Read more →
Review: ‘Fantasy Strike’ Is A Fighting Game That Understands…Game of the Year: Jordan Minor’s Best Video Games of 2018 Stay on target For too long the definition of “Game of the Year” has been unfairly narrow. How boring is it to see every website shower the same stale AAA games with praise at the end of each holiday season? So at Geek.com, we’re doing what we can to put a stop to this in Game of the Year, a new column celebrating worthy alternative picks for the year’s greatest game regardless of genre, platform, year of release, or even quality. Here, any game can be Game of the Year!I’m no big fan of fan films. Maybe it’s because I saw too many friends at film school waste their talent on them but too many fan films come across as either #brand-worshipping fan fiction with a budget or just technical demo reels for desperate folks in L.A. But a big exception for me is the 2009-2010 Nintendo-themed web series There Will Be Brawl. And although the series is shockingly cinematic, being based on a game qualifies it for Game of the Year.At first, There Will Be Brawl’s premise sounds about as insufferable as any other fan film. A dark, gritty, sexual reworking of Nintendo’s cuddly mascots? Remove the live-action element and every other video on Newgrounds is an edgy parody like this, especially during the height of Super Smash Bros. Brawl hype the show was operating in. Why not throw in Batman and Predator while you’re at it?Fortunately, across its ten episodes ranging from 12 to 35 minutes, There Will Be Brawl avoids the lazy, hacky pitfalls it could have easily stumbled into by fully committing to itself. There are gags, but its smart writing treats its characters and storylines completely seriously, which is maybe the funniest joke of all. I personally find it very inspiring for my own creative endeavors.The urban Mushroom Kingdom, which has since annexed other Nintendo locales like Zelda’s Hyrule and Kirby’s Dream Land, is in decline. Princess Peach, here acting more like a politician, has gone missing. With the perpetually angry, violent, and impotent Mario no use to anyone, it’s up to the world-weary Luigi to unravel the mystery and atone for his old sins. Meanwhile, monster cannibal Kirby lurks in the shadows. Despite the Paul Thomas Anderson joke in the title, the overall storyline is more of a riff on Silence of the Lambs, especially by the crazy finale.While the drama itself is decently tense, the real joy is in seeing dozens of depressing reimaginings of Nintendo characters and concepts. There are the old Mafia dons like Bowser and Ganondorf. Sword-wielders like Link and Marth make up the corrupt police force. Solid Snake is a homeless man living in a box next to spacey drug-dealer Captain Olimar, and a hooker with a heart of gold Samus does her best to shield innocent Pokemon Trainer/musician Red from the dangers of the real world. The performances and character depth go a long way towards getting you to see past the cosplay-level production value, but honestly seeing Diddy Kong as a cheap gorilla suit with a realistic gun has its own bootleg charm as well.There Will Be Brawl was created by Zach Grafton and Matt Mercer. Mercer also acts in the series, and you may recognize him as the voice Overwatch’s McCree, Leon S. Kennedy in recent Resident Evil games, Chrom in Fire Emblem Awakening, and a bunch of anime roles. After the show, the two collaborated on a Game of Thrones parody called School of Thrones as well as violent fairy tale princess farce Muzzled the Musical.It’s tough to describe just how excited I was for Super Smash Bros. Brawl. It’s still the only game I’ve ever camped out for. My all-consuming hype for the series, along with my Wii love, is what first got me into There Will Be Brawl. But I’m glad I stuck around because the dark and ambitious little web series, the Game of the Year, is totally a rewarding watch in its own right. I would love to see a follow-up. Imagine what the team could do with new Smash Bros. characters like Duck Hunt Dog, Bayonetta, and Ice-T.Check back next week to read about the next Game of the Year!View as: One Page Slides1/51. There Will Be Brawl is a dark fan film reimagining of Nintendo’s cuddly mascots.2. The show mostly follows a world-weary Luigi.3. Mario is angry, violent, impotent, and of no use to anyone.4. Princess Peach is more like a politician in this urban Mushroom Kingdom.5. Wario isn’t all that different in the grand scheme of things.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.