(aka The Flophouse
) is the Canadian YouTube
channel of former Two Best Friends Play
member Matthew "Matt McMuscles" Kowalewski. Unlike TBFP, The Flophouse
focuses more on pre-planned recorded content, such as examining major gaming flops and bugs, edited playthroughs of games while Matt is intoxicated, and video game "fashion" reviews with his wife, Crymetina. The Flop House
also produces occasional Let's Plays
, usually with a guest commentator of some kind.
Series on this channel:
- Wha Happun?: His most well-known series. A Video Review Show chronicling "the missteps of the entertainment industry", discussing the histories of projects which suffered from Troubled Productions or languished in Development Hell. While primarily focused on video games, the show occasionally branches out to cover gaming consoles and films.
- Crymetina Critiques: Matt's wife, Crymetina, gives her honest critique of the costumes worn by video game characters (usually fighting game characters) through her experience as a fashion designer.
- Gone Too Soon: Matt provides retrospectives on the rise and fall of video game developers famous for making multiple Cult Classics and/or Acclaimed Flops.
- Flophouse Funsies: One-shot Let's Plays with no particular theme.
- The Flophouse Files: Themed in the style of a noir detective story, Matt investigates odd patterns within the publisher or injury, such as Acclaim's insane marketing stunts, Midway's attempts to copy their own Mortal Kombat success, or how the car combat genre pretty much disappeared after the PS1 generation.
- Bug Report: Matt plays a buggy video game and shares his experience as a video game bug tester to explain where bugs in video games come up, why they do, and how they affect gameplay beyond the obvious.
- Matt's Nightmares: Matt plays a horror game, either as a one-shot or a short series. This format originated as a full Let's Play of Rise of Nightmares (then titled Rise of Mattmares), and retains a variation of that series' titlecard.
- The Mediocre Spider-Matt: Matt plays one of the many Spider-Man video games.
- Wii Remember: A spotlight series based on playing underrated titles that premiered on the Wii or Wii U.
- Matt x Liam: Full-length Let's Plays with fellow Super Best Friends veteran, Liam Allen-Miller (AKA "RisingSuperstream" on Twitch and YouTube).
- Matt Nukem Forever: A retrospective of Duke Nukem Forever, where Matt discusses the game and its problems. Unlike in a Let's Play, as Matt only covers the highs and lows— everything in between is cut out, and he talks about the story and development in addition to the gameplay. The main game has been completed here, and the DLC was completed on Flophouse Funsies.
- Simpsons Reference: Matt plays one of the licensed games based on The Simpsons. Most games just get one-off episodes, but for The Simpsons: Hit & Run he's currently doing a full retrospective in the same style as the Matt Nukem Forever series.
- The Worst Fighting Game: After playing the dreadful Playstation game Criticom, Matt started a quest to find a fighting game thats even worse if possible, one dud at a time.
Tropes present or discussed The Flophouse videos:
- '90s Anti-Hero: The series Edgelords is a love letter to this character type. In each episode Matt discusses over-the-top anti-heroes like Spawn, Guts, and Shadow the Hedgehog, then judges whether they're edgy enough to earn a spot in his "Edge-atorium". Matt narrates the series in the guise of his own edge-sona, Ashen the Vileblader, who is absolutely an example himself.
- Accentuate the Negative: Averted generally.
- Matt's response to most video games that aren't very good is to usually find something positive to say about it, though it often wraps around to Damned by Faint Praise.
- The Wha Happun? episode on DOOM (2016) opens with Matt reaffirming that the series is about examining Troubled Productions both bad and good, and pointing out that he's covered games he actually likes before (such as Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning), all because he knows some people will read the video's title and jump to the conclusion that he's calling DOOM a bad game.
- Analysis Channel: Several of his shows are of this variety. Wha Happun? reviews the hectic production behind both good and bad media, Crymetina Critiques is a review of the fashions of video game characters, and The Flophouse Files investigates publicity stunts and trends in gaming.
- Bad Boss: Discussed in many episodes of Wha Happun?, when the production issues are caused by the project leaders or executives mistreating their employees, such as George Broussard with Duke Nukem Forever, Brendan McNamara with L.A. Noire, and publisher Eidos Interactive with developer Core Design.
- Arguably one of the worst bosses featured would have to be Jeff Spangenberg, the founder of Retro Studios. Despite being the boss at Retro, he barely showed up to work, blew most of the money the studio got from Nintendo on strippers, sports cars, and drugs, and made incredibly risky moves for a studio that hadn't even put out a single game, such as working on four different titles with only one development kit in the studio. (Ironically, this actually saved Retro in the end, as the game codenamed Action-Adventure would be turned into Metroid Prime) After Metroid Prime started development, Nintendo kept a closer watch on Retro, making sure they were actually working, but the divide between them and Spangenberg became bigger and bigger, eventually culminating in Nintendo discovering Spangenberg was hosting a porn site called Sinful Summer on Retro's servers. Nintendo followed to buy out his shares, and kicked him out of the company. Eventually, he would found Topheavy Studios, and make The Guy Game, which was an entire other can of worms to open.
- Became Their Own Antithesis: In "Ubisoft Used To Be The Most Insane Publisher Ever", Matt delves into the history of big-name publisher Ubisoft, and discovers to his surprise that they were responsible for publishing a dizzying variety of titles and genres over their history, from a bevy of Batman adaptations to Peter Jackson's King Kong to even the European release of Armored Core 2. He notes that, in 2001 alone, Ubisoft published over twenty-eight different games. However, Ubisoft's acquisition of (and increasing reliance upon) a handful of cash-cow franchises (such as Tom Clancy, Far Cry, and Assassin's Creed) led to the company gradually phasing out its use of third-party titles and homogenizing its own output, until Ubisoft ironically became infamous for its lack of variety.
- Bittersweet Ending: Sometimes on Wha Happun?, the game of interest is released to critical praise, but didn't sell enough copies for the studio to continue on, with only a cult following loving the game, as is the case with Panzer Dragoon Saga.
- Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: From the Wha Happun? episode on Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning:
Matt: One thing I've tried to remain constistent on in regards to Wha Happun? is to use general terms to describe the subject matter. Stuff like "disasters", "catastrophes", or "catastro-asters".
- Buxom Is Better: Zig-Zagged. Both Matt and Crymetina are okay with large breasts (and are open fans of Hitomi Tanaka, a porn star notable for her titanic bust), but they do call attention to when it would be impractical for Jiggle Physics to be a thing in video games.
Crymetina: [flummoxed by Lien Neville's alternate costume] Why are her titties be like that though?!
- Canada, Eh?: Matt and Crymetina are both from Canada, though Crymetina's accent is way more pronounced since she's Quebecois.
- Caustic Critic: Crymetina does not pull her punches on her show if the character's wardrobe breaks fashion rules.
- Corpsing: While Matt cracks up often during Wha Happun episodes, the ending of the Bomberman Act:Zero episode with the Totally Radical, overly sour blog post on the company's official website knocked him out for a loop so badly he was unable to actually do the outro properly.
- Couch Gag: The animated intro for the Simpsons Reference series has Matt, Crymetina, and their cats reenacting the intro from The Simpsons. So naturally, each episode has a different gag when the McMuscles family reach their couch.
- Dated History:
- The Wha Happun? on Anthem was written before a fairly notable article that revealed a lot of the dirty details behind its Troubled Production. Matt's summary of the issues was essentially that BioWare had been ordered by EA to create a competitor to Destiny, against their will, and, being inexperienced with the genre, failed to create something playable. In reality, BioWare had started development on Anthem without EA's mandate, was Playing Against Type on purpose after fatigue from developing entries in very similar RPG franchises, and saw the game as a Magnum Opus. Far from being designed to copy Destiny, Anthem largely failed because there wasn't a unified direction for what it should look like, and the developers actively discouraged comparisons to Destiny in development. EA, far from ruining the project, ended up being the main reason it came out at all, since they essentially told BioWare's crew to get their crap together and put out a working build, or else.
- With his episode of Cooking Mama Cookstar being Ripped from the Headlines, Matt prefaces the video by admitting that his take on the game's production could be rendered outdated at any moment:
Matt: And while I realize it's impossible to 100% future-proof this video, I'm still gonna try it. By the time you see this video, it might already be outdated: The game might be back online — or it might be revealed that I, Randy Pitchford, was behind it all — so we'll just have to see.
- Matt's video on Starcraft: Ghost was posted roughly a month before a playable build of the game was mysteriously leaked on the Internet in February 2020. He acknowledges this event in a later video.
- Distracted by the Sexy:
- During the Crymetina Critiques episode on Skullgirls, Crymetina admits that judging Cerebella is harder than she expected, because she can't take her eyes off Cerebella's bouncing chest.
- While critiquing Guilty Gear Strive, Crymetina interrupts her commentary on Millia Rage's outfit to squeal "Ooooooooooh!" as soon as she sees Millia let her hair down for her victory pose.
- Downer Ending: Several of the Wha Happun? videos end off detailing the fallout of the featured game, which usually result in the closure or downsizing of a company or two, sullied (sometimes irrevocably so) reputations, and the time spent toiling away on said production being rendered All for Nothing.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Occasionally on Wha Happun?, the featured game had production so turbulent that the product was the verge of cancellation. But by determination and luck, the studio still pulled through and released an acclaimed and profitable game that turned them into a household name, with DOOM (2016), Demon's Souls, and Killer Instinct (2013) as examples.
- Executive Meddling: Discussed frequently on Wha Happun?, due to the role it often plays in derailing a project.
- In the Final Fight: Streetwise episode, Matt reveals that the game had originally been a more traditional, cel-shaded entry known internally as Final Fight: Seven Sons. However, after the surprise sales success of Grand Theft Auto III in Japan (which had been published by Capcom), the game was crudely retooled into a much Darker and Edgier title in an attempt to cash in on GTA's popularity. Matt mourns the decision, as the demo footage of Seven Sons showed promise in his eyes, whereas Streetwise and its sister production Beat Down: Fists of Vengeance ended up as commercial failures in both Japan and North America.
- Matt succinctly describes Eidos Interactive's decision-making and unrealistic expectations for Core Design as "Ambitious. Stupid, but ambitious." Among other things, they mandated an annual release schedule for the Tomb Raider series (resulting in creative fatigue for the devs), chopped up Angel of Darkness for an impractical episodic format that ultimately fell through, and split Core's resources between that game and Chronicles.
Matt: This is a classic case of upper-management maybe getting more involved in the development process than they should, promising things that they weren't even sure could be done, and generally ruining everything for everyone.
- Discussing executive meddling is so prevalent in the series that the opening of the video on Brink goes out of its way to clarify that it wasn't screwed by executives this time.
- Follow the Leader: Discussed during the BMX XXX episode of Wha Happun?, where Matt opens by describing the genre of "extreme sports games" that took off in the early 2000s, after the massive success of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater and its sequels. Matt quickly rattles off a list of examples, including Kelly Slater's Pro Surfer, Matt Hoffman's Pro BMX, Shawn White's Snowboarding, Aggressive Inline, Razor Freestyle Scooter, Bike Street Vert Dirt, SSX, Toxic Grind, Crusty Demons, and Dave Mira's Freestyle BMX.
- Some games discussed have their downfall be due to an attempt to chase a then-current trend, often done in a less-than-graceful way that leaves the devs without the time, resources, and/or experience to actually deliver what was asked for. Final Fight: Streetwise is a particular casualty of this, with the plans for the game changing mid-development in an attempt to capitalize on the popularity of Grand Theft Auto-style games.
- Forced Meme: Everytime Matt talks about the Metroidvania and entries in said subgenre, he is constantly pushing for people to call this subgenre of games as "Search Action" and trying to make it catch on.
- Gratuitous French: Whenever a character has epaulettes (a type of decorative shoulder pad often found on military uniforms) on their outfit, Crymetina usually goes out of her way to pronounce it en français.
- Guilty Pleasures: For Crymetina, any clothes with jungle animal prints. She admits that they're incredibly tacky, yet she can't help but love them anyway. This leads to her often giving a pass to characters wearing tiger stripes or leopard spots or the like.
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: A few figures that pop up in the Wha Happun videos are portrayed in this way.
- John Carmack to John Romero to some extent, at least in the sense that Romero tends to be The Face of the two. At least some of the problems that plagued Daikatana were due to Romero no longer having access to Carmack's programming talents.
- With Duke Nukem Forever, we have Brian Hook, a project lead hired on after several employees left 3D Realms. Unlike anyone at 3D Realms before him, he was willing to ignore George Broussard's requests for changes if he felt that they would slow down development, so the game was finally able to start moving forward.
- With L.A. Noire, Rockstar Games eventually sent a group of producers to help with the issues keeping production slow. In a far cry from when Ubisoft tried something similar with Haze, these new additions not only helped, but Bondi staff credit them for being the main reason that the game managed to finally start taking form.
- Hypocrisy Nod: In a Crymetina Critiques for KOF '06, Crymetina wanted to write Lilly Kane's entire wardrobe off, but felt compelled to give the alternate costume a pass, partially because it didn't weird her out... and because she was wearing something similar that day.
- Insistent Terminology: In his Wha Happun? video on Metroid: Other M, Matt declares that the Metroidvania subgenre should henceforth be known as "Search Action" instead. And in several subsequent videos, he actually does refer to these games as search action, and trusts his audience to know what he means without explanation. In his quick look video on Shadow Man, Matt does mention "metroidvania", then berates himself for the slip-up, lamenting that the term he's trying to push will never catch on if even he can't use it consistently.
- In Crymetina Critiques, loincloths or cloth coverings of any kind over a character's crotch are almost always referred to as "puss flaps", regardless of the character's gender. Particularly games where said designs are ubiquitous on a character's outfit like Mortal Kombat 11.
- Ironic Nickname: The "McMuscles" last name was always a joke. Matt was pretty fat when he first started using the name, back in the Two Best Friends Play days. He's since shaped up and lost a lot of weight, but he's still not particularly muscular. The name's become even more ironic since he's adopted a skeleton man as his avatar for his solo channel. It even gets a Lampshade Hanging in the Crymetina Critiques episode on Guilty Gear Strive:
Crymetina: [upon seeing Anji Mito's exposed back muscles]
What are those muscles called in the back? Traps? Delts, or what? Matt:
I don't have them. Crymetina:
We don't have them. No muscles in the McMuscle house. Matt: [laughs] That's why it's a funny name! Crymetina: Irony!
- Then averted in the Monday Night Muscle Madness and The Worst Fighting Game series, where Matt's avatar gains a suitably Heroic Build as a parody of pro wrestlers and stock fighting game protagonists, albeit still with the skull head.
- It Will Never Catch On: A couple episodes of Wha Happun? involved development studios (Silicon Knights and Factor 5, specifically) breaking their ties with Nintendo after getting an early look at the Nintendo Wii and immediately concluding that it would be a failure. In both cases, this arguably marked the start of their own downfall.
- Know When to Fold 'Em: In the Scalebound episode of Wha Happun?, Matt gives kudos to Microsoft and Platinum for simply cancelling the game when they realized that it wasn't working out, rather than trying to drag it across the finishing line as happens with so many other games.
- Mythology Gag: Matt occasionally sneaks in some references to his days in the now-defunct Super Best Friends Play channel:
- Matt's persona of Ashen the Vileblader for Edgelords, who originated as a Running Gag during the group's let's play of Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE.
- At the start of Def Jam: Icon - Wha Happun?, Matt briefly monologues about how some of his viewers might have fond memories of playing Def Jam with their friends years ago. During this, a small window shows footage of the Best Friends' playthrough of Def Jam: Fight for New York, featuring their custom fighter and Breakout Character Rage of Africa.
- He references "lousy Smarch weather" while playing Peter Jackson's King Kong.
- In his quicklook video on Metroid Dread, he references Liam "clowning on" the SA-X, from the LP of Metroid Fusion.
- "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer:
- In various episodes of Wha Happun, Matt reacts with a variation as he expresses disbelief at a more bizarre detail of his current subject (such as Daikatana having a Game Boy Color port, or Todd McFarlane being the lead artist behind Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning). He often emphasizes his surprise by speaking off-mic or audibly ruffling through notes.
- A straight example comes from the Duke Nukem Forever episode of Wha Happun?, where George Broussard briefly emerges from two years of radio silence to sharply contradict a public statement from Take-Two Interactive's CEO via an online forum. Matt paraphrases the post:
George Broussard: "Take-Two needs to STFU. We don't want Take-Two saying stupid-ass things in public for the sole reason of helping out their stock. Its our time and our money that we are spending on the game, so either we're absolutely stupid and clueless, or we believe in what we are working on."
Matt: That's an actual quote that was said by someone who worked for a million-dollar company.
- At one point during the first Fallout 76 episode of Wha Happun, a clip is shown of gameplay lagged down to 3-frames-per-second, with a plain caption at the bottom of the screen assuring the viewer that the clip is real-time gameplay footage and not a slideshow of still images.
- OOC Is Serious Business: While Wha Happun? is somewhat snarky, it's usually done in good fun and intended to be educational about the pitfalls of game or movie development. The episode on The Guy Game, on the other hand, has Matt's barely contained contempt for the concept, the producer's debauched lifestyle and unprofessionalism, and the juvenile premise boil over and it becomes extremely deadpan mockery.
- Only Sane Man: Several times, during Wha Happun?, there will be someone who seems to realise that the game's development or overall quality to be lacking. One example is Andrew Bado from the Drake of the 99 Dragons explaining that IdolFX didn't do a lot of job fixing bugs and were more focused on creating a franchise over polishing their game.
- The Peter Principle: Brought up in Wha Happun? - Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. When the director of the first film declined to return, producer Larry Kasanoff decided to save on time and money by promoting the inexperienced Director of Photography to the position, and did the same for several other subordinate crew members. In hindsight, Larry admits that doing so hurt the project.
- Prima Donna Director: Several episodes of Wha Happun? discuss project leads whose vision outstrips their technology or resources. For instance, the Duke Nukem Forever episode catalogues the years' long development cycle driven by George Broussard's continually changing desires for the game, and the Too Human episode focuses heavily on Dennis Dyack's attitude towards failed business relationships and online critics. Jay Beard of Splatterhouse may well take the cake, though, completely ignoring the guidelines set by publisher Namco, and even actively trying to hide that fact from them for as long as he could feasibly do so; when Namco gathered several former Bottle Rocket devs into a temporary studio to assist in finishing the game after Bottle Rocket's closure, Beard was conspicuously not among them.
- Recurring Element: In Wha Happun?, nearly every disaster he covers usually involves one or more of five things:
- A major game engine change and a requirement to throw out nearly everything the dev team worked on and start from scratch.
- A publisher change, usually to a company not well known for their patience.
- Overpromising features or becoming overly ambitious with new, untested technology.
- A small team produces the game for multiple systems at the same time, leading to a rushed product.
- Severe crunch driving the developers to their breaking point, usually mandated by upper management.
- Rule of Three: In the Wha Happun? episode on Scalebound, Matt makes three references to Trogdor, with him promising that the third is the last. And then he plays the original "Trogdor" song over the end of the video.
- Running Gag:
- "YEAH, THAT MAKES SENSE!", to punctuate particularly boneheaded decisions/ideas. On a few occasions with especially bad examples, the "What you just said, is one of the most insanely idiotic things I've ever heard" scene from Billy Madison is used.
- Whenever the show tackles a particularly infamous piece that was heavily requested, Matt tends to cut off his opening spiel and give an exasperated "It's time. To talk. About X."
- Anthropomorphism of crunch time as Cap'n Crunch moving into the studio offices with the developers.
- Matt tends to have a habit of saying "Which was the style at the time" (or variations or it) when bringing up period trends, accompanied by a clip of Grandpa Simpson saying said quote.
- When playing a game and meeting an opponent with highly disruptive tactics, he will usually call them out with "Sir? Excuse me sir!"
- Matt explaining coming across a name for a forgotten game or service, then typing its name in a Google search.
- Matt using Limp Bizkit's cover of "Behind Blue Eyes" as a sad music cue for a work's failure.
- Matt worrying about using a word repeatedly throughout the video, then showing an open window of the video script with the count total for that specific word.
- Shaped Like Itself: From one of his sponsor ad reads: "If you're like me, and I know I am..."
- Shown Their Work: All of his documentary-style content and everything he talks about on Bug Report comes from both painstaking research and from years of personal experience as a bug tester/indie video game developer.
- Shout-Out: Matt's comedy style is pretty heavy on references and clips. In the Scalebound episode of Wha Happun?, he references Trogdor so often that by about five minutes in he has to promise to stop.
- Something Completely Different: Wha Happun? usually covers disastrous video games/movies/whatever, but a few episodes deal with productions that were troubled but ultimately successful, such as Doom (2016). The Demon's Souls episode is a stand-out example, with Matt discussing how the game became a literally genre-defining success in spite of all the forces arrayed against it.
- By contrast, the episodes on Metroid: Other M and Ninja Gaiden 3 stand out because these two games were not Troubled Productions at all. The development processes went about as smoothly as possible, but the creators of both games alienated long-time fans by disregarding the elements that made their franchises popular in the first place and added on unnecessary, poorly-done new elementsnote , resulting in their failure without meddling executives, lack of funding, forced crunch time or any of the other staples of Wha Happun?.
- The video on Panzer Dragoon Saga stands out for discussing a game that actually turned out really, really well — as in, "probably one of the best games of its generation" well — but had the misfortune of being exclusive to an unsuccessful console that was already being phased out, as well as having a very limited release outside of Japannote .
- Special Guest: Wha Happun? will occasionally feature a guest host with knowledge of or attachment to the subject game, such as Caddicarus for Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly or Maximilian Dood for Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite and Killer Instinct (2013). Another Youtuber, Civvie 11, tends to appear for short cameos regarding FPS games based in 80s and 90s video game culture, like Doom (2016).
- Stylistic Suck: Keepin It Cereal is a live-action series where Matt (and a different guest in each episode) critique different breakfast cereals. It's also a hilariously unprofessional mess, with whiplash-inducing editing, Bad "Bad Acting", and obvious placeholder art for the episode intros.
- Take That!:
- Often has a word or two with SEGA's often extremely unusual demands, but has a much more... succinct response to the mere mention of Konami:
Matt: Konami. Fuck 'em.
- It's a Running Gag that Matt favorably compares every videogame shotgun to the Doom 3 shotgun. No matter how bad the shotgun may be, he'll always say something to the effect of, "It's still better than the Doom 3 shotgun."
- During his WarCraft III: Reforged video, he talks about the unprofessional CGI on the infamous "Reforged" version of Arthas and Illidan's duel, comparing it to something people would see in a mobile game. Matt then takes this opportunity to take a jab at Raid Shadow Legends with a fake sponsorship... with the whole duel cutscene in question playing over it.
- They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: In-Universe, what ultimately resulted in Def Jam Icon and Metroid: Other M getting episodes dedicated to them. While neither game faced serious issues during development, both were made precisely as the developers intended, and both are competently made games from a technical standpoint, both are so incredibly far removed from what their respective series are known for that they were received poorly by fans.
- Vaporware: Various games spotlighted on Wha Happun? were ultimately never released, such as Scalebound, Thrill Kill, and Sonic X-treme.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: In his Flophouse Plays of Gex: Enter the Gecko, Matt sees a sign in a "Scream TV" stage that says "Go into the light". Matt believes this is a Shmuck Bait trap and that doing so will let the ghosts get to him, but in reality, the light prevents the ghosts from attacking the player. The hint is sincere.