Trapped In the Plot Hole, Case File #1: Bionic Commando

Friday, January 20, 2012 at 12:00 pm

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Recently on this site, one of my colleagues wrote an article pointing out the rather massive story deficiencies in Infinity Ward's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. This wasn't an attack on the game itself, but more the idea that the game is trying so hard to invest the player in the store when the story is so structurally unsound. While this often isn't a problem, if the game plays well enough... but there's always that moment when a bad plot development kicks the gamer square in the head. 

Bad video game writing has been with us since the medium's inception, and will likely always be with us, but sometimes, a game features a bad plot turn so heinous, so irritating, so "Were-they-even-paying-attention"-ny, They must be pointed out. For if not, we'll forever be... Trapped... in the Plot Hole.



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More News Is Good News!

Thursday, January 19, 2012 at 8:00 am
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All right, folks. I'm back to cover the news for you. I took a couple-week vacation to start the year and rebuilt my vigor. Joystick Division took a couple month hiatus from a lot of news. I've committed to far too little writing. I miss doing all the news because I'm a workaholic and I got to write a lot of fun articles when I did three pieces per day.

I'm going to be doing A LOT OF NEWS (yah!). I can't promise 3 per day, but this place is going to be the fuckin' banger for the 411 on shit you need to know. And that's in addition to all the great editorial pieces we have been pushing out. If you came to this site originally to get a feel for what was happening in the industry, I want you to feel comfortable. And don't come here looking for hot news about video game plushies. That isn't news, although sometimes people like to say it is and it isn't. That shit just doesn't fly here.

Funny trailers. Fan films. Press releases. Industry announcements. Conventions. Informative and funny. Mind-blowing and important. Unique and speculative.

Thanks for reading and I am so jazzed about this next piece of news, I could pee. So stay tuned.

Game Trailer Songs That Would've Been Weird Yet Rad

Tuesday, January 10, 2012 at 1:00 pm


Marcus Fenix of Gears of War, who is a pretty tough dude, benefits directly from a Tears for Fears cover.

​There's something about incongruity that interests the mind. Two things that don't seem to fit together being combined can be a source of fascination, humor or even awe. It's the reason we are interested in a great many things. Examples of these kinds of odd pairings are everywhere. Sweet and sour pork is one (How can one serving of pork be both deliciously sweet and also mouth-puckeringly sour? Visit your neighborhood Chinese restaurant to find out!). Gator Golf is another ("What could be greater than golf with a gator," a philosopher once mused).

Rat-cat-dog is perhaps the ultimate expression.

Sometimes, video game trailers will rely on this to draw potential players in by matching game footage with music that is both totally unexpected yet somehow extremely effective. The most famous example of this to date is the masterful trailer for the original Gears of War, which featured an armored mega-badass running and gunning against a terrible, alien foe in a bombed-out cityscape to the sleepy, melancholy strains of Gary Jules's cover of "Mad World." It's a dynamic that has worked in other trailers since, including the Bioshock Infinite trailer recently released

I can't help but wonder if this same trick of amazing game footage paired with gorgeous yet unexpected music would work for other upcoming releases as well. So I took the trailers of a few of the most anticipated games coming up in the future and thought about what music might have that "this is ridiculous... wait, actually, this is awesome" effect. 

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Look What Came In The Mail

Friday, January 6, 2012 at 4:00 pm
Here's a fun thing that showed up at JD Central yesterday: two airplane model kits to promote City Interactive's Combat Wings: The Great Battles of World War II. It just so happens that I'm a sucker for WWII dogfighting games and I used to be quite the model aficionado, so this is just the type of swag mailing that gets a game onto my radar.

Well played, City Interactive. Combat Wings releases Feb. 7, and I'll hopefully be assembling these bad boys over the weekend. You can be sure I'll post some pics when they're done.

Ten Slimiest Politicians in Video Games: Part 2

Tuesday, January 3, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Because gamers need to know if their politicians are crooks.

Welcome to 2012, everyone! We hope you've had a nice two days of recovering from the furious hangover with which you invariably ushered in this new year, but now it's time to get down to business. CAUCUS BUSINESS.

That's right, people. It's time to huddle together in mobs and talk loudly about who we would like to be president. It's the 2012 Iowa Caucuses today. The outcome of these caucuses will be scientifically analyzed and a winner will be selected. This candidate will then go on emboldened by his (or her, but let's be honest, it's not going to be her) victory and then may or may not be immediately forgotten.

But while this event of clear national importance takes place in a state of dubious national importance, let us all -- Iowan and non-Iowan, American and non-American, the fervent among us as well as the apathetic -- yes, let us all ask the pressing questions about video games and the politicians within them. And let us be thankful that none of the figures mentioned below can be elected to any form of real-life office.

This is Ten Slimiest Politicians in Video Games: Part 2!

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A Quick, Angry Note on the Ocean Marketing Debacle

Wednesday, December 28, 2011 at 2:00 pm
If you haven't been keeping up with current events in the gaming sphere, you've probably missed the Ocean Marketing scandal that's currently blowing up the internet. Essentially, a PR guy acted like an asshole, performed poor customer service, and threatened Penny Arcade. Penny Arcade publicized the event and the loyal troops rallied to harass and embarass this guy for his misdeeds. Here's a pretty decent layout of the situation.

This morning, another email thread went viral, with Paul (the PR prick) asking for the Penny Arcade crew to stop the onslaught of vitriol that had kept him up all night. Gabe from Penny Arcade wrote this about it, saying that he caught a bully being a bully, and that this internet justice was, essentially, teaching a bully a great lesson.

And I've followed it pretty closely this whole time. Being on Twitter, on Facebook, and having to stay privy to the gaming culture's buzz, I've been watching it since it started. And I am totally appalled by this culture I consider myself a part of.

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What Is The Best Game You Played This Year?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011 at 10:00 am
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All right. We're a week and a half away from 2012. It is time to poll you people on what you think the best game of the last 365 is. And because of the nature of this blog, I want to switch it up a bit. We don't always follow the same formula as the other guys, and I want to try and express that on the JD forums.

Okay, so the majority of gamers play games as they release each year and they finish them and wait for the next games to drop. But I understand that there are a lot of people who are still years behind the current roster of games. And I don't want to ignore them. So, I want to hear about just that -- I want to hear about the best game that you have played in the last 365 days -- not the best game released then. Just beat A Link To The Past? Tell me. How about Fable 2? Well, why did you like it so much?

Are you abreast of the curve? Did Portal 2 and Saint's Row The Third pique your interest? Please, do tell. Personally, Portal 2 and Bastion nailed me right in the heart, and I have to submit those as the two best games to come from this calendar year. But I'm just one voice. Tell me what you loved. And give the world your recommendation.

Adaptation: The Delicate Balance

Tuesday, December 20, 2011 at 2:00 pm



"Literature? In MY video games?" It's more likely than you think.

We all know that adapting a video game into a movie usually turns out poorly.  The leap from video games to books happens for the big blockbuster games sometimes, and usually the resulting literary product is a pretty niche-market kind of thing, meant for existing fans who want fuller immersion in the game's world (can you imagine reading the Halo novels if you didn't own an Xbox? It would be like buying collectible horcrux miniatures without reading Harry Potter. It just wouldn't happen).

But adaptation of a movie or a piece of literature into a video game is a different matter.  The history of video games is dotted with these strange hybrids, who bear the storytelling genes of film or prose or sometimes even poetry, but have mutated to fit the needs of electronic gaming.  These games are sometimes very bad.  Occasionally they are good. And there will invariably be more to come.

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In Defense of Both Simulated Violence and Parental Supervision

Wednesday, December 14, 2011 at 10:00 am
What's off-limits in games? My dad, circa 1994, would argue that this is.

When I was probably nine or ten years old, I hijacked a relative's birthday party and made everyone in my family take a vote on whether or not it was okay to play video games where it was possible for a male character to hit a female character. My father had enacted a ban on such games, and I felt the limitation was unnecessary and condescending. So we both stated our cases.

My dad was sort of mortified that his son was taking a pro-abuse stance, even concerning virtual confrontations, and was also sort of mortified that we had taken the spotlight from the birthday celebration in order to hash out a petty parent-child dispute. However, I had forced the issue, and he had to defend his side.

I remember my dad's reasoning being very straightforward -- you're young, you're impressionable, and there are some things you shouldn't even pretend to do.

Since I was nine at the time, my argument (which I laid out with the seriousness of fucking Sam Waterston in a sweeps week Law & Order) involved several tangents ("Sometimes the girls start the fight in the game, then it's self-defense, DAD"), but the main idea was this:

It's just a game.

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This Is A Bacon Skyrim Helmet. That Is All.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011 at 4:00 pm
As a large man -- husky, even -- I have hardened more than one artery with delicious bacon. I have eaten it on burgers. I have eaten it in salads. It has created a buffer between syrupy pancakes and runny eggs, and I have also eaten it. I have eaten it while it wrapped around a chicken dumpling. I have eaten it with nothing else at all.

Alas. Behold.

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Tags: bacon, Skyrim