Article The Dorklyst: 6 Seemingly Family-Friendly Games That Really Aren't

By Sophie Prell / December 15, 2011

Tis the season, dear Dorkly readers. Tis the season for giving, for gathering, for growing and geniality. It's a lovely time of year, and I know a great many of you are just aching to know what games you can pop into the console without upsetting the family's delicate sensibilities as they sit, stuffed at the dinner table. Well, I have good news and bad news. Bad news is you may not want to use any of those in this list. Good news is hey, it's the Internet! There's bound to be at least one poop joke ahead! So go on, get to reading!

6. Wii Sports

Oh sure, the allure is there, and it has been for a good five years now. Create a cartoon representative of yourself and send it to Nintendo's virtual sports arena to have it do battle on the golf course, in the bowling lanes, or even a boxing ring. And why not? The system is only $150, and Wii Sports, the game that launched a thousand units (classic literature reference!), is now only $20 new. Cheap system, good for the kids to mess around with and keep occupied for a few hours right?

Oh yeah, totally. But you know what you aren't going to enjoy? The crap-ton of savings that just went down the toilet because nephew Randy "hurled that Wii remote straight through your new 46" HDTV":// I'm pretty sure that the amount of financial damage, not to mention the punishment most parents would exact upon a child for such copious amounts of damage, would be enough to send any parent into a frenzy and classify Wii Sports as one of the world's strongest rage fuels.

Family bonding: destroyed.

5. Rayman Origins

Speaking of the holidays, here's an end-of-year release that's actually on my personal wish list. I mean, look at it. It's byoooooooteeful. And unlike the original Rayman games, which never expounded on Rayman's… uh… origins, Rayman Origins actually flat-out tells us that our weird, floating-body-and-limbless Rayman was created by moonbeams being given life from the Nymphs as part of a prophecy. It's cute, cartoony and silly, even when Rayman is being a little perv and giving his mom an upskirt.

Wait, what?

Yeah. In the announcement trailer for Origins, we see Rayman playfully giving the Nymph that has given him life — so, his mom — a blast of air from below to peek under her skirt. And even if that weren't quite odd enough, people know what nymphs are, right? Like, you realize that someone who craves sex to a clinically significant degree is called a nymphomaniac? And though the sexual connotations are fairly recent, even the more nature-centered nymphs of the Greeks still engaged in the act. And when they mated with Poseidon, they gave birth to this. Huh. You know, by those standards, Rayman actually looks pretty normal.

Filed Under   the dorklyst

Article The Dorklyst: The Six Least Intimidating Baddies in Videogames

By Brandon Hoang / December 8, 2011

We gamers like to kick off our booties after a rough nine-to-fiver, throw our legs up on our cinderblock table, pick up our controllers, and forget about the real world for just a few hours; to escape into a world where we're epic heroes assigned with the daunting task of vanquishing pure evil.

But sometimes we open that creepy-looking Pandora's Box and a springy "nuts in a can" snake pops out instead. We're suddenly pulled out of the fantasy when we encounter a villain that splits our sides with laughter. Here's our tribute to some of the most WTF characters in gaming.

6. Disco Kid (Punch-Out!!)

For a series that introduced me to a soda-pop addicted boxer, I shouldn't have been surprised when Nintendo debuted this rather flamboyant opponent to the newest Punch Out!! game. But no amount of Rocky-esque training could prepare me for the Disco Kid. He was a perfect addition to Little Mac's off kilter rogue gallery, but about as intimidating as Carlton Banks dressed in a sailor suit holding a giant lolly.

Over-the-top, jazzy catchphrases like "Wheeee! Eh, stretch!" and "I. Am. Fa-bu-lous!" don't conjure up images of anyone close to resembling Ivan Drago. When this Chris Brown wannabe returns to claim his title, he makes a sparkly leap into the boxing ring sporting a full body spandex suit that would make Richard Simmons blush. At least King Hippo could take a punch with some dignity … the Disco Dandy just breathes out a whispy "eh!" This boxer wasn't training in the off season by furiously punching slabs of meat, he was searching Groupon for hot yoga deals.

5. Wood Man (Mega Man 2)

Wait what? Wood Man? You're kidding me, right, Doc Wy? This is only Mega Man 2 and you're already scraping the bottom of the barrel for your futuristic robots of mayhem? If you were really struggling to come up with ideas, no one would blame you for making sh*t up. Hell, I still don't know what Guts Man is, but I DO know that he's got Olympian pectorals and the ability to hurl motherboard-crushing boulders. That's enough to make me quiver in my over-sized robo-boots.

His costume isn't even a full grown tree (those can be terrifying); it's a stump. He shoots leaves. Leaves. Get it together, Doc. You can't hope to take over Monsteropolis with robots like Wood Man. Hold up, are those blueprints for… a "Plant Man"? I give up.

Filed Under   the dorklyst

Article The Dorklyst: 7 Star Wars Franchises That Are Better Than The Movies

By Andy Grossman / November 30, 2011

Star Wars' greatest advantage is its universe. You don't need Luke to love Jedi. And you certainly don't need C-3PO to love droids. Star Wars is a living, constantly changing franchise set over the course of tens of thousands of years.

So it shouldn't come as a surprise that some of the greatest stories in the Star Wars franchise aren't actually the main movies. Sure, the first two and a half films are some of the best in movie history. But given the reigns, a few lucky writers, cartoonists, and game designers have managed to capture the best aspects of the series without any of the trade negotiations.

7. The Novelizations of The Movies

Hear me out. While most sci-fi novelizations take scripts and dumb them down for kids, the Star Wars novelizations actually expand on the events of the movies. They honestly read like George Lucas told not-crazy people what he wanted the stories to be and then said not-crazy people went, "Okay, time to make this not crazy."

I especially recommend giving the prequel novelizations a try. They fix the greatest mistakes in science-fiction history. C3PO isn't an idiot in the prequel novels. Anakin's character fluctuations are explained and smoothed out. Jar Jar isn't racist anymore, although that's just because you can read him in a voice that doesn't make you feel bad about your country's history.

Almost everything that made the prequels terrible makes more sense and is delivered cleaner in the novelizations.

6. Tales From Mos Eisley Cantina

It's easy to forget that, in a franchise where space wizards and sexy star pilots battle for the fate of the galaxy, there are still people who just get drunk in bars.

Tales From Mos Eisley Cantina takes the wretched hive of scum and villainy and makes it as sad as a real bar. The band doesn't want to be playing there. Greedo is just a putz who was tricked into getting shot by Han (YES!). And remember that bartender who hates droids so much? Well, he discovers he likes droids for a super creepy reason (spoiler alert: don't drink anything in that bar).

Best of all, you find out the genre of music the Mos Eisley band is playing is called "Jizz." Really. And that musicians who specialize in Jizz are called "Jizz-wailers." Which is just the best anything ever.

Filed Under   star wars   the dorklyst

Article The Dorklyst: 7 Reasons You Don't Want To Work in the Video Game Industry

By Andy Grossman / November 16, 2011

So you want to make video games. Who wouldn't? It must be amazing creating new e-narratives and cyber stories. Working with a team of talented artists and programmers and probably Jennifer Hale, giving fans hours of joy, what could be better?

Anything. Literally anything could be better than working in video games. Despite its self-glamorization as a cool wolf pack having fun, wolf-packing around, the video game industry is serious business. And like any serious business, the people who make that serious business work are more or less interchangeable parts in a horrible machine of sadness. Don't believe me? List time!

7. You Won't Work On A Game You Like

Every video game is made by a group of people with their own hopes, dreams, and families. A lot of them are nice folks who are super excited to be part of the industry that shaped their childhood. So when you make your hilarious YouTube video mocking the shovelware in a Best Buy, try to remember that decent, mother-born humans were forced to create that Dora the Explorer game. And since around 90 to 99.9999% of games are total crap, you'll probably also be forced to make that Dora the Explorer game. Especially at the entry level, which in the video games means "the rest of your life."

Even if you're lucky enough to land that dream job at Valve or Nintendo or Blizzard, and you get to work on a beloved franchise, you'll hate it when you're done. Try enjoying Halo after you get reprimanded for slightly coloring Master Chief's helmet off the style guide. You won't. The magic will be gone: An endless universe filled with infinite stories will be replaced by a group of bug logs reporting that Nathan Drake's eyes are missing in cut scenes.

6. You'll Be Expected To Move Far, Far Away

When Silent Hill Downpour lead designer Brian Gomez left the project this month, he said "I couldn't keep making the commute between Los Angeles and Brno for another 4-6 months." What a wuss! Just buy an audio book and suck it up, right?

Except that Brno isn't some suburb a traffic jam away from Los Angeles. It's in the Czech Republic. Because Brian Gomez is such a talented and in-demand designer, he was expected to spend the majority of his time in a country that's not the country where his wife and children live.

He's not the only one: job listings for video game companies often ask if applicants are willing to leave America. And stop getting excited, thinking it means you'll be shooting movies in the luscious hills of New Zealand. It just means you'll have to do your 18-hour programming day somewhere the one person willing to have sex with you isn't. Usually Poland.

Filed Under   the dorklyst

Article The Dorklyst: 6 Educational Games That Actually Weren't That Bad

By Brandon Hoang / November 9, 2011

In elementary school, when we heard the pitter patter of raindrops hit the window panes, we knew exactly what we were in for: indoor recess. When we heard that recess bell, it was a mad dash, not unlike the running of the bulls, to secure a prime piece of real estate in front of an open computer. Those kids who missed out on an empty chair were forced to "silent reading" or paper football. We plugged away at the keyboards with our sticky peanut butter and jelly fingers playing extraordinary educational games aimed at feeding our brains with knowledge. We were being taught without even knowing it and dammit, we liked it.

Hey, Jack Thompson, why don't you swap your Haterade with a carton of cafeteria style chocolate milk and peep this here list. You might learn a thing or two.

6. The Oregon Trail

You knew this was coming. The obvious answer that everyone can see 2,000 miles away is a game that has gone down in meme folklore: The Oregon Trail. And for good reason. It taught us so many things that the classroom couldn't, e.g. you can't go anywhere with a broken yoke. And that the yolk of an egg is much different than the yoke of a wagon. I learned that the word "grueling" doesn't mean eating the sub-par food in orphanages. And that your standard covered wagon back isn't capable of hauling over 100,000 pounds of buffalo meat.

We learned that you never take the Big Blue Riv— WRONG! You always choose to ford the river. That's the best part of the game! Well, besides naming one of your wagon members after that jackass in class who stole your Garbage Pail Kid collection and getting satisfaction by killing him off with dysentery. Take that, Ryan Wolfe!

5. Pepper's Adventures in Time

Back in the early 90s, Sierra was churning out edutainment titles faster than you can say "3-2-1 Contact". Pepper's Adventures in Time was one of the best. Not only could you learn a thing or two about American history, but the character designs were hilarious and the dialogue was pretty damn witty for a game aimed at a younger audience.

Much like Dr. Sam Beckett from Quantum Leap, Pepper got sucked into a time machine and had to right the wrongs of colonial America. Except in this point-and-click, our founding fathers are now hippies and it's up to you to swap their hookah pipe for a Constitutional writing quill. What other game sets the record straight that Benjamin Franklin wasn't actually a flower child? And while he did invent the Franklin Stove, he did not invent the hot tub.

Although, it's not too far of a stretch to imagine some beatniks re-purposing lines from Poor Richard's almanac into their "art". Maybe Sierra was onto something…

Filed Under   the dorklyst   educational games

Article Halloween Dorklyst: The 6 Goriest Death Scenes in Videogame History

By Sophie Prell / October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween, Dorksters! I hope your holiday weekend went well. I spent mine watching the Hellraiser series, both versions of The Thing, and shotgunning the entire Alien quadrilogy, relishing in every gory, dripping moment. I thought I'd share some of my delightfully dark taste with you in the spirit of the season. So bust out the popcorn and the barf bags, because below are six of the most haunting, goriest death scenes in video games. Abandon all hope, ye who enter this Dorklyst.

6. Golf Club, Meet Face (Bioshock)

Originally, this list was going to be comprised entirely of player deaths, and all the bad sh*t that happens when we fail to press the jump button at exactly the right time or just barely miss dodging that axe murderer's swing. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized there were some fantastically gory deaths of NPCs, some of them were the most memorable of the whole lot. Such is the tale of Andrew Ryan's death in Bioshock.

In movies, we often see characters knocked out with a single headbutt or smack with a blunt object. Bioshock gets a little closer to what would actually happen if you were to strike the soft, squishy scalp of a human with the hard metal of, oh say, a golf club. The slurred screams of Ryan echo hauntingly throughout Rapture as his face twists, and the squit! sound of blood from his temples seals the deal. A man chooses. A slave obeys.

5. Chainsaw Piledriver (Manhunt)

Manhunt is a game with a bare bones plot to thread together gory murder after gory murder. There are so many to choose from, too. Maybe the brutal hack, hack, hack, hack, decapitation of the machete kill? The wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle of the wire beheading? All fine and good, but I'm gonna go with the one that makes my stomach drop thinking about it: chainsaw piledriver.

With the Manhunt chainsaw, you can invert the blade like you're about to stick a post in the ground, and shove it straight down into someone's sweet, succulent gray matter. The chainsaw cracks open the victim's head like a ripe melon, and ventures down into the chest cavity for a good moment or two, churning up their insides like a blender. Mmm, who's hungry?

Filed Under   the dorklyst   halloween 2k11

Article The Dorklyst: 6 Videogame Princesses More Badass Than Their Rescuers

By Mark Filipowich / October 27, 2011

Whether as a love interest or an easy plot device, young royal ladies always find themselves popping up in videogames. Strikingly often, these princesses need the player to embark on an epic journey to save them. But every once in a while, it's the princess who ought to be doing the saving while the defenseless man waves a handkerchief flirtatiously. Here are six princesses that are way more badass than their supposed "rescuers."

6. Elika (Prince of Persia)

Prince of Persia stars an athletic, acrobatic and youthful ruler of a forbidden Arabian land who possesses ancient magic and knowledge meant to combat a god of evil. It also stars a prince. He wears scarves. Elika can leap, climb and fight just as well as the Prince, except he needs her magic to surmount many obstacles. The player controlled Prince is only truly useful during the short, basic, one-on-one combat; even then a third of his attacks involve Elika flinging herself, unarmed at an enemy. The Prince's biggest contribution to the team is owning a donkey.

5. Princess Nina (Breath of Fire series)

During the JRPG golden ages, you could always count on a solid Breath of Fire game to tide you over between Final Fantasy releases. And in those games, you could always count on a silent blue-haired hero named Ryu to meet up with an adventurous Wyndian princess named Nina. Unlike most RPG princesses, Nina knows that white magic is for suckers and controls wind and fire as well as any dark sorcerer. While Ryu is prone to waking up in fields naked and remembering only his name, Nina is apt to murdering centaurs who try hold her ransom at age eight. Not to mention the fourth installment of the series when she infiltrates enemy territory to rescue her sister, Princess Elina. Not only is she more badass than her rescuer, but she herself is a princess rescuer. Meta.

Filed Under   the dorklyst   princesses

Article The Dorklyst: The 6 Strangest In-Game Ads in Videogame History

By Sophie Prell / October 20, 2011

Well hey there, kids! Do you like awesome? Do you like excitement? Then you're gonna love this Dorklyst countdown of the strangest in-game advertisements! Buckle your seatbelts because we're going on a crazy ride through modern gaming's most whorish advances into your brain's consumption lobe! This Dorklyst brought to you by Kool-Aid! Oh yeahhhhh!!

Please note: This Dorklyst not actually brought to you by Kool-Aid.

6. Red Bull in Worms 3D

As a power-up in the classic tiny warfare franchise, Red Bull feels a little out of place next to the Kamikaze worm and Holy Hand Grenade. But still, I suppose even invertebrates need that extra pick-me-up. If one of your little buddies is low on health, give him one of these to pep him up. If Worms 3D were to adapt the Red Bull slogan it would become "Drink Red Bull! It gives you health!"

But wait, something feels off here. Oh yeah! Red Bull, and energy drinks in general, are f**king awful for you. They've got about twice as much caffeine as a can of pop (yes, I'm from the Midwest, and that's what we call it here) making them addictive as all hell. As a diuretic, it also makes it harder for you to poop. Which, you know… poop jokes. They're funny, right?

But really, the joke here isn't necessarily about the adverse health effects of Red Bull, it's the fact that worms shooting cannons are drinking Red Bull. It's like Activision partnering with Burger King so that every time you needed health in Call of Duty, you eat a Whopper. How the hell does this happen in the first place, anyway? Is the in-game placement supposed to make me thirsty for a Red Bull? To think of one of these little creepy-crawlies as my bro in caffeinated beverage glory?

5. Everything in Battlefield: 2142

It's one thing to know your audience. It's a whole different beast to convince your audience they're about to install spyware to find their browsing habits and display them publicly in-game. God forbid you've got some really kinky stuff in those browser cookies. You dirty bird, you.

Naturally, people didn't like that and a subsequent ragefest ensued. The mess lead to a whole bunch of clarifications from EA, including one on Gamasutra.

In truth, the game simply captures how you respond to the advertisements placed, not how to place the ads themselves. It captures information like IP address, time logged on, and information related to how one looks at the ads: how long, at what angle, etc. All in all, pretty harmless. Especially compared to that rocket coming straight at your face. Kaboom!

Filed Under   the dorklyst

Article The Dorklyst: 7 Franchises Your Favorite Franchises Stole From

By Andy Grossman / October 12, 2011

There are truly no original ideas.

If you look back to the dramas of ancient Greece, you'll see the same love, war, and space marines we see in our favorite movies today. Even seemingly innovative ideas like the Shake Weight are inspired by the cultural amalgamation of hundreds of generations of thinkers, artists, and inventors. It should be no surprise then that certain stories crop again and again in popular media: we are as bound to tell them as we are to breathe.

Of course, with that in mind, it never hurts to outright steal ideas from other places and call them your own. Here are seven franchises that have been robbed blind of their nearly original ideas.

7. Doc Savage

The daring adventures of a badass professor, fighting against double-crossing friends, swarthy natives, and ancient traps in his quest for the greater knowledge of mankind. Indiana Jones? Nope! A totally different guy 50 years earlier.

Who Stole From It? Indiana Jones (and everyone that's ripped off Indiana Jones)

What Did They Steal? Personality, style, and purpose.

Created in 1933, Doc Savage wasn't your average serial adventurer. Unlike popular heroes like The Shadow (a radio character who inspired Batman amongst others), Doc Savage was no gentlemen. He may have been rich, but he wasn't afraid to get his hands dirty and have his khaki shirt torn off.

Add a fedora and you've got both the look and personality that's made Indiana Jones a cultural sensation. And where there's Indiana Jones, there's also Uncharted, Tomb Raider, and a million other knock-offs that've led to a thousand disappointed archeology majors.

6. The Shadow

A rich playboy spends his nights fighting crime with the techniques he learned from Eastern sages. Oh, and guns.

Who Stole From It? Batman

What Did They Steal? Persona, methods, gothic universe.

Batman is to The Shadow what Indiana Jones is to Doc Savage. Nearly everything Batman does can be traced back to The Shadow. His "disappearing" techniques learned in Asia. His eligible bachelor alter ego. Even his strained relationship with the police (save a faithful police commissioner) is stolen from The Shadow.

In fact, The Shadow is so clearly the inspiration for Batman that there was literally a comic in 1973 — long after the character had become a third-tier superhero — where Batman calls The Shadow "his greatest inspiration."

Pro-tip: If you ever want to steal a franchise, just take the thing you love and then murder the main character's parents immediately.

Filed Under   the dorklyst

Article The Dorklyst: 7 of the Most Bizarre Educational Games

By Rachel Rubin / October 5, 2011

Traditionally, kids aren't big fans of institutionalized learning. This dilemma forces educators to come up with innovative methods of educating today's youth. As a result of our technology-ingrained society, they're turning to videogames to help achieve their goal. At first glance, that sounds like an awesome idea. Videogames = Fun. How much could adding "Learning" to that equation mess up the end result? A lot. It could mess it up a lot.

7. Wally Bear and the NO! Gang

Quick question: who are you more likely to believe about the evils of tobacco and other narcotics – your grisly 50-year-old health teacher or a bear in a backwards hat wearing sunglasses? Yeah, I thought so.

Wally Bear and the NO! Gang is what you get when you mix a team of marketing executives, a warped understanding of childhood interests, and a hell of a lot of 90s slang. It's an NES game that was released in the early nineties, the awkward adolescent period of videogames. And like adolescents, the only way you can describe Wally Bear and the NO! Gang is really, really awkward.

The premise of the game is that you're a bear named Wally, who somehow manages to be cool even though his name is Wally. Your uncle (Gary Grizzly, naturally) invites you and your friends to party at his place. You accept his not-at-all creepy offer and head on over. However, obstacles will impede Wally's journey to his Uncle's including, I kid you not, "anthropomorphic animals who want to get him hooked on drugs and jumped into a gang." Luckily, Wally acts as a role model for young children everywhere as he defends himself against peer pressure through the use of cheesy dialogue.

Nonetheless, Gamepro gave Wally Bear a 5/5 rating in its May 1992 issue, which I will assume was the product of a sh*tload of the aforementioned evil drugs.

6. Packy and Marlon

So, you're a privileged humanoid elephant and you've just been sent to sleep-a-way camp. Sweet. You saunter over to the mess hall and stuff your trunk full of food. Unfortunately, it was pretty sugary and now you're wrestling with an ivory hunter named Diabetes. Welcome to a day in the life of Packy and Marlon.

Packy and Marlon is a game for the SNES designed to educate children about diabetes. It is every bit as unintentionally morbid as it sounds. Cartoon elephants aren't supposed to have diabetes – they're supposed to be afraid of germs and have a friend voiced by Rosie O' Donnell.

Our elephant protagonists, Packy and Marlon, are spending their summer at Camp Wa-kee. Much to their horror, rats have raided camp. Food and diabetes supplies are scattered everywhere because rats hate children with medical conditions. The game operates like a platformer with a few extra features. For example, you must regularly check your blood glucose levels and take insulin. You're also treated to sporadic pop-quizzes about the subject matter surrounding diabetes, which I'm sure its target audience (children) really enjoys. You also collect jewels for no discernible reason. Most likely to bribe your evil rat overlords.

Filed Under   the dorklyst