GameSpite: Issue 4

Hey, look! GameSpite’s monthly now. This is, uh, I guess the January issue, then. I was going to post it tomorrow but we’re done already, so, hey. January. This issue is only slightly about video games — the original theme was supposed to be comics and manga. But that slowly mutated over the course of the issue’s development, and I kind of think it would be best to focus mainly on games (given the name of the site), so! Consider this an experiment. And enjoy.

Assassin’s Creed
This began life as a blog post, and it kind of shows! But since we don’t put numbers on scores around here, or in fact have any sort of review standard or format whatsoever, what does it matter? It doesn’t, see. So here you go: repurposed content.

Batman Begins
Speaking of having no set format whatsoever, Kolbe’s review of Batman Begins is mostly a history of the Batman franchise and all the horrible things that have happened through the years to the world’s greatest detective. Which of course is crucial to understanding why Begins is so beloved by, well, anyone who has ever seen rubber Bat-nipples.

Meanwhile, Bobservo heads to the other end of the popularity spectrum to provide the indie cred no amount of Batman articles ever could with his look at Peter Bagge’s cynically humorous Hate. Well, I gather that it’s cynically humorous, having never read it myself. But now I would like to.

Little Samson
Ilchymis makes his GameSpite debut with a retrospective on one of those late-era NES games that no one ever played because we were all spoiled by Blast Processing and Mode 7: Little Samson. Cute, squatty sprites abound.

Mega Man 5
Cute, squatty sprites also abound in Mega Man 5, but this is one of those NES games that all too many people have played, and undeservingly so if wumpwoast’s review is to be believed. If Mega Man 4 was questionable in places, 5 was where it flew off the rails. I remember renting this back in the day and being terribly sad about a great series’ fall. How little things have changed.

Kirin contributes a two-part look at the Mushishi manga: a general overview of the series, and a field guide to spotting the titular Mushi. You know, in case you’re ever out wandering in the woods of Japan and find yourself besieged by mysterious spirit creatures.

NBA Story (Vol. 5)
Lumber Baron critiques a mid-series volume of NBA Story. Isolating book five might seem a random choice, but really, is it any more random than the series itself — a Japanese manga chronicling real-life stories drawn from the actual NBA? I say “no.”

Finally, our latest issue ends on a gruesome note with horror manga connoisseur Nich sharing the gory details about Junji Ito’s Uzumaki. It’s really true: the spiraling shape will make you go insane.

18 thoughts on “GameSpite: Issue 4

  1. So I read the “Little Samson” article a bunch of times while it was being drafted, and only NOW did I realize I’VE ACTUALLY PLAYED IT BEFORE! Whoa. If it were only part of a larger series, I wouldn’t have forgotten about it.

    Good games don’t deserve to be so forgettable. It’s just the whole NES and sidescrollers thing.

  2. Baron:

    “Basketball may not be fantastically popular in Japan, but it was the setting for Slam Dunk? one of the most popular series of all time, and manga has focused on sports far more esoteric.”

    Basketball is actually very big in Japan, precisely because of Slam Dunk! They just don’t have professional teams like us right now, but that series helped make it a national sport there. In fact, I hear kids there are taller now, because of the game.

    “Sports are a familiar genre in manga, but the resulting works all seem to focus on rag-tag high-school students aspiring to represent their schools at Kōshien.”

    I guess you never heard of Eyeshield 21 or Prince of Tennis or Crimson Hero…

    “It’s hard to say why a publisher would expect the manga-reading public to sympathize with a bunch of black American millionaires”

    I guess you never heard of Bob Sapp…

    Kolbe: “Someone at Warner realized that people, while collectively pretty lacking in taste, have their limits…”

    Then how do you explain Catwoman and V for Vendetta?

  3. This is my favorite issue so far. When it’s all about video games it gets a little exhausting for me but this one was perfect. Good work guys.

  4. Aw, geez. Megaman 5’s my favorite right after #2. The stage designs, (most of) the bosses, the music – oh, the MUSIC – I love it all dearly.

    To be fair though, a trainheaded boss is an unmitigated pile of STUPID.

  5. bobservo: “Simpsons creator Matt Groening didn’t necessarily rip off The Bradleys to create his very profitable animated series, but Bagge’s cartoon deconstruction of the American family predates The Simpsons by at least four years, and was published at a time when Groening himself was an alternative cartoonist. If that isn’t enough evidence of Peter Bagge’s influence on that big, yellow mass of American culture known as The Simpsons, Matt Groening is also blurbed on the cover of The Bradleys. So there.”

    Matt Groening’s been sketching since he was a kid, so Bagge probably owes him, not the other way around.

  6. wump: “The freshest and most curious idea is found exclusively in Gravity Man’s stage, which contains zones where gravity (and Mega Man’s vertical controls) are flipped. The concept makes a great game in itself — that’s why Irem had developed Metal Storm two years prior and fully explored the concept.Hurrah for a Mega Man game that can’t even rip off other games well!”

    To my knowledge, Strider was the first game to use that idea. Since that was also within the Capcom family, that would mean Irem was the company which was unoriginal.

  7. I still had fun with it. Honestly, the only original Mega Man game I would label as out-and-out crappy is the sixth one. The levels are colorful and fun and the music ranks among the more memorable in the series.

  8. In regards to Batman Begins, while the film is a step back in the right direction, I was really sad to see how much actual detective work the World’s Greatest Detective did. I know Batman Begins was meant to focus on rebooting the character, but I doubt the sequel will focus on that aspect of Batman either, as that isn’t the reason why most people go to see a Batman movie.

    Glad to see Uzumaki written up — it’s a fantastically weird series.

  9. Wow…I’m surprised the rabid Assassin’s Creed fanboys haven’t launched their assault on Parish for his scathing (albiet, accurate) review of that game.

  10. RE: Batman

    I can’t say I was ever a big fan of Miller’s borderline psychopath Batman. Then again, maybe Dark Knight Returns is great and my memory is just skewed from when Miller went off the deep end in All Star Batman and Robin (and took Batman with him).

  11. The Dark Knight Returns is just a funny story, kind of silly from certain perspective and sometimes it takes itself too seriously. In retrospective, certainly isn’t that great, but what it did, in its time and context, was to give the Batman mythos a 180º turn, needed to prove how extreme the character could be. Year One is a much better story, ’cause it balances the pshychological traits of Wayne with a less over-the-top Gotham.

  12. How was that Creed review scathing? I said it was a well-intentioned and promising game that was clearly rushed by the publisher. “Scathing” would have been way more hateful.

    Dark Knight Returns is very much a product of its era, and yeah, it’s a lot less timeless than Watchmen. But! It is balls nasty.

  13. Yeah, I’ll stick up for Mega Man 5 too. I agree the series starting going downhill with 4, but only due to its complacency and general lack of creativity. The games themselves, other than a couple of stupid levels, aren’t really that much worse than the old ones. I’ve always liked the Mega Buster, too, so that’s not an argument I can stand behind.

    I guess I should try Little Samson one of these days. It’s one of the few NES games that seems to require a lot of scratch on the aftermarket. Which may or may not mean much.

  14. I’m glad to hear you all liked the Little Samson piece. It was a joy to put together, and hopefully I’ll get to do some more as time progresses.

    It’s definitely worth picking up if you find it for a reasonable price, or playing if you can find it on the internet. I’ll give Mega Man 5 a shot here soon to see how I feel about it; I had 6 growing up and never finished it. XD

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