Tearing Strips off Akiba's Trip

Posted by Cha

Misleading title, probably. I enjoyed the hell out of Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed. As easy as it would be to trash it I'm not particularly interested in doing so. It's a strange thing to pull apart though.

There's a weirdly self-conscious trend in games of using sexuality as a marketing strategy, but never being willing to openly explore or acknowledge that. Even some pornographic games shy away from turning anyone on; burying erotic content among distracting or time-consuming game conventions. It's not so difficult to understand how this happens, given how society can simultaneously encourage desire and shame us for it.


Virgins and Whores in "Rayman: Origins"

Posted by Cha

Rayman: Origins has many unlockable characters, but they are all re-skins of three basic body types: Rayman himself, the large toad Globox, and the Teensies.

These are all male characters, at least to begin with. In case I was in danger of forgetting it the game soon sets about aggressively gendering its female characters.

First up we have the nymphs, representing the sexy-damsel-in-distress contingent. And when I say sexy I mean extreme sexualisation, especially by the standards of kids' games. They have heavily exaggerated features and revealing clothing. After rescuing the nymphs from cramped cages they pose to seductive music and grant new powers.


Language and Power in Lollipop Chainsaw

Posted by Cha

I'm just going to say it, I love Lollipop Chainsaw. It's easily dismissed as ditzy and embarrassing but has more going on in its head than many give it credit for. I'm not suggesting anyone give a free pass to a game with an achievement for trying to look up the main character's skirt. There's plenty of fan-service and rape innuendo here, and I'm not telling you to like it. But I am suggesting there are other things worth talking about.

One of the things I find particularly interesting is Lollipop Chainsaw's use of gendered insults. Criticism of Batman: Arkham City drew a lot of attention to this issue, and Lollipop Chainsaw can easily be put in the same basket. The difference, I think, is that Arkham City didn't expect anyone to notice. A word like "bitch" is seen as a natural part of that setting. I doubt the designers (or most players) thought too hard about it, and that's what makes it so insidious.


Jolly Rover

Posted by Cha

Brawsome's Jolly Rover, winner of the best Australian Game at this year's Freeplay independent game festival, is currently on sale for $4.99, in honour of upcoming Talk Like a Pirate Day.

At full price I'd been tossing up whether to part with my money. On sale it's an easy choice for fans of point-and-click adventure. It's a very polished independent game, with a great sense of humour. It includes a heap of truly awful puns, but I also found myself laughing a few times, and I'm not an easy target for humour.

Jolly Rover is essentially Monkey Island featuring anthropomorphic dogs. That's no bad thing, though I would have loved to see them tackle a different setting. It's also quite easy, which disappointed me but may appeal to some.

[Note: The rest of this post contains character discussion on Jolly Rover and Monkey Island. Potential minor spoilers.]