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Worth Reading: 05/18/2012

You have 20 seconds to click on this article and discover what games you might have missed and what stories passed you by.

So weird to think this year will be my...12th time heading down to LA for E3. 12 years! Man. What?
So weird to think this year will be my...12th time heading down to LA for E3. 12 years! Man. What?

As I write this, Jeff should be heading to the airport, having finished a week of “judging” games in Los Angeles. It sounded long and grueling. We haven’t booked many E3 appointments yet, as Jeff’s time with so many of the games that will be present at E3 proves very valuable in determining what’s actually worth our time.

It’s truly hard to have a good sense of what we’re in store for at E3 this year. I’m actually pleased BioShock Infinite won’t be making an appearance--the less of that I see before release, and the longer they work on it, the better. As in years past, I’m most looking forward to wandering the show floor and being pleasantly surprised.

We’re hearing details on Unreal Engine 4, but there won’t be a console with the leap-frogging visual technology we have come to commonly associate with a brand-new console. Still, I’m intrigued by Wii U, and even if the tablet proves nothing more than a clever gimmick for a few games made in-house at Nintendo, that’s enough for me. We haven’t heard from Retro Studios in a while, and if the rumors of that studio rushing to have a game in time for launch are true, I’d be awful pleased. Those guys have proven trustworthy.

Such predictions are, perhaps, better left for the podcast. We have a few more until E3 kicks off.

I’m off to slay some evil things in Dragon’s Dogma.

Hey, You Should Play This:

You’re getting a blind recommendation here, but that’s because this episodic adventure has been recommended by so many others I trust. If the name sounds familiar, that’s because The Journey Down was, technically, already released. The developers spent a huge amount of time revamping The Journey Down, adding a voiced cast, more story and puzzles, high-definition visuals, and perhaps the greatest bullet point of all: more jazz. You can still play the award-winning original for free on the game’s website, but PC and Mac versions of the updated edition are now available. iPhone and iPad users can look forward to a touchable port soon, and Linux is on the docket, as well.

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Adventure games are the the definition of peaceful, casual play. There is no rush, no death state. McPixel is a point ‘n click adventure game, but one that throws traditional notions out the window, favoring a frantic style of puzzle solving that has more in common with the WarioWare series than anything else. You have 20 seconds to solve each puzzle in McPixel, but just like WarioWare, success isn’t everything. Even if you click around the screen for 20 seconds and explode into a puff of smoke, the game moves on, the next puzzle approaches. Click, click, click!

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It’s always bothered me BioWare attached relationships in Mass Effect to achievements. Rather than encouraging players to inhabit their characters, it inspired them to trigger the game’s poorly scripted sex scenes and wait for the familiar blip. Denis Farr played a gay character in Mass Effect, even when the series didn’t have conversation options to outright support it. That ultimately changed in Mass Effect 3, and the series-encompassing story Farr tells about how his character finally came to embrace his feelings proves a moving meta-narrative about Commander Shepard.

More than others mediums, games can be enjoyed worldwide. There are fewer barriers to entry--mechanics transcend language. Our cultural understandings of traits like sexuality, however, are a far different story. There’s been a slowly brewing controversy about the Elins race in recent MMO Tera. Elins are a child-like race that have some key additional pieces of clothing in the version that launched outside of South Korea. The clothing decision caused ripples among observers and fans of the game. You need only look at the YouTube comments for the video featured above and in Wesley Yin-Poole’s piece for Euogamer for a taste of the perceptual divisions on this issue.

And Some Other Stuff:

Patrick Klepek on Google+