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Tycho / on Fri, Apr 17 2009 at 12:00 am

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A Classic Scenario

When Gabriel related to me the bones of this story, a tale fraught with libertine squirrels, I felt certain there was a comic in there somewhere.  We have embellished it somewhat, though not as much as I originally suggested.  I won’t go into the particulars, except to say that I am perhaps more willing to “interpret” events where my own wife is not physically present.

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about an editorial I read at Gamasutra about whether or not the industry can make a “B Game.”  Published on March 11th, it’s now ancient by Internet standards, having passed entirely through its digestive tract and been deposited somewhere as a cooling pile of indigestible tags and punctuation.

The author goes into the different manifestations of “B” grade content, and like most pieces that try to straddle the worlds of interactive entertainment and film, must pad around the fact that the two mediums are fundamentally dissimilar.  One’s metaphors quickly become tortured in this scenario, stretched beyond their honest purpose.  Are the failures of a B Game from a technology perspective akin to having to having to repair the projector?  And so on.  I’d leave it be entirely, if I didn’t think he was right:  there was strong evidence that such a creature as a “B Game” exists.

From Software’s quirky catalogue and uneven technical execution is an incredible candidate for study.  They make games that people either adore or truly despise, and they try weird crap that probably seemed cool at the time, but their failures are (at a root level) deeply earnest.  Ninja Blade is the perfect example of the form, and it hasn’t been especially well received, but if we’re buying into the B game thesis it wouldn’t be.

Every part of the product is at least acceptable, except for those places it excels - but the extent of its excellence has been hotly contested.  If you don’t like “Quick-Time Events” (which have gone dreadfully out of fashion) it’s likely you won’t feel its subliminal rhythms.  The QTE mechanism is the systemic equivalent of a reach-around, here: they exist to provide nominal stimulation while something else is occurring.  That “something else” in question is the ridiculously exuberant cutscenes, dense with some of the most resplendent directorial overreach anywhere.  In terms of raw amusement, I’d put them up against any other game this generation.  Even if the game doesn’t sell through, I think Ninja Blade will become known in our circles as a legendary rental.

Those looking for further evidence for the B phenomenon need not look far.  When you jump and hold right trigger plus X, your character can surf through foes on a demonic broadsword.  I probably should have just started there, and been done with it.

(CW)TB out.  

that’s the real crime


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