August was in a lot of ways a month of firsts for us here at The Well-Red Mage. As time implacably marches on, I feel in a lot of ways as if I’m discovering what this is all about as it’s happening, like a kind of lucid dream I’m aware of as it executes and I move through its ether. I’m not afraid, though. I know that in that impenetrable, multicolored mist we call “the future” there lie dangers and snares, but contentment with today and aspirations for tomorrow will carry this mage onward.
Additionally, I have friends with me all the way. Our band of merry mages keeps on swelling and there’s been a distinct rise in requests to join in contributing from individuals of all backgrounds. I’m having to raise the standards for newcomers and going forward I know I won’t be able to take on every requestee. Academics, educators, critics, I sometimes have no inkling what it is they’re talking about but I’m learning from my contributors and that’s a good thing. It helps to sharpen not only my mind but it increases the width and depth of the content that we’re able to present to our readers, a goal which I’ve aimed for since the beginning.
Over the past month, we saw the introduction of our Patreon with its step into crowdfunding this vision, the beginning of a library of audio reviews, and steps taken toward refining our goals. I’ve been able to really take a step back and think about the big picture as I served much more in the chief editor’s capacity, the contributions rolling in. We also saw some kind of a recurring motif in our conversations and writings.
From now on, I’m going to try to come up with a theme that summarizes each month as we conclude it, and August’s was Diversity of Thought. A lot of the games and topics we covered, including think pieces by contributors, featured titles I’ve never played and subjects I’ve never thought on, perspectives I’ve never held. Now The Well-Red Mage can really begin to focus on creating an atmosphere for civil discussion even in disagreement because our own team has reached that point. It’s easy to shout “let’s hash out our differences and find where we agree” when everyone generally agrees with each other, after all, but when you’ve so many ingredients mixed into the cauldron of conversations, there’s bound to be moments where we can’t see eye to eye. What we do to step beyond those moments defines us as civilized or as savages.
With all that’s going on in the world, I hope that we can champion and inspire more Diversity of Thought, disagree and even debate but come away writers and learners, all. We’ve a deeper understanding of each other to be gained. Here are the reviews and critiques we offered in August:
On August 1st, I outlined our vision for the future. We’re working toward establishing a response to the failings of mainstream gaming journalism by providing a greater emphasis on game critiques and thoughtful, long-form, analytical reviews. We’re going to remain a place that writes about gaming. I took the expressions of disappointment for gaming journalism which I gathered online to heart. Read about what it is we’re building here and find out how you can get behind that vision too. Champion integrity, insight, and inspiration by supporting citizen journalism.
I don’t know what The Well-Red Mage will turn out to be but I know it’s for everyone. It’s a vision shared. I want it to be a collective wish for a better, more respectful and articulate gaming community. That begins with this writing team, so let me get right to it! I want to someday be able to a staff of writers dedicated to thoughtful content, and that concept blew the lid off of contributions. This was the first month when I actually had content set to auto-publish almost daily for over a week straight.
Our new Sincere Scholar Mage (of supportrole.wordpress.com) opened up August with a think piece contribution entitled “Video Game Characters and Our Connections to Them”. It’s pretty rare to get an opinions post from a contributor, since I’ve generally kept reviews the primary focus, for the sake of orderliness, but now that’s a principle of the past. SSM followed up his debut post with a review of Nex Machina… posted the very next day! That makes him the first contributor to publish content two days in a row. It’s excellent and thought provoking stuff so be sure to meet and greet the Sincere Scholar Mage with these two posts, and also his two others: a review of Slime Rancher and an observational on the nature of failed games and why that’s sometimes a good thing. Leave him a comment… especially if you disagree!
Another debut post from a new contributor came by virtue of the Hopeful Handheld Mage (of retroredress.wordpress.com). He tackled one of the less mulled over Mario games, Super Mario Land on the OG Game Boy, by addressing a lot of the game’s history. The importance of reviewing retro video games for their historical significance cannot be overlooked, and I felt that HHM approached his take on the game quite well! Keeping with the retro scene, but switching gears from Nintendo to Sega, HHM closed out August with a review of Golden Axe on the Mega Drive/Genesis. Does the game still hold up? Why is it fondly remembered by those who played it? You’ll just have to read to find out.
The Over-Caffeinated Nostalgia Mage (also known as Geddy of nostalgiatrigger.com) wrote one of the highest viewed reviews on this blog when he took on Ever Oasis back in July. In August, he brought his easy-going but insightful and investigative voice to the table with two reviews, one on Urban Trial Freestyle 2 and the newly released Hey! Pikmin. Both games are for the 3DS and so OCNM is really finding his niche here by covering Nintendo’s handheld. What’s remarkable to me about OCNM is he’s capable of engaging a reader who isn’t even all that interested in his subject. Example: I myself don’t have two beans worth of interest in motocross or biking games but his breakdown of physics in gaming kept me enraptured through the sizable duration of his Urban Trial Freestyle 2 review!
And what’s this? Back from the dead, one of our founding members, the Black Humor Mage returned to form with his review of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. This is a highly respected but controversial game, yet I feel that BHM took the high road and discussed all the significant aspects of the game and not merely its infamous inclusion of Raiden. I also know how intimidating it is to write on extremely important and beloved games, legends, so while this critique was a long time coming , I’m grateful to this founding mage for lending his voice to our cause once again.
Someone I really respect, who lets me bounce ideas off of him and is always at the ready to share his thoughts and wisdom, the Evergreen Sage Mage (of Wakalapi) took to the field with a think piece of his own explaining and extrapolating the inner mechanisms of machinima. No, we weren’t talking about the YouTube channel. I learned a lot from this post and began to think in ways I hadn’t before. You really can’t put a price tag on that kind of experience.
True blue flavors come in twos. August saw the debut of the Brave Blue Mage (of 924collective.com) who wrote on the F2P game Epic Battle Fantasy, which was apparently developed by one dude? That’s pretty impressive. I hadn’t heard of the game before this post. Also, the Five More Minutes Mage (of gamegato.wordpress.com) brought forth an inspection of Harvest Moon: Animal Parade for the Nintendo Wii. Harvest Moon is a laid back series of games, so FMMM’s voice was perfect for that take. What these two posts held in common, beyond the primary color shared by their authors, is that these leaned more toward the review (opposed to critical) angle of writing, explaining the content present in the games. For those looking for what these titles are about, look no further.
The Final Fourteenth Mage (who is secretly Cilla of cillavsgames.com) gave us her take on the original Mega Man, an NES classic. I was very interested to read her opinion on the admittedly clumsy start to one of my favorite franchises and characters, especially since this was the first Mega Man review written by anyone here who isn’t me. She didn’t disappoint and it was great to hear from a woman’s perspective, as well. The first Mega Man isn’t the finest game in the classic series but FFM and I saw eye to eye on its many potentials. It’s not easy reviewing games that go so far back in time! Luckily, stellar compendiums like the Mega Man Legacy Collection help with that.
We were able to squeeze in still another debut post, this time by the newly christened Dapper Zaffre Mage. Yes, that name is real. DZM (who you should follow on Twitter) adds not just another blue hue to this team but a verbosity I can appreciate. DZM’s critique of what seemed like a “love it or hate it” game, Azure Strike Gunvolt, took off on Reddit and became the highest viewed post of the month of August, bringing us a whopping 921 views in a single day! The challenge at that point is to create an atmosphere that’ll bring that readership back for more. We’re putting our mage-heads together on that.
And finally, no month here at The Well-Red Mage would be complete without an appearance by our resident horror king, the Midnight Mystic Mage (hailing from sublimereviews.wordpress.com). MMM got the bibliophiles out there in a cold sweat with a review of Lovecraft’s Herbert West – Reanimator. This particular review was for a title released all the way back in 1922, long before there were any video games, making his piece based on the oldest work of entertainment featured on this blog!
As for little red me, I only completed two reviews this month: one on GoNNER and one on Mine Storm, for the Nintendo Switch and the Vectrex, respectively. I’m happy I got to cover a modern game and an ancient one, and I would’ve loved to have put out more but I was hard at work completing a marathon piece at over 16,000 words for a freelance gig, and in addition I’ve still got a Dualcast review I’m working on for Final Fantasy VII with a certain Black Humored mage of ours. Look out for that to drop on September 7th, just in time for FFVII’s 20th anniversary.
I also had time for a delightful community event called the Blogger Blitz (more info at adventurerules.blog), in which my childhood hero Mega Man and I were coerced into participating in a bizarre music video dance off-fest. Good news is I made it to the semifinals. Bad news is… I made it to the semifinals. I have to face off against LightningEllen, a good friend of mine and a fellow blogger! Wish us both luck and expect our showdown to go down next Monday!
On a more serious note, I had the opportunity to write a rebuttal of sorts to a mainstream article on worshiping the crunch. I and several other readers found the piece to be pretty repulsive, advocating for sacrificing one’s health, relationships, and family for the sake of finishing a product by a deadline. The piece concluded that this was a fair price but I begged to differ. You can find both a link to the original article (which has since been modified with an intro by the author) and my response to it where Health, Love, and Life Matter.
And that’s a wrap! There’s plenty more coming in September, lots more to look forward to, and new cautious steps to take toward the future. Project announcements, blogging advice for those seeking it, and audio reviews are to be found at our Patreon page, so consider supporting our vision for change. You get some unique resources on top of the virtue of being a positive force in the world.
Become a Warrior of Light for a better, more respectful, more articulate gaming community and for everlasting peace! Still, I never want to become the kind of creator who only asks without thanking, so here’s a heart-full of gratitude for you, all of you reading this. Thank you to each one of you for reading.
-The Well-Red Mage
Ranked best to worst:
GoNNER (2016) 7.3
Mega Man (1987) 6.0
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Categories: Monthly Summary