Gaming Hell - About the Site
Another video game title screen parody, another part of this website that's not necessarily about video games. Sigh.
Q: WHAT ARE YOU?
A: I'm Batman.
Q:You're not Batman, so don't lie, you fiend. Lay out your credentials, bub- we want the truth!
A: OK, I'm not Batman. I'm Ant Cooke, sometimes known on the internet as Tepid Snake, and I'm a writer who's still trying to figure out where it all went wrong. This doesn't stop me from getting my writing all over the internet, though! Somehow, my stuff has appeared om Way of the Rodent, Unseen64, Socks Make People Sexy, and a couple of actual print issues of Retro Gamer (although, er, I only managed to get into the older ones, contributing to their Arcade Hunt series). Most recently, I was hired by the nice chaps at RetroCollect, one of the best retro gaming sites I've seen in a while (so what I'm doing there is anyone's guess). If we want to go further back in time, I once got some poetry published in a...
Q: I don't want your life story, David Copperfield, so just a brief bit about yourself. Inquiring minds, etc.
You'll have to follow me on Twitter for that. There is one thing I'll tell you- despite the focus on weird and obscure things here, I do like normal video games. It's just they're not as entertaining to write about.
If you'd like a recent file photo of myself, though, here it is. No, wait, is it this one? Hang on... Ah, yes. Here we go. Maybe.
Q: So what's the story with this site anyway? How did it all happen?!
A: Back in February of 2008, I was at university and naturally I started to get up to nonsense in my spare time. So I started transcribing the script from the story mode of Bloody Roar 2: Bringer of the New Age on the Playstation, because it's so so bad. As I got near the end of this endeavour (some time around April/May) I realised that I needed somewhere to put this thing so I started working on a website devoted to this horrible script in order to share it with the world. As May drew to a close, I decided to make a bona fide 'website' to keep things other than the Bloody Roar 2 script, and so uploaded a completely barren site on the 20th of May, 2008... But what other content could I add?
Well, one of my favourite gaming websites at the time was BBH's Waste of Bandwidth, which saw Neo-Geo.com member Lord BBH playing through some obscure (and hilarious) games- his Riot and Crime City articles are excellent reads in particular. He used a pseudo-Let's Play format, taking the reader through the entire game with play-by-play commentary and sarky picture captions. Most importantly, BBH was- and is- an extremely skilled player (he can 1CC The Super Spy!) so from his articles you got the sense that he actually knew what he was talking about, unlike every other vid-con site ever. Sadly, he stopped updating his site shortly before I started work on my site, so I took his basic format and expanded on it a touch (and added a bit more silly humour). In essence, BBH's article style formed the basis of Wretch! Video Games!!, which started with Hard Head 2 (uploaded on the 2nd of June) and since then, things have just gotten worse.
BBH's articles are considerably better than mine, of course- more concise, for a start- but I'll keep trying, folks.
(Amusingly, I'll probably never upload the Bloody Roar 2 script, even though it's to blame for this shit-pile being here in the first place.)
Q: OK, that's the lengthy origin story, but why do you keep up this sick charade? Why crappy old video games, you nerd?!
A: To tell the truth, this site started pretty pathetically, with the sole intent being 'herp derp let's make fun of vid-cons hurrrrrrrrrrr'. Look at some of the earlier articles and you can see I was pretty directionless, with my only ace in the hole being my article on The Outfoxies. From a certain review onwards though, the site morphed from one entirely dedicated to making fun of shitty games to what I suppose is a bizarre archive of video game 'things' that pique my interest, be it because they're hysterically awful or actually fun, often covered on a level-by-level basis. And if not, they're covered in as much detail as I deem necessary.
Such is the mission of this website- to look at and review interesting video games in as much detail as possible, and to entertain and inform! If it's a video game and it meets the site's fairly specific criteria (detailed below) then I'll have a go at covering it, just as long as I'm able to get passionate and aggressive about it. Can't write without a bit of oomph behind it! Unlike the rest of the internet, though, I don't give a toss about quantity. Although my site will never have as much content as other websites (there's generally about 14 to 15 new articles a year) I believe strongly in quality above everything else. I try, you know? Each article gets rigorously researched, but this comes at the cost of more frequent updates. Better to have an excellent article on one game than mid-grade coverage on eight games, know what I mean? Hopefully you, the reader, can get behind me on this, and forgive the lack of a billion articles here.
That's why Gaming Hell exists, and shall continue to exist until I get sick of it- to try and deliver articles that DON'T SUCK.
And to be the strongest, most aggressive vid-con site on the internet!
Q: How do you pick the games to cover? Is there some sort of system, or do you just pull it out of your ass?
A: Back when I had no idea what I was doing, the criteria was pretty simple:
#1: Is this game historically noteworthy- is it really good, really bad, or is there anything interesting about it?
#2: How well-known is the game- has everyone on the internet talked about it, or is it a little obscure?
#3: Does it have a funny title?
Rule #3 was obviously the most important. Since then, things have changed a little- Rule #2 is less important now (mostly because I don't want there to be any sense that 'you, reader, have not played these games, what are you doing?' which I felt the site has approached in the past) and there's a fourth rule, 'Am I qualified to review this game?'. What that means is that unless I have a fairly good grasp on the genre of the game in question, I will do my best to avoid it. Better to write something useful than an opinion piece built on ignorance. As a result, this means that you'll find very few one-on-one fighting game articles (with one or two exceptions), no in-depth strategy game articles (Don't expect Global Defence Force Tactics anytime soon), and probably no RPG articles (unless I post my play-by-play of Star Ocean: Till the End of Time in its uncensored glory). Oh, and we shy away from shoot-em-ups nowadays (so that's why we gave up on Touhou!) because, well, they're impossible to review properly. It's a shame this means there are some games I can't review, but we have standards, man.
Q: So what's the deal with the ratings?
A: It's a pretty simple 5-star rating system. You'd think it was obvious what they all mean, and yet over the years, the ratings have sorta settled into slightly-more-specific than you'd imagine pigeonholes. So, to explain it thus, the ratings in full:
5 Stars -> If these games have flaws, they're pretty insignificant. They're the kinds of game I tend to get really hyped up about, and so I can basically talk about them until the cows come home. Highly, highly recommended.
Examples: The Outfoxies, Bubble Symphony
4 Stars -> These games are pretty great, and come recommended. Just a few things keeping them away from absolute greatness. Generally this goes to games I really like, but lack just that little extra 'oomph' to put them into the category where I can just gush about them forever.
Examples: Charlie Ninja, Gruef Syndrome
3 Stars -> Stuck in the middle, 3 Star Games are just average. Nothing terrible, nothing exceptional. Good enough, like. More often than not, the reason they come cross as average is because there are other games that do what these games do, but a hell of a lot better. They are usually worth a try, though, where possible.
Examples:Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon, Castlevania 64
2 Stars -> The hardest rating to give out. Games that get 2 Stars are usually games with interesting premises or gameplay mechanics, but are also very flawed in many other ways. It's the kind of thing where you might enjoy them if you take notice of the many, many caveats that come with them. Games for Mostly Dangerous People, then.
Examples: King of the Monsters 2: The Next Thing, htoL#NiQ -Hotaru no Nikki-
1 Star -> Borderline unplayable. 1 Star games are The Most Dangerous and should only be played by experts who know what they're getting themselves into.
Examples: Hard Head 2, Crime Fighters
Flat Carbuncle -> Actually unreviewable. We've only ever had to use this once, fortunately.
Examples: LoveLive! School idol festival
Q: So is it just you, or do you employ a team of monkeys to write this tripe?
A: There is no team of monkeys. Just me. Obviously, this means I can never compete with some of the big boys of the internet, but then again no-one tells Ant Cooke what to do! I do everything myself- write the articles, grab the screenshots, rip the sound effects and music, create the extra content... Well, OK, I can't take all the credit. I get a little assistance from the enigmatic and long-suffering editor, affectionately called Ed, who occasionally writes the Editor's Notes. He's usually to be found behind his desk, sobbing into his safety blanket.
[That'd be me. I actually do a lot more than just writing the Editor's Notes, you know. Sure, the writing guy does a fair amount of work (although he's paid far too much for it) but when he's got all the relevant material for me, it ends up on my desk, and I have to deal with it. I'm the poor bastard who has to proof-read this claptrap, make the images the right size, do some of the trickier HTML coding, and even maintain the hilariously inept YouTube channel and what thanks do I get? Fuck all, that's what. In fact, the sole perk of the job is getting to boss around my writer subordinate. Sometimes I interject in this tiny font, though. One day, I'll be revenged on the whole pack of you so better watch the fuck out. Oh, and I'm not real. My existence is just a running joke. If you think otherwise you are a fucking moron.
... Alright, OK, you got me. There are other contributors, usually on a one-time basis. What follows is a list of people who have aided the Strongest Website...
Hopefully we haven't forgotten anyone!:
Jake Simpson and Eric Kinkead from Midway - Provided the true story of Judge Dredd Arcade.
Cauterize from RetroCollect - Basically moved the whole damn thing when we abdicated from 110mb.net. Without him Gaming Hell would be dead!
lunarsystem_ from Electricopolis - General encouragement and has done art of our mascot, Sarah Sowertty. Powerful Internet Friend.
LordBBH from the internet - As well as inspiring this entire site in the first place, he gave us tips on King of the Monsters 2 and Hard Head 2.
Zerochan from Twitterland - Let us use this picture. World's strongest Fighting Vipers fan.
Matchi_chan from Twitterland - Helped with the Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA 2nd review. Taught us all we know about Vocaloid.
HokutoNoShock from Twitterland - Various bits and bobs here and there, too numerous to mention. The Strongest.
Liam Ashcroft from SegaBits/This Is Saturn - Has sent us various bits of Sega tat,
Kimimi from Kimimi's Blog - Translated the Sega Ages 2500: Puyo Puyo Tsu Perfect Set filofax card for us. Helped us through htoL#NiQ and RE Gaiden.
I'll take this opportunity to thank you, dear contributors, for helping this ramshackle heap of a website maintain some credibility. Ta!
Q: This site looks like shit!
A: That's not a question, but an astute observation nonetheless. I'll admit it- every page in this website is done in Notepad++. There are no style sheets, no bells, no whistles, and a grand total of three Java scripts (locate them all and win a prize!) and that's as far as it goes. I sometimes try my hand at fancy-looking tables, but only after lots of testing and swearing. If I really wanted to bullshit you, I'd say that I like to think that this site is a bit of a throwback to the days of Web 1.0 in the early 2000s, when everyone had an Angelfire account and didn't give a shit about 'content' and 'aesthetics' or any other namby-pamby Web 2.0 crap. Simplicity is the key, and it's worked for me so far... Or to put it more succinctly, I'm shit at HTML and keep things simple solely for my own convenience.
Q: Who's the guy with the red and blue hat who keeps showing up everywhere?
A: That's me! Or, at least, a very poor caricature. The only thing that's remotely true to life about him is the fact that he constantly has a befuddled expression- just like me. He was the mascot for one of my older websites, and although he's terribly drawn, I thought I'd bring him back here. He doesn't appear quite as much as the actual site mascot, though- he only appears on his own on the Let's Gaming Tat page.
Q: This site has a mascot?!
A: That's right. It's the strange girl with pigtails that appears on the logos for almost every index page except Let's Gaming Tat and Previous Updates. All my old sites had a mascot of some description, you see- the first had Mr. Saturn (Earthbound), the second had the aforementioned self-caricature, and the third had Awesome Possum. After briefly considering using the dude from Hard Head 2 as this site's mascot, I eventually decided to create my own mascot- something silly but recognisable- and that's how we ended up with that strange-looking girl. Her name is Sarah Sowertty, and she's got absolutely nothing to do with video games, but she looks silly and has a daft name (which, like all good things in life, is taken from somewhere else- her name comes from a song title from Irem's Undercover Cops) so, you know, we might as well go with it.
Q: Wasn't this page a lot grumpier last time I looked?
A: Probably. I think all this time making this site's softened me up, so I kinda cleaned this page up to be less... Aggressive. Aww <3
Q: You know, I don't think there's a reason for this page to exist. You're just answering questions no-one asked to boost your ego.
A: Well, Sparky, if that's true, then you don't exist.
Q: Huh? What are you... Oh shi-
A: This interview is over.
Well, that was a waste of my time. Back to the main page!