Butterfly Soup is not for me, and I love it so, so much

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Matt Rickart | 10.13.2017


Before getting into Butterfly Soup - one of my favorite gaming and narrative experiences this year - I want to loosely define a few phrases:

Slice-of-life Slice-of-life, as an idiom, is sort of quaintly useless. Life is broad, and the slices can be generous. Ironically, in gaming, we use the term “vertical slice” to delineate the most exciting parts of a video game.

YA Yesterday on the Chicago L I saw a 50-something-year-old woman with a giant Hunger Games mocking jay tattoo on her neck. She probably wasn’t Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins. I know that for industry/genre enthusiasts YA is a useful term, but it’s also a dumb one.

Visual novel Visual novels are popular in Japan, but not living in Japan I haven’t spent much time with them. I did play the grossly overwritten 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors. It didn’t exactly leave me wanting more.

In visual novels, the player/reader reads text (mostly dialogue), looks at character portraits and makes occasional choices. Some visual novels include slightly more gamified systems, like inventories or stats, but generally they’re even less dynamic than choose-your-own-adventure books.

Okay, now Butterfly Soup:

God Hand is a Problem

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Bob Dorff | 09.28.2017

god hand

The first time you play God Hand, you will either hate it or think it's 'okay'. The second time you play it, you will probably have a similar opinion. Somewhere between the second or third time you experience the game, however, a switch will flip in your brain and you'll need to cope with a disturbing reality: As an opportunity to press buttons and see things occur on a screen, this game is perfect. On every other level, it's an indecent example of everything shameful about video games.

Oh well, you can't win 'em all.

Threes is, subjectively, the greatest game of all time

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Matt Rickart | 09.14.2017


When my parents bought me a fat grey Game Boy in 1991, it came with Tetris (1984). I played a lot of Tetris then, and I’ve played a lot since. Tetris may be the platonic ideal of “video game,” insofar as something so absurdly subjective can be said at all. Safer at least, would be to say...

Pyre Is On Fire

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Matt Rickart | 08.23.2017


Supergiant Games, a video game development company, was founded in 2009. In 2011, Supergiant put out its first game, Bastion, an isometric action-RPG. In 2014, Supergiant published it’s second game, Transistor, an isometric strategy-action-RPG. Starting in September of 2015, Supergiant (probably) played a lot of NBA 2K16’s MyCareer mode, as directed by renowned filmmaker Spike Lee.

At this time, Supergiant thought to itself, “We are not Spike Lee. But we could do better than this.”

And they did. They made Pyre.

Anatomy is a meta haunted house in my hard drive

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Matt Rickart | 08.09.2017


My 2013 MacBook Air can’t run much, but it can run Anatomy. If I had to choose one game for my Mac to run, it might be Anatomy. Anatomy contains so much in so little.

Splatoon 2 Is Totally Fresh

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Bob Dorff | 08.08.2017

Splatoon 2

A more accurate title would be FUN: The Official Game of the experience

You know what’s fun? Walking. People don’t talk about how joyous simply moving around is, but you’d be a fool to deny it’s one of life’s greatest pleasures. You don’t think about inherent happiness in walking because it’s something that you do every day. As I write this, I am 29 years old. That means I’ve been walking for something like 28 years. That’s 10220 days. It’s practically impossible for something repetitive like walking to remain fresh for that long. Over time, the novelty of movement wears off and walking becomes something that just ‘happens’.

Breath of the Wild is Great Zelda

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Matt Rickart | 08.02.2017


The first Zelda game I ever purchased was The Adventure of Link. It was 1992 and I found a $20 bill on the asphalt of a consignment store parking lot. I was six, and my mom let me keep it. It was the first $20 bill I’d ever held. The gold NES cart, no box, was sitting in a wicker basket near the register of the consignment shop. I had no idea what Zelda was, but Nintendo was Nintendo. I bought it. I think it was $5.

Firewatch Is Everyday Friction

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Matt Rickart | 07.13.2017

But for a pond, to put out these fires.

I like the term walking simulators. I think it’s funny. You know what game simulates physical walking really well? Firewatch. Firewatch pulls the tricks from The Last Of Us that make Joel feel like a two-ton bag of rocks, especially when he falls. The walking simulation in Firewatch is strong. Which is good, because it’s one of the only physically frictive systems in the game.

Desert Golfing Is A Backyard In Your Pocket

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Bob Dorff | 06.30.2017

This is what it looks like when you golf in the desert.


Desert Golfing, a game you can purchase for your iOS or Android device, is perfectly designed for its environment. Right now, no other video game better harnesses the always-on-and-always-aimless nature of pocket computers. It’s a game full of goals, but those objectives originate from the player as much as the game’s creator. If there’s one phrase I associate with smartphones, it’s “killing time”. I don’t know if there were fewer moments of boredom in the past, or if we only started to notice the five minute gaps in our day after everybody stopped smoking cigarettes, but since smartphones came around we’ve all gotten very good at filling in the temporal cracks. I don’t remember killing time as a child. I remember doing a whole lot of nothing, but I never felt like I was actively trying to fritter any moment away. That’s probably because I rarely had anywhere to be, so there was never space between appointments. It’s a lie to say that I did nothing as a kid, what I actually did was construct meaningless games in my head. My door became a dartboard, my dresser became a warzone, my backyard became a golf course. These games lacked time limits, and because they existed in my mind, I could visit them whenever I wanted, for as long as was available. Desert Golfing is like one of the imaginary games I played as a kid, except it puts my backyard inside my pocket.