Spoiler Warning 3×8: Artistic Murder Simulator

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Sep 21, 2010

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 71 comments

I give BioShock a hard time about it’s plot doors, but pretty much all games are based on plot doors. Sure, sometimes the door is a drawbridge with improbably inaccessible controls and sometimes it’s a subway in need of power and sometimes it’s an elevator in need of repair. Any game more complex than “run forward and murder everyone not on your side” is going to have some sort of structured obstacles for you to overcome. I don’t mind that plot doors exist. I mind when they are so poorly justified that they take you out of the experience.

Sander Cohen’s door works well enough, plot-wise. Much better than the next door, I think.

Hello, person from the future. This space used to have an embed from the video hosting site Viddler. The video is gone now. If you want to find out why and laugh at Viddler in the process, you can read the entire silly story for yourself.

At any rate, the video is gone. Sorry. On the upside, we're gradually re-posting these old videos to YouTube. Check the Spoiler Warning page to see the full index.

Every time I see the main character produce a poster-sized full-color photograph out of nowhere I’m reminded of the sitcom where an archetypal nerd was able to produce all sort of useful objects from his trenchcoat, and was even able to make photocopies. (He’d stick an item behind his back under one arm, there would be photocopier sounds and a bright light, and he’d pull the copy out from the other side.

First person who can name the show should be ashamed.


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71 thoughts on “Spoiler Warning 3×8: Artistic Murder Simulator

  1. Seraldin says:

    Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide.

    I am so ashamed (assuming that’s the show you were referring to).

    1. Tizzy says:

      A show from Nickelodeon’s 2004 line-up? Wow… Shamus’d better blame the kids for that one. ;-)

      (Later: I really need to start reading before commenting… not that there is no embarrassment at referencing early 1990’s shows )

  2. Amnestic says:

    Sounds like something Secret Squirrel might have, though he wasn’t a nerd from what I remember. Just a badass squirrel spy.

    1. Irridium says:

      Wow… hearing about that show now really makes me feel old. And I’m only 19 :(

      1. Adalore says:

        Heh…Same here, down to the age. :)

  3. LazerFX says:

    Didn’t Inspector Gadget do something similar?

    1. Nick Bell says:

      This was my first thought as well.

  4. bickierdyke says:

    It was Parker Lewis.

    And I’m less ashamed of that trivia fact than I’m ashamed of owning shirts in that style….

    1. Shamus says:

      Yeah, I was thinking of PLCL. I actually only saw the show three or four times, but it apparently left a big impression on me. To this day I tend to refer to friends as “Mister [Name]”, which I suspect came from that show.

      The show looks very 80’s to my eye. I sometimes forget that people didn’t throw away the pastels and start dressing like they were in a grunge band on Jan 1st, 1990.

      1. bickierdyke says:

        “Coole Sache, Parker” is still a catch phrase among some of my friends.

        Wow.. I just feel a wave of 1993 comming over me….

        1. Adeon says:

          Was he german in the original version, or are you german and watched that show in german? Because I never heard of that show. Well, after all, I am 18.

          1. Zak McKracken says:

            It was translated to German :)

            Some quotes stuck with me, but they’d be lost on most people here, I guess.
            I think the show was actually extremely cool. And at that time, noone minded those shirts. I still have one like that, I just haven’t worn it for more than ten years, I think … maybe it’s gonna be hip again one day …

            Then I can sell it for profit, because I sure can’t stand it :)

      2. Padyndas says:

        This is gonna age me big time but I thought you were talking about an episode of “What’s Happening?” when Rerun did this very same thing (this show was on I think in the mid 70’s). I have not seen Parker Lewis Can’t Lose but I wonder if they did not get this from “What’s Happening”.

  5. Factoid says:

    You’re referring to Parker Lewis Can’t Lose

    1. Moriarty says:

      holy sh…

      quick googling Parker Lewis Can't Lose reveals a 15year old milla jovovich oO


  6. Gil says:

    Yes!!! I loved Parker Lewis Can’t Lose! Short lived, but much loved show.

  7. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Actually in many games now you can find ammo for advanced weapons before you find the weapon.In fact,I think in doom 3 you can find bfg ammo long before even the secret bfg.

    1. bickierdyke says:

      and in Zak McCraken you can fine chainsaw-gasoline…. forget it.

    2. Michael says:

      There’s actually plasma ammo right after you get your pistol if you know what you’re doing (and are more than slightly suicidal and homicidal).

  8. Someone says:

    Little men! You CAN kill Sander Coen right after he opens the tonic jar, he will even play that music he made the jewish spicer play in the Fleet Hall while you fight him. Also when he is dead you can go to his room and get the “Power to the People” machine.

    1. Pidmon says:

      If you kill him in Fort Frolic, you will never have access to the Power To The People machine late in the game. However, you still get the key that opens that chained glass case in Fort Frolic when you meet him later, assuming negotiations break down.

  9. Adamantyr says:

    Parker Lewis Can’t Lose… One of my brother’s old friends actually reminded me quite a bit of the trenchcoat fellow…

    And yeah, it’s strange that the late 80’s/early 90’s, every public school seemed really addicted to a garish combo of colors. Maybe some lame attempt to “cool up” schools, and lose all the drab color schemes.

    I did NOT remember about Milla Jovovich, though… wowsa. Was she ever NOT hot?!

    1. Amnestic says:

      Jailbait-tastic. :P

  10. swimon says:

    It’s a shame that you left fort frolic so quickly (although I guess I understand why). There’s a really cool enemy in one of the back rooms that I haven’t seen anywhere else in the game. Spider splicers covered in plaster. They look just like the statues and only move when you turn your back on them. I thought that was really cool because the trick really worked on me, I just saw some statues turned away to look at something else turned back again and the statues seemed to be closer ^^. Easily the best enemies in the game and they’re just in that room so they don’t get tired.

  11. Jon says:

    You can kill Sander Cohen there, wait till he gives you your reward, then just blast him. He teleports around, but not away, I ended up shooting him (explosive shotgun rounds) out of some rafter or corner above in the room and his flaming corpse fell to the ground. You can loot him for a key that opens up the chest next to where he gives you your reward. I forgot what’s inside exactly, some new plasmid or tonics. Never played through again so I don’t know where he shows up later or whatever.

  12. Adamantyr says:

    It’s better to leave Cohen alive in Fort Frolic. Later you find his apartment in Apollo Square, with two splicers dancing.

    If you interfere in any way (like trying to jam a bit on the piano) they attack you, and then Sander Cohen comes down in a fury for you interrupting his little dance party. You can then access his upper apartment area, which has a weapon upgrade station that is not accessible in any other way. And you can take the key back to Fort Frolic to get the muse treasure as well.

  13. Mathygard says:

    You can kill Cohen, actually. You just have to do enough damage at once to kill him before he pisses off. Also, if you do kill him he won’t show up later, so it seems the developers intended you to have the option.

  14. Halfling says:

    Rutskarn ruins everything with his words. I was eating Shrimp when he made his little joke while discussing the map. I totally lost my appetite after that.

    *Shakes fist*

  15. Tzeneth says:

    Is there any real point to the fire plasmid, once you get the chemical thrower? The fire from it did exactly the same as the plasmid and could defreeze items, if my memory serves me correctly.

    1. Robyrt says:

      Exploding shotgun buck or explosive barrels can defreeze items too, for that matter. Incinerate is much more handy as a targeted insect swarm than for its actual fire abilities.

  16. Yar Kramer says:

    Yeah … I think the reason people like Sander Cohen is because he’s funny, and just strikes the most wonderful balance of “completely ridiculous and yet it fits perfectly,” in a “my name is Ramona Flowers and you must defeat my seven evil exes to date me” sort of way. There’s also only three of them and they don’t seem to have any more health than the others.

    I’ve actually experienced less of this “plot-door frustration” than what Zero Punctuation prepared me for. In fact, the most frustrating moment I’ve had was when I spent an hour running around the Big Daddy factory trying to find a helmet, because I didn’t know you needed to get all the other parts first. Maybe it’s because I’m more easily caught up in The Plot, and maybe it’s because more irritating things like the plot-door after this one and the Little Sister escort-mission (weren’t they supposed to be invincible?) were more fresh in his mind since they were closer to the end of the game. (The Little Sister escort-mission is closer to the end of the game than to the confrontation with Ryan, right? I mean … it’s already dragging on longer than I thought it would …)

    Also, for those of you who don’t know The Reveal: while you’re playing this level, watch the posters. You might find a … familiar pair of names.

    1. Michael says:

      I caught that this time, and was floored that I’d never noticed that poster before.

    2. Meredith says:

      The little sisters aren’t invincible anymore because you removed the slug-things that make ADAM. My favourite part of that was her yelling at me to hurry up whilst she meandered around slowly. Thanks, kid.

  17. RTBones says:

    Hephaestus was the Greek god of technology, blacksmiths, craftsmen, artisans, sculptors, metals, metallurgy, fire and volcanoes. His Roman name was Vulcan. Live long and prosper.

    Dancers…yeah, you can dance if you want to, you can leave your friends behind…but paying with the appropriate denomination is priceless.

    I had forgotten Milla Jovovich was in PLCL.

    1. Nidokoenig says:

      “…blacksmiths… metallurgy, fire and volcanoes”

      If it leaves you with a burning sensation, it’s Hephaesitus.

  18. 4th Dimension says:

    Episode was good as it is usual. Though this game is not really suitable for such heavy fisted compression, so whenever Josh is going around some poorly lit place, I can’t make heads or tails of what is actually going on.

    I noticed you want to play a good turn based strategy. It’s not exactly a strategy, but combat is hex based, so you might REALLY want to try King’s Bounty: The Legend. Combat is good, and there are always crazy quests (Like, as a reward of one quest you get a zombie wife, or another deals with a romance between a dragon and a married woman and so on..)

    1. Irridium says:

      Speaking of turn based strategy, I have a rant about Civilization 5.

      I’ll put the rant in a spoiler tag, since it has some naughty language.

      Well, I got it. And I have one major problem so far.
      The game isn’t on the fucking disk.
      No, all the disk does is install DirectX. I have to actually download the rest of the game. I didn’t buy a retail copy to fucking download the game. I bought the retail copy so I won’t have to spend 3 fucking days downloading the fucking game god dammit. Put the full game on the fucking disk you asshats.

      There, rant over. Sorry, just needed someplace to vent. Good episode as always.

      1. X2-Eliah says:

        You do have a point – selling game ‘discs’ that still need you to D/L the game is just moronic. At least put a stamp on a disc saying ‘Game not included’ or ‘4hr download required – 128 hours on a dsl’.

      2. RTBones says:

        OK, that is just insane.

        Why, in the h3ll, …

        (looks up, notices choir, realizes he’s preaching to it)

        …I’ll shut up now.

        EDIT: Just took a peek at the Civ V website. Looked at their PDF manual. Under the heading BOX INSTALL, it says…

        If you purchased a physical copy of Sid Meier's Civilization V, insert the DVD-ROM into your drive. You will first select your language, and will then have the option to install the game.
        You will be prompted during the installation to install Steam if you do not yet have it installed, and then it will ask you to login to your Steam account.

        For the lawyers: Here is the online manual I am quoting.

        (regards the choir, again)

        How in the h3ll is that a BOX install?

        1. Irridium says:

          There is no option to install from the disk. At all. At least none that I’ve found. I tried putting the disk in and going through the tutorials, but that only installs DirecX. When I try to activate it on Steam, it just validates the files and starts downloading the game. And upon further checking of whats actually on the disk, it seems its just the DirectX, some image resources, and Steam installers.

          Every time I think Publishers can’t get any dumber, they pull something like this.

          1. RTBones says:

            This begs the question: if you are going to force everybody to download via a service (in this case, Steam), why even bother having a box retail version at all?

            Oh wait, you might have those folks that wouldn’t go to Steam normally but if it’s part of the install process from a disk, they don’t care. They still want to play the game but don’t want Steam on their own, which means they need a little hand-holding to get there. In other words, the Publisher is trying to be tricksy and force a digital install.


            1. Irridium says:

              Actually I found out how to get it to install from the disk.

              It seems I have to open up the disk in Windows Explorer, and manually run the setup. After I did that it seems to be working fine now. But its still complete crap how the normal install seems to default to downloading it.

              1. Gale says:


                The retail copy of Civ5 has the game on it…

                But by default, the installation has you downloading it from the internet?

                What possible reason could there be for doing this?

                1. Veloxyll says:

                  Indeed, that’s INSANE. Sure it can install steam and whatnot as it installs, but it should default to using the disc based files, for the simple fact that uh, you paid money to burn those files to CD, might as well use them rather than wasting Valve’s bandwidth.

                  In other news WHAT THE HECK. You’re selling a game ON THE INTERNET and you’ve got different release dates for different countries.
                  Curse you for making me wait two whole days for no good reason, CURSE YOUUUU >: (

                2. Irridium says:

                  Indeed. This is all just so stupid. Both the defaulting to downloading the game when I have the disk and region-locking digital copies.

                  I never understood the region locking of digital copies… I mean sure they may need a few more days to ship copies overseas or something, but with digital you don’t have to worry about that stuff.

          2. Zaghadka says:

            Sure. At this point, putting the game in a box, and putting that box on a shelf, is false advertising and misrepresentation.

            And they know it.


    2. Shamus says:

      That was me yanking some chains. About half the people I follow on twitter were talking about Civ 5, which had just launched.

      1. 4th Dimension says:

        I noticed it lunched, but I was never into CIV ALTHOUGH I DO like turn based strategies (or at least ones that let me use the god damned pause button), and I would have liked to see your take on King’s Bounty: The Legend.

        But allthough I don’t like CIV, I have my own poison for time. Currently it’s Crusader Kings (actually anything Paradox makes is that). Now what should I do to that rebellious duke of Preslavyl?
        A. Accept him back into the realm after burning down his castle and taking all his money.
        B. Burn down his castle, and than take everything he and his ancestors worked for.
        C. Murder!
        D. A and give him more land hoping he won’t declare independence AGAIN! (which he will, inevitably).

  19. So, for those playing the PS3 or 360 version – apparently if you come back later and kill Cohen and take a picture of him, there’s a trophy/achievement you can get called “Irony”.

  20. Agiel7 says:

    I would have thought Doraemon would have been a more apt example.

  21. Sekundaari says:

    You talked about gambling in this episode… Is anyone else amused every time they see gambling in a game and it actually pays off to gamble as much as you can?

    As an example, I recall a wheel of fortune -type thing in Arx Fatalis had a positive expectation value on your money gain, though you could only play until you win once. I suppose it’s some form of charity.

    Another one, in Spelunky there are these Dice Houses where you roll two dice and have an equal chance of losing or doubling your bet, but if you get a 7, you’re in effect buying an item with your bet. You can see the item in advance, and they’re usually way more valuable than the bet, so the only major risks are running out of time or angering the shopkeeper.

    1. Gale says:

      Having a good Luck stat in the original Fallout turned the casino into an infinite river of money.

  22. Bit says:

    You didn’t listen to The Wild Bunny.

    I am sad now.

    1. Mumbles says:

      DUDE. Scariest part of the game.

    2. acronix says:

      Where was that? I don´t recall no Wild Bunny. Can you set it on fire?

  23. Zombus says:

    I gotta say, Shamus’ Duke Nukem impression is crazy good.

  24. Meredith says:

    I think someone already said it, but you can kill Cohen in that scene. He jumps around like a Houdini splicer and has stupid amounts of health. I attacked him by accident and ended up in a fight. I had a Big Daddy wandering around, though, and hypnotized it; he finished Sander off for me rather quickly. I don’t think I ever managed to find his apartment, but I wasn’t looking that hard.

  25. Johan says:

    The reason it’s so hard to get players to look up and down is because they have been robbed of their peripheral cues. Without peripheral vision, a player (actually a HUMAN) doesn’t have much reason to look up and down, and furthermore wouldn’t expect to need such. Looking outside, I can see a pretty far “up” as well as in any other direction, but games have such a limited field of view that most of this is gone when you look through an FPS.

    1. acronix says:

      That is somewhat aliviated in third person games. I find myself more prone to look up there than in FPSs. The bad thing is that the character placement in the middle of the screen makes it harder to look down.

      1. Veloxyll says:

        I’ve got to disagree there, the third person games I’ve played have given me just as much trouble looking up as in First Person. More possibly since it feels clunky to do with the camera and half the time my character will fill the screen.

        That said, in person I on;y really look up when I’m leaning back in my chair or similar things, normally I don’t pay a lot of attention to the roof.

  26. Sleeping Dragon says:

    Re: the occasional cursing.

    I’m simply going to give one title: Stardust. There is one word in a very specific moment, in a very specific context that is missing from the movie adaptation and that I felt the movie lost a bit by this.

    Of course there were other fairly crucial changes, in particular the entire sense of the ending, but still.

  27. merle says:

    Anyone who says the Crossbow is bad obviously hasn’t used it. One shot, one kill on pretty much any splicer…and with the upgrades you essentially have unlimited ammo.

    1. Veloxyll says:

      I’d say we need more Crossbow action in this, just to justify all the hate it gets. Josh has fired it once and killed someone with it, not exactly the characteristics of a terrible weapon, show us WHY you hate the Bioshock Crossbow plx!

    2. Tzeneth says:

      I find the crossbow a good alternative for big Daddy fights, after I’ve used all my explosive ammo because of it’s damage. It’s a very high damage, slow rate of fire weapon. You don’t want to miss if you’re going to shoot it. Maybe his ability to aim is normally terrible and that’s why he doesn’t like it? I mean the machine gun is a terrible weapon, low damage and even with speed, not enough damage to do anything. That’s why I believe he doesn’t even use it but do people complain about it (other than me), not really.

  28. -ink says:

    “Archtypical,” eh? It combines the best of “archetypal” with the ubiquity of “typical!” I like.

  29. thebigJ_A says:

    Have you seen the Bioshock: Infinite gameplay? It honestly looks pretty awesome. Here:


    1. Mumbles says:

      I’m curious about the little choices that guy made in the game. Notice how he chooses to pick up the guns, chooses to walk into that bar and even chose to pull the crow tonic off that guy’s body. Are those all things the game is going to railroad you into doing, or could you run through the level doing different things with a completely different outcome?

      Also, I’d like to note that the game looks horrifying. Just because some of it takes place during the day, doesn’t mean its going to be any less reminiscent of the original game. The part where the woman keeps sweeping her porch even though the house is on fire reminds me of the splicer who acted like she still had a baby in her carriage.

      1. krellen says:

        Last time I went by her, I found a pistol in the carriage.

        Makes it even more creepy, doesn’t it?

  30. River says:

    You look at the Bioshock map
    Roll to see how many San points you lose

  31. Alex the Too Old says:

    I’m rewatching this season of Spoiler Warning and I’m startled to note that not one single know-it-all has showed up here in the comments to correct Rutskarn about the music during the “fight Cohen’s splicers” sequence. It is indeed from the Nutcracker Suite, but the piece is The Waltz of the Flowers, not The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. The Sugar Plum Fairy is the one that has the tinkly celeste and is ethereal and subdued rather than majestic and luxurious.

    /end infodump[UselessMusicTrivia]

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