Sparky Clarkson's blog
By Sparky Clarkson on March 7, 2014 - 10:46am.
1995's EarthBound (SNES) is a widely known and beloved game, but one that sold so poorly upon release that it's probably beloved by significantly more people now than ever bought the original cartridges.
By Sparky Clarkson on December 19, 2013 - 3:13pm.
The simple fact is that picking the best game released in a given year is impossible. Even if someone managed to come up with some way to soundly measure an experimental 7-day FPS made by a small team against an open-world AAA game, nobody has the time in their lives to really give every possible candidate a chance. It's certainly a task that's beyond me, so I asked Mattie Brice, Michael A. Cunningham, Denis Farr, Darren Forman, Brad Gallaway, Brendan Keogh, Cameron Kunzelman, Kris Ligman, Gene Park, Lana Polansky, Eric Swain, Zolani Stewart, John Vanderhoef, and Dan Weissenberger to lend a hand. Here, without further adieu, are the games of the year.
By Sparky Clarkson on October 13, 2013 - 6:16pm.
Playing Tales of Xillia made me think of Final Fantasy, which was probably not the intended effect.
By Sparky Clarkson on October 8, 2013 - 2:37am.
A while back I took a quick swing up to MIT to check out the Boston Festival of Indie Games, which was a neat little show I really enjoyed visiting. Of course, as an indie show it had its fair share of games that needed tons of work or were just hopeless, but I got my hands on several really neat games, too.
By Sparky Clarkson on August 14, 2013 - 8:00am.
I hate Firefly pendants. I don't really hate anything intrinsic to the pendants, of course. They're much too boring for that.
By Sparky Clarkson on August 7, 2013 - 7:14pm.
In the wake of Microsoft's unpopular and ultimately reversed turn towards invasive DRM and daily activation requirements, there has been a renewed discussion of the economic challenges of AAA development and the supposed danger that used games posed to the industry. The standard excuse that it's too great a challenge to create games that achieve players' graphical expectations while still selling enough games to be economically viable in the context of a console exclusive has been trotted out, and as usual it is false, or at least lacking in perspective.
By Sparky Clarkson on July 22, 2013 - 1:16pm.
Mars: War Logs is a confusing game on many levels. It's set on another planet far in the future, but most of the fighting involves whacking dudes with a glorified stick. The player never sees the game's only real "war," and instead deals mainly with an internecine conflict concerning the main character Roy's guild. Yet, in the end, even the internal power struggles turn out not to have been the driving force for the game's violence.
By Sparky Clarkson on June 29, 2013 - 8:02pm.
The discussion around BioShock Infinite's combat doesn't just involve the question of whether its quantity of violence is essential to the story (yes), or whether telling a story where its quantity of violence is essential is interesting or worthwhile (no). Some of the discussion has centered around the question of whether the combat mechanics are any good. Eric Schwarz has written a fantastic post that describes most of the combat mechanics, and I want to expand on it a little. Even though I think violence helps to express the kind of character Booker is, I don't think the combat systems of BioShock Infinite do much to help characterize him, and in some ways actively oppose that characterization.
By Sparky Clarkson on May 20, 2013 - 7:35pm.
BioShock Infinite is a violent game, and it has to be. That's a contrast to BioShock, an equally violent game where combat conveyed nothing about its main character and had little to do with the game's themes other than spurring the player to engage in its various economies. Any stimulus—using plasmids to solve environmental puzzles, for instance—would have sufficed. That's not so in Columbia. Violence is essential to who Booker DeWitt is, and what Columbia is. Their story cannot be told without it.
By Sparky Clarkson on April 28, 2013 - 6:43pm.
One of the things I found most striking about BioShock Infinite is how sloppy it was. The ending, as I already discussed, is a self-contradicting mess held together only by sharply-timed revelations and plonky piano music. The quantum morass of its final moments is only one of the game's problems, though.
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