CrunchArcade: The Column

CrunchArcade is a weekly column in which the week’s gaming news, reviews, and other games-related tidbits are collected and augmented for your pleasure and convenience.

This week in CrunchArcade: iPhones, controversy, Master Miyagi vs. Pac-Man, and Japanese high-school kids blasting their spirit-brains out in Persona 3: FES.

Gaming news: guns, boobs, and rocket noobs

The violence-in-games controversy leaned a little more toward the gamers’ side this week when Stephen King weighed in on the issue in Entertainment Weekly. He’s disgusted with the hypocrisy of policy and calls the media out on its rabid pursuit of game violence stories. And what about nudity? Why not?

In other news turns out that a quarter of online gamers are between the ages of two and twelve, according to a new study describing the world of online gaming and the opportunities remaining therein. Speaking of online games, you can now play Quake 3 against your friends on that hot new handheld, the iPhone. You use the accelerometer to move and aim (looks a little sketchy right now) and tap to fire. Not such a problem for the rocket launcher or shotgun, but if you need to snipe a fool? I don’t know.

Persona 3: FES – an excellent and different PS2 RPG for a bargain price

Because I’m a gaming Luddite, I tend to lag one generation behind when it comes to consoles. What? I’m poor! But considering that some of the best games of the last year have been on the PS2, I don’t feel any shame. Right now I’m playing Atlus’s Persona 3: FES. Persona 3 actually came out quite a while ago, and I was playing it then, but now the full “director’s cut” version with tons of extra content (seriously, like 30 hours worth) has been released, having previously only been available in Japan. The game itself is split between your days, in which you are a high school student in a small city — studying, meeting girls, playing sports — and your nights, in which you and a special team scour an enormous, ghostly tower in a randomly-generated dungeon crawl with fast-paced turn-based combat.

The story is interesting and the art and mythology are well-done as well, with Tarot being the main theme. I got super addicted to this game for several weeks, my main frustration being that the bosses are way harder than you expect and you’re in for a tough fight if you’ve been slacking off on training. The game received some flak because every time you use a summon, your characters shoot themselves in the head. For $30 the game’s a steal, as it will almost certainly absorb you utterly into its being, and considering you’re getting about twice the content as the original game for a lower price, I don’t see any reason not to do it.

Retro Sabotage

Lastly, I want to highlight a cool little website, Retro Sabotage, on which all the old games you love are being subverted into entirely different beasts. I like Incompatible Visions, in which your Tetrads are being shot out of the sky by an unseen Zapper, and True Self, in which the Pac-Man ghost Inky learns from Master Miyagi that long indeed is the path to enlightenment. And because you’re actually playing these little mutations, and it’s a kind of game-as-art-as-game intellectual exercise — they’re actually fun, though probably only my generation will get the jokes. The creator is putting out new stuff regularly, so bookmark it and tell me if something sweet comes out. Today’s update has you piloting your ship from Xevious against what appears to be a hostile light show. Someone fill me in.