RollerCoaster Tycoon and the Importance of Simplicity

Today’s article was commissioned by a regular reader. If you’d like to have me write about something of your choosing, consider commissioning me! Details here, willing to discuss subjects not covered on that page. Use the e-mail listed there.
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Full Course: HuniePop

Content Warning: This article discusses sexual assault, not in the games featured but in discussion of subcultures related to said games. Reader discretion is advised.

…well, I’m about to talk about videogames made by chan regulars that isn’t the much beloved visual novel about living with handicaps. This series went in a weird direction, talking about sexy puzzle and tycoon games. Normally, this wouldn’t be writing about these sorts of games, since they’re usually too simplistic or crude to be worth the musing. When games informed by chan culture come around, they usually turn out to be pretty terrible irony games you can easy spot as trash from a glance (see “The Triggering”) or seemingly normal games that end up being incredibly idiotic social commentary that either misses the point (The Last Night, the product of a gater) or is informed entirely by ignorance (Aerannis, which includes the mascot of a harassment campaign as a celebrity cameo). But out of all of them, it’s HuniePop that’s somehow been the most controversial release, and possibly the most tame. That may be the secret to its success.

Full Course HuniePop

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Rick & Morty and the Death of the Ubermensch

Another season of Rick and Morty has gone by, but not as quietly as usual. Just recently, headlines went up over Rick and Morty fans acting like spoiled children over novelty Mulan sauce McDonald’s brought back, including videos of people jumping on counters and screaming that they didn’t get the mediocre fast food slime. For those unaware, the season three premiere made a joke by showing that Rick was obsessed with a forgettable movie tie-in sauce from the late 90s called schezwan sauce. It did not take long for McDonald’s to seize on the joke for some publicity and eventually had a one day special with the stuff – and it was a disaster of untold proportions.

It’s even more bizarre when you remember the point of season three seemed to entirely be “Rick is wrong.”

Rick and Morty s3
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Full Course: Syberia

Benoît Sokal. There are few names in gaming that grab my interest as much as that one, which is strange, because it was only just last year that I found out that this man existed. Born in Brussels, Belgium, Sokal was mostly known as a comic artist for most of his years, creating a series about a drunk, smoking detective duck called Inspector Canardo. He created a pretty wide variety of pulpy works, coloring them with a personal computer, and he probably would have remained a minor figure in the comics world if not for the spread of the CD-ROM. This invention inspired Sokal to try making games, and his ambition grew as he partnered with Microids, one of Europe’s most significant names in the point and click genre. The end result was 1999’s Amerzone, and come 2002, Sokal topped that with one of the most memorable point and clicks ever made: Syberia. It became his most famous work and a major series among point and click die-hards.

It’s fitting that a game so focused on riding a train would go off the rails so hard.

Full Course Syberia

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Full Course: Lisa

Content Warning: This article will be discussing suicide, depression, child abuse, sexual assault, drug use, and a great deal more. Reader discretion is advised.

Back when I wrote on Alan Wake, I brought up the philosophical idea of determinism, the idea that people act based on what has been done to them. I originally wasn’t expecting to return to that idea so soon (as the original plan was to revisit the crude comedy point and click, Randal’s Monday), but I had to rush through a game series for an assignment and found determinism rearing its head yet again, though with less meta-textual and a more realistic framing. This is made odder because the theme came up in the game series Lisa, which induces gaming personality Jim Sterling as a hidden boss who asks you to jump off a cliff, wear a dress, and take hallucinatory drugs made partly from garbage.

So yeah.

Full Course Lisa

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Tropes Vs Community

A common occurrence I see in the most popular American sitcoms is a strong, obvious emotional core, or a thematic tapping of nostalgia or political and real life insecurities. There’s usually something about these shows that endears them to their audience, capturing a friendlier version of their views or how they interpret the world. But the near adult youth of 2009 were in a strange spot. Things were bad, but mainly in aftermath, and most of them lacked a context for it. If they did understand the mortgage bubble and the USA’s normalization of constant war, they were just now going to college and didn’t really know how to deal with it. So what sort of TV would they watch? The answer ended up being shows that engaged with meta humor, like The Office toying with story telling techniques, or the absurdist segways of 30 Rock.

There was a detached, uncaring quality to these shows, existing in their own little world, but capturing something real to the audience. They reflected not insecurity, but the almost comical ridiculous status of things by refusing to meaningfully engage and instead poke holes in. The king of those shows ended up becoming Dan Harmon’s Community, and today, I’d like to point out what it’s true core strength was. Community is remembered for its meta nature, but it’s real power was absolutely refusing to make its characters actual people. Community is a show powered by tropes and conventions. It’s time to examine why.

tropes vs community

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Full Course: Shadowrun Returns Trilogy

Better cyberpunk than The Last Night.

Full Course Shadowrun

How did I not know about Shadowrun before now? If I had to guess, the title probably threw me off. “Shadowrun.” That’s the type of generic, lifeless name you’d expect to see on the newest financial bomb FPS from Activision or EA. That is not a name that inspires confidence or interest …these days. Back in the table top scene of 1989, Shadowrun was something fresh and new. It was a bizarre combination of cyberpunk and fantasy, and those two very different flavors somehow fit together better than peanut butter and chocolate.

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Rick and Morty and the Dramaty Called Knowing

Content Warning: Discussion of sexual assault and attempted suicide

Rick and Mory article piece

You’d be hard pressed to find a comedy as dividing as Rick and Morty. It’s one of Adult Swim’s biggest hits, a show both adored and also found disgusting or simply far too morally repugnant, and both reactions are perfectly acceptable. While Community’s Dan Harmon is a major player, Rick and Morty is mostly the creative vision of one Justin Roiland, going so far as to voice both title characters. For all intents and purposes, Rick and Morty is Roiland’s portrayal of “truth.” It is how he sees the world and himself, and it is both hilarious and soul crushing at the same time. It’s the most nihilist work I have ever seen, a work filled so much with the creator’s ego and id that your enjoyment of it depends entirely on how much of the man behind it you can take. But that’s the key to Rick and Morty’s success. To put it simply, Rick and Morty is an absurd work that uses ridiculous elements to speak surprisingly true words.

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The Humor of Barkley’s Shut Up and Jam Gaiden and JRPG Structure

Today’s article was commissioned by a regular reader. If you’d like to have me write about something of your choosing, consider commissioning me! Details here, willing to discuss subjects not covered on that page. Use the e-mail listed there.
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Warning: The article you are about to read is canon.

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