Month: June 2015

The Legend Of Jackson

In the land of Hyrule, a young and brave adventure sets out on a journey, to understand videogames… Join Jackson as he plays through the popular NES classic, The Legend Of Zelda.

He will die.

A lot.


Jackson’s work on Abnormal Mapping is funded by Patreon. If you enjoy it, and want to see it continue, then click here to help fund him!

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A&I: Keeping Going

A&ISo, my computer broke.

It didn’t break all at once, and it didn’t break catastrophically, but break it most definitely did. I rummaged around inside, replaced a power supply unit, and did the best that I could to bring it to a functional level. Yet whilst I can turn it off and on now, making it a marked improvement on before, it is still very much a broken machine.

I think about that often, the fact that we invest so much into this medium which relies on our broken machines. The economic investment to even afford the technology required to interact with videogames is staggering by any reasonable standards for artistic engagement. That even the tiny games I play for this article cause my computer to overheat and strain demonstrates a clear lack of focus on sustainability and ease of access. Unity is a fantastic tool, and does much to make game making more accessible, but as an engine, it’s so often poorly optimised for any less than ideal hardware situation. There is so much fantastic work being done by individual game makers as a means of combating games culture’s techno fetishistic obsession with forward progress, but when even the tools they build with spring from that harmful cultural well, can we ever really fight against the tide? (more…)

On Teaching “Old Games”: Episode 31 Fallout

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Hi all, Matthew here. So today the new episode of Abnormal Mapping went up, and in it we talk about Tony Hawk’s Project 8, a game I experience a lot of frustration about. People on twitter, as people on twitter are wont to do, responded with blanket statements of objection that ‘Tony Hawk is great’. And maybe that was once true, but I felt like Tony Hawk isn’t great now, and we talk about it in the episode. Anyway, I got kind of prickly about the whole thing. Here’s the twitter conversation: (more…)

Abnormal Mapping 31: Erstwhile No More

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The Mappers celebrate the heat of summer with hot jams, hotter skating, and the blazing addition of a third host! The three of them get down to business with a long talk about the sun-drenched streets of sizzling pavement and blasting AC, cars in traffic and the endless parade of city construction. It’s open season on open worlds, a question of what open worlds mean for the formal structure of video games and level design. Then, we skitch behind a stunt car and grind our way through through the … well, the grind of the eighth endeavor of Mr. Anthony “Tony Hawk” Hawke, Esq., also known as Project 8. Friendships are tested, hands are contorted, and we come through the other side with a rousing defensive of youth and play by one of our number, who can never not ollie. He said see you later boy. He wasn’t good enough for us. But he deigns to take us on this Junetime adventure, as we grumble our way through this expansive romp.

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

NOTE: Jackson and Matthew clarified some of the points in this podcast in addendum article, which you can read here.

This Month’s Game Club: Tony Hawk’s Project 8

Next Month: Final Fantasy VIII: Part 2

Games Discussed: A New Host Appears, VaniaMania Returns with Castlevania 2, Jackson’s PS4 Adventure, Grand Theft Auto 4, Skyrim, Assassin’s Creed 2, World of Warcraft, Sleeping Dogs, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Red Dead Redemption, Yakuza 3, Saints Row the Third, Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, Burnout Paradise, Spider-Man 2, Batman: Arkhams Asylum and City, Tony Hawk’s Project 8, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, this Errant Signal video, skate 2, Crazy Taxi, Goldeneye.

Music This Episode
Blown Away by Kevin MacLeod
Punk Rock Girl by The Dead Milkmen
If You Must by Del The Funky Homosapien
All My Best Friends Are Metalheads by Less Than Jake
Superman by Goldfinger

VaniaMania: Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest

VaniaMania, the sister series of Morning Mario, sees Matthew trying to tackle the earliest games in one of his favorite series one continue at a time. How can you stop Dracula when you’re only limited to three lives a day?!

Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest is a classic Konami platform action game released for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1987.

These Lost Three Years

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Today, I put my 360 in a box, and shoved it under a floor tom. It rests next to a box of unmarked wires and a ripped up box set for the Sarah Jane Adventures. My room is full to bursting of stuff, the kind of stuff that gets left behind, while we try to find somewhere to leave it for. But with nowhere to go, the stuff simply multiplies, making me anxious with its ever encroaching permanence.

When I left for the first time, I thought I wouldn’t be coming back. Everything was coming to an end anyway, and at the time, it didn’t seem so bad. The people I’d found who kept me going would be going on alone, and I’d be doing much the same. We were growing up, leaving home, moving on. I knew that I’d be coming back from university as a new person, to a new home. (more…)

Abnormal Mapping 30: Doctor Walker, Texas Medicine Woman

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A silent choice rode the winds that day, its currents bearing only two words, of which only one could remain. “Squid,” it said, “or Kid?” Matthew snapped awake in sweats, knowing only one thing. This choice would not consume him, this choice would not win. And with one press of the enter key, he recruited his friend into his cause. They drove to their shops, and plugged in their Wii Us, and strove for a third option that they knew did not exist. They would be neither Squid nor Kid, and yet they would be both at the same time.

Matthew’s article about Mario 2 and Jackson’s endeavors is up and you can read it here!

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

Things DiscussedDarth Vader comicMatch 3 PodcastThe Giant BeastcastAustin Walker hired at Giant BombLess Than Jake, Linkin ParkBlink 182, Ninja Gaiden Sigma, Morning Marioour episode on Link to the Pastthe ending of ZardozPOTUS in bicycle accidentMambo No. 5The Magic NumberOne is the Loneliest NumberJust the Two of Us, Splatoon, Amiibo, WWE Pay Per Views, Halo, Fire Emblem, PT, Silent Hill, Resident Evil, Pre-Rendered Backgrounds, Asura’s Wrath, Street Fighter, Soul Calibur 2, Crazy Taxi, The Offspring.

June’s Game Club Game: Tony Hawk’s Project 8

Music This Episode
Blown Away by Kevin MacLeod
Final Boss (Squid Sisters Ver.) by Toru MinegishiShiho Fujii
Splatoon Commercial Music by Unknown

Dreams Cannot Be Shared: Super Mario Bros 2 and Living Memory

SMB2 gifI really like platformers in general, but I’ve always had a soft spot for Super Mario Bros 2 for the NES. It’s perhaps the game I played most on the NES growing up, a game I would return to again and again. It didn’t have the arcade brevity (and punishing difficulty) of the original Super Mario Bros, and it wasn’t the lengthy, (for the time) epic quest that SMB3 represented. It nestled comfortably in the middle, weird and unassuming, a game that was quintessentially un-Mario in its origin and mechanics, and because of (in spite of, if you’re not feeling generous) those differences, it’s quite possibly my favorite 2D Mario game.

I played through the majority of SMB2 in a single sitting as a way to reflect on some of the difficulties Jackson’s been having with the game, and spent much of the time talking about why the game is special to me, but I will reiterate in brief: by removing a timer and making many of the enemies relatively passive, SMB2 is a game that rewards a sort of experimentation of its limited mechanics. Finding secret mushrooms behind magical doors, riding enemies and projectiles across gaps and over spikes, leaping (with Peach, always) into the void in hopes that on the far side of the wrong way to go will be a secret—Super Mario Bros 2 is a game that unfolds its dreamlike narrative with a dreamlike logic that nearly requires you to simply surrender to its whim and take an inquisitive, fast-footed and clear-headed approach to rolling with the punches. It’s too thinky to be a twitch game, but too demanding to be a puzzle platformer, which means that it stands astride the two countries of platformer design and dares to try to marry the two.

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