You Play, I Watch: Video Game Playthroughs

July 26, 2015 § Leave a comment

I first started writing this post two years ago when I was actually going through this phase. Back then, video game playthroughs (also called Let’s Plays) were niche. Nowadays, Pewdiepie is practically a household name, Twitch sold for $1 billion and the phenomenon even got its own South Park episode. What a time to be alive.

Why would you spend your time watching someone else play a video game? is the resounding question from the confused masses. Back in 2013, I told a friend about my newfound pastime and he unflinchingly called me a loser. LOL.

My main reasons were usually a combination of:
1. no money
2. no time
3. no skills/too lazy

But the bottom line is, once you find a YouTube personality that you like, it’s simply entertaining to watch his or her playthroughs. (I don’t watch the ones without narration.) Since I already watched other vloggers on YouTube, it was a natural leap to combine that kind of casual, friendly familiarity with a love of video games. For me, it only works for certain games that have a story worth watching, but with the right narrator, the experience can be just as fun or engrossing as a good movie. And all for free!

Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness

Two years ago, Pokémon XD was inadvertently the first playthrough I watched. I already subscribed to TheJWittz‘s channel and the series caught my interest because I had started but never finished the game myself. This can wholly be blamed on Yawen’s brother, who back in the day somehow managed to delete everything on our Gamecube memory card, thus wiping all my progress. I was too distraught (and lazy) to play through it again.

It was interesting to see the game played from someone else’s perspective and compare JWittz’s battle style with mine. More important, it opened my eyes to the world of playthroughs — no longer did I have to be deprived of experiencing games old or new just because I didn’t own the right console or couldn’t finish a game.

Unfortunately, JWittz got sidetracked by the Pokémon World Championships and Pokémon Rumble U (which I found dull), so he stopped uploading XD videos.

Journey

Weeks later on a particularly boring weeknight, I found myself lying around the apartment and looking up lists of the best recent indie games so I could check them out. I decided on Journey, a beautiful game that I never would’ve been able to play myself because I don’t own a PS3. It’s a short game, and the whole thing lasted about the length of a movie.

I liked GhostRobo’s upbeat narration. He seemed just as amazed with the gorgeous landscapes as I was; it was like we were journeying together!

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Not The Mario Party I Remember

March 25, 2015 § Leave a comment

mario party

I have very, very fond memories of playing Mario Party on Nintendo 64. It combined three of my favorite things: board games, video games and the Mario franchise! I don’t think I’ve owned any since Mario Party 3, but I’ve always tried playing them when I could, even the more recent Wii versions.

Needless to say, I was psyched about the the newest version, Mario Party 10; J preordered it so I could play it on release day. I hadn’t read any reviews, partly because all game-related websites are blocked at work (boohoo) and because I wanted to go into it with an open, unspoiled mind since I was planning to buy it regardless.

Well…I didn’t fall in love with the game. But let’s put good news first. My unexpected favorite thing about MP10 is its badminton game (found under Bonus Games). Why is it there? I don’t know. It doesn’t seem to be a minigame that you could play under normal party mode circumstances…it’s like they just happened to make it and stick it in randomly.

And it’s strangely good! I’ve never had the honor of playing a badminton video game (it’s a fringe sport in this industry I suppose), and I couldn’t get the controls quite right (Peach kept lunging and falling down), but it was fun and evocative of the actual sport. Well done.

That said, here are my least favorite things about Mario Party 10:

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Can’t Beat The Original

September 13, 2009 § 3 Comments

What the heck are Spectrobes, and who do they think they are, trying to [poorly] mimic the timeless awesomeness of the Pokérap? The awful commercial jutted into the episode of anime I was watching, and I just shook my head in pity. Seriously, any kind of animal/monster/card-collecting game/show that came out after Pokémon is doomed to live in the shadow of the wildly successful franchise [suck it, Digimon]. I’m surprised people still bother trying…

The Games We Play

September 11, 2009 § 2 Comments

In Sociology of Gender class yesterday, we had a heated discussion of whether Super Mario Bros. is a gendered game. It was fascinating for me because of my love for the Nintendo franchise as well as my penchant for reading about video game culture. A male student argued that the Super Mario Bros. games are gender neutral, but my teacher pointed out that Princess Peach simply sits around waiting for Mario to rescue her.

Other female students went on to talk about how nobody wanted to pick Peach in Mario Kart because she was the slowest and weakest one, to which a couple of male students objected, saying that Peach was actually one of the fastest.

Frankly, one of the reasons I love Nintendo is because I’ve always felt that it’s more girl-friendly. I’m not saying that as an objective or true statement; it’s simply the feeling I’ve gotten because I love Mario Kart, Mario Party and Super Smash Bros. and never felt alienated by them like I did while watching boys play Call of Duty or Warcraft.

It is indeed true that female characters have been shafted in Super Mario — Peach can hold her own in more recent games, but in the old school Mario Bros. [and even in titles like Super Mario Sunshine], she was pretty much a victim. I never really noticed as a child, but it’s just another example of socialization of traditional gender roles.

With the Mario Kart comments, however, it is quite clear that those girls [and their playmates] never even tried using Princess Peach before jumping to the conclusion that she wasn’t as effective because of her gender. In actuality, Peach is a very good character choice not only in Mario Kart but also in Mario Tennis, Mario Party and Super Smash Bros., to name a few — she’s my first choice for all of those games.

It’s apparent that those people had been socialized to see Peach as weak because of her gender, which is unfortunate as well as sexist. In some video games that I’ve played, such as wrestling, the female characters are rather terrible, but I will defend Princess Peach to the very end.

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