One Punch Reviews #62: Life In Aggro
It’s probably a sign that I’m getting increasingly out of touch with the gaming crowd, but I’m not entirely sure what “aggro” means. The last time I heard that term used in the context of games was in Midnight Club 3. If you were driving a truck or a luxury vehicle, you could fill up a meter depending on how many times you ended up rear ending other vehicles. When the meter filled up, you could activate a mode called “Aggro,” which let you plow through heavy traffic without taking any damage at all. It’s especially useful if you needed to both smash through to the finish line and also to scatter crashed cars in an opponent’s their path.
It was, suffice to say, absolutely ridiculous. I mean, how does that mechanic work when translated to real life? The more damage you take, the more you’re likely to plow over other vehicles? It makes a little bit of sense when applied to a human being; the idea is you’re sick and tired of being a victim, so you reach for that last bit of adrenaline rush to lay the smack down on your opponent. But how does that work when you’re driving a car? Does the car suddenly get an adrenaline boost? And how is it all of the sudden invincible? Is the car suddenly equipped with a force field generator?
Anyway, my meager understanding of the term leads me to believe that “aggro” refers to plowing things down with reckless abandon. If that’s true, I a little perplexed by the title of Casey Vasquez and Fei Hsiao’s Life in Aggro, a webcomic about … you guessed it … video games. The comic stand-ins for the two — Bear and Pie — seem to be chill for the most part, and I can’t see either of them getting into a Cadillac Escalade to tear up interstates in the greater Los Angeles area.
Life In Aggro is a videogame webcomic, dealing mostly with snark on Japanese games and Japanese gaming companies. So, mainly stuff that would find releases on the Nintendo Wii or the DS. This is a two-edged sword. It’s sort of a godsend for guys like me who have spent the last month avoiding Mass Effect 3 spoilers like the dickens. On the other hand, there are plenty of times that I have no idea what these two are talking about. But, hey, that’s half the fun of trying to decipher video game comics, eh?
Ms. Hsaio’s art style draws influence from children’s anime. Bear and Pie look like the sort of characters that should be teaming up with Ash Ketchum to fight Team Rocket’s latest scheme to kidnap Pikachu. The art is fresh, colorful, and, above all, cute. It works with the couple’s comedy sensibilities, which are generally goofier than their gaming comic compatriots. If you’re looking for a comic about Metroid Beach Volleyball where Samus is in ball form the entire time, then look no further: this is the comic for you. Ever wanted a comic featuring the Chrono Trigger guys where the robot eats cake? Here it is.. Can you make an adorable Portal comic without resorting to the Companion Cube? Yes. If you’re looking for a comic where Solid Snake grows characters as body parts… okay, that’s kinda weird, but it’s still cute, darn it.
The style tends to throw you off, though, when the two toss off a joke that tends to run a little blue. The gags about tampons, for example. You’re like, “La la la, ooh a comic about Professor Layton, la la la”, and then, all of the sudden … a bloody tampon. I guess there’s a bit of a double standard going on here. I mean, the Penny Arcade guys and VG Cats gets away with things worse than this. Still, these kinds of jokes seem out of place where everything is so jolly. Looking at it another way, though, I suppose there’s room for jokes about feminine hygiene products in a genre typically dominated by punchlines about male genitalia and bathroom humor.
Besides, for all the stuff that goes over my head, I can’t deny that these two have a fairly original sense of humor. I’ve seen many webcomics talk about Street Fighter, but few ever comment about how Sakura is probably too old to be wearing her trademark schoolgirl outfit. Perhaps it’s not the most gut-busting joke in the world, but it’s original, at least.
Rating: 3 stars (out of 5).