“Dig Dug, Berzerk, Frogger, Tetris, Donkey Kong, Street Fighter II — they are all there.” In the spirit of preservation, killing productivity, and saving me trips to, and quarters spent, at the Columbia Heights laundromat, the Internet Archive — keepers of the always useful Wayback Machine — now offers 900 old-school, browser-ready arcade games for your nostalgic pleasure. “Firefox [is] best optimized to run these free games.”
“The rug is a moveable barrier which move backwards to reveal more of the rug as the shot is repeatedly hit. Unrolling the rug really pulls the room together and starts one of the modes featured below.”
“To you and me, going unbeaten and undrawn in five straight tournament games sounds impressive. But to chess aficionados, Caruana’s performance is nigh on miraculous. It’s frightfully difficult to straight-up stomp another top-10 international grandmaster…Yet Caruana wasn’t merely avoiding draws and losses. In the words of one commentator, he was ‘spanking’ his opponents.”
Need a new sport in these corrupt-NFL, steroid-ridden MLB times? (I myself have opted for EPL and MLS futbol.) Old friend Seth Stevenson makes the case for chess from the 2014 Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis, “one of the most emotional, dramatic, newsworthy chess events of the past 40 years…I encourage you to tune in for some of the championship series in Sochi…Perhaps you’ll get swept up in the beauty of this 1,500-year-old pastime. Start to learn a few openings. Maybe some defenses. Eventually yearn to execute a perfect smothered mate. It really is a seductive game.”
Happy Easter. Quiet here at the Ghost, I know. Chalk up 65% of it to an extremely busy month of work — one of the busiest I can remember — 25% to the usual existential malaise that accompanies blogging these days, and 10% tothesheeraddictivenessof2048. In any event, the schedule is clearing some now, so I expect the posts will pick up around here in short order.
“Imagine Zelda and Link et al. being brutally, graphically murdered, over and over, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Now you’ve basically got it: The Souls games are like 50-hour playable Red Weddings in which you are the victim. These are, to put it mildly, games in which you die…The jokesters at From Software, the Tokyo company that makes Dark Souls, have put in the new game’s central hub an obelisk on which is written a constantly updating count of the global number of deaths. As of last Wednesday night, the count was 4.3 million. The game came out on Tuesday.”
At Buzzfeed, Joseph Bernstein sings the praises of the highly deadly Dark Souls games. “Basically, the Souls formula is to put a very difficult boss at a very far distance from a checkpoint with many difficult enemies in between who come back to life every time you save or die. It’s devious.” He spends entirely too much of the piece fretting about gaming’s respectability, and I think he oversells the uniqueness of the Dark Souls franchise, but still worth a read nonetheless.
“The Battle of B-R5RB was the largest and bloodiest in the history of warfare. More than 20 million soldiers were killed and more than 600 warships — some of them kilometers long and capable of destroying lesser vessels with a single shot — destroyed in a battle that raged for 22 hours…[But] The biggest battle in the history of forever started with a clerical error.”
“To watch Rex play Spelunky is to watch someone who has spent hundreds of hours — entire days — with the game, training his muscle memory, familiarizing himself with every possible situation, memorizing Spelunky arcana and honing techniques. Yes, he’s naturally gifted, but his talents are clearly bolstered by a colossal amount of experience. If anyone were going to pull off a solo Eggplant run, it was going to be Bananasaurus Rex.”
By way of longtime reader Jared Dunn, Polygon‘s Douglas Wilson tells the story of a successful solo eggplant run in Spelunky, 30-For-30 style. “[T]o someone who’s played Spelunky, those times aren’t just impressive — they’re superhuman. They’re like the four-minute mile of video games. And watching Rex use the Teleporter, one of the game’s most lethal tools, is like watching Michael Jordan play basketball with a bomb, successfully.”
I’ve never actually played, or even heard of, Spelunky until this article, but thought this was a fascinating deep-dive into one particular gaming subculture.
“What, exactly, does it mean to be a ‘man’? It’s a question that sits at the dark, warped heart of the entire series and its anti-hero protagonist. A nerdy chemist whose brains haven’t earned him any power or respect from the world at large, the terminally ill Walt decides that he’s finally going to get that power and respect through whatever means necessary (and whenever possible, using science). The show doesn’t just trace Walt’s arc from Mr. Chips to Scarface, as Gilligan famously described it, or from Walt to Heisenberg; it also maps his journey from being a ‘pussy’ to being a ‘man.’ And while he succeeds in his goals, it’s a transformation that comes at a high price.”
“What’s really great about these clips is the way they incorporate classic sprites from the game and put them in a real-world setting. It’s…pretty amazing that technology has advanced to the point where YouTube users can do this stuff without the backing of an entire studio.” An enterprising Youtube user films himself sparring against Mortal Kombat‘s fiercest fighters. Somebody needs to work on their combos.
And ambitions are low. And resentment rides high, but emotions won’t grow… “The game asks players to explore relationship issues like miscommunication, emotional impasse, and the sadness of separation, and players must learn to accept that not all relationships are salvageable. Each level of the game is inspired by a verse of ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart.'” Meet Mario’s older, depressed cousin, Emo! Anyway, haven’t tried this yet, but it’s definitely in the queue.
“‘We are trying to understand how human motor performance changes with age,’ the researchers say. ‘We believe that research should be done in collaboration with people—with people like you who are interested in learning about themselves and helping research.'”
“Here I am, standing outside Winterhold, watching the snow blow in gusts down the path. There’s that bridge to my right, and that mill to my left, and the docks beyond the bridge. I hear a dragon somewhere. I still have no idea what else is up in the mountain behind the city, despite having sojourned to its peak multiple times. I’ve still never collected all of the types of blood that one demon asked for…There’s still so much of Skyrim left to see, and so much Skyrim left to play. But I’ve probably seen enough.”
Onward to the next adventure: With the announcement that there’ll be no more xpacs, Kotaku‘s Kirk Hamilton says farewell to Skyrim. To be honest, I haven’t even started Skyrim yet. I borrowed my father’s copy many moons ago, but I’ve been daunted by the scope of the game — and afraid of the inevitable timesuck it will generate — since it came out. As Alan Sepinwall noted of the currently-unfolding Golden Age of Television, it seems to get harder and harder to keep up with all the great pop culture out there at the moment. Not enough time in the day.
“‘After evaluating our position in the games market, we’ve decided to shift LucasArts from an internal development to a licensing model, minimizing the company’s risk while achieving a broader portfolio of quality Star Wars games,’ Disney informed Game Informer in a statement. ‘As a result of this change, we’ve had layoffs across the organization. We are incredibly appreciative and proud of the talented teams who have been developing our new titles.'”
Granted there hasn’t been a must-play Star Wars game since Knights of the Old Republic in 2003, and that was mostly on account of Bioware. But give credit where due – in the late 80’s and early 90’s, LucasArts had an unparalleled record of excellent games: Maniac Mansion, Zack McCracken, Sam and Max, Monkey Island, Full Throttle, Grimm Fandango, Dark Forces, and, of course, the original X-Wing.
“With a portal at each university, students can stand in front of a vertical 50-inch high-definition monitor and communicate with the help of a webcam, microphone, speakers and a computer running a video communication service. A backlit booth will house the portal.” Look at them still talking when there’s science to do — Now Duke and UNC are playing with portals. (I just hope the Duke side is red.)
Horns (6.5/10) Frank (6/10) The Zero Theorem (7.5/10) Life Itself (6/10) Guardians of the Galaxy (8/10) Boyhood (10/10) Snowpiercer (7/10) Jodorowsky's Dune (7.5/10) Edge of Tomorrow (8.5/10) Filth (5/10) X-Men: Days of Future Past (7.5/10) The Amazing Spiderman 2 (4/10) Godzilla (6/10) Locke (8/10) The Double (7.5/10) Blue Ruin (8/10) Le Weekend (7.5/10) God's Pocket (6.5/10) Devil's Knot (5/10) Only Lovers Left Alive (8.5/10) Under the Skin (7.5/10) Transcendence (3/10) Nymphomaniac, Vol. 1 (3/10) Captain America: The Winter Soldier (8.5/10) Noah (7.5/10) The Grand Budapest Hotel (6/10) 300: Rise of an Empire (4/10) Robocop (5.5/10) The Lego Movie (8.5/10) The Monuments Men (4/10) GitM BEST OF 2013 GitM Review Archive
The Invisible Bridge, Rick Perlstein
Homage to Catalonia, George Orwell Dissident Gardens, Jonathan Lethem This Book Is Full of Spiders, David Wong The Weirdness, Jeremy Bushnell How to Live Safely in A Science Fictional Universe, Charles Yu The Boys in the Boat, Daniel James Brown Command and Control, Eric Schlosser The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt