What Did I Learn?
This week’s comic under consideration is Game Destroyers by Alex Puotinen. It’s a sprite comic with the occasional photo mixed in. It’s made mostly in MS Paint with a specific color dialog on a specific color background using a specific font – for each character.
There are many characters. Some are video game sprites and some are real. The real ones, starting with Alex, hatch a plot to use a certain kind of video game sprite to destroy every other NES game so that they will be the only ones left with a working NES. It’s a nefarious plot and there is a big boss fight I will expect to see at the end.
The main cast page and minor cast page more like extra comics for regular readers than an introduction for new readers. I had only read a couple of dozen comics when I decided to check them out and found it to be amusing and confusing at the same time. The real cast page is a little easier to understand at first.
Comic number 4… wait for it… and comics 13, 50…and 70… and more have this old-school cool animated gif effect. I’d link directly to them but it will be more interesting if you come across them as you read, trust me.
And there are a lot of strips to read. 701 comics as of this review. Plus, this might be the only comic I’ve come across that admits to revamping and re-revamping the initial comics. After a couple of hundred comics, that takes some dedication to go back and do.
It also took about that long for me to see what the next/previous/etc buttons are on this site. Duh. I had been using the archive dropdown for half the archive. For many of these comics, being familiar with the games used adds to the interest factor. How many times did you want to explore what was behind the flag on Mario Brothers, for instance? (And if you did or wanted to click that link, you know exactly what I’m talking about.)
Something you see in longer story comics are the times where some setup needs to happen but it’s not that interesting. Good storytellers try to find ways around this but sometimes the situation, the characters, the tone and causality leave you two choices: you can either slog through it or save everyone the hassle and shortcut it somehow. I think once you have done enough of the first, all your readers will understand taking a shortcut that still fits the story. And don’t forget that creating any comic is hard work. Read the comments of this comic and tell me that using sprites is the easy way out. I wouldn’t do it.
Lest you come away with the impression that you have to read all 701 comics to understand what this is all about, you don’t. Some of the appeal is the video games you enjoyed in your youth but a good chunk of what’s enjoyable about Game Destroyers is the trash talking and snark between the characters. You can get the overview of it by reading the first 30 or so comics and then jumping to a point later in the strip closer to the present. As a matter of fact, fans of the comic will probably howl that I left out a few big key facts that come out of those first few comics and what you can glean off the cast page.
You can always go back and read portions of the archive if the comic grabs you and you will have to do that to really get it in full. There are comments below each of them that sometimes add to the story or clue you in on things. It’s a whole world, really. It’s a bit much to take in during a couple marathon archive binges so I’d encourage you to read those first comics and then the last ten or so to get your feet wet.
What Did I Learn?
It’s interesting to see a comic this long and the effects it has on decisions made. Things like the navigation buttons or taking shortcuts in the story seem obvious in retrospect and it all takes on a life of its own. It is also quite an accomplishment to have a comic that has gone for over 700 updates and I am sure our collective hats are off to Mr. Puotinen. When you start reading Game Destroyers, you need to start right here.