Welcome back readers.
There was less to read this week. And that really is, I want to stress, a loss for everyone.
This Week in Videogame Blogging is a roundup highlighting the most important critical writing on games from the past seven days.
This opening segment changed around a lot as I was putting the issue together. It was never quite cohesive and topical enough to be called Hot Goss. For a while it was about adventure games, but visual novels are of course a distinct if related genre. Now it’s simply about stories–in games and around games–and that’s no bad thing. Pull up a seat, weary traveller; let’s begin.
- How Should We Be Talking About Visual Novels?
Kastel criticizes opacity, insularity, and inaccesibility in a community that is too often reacting to misconceptions rather than fostering more productive conversations about visual novels.
- Leisure Suit Larry  – Arcade Idea
Art Maybury returns to evaluate the ways in which Leisure Suit Larry, in his characteristically bumbling fashion, both affirms and subverts the tenets of transactional play.
- notes on norco
lotus has written, to my mind, the best piece on NORCO this year.
“NORCO is an archive not of Norco but dreams of Norco, Norco as it resides in the imagination. It is a map to a place that no longer exists, that only ever existed in the minds of those who lived there.”
I’m not sure there has been a home console since the PlayStation 2 that has left such a profound and lasting impact on the contemporary landscape of games. Here are two pieces on PS2 games and their legacies, looking alternately behind and ahead.
- Sega Ages 2500 Series Vol.2: Monaco GP – Kimimi The Game-Eating She-Monster
Kimimi contemplates the remake in a very different context from its contemporary prestige connotations in this budget effort from Sega to get one of their oldest arcade games PS2-ready.
- 19 years ago, the best bad video game ever made transformed the medium | Inverse
Willa Rowe meditates on lessons of design and play, nearly two decades out from Drakengard.
“Games remain trapped by this need to give the player exactly what they want. Drakengard is a massive middle finger to this idea. There is no part of Drakengard that attempts to be welcoming to a player, instead actively trying to make them quit the game.”
Next up, we’ve got three different and delightful explorations of critical themes–each of them slightly incongruously executed in their respective games.
- Ghostrunner: el cliché de los ciberninja en el cyberpunk | GamerFocus
Julián Ramírez unpacks the history and baggage of the cyborg ninja in cyberpunk media, finding its more interesting posthuman implications largely unexplored in the recent Ghostrunner (Spanish-language article).
- The Endless Possibilities of Transness in Sonic Unleashed | KRITIQAL
Danny McLaren explores how Sonic the Werehog’s struggle with monstrosity and identity reflects a trans experience.
- Dreamlight Valley Runs On Coal – GlitchOut
Oma Keeling finds a loose narrative thread in Disney Dreamlight Valley‘s crafting mechanics and starts pulling to reveal a whole lot of contextual weirdness.
“Disney Dreamlight Valley is, in many ways, an odd place. The oddness of it may get an easy pass, because look there’s Mickey, yet look closer and in Mickey’s hand are the coal mining and fracking licences he just got approved.”
Replay and Slay
Two compact and thoughtful play meditations on recent and topical games.
- I Was A Teenage Exocolonist: Let’s Do The Time Warp Again(?) | Unwinnable
Ruth Cassidy dwells on the pleasures of practice and perfection via time loop mechanics–but also on memory, consequence, and a little bit of chaos.
- Splatoon 3’s Clothing Options Has Made Me Feel Stylish | TheGamer
Lex Luddy reflects on Splatoon 3‘s fresh approach to looking and feeling fresh.
“I think the thing I love about Splatoon is it presents all of this not just as valid, but as awesome. It all fits with the chaos of the world and the game. So, your pink high-tops don’t match your luminous green hair and paint? Who cares?”
- PART 2 – DEEP HELL
New Elden from Skeleton.
“i get a sweet release knowing i’ve got you and can get you again with someone else.”
Critical Distance is community-supported. Our readers support us from as little as one dollar a month. Would you consider joining them?
Have you read, seen, heard or otherwise experienced something new that made you think about games differently? Send it in!