Girl in the Machine
Friday, May 30, 2008
Video Games: They're Coming for Your Man

If there's one thing we're all aware of, it's how much the media hates video games. Sure, there is the occasional praise-worthy article, but these are merely small islands in a vast ocean of disdain. The media has portrayed video games as mind-rotting, youth-corrupting harbingers of the apocalypse, which I've covered in some detail in the past, but there is another threat that video games pose to humanity; yes, one that targets the very fiber of our being.

Video games tear relationships apart.

Do a simple Google search of the keywords "video games relationship," and you'll be faced with a wall of links deploring how the hubby won't get off the X-Box and ways to rescue him from the dark clutches of those "stupid games." Link after link, websites spread the tale of soul-sucking consoles and how, if you don't watch out, your husband will be next, chickie. Video games are the reason you can't spend time with your significant other, and it is your job to save him.

As with the old Harbingers of the Apocalypse deal, video games are nothing more than the most recent scapegoat in a long history of excuses--in this case, for poor relationships (see also: sporting events, other "male-centric" hobbies). Never is it that the husband must take responsibility for his neglect; rather, it's solely up to the wife to save him in some way and reunite the couple, whether it's seduction, force, or a healthy dose of If You Can't Beat 'em, Join 'em. After all, those poor men don't realize what they're doing, right? They should be taken care of.

Which: no. Hubby knows exactly what he's doing, just like when he spends all night at the bar or with his friends. The relationship is not faring well, and he's wanting out. If he doesn't want to stick around and make an effort himself to spent time with you, then it's time you jumped ship too.

This is exactly why Rachel Shukart's article at is so very hard to read. The article depicts how Shukart's marriage has reached the darkest depths of despair--thanks in large part to her husband's love of video games. After her attempts to get his attention fail (which include screaming at and flashing him), there seems to be no hope to reconcile their relationship until Rock Band enters the scene. She plays it with him, and bam! Relationship all better.

"But Plasma!" you say, "you just spent three paragraphs saying the media blames video games for tearing people apart! Rock Band brought them together!" Yes, niggling voice, Shukart does thank Rock Band for saving her marriage. So what's the problem? Shukart joined her husband in an activity that he enjoys, rather than the both of them choosing a separate activity they both would. Granted, she did starting liking Rock Band when she played it, but women in our society are so often encouraged to get interested in their husband's hobbies rather than vice versa--or, heaven forbid, find something they both like. What's more, Rock Band can only be a bandage over the real relationship problems they're having, and without any active work from both of them, it's only a matter of time before they're fighting over the instrument controllers in divorce court.

I understand that a lot of this article was probably exaggerated for humor, but, and this may just be me, that tactic only works when the end result is funny. The end result in this article however, was a grand cornucopia of stereotypes--desperate, nagging woman reconciles relationship with slovenly man-child by chilling out and doing what he enjoys. And that leaves one hell of a bad taste in my mouth.

Plenty of feminist blogs have covered this article and why it rubs them the wrong way, too. Read what they have to say at Feministe, Feminist Gamers, and Pandagon. Each blog provides some great analysis, so check them out!

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 Posted by PlasmaRit
 3:53 PM + Link to this post

Wednesday, May 28, 2008
My Quest for Asexuality in Persona 3

Update Number One

As you may recall, at the beginning of this month I decided to make it my business to get through Persona 3 without forming a romantic relationship with any of the characters.

So far I’m about sixty five hours into the game, and it’s almost the end of October. I’ve still got quite a bit to go until the end of the school year! Still, I’ve made some interesting observations.

With the opportunities for dating the female cast aside, there are a few moments in the game when the player has heteronormativity thrust upon hir. For me, the most awkward—yet unsurprising—of these has been the SEES group’s summer vacation to Yakushima.

Operation Babe Hunt” is admittedly humorous, especially since the young men fail at most of their attempts to flirt with the women. They even hit on a transsexual for a while (their greatest success).

While the game didn’t give me the opportunity to avoid flirting with girls (or to flirt with a bunch of “beach dudes” instead), it did allow me to treat the occasion as a hassle and to foil the attempts of my peers at every turn. It ultimately didn’t make a difference in how everything turned out, as Persona 3 seems to be pretty linear so far… but I certainly felt better about it!

Yukari has also presented a few special challenges to me so far. Not only do you have the whole game seemingly structured to get you together with her (including a shower scene when fighting the “Lovers” Shadow), her Persona has the Lovers arcana. She’s also your contact for the Lovers social link.

I found that one out on accident! After being kind to her during a rough moment during the Yakushima event, I recoiled after my attempts to be nice were misconstrued as romantic. Later in the game, it turns out she wanted to talk about what happened. I was fine with her representing the Lovers arcana, but then the dialogue ended with something to the effect of “Yukari seems to think of you as someone you can talk to, but you’re still just friends.” I was forced to run the other way!

I’m a little worried, because I expect that Mitsuru, Fuuka, and Aigis all have S. Links associated with them as well. What a shame, as I suspect the men in my party do not have their own links.

So far my quest is hurting me in this game. As far as the storyline is concerned, it doesn’t seem to make any lasting difference. The S. Links are a significant power-up, though! At the very least, it seems that I’ll be missing four of them by the end of the game. Fortunately, I’ve got my other S. Links to carry me through the final chapters.

More to come as it is revealed!

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 Posted by Calabar
 12:00 PM + Link to this post

Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Something to cheer about.

I've been a long-time fan of the Castlevania series. From the humble days of Simon's first hunt to the slew of sequels today, Konami's vampire-slaying series has done 2-D sidescrollers right. Recently, a petite collection of screenshots for Castlevania's newest iteration, Order of Ecclesia, was released unto the masses along with a few juicy tidbits regarding the game's plot and gameplay.

What primarily caught my eye is OoE's protagonist. Our vampire hunter this time around doesn't just look like a woman, folks -- Castlevania finally has its very first bona fide lady lead.

Meet Shanoa, the champion of the Order of Ecclesia. She's sent to clean up the bloodsucking mess left by Richter Belmont after he goes missing from the vampire-hunting scene. Little beyond that is known about the story at the moment, but I imagine that there will be a host of supporting characters that will help out our heroine as well.

There have been, oh, about a million Castlevania games since the series's birth in the late eighties, and if there's anything a fan can depend on Konami's franchise it's repetition. Castlevania struck gold with Symphony of the Night for the original Playstation: rich, detailed locations, lavish music, a cast of interesting characters, and innovative RPG elements combined with real-time sidescrolling combat. The series experienced a revival with the Gameboy Advance's Circle of the Moon, and that game plus every one after it has stuck fast to SotN's formula.

Typically, we've had a rather rigid scenario: protagonist seeks revenge on Dracula / person trying to revive Dracula / other Dracula stand-in for the kidnapping of his lady love. The whole damsel-in-distress angle is pretty much a cornerstone of the Castlevania experience, but after twenty-four dame-rescuing titles to date, it's enough to make even the most loyal fan feel like she's been playing the same game over and over.

I'm pretty excited about Order of Ecclesia. Portrait of Ruin changed things up a little with a duo of protagonists, but OoE's Shanoa will be the very first woman ever to take the starring role of a Castlevania game. I'll be sure to snap up this title as soon as it's released, and I'll give my impressions then. In the meanwhile, I'm going to hope for the best that this is a trend that will continue to change one of my favorite game series for the better.

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 Posted by BomberGirl
 11:15 AM + Link to this post

Monday, May 26, 2008
Happy Memorial Day!

Hello everybody, and happy Memorial Day! Today in the midst of our festive barbecues and good old all-American clothing sales, let's take a moment or two to recognize the hard work of all soldiers and members of the armed forces from all respective countries across the world.

We here at Girl in the Machine have been on vacation over the past week, so I'd like to thank Calabar for holding down the fort for us. I'll be back after the holiday with a sparkly new post tomorrow -- that's right, tomorrow -- so I'll see you then. Thanks!

 Posted by BomberGirl
 6:47 PM + Link to this post

Friday, May 23, 2008
Women in the Industry: They Exist, Donchaknow

Gamasutra has started a new feature on their website called the Gamasutra 20, a twenty-item list concerning any gaming-related subject they'd like to spotlight. They're starting out with an unranked list of twenty women in the gaming industry today. No, Jade Raymond isn't the only one out there, in spite of what the news might tell you.

This list is not some thrown-together nod to women in gaming, either. It's a twenty-one-paged article that features each woman in wonderful detail, including their job title, a career overview, major accomplishments, innovation (what new twist they've injected into the industry), and a few words about them from their peers. There are younger women and older women, those newer to the industry as well as veterans, and women working in a spectrum of gaming genres. The list features women who are currently making a significant impact on the face of gaming today.

The article also notes how difficult it was to compile the list--not for lack of candidates, but because there were so many women to choose from. The gaming community today would have one believe that gaming is a Boyz Only club, but the stereotype just isn't true. It's a little known fact that there are many women working in the gaming industry, and many of those women hold very important positions in their companies. What I really love about this article is that it does help dispel this Boyz Only myth; it presents a list of role models that other women and girls aspiring to enter the gaming industry can look up to and know they're not going in alone.

My only quibble is that, while the list is quite diverse, it seems awfully whitewashed; what a great opportunity this could have been to spotlight some women of color working in the gaming industry.

I encourage all of our readers to check out the article; it really is top-notch.

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 Posted by PlasmaRit
 3:24 PM + Link to this post

Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Sony, Hire New Staff

What exactly are you selling?

I would be pretty surprised if you hadn’t heard of Sony’s latest advertisement for the PS3. I first saw it a little while back on, but it’s also on other sites like Joystiq if you care to check out the NSFW disclosures of the whole image.

The advertisement was featured in an Austrian Playboy magazine and quickly spread across the net. In it, a mostly-nude young man is reclining in the dark, and his penis has been replaced with a thumb. The forgettable, small words “Playstation 3” are shoved into the lower left-hand corner of the page.

It makes me wonder what Sony is getting at. Their advertising company made some pretty interesting choices with this one:

1. The Thumb-Penis: Without a doubt, I can see that thumbs are relevant to gaming. I suppose it’s not revolutionary for advertisers to tie products to sex, but this is off-putting. It’s not exactly desirable. I’m curious what kind of image they might have created if they decided to apply the same sort of theme to a woman. That leads to:

2. The Niche: I’m sure there are lots of guys who subscribe to Playboy and play video games. I’m just surprised that Sony chose to use a nude male in an advertisement they placed in a pornographic publication for straight men.

I don’t think the subject stopped any straight guys from looking him over (either in curiosity or jealousy), but with the rather subtle photo editing that went on here, it’s hard to tell it’s a thumb instead of a penis. To be honest, I probably would’ve just thought he had a weird shape if I hadn’t read the accompanying article.

3. The Logo: The fact that this is an advertisement for the PS3 is pretty easy to miss—the words “Playstation 3” can’t be more than a size twelve font. Their placement underneath the guy also makes lookin' at his phalange pretty much unavoidable. The way the page is laid out, your eye naturally flows from the top to the bottom of the page, but the creepiness factor is definitely distracting. It leaves me with a bit of confusion about the product. What exactly am I being sold?

4. The Message: It doesn’t give me any positive feelings about the product. Think about other ads you’ve seen: “Wild-Duck Burgers will make you and your family deliriously happy as you enjoy a meal together without fighting for the first time in months,” or “With these shoes, you can play basketball like a star, run the 5K with ease, or crush mountains with your incredible sense of style.” In this ad, there doesn’t seem to be any psychological benefits attached to the system. If thumb-penis is what having a PS3 means, I’m pretty sure I can do without. I’d rather see the exciting times I’ll have playing all the sweet new games on the system!

Sony’s done some pretty strange things in its campaign to sell the PS3 (remember the baby commercial?), and it makes me wonder what horrors they’ve yet to unleash. I suppose the ad has done it’s job in a way, though. Folks everywhere are talking about the PS3. The problem is that I’m not sure Sony can distinguish between good and bad publicity.

At it’s very best, this ad could be an attempt to satirize sexualized video game advertisements that attach controllers to women or cover up their lady-parts with screen captures from games ("With graphics like these, you won't notice anything else!"). At it's worst, it's an exploitation of the male form. More than likely, however, it was the product of some loopy counselors who have no concept of how to make a relevant advertisement.

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 Posted by Calabar
 11:30 AM + Link to this post

Friday, May 16, 2008
I’m Sure You’ve Got Plenty to Say

Natan: …

(Sorry for the late post. I was experiencing some difficulties acquiring an internet connection this week)

Remember the good ol’ days after the first world war when European vampires still embarked on sabbaticals to the American south-west, cat-people ran Hollywood from behind the scenes, and cheeky teenage detectives could break into high-security compounds like Alcatraz without consequences?

Oh wait—that’s not real life. It’s Shadow Hearts: From the New World (thank goodness).

There’s something about this irreverent series that I find incredibly appealing, but sometimes it leaves me scratching my head. The way the developers choose to represent characters can be a little disingenuous. In particular, minority characters have their differences from the mainstream magnified one hundredfold. Whether it’s the swishy Magimel tailors or the so-Mexican-it-hurts mariachi singer Ricardo, everything is so overblown that it’s difficult to take it seriously.

While discussing the game with BomberGirl and PlasmaRit, we became interested in the “strong and silent” Native American character Natan. We wondered how much he actually had to say throughout the course of the game, and I honestly couldn’t recall. It’s been a while since I’ve played it.

To investigate our suspicions, I combed through one hundred and ten pages of the Shadow Hearts: From the New World script. From beginning to end, the script is 30,324 words long.

Natan says 768 words. Let’s break that down further.

Of those 768 words, about 573 of them are related to the storyline. The other 195 words are spoken during dungeon exploration when Natan offers suggestions on how to complete the puzzles.

Throughout the entire game, Natan is represented through a mere 2.5% of the dialogue. This number isn’t fully accurate, though, because the script I used doesn’t include the short snippets of conversation shared with party members during side quests, including Natan’s UMA side quests.

That doesn’t make it any less problematic in my eyes. Natan first appears when Shania is explaining the Malice to Johnny within the first hour of the game. He watches their entire conversation, including their decision to travel to Arkham University together, before introducing himself with a simple, “I am Natan. It is my honor.” We move through another two or three hours of gaming before he says, “We're wasting time. Let us go,” during Frank’s introduction scene.

This pattern continues all way through the entire game, with Natan’s voice entirely absent from a few chapters. On the one occasion that he speaks up and explains the source of Shania’s blind desire for revenge (eighty-eight words, or 11.4% of his total—the most he speaks at any one time in the game), she puts a cap on him with, “Well, aren't we in a talkative mood today...”

The treatment his character receives perpetuates the strong, silent Native American stereotype. At the very least, he’s not quite Tanto from The Lone Ranger. He rarely speaks, but he uses good grammar throughout the game, with one strange exception. After the party has been captured in the Caribbean, Natan lifts the gate from its hinges and says, “Long time no use... so gate was warped.”

The only quality of the Shadow Hearts series that makes this passably acceptable to me is that no one is safe. The developers must have had a Big Book of Stereotypes when they were drafting the characters. As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, it’s not a game to take seriously.

Still, while there’s certainly nothing wrong with being quiet, I feel like a character who has been present for the whole game would have more to say.

I wanted to get some more insight into other Native American characters in video games, but I’m currently without reliable internet access. I invite all of our readers to comment and share their thoughts. Who are some of the other Native American faces and voices out there? How do they compare to one another?

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 Posted by Calabar
 7:26 PM + Link to this post

Saturday, May 10, 2008
The Horror Heroine Effectiveness Scale, Part 5

(Check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 of the scale!)

How it works: For the next few weeks, I'll be serving up two rankings every Monday. Since this is a scale, we'll be going from number 10 -- the absolutely least effective Survival Horror heroine out there -- all the way to number 1 -- the greatest of the great.

2. Heather Mason

Appears In: Silent Hill 3 (PS2, 2003)
Horror Effectiveness: Otherworldly
Rationale: When I was seventeen years old, my biggest problem was studying for a big Trigonometry test. Typical high school issues don't even apply to Heather, who, in a single day, finds herself targeted by a crazy cult, trapped in the Otherworld, fishing keys out of a grilled dog, and finally returning home only to find that her father has been disemboweled by a bloodthirsty demon lurking on their apartment roof. You can't get much more life-shattering than that, and yet it's only the beginning: Heather willingly, and with conviction, travels to the hell on Earth that is Silent Hill to seek her revenge.

If you've been reading just about any of my articles on this blog, you know how much I adore Heather. Faced with unearthly horrors far beyond her age, she fights her way to freedom with the bravery of professionals like Jill Valentine and without the constant knee-quivering and pants-wetting of the Fatal Frame ladies. However, I also dislike cold, two-dimensional badassery as well: Heather is human, and I cannot extol enough praise for her near-breakdown when she discovers her father's gruesome fate.

What's more, Heather grows and changes throughout Silent Hill 3's story. When she's first caught up in the Otherworld, she's just a high school kid in an extraordinary situation who's trying to find her way back home. When she finds that Claudia has ordered the slaughter of her father, she's enraged and swears revenge, traveling to Silent Hill for the sole purpose of killing the cult priestess. However, when she discovers that she's actually an incarnation of Cheryl and regains her old memories, she feels pity for Claudia and overcomes her hatred, enabling her to defeat the sinister cult god just as her father did before her.

The Bottom Line: If you were squelching around the flesh-covered halls of a hellborn hospital with her, just remember not to answer the phone ringing in the locker. It's not your birthday.

1. Alex Roivas

Appears In: Eternal Darkness
(Gamecube, 2002)
Horror Effectiveness: Godslayer Extra- ordinaire
Rationale: You're called at three in the morning by the New Hampshire police about an accident with your grandfather. You fly out immediately without giving them a chance to tell you what's wrong. You go to the creepy Roivas mansion and find that Grandpappy's suffered a pretty messy decapitation, and you can only identify him by the family ring on his finger. You want answers, and you tell the deadbeat cops that you're not leaving the mansion until someone finds out what's going on.

You discover a secret study in the mansion. You find a bible-sized tome bound in human flesh. And you read it. You start seeing things. Horrible things. You know you're going crazy. And yet, you stay in that damn mansion because you're going to solve this mystery if it's the last thing you do.

Congratulations, you're super-badass Alex Roivas.

You have to be pretty damned effective in a horror situation if you know you're losing your mind and yet you willingly stick it out to the end. Alex squares off against bodysnatching abominations, Lovecraftian gods, and her own mounting insanity with only a flesh-bound book as her guide. As the player, you experience her hallucinations firsthand, and if the sight of your TV spontaneously turning itself off is even mildly unsettling, it's easy to imagine what Alex is going through. The skin-crawling tales that our intrepid heroine finds in the Tome of Eternal Darkness provide what I can comfortably call the most disquieting experience in Survival Horror history.

Admittedly, I had a tough time choosing between Heather and Alex for my number one spot. Alex completely deserves to top the list, however. She faces perhaps the biggest challenge out of every heroine on the scale, and endures constant freakouts while maintaining a courageous and steadfast attitude. Though she's joined by her ancestors in spirit, she's completely and utterly alone in the mansion . . . if you ignore the flesh-reaving crimes against all that is good and holy who lurk in the shadows waiting to feast on the delicious sweetbreads of mankind.

In the end, Alex proves her worth and more. If she's pitched in any horror situation after battling the head-exploding madness of Xel'lotath or the growly brute strength of Chattur'gha, you can bet that it'll be just as easy as stepping out for the newspaper on a lazy Saturday morning.

The Bottom Line: If you were creeping around the cursed halls of the family mansion with her, you'd best avoid the upstairs bathroom and stick close to her because THIS ISN'T -- REALLY -- HAPPENING --!!

Well, looks like that's all for our illustrious Horror Heroine Effectiveness Scale! Thanks for sticking with me all these weeks, and I hope you enjoyed my two cents about some of our best -- and worst -- ladies of Survival Horror. Please come on back, and I'll see you next Monday!

 Posted by BomberGirl
 8:08 PM + Link to this post

Friday, May 9, 2008
Quick Hit: Casual Games for the Cure

The bastion of casual games Popcap is currently running a fundraiser in honor of Mother's Day this Sunday. Thirty percent of the price of each game sold on their website will go to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a major combatant in the fight against breast cancer. The fundraiser will continue through this Sunday, so if you're planning on getting some Popcap games, now's the time to do it! Get your mama hooked on some Bejeweled--it's the gift that keeps on giving.

If casual gaming's not your thing, feel free to donate directly to the foundation here.


 Posted by PlasmaRit
 2:23 PM + Link to this post

Wednesday, May 7, 2008
An Experiment with Censorship

My Mission for Persona 3: FES

I was recently directed to PortlyDyke’s article “Take My Arm, Love” thanks to Feministe. I was struck by her paragraph:

[The adjustments queers make to public displays of affection] are part of the enculturated self- censoring that most queers learn in order to assure their own safety in the world (and sometimes, their very survival). In fact, I had to "unlearn" many other, more rigid, tendencies to automatic hiding when I finally made the decision to be completely "out" as a lesbian.

It was a fascinating article that made me evaluate my own behaviors and the ways in which I regrettably closet myself in order to “pass” for my safety.

As the day continued, I was watching television when I saw a commercial for memory foam mattresses or some nonsense. The commercial portrayed a few white males and females and heterosexual white couples enjoying the best sleep they’ve ever had in their fabulous new beds. I was first intrigued that the commercial didn’t show any people of color, and I also wondered why a gay or lesbian couple couldn’t have been slipped in somewhere.

I commented to a friend, “What do you think it would be like if we never saw couples like that on TV and in commercials?”

She responded, “I guess it would be pretty weird, you know?”

“Yeah. That’s how I often see television and stuff. Lots of straight people and no gay couples,” I said.

Always overthinking things, I began to wonder how different forms of media would change if we simply removed heterosexual romantic pairings from the equation—that is, to make them as absent as queer relationships.

Without any other options readily available, I want to see how this experiment will play out in the PS2 RPG Persona 3: FES. I’m a little late playing it, yes, so don’t spoil it for me!

I want to see how fully I can develop my Social Links—a system in which interpersonal relationships strengthen the party—without developing a romantic relationship with a woman.

As is often the case in the Shin Megami Tensei series, the protagonist is a nameless, voiceless male. With the inability to choose a female avatar aside, this empty hero is meant to serve as the perfect vehicle for the player’s choices and goals. Unfortunately, the production company Atlus assumed that my intentions included hooking up with a girl.

Is it part of the “full gaming experience” for my boy to get with one of the girls? Or are their multiple roads to success, potentially ending in a platonic relationship and an S. Link rank of ten? I’ll have to wait a while to share my results, but I’ll post my findings as they’re revealed.

Author's Note, Saturday, May 10 @ 10:45PM: This post originally contained an image of Yukari that I had included in jest without considering its offensiveness. In hindsight I now see that it wouldn't really be appropriate for any intellectual discourse, and so I would like to apologize to our readers who were the victims of my poor taste.

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 Posted by Calabar
 11:59 PM + Link to this post

Monday, May 5, 2008
The Horror Heroine Effectiveness Scale, Part 4

(Check out Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of the scale!)

How it works: For the next few weeks, I'll be serving up two rankings every Monday. Since this is a scale, we'll be going from number 10 -- the absolutely least effective Survival Horror heroine out there -- all the way to number 1 -- the greatest of the great.

4. Aya Brea

Appears In: Parasite Eve (PS1, 1998), Parasite Eve II (PS1, 2000)
Horror Effectiveness: Cool Under Fire
Rationale: So poor Aya's pretty much suffered through the Worst Christmas Ever. What's a girl to do when her mediocre date at Carnegie Hall is rudely interrupted by the spontaneous combustion of every member in the audience? Yank a handgun from her evening gown and kick some ass, of course!

Aya, a detective for the 17th Precinct of the NYPD, spends her six days of Christmas hell battling horribly deformed animals, navigating around wriggling burn victims, and chasing an Opera Singer Slash Mitochrondria Mutant Who Also Artificially Inseminates Herself With Super Sperm, all without breaking a sweat. Parasite Eve's kickass battle system succeeds where Koudelka fails: combining the best of RPG experienced-based leveling, hybrid turn-based / real time battles, and weapon customization with some serious Survival Horror atmosphere. When your game features one of the most disturbing cutscenes in PS1 history -- the mutating rat, anyone? -- you know you've got a winner.

Our half Caucasian, half Japanese heroine ends up playing One-Woman Army for the NYPD due to some special mitochondria that protects her from the immolating fun of antagonist Eve. Along the way, she's given a helping hand by her partner, Daniel Dollis, and a scientist named Kunihiko Maeda, both of whom ultimately must leave the fighting up to her. No worries, however -- Aya's not only tough enough to give Eve her due, she also single-handedly delivers a nuke and contends with the birth of the Ultimate Being, all with enough time to catch another opera when everything's said and done.

The Bottom Line: If you were stepping over the twitching bodies of the crispy dead with her, you'd best listen and put on some comfy shoes when she says the next stop is the Chrysler Building.

3. Jill Valentine

Appears In: The Resident Evil series
Horror Effectiveness: Undead-Erasing Expert
Rationale: Allow me to introduce the Queen of Zombie-Stomping, the Empress of Unlocking, the Czarina of Bomb Disposal, a woman who really needs no introduction, Survival Horror's most famous heroine, Jill Valentine. Ms. Valentine first avoided becoming a Jill Sandwich in 1996's Resident Evil, and her adventures continue today in the headshot-happy rail shooter, Umbrella Chronicles. She's also starred in three Horrifying For A Totally Different Reason feature length films, and is the most recognizable character besides the window-crashing zombie dogs of the RE series. Go, Jill!

Ah, so many good times to remember. Splattering zombie craniums in the Umbrella mansion. Fleeing from Nemesis in a miniskirt and tube top. Totally out-cooling Chris Redfield's scenario by finding the bazooka and then going to town on some Hunters, Rambo-style. The list goes on and on.

Many Survival Horror fans my age cut their teeth on the first Resident Evil. Despite the crippled difficulty level of Jill's scenario and her shared screen time with Chris, our Lady Zombie Killer Extraordinaire remains more recognizable -- and more popular -- than her male counterpart to this day. Specially trained in the US Delta Force, a natural crack-shot and lock-picking master, she's one hundred percent badass even with a goofy sweatshirt tied around her waist.

The Bottom Line: If you were staring down a scary-ass Crimson Head with her, you'd best just step back and let her trusty bazooka do the talking.

We're at the end of the line, folks! Stop by next Monday for the very last installment of our spooky scale, and meet my top two picks for the most effective heroines in all of Survival Horror!

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 Posted by BomberGirl
 10:04 AM + Link to this post

Friday, May 2, 2008
First Friday Drinking Game

May is finally here, with summer just around the corner. The release of Mario Kart Wii last weekend was the excuse we all needed to get to the summertime slackin'--even if we students still have a few finals left. The Mario Kart series has been a foundation of my gaming history since I was in preschool, and aside from the occasional spin-outs, it's only gotten better with age. In celebration of the new release, I've compiled a list of drinking game rules you can use on any Mario Kart game you want to drink to. Sure, drinking and driving is never a good idea, but it's totally worth playing Rainbow Road while you're sloshed.

1 drink for fucking up a shortcut jump
1 drink for attempting Super Mario Kart's Rainbow Road
1 additional drink for each fall on Rainbow Road
1 drink if you try to wrangle up 16 people for a grand prix in Double Dash
2 drinks when (not if) your online opponent signs out early in a race in MK DS
1 drink every time Toad talks with his Country Guy Voice in MK 64
2 drinks for Toad's Cracked-Out Voice in Double Dash
1 drink per collision with a cow/penguin/mole/other assorted animal
1 drink per fall into ice, chocolate, lava, water, or endless pit
2 drinks for accidentally using an item instead when you're trying to hold it behind you
3 drinks each time you trade an awesome item for a crappy green shell
1 drink if your online opponent snakes through and entire course in MK DS
1 drink if you get hit by a blue shell
2 drinks if you get hit by it on a jump

And finally:

Finish your drink if you decide to play Toad's Turnpike in Extra Mode while drunk--if you're going to "I'm cool to drive" through a course that involves semi trucks hurtling at you, you may as well go all-out

Warning: Excessive drinking during gameplay may result in severely-affected driving skills and an increased likelihood of getting fishooked by Lakitu. Play with caution!

Think I forgot something? Suggest a rule in the comments section!

What drinking games do YOU want to play every month? If there is any genre or specific game you want featured in FFDG, drop me a line at PlasmaRit at gmail dot com.

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 Posted by PlasmaRit
 7:20 PM + Link to this post

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