Beyond Good and Evil 2 is the cynicism-killer

Coming to video games when I did, in the late nineties/early noughties, there were certain enshrined truths passed down from the mount by journos: Miyamoto was a genius, but Iwata deserves his due; GoldenEye 007 is the multiplayer experience to beat; Suikoden II is a classic, and you need to shell out however much money necessary to play it; Beyond Good and Evil is one of the greatest games ever made, and perhaps as a result of this unlikely achievement, we would never ever get a sequel. These were all things that had been decided long before I arrived, and were simply to be accepted as fact.

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Bleeping Sickness BONUS EPISODE: The Special E3 Episode, Part 1

As a b-b-b-bonus Bleeping Sickness only one week after the last episode, we gathered together some of the internet’s hottest #content #influencers to break down this year’s E3 conference: what worked, what didn’t, how we feel about the dabbing panda. Full shownotes/links to our Twitter shitposts below!

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Podcast Episode #3: The One About Games We Were Obsessed With

In an unsure and chaotic world of video game podcasting, only Bleeping Sickness can offer a strong and stable collection of fucking nerds arguing about which Star Ocean game was the best. Maybe not that strong. Or particularly stable, since this episode we’re talking about the games we became dangerously, life-ruiningly obsessed with. Full show notes below the jump!

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The Persistence of Memory Cards

Memory is fucking weird, man. The other morning I woke up with “Scatman (Ski-Ba-Bop-Ba-Dop-Bop)” in my head, a song I hadn’t listened to willingly in at least a decade, and whose melody and “lyrics” I didn’t realise I had expounded precious grey matter to retain. On the other hand, sometimes I can’t recall the name of a friend I’ve known for the better part of ten years, which is as inexplicable a phenomenon as it is highly embarrassing. As with almost everything that goes on up in our craniums, nobody can quite agree on how memory works, or who we should trust when they start theorising all over the place: psychologists expound on short-term, long-term and context-dependent memory; neuroscientists put people into big machines and look at what parts of the brain “light up” when recalling particular subjects; and writers expect readers to pick up multi-volume reminisces about the first time they ate madeleine dipped in tea or got their end away. Memory in video games is a comparatively simple affair. Everything is remembered for you, whether it’s through a system of passwords or memory cards or auto-saves backed up to the cloud.

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Is it too easy to kill in games?

It’s 10 o’clock on a Saturday night and a man sat on the table next to me in the Manchester Piccadilly Starbucks is shooting people in the face. He’s playing a game on his iPad where you first select from a selection of rifles — hunting, military — and then aim them at medium-poly targets on what looks like an everyday city street. He drags his finger across the touch screen and pinches to zoom his scope at a target. He presses a button and the view switches, the camera follows the journey of the bullet through the air in slow motion. It sails across a road, over the tops of blocky parked cars rendered in simple polygons, and then tears through a man’s cheekbone. His jaw starts to fall off as a low-res cloud of gore blooms. WELL DONE! Says the game. ONE MORE CRIMINAL OFF THE STREETS! And I sip my cold cup of tea and wonder if there’s not something to this reactionary idea of video games deadening us to violence.

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Whatever happened to the Japanese video game rebels?

I don’t know if it’s Trump, the return of Twin Peaks or just the democratisation of cute animal videos thanks to phone cameras and YouTube, but compared to the rest of the world, Japan doesn’t seem so crazy these days. Time was that we in the West were transfixed with whatever the latest insane transmission from the East was: hilariously cruel prank shows, another hyper-violent Takashi Miike film or, for a brief shining period during the early-noughties, a spate of wildly inventive (and invariably quite cheaply made) video games. The likes of God Hand, Katamari Damacy and Earth Defense Force felt of a piece with that reality show competition where tried to cry the most (in volume of tears) within a strict time period, or the career of Beat Takeshi, as viewed through the prism of an entirely different culture on the other side of the world.

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Cahiers du Jeux Vidéo #1: Mafia III and editing

Cahiers du Jeux Vidéo is a series of posts comparing the narrative mechanisms of video games and movies with (hopefully) a bit more depth rigour than your average commentator breathlessly comparing Halo preorders to box office receipts. It’s named after foundational French film magazine Cahiers du Cinéma , because I’m a pretentious prick.

For the most part, TV shows or movies do not show you how the sausage gets made. There isn’t time, unless you’re Alfred Hitchcock, to show your lead character on the loo in a break between plot beats. You don’t need a forty-minute interlude of somebody driving on a freeway to understand how someone got from one location to the next between scenes. The magic of editing allows time to be compressed, the boring bits skipped over, leaving audiences with a lean meal of all the best bits. This is how it’s always worked. We are all on board with it. We understand that most of the “process” of these character’s lives and stories get skipped over. Video games, for the most part, are free of editing. They’re all about playing the process.

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Experiencing Distant Worlds

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This year two of the most consistently frustrating things in the world turn 30: the Final Fantasy series, and myself. It’s no exaggeration to say one of the two carries with it a legacy of euphoric highs and staggering lows (spoiler: it’s not me…mostly) but has one aspect which has remained solid from its inception in the late eighties to its modern day incarnations, and that’s the music.

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