Ye old video game oddities – issue #2


It’s back and now monthly!

Back in the original issue we looked at EGM letters, old Usenet posts, and bold 4chan predictions for Nintendo’s Wii U. In this month’s issue (that’s right folks, it’s going monthly!) we’re gonna take a look at how Christmas was ruined for one particular Wii U owner, entertaining ’90s PC Gamer letters, as well as an odd Nintendo Power letter from an individual some might have heard of.

That’s right folks, he needs to phone home and can’t do it alone! I guess he never managed to get that phone call in the end though. I hear he was buried somewhere out in New Mexico.

The day the spiders won

Ah yes, back in the 2013 holiday season, many kids were opening gifts and receiving wonderful video games — like Knack on PlayStation 4! However, a certain /v/ user that day had apparently purchased a Nintendo Wii U, only to discover it was broken. Upon opening it up, he found what seemed to be a ball of dirt… If only it was that simple.

From there, plenty of speculation and curiosity began to arise. Users questioned if the spiders were already dead or not, if the one living spider ate his own kind to survive, or how exactly they managed to end up in the Wii U in the first place.

But then one anonymous user piped in, advising that after some research, he found out these spiders weren’t dead after all and that the ball of dirt was in-fact a mud dauber nest. From there, things would get far, far worse — as the thread went into full panic mode.

[Hi-res archived image]

So there you have it, 12/25/13, the day the spiders won on 4chan’s video game board.

User reviews…from 1983

As someone who just got on the roller coaster that is games journalism, I started out writing about games doing user reviews on various places to then later doing video reviews on my YouTube channel and writing the odd one for smaller websites such as GameSkinny. I genuinely think video game reviews are a great start for anyone looking to get into writing about games.

It lets you begin practicing the art of forming an original opinion, as well as learning and reading up on the history of publishers and developers. I always made it a point in most of my video reviews to talk about the history of the developer.

With that said, I’ve always wondered to myself: “who wrote the first user review for a video game?” Chances are, it was on Usenet. What’s Usenet you ask? Usenet was publicly established in 1980 and is essentially a computer network communication system. It was the birthplace of online discussion for the most part. After some digging in old archives, this post is one of the oldest examples of a user review for a video game I’ve seen so far.

Mark gives us the hard cold facts about a number of Atari games in a Usenet thread from 1983! This is also probably one of the most detailed Pitfall reviews I’ve ever read.

John Duncan warns and gives us a detailed overview in 1982 of the infamous Custer’s Revenge! Notably, John is also not afraid to let you know that he does not own an Atari. So don’t remind him of it 35 years later.

30 FPS is about having class

I can’t quite remember when I took this screen-cap, but it’s from a YouTube comment a few years back and something I simply couldn’t pass on. So here’s another modern day gem I think should be preserved. I really hope he was being sarcastic — but lately I can’t tell know anymore.

Nintendo Power and a certain frustrated virgin

In a March/April 2004 issue of Nintendo Power, Chris-chan himself wrote in to the magazine thanking Nintendo and Ubisoft for their game Sprung, which he believed gave him dating advice and helped him in dealing with this “noiophobia.”

For those unaware of who Chris-chan is, that story is a very deep rabbit hole that I honestly don’t recommend.

I’m an ideas guy

Everyone’s favorite, the ideas guy! The person that doesn’t wanna put in the work, but they have a killer idea! Just like John here, he has some new ideas for video games and is looking for advice from PC Gamer in this issue from May/June 1994.

But don’t get him wrong — he wants nothing to do with the programming side of things. I’m sure he’s doing great things now and days.

A plea for help to PC Gamer

In a July 1995 issue of PC Gamer, Brian writes in to advise of a serious problem with his sea-monkeys and how their testes have grown to immense proportions due to obvious radiation from his computer.

In what I believe to be an unprofessional response from PC Gamer, they advise him to look deep within himself for the cause of these problems. How are these guys still around!? Who’s going to help his poor sea-monkeys!? Why this wasn’t the biggest scandal in gaming in 1995 is beyond me.

The 8.8 that burned the Zelda community to the ground

Back in 2006, the hype was going critical for the release of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. As many fans were hoping this would be a return to form in terms of art-style and general direction.

So, when the game launched in early 2006 for both the Nintendo GameCube and Wii, it was met with extremely positive reception from almost every outlet at the time. Today the game is still sitting high with a 95 and 96 on Metacritic. But a certain, dangerous individual, working and writing at GameSpot at the time, gave his review. Scoring the game an 8.8 out of 10.

Shortly afterwards, the Zelda community and many other communities at the time, basically imploded.

People were mad, to put it lightly. From creating petitions for a re-review of the game, name calling, and even demands to GameSpot that Jeff should be fired (ironically, they would get their wish, eventually). Despite all this, the 8.8 review still stands to this day on GameSpot.

But since then, it has been updated to a 9, as in recent years they’ve dropped the whole decimal system (so the numbers were rounded off). The whole debacle reminds me of Jim Sterling’s review of Breath of the Wild a few months back.

You might also be curious what Jeff’s official response was. If there is one thing you should know about Jeff, he doesn’t really give a shit about internet opinions. As he showcased by rocking an 8.8 jersey a few weeks later.

The backup plan

What many people don’t realize is, working in games journalism can be extremely dangerous. Every day I now fear for my own life. With my own face and name attached to these articles I write about this man, my time on Earth could be short. Thankfully, I have a plan in place for the inevitable moment I get capped out in broad daylight.

Thanks to this wonderful website (which still exists) I intend to create a series of warning emails for my fellow Destructoid members, the moment this happens. Hopefully warning them of the man responsible for my death.

But until that moment comes, I’ll see you folks next month for issue #3. In the mean time, let me know what are your favorite game reviews that set the community on fire.