Vidjagame Apocalypse 148 – Games That Critique Gaming

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Video games have been around since at least the ’70s, but introspective games – ones with a statement to make about how we approach and play games, and what we expect from them – are still relatively rare. With The Witness out this week, however, we decided to take a look at how Jonathan Blow’s earlier effort helped push metacommentary in games – and then we use it as a jumping-off point to talk about a few others. With that out of the way, we can talk about The Witness, Final Fantasy Explorers, Mighty No. 9 getting delayed again and the third-party Nintendo exclusives that you’d like to see get a second life.

Question of the Week

Have you ever faced a puzzle difficult enough to stop you in your tracks? What was it?

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11 thoughts on “Vidjagame Apocalypse 148 – Games That Critique Gaming

  1. That’s such a specific question that I genuinely don’t have an answer. I cannot recall any particular love for any third-party Nintendo exclusives that didn’t at some point get a re-release or have a series continuation elsewhere.

  2. I think we’ve heard the hosts discuss each game in the top seven at least a few times by now, but I don’t think I can ever tire of hearing Mikel discuss Spec Ops, undertale, or Bioshock.

  3. A while back I got an indie game on Steam called the Fish Fillets, and its puzzles have stumped me for weeks at a time on multiple occasions. Not only that, but the game is sort of like an under-the-sea parody of the X-Files, which I find hilarious. Given the immense difficulties of its puzzles and the recent reboot of the X-Files, I think it’s the perfect answer to this week’s question.

  4. QOTW: I’m ashamed to admit this but, I never got past the first boss of “EAT LEAD: The Return of Matt Hazard”. I was 16, headstrong, and impatience due to hormones. I threw myself at that boss over and over again not realizing there is a puzzle element that requires you to hit a button to cancel a nuclear bomb while defeating the boss and his cronies. Why do I call it a puzzle? Because I was never told to deactivate a nuke. All I ever heard was a clock ticking down and Russian stereotypes trash talking me. I ended up never beating that boss or the game an later selling it with the odd 25 achievement points it left on my gamertag as a reminder of my failure.

  5. I never really got how a game acknowledging that you can’t do what you want in it, only what the developers put into it, is in any way profound. Magritte made pretty much exactly that point with The Treachery of Images, like 80 years ago.

    1. I’ve usually thought the same when it come to the “You only do what we tell you” especially in BioShock 1 because while the characters boss you around, the level design and everything else that literally is the game constrains you in ways the narrative isn’t acknowledging, making the “mind-control = object indicators” reveal seem hallow. And by playing the game you’ve entered into an agreement to play by the rules of the game. It would be like if Monopoly challenged you to ignore the dice, or a movie made fun of you for using your eyes to look at it.

    2. I’m bummed you guys missed the most Meta-comment in of all time in MGS2. It litterally acknowledges that it is a sequel, in-canon, by the characters to MGS1 manufactured to create Solid Snake/the player’s enjoyment of that game with new characters and graphics.

      Then in MGS3 they do it again, this time on the down low. And by MGS4 they reveal that the entire series has been orchestrated by the Patriots (Konami?) to keep creating the same game because that’s all they are aloud/able to do, all couched in the concept of history repeating itself and the cycle of war.

  6. Question of the Week: I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I never beat the Milkman level in Psychonauts. I got to the part where you need to climb the telephone pole but I could never find the hard hat you needed to get past the “telephone repair” men. I looked everywhere I could think of and refused to check a guide. Between the fustration of not being able to find it and the growing headache I was getting from running around the level (damn that camera level), I had to stop. I never ended up going back to itm

  7. Ecco the God damn Dolphin on the Megadrive when I was about 9. It’s not like it was even a puzzle, I just couldn’t find the right way before running out of air…on the second level.

    Rented it from a store for £2, the internet didn’t even exist so I couldn’t check a FAQ. All I could do was return it and go back to failing to get past level 2 on MERCS, or Alyssia Dragoon.

    I just sucked at games. Still do, and now I’m almost 30.

  8. the puzzle that immediately jumps out to me is from a pc game called Hare raising havoc I think. It was a Rodger Rabbit game from back in the day that was awesome. Its one of the first “escape room” kinda games that I can ever remember playing. Each stage you had to set off a chain of goofy events in order to move to the next. All to save the baby, if I remember right. Sunk hours into it but only ever got to around the 3rd stage where you have to cross a busy street. I spent way too many hours into it and never did cross the street. And its actually a really fond memory now. So much so I still wont look up the answer to it. Dont know if you can find it and still play it but I dare you to not look up the answer and play it (if its available anywhere). Great game and if you read this…. Please no spoilers from my 1989 game, I still intend to one day finish that damn game.

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