Isaac and the “Grotesque Body Horrors”

In his PopMatters article “Fearing God, Fearing the Body: The Theology of ‘The Binding of Isaac’”, G. Christopher Williams discusses various aspects of Edmund McMillen and Florian Himsl’s ingenious (and mildly blasphemous) Zelda/Roguelike hybrid, The Binding of Isaac. Although his reading of the game astutely homes in on the “meatier” parts of Isaac – that is, the implications of the game’s loathsome representation of the corporeal -, I do nevertheless want to point out some omissions in Williams’ treatment of the game.

The article in question is altogether complete in its own right, but also lacking in discussion of the themes, concepts and terms that are nevertheless utilized in the analysis. In this way, I shall be focusing on the things that are left unsaid (intentionally or unintentionally) in Williams’ story. In my complementary article below, I will attempt to shed lots and lots of extra light on what I perceive to be these omissions, which include the genre of body horror, the grotesque, Freud’s conception of the uncanny, as well as the concepts of abjection and the abject.


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Guybrush Is Dead. Long Live Guybrush!

Below, you can find the Guybrush – version five – that actually made Monkey Island 2: Special Edition (you can confirm this for yourself by looking at this screenshot) in addition to an assemblage of comparative shots from the forthcoming remake.

Don’t forget to vote for your favourite Guybrush-ne’er-to-be (“Special Edition” is currently in the lead)!

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Versioning Guybrush Threepwood

LucasArts have been curiously posting old concept art revisions on a Facebook page dedicated to the forthcoming Monkey Island 2: Special Edition. Four scrapped versions of your favourite leading man, Guybrush Threepwood, have appeared so far:

My question is, which of these discarded Guybrushes would have been your favourite?

For a completely different type of comparison, you can check out our earlier post that juxtaposes old and new cover artwork from the game.

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Monkey Island 2: Special Edition

Below, LucasArts’ all-new Monkey Island 2: Special Edition key art, side by side with my Mac box cover for LeChuck’s Revenge:

When I linked these to a friend, he instantaneously called the new art “’special.’” Yeah… yeah: Even the poor little monkey responsible for numbering the sequel got a visual keelh… uh, overhaul.

If nothing else, contrasting the original with this all-new interpretation goes a long way in illustrating the amazing talents of the man behind the original cover, Steve Purcell. Steve, you’re awesome.

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Your Attention, Please

Half-Life 2 BreenboardSome video games we lambaste for holding our hands, others we chastise for letting us wander. For developers, then, balancing the flow of progression means… a walking of the tightrope. On this topic, then, I would like to share with you two interesting articles that I have recently read.

In “Guiding the Player’s Eye”, Matthew “Gangles” Gallant directs our attention to the complexities of orienting the player in a three-dimensional world by illustrating, via a generous amount of example screencaps, Valve’s use of various visual cues:

The best approach is to guide the player organically, catching their eye with elements that fit seamlessly into the game world. In this school of thought, Valve is peerless.1


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