Remembering that game-hating hack Roger Ebert

Remember those twenty-or-so articles Roger Ebert wrote? You know, the ones he spent constantly addressing all the death threats and malicious tweets/emails he received after claiming videos games weren’t art? Ebert took the brave road of lumping everyone into one group of “toxic people,” and then used those faceless people to bolster his argument that video games are nothing but mindless entertainment.

Wait, no — that never happened. Roger Ebert ignored the bullshit and empty threats while engaging rational arguments, almost as if he was a journalist searching for the truth or something. Well, as we now all know, it turns out all he had to do is take screenshots of angry tweets and list the number of threats he got on a daily basis to “win.” But Ebert recognized the fallacy of addressing a faceless mob as anything other than a symptom of anonymity and tackled the issue with intelligence and reason. He did this because he wanted to discuss the issue and learn — Roger Ebert wanted to better himself as well as moving the argument forward.

Roger Ebert was a passionate man when it came to art, but his passion for truth and discourse was even stronger. Ebert deserved more respect than he got during that whole “games are(n’t) art” debacle, and yet he never lowered himself to the tactics of the ignorant mob attacking him.

Video gaming needs a scholars like Ebert; let me know when it gets some.

Is that — wait… is that a color in a modern first-person shooter?! And it’s pink, too! How far we’ve come…
Next you’re going to tell me a modern-FPS exists where long-term player motivation is driven by engaging gameplay mechanics and not the use of behavior manipulation through token reinforcement via “leveling” mechanics.
Yeah, that’ll be the day.

Is that — wait… is that a color in a modern first-person shooter?! And it’s pink, too! How far we’ve come…

Next you’re going to tell me a modern-FPS exists where long-term player motivation is driven by engaging gameplay mechanics and not the use of behavior manipulation through token reinforcement via “leveling” mechanics.

Yeah, that’ll be the day.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater "European Extreme, No Kills, No Tranquilizer" by Super Bunnyhop

This is not so much a planned out “pro-run” as it is a casual exploration of what makes Metal Gear Solid 3 one of the greatest games ever made.

I truly believe Grand Theft Auto should not be called a “sandbox” when games like MGS3 exist. While your typical “sandbox” game offers a massive world to run around in, usually all you can do is punch, shoot, or run-over enemies to complete your objective. MGS3, on the other hand, offers a plethora of ways to tackle each objective. Some are more difficult than others, of course, but all are fun and rewarding.

Click here an entire playlist of tactical espionage action.

The Games I Adore: Final Fantasy X

With the exception of Lost Odyssey, no RPG — Japanese or otherwise — has ever grabbed me the way FFX has.

The World of FFX — callled “Spira” — feels alive and lived-in. It has races, politics, social structures, and history.

The Story is masterfully crafted and perfectly paced with mysteries that unravel naturally. At no point did I want to beat the game, I wanted the characters to succeed.

The Characters of FFX aren’t just avatars for game-play. Gone are the stoic, teenage power-fantasies of modern-Final Fantasy's. Every character has motivation; every character has history; every character has emotion; every character has flaws; every character feels alive.

The Art Direction is gorgeous, with a color palette of vivid primary colors contrasting with soft pastels. The Asian architecture of Spira is detailed and beautiful. visually conveying the state of world both in it’s past and present.

The Soundtrack is, in my opinion, some of best in Final Fantasy's history. Each song sets the mood perfectly, as tracks run the gamut from exciting and epic themes to strange and almost alien. This soundtrack is not afraid to be quiet and ambient.

The Gameplay is the best Final Fantasy has ever been. Combat is streamlined while still giving you a wealth of strategic options. The “Sphere Grid” makes leveling-up engaging and tangible, giving you more control over how each character progresses. At no point did I feel like I was grinding.

But deep below the surface, the themes present in FFX are important, acting as a parable on multiple levels. From the importance of love and family to the dangers of blind faith, this game has something to say. And that’s why I believe Final Fantasy X to be a work of art on every level.

Ico by Matthewmatosis

An in-depth look at the hauntingly beautiful PlayStation 2 classic.

Note from the author:If you haven’t played Ico then I highly recommend not watching this video. This video was written without an intended goal which is why it doesn’t have a title beyond the name of the game its based on. Please keep in mind it was not written to be a review, if anything it turned out more like a retrospective of sorts.

Lost OdysseyThe modern Final Fantasy everyone wanted, everyone got, yet few acknowledged

Keiichi Okabe, Keigo Hoashi - Fantastic Theater (Odeum of Illusions)
140 plays

Fantastic Theater (Odeum of Illusions)

by Keiichi Okabe & Keigo Hoashi (from Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Original Soundtrack Plus)

Feeling down? Need a song to pump you up and help get you moving? Tekken Tag Tournament 2's got your back!

Love it or hate it, there’s no denying the Tekken series contains some of the most exciting — if not the best — music the fighting game genre has to offer.

Resident Evil Revelations

After the disappointingly derivative Resident Evil 5 and the stale, utterly exhausting Resident Evil 6, the love I felt for one of my favorite series was at an all-time low. But surprisingly — through a port of a Nintendo 3DS game of all things — my faith in the series has been revived.

Although far from perfect, Resident Evil: Revelations manages to recapture the spirit of the originals while tweaking the core mechanics in meaningful ways. It still has some of that Jack Bauer/Michael Bay/action-gamey baggage from RE5 and RE6, but it’s much easier to look past this time around.

Lesson: Resident Evil isn’t dead. And, Capcom? If it ain’t broke, don’t use your survival horror franchise to attempt to hit every demographic under the sun.

Discs of TRON arcade control panel (non-environmental version)

Discs of TRON arcade control panel (non-environmental version)

Yoko Shimomura - Out of Phase
1,383 plays

Out of Phase

by Yoko Shimomura (from Parasite Eve I & II Original Soundtrack BOX)

The eerie yet beautiful music of Parasite Eve contributed to what is easily one of my most memorable early video-game experiences.