Lamer Gamers Podcast

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LamerTravis reviews Psychonauts 2 in a spoiler-free way and attempts to answer the ultimate question about the game. Is Psychonauts 2 Lame? You'll find out the answer along with a brief history of Tim Schafer and Double Fine Productions, a glimpse into the controversy surrounding the game, and why this game is more than just another platformer!

Show Notes

LamerTravis reviews Psychonauts 2 in a spoiler-free way and attempts to answer the ultimate question about the game.  Is Psychonauts 2 Lame? You'll find out the answer along with a brief history of Tim Schafer and Double Fine Productions, a glimpse into the controversy surrounding the game, and why this game is more than just another platformer! 

What is Lamer Gamers Podcast?

Hello Lamer Gamers! We host a gaming podcast where our main quest is to have fun and give you a combination of gaming news, views, rumors, along with special BONUS POINTS topic where we reach out to the Lamer Community to gather other points of view on hot gaming topics. Now with ridiculous gaming parody commercials!
Podcasts that don't follow these two formats are considered SIDEQUEST episodes with a specific focus such as rantings, ravings, reviews, spoilercasts, "nerd alerts", Top 10's, games vs history, and more!

Hello Lamer Gamers this is LamerTravis for the Lamer Gamers Podcast! Rowdy5000 will not be with us today but he will be in another episode soon! Today we are going to answer the question you all have been wanting to know about Psychonauts 2….is it lame? I will give you my review of this mind bending platformer plucked from the minds of Tim Schafer that was then showered with bucket loads of resources and money from Microsoft in hopes to make this game better than
All this and more coming up on the Lamer Gamers Podcast!

Rowdy - Cue the music!

Psychonauts: Is it Lame?

What is Psychonauts?
• According to Double Fine: (fancy movie voice)
o Razputin “Raz” Aquato, trained acrobat and powerful young psychic, has realized his lifelong dream of joining the international psychic espionage organization known as the Psychonauts! But these psychic super spies are in trouble. Their leader hasn't been the same since he was rescued from a kidnapping, and what's worse, there's a mole hiding in headquarters.
o Combining quirky missions and mysterious conspiracies, Psychonauts 2 is a platform-adventure game with cinematic style and tons of customizable psychic powers. Psychonauts 2 serves up danger, excitement and laughs in equal measure as players guide Raz on a journey through the minds of friends and foes on a quest to defeat a murderous psychic villain.
o Experience an imaginative, cinematic story that mixes humor and intrigue, brought to you by legendary game designer Tim Schafer (Grim Fandango, Brütal Legend, Broken Age).
o Explore unique environments using Raz’s ability to dive into people’s brains to battle their inner demons, unlock hidden memories, and resolve their emotional baggage.
o Leap acrobatically through the air, traversing tightropes and trapezes in a varied, challenging, and joyful platforming experience.
o Wield a powerful array of psychic powers to blast, burn and levitate things, or even slow down time itself to solve environmental puzzles and battle strange enemies.
• Ok, so first of all, that sounds pretty cool. We’ll go through this episode and see if the game really lives up to the potential talked about in that preview. But before we dive into that lets talk about little bit about how this game went from being a Double Fine Production using crowd funding to being purchased by amorphous blob monster known as Microsoft to be pushed onto Game Pass as a Day 1 release.
History: Fig Origins
• Why is Tim Schafer such an important dude?
o Tim Schafer is responsible for helping develop series such as Monkey Island (which is a point and click adventure my wife adores), Brutal Legend, and many more games. He started with LucasArts as a “Scummlet” which is a hilarious name for a programmer that helped implement features and ideas proposed by the lead game devs within the LucasArts SCUMM engine. After playtesting for some time he was asked to work on a project that would become the Secret of Monkey Island where he was responsible for a large portion of the dialog.
o Schafer eventually went on to create the game Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle, Grim Fandango and more before starting up his company Double Fine.
o Tim’s new company Double Fine ended up developing their firs game Psychonauts and it debuted in 2005 back when platformers were hip and cool, in case you youngsters didn’t know about that. Back then, platformers were not seen as lame like they are nowadays. Psychonauts ended up winning a Game of the Year award and became a cult classic.
o After that we had a couple games from the company that weren’t really as important other than Brutal Legend which featured voice acting from Jack Black and other awesome musicians like Lemmy Kilmmister, Ozzy Osborne, and more! By the way, in Psychonauts 2 there is an entire music level that features a song from good ol’ Jack Black himself.
o In 2012 after some other games that kept the company financially stable but didn’t quite have the same long-lasting impact Tim Schafer launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter using the title “ Double Fine Adventure”. This is due to the fact that colorful adventure and platformer games were seen as lame in 2012 and many publishers didn’t want to take the chance.
o According to Wikipedia - The game and accompanying documentary were projected to cost US$400,000 dollars. Contributions exceeded that amount by more than three times in less than 24 hours, making it the first Kickstarter project to reach a $2 million figure, and the second most successful project on the website at the time.[18][19] When the project ended on March 13, funding reached a level of $3,336,371 in Kickstarter[20] with an additional $110,000 from premium pledges.[21] Ultimately, the project culminated in Broken Age, released in two acts over 2014 and 2015.
o Maybe we need to do a future episode on the best and lamest crowdfunded games. If you want to hear that in the future let us know @lamergamerscast on twitter!
o So after this happened Schafer helped join in to create the crowd funding website Fig which he used to help raise 3.8 million dollars for Psychonauts 2.
o So you would think since they are doing pretty well getting funding together and releasing financially successful games they wouldn’t need to be sprayed by the Microsoft branded Game Pass money hose, would they? WRONG!
o In an interview with Destructoid Tim Schafer said the following when asked about the acquisition:
 I have great biz dev people doing stuff for me but still, I have to get involved with the eternal question of “Where’s the next chunk of money coming from?” “How are we going to change what we’re doing creatively to go after that money?” “What are publishers signing these days?” “Do we have to do stuff like free-to-play?” All those kinds of things are gone. Microsoft wanted us to join them so that we’d add our own type of games to their platform and to Game Pass. That’s all we have to worry about doing. Just worry about “What’s the best Double Fine game we can make?” That’s all we have to think about.
 I asked two questions. First, what would happen to our culture. Would we change our email to be @microsoft? These little things that are really important to me. Would you put up a logo in the lobby? And they don’t want to do any of that. They said “No, keep everything the way it is. You’re Double Fine, you stay Double Fine.” It’s what Microsoft talks about as being their unplugged studios — Ninja Theory, inExile, and Obsidian. They’re still doing their own thing. That makes sense to me. When [head of Xbox Game Studios] Matt Booty told me about that, I could see why it’d make sense for a platform-holder like Microsoft to want a diverse group of creative studios creating content just for their platform. I could see why they wouldn’t want to buy us and turn us into a Halo outsourcer. It doesn’t make any sense.
 The second thing was like “Are we protected?” I wanted to make sure that we don’t just disappear overnight. That’s always a worry, but I feel like I take them for their word that they want to do this and that they’re very serious about it. They seem to have a nice long-term strategy that I believe in about how to adapt to this new world of subscription models and all that.
• Since the acquisition to Micro Money Bags and company they have gone out to finally release Psychonauts 2 to much acclaim and some really fantastic review scores. It currently sits at an 87 out of 100 for critic scores. There have been some review bombs that have lowered the score due to the unpopularity of the game being a next gen exclusive for Xbox systems and people feeling like they were duped out of their money by helping fund this game. So what say you? Is it lame? Was it the right move?
• Personally, as a recent xbox game pass convert this is the kind of thing that makes me pay for that subscription every month. But, let’s go ahead and start breaking down the game and answering the ultimate question now that we know the history: Is it lame?
First up what exactly does this game play like? Is it what a quirky, cinematic adventure-platforming game? SO MUCH YES!
Game Mechanics = Pretty spiffy actually..
• Is it really a platformer?
o It is so much more than a platformer. Every level feels crafted in a way that is unique. You do feel like you are going on a journey as you traverse the real world and the jarringly dissonant constructs of the mind. Each level feels unique and as if they could be their own separate game.
o Jumping mechanics feel sort of mario like at times without a triple jump and super fast movement. You do get a double jump with a sort of parachute down using psyhic powers. There is also a rail sliding mechanic that feels like it is straight out of Splatoon. Also, some of your powers can give you extra movement capabilities like levitation which works like rolling on a ball and works a short term parachute when falling.
o Battle Mechanics are affected by your powers.
 Melee
 Telekinesis
 Psi Blast (pew pew)
 Pyrokinesis
 Levitation
 Clairvoyance (underutilized)
 Mental Connection (da best)
o Now we will get into the story in just a bit but as soon as you start the game you are greeted with he following screen:
• Warning Screen:
• So this sounds like you would be dealing with these kinds of things on a story level, not so much… you actually fight different enemies that are personifications of various mental conditions.
• Enemy Types:
o Bad Ideas – little monsters that look like a back alley pikachu with a fiery red lightbulb that explodes
o Censors – they stamp out thoughts they don’t like…not to be confused with Facebook employees…
o Bad Moods – you have to find the source of the bad mood before hurting them.
o Enablers – they are basically cheerleaders that strengthen the other enemy types. I love this concept because in real life there are so many enablers for bad ideas, what you block out, and more. You can’t hurt what the enabler is buffing until you get rid of it. If you are dealing with some sort of issue and you have an enabling thought process or an actual enabler I’m not saying you should use your telekinetic powers to get rid of them, but maybe you should readjust your thinking or walk away from that enabler. You’ll be better for it in the end.
o Panic Attacks – they are hyperchromatic, loud, fast, and unruly. You have to use various techniques to slow them down. When they start introducing these as enemy types in the game Psychonauts does a fantastic job of showing what someone goes through when dealing with an actual panic attack. In the real world I deal a lot with students (and sometimes adults) that go through real panic attacks and it’s a frightening thing. One technique that can be helpful is to try to “ground” someone where you ask things like, “Are you in any actual danger of being physically harmed right now?” and other things like “Name 3 objects in the room you can see, touch, hear, etc…” This will sometimes help bring someone back down. It’s not a technique that I can say works every time but I’ve witnessed it as a first step in dealing with an ongoing or oncoming panic attack.
o There are many more enemies in the game that I really don’t want to spoil for you but those are among my favorite.
Controls - Not Lame
o That’s a lot of mechanics, so how does it control? Decently. I wouldn’t say it’s the most fantastic control in a platformer but they are better than average. The biggest thing that bothers me is the fact that you have to switch out your powers. I feel like these power could have worked in another fashion without limiting what is at your disposal.
o Also, the game is very Mario-esque but not quite on that level of platforming success.
Graphics & Presentation – Fan-freaking tastic…
• Cinematography for the win!
• Oh that’s not a lot of people making the game…
o LIGHTING ARTISTS FOR EACH LEVEL! That makes sense.. oh…uh oh..it sounds like the alarm is ringing for a mind shattering nerd alert!
CLAP!
• NERD ALERT!
 An absolute visual feast for the eyes if you are playing on an XSX with HDR enabled. I can’t think of a game that uses light in such an interesting way. It looks truly next gen. However, my understanding is that only XSX and XSS get that level of light fidelity. If you are playing on a Playstation or X1X I believe it is not hdr enabled.
o If you have Dolby Vision play it that way.
o On LG CX or C1 put the Fine Tune Dark areas to -25 if you are running VRR. I started this game playing at 60 fps at 4k because the learning curve is pretty smooth at first. By the end I threw the game into 120 fps mode and didn’t go back. It looks fantastic at 120 fps at 1440p. There are some slight stutters even in VRR but when you are in the mind of an old mail man and there are literally hundreds of letters the size of a house flying by your head and you have to stay on one of them while throwing out fancy time stopping powers you are gonna want those extra frames.
o This ends our emergency nerd alert segment. You will now be brought back to your regularly scheduled Lamer Gamers podcast…
• Animation is top notch in this game. The characters bounce and move with extreme fluidity. It makes sense with this style of game that claims to be cinematic.
• I gotta say, presentation and graphic style push this game over the edge. The textures and surface designs are top notch. The game doesn’t use ray traced lighting but the lights that are baked in are so well done that you don’t need it. The ideas are well executed but the visual punch that comes in will keep you dazzled and on the edge of your seat…
• WARNING: Simulator Sickness in this game is a very real thing. Our guest host Skylar tested the game out for us and she said she couldn’t make it past 10 minutes before simulator sickness kicked in. Expect to see some reality bending shots I the game that are incredibly smooth and lifelike at times even for a cartoony game. So, if you do get sick from games try playing this on a smaller screen if you can.
Sound – Not Lame, s’alright at times and fantastic at others.
• Excellent music.
• Sound effects are ok. Nothing particulary good or bad popped out.
• Voice acting is superb.
o Especially the characters that you jump into the minds of. They can put out a surprisingly emotional delivery after some really goofy stuff going on.
Funosity – OMG SO MUCH FUN!
o I had a blast with this game. I try to stop playing games before 10 pm but I kept finding myself pushing forward until 11 or midnight even though I had to get up for work at 6:30. It’s very, very fun but do expect to go through various emotions while playing this game. You won’t just have pure fun…
Story - Phenomenal
• Let’s move onto the story because I can’t really tell you how fun it is without some reality coming into play. This game is more than fun. It is an experience to be had that you may need a break from at times just to think about the philosophy at play in the game regarding how the mind works. Also, expect to experience the meaning of catharsis through gaming. Catharsis is the process of releasing, and thereby providing relief from, strong or repressed emotions. I know throughout the game I found my self relating to the internal thought process of many characters. I understood how enemies were personified versions thought process. It is not a simple game, and the story is deceptively simple at first. You go in expecting almost a light hearted journey to be way laid by , sometimes a literal, whale of emotion in scenes. You also go through the journey helping others piece back their past and make up for previous wrongs they did. I won’t spoil the story today but if you are interested in a Spoilercast with our Top Brains please let us know @lamergamerscast on twitter! Also, feel free to bug @rowdy5000 on twitter until he finishes the game so we can do that!
• So, here is the real question…Do you need to play the original? No, I only played a little bit but you can if you have Game pass.
• Either way..the story is top notch and deceptively good. Normally platformers and good story don’t go together but this one is on another level.
So…we come to the final..ultimate question….
Is it Lame? NO. This game is fantastic. You should really stop listening to this podcast and play it. Go spend 10 to 15 bucks to get Game Pass and start playing it now! I did not expect to enjoy Psychonauts 2 as much as I did. It is definitely my contender for Game of the Year at this point. Now, my background is that of someone who grew up on platformers so if you aren’t into that playstyle you may not find the gameplay as enjoyable. But you should still play this. It’s that good.

How will people look back on this game?
I think this game will be considered a masterpiece. There is something so interesting going on with the concepts of this game that I think it will be something that stands the test of time. Its especially surprising in a platformer.

Alright guys, that is all for today. Thank you for checking out this episode of “Is it Lame…Psychnoauts 2 edition!” and really for continuing to listen to our podcast. If you are like me you are well..tired right now. I know in Texas we are hopefully seeing the spike of Delta come down and things will be somewhat normalized in a few weeks but for the last month with school, and life, and hurricanes (which we are waiting to see if we get between 5 and 20 inches or rain this week right now) we are all pretty worn out. But hey, even if things seem gloomy, even if you are worried about what is going on in your life, politics, or even relationships with one another just know that while stormy clouds are ahead they can’t last forever. You will see better days ahead and you may have to work to get there unscathed. I think that is what I’m enjoying most about a game like Psychonauts 2. You really feel like things will get better in the end if you work hard and keep going.
And that’s how I end this. Thank y’all for putting up with my lack of making content, working on Twitter, and especially thank y’all for reaching out. I do appreciate everyone that has sent a private message or just @’d us on Twitter. Our downloads are going up again and it is because of all you lamers sharing the show. All of this is keeping it going during these trying times.
That’s it for me, I hope everyone has a fantastic week and we’ll see you on the next episode of the Lamer Gamers Podcast!