A man and a creeper wash up on an island…

For me, one of the interesting – and as it turns out, happy – consequences of playing Capture the Record II came about through watching the highlights of Team Green’s play. The highlights (links are posted in the CTR2 blog post) were provided by xwcg of PretzelCast – someone I’d never met before. It turned out that he was also recording the game as he played, and his highlights expertly distilled the hours of building and fighting into three short videos. Someone grabs my attention like that, I want to know more about them.

Since then, I’ve got to know both xwcg (Michael Schwarz) and Serious_Creeper (Sven Paroth), and it’s a pleasure to have them as friends. However, xwcg was concerned that if he asked me to review their PretzelCast Let’s Play videos, I might regard it as trying to take advantage of our newly-formed friendship. Luckily, I don’t mind one bit if someone asks me to take a look at their stuff, rather than someone else’s – and I’d already been planning to review the videos, anyway – so it all worked out rather nicely, and no damage was done to our friendship! 😉

The PretzelCasters' logo.

The PretzelCasters' logo. I promise they're not as scary as their logo might suggest...

In the course of playing and writing about Minecraft, I’ve not encountered many players whom I’ve known to be from Europe. Mainly, they tend to hail from the UK or US, with the occasional Qatari and Australian thrown in. Well, the PretzelCasters are German, although Serious_Creeper now lives in Canada, and the tagline on their YouTube channel reads “Two german gamers playing games 😀 In English! With akzent!” [sic]. Don’t be put off by that, though: their speech doesn’t conform to (mostly British) stereotypes about Germans… You know the stereotype: thick, heavily-accented diction with stilted or faulty grammar. The Pretzelcasters are nothing like that at all: their accent is much gentler, although still clearly German, and their English-language usage is very clear and colloquial, so you’re not distracted from the action by trying to decipher what’s being said. Speaking of stereotypes, incidentally: xwcg and Serious_Creeper occasionally poke fun at those stereotypes (fanatical organisation, devotion to engineering prowess, that sort of thing)… and it’s fun to hear their take on those negative viewpoints.

Their main Minecraft Let’s Play series is based on the Survival Island 1.0 map, and the PretzelCasters specialise in, as they put it, “dual cammentary”1 – every episode has been filmed from both players’ perspectives, and you can choose which one you’d like to follow along with, although you can still hear the two of them, regardless of which video you watch. That said, it was recommended by xwcg that both versions of Episode 12 should be watched… so I did. Simultaneously. Or at least as close as I could get to it – I downloaded both videos, opened up two players, and was only about half a second out when I played them both, so I was able to mute one audio stream and watch both at once 🙂 A little convoluted, but an enjoyable experience, nonetheless 😀

Although xwcg and Serious_Creeper are fans of the Yogscast (occasionally referencing, and even imitating, them), their humour is much more gentle than that of Lewis and Simon. But that’s not a criticism, merely an explanation – I enjoy all kinds of humour, from in-your-face lunacy to charming, gentle comedy. The PretzelCasters aren’t immune to silliness, either – one of my favourite lines of the series came from Serious_Creeper, during Episode 12: “My bravery has crumbled like a cookie under elephant feet.” 😀

While the Survival Island series isn’t wall-to-wall action, the PretzelCasters don’t shilly-shally around – they’re always doing something to work towards the achievements that the Survival Island map creator set up. And the episodes aren’t bereft of action, either – especially Episode 12. I’m not going to say any more than that, and risk spoiling it for you.

If I have any real criticism at all, it would be that they could do with making two additional playlists for each of their video series (they don’t just play Minecraft, incidentally), one for xwcg’s perspectives, and the other for Serious_Creeper. That way, you can put the playlist on automatic, and not have to keep skipping to get past the other player’s version of the same episode you’ve just watched. Now, ideally, it’d be good if episodes could contain both perspectives in the same video clip, but that’s a hell of a lot of data to be sending through the Internet – so that’s more of a pipe dream on my part, than anything else 🙂

Serious_Creeper and xwcg also have their own YouTube channels, as well as the PretzelCast channel. Please note that PretzelCast is NSFW for R-rated language, and I’ve not properly looked at their individual channels, yet, so those may also be NSFW. That said, I have seen Serious_Creeper’s 90 Seconds of Awesomeness Tutorial videos, of which there are presently two (and G-rated): How to Make a Map! and How to Create Pistons! These are both informative and very silly – Serious_Creeper plays the action at high speed, and does post-play commentary in a rather peculiar voice 😉

The PretzelCasters are great gamers, and enjoyable people to be around2. I think they really deserve to have more viewers, so I’m very happy to include them in the “One to Watch” category… Go check them out!

1 … and that spelling was giving Microsoft Word a small case of autocorrect apoplexy when I was typing it 😛

2 The two of them, being fans of Doctor Who (xwcg got Serious_Creeper hooked on the show during the course of their Survival Island LPs), have taken to referring to me as The Doctor. Serious_Creeper felt I might have become annoyed with it, but as I told him at the time, anything other than being called “Harry Potter” is a refreshing change 🙂

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