DID YOU READ

Insert Credit: “Shadows of the Damned”

Insert Credit: “Shadows of the Damned”  (photo)

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Insert Credit endeavors to suss out where you should be allotting your video game allowance, sifting out a single title from many and crowning it as The One Game You Need to Get This Week. Don’t consider these reviews, gentle reader. Rather, think of Insert Credit as a mix of hands-on time, informed opinion and intuition.

For the week of June 24, 2011, you should insert credit into: ” Shadows of the Damned.”

No game designer working today channels the inner landscape of a 12-year-old better than Goichi Suda, better known as Suda51. The Japanese creator first came to Westerners attention with “Killer 7,” a Capcom game initially made for the Nintendo GameCube. All of the playable characters in the cartoony, gore-soaked action thriller could’ve sprung from a sixth-grader’s subconscious — a black guy with a Mohawk, a caped luchadore and a comely young girl who reveals secrets with blood that showers from cutting her own wrists. There was also a mechanic where blood was the economy of the game with thin blood restoring health and thick blood used for upgrades. While some of it sounds like it could’ve been cooked up in after-school detention, “Killer 7” bore a psychological twist that showed a deeper understanding of narrative expectations than the rest of the game would have you believe.

Then came “No More Heroes,” whose central character Travis Touchdown embodies the slacker-geek lifestyle probably shared by those the game was aimed at. He buys a bootleg lightsaber called a beam katana off the internet and proceeds to make a run at becoming the number one assassin in the world. But, he’s living in a motel room filled with action figures and other nerd tchotckes and must take on odd jobs like mowing the lawn to keep cash in his pocket. You saved games in “NMH” by sitting on the toilet. And, oh yeah, his big super moves in the game are pro wrestling power slams.

For his newest game, Suda’s inner prepubescent boy fixates on recreating a grindhouse cinema feel inside a video game. “Shadows of the Damned” brings unto us Garcia Hotspur, a trash-talking demon hunter who ventures into hell to get his kidnapped girlfriend back. “Shadows” blasts a guitar-heavy punk/metal soundtrack out of the game and Garcia himself gets covered in copious tattoos in the manner of a Lil Wayne or Wiz Khalifa. Garcia’s aided by a hellborn sidekick names Johnson, who also shapeshifts into his main weapon. Johnson also changes into a torch, a motorcycle and other implements that you need. Early on, Garcia comments that Johnson is always the right tool for the job. The dick jokes keep coming (er, sorry) and it feels like Suda may have a penis-obsessed compulsion like Jonah Hill’s character in “Superbad.” Yes, the one who kept on drawing phalluses everywhere. Even the big bad, a Lord of Hell named
Fleming, make a tiny penis joke as he’s spiriting away girlfriend Paula. And, yes, Fleming also looks like something drawn in the margins of a math notebook, with a long, sleeveless trenchcoat festooned with bones of various sizes.

The game’s primarily an action shooter This is the first game that Suda’s made with a significant partner, that being Shinji Mikami, the creator of the “Resident Evil” series. It’s a testament to Suda’s process that “”SotD” bears much of each man’s sensibilities. The camera angle, resource management, enemies and level design all come from Mikami, while the snot-nosed punk ethos of the characters scream Suda. The frothy fusion results in a bizarre logic that’s oddly Even when the game over-indulges in well-worn game mechanics it does so with gusto. So, even though there’s tons of key pzzles where you need to figure out time and again how to open a door, the bizarre logic of it keeps you engaged. At one point, you need to feed a strawberry to a scowling baby’s head that keeps an entrance locked. You get health back by drinking booze. You need to shoot goat heads to light your way.

Yet, for all the over-the-top humor and its juvenile sense of what’s cool, “Shadows” isn’t shallow. None of Suda’s games are. The insistent childishness in Suda’s games seems to come from a repurposed nostalgia, where he’s trying to recreate the feelings games gave his younger self. Film and pop culture both bear a strong influence on his work, too. Travis Touchdown–the lead in “No More Heroes”–served as a callout to the “Jackass” guys. Similarly in “Shadows,” the inspirations of Guillermo Del Toro, Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino mix with a heap of “Evil Dead”-era Sam Raimi, too. It’s a road movie set in hell. That nostalgia for the games of old gets nakedly wound around his other obsessions with pro wrestling braggadocio, the recursiveness of nerd minutiae and gothic imagery. (He claims to have been an undertaker before entering game design.) What gamers wind up with is a litany of dick jokes with a heart beating beneath it. A paradox, maybe, but also one that’s decidedly Suda.

Early in his career, Suda would only allow himself to be photographed with a lucha libre wrestling mask on. I remember hearing that he’d also do interviews with it on, too. Looking back on it, I think the mask wasn’t to hide anything but to reveal his inner self. His games do that, as well. What seems like sinking to an elementary school level actually serves to elevate the otaku meme to become its own subject matter. His oeuvre says, “Hey, you know that weird stuff we all like? The wrestling trash-talk, skull rings, cheesy b-movies? Not only can we make games about that stuff, we can make games about liking that stuff.” So, in that way, “Shadows of the Damned” continues the skein of gleefully adolescent yet intriguingly faceted video game experiences coming from Goichi Suda. I, for one, hope he never grows up.

Are you enjoying “Shadow of the Damned”? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar

via GIPHY

IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”


Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”


But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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