Checkpoint 20

20? That many? Are you sure? Damn okay. Huh.

Howdy folks! Hope everyone’s doing okay, outside of the shock of receiving one of these kinda close to a month since the last one. We did it! Just ‘cos it’s something other people do very regularly doesn’t mean it’s not worth celebrating! Everyone’s got their own ups and downs, their own left and rights and lefts and rights and B’s and A’s. Joes read the news this month and I played some absolutely wicked games on my portable Nintendo. You know how it goes by now!

This month marks the 25th anniversary of the N64's US release, so throughout the month Marc Normandin is looking back on the console's remarkable legacy.

Dia Lacina on Square's PlayOnline Service and the promise of a better internet that could have been.

A Beautiful Staircase in an Abandoned Building is a monthly radio show by Ben Tupper that digs into all sorts of video game soundtracks. Last month our friend Aidan aka blusher guested the show with a very exciting selection of tracks.

The Checkpoint favs and guest posters from lowpolis recently released their latest game, co-open (absolutely go play it!) and came on the Kritiqal Care podcast to talk about it and other stuff.

Matt Sephton takes an in-depth look at the Aquaplus P/ECE, a japan-only mobile console released back in 2001, and how it stacks up against 2021 hot new crank-powered handheld—the Playdate.

A new HeavyEyed video on Crime & Humanity in Yakuza.

Here’s the latest Object Oriented by Paul Walker-Emig (of Utopian Horizons fame), this time focusing on clothing in games, the power behind cosmetics, and a plea to stop commodifying virtual clothes.

Our very favorite Lewis Gordon reviewed Jason Schreier’s new book Press Reset. In his excellent review, Lewis address some fundamental issues that the books mostly overlooks. Such as the condition of factory workers putting together hardware, or the miners risking their lives to dig up rare-earth minerals.

And finally, an absolutely charming look at the town of Hastings and how it provided the inspiration for the equally charming cross-section-em-up I Am Dead (read J's thoughts on that one in our Oct 2020 Checkpoint).

Art of Rally

There’s some stuff that just feels really good in videogames. A perfectly timed parry. Jumping a minecart over a gap in the rails. Dashing through a bad guy with some spectral magic. Golf! One of my personal favourite gamefeels is drifting in cars. I’m absolutely not a car person, but nailing that corner, putting all your trust in the heavy back end of your vehicle for the perfect amount of time… it’s a rush! Like with most good gamefeel moments though, it’s a risky thing; you’re liable to spin out or have your perfect arc interrupted by another race participant or piece of street furniture, leaving you dusty and embarrassed. It can be intimidating, and it’s easy to just forget that button exists and focus on doing the straight bits really well.

Not here though! Art of Rally is a blank tarmac canvas; a beautiful open space for you to take risks and be brave inside of, without fear of repercussions or impatient opponents. You drift a little too far off the track, you’re just put right back on the road ready to try again next corner. It’ll happen often; the cars aren’t caricatures. There’s a lot of them, all realistic and uniquely tricky, requiring your full attention as you get to know their nuances. The game feels designed for exactly this; simple, beautiful flat colour backdrops decorated with just enough tilt-shift dioramas to give the world life without taking your focus off the road ahead, and a joyfully determined OST that seems purpose made to make the outside world disappear in the rearview.
The perfect opportunity to drift like nobodies watching. — Sᵏʳʳʳʳᵗ*

* Also! I had a press code for this game! My first one, so not sure if I have to disclose that but I also want folks/my mum to know how cool I am now. The real deal!

Axiom Verge 2

I’m an absoute sucker for sci-fi set in abandoned arctic research outposts. Especially if you later uncover the arcane nanotech spectres of a lost civilisation which choose to imbue you with various supernatural powers/hacking abilities that allow you to reach new areas or take on the rogue AI security drones that relentlessly hunt outsiders. Double especially if said drones are colossal entropic chimeras taking up the better part of your screen as they ricochet around like some bullet hell DVD logo. Render all that in timeless pixel art that makes this feel like it’s something you’d need three separate unzipping programs to install onto your dad’s computer in 2009, paired with haunting alien ear worms and charmingly obnoxious sound design; this game is a truly singular experience. It feels like you’re inside of the full realisation of one person’s vision; every detail, every design choice, zero compromise. It’s Tom Happ’s Me-troidvania and I can’t recommend it enough. — S

That’s all for this one folks! As always, thanks so much for reading! Hey did you see that Cruis’n Blast trailer? That game looks absolutely wild. And the song! 🎵 Let’s. Go. Crooozinnn. 🎵 Track of the year, right?? Anyways, we’ll be back next time with more games and stuff! See ya!