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  • Fan Projects to Die for: Grim Fandango Action Figures

    Despite being produced at a time when 3D graphics on the PC were shockingly ugly (in retrospect), Tim Schafer made Grim Fandango a beautiful game; taking a nod from the art associated with the Mexican Day of the Dead, LucasArts created a striking, iconic cast that didn't exactly require millions of polygons to construct. Even more than ten years later, it's easy to cruise around the world of Manny Calavera and the rest of the game's interesting, well-designed characters without the shock that usually comes with seeing now-ancient 3D--and I actually plan on replaying GF very soon because of my secret shame of never having finished the game. Until I have the time to do that, though, I can always stare at the lovingly-created action figure versions of Fandango stars Manny and Glottis--scuplted by English artist Iain Reekie--and dream of a world where these things could actually be mass-produced.


  • Whatcha Playing: The Thirst For Adventure, Pointing At Things, and Not Knowing What to Say

    Amidst the cavalcade of blockbusters, handheld eccentricities, and Rock Band I’ve been indulging in over the summer, a grand season now a mere two weeks from being officially dead, I’ve been getting a crash course in one of gaming’s most respected and forbidding forms: the adventure game. Though I started playing games during the genre’s heyday, I’ve always been somewhat less than literate when it comes to the many point-and-click and text-commanded classics crafted by Sierra and Lucasarts. My only real experiences came from visiting my aunt Donna. At the ripe age of seven years-old, she introduced me to the wonders of Kings Quest and, er, Leisure Suit Larry. Yeah. It’s not that I didn’t have fun with these eye-openers – they certainly expanded my vocabulary – I was just more interested in walking from left to right, jumping, and shooting when it came to videogames. I always knew that I was missing out on something, listening to friends chortle over playing Space Quest and even later, as a teenager, looking at lush screens of Grim Fandango. I’ve only gotten around to them recently thanks to three conditions working in concert. One is that there are new, easy to access (read: on Wii) point-and-clickers being released with regularity by folks like Telltale Games. Two and three regard vintage software: Hooksexup is equipped with numerous PCs capable of running things machines in my home twenty years ago could not, but also (and most importantly) I have a guide.

    It’s easy to approach Telltale’s Strong Bad games because they move at a brisk pace and they work on a very simplified version of classic point-and-click language: see something, point at it to interact with it. Got an item? Point at it, click, then point the item at what you want to use it on. Repeat playings of King’s Quest V left me acclimated to both the process and the occasionally obtuse logic at work in these sorts of games, so it’s been a painless process and a reminder of the genre’s charms. Playing through the first two episodes of Strong Bad’s Cool Game For Attractive People (more on Episode 2 when I’m allowed to talk about it) has, however, made it abundantly clear that adventure games are not inherently relaxing in comparison to more action oriented fare.




about the blogger

John Constantine, our superhero, was raised by birds and then attended Penn State University. He is currently working on a novel about a fictional city that exists only in his mind. John has an astonishingly extensive knowledge of Scientology. Ultimately he would like to learn how to effectively use his brain. He continues to keep Wu-Tang's secret to himself.

Derrick Sanskrit is a self-professed geek in a variety of fields including typography, graphic design, comic books, music and cartoons. As a professional hipster graphic designer, his recent clients have included Hooksexup, Pitchfork and MoCCA, among others.

Amber Ahlborn - artist, writer, gamer and DigiPen survivor, she maintains a day job as a graphic artist. By night Amber moonlights as a professional Metroid Fanatic and keeps a metal suit in the closet just in case. Has lived in the state of Washington and insists that it really doesn't rain as much as everyone says it does.

Nadia Oxford is a housekeeping robot who was refurbished into a warrior when the world's need for justice was great. Now that the galaxy is at peace (give or take a conflict here or there), she works as a freelance writer for various sites and magazines. Based in Toronto, Nadia prizes the certificate from the Ministry of Health declaring her tick and rabies-free.

Bob Mackey is a grad student, writer, and cyborg, who uses the powerful girl-repelling nanomachines mad science grafted onto his body to allocate time towards interests of the nerd persuasion. He believes that complaining about things on the Internet is akin to the fine art of wine tasting, but with more spitting into buckets.

Joe Keiser has a programming degree from Johns Hopkins University, a tiny apartment in Brooklyn, and a fake toy guitar built in the hollowed-out shell of a real guitar. He writes about games and technology for a variety of outlets. One day he will stop doing this. The day after that, police will find his body under a collapsed pile of (formerly neatly alphabetized) collector's edition tchotchkes.

Cole Stryker is an American freelance writer living in York, England, where he resides with his archeologist wife. He writes for a travel company by day and argues about pop culture on the internet by night. Find him writing regularly here and here.

Peter Smith is like the lead character of Irwin Shaw's The 80-Yard Run, except less athletic. He considers himself very lucky to have this job. But it's a little premature to take "jack-off of all trades" off his resume. Besides writing, travelling, and painting houses, Pete plays guitar in a rock trio called The Aye-Ayes. He calls them a 'power pop' band, but they generally sound more like Motorhead on a drinking binge.

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