Ep. 225 - Even More Games of the Year 2021

### Ep. 225 - Even More Games of the Year 2021

It’s not over yet! Listen to Tim and Brandon mention honorables from last year that didn’t make it on the Insert Credit Top 21 of 2021 list. Plus the essay “isle o tims” by Brandon Sheffield, exploring Balan Wonderworld as a capitalism allegory. Hosted by Alex Jaffe, with Tim Rogers and Brandon Sheffield. Edited by Esper Quinn, original music by Kurt Feldman.


**Games Discussed:**

  • - Halo Infinite (01:47)
  • - R-Type Final 2 (02:57)
  • - Voice of the Cards (03:45)
  • - The Good Life (04:05)
  • - Inscryption (04:59)
  • - Metroid Dread (05:30)
  • - Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart (06:31)
  • - Far Cry 6 (07:26)
  • - Guilty Gear: Strive (09:29)
  • - Back 4 Blood (10:14)
  • - Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury (11:19)
  • - El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron (12:24)
  • - Forza Horizon 5 (12:55)
  • - Solar Ash (17:02)
  • - Age of Empires IV (18:50)
  • - No More Heroes 3 (19:19)
  • - Umurangi Generation: Special Edition (20:01)
  • - Pokemon Brilliant Diamond (20:51)
  • - Final Fantasy VII: Remake – Intergrade (22:29)
  • - Castlevania: Advance Collection (22:58)
  • - Overboard (23:26)
  • - The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles (24:23)
  • - Deathloop (26:33)
  • - Unpacking (26:59)
  • - Evil Tonight (28:35)
  • - Eastward (29:57)
  • - Paradise Killer (31:28)
  • "isle o tims" by Brandon Sheffield (36:04)

    Hello it’s me, brandon sheffield.

    Two weeks ago, during our best games of 2021 podcast, I made an offhand remark about Balan Wonderworld, a game in which you have an economy based on small creatures called tims, which you literally throw onto the gears of capitalism. I figured I’d expand on what I meant by that.

    Tims are little creatures that hatch from eggs, and live on the isle o’ tims, which is your hub world. They have distinguishing markings like stripes or different cute ears and stuff like that, but functionally they all want to do the same two things: eat, and procreate. The other thing they can be compelled to do is work, which is what they spend most of their time doing.

    At the start of the game, the only real structure in the island is a Conan the Barbarian-like turnstyle that has the appearance of a gear. next to that is a long black signboard that flips and makes a big clacking sound as numbers go up. To make that number go up faster, you can pick up your tims and toss them into this turnstyle, which eventually makes them push it. So that’s what I meant by throwing them onto the gears of capitalism.

    As your number goes up – and by the way it’s not clear what this number represents, but let’s say it’s money – more structures unlock. The sole function of most of these structures is to enable more tims to do more work. There are little elevators that take them up into simple rube goldberg machines, which drop them through a series of gates and slides, before depositing them back on the ground to start the process over again. Some tims are never released into the world, they simply exist underground, turning a giant wheel. The floor is transparent so that you can watch them work.

    All of this is work simply for the sake of work, because the only thing that is created out of this constant grind is a number that goes up, and then an occasional structural addition that theoretically enables more work to be done. But the apparatus itself is inefficiently designed. Tims get regularly jammed up at elevators. Two of them will try to enter a slide at the same time and be stuck for a while, causing a massive traffic jam behind them. There are regularly a dozen tims, piled on top of each other, stacked two or three high, bouncing up and down on an elevator to try to get to work, but unable to do so.

    Of course, after a while there is more than one elevator. There are two, and then three. But the tims never take the second or third route – the first is easiest to slide into, so almost every tim takes that path. The number doesn’t seem to go up much faster when tims take the other two paths either, so why should they bother?

    I also mentioned that tims want to eat, but I didn’t tell you that what you feed them is gems. You feed them one kind of money in order to make a different kind of money. Gems are something I can collect for free in game stages, and which Balan themselves will double if I complete their minigame.

    Once you feed the tims enough to grow large, there are unique kinds of apparatus these rich tims can use to generate money, but they never want to do it. They’re full now and they don’t want to work. They just want to procreate, which happens when you throw a medium-sized tim at a large one. They instantly create an egg, which hatches a tim that’s too small to work. Feed them a few gems and they will become a worker and join the grind.

    The structure you’re building is the somewhat ominously-named Clock of Happiness. The name of this structure, whose purpose is never revealed by the way, keeps coming to mind as I see these little guys toiling away to make my numbers go up. There’s a special platform that I can use to view the operation from all angles. It allows me to keep tabs on all my workers and is accessibly only by me. Even with all that I still don’t exactly understand what it is I’m forcing them to work so hard to construct.

    But I have found myself, as the defacto boss of this operation, staring at the jammed up elevators, looking at my non-spinning turnstyle, surrounded by tims peeping at me for gems that I don’t have, and thinking “get back to work!” I toss them into the gears and they start it up again.

    This game may not be an intentional allegory to capitalism but it’s an effective one anyway. This system definitely came from somewhere deep inside of somebody. The game is cynical about work, bosses, and the worker, all by turns. It’s no wonder Yuji Naka quit after making it.


  • - [Metroid Dread](https://www.mobygames.com/game/switch/metroid-dread)
  • - [Halo: Infinite - Campaign](https://www.mobygames.com/game/halo-infinite-campaign)
  • - [R-Type Final 2](https://www.mobygames.com/game/r-type-final-2)
  • - [R-Type Final](https://www.mobygames.com/game/ps2/r-type-final)
  • - [Fuga: Melodies of Steel](https://www.mobygames.com/game/fuga-melodies-of-steel)
  • - [Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars](https://www.mobygames.com/game/voice-of-cards-the-isle-dragon-roars)
  • - [The Good Life](https://www.mobygames.com/game/good-life_)
  • - [Inscryption](https://www.mobygames.com/game/windows/inscryption)
  • - [Dodgeball Academia](https://www.mobygames.com/game/dodgeball-academia)
  • - [Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart](https://www.mobygames.com/game/playstation-5/ratchet-clank-rift-apart)
  • - [Insomniac’s Wolverine game](https://insomniac.games/game/marvels-wolverine/)
  • - [Yakuza / Ryū ga Gotoku series](https://www.mobygames.com/game-group/yakuza-ry-ga-gotoku-series)
  • - [Assassin's Creed: Valhalla](https://www.mobygames.com/game/assassins-creed-valhalla)
  • - [Ghost of Tsushima: Director's Cut](https://www.mobygames.com/game/ghost-of-tsushima-directors-cut)
  • - [Guilty Gear: Strive](https://www.mobygames.com/game/guilty-gear-strive)
  • - [Back 4 Blood](https://www.mobygames.com/game/back-4-blood)
  • - [Left 4 Dead](https://www.mobygames.com/game/left-4-dead)
  • - [Warhammer: Vermintide II](https://www.mobygames.com/game/warhammer-vermintide-ii)
  • - [Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury](https://www.mobygames.com/game/switch/super-mario-3d-world-bowsers-fury)
  • - [El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron](https://www.mobygames.com/game/el-shaddai-ascension-of-the-metatron)
  • - [Forza Horizon 5](https://www.mobygames.com/game/forza-horizon-5)
  • - [Gran Turismo 7 State of Play presentation](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dq92wNoWeE0)
  • - [Feel the Magic XY/XX](https://www.mobygames.com/game/nintendo-ds/feel-the-magic-xyxx)
  • - [F1 2021](https://www.mobygames.com/game/f1-2021)
  • - [Solar Ash](https://www.mobygames.com/game/solar-ash)
  • - [Age of Empires IV](https://www.mobygames.com/game/age-of-empires-iv)
  • - [No More Heroes III](https://www.mobygames.com/game/switch/no-more-heroes-iii)
  • - [Umurangi Generation: Special Edition](https://www.mobygames.com/game/switch/umurangi-generation-special-edition)
  • - [Balan Wonderworld](https://www.mobygames.com/game/balan-wonderworld)
  • - [Pokémon Brilliant Diamond](https://www.mobygames.com/game/switch/pokmon-brilliant-diamond)
  • - [Final Fantasy VII: Remake - Intergrade](https://www.mobygames.com/game/final-fantasy-vii-remake-intergrade)
  • - [Castlevania: Advance Collection](https://www.mobygames.com/game/castlevania-advance-collection)
  • - [Overboard!](https://www.mobygames.com/game/overboard_)
  • - [The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles](https://www.mobygames.com/game/great-ace-attorney-chronicles)
  • - [The Last of Us](https://www.mobygames.com/game/last-of-us)
  • - [Twitch.tv/actionbutton](http://twitch.tv/actionbutton)
  • - [Deathloop](https://www.mobygames.com/game/deathloop)
  • - [Unpacking](https://www.mobygames.com/game/unpacking)
  • - [Evil Tonight](https://www.mobygames.com/game/evil-tonight)
  • - [Eastward](https://www.mobygames.com/game/eastward)
  • - [Paradise Killer](https://www.mobygames.com/game/paradise-killer)
  • - [Unsighted](https://www.mobygames.com/game/unsighted)
  • - [Flynn: Son of Crimson](https://www.mobygames.com/game/flynn-son-of-crimson)
  • - [Get in the Car, Loser!](https://www.mobygames.com/game/get-in-the-car-loser)
  • - [Boomerang X](https://www.mobygames.com/game/boomerang-x)
  • Support on [Patreon](https://www.patreon.com/insertcredit)

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    Shocked and mortified by the reveal that Tim does in fact lurk these threads after all

    Well that episode cost me £12 as I just bought Evil Tonight. Thanks everyone! (Throws game #1045 onto the pile digitally…er… which implies that my virtual arms work like Mr. Game & Watch’s arms. But I’m ok with that. Mr Game & Watch is cool)

    @“Punzai”#p60310 it‘s both good like a snes game and bad like a snes game. Once you get over the controls being a bit ??? you’ll have a good time with it

    Really enjoyed the loose format of this and especially the meditation on tims.

    I like the essay idea, but I wonder whether everyone is really going to be willing/able to do the extra homework every week.

    @“exodus”#p60311 it looks like just the kind of thing I’m looking for. Eastward fell off for me again.

    I liked the essay idea too. The regular questions can sometimes feel a little chaotic and listening to something that's as singularly introspective in contrast to those questions is a nice change of pace.

    It does sound like a lot of extra homework so maybe including one every other episode rather than every episode might be more sustainable, but who knows?

    Re: the list of games. I've found myself reading up on a few that I didn't pick up on my radar. Umurangi Generation looks pretty rad as does Super Nintendo Resident Evil.

    I guess my one question is where Returnal went, that's the sort of single-minded hard action game I figured someone on IC might like. On the other hand I have a sneaking suspicion that might be the one game some weirdo kept telling Tim he needed to play and thus got disqualified.

    baseball umpire game is a solid idea. You have to call balls and strikes and if you're out in the field, baserunning plays. Maybe telltale style choices when a manager gets pissed and argues with you. You get rated after every game for accuracy, career mode where you work your way up from little league to staying in shitty motels in low A, on to the majors etc. It would be great

    the addition of a dessert course is delightful!

    I loved the ‘treasties of tims’ and really, really like the idea of the lot of hosts doing a little more in depth pieces.

    I do agree with concerns folks have over the burden on everyone, BUT, and this may just be my terrible work brain going at it - this feels 100% fantastic for timed-exclusive patreon "bonus episode" type content once a month. Start with the author reading the paper, and then go into a recording of the group talking about the piece and the topic and just go wherever it goes. (NOTE do NOT have the person read their paper live in front of the class, that'd be awful). The person reading their piece can just do it before or after and get it to Esper - with enough time so Esper doesn't need to crunch.

    Having these be somewhat shorter eps that could be scheduled before or after mainline episode recordings doesn't add a ton of work. Additionally if it starts as Patreon timed-exclusives. then it gives you something to release publicly whenever the group needs a skip week, and helps promote the patreon.

    Anyways, definitely like/wanna hear more of this type stuff from the team. I love long shows with focused short discussion periods, but the occassional "and here's what happens when we go feral on ONE topic for 30min" also sounds real real cool.

    I like when the show experiments. You should do this again if you've got it in you!

    i’ll leave it to brandon to share or not share details of what we’re thinking, but the essay segment is something me, jaffe and the panel have all been wanting to do (to varying degrees) for some time now. we’re still figuring a lot of it out, but we have a couple ideas that are really exciting to me and since it’s all pre-recorded readings, won’t be too much extra work on my end.

    definitely leave feedback, we appreciate it!!

    by the way, if you’re reading this tim, truly a stunning richard blade impression during the forza discussion.

    I had a mildly positive impression of Metroid Dread at the end of the day - definitely not a great game imo, but a decent one - so I’m curious to hear Brandon & Tim’s beefs with it.

    @“christoffing”#p60329 I just hadn‘t played it yet. I suspect I’ll like it.

    I like the essay trial idea a lot. I like how concise and brisk the podcast has always been, and I like and have missed the longer form writing from the panelists, so it works out great I think. Looking forward to frank's critical examination into the history and origins of big head mode going back to big head style cave paintings

    Love the essay! It’s great hearing a thought get developed a little further than podcast chat allows, and it’s always lovely to hear someone’s distinctive writing voice. Awesome as a feature, but it would be just as lovely as an occasional bonus epilogue.

    All I'm gonna say is that this episode is[upl-image-preview url=//i.imgur.com/8a5FU1E.jpeg]