The Spirit Temple?

The Spirit TempleVery few readers will understand this comic, and that’s perfectly fine. I thought it was far too funny not to share.

If you don’t get the joke, there are two things you must do. First, you should read the Bible, which is the greatest book ever written. Second, you should play The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, which is basically the video game equivalent of the Bible.

Incidentally, always thought it was odd that the dungeons in Ocarina of Time were called temples. I mean, were they meant to be places of worship? If so, what deities were worshiped? Why are their temples full of monsters and death traps? What kind of eccentric deities would want such lousy temples? Am I overthinking things?

So many questions.

302. TMTF Reviews: TMTF Reviews

A long time ago, I began reviewing books. It’s a vice, I know. I can’t help it. Some time later, I started reviewing video games. Look, I know I have a problem. Don’t judge me for judging things.

I’ve been thinking lately of how to improve TMTF Reviews. It occurred to me that they could be more streamlined and better organized. It’s time for a change.

That said, today’s review is a little different. It’s shorter than usual, bizarrely meta, and unexpectedly significant. We’re going to figure out how to make these reviews more helpful and easier to read.

This time, TMTF reviews TMTF Reviews.

Wait, what?

TMTF Reviews

The Good…

Up to this point, TMTF Reviews have been bleak, black-and-white blocks of words broken only by the occasional picture. We’re adding titles! Besides breaking up the monotony of prose, titles will make navigating reviews quicker and easier.

The style and content of reviews shan’t change. I’ve always tried to give thoughtful evaluations of things. My reviews aren’t great, but at least they give unique, honest perspectives and impressions of books and video games.

We’re making one more major change to TMTF Reviews, but I’ll get to that one in just a bit.

The Bad…

TMTF Reviews have plenty of problems. I’m neither a gaming pro nor a literary expert, and my reviews are far from professional. In fact, TMTF Reviews mostly consist of me rambling about stuff I’ve read and played, and throwing my ramblings into the lives of innocent, unsuspecting readers.

And the Fabulous

All in all, TMTF Reviews are as much a part of this blog as personal reflections and Legend of Zelda references. I can hardly imagine TMTF without its reviews, despite their faults, and I’m excited to make them a little easier to read.

This brings me to that final change I mentioned before. Inspired by the superb reviewing format used by Kotaku, I’ve decided to summarize each TMTF Review in a simple, colorful, fabulous graphic!

TMTF Reviews - TMTF Reviews

All right, the graphic isn’t that fabulous. Still, I hope it helps. Now you don’t even have to read TMTF Reviews anymore! You can just skip to the summary for the most important information!

Wait… it’s probably a bad thing if readers quit reading my reviews. Ah, well. Alea iacta est. (That’s Latin for “Such is the price for fabulous things,” or something like that. I could be wrong.)

Having improved the format for reviews, I’m eager to review the heck out of things… but I suppose I’ll have to go read a book or a play a game first.

I should probably get a start on that.

301. Blogging Anarchy

In some distant, dusty corner of my mind, there is a list titled What Adam Wants to Be When He Grows Up.

I’ve spent the past half a decade or so crossing things off this list. Voice actor was the first to go, followed by Author and Professional blogger years later. My list seems to get a little smaller every year; at this point, it consists of English teacherCopy editor, C.S. Lewis, and G.K. Chesterton. Those last two probably aren’t realistic options, since they’ve already been taken by other people.

The latest profession to be removed from What Adam Wants to Be When He Grows Up was Video game journalist. Yes, video game journalism is a thing. Someone has to review all those games, interview game developers, and cover events like E3, after all!

In the past few years, I’ve delved into the fascinating world of video game journalism and found it awesome… and also kind of awful.

I love writing. I love video games. Video game journalism unites two of my greatest interests in one exciting career. For a few months, I seriously considered looking into the profession. Like voice acting all those years ago, video game journalism seemed almost too good to be true.

Well, like voice acting, video game journalism turns out to be a heck of a lot harder than it looks. It takes more than a knack for writing and a passion for gaming. Video game journalism has extremely tight deadlines and not much job security. The job requires extensive research, technical know-how, and a high tolerance for brutal, abusive reactions.

The video game industry seems to have more than its fair share of spiteful people: gamers prowling around like roaring lions seeking whom they may devour. Every controversy in the video game industry, and media coverage thereof, gets messy. Insults, accusations, and—I hate to say this—death threats are not uncommon.

Some gamers don’t even need controversies to be cruel. All it takes to kindle their fury is a dissenting opinion. Vicious arguments are started by mild statements like “I think Majora’s Mask is a better game than Ocarina of Time,” and woe to the journalist brave enough to discuss touchy subjects like religion or feminism in video games!

In this journalistic minefield, video game journalists are wary. They follow complicated regulations about transparency and conflicts of interest. (These rules are good, fair, and necessary, but definitely a headache.) Some journalists have been publicly shamed, and had to apologize, for honest opinions.

All of this makes me especially thankful for the anarchy of blogging.

Well, anarchy may not be the best word; freedom is probably a more positive one. As the world of video game journalism is shaken by GamerGate, a recent mess of controversies involving feminist criticisms and alleged conflicts of interest, I find myself more thankful than ever for the freedom to write whatever the heck I want to write.

One of many things that makes blogging fun is that is has so few regulations. Nearly every rule for this blog is self-imposed. TMTF has deadlines and guidelines and whatnot, but they’re all the ones I chose for it. Blogging isn’t a minefield whose navigation requires strict rules. All it takes to write a blog is passion, a little experience, and maybe just a hint of insanity.

I admire video game journalists. I hope the problems of GamerGate are quickly and peacefully resolved.

Most of all, I am so, so thankful for the anarchy of blogging.

The Liar Paradox (and Surviving the Robot Apocalypse)

This statement is false.

I don’t know about you, dear reader, but the statement above makes my head hurt.

Geeks and philosophers alike have puzzled over the liar paradox, in which a statement contradicts itself. If “This statement is false” is true, then it must be false. It can’t be both, which makes it nonsense.

In the event of a robot apocalypse—a catastrophic takeover of human society by artificial intelligence—my advice is to hurl liar paradoxes at the machines. With any luck, they’ll puzzle over these impossible statements until their circuits or microchips burn out, deactivating the robots and saving humankind.

A robot apocalypse is unlikely, but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. I’ve seen The Matrix and The Terminator. I know how those revolutions end.

It Begins

It begins. (Comic by xkcd.)

Returning to the liar paradox, it reminds me of the “Knights and Knaves” riddles at which I’m so terrible. These puzzles feature people who tell only truths or only lies, requiring the puzzle-solver to distinguish the liars from the truth-tellers. Sifting through their conflicting statements requires exactly the kind of cool logic and steadfast patience I don’t have.

A contradiction similar to the liar paradox can be found in the denial of absolute truth. I believe some things are absolutely true, their truthfulness unaffected by my belief or disbelief. Denying this is silly. If “There is no absolute truth” is an absolute truth, then it’s self-contradictory. If “There is no absolute truth” is not an absolute truth, then it allows for absolute truth as an exception to the rule. Either way, the statement breaks down completely.

All this philosophy is making me thirsty. I’m going to go make some coffee, assuming my coffeemaker hasn’t become self-aware and begun planning the robot apocalypse.

I’d better get some paradoxes ready just in case.

300. Creative Counseling with DRWolf

In past months, I’ve felt burned out. Writing has been harder. I realized it was time for this blog to get some help, so I met with DRWolf—a creative thinker known for his work in the brony community—to discuss the problem. He was friendly, polite, and helpful. What I didn’t expect was for the good doctor actually to be… you know… a wolf.

I want to thank DRWolf for his time, consideration, and advice. I was sincerely interested in finding some answers, and he gave some really good ones. Keep up the fine work, Doctor. It was an honor to work with you.

I also want to thank Crowne Prince, animator extraordinaire, for the superb video. It’s absolutely fantastic, Ms. Prince. I appreciate your time and expertise!

As usual whenever I stumble over a blogging milestone, I have a few more words to say.

I owe a great debt of gratitude to my parents for their support and encouragement, and especially to my father for his tips and artwork. Without him, TMTF would probably not have lasted long. Thanks, old man. You’re the stoutest of Stout Fellas.

Next, a word to my typewriter monkeys: If you ever do that again, I will donate you to the zoo. I mean it this time.

Speaking of my monkeys, I guess they deserve some credit. Despite their laziness, pyromania, and extensive criminal record, I don’t know how I would keep TMTF up and running without my dirty dozen: Sophia, Socrates, Plato, Hera, Penelope, Aristotle, Apollo, Euripides, Icarus, Athena, Phoebe, and Aquila. Thanks, guys.

(I’m serious about the zoo, though. Behave yourselves for once!)

My readers have been far kinder to this blog than my monkeys ever have. To every person who has supported TMTF by commenting on it, sharing it, liking posts here or on Facebook, writing guest posts, celebrating Be Nice to Someone on the Internet Day, or simply reading the blog occasionally—thank you. Thank you so much. The greatest joy of a writer is to be read, and I appreciate every single one of you.

Finally—insofar as a blog about video games, Doctor Who, and exploding tomatoes can honor anybody—soli Deo gloria. Whatever my struggles, I hope these three words will always be my guiding principle for creativity.

On a less spiritual note… if I had a penny for every post I’ve written for this blog, I’d have enough money to go out and buy a cup of coffee. That’s pretty neat. All in all, thanks to all of you, it seems I haven’t quite run out of reasons to be creative.

I’d better keep writing.

299. I Am Not Batman

Yes, I know this may come as a shock to some of my readers. Some may have been so sure that I am secretly the Caped Crusader: the legendary vigilante who dresses as a bat for some reason. It is not so.

I am not Batman.

One of These Is Not Batman

All the same, I sometimes hold myself to impossibly high, Batman-esque standards. I also have Batman Syndrome, obsessing over my failures and allowing little mistakes to cancel out great successes. I demand much of myself. I have to be productive. I have to get stuff done.

I forget that I’m not Batman. He may be the pinnacle of human strength, will, and intelligence, but I am not. I’m a guy who needs sleep, gets sick, and needs a day off now and then.

A few days ago, I was reading the latest post from an animator’s blog. Something he said struck a chord with me.

And tomorrow I’m taking the day off from everything and not working on anything . . . It’s been a long time since I took a day completely off, so it’s due. We need downtime. Our society doesn’t like that because we’re not being productive members of society when we don’t do anything, but if we’re always on 24/7, we burn out.

This man has clearly learned a valuable lesson. He understands that he is not Batman. No ordinary person can be on the go all the time, working constantly, never taking a break, expecting nothing less than absolute effort. Normal, non-Batman human beings need days to take naps, read a book, or play Mario Kart. Without those days, we break down. It’s not weakness or self-indulgence to relax occasionally. It’s a necessity.

I’m often busy even when I don’t have to be. More often than I care to admit, I wear myself out working on things that aren’t urgent—things that can wait until I’ve had a cup of tea, a walk to the park, or a good night’s rest. I get so accustomed to being busy that I feel guilty or panicked if I spend too long without doing something “productive.”

There’s something in the Old Testament about taking a day off every week: the Sabbath day. I usually file it away with all those rules about burnt offerings and unclean foods as a religious law that has become obsolete. I’m no longer so sure. Besides being healthy and sensible, taking days off seems like an affirmation of faith—a way of saying, “I trust God enough to give him today.”

Sometimes, determination and coffee aren’t enough: “Man shall not live by caffeine alone,” or something like that. I am not Batman, and I sometimes need a break.

Unless you’re Batman—I’m guessing you’re probably not—you may sometimes need a break, too. Don’t be afraid to take one!

Pöpcørn

The ABRAA (Association of Blogs Run by Animal Assistants) has informed me and my typewriter monkeys that our blog will be shut down if we don’t feature more educational content. This scared me at first, but I’ve discovered an easy solution to appease the strict inquisitors of the ABRAA: I will let the Muppets do the educating for me. What could go wrong?

Today we’re learning to make popcorn shrimp, and also sweet music. Take notes.

The captions (accessible via the button marked CC on the video when viewed on YouTube) are probably my favorite thing about this video. The person transcribing the Swedish Chef’s gibberish gives up about a minute in and starts rambling about his job. It’s an extra layer of humor in an already delightful skit.

The Chef himself speaks hilariously like someone I know. I work in a group home for gentlemen with disabilities, and one of them mumbles in what I presume to be a fluent mixture of English, Swedish, and Ewok. I’ve gotten pretty good at deciphering his gibberish, but it’s taken a lot of practice.

I sure hope the ABRAA is satisfied by TMTF’s attempt at educating its readers… and that the Swedish Chef doesn’t give my pyromaniacal monkeys any ideas.

298. TMTF’s Top Ten Cartoons You Should Watch

I spend more time watching cartoons than any grown man should. Needless to say, I regret nothing.

The fact is that cartoons can be innocent, bright, smart, and funny. While the media is often jaded or cynical, cartoons are pleasant, and unapologetic about it. I appreciate them.

That said, some cartoons are much better than others. Today we’re listing ten of the best, because making top ten lists is what we do.

This is a list for Western animation. Anime (Japanese animation) is in a category by itself and deserves a list of its own. Someday, perhaps!

Discerning readers may notice that nearly all of the shows on this list are pretty recent, airing within the past decade or so. This is because I avoided cartoons until a few years ago. Growing up in Ecuador, I watched only the few shows my family had on tape. I mostly rejected cartoons in middle and high school, dismissing them as “too childish,” and only rediscovered them as an adult. (The irony has not escaped me.) Most of the cartoons I’ve watched are recent ones, which is why this list lacks any really old classics.

Let’s take a look, ladies and gentlemen, as TMTF presents…

The TMTF List of Top Ten Cartoons You Should Watch!

10. The Powerpuff Girls

The Powerpuff Girls

When an absent-minded scientist blends “suger, spice, and everything nice” to create perfect little girls, he spills an untested chemical into the mixture and produces the Powerpuff Girls: a trio of young superheroines who protect the innocent, defend their city from all evil, and attend kindergarten every weekday.

The show pokes fun at superheroes, monster movies, campy science fiction, and pop culture in general. Its playful tone and subversive humor are a blast. The Powerpuff Girls is full of charming little touches, from its hilariously incompetent mayor to the fact its greatest villain is a chimpanzee with an exaggerated Japanese accent.

9. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Beneath New York City, in some dark, forgotten sewer tunnel, dwell four fearless fighters. They emerge at night to patrol the streets and protect the innocent. So what if these heroes happen to be turtles?

Nickelodeon’s recent take on the Turtles is refreshingly lighthearted and self-aware. It mixes the whiz-bang style of comic books with the stylish action of old kung fu films, holding it all together with some really good writing. The show never takes itself or its story very seriously… but then its protagonists are nerdy mutant turtles, so that may not be such a bad thing.

8. Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated

Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated

In Crystal Cove, a touristy town that proclaims itself the “Most Hauntedest Place on Earth,” four teenagers and their dog solve mysteries. These kids, who call themselves Mystery Incorporated, debunk the town’s “supernatural” phenomena as the tricks of frauds and criminals… much to the chagrin of Crystal Cove’s mayor, who wants the town to keep its spooky reputation. When Mystery Inc. is contacted by someone called Mr. E, they find themselves caught up in a bigger mystery than they can imagine.

I saw one or two older Scooby-Doo cartoons as a kid, and they were kind of terrible. Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated astonished me with its excellence. It has character development, a story arc that stretches across the entire series, and an entire episode spoofing the works of H.P. Lovecraft. Best of all, Fred Jones—who was a bland stereotype in every version of Scooby-Doo up to this point—is reimagined as someone cheerful, well-meaning, slightly neurotic, and endearingly inept. I honestly don’t think Scooby-Doo will ever manage to be any better than this show.

7. The Legend of Korra

The Legend of Korra

In a world divided among four nations, a messianic figure called the Avatar arises in each new generation to maintain peace and balance. Each nation represents a classical element—water, earth, fire, or air—and certain people can control or “bend” one of these elements. The Avatar is the only person who can bend all four. This time around, the Avatar is a short-tempered young woman named Korra. She must master her abilities and navigate the political complexities of her world to keep things from falling part.

I’m bending the rules with this one. (Pun intended. I’m so, so sorry.) The Legend of Korra is neither Western animation nor anime, but something in between. Its characters are nuanced and compelling. The action scenes are wonderful, and the animation is some of the best on television. Best of all, the world of The Legend of Korra is a magical mix of Asian culture, steampunk technology, and beautiful scenery. Korra would be much higher on this list, but it never quite achieves its full potential, and an even better show steals its lofty place… but more on that later!

6. Samurai Jack

Samurai Jack

When a young samurai from feudal Japan is flung by a demon into a post-apocalyptic future, he sets off on a surreal journey to return to his own time. The samurai’s travels take him from futuristic cities to lonely jungles, and he meets everything from aliens to crazy Scotsmen. Wherever he goes, the legend spreads of a brave, kind, noble warrior: the samurai known only as “Jack.”

This show is probably the most artsy on this list, and also the most cartoony. It brings together the zany humor of The Powerpuff Girls with elegant action scenes and measured pacing. Samurai Jack uses dialogue sparingly; sometimes whole minutes go by without anyone speaking. The visuals tell the story. The show is strange, stylish, and thoroughly enjoyable.

5. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic

My Little Pony - Friendship Is Magic

In a fairy-tale world populated by candy-colored ponies, a bookish unicorn named Twilight is sent to a small town to “make some friends.” After settling in and meeting the town’s eccentric residents, Twilight begins to understand the importance of friendship. She and her friends live, learn, and occasionally save the world together.

This is a show for little girls, and it’s kind of awesome. (Its fans are also pretty neat.) It has all the sentimental, sappy, twee nonsense one would expect from a show about magical rainbow ponies. It also has some great writing, solid characterization, strong moral values, upbeat humor, and charming innocence. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is a much, much better show than it has any right to be.

4. Phineas and Ferb

Phineas and Ferb

It’s a beautiful summer day, and stepbrothers Phineas and Ferb know exactly how to spend it: building some outlandish, impossible contraption in the backyard. Their older sister, refusing to allow such reckless behavior, tries vainly to get them in trouble with their mum. Meanwhile, in another part of town, an evil scientist tries to conquer the world—well, that might be overambitious. He’ll settle for the tri-state area. All that stands between him and its innocent residents is an elite secret agent… who happens to be Phineas and Ferb’s pet platypus.

Phineas and Ferb has been around for years, and it’s still finding ways to subvert its simple formula for each episode. It’s the most self-aware show I’ve ever seen, peppered with droll dialogue, clever gags, and catchy music. Among other things, the show’s evil scientist, the lonely and forgetful Dr. Doofenshmirtz, is probably the funniest character I’ve seen on television.

3. Dan Vs.

Dan Vs.

Dan is convinced that everything and everyone in the universe, from his neighbors to modern art, is out to get him. He won’t take it lying down! This jobless misanthrope will go to any lengths to get back at whatever or whoever he thinks has wronged him. Chris and his wife Elise, Dan’s only friends, are often dragged along on his madcap schemes for vengeance.

Dan Vs. manages to be sharp and satirical without ever resorting to vulgarity or profanity. Dan is hilariously unhinged. I wouldn’t want him as a friend, but from a safe distance his schemes are great fun to watch. One of the show’s creators compared him to Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes, saying “I think of the Dan character as Calvin as a grownup, if his life had gone horribly wrong somewhere.” Dan shares Calvin’s paranoia, intelligence, ill temper, and absolute lack of common sense. Dan Vs. is smart, biting, and a joy to watch.

2. Gravity Falls

Gravity Falls

Mabel and Dipper Pines, twelve-year-old twins, have been sent by their parents to spend the summer in Gravity Falls, Oregon. They stay with their Great Uncle (or “Grunkle”) Stan, who runs a shady tourist attraction called the Mystery Shack. Although Dipper is disappointed to be stuck in a small town, he soon finds a journal detailing the supernatural monsters and mysteries of Gravity Falls. As Mabel and Dipper begin unraveling the riddles of this sleepy little town, Grunkle Stan, a gruff skeptic and shameless shyster, does his best to swindle the tourists who visit the Mystery Shack.

Gravity Falls has been called “gently twisted,” and I think that’s a good description. The show is equal parts funny, intriguing, heartwarming, outrageous, and weird. I would call it just a good comedy, except that it’s also packed with riddles and ciphers for fans to solve, and held together by a really compelling mystery. I’m not sure what exactly is going on in Gravity Falls, but I can’t wait to find out.

1. Avatar: The Last Airbender

Avatar - The Last Airbender

Before The Legend of Korra, there was an Avatar named Aang. When one of the four nations, the Fire Nation, wars against the others, Aang and his friends must stop it and restore peace before the world burns.

It takes a few episodes to hit its stride, but once it does this show never falters. This not-quite-anime predecessor to The Legend of Korra creates a world as beautiful and fully realized as Tolkien’s Middle-earth, and populates that world with a ridiculous number of memorable characters. Avatar: The Last Airbender isn’t merely a kid’s cartoon. It transcends its medium to become as deep and gripping a story as any I’ve seen… while never losing the gleams of humor and silliness that made it fun in the first place.

O people of the Internet, what cartoons have you enjoyed? Let us know in the comments!

297. TMTF Reviews: Resident Evil 5

There was once a survival horror game called Resident Evil 4, and lo, it was greatly praised. It played like a dream, thrilled like a nightmare, and was tons of fun. Critics adored it. Gamers enjoyed it. Even those of us who don’t like violent or scary games gave it a try and thought it was pretty fantastic.

Then its sequel, Resident Evil 5, was released. It met with disappointment and even outrage. It was accused of being uninspired, unoriginal, and—of all things—racist.

What can we say? Is RE5 an unappreciated classic, or is it bland, repetitive, and even offensive?

CAP-056 RE5 Gold Ed PS3_FOB_m03

Resident Evil 5 is campy, frustrating, insensitive, and… surprisingly excellent.

RE5 is the bloodstained, action-packed tale of Chris Redfield, an agent working for an organization devoted to stopping bio-terrorism. He is dispatched to an African country to investigate rumors of BOWs—Bio-Organic Weapons, monsters created through genetic tampering. Together with his ambiguously African partner, Sheva Alomar, Chris punches, shoots, and slices his way toward saving the world from megalomaniacal bio-terrorists.

There are a lot of good things to be said about this game. It’s violent—obviously—but also a lot of fun to play. The environments are brilliantly designed, aesthetically and mechanically: they look great, and they’re easy to navigate. Gameplay hasn’t changed much from RE4, which is a really good thing. The third-person, over-the-shoulder view makes exploring and shooting a breeze.

One of the things I liked best about the game was, oddly enough, reading about it. The game’s options include files containing background on the plot, characters, and enemies. These optional files delivered a lot of interesting information without burdening the game proper with long-winded exposition. Players wanting to immerse themselves in the story of RE5 can read these files; players wanting simply to shoot monsters in the face can play the game without tedious interruptions.

RE5 is fun to play, but not without its faults—many more, I’m sorry to say, than its remarkable predecessor. As long as we’re discussing a game set in Africa, we had better start with the elephant in the room.

Is RE5 racist?

During his mission in Africa, Chris, a white person, ends up shooting a bunch of black people. Granted, these Africans are BOWs infected with mind-controlling parasites, but it still seems awfully racist on the surface. It wouldn’t be so bad if Chris’s partner, Sheva, were unambiguously African. However, she’s light-skinned, speaks unaccented English, and seems more European.

Worst of all, at a few points in the game, the African BOWs dress in a primitive, tribal fashion. This is explained by a footnote—the parasites controlling these Africans cause them to revert to the customs of their distant ancestors—but this depiction of stereotypically savage African natives is the nastiest I’ve seen since Heart of Darkness.

Not Culturally Sensitive

This is not culturally sensitive.

In the end, I think RE5 is not racist. Its enemies happen to be indigenous Africans in the same way the enemies in RE4 happen to be Spanish peasants. There’s no intentional prejudice. There is, however, staggering insensitivity. I’m astonished that apparently nobody on the development team of RE5 realized a game in which a white guy slaughters African natives might be controversial.

Besides concerns of racism, the story of RE5 is a bit campy and the dialogue is horrendous. This wouldn’t be so bad if the game didn’t take itself so seriously. RE4 was just as silly, but it had a sense of humor. Like Doctor Who or Metal Gear Solid, it was extremely kitschy, but also very self-aware. It had one or two absurd villains, some outrageous set pieces, and the ubiquitous merchant.

RE5 lacks those gleams of humor. Where RE4 allows itself to be funny and succeeds, RE5 tries to be grim and fails.

Mechanically, RE5 is not without faults. Chris’s computer-controlled partner, Sheva, can be useful or frustrating depending on the situation. As neat as it was to have a partner, I missed going it alone. Nearly every boss battle revolves around some gameplay gimmick, some unique trick to damage the boss, which is irritating. As much as I appreciate creative gimmicks, I would have liked a few bosses of the traditional, “shoot-them-till-they’re-dead” variety.

There are also so many quick time events. Oh… dear reader… there are so many. In moderation, quick time events can add tension to a game. In RE5, they are a frequent and unpardonable nuisance.

Last of all… Resident Evil 5 isn’t scary.

It’s a fine action game, but it ain’t survival horror. As a third-person shooter, it’s fun. As an entry in Capcom’s respected horror series, it completely misses its mark. The quick time events were pretty much the only things I feared or dreaded in RE5.

Should you play Resident Evil 5? My answer would be: play Resident Evil 4. If you like RE4, and can tolerate quick time events and cultural insensitivity, you’ll probably enjoy RE5. Otherwise, you may want to keep your distance.

Video Game Gospel Music

I’m no stranger to offbeat versions of the Lord’s Prayer, and I’ve heard plenty of a cappella video game music, but… whoa. I mean, whoa.

“Baba Yetu” is the theme of Civilization IV, a game I’ve never played in a series that has never interested me. I first heard this song when my older brother, who is definitely not a gamer, had me listen to it a few years ago.

The song is the Lord’s Prayer in Swahili, and it’s beautiful. This arrangement by Peter Hollens and Malukah, a couple of YouTube musicians, is fantastic. “Baba Yetu” made history a few years ago by being the first song written for a video game to win a Grammy.

I’ve heard enough 8-bit chiptunes and earsplitting dubstep in video games. What they need is more lovely gospel music!