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Stay Fresh! Observations of the In-Game Culture in Splatoon


Nintendo's Splatoon has been a constant for me since I bought it in June as a celebratory "we moved!" present. I beat single player in a week or so, and I've probably played at least one or two online matches every day since we got the Internet at our new place. My wife Grace has also gotten pretty into it, too. We've convinced a few friends to buy the game (although we haven't had the chance to meet up with them much), and I play with a few forum friends when the opportunity arises. I even have one of those silly amiibo toys everyone covets for the game (Inkling Girl, in case you're wondering). I'm pretty hooked, I must say.

The more I've played Splatoon, the more I've fallen in love with the fascinating universe it's set in. It's set in a future Earth minus humans, who have been replaced by anthropomorphized mollusks known as Inklings. They have their own language, fashion, and traditions, and it's spun off of elements of our own livelihoods. While it's pretty clear that the majority of the game's style is taken from Japan (it was developed there, after all), there are fragments of Western influence as well. I think it's a clever twisting of our world cultures. splatoon-inklings

But what really gets my inner anthropologist revving is the interaction between players...or the lack thereof. Nintendo restricted the options of squad interplay with other Inklings to simple vocalized shouts of "C'mon!" and "Booyah!"; the former to inspire, call for attention, or rally your allies, the latter to acknowledge a great moment of gameplay performed either by the player or a teammate. Beyond that, in-game discussions have to be performed through other means. Despite this, teamwork is still emphasized and, perhaps more impressively, somehow manages to occur. I've had some amazing moments of team synergy where me and my squad overcome any loss of the ability to communicate and completely dominate the opposing team without a single word being spoken (at least from me to them). And Splatoon allows players from all over the world to play together. Competing with Japanese and European players is common in the lobbies, adding yet another layer to this stunning level of synchronization and camaraderie.

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October LIVE Hangout! Sunday, October 25th at 2PM Pacific

Hey, everyone!

We are looking forward to hanging out with you on Sunday, October 25th at 2pm PST. Check us out on YouTube and send us comments or topics @game_on_girl on Twitter

This month, the writers from Game on Girl get together to talk about one of our favorite genres for TV shows, games, books, and movies – ZOMBIES! Come hear us discuss the undead just in time for Halloween!

RSVP to the Facebook event to be reminded when we're live! See you Sunday!

Game on!


“Constantine: The Hellblazer” – 1988 and 2015

"Constantine: The Hellblazer," issue 4, November 2015, DC Comics.Created by DC Comics in the 80s, John Constantine is a supernatural detective from Liverpool. In the endless battle between heaven and hell, humanity is always in the crossfire. Although he sees it as a hopeless battle, Constantine is humanity’s unsolicited champion. Brooding, cynical, and crude, his involvement always leaves victims. Everyone hates him because bad things happen when he’s around, but--he’s the guy who deals with bad things.  

I’m an outsider—an independent operator, interested in the collision of opposites. – “Infernal Triangles,” Swamp Thing, vol. 2 issue 77, October 1988, DC Comics.

There’s all manner of darkness hiding in the corners of the world. And then there’s me. And I’m a right ass. – “Going Down,” Constantine: The Hellblazer, issue 1, August 2015, DC Comics.

The first live action adaptation was the 2005 film, Constantine, starring Keanu Reeves. Being my first introduction to the character, Reeves’ portrayal will probably always be my character canon. Much like Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Reeves’ Constantine is eternally brooding, unattached, and resolved to be heaven and hell’s punching bag.

The Constantine portrayed by Matt Ryan in DC’s TV version on NBC always seemed wrong by comparison. He was pious, exaggerated, and flippant with human life. (When I went back and read DC’s original ’88 version, John Constantine: Hellblazer1, and I realized Ryan’s depiction is actually truer to form.)

(left) Matt Ryan in NBC's "Constantine"; (right) Keanu Reeves in the 2005 film, "Constantine."DC rebooted Constantine: The Hellblazer2 comic this summer and I remember thinking, “meh.” It felt flat, disjointed, and unfocused. Researching this review I was surprised to learn Constantine dated so far back and had such a long history. After reading the original, I have to say the creators involved in the reboot have shown great craftsmanship in honoring the original and bringing Constantine back to us.

"John Constantine: Hellblazer," "A Feast of Friends," issue 2, February 19881988

The interior art3 of the ’88 Hellblazer is cheesy and gritty with the visceral feel of a B-level, dime store rag which is apropos for an underworld story of demons, curses, and pestilence. There are all manner of horrible and deformed creatures and even the human characters exhibit grotesque expressions.

The inking deals in hard contrasts with heavily textured shadows. The color palette contains strong, harsh colors used to emphasize an unnatural and uncomfortable world. 

By comparison, the ’88 covers are very modern, surreal multi-media works, including handwriting, photographs, and 3-D objects like flowers and wire fences.

The stories are over the top with demons trading souls for Porches, PTSD hallucinations crossing boundaries of reality, and souls getting lost in operating systems. Their flow has a schizophrenia to them that makes the reader uneasy. But they’re under toned with relatable themes: how our appetites imprison us, how making the hard decisions gains you no friends or appreciation, and how a society centered on gain victimizes the weak.


The 2015 reboot knows its original material very well but modernizes enough to fit into today’s marketplace.

(left) "John Constantine: Hellblazer," "Intensive Care," issue 8, August 1988; (right) "Constantine: The Hellblazer," "Going Down," issue 1, August 2015The cover and interior artwork is fresh yet has the harsh, gritty Constantine mood, with rough lines, stylized figures, and strong contrasts.

The color palette is an updated version of the same ethereal purples, surprising oranges, and violent fuchsias.

The unearthly creatures are outrageous and colorful and their frames appear worbly, as if the paper got damp. Although very stylized, the human characters are much more handsome than the original.

The greatest improvement in the 2015 reboot is probably the story construction. They’re still wacky and creepy but the construction and editing is tighter and it’s easier to pick out sub-plots.

(left) "John Constantine: Hellblazer," "Shot to Hell," issue 9, September 1988; (right) "Constantine: The Hellblazer," "Going Down," issue 1, August 2015The amount of inner dialogue verses conversations in issues 1 and 2 was monotonous at first and, I believe, what turned me off during the first read (50% and 30% respectively). But this is where reading the original taught me the importance of this styling for Constantine. He has few friends or peers and the tasks he has to perform are best performed alone and without anyone else knowing.

One update the writers had to make from the original is getting away from the melodramatic, gum-shoes styled inner voice, something which comically dates the original.

The thin, Sunday afternoon drizzle greases the tired streets. Ignoring the queasiness which quakes my stomach like an uneasy swamp… I turn up my collar against the toothless gnawing of the early November wind… and merge into the welcome anonymity of the city. – “Hunger,” John Constantine: Hellblazer, vol. 1, issue 1, January 1988, DC Comics.

The streets are hardened arteries leading to the city’s dead heart… a streetlamp winks its sickly, yellow eye as I pass—footsteps echoing from sullen buildings. – “Hunger,” John Constantine: Hellblazer, vol. 1, issue 1, January 1988, DC Comics.


There are a handful of other differences.

The original issues run about five pages longer than the new ones.

The reboot is rated T+. The R-rated language is bleeped and depictions of sexual, psychotic, and horror themes are tamer than the original floppies which simply had “Intended for Mature Readers” printed on the cover. 

Amazon sells a trade paperback, John Constantine: Hellblazer, Vol. 1: Original Sin, which includes Constatine’s appearances in Swamp Thing4, John Constantine: Hellblazer issues 1 – 9, issue covers, and some extras. If you like it, there are nine more volumes.

1 Constantine: The Hellblazer, “Hunger,” issue 1, January 1988
Constantine: The Hellblazer, “A Feast of Friends,” issue 2, February 1988
Constantine: The Hellblazer, “Going For It,” issue 3, March 1988
Constantine: The Hellblazer, “Waiting for the Man,” issue 4, April 1988
Constantine: The Hellblazer, “When Johnny Comes Marching Home,” issue 5, May 1988
Constantine: The Hellblazer, “Extreme Prejudice,” issue 6, June 1988
Constantine: The Hellblazer, “Ghosts in the Machine,” issue 7, July 1988
Constantine: The Hellblazer, “Intensive Care,” issue 8, August 1988
Constantine: The Hellblazer, “Shot to Hell,” issue 9, September 1988

2 Constantine: The Hellblazer, issue 1, June 2014, writers Ming Doyle and James Tynion IV, artist Riley Rossmo, letterer Tom Napolitano, colorist Ivan Plascencia.
Constantine: The Hellblazer, issue 2, July 2015, writers Ming Doyle and James Tynion IV, artist Riley Rossmo, letterer Tom Napolitano, colorist Ivan Plascencia.
Constantine: The Hellblazer, issue 3, August 2015, writers Ming Doyle and James Tynion IV, artist Ming Doyle and Vanesa Del Rey, letterer Tom Napolitano, colorist Ivan Plascencia and Lee Loughridge.
Constantine: The Hellblazer, issue 4, September 2015, writers Ming Doyle and James Tynion IV, artist Vanesa Del Rey and Chris Visions, letterer Tom Napolitano, colorist Ivan Plascencia.

3 The creative team for issues 1 – 9 of the 1988 original series of John Constantine: Hellblazer: writers Jamie DeLano and Rick Veitch, artists John Ridgway, Alfredo Alcala, Rick Veitch, Tom Mandrake, Brett Ewins, Jim McCarthy; colorists Lovern Kindzierski, Tatjana Wood; letterers Annie Halfacree, Todd Klein, John Costanza; covers Jim Lee, Dave McKean, John Totleben.

4 Swamp Thing, “L’Adoration de la Terre,” issue 76, September 1988
Swamp Thing, “Infernal Triangles,” issue 77, October 1988


Famicom Females: Leilani/Tina (Adventure Island), Al Tiana (Space Hunter)

ai-euLeilani (Tina) (Hudson's Adventure Island/Takahashi Meijin no Bōken Jima)
Release Date: September 12, 1986
Developer: Hudson Soft
Publisher: Hudson Soft

Format: Cartridge

Role: NPC (Damsel)

Any Subsequent Appearances: Yes

Introduction: Princess Leilani (or Tina, depending on the localization) has been kidnapped by the Evil Witch Doctor, and it's up to Master Higgins to rescue her. ...yes, that's about as deep as it gets here. Adventure Island was originally a Famicom port of Wonder Boy, Westone Entertainment's (then known as Escape) Master System title...that is essentially the same game as this one. Along the way, Hudson decided to honor one of their employees, the fast-fingered Toshiyuki Takahashi, and remolded the lead character into Takahashi Meijin, a caricature of Takahashi. Thus, the game became its own series, as Westone took Wonder Boy into a more fantasy-oriented direction, while Hudson kept plugging along with additional Adventure Island titles.

In America, Takahashi Meijin became Master Higgins. Tina is a holdover from Wonder Boy, but featured a new name only in the English manual, Leilani – Tina was curiously retained in the Japanese version of the game as well as the ending credits of the American localization (showing how little Hudson USA actually put effort into the in-game text of this). In Adventure Island II, Leilani gains a sister named – guess! – Tina, who must then be rescued, and thus becomes the permanent damsel in the series. That isn't confusing at all! And then, adding even more weirdness to their localization history, Hudson sometimes called her Jeannie Jungle in later games, but failed to do that across the board, so you have Tina and Jeannie being named the same character in different materials for the games to follow. Jeez. For simplicity's sake, I'm going to operate under the assumption that the American manual for Adventure Island is incorrect, and that Leilani, Jeannie and Tina are all the same character. It'll make a lot more sense that way. I apparently need to do a Culture Clash article on this.

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"Princess Ugg" by ONI Press

"Princess Ugg," issue 1Princess Ugg, published by ONI Press, is the unsung peer to Ms. Marvel. It’s a great coming of age story that deals with accepting yourself even when everyone says you’re doing it wrong.

“Attend, o travellers from distant lands,
For I shall sing unto thee
Of swords and sorority
Of high adventure
And higher education!” – Princess Ugg, issue 1

Princess Ülga is from Grimmeria where the feats of her warrior mother and grandmother are legend. To keep her promise to learn how to lead by something besides the sword, Ülga does one of the bravest things she’s ever done—she leaves her home and enrolls in a finishing school for princesses.

"Princess Ugg," issue 2

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