LISA Session 06 Review
The United Front of the Bee Team Drag Queens
Why I played it:
Sweet mom of mayonnaise it's been a long time since I started playing this game. You'd never know if it I didn't tell you, but it's been a month since I started up LISA, and that month has brought me through some other experiences, none of which were interesting, nor as impactful as my decision to write a review for every hour of a game, or every episode of a television show. Yeah, I've spent two weeks of September reviewing Bojack Horseman, though the other two weeks I spent writing eleven thousand words about the faultiness of game reviews. And though that taught me a lot, it didn't have the same in-your-face shotgun burst of knowledge as I get when I sit down and really try to understand a work.
Maybe I'm just waiting for the opportunity to actually play the thing, given that my life nowadays is a series of events with the vain hope that they all barrel towards something that improves me further down the line. Even with my arcane sleep schedule and phoning-in of anything that isn't essential work, I still find I have zero time to spend on doing what I want. Strange I still find time for Saints Row 2, so I suppose I have the time, but I'm just spending it on doing things I enjoy as opposed to what I think I should be doing.
I don't quite know why I stopped playing LISA. I enjoyed it a lot - despite my last review levying a criticism about the arbitrary death of party members and everything generally going to shit. Perhaps I felt some degree of helplessness with the game that caused me to abandon my session and move on to other things, like Bojack Horseman. I went into that show with the expectation it would be one of the best things I've ever seen, and it ended up being fucking tosh. I'm happy that I wrote the reviews, learning a lot about tosh in the process, though I wonder how things would have turned out if I sticked with LISA through a continuous loop and not have to segment the sessions through a month.
If you assume that my credibility is shot up worse than a United States elementary school (cheap shot - like at the school), then I assure you that my memory has been sufficiently jogged by my other reviews, and my personal experiences with the game, that I remember every important detail about the game. That's part of the reason my reviews exist: to document the important details. One of my goals, and I have many unwritten goals, is to create a reviewing atmosphere that helps you understand the game after you've played it while informing you of points that you'd understand without doing so. In a sense, my reviews can be read before and after you play a game, and I like the versatility of that system.
Because of this natural consequence, I went back and looked at the reviews intently (as I do with all my work, to help with self-reflection and growing as a writer), and understood what the heck I was on about. My memory was as freshened up as a cheap date, and my anticipation growing like the diabetic waiting for his insulin in a United (States / Kingdom / Nations / Arab Emirates / Front of the People's Republic of China) hospital. As to whether my audience understands what the heck I'm on about, I don't have a hecking clue.
Having reminded myself of the drag queen town, I then set out, slowly, eventually, deliberately, to continue on with LISA, as to simply quit a review partway through it is like presenting an unfinished painting to MOMA - though that didn't stop the expressionists from making bank. To abruptly end a series is a disservice to both you and me; you because you lose out on the opportunity to learn, and me because I lose out on the opportunity to learn how to teach. It's a secret, a poorly-kept one that should be made even less kept, that the less you write for a short period of time, the less likely you are to write, snowballing into a lazy lazy bugger. I have ambition, and I won't let it go away!
How it works:
The Gang, or what was left of the original Gang, finds themselves at the new, second, hub world, which you can tell is new because of all of its blue grass and blockaded rocks. It's your standard RPG trope of "here are some rocks, please blow them up". As to why The Gang doesn't use their small army to shoot, burn, blast, or just pick up and move away the rocks, is beyond me. I would suggest that the game make a parody out of the trope, but the last time an RPG made by one man (and like five others) tried to do that, it ended up spawning more goat porn than [bestiality pun removed for being inappropriate for children].
So The Gang fucks off the the conveniently not-walled-off-by-rocks-fuck-physics door next to him, shaped like an indie game developer if they were wearing their coat with all their money sewn into it, like that one Richie Rich comic with his uncle he had a mid-life crisis about being fat, but it ended up he wasn't fat at all and only had money sewn into his coats, so he didn't have to worry about the issues of diabetes, lifelong physical disabilities, and constant social pressures that an SJWs will tell you not to fat shame despite all of its horrible, horrible afflictions. They then meet the Banana Gang, which featured like seven bananas, tops, and was disappointed that they were holed up in one spot despite having the opportunity to "go bananas" anywhere they choose. Get it? Go bananas? It's funny because it's in quotation marks.
After that, The Gang faces off against the world-famous Gridiron and also Hammers being Thrown at you on a Construction Girder Champions, who all died in one cycle and left some cigs with them. Sections like these, where you're forced to fight a bunch of hooligans charging at you one after another, is little more than padding, as they are not threatening at all, and give just enough experience points that you feel the need to kill all of them. I wonder what the purpose of this section was when it only provided one joke and three hidden items, with not enough fun or whismy in it to justify its existence. I suppose I'm saying this section is jank. It is jank.
After completing it twice, because I fell off a cliff due to misjudging the distance of a bicycle jump (it's the game's fault for not giving me an arc reticle), I was glad to doing anything but fight off a bunch of burly dudes in gridiron gear - so thank you very much, LISA, for letting me fight off a bunch of burly dudes in construction gear. The enemy design isn't uninspired so much as it has literally nothing else to take inspiration from but dudes thanks to the game's story and themes. Dudes are dudes and some dudes are burly dudes and there are just enough burly dudes for the burly dudes to burly register.
The Gang drove a bulldozer into the hearts and souls of ten thousand (actually four) living, breathing, feeling men, all with their own families and desires, and all who made for some tasty experience points. The cardinal rule of RPGs, you see, is to kill everything that gives experience, roleplaying be damned. You only live once, and when you die, that's it. Oh, I'm talking about Dungeons and Dragons now. Fun fact: that game is so condemned that you couldn't even pay a pedophile to play it with you (source: me [note: i'm not the pedo]).
I liked the bulldozer scene because it was a simple change of pace from the constant fighting that you had to deal with for the past twenty minutes - and I assure you, doing the same thing for twenty minutes straight gets hard on the nerves, which is why I will never understand the mentality of speedrunning blokes and mobile game players. Alright, I understand why. They're probably addicted to the game, and those who don't are relying on some sort of reward in order to keep them going despite adverse effects, which is similar to addiction but instead comes from a stimulus outside of that from the addicting device. I say all of this given my master's degree in clowning.
After a brief fight, and the life and times of some poor bastard who spent his entire life trying to become a bulldozer driver, but ended up with nothing but tragedy due to his complete inability to use a bulldozer (just like my clowning), The Gang gets a bundle of TNT, which they promptly used to
commit domestic terrorism fuck off somewhere else without blowing up the rocks. Who knows what could be beyond those rocks? Too damn spooky for my tastes, a bit like that section where I had to stand on a pillar for three minutes straight and step away from the computer for fear of jumpscares (spoiler: there weren't any).
So after killing the Undertale kid in a dark cave, The Gang found themselves in a swamp. Even though the Treaty of Memesailles allows me to create an arbitrary amount of funny references and other such yuk-yuks, I have decided not to exercise that right, as it would not be beating a dead horse more so than it would be cremating it, hosting a mock funeral for the ashes, burying it in a coffin, ejecting that coffin into space, having it burst into the flames over the surface of our sun, and having the light rays reflect back onto Earth, where the radiation is then captured into a different horse's corpse, and beaten with a crowbar.
After a few brief encounters with a swamp and me running into it to look for the magical fish people, much like that bit in Cave Story where you had to drown yourself to poke around some asshole's button, I had to reload my save four different times in two minutes, tripling my death ratio, not that anybody really cares. It's a good thing the crows were oddly generous this time around, showing up every twenty minutes instead of every sixty! You may think that's fucking incredible. Trust me though, that the added frequency helps, especially when they explode after use.
And then Brad has a hallucination that was probably not important but showed us the kids he managed to enslave into the Israeli Defense Forces, followed by walking into a drag queen camp and having them beat up somebody who stiffed the whores. This game is fucking incredible. I'd say "I fucking love this game", but that would cheapen the emotion of love. So imagine some alternate universe version of me (preferably in some sexy thigh-highs) where I did say that, and you'll know my feelings - similar to the feeling I got after saving and quitting, as to wonder what the bloody hell I decided to do instead of playing LISA is beyond me.
What I felt:
Bloody fucking hell, I didn't realise I would be describing a whole article's worth of detail out of fifty minutes of gameplay. I suppose the purpose is to show by example, and teach using what the game gives you the good principles of game design. The trouble with that, is that I have to actually do something with the examples, beyond just saying "look at this thing you could be playing but are instead reading about on a Friday night, God you're pathetic!". Yes, the obligatory charity titters and other such jokes are there, though that's about as token as Pharrel in a Snoop song, or Jay Z in a Kanye song, or Drake in his own songs.
When I was replaying this game for the first time in a month, I wondered what it was that made it so endearing to me. There's the amount of imagination on display where all the characters and levels are unique enough to be their own, with the use of expressions and dialogue to make us relate to them. It's a design philosophy that permeates through all the great RPGs, such as Under Mario Superstar Thousand Year Partners In Earth Time Paper Super Saga Luigi Dream Bound Tale Bros And Knuckles 3. Woe be to whoever read that mess.
When you look at LISA, you find a level of care and cohesion that you don't find in other games, the type of care that could only be developed by a single, crazy, man. If you went up to a big business publisher and told them about this great idea for a game featuring an apocalypse where the only women are drag queens and rape victims where everybody is either a cunt or a whacko, then they'd throw you out the window under the bus and into the sewers with the rest of the indy rats to form the Good old Games society to reject developers just like them, because you can't be bullied without being a bully, too.
It's unique, but not in the "Look at me look at me!" way that a game like Under Mario Superstar Thousand Year Partners In Earth Time Paper Super Saga Luigi Dream Bound Tale Bros And Knuckles 2 tries to be, where they throw a bunch of references, memes, and predictable subversions of tropes into the mix in an attempt to earn the praise of people who are too ignorant to understand that, at its core, it's ripping off ideas that aren't commonly ripped off, and so people consider it unique. Unlike UMSTYPIETPSSLDBTBAK 2 (commonly shorted to UMST2PIE), LISA doesn't feel stale and disingenuine after you've been trolling through TVTropes for an unreasonable amount of time. I assure you that there are still tropes, though they fall firmly outside the Whedon/Hussie/Fox/Holkins universe, where sarcasm is like ebonics if ebonics was fucking everywhere.
What I learned:
In retrospect, I suppose there was nothing about this review that needed to be carved in half like the executors of Charles 1's death warrant, and though I don't want to call it an obvious and poorly-executed attempt at giving me more time to play a game that takes an hour to play through and two hours to write about, I honestly thought I would have written more about my appreciation for LISA, but there was nothing that I didn't already express and the rest would just be gushing. It's generally safe to assume that if I'm not bitching about some feature, bitching being another reason for the short length of the section given that it's exhausting to do so, then I don't have any criticisms at the moment, and my opinion can be derived from the implications I make during my prose.
Pardon me for upping the intellectual quality of this review. Given that LISA lives by and large off the world it created, any attempts to sacrifice the quality of that world by going for cheap references or "witty" humour, if wit was defined by any attempt at a joke regardless of its actual cleverness or originality, would cause LISA to lose half of the reason why it's so damn good. One half of the game relies on a plot filled with characters you are actually invested in - which is helped by them shutting the fuck up during any gameplay sections, causing you to fill their personalities in yourself - and the other half relies on the gameplay being damn hard. If it settled, for instance, by creating an easier game with cheap laughs, its originality would suffer severely.
I am then glad the game wasn't made by an idiot. This is not to say that the WHFH Universe is full of idiots. Never assume that somebody who makes millions of dollars on blatant pandering is an idiot. The correct term is exploiter. Panderer. Lowest-common-denominator. They bullshit their way through the arts by making nothing artistic, instead selling the idea that they are. It's modern art for the modern age - nothing of substance except a bear made of metal, and the artists selling the bear on an idea greater than it. They are the enemies of culture, the white noise in a world full of clutter, and continue to clutter to meet their profit margins. They are sell-outs. They are not idiots.
The game was made by somebody with the integrity to never go for the cheapest laugh or the lowest blow, instead choosing to make something meaningful instead. He will not get rich. Getting rich is no consolation to a shitty product - when Adam Sandler dies, his money will be worthless, and his potential will be wasted. When the WHFH universe disappears, it will affect nothing more than what existed within its universe. Nobody will miss them when they're gone. Those who will are nobody worth mentioning.
Total time: 04:51:48
A conspicuous lack of bananas - Froghand.
Today's page was updated on October 15, 2016!
The only thing stopping me from wearing stocking is ending up like a /g/tard.