First of all, good news, site subscribers! The third bonus book has been uploaded and is ready to be published and distributed. The bad news, however, is that if I order the books now they’ll arrive while I’m out of town for the holiday. Normally I would have them shipped to the office, but as it happens we’re moving to a new office while I’m out of town. So… I won’t be able to get the books out until after the break. I was hoping to have them in your hands sooner; my apologies for that.
In other good news, I’ve broken from format and published two articles this morning. It just so happened that both Shatterhand and Vice: Project Doom appeared back-to-back in GameSpite Quarterly 5, so I thought it would be appropriate to publish both together. Read one and then the other for maximum impact! The face-shattering impact of Steve “Shatterhand” Hermann!
These two games are in no material way connected with one another. They’re both from separate publishers, presumably put together by separate designers, and actually have fairly different play mechanics. What they do share in common is a similar aesthetic sensibility; my coworker Frank Cifaldi calls them “guy games.” They belong to a certain subset of NES games with a distinct look and style; you can always tell them by their manly damn heroes, who have beefy names like Steve Hermann and Quinton Hart; by their somewhat realistically proportioned heroes who have tiny, blank faces (instead of big, expressive cartoon mugs) and a macho stance; by their heavy use of chiaroscuro in the background graphics, creating a shadowy, slightly abstracted techno-noir look; and by their play mechanics, which tend to involve athletic punching even when ranged weapons are available.
These games are more or less the NES equivalent of modern “dudebro” shooters, all musclehead action and terse cliché narrative. And in these two titles, we may well be witnessing them at their apex. Enjoy! Then smash a beer can against your forehead.