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Credit: World of Longplays https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HnhPNS0rqM

In Dr. Ian Bogost’s essay “A Way of Looking,” found in his book How to Talk about Videogames, he ask readers to take videogames for their exact “selves.” On Mirror’s Edge, he writes “It can be played and experienced on its own terms, for its own sake, if players would only allow themselves to take a single videogame specimen at face value rather than as yet another datapoint on the endless trudge towards realistic perfection.”

I have trouble with this idea, and I’m especially having trouble applying it to the Castlevania series. Over the past few weeks, I’ve played through almost every single Metroid game. Then, I decided to try a few Castlevania games to complete my understanding of the “metroidvania” genre. …


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Literature is a beautiful word. Some people pronounce it like “litrature.” Others, probably most, say “literature.” Especially if the word belongs in a class title, one might hear “lit.” Other than that last one, any way you pronounce it, the word carries the sense of its meaning. It’s made up of 4, somewhat jerky syllables, and their pronunciation demands some effort. Moving one’s mouth from the snappy “lit” to the slurring “er” to the soft “a” is even a bit frustrating, but that “ture….” carries you out of the word in a triumphant manner both assured and indefinite. It borrows the epic quality of “overture,” allows the mouth one smooth, satisfying sound to settle on, and concludes in a silent “e” that never quite ends. …


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Metroid II: Return of Samus exists in an odd space. Some game design writers love its isolating vibe and understated narrative, but the internet at large isn’t interested in playing a black and white Metroid game that’s stuck on the Gameboy’s tiny screen. Two remakes, one fanmade and one from Nintendo themselves, make avoiding this odd creature even easier. The friend who’s been advising my way through the Metroid series recommended I keep my distance from the Gameboy original, while the sheer oddity of the game served as its own sales pitch.

This combination of recommendation and prohibition made Metroid II: Return of Samus a personal must play. It’s more rewarding for me to find good in a game that people don’t like than to accidentally find bad in one that people do, and so my interest in complicated opinions drew me towards 1991’s black and white battleground: the planet of SR388. …


Mega Man and Super Mario: An Argument for Imperfection

Mega Man games are tough-as-nails, 2D action platformers developed by Capcom in which players run, jump, and shoot their way through gauntlets of highly capable enemies before facing a brutally difficult boss fight; Nintendo’s Super Mario games are whimsical, exploratory platforming games centered on the finely-tuned momentum physics of Mario and his jump — they deliver challenge on occasion, but almost always as simply another vehicle for the player to greater explore Mario’s capabilities. Mega Man is unforgiving, and to play one of the games’ levels is to suffer at the hand of enemies stronger than you, question your ability to even complete the level, and possibly snap a controller over your knee; Super Mario is intrinsically rewarding, and as players jump from platform to platform, bouncing on the heads of helpless foes along the way, the levels present themselves as playgrounds, lovingly-crafted expressly for the player’s enjoyment. Mega Man dares you to beat it, and Super Mario is simply too fun to leave incomplete. These games, apart from their commitment to 2D levels and variable jump heights, could not be more different, a fact demonstrated best in their decidedly dissonant design philosophies. …

Jack Wellschlager

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