Another year passes, and we go right along with it. Thank the digital gods that the internet is there to preserve all the stuff we forgot in the last 12 months. And wouldn’t you know it, 2013 was a banner year, not just for the site which saw new blood and new formats popping up all over the place, but for the media here and worldwide.
There were ups. There were downs. And through it all, there was The Arcade, sifting through the endless stacks of media hay to find the bright shiny needles of interest to you, the ever-intrepid Constant Reader.
I’d like to take the opportunity to thank you all for your custom and wish you the best for 2014.
The year didn’t exactly start off with a huge rush of stories, but in geek terms, it delivered the news story equivalent of Joss Whedon showing up in Dublin – the announcement that Joss Whedon would be IN DUBLIN for the 2013 Jameson Dublin Film Festival!!!
What no one was excited about was the consistent, often brutal nature of sexism in gaming culture and industry, decrying the worrying portrayal of Lara Croft in the latest Tomb Raider instalment, and the neverending battle of the sexes for control of the gaming sphere in a thought-provoking piece that had a lot of what many opinion pieces – and opinionated gamers – often sorely lack; sense.
The tentpole release that month was Hugh Jackman-led musical adap Lès Misèrables, which had people crying in the aisles – not least because it wasn’t very good, as this review makes very clear.
January’s unquestionable highlight belonged to news spoofers The Potato, who dropped this hilarious Anchorman mash-up featuring RTÈ anchor Aengus MacGrianna’s many live bloopers. In the year that saw the long-awaited sequel to Will Ferrell’s breakout news-hit finally make it to screens after 10 years, this was the funnier film about news anchors in 2013.
February stopped being a “Leap” month in 2013, and started being a “Shake” month as the Harlem Shake meme went from viral to pandemic, much to the chagrin of the Arcade’s bullpen (and Grumpy Cat.) Other memes would take its place, and they would all be just as annoying as this one.
Sony launched the first salvo in the gen 8 war with Microsoft with its PS4 announcement event, which enthused Anthony no-end. Among his highlights were the ability to pick a game up where you left off even after shutting down, more gameplay from Sleeping Dogs, and the possibility of a new Square Enix title, all of which whetted numerous whistles around the world.
The geekiest movie of 2013 is most likely Pixar’s paean to 8-bit arcade games, Wreck-It Ralph, which featured more references than a first-year college student’s bibliography.
It could have been a charmless dud, but thankfully, Andy gave it the thumb’s up and mobs of geeks put their pitchforks away for another week.
The prevailing attitude when it comes to covering the influence of videogames on gamers is one of almost nuclear hysteria – the games are out to turn us all into robot killers, who either kill one another robotically, or kill innocent robots. I’m not sure. But most gamers know there’s more to playing games than slicing heads off pixelated gangsters and orcs, and Andy’s discussion of Journey as part of the “Emotion In Gaming” series showed exactly how powerful and life-affirming the gaming experience can be.
Providing the case for the right-wing hysteria side was Senator Fidelma Healey Eames, who gave a startling exhibition of why people shouldn’t weigh in on a serious topic until they live on the same planet as everyone else. These videos are enough to chill the blood of the average geek and – hopefully – get Ms. Eames’ personal researchers fired.
I discovered a new world in March; the world of the Japanese arcade, which is as vibrant, colourful and downright weird as the games that emerge from the region and constantly baffle us. My conduit of discovery was the book Arcade Mania: The Turbo Charged World Of Japan’s Game Centers. If the title doesn’t make you want to own it, the content surely will.
April saw us continue to smash geek stereotypes. This time it was Declan turning his nose up at the notion that “geeks are lazy” by testing out whether or not the exercise game genre pioneered by the likes of Wii Fit could really have an effect on health in the My Video Game Gym series. Did he succeed? Check the archives and find out!
Tendai dropped one of the big pieces of news for Japanimation fans with word that Studio Ghibli’s classic feature Kiki’s Delivery Service would be getting the live-action treatment in 2014. If it manages to retain even one-tenth of the animated version’s charm and beauty, it’ll be pretty damn amazing.
The other good news came in the form of Michael Bay actually listening to fans’ opinions for one brief moment (something akin to a double-miracle) and scrapping his idea to make the Teenage MUTANT Ninja Turtles into aliens – possibly wisecracking, possibly incontinent – in the upcoming cartoon adaptation. It was a win for audiences worldwide, but no-one’s getting their hopes up yet; it’s still possible he could make April O’ Neill into a Megan Fox.
But the big story of April was the Microsoft announcement of an event to unveil their next generation Xbox console. Details were sketchy, but after PS4’s sterling showing some months back, the pressure was on the Xbox crew to deliver something as close to mind-blowing as they could get without committing an actual crime.
The beginning of summer tentpole season began as many a late 21st Century summer has – with SUPERHERO SEQUELS. We were treated to the first look at the latest instalment of the Batman Arkham series that promised to expand those games’ rich-as-Bruce-Wayne worlds and delve into the Caped Crusader’s formative years. And it had Deathstroke!
Marvel continued its dominance of our cultural input with news that it was making the jump to the small screen with Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., featuring the none-more-comic book plot element of Clark Gregg’s inexplicably popular Agent Coulson coming back from his awesome death in Avengers Assemble to lead an Excelsior Scooby Gang in stories linking Marvel’s big-screen outings.
One of the larger of cinema’s tentpole releases was another sequel, this one concerning heroes of a more human nature (Vulcans notwithstanding) as JJ Abrams’ Star Trek reboot continued the story of Captain James T. Kirk and his mission to get into all kinds of intergalactic trouble. Tendai reckoned it was a decent ride, but Abrams and co’s cinematic phasers were set to stun, in spite of the inclusion of KHAAAANNN!!
It wasn’t all fun and games in May however, and we were reminded of the fragility of our heroes in a very real way with the passing of Slayer guitar-slinger Jeff Hanneman. Anthony penned a moving obituary and tribute to the man and his legacy as a true thrash metal titan.
Contender for Weird and Slightly Disturbing Story Of The Year was this tale of some unassuming cosplayers suddenly ending up on hug pillow merchandise without their knowledge. Like a real-life, slightly squirrely version of the Mr. Sparkle episode of The Simpsons, everything turned out reasonably well in the end, but it sparked further debate about cosplay and consent, and probably made the resale value of those pillows shoot through the roof for those who bought them.
Contender for Most Contentious Story Of The Year was the PS4 vs Xbox One (briefly known as Xbone) battle at E3, covered for us by Andy. DRM was the big issue; basically Microsoft had lots, which people didn’t like, and Sony didn’t have near as much, which they did. The event also had Mirror’s Edge 2, thus making the gamers the out and out winners.
Alan reported the contender for Most Infuriating Story Of The Year with this slice of 80s Video Nasties-era throwbacking. While the banning of the rather more gruesome Manhunt games could be at least somewhat understood, treating the day-glo tongue-in-cheekery of Saint’s Row the same way just lacks class and sense of humour. This article is worth reading for the wording of the Classification Board’s statement alone.
Finally, this writer’s contender for Worst Film Of The Year got a rather better review from Anthony, who was able to see past Superman killing millions of people for no reason to judge it purely on its failures and successes as a movie. A superior act of journalism in anyone’s eyes. At least we’ll get Batman vs Superman out of it.