The best writing from around the web.
Good Games Writing Weekly is a round-up of the best writing on games and related fields from around the web. Some themes may be for older audiences.
The E3 replacements have been fast and furious: There have been game reveals seemingly every day and game’s sites are in “churn” mode as every new game must receive a post informing you about it. Buried in all that noise, however, is a share of good games writing (more than we share, certainly) worth your clicks and your time.
On Vice, Paul Dean has a retrospective of Catan, complete with an interview with the game’s designer, Klaus Teuber, and others. It gives insight into the earliest days of Catan, when it still had the “Settlers of” name, while contextualizing the now-iconic game today.
Paste‘s Dia Lacina asked the question: “where are all the black videogame composers?” Following that line of questioning up is the beginning of an answer, presented in the form of composers presenting their bios in their words, with links to listen to their work.
The massive itch.io bundle has now surpassed $6 million dollars and 1500 games. Writing for Kotaku, Shonte Murray-Daniels reflects on the bundle’s seemingly infinite possibilities, stepping away from Animal Crossing‘s “mumbing sweetness”, and into games that are more than mere escapes.
Recognize the moment when a comforting game like New Horizons is a helpful retreat, but also when it is preventing you from seeing something that must be seen.
New Horizons continues to see its share of insights (per above) and takes. Khee Hoon Chan applies a sci-fi lens to the topic of “time travel” in the game–this feels strangely overdue–discussing both Nintendo’s conscious decisions to withhold events from time travelers and the idea of branching timelines. It’s a light read that still made us pause and consider the system…and Nintendo’s decision to disincentivize the practice.
Final Fantasy is one of our other usual suspects, and Jeremy Signor muses about remakes and revamps of all kinds, with FFVIIR seemingly as they launching point. His comments on Mega Man were particularly interesting–not that the whole thing isn’t, and this is still ostensibly a FF post–but provide clarity and context that is welcome.
Which is a shame, then, that the extensive PSP remake Mega Man Powered Up essentially pretended [the pause trick] never was there in the first place. While the game boasts a revamped graphical style and new bosses, it’s striking that the pause trick no longer works in this particular remake. Unintended or no, it’s as much a part of Mega Man’s identity as its pointless scoring and copy-pasted level design.
A couple of reviews for this week. We liked Rob Zacny’s take (from April) on Gears Tactics for feeling like a rumination on the series and its choice of genres as much as anything. We’ve begun reading The Last of Us Part II reviews and while there will be some shared in a future update, this was the first one that made us feel like we needed to share it now. Matthew Codd constructively rips into it, “Emotional Reaction Boxes”, and tedium. It’s also one of the only reviews we’ve seen to highlight accessibility options in it, so 10 points for Ravenclaw.
Speaking of accessibility, it was nice seeing this blog post from the team behind Marvel’s Avengers discuss some of the initiative they’re undertaking in that vein. ” Fully remappable controls, character-associated subtitles, campaign-relevant closed captions” are some of the features being built in, while an Inhuman NPC in a wheelchair will be seen. Steps in the right direction.
Competitive gaming captured our imaginations this week as well. We liked this examination on how professional photographers are embracing eSports virtually and providing their services by Jay Castello. Blindfolded speedrunners were at the centre of Elizabeth Henges’ piece for Uppercut. Meanwhile, Luke Winkie speaks to people enjoying competitive games in their own way (off meta) in games like Smash Bros, League of Legends, and Overwatch.
Finally, we leave you with this full length documentary on Killer Instinct, which isn’t something we thought we wanted to watch until we did.
Castello, Jay, “How esports photographers are using in-game capture in place of live events” (Rock, Paper, Shotgun: June 9, 2020) <https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2020/06/09/how-esports-photographers-are-using-in-game-capture-in-place-of-live-events/>.
Chiasson, Ameliane. “Accessibility On Marvel’s Avengers – The Journey So Far” (Square Enix Blog: May 28, 2020) <https://square-enix-games.com/en_US/news/accessibility-marvels-avengers>.
Codd, Matthew. “Review: The Last of Us Part II overplays violence at the cost of theme” (Shindig: June 12, 2020) <http://www.shindig.nz/videogames/game-reviews/the-last-of-us-part-ii/>.
Dean, Paul. “Catan at 25: Checking in on a Once-Revolutionary Board Game” (Vice: June 11, 2020) <https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/7kp8ve/catan-25-anniversary>.
Henges, Elizabeth. “The Art of the Blindfolded Speedrun” (Uppercut: June 10, 2020) <https://uppercutcrit.com/the-art-of-the-blindfolded-speedrun/>.
Hoon Chan, Khee. “The paradoxes of time travel in Animal Crossing: New Horizons” (Syfy: June 8, 2020) <https://www.syfy.com/syfywire/animal-crossing-new-horizons-time-travel-paradox>.
Lacina, Dia. “In Celebration of Black Videogame Composers, Part 1” (Paste: June 11, 2020) <https://www.pastemagazine.com/games/game-soundtracks/black-videogame-composers-you-need-to-know/>.
Murray-Daniels, Shonte. “Itch.io’s Anti-Racism Bundle Gave Me Space To Reflect, Rather Than Look Away ” (Kotaku: June 12, 2020) <https://kotaku.com/itch-io-s-anti-racism-bundle-gave-me-space-to-reflect-1844007436>.
Signor, Jeremy. “Remade, Not Rewritten” (The Life of Game: June 9, 2020) <https://thelifeofgame.wordpress.com/2020/06/09/remade-not-rewritten/>.
Winkie, Luke. “Why These Players Are Making it Their Mission to Succeed Outside the All-Powerful Metagame” (USGamer: June 9, 2020) <https://www.usgamer.net/articles/why-these-players-are-making-it-their-mission-to-succeed-outside-the-all-powerful-metagame>.
Zacny, Rob. “‘Gears Tactics’ Shows Why Gears Has Always Been Smarter Than It Looks” (Vice: April 28, 2020) <https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/n7ja8q/gears-tactics-review>.