Over the Top Games’ new roguelike-lite, Full Mojo Rampage, is quite the voodoo soup, one that has been slowly bubbling away in Steam’s dangerous “Early Access” section since late 2013. The game, having finally reached its boiling point in May 2014, is now out, and we are about to find out just how tasty this crazy concoction is.
In the game, players are cute, big-headed voodoo apprentices, performing tasks for their chosen voodoo gods, Loas, by fighting against hordes of things that go bump in the night. The game is what you’d call a ‘twin-stick’ shooter on the consoles. Here on The Slowdown, of course, we don’t have to use dirty words like that, as the game plays perfectly well on a mouse and a keyboard, too.
From the get-go, it’s clear that the game’s gotta lotta mojo to it. As soon as the outrageous, monochrome cartoon intro starts playing, and the background music strikes the ear as both catchy and personable, players are no doubt being served with a helping that is both charming and funny. In-game, then, Full Mojo Rampage is simple and approachable on the one hand, and challenging and varied on the other. (more…)
That ends the newsworthy portion of this post; certainly, the opening of the Tumblr is major news to any and all Isaac buffs (like myself! I am your Golden God!), as McMillen has promised a weekly stream of teasers from the forthcoming Nicalis remake: videos, gifs, screenshots, information, and music. Diptera Sonata, below, won me over very quickly:
The main thing that I’d like to draw attention to, however, is McMillen’s personal Tumblr, which is now largely a domain for nigh-daily Q&A for fans. McMillen’s answers are astonishingly open, honest, and gripping, and recommended reading for anyone interested in the making of art and video games.
I had (erroneously) assumed that I would never, ever be writing about s#$t in video games, but after recently posting my conceptual/generic analysis of The Binding of Isaac, questions of merit, value/quality and meaning, as well as the overall relevance of video game criticism, emerged – chiefly at Rock, Paper Shotgun, as usual, the Mecca of Video Games that it so happens to be (props to the poster Hexagonalbolts for the tip).
A swift return to the wonderful, wonderful world of Isaac is thusly in order. Obviously, being the hotbed for argument that it inherently is thanks to its religious leanings, The Binding of Isaac has been more or less at the centre of critical attention ever since its release.
Still, the mere idea of taking Isaac, well, seriously, seemed to produce in some commenters a more intensified response yet, and indeed, many questions were asked, more arguments had, with many an opinion ranging from the honest to the ironic. The question seemed to be, isn’t it simply too much to write about Isaac like this? Here are a series of strawmen of some of the aforementioned:
Are video games worthy of or suitable for analysis?
Is The Binding of Isaac worthy of such a critique?
Shouldn’t video game criticism be just about play and/or quality?
Are any of these meanings intended? Why look for them if they aren’t?
I’m not so sure that I can come even close to answering these questions in just one article, but on the whole, the question of “Why bother?” seems to encompass the rest of them. We’ll stick to that, for the most part. The reason I’m quick to jump into the fray with an in-depth response is that I find this particular discussion, of meaning, to be relevant for video game criticism on the one hand, and separate from the “games as art(?)” discourse on the other, even if this doesn’t appear to be the case first-hand.
The one chief aim of this article, then, is to answer the question of “Why bother?” especially as it pertains to the semantic/narrative functions of video games, as well as to discuss our understanding of video game criticism (its aims, objects, uses). As mentioned, I will rather try work my way around the question of “art”, only ever dipping my toes in its waters with the intention of otherwise staying firmly ashore. (more…)
In his PopMatters article “Fearing God, Fearing the Body: The Theology of ‘The Binding of Isaac’”, G. Christopher Williams discusses various aspects of Edmund McMillen and Florian Himsl’s ingenious (and mildly blasphemous) Zelda/Roguelike hybrid, The Binding of Isaac. Although his reading of the game astutely homes in on the “meatier” parts of Isaac – that is, the implications of the game’s loathsome representation of the corporeal -, I do nevertheless want to point out some omissions in Williams’ treatment of the game.
The article in question is altogether complete in its own right, but also lacking in discussion of the themes, concepts and terms that are nevertheless utilized in the analysis. In this way, I shall be focusing on the things that are left unsaid (intentionally or unintentionally) in Williams’ story. In my complementary article below, I will attempt to shed lots and lots of extra light on what I perceive to be these omissions, which include the genre of body horror, the grotesque, Freud’s conception of the uncanny, as well as the concepts of abjection and the abject.