Five: Crispin Boyer
by Marc N. Kleinhenz
Comic Related's Five interview series takes the brightest minds from the journalistic and game development worlds and asks them to expound on their personal benchmarks of the videogame industry, exploring the crucial components of narrative, music, gameplay, graphics, and character.
Crispin Boyer spent 12 years as an editor for Electronic Gaming Monthly before that magazine's death and recent resurrection. He's now a freelance writer and script editor for Japanese game-localization company 8-4. His most recent projects include Glory of Heracles (Nintendo DS) and Monster Hunter Tri (Wii). He also edited the script for Imagine: Makeup Artist, the most well-written game about tween makeup to hit the handheld market in the last three years.
Plot point/character beat/story twist
I'm not sure what the statute of limitations is for game spoilers, so I'll just be vague when I say BioShock's "would you kindly" twist boggled my brain just as much as finding out that the dude from Sixth Sense was dead the whole time. And if I just spoiled the ending of Sixth Sense for you, you've been on the Mir way, way too long. Find an escape capsule before the station burns up on re-entry!
Song and/or soundtrack
Once upon a time, hearing songs like Hall & Oats's "Out of Touch" and Yes's "Owner of a Lonely Heart" on the radio reminded me of the ';80s. Now, whenever I hear those or any of the 70 or so other tunes from the Grand Theft Auto: Vice City radio stations, I'm reminded of all the time I wasted cruising around that virtual town. It's like the game's soundtrack supplanted an entire decade of musical memories, and anything that helps me forget the ';80s is tops in my book.
More games need grappling hooks. Scratch that. All games need grappling hooks. Seriously. Some of the best titles in recent memory have a grapple as their gameplay hook, after all. Batman: Arkham Asylum let you hang inverted over thugs and snatch them up like a lethal yo-yo. In Just Cause 2 - a game that should really be named Just Grapple - you can shoot a propane tank, grapple it before it launches, then ride it into low Earth orbit. And you know the grapple mechanic is one for the ages when Bionic Commando - the granddaddy of all grappling-hook games - didn't even have a jump button!
I'm a sucker for graphical tricks with buzzwords, so I was the first aboard the hype train for stuff like parallax scrolling (Amiga sidescrollers did it best), sprite scaling/rotation (the whole reason I bought a SNES), and cell shading (Jet Grind Radio for Dreamcast gave me eyegasms). Sadly, I think the days of sizzling marketing jargon for visuals are over and done with. Boo!
Could there be a more super villain than GLaDOS, the evil artificial intelligence from Portal? She's the sweet and condescending voice of reason at the beginning of the game, bating the player with cute stories and promises of sweet confections. Well, we all know the real truth about the cake now. In the end, GLaDOS goes down screaming, but her catchy song under the closing credits lets us know there's no hard feelings.
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