Abnormal Mapping 52: My Chappie is Ready

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We’re back with a new Abnormal Mapping, this time with the return (after four weeks) of the glorious Game Club! In the meantime, we deviate from Video Games to talk about all the things that aren’t, mostly TV and movies and our feelings about how episodic shows are broken and need rehabilitation. And then we talk about how games are broken and need rehabilitation. And then then we talk about how WE’RE broken and need rehabilitation. It’s a cycle that never ends, just like this podcast. Maybe.

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

Things Discussed: Tap Tycoon, Inside, Best Persona 4 Girl, Best Persona 3 Boy, Cowboy Bebop, Stranger Things, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Beyond, Alien: Resurrection, Binary Domain, Vanquish, Bionic Commando, Bayonetta, Tales from the Borderlands, Chappie, i Robot

This Month’s Game Club: Binary Domain

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

Music This Episode
Blown Away by Kevin MacLeod
Julia’s Song by Yoko Kanno
American Currency by Yoko Kanno
Robot Spider by Mitsuharu Fukuyama
Randy Dandy Oh by Sean Dagher, Nils Brown
Let’s Dance, Boys by Hiroshi Yamaguchi

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Abnormal Mapping 51: CTRL+F: Sadboys

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We said we’d do it, and we weren’t lying. This is our first free form episode, where we just sit and talk about games. Please let us know if it’s okay or not! Neither of us had a lot of confidence in our ability to carry a podcast like this, so we really need validation or feedback. Emails to podcast@abnormalmapping.com!

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

Things Discussed: #BREXIT, Otome vs Tity RPGs, Mega Man, Tony Hawk’s Final 900, The X-Games, blink-182’s New Album, Assassin’s Creed III, Mickey Mouse, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Link’s Awakening, Deads Rising 1-3, The Psycho (1960) of Video Games, Old Games, Analogue: A Hate Story, Hate Plus, Noby Noby Boy, Jackson’s Video Game Waifus

Music This Episode:
Blown Away by Kevin MacLeod
Connor’s Life by Lorne Balfe
Gone Guru by Lifeseeker

Abnormal Mapping 50: Jump Cut Genocide


The Abnormal Mapping podcast survives after its final episode to reach this, its milestone episode. It has been five decades since we began our humble journey, from our first game club of Space War through the Arcade Years and the Decade of Nintendo to this, our current configuration in our fiftieth annual episode. Blades will bleed. Shields will shatter. And we’ll travel back through our memories of a long long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, when the Younglings gathered around their vidscreens and peered into the void to ask the age old question:

“Master Skywalker, what company won E3?”

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

Things Discussed: E3, #SPIDERMANPS4, Spider-Man 2, Mass Effect, Watch Dogs 2’s Promotional Videos, FIFA 17: The Journey, West Bromwich Albion Football Club (The Baggies), David Baddiel, Miitomo, Dishonored II, The Tragedie of Shigeru Miyamoto, Dirt 3, Uncharted 3, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Mass Effect, Too Many Notes, Kingdom Hearts, Yakuza 3’s tragic love story, The Sasuke Problem 

Music This Episode:
Blown Away by Kevin MacLeod
Joy by Shoji Meguro
Football Crazy by Robin Hall and Jimmie Macgregor
Star Wars and the Revenge of the Sith by John Williams
Ballad of the Wind Fish by Minako Hamano and Kozue Ishikawa
Under Logic by Yuzo Koshiro

A Call for Podcast Guests – A Kingdom Hearts Journey

khhd03Hey everyone, M here! I’ve been replaying Kingdom Hearts recently, and I was thinking that it would be great to do a series of podcasts about them similar to what Jackson did about Metal Gear. But as much as everyone likes to poke fun at Kingdom Hearts, I don’t actually know that many people who are REALLY into Kingdom Hearts. So that’s why I’m making this, and trying to get people who want to be on. I want to do fun, positive podcasts probably about an hour long about each of the games individually. Ideally we’d talk a bit about the game, and about your relationship with the series in general, and maybe some disney/square games goofery.

Here’s the games I intend to cover. The ones that are crossed out are the ones that have been claimed already!

  • Kingdom Hearts
  • Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories
  • Kingdom Hearts II
  • Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days
  • Kingdom Hearts Re:coded
  • Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep
  • Kingdom Hearts 3D Dream Drop Distance
  • Kingdom Hearts Unchained x

THEY’RE ALL CLAIMED! Thanks everyone, this’ll be recording throughout the rest of the year and start going up once I feel like I have a comfortable buffer. I’ll keep you updated!

That’s a lot of games! And I know people mostly only played Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2. But I want the broad, sweeping look at what Kingdom Hearts is. So here’s the guidelines for anyone who wants to be a part of this.

  • send me a twitter message @em_being or an email at podcast@abnormalmapping.com
  • we’ll set up a time to record. I’m planning these deep in advance to make sure interest is there, we won’t record until late summer or early fall at the earliest.
  • these will go up in early 2017, one a month, probably, to allow for production time and having any free time

If you think you’d be interested, drop me a line, we can talk about it. If you just want to signal boost, that would be great. If you know someone who might be interested, please send them this. Kingdom Hearts is a series that is most beloved by people who are often ignored by the usual games discourse, and those are the people I really want to talk to. If you’re going to throw your hat in, please let me know which games you most feel like you could talk about, and recognize that I’m going to get a lot of interest in the main numbered series, so its less likely you’ll get those ones. As usual for anything Abnormal Mapping related, queer people, PoC, and women will get preference. I’m not about to have a cis white dude cast about Kingdom Hearts, of all things, for obvious reasons.

Thanks for sharing or joining in, whichever you do. I’d love to make this real, but that needs us all to join hearts across time and space!

Morning Mega Man: Mega Man 2

Mega Man defeated Dr. Wily’s Robot Masters once, but somehow this didn’t actually change anything, so he’s called into action once more. Will he defeat 8 more? Will this cycle ever end? Will he ever look cooler than he does in the title screen?

Jackson returns with Morning Series, and this time he’s tackling the beloved Mega Man 2. He’s very excited to play and you should be very excited to watch. Let’s go!

Abnormal Mapping 49: Requiescat in Podcaste

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A dark day comes in the lives of any video games person. A day where the joy is gone, and the game pad falls to the floor in utter defeat. This is not true despair, though, for that instead can be found on the internet, where said intrepid gamespeople go when their play is through, only to find a cesspool of fear and hate and suffering. That is the true gauntlet of horrors, eroding all of us into shapeless forms of old dreams, spent energies, and a dim animal sense that the world shouldn’t so easily gobble up things that are fun and convert them into things that are burdens.

For three intrepid gamespeople, in one tiny little boat of a podcast, in an endless sea of trivial bullshit? That day is today.

Come for the end. Stay for the beginning. Listen as we render all good things to dust and say goodbye to a friend in this, the last episode of a podcast that was, and a discussion of a podcast that might yet be.

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

Things Discused: Lego Marvel Superheroes, Stardew Valley, Uncharted 2, Hitman: Blood Money, Become A Great Artist in 10 Seconds, Car on a Stick

This Month’s Game Club Game: Hitman: Blood Money

Next Month’s Game Club Game: …

Music This Episode
Blown Away by Kevin MacLeod
Home Sweet Home by Keiichi Suzuki and Hirokazu Tanaka
Super Mario 2 Ending Theme by Koji Kondo
Ave Maria by Franz Schubert and Vienna Boys Choir.

On LEGO Games

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The LEGO games have always traded in parody, drawing upon popular iconography of a particular franchise and then heightening it for comic effect. However, their success comes not from the comedic undermining of the subject matter, but the distillation of its subject matter to the core values. LEGO Star Wars: The Prequel Trilogy‘s silent narrative captures the adventure, tone and thematic conceit of Star Wars arguably better than the movies on which it is based.

Traveler’s Tales have kept this up for over a decade now, taking an approach to adaptation which centers on identifying the essence of the source material and applying it to the established core design. Nowhere is this more obvious than LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, a far more effective way to understand the appeal of comic books the movies they draw from so regularly. The game revels in its characters, bouncing them off of each other in every puzzle and every cutscene, showcasing a incoherent cliff-notes Marvel Universe which embraces the ludicrous joy of its conceit rather than to (as is the trend in more mainstream adaptations) grapple with the logistics of its existence.

Whilst this element of the LEGO games is fairly widely understood, what struck me when playing is how this approach to adaptation remained true in terms of the game’s more formal design. In addition to adapting and distilling a fictional universe, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is an adaptation and distillation of modern video games, with how it frames its open world, highly scripted level design, and a trillion-and-three collectibles.

It isn’t that the game has these elements – almost every AAA game contains one or more of them these days – but that LEGO presents them nakedly, without the need to burden itself with context. The open world makes no attempt to  be anything other than a constructed sandbox in which you may destroy and explore; even superheroes need to carjack every once in a while. The scripted level design is merely a series of explicitly colour-coded signs onto which you must move the correct character, ad infinitum. You are not collecting coins and completing side-missions to improve the effectiveness of your weapons, or your gang, or your war effort, you are doing it because the number is low and dangit, the number should be higher.

These design techniques are no less effective than in an Assassin’s Creed, or a Destiny, or a [insert 75% of recent AAA Games here], but they do feel a great deal less exploitative. A LEGO game is a passive experience of consumption, wherein you follow simple instructions in order to get more things, which unlock more simple instructions to follow. But that treadmill stands honest and alone, rather than to motivate the player through a narrative, or to trap the player inside a marketplace.

Just as LEGO games serve as an accessible introduction to the appeal of their chosen narrative source material, so too do they serve as an accessible introduction to the appeal of their formal source material. Alone, neither of these elements explains the series’ cultural staying power, but putting them together makes it a lot easier to understand just why the LEGO games have managed to be one of the last kids’ games standing on consoles.

Let’s Play DOOM

When DOOM (2016) was released, I was sitting in my room all disappointed that I couldn’t afford it and what a shame that was because boy did I have a hankerin’ for some DOOM.

Then I stood up and realized that I could totally play DOOM and all I needed was a soundcard and 28MB of disk space. Thus began a new impromptu Let’s Play…

Abnormal Mapping 48: Trauma Babies

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Just another day in a podcast without end…
ABNORMAL MAPPING

At last, the time has come. Just under a year ago, I started playing the Metal Gear games, and now, 42 articles and 5 podcasts later, the journey is complete. I hope you have enjoyed the ride, and if you’re new, then feel free to come along on this quest anytime. For this final episode, we’re discussing Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, the honest-swear-to-god-for-real final game in the Metal Gear Solid Trilogy. Come on in for a chat on trauma and colonialism, exploitation and capitalism, and most importatly, The Life and Times of Punished “Venom” Snake.

I am joined in this final episode by @woundww, a friend and writer for the Arcade Review – currently on Kickstarter! – many thanks to them for smart insights throughout.

Fair Warning: There are a couple audio issues in the podcast! Nothing too bad; a little echo, some birds in the background, but I thought I’d give a heads up nonetheless! Enjoy!

Things Discussed

Metals Gear 1 – V

Music This Episode
Heres To You by Joan Baez
Quiet’s Theme by Akihiro Honda, Ludvig Forrsell, and Stefanie Joosten
Nuclear by Mike Oldfield

Morning Mega Man: Mega Man 1

A plumber retires to his brotherly abode and the sun sets on the land. All is well, all is at peace. Until…

A boy of blue, a man of rock, emerges into a wasteland. It is years later, this boy knows not of the plumber and his deeds, buried as is his kingdom under Wily’s metal and machines. And so, he will fight, each and every morning, until the land is free once more.

Welcome back, everybody, to Morning Mega Man!