Abnormal Mapping 60: Katamari Damacy

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Celebrate the shortest month with the shortest hero as Abnormal Mapping delves into the wide world of rolling up extremely tiny objects in Katamary Damacy. This includes the first game, We Love Katamari, and even some Katamari Forever. Plus, we dip into Keita Takahashi’s development history and philosophy of design. Come for the good conversation, stay for the incredible music. We’re 60 years young and still rolling strong!

This Month’s Game Club: Katamari Damacy

Next Month’s Game Club: Final Fantasy IX

You can get our podcast on iTunes, on Stitcher, or you can download it directly by clicking here.

Things Discussed: Mortal Kombat 9, the coolness of Ninjas, Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy: Curtain Call, Hatsune Miku Project DIVA Future Tone, Guitar Hero Live, Braid, The Swapper, Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation, Ori & The Blind Forest, Mario Galaxy, Gravity Ghost, Katamari Damacy, The Zelda 1 Map in Zelda 2, Katamari Items Twitter, We Love Katamari, Noby Noby Boy, Beautiful Katamari, Wattam (Coming Soon!), Keita Takahashi’s Twitter, The Katamari of Amigara Fault, Ninja Gaiden, Dark Souls

Music This Episode
Blown Away by Ken MacLeod
Katamari Mambo by Yuri Misumi
Que Sera Sera by Asuka Sakai
Cherry Blossom Color Season by Yuu Miyake
Katamari on the Rocks by Yuu Miyake

Abnormal Mapping 59: The Crystal Dynamics Tomb Raider Pentalogy

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Hello and welcome to 2017 where we’re getting right into the thick of it with a podcast covering five whole video games today. What happens when you take a decade to tell the story of two women equally dedicated to murdering, climbing, exploring, and looting, and pit them against each other? Today we look at two generations of design by a single company, and ask the question: what exactly is Lara Croft’s job? Because she sure isn’t selling these artifacts or writing papers.

Things Discussed: Moderns Warfare 1-3, New Super Mario Bros. U, Super Mario Run, Super Mario Sunshine, Things Were Better Before, the surprisingly nice looking 360 Version of Rise of The Tomb Raider, Tomb Raider Legend, Tomb Raider Anniversary, Tomb Raider Underworld, Tomb Raider (2013), Rise of the Tomb Raider, Hitman, E3, Our Yakuza 3 Episode, Danganronpa

This Month’s Game Club: Tomb Raider Legend, Tomb Raider: Anniversary, Tomb Raider Underworld, Tomb Raider (2013), Rise of the Tomb Raider

Next Month’s Game Club: Katamari Damacy

You can get our podcast on iTunes, on Stitcher, or you can download it directly by clicking here.

Music This Episode
Blown Away by Ken MacLeod
Tomb Raider Legend Theme by Troels Brun Folmann
Japan 7B by Troels Brun Folmann
Man for All Seasons by Robbie Williams
I Shall Rise by Karen O

Abnormal Mapping 58: The First Annual Soundtrack Showcase Part Deux

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Welcome to the very end of the year, where we talk about the good, the bad, and the musical. Please enjoy over two hours of hot, banging audio content. Please enjoy the end of 2016. Please enjoy the end.

Next Month’s Game Club: Tomb Raider Legend, Tomb Raider Anniversary, Tomb Raider Underworld, Tomb Raider (2013), Rise of the Tomb Raider

You can get our podcast on iTunes, on Stitcher, or you can download it directly by clicking here.

The Best Game Music Choices of 2016!

Witcher 3 – Priscilla’s Song – Marcin Przbylowicz, Mikolai Stroinski
Wolf Among Us – Intro Theme – Jared Emerson Johnson
Stellaris – Gravitation Constant – Andreas Waldetoft
Super Mario World – Athletic Theme – Koji Kondo
Link to the Past – Dark World – Koji Kondo
Super Castlevania 4 – Simon’s Theme – Masanori Adachi, Taro Kudo
Majora’s Mask – Milk Bar – Koji Kondo
Majora’s Mask – Giants’ Theme – Koji Kondo
Sonic the Hedgehog – Starlight Zone – Masato Nakamura
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 – Metropolis – Masato Nakamura
Sonic CD – Stardust Speedway Zone (Bad Future ver) – Spencer Nilsen, David Young, Mark Crew
Sonic Adventure – Azure Blue World – Jun Senoue, Fumie Kumatani, Kenichi Tokoi, Masaru Setsumaru
Yoshi’s Woolly World – Clawdaddy Beach – Tomoya Tomita, Misaki Asada
Kirby: Planet Robobot – Float Islands (Blue Lab Area) – Hirokazu Ando
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze – Mangrove Cove – David Wise, Kenji Yamamoto
Picross 3D Round 2 – Track II – Megumi Ohara, Hirokazu Ando, Shogo Sakai
Super Hexagon – Courtesy – Chipzel
Streets of Rage 2 – Wave 131 – Yuzo Koshiro
Thumper – Road – Brian Gibson
Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst – The Shard – Solar Fields
No Man’s Sky – Blueprint for a Slow Machine – 65daysofstatic
Rez – Rock is Sponge – Joujouka
Stardew Valley – Summer (Tropicala) – ConcernedApe
Stardew Valley – Winter (Nocturne of Ice) – ConcernedApe
Kingdom Hearts – Hikari (Orchestral) – Yoko Shimomura
Auld Lang Syne – Frank Stanley

Backing Music

Rise of the Tomb Raider – Main Theme
Uncharted 4 – Nates Theme 4.0
Firewatch – Hidden Away
The Witness: Ambient Sound
Bullet Hell Monday: Stage One
Heart & Slash – I ❤ You
Chameleon Run – Trailer Theme
Oxenfree – Main Theme
The Last Guardian – Main Theme
Call of Duty Infinite Warfare – Menu Theme
Inside – Main Theme
Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth – Main Theme
Pokemon Sun – Welcome To Alola
Thumper – Tunnel
Rez Infinite – Stage 5
Super Hot – Menu Theme
Stardew Valley – Starwatcher

Abnormal Mapping 57: The First Annual Soundtrack Showcase Part The First

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We’re here at the end of the year with a very special Christmas episode, where we celebrate not just the best music of the year, but the best music of the games we played this year. That’s a big list, so this is only half of it. Have a merry Christmas and see you in two weeks!

You can get our podcast on iTunes, on Stitcher, or you can download it directly by clicking here.

Tales from the Borderlanes – Retrograde – James Blake
The Witcher 2 – A Nearly Peaceful Place – Krzysztof Wierzynkiewicz
Fable – Oakvale – Russell Shaw
Uncharted – Small Beginnings – Greg Edmonson
Alex Kidd in Miracle World – Main Theme – Tokuhiko “BO” Uwabo
Link’s Awakening – Tal Tal Heights – Koji Kondo
Mega Man 3 – Magnet Man – Yasuaki Fujita
Castlevania – Wicked Child – Kinuyo Yamashita, Satoe Terashima
Castlevania 3 – Mad Forest – Yoshinori Sasaki
The Last of Us – The Last of Us – Gustavo Santaolalla
Alien Isolation – Lower Hospital – Christian Henson, Joe Henson, and Alexis Smith
Firewatch – Stay in Your Tower and Watch – Chris Remo
The Last of Us – Left Behind – Gustavo Santaolalla
FFIV – Within The Giant – Nobuo Uematsu
FF6 – Terra’s Theme – Nobuo Uematsu
Yakuza – Scarlet Scar – Hidenori Shoji
Digimon Cyber Sleuth – A Day in A Detective Agency – Masafumi Takada
Digimon Cyber Sleuth – PO-SI-TIVE Pop Girl – Masafumi Takada
Read Only Memories – Step Careful (Lexi’s Theme) – 2Mello
Heart & Slash – I ❤ You – Michael Chait
Freedom Planet – Fortune Night – Strife and Woofle
Flywrench – Speeds – Daedelus
Deadly Tower of Monsters – Lost in Space – Patricio Meneses

BACKING MUSIC FOR AWARDS

Dead Rising 3: Nick’s Theme
Uncharted 2: Nate’s Theme 2.0
Sonic 3: Carnival Night
Super Hot: Menu Theme
Battlefield 4: Main Theme
Metal Gear Rising: Rules of Nature
Dead Rising: Fly Routine
The Witcher: Dusk of a Northern Kingdom
Freedom Planet: Freedom Planet Theme
Sonic 2: Emerald Hill Zone
Final Fantasy IV: Theme of Love
Table Tennis Touch: N/A
Hitman Blood Money: Ave Maria
Pure Pool: Voce e Bonito
Majora’s Mask: Title Demo
New Vegas: Main Title
Mega Man 4: Brightman Stage
Kotor: Main Theme
Metroid Fusion: Press Start
Yoshi’s Woolly World: Bounceabout Woods
Dr Langeskov: Beethoven Symphony No. 7 – II: Allegretto (Columbia University Orchestra)
Castlevania Chronicles: Vampire Killer
The Room 2: Main Theme
Rise of the Tomb Raider: Main Theme
Tales From The Borderlands: Carfire on the Highway

Abnormal Mapping 56: Does Tom Nook Own the People?

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Today we’re rejoined by regular guest and former co-host Destiny Sturdivant for a romp through one of the most storied RPGs of all time. Please enjoy, have a good holiday if you celebrate it, and try to be kind and healthy in these trying times.

You can get our podcast on iTunes, on Stitcher, or you can download it directly by clicking here.

Things Discussed: Animal Crossing: New Leaf, The Witcher, Thumper, NBA2k17, Presbo, Sombra, Final Fantasy VI, the US FF6 commercial, the horniest character in video games, best birthdays in video games, being in the new games bubble, Idle Thumbs 288 about Titanfall 2, The Great Goal Pole in Super Mario 3D World 

This Month’s Game Club: Final Fantasy VI

Next Month: MUSIC and GOTY

Songs in This Episode
Omen by Nobuo Uematsu
Blown Away by Kevin MacLeod
Aria di Mezzo Carattere by Nobuo Uematsu
Coin Song by Nobuo Uematsu
Dancing Mad by Nobuo Uematsu

Abnormal Mapping 55: Gerry Rivers, of the Vizima Rivers

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Polyblank, have a seat, we have much business to discuss.

Right. Basically, we need you to listen to this here episode of Abnormal Mapping. They played this videogame Jazzpunk, recorded all manner of thoughts and opinions on it, and for reasons unknown uploaded it to the internet on a publically identifiable server. Your mission is to find any compromising information, ie, anything rude about me, and extract it from the file.

As usual, here are your pills. Good luck, Polyblank.

You can get our podcast on iTunes, on Stitcher, or you can download it directly by clicking here.

Things discussed: Style Savvy: Fashion Forward, British film history, League of Legends, Sonic Adventure adventures, The Witcher 3, Picross 3D Round 2, FIFA 2017, Ultimate Fantastic Four, Snotgirl, Clean Room, Jazzpunk, Haunting Starring Polterguy, Best Train Levels, Retronauts, Slow Guns, M’s appearance on Badland Girls, Jackson’s anime podcast is not out yet, M’s blog All of the Wonder Woman

This Month’s Game: Jazzpunk
Next Month’s Game: Final Fantasy VI

Music This Month
Blown Away by Kevin MacLeod
Circumflex Apts by Luis Hernandez
Baba Yetu by Christopher Tin
Metroid Title Theme (Analogue Synth remake) by Luminist

A Reaction To FIFA 17’s Story Mode, or “Why I Miss Ace Combat, Damn It”

aaaThis year, FIFA has a story mode. It’s fine. The story is incredibly basic, the presentation is overwrought and draws on all of my least favourite trends in modern filmmaking, but it’s mostly competent and provides a nice structure to the game of Playing The Football for those of us unwilling to sell off our belongings and invest heavily in virtual trading cards. Fans of the genre. 7/10.

It’s nothing to write home about, much less an article about, but the entire time I played I couldn’t shake the feeling that this mode could be a lot better in the future, if only they’d learn some storytelling lessons from Ace Combat.

Ace Combat 6 is a masterclass in how to draw a narrative throughline through a game that has very little explicit narrative in its mission design. There are big moments that occur in missions (re-taking Gracemeria, the night-time stealth run, the final boss), but for the most part the missions involve loading a map and taking out the required number of targets until the bar fills and you can fly on home. The bulk of the narrative is delivered through cutscenes which follow civilian characters, placing your war into a wider human context, and in-mission dialogue, which place your individual actions within a single battle into a wider military context. You – Garuda 1 – are never given a name or voice, and your actions are rarely commented on beyond which army is winning the battle. The guiding principle of each and every narrative element is to make you feel as if you are part of something bigger.

FIFA 17: The Journey (yes, it’s really called that) is the exact opposite, in every single way. Major beats are delivered within cutscenes, but narrative texture is built through the commentary team within the match. If you play badly, the commentary team say you have been playing badly. If you have a fight with your friend, the commentary film say you have had a fight with your friend. If a team-mate scores, the commentary team… say the exact stock thing they say when anyone else scores. It belies an incredibly myopic worldview, prevalent within western AAA game design, where narrative is little more than a way to re-enforce the fact that the player has absoloute agency over the world. You do a thing, the game says “wow, they did a thing,” and this is known as immersion.

It’s a real shame, because the approach ultimately feels dishonest not just to the story but the concept of the game as a whole. Football is a team sport, and tying this to a narrative in which The Player rules supreme and their every action has consequence, makes about as much sense as West Brom beating Real Madrid. (Which they did. In their third game. In a packed stadium in Seattle.)

All that said, I’m glad that Sports Games are beginning to experiment with narrative. I’d play them a heck of a lot more if they just shoved a well written visual novel in there a la Dancing All Night. But given that they by far represent the most successful genre of game that isn’t centred around a combination of violence and individual acquisition, it would be a shame for their storytelling to fall into all the same, sad traps.

Abnormal Mapping 54: Mark Millar’s Other M

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The Mappers bring you a short and sweet podcast this time covering a short and sweet game from M’s past. We also talk anything but games, including the now regular comic book corner segment, where Jackson regales us with tales of the Marvel Ultimate Universe (RIP).

You can get our podcast on iTunes, on Stitcher, or you can download it directly by clicking here.

Things Discussed: Chameleon Run, Reigns, Roman Reigns, Comics Talk Round Two, Batman: Year One, The Ultimates, East of West, Attack on Titan (the Manga), Metroid Fusion

This Month’s Game Club: Metroid Fusion

Next Month’s Game Club: Jazzpunk

Music This Episode
Blown Away by Kevin McLeod
Main Deck by Minako Hamano Akira Fujiwara
The Truth Reigns by Jim Johnston

 

The All Too Familiar Case Of Rebecca Thane

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Rebecca Thane has been here too long to put up with your shit. She hates the runners, so repelled by the economic injustice of the dominant system that they choose to live outside of it, but somehow actually fighting against it is just a tad too far. She’s watched as the rich and powerful have killed her friends without reproach, and she knows that no matter what she does, she can ever rival the blood on their hands. She is not here to object, or to protest, or to run. No, like all good revolutionaries, she is here to win.

Unsurprisingly, Rebecca Thane is a secondary villain in Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst. She is introduced angry, yelling at your boss Noah for refusing to do anything other than sit on the fence. She has a point, of course, but the anger is what matters here, a telltale sign that she could take things “too far,” whatever that means. Never does the game ask if anger and violence are perhaps reasonable responses to society-wide systemic violence, even while you’re kicking dudes off skyscrapers.

Instead, Rebecca Thane is another Daisy Fitzroy, another Marlene, another black woman doing the work of revolution because somebody has to, and ultimately condemned by the text for her efforts. Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst is another in a long line of games that wants to sell the idea of revolution and condemn the politics of it. The back of box tagline reads: “Fight Oppression. Claim Your Freedom,” the game opens with a text crawl saying “Citizens have been made willing slaves,” and Faith’s first act is to break free of mandatory corporate surveillance. Fight Oppression. Sign up for Origin today.

Six hours later, the game ends with a monologue where Faith proclaims that by stopping Kruger’s plan they’ve “started something.” They haven’t brought about revolution, but they’ve lit a spark, and finally people can start to fight back. Somewhere, Rebecca Thane is sadly shaking her head. Does all the work of her and her dead friends really amount to nothing? Maybe in twenty years, Faith will have grown tired of the moral high ground when it doesn’t do a damn thing to bring progress any closer. Maybe Faith’ll meet a young runner herself, disgusted with how angry and violent she’d allowed herself to become, and maybe that runner will break away and declare that after years of accepting oppression, they’ve finally started something.

Maybe.

Abnormal Mapping 53: Orth Is Not Daddy

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The Mappers celebrate the long season of heat by refusing to turn their PCs on and instead delving into the wide world of mobile games. This is a secret place, full of dark mystery and a thousand alluring traps, but they will persevere. Teasing apart of a puzzle is just human nature. The soul of humanity abhors a secret. What could possibly go wrong?

You can get our podcast on iTunes, on Stitcher, or you can download it directly by clicking here.

Things Discussed: Comics, Atop The Fourth Wall, Assassin’s Creed IV, The Wolf Among Us, Style Savvy, Style Savvy’s British Localization, Jetpack Joyride, The Room, The Room Two, The Room Three, Friends At The Table, This Episode of Yu Gi Oh! Abridged

This Month’s Game Club: The Room 1, 2, and 3

Next Month’s Game Club: Metroid Fusion

Music This Episode
The Room Theme by David Newby
Jetpack Joyride Main Theme by Halfbrick
Dive Man by Minae Fujii