Fandom Fast Food: What even IS Kingdom Hearts?

This week sees the release of Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8: Final Chapter Prologue, a game that is somehow not the most ridiculously-titled entry in the popular JRPG franchise. It includes an HD remake of Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance, a new movie that examines the events of Kingdom Hearts Unchained X from the perspective of the Foretellers, and Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage – , which is a direct sequel to Birth by Sleep following Aqua’s adventures in the world of Darkness.

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…okay, sorry, let’s backtrack.

With all the hype surrounding Kingdom Hearts III’s development, a lot of new or lapsed fans are flocking to the franchise, wanting to see what all the fuss was about back when the girl they liked in 9th grade was talking about it. Unfortunately, Kingdom Hearts is a franchise that tries as hard as it can to be completely inscrutable, so even people who have played all the games can get lost in its complicated plot.

So you want to get to know Kingdom Hearts? Let me help you out with this handy guide. Just skip to the questions that apply to you!

Continue reading Fandom Fast Food: What even IS Kingdom Hearts?

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What Should I Play If I Loved: Harry Potter

We’ve all been there. You loved a show (or a movie, or a book), and then you run out of it. It’s over, on indefinite hiatus, between sequels, or there just aren’t any more seasons on Netflix. All you want is something new to fill it’s place in your heart. And that’s where Volcano Bakemeat can help. Although most video game adaptations don’t always live up to their source material, that won’t stop us. Instead, we’ll attempt to try to find games that capture the spirit of what made the original so special (minor spoilers follow).

Harry Potter (Book 1997-2007)

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Doing Your Research: 5 Do’s and Don’ts of In-Game Lore

Over the last generation or two, there has been a notable shift in the way video games are written. It’s not just enough for a game to have strong mechanics and pretty graphics. Gamers now demand that their games deliver an engaging story – in particular, one that transports them to a well fleshed out world. The escapist nature of video games has been covered extensively by Volcano Bakemeat, and the easiest way to establish that element of wonder is by making sure your world has interesting, in-depth lore.

We have all experienced strong lore: a universe that you want to jump into and never leave. We all know what house we’d be sorted into at Hogwarts or which side of the Force we would favor. Many of the same elements that make for strong lore in other media also works for video games, yet many games get it wrong.

The way I see it there are five rules of thumb to making lore that pulls gamers in instead of putting them to sleep:

Continue reading Doing Your Research: 5 Do’s and Don’ts of In-Game Lore

Female Woman Ladies Part Two

In this two parter, Volcano Bakemeat Radio looks at playable female characters. We talk about why Portal is a little like Mean Girls, what it’s like when a game chooses your gender (and race) randomly, and which characters we’d like to see gender swapped.

Continue reading Female Woman Ladies Part Two

Female Woman Ladies Part One

In this two parter, Volcano Bakemeat Radio looks at playable female characters. We talk about why Fable 2 made Jessica cry, why a X-Com operative code-named Mama Bear might be Jeff’s favorite woman in video games, and why Paige still feels vaguely uncomfortable playing Skull Girls

Continue reading Female Woman Ladies Part One

Surprise, Delight and Betrayal: Storytelling in Games

This week, Volcano Bakemeat discuss the whys and hows of telling stories with video games. We talk about the core elements of storytelling in gaming, the advantages (and disadvantages) of telling a story with video games as the medium, how storytelling and game play can complement each other and more.

Please note that in this episode we briefly discuss suicide and children with terminal diseases.

Please also note that in this episode, we may spoil aspects of multiple games including: An early Easter Egg in Psychonauts, an early scene in Baulder’s Gate, a path in The Stanley Parable, a midpoint event in Dragon Age: Inquisition, the ends of the first Bioshock and Kingdom Hearts games, major events in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare I & II, a mission in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and some missions from Metal Gear Solid 5: Phantom Pain. If you notice any other spoilers, please let us know and we will update the list.

Continue reading Surprise, Delight and Betrayal: Storytelling in Games