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The Vintage Gaming Chain in my Hometown is Dead (Funeral Dirge)

I grew up mostly in Fort Wayne, IN, a shitty Midwestern industrial city of about 250,000. There's not much to mention about Fort Waste, but one bright spot has always been McVan's Video Games, an awesome chain of stores that specialized in vintage and collectible games. Growing up, a trip to McVan's was like a trip to Santa's workshop. That place was fucking awesome. They had absolutely everything you could imagine: from the rarest Neo-Geo games down to the most obscure accessories (I remember seeing a U-Force there for Christ's sake). Of course, along with this comprehensive archive came some salty prices, and I personally quit buying things from them many years ago when I started using ebay to get used games and accessories instead. But I still loved going in there and just looking around and talking to the awesome people who worked there. Some of them had been there for many years and were really cool people. They had giant flat screens set up all over with various consoles at the ready for you to just try things out, or just play some games with them and shoot the shit. Made Gamestop look like the ATM of gaming retailers. So it really sucked to bump across this news story about their closing:

I suppose all of these places are marked for death, but it was still a shock to see it actually happen. Being in the online retail business myself, I don't see how they can compete anymore. But it's still very sad to see a hometown staple with such a focused appeal go down like this (btw, this actually happened a few months ago, but I've been living in or around Detroit for 4 years, so I just heard about it).

However, despite my sadness over the death of McVan's, it's been 7 or 8 years since I've given them any money, so I guess I can't really bitch too much about it. But now that they're gone, I guess I realize how much I actually enjoy the act of perusing through physical media in a real store. Just scrolling through lists of thumbnails on ebay doesn't have that same magic. Which makes me wonder whether we're all going to be missing out on something special when the only things you get from a brick and mortar store anymore are toilet paper and milk.


Will games hold critics the same way films do?

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is considered by many gaming critics to be the apex of single-player gaming. Or at least has been considered. Maybe I'm getting it wrong, but the sentiment for Ocarina's supremacy doesn't seem as strong as it was 10 to 12 years ago, when it was near universal among critics, and certainly not thin among average gamers. Contrast that with Citizen Kane, which since the late 50s (it came out in '41 but didn't ascend to its current status until much later), has been the boss universal in the world of film. Kane has survived decades of transition in the film industry, multiple generation shifts, and massive cultural change with its status not only intact, but stronger. There aren't very many film professionals, historians, or critics who disagree with its position atop just about every major critics' poll in the world, year after year after year. Despite what the public at large thinks about it, it's canonized.

When Ocarina came out, a lot of critics made comparisons, and it was often referred to as the Citizen Kane of gaming. But for whatever reasons, it doesn't seem to have held onto that feeling. Sure, most everyone agrees that it's a great, influential game, but there isn't anything approaching the consistency or staying power that you see with something like Kane. I remember hearing Adam Sessler just a while back refer to Uncharted 2 as the greatest single player game of all time. Really? I've heard similar comments from other high profile critics that seem to suggest that Ocarina has pretty much been shot off its perch.

Is this because Ocarina is, in reality, not the Kane of gaming? If it was in 1998, what's changed so quickly? It seems to me that there's something fundamentally different about the way that game criticism works here. Is it more fairweather, more flavor-of-the-month? Or was it just too premature to be firing off comparisons to something as seemingly entrenched in critical lore as Kane? Does the constantly evolving technology make it more likely that older games will be overlooked than, say, a black and white film that is, from a technical perspective, more similar to its newer film counterparts? Or, and I think this is far more the culprit, have the endless retreads and sequels that drive the gaming industry--much more so than in the film industry--stretched the original magic of Ocarina too thin, leading to burnout with the series in general?

That's sad for me to see because, for my money, the N64 Zeldas taken together do represent the pinnacle of gaming thus far in my life. I may be wrong, but my sense of it is that the exceeding reliance upon formula beaten to death ad infinitum is leading to a sort of attrition of appreciation for the pinnacles older games have achieved. One could say so what, who cares, and you might be right, but there's a sort of heritage I see being lost in all this.

There never was a sequel to Citizen Kane, obviously, and it would be considered sacrilege to even suggest it. There have been 13 Zelda games released since Ocarina, and no one bats an eye. Personally, I got worn out on it after Twilight Princess. It was just a souped up Ocarina, exact same game, with a little Link to the Past dark world/light world stuff thrown in. Fun, well made, but enough's enough. I want to keep my memories of Ocarina intact. And I want it to stay on that perch until something other than itself knocks it off.


Nerkle Strum Dog Sittin on My Chiba Suit

I couldn't play crumb snaps in the boddle pod because my choker let its fangs go black. And Johnny Herald came runnin at me with his fists full of grippe and sauce that played out of his starfish like yellow crumbled paper. "On to the marshes!" I yelled from the grease filled pit where the dogs let the marbles roll out of their asses and stack 20 high like monoliths with nowhere to go. And they were lonely. And they made lovers jealous with their sandy lips and burnt rubber tongues that smelled like chore boy and sweat and sex and brought on all the pinings of a sanitized life about to go dark. And I spelled it out in the air with a twirly, serpentine stroke: "Don't. Go. To bed." We can't afford towels or detergent anymore so get your straps oiled cause this is going to sting like some kind of hell, and I'm not going to hold your hand or teach you how to potty. Obedience James. I'll tell deadly jokes that turn spanksters into globs of red pudding and gristle. Weapons of lesser hypocrisies and median household incomes. My green machine will raise hell on turbo street. Your punches will land like the top scoop. Don't tell anyone I told you this, but I will not guide any more of your pregnancies. Find another lackey. I've sent my letter of resignation to corporate and I turned in my keys to the slob who picks his asses. I'm now 20 years older and 20 stacks higher. Don't pull too hard or the whole thing will get sucked down and we'll be scootin like dogs all night, draggin our asses on the pavement. Don't move anymore. It just creates confusion. Stand very still. Wait for it. Stop writing. It's over. Good.