Blog Posts in the reviews category

Menopause FTW!

no. i’m not menopausal. it’s bookworm adventures. i just beat the final boss battle in book 2 with “menopause.” thought it was pretty damn funny.

if you haven’t played bookworm adventures yet, you’re missing out. something fierce. it’s completely cool to beat down badguys with words like “bodacious” or with a gemmed-up “aviary.”

my favorite tho? smacking an enemy who is overly susceptible to color words with my hammer that does extra damage on metal words with “bronze.”

hell. yeah.

and, yes. i’ve even seen the rare diamond tile — holy badass, batman.

you MUST play this game. riddling sphinxes. raging boss battles. snappy dialog. is absolutely necessitates your attention.

especially when you one-hit a 29-heart badguy with “temperatures” and a fistful of gems.

UPDATE: ha! i just found this: dungeon scroll. it looks like bookworm adventures is a total and complete ripoff. funny. i’ll check out dungeon scroll and see how it plays.

MarbleBlast Ultra: Like Warm Butter

i bought marbleblast ultra and it’s a riot.

so. i’d been avoiding it since i downloaded the demo and devoured the half a dozen or so levels that ship with it.

i bought marbleblast ultra and it’s a riot.

the controls are super responsive, but have enough play in them that is just ‘feels right.’ it reminds me a lot of when mario 64 first came out. simply maneuvering mario around that world was most of the fun of the game.

it has that gentle balance between inertia and weight that is so much fun in driving games when you swing the ass-end of your porsche around a tight corner as you power-slide through the curve.

yeah. it’s like that.

i powered through both the entire set of beginner levels and the intermediate levels, making par times or better on all of them. that’s 40 straight levels of love, folks. all of it good. (a few of them, i was even ranked in the top 1000 — woot!) and, i still have the whole set of 20 advanced levels to go.

then, i fired up the multiplayer mode for a bit of ball-on-ball action. it’s a total kick in the pants.

where the single player levels are more like precision highwire acts, the multiplayer levels are more like a skatepark-come-moshpit. you roll around, bouncing off of each other as you chase ‘gems’ around the ‘park’ for points. the one with the most points in the time limit wins.

you’ll find yourself bounce-blasting off ridges and screeching around corners in a balls-out (pun intended) race to the next grouping of gems.

i can see why the guys at penny-arcade love it.

speaking of multiplayer, tho, there’s something incredible that needs to be pointed out. i’ve seen a couple of articles on how xbox live and achievements are bringing back the old arcade ‘high score’ love from decades past.

this is different.

instead of one monolithic score (you have one of those too) times and scores and rankings are broken out by level. so, basically, it comes down to who performed best in that 2 minutes of gameplay — one level at a time.

it’s leaderboards for each individual level. between you and your friends (or those top-page crazies who complete a level in 3.5 seconds that takes me 1:30? how? email me with how!), who can complete the level faster. there were several instances where i’d completed a level under par, but went back just to dust my buddy trizity’s times. heh. talk about replayability.

when did casual games get so competitive?

it raises the bar and redefines multiplayer gaming in a casual game setting. simply a fantastic game burrowing down to the very essence that is ‘gaming.’

Reporting vs. Blogging on Games: A Half-Assed Manifesto

i am not really sure if there’s actually a ‘war brewing’ or not. that sounds pretty dramatic tho, so, let’s call it that. there’s a war a’ brewin’!

this fake war is happening right now between game ‘journalists’ and game ‘bloggers.’ lemme explain.

i don’t really read much of gamespot, ign etc. anymore. i like reading the bloggers who write about games for a more honest, unbeholden-to-sponsors opinion. if i wanted paraphrased marketing spin, i’d just read the actual press releases.

that’s not to say those sites or magazines don’t have original content. they really do. a lot of the time, it’s even almost interesting. sort of in the only way those sites can be interesting. top 10 lists or game reviews. the narrow space where they can be critical of a game — by comparing them to other games. any mention of a company or any specific developers, tho, is always watered down. ‘this could be my opinion or that could be. objective journalism doesn’t let me pick tho. you have to guess!’

heh. even game reviews only float between 6.0 and 9.5. what’s the point of having 3’s or 4’s or 5’s if you never use them? shouldn’t 5 be average? according to a bell curve, shouldn’t the bulk of games be 5’s? personally, my rating system consists of one of three options: good games. mediocre games. and bad games. good, bad or indifferent. that’s the correct order of the universe.

but, i digress.

the problem is that traditional journalism is about unbiased facts. video game journalism is, however, subjective. therefore, not even technically journalism.

i want opinion. i want to be part of the meta-conversation about games. i don’t just want to consume industry marketing messaging. i want critical thinking done by these guys. i don’t want their half-assed attempt at portraying ‘the other side.’

i don’t think anyone like gamespot (i hate to pick on them in particular. feel free to insert your favorite ‘news’ site instead.) can really call sony out for being stupid. why would sony give them marketing co-op money in exchange for calling them dumb? what you end up with is a lot of tied-hands and flat, uninteresting ‘reporting.’

that’s where this whole ‘new games journalism’ crap comes in.

heh. in case you couldn’t tell by my tone, i don’t really buy into the pretentious nonsense that is ‘ngj.’ it’s not about who can wax most esoteric regarding the minutiae of this love we call ‘interactive entertainment.’

no. just tell us what you thought. give us an honest opinion. that’s really all we want. if a game is crap, let us know. if it is simply average — despite it’s heritage — call it out. bring pain down upon those who dare to destroy our beloved icons! be interesting, not effusive. we don’t want to read poetry about some shitty game, man.

in other words, do what bloggers do.

we’re slanted. we’re opinionated. we’re jaded. that’s the beauty of it. collectively, all of the blogging voices make up a fairly balanced opinion.

no. seriously. hear me out.

for every blogger that loves some particular game or style of game, there’s another one who despises it. both are equally loud. both froth and spit bile about the opposing side. (well. the interesting ones anyway. the passionate ones.) if you are interested in balanced opinions, as a reader, you can review both opinions and make your own decision. the difference is that instead of a single writer trying to whitewash both sides in a single article. you have two blazing icons shouting the merits of their independent, even more diametrically opposed opinions. we’re loud and proud, baby.

the best part about video game bloggers? find someone you agree with and play what he plays. if your preferred flavors of games are entirely alike, then, they’ll never steer you wrong.

traditional game journalism, however, can’t do that. somebody out there thinks metal gear solid is a good game. i sure as hell don’t. holy boring, batman. if i wanted to watch a stealth/intrigue movie, i’d rent one. last time i checked, i was trying to play a game. not trying to figure out how to skip cutscenes.

i can say mgs sucked. traditional game journos can’t. because, for some gamers who are into that, well, it was a great game.

how do you rate that?

how do you give a concrete value to a subjective medium that will be equally applied to all your readers’ varied interests? that’s why movie reviewers are individual reviewers. the review is their opinion — not the magazine’s opinion. as an organization, the magazine is responsible for assessing games for someone who likes rts and someone who hates them. me? i think they are work, not fun. if the magazine says total annihilation is a 9.0 out of 10, does that mean i’ll like it? hell no.

movies are a similar thing. find a reviewer who tends to agree with you and go with it. who the hell cares what roeper (talk about an arrogant prick…. wow.) thinks when you always agree with ebert. (he is the absolute best movie reviewer of our time.)

you can do that with bloggers. they represent no one but themselves. bloggers are beholden, not to the conflict-of-interest inspiring advertisers on their site, but to their own integrity and pride of workmanship.

what am i saying? i guess i have no idea.

something along the lines of look to traditional game journalism for regurgitation. new game journalism for pretension. independent bloggers for honest opinion.

video game journalism is about opinion dammit!

i mean, c’mon! can’t we all just get along?

Damn my Obsessiveness

Pulse Pounding. Head Swimming. Fingers flying manically across my keyboard. Scratching and scribbling noisily, struggling to find just the right word.

Water! Temple! Bug! Woot!

Pulse Pounding. Head Swimming. Fingers flying manically across my keyboard. Scratching and scribbling noisily, struggling to find just the right word.

Damn this tiny tablet keyboard! My long, gangly fingers mis-stepping the entire way. I feel like I spend more time on the backspace key than actually poking at letters. Argh! Too late.

Sunshine. I need to go faster.

No! I need to concentrate on the next word.

Dinosaur! Got it! 10 points! I’m a genius!

Catching up to Seraphim now. It won’t be long before I claim that coveted top spot. Before I can reap the glory and spread the fear. Behold the giant: m3mnoch!

Um. How the hell do you spell “exuberant?” Wait! No one is going to use that as a tag. That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever thought.

Teeth. Simile…. Ack. click click click I meant Smile. No? Clown? 4 Points!

Ranking is falling. There is only 46 seconds left in the round. I’ve fallen to 23rd. I don’t know if I can recover.

Think, dammit! Simple words. Descriptive words.

Fraudulent. What? Fraudulent? Where on earth did I come up with that one? Better yet, who in their right mind would tag a photo as “fraudulent?” And, how on earth did I spell that right the first time? What? Next photo already? Sand! Yes! 8 points. Hanging steady at 23rd. Times almost up!

Erg. I have no idea on this one. 3… Banging out letters. 2… No! Not yet! 1… I can get it!

Too Late.

What? “THE Kevin Federline check out my site yo!” beat me? The absolute shame. I lost out in a competition of cognitive prowess to Kevin Federline? I guess there’s no chance Britney will shack up with me now, eh?

Is it really 9:30 already? Have I really been doing this for an hour? Wow. I need to pull up out of this swirling vacuum of….

Vacuum! I bet that was the last one!

Oops. New round. Gotta hurry.

Puppy? Paw? Fur! Yes! 7 points!

Huh? What? What was the link? Oh, yeah. it’s

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About Topher Chapman

i like to write.

well... and paint. and program video games. and model economies. and run, surf, play football, etc. basically, i'm one of those irritating polymaths. my achilles heel, however, is obviously capitalization.

this is me, hurling my writing at you.

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