Tag Archives: future

FGC #400.0 NieR

Time to learn about NieR!

Feel smarter now? No? That’s fair.

FGC #400 NieR

  • System: Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. Our neighbors to the East got a different version of Nier (the guy) for each system, but we only got old man grizzled Nier. This is for the best.
  • Number of players: I maintain that this title is the secret gameplay sequel to Secret of Mana, and you should be able to let buddies control your extra party members. But that’s not happening, so whatever, it’s single player.
  • Maybe actually talk about the game for a second: I feel like I talked about the emotional impact of NieR enough during the Automata review, and the plot is covered enough up top, so I’ll just go ahead and say it: I prefer the gameplay of NieR over NieR: Automata. God help me, I’m pretty sure NieR is, from a gameplay perspective, a secret Kingdom Hearts title. And, what’s more, the way NieR deftly weaves in gameplay from other genres across the videogame pantheon… Well, there’s no other way to say it: this hole was made for me.
  • ShinyOther glowing reviews: Nobody ever seems to acknowledge that, aside from the game being good for a lot of other great reasons, NieR is really good at playing with lighting and the difference between its dark and light areas. The fact that all the highly populated towns are bright as the sun when things are good (and not so much later) is a great bit of subtle visual storytelling.
  • I hate everything: In constantly googling for information on NieR, the first “marketplace” recommendation is not the actual game or its sequel, but a nude 2-B body pillow. I don’t like this internet thing.
  • Did you know? A version of NieR was planned for the Vita, but it was cancelled due to the prominence of Dragon Quest X. This… seems kind of poorly considered in hindsight.
  • Would I play again: One reason I keep this website going is that it offers me an excuse to replay videogames I enjoy when I should really be doing something else. This is a roundabout way of saying that I’m glad Random ROB made me replay this title, and I will gladly play it again in another seven years.

What’s next? That’s 400, folks! I’m going to take a week off wherein there will be updates of a different nature, but we’ll pick up the FGC officially again on Monday, April 2, with…. Final Fantasy 3 for the Nintendo DS! Please look forward to it!

(And, on this coming Monday, there will be a very important update regarding the site itself…)

You're hearing the fanfare

FGC #114 Donkey Kong Jungle Beat

So majesticI’ve tried to make these article perennial, I really have, but not even a year has passed since my first FGC post, and already Mark Hamill has made me a liar, Hyrule has produced Linkle, and Super Metroid finally got off its mandibles and went portable. I shudder to think how prehistoric my poor blog will look in another year’s time, when we’re all playing Karnov 2017 and Ecco the Dolphin is the number one game on the Virtual Reality Virtual Console.

Though all that is just preamble for my focus of the moment: the Nintendo NX. As I write this, the Nintendo NX is the topic of much debate, as there are alternating theories on whether or not this new system will bankrupt or save Nintendo. Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure that particular debate will rage on until about twenty years after the release (seriously, have we determined how the 3DS fared yet?). But more particular to my interests, as of right now, is that we have no idea what the NX is even going to look like, left alone its features or capabilities. Some claim it will be a mere Super WiiU. Others believe it to be a 3DS/WiiU hybrid system. Still others trust that it will be a penguin taped to an excitable golden retriever (named Brandy). Point is that no one has a clue what to expect, and other than “it will probably have a Mario game”, we’re all in the dark.

Ultimately, this can all be traced back to the Wii. The Wii (appropriately originally nicknamed “The Revolution”) was a complete and total shift in console creation for Nintendo. The “whacky” wiimote utterly changed the landscape of Nintendo games for an entire generation (I want to say Super Smash Bros. Brawl was the only Nintendo game on the system without mandatory shaking/pointing of some sort), and when the WiiU was released with its screen-controller, no one batted an eye at Nintendo’s latest whatsit. Going up?While you can expect the Playstation 5 or Xbox Two to be the same ol’ “like last system, but better!”, everyone is anticipating another interface shakeup from Nintendo. So when the first shots of the NX are leaked, and it’s a perfectly round sphere with seven incongruous buttons, everyone will claim that that’s exactly what they expected.

But Nintendo has been doing this for a lot longer than we’ve been Wii Bowling. The Nintendo Gamecube was the last (and maybe only) time that the Nintendo system of the day was just another one of three choices. Think about it: the NES had practically no competition, and the N64 required wholly unique programming for its cartridges (in contrast with the joy of CDs on its competitors’ systems). The Super Nintendo was the closest to the “your choice of system” style we have today with Xbone/PS4/PC releases, but, even then, there wasn’t nearly the overlap between Sega Genesis/SNES libraries we see with modern multiplatform releases. The Gamecube, meanwhile, definitely filled the niche of “Nintendo games… and third party, multiplatform releases” that people today claim they want from the next Nintendo system. Gauntlet, Prince of Persia, Spider-Man, Soul Calibur, X-Men (Legends), and even random collections of classic hits from the likes of Midway made their way to the Gamecube just the same as the Playstation 2 or Xbox. Nowadays, we can’t even get a lousy (great!) Mega Man Legacy Collection to grace the WiiU. The Gamecube might have boasted a slightly unusual controller, but beyond some odd button sizes, to the average consumer, the Gamecube was just another video game system choice that happened to have Zelda.

But even at its most vanilla, Nintendo had to try something different.

Going back to the Super Nintendo, Nintendo always had a thing for connectivity between systems. The SNES had the Super Gameboy for playing Gameboy games on the big screen, the N64 had its own add-on for allowing N64 controllers to read Pokémon games, and the Gamecube touted the ability to connect your new GBA as a makeshift controller. Even the Gamecube’s Gameboy Advance Player had a “connection port” so you could potentially play two-player GBA games TV-to-GBA. We really should have seen the WiiU coming.

Similarly, here are the DK Bongos. Like, seriously, here they are:

Beat it

For those of you unfamiliar with ‘em, take a moment to get acquainted with the DK Bongos. There’s a left drum, a right drum, and a straight “button” in the middle. The bongos also have the ability to detect local “noise”, so you can clap and the device will understand that. If you’ve been counting, that makes for five total inputs (left and right drums can be drummed simultaneously). If you’re ignoring the duck option, that’s all the buttons you need to play Super Mario Bros. (left, right, jump, fireball, and start). This is important.

The first and most obvious application of the DK Bongos was its launch rhythm game, Donkey Konga. This was not unprecedented: we were coming off the DDR craze, Guitar Hero was just grabbing a foothold, and even drumming-based games were a thing with Taiko Drum Master. If you were a rhythm game enthusiast, buying some whacky new peripheral was just par for the course. Hell, Samba de Amigo got its own maracas back on the Dreamcast.

Right in the trunkBut no one ever made a Sonic game that could be controlled by maracas, or even Halo: Big Plastic Guitar Edition. So when Donkey Kong Jungle Beat hit the shelves… well, there was a little confusion.

First of all, DKJB is a 2-D platformer. Nintendo is great at those! And DKJB is a pretty good platformer all on its own, with hidden areas and innovative enemies and beautiful environments. Bosses are fun “find the pattern” affairs, and, assuming you know what you’re doing, they don’t take forever to complete. And, like practically every Donkey Kong game, there’s a score system that is heavily influenced by finding the previously mentioned secret areas (not like DKC secret areas, to be clear, more like “there’s a lot of bananas hiding in that alcove”), or playing the game well, like comboing multiple monster homicides. Ninja monkeys need to die, and you should be rewarded for doing your part.

But the significant difference between this platformer and everything released before it was that this game is entirely controlled by the bongo controller. DK runs right when you beat the right drum, and left for the left drum. Hitting both drums together equals a jump, and clapping will trigger DK doing… something, whether it’s stunning an opponent or grabbing a friendly chimp for a boost. Donkey Kong Jungle Beat is the first bongo-based platformer, and it’s better for it.

YummyI will admit that when the idea of a bongo-based platformer was first introduced, I was skeptical. But then I played the game, and, well, I don’t mind admitting when I’m wrong. It is an absolute blast to play this game, and it’s primarily because the game is so… physical. Your bongo playing turns DK into a barreling train, and it’s thrilling to build up BPM/speed and then slap both drums together to send the big guerilla flying. In a weird way, I feel that this gameplay is closest to what minecart stages throughout the ages have been trying to achieve, but failed every time. For practically the first time in gaming, there’s a significant feeling of momentum, that you’re not just pressing a direction on a joystick, you’re hammering that monkey to drum forward. It’s exhilarating, and DKJB offers an experience like none other. The “eat everything” finale of every stage is simply astounding.

And it’s exhausting. And that’s right about when I realized that this game was the Wii prototype.

I’ll be honest, while they were few and far between, I rarely bought the unique Wii version of a game when it was available on other systems. If I bought an Xbox 360 or PS3 game, I could expect a game where I’m thrashing the X/A button a bunch. If I bought that same game for the Wii, I was expected to flail about the room to do the tiniest thing, or break my usual flow and aim the wiimote at the screen, or any other of a number of stupid gimmicks. I know I’m not the first to say this, but so many companies (Nintendo included in a lot of cases) had no idea what to do with the wiimote and its motion sensors, so half the Wii library requires more shaking than a vortexer. Not only does this seem monotonous, but, more often than not, it adds absolutely nothing to the experience, So beautifulother than a wrist so spent your mother assumes you’re going to go blind.

But when you play Donkey Kong Jungle Beat, you can see how the Wii could have been a thing of beauty. Don’t get me wrong, I do like the Wii, and enjoy a number of games for it (Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2 might be the best two Mario games out there, which is high praise), but with so much cruft in the library (and believe me, I’ve played them all), the whole “wiimote” thing seems to average out to a failed experiment. But DKJB really shows how a more physical play experience can be fun, and its closest descendent, appropriately enough, seems to be the roll mechanic of Donkey Kong Country Returns. Yes, like many of you, I would rather have a button to slow that roll in the game (and thank you, 3DS version), but on more “straightaway” levels, I have to say, shaking the wiimote that your mama gave you like there ain’t no tomorrow is a thrilling way to bowl over banana bandits.

So, you know what? I’m ready for whatever Nintendo brings. It might be something simple, it might be something complicated, but I can safely say there’ll be at least one game that showcases the benefits of the system. Even if the Nintendo NX just winds up being a pair of bongos (or, dare I dream, some sort of… double bongos?), I trust that there will be a good experience somewhere in there, because Donkey Kong Jungle Beat already proved that even the weirdest ideas can be marvelous.

FGC #114 Donkey Kong Jungle Beat

  • System: Nintendo Gamecube, home of the bongos. There’s also the Wii rerelease that relies on the Wiimote, but it’s just not the same.
  • Number of Players: Just one, which is good, as it saves you having to find another pair of bongos.
  • Beat itA brief history of Bongos: There were three Donkey Konga rhythm games produced, though only two saw release stateside. With Donkey Kong Jungle Beat, that makes four games that support the DK Bongos peripheral. There was also supposed to be DK Barrel Blast, but that got ported to the Wii before it could gleam the ‘cube.
  • And I bet you still have four sets of bongos: Well, yeah. I had to have four-player Donkey Konga times.
  • Boss-Out: Oh yeah, while a number of DKJB bosses are typical “dodge and jump” style platforming bosses, there’s a collection of evil Kongs that challenge Donkey in a manner heavily reminiscent of Punch-Out. Dodge blows, then return fire with a left or right hook according to where there’s an opening. Is it any wonder the big ape later battled Little Mac?
  • Did you know? Speaking of Super Mario Galaxy, the Donkey Kong Jungle Beat team went on to design that stellar title, and apparently considered reusing the helpful chimps of DK world in Mario’s cosmos… as enemies. That seems like a jerk move, guys.
  • Would I play again: Probably, but no guarantees. I really like playing this game, but it’s also kind of exhausting, and requires pulling out a peripheral that, to say the least, doesn’t see much use otherwise. Though, oddly, playing this game makes me want to play Donkey Konga again, so… who knows?

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Kangaroo for the Atari 2600. Want to see a boxing kangaroo? Well, you know where to look. Please look forward to it!

Paddle

FGC #052 Back to the Future 2 & 3

You better promise meI remember two significant philosophical “shifts” in my childhood, two moments when the me that I am now sort of came into being as my childish mind digivolved into something more aware of the world at large. The first such event was an odd moment when I acknowledged that my life had meaning, and I had a positive effect on other people’s lives. I determined that, yes, the world is a better place because Goggle Bob is in it. And, oh yeah, this moment occurred because of The Legend of Zelda. But that’s a story for another day.

The other significant philosophical moment I can recall from my childhood is the exact moment I was able to grok the concept of life, death, and aging. Sure, I’m a child now, but in the future I won’t be… I’ll be the same age as Dad some day! Won’t that be weird? Will I have kids? A house? A beard?

And do I even have to explain that this event occurred as a direct result of watching Back to the Future 2?

In a lot of ways, Back to the Future 2 may have been the single most important movie of my childhood. Aside from the realization that one day it would be 2015 and I’d be closer to “Old Man Marty” than “Rad Future Teenager Marty”, it is also the film that sparked my imagination regarding all things “future”, whether that include hoverboards, weather control, or advertising so invasive you feel like chum. Also, it was likely the movie that cemented in my mind that pastel and neon were colors that meant good times and the future, which may or may not have impacted my design sense going forward. If you’ve been reading the site without taking recommended twenty minute breaks, please tell your optometrist that it’s BTTF2’s fault you need new retinas. Also, remind your optometrist that your eyeballs can be repaired with freaking laserbeams, because we’re living in the future, baby.

Obviously, that’s why you’re reading this post. Attention people from a future that not even Doc Brown could envision: this essay was posted on October 21, 2015, the same date Marty landed in future Hill Valley, and rescued his son from almost certain legal hassles. Decades ago, I sat happily on my living room floor and envisioned the fabulous future of 2015, and now, here I am “posting” on the “internet” with my “personal computer” about a “video game” “from” 1990 that “sucks”.

Sorry to say, but as integral as the film Back to the Future 2 was to my younger self, the video game adaption would have worked better as Mr. Fusion fodder. Luckily for lil’ Goggle Bob, I never played Back to the Future Part 2 & 3 for the NES when I was an impressionable age, but I had played Back to the Future (1) for the NES extensively, so I already knew BTTF games were to be avoided at all costs. Approximately a decade later, my memory failed me as I discovered the game at some pawn shop, and anxiously dropped a Lincoln on this relic of futures past. I’m pretty sure I rushed home, earnestly shoved the game into my NES… removed it, blew on it a few dozen times… and then was amazed to find Marty McFly leaping over… a spiny?

But the points?There’s the tiniest sliver of a good game in Back to the Future Part 2 & 3. The way the game uses the source material of Back to the Future 2’s already video gamey third act is fairly inventive: instead of adapting Marty’s final grab for the future almanac into some kind of 1955 Solid Snake sneaking mission, the plot has been remixed into a scavenger hunt across three epochs, as Biff (one of the versions… or maybe all of them?) has (somehow) spread the almanac’s pieces across time. So Marty hops in that flying car and speeds along from “Bad Present” 1985 to 2015 and back to 1955 to grab up the torn pieces of a magazine so he can reassemble them to destroy the book in a totally different way (with fire!). The game does make a fine show of differentiating the three time periods with landmarks that are being built in the past or falling into decay in the future, and there’s the old time travel trope of planting a seed in the past to climb the beanstalk it will grow into in a few years. Ocarina of Time has nothing on LJN licensed trash. And the monsters change throughout time, too, from spinies to donkey kongs.

Oh, there’s that spiny thing again. Yes, this is the main problem with BTTF2&3: it’s a video game. The record will show that I’m all for weirdness in my games, but you really don’t need to invent a bunch of new enemies to intimidate Marty when Biff has a host of unique gang members throughout history that, incidentally, have access to future tech and all the weaponry that entails. And it’s not like the game is shy about that, as Marty will be mowed down by the occasional hoverboarder whether it’s 2015 or 1955. But aside from those future punks and the occasional errant… security guard?… Look at that apecrooked cop?… “some guy with a projectile attack and a uniform”, the rest of the enemy onslaught runs the gamut from outright theft (seriously, the first enemy you encounter will be a spiny), to dismally unimaginative (toads? Where we’re going, we don’t need toads), to positively surreal (is… is that a floating camera?). The more bizarre enemies are basically the biggest problem, as a hovering camera or a divebombing bird that appears to have its own theme song seem like items that should be a little different from the standard “everything is hostile” video game credo, but, nope, every animated thing is just another gateway to another Marty death.

Wait, no, the absolute largest problem is the actual collecting aspect of the adventure. Remember how you have to find all the pieces of Gray’s Sports Almanac? Well, each piece is a multiple step process. Step one: find a key by destroying a random enemy. Step two, use that key on an arbitrary door, and enter a surrealist nightmare, like so:

This is no picnic

Marty, you’ve got to collect all the clocks from rotating teddy bears while leaping across a black void that will swallow you whole. There’s another stage that involves adeptly sinking through quicksand, and another that features a pair of pipes and nabbing innumerable burgers. I guess these challenges were based on deleted scenes?

But the fun doesn’t stop there! You won’t get an almanac piece until you then ferry whatever mundane object you won over to yet another hidden passage that presents you with a challenge like this:

I have no idea

See, now the goal is to rearrange a chance collection of letters into the name of an object you may or may not have already collected. If you have the object, hooray, present it for a free almanac piece. If you don’t have the bauble, hopefully your mapping skills are phenomenal, because you’ll want to remember this exact secret location an hour later when you finally grab that one knickknack. Oh, and if you don’t feel like rearranging the letters and guess wrong at whatever the game is asking for? Well, then you lose the item you presented, and have to go back and play with the teddy bears This is so weirdagain to reobtain it. Hope you remember where that random door was!

I’m exhausted just typing out that process, and you only have to repeat it thirty times! And there’s no saves or password system! If you meet someone who claims they beat this game on the NES, you’re talking to a liar!

Back to the Future 2 & 3 is a wholly unworthy successor to its namesake. This should be the part where I lament my lot in life, and elaborate that I never could have envisioned a future where a robot commands me to play lousy video games for other’s amusement. But you know what? Dystopian ROB aside, the future is pretty great. The zombies have been held at bay, John Connor kept the (majority of) evil robots down, and we’re a decade past that whole Unicron debacle. The future really is like Marty’s October 21st, 2015, complete with terrible fashion and a dinner table full of kids who can’t take their eyes off some flickering screen. Dear 1990 Goggle Bob, the future is just as great as you’ve imagined, and don’t worry, no one ever made you grow a beard. You should enjoy the present while it lasts, but there’s always a better future ahead of you.

Just stay away from licensed games.

FGC #52 Back to the Future 2 & 3

  • System: The Nintendo Entertainment System was the only carrier for this blight.
  • Number of Players: One Marty alone, on a mission to save all of time from a rich bully.
  • Chikka Chikka Wild Wild WestWant to even talk about the “& 3” Portion? Not really. It’s basically the same nonsense as the the “2” portion, but with an Old West theme and absolutely no time traveling. That makes this portion of the game “easier”, but they also forgot to include any worthwhile landmarks, so you’re basically lost in the desert forever. Also, Marty is no longer transported by a flying DeLorean, but a lone vulture. This portion of the game is just as difficult, platforming wise, as Part 2, though, so expect there to be an Eastwood headstone somewhere around Hill Valley.
  • How long did it take you to figure out that the phrase “But you better promise me, I’ll be back in time” from Huey Lewis’s perennial Back in Time song was referring to the concept of time travel as well as the mundane notion of returning to a location “in time”? …. Oh. Huh. Bullet Point Questions, you complete me.
  • So, big Back to the Future fan? I’m moderately certain I’ve been subconsciously dressing like Marty McFly Jr. for years.

    I like the hat
  • Did you know? Okay, so apparently those insane “collect everything” rooms were lifted directly from the Commodore 64 game Big Mac the Mad Maintenance Man, which had been released five years prior. Sadly, the game has nothing to do with McDonalds or Mac and Me (which was released in ’88, incidentally). Additional sadness: this does nothing to explain the Teddy Bears’ Picnic.
  • Would I play again? No. Not ever. I’ll watch Back to the Future 2 over and over and over again, or any of the movies from that trilogy, but playing this drivel again? Never. The whole thing makes me want to make like a tree and get out of here.

What’s Next? Random ROB has chosen… Pokemon Emerald Version for the Gameboy Advance. I suppose I have no choice but to catch ‘em all. Please look forward to it!

Never not cool

FGC #006 Batman: Arkham City

Shway viewThere are many things that I want to do, but know will never happen, and one of those things is be cryogenically frozen.

Hey, you’re gonna dream, dream big.

I am, and have always been, someone who believes the future is only getting better. I don’t believe the apocalypse is just around the corner, and I don’t believe we are experiencing some low point in human history due to the propagation of violence, low morals, and Taco Bell. I am about thirty years old, and I look at what the world was at my childhood, and where we are now, and I am blown away by the simple fact that myself, my children, and my children’s children will never have to waste their entire lives trying to remember who played the wife in Beetlejuice (Geena Davis). I would love nothing more than a guaranteed, one way ticket to the future, if only to see where this whole humanity thing is going, and experience the inevitable leaps in technology and information and maybe jetpacks.

And while the “technology” of the future (would someone from the early 1900’s even identify social media as “technology”?) would be more than worth the price of admission, I would be genuinely fascinated by what culture from today has survived or even thrived in the hearts and minds of future generations. I just recently discovered that the novel The Giver was published in 1993. I read The Giver in, I believe, 1995 or 1996 or thereabouts, as part of the grade school curriculum, and assumed, at the time, that it was an ancient tome on par with most of our reading assignments, some of which were written well before this century. Well, that century, at least. It is intriguing as an adult to learn that something you assumed to be classical literature as a child was, in fact, contemporary, but has now become classical literature. I would love to see what comes in the future, whether Harry Potter or (God help us all) Twilight grows to be promoted to the same “whaddya mean we have to read this now” echelon as Shakespeare and Mark Twain.

I got people to saveThen we have the sick, sad world of pop culture, and what will survive for generations, seemingly in spite of itself. Detective Comics #27, featuring the Batman, was published in May of 1939. At the time, no one, not even creators Bill Finger and Roger Meyers, could have predicted Batman would still be a cultural juggernaut seventy-six or so years later. Despite my letter writing campaign, Batman is not taught at schools or universities, he is not the popular mascot for a local sports team, nor is he ever in a tv show that lasts for more than four seasons. Batman perseveres, for some peculiar reason, despite being just a dude in a Halloween costume in the funny papers.

Everything about Batman is depressing. From the macro, like the fact that kid Batman can’t even go to the movies without acquiring a lifetime bout of PTSD, to the micro, like how even just a year into his one man battle against crime, Bruce Wayne is just riddled with scars and injuries that will guarantee a very cranky retirement (sorry Terry!). Even peripheral Batman characters are left without a bottle of bat-prozak: Batman has a virtual army of fellow orphans at his disposal, and Barbara Gordon, either as Batgirl, Oracle, or Battumblr, lives in an eternal state of lying to her doting father.

And Sad Man lives in Sad Town. Clowns are supposed to make people happy, not make people fleshless. Penguins are adorable flightless birds, not notorious gangsters. And crocodiles… okay, I guess crocodiles in the sewers are always bad for property values. Depending on what continuity we’re subscribing to this week, the entire city of Gotham was founded around the prison of an evil warlock that radiated bad vibes, and that barely even cracks the top 20 of horrible crap to befall Gotham City before it was even founded.

Don’t even get me started on The Clench.

All this adds up to a hero that is the darkest pile of dark in the darkest pit of darkness that, somehow, perseveres to the modern day.

Remember when he used to hench for Pharoah Man?Batman: Arkham City is the apex of that darkness. This is the story of Batman, Dark Knight, venturing into Arkham City. What’s Arkham City, you ask? Well, Gotham City had such a criminal problem, that it decided to wall off an entire section of the city, a section including homes, highrises, a historical district, and an entire museum, and just give it over to the criminal element, and call it a jail. This idea was contributed by little Sally Stemberger, age 6, who invented the idea while playing with one of her father’s snowglobes. She was asked for further details about how this would work, but, unfortunately, she had already moved on to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic by that point, so her contributions to the project were minimal.

We’ve got Batman in Criminal Freak City trying to save the world in the middle of a snow storm during an eternal night. Folks, this is using your onyx crayon on a piece of taupe construction paper.

But it’s here, smack dab in the heart of darkness, that you realize exactly why Batman has persisted all these years. Despite theoretically being the most depressing concept for a depressing ongoing story in the most depressing setting against horridly depressing villains, the reason Batman has captured the hearts and minds of generations shines through.

The strange secret of Bruce Wayne?

About ten minutes into Batman: Arkham City, you’re going to shout, and that shout will sound like this: “Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

It’s fun to be Batman. No one wants to be an orphan. No one wants to fight an unending war against a concept that has existed, according to nearly every major religion, since the dawn of humanity. No one wants to actually wade through a sewer to fight a murder clown. But I can tell you what everyone does want, and that’s a grappling hook that denies any and all laws of physics and launches you into the air whereupon you release your crazy batcape and gently glide to another rooftop, or, if you spy criminals, slam down to the ground like an avenging, one-man earthquake.
Batman Arkham City is wall-to-wall violence, misogyny, and depression (There’s a point in the game where it’s strongly implied that Batman beats a pregnant woman into submission where it’s all three at once!), but that’s not what we (want to) remember about the experience. Ask your average gamer about Batman: AC, and they’ll describe gliding over the city, sliding down from gargoyles to surprise brutes, or just playing with all of Batman’s magnificent toys in crazy combinations until Thug #4,621 explodes just from Batcontact.

And you better believe that’s what keeps Batman eternal. In the end, it’s never about the rogues gallery, or the pathos, or whatever the hell Gotham starring Ben McKenzie is about, it’s about that simple joy of freedom, that while Batman is a man that is trapped by his compulsions, he lives his life as a man who isn’t even bound by gravity. Batman’s villains have a body count approaching the population of French Guiana, but Bats is never going to be among that number, because, despite chasing a completely deadly hobby every night, he just dances through bullets like you or I survive a light rain. Batman is freedom incarnate, and that’s going to appeal to anyone who happens to be a human being, no matter the epoch.

This makes zero senseSo if I ever get that voucher to the future, when I wake up in another five hundred years, I have no doubt there’ll be an officially licensed ComDisney-Mart Batman comic waiting for me in Dr. Belthasar’s waiting room. And, as the children of the future hook their holovids into my datastream, I’ll tell them all of the time I was The Batman, and flew through Arkham City on wings I controlled with the press of a button.

I won’t mention the bits about Hugo Strange, though. That never went anywhere.

FGC #6 Batman Arkham City

  • System: PS3 for me, Xbox 360 for you? Maybe PC if you’re some kind of weirdo
  • Number of Players: 1. 2+ if you count the inevitable audience this game accrues.
  • Longest Combo Chain: Does the game log this anywhere? I can see I got that 50+ combo trophy, and I remember being pretty proud of that.
  • Get all those Riddler Trophies? I didn’t get all of them, but I got enough to punch that dork straight in his dorky face. Punchin’ knowitalls: another Batman staple.
  • Did You Know? This should be the last time we ever hear Batman The Animated Series’ Mark Hamill’s The Joker. Mr. Hamill has claimed this is was his last stint as the character, and that should remain accurate until a mob of nerds take over the Hamill Compound and force the poor guy to record audio for appalling fanfic scripts. If you would like to participate in this event, please contact Debbie at her usual email address.
  • Would I Play Again? This is one of those weird “being an adult sucks” things. I absolutely would love to play this game again, but I would feel like I’m re-wasting the hours I poured into the game in the first place, just to experience a plot that I know is only going to drive me further insane, and rediscover/solve riddles that I know I already solved once. If only there were a way to experience the same joy of playing the game, but with a new plot and environment to explore. And maybe I can drive the Batmobile, too? Well, a man can dream.

What’s Next? Random ROB has chosen… Rygar for the NES. Set shields to deadly! Please look forward to it!