Monday, February 26, 2018

Please vote in this important poll.

What is the greatest videogame of all time?

Tournament Arkanoid
Arkanoid: Revenge of Doh
Arkanoid: Doh it Again
Arkanoid Returns
Arkanoid DS
Arkanoid Live
Arkanoid Plus
Arkanoid vs. Space Invaders
Legend of Mana

Friday, February 23, 2018

Repented, seen the light, and played a Switch

Admit it: that is the GREATEST FUCKING POST TITLE ALL TIME. And a google post reveals that I appear to be the first person on the internet to have made the pun. Go me!

The Nintendo Switch: I have to admit, it's a lovely little machine. I never thought I'd buy a videogame console again, but Nintendo sneakily hit my weak spot by making a console that's also a portable. And I'll buy any portable Nintendo system. I've actually never played it in docked mode; as I say: for me, it's portable or nothing.

And you've gotta believe the hype: Mario Odyssey is truly sublime. Easily easily EASILY the best 3D Mario; admittedly, me saying that doesn't mean much, since I've always had a bit of a jaundiced attitude towards 3D platformers, but seriously, it is REALLY good. There's such a dazzling array of different kinds of gameplay challenges, and I love them all. Well actually, that's not true; I don't love the koopa racing segments. But that just points to another thing about the game that I DO love: the fact that it's designed such that you don't have to complete every single possible challenge to see everything the game has to offer. If you're frustrated searching for moons, you can just buy them (with coins, of course, not--*sign of cross*--microtransactions). Perfect compromise.

Of the many things I appreciate about it, one is that it has a perfect relationship with Mario history; it does nostalgia, sure, but in a good, smart way that looks to the future. Let us, for a moment, make a contrast: the mobile game Mario Run. This game is vaguely entertaining for a little while, but let's face it, that's more about the novelty of playing a new, official Mario game on a phone than anything else. It rewards you after you finish races by giving you an absolutely endless array of little doodads and bits of scenery, a LOT of which is, like, eight-bit-style statues and stuff. And BOY you have never felt the hollowness of empty nostalgia more intensely than after you've accumulated a few dozen of these suckers for absolutely no reason with nothing to do with them. Ugh. Whereas Mario Odyssey...boy. My favorite part of the game--hell, one of my favorite parts of ANYTHING--is the celebratory climax of New Donk City, where you play through a sort-of rendition of the original Donkey Kong as the game's vocal theme, "Jump Up Super Star" kicks in for the first time. It really feels like a jubliant celebration of the entire series. It's great! Hurrah! Six fireworks for me, please!

On the other hand...hmm. I don't know if I should say this or not, but...can we perhaps admit that the much-fetted Zelda: Breath of the Wild is actually...kind of...boring...? I mean, I'm not saying it's not an impressive achievement, but boy, for such a massive game, it gets VERY repetitive VERY quickly. I actually liked the tutorial-y bit, where you're getting your bearings and finding your abilities, but very soon after you leave the initial Great Plateau area it becomes clear how very little there is to actually DO. Yeah, the open world seems kind of fun to explore at first, but then you realize that everything basically blurs in to everything else, and then you realize that the entire gameplay cycle revolves around these damn shrines, and while there may be some debate about the relative repetitiveness of the outdoor regions, there can be none about the shrines: they are LITERALLY all the same damn thing. I mean, I agree that regular Zelda-type dungeons wouldn't really work in a game of this scope, but my goodness, the shrines are NOT a good replacement. Bah. Maybe I'll try to get back into it later, but so far (having done a few dozen shrines), I am NOT impressed.  It's doubly disappointing because the last Zelda game, A Link Between Worlds, was marvelous.  What I wouldn't give to see them make a new game in the series using that same engine.

What else? Right now I'm enjoying Dragon Quest Builders, and what I'm ESPECIALLY enjoying is that the dialogue is devoid of those obnoxiously intrusive cartoon accents that Squenix felt obliged to give to the localizations of the DS/3DS games. Minecraft is boring to me, but this is fun. Hurrah!

I also like that so many indie games are being ported to the system. If this is like the Wii and WiiU, there won't actually be THAT many big games that I'm interested in buying, but if there are a lotta cool indies and just a handful of further first-party AAA games (more Odyssey than Breath, plzkthnx), that'll be good enough for me.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Loser liar fake phony, no one cares, everyone is guilty

I don't know if you've noticed this, but I feel like we're reaching the point where right-wingers aren't even trying to pretend that their policies have any sane or not-evil rationale. Take climate change, for instance. It's clearly happening. We see evidence of it all around us. Asian antelope are going to go extinct because of it (do a google search; it's a far too depressing story for me to link). It used to be that your republicans would be actively fighting against the idea that it was a real thing. And sure, you still get the odd "If Global Warming Is Real Why Is It Snowing" riposte, but that feels more like a reflex than anything that's really meant to mean anything. These days, it's more like "whatever: it's not happening or it's not our fault or we can't do anything about it or it's a good thing; choose whatever you want, it really doesn't matter because we're not doing anything about it and you know we're not so fuck you."

Similar thing with taxes. Remember when Paul Ryan tweeted this after the huge tax cuts for billionaires atrocity passed?

He deleted it after being buried in an avalanche of scorn, which suggests that on some level he realized how contemptible it really was as a defense of the indefensible--but it doesn't matter, does it? He certainly didn't apologize or explain or change in any way. It was more like, "here's this laughable defense of our tax cut. What? You don't like it? Well, whatever; we're giving All The Money to our porcine plutocrats anyway, we don't need to justify it, fuck you."

And, of course, let's not forget our passionate love affair with killing machines. Are the NRA blood cult and its acolytes even bothering with the usual bromides about liberty and self-defense? It seems like it's more a matter of "yeah, we're going to continue regularly sacrificing children to Moloch. You know we are, and that it doesn't matter what you say, we're not going to stop, so let's not waste time talking about it, fuck you."

But don't you kind of feel like they've basically always been like this; it's just that in the past, they felt they needed to hide their basic savagery for fear that it would alienate people? And that now they've realized, whoa, our supporters are really just like us; ie, fucking monsters, nothing (other than displaying an ounce of human kindness, so no worries there) can alienate them, so let's go hog wild? It's pretty grim. I don't know what we can do about it.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018


Hey, remember the Tragic Saga of Ed?  No?  What kind of Inchoatia reader ARE you?  It's a pair of poems I wrote in high school.  Lately, I find myself thinking about them a lot.  They were totally frivolous, off-the-top-of-my-head things, and no moral philosophy or message should be ascribed to them, BUT, for some reason, I can't help wanting to at least acknowledge how grim they would be if you made the mistake of taking them even a tiny bit seriously.  So now: a twenty-years-later third part to the series!  Thrilling!

The Moral Reckoning of Ed

Ed was truly dead it's true,
And all the other people too.
He had committed genocide,
Which is quite bad, before he died.
There were no humans left, you see,
Not Sarah Joe or Bob or me.

Had young Ed felt deep remorse
As he pursued his reckless course?
Or is it, rather, fair to say
His acts were empty on that day?
That signifiers lost their sting,
And it meant naught, that killing thing?

Is Ed, d'ya reckon, down in hell?
And all his victims too, as well?
They drove him to his fateful act,
Should not they too with guilt be wracked?
These answers, truly, I don't know,
And if I did, I'd tell you so.

One thing only I'll assert:
In all the murder, all the hurt,
The human race had run its course.
Its ending was, I think, perforce,
Destined to come, a microcosm,
Of who we are, though not too awesome.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

How can we hang on to a dream?

There's always the temptation, but we all know there's no point in playing the What If Obama Had Done It? game with anything Trump does, certainly not with accusing political opponents of treason for not applauding at his drooling, half-witted speech. This is really just the latest in a long line of things that would've effectively ended Obama's career, but since we now live in Hell, nothing matters.

Still, there's almost a sense in which republicans are right when they defend it as a "joke." Okay, "almost" is probably exaggerating; I'm not sure Trump would be capable of telling a coherent joke, and even if so, that certainly wasn't one. But imagining that anything he says is serious, or has any weight, is a mistake. Nothing means anything or is part of any coherent philosophy or governing strategy; it's just him indulging whatever bit of petty resentment or self-aggrandizement seems most meet at any given moment.  I mean, really, it's obvious he just meant to say "DUR DEMOCRATS SUCK!!!!11"  But, of course, this is a problem because, unfortunately for him, we don't actually live in a fully postmodern world, and words still mean things.  Even if nothing he says should be taken seriously, he's the President, and even if he doesn't understand what that means, it still matters. Tragically.

It's hard not to feel a certain existential helplessness at this moment. Even if Democrats make big wins in 2018 and 20--hell, even if (let's go wild) Trump is indicted and lives out the remainder of his miserable life at the bottom of an oubliette--our problems will not be solved. Even if Trump himself is gone, the GOP's cynical nihilism will live on, and as long as that party so passionately embraces evil, I don't see how it's possible to have anything like a functioning democracy. The only chance is for them to become so utterly marginalized that they have have only regional power if that, but history pretty clear shows that voters never, ever punish the party for anything beyond an election cycle or two, so...I don't know. I really truly can't see how we escape this fucking nightmare.

Monday, February 05, 2018

The Philadelphia Eagles Football Club has won the Super Bowl of American Football.

This is a fact.  A thing that happened.  My football fandom has become much more circumspect as late--partly because football destroys people and partly because the NFL is an indefensible entity quite apart from that--but I cannot deny that this made me happy.  That means I'm part of the problem, I know.  But I still wanted to note it here.  It happened.  I watched it happen.  And...that is that.

Saturday, February 03, 2018

An abiding mystery.

The Madness single "Cardiac Arrest."  Hell, it's a catchy song.  Like pretty much every Madness single.  But what about this bit:

Think of seven letters
Begin and end with C
Like a big American car
But misspelled with a D, am I missing something really obvious?  The words can't be anything other than "cadillac" and "cardiac," can they?  Can they?  But...well, first of all "cadillac" is eight letters, so we have to get rid of two if we're going to add a 'D' and end up with seven.  So...cadidac?  caddiac?  Don't think they were thinking too hard about these lyrics, to be brutally honest.