Hurray! Keita Takahashi has made a wonderful new plaything

At the Game Developer’s Conference in 2013, I cruised through the expo floor areas on a student pass. With such a limiting pass, I wasn’t able to do much. That was, until I stumbled upon Tenya Wanya Teens (2013), a never-publicly-released experimental party game from none other than game designer Keita Takahashi, of Katamari Damacy (2004) and Noby Noby Boy (2009) fame, and composer Asuka Sakai (also, incidentally, his wife). Tenya Wanya Teens is fun in its purest form. The game has a strange controller, a panel with 16 multicolored buttons, and a joystick for moving characters around the environment.…


The Year In Weird

I think I started writing about videogames because I was lonely. What I found in games was a sorely needed form of two-way communication. It started sometime in 2007 when I happened across the Indygamer blog (founded by Tim W., who I’ve now joined in doing similar work on Warp Door), which was regularly discovering and writing about these small, weird games that you couldn’t find anywhere else. After a while, I started to recognize some of the recurring names of the individuals that were making these fascinating experiences. With some of these creators, it was possible to see themes across their oeuvre that collectively explored…


A videogame meant to raise awareness of anxiety attacks

Anxiety Attacks doesn’t need to wander far from its inspiration to earn its status as a horror experience; there are no jumpscares or monsters—just the knowledge that you might not be in control of what you see and feel, that something as simple as moving and breathing can become a chore to juggle. It is, in short, a mental breakdown simulator, emulating the experiences of those who suffer from anxiety disorders and anxiety attacks. You start in a bright forest, greeted with flowers and birdsong; the sun is bright, and the world is rich and vivid. You are given only…


Memoir En Code, or how to sell yourself through a videogame

“The more you play, the more you know me.” This is the line that hammers out, a single word at a time, every time you open up Alex Camilleri’s autobiographical game album Memoir En Code. It strikes me as an odd objective for a creator to imply to their audience. But, as I think about it, I realize that it’s hardly strange at all. How much of art appreciation has been dedicated to finding out more about the artist’s life? A lot of it. That’s the answer. When we talk about van Gogh we don’t only speak of his paintings…


The Stanley Parable creator announces The Beginner’s Guide for October 1st

Whatever it was that Davey Wreden put out after The Stanley Parable it was bound to be met with critical and expecting eyes. You can’t make a game that deconstructs the notion of player choice with such gall and humor and avoid having your next creation heavily examined by everyone that plays it. Such is the pressure on Wreden as he announces The Beginner’s Guide today.  He’s dealing with that pressure by keeping information on the game tightly locked down. As such, I have played The Beginner’s Guide but cannot tell you anything about that experience. Instead, I have a list of…


Beg for your life in this experimental game about execution

We’re used to the first-person shooter being a series of gunshots executed through bared teeth. Bang, bang, momentarily duck behind cover to heal, bang bang. That’s the usual rhythm. They’re shooting galleries that throw bodies of various intelligence and armor at us to shoot. There’s little thought required from us when playing these videogames beyond whether or not we should reload or hurl a grenade over our head. This is fine. However, there are some shooters that have tried a more reflexive approach to this formula. They throw us into the lion’s den as usual, but when we emerge on the…


Wandering the hypnagogic kaleidoscope with Parasomnia

The 2010 sf/slasher hybrid Beyond the Black Rainbow was the best argument for shooting on film since…well, since the days where there was no other option. Directed by first-timer Panos Cosmatos (son of George P. Cosmatos, director of the hands-down best movie where Sylvester Stallone eats pizza with scissors), it ripples with visual imagination and a drifting, surreal approach to narrative. Just look at this thing. LOOK AT IT. Oh yeah. There’s a scene in this film that feature a weird a jittering line running down one third of the screen, like a fuckup in the darkroom. But they didn’t go back…