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The story follows Erin Stout, a game reviewer who writes for the website "Little Miss Critical, and her co-workers, which include Erin's partner, Elliot Clutch, her boss, Sharon, and a ton of minor characters. Although the comic focuses mainly on video games, a few have to do with movies and various other topics.
This webcomic contains examples of:
- After the End: The Children of Steam story arc.
- Ambiguous Disorder, Sanity Slippage and Cloudcuckoolander : Self-referrentially here. Which has now created a Temporal Paradox.
- American Kirby Is Hardcore: Predicted with ICO HD. For those not familiar, have a look at the original European and American covers.
- And That Would Be Wrong/Shutting Up Now: Making a joke about a colleague who died in an landslide of shovelware, Erin immediately backpedals.
- Art Evolution: Erin looks very different in the first strips than in the latest ones.
- Author Avatar: Seen in the Children of Steam arc. The blonde one is Cory Rydell (the artist) and the one with glasses is Grey Carter (the writer). Erin remarks that "They seem a bit... retarded."
- Be Careful What You Wish For: 3D Sonic games.
- Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: According to the pie chart here, user-generated emblems in Call of Duty Black Ops are all skulls, dicks, or skulls with dicks on them.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: "This is going to look terrible on my TVTropes page".
- Cat Fight: Between Mol and Erin (when Erin goes to destroy Elliot's Xbox 360 - Kratos told her to) in their underwear. Elliot sits back and enjoys it for a while, until it goes too far and Erin throws the X Box at Mol's head.
- Cerebus Syndrome: Lampshaded on the "Chapter 2" title page, which pokes fun at strip's recent developments (sex drama, mental illness, et cetera) with band posters for Miscarriage Arc, who are opening for Cerberus Syndrome.
- Commie Nazis: How do you make the Helghast even more evil-looking? By adding Stalin and Hitler. No, wait, Stalin and two Hitlers! No, wait, Stalin, two Hitlers, and Flaming Eyes of Doom in a sea of Hellfire! That should look evil enough.
- Crush Blush: Erin sports one here, though that might just be the alcohol.
- Cut and Paste Environments: Erin comes across this in Dragon Age.
- Dangerously Genre Savvy: Erin knows. She's on to us!
- Deep-Immersion Gaming
- Description Cut: Journalistic integrity!
- Distracted By The Graphics: Gran Turismo 5's graphics are so awesome that Erin can't stay on the road.
- Double Meaning Title: Part reference to Critical Failure; part (as made clear by the blog-within-a-blog's title) that Erin is Little Miss Critical. And hell, why not, maybe it's a pun on "critical mass" for some reason.
- Double Standard: Erin's reason for why a Warhammer 40000 MMO wouldn't work, because girl gamers would all want to be Space Marines, which are male-only in that setting.
- Everything's Worse with Bears: Subverted with Charles, who works with Erin. He gets offended when she plays Naughty Bear, saying that having a bear protagonist killing other bears is discriminatory garbage.
Charles: This isn't a game, Stout. You know what this is? This is bearsploitation. And you're legitimizing it by playing it.
Erin: (Don't laugh. Don't laugh. Don't laugh.)
- Feathered Fiend: Seagullus, scourge of the kitchen table!
- Five Stages of Grief: Erin goes through them for Mass Effect 3, particularly the ending. Except there's no acceptance and more depression.
- Good Angel, Bad Angel: When Erin asks how to make her console-playing friends see the error of their ways, Sora from Kingdom Hearts suggests friendship and that you can't force them to change their opinions. Erin takes that as Plan A and asks Kratos from God of War for a Plan B. The next panel is her ripping Elliot's Xbox 360 from the TV.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck: The rating board at the ESRB seem to be stuck in this.
- Grenade Spam: Parodied in "The Stoning of Saint Bluntninja".
- Has Two Mommies: Mini-Moll appears to.
- Head Pet: Suchong, Erin's pet fancy rat.
- Helpful Hallucination: After a car accident in "Stowaways", Erin is talking to hallucinations of videogame characters, with Zelda's Link appearing to be a kind of "spirit guide". Possibly. Though how "helpful" they are is debatable, especially to Erin herself.
- I Know Mortal Kombat: Erin wants to show people that, even though she reviews games for a living, she has "life skills". She does this by helping an old lady cross the street. By repeatedly suplexing her.
- I Need a Freaking Drink
- It Got Worse: Dark Souls
- I Was Young and I Needed The Money: The Darkness apparently took a roll playing a Naughty Tentacle in an old H-game.
- Lightning Glare: Between Nintendo and Rovio.
- Murder Is the Best Solution: Often recommended to Erin by some of her more Sociopathic Hero Helpful Hallucinations.
- Mushroom Samba: Tripping balls in "Fear and Loathing in New Vegas".
- Nightmare Fetishist: Scary Penny, Erin's graphic artist. If you tell her a character from a cartoon show from your childhood, she'll draw a picture of Nathan Fillion having sex with it.
- One of Us: It's an exclusive gang.
- Overprotective Dad: Inverted with Mortal Kombat's Shao Khan. You're not going out dressed like that, young lady! Take some clothes off!
- Self-Deprecation: The life of a videogames journalist.
My name is Erin Stout and I review videogames on the internet. Yes, the internet. I can feel your awe.
- Serious Business: Farmville will destroy gaming! Casual gamers will rise up against "hardcore" gamers! No.
- Shout-Out: The little sentences under each comic is a shout out, usually (if not always) to a song lyric.
- "Cory Rydell and Grey Carter have got guns in their hands but the guns won't cock."
- Speechbubbles Interruption: Erin gets distracted from her moping.
Erin: Gracious! Pastries!
- Stop Helping Me!: "You just got Mario sucked into a black hole, a gateway to the dark void between realities, where he will be tortured forever. That is not helping. That is the opposite of helping."
- Story Arc: "Children of Steam", taking place in a post-apocalyptic-like scenario caused when Gabe Newell shuts down Steam because of all the fat jokes at his expense. Also, "God Emperor of Steam", its finale. After that is the "Stowaways" arc, which segues into "Chapter 2: Up, up, down, down".
- Take That: Pretty much the entire point of the comic, as Erin is extremely critical. A few examples:
- In one strip, Sharon reviewed most of the preview copies of games that were delivered. Only two were left for Erin and Elliot to review: Kane and Lynch 2 and Virtua Shit Eater 5. Both Erin and Elliot ask for Virtua Shit Eater.
- "Since its release, over one hundred million man-child-hours have been spent on Call of Duty Black Ops."
- In a slap-fight between Nintendo and Rovio, Erin says her money's on "the company that's made a fortune shilling casual nonsense to idiots who don't know any better".
- One more for Mass Effect 3's infamous ending.
- Too Much Information: Some people manage to keep their tales of weapons-grade bowel movements to themselves. Not here.
- Too Smart for Strangers: Erin apparently pays attention to those after-school specials. Who knew?
- Unfortunate Implications: Invoked for what happens when application files are undeleted in the Tron 'Verse.
- The Voiceless: Scary Penny.
- Wham! Episode: The "Stowaways" storyline. Surprisingly sombre in comparison to the wackiness of previous strips, and resulted in a permanent change in the comic's dynamic.
- You're Not My Father: Kitana to Shao Khan, after he tells her that he doesn't want her fighting in anything more than "two strips of leather held tenuously together by wishful thinking".
- Xtreme Kool Letterz: These upset Erin. "It's just my English gland."
- You Are Fat: "Call Me Ishmael"
- Your Mom: "According to Call of Duty Black Ops players, your mom has apparently slept with an average of 23 different men in the last 48 hours."