POKÉMON GO: ONE YEAR ON
For me, Pokémon Go always was best as a way of overwriting physical locations with virtual memories. Scrolling through my collection (which now tells you where each Pokemon was caught), every glamorous location – from Croydon to Stourbridge – comes with its own story.
The party that dispersed to chase an Electabuzz two streets over; a summer’s afternoon in Wetherspoons, throwing out Lures with each round of drinks; the holiday where I risked extortionate roaming data charges because I couldn’t wait to catch my first Squirtle.
DC’S LATEST WATCHMEN CAMEO ISN’T A CHARACTER
Every comics page is a succession of frozen instants, but they could be seconds or minutes apart. The density of a nine-panel grid allows for a consistent rhythm. The smallest movement, of Batman turning over the smiley badge in his hand, can be broken into parts, each like a frame of celluloid.
In Watchmen, this effect was equated with the ticking of a clock. In Batman #21, there is a literal timer in the corner of each panel, counting down one second at a time. This tick-tock rhythm is the heartbeat of Watchmen’s universe, as recognizable as the “Be My Baby” drum beat.
MINECRAFT: STORY MODE – SEASON 2 REVIEW
Official PlayStation Magazine
Rather than lingering on existentialism and ennui, you’re quickly plunged into a new adventure. One with scarf-wearing llamas, mysterious gauntlets of power, and a ‘heckmouth’ that spits out hordes of explosive Creepers. It all makes for quite compelling viewing.
Note that I’ve said ‘viewing’ there. Story Mode uses the standard Telltale formula of cutscenes, dialogue-tree conversations, quick-time events, and the odd bit of walking around examining stuff. Even more than usual, though, your role as player is to stay firmly in the back seat. The episode has approximately one puzzle, and interactivity is often limited to nudging the thumbstick forward, or giving ‘X’ a single tap to pull a lever between cutscenes. There are rudimentary combat sections, but it’s not exactly Dark Souls.
GAMING’S BEST GROUNDHOG DAYS: USING REPETITION AS A NARRATIVE TECHNIQUE
Luckily, every time the clock strikes midnight, it winds back, and you’re shown the same title card. “Saturday.” You wake up next to a grandfather clock, and rub your eyes as a tannoy announcement informs you the party will start at seven o’clock. These are the game’s answer to that Sonny & Cher-playing alarm clock from Groundhog Day, a repeating motif that underlines the fact that you’re stuck in a time loop.
Just like Bill Murray, you slowly build up the knowledge and skills needed to make the day go the way you want. Unlike Bill Murray, your end goal isn’t getting off with Andie MacDowell but averting the string of murders which happen, as regular as actual clockwork, throughout the day. These become the landmarks by which you navigate. The four o’clock one-gun salute, the sound of shattering glass, the lights flickering out briefly at 10. Eventually, you’ll stop them all.
DAREDEVIL’S CORRIDOR FIGHT: A BREAKDOWN OF THE SMACKDOWN
Daredevil starts out moving like a superhero, quick and acrobatic, but the fight gets slower and slower as it grinds on. He leans on nearby walls for support, catches his breath while he waits for the next bad guy to rush him. It’s not a fighting style I’ve ever seen in an action movie. Cox fights with the moves of a backstreet brawler or, even more aptly, like he’s in the final round of a boxing match.
The way Cox takes a punch expresses the character’s relationship with his dad better than any of the preceding flashbacks. We’ve seen Battlin’ Jack Murdock telling his son about a style of boxing he apparently borrowed from Homer Simpson. The idea that “knocked down, but never knocked out” is more of a philosophy than a sporting tactic for the Murdocks gets hammered home repeatedly in the dialogue, but this is the first time we actually get to see it.
POINT AND SHOOT: HIJACKING VIRTUAL SPACES WITH GAMES PHOTOGRAPHY
“I like working with limitations,” says Dooton. “There’s an analogue to real photography there. When you start out, you can’t always afford the best equipment, so you work with what you’ve got. If it’s too dark, you have to figure out how to solve that, whether by getting a friend to hold up a torch or a light on their phone or waiting till someone runs through a spotlight to take the right shot at the right time. And sometimes that creates more interesting unique photos.”
It’s the same story when you’re pushing against the grain of a game’s design. In games with a third-person camera, you have to work around their insistence on giving you a clear view of the character you’re controlling – useful in combat, but distracting if you’re trying to shoot a landscape. You’ll likely spend as much time crouching round a corner or walking face-first into a wall as lining up shots.
MAKING SENSE OF THE ENDLESS REFLECTIONS OF HER STORY
“My name is Hannah. H-A-N-N-A-H. It’s a palindrome. It reads the same backwards as forwards. It doesn’t work if you mirror it though, it’s not quite symmetrical.”
That’s how Her Story begins. At least, how it begins chronologically speaking. After saying yes to a coffee (black, no sugar), this is the second line spoken by Hannah in her interrogation. When you played, though, chances are this wasn’t the first, or even second, clip you watched. The game is constructed out of hundreds of clips like this, which can be viewed in any order depending on which search terms you pick.
It’s also the game’s first lie. Because this isn’t Hannah, after all, but her identical twin Eve. E-V-E, another palindrome. Between each of the seven interviews, the two women alternate in a neat symmetrical pattern: E-H-E-H-E-H-E.
SCI-FI & FANTASY FOOTBALL: THE COOKIE CUP
Rock Paper Shotgun
From Bill & Ted to Batman & Superman, over 350 players have been built using FIFA 2000‘s character creation tool, with stats that reflect how they would fare on the pitch. They’re drafted into teams, tactics and positions are set up, and each week’s results are decided by AI-controlled FIFA matches, then uploaded to YouTube.
Which is why, just over a week later, I’m hunched over my laptop alternately swearing and cheering. It’s the first game of the season and my club, the mighty Kickers With Attitude, are facing off against the Irken Invaders. Early cracks are showing in my midfield, setting up rival captain Superman for two goals, but thanks to the Kickers’ up-front trinity of Hawkeye, Black Widow and Buttercup from the Powerpuff Girls, we scrape a 3-2 win.
THE ISSUE: ‘GENERATION HOPE’ AND THE PAIN OF BEING DIFFERENT
The big advantage of the mutant metaphor is that it creates a little distance from real-world events. While it’s unacceptable to force queer readers to comb through subtext for representation in comics, when you’re handling painful topics like this, it acts as a protective layer. It’s hard to imagine a way this story could be told without the metaphorical filter that wouldn’t feel disrespectful to the real victims.
“Better” keeps that layer as thin as possible, though, by rooting its presentation firmly and clearly in the real world. This is the magic of what McKelvie and Gillen do when they work together. They’re both great at finding small real-life touchpoints, whether a location or a pop song, that make everything around them feel credible.