Insomnia | Masters of Controversy

"A man is wise only on condition of living in a world full of fools."

Arthur Schopenhauer

This page is intended for the benefit of new readers, as a quick reference to Insomnia's most controversial and consequently most valuable articles (this "consequently" itself is controversial, and will be explained one or another of these days). Everything linked here is required reading for those who wish to participate in forum discussions, and especially in those that take place in the theory sub-forum.

starstar Heavy Rain

Supposedly a ground-breaking "mature-themed" "interactive drama". In reality: a dumbed-down adventure game with zero puzzles, an absurdly overused Quick Time Event system, and a story that makes JRPG plotlines seem profound.

starstar Batman: Arkham Asylum

Supposedly the best Batman game ever, and highest-rated videogame of all time. In reality: a "polished turd" beset by a "horrendously poor story, misdirected sub-plots, an extremely shallow combat system, tepid scavenger hunting and wonky AI".

Is Games Art?

Leigh Rogers bursts onto the intellectual videogeam scene with a revolutionary, paradigm-shifting observation: geams are indeed art! Just not all of them -- only the really crappy ones.

The Simulacrum is True

According to the most prominent videogame pseudo-theorist, videogames are supposedly "half-real", and the hardware that powers them "fictional". In reality: there is not the slightest thing about videogames that is not 100% perfectly real.

starstarstar Grand Theft Auto IV

According to the NYTimes (and the entire gaming press) "a violent, intelligent, profane, endearing, obnoxious, sly, richly textured and thoroughly compelling work of cultural satire disguised as fun". In reality: an inferior, pandering sequel to a series on a downard spiral.

star Persona 3

Supposedly some kind of ground-breaking, revolutionary step forward for the hopelessly stale JRPG genre. In reality: a piss-poor social life simulator ineptly grafted onto a shoddy dungeon crawler.

On Insects and their Laws

So-called "game politics" is supposedly an interesting and very important aspect of the videogame industry. In reality: it is a giant waste of time that could only ever arouse the interest of complete and utter morons.

On "Emergent" Game Behavior and other Miracles

Videogames can supposedly exhibit emergent behavior. In reality: lol, you fucking imbecilic, uneducated dumbasses.

star Final Fantasy XII

2006's Game of the Year according to most of the corporate journlolistic world, and widely hailed as a masterpiece by everyone else. In reality: a botched abortion of a game whose combat portion "can be beaten by about 30 lines of C code".

starstar Doukutsu Monogatari

Supposedly the best indie game of all time and a masterpiece of "retro" game design. In reality: a classic case of dumbing down and bloating of the venerable 2D platforming and run 'n gun genres.

Basic Instincts

Relying on instinctual judgements is supposedly a bad way to judge a game. In reality: complete and unapologetic trust in one's instincts is an essential prerequisite in order to get anywhere with criticism.

Cocksucking Videogameland

Female critics and commentators have supposedly raised the quality of videogame criticism and commentary. In reality: the dumb fucking bitches are worse than even their physically- and mentally-stunted male cohorts.


Videogames are now supposedly mainstream. In reality: as anyone who is actually awake and leaves his room now and then will attest, they remain very much a niche.

How Good Exactly is Perfect?

One of the issues that regularly comes up among those who pretend to care about game reviews is that of ratings. Here's a tip for picking out the idiots, next time you find yourself witnessing such a quarrel: it is the guys who are against them.

Beyond the Videogame News Racket

Wherein the inner workings of the sordid business of game-related news reporting are examined and discussed, and an appeal to the communal nature of the more creatively-inclined and well-informed readers is duly made.

starstar World of Goo

... is what happens when moderately talented developers imbibe the artfag movement.

Discussion: On Icy's Genius

Icy is supposedly not a genius. In reality: he is.

starstar Madworld

Frank Miller meets casual gaming in Platinum Games' long-awaited debut.

Discussion: On Artfags and Abstraction

The artfags supposedly understand the concept of abstraction. In reality: they don't.

starstarstar Unreal Tournament 3

Yet another venerable PC franchise gets the Xboxification treatment.

Are Games the Last Bastion of Manliness?

Screw political correctness.

Domination 101: You Can Lead A Scrub To Water, But You Can't Make 'Em Think

Scrubs are supposedly as intelligent as any other person. In reality: they are't.

starstar Contra 4

Lifeless, bland, and fan-gamey, Contra 4 feels at times like a horrible slight to Nobuya Nakazato, all of whose Contra episodes were both amazing, and personable.

star Game Center CX ~Arino no Chousenjou~

The bastard child of Xboxified "achievements" and retrohipsterdom. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the avant-garde of gaming in the 21st century.

starstarstar Team Fortress 2

"TF2 is to TFC what Street Fighter: The Movie: The Game for the Sega Saturn is to Super Street Fighter II Turbo."

starstar Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (1992)

Don't just sit there and waste your precious time. When you want to do something, do it right away. Do it when you can. It's the only way to live a life without regrets. -- Another way is to not spend too much time with Sonic 2.

star Lost Odyssey

Sakaguchi's epic travesty of a videogame finally gets the proper review treatment.

starstarstarstarstar Muchi Muchi Pork!

One of the weirdest themes ever dreamed up for a shooter, but thankfully there's a great game underneath it all.

PC Game Piracy

More than any sane person would ever want to know about this subject. And then some.

Videogame Art: Tekki (2002)

Nerves of Steel in Battalion Hell.

Domination 101: So you want to be a Dominator? Part 1

Playing competitive videogames should supposedly above all be about "fun". In reality: "fun" is nothing more than a cheap excuse used to justify lazy slop play.

Leave ranking to the experts

So my friends at Action Button have begun a "top 25 games ever" countdown, and I figured I might as well take the opportunity to make an effort here to explain why such lists are an astonishingly retarded idea.

The Fake-HD Era

So apparently Halo 3 runs at 640p and Call of Duty 4 at 600p (in both its X360 and PS3 iterations). I know what you are thinking -- LOLWHAT, etc. Aren't games on these consoles supposed to be 720p minimum? Does that mean Halo 3 and COD4 are not "HD"?

Domination 101: 2D vs. 3D: Seth Responds! Round 2, Fight!

Since I wasn't able to respond to a lot of the comments I received on last week's article, I'd like to take some time to do that here, squeezing a little more theory in along the way. I didn't want anybody to think that I didn't still care!

Domination 101: 2D vs. 3D

Notice: For the faint-of-heart, dandies, pimpernels, pretenders, hard-heads and the other subspecies of scrubs -- we're starting to tackle a biggish question this week, and the going gets a little rough. This will be your only warning. Try and keep up...

On New Games Journalism

Being profound and seeming profound. -- Those who know that they are profound strive for clarity. Those who would like to seem profound to the crowd strive for obscurity. For the crowd believes that if it cannot see to the bottom of something it must be profound.

The second stupidest word in videogames

... is, of course, the word 'retro'. Whenever you see this word used in the context of videogames, you can safely erase it and replace it with the following sentence:

Domination 101: On Cheapness

Winners supposedly play using cheap tactics while losers play honorably. In reality: lol.

On complexity, depth and skill

Three of the most important concepts in the field of electronic games, and indeed also of real-life ones, are "complexity", "depth" and "skill".

Mini-games are for mini-gamers

Lol, yeah. You know who they are. The "quirky" indie game lovers. The XBLA "arcade" game hipsters. The Mini-Yous and the Mini-Mes. Et cetera. But don't let my derisive tone fool you -- this is one of the most important articles you will ever read on this website, or any website for that matter.

Domination 101: Prelude to a Diss

Balance is supposedly the most important aspect of a versus game. In reality: it isn't.

Casual reviews are for casual gamers

Actually, the truth is that casual reviews are for no one; I just played around with the title of this article to match that of the previous one, for bonus cheekiness points. But what the hell exactly am I talking about here?

Non-games are for non-gamers

Seems self-evident, doesn't it? And yet good luck trying to find a single gaming outlet that gets it.

Does anyone hate anything anymore?

Criticism is supposedly about liking or hating stuff. In reality: it is about the reasons one has for liking or hating stuff.

The Videogame News Racket

The first thing that needs to be understood in any discussion regarding the business of videogame news reporting, is that the sources of these news are always the game companies themselves.

The nuts and bolts are as important as the ones and zeros

Gaming hardware is supposedly less important than software. In reality: It isn't.

The RPG Conundrum

The point of this article is to clarify my RPG reviewing policy, in light of the astounding revelations seen in my recent article on the subject.

On Role-playing Games

Role-playing games are games in which players assume the roles of fictional characters and collaboratively create stories. Players determine the actions of their characters based on their characterization, and the actions succeed or fail according to a system of rules and guidelines.

Message my Ass

"Never say never again." Now there's a wise message for you, from James Bond of all people. After my recent article on "artfaggotry in videogames", I thought I was through with the sorry subject, but "Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in."

"Can Games be Art?" and Other Childish Nonsense

In certain kinds of writing, particularly in art criticism and literary criticism, it is normal to come across long passages which are almost completely lacking in meaning.

On "Value" for "Money"

One of the things that never fail to infuriate me about game reviews is the way reviewers handle the subject of game pricing.

starstarstar Gunstar Heroes (1993)

Gunstar Heroes is best described as an awesome boss-rush glued together with shit. Shit meaning it has every design element of one of those terrible Euro shooters (see: all of them), also known as euroshmups.

No More "Parodies"

Out of all the lame "arguments" I've heard so far from those trying their luck at defending No More Heroes, the only one I am willing to acknowledge as valid is, "Well, I enjoyed it."

starstar New Super Mario Bros.

I don't buy music often or watch movies, so I play videogames to fill that lonely, hopeless void. Everyone who plays games loves Mario. Anyone who says they don't just isn't doing it properly.

Sequel: The Videogame

The issue of "sequels in videogames" seems to be a highly problematic one in the world of game reviewing, and one which, moreover, I have not yet seen anyone discuss and explore in depth, and with any degree of understanding.

starstar No More Heroes

This game fucking sssssssucks and I fucking hated almost every moment I spent playing it. It's nothing more than an ugly, gimmicky, cheap-ass, third-rate, five-dollar GTA knock-off, whose only redeeming feature is its funky comic book vibe, and perhaps also its at-times slightly amusing dialogue.

starstar Prey

Death in videogames is, for some reason, an issue that seems to be more controversial in first-person ones than anywhere else.

star Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings

Few sentences get me as worked up in the world of videogames as those containing the words 'Japanese' and 'real-time strategy'. At the same time, few games can provoke such strong feelings of aversion in me as those whose titles contain the words 'Final' and 'Fantasy'.

Videogame Art: Arcana Heart (2006)

After the rather disappointing Tenkaichi Kenkakuden I would not have imagined that Yuki would have a game such as this in them, but that's what people can do with proper motivation.

Reviewing Ports and Compilations

My reviewing policy regarding ports and compilations is not to review them -- at least not in the same way as I review the original versions of games. I'll explain my reasons.

In the Name of Consistency

I often get asked -- mostly by Americans -- why I insist on referring to Japanese videogames by their Japanese titles. Many of them are offended when they see me referring to Ghosts 'n Goblins as Makaimura, or to Virtua Tennis as Power Smash.

Arcade Culture

Culture is a site of the secret, of seduction, of initiation, of a restrained and highly ritualized symbolic exchange. Nothing can be done about it. Too bad for the masses...

The Stupidest Word in Videogames

I don't remember exactly when this started bothering me, but it recently got to the point where I can't ignore it anymore. I am talking about the word 'gameplay', which I believe is the single most useless and misleading word in videogame terminology. But let me explain myself before you start booing.