I’ve spent a lot of time with the latest entry in the Rock Band series this week. Played dozens of tracks, played with friends, did the Career Mode. It’s more Rock Band, and that’s a good thing. Rock Band 4 is the latest entry in the Rock Band series, after a near five year hiatus. Now you can play it on your Xbox One or PS4. They’ve added some things, taken out some things, switched a few things up. And it’s all… fine. Everything is… well, fine.
2 deep 4 me, but like, in a good way.
I had to think for a little while how to go about writing this, and I’m still not really sure of all the details, but I do know for sure that if you have any interest in playing The Beginner’s Guide, the more information you have about it, the less enjoyable you’ll find the game. Let me take a paragraph or two to tell you about the game and you can see if it sounds like your sort of thing. Everything after the “read more” line and subsequent spoiler warnings should only be read by people who have played the game or have no intention of doing so. I’ll be including a gallery of screen shots, also not intended for people who are still hoping to experience the game. It’s just that due to the nature of the game, the screen shots tell too much for me to not include. Okay, let me try and tell you a little about this game.
The Beginner’s Guide is a narrative-driven game, short and dense. It engages with the player, and asks something of them in a very personal way. The entire game is narrated by the creator, Davey Wredon, and as soon as the game begins, he connects with the player, through his honest tone, in a very intimate way. He tells you that he’s created this program to exhibit to you the video games created by a dear friend of his named Coda. Placed in what is a very convincingly crappy Counter-Strike map, listening to the narrator, the player forgets, for a moment, what is real. “This is a game,” they’ll tell themselves in response to the brief moment where they start to think that maybe they just really bought a game exhibition off of Steam. They’ll lift one of their headphones away from their ear, and look around the room to establish where reality ends and the game begins. What Davey Wredon has created for us is most certainly a game, but his presence in the narration blurs the line so well, that you’ll believe that Davey is speaking to you as a real person and not just a character.
There are no real goals or game play objectives in The Beginner’s Guide, you’re just along for an interactive ride. For fans of such narrative-driven, or to a lesser extent, “art games,” I think they will find this game is a very good example of those. This game does not waste your time. It tells you a story and takes you on a journey, and if that’s the sort of thing you enjoy, I think this game is for you. I do think, however, that some of the primary themes of this game are really difficult for many people to relate to. A certain amount of appreciation for video games and their creation is required to understand this game, and even being immersed in video games such as I am, I still felt that part of it was lost on me. Likewise, creation being used as an outlet is another theme this game explores heavily, another element I found going over my head, and I’m sure plenty of other people will have the same experience. I’m not going to tell you that I understand every symbol and deeper meaning of every part of this game, but I did enjoy it. Its story didn’t grab me like some games have in the past, because I had trouble relating with it, but The Beginner’s Guide made me feel things that video games normally do not. I’ll do my best to try and explain what I mean.
A game seemingly fell into my lap this past week. A little RPG, as it were. I read some things about it from various places; “Oh it’s pretty short.” “It’s charming.” “This reminds me of Earthbound.” “It’s got cool music.”
After spending some time with some really big, recent games these past few weeks, I was excited to check out something smaller in scope. Queue Undertale.
Lifeline is, well, an interesting game. Game is used lightly, here. Any gameplay presented is literally boiled down to two choices. At any given time. That’s it. The gameplay here is not the reason to keep with Lifeline. Lifeline is more accurately described as an interactive, real time choose your own adventure novel. But it’s one of the best experiences I’ve had so far this year.
Throwback Thursday is an article series where I, Bear, play one of those “old games” and then I write about what I thought of it. Sometimes it’ll be me talking about an old gem, or other times it may be a bargain bin game NES cart I got that I’ve never heard of before. But I’ll play it, tell you about it, and then the rest is up for grabs.
Gitaroo Man is a music and rhythm game for the PS2 developed by KOEI and iNiS. Original released in America in 2002, and it apparently was a very niche title, with KOEI not really producing that many copies of it back in the day.
Here we are. The classic, Super Mario RPG: The Legend of the Seven Stars. A game that a lot of us remember, myself included, as the Mario game we picked up when we were about six years old and we said, “What the fuck is this Mario?” and then as we kept playing it we said, “I like this Mario.” This is a game that I have touted as one of my favorite games of all time, claiming a coveted spot on the 3×3 back in 2013. I’ve played through it once again, looking at it with a critical eye only a bear could have. Does it hold up?