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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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.”

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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.

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Rick and Morty and the Dramaty Called Knowing

Content Warning: Discussion of sexual assault and attempted suicide

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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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The Kitsch of Samurai Jack

Genndy Tartakovsky is a treasure to the world of animation. The Russian born kid turned giant American nerd and animation legend in the making has been involved in some of Cartoon Network’s greatest shows, and gave Adam Sandler good movies to be in, which has become a bizarre, alien concept these days. While Dexter’s Lab was his big hit, it was Samurai Jack that stands out as his masterwork. It’s a truly strange series that combines all sorts of kitsch elements together into a surprisingly mature framework that allowed for tons of experimentation in narrative and tone, using an episodic format to build up to all sorts of wild endings with constantly shifting genres and premises. With the series Adult Swim season finished, I felt it was a good time to take a look back and examine what makes the series stand out so much. Ultimately, it comes back to that use of kitsch I mentioned, in how the show defines itself by making it impossible to actually define it in any concrete way.

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Steven Universe and Emotional Logic Storytelling

Since I had so much fun talking you all about the eldrich comedy that is Gumball, I decided going over a few other CN shows would be worth a go. I put a vote up on a few ideas I had, and Clarance ended up losing to Steven Universe, which I really should have seen coming the moment I made that poll. Steven Universe is one of the most popular shows Cartoon Network has, and it’s SUUUUUUUUPER GAY. Like, a yuri magazine in the middle of a trans pride parade on Halloween gay (lets be real, Halloween is the gayest of all the major holidays). But that’s not what I wanted to talk about, because that horse is deader than a meme sniffed out by Comedy Central marketing firms. Instead, I want to talk about the biggest key to the show’s success, the focus on emotional logic.

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Ladykiller and the Politics of BDSM

I’ve been waiting for Ladykiller in a Bind for a long time now, nearly half a decade. Christine Love’s style has almost always been based around exploring how technology has impacted how we communicate with each other, including building relationships, but Ladykiller removes that aspect and explores relationships and communications from a more overtly sexual lens. Calling it a “sex game” or something of the like isn’t inaccurate, but I don’t think it’s a proper way to describe what the game really is. Ladykiller does something really unexpected and refreshing in how it chooses to engage with sexuality, and that’s using choice mechanics to demonstrate to the player how BDSM relationships work. The game lets you play both dominate and submissive roles with multiple characters, and how you play the game significantly changes based on this.

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Messy Queerness in Gender Bender DNA Twister Extreme

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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Gender Bender DNA Twister Extreme is an absolutely baffling project made by amateur developers and artists that started to grow more into their chosen fields as development continued on, and thanks to the episodic release schedule, we can actually see how things went from horrifying to somewhat competent very clearly. But we also see a game that …okay, I don’t want to say it shouldn’t exist, but I can say that it’s surprising to see it exist at this large a scale. This thing can easily suck up thirty hours if you play every episode, and I played through every single episode. This article took some time to get to.

But instead of ragging on the clearly visible problems that plague the title or give a regular review, I decided to go in a more interesting direction. See, no matter how ridiculous this game is, it does eventually try to tackle some heavy subject matter that comes from its fetish laden set-up, and the strange part is that it doesn’t absolutely fail at it.

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Sometimes, mind you.

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DOOM 3’s House of Jump Scares

Happy Halloween, everyone! If you were expecting spooky articles on Infinite Rainy Day, real life sadly got in the way for pretty much everyone. However, I didn’t want to leave the holiday empty handed, so I decided to try looking at a horror game. But I wasn’t in the mood for survival horror or super tense games, and I didn’t want to go over super popular titles either. I also had trouble finding a good obscure horror game, since so many out these days are obnoxious and derivative.

But then I noticed that Steam was having a sale on a mixed entry in a classic series, so I figured this would be as good as a time as any to finally talk about the incredibly confused DOOM 3. But since I could only get three hours in with my hectic (heh) schedule, I’ll only be focusing on how the game handles its horror elements. Like the rest of the game, it’s handled with great care and an absent mind.

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