Monday, March 26, 2012

So Who's This Zelda Chick Anyway?

Nothing hits home with the admission that I am a non-gamer more than when I am confronted with stuff I don't know, and worse yet, stuff I know I should know. Like Zelda.

The Dark Crystal recently invited me to a big orchestra event where they would be playing the music from the Legend of Zelda videogames. The inference in the invitation is first, that this was a big thing, and second, that everyone knows who Zelda is. I do not, and I felt stupid.

Even my buddy Ray had recently given me a hard time because I admitted not knowing who Zelda was. Apparently he was further incensed because it was a game even I could play. Ray was ashamed of me. I was crushed. Who was this Zelda chick, and why was she ruining my life?

I did what everyone does in this situation, I visited Google, and then Google for dummies (that's me apparently in this case), Wikipedia. Turns out she's not just anyone named Zelda, bitch is legend, as in The Legend of Zelda. I knew she was a Nintendo product, but I had no idea she was the star of some sixteen different games on at least a dozen different game systems. Zelda gets around.

Now here are the facts. Zelda was named after the famous Zelda Fitzgerald, wife of the even more famous F. Scott. Game designer Shigeru Miyamoto thought it was a pleasant sounding name for a princess. The game itself is based on the designer's own experiences as a boy where he explored the hills, lakes, forests, and caves around his home.

As inferred by Crystal's invitation to a concert, the music of The Legend of Zelda is also quite famous and distinctive. Koji Kondo, a legend in music and audio for Nintendo composed the soundtracks for much of the game series, including musical clues and cues throughout. His work can also be found in the Mario and Starfox games.

The story of the game is fairly simple, or at least I'll dumb it down quite a bit here. You play the hero Link, and you have to quest for stuff in the land of Hyrule to rescue the princess, Zelda. Like I said, I streamlined this baby. It gets more complicated the more you get into it. Link is sorta a cross between Peter Pan and the elf from Gauntlet in appearance, and has been parodied on Cartoon Network's "Drawn Together." Hyrule is your typical fantasy land, and Zelda, is usually the damsel in distress, only there to be saved or served. Later versions of course are playable, and more independent.

Well now that I have a little foreknowledge, and won't be made to feel as stupid as before, maybe I'll play one of these games in the future...

Friday, March 23, 2012

Trapped Like a Cat in a Box

Blade Kitten was one of the first free demos I downloaded from the PlayStation Store. Cool name, cool anime look, and it seemed like it would be fun. Somehow, I just never got around to trying it out. Once I did, I was very happy I downloaded it... until I got trapped.

First of all, Blade Kitten is something very different in the videogame world. It's not based on an anime, or a comic book, or even an animated movie or TV series - it's based on a webcomic. I was pleased and surprised too. The webcomic (and the game), coincidentally by game designer Steve Stamatiadis, follows the anime adventures of Kit Ballard, and half-cat, half-human bounty hunter, as she pursues her prey, troublemaker Terra-Li on the artificial planet called Hollow Wish.

I rushed into it blindly, with some tutorial help showing and telling what to do, but markedly, as usual, with zero instructions. I was actually doing well, taking names and kicking ass, and then I got cocky. I somehow made my way past a laser beam and into a box that I couldn't get out of. So for an undetermined amount of time I mashed buttons, yelled at the screen, and listened to the catchy dance rock music until I gave up.

Maybe I'll go back and try again, or play from the start and just avoid this part, but I think I will go back. I had fun. Or maybe I'll have Crystal, or Jeff, or Ray get me past this part. Either way, this was a very good download. And if you want to know more about Blade Kitten in all its various forms, the official website is here.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Patrick's Day in the DC Universe

At Christmas the DC Universe Online game had some special goodies going on with Larfleeze the Orange Lantern. There's something similar happening this weekend for St. Patrick's Day with Superman foe Mister Mxyzptlk. I guess the fifth dimensional imp is the closest that DC Comics has to a leprechaun, so he shows up with pots of gold full of gold coins. Here's a video that gives you a better idea.

I gave it a shot with The Red Sun, but I don't think I managed to snag any coins. I'm still working on the controller...

The YouTube video is courtesy of 2TM's House Of Pain.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

More Sonic

Well, it's time for more Sonic. No, not that Sonic, with their great shakes, burgers, fries, and onion rings, but that danged hedgehog again. When we last talked about the furry blue menace, I tried to play Sonic the Hedgehog CD and Sonic Generations. This time, I'm going to give Sonic the Hedgehog 4 a shot, or at least just Episode I as this game demo is subtitled.

First a few words about Sonic, as I had questions last time around myself. The hedgehog was created in 1991 by Sega in hopes of designing a mascot for their games much the same as Mario was for Nintendo. Now the similarity in the games makes a little more sense, as Sonic was in essence, Sega's Mario. He began as more round, spiky and hedgehog-like then became more humanoid and streamlined as time went on, but has always been a super-speed rolling dynamo. Sonic has starred in more than two dozen games, in multiple comic books, and in animated series where an entire mythology exists for the character. He's bigger than I ever would have thought.

Now let's go on to the game. Last time, I was on Green Hill, this time I started on Splash Hill, and whatever that means, I don't know, sorry. Sonic, it should be noted, is a very impatient hedgehog. If you don't start right away, he'll tap his foot, look at his watch, and eventually lie down, looking annoyed the whole time. Hey, my game, my pace, bucko. But then again, maybe he's tired of that music too. More annoyingly, he'll do it if you stop during a game too.

This version of the game (4) is a bit more upfront and easy to understand. As a matter of fact, this resembled the first Sonic game I played almost as much as it did Super Mario Bros. There was one difference I noticed, and again, perhaps that was the Non-Gamer playing it wrong, but Sonic seemed to be led by circumstance and situation more than Mario. It's been a little while since I played any of the SMB games, but it always felt like I had more free will than in this Sonic game.

These Sonic games were fun for a bit, but I think I'll leave them to my nephew from now on. Enjoy, kid!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Somebody's Been Watching Way Too Much Tim Burton…

Just the introduction of Scarygirl made me want to run out of the mall Hot Topic I was trapped in and throw up whatever hallucinogenic drug I had accidentally swallowed. Then I realized I was neither at the mall nor at a Tim Burton movie marathon. I was in my living room with the downloaded demo of Scarygirl. Sigh. At least I can delete it when I'm done writing about it, or at least that's how I felt before playing it.

Scarygirl is based on the gothic graphic novel by Nathan Jurevicius and can probably be found at Hot Topic more often than your local comics shop. No offense meant, but it is 2012, and this whole Goth thing was over some time ago, like probably about the time "South Park" got wind of it. If you're still Goth now, you're either a vampire, living in the past, or really really committed - or all three. Again, no offense, The Bride leans that way sometimes, and I still love her.

Scarygirl is the story of a Goth chick who looks like a Tim Burton ragdoll and meets a friendly octopus who's kind of obsessed with her. There are bunnies and owls and all manner of oddities along her way, but Scarygirl is a Goth chick with a mission, and that mission is to find out what's what with a nightmare she keeps having. I think. I kinda dozed off.

Now all that said, gameplay is something else altogether. It's still looks like Tim Burton threw up all over the screen, and the images are a bit disturbing, but it was fun, and even though it was a demo, I got a lot of play out of it, and for me, that's saying something. It's a fun world to explore, notably more fun to me than say Little BIG Planet or certainly Incredible Hulk. This is a platformer (see, I'm learning) definitely worth playing, thumbs up from the Non-Gamer.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Whole Lotta Sonic

The last time my nephew Ben visited we showed him the PS3. Bless his six year old heart, the kid was mesmerized. Unfortunately as we soon realized, we didn't really have any games that he could play - or would be appropriate to play that his parents wouldn't kill us over.

So, the next time I was cruising through the PlayStation Store looking for free demos, I downloaded all the Sonic games I could find. Sonic is huge, not just out in the world and at my local comic shop, but also in my nephew's household. Bingo, if the 'rents let him watch Sonic, of course they'd let him play it, right?

I snagged Sonic the Hedgehog CD, Sonic Generations, and Sonic the Hedgehog 4. The next time Ben came over, he loved it, and played for hours, seemingly grasping the controllers, the rules, the physics, the worlds, all that stuff. The more I watched this six year old, the more I marveled at his mad skillz, and the older I felt, because he was doing so much that I was incapable of in 90% of the PS3 games I've attempted. But that's beside the point.

My initial problem with Sonic is that he's a hedgehog. I've seen hedgehogs, and neither are they blue nor fast. They're actually fat, flat and quite slow mammals. This seems an unlikely model for the videogame superstar, but maybe there's something clever and snarky I'm missing out on. I knew one thing, sadly, this hedgehog had nothing to do with Sonic Drive-In.

I tried the first one, Sonic CD, and was mildly surprised. There was a fun animated intro sequence that I kinda dug. It made me wonder if there was a Sonic cartoon. It took me a few times, but eventually I got it. It's a lot like Super Mario Bros. for the NES, only with different stuff, but the same patterns. You had to know the world, and know what's coming, to get through it. Unfortunately it was only one level, being a demo, but I think I could have gone further, and for me, that's saying a lot. It was fun too.

I tried Sonic Generations next. I was wary of this one because ray had characterized it as being my speed. That's never a good sign when he says that. The point of this game is that you get to play the different Sonics as they have evolved over the years. I'll admit I'm dumbfounded. Years? Sonic has been around long enough to have different incarnations, really? Wow, it took the Justice Society almost thirty years to get a second generation…

The game demo gave me the options of exploring Green Hill, which I'm guessing is from an earlier game, re-imagined with high definition graphics, or see it in an entirely new perspective. Seeing as how I have played little to no Sonic so far, it's all new to me. I tried the first, and despite the little critter circling me and trying to help (kinda like the annoying paper clip man in Microsoft Word), I managed to get through. I think I might like the original Sonic game based on this, because for me, all the HD 3D stuff did was distract me.

The second version was almost like a first person shooter, um, uh, runner and jumper. You're behind Sonic as he does his stuff and facing forward. This looked cooler, and was even a bit acrophobic in places and probably not good for folks with motion sickness. I didn't do well with this one, but I wouldn't mind watching someone else play this one.

Well, that's enough Sonic for now, I'm all Sonicked out. Maybe I'll talk about Sonic 4 next time. I'm off hedgehogs for the moment, especially when they make me dizzy.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Demo, Not the Movie

Now I've been seeing previews for Real Steel the movie since January, I think it's on DVD and Blu-Ray by now, after only lasting a few weeks in theaters. It's one of those previews that pretty much tells you the whole story of the movie in a two-minute trailer. Hugh Jackman is a former boxer in a world where boxing has moved on. It's now done with robots. His estranged son wants to have a boxing robot, so Hugh gets one from a junkyard but teaches it his old moves. Robot wins championship, father wins son's respect. You can see it a mile away.

I'm probably not going to see the movie, as I said, the trailer already gave everything away. But when I saw the demo was available on the PlayStation Store, I downloaded it, as it just might be fun. In the trial version, there are few options available to those who refuse to purchase the full game. Bummer. Much like Marvel vs. Capcom 2, a second player is needed. So I grabbed Ray and made him play with me.

Maybe I still don't understand this stuff, but in this case Ray doesn't either, 'cause once we had two controllers connected the game worked, but only for one player, so who knows what was what. The suckiest part of the whole thing is that even once we started playing, we still had our butts handed to us. Ray had heard this was a terrible game to begin with because of the controller placement, whatever that means. I'm deleting this game for sure.

Happy Feet Two is another game demo based on a movie, and in this case, the game is much more fun than the movie. I disliked the movie a lot. I did like the original Happy Feet film, and I dig the demo quite a bit as well. You're a penguin who likes to dance, and you groove across a icy terrain picking up musical notes like Mario going after coins and also pick up dance partners along the way. The effects, the music, and the gameplay are easy, fun, and a blast. One hundred percent better than the movie it's named after.