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Feature

How Japan shaped nostalgia in games

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. For Shigeru Miyamoto, the inspiration for The Legend of Zelda (1986) series lay in the natural beauty of his hometown of Kyoto, Japan. As a young boy, the Nintendo designer behind Mario, Zelda, and Pikmin would take hikes around nearby forests, rivers, and old Sonobe Castle ruins. It was on one such hike that Miyamoto happened upon a cave that fascinated him. He returned to it a few days later, shook off his nerves, and, armed with a homemade lantern, journeyed into its mysterious depths. It was this feeling of discovery and…

Stephens Sausage Roll
Review

Stephen’s Sausage Roll and the blue collar heroes of puzzledom

I’m a clunky Fisher Price toy on an island made of rough patches. My body, hands, and clothes are probably toxic, blistered and greasy, as I have spent hours pushing and shoving big honkin’ sausages across pipin’ hot grills in taxing and inconvenient ways. I’m not wearing an apron. I am wielding a big fork; a mighty claw that swings in heaves. When raw, these sausages are wormy and pink. Halfway done they look like stogies. Upon being cooked you can smell the continental breakfast through the screen.They are easily the biggest sausages you’ve ever seen in a puzzle game.…

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Feature

Videogames and the digital baroque

During the 17th century in Europe and her colonies, mankind was forcibly removed from the center of the universe and cast adrift in an indifferent cosmos devoid of greater purpose or meaning. This was accomplished not by any supernatural power but by advancements in technology, particularly optics: telescopes could chart the motions of previously obscure celestial bodies while microscopes could, for the first time, see the living cells that made up human bodies. Earth turned out not to be the center of the universe but one of many planets that orbited the Sun; an average star among countless others in…

Star Fox Zero header
Review

The joyless heroics of Star Fox Zero

As I sit at my keyboard, trying to figure out what in the world I could possibly say about Star Fox Zero, I find myself forced to concede that there’s not that much wrong with the game as a game. As an engine built to allow players to fly around in a high resolution version of a spaceship apparently built out of triangles, Star Fox Zero is entirely functional. There are things to blow up, which will also seek to blow the player up. There are big spaceships, and big imposing robots with hidden vulnerabilities (which are signaled to the…

Feature

The Nightmare Valley of The Source Engine

Upon walking into St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican with a close friend in January, our jaws simultaneously dropped. He had never seen anything like it before. As he gazed up at the infinitely mathematical marble and gold ceiling, he said, “I think this could be the only structure like this to exist outside of a dream.” But I had seen something like it before—in a videogame, and one that I remember today only through dreams. //// There are certain types of physical and geographical structures which, until just a few decades ago, could rarely be experienced within the realm of…

dustbreeding
Feature

The broken promise of virtual reality

This is a preview of an article you can read on our new website dedicated to virtual reality, Versions. /// You don’t need a fancy games writer to tell you how few VR games are trickling out into the world these days. A quick perusal of the 2016 release calendar can give you that. Once the luster fades from the Oculus and Vive launch lineups, new converts to VR will find that there aren’t many games waiting in the wings until PlayStation VR arrives in the fall. This is not the end of the world. The games are coming eventually,…

Binary Domain
Feature

Binary Domain and the importance of shooting robots

A third-person shooter in which you destroy thousands of robots using big guns and lots of bullets. That could be a description for both Binary Domain (2012) and Vanquish (2010). They’re both science-fiction and both published by SEGA. And each of them is styled in a way that might be described as “very Japanese.” But where Vanquish quickly gets old, Binary Domain is alive, vibrant, and keeps you hooked until its end. The difference is revealed in the characters. More specifically, it’s found in the cutscenes. As game-makers continue to explore new methods of interactive storytelling, I understand why cutscenes…

Twilight Princess
Feature

I Took My Outdoor Education Professor On A Canoe Trip In Twilight Princess

When you think of outdoor educators, someone like Z (name changed to protect privacy) probably comes to mind: grey hair in braids, wearing a wool sweater with jeans and mukluks, she uses her university email account with reluctance and sees devices as a harbinger of the end-times. Her pedagogy born out of her environmental activism in the 70s, Z will talk your ear off about “indoor kids” and the “wired generation,” and how the only solution to the oncoming apocalypse is taking technology out of kids’ hands. She’s also curious about The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (2006). I’d applied…

Jak and Daxter
Feature

Jak and Daxter: the Search for Player Two

This article is part of PS2 Week, a full week celebrating the 2000 PlayStation 2 console. To see other articles, go here. /// I hear him pad up next to me before I feel his whiskers tickle my ankles. A wet, impatient nudge tells me to hurry up already—there’s something I should see up ahead. Won over, I look down. “What is it, Dax?” His ears perk at my response before immediately shooting down to the ground with the rest of his body. Head low, eyes steady, he slinks forward to his new objective with laser focus. But, after reaching…