Bob "Moviebob" Chipman, also known as "The Game Overthinker", is a self-proclaimed "Z-list internet celebrity" who maintains a pair of vlogs on YouTube and a Blogspot site, and also contributes to both The Escapist and Screw Attack. He rips apart bad movies, but his particular shtick is giving analyses of gaming culture and the industry, in a style closely reminiscent of college-lit-class style "close reading", overlaid with appropriate (and sometimes humorous) images. Bob's analyses are very much like you would see from a troper. Indeed, he's written an article that refers to "a genuinely wonderful website called TV Tropes".Bob loves what he loves and hates what he hates, and between his (admittedly) abrasive "Boston guy" attitude, his unapologetic love of '80s and early '90s gaming, and his tendency to belittle franchises with large fanbases (and those fans), he can be somewhat divisive. As a result, the Rule of Cautious Editing Judgment is in effect. However, agree or disagree with him, his videos often invite discussion.A character page for The Game Overthinker can be found here. A YMMV page for his works can be found here.
His shows include:
The Game Overthinker: Originally focused on video game analysis, it grew into a more story-driven series about the line between the worlds of humanity and gaming getting blurred, to the point where Bob created another series, Overbytes, to focus exclusively on such analysis. Airs on Screwattack.
Overbytes: Basically, The Game Overthinker minus the story-driven segments.
Escape to the Movies: His film review show for The Escapist, new episodes released every Friday.
Intermission: A written column accompanying the week's Escape to the Movies episode. Sometimes it's a further discussion of a particular element from that week's film, sometimes it's a discussion of older films or a trend in filmmaking, and sometimes (if more than one film came out that caught Bob's interest) it's another review.
The Big Picture: A weekly show on The Escapist in which Bob talks about whatever the hell he feels like talking about; however, episodes are generally related to news in geek culture. New episodes come out every Tuesday.
American Bob: A political vlog on YouTube. Currently on hiatus.
He's also written a book titled Super Mario Bros. 3: Brick-by-Brick, an analysis of Super Mario Bros. 3 in the form of a "novelized Let's Play" that also goes into the history of the franchise and his experiences with it.The list of the Films Discussed By Moviebob got so long, it's been moved to a separate page. For an episode and story arc guide to the Game Overthinker, see the recap page.
Anti-Climax: After watching the first episode, he felt the controversy over Tropes vs. Women in Video Games to be this, stating that he wished Anita Sarkeesian had been the rabid Straw Feminist attack dog that her critics were calling her simply to justify all the hype. As it was, he found it to be a dry (and somewhat boring) academic presentation, with at least some merit behind its assertions.
Anvilicious: In-Universe he's discussed it a few times. He feels that movies can have a message to them and deliver it fine, subtlety isn't always required, however he takes issue with whether or not the film can be smart about it. He feels the RoboCop (1987) film gives a very unsubtle but smart message about business, and capitalism, and does so in a morally blurry and intelligent manner. Other films like The Purge and RoboCop (2014) he feels lack the sophistication, and thus the films suffer for it by talking down to their audience and fail to address the complexities of the issues.
The Auteur Theory: Discussed in the Intermission editorial "Wrights and Wrongs", which was about the backlash against Marvel over the departure of Edgar Wright from Ant-Man over Creative Differences. He feels that, while the auteur theory makes a lot of solid points, it's not applicable to every film, especially not big, studio-driven blockbusters like the films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He also argues that, while it's produced a lot of great movies in both the '70s New Hollywood and in independent cinema, it's also led to the undue, premature elevation of filmmakers who are more about style than substance (citing Tim Burton and M. Night Shyamalan as examples) and the passing over of talented directors who don't have a particular "style" (such as the Russo Brothers).
The Bechdel Test: Devoted an episode of The Big Picture to it. He feels it to be a poor and shallow measure for how well women are represented in fictional media, blaming its popularity on geek culture's love of categorization and black-and-white facts, while noting that it originated as a joke in Dykes To Watch Out For that its creator intended more as a thought exercise about Hollywood in general than as an actual test to be applied to specific films. He notes that a lot of sleazy exploitation films and formulaic chick flicks pass the Bechdel Test despite an otherwise questionable portrayal of women, while films like Terminator 2: Judgment Day and any film about Joan of Arc fail it despite having very strong, multi-layered female protagonists. He proposes an alternative that he calls the Mako Mori test, in which a film passes by having at least one major female character who gets a fully-developed story arc that doesn't revolve around a man — in other words, simply writing a good character.
"You heard me, you half-cocked message board fuckheads, the Wiiis part of this console generation ... so can we please stop it with this tired shit about GameCubes and duct tape!"
Tyler Perry also counts, as does Sam Raimi's departure from the Spider-Man films and the "Amazing" series. He will NOT give them a chance.
He also hates the new Transformers films, as well as the bulk of Michael Bay's output for that matter. Though he did enjoy Age of Extinction, and even called out fellow critics for not hating the movie, but hating Bay himself.
Breather Episode: If you follow all of his shows, the Game Overthinker episode Bat-Slap comes out with Bob stating he doesn't believe gaming culture as a whole is ready/deserves to be taken as seriously as it so-often claims to want to. Come the following Tuesday, the Big Picture episode Science has Bob making mostly non-serious statements like "Space guys, if you don't want to pretend you've discovered oil on Mars to trick some funding out of the Government, how about telling Glenn Beck there's gold on the moon and not letting him come back?"
Brick Joke: His Do The Mario videos on the Escapist, the first one having a stinger showing SMB: Peach-Hime Kyushutsu Dai Sakusen and saying it's a story for another time (as in, not the week after the first). Two weeks later, Do the Mario PT. 2 was featured (showcasing said aforementioned Mario anime).
Chivalrous Pervert: He agrees with feminism, and is one of the few vocal members of the gaming and general media community who are aware of how women are still given the short end of the stick when it comes to society and representation. He also considers the constant male harping on works like Twilight to be unfair, because women should also have fanservice directed towards them as well. That being said, if fanservice is done tastefully, he will revel in it.
Also discussed in the episode "Worlds Within Worlds", which examined the late Dwayne McDuffie's Tommy Westphall hypothesis of television, and its criticism of comic books being too strict with continuity.
Distracted by the Sexy: The production of Salt foundered when it lost its star, but then Angelina Jolie signed up for the action, which is great. Really great. Mmm-hmm. Yeah... weren't we reviewing a movie?
Easy-Mode Mockery/It's Easy, so It Sucks: Strongly critical of these tropes, feeling them to be signs of an insularity in gamer culture that is locking non-hardcore gamers out of enjoying the medium. His opinion is that, if there's also a "normal" mode, then people shouldn't be complaining. He feels that gamer culture's obsession with difficulty as a measure of a game's quality is a relic of the arcade era, when games were designed to be difficult so as to suck down quarters.
False Dichotomy: Separating people into the If Jesus Then Aliens groups in a recent episode, labeling people as either 'thinkers' or 'believers.' There's a bit of dodgy research with using Lisa Simpson to represent the 'thinkers' group.
In his Heavy Metal review, he notes that this was the only reason the movie was worth watching at the time, since boobs were hard to find back in the early 80's, let alone cartoon boobs.
Fast-Forward Gag: He sometimes speeds up part of his voice-over in order to make the video fit the standard ~10-minute length while still including all the BIG WORDS he wants to use. It is usually accompanied by a graphic of a chipmunk and a cup of coffee.
Franchise Original Sin: In-Universe example; in the Intermission editorial "Consequences", he cites four examples of great films that he feels started some of the more annoying and/or problematic trends in various film genres, and in moviemaking as a whole.
Freudian Excuse: He admitted once that he was bullied in high school, and his comments seem to give away that his resentment from that era is one, if not the main reason behind his criticism to certain things. Like the "douchebag" video game crowd that came with the Play Station generation (especially Xbox Live FPS users), his hatred towards the 90's (the decade in which he went to high school), and his fondness for Magneto-like villains. He's also specially done a Big Picture episode about nerd reactions to such actions and the mindset that if one was bullied, they can't in turn be a bully themselves. He admits that he's talking to himself as much as he is to the viewer.
The Great Comics Crash of 1996: Game Overthinker Episode 11, titled "Can It Happen To Us?", pointed out similarities between the current game industry and the pre-crash comic book industry.
The Great Video Game Crash of 1983: In the episode "The Next Crash" (episode #83, fittingly enough), he compares the situation of the gaming industry today to that of 1983. He concludes that a second crash is inevitable, but probably won't be as bad as the first, partly because of the existence of alternatives to the AAA gaming scene that didn't exist to the home console scene in 1983.
Heavy Metal: Bob uses the metal fandom's rejection of neo-Nazi skinheads latching onto them as a model for how gamers should react to their medium's association with fringe whackos (like the Oslo killer) and disgruntled youth.
Heroic BSOD: His review of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, he wasn't exactly a fan of the first one (so much so he had to do two reviews: An initial one and a another going in-depth why he didn't like it). But the sequel made him so depressed, he released the review early (on a Wednesday rather then a Friday), lead the show in with no theme music (something he normally only does when extremely pissed)... heck, he even replaced the normally red background with a black one to reflect his mood. But the worse of it was that the movie was so bad to him, he talked of rejecting the Spider-Man series and his own film reviewing gig just because. Wow.
In the "Building a Better Gamer" video, Bob acknowledges the hypocrisy of a fat man telling people to get in better shape.
In the Intermission editorial "I Wrote That Crap!", he talks about the phenomenon of film critics who, when given a chance to make their own movies, often turn in products that are as bad as the films they criticize so venomously. Proving that he's not immune to this, he then describes a pair of film scripts he wrote in his younger days that, in hindsight, are just downright awful.
Bob: And the first thing that makes it a different kind of Disney fairy tale is that it's fundamentally a love story between two women. (cut to a poster of Blue Is The Warmest Colour) Bob: No, not like that, guys. C'mon, cut it out. They're sisters. (cut to a poster of Sister My Sister) Bob: I said, cut it out!
"I said that the movies of Michael Bay were made by a douchebag for douchebags, and that wasn't fair. I don't know Michael Bay, for all I know he's a perfectly nice person. Oh, his movies are still made for and primarily enjoyed by douchebags, but there's no reason to stoop to personal attacks."
Jitter Cam: One of his Pet Peeve Tropes, along with the "found footage" genre that makes heavy use of it, though he sees why they're so popular nowadays. He feels that, for the generation that grew up with camera phones and socialmedia as ubiquitous parts of their lives, this style of filmmaking is associated with realism, i.e. something that looks like it was shot on the street by random passerby rather than by a professional film crew.
Murder Simulators: Like most gamers, he rejects the idea that violent video games (and, by extension, other media) are responsible for violent actions, noting that Duck Hunt and Splatterhouse didn't contribute much to violence. If anything, he thinks it's the other way around, and that the reason why so many modern games are so violent and fixated on shooting things is because they come from an American culture in which guns, masculinity, and rugged individualism factor heavily into the national mythos, and that it's this culture that is more to blame for America's rampant gun violence.
No Ending: Movie Bob/The Game Overthinker doesn't really find a conclusive point in "Who Will Be Remembered?" other than you will never rid the world of Kirby, and that he wouldn't have it any other way.
Nostalgia Filter: Bob is a decidedly old-school-centric gamer, and has admitted as much on multiple occasions.
Played straight and averted, respectively, with his treatment of The Eighties and The Nineties. Bob is not a fan of the latter decade, frequently accompanying mentions of it with a stock photo of Randy "The Ram" Robinson with the caption "The '90s sucked" (fully aware of the irony of quoting a Disco Dan character to prove his point), and while he's willing to admit that there was quite a bit of good stuff in that decade, he has little love for most of the pop culture trends of the time (Nineties anti heroes, post-modern teen horror, et cetera). On the other hand, he loves the '80s, cheesiness and all. He states that this was because the '90s were his awkward, schlubby teen years that came in between his wondrous childhood in the '80s and his present-day success as an internet personality.
He's also examined pop culture's treatment of the '90s as a cultural dead zone and its inability to sum up what exactly the general "theme" of the decade was (like how it associates The Fifties with social conservatism, The Sixties with the counterculture, and The Eighties with materialism). He finds the answer to this in Francis Fukuyama's famous treatise The End of History, stating that the West's victory in the Cold War had produced a sort of ennui that, in turn, produced a culture of nostalgia and introspection. 9/11, of course, quickly shattered that culture.
Averted with his treatment of The Simpsons. While going over the older seasons, Bob noticed that most of the episodes he thought were comic gold as a kid didn't age well in his eyes, while the episodes he thought were boring when they first aired became much better now that he was old enough to appreciate the humor. He concludes that The Simpsons didn't jump the shark like its fans thought it did, but rather, its fans grew up and their tastes in humor changed, and The Simpsons didn't change with them. Plus, there's the fact that the show, a broad satire of the greater pop culture, is a relic of a time stretching from roughly 1950-2000 when pop culture was largely monolithicnote As in, most mainstream Americans, apart from those on the cultural fringes, watched the same three or four TV networks and the same movies, received the same news, listened to the same music, read the same books, et cetera. — the early '00s, the time most commonly cited as when The Simpsons "stopped being funny", is also the time when the internet and cable television fragmented pop culture into a million little shards and subcultures.
Examined with his treatment of the infamous Spider-Man storyline "One More Day", specifically in comparison to the then-recent "Superior Spider-Man" arc that was being compared to it. It's a bad storyline, to be sure, but it's nowhere near the worst thing that ever happened to Spider-Man. Instead, having gone through Marvel's DVD box set of every Spider-Man comic from The Sixties to today, he concludes that it's merely the worst thing to happen to Spider-Man in the age of internet fandom; had the internet been around for such events as the "black costume", then "One More Day" wouldn't be seen as the nadir of the Spider-Man comics.
At times, Bob himself can come off as this in relation to "hardcore" gamers.
Occidental Otaku: Discussed. He feels that childhood rebellion is part of the reason why so many young people in the US embraced Japanese culture in the form of video games and, later, anime and manga. As he sees it, back in The Eighties (the time in which this trope first began to develop), most kids' parents viewed Japan as America's economic rival, while their grandparents still remembered Japan as having been America's enemy.
Pandering to the Base: invoked When the JISM guard in the episode "Titanfoul" accuses him of doing this with his opening monologue about games being ever-lasting, he replies "that's not pandering, this is pandering" and cuts to Ivan singing "Let It Go". (With the caption "Here you go, Tumblr.")
Inverted. Bob hates people who use "PC" as a strawman to defend themselves from accusations of sexism and bigotry, and has frequently called them out on it. If anything, he feels that it's political incorrectnessnote specifically, assholes using "political incorrectness" as a cover for being assholes that's gone mad.
He did, however, take issue with the #CancelColbert campaign on account of this trope, claiming that the people criticizing Stephen Colbert had missed the context of his jokenote Making fun of the owner of the Washington Redskins for defending the team's controversial name entirely. He attributes this to what he feels is an inability on the part of social media, by its very rapid-fire nature, to "get" the sort of long-form satire that The Colbert Report revolves around.
He also notes that he dislikes what the heavy religious mindset did to old Bible Movies, turning them from "Sexy, sprawling spectacle" to "strident moralism and eschatological doomsaying".
Popcultural Osmosis: Bob peppers his videos quite liberally with geek culture references, and figures we'll get them.
Qurac: Uses the term "Noniraquistan" when describing the plot of the original Modern Warfare game.
Real Life Writes the Plot: The big showdown between Robothinker and Necrothinker that was planned for episode 82 had to be delayed due to the New England Blizzard of 2013. In-universe, this was attributed to Cryothinker.
Bob believes fat people to be amusing... citing himself as an example.
"I'm well aware that there's at least already one of you out there itching for this to end so you can run to the forums and get busy firing off some oh-so-clever missive about how film geeks only like to shit all over marginally talented hot actresses like [Megan] Fox because we're using them as proxy punching bags for all the women who wouldn't fuck us back in high school. Well, to you sir or madam, I say... So?"
A pretty big example in "The Prophecy of Freakazoid", when talking about the expectations of the internet in the mid-90's;
While the promise remains, the internet has become a vast ocean of memetic self reference, funny cat videos, pop culture revivification, and droning videos where embittered 30-something men re-frame their own nostalgic detritus in quasi-scholarly verbiage in a desperate attempt to recast their youth as something other than misspent. *ahem*
He seems perfectly aware of his long-windedness, and has pointed it out or lampshaded it on several occasions, including the recurring appearance of a "Hyperactive Chipmunk" note Where Bob speeds his voice up to condense a long analysis, thereby sounding like a chipmunk in the process, and at one point saying, "This is the Game Overthinker, not the Bob-Gets-Right-to-the-Fucking-Point Show."
After a growing number of fans started calling him out on his constant plugging of Super Mario Bros. 3: Brick-by-Brick at the end of his videos, he made the plugs shameless to the point of parody, consisting of him literally waving the book in the air while yelling "BUY MY BOOK!" repeatedly. Which itself is a reference to The Critic.
He opened episode 87 of The Game Overthinker, a Top Ten List of the best games of the Seventh Generation, mocking how such lists were everywhere at the moment, used as meaningless filler, before concluding that he might as well make one of his own.
During the credits of his Oz: The Great and Powerful review, Bob compares the Nice Hat and red outfit Mila Kunis wears in the film to that of the Red Mage. The fact that the film also features a woman in white and a woman in black makes this analogy even funnier.
Sliding Scale of Silliness Versus Seriousness: Falls in the middle. While he'll deal with serious issues, or serious opinions, he'll usually be more serious, with some jokes thrown in. When he deals with something more silly, the jokes are more prevalent. His movie reviews usually fall under silly, with him giving his opinion in a easy-going tone, but can be more serious when going into complexity about the film.
Spoiler Opening: Episode 73 of The Gameover Thinker introduced a new intro, the intro said "featuring" but included several villains he already defeated. Episode 78 saw the return of the Cyro and Pyrothinkers, Antithinker also returned an episode after the intro was introduced, but this had already been alluded to. The very same intro averted this by initially excluding Omegathinker.
And the spoiler opening finishes out in episode 81 when Retrothinker grabs the earth gem and becomes Necrothinker again
Stealth Pun: In his review of Green Lantern, when Bob says that Warner Brothers "struck out" trying to make a superhero movie that's not Batman, he shows a picture of baseball player Jim Reynolds striking out. note Hal Jordan is played by Ryan Reynolds.
The Overtinker series continued having this trend. He becomes a vigilante fighting video game mooks for the local police chief Commissioner Bunnyface and ninja Senator Lieberson. He battles elemental ninjas Pyrothinker and Cryothinker who are demolishing arcades as payback after Bob killed their dad Strawman. He then meets Retrothinker, a time-displaced 1980s TV host who became a Human Popsicle to see the future of video games. He was turned evil by the show's mysterious Big Bad, becoming Necrothinker, who resurrects an army of forgotten game characters to destroy modern gaming, but is saved by Bob. The most recent arc involved the Robothinker, a renegade android who is destined to destroy the world, but a Dragonball-parodying time traveller named the Omega Thinker comes to the past to find a way to defeat him, with the Devil himself being introducd for further shenanigans. The arc ended with Robothinker's destruction, but Bob is housebound by Bunnyface when he learns who Retrothinker is, and Lieberson forms an anti-gaming Tea Party. The Anti-Thinker returns, frees Retrothinker from prison, and reveals to the Overthinker that the mysterious badguy who employed him, Retrothinker and the ninjas is called the Ultrathinker, a cosmic entity who needs the four elemental stones collected during the arcs to gain his own corporeal body.
Small Name, Big Ego: He freely admits to this, saying that he likes to pick on on big names because it makes him feel big. Reading his twitter feed or blogs demonstrates this.
Straw Critic: Of a sort. Bob is frequently guilty of making insulting generalizations about the people who disagree with him or criticize his output.
Take That: LOADS. Each major antagonist of the Overthinker series is a take that to parts of the video game community that Bob dislikes - The Anti-Thinker (hardcore gamers/the "douchebag" audience of recent pop culture), Strawman (the fans that criticized Bob for introducing story arcs to his show), the Pyrothinker and Cryothinker (those who abandoned game arcades), Retrothinker / Necrothinker (hardcore gamers who only play old school games) and the Robothinker (Xbox Live trolls).
Tempting Fate: "Don't worry commissioner, everything should be OK as long as there isn't one more... elementally... powered... ninja..."
Tonight Someone Dies: Episode 47 ends with such an announcement, and sure enough, Strawman is killed in the following episode.
Values Dissonance: invokedDiscussed in relation to the early Supergirl comics of the '50s and early '60s, with him noting that it had some upsides as to the quality of the writing. Paradoxically, by having Supergirl conform to the era's rigid gender roles, the writers produced stories that were often better than the Superman comics of the same era, with Supergirl being a flawed hero who often had to fix her mistakes as opposed to always being on the side of what's clearly right and just.
Very Special Episode: "Violence is Golden" & "Building a Better Gamer" respectively deal with the Media Watchdog nature & portrayal of video games and the demonization of them in the media and getting & developing better habits for gamers. They are both some-what well done. "The Revolution" is also this, to a lesser extent, trying to convince people not to shop at GameStop for better retail.
Video Game Movies Suck: invokedDiscussed in the Game Overthinker episode "Going Hollywood". He feels that the reason for this trope is because many of the "great" games, especially many of the classics from the early days of gaming, either have Excuse Plots and more of a focus on gameplay, or have certain story mechanics that work well in games but would translate poorly to a film (he cites Assassins Creed as an example of the latter). He feels that the solution to the problem of "how to make a great video game movie" isn't to adapt the story of a game, but to try and adapt its gameplay mechanics — for example, a Call of Duty movie filmed entirely in first-person, or a Metroid movie that's built around the main character exploring the alien world around her.
Assassin's Creed: Unity: Did a Big Pictureepisode on it. Specifically, he used the then-just-released teaser for it to discuss The Scarlet Pimpernel and its influence on a lot of 20th century pulp fiction, referring to its protagonist, Sir Percy Blakeney, as the firstsuperhero. He finds it interesting that Assassin's Creed was going to the well of The French Revolution for its next game, given the debt it owes to the works that were themselves inspired by The Scarlet Pimpernel.
Barnyard Blast: For a long time, the only actual review he'd done. He bought the game solely on the basis of its crazy cover art, which he found reminiscent of a lot of the video game covers of the late '80s/early '90s, and the fact that its story was a parody of Castlevania and Bad Dudes. Playing it, he loved the game's visual aesthetic and its sense of humor about both itself and other games, feeling that they made up for its Fake Difficulty and occasional gameplay glitches. It's not a great game, but it's a very good one, especially for a budget title.
Batman: Arkham Asylum: "Assassin's Creedwith Batman!", though that's hardly a bad thing. In fact, Bob considers that a very good thing, since using the established, solid template of the AC games meant that the developers could focus more on building the game's setting and characters. It would've been an amazing title even without the Batman license on the strength of its gameplay and aesthetics, but by vividly bringing to life one of the great superheroes and the world he inhabits and making players feel like they were truly Batman, it went over the top. It was for this reason that he named it the best game of the Seventh Generation.
Batman: Arkham City: Loved it. While he disagreed with the idea that it carried sexist undertones, he felt that the gaming community's reaction to this idea was incredibly immature, and used it as a jumping-off point for a discussion about what he felt was a broader lack of maturity in gamer culture.
Bayonetta: Restricted himself to a detailed analysis of Bayonetta's character design. He describes her as the first game character specifically designed to be sexually intimidating (and pulling it off successfully) rather than childlike or an Ice Queen.
BioShock: Named the original game and BioShock Infinite a tie for the tenth best game of the Seventh Generation, only holding off on giving the spot to the entire series because he hated BioShock 2. They're far from perfect, but they successfully made the case that first-person shooters can be a lot more than just escapist entertainment, telling deep stories and taking on a lot of challenging philosophical themes without winding up with their heads up their asses.
BioShock Infinite: In addition to the above, he discussed the ending of Infinite in the Big Picture episode "Shock Treatment", outlining the reasons why he loved it. Not only was it absolutely nuts in how it went all-out crazy in the last fifteen minutes, but he greatly enjoyed what he felt to be a masterstroke of misdirection on the part of Irrational Games, taking people's expectations for a BioShock game and turning them upside down.
Blackwater: The Game: Absolutely disgusted at the very idea of it, comparing it to Rapelay and Custer's Revenge in terms of vile premises for video games.
Braid: Named it the fifth-best game of the Seventh Generation. Bob finds it incredibly pretentious and blames it for importing an unbearably "twee hipster wank-fest" aesthetic to indie gaming, but still has trouble arguing that it's not a really damn good "twee hipster wank-fest", admitting that the gameplay provides a fresh take on 2D side-scrolling and that the ending is, in spite of everything, a really creative twist on the Save the Princess plot.
Call of Duty: Argues that the early installments in the series (along with those of Medal of Honor) became popular not because of realism, but because it was a Spiritual Licensee of movies like Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers, capturing their feeling of quasi-realism and their heroic World War II action. The lack of real innovation between installments is one of his big problems with the series, but he rejects the idea that this is because the gameplay mechanics haven't changed much since the fourth game. In his mind, the fundamental shooting gameplay has been pretty much perfected as far as it can be this console generation, and any major changes to that formula just for the sake of it would anger the series' multiplayer fans — and besides, Metroid, Mega Man, Dragon Quest, the Batman: Arkham games, and other classic game series frequently recycled gameplay templates.
Rather, he feels that the series' real problem is that it takes that smooth gameplay and uses it to tell the same "Black Hawk Down by way of Tom Clancy" story over and over, to the point where it's gotten cliche. He argues that the timing of the series' burst in popularity in the aftermath of 9/11 has trapped it in that pit, as The War on Terror has replaced World War II as the defining image of the "good war", forcing the shooter genre (which, in the early '00s, had been dominated by WWII shooters) to adapt. However, the end of WWII and the arrival of nuclear weapons marked the end of that type of "big" war ever being fought again by world powers, leading to later wars becoming a lot smaller-scale, more asymmetrical, more technological, and less "human" — something that the shooter genre has failed to adapt to, instead treating the War on Terror just like it did WWII (a problem that it shared with the American military establishment).
Modern Warfare: Representative of everything that he dislikes about shooters, once referring to the sequels as "map pack delivery systems". In particular, he is greatly put off by what he perceives as the series' (and other military shooters') gung-ho militarism and weapons fetishism, which he feels attracts whack-jobs like the Oslo killer and fringe militia types to gaming, thus inadvertently giving it its association with real-life violence. That said, he still named the original game, together with Spec Ops: The Line, in a tie for the seventh-best game of the Seventh Generation. He argues that, if nothing else, the runaway success of military shooters as a form of post-9/11 Wish Fulfillment revenge fantasy for Americans was the most important narrative in gaming of the period.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2: Finds it funny that Activision managed to beat Hollywood to the punch with what he thinks of as a technophobic, "our war machines turned against us and we need real men to fight!" action vehicle. On a more critical note, he felt that the advertising department's hiring of Oliver North — a man who he considers to be a Karma Houdini war criminal and traitor — as a pitchman may have been the most tasteless thing ever done in the name of video game advertising, and fears that it could needlessly drag gaming and game culture into a broader culture war.
Call of Duty: Ghosts: Devoted a Game Overthinker episode, "Ghosts Busted", to his thoughts on it. He felt that this was the point at which the Unfortunate Implications in the Call of Duty series stopped being implications and started to be literally spelled out, in that he found its plot (which forced him to issue a "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer) to be disturbingly similar to a popular bogeyman among radical anti-immigrant activists. He compares it to "Joe Arpaio remaking Red Dawn", and to the fake minstrel show in the Spike Lee movie Bamboozled. The only saving grace is that the aforementioned Latin American federation is too generic a villain for the game to really come off as anti-Hispanic propaganda. This, he feels, is indicative of what he sees as a bigger problem, the fact that the series keeps recycling the same story and is starting to run out of plausible bad guys.
Data East Arcade Classics: Named it the eighth-best game of the Seventh Generation, acknowledging how odd it was that he was putting a compilation of retro games on a list of games made after 2005. He feels that the old arcade games of the 20th century are as important to gaming history as the silent movies are to film history, and the fact that this compilation is helping to preserve important parts of that history is the reason why he put it on the list.
Dead Space 2: Felt that its "your mom hates this" ad campaign was distasteful, as it was directly marketing a violent, M-rated game to children and, thus, giving ammunition to Moral Guardians who accuse the games industry of corrupting children's minds.
Dragon's Crown: In the Intermission editorial "It Never Ends", he used the controversy over the game's highly-sexualized Sorceress character to discuss the clash between his own pro-feminist views and his enjoyment of cheesecake characters, arguing that both sides in the controversy had a point. He feels that overtly fanservice-y characters like the Sorceress have the right to exist in games, but that they shouldn't be close to the only female representation in gaming like they currently are.
Dragon Quest: Uses it as a counterpoint to his main problem with the Call of Duty series, and as an example of how it could get out of its current rut. Instead of trying to constantly one-up themselves on the gameplay front by adding new mechanics, the games stuck with gameplay models that worked and instead focused on telling great stories.
Farmville and other browser games: Doesn't get why people view it as killing gaming, nor does he get the dichotomy between "casual" and "hardcore" games in general.
Grand Theft Auto: Devoted an entire Game Overthinker episode to discussing his thoughts on the series, which he feels amount to "a really, really angry form of 'meh.'" He feels that the games are above-average Wide Open Sandbox titles with a very powerful legacy in gaming (especially from a technical standpoint) that range in quality from decent at worst to really damn good at best, though he's never really been able to get into the series. He laments what he sees as a mountain of wasted potential in the games, and that the very name of the game is holding it back from doing anything other than keep returning to the "gangland" well for plots and settings.
Grand Theft Auto III: Feels that its then-revolutionary gameplay was the only reason why it stood out from the pack, arguing that its "edgy" subject matter was fairly toothless and shallow, and that its story played out like the sort of lazy crime thriller that fills late night air time on cable TV.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas: His least favorite GTA game, viewing it as having jumped head-first into the sort of Scarface-esque gangster machismo that Vice City had parodied, rather than giving it any deeper exploration like Vice City had done with its setting. He does admit, however, that personal bias colored his view of the game.
Grand Theft Auto IV: Felt that the gaming press' glowing praise and near-perfect review scores for the game were an indication that they were still far too afraid of fanboy backlash to do their job properly. Later on, he said that this game probably had a better claim to being a satire than its successor had, particularly with its damning indictment of the American Dream vs. the actual experience of many immigrants to the US.
Grand Theft Auto V: Devoted a Game Overthinker episode to his thoughts on it. He feels that it's probably not a satire like people are claiming, while arguing that too many gamers are using "it's satire" as a justification for crude racist and sexist humor (such as what this game had been criticized for) without understanding what satire actually is. However, it is definitely a parody, even if some of the humor didn't hit the mark. (He felt that its parody of social media was "stiflingly unfunny," and that its riffing on the culture and image of Los Angeles isn't particularly fresh.) He also noted that the character of Trevor seemed to be heavily inspired by Breaking Bad.
Halo: Much like Call of Duty/Modern Warfare, he views it as Exhibit A for every problem that Bob has with modern First Person Shooters, particularly the genre's focus on online multiplayer. He also argues that there are Unfortunate Implications in the differences between the Covenant and the UNSC.
Halo 4: In the Big Picture episode "One Day in November", he discussed the conspiracy theory that the timing of the game's release on November 6, 2012 — Election Day in the US — was an attempt to get Mitt Romney elected President by distracting the youth vote (which pulls strongly for Obama) with a major entertainment release, thus reducing turnout by them. His conclusion: the theory has little to no basis in fact (even if the general idea was theoretically possible), though the mere fact that people even considered it just serves to highlight how gamers should be more involved with the world around them and be active participants in its processes.
Kingdom Hearts: "Love it, kinda getting impatient for another full-scale console version."
Kirby 64: Lamented that his homophobic teen years caused him to miss it the first time around, and encourages viewers not to let biases keep them from things they might like.
The Legend of Zelda: Loves the series, like most of the "big" Nintendo franchises. He feels that, for the next game, Nintendo should seriously consider making Link a woman, noting that he's already among the most gender-neutral and least masculine of the "big" gaming icons, that his relationship with Zelda isn't necessarily romantic (he thought that in A Link to the Past the two were portrayed more as siblings than anything), and that, if nothing else, it would be a bold move that would garner a ton of press beyond just the gaming media.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: He theorized that one of the main reasons of both why it got so popular and why it was the game that made the fans to go nuts with the official timeline theories for over a decade is because the story of the game treated the right themes for its target audience at the time: boys who grew up with the NES and SNES and at that point were going through high school. Said themes were the melancholy of nostalgia, the end of childhood and the uncertainty of the future.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword: Apart from believing that Fi will never appear in the franchise ever again, he comments about how the game treats the themes of romance and sexuality through several plot points, "like Nintendo's development teams just now discovered sex and they're really excited to tell everybody."
Lollipop Chainsaw: Overall found it to be the equivalent of "digital junk food," but he did enjoy it, particularly its absurd parody of the Third-Person SeductressAction Girl archetype. He likes how Suda 51's games embrace their "gamey" aspects rather than take themselves too seriously and try to be like movies.
Madden NFL (and other EA Sports titles): Dislikes how EA charges $60 a year for what usually amounts to a roster update and minor gameplay changes, things that, in an age of Downloadable Content, he feels should be done via that route. On a lighter note, he also uses the series as an example of how he feels games should be focused on engaging players as opposed to just immersing them, arguing that the Madden games are more about recreating the experience of watching football as opposed to actually playing it.
Mario Kart Wii: Not talking about the game itself, but about gaming romantic also-rans, inspired by the statue of Luigi dancing with Daisy on the Daisy Circuit.
Mass Effect 3: Having admittedly never played any of the gamesnote He later watched the endings on YouTube, and found them to be "neither awful nor great.", he feels that the Internet Backdraft over the ending, specifically the demands that Bioware change it, went way over the line, comparing many of the more vocal fans to Annie Wilkes from Misery in terms of their sense of entitlement. In his opinion, being a fan of a property does not give you the right to claim control over its creative direction, and outbursts like this do nothing to help the image of gamers and geek culture in general. In the process, he makes an argument in favor of the idea that a more linear plotline makes for more compelling storytelling, and that this is the reason why it's so difficult to tell a conventional story through a video game — the very same elements that traditionally make for a good story in other media also make for boring, unimaginative gameplay.
This one frustrated him so much that he devoted two Game Overthinker episodes and part of a Big Picture episode to it. During the second Overthinker episode he did on the subject, he felt that Bioware's caving to the demands of the "Retake Mass Effect" movement set a terrible precedent for the relationship between gamers and developers — a developer may be a lot more reluctant to take narrativerisks after seeing what happened to Bioware. He used I Am Legend's Focus Group Ending as exhibit A for the chilling effect that this could have on creativity in games.
Mega Man (Classic): Did an Overthinker episode discussing the various literary, historical and pop culture sources (particularly Astro Boy) that the series drew its influences from.
Mega Man 9: Named it the sixth-best game of the Seventh Generation, praising how it managed to seamlessly mesh a retro throwback with enough innovation to avoid feeling like a "glorified fan game".
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance: Said that the demo was "fucking awesome," and mourns the fact that his lack of free time means that he probably won't get to play the full game for a good while.
Metroid: Other M: Controversially defended the game from many of its more common criticisms. He believes that game's portrayal of Samus Aran, while unfortunate, was due chiefly to a failure to translate old-school narrative mechanics to a modern game, rather than any deliberate malice or misogyny on the part of Team Ninja or Nintendo. He also states that trying to associate the game's perceived misogyny with broader gender issues in Japanese culture carries a ton of unfortunate implications in itself, going as far as to call it flat-out racist.
Nintendo Land: Views it as Nintendo's attempt to turn the last generation of "casual" Wii gamers into long-term Nintendo fans.
No More Heroes: Used in his inaugural episode as an example of good, creative character design in modern games. He later named it the ninth best game of the Seventh Generation, particularly praising it for how it was one of the few Wii games to successfully utilize the console's motion controls.
Pokémon: While he has not directly focused on Pokemon, Bob has stated he was in junior high when it came out and never got into it, but respects it as a franchise. It did have some significance in Episode 27 "Who Will Be Remembered?" where he ponders whether or not Pikachu will become more recognised than Mario.
Rainbow Six: Patriots: Upon hearing about it and watching the trailer, he found its attachment of militia overtones to anti-corporate movements (at least in the marketing) to be very off-putting, and emblematic of what he feels to be a disturbing right-wing tendency in the FPS genre.
Resident Evil: Finds the fourth game to have been the best in the series. He also feels that fans are raising too much hay about the changes that the films made to the series — in his opinion, the plot of the games was never much to write home about, often veering close to flat-out awful, and chucking a large amount of that out the window for the movie was necessary to avoid getting laughed out of theaters.
Resident Evil 5: Gave Capcom the benefit of a doubt after the debut trailer raised controversy with its racially charged imagery. When he actually played the game, though, he changed his tune rapidly and argued that the developers went way too far, particularly with Sheva's unlockable Fur Bikini costume and the level where you have to battle spear-chucking, grass skirt-wearing tribesmen. He argued that objections to such content, and calls for greater diversity in gaming, shouldn't be automatically dismissed as Political Correctness Gone Mad. He points to Hollywood's alienation of black viewers, and the resultant success of indie filmmaker Tyler Perry (whom he regards as a hack and one of the worst things to happen to black cinema), as a potential consequence of what could happen to the game industry if it keeps hyper-focusing on young white men as its target audience.
Saints Row IV: Named it his Game of the Year for 2013, finding it to be a much better game than Grand Theft Auto V. He views it as a satire of the direction that gaming had gone in during the Seventh Generation.
SimCity (the 2013 game): Says that the game's much-publicized DRM problems are "the chickens coming home to roost" for all of Electronic Arts' problematic business practices, and the fact that it had single-handedly produced such a disaster is a very bad omen for its viability as a thriving corporation. He questions whether an urban planning game needed online multiplayer in the first place, and says that the debacle with the game's broken DRM was something that everyone should've seen coming.
Soul Calibur: Bob doesn't find the cheesecake outfits worn by the female characters to be as sexist as other people do, noting that the entire franchise runs on a hyper-stylized, fantastic aesthetic that such fetishized outfits fit right in with. What he did find to be sexist, however, was a Japanese poster for the fifth game that featured literally nothing but Ivy's Absolute Cleavage with the tagline"Go big or go home."
Spec Ops: The Line: The game that made Bob curl up in a corner for a week after playing it. He called it one of the most important games of this console generation, and the game that he feels to be the last word on military shooters. Its genius isn't that it does anything new gameplay-wise, but rather, that it uses dyed-in-the-wool gameplay mechanics nearly a decade old to tell a unique story and challenge gamers' preconceptions, offering a vicious response to what Bob considers to be a troubling moment in gaming history. He named it, together with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, in a tie for the seventh-best game of the Seventh Generation.
Super Mario Bros.: Loves the games, as well as classic side-scrolling platformers and Nintendo games in general. In the Big Picture episode "Junk Drawer Rises", he addressed what a lot of viewers felt was cognitive dissonance on his part (and regarding game journalism in general) for loving games like New Super Mario Bros. Wii for deliberately throwing back to vintage gameplay mechanics while simultaneously chastising more "modern" games for not changing between installments, as well as the commercialization of nostalgia in general on the part of game developers both mainstream and indie. He feels that the Mario series, after 25 years of innovation, has earned the right to do a bunch of retro revival entries, comparing it to Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr playing greatest hits at their concerts rather than continuing to innovate.
More recently, though, he's expressed concern that the series has gone too far with its retro revivalism, and that it may well be turning into a Franchise Zombie relying on the Nostalgia Filter to get gamers to ignore its lack of innovation. The games are still good, mind you (especially in comparison with Sonic the Hedgehog's fall from grace), but there's a growing risk that Nintendo cranking out installments with regularity could lead to oversaturation and creative stagnation diluting the brand and turning it into something like Mickey Mouse — better known as a mascot than an actual character.
Super Mario Bros. 2: Feels that it doesn't deserve its reputation as the Black Sheep of the series. If anything, it's better than the game that the Japanese got as Super Mario Bros. 2, known to Westerners as The Lost Levels. It was the game that established the overall aesthetic of the Mario franchise, Luigi's status as a separate character, Toad as a character at all, Princess Peach as someone who could hold her own rather than just play a Distressed Damsel, and the series' ability to switch up its gameplay with new installments — all things that he feels don't get enough recognition. He also discusses its roots as a reskin of the Japanese platformer Doki Doki Panic, which Shigeru Miyamoto had more input on than with The Lost Levels.
New Super Mario Bros.: Liked it, but didn't love it, and used it to prove his point about how he feels that the Mario franchise is getting worn out. With only minor changes made to the Mario formula, it felt like the game that should've come out right after Mario 3, not seventeen years later when the entire platforming genre, including other games in its own series, has passed it by.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii: Devoted an Overthinker episode to pointing out the surprising similarities it has with Modern Warfare 2. In a later episode, he contrasted it to its DS counterpart, New Super Mario Bros., to hold it up as an example of a game that moved the Mario series forward while remaining in touch with its old-school roots as opposed to stagnating.
Super Mario Galaxy: Named it the second-best game of the Seventh Generation. Unlike the New Super Mario Bros. games, it managed to move the series forward with spectacular gameplay and by refining the series' aesthetic to its pinnacle, reminding gamers why Mario is still an icon and still relevant in the modern age of gaming.
New Super Mario Bros. U: Thinks it's very cool that one of the premier launch titles on the console kicking off the next generation of gaming is a 2(.5)D side-scrolling platformer.
Super Mario 3D World: The second review he's written. He describes it as the video game equivalent of comfort food, in that it's fun and well-made even though it does little new to move the series forward. He loved the varied gameplay and the new power-ups, though he found the multiplayer to be superfluous and the new setting to be a bland clone of the Mushroom Kingdom. He gave it a four out of five, saying that it's chiefly a game for the fans and not a revolution like Super Mario Galaxy was.
Titanfall: Devoted a whole Game Overthinker episode to his thoughts on it. The basic conceit of "Call of DutyWITHMECHS!" sounded awesome, but the lack of a single-player campaign was a deal-breaker for him. In his view, single-player modes serve a vital purpose in online multiplayer games, allowing noobs to learn the basic gameplay mechanics for when they get to online play, and without single player, the problem of the most hardcore players being able to wipe the floor with those who haven't been playing since day one will be amplified. To him, the fact that this game is the Killer App for the Xbox One is a very bad sign for that console's future and quite possibly that of the AAA industry at large, arguing that "building your system's launch around a game that will only be accessible for new players for a couple of months before the elite players take over" is an unsustainable business model.
Tomb Raider (2013): Loved it, naming it the fourth-best game of the Seventh Generation. He loves how it managed to successfully reinvent Lara Croft for the modern age, making her a very well-rounded, well-written character, while providing excellent action-adventure gameplay that felt like stepping into an '80s action movie without ever becoming silly. He did, however, make fun of Lara's penchant for shouting Sam's name at every opportunity. He finds it a shame that Square Enix's ludicrously high sales projections almost prevented it from getting a sequel.
Wii Sports: Named it the third-best game of the Seventh Generation. While he himself isn't much of a fan, he still finds it to be an excellent "casual" game that's still very fun to play, and ranks it next to the likes of Pokémon, Tetris, and Super Mario Bros. in terms of its impact and it being a landmark for the entire medium.