Home (2008-2015). Its author, the Spanish photographer Roc Herms, has explored games before, whether making absurdist use of the Game Boy camera or documenting an enormous LAN party from the perspective of the hardware. But it only takes a few pages for the scope of Postcards from Home to reveal itself as something much more empathetic, even human, full of penetrating longform interviews that explores the digital architecture of Home as…

Only One
News

Kanye West’s videogame is gonna be very Kanye West

Yesterday, Kanye West debuted his new album, The Life of Pablo, at Madison Square Garden. The “listening event” is a long-standing power-move in the most entrenched corners of the record industry—a complementary-wine-and-shrimp sort of affair, where people stand around and maybe take notes on a record while the artist either stares at them intently or, like, falls asleep in a corner, surrounded by well-wishers. Ye’s event represents a reinvention of the form for the Spotify era, turning an insiders-only thing into a streaming-platform cosign, a fashion show, a free, democratized listening event, and an actual documentary of how boring and weird…

Unravel
News

Burn in hell, Yarny

A videogame called Unravel will be released tomorrow. It may be a good game, and it is certainly a good-looking one, with a soft focus and hazy depth of field; tree leaves rustle convincingly and thick snowflakes pile up as the camera pans ever right-ward. It appears to make use of this tactile world for a series of physics-based puzzles, like moving rocks to get up on ledges and creating makeshift vines with which to soar across little ponds. These may be very clever puzzles, building toward a resolution that is very satisfying, but I will never know, because I will never…

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News

The only opinion of The Witness I care about is Soulja Boy’s

I love Soulja Boy almost as much as Soulja Boy loves videogames. He was supposed to disappear after 2007’s “Crank That”—a misogynist dance anthem that was embraced, largely, sarcastically—but instead he hit the gas, beefing like crazy, flirting with major-label pop, and then dissolving in a haze of weird, fractured mixtapes. Early on, he co-opted the image of Sonic the Hedgehog, and in some ways that remains the defining image of the emcee, spinning wheels and flying off to god-knows-where. He could release something like the lacerating, subversive “Turn My Swag On,” on which he defied all reason by electing…

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Article

Blackstar won’t tell you how to die

I spent a lot of time this week listening to “Subterraneans,” the last song on 1977’s Low, by David Bowie. I didn’t know what else to do. Like a lot of other people, I had a feeling—this response to death we all have, with varying degrees of terror and/or sadness attached to it—combined with the uselessness of just being on the internet, looking for something to do. And so we (I) look for more David Bowie, or we (I) listen to more David Bowie, because all of it’s still right there, right where we (I) left it. We sort of…

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Article

Two grown men debate the merits of Justin Bieber and One Direction

In the battle of Bieber and One Direction, everyone wins. Clayton Purdom (CP): David, defend One Direction. David Rudin (DR): I’ll get to One Direction, I promise, but first I want to discuss Backstreet Boys and Take That, because no boy band really exists in a vacuum. We like to imagine them as such, much as we like to imagine that our parents never had sex apart from the time they conceived us. It’s nonsense, sure, but it’s nonsense as a rite of passage. Consequently, my case for One Direction begins with the boy bands of my youth. This was…

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News

Sir Michael Rocks’ new video is an anime come to life

Japanese culture and hip-hop have a long relationship, from the genre’s mid-90s kung-fu obsession to Kanye’s mid-oughts evocation of Japanese pop art up through its current commingling in the very production of Drake’s ubiquitous “Hotline Bling.” The Chicago emcee Sir Michael Rocks has always been a nerd, but in his new video “In My Mode” he goes the full cosplay: it’s essentially a three-minute homage to modern shonen anime. The first half is a back-alley brawl, all close-ups of eyes and stylized violence, recalling Akame Ga Kill and Sword Art Online. The rematch takes place in an open field, and is…