This Month in Videogame Vlogging: March 2024

Welcome back, viewers.

Thank you all for checking out the first two videogame video essay roundups! The response was quite nice and we got a little landslide of recommendations based on it. Also, it’s nice to be out of backlogs!

We’re more than open to viewer submissions! The easiest options would be through social media or by joining our Discord and submitting it in the roundup-submissions channel. That said, we’ve got a couple suggestions about what to submit:

  1. Videos should be from 2024 at the very least. More recent vids will get priority, but if you found a gem from, say, January that we missed, go ahead and submit it. We’ll check it out.
  2. Please no videos longer than four hours long. If a prospective video submission is longer than four hours long it cannot be about Dark Souls.
  3. Please no stream VODs, recorded lectures or seminars, general-topic developer interviews, lore videos, or news roundup podcasts.
  4. These suggestions are subject to change at our discretion. (and also like, break the rules whenever)

This Month in Videogame Vlogging highlights the most compelling critical videos about videogames from the preceding month. As always, it is supported by our readers (and viewers) over on Patreon! Consider signing up for one of our paid tiers to get access to monthly article roundups and other fun stuff.

Night of the Living Dead (Games)

As you might imagine, videogame preservation is one of Critical Distance‘s pet subjects; after all, the whole reason we’re here in the first place is to preserve the media that covers videogames. These three essays cover games that, for one reason or another, have faded into gamer legend and have either been brought back to life or simply exhumed for study.

  • Aconcagua (2000): Resurrection of a Lost PS1 Epic | RagnarRox (42:17)
    Ragnar Ulricson tells the story of one of the final original PlayStation games, set for an international launch right as the PSX was getting ready to cede ground to the PS2—only to find its marketing budget slashed and relegated to a Japan-only release in June of 2000. Aconcagua‘s woes didn’t end there, as for the next 23 years, it was found to be so difficult to translate to English or any other language that it was deemed by fan translation communities to be “impossible” to bring overseas. That is, until last year.
  • Sony’s weird PS1 game about Shakespeare | Minimme (23:50)
    The Book of Watermarks, developed in 1999 for the PSX by Arc Entertainment, tries to answer the question: what if The Tempest was like Myst? As Peter explains, it never quite reaches its lofty artistic or philosophical goals, but rather than disappear, as Prospero’s massive library does, the game should be lauded for its attempt.
  • Making a Game Last Forever | Raycevick (Sponsored Content) (18:00)
    Lucas Raycevick makes it clear pretty early on that this video is sponsored by its subject, Good Old Games ( – which would normally disqualify such a video from this roundup on the grounds that it’s less criticism than advertising, but there’s a reason for its inclusion here: GOG brought Alpha Protocol back to life. For no reason. Because it simply deserves to exist for future generations to play. And that’s worth covering, even as sponcon.

The Beginner’s Guide to Art Crit

This pair of videos is concerned with art and its place in our corporate-profit-driven world. Maybe art doesn’t need to “belong” anywhere, for anyone, to be worth existing? Or maybe we need to recalibrate our reckoning of it.

  • The Beginner’s Guide, Midjourney, and Praying to Coda | Talen Lee (14:34)
    Talen Lee recalls the reception to Davey Wreden’s The Beginner’s Guide, its similarities to the reception to the 2002 Al Pacino vehicle Simone, and how they outline our contemporary reaction to so-called “Generative AI” technologies, which have gotten a (deservedly?) poor reputation as automated art thieves for a gormless grifter class.
  • Art for No One | Jacob Geller (55:34)
    Jacob Geller reports live from the desert to tell us about a city we’re not allowed to visit except by invitation or take photographs of, before moving on to other art objects that are not meant for our rabid consumption.

The sum of their parts

These videos zoom in on particular aspects of games (and their hardware) as means to have larger conversations about the way we play.

  • City Levels: The Most Underrated Biome | Pixel a Day (28:24)
    Kat from Pixel a Day sings measured praises for the jazziest recurring biome in games: the city. From the chill puzzle-solving of The Pedestrian, to the hectic atmosphere of Super Mario Odyssey‘s New Donk City, all the way through to the neon city-pop-infused murder vibes of Paradise Killer, this video explores exactly why and how cities in games are simply peak.
  • We must talk about the green gloop. | Afterthoughts (22:16)
    Sam Kern doesn’t really hate Ultrahand, Link’s ability to stick things together with ethereal green gloop in Tears of the Kingdom. But she does hate the way the Ultrahand mechanic is both restrictive for her playstyle and undermined by other, conflicting mechanics that are easier to work with than, say, bashing a bunch of sticks and a jet engine together with gorilla glue and trying to go to space with the result.
  • Do you listen to music when you play video games? | Renegade Cut (26:34)
    Leon Thomas makes a bold suggestion: next time you spin up your favorite game, try playing it with other music. See what happens.
  • What video games do that you won’t find anywhere else | Polygon (15:10)
    Clayton Ashley explores the flat circle of time as it relates to videogames and the New Game Plus mechanic they often employ to keep us playing.
  • Why Are Controller Buttons Like That? | Lextorias (34:06)
    Sometimes the best way to sum up a video is to simply restate its central question; after all, why are controller buttons Like That?
  • Making “Work” Games Fun [Game Essence] | Masahiro Sakurai on Creating Games (3:35)
    The Creating Games series is maybe my favorite short form video series of all time; hearing Masahiro Sakurai kick back and talk about his game design philosophy and method bit by bit over the last couple years has been a genuine treat. Here, the curtain pulls back and we hear about a few “work-like” games he enjoys, like House FlipperPower Wash Simulator, and Cookie Clicker, and what makes them so engrossing, from his perspective. (He also admits he might just like to work a bit too much, but that’s a subject for another day.)

Now Presenting… Videogames

Whether retrospective or new game review, these videos spend time luxuriating in their subjects to help us understand why they’re important, regardless of good or bad.

Grab Bag

Grouping up video essays into digestible subjects is sometimes like herding cats. Here are some great videos that don’t really fit into other sections.

  • My Thoughts And Feelings on Dark Souls: The Archthrones | Sputnik34 (17:06)
    Dom Locastro gives us his early impressions on the recent demo of a “total conversion” Dark Souls 3 mod that has seemingly turned him – a Dark Souls 3 hater – fully around on the 2016 FromSoft game.
  • How Video Game Futures Exchange Bodies For Capital | Game Assist (1:05:23)
    Bee examines how three games in particular deal with the treatment of bodies at the hands of oppressive capitalist systems: Final Fantasy VII RemakeCyberpunk 2077 and Citizen Sleeper.
  • Yellow Paint | caleb gamman (22:27)
    It’s not (just) about Final Fantasy VII Rebirth or Resident Evil 4 Remake or whichever Tomb Raider‘s yellow paint. It’s not even about game culture’s discourse wheel. It’s about [waves arms at the world]. It’s time to stop standing around.
  • When The Faithful Adaptation Is Actually Worse | Patrick (H) Willems (59:05)
    The Super Mario Bros movie from 1993 was nothing like the Nintendo game series it was based off. The 2023 movie, on the other hand, was maybe too faithful to the source material, which is admittedly just a series of icons when removed from their game context. Patrick Willems dips his toes into Adaptation Studies to try to figure out if the project of the “faithful video game adaptation” is doomed from the start.

Critical Chaser

This month we have a selection of palate cleansers for you on your way out.

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