Category Archives: pop culture please

PCP: Stick Fighters vs. Snakes

Watching Wednesday #24 – Well Rounded

I took most of this week off, so I’ve been trying to do some recovery type stuff to feel better physically and emotionally. Part of that has been, admittedly, just lazing about and enjoying some good ol’ fashioned media. Berserk continues to be a fascinating, disturbing journey and Shadow of War is still pretty fun and all.

This is a simpler pleasure. It’s a neat little indie game (made by a frequent poster on the /r/gamephysics subreddit ) played by some neat dudes with some neat editing.

I mean, it’s got a “Guns that only shoot snakes” mode and some friends having genuine fun.

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PCP: Bang Bang

Monotony Monday #24 – More Memories

Bang Bang for Your Buck

The short of it: It’s just a dope track with a sweet sample. 

Young Buck’s life has been pretty rough the past few years. IRS raids, shootings, prison, and property auctions are just a few of the hardships he’s faced.

That list doesn’t even include his exile from and eventual rejoining of G-Unit. Of course, that’s a whole issue besides the beef– he’s a dude best known for being a part of 50 Cent’s crew. He isn’t a well-known name anymore in today’s waves of Soundcloud and social media rappers, and, for the most part, he’s a forgotten part of the early aughts scene.

And it’s a damn shame because he made some dope music.

The sample of Nancy Sinatra’s “Bang Bang” makes a beautiful hook and those little strings just make this track hit that sweet, moody spot. Buck delivers with this serious, unhappy tone that compliments the almost sad brags that make up the reality of a life that can end with a single bang.

PCP: The Witcher 2

Fun Fridayz #23 – Forget Fighting

Something Witcher This Way Comes

 

I’m playing it without having played The Witcher. So I watched the recaps and read the wikis and felt pretty good about starting up halfway into this world. Squirrels were the rogue non-humans, the classic guerrillas that dance the line between freedom fighter and terrorist. Witchers were roided out monster slayers, equipped with enough magic and mutations to make them nearly as monstrous as the creatures they hunted. Kingdoms were fighting for lands. Pretty classic fantasy stuff.

So I got along with the world perfectly. The things that tripped me up were the relationships. I knew The Witcher used amnesia to allow the player to create their own relationships with characters. These relationships, as fresh as they were, still carried over into The Witcher 2— including Triss, Geralt’s (pretty much for everyone’s first playthough at least) romantic partner.

I can kind of deal with Geralt’s best friends, since the stereotypical bard and dwarf characters are pretty easy to enjoy. With Triss, though, I feel like I’m walking down a bridge when I never took the first step on the initial plank.

PCP: Westworld

Watching Wednesday #23 – Wicked Ways

The Wild Wild West (We’re Going Straight to)

The short of it: Pro: excellent plot, storytelling, music, acting, choreography, setting. Con: No giant steampunk spiders

Fine, I’ll say it. Westworld kicks off harder than Game of Thrones.

To be fair, androids broaching sentience and a park for the darkest of human desires is easier to sell than medieval political intrigue. Both have plenty of radical murders though.

Westworld delivers this puzzle that leaves you grasping at straws rather than pieces, because it can’t be that obvious. And then it is. Then it isn’t.

My edge lord description of it is “It’s like if Jurassic Park had androids and didn’t suck.” The idea of a whole “world” dedicated to man’s recreation of life is fascinating; the fact it’s a world meant for amusement, not reflection or evolution, opens up a whole new level of questions.

PCP: Ramin Djawadi’s “Paint It Black”

Monotony Monday #23 – Morphing Maniacal Melodies

A Fresh Coat of Paint It Black

The short of itWestworld manage to reinvigorate one of the most tired covers out there by pairing it with near perfect choreography. 

So I just started watching Westworld (guess what’s coming up for WW #23) and holy smokes, cowboy. It’s hard to turn off, partially because of its captivating performances and stories and partially because I accidentally kicked the remote out of reach.

Point is, it’s really good. Some of the scenes are just so masterfully composed that I keep replaying them in my head. The foremost scene that’s been on a loop in my brain is the heist scene.

Everything is just so radical. The quick spins during gunfire, the sweet lines, and, most of all, that kickass rendition of “Paint It Black.”

Let’s be honest though, it’s a song with one too many covers.

From the good,

to the okay,

to the no-one-asked-for-this version.

Point being, this song is very easy to screw up in its application. It’s pretty tired as a song itself; hell, there’s basically an entire game based on the song.

So when the heist scene rolls up and those woodwinds and horns start swelling, damnit, it makes sense that it costs $40,000 a day to stay in Westworld. Rodrigo Santoro’s handsomely scarred face and killer black outfit make him the outlaw of everyone’s dreams, especially when backed by Djawadi’s composing. Everything in this scene just works so well. It’s got me unironically humming that “dun dun dun dun dun dun” every second I’m not watching Westworld.

 

PCP: Layers of Fear

Fun Fridayz #22 – Freaky Frames

Layers of Tears

The short of it: The only thing more impossible than this game’s geometry is not getting super spooked.

An artist starts work on his magnum opus.

A player gets up and turns on the lights.

This is how Layers of Fear starts.

It’s a game without any real direct threat. There are no batteries or night vision cameras, no lockers or beds for hiding places. It’s a journey into delusion and loss and a fair bit of fear.

Jokingly referred to on the internet as “Cabinet and Door Opening Simulator,” most of the game is just opening doors and progressing through the increasingly derelict mansion. That’s it. And it’s fantastic.

Playing on the Xbox One was less fantastic. I know Unity can create beautiful, impressive games and all, but Layers of Fear initially runs terribly. The framerate hovers at around 15 any time you move, controller movement is brutally slow, and interactions feel nearly impossible. Once the options get tweaked (no headbob, lowest field of view, highest sensitivity), the game becomes manageable and, for the most part, stays playable for the rest of the playthrough. Stutters and slowdowns were never quite as surprising as the jumpscares though.

The main mechanic of the game is its use of impossible geometry; in this case, it’s probably better referred to as impossible architecture. The video game instinct to create a mental map is useless in the face of constantly changing hallways and doors that go nowhere. All you can do is go one layer deeper.

PCP: TBFP Spooky’s House of Jumpscares

Watching Wednesday #22 – Wittle Wails

This House is Not a Home

The short of it: It’s a nice showcase of the beauty of embracing tropes. And screaming Canadians.

With Spooktober in the air, I’ve been in dire need for some creeps and crawlies. So I revisited some old Shitstorm videos from Two Best Friends Play. Spooky’s House of Jumpscares is arguably one of the top three videos in the six year old series (I may be saving the number one for a later WW).

Now rebranded as Spooky’s Jumpscare Mansion, Spooky’s House of Jumpscares is an adorable little romp in a mansion full of jumpscares. And a few escaped monsters. And did I mention the scares?

I adore the Two Best Friends for their ability to make me appreciate or notice all of the little intricacies and details I miss in video games, from trope subversion to design flaws.

Spooky’s is a delight, due in part to Spooky herself and her adorably funny speeches. Pat’s little babby screams, on the other hand, make this into a masterpiece.

PCP: Overcooked

Fun Fridayz #21 – Fire and Friends

Overcooked, Overused, Underplayed

The short of itIt’s frustration with a smile, like an extended Mario Party minigame. 

So I was lucky enough to have a buddy come over for a day, meaning several drinks and video games were consumed. One of those was Overcooked, a coop cooking game where changing environments and a shrinking timer push you and your fellow cooks over the edge into full-blown screaming/laughing matches.

It’s pretty popular on YouTube. 

Beyond the fact that Let’s Play bait is getting to become an annoying subgenre of games nowadays, this seriously underplays the value of this game.

Sure, it’s fun watching your favorite ensemble shout at each other, but Overcooked is one of the few new games that wholeheartedly embraces local multiplayer. Stick this game in the oven with a few friends, and it’s guaranteed to be a lot tastier than Part 231 of a series that lasts exactly as long as the ad revenue does.

PCP: Weirdo

Watching Wednesday #21 – Weirdo Wonder

BECAUSE I’M A CREEP, I’M A WEIRDO

The short of it: It’s early Donald showing off how versatile and delightful this now award-winning Renaissance man is. 

It’s been fun watching Donald Glover’s career evolve along with his talents. His original start in the Derrick Comedy videos was a great piece of early YouTube history. Musically, his transition from mcdj to Childish Gambino marked a bold step forward for his creative output. His writing on 30 Rock was even better than his occasional cameos (“Who told?”), and, of course, his work on Community was one of the highest points of the show’s original run. This is right around when this special came out, after Glover established himself behind the scenes but before the world really embraced him as a creative force.

This special is a Glover frozen in time– it’s a more raw form of him doing what he thinks is expected of him. It’s just a friendly hop away from the Community jokes, despite his warning at the beginning of the show. That isn’t to say this is worse than his later stuff, but it’s just a nice time capsule packed with jokes.

On an unrelated note, I’m not sure what to think of this uploader’s description:

Can someone use your emotions to blackmail you into doing something. Anyway I wouldn’t know. Enjoy!!
Well, thanks anyway Willard.

PCP: rockstar

Monotony Monday #22 – Malone Moan

‘Cause we all just wanna be big rockstars  And live in hilltop houses, drivin’ 15 cars

The short of it: Post Malone’s sing-songy success works with Savage’s savage sonnets.

I’m not the biggest fan of Post Malone or 21 Savage, although I’ve definitely come around on Savage after his cold delivery finally clicked with me.

So when this track dropped, I clicked on it out of idle curiosity at best.

And damn.

These two young stars are, well, rockstars. Post Malone’s faded, singiness on the hook is catchy as hell and serves as a perfect lead-in to 21 Savage’s follow up. While he may have gotten famous off of his flat, cold delivery, he does a brilliant job replicating Malone’s melody. It makes his braggadocious verse just the right amount of coy and threatening.