April 2015

Hello Friends! As it’s May 4th, I’ll go ahead and do the obligatory “May the fourth be with you” salute. Of course, if you prefer the dark side, you can wait till tomorrow when it’s Revenge of the Fifth. Ok, now that’s out of the way, we can get on to the April edition of This Month in Let’s Plays!

Let’s Do the Time Warp Again

Taking us back in time to games of yore, Jessica Brown provides a trip down memory lane for those of us who had the Sega Game Gear as kid (or adults) to play Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Like Jessica, I also never managed to beat the game back in the day, so it was great to indulge in nostalgia and  finally see the later levels.

Joining Jessica in game nostalgia is Isaac of TheOneHDuck YouTube channel. In this new series, Isaac takes a new approach to LPs. Here, Isaac uses Kid Icarus as the catalyst and backdrop for childhood reflections and how the game form some of his early ideals. A specific gem quote from Isaac’s reflections: “Kids are the victims of poor game design because they don’t know any better. You take these tropes on board with your life and you learn things from them.” (Content warning: some insensitive cultural commentary within).

Doin and Doin it and Doin it Well

This month several LPs also discuss how to do things right. For instance, Cee Marshall looks at a variety games to dissect the videogame trope he calls the “Forced Stealth Section.” Marshall argues that these sections undermine the learned expectation of player power most action games provide. To succeed, Marshall continues, the game play mechanics must translate well from action to stealth or must devote type to fleshing out new systems to accommodate the change to stealth play.

Elsewhere, Greg Weidman analyzes how Bloodborne uses Lovecraftian material properly. While the first half of Bloodborne relies are more hokey horror, Weidman argues the second half “goes full Lovecraft.” The exciting twist, he notes, is that in Bloodborne, the majority of the population worship the Lovecraftian gods rather than the minority, as in Lovecraft’s works. The game also pays homage to the piety of mad men in Lovecraftian mythos. Other tributes to Lovecraft are a little more spoiler-laden and thus, I’ll leave it to your discretion to learn more.

From Rock, Paper, Shotgun, Quintin Smith discusses the item degradation in the survival game The Long Dark and why it’s actually good.

Full Disclosure

In an incredibly feat of both play and analysis, Noah Caldwell-Gervais offers a comprehensive retrospective of all eleven titles in the Call of Duty franchise noting what is unique about each and how the franchise changed over time.

Over at Errant Signal, Chris Franklin uses a “selective ludography” to look at the design ethos of Blendo games. In particular, Franklin notes the recurring themes of playing with player expectation, using absurdist humor, making jokes at the player’s expense, and incorporating systemically valueless interactions that still feel right in context.

Story Time

In this Let’s Play SolePorpoise and his friend James give an impromptu analysis Axium Verge’s literary value. Together, the two try to make sense of the narrative with what little exposition is provided in the opening sequence. They note how rare this is in more contemporary games which regularly establish backstory and narrative motivation for the protagonist. This game, the note, lets the player discover the exposition and uses the player’s confusion as the motivation for narrative progression.

Elsewhere, Stephen Beirne suggests, when looking at narrative in games, it’s important to note how the ideology of a protagonist meshes with those of the villain and the player. Beirne argues, when they resonate or clash, they’ll probably be more interesting and satisfying.

Closing

If you didn’t see your Let’s Play in this month’s roundup, remember that we operate via submission! Send your submissions to us via Twitter using #LetsPlayCD to designate them for the Let’s Play Roundup, or you can always email us. Please don’t hesitate to submit your own Let’s Play. We want you on our radar! Also keep in mind that I’m about to take PhD exams and have had my nose squarely in books as I prepare. This means I’m increasingly reliant on the submissions to keep me informed. In other words, send me all the submissions!!

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