Spelunkoetry: What are the Best Words? What is their Best Order?

Here we must diverge from the poetic definition a bit. In poetry the ‘best words’ will carry with them the perfect literal and metaphoric meaning for their specific situation, the perfect emotional resonance through implications or cultural baggage from the word’s use history, as well as encompassing the perfect sound, cadence and metre. While still a factor in Spelunky’s epigrams, the latter factors about the words’ phonology matter less here.

This seems the best place for the ‘this is all subjective’ disclaimer. Language is a slippery fish. Consider yourself disclaimed. Continue reading

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Spelunkoetry

The first in a series, closer examination of the epigraphs themselves will follow in later articles…

Nearly every part of Spelunky is procedurally generated. Not only the levels, but the positioning of the desert rocks and trees Spelunky Guy treks past when you boot the game, and the little epigraph that appears over this scene.

These three lines are the closest the game comes to having a plot. The camera pans down from the blazing desert sun, and as sand-laden winds whisper and rustle the palm fronds a diminutive adventurer, insignificant to the vastness of the desert, strides purposefully among the dunes:

With the desert stretching behind me,

I squeezed the whip at my side,

And felt the gods smiling upon me.

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Super Mario 64 and Freedom, Part 2

Continued from Part 1.

 

What I only realised recently is how the game teaches you that you don’t have to play the stars in order on the very first level. Right at the beginning of the game you have no choice. You must tackle star one on level one -‘Big Bob-omb on the Summit’.

After being dropped in you’re taught how to read/speak to things. This is the only thing the game forcibly teaches you, as it is the only thing it can’t teach you through reading or speaking to things, all of which is optional. The game encourages you just learned on a friendly, fuchsia explosive (remember, this is Mario), but you don’t have to.

If you do elect to, he/she/it confirms what would probably be your natural inclination based on the star’s name: to head to the top of the level’s only hill, where the personable pink ordinance tells you an important bad-guy is waiting.

Your path to this moustachioed munition however takes you right past a caged star in plain sight, guarded by a huge Chained Chomp (a massive, vicious metal ball with teeth and eyes, for those unfamiliar) whose chain is held in place by a wooden stake hammered into the ground.

You know you can ground-pound (If you read the manual. This is the 90s.), and that post looks awful stomp-able. But surely, it wouldn’t let you get that star this early… would it? Dodging the chomp, probably taking a few hits and retreating to get some health-giving coins [insert satirical comment on US health system/future of the NHS], you eventually land the three required butt-slams to drive the thing completely into the ground, freeing the chomp. Liberated, the beast galumphs in happiness, smashing the cage before bounding away to freedom. You grab the star, and upon re-entering the level discover that it was actually the sixth (of six). The blinkers are off.

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Super Mario 64 and Freedom, Part 1

So shortly before it stopped, ByteXplosion was putting together a collab piece for Nintendo’s 125th anniversary where we all contributed around 200 words. This was mine:

Even with all my nostalgia for it, playing Super Mario 64 isn’t as amazing as it once was.

It’s of its time. The controls now feel a little stiff, sure; but that’s not it. We’re simply too used to 3D now.

Before Spyro, Banjo, Ocarina of Time, Grand Theft Auto III and Skyrim there was this. You pushed the stick and – provided there was ground under him – Mario would keep going in that direction, jumping over and belly-sliding through anything in his way. This doesn’t sound much, but you have to imagine you’d never played a 3D game before; not even Doom-style shooters or into-the-camera Star Fox.

The game’s progression matched this newfound sense of freedom. You were checked by star totals, the castle was split into thirds by Bowser levels. That’s about it. You could stay on one level getting all the stars in order and move on to the next when you’re good and ready, even ‘skipping’ levels by farming enough stars on previous ones, or do the bare minimum on each level to see everything new as quickly as possible, the freedom was such you didn’t even have to do the stars within a level in order…  and I’m out of words. Might have to do a standalone article on this.

As the ending hints, I approached the editor to see if he was interested in a full article and got the go ahead. Tbh I probably would’ve written it for my own (this) blog had he not be interested anyway. But before even the first, collaborative piece could go up, the site was discontinued. Here is the follow up article. Continue reading

Literally Taking the P*ss: Ten New Faces That Should’ve Been in Smash Bros 4

In the run up to the new Smash Bros., it seemed like everyone who knew that Smash Bros. is a Nintendo-ey crossover fighting game and not an obscure 80’s band was reeling off lists of characters they’d like.

Thankfully this is over. Let’s celebrate with another list.

(This nonsense was inspired by the wording in the title of Ewan Moore’s list from right after the Villager/Wii Fit Trainer/Mega Man reveal in June 2013. Remember, to quote my own ‘about’ page: “…likes wordplay, perhaps a little too much”.)

It starts off relatively sane and gets sillier as the list goes on…

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