Update 12/22/14: The Panthers control their own destiny yet again after the results of the previous weekend. They play at the Atlanta Falcons for the NFC South title.
As of now, thanks to a humiliatingly bad performance on Monday Night Football from the immortal Jay Cutler, the Carolina Panthers do not control their own destiny even though, for just over 24 hours, they held the lead in the abysmal NFC South. The New Orleans Saints, courtesy of Mr. Cutler, currently stand at 6-8. The Panthers stand at 5-8-1. The Atlanta Falcons stand at 5-9. Out of those three teams, the Panthers are the only team that does not control their own destiny.
It’s been a weird season. That tie, which occurred in Week 6 and preceded a six-game losing skid from the Panthers, was the first in the 20-year history of the Carolina Panthers. It ended in a tie only because at the end of overtime, Mike Nugent, the kicker for the Bengals, missed a field goal that would have given them the win. That six-game losing skid was marked by two types of games: ones where we gave it away at the very end (against Seattle and Atlanta) and ones where we didn’t look like we deserved to be on the same field as the other team (against Green Bay and Philadelphia).
But the mental gymnastics necessary to make a playoff berth for the Panthers a realistic scenario aren’t too difficult! Seeing as every division winner makes the playoffs and gets at least one home playoff game, the odds aren’t that long. There are two things that need to happen: Carolina needs to beat Cleveland and Atlanta in the final two games of the regular season and New Orleans needs to lose one of their last two games against either Atlanta or Tampa Bay. There are other permutations but this one is the simplest. Once New Orleans loses even once, destiny falls back into the hands of the Panthers.
Why do I care so much? I’ve often found it hard to explain to outsiders why this team has had such an effect on me for my whole life. In January of 2004, Super Bowl XXXVIII, notable in the public eye as the one where a single nipple was a huge deal for some reason, also had a football game going on: the New England Patriots versus the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers were making their first Super Bowl appearance ever. Long story short, the Panthers lost one of the most exciting Super Bowls ever in heartbreaking fashion on a last-second field goal. 11-year-old me was curled up in a ball on the floor, crying his eyes out. Why? Continue reading The Ups and Downs of Being a Carolina Panthers Fan
WARNING: This article contains unmarked spoilers for The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.
Let me preface this half-review/half-some other thing with the qualification that I cannot and will not call The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword a “bad game.” Too much work and effort was put in by too many people for me to feel at all comfortable with dismissing it like that. I made a similar qualification before when discussing Grand Theft Auto V; some consideration has to be made for effort and personal taste when reviewing a game.
All that said, Skyward Sword deeply disappointed me to the point where I had to stop and think super hard about whether my problems were with SS in specific or with modern 3D Zelda games as a whole. Continue reading Skyward Sword, Downward Spiral
Here is an excerpt from the February 2004 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly:
“In real life, Japanese courts are so slow that it can take several years to complete a typical lawsuit. In the world of Gyakuten Saiban (available now in Japan for GBA), which translates to ‘Courtroom Reversal,’ it’s a different story—there’s no jury, no insanity pleas, and only three days to convince the judge that your client’s innocent. How do you, defense attorney Ryuichi Naruhodo, manage this? Simple: Visit the crime scene, gather evidence, and use it to rip the prosecutor’s case to shreds during cross-examination. It sounds boring, but the high-energy anime sequences and nutty characters have made Gyakuten Saiban one of Japan’s most popular adventure series—this third installment is coming to Japan in January 2004.”
Haha! What a weird game that has no chance of ever making it to America, right? Continue reading Ace Attorney: How To Wright A Story
NASCAR is often a laughingstock. People criticize it for the perceived lack of skill necessary to compete—after all, all you really have to do is go fast and turn left. People criticize it for the lack of diversity at the top levels of the sport—after all, no matter how much Danica Patrick-centric advertising occurs, she still has yet to win a race and very few NASCAR drivers are people of color. People criticize it for the sport’s desperate attempts to remain relevant—after all, the championship system has undergone what seems like a change every year for the past decade. People “watch it only for the wrecks.”
These are all biased opinions, of course. Any of these can be turned on their head once you look at it from a different perspective. Yes, NASCAR seems simple, but it takes an incredible amount of endurance and skill to complete 500 miles on a track with 42 other cars at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour without totaling your car. Yes, NASCAR isn’t too diverse, but how many sports even allow men and women to compete against each other at the top levels? Yes, NASCAR is struggling to remain relevant, but can you blame it for trying? Continue reading NASCAR: The Times They Are A-Changin’
The following article is an edited excerpt from a much longer article I wrote as my undergraduate thesis my senior year at UNC – Chapel Hill. The topic of that paper is FIFA’s relationship with the Cold War during the 1970s. Should you wish to read the whole thing, it can be found here. I used three different case studies to illustrate my point, the first of which being the World Cup qualification play-off between the Soviet Union and Chile in November 1973. This case study will be found below, edited to be less academic and more accessible. Continue reading The Phantom Match and The Bloody Stadium
We do reviews differently here at Game Losers. I’m not going to bury the lede.
Is Valiant Hearts: The Great War worth playing? My answer to this question is yes. It has the most to offer if you are a fan of puzzle games or a history buff. Full disclosure: I am both. But, most importantly, it has a well-crafted (and heartbreaking) story that is accurately framed by its historical context. It’s relatively short—it can take anywhere from four to eight hours to complete depending on your skill with solving puzzles and interest in collecting the optional historical items scattered throughout the game. At $14.99, it’s an excellent value and, if it’s on sale for any amount less than that, even better.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about why it’s a game worth playing.
Continue reading War Makes Men Mad: A Review of Valiant Hearts: The Great War
-Notice: This article contains unmarked spoilers for Fire Emblem on the Game Boy Advance and Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance for the Nintendo GameCube.-
“Sub-human? Ha! What arrogance it takes to coin such a name! You think yourselves the only ones worthy of the name ‘human,’ and so we laguz must be beneath you? And thus you call us ‘sub-human.’ We are less than human to you, is that it?”
“I’m sorry…I don’t know any other name for you. If I have offended you, I apologize. What should I call you? Laguz? Would that be more appropriate?”
“Huh? You show manners? How odd. I like that. Now, you are…Who, exactly?”
“My name is Ike. Ike of the Greil Mercenaries.”
I recently finished a playthrough of Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, my first time going through it in at least seven years. Though I knew it was a game that wasn’t afraid of tackling delicate issues, they hit a lot harder when I was old enough to really realize what they were talking about. Fire Emblem games have a reputation for depicting how fucked up royal families are—in one, a prince clandestinely murders his father so that he can become king and in another a king arranges to have his prepubescent son assassinated.
But that’s all par for the course and royal family fuckups aren’t necessarily things we deal with on a daily basis. What about race, though? Continue reading Race in the Wide Worlds of Fire Emblem
Several months ago, I came within inches of ordering a kit from an Italian football club 99% of the people in America have never heard of. The club is Associazione Calcio Siena, or A.C. Siena. The player wears the number 10, and his name is Luca Longo. He holds just about every record there is to hold in the Siena record books, including 552 league appearances and 243 league goals for Siena. For Italy, he was capped 140 times and scored 58 goals.
A.C. Siena no longer exists.
It has been a swift and painful journey down for Siena. The team was in the top division of Italian football, the Serie A, as recently as the 2012-13 season. However, a series of very unfortunate events resulted in the club being forced to go into bankruptcy just a year after that last Serie A season. Because of that bankruptcy, the club could not register for the 2014-15 Serie B season and it was forced to fold. Let’s run through the events that led up to that bankruptcy.
- Summer 2011: Siena finishes in the runner-up spot in the 2010-11 Serie B season and earns promotion to Serie A.
- Summer 2012: Siena’s return to the top flight is rewarded with a respectable 14th place finish, eight points clear of relegation back to Serie B.
- BACKTRACK TO JUNE 1, 2011: This happens. To be honest, match-fixing scandals happen a whole lot in Italian football. But this one was pretty big. Siena is implicated in the scandal but not formally punished until March 2012, when they are docked six points for the 2012-13 Serie A season.
- Summer 2013: Starting six points (or two wins) behind most of your competitors is very difficult to overcome. Siena finished in 19th place, eight points away from safety. Siena would have to return to Serie B for the 2013-14 season.
- Summer 2014: Siena are forced to start that season even further back for the previous one—they are docked eight points for “financial irregularities.” What exactly are “financial irregularities?” In other words, they weren’t paying their players on time. They had registered for this season by the skin of their teeth; relegation takes a hard financial toll on a club. Despite the eight-point penalty, Siena missed qualifying for the promotion play-offs by just one point. Had there been no penalty, they would have finished third in the league and held the top seed for the play-offs. Instead, they remained in Serie B, failed to register for the next season, and declared their bankruptcy.
Siena has reformed, and is now officially Robur Siena Società Sportiva Dilettantistica, or Robur Siena S.S.D. They will start from the bottom, so to speak, mired in the fourth tier of Italian soccer, Serie D. Serie D is not a professional league and, if you know your alphabet, you can conclude that it promotes to Serie C, which then promotes to Serie B, and so on. Long story short, it will be two years at the very least before Siena can even return to the second tier.
Now, you may very well be asking yourself a very important question: Why the fuck do I care? Continue reading Siena: The Long Gap Between Fantasy and Reality
Recently, there’s been a lot of negative publicity surrounding video games and the video game community. A small but very vocal and very cruel subset has wildly tried to quash any criticism of their beloved AAA games, as the reaction to Anita Sarkeesian’s most recent video has proven.
I considered making this week’s piece a continuation of that very important discussion. Considering women actually dominate the gaming population, it’s critical to consider how women are portrayed in video games. But I decided to take a different approach. There are so many people more qualified than me that are already having that discussion. What I can do is prove that video games still have great potential to contribute great things to the world.
In the game FTL: Faster Than Light, you play as the crew of a small ship traversing the dangers of space in order to deliver an important data packet that swing an intergalactic war. It is a wildly difficult game that I have never beaten and the game ends with the destruction of your ship. You make many choices along the course of the game that affect your crew, your ship, and the overall story. No two games are the same.
I wrote a short story based on one playthrough of the game. The story, titled “The Flight of the Red-Tail,” is below. It clocks in at just over ten thousand words and it is an example of how video games, no matter how simple they may be or how small an audience they reach, can inspire. It’s important to criticize video games where we can but it’s just as important to celebrate them where we can as well. Enjoy. Continue reading The Flight of the Red-Tail
In the first Super Smash Bros. game, released in 1999 for the Nintendo 64, there was, out of twelve playable characters, just one woman: Samus Aran. That’s 8.3%. In Super Smash Bros. Melee, released in 2001 for the Nintendo GameCube, the total characters goes up to 25 (if we count Zelda and Sheik, who we’ll call male, as separate) and the women went up to 3 with the addition of Princess Peach and Princess Zelda. We’re up to 12% now!
Super Smash Bros. Brawl for the Nintendo Wii upped the playable characters to 39 (again, counting characters that can change mid-battle as separate) but only added one woman: Zero Suit Samus. Seeing as Zero Suit Samus and Samus Aran are exactly the same person, just with different gear, I choose not to count her as a “new” character. That brings the percentage down to a paltry 7.9%. Yikes.
Things are changing, though. Pardon me for throwing more math and numbers at you, but out of the eleven new characters that have so far been announced for Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, seven are women. That right there is a whopping 63.6%. So, out of the 36 playable characters confirmed so far, and counting Zero Suit Samus and Power Suit Samus as separate characters because the game insists we’re now at 30% of the game being women. Not a majority but it’s getting closer to the percentage of people in the real world that identify as women.
Okay, we’re done with numbers now. Here’s what all that means: they know. Masahiro Sakurai, Nintendo, Bandai Namco, everyone who’s working on this game knows. They know that making everything pink and gendered isn’t the cheat code to make games women want to play. Who knew! Continue reading Super Smash Sisters