In the interest of good taste and fear of social stigma, we balk at the term “new games journalism” around here. And I think you’ll agree that this latest group effort doesn’t quite fit the necessary criteria. We are primarily writing about the games, not ourselves, and while florid language is known to rear its head from time to time you’ll also find just enough self-effacement to deflate the tires of pretentiousness. Er, in other words: nary a mention of vegan burritos. Thus we are, as someone put so brilliantly in the forums, “gently used games journalists.” Still, I can’t shake the feeling we’re treading on someone else’s turf….
See, you’d think this BioShock piece would be all NGJ, kicking off as it does with a reference back to the hoary ol’ games-as-art debate. But no — chud_666 instead takes this opportunity to pull the rug out from beneath the entire argument through the lens of BioShock’s theme of free will. It sounds up its own arse, but in fact it’s not! Just beware spoilers.
And then Mightyblue wraps up his Breath of Fire series retrospectives with a look at RPG indie kid poster child, the decidedly controversial Dragon Quarter. Nothing highfalutin’ about this one, merely a straightforward (if perhaps overly affectionate) look at how the quirkiest Breath title was so good it killed the entire series.
bobservo waves eloquent on the good ol’ days LucasArts, back when it was Lucasfilm Games and had the courage to make innovative games that didn’t rely on the Star Wars brand as a desperate sales crutch. Specifically, he looks at the NES version and how its SCUMM engine was so good it killed off an entire genre. Yeah, take that, Dragon Quarter.
Mario Kart 64
As usual, Lumber Baron skates at the dreadful edge of NGJ but then leaps back to safety with style and grace, offering up a simple, personal, brilliant defense of Mario Kart 64 — not so much a plea for salvation, but a true gamer’s tribute to finding pleasure even in a game that has aged so very, very badly.
Mega Man 6
Another retrospective comes to a close as well: wumpwoast delivers the last of his 8-bit Mega Man analyses with a look at the sixth and final NES game. His verdict: not as bad as its bum rap would suggest. Hopefully this means he can move along to the 16-bit titles, where the sickness really started to set in.
Metal Gear Solid (Ghost Babel)
But despair not, fans of protracted series-based recaps: Kishi kicks off the Metal Gear love-in with a look at its single most underappreciated entry (and the absolute best game on Game Boy Color). The same crew would later go on to make the Boktai games, which also went unloved. You people are spoiled, you know that?
Metal Gear Solid 3
And then there’s the Metal Gear Solid 3 piece, which I wrote, so it’s too long. I became bogged down on a single line of reasoning and once I managed to pull myself away realized, oops, I forgot to really talk about the game itself. New Games Journalism at its worst. You guys should take this article around back and put a bullet in its skull, seriously.
Merus provides a coincidental but timely counterpart to the Maniac Mansion piece with a look back at Lucasfilm Game’s rival Sierra and its most interesting, innovative take on the adventure genre: Space Quest. Also on tap: a completely different theory on the heat death of the genre. Who is right? The only way to settle this is with a bare-chested fight to the death in the Pit of Scorpions.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
And finally, the lone non-video game entry for this issue, looking rather alone and lost. Be gentle with it, speak to it kindly, and show it a link to the TMNT Virtual Console review from a few months back to let it know that it’s in good company. It is among its own kind.
You can discuss (praise, hate on, cry out for a jihad against) the issue on this very special forum thread created expressly for the purpose.