January 27th, 2004 | Feature
10th Feature Anniversary Special
Transcending history, and the world... a tale of freaks and friends, eternally retold. It's a feature-length feature of the highest calibur! Aheh.



5. N-Gage Vs. Ronco Pocket Fisherman
4. Why The Andrews Aren’t Updating
3. X-2 Reasons to Make FFX-3 (#1: Rikku no longer underage)
2. CES Coverage
1. Alex & Ray’s Real Life Chou Aniki



5. Joel Stalks Girls at Anime Cons
4. Advanced Ponytail Management
3. Joel Stalks Girls in FFXI
2. T & Eh
1. The Women of Virtua Fighter Kids

Game logo

The world has seen its share of significant records. The Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence, the diary of Anne Frank — all giving wonderful insight into some of history’s most intriguing events and sparking a drive to preserve them for the ages. Like those records, Crunk Games also has a rich (poor) history behind it. And thanks to the Internet, this little game site has the possibility to be saved forever, unless archive.org blows up. While we’re not saying we’re on par with those past works, we are saying we’re less boring than them, so on the occasion of our first anniversary and our tenth ever feature (this one), we thought presenting a short history of our site and some other fun things would be the perfect filler. We’re confident we pulled it off.

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The desire to create a video game site fell upon young Italian immigrant Alex Fraioli in the beginning of autumn 2002, and he shared his desire with his best online friend, Ray Barnholt. The two had forged a close relationship based on the absurdity of their surnames, and Alex felt his friend would take to the idea. They had recently finished up tenures at two other game sites, one super cool and popular, the other not as much. Despite both men hanging on with professional freelance gigs, Alex felt uneasy, as if something might soon be lost, something important to the both of them: E3. With no steady work, they might not ever see each other again, so the idea was to start their own game site that could get them through the door and ultimately embrace lovingly on the streets of Los Angeles as they had months earlier.

But the goal of going to E3 faded slightly when the two realized the site’s true potential: a game site that combined professional with personal, somewhere they could freely cover the games they wanted to and have a decidedly low-budget look to make updating a less painful experience. It had to work out: with Alex’s love for survival horror games and Sega RPGs plus Ray’s inescapably obscure tastes in Japanese games and NES humping, the site could have a voice of its own, a flavor of its own. The concept was agreed upon and brainstorming began.

France Germany

One day, inspiration hit Ray like a bolt of lightning and within hours a layout for the site was completed. The maroon and pale brown color scheme gave a touch of class to what was otherwise a tongue-in-cheek site. A mock logo read "Crunk Games," a name Ray brought up earlier but Alex wasn’t completely down with, but Ray insisted that it was temporary. As it turned out, a better name for the site was never thought up, so Alex agreed to keep the Crunk moniker. What also stayed was the character inside the logo, a sullen-looking primate dubbed Angst Monkey. Calling him Anger Monkey or Crunk Monkey was too obvious, and besides, the kind of people that would be interested in what the site had to offer would invariably have personal dramas along the lines of fitting into high school or caught in anime club infighting. Angst Monkey wasn’t just a character, he was an empathetic voice.

However, something didn’t feel right. There was a void yet left to fill. Luckily it only took a short while for the two men to conclude that they were missing a third person. A partner, a liege, a whipping boy, a … coffee bitch. It took an even shorter while for them to choose Joel Ladouceur, a scraggly, lecherous, almost elfin Canadian that came from the darkest caves of IRC. Joel was more than happy to come on board, but not nearly as happy as Alex and Ray were. Joel was never expected to contribute any content to the site, but he still had a duty to fulfill. When the site would go down, he’d be there. When the Nescafe ran out, he’d be there. When the cat peed on the futon, he’d be there, each and every time with bells on. With a crew ready, a layout finished and a vision in place, the ship was finally ready to sail.

Crunkgames.com was registered in early January 2003 and stayed up for a few weeks, displaying a teaser while the boys worked tirelessly on the opening content. One import review and two features were planned, plus whatever news stories came in for fhe rest of the month. As they approached the home stretch, celebrity friend Nich Maragos had offered to contribute a monthly review of upcoming game releases. No help was bad help to the Crunk studs, so Nich was given his own spot on the team. On January 27th, 2003, Crunk Games introduced itself to the world at last.

The world didn’t take long to respond. Thanks to a link from an attentive jaded gamer, Crunk Games and its debut content traveled through the web like water in cracked concrete. Visitors found joy in the off-kilter features and insight in the game coverage, turning the site into a literal overnight success. Well after January ended, the hits kept on growing. The site became the #1 Google result for "crunk," beating out Crunk Real Estate and a page of N*Sync fanfiction, places widely regarded as the definitive sources for all things crunk. Now here were three well-dressed whiteboys — the polar opposite of those who should use the word "crunk" — talking about stupid video games and throwing everything out of whack.

Things were looking up, but Alex and Ray didn’t let fame get the best of them. The site stuck to its selective coverage and despite lulls in updating, it always bounced back. A feature where Joel reviewed Japanese idol games became (and still is) the most visited feature on the site, for obvious reasons. The unstoppable husband and wife duo of Chris and Annalisa Jones also contributed their part to the legacy through game and music reviews. Alex challenged notions of bandwidth and page length when he uploaded a full walkthrough of the original Phantasy Star, and Ray finally got to write a love letter to his favorite game, Boku no Natsuyasumi. Alex’s dream, which was also now the dream of the others, had been realized.

Print me then post to your dorm door! Then see how many drunks try to solve it!

In May, Crunk Games took its first trip to E3, which was the initial fanboyish purpose behind the site. By now the site was more significant than that, and the trip was better suited as a formal christening of the site, even though the gang didn’t do anything special except get drunk (or try to) and eat pizza like the year before. A blog kept readers in the know during the expo, and after it was over, a cumulative E3 feature was put up with a photo album and awards given to games at the show. The awards turned out to be a learning experience since there was no way such a small group could consisely decide on winners. Joel was blamed, had cat pee thrown on him, and plans for "game of the year" awards were soon scrapped.

2003 carried on with more games, more features and more laziness. "Friends of the family" continued to lend a hand with contributions, a forum experiment went as quickly as it came (so did Nich, for that matter), and the year ended with a nostalgic reflection on Final Fantasy VII. The group looked happily towards 2004, but they all knew deep down that no year could possibly outdo the first, the crunkest of them all.

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Well, that’s about as much as there is to say on this occasion. Nothing much has changed for 2004, except the header and the review ratings, so we’ll just continue doing what we’ve been doing. The only question is, who knows how much longer we can keep it up. 10 more features? 10 more years? Maybe some Swiss guy will mirror us by then. At any rate, thanks for reading. Maybe you’ll finally e-mail us this year and take the honor of being the fifth ever person to do so!

Illustration: Erin Mehlos

Crunk Games – 10th Feature Anniversary Special

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