Mercy is the most terrifying character in Overwatch

We love Overwatch. So we assembled 22 of our best writers and set them to work—a writer to jump into the skin (or robotic shell) of each character. The result is 22 odes. You can use the “Overwatch odes” tag to leaf through them all, or use the handy list at the bottom of this post. /// Screw Genji, screw Reaper, screw Zarya: Mercy is the most terrifying character in Overwatch. Watch her dance through the backline, a gossamer beam of gold and azure granting vitality and strength to her allies. Watch her float high in the heavens with Pharah,…


Videoball brings fair play back to the couch

I didn’t know what a metagame was until I got to college, but I didn’t really need to. Playing multiplayer games on the couch with my cousins, we’d concoct all sorts of techniques and strategies that weren’t explicitly outlined in the manuals. In Worms 2 (1997), we all fought against each other using only a couple of choice weapons, despite the game’s massive arsenal: the Holy Hand Grenade was devastating and hilarious, the Super Sheep offered range and control, and the Ninja Rope gave us all the mobility we wanted. This is probably not the competitive Worms 2 metagame (I’ve…


This speedrun melts Pokemon into primordial goo

The appeal of live broadcasted speedrunning events isn’t always clear. But, first and foremost, these bi-annual speedrun events are showcases of knowledge, skill, and rote memorization. At this year’s week-long Summer Games Done Quick event, which just wrapped up this weekend, there were the obvious, often outrageous displays of frame-perfect gameplay. One runner, Romscout, ran through Castlevania: Symphony of the Night in an hour and eight minutes—blindfolded. Sivade35, another absolute virtuoso of play, ran through the entirety of Dustforce (collectibles and all) in an hour and three minutes, breezing past a collection of near-impossible “Difficult” levels that I didn’t even…

Super Smash Bros. Melee

A jazz tribute to one of Super Smash Bros.’s greatest performances

Legend has it that before recording “Maggot Brain,” Funkadelic frontman George Clinton told his guitarist Eddie Hazel to “play like your momma just died.” The resulting track is a 10-minute journey through the cosmos that slowly calcifies into a sad, wonderful kind of musical ego-death. Not only is it one of the finest pieces of musical expression ever recorded—it was all done in a single take. For Super Smash Bros. Melee (2001) fans, one such moment of sublime perfection happened just last year, at the B.E.A.S.T 5 tournament in Gothenburg, Sweden. It was the grand final, as world-renowned Peach player Adam…

Grand Theft Auto 3

The false legacy of Grand Theft Auto 3

This article is part of PS2 Week, a full week celebrating the 2000 PlayStation 2 console. To see other articles, go here.  /// Up until Grand Theft Auto III (2001), it was standard to classify videogames by their central mechanics. There were stealth games, platformers, shooters, racing games, action-RPGs, turn-based RPGs, fighters, puzzle games, action-adventure games—and the expectation was that every game would feature a whole range of genre-informing actions and rules, typically interspersed with sections devoted to “story.” The problem is that this naming structure was a presupposition in itself: what if you wanted to do all of these things…


Infinite Arms aims to make the toy game adult-friendly

When Activision’s Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure first launched in 2011, it resonated with older kids by balancing the act of imagination with the act of playing a videogame. While it was more structured than a more free-form toy like Legos, Skylanders created the illusion that, by placing plastic figurines on a light-up pedestal, players could bring inanimate objects to life. Adults didn’t understand this. As an added bonus for Activision, this was a natural point of entry into the toy industry, and the ability to bolster sales with a physical product line was something that everyone from Nintendo to Lego would…


Pokkén Tournament is killing my Pokémon vibe

“Kids play inside their homes now, and a lot had forgotten about catching insects. So had I. When I was making games, something clicked and I decided to make a game with that concept. Everything I did as a kid is kind of rolled into one—that’s what Pokémon is. Playing video games, watching TV, Ultraman with his capsule monsters—they all became ingredients for the game.” – Satoshi Tajiri in an interview with TIME Magazine, 1999 It’s a fun bit of trivia now, but Pokémon originally grew out of its creator’s simple, childlike sense of awe toward the bugs in his backyard. At…

Fabulous Beasts

Fabulous Beasts makes the toy game physical again

Before there was anything else in this world, there was Bear. Bear was the perfect creature to start off a fresh new ecosystem: big and burly, with a stable base of four flat feet. His back, though hunched over in an arch, was unmovable. And so my quest to create a fabulous world of colors and fauna and water and flame would begin here, with Bear. Only moments later, as Eagle and Hippo and Fire and Water tumbled off Bear’s back onto the linoleum floor of a New York City cafe, did I realize how wrong I’d been. But no…

Sususmu Hirasawa

Behold the Berserk composer’s lost cyberpunk anthem

With last week’s announcement that the renowned, metal-as-fuck series Berserk would return later this year, it brought to mind some of the genre’s most austere compositions. “Theme of Guts”, named after Berserk’s main character, is a sedate, moving electro-vapor hymn from composer Susumu Hirasawa. Not only is it the show’s emotional cornerstone, but it holds up astoundingly well, even all these years later. The same goes for most of Hirasawa’s stuff (the guy was a rock pioneer long before he became an anime composer), but few tracks of his are as bonkers—or frankly, as genius—as his monstrous jam “TOWN-0 PHASE-5.”…