Everything you wanted to know about gaming, and less

by Jamison DeLorenzo

Finding required viewing in the world of video game writing is a rare event. Over the past five years the cornerstone of my gaming bookmarks has been Penny Arcade. I realize that this is a lot like saying people swear by ESPN for sports news, so that statement has far less impact that I would want. I have often found that my style of humor is right in line with their strips, and that is what drew me to make them required reading.

With the many web comics and regular columns devoted to gaming you are probably wondering why I haven’t mentioned any others. There are many interesting and unique reads that people absolutely love. XKCD and Ctrl-Alt-Delete immediately come to mind as solid reads, but for whatever reason they don’t have the pull on me that they probably should.

The only sites I ever bookmark are sites that I see that offer something unique and either informative or entertaining. Based on that criteria there should probably me more sites inside my gaming radar. Still, this article is not about me and my overwhelmingly bad reading practices. This is about something that’s been bothering me about my #2 reading destination.

It wasn’t all that long ago that this second destination was added. Within the past 3 months Zero Punctuation (think about the pun embedded in this week’s title – it’s subtle… and, now that I think about it, not all that funny) has become a Wednesday mainstay. Yahtzee has become the latest gaming culture phenomenon and with good cause. Again, that statement doesn’t have a whole lot of impact. That’s okay – that wasn’t the intent.

If you’ve been reading the Quagmire for with any regularity you have seen my relative apprehension of Nintendo’s success. I never thought about it when I was young, but now that I’ve managed to entire my cranky old man stage early in my gaming critic life (which appears to have happened prematurely) I have a hard time not thinking about the number of times Nintendo added another title to an existing franchise. This is my current favorite double-standard to harp on with respect to gaming, and when this was brought up in ZP the first time I couldn’t have been more delighted.

Please understand that schadenfreude is not a common problem for me. I don’t take delight in flame wars, but sometimes I feel like I need to step up and say something. Super Smash Brothers is going to be the target, so if you have trouble handling any comments that do not involve slobbering all over the franchise you should be prepared for some artillery fire.

Brawl is the first game in the franchise I have owned but not the first one I have played. This game has never had that much appeal to me, but playing this game with three friends has been a good amount of fun. After extended service time with the game I had many negative things to say about it. My biggest problem with this game, and most 1st party titles for the Wii, is that the games are not deep. Okay, the perceived depth of a game is highly subjective, but as a fighter the gameplay in Brawl does not feel any different than its predecessors. I certainly don’t buy the argument that it is a masher, but I don’t see it as the complex fighter so many fans try to make it out to be (if you want a complex fighter I strongly urge you to play a Tekken game).

Not long after I start jotting down all the complaints I have about SSBB, ZP came out and said everything that was in my notes. This made me happy, not because laziness was once again paying off, but because someone that I would consider paying attention to about games can’t stand mediocre gameplay, highlighted characters being complex unlockables, and off-chance random character movement. This still was not my favorite part of the review.

Two weeks later the SSBB review prompted a response to e-mail feedback which took great strides towards proving that people who hated the comments had no idea how to properly respond to the comments made. This response also highlighted, inadvertently perhaps, that the phrase “I am not a fanboi” is a tired clich√© that now almost always serves as proof that the writer is, on top of everything else, a hypocrite.

I realize it took a heck of a long time to get there, but it is time for another Public Service Announcement from the Quagmire – please stop using that phrase to begin your arguments. Every single time this phrase is used to make a point, it proves the author is too scared to let their argument stand on its own merit. It is not as if I expect to see witty discussion every time I read through a message board or walk into EB. In fact, more often than not I expect a bunch of idiots making incoherent statements. Certain phrases become overused way too often, and “I am not a fanboi” is now on the list along with “Nintendo just makes fun games”, “I prefer gameplay over graphics”, or “I’m tired of boring old sequels.”

Please understand that fans of any console who feel the need to attempt to validate themselves by shooting down other consoles are all guilty of use of at least one of these comments. Somehow there is this great divide in the community with respect to each console, and I feel like people are searching for catch phrases to make their points. I won’t shoot down anyone for enjoying a Smash Brothers, Mario Kart, Halo, or any other gaming franchise just because I don’t happen to enjoy it. I will, however, rip you apart if you are unable to handle people pointing out flaws they see without babbling on incoherently. In other words, I’m only here to help.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go prepare for another SSBB party.