Versus Mode: Book Stores, PaRappa, Innovation, and More

GameCola writers Zach Rich and Sprite Monkey discuss videogames being sold in book stores, PaRappa as the best-ever videogame dog, whether a game needs to be innovative in order to be good, and more.

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Welcome, one and all, BACK to Versus Mode—the column that calls upon GameCola writers as well as denizens of the videogame world at large to talk about what’s up in gaming.

This month in Versus Mode we’ve got:


This month it’s winner take all, with “all” being the right to review Super Smash Bros. Brawl! Two men want the job, but only one can have it. Will it be up-and-comer Zach Rich, or will it be the grizzled Web comic legend Sprite Monkey?

Your votes will decide! Read this month’s Versus Mode, and then post your choice in this article’s comments section.

Zach Rich is a current GameCola writer known for his reviews that shatter GameCola’s fourth wall and make great use of foot notes. This is Zach’s second appearance in Versus Mode, having written previously in NewbieMania.

Sprite Monkey is a current GameCola writer known for his reviews as well as for Are You Game?, a column that rates your videogame collection and tells you if it’s up to snuff. He’s also the artist behind Secret of Mana Theater, a flash Web comic based on the classic SNES RPG. This is Sprite Monkey’s second appearance in Versus Mode, having written previously with Alex Jedraszczak.

1. Videogames should not be sold in book stores.

ZachThe thing about bookstores is that they’re not just for books anymore. My local Borders happens to have its sitting space (where I read gaming mags and laugh at how out-of-date they are) right in the middle of its movies section. Much to my dismay, I had to observe scenes from 30 Days of Night every time I peeled my eyes from the Nintendo Power. Anyone who knows me knows I will piss my pants at the mere mention of vampires, let alone a movie about them.

bordersI don’t believe that bookstores are just for books anymore, when half the store is dedicated to (overpriced) CDs and DVDs. I don’t know if they’ll really get anywhere selling a small handful of PC titles (I believe that PC gaming has been dying a slow, painful death ever since the Dreamcast, but that’s just me.), let alone get to the point where videogame sales account for 10% of their total sales, but Borders is a business, and if selling videogames raises them a profit, then all the more power to them.

Sprite Monkey: Remember when Boston Market used to be called Boston Chicken or when Super Target used to be just Target? Borders Books and Music used to be called Borders Books. It’s the same difference and it’s happening everywhere as businesses expand into omni-corporations. Borders already offers coffee, crappy baked goods, DVDs, CDs, calendars, magazines, and despair to those who visit the store, so what difference does it make if they start selling videogames? Any business should sell videogames if it works for them.

2. There should be more games for hardcore gamers on the Wii.

ZachI don’t think hardcore gamers are disinterested in the Wii because there aren’t hardcore games on it. I think they’re disinterested  because the hardcore games that are released either SUCK (Manhunt 2) or are overshadowed by the bigger first-party titles. The problem with being a third party and working on a Nintendo system is that the titles that come from Nintendo are usually so big that they overshadow the equally awesome games that don’t star Mario.

Of the 11 Wii games I own, eight are from Nintendo, and, sadly, I have not had the time to pick up Zack & Wiki or No More Heroes, because all my gaming time has been spent playing Brawl or something on the 360. I will eventually get these games, and I’m sure I will love them to death, but I just don’t have the time for them right now. The Wii does have hardcore games, but I don’t think people are interested in them.

Sprite Monkey: It couldn’t hurt. Assuming that the hardware could handle Crysis, for example, it’s ultimately a decision to be made based on profitability. Is the potential profit of selling Crysis on the Wii substantially greater than the projected cost to port, produce, and promote the title? If yes, then there is no reason it shouldn’t be done, because it would only expand your gaming audience and increase overall system sales.

The reason I bought a PS2 was to purchase Blood Rayne 2, which was not released on the GameCube even though the original Blood Rayne was. This clearly illustrates my point regardless of my taste in titles. Nintendo not only lost a sale on Blood Rayne 2, but also future sales on games they would not port that I could now play on my PS2. I won’t say the Wii needs to have more games for hardcore gamers, but it certainly should if there is a market for it, and clearly I think there is.

3. PaRappa is the best videogame dog ever.

duckhuntZachUh, hurray? Lassie’s never had her own game, so I guess PaRappa will do.

Sprite MonkeyThis is just flat-out wrong. The best videogame dog is the nameless mutt from Duck Hunt. Period. The fact that a few sprites and a chuckle from an animated basset hound can still provoke unbridled rage in a current generation of 20- and 30-somethings to this day is a testament to his greatness. K.K. Slider, the bootlegger’s middle finger to the record industry, would take first place in lieu of Duck Hunt, followed by the dog from Secret of Evermore.

4. Console manufacturers should consider the physically handicapped when developing controllers.

ZachI wasn’t told my morals would be tested when I signed up for this! Look, it’s a heartwarming story, and a very nice thing to do for a friend, but I think we should leave this stuff to the modders. Putting out handicapped controllers for retail would be a large waste of money on the business front, since I can’t imagine many handicapped people would want to play videogames.

Great, now I look like an asshole.

Sprite MonkeyNot without attaching a hefty price tag. It sounds harsh, but this is just not practical. Why would a company design something to be usable by a miniscule portion of the population when you can design it for the overwhelming majority? Cars aren’t designed for the legless; they are adapted. Custom adaptations for controllers are suitable. Some day we’ll be able to use game consoles through jacks plugged directly into our brain, but until that day arrives, we need to translate our mental impulses through our physical manifestations. If yours is broken, that sucks. I feel for you, I really do, and I’ll help you build a custom controller mod, but don’t expect corporations to cater to you like that without charging you for it.

5. A game needs to be “innovative” in order to be good.


No. A videogame does not need to be innovative to be “good.” Sure, innovation is something that pushes the industry forward, but there have been shadowplenty of good games that don’t need innovation to sell well. Like Madden…and Madden…and…oh, wait a sec.

On the topic of Turning Point, though: Telling the reviewers to fuck off is like telling anyone who drinks your favorite cow’s milk to just drink the stuff down rather than savor it, because it’s not for the mouth to judge, but the bones. They’re basically saying that ignorant people will enjoy this game more than people who actually pay attention to what they’re doing. It’s just too bad that those kinds of people aren’t around anymore because they’re all playing Left Behind: Eternal Forces until the son of God returns and takes us all to Rapture. Except me, of course; I don’t think the handicapped play videogames, after all.

Sprite Monkey: No, it doesn’t need to be innovative, but that certainly helps. If a game is not innovative, it can still be a winning title based on superb graphics, excellent story and characters, sound design, flawless controls, and overall execution. When I think about innovative titles, I think of Shadow of the Colossus, which was a fantastic title almost solely via innovation. At its core, BioShock was a FPS and very little hasn’t been done in that genre, but it was still a phenomenal title.

6. *BONUS SIXTH TOPIC* Finish this statement: I should get to review Super Smash Bros. Brawl next month because….

Zach: I should get to review Super Smash Bros. Brawl next month because I am unemotional and unable to feel love, but if I get to review this game, I will attempt to create controllers for all the thumbless gamers (population: 1), and not give the game a ten because the F-Zero demo lasts THIRTY FUCKING SECONDS.

Plus, I’ll make a drinking game! When you see the monkey, drink! If someone asks you to show yo’ moves, drink! If someone pauses the game to get a panty shot on Peach, or Samus has her legs spread out, DRINK!

Sprite Monkey: I should get to review Super Smash Bros. Brawl next month because I shall exterminate everything that prevents me from becoming the master. This is my special moment; don’t question me or disagree. I know that I have earned this. I know that I deserve this. Do not f–k with me. I won’t give you empty promises of quirks and special favors that will never materialize if you vote for me, but I will give you a straight up hardcore review, because this game really means a lot to me. I preordered my copy of SSBB in September of 2007, and I was standing in line to pick up my copy in 20-degree weather two hours before midnight. I’ve played it almost every night since I brought the game home and I have the Wii daily totals to prove it. Most importantly, this hasn’t stopped me from noting where the game excels and where it falls short, so the review will still be a fair evaluation.

I’m also a senior staff member to Zach, and in February I was employee of the month. Hoo-hah.

That’s it, gamefans! So, the question is now this: Which writer did a better job here in Versus Mode—Zach Rich, or Sprite Monkey? Post your choice in this article’s comments section, and the writer with the most votes will get to cover Super Smash Bros. Brawl next month. Voting ends in…let’s say two weeks, which is April 15th.

3 votes, average: 8.67 out of 103 votes, average: 8.67 out of 103 votes, average: 8.67 out of 103 votes, average: 8.67 out of 103 votes, average: 8.67 out of 103 votes, average: 8.67 out of 103 votes, average: 8.67 out of 103 votes, average: 8.67 out of 103 votes, average: 8.67 out of 103 votes, average: 8.67 out of 10 (You need to be a registered member to rate this post.)

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