Lost Saves – Episode 2: Fantastic Beasts of Neo San-Francisco

Welcome to the second episode of Lost Saves, a video game podcast that is rarely about video games!

This week we discuss empathy in games, Dropsy and how to make effective positive media, consider how Read Only Memories handles identity, debate how fantastic Fantastic Beasts really is, and learn some lizard facts. Continue reading Lost Saves – Episode 2: Fantastic Beasts of Neo San-Francisco

Lost Saves – Episode 1: Pajama Sam, 2017’s Hottest Release

Welcome to the first episode of Lost Saves, Kritiqal’s new podcast on games, politics, and the reasons we play! This week Xavier Sales, Liz Lane, and Rhiannon Williams join me – Nate Kiernan – to discuss our earliest gaming memories. Why we were drawn to games, casual-game criticism, and ways we can welcome more people into gaming. Continue reading Lost Saves – Episode 1: Pajama Sam, 2017’s Hottest Release

Killing Time at Lightspeed and the Ordinary Horror of Losing Touch

You are hurtling away from Mars aboard a vessel traveling at the speed of light; a journey of 29 years experienced in less than an hour. Behind you are your friends, family, the life you once lived. You seek something better at the far end of the galaxy, a fresh start in a new world. But still, you cling to pieces of your former life like a raft in the infinite void. You turn on your phone to check FriendPage, but with each refresh, years roll by for those you left behind. You are left to fill in the blanks as news travels slow, painfully slow, and you witness the lives of those you left behind as an in-flight movie, watching from afar more disconnected than ever. Continue reading Killing Time at Lightspeed and the Ordinary Horror of Losing Touch

Four Sided Fantasy reconsiders the role of a game’s camera

The camera is videogames’ most ubiquitous component and likely its least commonly utilized in any meaningful way. A good camera is an invisible camera, something to be forgotten about until it clips on a piece of geometry or obscures something important, suddenly reducing the game being played to a scrap heap of early 3D failures and amateur mistakes. Continue reading Four Sided Fantasy reconsiders the role of a game’s camera

Life Through Childlike Eyes in Animal Crossing

Perhaps it was the wine. Or the holiday sentimentality. But as I sat next to our sparkling pine, gifts spread out beneath like some form of decorative roots, I was struggling to hold back tears as I presented Maple with her present and she failed to hide her disappointment. It was, of course, entirely my fault. She had been telling me for days what she really wanted (though what that was remains lost to memory), but as is so often my tendency I failed to take note, treating her along with so many others as somehow unworthy of even a moderate amount of my attention. Continue reading Life Through Childlike Eyes in Animal Crossing

The raccoon that stole my heart, or “I had a crush on Sly Cooper”

The year was 2005. Probably. I believe it was Fall, likely mid-October. The specifics do not matter other than that it was a Sunday, which I know because I was hiding from my parents who were attempting to corral our five-piece (and counting) family into the car to head to church. As an uncooperative ten-year-old, I was far more interested in hunkering down in our addition, which held all manner of toy but, most importantly, our TV and video games. I picked up Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal (2004), my current obsession, and placed the disc in our beloved and well-worn Playstation 2. Continue reading The raccoon that stole my heart, or “I had a crush on Sly Cooper”

Through the fire and flames with Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure

2007 was an earnest, blissfully ignorant year. As the US economy was gearing up for an epic real-estate crash J.K. Rowling was wrapping up Harry Potter, the first iPhone was announced, and the internet collectively turned its attention towards one thing: demonstrating inarguably, with so many blurry off-screen videos and well-worn plastic guitars, that they could indeed finish Guitar Hero 3’s (2007) unofficial anthem, DragonForce’s “Through the Fire and Flames,” on expert. Continue reading Through the fire and flames with Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure

Geometry Wars 3 is too much of a good thing, but a good thing nonetheless

Geometry Wars 2 (2008) was never a game that demanded a sequel. From the series’ birth as an Easter Egg in Project Gotham Racing 2 (2003) to finding its home on the early Xbox Live Arcade, Bizarre Creations’ Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved (2005) made few drastic changes but by its second numbered iteration had refined its twin-stick, neon arcade-shooter score-chase into a neo-retro diamond. Aside from perhaps Pac-Man Championship Edition DX (2010) (which borrowed indiscriminately from Geometry Wars aesthetics and leaderboard systems) no game has greater exemplified the arcade game rebirth of the last decade as greatly as Geometry Wars 2 (2008). Continue reading Geometry Wars 3 is too much of a good thing, but a good thing nonetheless

Expand teaches you to dance like a level designer

Expand’s greatest deception is in giving the impression that its stark black and white and red color palette and plain geometric characters were born out of an inability to do anything more. Sandwiched between so many half-finished platformers and blocky top-down shooters, it is all too easy to cast Expand in with the lot as just another amateur, dismissible production. Expand is in turns far too subtle for its own good, as what screenshots fail to convey is the elegance and creativity that guides each screen and level of a game that in many ways closer approximates a digital dance. Continue reading Expand teaches you to dance like a level designer

Reigns invites you to be a king of inconsequential actions

If the 2016 US presidential election has shown us anything, it’s that politics is almost by design ruthless and unsavory. Though this is nothing new to most – few sentiments are as near universal across America as a disenfranchisement with the political machine – this election has proven exceptionally messy, sparking across the country a mood that in some ways approximate a mini civil war. There is no compromise, no understanding; only two sides with a widening gap in between. If keeping supporters happy is a difficult task for political leaders, appeasing everyone is utterly off the table. The best that can be hoped for is for this tension to hold, lest it break and plunge our country into even further anarchy. Continue reading Reigns invites you to be a king of inconsequential actions

for the love of games