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Now Playing, May 18 to 24

Donkey Kong Country Returns

This one had been sitting on my shelf for a while. I’m so glad I finally took it down.

The original Donkey...

Now Playing, May 11 to 17

Kero Blaster

Cave Story, the predecessor to Kero Blaster, changed the way I thought about making videogames. Before Cave Story, it seemed like games were made by big corporations...

Now Playing, May 4 to 10

Fire Emblem: Awakening

I would write pages about how this game balances comedic narrative with tragic mechanics if Jon Irwin hadn’t already written it better than I could have.

Now Playing, April 27 to May 3

Monument Valley

Don’t not play this.

Fez + Escher + Thoughtful Flatness

Now Playing, April 20 to 26

Boson X

If Super Hexagon were an infinite runner.

Now Playing, April 13 to 19

Kirby Triple Deluxe

My review at Kill Screen.

Now Playing, April 6 to 12


My review at Kill Screen.

Now Playing, March 30 to April 5

NES Remix 2

My review at Kill Screen.

Now Playing, March 23—29


Are hard games more fun?

Now Playing, March 16—22

Pikmin 3 Tilt-Shift

Games are supposed to give us new experiences. Why, then, are we usually humans or humanoids of approximately human size doing approximately human...

Now Playing, March 9—15

Towerfall: Ascension

We played with a group of 4 over good beer and it was spectacular. Even those among us who don’t play games much...

Now Playing, March 2—8

Yoshi’s New Island

I reviewed it for Kill Screen. My feels about it here.

Now Playing, February 23—March 1

Twitch Plays Pokémon

I played it. You may have, too. Mostly, start9. Praise Helix.

What I’m talking about here, here, here, here.

Now Playing, February 16—22

Naya’s Quest

I actually played this one quite a while ago, but hadn’t yet written it up.

It’s a web browser game—play it here.

Naya’s Quest was...

Now Playing, February 9—15

The Magical Realms of Tír na nÓg: Escape from Necron 7 – Revenge of Cuchulainn: The Official Game of the Movie – Chapter 2...

Now Playing, February 2—8

Threes 3 6 12 24 48 96 192

A minute to learn, a lifetime to master. That’s the slogan for Othello, the unofficial mantra of Go,...

Now Playing, January 26—February 1

OlliOlli Tony Hawk’s Pre Skater

There’s this unspoken rule that videogames should come recognizably close to real life, but not too close. At a certain point,...

Now Playing, January 19—25


I wish we could play Drei right here, right now.

Much like Journey, it’s a game about obstacles, teamwork, and success across boundaries of language....

Now Playing, January 12—18

Super Mario 3D World

Let’s talk about the Wii U for a second before we talk about its best game.

2014, the Wii U looks like...

Now Playing, January 5—11

LIFE LIVED IN TECHNICOLOR The Legend of Zelda: Windwaker HD

The Legend of Zelda: Windwaker was one of the only unforgettable videogame experiences I’ve ever had.


Now Playing, December 29—January 4


I’ve never read a text or played a game more acutely aware of the context in which it will be received than DEVICE...

Now Playing, December 15—21

MIGHT AS WELL JUMP Impossible Road

If you were a kid with any videogaming inclination in 1990’s America, odds are good that at some point or...

Now Playing, December 8—14

Bit.Trip Presents … Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien

Thankfully, the game’s title—Bit.Trip Presents … Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien—is pretty much the clunkiest...

Now Playing, December 1—7

Tearaway Scissors and Glue

Art supplies evoke a nostalgia of possibility. Scissors, Elmer’s, glitter, macaroni, Mr. Sketch markers, construction paper. They all come from the almost-forgotten...

Now Playing, November 24—30

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who dislikes The Legend of Zelda games. There must be...

Now Playing, November 17—23


I’m almost finished with this wonderful post-Hexagon iOS action puzzler and will write out something fuller when I’m finished.

For now, just know this: Duet takes...

Pokémon made me a better person.

Or, lying is terrible.

Over here, on Medium.

Now Playing, November 10—16

Actually, this week it’s Now Reading:

I curated this week’s This Week in Videogame Blogging (#TWIVGB) from the wonderful Critical Distance

If you don’t know, now...

Now Playing, November 3 to 9

The Typing of the Dead: Overkill

I reviewed it for Kill Screen. It’s over here!

Now Playing, October 27—November 2

Rocksmith 2014

I reviewed Rocksmith for Kill Screen. Check it out!

Now Playing, October 20—26

Pokémon X/Y

For those of us who grew up with it, Pokémon is more of a long-term relationship than a game. Even on picking it...

Now Playing, October 13—19


140 is a bit like Sound Shapes, a bit like Thomas Was Alone, and a bit like Hundreds. It’s a music platforming game that’s...

Now Playing, October 6—12

Rogue Legacy

Rogue Legacy gamifies the inbreeding of British nobility.

As you might have guessed from title, Rogue Legacy is a roguelike—that is, a game that’s...

Now Playing, September 29 to October 5

Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs

Hear me, Mandus. My gears are adjust. My steam is built. Soon I will spill that blue water, and split...

Now Playing, September 22—28

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons doesn’t need language to communicate. It’s not “better” than language in a self-important...

Now Playing, September 15—21

The Last of Us

A friend and two-time veteran of this particular zombie apocalypse described The Last of Us to me as a slow burn....

Now Playing, September 8—14

Rayman Legends

There’s a platitude that often rises in defense of run-of-the-mill media: “Sometimes you just want to watch a stupid movie.” It holds for...

The Meaning of Difficulty in Videogames and Other Texts

If a novel is difficult to read, it is most often long, sometimes insanely so; chock-full of references to other texts, mythology, and itself;...

Now Playing, September 1—7

Battleblock Theater

“What dangerous treats lie in store as we continue to unravel this treacherous sweater? I dunno.” —The Narrator, BattleBlock Theater

Coming off of their years-long...

Now Playing: August 25—31

Gone Home

Pasted below are my notes from my first playthrough of Gone Home. Obviously, there are all kinds of spoilers, so tread softly if...

Now Playing, August 18—24

Arkham City

There’s something about the shoulder buttons on a controller. Maybe it’s that they require such a meaty press when compared with the gentle...

Now Playing, August 11—17

DuckTales: Remastered

Let’s be clear: “Remaster” and “remake” do not mean the same thing. “Remastering” is what happens when you take an album that was...

Now Playing, August 4—10


Like so many others who remember (and regret remembering) HitClips, I was born in 1990. When Myst came out, I was three years and...

Now Playing, July 28—August 3


Hardly any games ask you to focus more on the background than the foreground. In most, interactivity lands front and center. After all, you...

Now Playing, July 21—27

Skyrim, Part 2

I ended my last Now Playing about Skyrim with a thought about the game’s weird internal strain being something between a solitary...

Now Playing, July 14—20

Skulls of the Shogun

Skulls of the Shogun is a turn-based strategy game in the tradition of games like Advance Wars and other player-as-general simulations....

Now Playing, July 7—13


Dear Reader, I have a confession to make: Before this week, I had never played Skyrim.

I realize that’s borderline negligence as an unselfconscious “Videogames!”...

Now Playing, June 30—July 6


In most videogames, the player’s largest responsibility is movement. You progress through the environment, grow stronger the further you go, position your units, etc....

Now Playing, June 23—29

Batman: Arkham Asylum

We’re usually heroes in games. When you’re holding a controller, it’s hardly surprising to have the fate of the world fall into...

Now Playing, June 16—22

Mirror’s Edge

When it came out in 2009, Mirror’s Edge was controversial for all the wrong reasons. We could rehash its problems here—sometime-confusing physics, bizarre...

Now Playing, June 9—15

Animal Crossing: New Leaf

“Who needs real life when you have New Leaf?”—Audrey Drake, IGN

I’m wary of extolling escapism. People often argue that games are...

Now Playing, June 2—8

The Walking Dead

 “Tailored by how you play”

I don’t cry very much. Not counting chopping onions, my girlfriend of five years has only seen me...

Now Playing, May 26—June 1

Mind/Body Problem

You know the phrase “mind over matter?” Today, we usually use it in roughly the same way Nike uses, “Just do it:” an...

Now Playing, May 19-25


I’ve been waiting to sit down and learn this game for a long time. And high-speed gusts, a felled powerline, and nothing else to...

Now Playing, May 12-18

Rearviewmirror Edition

I didn't play anything new this week! What! (But I did learn to make GIFtastic titlecards. I may be doing that more.)

Borderlands 2


Now Playing, May 5 to 11

I've never tried to synthesize anything in a Now Playing before; it's usually a forum for more compartmentalized thinking. But this week I felt...

Now Playing, April 28 to May 4

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon

I wish that there were a word as compact, clear, and culturally weighty as machismo to describe the specific brand...

Out of Time: Debating Zelda’s Chronology

I never expected to write a post for this website on iMessage. What started as barely more than a status update—”Replaying A Link to the...

Now Playing, April 21 to 27

The Knife of Dunwall

The Knife of Dunwall is the second piece of DLC for the too-lovely-for-its-own-good Dishonored. The first piece, Dunwall City Trials, bears mention only...

Now Playing, April 14-20

The No New Games Edition

I was studying for a test this week, so I didn’t have much time to play new stuff. But I...

Now Playing, April 7-13


Race and culture are often pushed to the sidelines in videogames. Developers and writers usually opt to develop societies from whole cloth rather than...

Now Playing, March 31 to April 6


Over the years, I have learned to trust that cutesy games—especially those billed as brain teasers—are often not what they appear. Like ilomilo and...

Now Playing, March 24 to 30


While I haven’t finished it yet, I have to say that, from the perspective of its mechanics, Outland (2011) is an incredible achievement. It takes the familiar structure...

Now Playing, March 17 to 23

If you’re equal parts sharp-eyed and sharp-witted, you may have noticed that I’ve backtracked a little bit on these Now Playing dates, stepping on...

Snowquester, Part 3

This is the third part of a series. Part one is hanging out around here. Part two is in this neck of the woods.


Now Playing, March 11 to March 18

Ridiculous Fishing

Is, as the name implies, utterly absurd. Everyone’s been talking about the dreamteam who made this game, but, as far as I’ve seen,...

Snowquester, Part 2

This is part two of a three part article. The first part can be found here. The third part will be posted later.


From a mechanical...

Tropes vs. Women in Video Games

Anita Sarkeesian has released the first in a series of videos analyzing the Damsel in Distress as a trope (really, the trope) in videogames. I’ll...

The Snowquester: Little Inferno & Real Racing 3, Part 1

This is part one of a three part article. You can find part two here.


For a time when I went to school there, Albemarle...

Now Playing, March 2 to March 10

Little Inferno

I have a full blown article about this lovely little game and Real Racing 3 that’ll be flying through these pneumatic tubes probably...

Mission Statement

Limits of the form

This is a blog. No two ways about it. You won’t find twitterific headlines here, nor exclusive reveals, nor marks out...

Now Playing, Feb. 25—Mar. 1

Super Mario 3D Land

The first time I played a 3DS was at a GameStop-esque tech shop in the Gare du Nord. I played PilotWings....

Teaching Stanley

I tell my class, “We’re going to play a videogame today.”  Cheers, uproar, what you’d expect to hear from students thinking about platforming instead...

Proteus & Installation

“The observer, when he seems to himself to be observing a stone, is really, if physics is to be believed, observing the effects of...

Now Playing, Feb. 18—24

Year Walk—An unsettling walk through the woods and Swedish folklore. The walking mechanic doesn’t really resemble walking in the woods so much as it...

Now Playing, Feb. 10—17

The GRE—Spent most of the last week studying for the GRE, which felt pretty gamified in its own right. All of the literature surrounding...

Now Playing: Feb. 3 to Feb. 9

Ni No Kuni—Finished it! Keep an eye out for a OWATIW on one of its mini games later this week. I was trying to...

O What A Thrill It Was…?

O What A Thrill It Was (OWATIW, “ow-ah-tew”) is another 8bitscholar regular feature in the same vein as Now Playing, but about something smaller...

Now Playing, Jan. 28 to Feb. 2

Ni No Kuni—I mention this one again because I’ve read some conflicting opinions about it this week and am still plowing through. IGN puts...

Another Castle

Below you’ll find a copy of my senior thesis. It’s about the stolen princess narrative trope in medieval literature and videogames.

There are a thousand...

Now Playing, Jan. 20—27

2013, Calendar Week 5

Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch—Has owned my life this week. It’s a rapturous mix of Final Fantasy VII—IX memories seasoned...

Now Playing, Jan. 13—19

2013, Calendar Week 4

Papo y Yo—There’s an article in the Somewhere Else series forthcoming about this, but, for now, I’ll just say that I...

Now Playing?

What is Now Playing?

Now Playing is a weekly short-form response to the games we’ve been playing that week. This site’s MO/raison d’être/Thing is to...

The Hexagony & The Hextsasy

This is my Hyper Hexagonest Hardestestest ending screen cap. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

“April is the cruelestestest month…”


Here’s the first...

Somewhere Else, Part 3: The Unfinished Swan

Where Dishonored allows us to take our time disassembling our expectations about first person action games by giving us the time to think things...

Somewhere Else, Part 2: Dishonored

Dishonored falls somewhere in the pool of the stealth-action genre of videogames. I personally feel that the genre would be better stylized as “stealth/action,”...

Somewhere Else, Part 1: The Day The Earth Didn’t Move Around Very Much

This is the first part of a larger article that will cover a common theme of extraordinary observation in Dishonored, The Unfinished Swan, and Proteus. But, this first part...

Fez & The New Aesthetic

This column has come in a few months late. In that time, we solved the Black Monolith Puzzle, decoded the 3D book of haikus,...

Borderlands, Piranha 3DD, and Addiction

In spite of all the praise it received, the millions of hours that were logged on it worldwide, and the soon-to-be critically acclaimed sequel...

American Consumerism and the Ending of Mass Effect 3

While there are obvious social, technological, and medical advancements that make me happy I live in modern times, there are a lot of things...