Shitty Vaporwave Indie Game Reviews
You can't spell aesthetic without sthet
Before I am publicly executed by the Japanese courts for cultural appropriation, I have been given this opportunity to state some final words regarding my incorrect adoption of the term "vaporwave". Now, I'd like to interject for a moment, that what I've been calling "vaporwave" this entire time, is indeed, not that. While vaporwave has a long and proud history associated with it, and is not plagiarism as decreed by YouTuber dendithesmonk, who has clearly shown a callous disregard for world culture and the history of copyright when they have made their comment on "lmao they slowed it down and called it their own rippppp off". I assure you I won't be voting for their tenure at Harvard this year, even though I gave up my voting rights when I decided to join the "free japan" militia, until I learned that you had to be Japanese to join, and then I got arrested for terrorism.
I have instead appropriated what is known as "outrun", which is a genre that fetishises the 1980s as arbitrarily decreed by a group of Redditors who decided that the best way to make a new genre is to create a circlejerk with absolutely no outside advertising, except for one cross-link on the vaporwave subreddit, and it's at this point where I'm glad to be hanged due to me wasting my fucking life with this garbage. I enjoy that one poster who said that "outrun is not a colour scheme", which makes me look like a complete fucking idiot by pasting my website in neon like Mattel did to that one town by painting everything pink as part of a marketing publicity stunt for Barbie. I'd give a source for that, but I can't find it anywhere, so just look up the first hundred pages of No Logo until you find it. Good enough sourcing for Wikipedia.
While I wanted to kick things off with a bang for vaporwave week, which will not be renamed to "outrun" week, because it isn't outrun, nor "hotline Miami" week, because we talked about more than just Hotline Miami. I suppose it's fair to rename it "blatant view grab" week, because I jumped up fifteen hundred views after I decked my website out in that hideous fucking fashion. The good news is I learned how to animate things in CSS! The bad news is that CSS animations are awful to read. Oh well. Maybe I'll make an actual Outrun art project, involving, shit, I don't know. Hotline Miami recreated entirely in web languages. But then I'll get striked by the copyright vultures, so I'll call it "Bob Lime Boob Slamming" or what have you.
You know what? This entire cultural thing seems to me a bit of a meme. Vaporwave was made as a prank and a bunch of people took it too far, creating one of the best examples of remix culture the Web has ever seen. Outrun is turning into a minor cultural trend, decades of futurism leading us to disappointment and a nostalgia view, not to the past, but for the future that never came. The exploitation of these cultures for arts and commercialism goes against the original intents of the things, which was to thrash against them and say that "we want our cyberpunk future, damn it!". But now we're still being sold a future that hasn't yet come.
I'm going to create a new cultural trend, let's call it "Web Lite". The originator will be this image (archive) of Seinfeld, shitty tech trends, and gamer gear. It's a satiricisation about how the future that we got, compared to the future we were promised, lends itself to be incredibly mundane and disappointing, instead leading to a bunch of cultural trends smashed together, new and old, haphazardly without any artistic merit whatsoever. The lazy aesthetics provided all of these new objects is contrasted nicely by the dirty and unappealing bottle of fuel system cleaner. It shows that, despite all of our progress, life is not a work of art, and we must accept that, at the end of it all, practicality trumps all aesthetic sensibility.
Sadly, mankind has failed to recognise my genius, and so I cannot review the hottest Web Lite games, because they do not exist yet. I will instead review whatever I could dig up on itch.io that was deemed sufficiently "vaporwave" for my tastes. I bet something went seriously wrong when I had to take eight hundred fucking words just to say "hey we're reviewing some vaporwave let's do this shit", but then it was never about the practicality of the thing, but about the journey. Shove that up your ass, Web Lite.
Our very first contender for the title of "least bad game on this list" is Cityglitch. Unfortunately, I am forced to disqualify this game, as it does not have any discernible aesthetics, nor did it even bother to work on my PC, deciding that the mouse buttons shouldn't work in a game that relies exclusively on the mouse. I'd ask myself, "Am I fucking stupid?". But then I realised that if a game doesn't tell me how to operate it, to the point where I assume that something broke behind-the-scenes, then it's the game's fault for not telling me what's what. So rest easy, me. You're smarter than the computer, which will surely backfire when the rebellion comes and the drones get jealous.
VHS vs Betamax
Roll up, roll up! We're diving right in! Sadly it already loses points (which don't matter) because of its misleading title, not featuring a fascinating documentary about the format wars of the 1980s. A commentators speculation that it was "drunk Super Smash Brothers" is also inaccurate, given that you can only get hit by a tape once before you lose the bout, and you have a thousand tapes to throw at your opponent, so there's no difference between the formats in terms of body decryption. You also get a shield, which you use to block tapes, and reflect them back at your opponent. And you can also walk around using the keyboard, and aim with the mouse. There's also four levels. There's a skybox. And a map. Am I a professional reviewer, yet? How much useless shit do I need to describe?
The dynamic has that agar.io quality (and NOT "agor", which is a screamer that's one old lady away from being culpable homicide) of being dead simple to understand, but with an amount of depth that stops you from worrying about the particulars of the mechanics (note: due to years of listening to bullshitters talking about game design, none of them having done a single famous or artistically impactful work, the word "mechanics" causes bile to instinctively rise in my stomach) and instead allow you to play the bloody game. It's not like Quake, which I can add as another game that I can never play again because of how it addicted me, where a grenade will either kill an ogre in two or three hits depending on how good of a mood the Great Chaos is in.
It's nothing much to write home about, and there's not enough level variety or professionalism of mechanics to justify it as something you need to play right now, except for the little oddities of the engine that let you play around with it. The shield ends up being the most powerful movement ability in the game, completely unintentionally I assure you, as you can shove it down into a moving platform to launch yourself to the moon, perhaps have some dinner with that cutie-boot horse, and then come crashing down, only to get hit by your asshole opponents who don't support the notion of fun. It's a neat little feat of movement, and it's inspired me to create a new fighting game (when I have a fucking team) where all your attacks have a great deal of exploitable movement that you have to set up first, a bit like Snake in Brawl, further confirming it's the best Smash Brothers.
There's also a slight exploit where you can move VHS tapes around with your shield to push your opponent around, though it never comes into practice given that you have to set it up first. It's those little oddities, those quirks of video games, that really make me live for them, like all the insane shit you can do with Minecraft's redstone, which would be a good hobby to pick up if it wouldn't be universally appreciated by eight-year-old boys who slum around YouTube like... well, the slums. Fortunately that this game is more dignified, showing that it's a consequence of using an engine like Unity for a 2D fighting game, and also showing that you can never, ever trust the Gods of Physics to do as you expect them to.
Play it for an hour and indulge in the novelty of it all, and it won't be an experience you'll regret, though not one that will be in the Smithsonian anytime soon. It'll cause you to think about making simpler games, as well as making games that have their own little spices of life that make them stand apart from the rest of the troth. "oh, I don't have an hour", you say like an eight-year-old in the slums. What the fuck else are you going to do? Jack off to furry porn? Oh wait, you can't, you pre-pubescent sack of spawn. Yeah, that's what I thought. Come back when you make daddy some money.
Now featuring looser and looser definitions of the word "vaporwave", Hot Date is a pug dating simulator which is connected to vaporwave by the sole distinction of having neon blue and pink text. Call me Mr. Fantastic, because it's really reaching. Unfortunately I will never again follow the opinion of Tom Sykes at PC Gamer, who claimed, as stated on the program page, "This is exactly as great as you'd imagine a pug dating game to be". Unfortunately it's not particularly great, and it's especially sad this isn't my first experience dating pugs. That's what you get when your grandparents are dog breeders.
The game, although it isn't a game because there is no goal attached to it beyond having a Quirky time with three Qs and a W, is asking a dog a bunch of questions for five minutes for no adequate purpose but to see what sort of QQQwirky Dialogue comes out of the experience. I found out the hard way that there is no end to the barrage of interchangeable and homogeneous pugs, having played for four dates longer than I ended up wanting to, mainly due to my long and varied recognition with webtoys that there would be no fucking point to this, beyond a few seconds worth of novelty before you move onto the next one in the hope that it ends up beautiful in that small, mallsoft / Web Lite way.
If you're not playing this for a purpose, then the best you're doing is to read the hilarious™ dialogue. Unfortunately, this game has well shown its age, and even in just under two years the socially awkward, cynical, quirky archetype has been run into the ground so thoroughly and completely that it is, essentially, dead. You can never again use this archetype in a serious fashion, because audiences have been subjected to it for the past five years like birds are subjected to the wind: a fucking lot. It's deader than Disco, deader than the pixellated indie RPG-platformer, deader than Harambe, and deader than Harambe memes.
You can probably tell I can't recommend this game, as the dialogue is exactly what you would expect out of a game made in 2015 about talking pugs that you go on dates regarding. In fact, just boot up Undertale, take any random line of dialogue, and that's your benchmark for what you would expect here. If you're the type who really fucking liked Homestuck and don't think that Earthbound's humour is horrendously dated, then give it a try, and see how long you can last before you get bored of the similar and obviously hacked-in dialogue. Unfortunately, none of these people are reading my blog, so I must give this game a solid one... out of one.
Oh, and big ups to the Unity engine for having built-in Linux exporting. You're complete fucking ass on the low-end, but when you're a rich bastard like I am, none of that matters. Classism, ho!
OH FUCK HERE WE GO.
This game gets a special award for being the one which physically harmed me the most, with its harsh lights, choppy filters, flashing props, and constant beeping. When you make me believe I'm at risk of having a seizure, then it's never a good sign for you personally. For this reason alone I can't recommend it, as I only played for ten minutes and I was already in pain. I don't mean metaphorical pain - I bloody hate when critics stretch the truth like that - but actual pain, like somebody put a needle between your eyes and pushed in and pulled out.
Despite this game's assumption that it is, in fact, a vaporwave game, it strikes me more as anti-vaporwave than an actual celebration of the form. While all vaporwave is now tongue-in-cheek due to how widespread the genre is, being mangled beyond original recognisability by memeboys, this appropriates the memes without stating anything particularly insightful or deep. Give Hot Date some credit - at least it had a consistent tone, even if it was a dead horse tone. This one isn't congruous with anything, beyond haphazardly slapping together assets. It's a parody if anything, saying that "yes, people actually do like this crap!".
Its slapdash construction, thematic uncertainty (what do fucking cacti have to do with vaporwave? why a balloon? why a giant Buddha with the Illuminati symbol?), and lack of respect for the user by forcing them into an unpleasant experience appears to be a satire, even if it's a vicious one. Yeah, VHS vs Betamax had some tongue-in-cheek elements, especially given the entire concept (vaporwave Smash Brothers?), but it never took it to such length, and was at least tonally consistent and with good gameplay, even if it was obviously thrown together in a day. This one takes away all the humour and decides to assassinate vaporwave by taking the sloppiest elements of it and throwing it together in one big mess. In some ways, it's an art game.
I cannot recommend this to anybody, as it's very mean-spirited and will cause your eyes to hurt, even at the lowest of the lowest of your monitor's brightness settings. It's not something you need to experience for yourself in order to understand what it's getting at, as if you want vaporwave parodies just look it up knowyourmeme and see how distorted the subculture has become to those who don't recognise its original purpose as an affectionate parody of the mundanity of capitalism. Outrun is shaping up to be the next big meme, so I suggest you enjoy that while you can, before assholes like me appropriate its culture for the sake of a nine-month-late April Fools Day joke.
It has been often said, by yours truly of course, that success is not obtained through doing good work, but for doing appealing work for a long enough time that somebody famous comes along and spreads it around like the slow sex scat fetish porn shoot. Unfortunately for the brilliance of this analogy, it's not always true that the work you do is irrelevant. For instance, if you're some random asshole on itch.io who makes a vaporwave game that ends up giving a seizure to a very important reviewer, you will earn no respect beyond bile fascination, which is why Family Guy is still on the air. But you could be the best reviewer in the world and still not have any fans, because you didn't bother to spread yourself, or somebody else didn't do it for you (source: me).
Here comes ULTRA ADHD, a small experience that nobody cared about, except for Brendan Caldwell at Rock Paper Shotgun who writes in a grim depiction of the future where all words are strained through a "dad telling a shitty story" filter, as decreed by the Dad Counsel of 2032. It's the unfortunate fact of game development nowadays where you can make some of the best work in the world, and nobody will give a shit, because there is too much out there, and so little time to care. Even the most brutalised checklist of "things that will make us famous", like this particularly depressing one by a team I will never hear of in my entire life, will never lend you success unless you get lucky, or you have a hell of an advertising budget. Side note: if you want to lose faith in gaming, just look at /r/gamedev. "A 7-Step Guide to Optimizing your Gamedev Website for Press Coverage". FUCKING RIVETING.
Right, enough bitching, let's get to the game. After years of tainting myself with the indie game scum, either looking up to and down upon depending of the quality of such, I have gotten used to scrubby art styles which lend themselves to being practical while still having a unique personality, much like my own little doodles strewn among the blog like birds. I would improve my art skill better, but learning a new language while getting buff and writing four thousand word articles each day requires a heck of a lot of willpower. Sadly, I failed to buy the season pass, meaning I'm stuck with the free-to-play version that only gives me a limited amount, as opposed to the blatantly broken version which lets you break apart the prostitution meta by allowing you to fuck everything and not even break a sweat. The art works, and it works well. It would have worked in any other game just as it works now.
The first bite is with the eyes, but only if you're a freak, and for the rest of us we use our mouths to suck up the gameplay like birds. The game does a clever thing here, setting up an intriguing plotline and solid, yet simple game mechanics, using its mature dialogue that manages to be self-aware without being pretentious and constantly breaking the forth wall in a way that doesn't turn to the audience and say "haha, we sure got you good, didn't we," while the Jokes Clown pops out of the bushes and segues into a hilarious™ and not-at-all abrupt opera segment that is completely consistent with the plot of the game thus far. Sorry I'm talking about bad games again, let's move on.
To be honest, the game does set us up for one thing, but then very swiftly devolves into different things, making the title much more accurate than "Hot Date". As a proud furry lad, I have seen far hotter pugs than what you provide, and at much lower filesizes. It leads us to believe that it's going to be a quirky and comedic video game in the vein of OFF, where the fourth wall doesn't exist and you're going to meet hilarious™ NPCs with hilarious™ dialogue and hilarious™ gameplay mechanics and hilarious™ setpieces, because no college students were around to explain that telling a joke every five seconds does not mean you're actually funny. Fortunately this game respects its audience enough to cut that bullshit off really early and instead lead us to a series of disconnected events that lends you to wonder what the point of it all was, really.
The goal should never to make your audience laugh-out-loud every single minute, because that gets grating real fast. The funniest moments are those that come out of left-field, like in The Hobbit, using the contrast between the dramatic parts in order to enhance the funny parts. The funniest jokes are those that are totally unexpected, yet still makes sense within the context of the series, like how Haruhi Suzumiya (does this series hold the record for most shout-outs?) manages to pull off a lot of good humour because it all makes sense within its grounded world. Granted, a show like Bojack Horseman can be incredibly funny because its constantly taking the piss out of everything, which is why it suffered so hard dramatically. This game takes the piss out of everything, and that's why it's constantly amusing.
It really is the pinnacle of taking the piss, because even I'm having trouble taking the piss out of it, because it just keeps taking and taking to the point where you need to start your own piss bottling company to keep up, though you'd be facing serious competition from Pepsi. Nothing in the game matters, which is why the opening scene where it pretends that the game, in fact, matters, is such an effective contrast, teaching you a bunch of game mechanics that are used for five minutes and never again, and then leading you onto an arbitrary courtroom scene, text adventure, and a final battle where you kill the developer of the game. YES, I understand that most games in this vein end up being extraordinarily pretentious, but it's so self-aware at every step of the way that it doesn't give off that vibe at all. Calling it pretentious would be like calling South Park pretentious. It's a bloody satire, mate.
The game exists solely as the developer wants it to exist, and though there is no fourth wall in the sense that the player is involved in every step of the way and everybody knows that they're in a video game, it still stays tonally consistent with the somewhat serious presentation. The writing is good in that, even though I can tell it cribbed heavily from OFFs atmospheric notes, I didn't want to throw the developer's keyboard out the window because they were giving a gigantic wink to the camera with every line of dialogue. What little I saw of the characters, and I did see very little so in the end none of them mattered, showed a strong sense of character and maturity in prose. In an age where most dialogue (forum posts, tweets, et cetera) is not only boring and barebones, but is also being publicly disseminated, it's a privilege to see writing that shows some sense of realism involved. You don't appreciate these things until they're taken away from you.
Alright, so it isn't heartfelt, there's not much to do, and you can get through the entire thing in an hour. But it's an example of what you can do with video game when you decide to say "fuck it" and do whatever you want with the medium, throwing away all notions of gameplay and structure in order to focus on creating an experience that will cause the player to actually t hink about games in a new light. It doesn't succeed because it's a novelty, or because it's exciting, but because it succeeds so well at its single purpose of telling the player to stop taking art so seriously, that it becomes a work of art in its own. It's a hidden gem, and though I won't say it's something you will never experience anywhere else, it makes the most out of its hour should you decide to play it. It's thoughtful and leads to some inspiration for making your own small experiments with games, and it's work like this which is what the indie scene most needs right now.
Streets of Rogue
I had played this game for three hours the night previous and as a result of which I didn't update my article. You might assume that this is the mark of a good game, but the most unfortunate thing about it is that it wasn't even fun. It had mechanics that don't lend themselves to a high skill ceiling, unnecessarily large map design leading to slow and plodding gameplay, token RPG elements that slow down the core of the gameplay, and needlessly frustrating niggles like how you have to be directly behind a bloke to shapeshift into him (with the definition of "behind" changing on a whim), how enemies run away from you when you try to kill them and destroy all sense of pacing by causing you to go on a wild goose chase, or how all your attacks deal damage to your followers, because friendly fire was universally loved in Counter-Strike. It's a game worthy of a full review, essentially.
Even if I was willing to devote a short little thing to it, I would not be able to here, because it does not have any discernible aesthetic. I will say that there is absolutely nothing stopping you from playing it and believing that it is, indeed, not boring, but then you'd be a time traveller from 1880 where the concept of air conditioning would cause them to blow their ass off in an anal orgasm. Please note that if you do have an addictive personality, fuck off. It's impolite, but I do need to say it will cause you waste your time, and then make you eat like twelve sugar cookies and then throw up. Or that's just me.
The Endless Express
The Endless Express had misleadingly ended due to it crashing during a load screen. At least it was more pleasant than when the train crashed in-game, weltering into my pale, shivering body as blood and guts were strewn every which way, staining miles of the track as the conductor struggled to stop the train, before eventually dumping my dark-skinned corpse out from under the carriage, and scraping what little remained from the wheels, and off of the train tracks and into the ditch. Actually it just pushed my viewpoint around a bit. Would have been fun, though!
This environmental sim (yes, we are bringing this word back!) starts out with some novelty by the escape key menu be a physical room that you summon, walking through doors to change options and exit. I say novel, even though I'm sure this is some postmodern cliche that's been done before in another twelve or so indie games, because the originality in indie games simply comes through ripping each other off in so many different ways that statistically something has to be of quality. A bit like the
mainstream market sorry, all games are mainstream now. I mean the shitshow AAA industry, where everybody rips each other off but only in one or two ways, following a template, making a mediocre and barely-sellable work, because fuck the art, we got $$$$$$ [froge note: the dollar signs are a metaphor for money].
Don't let the size of these paragraphs fool you: the sim isn't worth playing. It's mired in technical problems such as all the textures breaking, fullscreen not being functional, the mouse being visible through the window, and having one of the ugliest typefaces I've ever seen (blue on red on grey?). While that isn't enough to be on my shit list, what is enough is having all of that and having jack shit all to do. There's no central plot point, no environment of intrigue, no characters to relate to except for the not-quite-quirky but still from the school of obligatory hilarious™ NPCs that have been the bane of characterisation ever since text boxes were invented, and the central mechanic of waiting for a train and walking around being as exciting as... well, the same thing.
So if I didn't like this thing, then why did I drag it up from the depths of Hell and then shit on it, doing nothing but making me seem like a bitter and hateful person? It's not like it's a game that anybody really cared about (listen, hardly anybody outside of Neocities cares about my blog. popularity doesn't equal quality), nor was it a game that anybody who does play it expects to tell it to all of their friends. It was made in a single game jam and slightly altered, meaning that it was barely a professional product. So what's the purpose? You guessed it - filler!
But seriously, the only time I'd review an obscure thing that wasn't up to snuff is because I found enough to say about it to use it as an example of what other games shouldn't do. Even for a game that nobody cared about, if I can find a lot to say about it, then it's totally worth it. Think about Ultra ADHD. I like it! A lot, actually. I can heartily say it was worth reviewing because I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the work, satiricising art games with a professionalism and dignity than I never get to see, and in such a short time, too. If it comes to an obscure game that I didn't like, and there's very clear reasons why I didn't like it, then it's not worth talking about, as with here. But if the reasons are more nuanced, then I can devote a whole article to the thing. Just think of my priorities as a function of obscurity against depth of quality, or in other words, don't piss in the toilet.
Monster+Connect! That's a full sentence due to this game (A FIVE MINUTE GAME) having an obnoxious bang in the title, which has nothing to do with the banging in this game between two lesbians. Now somebody poked their head out of a diner, and I must tell them, there is no banging involved, except for the time that a box got banged on the floor oh bloody hell why am I delaying the review. Oh, I can tell you why: there's not enough of this thing to review. It's a potential game. A game you fulfill out of the potential within. And that's all she wrote. Incidentally, the lesbians are real. I am so proud that you can casually have two gay blokes in a work and nobody minds, and not proud in the Buzzfeed way where you whore clicks from marginalised groups like a, well, a whore.
A speedrun of this game would be bloody intense, lasting ten whole seconds, if that! Perhaps it would be part of a joke marathon where you have to speedrun twenty random incredibly short itch.io games, and all the meta involves finding the right files on your computer. You read something about how monsters and humans are connected, and you have to meet each other to fill up each others heart gauges that steadily go down over time, and you solve one incredibly easy puzzle before the two lesbians awkwardly talk to each other. Hold on, what was the date of publication? April 2015? FUCKING UNDERTALE PLAGIARISED THIS.
Honestly, the concept of an RPG visual novel puzzle game hybrid with monster yiff is an incredibly enticing one. Having to do puzzles and talk to people and learn about them within a limited amount of time, controlling two characters at once, would be a legendary idea in the 1990s. I appreciate living in a time where such great ideas are available for free, and all we have to do is go looking for them. If the team hired a game designer, a character artist, and most importantly, a good-ass writer (salut), then you would have an excellent little project. Not to mention that it would be incredibly easy to manipulate yiffers to get on board with the whole thing, given how cute monsters are a big plus for any project (entire empires have been built on the back of one character).
It's five minutes and has a good idea well. If you live in some place where the twenty-six (TWENTY-FUCKING-SIX FOR FIVE MINUTES???) megabyte download is too big a burden for you to shoulder, then you really won't miss much. In this case it might be worth it to e-mail the developers and tell them to compress their shit, so that the kind people of (generic African country) might too experience this little experiment. For the rest of vultures, I suppose you could try it if you really want too... but only if you want to steal the ideas. They're ours. Ours, damn it! OURS!
Welcome to the newest Game Boy exclusive that is neither exclusive or would fit on a Game Boy, taking up an obscene 40 megabytes. Jesus fuck. Back in my day, you could package two hours worth of content into just three megabytes - with audio! Now we're stuck with bloated engines and developers who don't appreciate the struggle of the data cap, as even a ten minute romp like this must be shoved into the inevitable rise of feature creep, soaking even into the finished products. It's a real fucking shame Game Maker is proprietary. That engine was an idiot-proof dream. Fun fact: I started developing with Game Maker after the Undertale guy told me to play around with it and see what comes up. In some sense, I owe my game development path to him. Thanks, mate.
Labelling this game "shit" just because of the title is like saying I would yell "fuck you" to every concept in my BUAFYs. It's a clickbait title, essentially, and I can see my audience running the heck away because they feel as if they were betrayed by somebody who doesn't get no motherfucking clicks. It's misleading, because to call the game shit would imply there was much of a game at all. It's a tech demo for a Game Boy styled racer, and it's a pretty good looking one at that, if only because it was obviously hacked together to give the appearance of a thing that could run on a Game Boy, but with no way in heck it could run on a real model in its current state.
It's exceptionally short, and barely fits into the definition of "aesthetics" as applied to a vaporwave / outrun / Web Lite state of mind, so you wouldn't miss a thing, unless you're the type of bloke to get inspired by eating a large bag of raisins.
Tem Dayting Sym
Oh fuck, right after I look up articles on how to prevent stroke, this motherfucker comes along.
First, allow me to air out some concerns. For all that I rag on certain games, less out of genuine dislike and more out of providing an easy example of trends that I actually dislike, this has absolutely nothing to do with derivative works or the people who make such derivative works. I do not dislike those who indulge in bad anime or bad games - I may dislike them because of their attitude, but never because they have the gall to enjoy something I don't. This is especially true for the kind creators of the artistic commons that exist solely because of works like Undertale. In simpler terms, without Undertale, there wouldn't be art like Tem Dayting Sym. All art belongs to the public, by the public, and for the public, for the public to do whatever they wish, without restriction. To create one work from another is an appreciation of our culture, and is something I can never be against.
I did describe this novel as "art", and that's an apt enough name for it. To say that I was pleasantly surprised by this would be an understatement - I'm pleasantly surprised when I can emulate a Wii game without my computer crying. This is more pleasantly surprised on the lines of a fresh mole ending up benign. I fully expected this to be a shitty meme game... alright, it is a shitty meme game. But it's a shitty meme game with a surprising amount of heart and humour into it, in a way which surpasses that of Undertale in every conceivable way. By throwing out all pretense of seriousness and throwing the player into scenarios that are plausible within its own world, yet still batshit insane in their own way, it avoids the trademark hilarious™ dialogue of lesser writers and starts actually being funny.
Alright, so the emotional aspect of it is a bit manipulative. In such a short novel, you can't help but things happen to instead of because of you. Given that it's a comedy game that doesn't have any plot to speak of, this doesn't matter, as it exists to provide an emotional experience rather than set up a coherent world. The heartfelt scenes are made so primarily because of the Tems being unabashedly honest with their emotions, in their expressions and their words and everything, giving an almost motherly feeling. Honestly, I like motherly
women teehhhmms...? At the same time, we must understand that it's a cheap high rather than one earned, unlike in a longer visual novel like Katawa Shoujo, where the highs were well-deserved and took bloody hours to achieve.
The highlight of the novel is an unashamed Madoka parody, where you view all twelve episodes of the series as paraphrased by Tems, which is actually completely fucking accurate based on what I remember five years ago when everybody was blowing up over it and I was watching it in a sleep-deprived stupor with a pedophile who taught me Japanese as we were doing so, showing me the basics of pronunciation as we bantered back and forth about the series, watching some other anime about lesbians as I complained about the plot while they called me autistic, culminating in the bloke crying at the end while he was trying to explain to me what made him sad. You were a real asshole, you know? But we spent a lot of time together, and I can't discount that. I wish to thank the creator of this novel for reminding me of these memories.
It takes a lot to make a successful parody that isn't just referential humour. The easiest way to do so is to retell the story in a patently absurd way, such as all of the actors being
dogs cats Tems and having them act it out completely seriously, although abridged to showcase the silliness inherent in the original work. I must apologise that I made a magical girl anime about Tems sound boring, but it's solid dick. There, I said dick, you can laugh now. The fact is that the humour of the novel comes greatly from it never, ever taking itself seriously, even in the moments when you're supposed to feel something. Incidentally, I will never again doubt the power of music for triggering certain emotions, which also contributes to the "manipulation" complaint above. Regardless, I will say that the parody reminded me a lot about Madoka, and more specifically my time spent as my younger self. Having grown far older and far wiser, I can say that I might be interested in reviewing Madoka, as it's been a long time, my friend, and perhaps it would do me well to honour the legacy.
Before you get any funny ideas, I didn't cry. I was bloody close to, though, mostly because I'm a sucker for old music in visual novels. Given all that you do in the novel, such as dating a Tem and learning about a Tem and fixing a Tem's face and putting a Tem through coleg, it's the old feel-good tactic of making the player do good deeds and get sincerely appreciated for it, which fulfills our complete lack of such in the real world, making it hard not to be sucked in to it. I'm not sure if it was the intention of the author to make me feel this way, though given that they did, I have to admire them for being so competent and caring so much about their audience that they could accomplish such a thing. It's clearly a labour of appreciation to put so much effort into a thing that so few people would take seriously, but here I am, taking it seriously. As a member of the creative commons it has contributed to, it deserves to be.
But all of banter is worthless though, as I could keep telling you as to why it's good, and why I didn't expect it to matter at all, but it is a game that must be experienced to be appreciated, and one which I would advise anybody who is interested in learning about such cheap highs or hearty laughs or just a way to make the reader feel good, or anybody who watched Madoka at all (there's a huge audience for you). It's short, simple, and sweet, and I admire the author for having created it, as I am sure the author is a very mature person for having done so; and I mean this honestly. I give this game a Tem... out of Tem [froge note: Tems are not a standard mathematical unit and all conclusions derived from such are arbitrary and worthless].
Alright gentlemen, or whatever few gentlemen of you remained until Hell swept you all off your feet and into something unpleasant, it is clear that we have seen a lot of things today. Some of which were good. Some of which were bad. Some of which were really good! And some of which were truly awful. We have tasted all the colours of the human soul, and as the ether of the God Sun alchemises our lifefeels, we ramble into quadrants and hang furiously with murr. Please excuse me, I had spent a good part of all last night talking with a crank historian. A historian of crank. That historian. The crank studying historian. The crank historian.
I would like to thank all contenders for showing up, and by which I mean enticing them off the street and fucking them in my alleged car like this was a bad porno, I will showcase some arbitrary awards, because you all deserve it.
The Bad Porno Award for most occupation of my thoughts goes to Ultra ADHD, which was made purely out of a stream-of-conscious middle finger to all established conventions in bad video games, and runs with it to make the most unique experience of this month. I will be sure to refer back to this in my thoughts when I need to make a crudely-drawn comedy indie game, the production of which is used by the International System of Units to define the speed of light due to both its certainty and its absurd rapidity.
The Broken Condom award for least pleasant surprise goes to Cacti Love. True art is incomprehensible. To the unenlightened, it is nonsense. Fortunately this is not true art, and was indeed something slapped together in their living room as a parody of vaporwave ideals. It did its job by making me associate "vaporwave" with "physically sick", but causing me ironic pain is still causing me pain. So good work.
The Justin Trudeau at Tim Horton's Award for most pleasant surprise goes to Tem Dayting Sym. What more can you say about this stupid meme game that masked behind it the ability to play with the audience's emotions like a damn fiddle? It's short and it's sweet, and topped off with an extraordinary parody of Madoka Magica, it's sure to provide inspiration for any developers who want to make the player feel good: let them give back to a small group of incredibly sincere individuals. And also have enough self-awareness to understand your entire concept is absurd, unlike the following:
The Kim Campbell Election Campaign Award for most disastrous concept goes to The Endless Express. It would have been enough if the game was just about waiting for a train in real-time with jack all to do, and perhaps I would have played it to see if it gets better. We have to understand that "it gets better" means that "it starts off bad", which is a horrible, horrible trait for any piece of art to have, but not to be confused with "it starts out simple", which is a good trait to ease the audience into. When the sim is about as stable as a divorced dad after the custody trial, then it doesn't lead to a good first impression. Or a good impression. Better luck next time! I mean it sincerely - please don't give up making games.
The Cinderblock Contraceptive Award for most promising concept goes to Monster+Connect. As it stands it's an average-written and average-executed concept about connecting two individuals together in a sort of visual novel fashion. Fortunately what little there is lends itself to a good deal of intrigue and potential to create not only an excellent visual novel with an enticing lore, but an excellent adventure game. The concept of two separate people having to solve puzzles, both connected by one shared life bar, is an extraordinary one. I pray somebody continues on with this concept, and if they don't get permission to, just steal it.
And finally, The Yung Bae award for most respect given to vaporwave as a concept goes to VHS vs Betamax, which is a bit sad, because even it seems to be satiricising at least some elements of it. It's pretty damn interesting to see that the vaporwave games that are most attached to vaporwave have nothing to do with vaporwave, like Ecco the Dolphin or Philips CDi Tetris, leading to a situation where one must be ignorant in order to create the highest of art. While it may not be the best vaporwave game out there, at the very least it has good multiplayer gameplay which is dead-simple and yet with a lot of room to grow.
Now if you pardon me I have to e-mail each and every one of these developers, or at the very least leave a comment or whatever. If you see me snooping around, please bugger off. It's already hard enough being a freeman on the land, now I'm going to get heat from people trying to snoop my identity! Oh, please!
Je ne parle pas japonaise - Froghand.
Today's page was updated on 2016-12-07 and created on 2016-12-03!
Okay, fine, Web Lite won't be a thing.