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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Video Game Connoisseur

Every gamer, or anyone who has spent a lot of time on the Internet, should be familiar with Penny Arcade. Penny Arcade is the grandfather of not just videogame web-comics, but really of all web-comics in general. Their site launched in 1998 and they have been updating three times a week since. During production of the game, the folks at Penny Arcade (known to the public as Gabe and Tycho) were worried about how their game would be received by both the industry and the press after they had spent close to 10 years salvaging the creations of other companies and criticizing various parts of the videogame press. Essentially they expected the same treatment that they had given the press, but were pleasantly surprised to receive high reviews.

The game plays like a combination of Sam & Max and Final fantasy. It plays like a classic adventure game with puzzles mainly consisting of either finding some items or killing a certain number of enemies. The graphics look exactly like they do in the comic, and for good reason: the comic’s artist oversaw the design. The game doesn’t take place in the strips setting, but rather in a 1920’s steampunk setting in the fictional city of New Arcadia. The game begins with the player designing their own character in the Penny Arcade-style from a number of pre-created parts. The game begins with the protagonist raking his or her lawn when a giant steampunk version of the strip’s character the Fruit Fucker (in the strip a small robot juicer) crushes your house. You see the main characters, Tycho and Gabe, and follow them, demanding answers. As it turns out, they are running a detective agency specializing in supernatural horrors and you end up joining them to find out where the giant robot came from.

Over the course of the game you fight robots, help a hobo-scientist on his quest to pee on things, and prevent mimes from summoning a dark, ancient god. The game draws heavily on its comic background, all text is delivered in speech bubbles, and nearly every character from the comic shows up in some sort of role, and those that haven’t appeared yet will show up in later games (as hinted in the trailer presented at the end of the game for the next installment).

I was following development of this game since they first announced it, mainly because I’m a huge fan of the comic and I was wondering what kind of game these two people, who had made a living playing games, would make, and how good it would be. The answer: a very good game. My only issue is that it seems too short, as do most episodic games. Also, they have yet to announce when the next game in the series (there are three more) would be coming out, so we may be waiting for a while for a sequel.