Chungking Espresso

Matt Hazard: Blood, Bath, and Beyond

Posted in Game Analysis by Simon Ferrari on January 25, 2010

When I finished Matt Hazard: Blood, Bath, and Beyond to sit down and write this, I was the 12th ranked Matt Hazard: Blood, Bath, and Beyond player in the world. This does not bode well for Matt Hazard: Blood, Bath, and Beyond. The game begins with a joke about how you can find the first Matt Hazard game in a bargain bin near you. I remember, around a month after that game came out, printing a coupon to purchase it at Best Buy for under ten dollars. The coupon remained on my desk for a week before I threw it away.

Blood, Bath, and Beyond has been out for a few weeks now, and from the leaderboards it looks like less than four hundred people have beaten it. When I was sent a review code for the game, it had already been redeemed by someone else. I’ve talked with another game critic who had the same experience. The PR person distributing these codes is a very nice person. When she sent it, she enthusiastically told me to be sure I checked out that I can steal a partner’s life in co-op and that there is a difficulty setting called “Fuck This Shit.” These are decidedly inconsequential features (what game of its type doesn’t let you steal a partner’s life?). Matt Hazard: Blood, Bath, and Beyond is a game that knows it’s got two feet planted firmly in the grave, shouting this fact from its narrative, to its design, to its publicity.

The only thing strange about all of this is that, for the two hours that it lasts, Matt Hazard: Blood, Bath, and Beyond is a solid run-and-gun shooter. Two summers ago, the XBLA catalogue hadn’t really picked up steam yet. One of the best games available on the service at the time was a crappy port of Super Contra. I played it every day for around a month, even though the amount of fun you’ll have on any given playthrough is determined within the first few seconds: did you grab the scatter shot, or did you miss it? Blood, Bath, and Beyond isn’t nearly as difficult as Super Contra, and it doesn’t have the benefit of nostalgia going for it. But if you’re a fan of Super C with a hankering for the old bird, who remembers that your twitch isn’t quite as honed as it used to be, Blood, Bath, and Beyond might just be the perfect thing to scratch the itch.

You can read the rest of the review at Sleeper Hit here.


3 Responses

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  1. Lin Swimmer said, on January 27, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    Hey Simon. Just checking in to tell you that I enjoyed the review, as usual, as well as your other features. That decade of films post is great. I’ve seen a few other lists, and many seem to be very complimentary. I don’t have enough faith in my memory (or in my filmic knowledge circa 2000-2004) to make any such pronouncements myself. There are quite a few on yours (as well as some others) that I haven’t yet seen. Meaning 2010 will probably (definitely) have some great films in it.

    (Actually, I’ll take this opportunity to inquire as to whether you’ve gotten around to that Teshigahara documentary available online yet. It’s essentially footage and music, but I think you’ll dig it. )

    Not why I’m writing, though.

    This review struck a chord with me. Yesterday at work I overheard a young female co-worker mention to another co-worker that she loves videogames, and mentioned a few major 360 titles that I’d heard of, but never played or even seen in person. This is great, I thought; another gamer. We’ll have so much to talk about.

    Unfortunately not. I knew that the only things we might have in common would be cross-over XBLA indies. (Or potentially a few Flash games, although this seemed so wildly unlikely that I didn’t think it worth pursuing.) Which didn’t leave much. She hadn’t heard of Braid, I knew that La-Mulana and Cave Story were Nintendo (and not out yet anyway), and Spelunky and N+ seemed like hopeless long shots.

    I did what I always seem to do when I’m at a loss in connecting with another gamer; I said, “Look! This computer we’re standing next to can play DOS games! Isn’t emulation a miracle?” (The real miracle being that I can actually perform the drive mount in DOSBox from memory now.) Where I picked up this habit I don’t know, or why I would think it would be a good idea with anyone under about 30 I don’t know either.

    Who the hell wants to talk about DOS games more than Left 4 Dead? No one I’ve met, that’s for sure.

    But why I bring it up at all is: are there any 8-16 bit ROMs available on Live Arcade? Because that seems like my last best hope for having played something a 360 owner might have seen and enjoyed.

    Additional notes:
    Enjoyed the idea that JRPG’s may be what’s responsible for the fore-grounding of plot in games, as well as the explanation of the uses and dangers of pastiche. It’s funny; I used to be a diehard JRPGer, and these days I don’t even know what they’re up to. (Everything I’ve read has indicated that everything I found infuriating about Final Fantasy VIII has only continued to gain prominence.) And my favorite use of film pastiche is an example I’m sure you’re familiar with; TML having his protagonist watch a scene from 400 Blows on a small television set in What Time Is It There?

    (Okay, I had promised myself I would mention Tsai’s absence from your decade round-up, but I can’t resist: no love for The Hole?! Not that it appeared on anyone else’s, either, but damned if I and everyone I know who has watched it doesn’t think it’s essentially flawless.)

    • Simon Ferrari said, on January 28, 2010 at 8:12 pm

      Well you know that’s the actor from 400 Blows in that graveyard scene in What Time Is It There, right? That scene was crazy, because the actor was apparently a heroin addict who lived in a park for something like 15 years after he stopped working with Truffaut. But, yeah, there were a lot of great films I wanted to put on the list that, when I looked for em, it turned out they were from the late 90s. I’m glad you liked the list, but it felt pretty inadequate as soon as I finished it. Doing it put me off writing up the top ten game list I’d started on. Ah well.

      Sorry it took me so long to reply, I’m neck-deep in Mass Effect 2 and have been basically doing that whenever I’m not in a meeting for school. RPGs and I don’t mix well.

      So, hmmm, when you say 8-16bit ROMs you mean any ports of games from that era? There’s a ton. As far as DOS games go, though, all I’ve encountered are Doom, Monkey Island, and Lode Runner. It’s likely they played the Monkey Island remake if they’re big on arcade. It was cool, you could switch between the original version of the game and the HD remake by hitting the select button at any time. As far as other games from 8 and 16-bit consoles go, you can get most Sonic games and some other Genesis stuff, but other than that it’s all pre-NES arcade ports and remakes. Most NES and SNES games are only available on the Wii service. The PS3, on the other hand, is quickly becoming my favorite hub for crossover indies.

      But, hell, if you ever wanna talk about Quest for Glory games I’m down 🙂 I’ll check out that film when I finish with ME2!

  2. Lin Swimmer said, on January 27, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    Whoops. Hahaha. It’s from 1998, actually. Maybe that solves it. 😀

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