Five Fictional Games with Deadly Consequences

I love games, and have spent most of my life playing them in one form or another. I’ve worked for two game companies and have been involved in development with different hats ranging from manual writer to technical director. So when I was writing United States of Japan, one of my favorite parts was imagining what video games would be like in an alternate history where the Japanese Empire ruled. Speculative works can always push the boundaries, and as early consoles were intertwined with military research, I pushed gaming technology ahead twenty years from where it was in 1988 in our world, considering Japan would no longer need to undergo two decades of reconstruction. One of those changes involved Yakuza-sponsored gaming tournaments where players put everything on the line. Not like Running Man, but more akin to a virtual first person shooter match where the loser loses their life.

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Super Mario Brothers: Fantasy or Science Fiction?

At first glance, it seems pretty straightforward that the Super Mario Brothers games are a fantasy series. They take place in a fantastic world with dragons, princesses, and magic mushrooms, and the RPGs in the series have all the typical role-playing elements of a fantasy game. But when you look at the entire franchise, particularly the Super Mario Galaxy games, it seems almost certain that the game is science fiction, or at least science fantasy. Here are five reasons revolving around specific titles in the series that prove the Super Mario Brothers are works of science fiction.

Note: I’m defining science fiction broadly as “a genre of fiction dealing with imaginative content such as futuristic settings and technology, space travel, time travel, faster than light travel, parallel universes and extraterrestrial life.”

 

The Many Worlds of Super Mario Galaxy

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Up until the arrival of Nintendo, many game designers had ...

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Fighting For Utopia: Revisiting Classic ’90s RPG Phantasy Star IV

phantasystariv Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium is an ambitious JRPG that is the perfect end to the series, taking the best elements of each of the previous games and weaving together a “phantastic” journey. It easily goes toe to toe with its more famous Square contemporaries like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI. Coming after the radical departure from the series Phantasy Star III was with its medieval setting and art style, PSIV (1993 JP, 1995 US) was a welcome return by Director Rieko Kodama and her Sega team to its science fiction roots. It also exemplifies how to do a sequel, as PSIV doesn’t shy away from its ties to the previous games the way III did, but instead, embraces them.  

Returning Evil

phantasystariv-02 1,000 years have passed since the events of Phantasy Star II. Mota has reverted to its pre-Mother Brain state following the “Great Collapse” ...
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Announcing Peter Tieryas’ Next Book: Malleable Realities

Odin the dog Malleable Realities Peter Tieryas Following the dark, violent, alternate history of United States of Japan delving into the tragedies of WWII, I thought why not follow up with a fun comedy adventure? Malleable Realities is the longest thing I’ve written, both in length, and time it took me. Time is relative, right? But 14 years for one book? A younger me would have been incredulous if he knew it was going to take this much time. Time is at the core of the story, kickstarted when Lucca from the SNES classic, Chrono Trigger (which I reviewed here at Tor.com in three trope-defying parts), explained the paradox of Princess Marle’s disappearance. I thought I understood the weirdness of time to a certain extent. But then my understanding of the theory of causality took a huge blow after I read David Hume’s An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding. He posited that A + B doesn’t ...

Five Books with Deadly Games

battle-royale-film I love games, and have spent most of my life playing them in one form or another. I’ve worked for two game companies and have been involved in development with different hats ranging from manual writer to technical director. So when I was writing United States of Japan, one of my favorite parts was imagining what video games would be like in an alternate history where the Japanese Empire ruled. Speculative works can always push the boundaries, and as early consoles were intertwined with military research, I pushed gaming technology ahead twenty years from where it was in 1988 in our world, considering Japan would no longer need to undergo two decades of reconstruction. One of those changes involved Yakuza-sponsored gaming tournaments where players put everything on the line. Not like Running Man, but more akin to a virtual first person shooter match where the loser loses their life. ...
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United States of Japan

United States of Japan excerpt Peter Tieryas

< p class="frontmatter">We’re proud to present an excerpt from Peter Tieryas’ United States of Japan, a spiritual successor to Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle, out March 1 from Angry Robot Books. Most of United States of Japan takes place in 1989 following Captain Beniko Ishimura in the office of the censor and Agent Akiko Tsukino, member of the Tokko (the Japanese secret police). Los Angeles is a technological mecca, a fusion of Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and Tokyo. During WWII, one of the biggest weaknesses the Japanese Empire had was its dependency on oil to which it had very little access. After their shared victory with the Germans, they prioritized developing solar energy and electrical batteries for all their vehicles. That sensibility is reflected in the entire aesthetic of this new Los Angeles, clean, pristine, grand, and gleaming in neon. At the same time, I wanted to contrast this ...

An Ambiguous Ending: Phantasy Star II Replay (Part 3)

ps37 I can name so many JRPGs I love, but if you asked me to tell you their endings, I’d honestly struggle to remember. Most of them blend into each other in a huge canvas of predictable outcomes that usually result in the hero saving the world, various party members going back to their respective homes, and the protagonist uniting with their love interest. Phantasy Star II was a trailblazer for having a totally unique experience that left me literally at the edge of my seat. I’d even put it up there with some of the best endings in any medium that includes Use of Weapons, the original Planet of the Apes, and Hitchcock films like Vertigo and Psycho. When it comes to gaming, titles are sparse for truly amazing endings (that includes contemporary games as well). But ask almost anyone who has beaten Phantasy Star II and they’ll be ...
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