If you haven't already ascertained from the spammy thing at the top of Eurogamer's homepage, your favorite video game site has a brand spanking new American cousin, USgamer.net. And we thought it might be a fun idea for us to write a weekly article about the crazy madcap stuff that's been going on out here. Not the shooting rampages, killing of unarmed teenagers and drone strikes you tend to hear most about, but the fun stuff that's been going on in video gaming.
Anyway. Hello! I'm Jaz Rignall, and you might remember me from old publications like Computer and Video Games (I was there when it was still printed on trees), and Mean Machines (where Mr Digital Foundry got his first industry break). If you're reading this from a retirement home and are about to drop dead of old age, you might even remember ZZAP! 64, the Commodore 64 magazine where I first started. Still don't ring a bell? Twat video game journo with legendarily bad mullet should do the trick.
I left the UK back in the 90s to work in the states, and have been out here ever since. Recently, I joined USgamer.net as its Editorial Director, and that brings us right to the end of this sentence.
So what's been happening in the land of the free-for-the-Government-to-look-through-your-emails? Well, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team was released this week. Which is actually old news in the UK, and probably something that's fairly amusing to those who grew up in the 90s, when gamers had to wait literally years for stuff to make its way over the pond. Well, now the tables have been turned and Americans are crying bitterly over the fact that the Brits have been able to enjoy the delights of Mario & Luigi for a full four weeks before they can. Although, as it turns out, "enjoying the delights" is a bit of an overstatement, as we liked the game about as much as Eurogamer did. Which is somewhere between "meh" and "hm".
This week also saw the release of Dragon's Crown, which follows the more traditional video game distribution model of Japan first, America second, and Europe whenever someone remembers it exists. If you haven't seen it, you really should. It's a brilliant side-scrolling beat-'em-up with extra RPG bits. Kind of like a modern Golden Axe. However, the game's hyper-sexualized art style stirred up a real commotion out here. USgamer's Senior Editor Jeremy Parish wrote a great editorial about it, which gives you interesting insight into the American psyche. I reviewed the game, and loved it, while dancing around the elephant in the room feeling like Finbar Saunders in a sausage shop.
See, this is the problem with America. Violence is seen as perfectly fine. But when things start getting a bit sexy-time, or the language starts getting a bit fruity, many people get their knickers in a twist. This is perfectly exemplified by something that happened to me a few years ago. I was watching TV one night, and channel-surfed into some bollocks old movie featuring a biker gang, who were burying some poor sap in the ground, so that just his head was sticking out. One of the dudes jumped on his bike, revved it up and rode over the buried dude's head, with an impressive splat. He then jumped off the bike, and yelled, "That'll teach you, you son of a [bleep]." And there we have everything in a nutshell. It's perfectly fine to show someone's head being busted open with a bike, but don't you DARE say the b-word.
On a slightly less controversial note, we talked about Nintendo's interesting foray into the free-to-play market, which is tucked away in an obscure part of its Japanese website. It's called Darumeshi Sports Store, and it's very weird - but it does give insight into the way Nintendo might tackle this sector of the market.
We also wrote a rebuttal to a Wired article, Final Fantasy Isn't Dying. It's Already Dead, questioning whether or not that was the case. Almost the entire USG staff weighed in with their opinion, as did plenty of readers. I didn't bother writing anything, because I've never liked the series and couldn't give a toss either way, but if you do, it's probably worth a quick gander.
Finally, we posted one of those cheap-ass stories that's basically just a link. But it's a damn good link to one of my favorite web sites, which features photo-realistic recreations of old LCD and handheld games. It's maintained by a pair of Polish fellas, and it must be said, they do an absolutely bang-up job of making utterly authentic recreations of old machines from the late 70s and early 80s. If you haven't seen it, and are of a certain age, go there right now - you'll be blown to orgasm by your own nostalgia.
And on that note, I'll see you next week.
Jaz Rignall is editorial director on USgamer.net, Eurogamer's new boy-howdy-rootin-tootin American cousin. Every week he will be updating you on what's new in the land of missing 'u's and serial commas.