Here at the Bureau, we strongly believe that videogames should be considered an art form. The amount of production, development, and artistry that goes into games, especially today with the common cinematic presentation of titles like Metal Gear Solid or Halo 3, should qualify and legitimize their experience among those of films, albums, and literature.
Still, this doesn’t mean that we aren’t frequently using games to put things off. If there’s something that we’re good at other than videogames (which, actually, we’re not), it’s procrastinating. So, here are the games that are currently distracting us from the responsibilities of real life.
Smash Bros. Brawl
Aside from the usual distractions–Facebook, fruitlessly flirting with girls, fruitlessly flirting with girls on Facebook (poke!)–I’ve taken a liking/addiction to Smash Bros. Brawl, the third entry into the venerable series of quirky fighting games.
It’s really a brilliant game, sure to become a classic on the Nintendo Wii. Though there are a host of new features, such as online play and a fleshed out single-player mode, the real improvements are tweaks to the old fighting dynamics. The game’s pacing rests somewhere between its two predecessors, making the fights more exciting than the original but less chaotic than Melee, and the devastating, new Final Smash attacks add an element of unpredictability to matches. Brawl’s roster of characters, which features returning Nintendo favorites, as well as some off-brand newcomers, is impressively well-balanced.
The only trouble is that I don’t own a Wii, which means I have to go over to my neighbor’s house to play it. Things have gotten kind of awkward, since I don’t actually know my Wii-owning neighbor, and I imagine if he ever catches me when I’m sneaking into his home to play Brawl, there might some sort of consequence or punishment involved.
But I’m sure while he’s kicking the crap out of me, I’ll be muttering to myself, “Totally worth it.”
Kevin turned in his article four days late.
Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness, Episode One
Like most people who bought this game, I was in it mainly for the writing. Penny Arcade’s Jerry Holkins, a.k.a. Tycho Brahe, colors his prose with a distinctive, hyperbolic style for which I have acquired a taste that borders on addiction. Precipice satisfies my hunger for Penny Arcade humor, especially later in the game when Holkins hits his stride, but I was surprised to find myself similarly engaged by the gameplay. The game’s point-and-click adventuring is unremarkable, but its frenetic twist on Final Fantasy-style RPG combat kept me glued to my keyboard even when there weren’t any jokes about clowns or hobos.
Basically, each of your characters can perform one of three actions per turn: He can use an item, attack an enemy, or use a special attack. Gauges around these actions fill up in order, so your character can use an item right away, or you can wait a little while to line up a powerful special. The trick is that enemies can attack while you wait, so combat becomes a risk-analysis where you weigh the benefits of dealing extra damage against the negatives of giving your opponents extra turns. This whole system becomes even more manic because, when an enemy attacks, if you hit the space bar just before they make contact, your character can block or even counterattack. Then there’s the specials, which require you to play a quick mini-game to determine the attack’s potency, like spamming the keyboard for Gabe’s combos or entering a DDR-like pattern for Tycho’s double tommy gun blast. It sounds like a lot to keep in your head, and it is, but this chaos gives Precipice’s combat a level of excitement and tension missing from many traditional RPG’s. Just like Penny Arcade itself, this gameplay won’t suit everybody’s tastes, but if it strikes your fancy as it did mine I doubt you’ll mind paying twenty bucks for the game, even if it only lasts about six hours. Just be prepared for more urine jokes than you’d find in your average second grade classroom.
Nick turned in his article three days late.
Since I’m at my parents’ house for the week on vacation, the normal methods of procrastination just won’t do. Watching YouTube videos or Netflix is not up to the task of wasting all of this time. I have sunk to a new low.
I have had the ability to watch satellite television this week, and I learned that Adult Swim’s website offers a number of irreverent games to complement its programming. I have since discovered Amateur Surgeon Act 3. This game is absolutely disgusting. And I love it.
In the game you are a pizza delivery boy named Alan who wants to become a surgeon. After running over Dr. Bleed and mending him back together under his guidance, the two of you travel around town to heal the wounded. Your tools for surgery include a pizza cutter to make incisions, a salad tong to remove any foreign objects (e.g. glass, bullets, porcupine needles), a stapler to suture gashes, a lighter to cauterize wounds, and a pain relieving gel to miraculously make injuries disappear. The game is distasteful, but it has nothing on the site’s Bible Fight in which biblical figures beat each other for a K.O. (my favorite move is the Virgin Mary’s “Immaculate Deception”).
Now, instead of using my free time for acceptable pastimes like reading or listening to music, my vacation procrastination goes something like this: watching reruns of Law & Order while mending seedy individuals with a stapler on a Flash computer game. I look forward to getting back on a schedule.
Caitlin turned her article in on time.
Since it’s the summer, I’ve found myself with an abundance of free time. Yet despite the absurdly few obligations I’m bound to, I still procrastinate a lot. How do I underperform so amazingly? I’m going to blame it on Yelp.com. It’s a site that makes spaces for user-created reviews of local restaurants, landmarks, and other locations. So if you want to see how good that Indian place is, just log on to Yelp and see what people think of it. It’s pretty useful, although some of the reviews are half-hearted. But they’re short and tend to have some useful measurements like price, wait staff quality, and so on. So log on and Yelp yourself to some restaurant reviews from your peers. Or take it even further and register to write your own Yelpful opinions! Yeah I know, it’s not funny at all.
Jordan turned his article in four days late and is, apparently, too cool to play videogames.
Jeff was too busy playing videogames to turn his article.