June 22, 2018

the lost legacy

Has that Jeremy Renner Bourne spin-off vibe—a B-grade side-plot elevated with A-level production values; nevertheless, the action sequences are up to Naughty Dog’s typically excellent par, and the decision to give some of the franchise’s supporting characters their own adventure makes the entire Uncharted universe feel more inhabited and lived-in.

a thief's end

There are environments in this game (particularly the ruins of an opulent pirate colony tucked away in the Madagascar jungle) that are so detailed and lovely that I frequently found myself stepping out of the narrative just to explore them. I feel like the PS4 Pro is just powerful enough now that these sorts of interactive movies (à la Detroit: Become Human) are becoming a believable proposition. Naughty Dog’s game design philosophy is a bit more painterly than Quantic Dream’s (lusher lighting, more emotional nuances, subtler performance-capture around the eyes), and the actual gameplay is looser, even as the plot is tighter. I think in another couple of console generations this gameplay format is going to bridge the Uncanny Valley decisively and become seamless.

May 26, 2018

detroit: become human

In the eighties and nineties, European directors such as Paul Verhoeven, Renny Harlin, Wolfgang Petersen, Roland Emmerich and Luc Besson fed the American moviegoing public a steady diet of amped-up outsider takes on pulpy Stateside action genres. Quantic Dream, the Parisian developer of Detroit: Become Human, approaches its interactive android thriller with comparable gusto, cribbing eagerly from A.I., I, Robot … that, uh, one androids show on AMC … with a bit of Minority Report spliced in for good measure. The result is clever, polished, invigorating, exploitative and immersive, coupled with Quantic Dream’s signature blend of sensationalism and naturalism (albeit fortunately devoid of the bad Saw/Se7en overtones that marred Heavy Rain). At its occasional worst, this game can be episodic and formulaic, but at its frequent best it’s visceral and surprisingly moving—with a climax that legitimately feels like being inside a big, summery, fun sci-fi popcorn movie from the mid-2000s. It’s also worth noting that the branching narrative is exceedingly ambitious, presenting the player with a dizzying array of choices that end up having real consequences, big and small, as the story builds.

November 3, 2017

super mario odyssey

Despite running on Nintendo’s most powerful hardware to date, the clunky art direction feels like a step back from both Super Mario Galaxy and 3D World. Nevertheless, there are gameplay concepts here that are as delightfully bananas as anything the franchise has offered. In its comparative unevenness, Odyssey almost reminds me of—dare I say it?—Sonic Adventure on the Sega Dreamcast.

September 27, 2017


The venerable side-scrolling platformer reimagined as a queasy, continuous tracking shot set in a world that’s lit like Disney’s Paperman but oscillates with the sci-fi dread of Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men: a beautiful nightmare. When the dark mood overwhelms I try to remind myself that the mechanics could just as easily drive a Rayman game.

September 12, 2017


Tense, moody, atmospheric. Suffers from a bit of that pretentiousness that arises when game developers try to be novelistic (cf. Heavy Rain), and the collision mechanics and map system could stand to be a mite less tedious, but ultimately this is an artful and immersive experience.

ratchet & clank

It's quite literally been years since I picked up a video game controller. This re-imagining for the PS4—with specific enhancements for the PS4 Pro—is a pleasure to look at and familiar fun to play. I only wish the callbacks to the original PS2 title were a bit more extensive.

November 14, 2014

monument valley

Turns out there's a missing link between Zen Bound and Journey.

August 4, 2014

super mario 3d world

The first Mario game I ever really loved wasn't an NES title. That console's flat graphics and ghoulish color palette never really sparked my devotion. Somewhat counterintuitively, it was Super Mario Land for the Gameboy that reeled me in, with its unexpectedly big-Mario experience via what was arguably an even more rudimentary presentation. Around the time Super Mario World came out for the SNES, I was phasing into adolescence and out of interest in that generation of gaming, although the title's aesthetics were impressive. I was passingly aware of the blocky Super Mario 64, but it wasn't really until the release of Super Mario Galaxy for the Nintendo Wii that I was captivated again. That game felt like being air-dropped into Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's subconscious via Shigeru Miyamoto's parachute, and the experience was utterly beguiling. The latest Mario title, 3D World, is more of a multidimensional pastiche of all the Marios before it than it is a direct evolution of Galaxy; but as such, it is exceedingly buffed and polished—almost enough to make the player overlook the Wii U's comparatively previous-gen specs. It hums like a Stradivarius.

January 14, 2014

broken age

The same way that Disney's "Paperman" peered into the soul of classic animation and used cutting-edge technology to breathe new life into it, Tim Schafer and his DoubleFine cohorts have managed to bring traditional point-and-click adventure gaming into the modern age and make it feel timeless.

November 15, 2013

into the nexus

Old habits die hard.

April 4, 2012


Spiritual, cinematic and transporting. The cooperative elements come so subtly into play that their emotional wallop is completely unexpected. Over the years games have brought me boredom, anxiety and frustration—but never catharsis and elation. Is there hype surrounding this title? If so, it's earned.

October 15, 2011

jett rocket

A little Jak and Daxter, a little Super Mario Galaxy, a whole lotta nostalgia.

October 13, 2010

sonic the hedgehog 4

As a high-def fantasia on the original side-scrolling Sonic: by turns invigorating and frustrating.

October 19, 2009

winter of the melodias

The little franchise that could.

February 26, 2009

zen bound

Dreamy presentation, convincing physics, consummate touch gameplay.

December 18, 2008


Rolling with it. Impressively polished. Handles like a completely native title for the iPhone's gaming platform. Nothing janky or kludgey about it.


I'm slow. It's addictive.

November 6, 2008

world of goo

Another entrant in the emerging globular-physics-erector-set genre of games that, in its Wii incarnation, plays to that console's specific strengths and limitations—presenting immaculate storybook motifs and amuse-bouche-proportioned levels perfect for procrastinatory grazing and casual consumption.

July 2, 2008

secret agent clank

Ratchet & Clank's first PlayStation Portable outing, Size Matters, was generally well-received but I found it perfunctory, glitchy and ultimately unplayable. In my experience, Secret Agent Clank, despite garnering more mixed reviews, is head and shoulders more surprising, inventive and enjoyable.

May 29, 2008


Lovely little platformer combines cutting-edge visuals and controls with classic side-scrolling action.

May 8, 2008

super smash bros. brawl

Fuck if I know what I'm doing or what's going on half the time I'm playing this title, but it's mindless, harmless fun; and while it inexplicably fails to put the Wii controller's specific strengths to good (or any particular) use—à la, say, the exemplary Super Mario Galaxy—it's never less than divertingly, attention-deficiently enjoyable.

December 24, 2007

super mario galaxy

Pure hypercolor poetry.

June 1, 2007

super paper mario

Not trippy enough.

February 18, 2007

size matters

The PSP installment doesn't entirely reproduce the Ratchet and Clank experience, but it'll tide me over until the upcoming PS3 release.

January 22, 2007

wii sports

May 21, 2006


March 25, 2006