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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…

sophie and howl
News

The beauty of Hayao Miyazaki and VHS glitches

The first time I ever watched Princess Mononoke (1997) was on a grainy bootleg from a relative. I was a kid, maybe nine-years-old, but the otherwise beautiful film’s terrible quality was ingrained in my psyche. Since I was only nine, its fuzziness didn’t bother me. It wasn’t until I was much older, and more appreciative of the crisp existence of blu-rays, that I was able to rewatch the film and re-fall in love with it all over again. Still, that first grainy take on the film rests as my first “true” experience with a Hayao Miyazaki film, and was my gateway…

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News

Printable Firewatch maps add a new challenge to the game

With its 1989 setting and focus on exploring the wilderness of the American West, Firewatch recalls a time before cell phones and GPS were common tools among those looking for adventure. Before Siri, the best option most travelers had for finding out how to get somewhere was still the simple paper map, with no guiding voice or blinking “you are here” indicator to make reading it any easier. To make up for this, car passengers would often double as navigators, reading through maps to find directions and arguing with drivers about which route was best—the main thing that’s changed is that we now shout…

Frog Days
News

A videogame about exploring the virtual worlds of 1995

Nostalgia for 1990s graphics and the decade’s range of operating systems is hellfire right now. It’s hot as shit and we can’t get enough it. Hence projects like Windows93 exist. Videogames, too, are increasingly incorporating or fully mimicking the early days of consumer-focused computer technology. Take a look at skeleton flower,  Solitaire.exe, Her Story, and Emily is Away for starters. We’re all growing up while desperately clawing back through the years to get one last sip on that fluorescent pink curly straw and throw gunge at each other. The 1990s it is not, but goddamn if we can’t pretend it is.…

screensaverjamlede
News

Screensaver jam results in a colorful throwback to the ’90s

You don’t really see screensavers all that often anymore. I know that when my computer enters sleep mode, I just have it set to display a black screen. It’s the same thing for all my friends as well as most offices I’ve visited since turning 13-years-old. Maybe it’s a consequence of our modern habit of leaving our computers on at all times, since if your computer is constantly sitting asleep in the background, having it display a bright or showy screensaver is just distracting. Or maybe it’s because we don’t need screensavers to protect our displays from burn-in images anymore,…

Videogame memory
News

The bot that dreams of forgotten videogames

Memory and videogames is a complicated crossroads. Not least because there’s a minimum of three types of memory meeting at this particular intersection. The most obvious one is personal memory: we remember the games we played over the years and attach emotions, physical locations, the music we were listening to at the time, and more to them. The second might be called technical or virtual memory, referring to the memory that videogames themselves contain. This is the RAM (random-access memory), the ROM (read-only memory), the immaterial saved data on hard drives and memory cards of old. Third is the cultural…

tick tock isle
News

Go back in time to save time in the adorable Tick Tock Isle

Described as a spiritual successor to the delightful Cat Poke, Tick Tock Isle is a point and click adventure game that doesn’t want to reinvent the wheel—and it’ll charm the pants out of anyone who thinks that wheel is outdated or boring. The demo was originally released four years ago by the duo of Jason Boyer and Ryan Pietz. “We spent an entire summer designing our biggest game yet,” Boyer writes on his blog. “Unfortunately, we didn’t have anyone to program it beyond a demo, so it lingered in our unfulfilled dreams folder.” Finally in April 2015, they decided to “make our dream a reality and…

homesickened
News

Finally, a videogame that doesn’t fetishize nostalgia

“You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood … back home to a young man’s dreams of glory and of fame … back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time—back home to the escapes of Time and Memory.”  – Thomas Wolfe Even the air feels different at home, at once fresher yet also somehow more suffocating. The moment you step off the bus (or train or plane or Delorean), you can already feel the walls…

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News

Relive those awkward AIM chats from your youth with this videogame

I often wonder if the internet of today will ever be as ancient a place as the internet of my youth, some 10 or 20 years into the future—if I’ll look back on my Twitter feed, the various chat programs I use with my friends, and get the same pang of nostalgia I do now from hearing Windows XP boot up and the creaking door of a friend signing-on to AIM. Given the nature of the internet today, I doubt it. Things are so permanent now. Data is sorted so neatly, documented so conveniently. I can copy and paste a…