Puzzle Box

In response to “Defined By Mario” from The Escapist Forum: All Nintendo needs to do is make an Super Smash FPS and they will control the world.

Seriously, I love this article because I love Mario. Even today, Mario Galaxy 2 and Mario Kart Wii are 2 of the best games of this generation, both being top tier iterations of their respective genres and my absolute favorites of each. I’ll never want to get into any other fighting game because of the awesomeness that is Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and the Paper Mario franchise is one of my favorites of all time- a seamless blend of puzzle solving, platforming, and rpg gameplay that seemingly drew inspiration from Super Mario RPG.

I hear all the time how every single Mario game past Mario 64 is the same and Nintendo does nothing but release the same games over and over, but in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. His games (and most Nintendo games for that matter) are all about expanding, reimagining, refining, and refreshing old ideas while implementing new ones simultaneously. If Mario Sunshine and Mario Galaxy were both reskinned and somebody told me that they were too similar to Mario 64, I’d probably slap them. It’s funny to think how his lowest quality games of all time are mostly Mario Party games….and even those have gems among them.

Happy 25th, Mario.


There’s a comfort factor to Mario for gamers, due to his longevity and (usually) the high quality you find in games starring the the little plumber. Who else has that? Link, perhaps. Sega wishes Sonic did, but too many dodgy games begin to take the shine off the hedgehog. With that much consumer love, it would be nice for Nintendo to use him again in something a little more experimental and off the wall, the way Paper Mario was.



In response to “Introducing the Escapist’s Genre Wheel” from The Escapist Forum:

Russ Pitts:
Introducing The Escapist’s Genre Wheel

The Escapist breaks games down to their basics and devises a genre classification system that covers all (ok, almost all) of the bases.

Read Full Article

Very well designed. Kudos to you all.

I think it proves one big point very nicely–the only way to make genre useful is to encourage cooperation and communication between people with differing opinions, values, and expectations. That means even rival game studios/publishers/etc. have to come to center and agree on what exactly “RPG elements” constitutes, or other such labels.

I also like how you engage genre. Too many folks confuse it with “setting.” There are plenty of great stories (and games) whose genre doesn’t match the setting. A story might be set in space, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s science fiction. Genre isn’t about how the room is furnished–it’s about what you’re doing in that room. The rest is just the style of the decor.

Your wheel removes all (or most) considerations of the setting, relegating it to its proper place–costumes and furniture. These can change the flavor of a game, but they don’t (or at least shouldn’t) define it. Plants vs. Zombies is not “survival horror.”

The big “but”…
I think the only place that’s problematic is setting “Conflict” and “Exploration” games in diametric opposition. I really think it’s just a terminology problem–your explanation works fine, but the terms are a little… eh. Conflict, as you’ve explained it, seems more about direct opposition–enemies actively working to prevent you from reaching a goal. “Exploration” seems more about indirect or environmental opposition–obstacles block your path, or enemies working to beat you to a goal (but not specifically to stop you).

That would explain why racing is on the opposite side from sports. I think phrasing it in terms of “direct” and “indirect” opposition might make this clearer.


I love this classification scheme not only because it makes sense, but because it allows me to easily classify one of my favorite games of this generation – Arkham Asylum! In my mind, AA is clearly an action game, and is equal parts conflict and exploration (I loved exploring and using new upgrades ro find more riddler trophies, etc). So I believe this game would sit right at the tippy top of the wheel. I suppose the argument could be made that the game is more combat than exploration, but now deciding the genre is a matter of thinking about the game rather than thinking about what labels we have best.

EDIT: This chart also confirms what I sort of already figured out about myself: I’m more of an action game fan. Most of the games I enjoy most – shooters, music games, …Arkham Asylum all are in the same sphere. Sports is about as far out as I go towards strategy, with the exception of oldschool JRPGs which I enjoy once in a blue moon.

Very interesting, very well done. I hope you guys link to this article/chart in all your upcoming reviews.



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In response to “Epic Inspiration” from The Escapist Forum: This was unexpectedly pro-Epic Mickey.

I confess, Mickey has never interested me. He’s like a rodent Gary-Su in many ways and I grudgingly accept his presence in the way one grudgingly accepts a government. Someone has to be in charge of things, and we could do worse than a serially-nice mouse with no testicles.

But having read this review, I’m actually interested in playing the game – mostly for this Disneyland world of forgotten characters. It would be spiffy if we could choose our main character – even more so if some characters had different access/events/reactions.

Having read these other comments, though, I think I might rent instead of buy.


“oh look it’s modern focus group led micky… doing modern focus group led micky things…”

Oh please. One piece of news comes out saying that a biker didn’t like Spector’s Mickey and now everyone is villifying focus groups, as if Warren Spector, one of the last true visionaries of gaming, would just plop down his pants and say thank you sir may I have another every time a soccer mom dislikes the colour of his concept art. What probably actually happened is that Warren has the rare ability to not shut down any input that disagrees with his vision and instead looks for its validity. So instead of being a diva and putting out Daikatana, he changed his game to meet expectations, which is how a smart person does things.

If Epic Mickey has failed, it failed on its own terms, not because some focus group doomed it.

What’s killing games is the single minded blindness that people who shout FOCUS GROUPS SAID STUFF I DISAGREE WITH THEREFORE THEY ARE EVIL BLAR because it’s the same single minded blindness that leads people to think ‘Well, people like Halo, so if I make a shooter exactly like Halo, people will like it! Only they also like Call of Duty so I should also make the character a space marine.’ As long as you have some internal conviction that allows you to weight the merit of what you hear, listening to what people tell you has no downside whatsoever.

The Random One


In response to “Breaking the Genre Contract” from The Escapist Forum: First, I disagree with your characterization of Pan’s Labyrinth. While I agree that the ad is deceptive, first, the ad is full of men walking around in military uniforms, and as such strongly hints at a military plot element; second, the “dark fantasy” does appear and delivered 100% on my expectations (and those of a number of people I know); and third, I believe that it WAS a great movie.

I saw the trailer for this movie exactly once, then saw the movie the day it came out, so all the info I had came from the trailer. Except, very significantly, I had seen another movie by del Toro which was very similar in a lot of ways… but as mentioned, I have friends who know nothing of his work and also loved the movie.

On the other hand, the God of War promo piece that you so appreciate was IMO utter garbage because it omits the most critical element: actual gameplay. Aside from maybe 3 seconds at the end, the whole bloody trailer is cut scenes. Hell, based on that trailer GoW could be a rhythm game, or a FPS, or even a full-on JRPG – because it doesn’t show us any gameplay! There could be constant engine slowdown, or serious clipping issues. You might fight an endless stream of enemies one-at-a-time ala Double Dragon or swarms that simultaneously mob you and rip you to pieces. It could have vicious, unforgiving platform sections with bad camera angles. The trailer tells you NOTHING – so OF COURSE it successfully delivers on it.



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