3DO-Face #4: Sex. Now that I have your attention: Sex

After the last few 3DO porn games, I thought this time around, I would cover a title with the least imaginative title possible. This is another “classic” by Vivid Interactive. The “Interactive” part is only one of the biggest lies this piece of software will tell. Sex is similar to Blonde Justice, in that it merely a movie in the 3DO format, meaning that I’m once again reviewing a porn I just finished watching.

Like Blonde Justice, Sex is a series of clips bereft of context. This fever dream of ugly men pawing at B-Movie actresses with all the grace of a sedated bear trying to catch a fish in a lake that’s completely frozen over. Scenes change at such a rapid fire pace, it’s impossible to comprehend what’s happening at a base level. Woe be to any idiot who tried masturbating to this. The “action” is absolutely no different from the kind of stuff you could find if you stayed up late enough to catch some softcore film on HBO or Cinemax. All of this set to what I can best describe as the most “buying avocados at the grocery store” music you have ever heard.

You’ve probably already figured this out, but I need to make this point very clear: this is a movie called Sex. There is absolutely zero sex present within it. Yeah sure, there’s sexual content, but that’s not sex; you don’t just take your top off and rub your stomach a little bit and then bam, it’s over. That’s no ding-dangs going into any hoo-hahs. Or any holes, for that matter. Hell, there’s no ding-dangs or hoo-hahs to begin with! It’s as if everyone involved with this production were bisected at the waist.

bro if you were any further away from that chick’s crotch, you would be in a different zip code

Let’s take a moment to think about all the other 3DO porn games I’ve look at real quick:

Neurodancer- it is a cyberpunk-themed titled where topless women indeed dance. Okay.

Blonde Justice- there was at least one (1) blonde in it, and the murderous stalker got killed at the end, which is a kind of justice. Okay.

Virtual Photo Studio- there was a whole picture taking mechanic, and you weren’t literally interacting with the women, so it is a virtual experience. Okay.

Sex- no sex, unless you count a dude rubbing a girl’s underwear covered ass with an ice cube, and you shouldn’t.

People will bring up the entire career of Peter Molyneux, or the launch of No Man’s Sky as the biggest falsehoods in gaming. No. No, the biggest lie in the history of games is this extremely unsexy piece of shit on the 3DO called “Sex” that is COMPLETELY LACKING IN ANY TYPE OF SEX.

THERE IS NO SEX IN “SEX”

I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to think that maybe this whole 3DO thing was a great big rip off. The games weren’t all that great, it cost too much, and the porn was immediately outclassed by literally anything you could already buy at a shop/through mail order or find abandoned in the woods. This was the 90s, you could watch people pee on each other for like twenty bucks and all you needed was a VCR. If you want to watch half-assed tit-grabbing between two actors with no chemistry, hey, feel free to drop $700 on a video game console and an additional $60 for this garbage. I reckon being a Tier-1 simp on some girl’s Twitch is more worth your time, probably. Anything has to be better than five disparate scenes where the most you’re getting is a pair of titties and anywhere from half to three-quarters of an ass.

this was funny at least

Anyways, here’s the part where I post some spicy pics in case anyone got here from Google’s image search, which is surprisingly still useful in finding actual web sites with stuff you want to see on them. This one has some seriously slim pickings.

Dungeon Encounters

2021 was a pretty good year for the dungeon crawler. Aside from Wizardry, there was stuff like the extremely stylish Undernauts: Labyrinth of Yomi, the not-as-deep-but-still-unique Live In Dungeon, and this game: Dungeon Encounters.

This was a real surprise of a game that suddenly appeared and vanished from collective memory just as quickly. It’s an RPG by Square-Enix that got fuck all in terms of any kind of advertising or promotion; Song Summoner for the iPod got more exposure. For some of you, this piece may very well be the first time you’re hearing about Dungeon Encounters. The game simply appeared, and didn’t have the privilege of being buried under the constant news of Final Fantasy XIV, Final Fantasy VII Remake, or that Avengers game nobody gives a fuck about. But, if there’s anyone who will champion an unloved dungeon crawler, it would be me.

One of the main selling points of Dungeon Encounters is that it is a game directed and put together by Hiroyuki Ito, the man responsible for Final Fantasy’s Active Time Battle system. He also directed Final Fantasy VI, IX, and XII, but this is not nearly as important as creating the ATB. Dungeon Encounters is all about the ATB. I’ve never met Hiroyuki Ito, or read any interviews he’s done, but based on this game, he comes across as the kind of guy who would like Wizardry more if there wasn’t so much fucking plot in the way.

Dungeon Encounters is a game distilled down to its essence. If there’s a plot, it means nothing. You can’t even create your own party; you are simply given a list of pre-made characters whose bios are a couple sentences long. Honestly, it feels like this base level of personality was done as a compromise for what little marketability this game has. Otherwise, they exist as blank slates with no mechanic difference between them. Every character, regardless of appearance, can equip the same weapons, the same armor, the same magic. You pick four characters from a list, then send them out into the dungeons: a stained paper-map with blank squares for you to fill out. Battles are static avatars making sound effects at each other over a still background image. That’s it. That’s the whole game.

As I’ve said before, there are two things that make a dungeon crawler good: the slow, yet rewarding progression through a tough environment, and creating a party to go through said tough environment. Dungeon Encounters only contains 50% of what makes a good dungeon crawler, yet that doesn’t take away from how good this game is. This extremely lo-fi RPG that manages to be completely addicting; needing to fill out the next floor, then the next floor, then the next floor, then it’s three in the morning and where did the time go? It’s literally a game about watching numbers go up, and it is somehow utterly compelling.

What really hits that pleasure center of my brain is not just its mechanics, not just this addicting need to explore and increase numbers. No, Dungeon Encounters’ art assets feel like an absolute afterthought, with Panther men fighting alongside stereotypical wizards, a high schooler magically appearing in this world, a robot, and a how-are-you-not-being-sued version of Totoro. The characters you are given all look like they come from different, non-existent games. Growing up in a poor family, I didn’t really get to play with the same toys a lot of other kids did. My action figure collection came from garage sales and extremely discounted variant figures nobody wanted, like Arctic Commando Spider-Man or some shit. I was lucky to even have the toys, so forget about ever having those elaborate playsets I would always see in commercials, where Batman would shoot a Nerf dart at a pile of precariously stacked cups that his enemies would always happen to be standing on. So instead, I would have to get creative, with paper towel tubes, those little tables that come with your pizza, the side of my bed that had a wooden frame, and that one rug with all the buildings and roads on it.

Because I had such a disparate collection, my imagination would have to work overtime. I had to come up with a context for Wolverine teaming up with a bootleg Transformer, an extremely tall Robin (as in Batman’s sidekick Robin), and a three-inch Mega Man I got for five bucks to fight a Ninja Turtles Foot Solider, another Robin that I designated as the evil Robin (I really liked Robin as a kid, proving that I have never been the alpha in any relationship I’ve ever had), a bootleg He-Man, and a random Star Wars character I was given as a gift. This was how I had to play as a kid.

Dungeon Encounters gives me that same vibe. I’m given all these random pieces to move around fighting other pieces on a paper map. There’s no overarching plot, so you have to come up with your own. Playing Dungeon Encounters is like playing with toys when you’re a poor kid. Much like a kid with no money, the game feels like it was made on an extremely small budget, and yet it’s all the better for it. And also like a kid playing with toys, Square-Enix’s marketing department responded to the game’s completion with a “that’s nice, dear” before going back to watching TV. This is a game that requires an imagination, which is a nice change in a sea of games that think for you. Another thing that popped into my head while writing this is that Dungeon Encounters does come across as an inverse Wizardry. Wizardry gives you its plot and tells you to make the characters within it, while Dungeon Encounters gives you characters and tells you to make the plot.

I guess that’s really the best way to explain a game like Dungeon Encounters: like a mismatched toy collection. It doesn’t look as impressive as the rich kid toy box full of every single G.I Joe, but you’ll probably end up having a lot more fun with a caramel-colored Batman and a dollar store “Transmorpher.”

Shamefully enjoying a Bethesda game

I do not like Bethesda. I’ve made this clear on multiple occasions. I hated Oblivion and its dogshit writing. I hated Skyrim and its dogshit writing. I hate how so many of their games promise you this experience of free-roaming roleplaying, then proceed to funnel you down a linear path that sucks and punishes you for doing any sort of morally ambiguous act. I hate their ugly characters with terrible voice acting with names that read like someone trying to satirize Dragonforce lyrics and no reason to give a fuck about any of them. Most importantly, I hate how they completely ruined Fallout. Hell, given the current state of Fallout 76, it’s not much of a stretch to say that they fucking killed it. A shitty company full of dudes who still quote Monty Python and the Holy Grail run by Donald Trump’s brother that makes boring ass RPGs that are inexplicably popular and I still can’t forget that weird documentary where Todd Howard more or less admitted that he says “Kneel Before Todd” to underpaid sex workers. Fuck Bethesda! They might not be as evil a company as say, Riot Games, but still, fuck them anyway!

All that being said, I have spent the last few days doing my rare “see what all the hype about Morrowind is” run. After many, many years, I’m actually, Dear God, enjoying myself.

Morrowind is the game that I am frequently told that if you hate Bethesda games (and I do), you will like this one. Every time, I install the game, make a character, then immediately stop playing and uninstall. It’s a game where your character moves with all the urgency of a rock formation, and where hitting a rat is a feeble impossibility. That fucking battle system, where you swing your weapon directly into an enemy’s face, and nothing happens. You swing it again. Still nothing. You and the Mudcrab you ran into are swinging at the air over and over until one of you magically walks into that air.

like so

You slowly walk and fail to stab something directly in front of you for minutes at a time, and your main objective in the world is “go find some dude.” Captivating. This is supposed to be “The Good One.”

This most recent attempt, I did something a little different: I actually did some reading. I had to know why Morrowind had to be like that. Yeah hey, turns out that there’s a whole bunch of math and shit that’s never explained to you! Your stats, which raise as you do stuff, Final Fantasy 2 style, don’t dictate how good you are with a weapon and the percentage of critical hits, like I had assumed. No, having a 30 in Short Blade means that I have a 30% chance of hitting something! So I either have to grind on weak enemies that can’t possibly kill me even if I tried, or wander the world looking for teachers to help me raise my particular skills. You’re meant to do that latter, as it’s actually not the worst way to incentivize exploring the game world that you are in. Morrowind is a game that does not quest markers (something I actually really like), or special labels on NPC’s, so you have to explore, talk to everyone, and remember to double-check your journal when you need to make a return trip. Normally, I would have more patience for a game like this, but remember: this is a game that already has two strikes against it for being made by the people who murdered Fallout, so I have to admit that my initial attempt at playing this ten years ago wasn’t something I approached with an open mind.

Not that I’m suddenly going to say that Morrowind’s combat is good, because it’s not. Just because I understand it doesn’t mean that it’s great. The fact that it’s in real time, and the subsequent feedback of swinging a weapon and missing feels like shit. With other RPG’s, there’s enough done visually for your brain to understand why an attack did or did not land; putting up a shield, or dodging to the side. Morrowind doesn’t have this. It has the Bart and Lisa Hockey fight I posted above.

Luckily, Morrowind is not a game about combat. Rather, it is a game about exploration. Actually shutting the fuck up and wandering around is great. The character models are absolute dogshit garbage in a game that came out the same year as Resident Evil on the Gamecube, but the environments are fantastic. The world of Morrowind is very distinct, very alien, something lacking in Oblivion and Skyrim. The thing is, despite how utterly strange the world is, it still comes across as a place where people live. Balmora actually has its own districts of shops, homes, and bureaucracy; it’s not a weird jumbled mess like a lot of RPG towns can be. Other places, like Vivec, Perigrad, and even the starting town of Seyda Neen have this sense of mysticism and wonder to them. Each different from one other on a visual standpoint, with these very distinct buildings, and riding the Silt Strider (a large flea-like creature that acts as a form of public transportation) from port to port really drives home this feeling of not being on Not-Earth like Morrowind’s sequels. That counts for a lot with me.

I’m still fairly early into the game, so I can’t really speak about my experiences beyond a few areas outside of the Bitter Coast, but it hasn’t been super terrible. Starting as a prisoner on a ship, before being pardoned in exchange for working for the government, finding a murdered tax collector, discovering his murderer, killing said murderer and simply moving into his house afterwards. That’s pretty fun, actually; who doesn’t want 500 bucks and a free house with no rent? Exploring caves and mines in the nearby area, being targeted by an assassin’s guild for reasons you don’t understand. Joining the Mages Guild, and helping its leader fuck with an underling he doesn’t like so you can become better at casting spells. I can only imagine how things will go once I’m done running in place to increase my movement speed and hacking at thieves or rats so my knife isn’t completely useless.

It’s a bit of shameful admission to myself that I’m liking a Bethesda game, but I am. I cannot fucking believe that I am actually enjoying my time with Morrowind now, but I have to believe it. Granted, Morrowind is good, but it’s not the best RPG I’ve ever played; not even the best one I’ve played this month. I would still much rather lose myself in the worlds of Wizardry, of Planescape Torment, of Vampire the Masquerade, of any From Software title, of, you know, FALLOUT. But I’m glad that I’m finally starting to “get” Morrowind, and I think I’ll be playing more of this in the coming weeks and months.