Friday, July 8, 2011

On the Subject of Let's Plays

So, the other day, I kind of touched upon the subject of Let's Plays in a fashion that I haven't before, because before, my talking of Let's Plays basically boiled down to referring you to ones I've read or watched and liked.  Which, I guess is mostly what this is going to be about, or be sort of a 'highlight reel' of my favorites.  And really, they're kind of a subjective thing; some people only like one form, or some people only like them from certain types of people, etc. etc.  I know they've become a broad enough thing that you can actually be a "Let's Play Snob", which amuses me greatly.

Anyways, what a Let's Play is, if you somehow don't know, is basically what it implies.  You, the creator, are speaking to an audience and saying "Let's Play" this.  Of course, it's not usually a multi-player sort of thing, and in fact almost never are.  Instead, you have one person playing a game with the rest of the people watching being 'backseat players', if I may use the term.  Depending on the player, the audience is afforded all or little of the control over what the player character does or becomes.  Think about any game you've played with a big decision, or a lot of 'big' decisions, and then think about getting to that point and letting a vote depend which way you go, and you basically have the LP exchange.

Also tasked to the Person playing the Let's Play (Henceforth to be referred to as LPer) is, obviously, making his or her Let's Play something you want to watch, be it from entertainment, or to offer a look 'into' the game, showing of all the little secrets and tidbits of trivia here and there.  This, as is often the case with any sort of User-Generated Content on the internet, is the part that a lot of people just....miss out on completely.  Whether it be because you're using awful equipment (Like a program with Unregistered Hypercam 2 always at the top of the screen) or because you're just not that interesting, you'll always find a Let's Play of a game you want to see just don't want to see.

Of course, there are plenty of people around that don't suffer from that problem.  I, obviously, have to mention my buddy Kaseius first off because, while he wasn't the first LPer I've seen, he's decidedly my favorite.  But I may be biased because he's a great dude and a great friend.  And it's kind of funny, because without LPs, we might not have even become bros.  Over at the Penny Arcade forums, way back in February of 2009, Kase started a Let's Play of Blood Will Tell which is a really kind of neat Samurai game, where the main character is more construct than man, yet is also a samurai, whose quest is to recover his entire body.  It was interesting enough and Kase was entertaining enough that I followed it and eventually started talking to him outside of the board when I made him a Signature banner to link to his LP thread.

He's done a lot of other stuff, namely Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrraw Dangerrrrrrrrrrr which is probably one of the best games one could ever hope to LP and he just does it spectacularly.  (You'll notice, if you watch, where the above picture came from.)  Also of note is his Jaws: Unleashed let's play that I prodded him to finish for months and it's a damn good thing he did.  Well, damn good thing he LPed the game at all, but that's more of an in-reference than anything.

Moving right along, we hit up to Helloween4545, more commonly referred to as simply Helloween, who and I might be wrong about this, might have actually been the first LPer I watched.  I'm actually probably wrong on that, but he's the first one I remember, so whatevs.  I'm assuredly not alone in my like for Helloween, as he's racked up quite a lot of followers, and even has a mention on the long, long list of LPers in the TVTropes page dedicated to LPing.  He's particularly known (as the page will tell you) for LPing Horror games, usually blind (as in, first time playing it being on-camera), but there's been a number of occasions when he's played the game before any number of times.  

His latest LP of Vampire The Masquerade:  Bloodlines (Linked to the first video since there doesn't seem to be a playlist yet) is one of the latter occasions as Helloween has played the game quite a bit and takes a more informative/entertaining approach as opposed to the normal "Be entertaining while running and being generally scared for one's life." approach, which works out equally well.  A great example of one of his blind runs would likely be his Dead Space Let's play, which is the only game he's LPed that I have also played.  Horror is.....not my thing, you see.

Of course, when talking about Let's Plays, you're practically obligated to mention The Let's Play Archive from SomethingAwful, as they're (arguably) the originators of what we know as Let's Play and have refined it to a near artform.  Over there, there's practically too many great LPers to mention, but I'll go ahead and list off some particularly enjoyable ones.  Slowbeef, who I'm told is, uh, pretty important over there did a fantastic LP of Snatcher and then SD Snatcher, as well as the definitive version of Let's Play Super Metroid.  Complete with Guests, challenges and all sorts of other stuff, it's a delight to watch and enjoy.  

The Dark ID is another personal favorite of mine, not just because he LPed Drakengard, but because he's just genuinely funny.  He also does his LPs in the style of Screenshot LP, which is sort of a departure from everything else I've mentioned prior.  He did the entire Resident Evil series up to 4 (is probably working on 5), so at the very least, you've got to give him props for that.  And speaking of LPers to do a whole series, From Earth did Silent Hill 1-4, which are all very entertaining as well.

There's certainly more I can list and I might do another installment of this, but for now, I think that's good.  Let's all raise a glass for every man and woman who plays video games for our enjoyment, folks.  They do actually do a lot for us.

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