A Case for Luigi

Mario is the proud progenitor of the world’s very best selling video game franchise.  His titles have influenced almost every generation of home console and he’s entertained countless individuals internationally – from the young to the old.  With that in mind, what of his younger brother – Luigi?  Since Mario has clearly taken the fore, Luigi’s been conversely left in a large and imposing shadow.  This has had the effect of rendering him vastly more interesting over the years, despite his sidekick trappings.  While he’s only held three true starring roles in his “career” (in Mario is Missing! and the Luigi’s Mansion series), it’s Luigi who brings depth of character and development to his brother’s legacy.  …   [continue reading]

The Unsettling Evolution of Video Game Storylines

Last week on the first episode of the Secret Cave podcast, I decided to start a bit of an argument. The statement was as follows:

“If a game doesn’t have a storyline, it’s shit.”

It’s not my opinion, or even something I’d thought deeply about, but I did have a bit of an idea what I meant by it.

For a start, I want to differentiate between the types of story games can have:

  1. Implied story: A story that can be gleaned from sparse dialog, box art, visual clues, and wider context
  2. Forced story: A story that is inextricably part of the game, like many RPGs

An example of type 1 would be Minecraft, where paintings and hidden content tells the story.…   [continue reading]

Death of a Legend

It seems, as gamers, that Mario and his Mushroom Kingdom associates have been with us from the beginning.  Of course, they haven’t.  What’s important about Shigeru Miyamoto’s work on the Mario series is that it almost invalidated everything that came before.  With some, indeed many, exceptions, most that preceded it suddenly seemed like mere experimental prodding towards something of greater importance.  Perhaps i’m overstating Mario’s power but that’s, at least, how it seems on the wide open surface.  Having already set the watermark high with his first outings, he would only continue that trend for the decades ahead – reinventing the platforming genre at every turn and outclassing his peers with ease.…   [continue reading]