Star Wars is, and forgive me for stating the obvious here, an enormously popular film series. And it has been for a full forty years now. Everyone has seen Star Wars or, if they haven’t, at least knows the broad strokes of what it’s all about. In 1993, I don’t think I’d seen any Star Wars films yet, but I could have told you that Luke Skywalker is a Jedi, and he teams up with Princess Leia and Obi-Wan Kenobi and some robots to fight Darth Vader, who is his father. And the beginning of 1993, a decade after Return of the Jedi and a few months before the hype train started rolling for The Phantom Menace, is probably approaching the lowest ebb in Star Wars’ popularity, which makes it something of a curious time for us to have our first (spoiler alert: the first of oh so many) meeting with the franchise here on AAA.
Author Archives: Martin F
Iain wrote this one.
It’s an interesting time to be looking at a Nintendo portable game, in 2017 and less than a week before they Switch off the separation between portable and home console and try to consolidate the best of both. With Super Mario Land, we looked at a simulacrum of Mario whose appeal was in being at least that, on the go. At some point well in the future we’ll see the New Super Mario Bros. series elide the differences to be the same reliable nostalgia trip whatever you’re playing it on. But here is a is a game which is not port, not knock-off, but adaptation.
Something we’ve talked about before in this project is the way that, at roughly the date we chose as our starting point, video games moved from being played in arcades to being played at home; moved from a public experience to a private one. But like so many things, this change didn’t happen instantaneously. The arcades didn’t die overnight. In fact, some of them are still around even now. And so we come to Street Fighter II, a game that, more than any other we’ve covered so far, feels like it belongs to the arcades.
but with the introduction of the spindash, Sonic 2 does away with all the buildup, and allows you to go from 0-60 in the blink of an eye. It’s an astonishingly bold statement of purpose, one that promises non-stop thrills the likes of which have never been seen. As I argued in the original Sonic post, that game was meticulously crafted to make the most of its limited opportunities for unrestrained speed by carefully doling them out at exactly the right moments to make them really stand out, but this sequel provides a compelling case for the alternative all killer no filler approach. Taking away the need for long stretches of runup before the big flashy set pieces like the loop-the-loops means they can be more densely packed into the levels, allowing for a much tighter construction, and yet Sonic 2’s levels actually go bigger and more sprawling than their predecessors. It’s a case of the game brazenly trying to have its cake and eat it too, and one which turns out, preposterously, to be a completely unreserved success. Read the rest of this entry »
So, at some point in the last two years of our journey, ninjas have evidently made the transition from scary and foreign to cool and exotic. That’s nice. And cool is clearly the order of business here, with Zool taking more than a little inspiration from that early nineties’ bastion of coolness in video games, Sonic the Hedgehog. It’s not quite as on the nose about the debt it owes to a console superstar as, say, The Great Giana Sisters was, but it clearly falls into the same category of games that have seen the success of platform games on consoles and hoped to emulate that success in the home computer market. Read the rest of this entry »
Lately I have been getting really into the trading card game Magic the Gathering. Well, no, that sentence, while true, really doesn’t capture the extent to which Magic has taken up residence in my brain. Lately I have become completely obsessed with the trading card game Magic the Gathering. Not just playing it, though there has been plenty of that, but reading articles, watching videos, devouring any and all Magic-related content I can get my hands on. This is, of course, far from the first time some piece of pop culture has embedded itself in my subconscious, and all evidence suggests that it won’t be the last, that in time I will move onto something new, something different. But right now, this is where my head is at. Read the rest of this entry »
Iain wrote this one.
It’s a little paradoxical that one of the most complicated game series that will pop up on AAA should also be one of the most casual. Casual, at least, in the sense of being the least tied down to those immersed in the medium of video games. The most arcane JRPGs or most layered RTSs have nothing on the impenetrability of Championship Manager. They definitely bear less resemblance to a business analysis spreadsheet. I try to picture coming into Championship Manager from a starting point of no relevant knowledge and can only imagine it being incomprehensible. There’s the rub, though – its complexity comes through piggybacking on football’s cultural dominance, and the resultant assumption that no one will come to it from a zero starting point.