When Physical Violence and Classical Music Collide
GameSpot editors stalk, lunge, flail, and bludgeon their way to victory in the Move-enabled indie game Johann Sebastian Joust.
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Last Thursday evening, a dozen GameSpot editors gathered in our office arena to joust. Johann Sebastian Joust, to be specific. For an hour and a half we stalked, hid, scurried, and leaped around the room, filling the air with projectiles and clutching our PlayStation Move controllers tightly. There was triumph, agony, injury, and unintentional groping, and both participants and spectators alike left with the feeling that they had just experienced something highly unusual, but incontrovertibly awesome.
This vigorous endeavor is chronicled in the short video below. Each time I watch it I see new things, remember unseen details, and find myself chuckling aloud yet again. However, the odd movements and general chaos probably won't make a whole lot of sense to folks who are unfamiliar with the game. With that in mind, I've written a companion to contextualize some of the crazy stuff you're seeing and help you get more out of the video. The basic premise is below, followed by the video and then some time stamps that highlight strategies, calamities, and favorite moments. Enjoy!
Each player grabs a PlayStation Move controller (we had five). The Moves are linked via Bluetooth to a laptop that runs the game. The laptop plays classical music at varying speeds and monitors the accelerometers in the Move controllers. The tempo of the music corresponds to the maximum speed you can move your controller; fast music means fast motions are OK, and slow music means you must be very careful. If you move your controller too fast, it turns red and vibrates, and you are out. A flashing light indicates you are getting close to the limit. Pulling the trigger gives you temporary invulnerability. The object is to make the other players move their controllers too fast while keeping your movements in check. Games generally last less than a few minutes, but some are over in seconds.
0:19 - You don't actually have to move in time with the music, Mc Shea! I went into this game thinking I'd have to be waving the Move like a conductor's wand, which is clearly not the case. Fortunately, this was the extent of Tom's disinformation campaign.
0:33 - Two back-to-back instances of verbal tactics. I begin advancing on Shaun McInnis with, "Hey Shaun. Hey Shaun. Hey Shaun." Then it sounds like Mc Shea says to Kurtis Seid, "What's Magrino doing?" in an effort to distract him into worrying about Tom Magrino. Not sure how either of those encounters ended up, but stay tuned until the three-minute mark for a more effective vocal technique.
0:39 - My goon-walking phase (I'm the dude in the white T-shirt). While it was enough to make Giancarlo Varanini smile, it didn't pan out to be much of a strategy.
0:43 - Kurtis takes a lazy shot at Ryan Schubert with a small foam soccer ball. We stocked the room with a bunch of soft, throwable things to make projectile jousting a possibility for all. See if you can spot a stuffed football, a little pony, a Sonic the Hedgehog hat, a blue UFO, and Blinky from Pac-Man.
0:52 - The devious Maxwell McGee grabs a desk chair, to Mc Shea's vocal dismay. This item will later be used as a defensive barrier, an offensive weapon, and a vehicle that at least one foolhardy editor (Mc Shea) tries to ride around on (while using a broken fan cage as a shield).
1:10 - Carolyn Petit moves in on Marko Djordjevic for some slow-motion close-quarters jousting. It's one of the tamest violations of personal space you are going to see in this video.
1:16 - Out come a few extra props for prodding!
1:23 - Tom Mc Shea's offensive gambit backfires when Shaun stabilizes his controller and totally kicks Mc Shea in the nuts.
1:26 - The resilient Carolyn weathers a fake kick and a chair to the leg before succumbing to another fake kick (1:32) as Aron Vietti closes in from the other side. The crash noise you hear is emitted by the computer to let you know someone has been knocked out.
1:40 - Despite a nice block, Ryan succumbs to a lunge from Janmeja Heir. But take a look to the left and you'll notice that I am laid out on the floor, curled up like a bug. During a scuffle with Maxwell, I received a sharp strike to the back that resulted in some intense, albeit short-lived, discomfort. Was it his bony elbow? Was it that television lurking in the background? All we truly know is that Johann Sebastian Joust is not a game without peril and that Maxwell is a total gentleman once he has eliminated you from competition (as evidenced at 3:15 and 3:21).
1:43 - I snuck the Claw into play by sticking it into the back of my pants, and Marko was the first person I tangled with. Though I manage to deftly parry his lunge with my children's toy, he gets the best of that encounter as my Move fizzles out.
1:46 - Maxwell kicks Mc Shea into a beanbag (the dude is ruthless!), but at what cost?
1:48 - A projectile montage that features three of my best throws of the night. The first doesn't hit Tom squarely, but grazes his face so speedily that his involuntary startled jerk knocks him out. The other two are direct hits, but my favorite throw of the night was when, from across the room, I bounced the foam soccer ball off of the glowing tip of Carolyn's controller and eliminated her. Headshot! (My worst one, incidentally, was when I chucked a stuffed pony directly into Maxwell's face. He was spectating at the time.)
1:56 - Here we see Tom implementing a tactic I like to call the Bum Rush. Because your controller can never move too slowly, Tom has placed his Move on the ground and darted after his opponents. If he can get to them all before they find his idle controller, victory shall be his! Anytime you see someone moving much faster than anyone else, odds are it's a Bum Rush in action.
1:58 - Kurtis saves John Davison the indignity of being Bum Rushed by drilling him in the face with a pillow. How thoughtful!
2:10 - Giancarlo gets in a sneaky, cheeky slap on Maxwell, but as we see in the next scene, he knocks himself out in the process. There are many other instances of such jousting hubris in the video, where the aggressors end up knocking themselves out as well. There's some sort of zen observation to be made here, I'm sure.
2:16 - This face-off ends with Marko falling onto a big white beanbag, much to everyone's delight. Unfortunately for him, that big dark cloth is covering a dangerous nest of music game peripherals. Having covered this hazard myself, I can confidently deduce that at 2:20, Marko hits his head on the upright leg of a drumset without the drum pads attached. Ouch!
2:22 - Mc Shea gets Bum Rush-happy! Seeing him coming for me with that hideous Sonic scalp, I instinctively set my controller down and went in for the tackle. I knew bowling him over and finding his controller was my only chance, but I only succeeded at the first part (this may also have involved some inadvertent crotch trauma for the beleaguered Mc Shea).
2:30 - Tyler Winegarner had been lying on the floor for a good 30 seconds at this point. No one messed with him, and he just lay there with a huge grin on his face. Huge! Then Marko decided the free ride was over and dropped a beanbag on him. C'est la joust!
2:34 - "Zee bubble wrap, it does nah-sing!" John is happy to demonstrate to Shaun that this is not an Egg Drop contest by bludgeoning him with an inflatable tommy gun.
2:44 - Kevin VanOrd leads Maxwell on a merry chase that comes to an abrupt halt with a quick slap from Marko. Ever the good sportsman, Kevin has the composure to accept defeat in his best Alvin and the Chipmunks voice (courtesy of the video's editor, Wernher Von Goff).
3:01 - Mc Shea puts a roaring spin on the Bum Rush, and Erick Tay isn't able to stop himself from smiling (or getting eliminated).
3:12 - Marko and Jan demonstrate the grace, elegance, and athletic prowess required to be a GameSpot employee.
3:25 - Whomp!
3:35 - Many thanks indeed!
3:39 - He didn't technically get decked that round, but I did go on to claim the night's final victory (at least that's how I remember it).
And there you have it. We all had such a blast playing that we're cooking up some future matchups that should prove to be even livelier than the first. Johann Sebastian Joust is not available to the public as of yet, but you can contact the creators via their website with your thoughts on the game.
Hope you enjoyed this in-depth look at our jousting adventures. Spot anything funny that I missed? Who seemed like the most formidable competitor? Favorite moments? Speak up in the comments!