Casper “Pixelspeech”

Origin: The Netherlands
Occupation: IT Specialist
Hobbies: gaming, anime, reading, walking long distances, D&D
Favorite game: Recettear - An Item Shop's Tale
Favorite show: Higurashi
Favorite book: Cardcaptor Sakura

What is your history with games?

I started playing games on the Nintendo 64 with my family when I was just a kid and on the Super Nintendo with some kid in my street. To be honest, back in those days I mostly watched as my parents played Super Mario 64, Donkey Kong 64, Banjo & Kazooie, and many other classics for the old N64. That was a great time.

When the GameCube rolled around I began to play games on my own a lot more, but my parents stayed supportive and would often join in. They saw it as just another hobby and I think they are happy with the way I turned out in the end. Nowadays I still play games almost daily.

Have you reviewed games before?

I started reviewing games on Mobygames where I got into the hobby of writing and analyzing video games. This was way before the site crashed and was eventually revived, the pre-drama era as I like to call it. I am not sure how it’s doing nowadays.

After Mobygames I started writing for Rely on Horror and have been there ever since I was 16. I loved it there, it was absolutely fantastic and I have been able to experience so many changes to the games industry from that position. I have seen established series like Silent Hill and Alone in the Dark spinning out of control as well as the rise of indie games and the continued success of many other franchises. I also did some small-time work for a Dutch magazine and have been part of a few forums where people passed around reviews.

What kind of games do you like?

I am attracted to games you could easily turn into an elevator pitch; it needs to have a strong, central appeal that is quick to get across, but has enough depth to stay fun for the duration of the game. I mark Recettear as my all-time favorite because of this: “an RPG in which you run the store” is a novel concept and that is before you add in the great character chemistry, dungeon crawling, beautiful art-direction, and joyful music. It’s a fantastic game.

Pinning me to any one genre isn’t easy. I can pretty much enjoy any game so long as it’s well-designed, but I generally enjoy puzzle games, quick-paced shooters, historical games preferably in the strategy genre, and RPGs.

What can we expect from your reviews?

I am mostly a gameplay and story man and find that I often struggle with criticizing the presentation in a meaningful way. My strength lies in analyzing and dissecting how the game’s mechanics works and interact, how it feels to play the game, and where improvements could have been made. Similarly I also enjoy good stories and I enjoy writing how I felt about the characters and how sensible plot developments are. I frequently combine these two to also talk about what the mechanics add to the story or how story is used to contextualize gameplay mechanics.

Presentation I find hard because I am not an artist or musician. I have no fine ear for music and honestly can’t say much about music beyond whether I enjoyed listening to it or not and if it fit what I was doing at the time. Oftentimes it’ll just fade into the background for me and I won’t notice at all. Similarly I don’t know what makes good color composition or if the lighting in any one scene is particularly outstanding, plus I don’t really care.

One side-note: I am the kind of man where one petty niggle can drag down the experience for me. For example, I really love me some Cave Story, but it loses a lot of points simply because I don’t like the ending much and dislike the arbitrary conditions that must be met to get another one. Apologies for that in advance.

What is your pet peeve in game design?

Pretentiousness. After years of working primarily with indie games I absolutely loathe any game that deliberately wants to be artsy. Games by their very nature are art and many of these games try to elevate themselves above that with fancy art-styles, sad music, and obtuse story-lines. Mhm… kinda describing Braid there.

On a similar note, I get particularly pissy about how recent games are trying to pass for cinematic by being boring. Long sections where you must walk while characters talk or where a lot of cool-looking stuff happens while the player is barely involved are a major no-go for me.