If you walk around my flat bare-footed, crap will get stuck to your feet.
I don’t mean literal crap – I’m not that slovenly – but it will start with maybe a little dust mote. Then maybe a feather from the pillows. Then a bit of stray leaf that blows in from outside. With me, I’ve become so used to it that it doesn’t at all surprise me when I look down and find next door’s cat halfway up my shin.
Imagine my surprise when I came across Beautiful Katamari, a game that has successfully encapsulated my domestic inanities.
OK, when I say ‘surprise’, I’m lying a bit. Katamari is almost as old as that thing where you go to step out of someone’s way but then you both move to the right and end up doing this stupid little dance thing until one of you finally crouches into the foetal position and cries “OH GOD STOP”. Much like people do when I start talking. But I spotted Beautiful Katamari in the local game store and was urged to buy it by the nearest member of staff after I confessed to once playing early installment Katamari Damacy.
For those of you that don’t know, the idea behind any Katamari game is that you roll a sticky ball around brightly-coloured dynamic environments in order to pick up items that are smaller than you, thus creating a ball with an infinitely larger diameter. It’s a harder task than you imagine, especially when you roll yourself merrily towards a Dayglo anime Thermos and then bounce viciously off of it because you didn’t realise you were smaller than it.
Just like having to pick bulb filaments out of my heel every so often, Beautiful Katamari is a little bit frustrating. The gameplay is actually fun – they could have just stuck the same formula (small member of Royalty rolls ball around) into different locations (supermarket, cafe, City centre, S&M dungeon) but they’ve added innovative twists to the later stages. For instance, you have to recreate the planet Mars, and in order to do so you need to roll up enough hot items to reach a certain temperature in a world peppered with spicy sauce and jalapeno pizzas as well as snowmen and fire extinguishers.
The most unforgivable thing in the world – sadly – is one of the main characters. The story is that the King of All Cosmos, an overzealous megalomaniac with a penchant for phallic headwear was playing tennis with his wife one day, until he managed to crack a hole in the bloody sky and lose most of the heavenly bodies in it. As the mute Prince, you have to do Daddy’s bidding and gather a bundle of objects together to recreate the planets.
This would be fine if King Purpletights would just leave you alone. The screens are already packed full: what with 3D yogurt pots and crayons flying about and the Prince and his ball smack in the middle, the last thing you’d want is some giant speech bubble obstructing your view. But oh, Big Daddy King is all too happy to oblige when it comes to giving you what you don’t want. And Heaven forfend you start rolling without him: he launches into a tirade of anger, finishing with “We are NOT speaking to you!”. Which would make you cheer, only as soon as you turn a corner, he feeds you an obscure Star Trek quote and insults your abilities.
Despite my whingeing, I’m really enjoying the game and am actually going back to re-play levels – something I haven’t done since Arkham Asylum. It’s part puzzle, part roaming platformer, and a hell of a lot more fun that picking Christmas tree needles out of your toes.
I’m going to talk about shadow of the colossus, its a fairly old game,but it’s got a HD remake coming out later this year (along with its spiritual sequel ICO) so I thought we should take a look at the original.
Shadow of the colossus (or SotC to shorten the title down) was made by team Ico way back in 2005 as a sequel to their first game, ICO. On the first game you play as Wander a man who has traveled to a forbidden land to ask the god who lives there, Dorim; if he/she can bring his true love, Mono, back from the dead. In return , Dorim sets you the task of slaying 16 colossi that roam the forbidden land.
Finding the colossi is harder than it sounds, you raise your sword to the sky and follow the ray of light, but that only leads you so far. Then it becomes a game of run around like mad person and hope that something sets off the pre-battle cutscene . All that searching is worth it the second you first catch a glimpse of a colossi. Each battle has it’s own unique strategy to deal with these amazing creatures , but don’t worry if you have trouble figuring out what it is because Dorim will give you a hint if they think that you’re taking to much time. Once you’ve climbed onto the colossi its then time to find its weak point, a glowing sigil, whilst holding onto the creature’s body as it tries to shake you off. Stab the sigil with your sword a few times and the beast falls to the floor defeated, but its not over yet. Now it’s time to play outrun the creepy soul corrupting tentacles that are coming your way (unfortunately you can’t outrun them, but its fun to try :P).
Outside of the colossi battles you spend most of your time wandering the vast landscape or if you don’t want to walk there’s always your loyal horse Agro; and I use the term loyal very loosely. Agro is Wander’s only mode of transport , besides running, and trust me, with a horse like agro you’ll be running a lot. Controlling Agro is like steering a trolley with a broken wheel, repeatedly hitting the ‘X’ button will make the horse go from a gentle trot to a gallop. He isn’t stupid though; if you get too close to a cliff or even a slight ditch in the earth agro come to a grinding halt. Also, when you cross a bridge, get off the horse or you may end up plummeting towards the water below. During colossi battles is where Agro is at his most annoying. On the few occasions I called to him, in need of a quicker escape, he just wandered away in the opposite direction.
I could go on all day abut how beautiful my music is or how the art style looks as if its something out of a painting, but those sort of things are best seen with your own eyes and your own ears.
See? Now wasn’t that like 100 times better than me describing it to you?
Ok, I don’t think there’s much else I can get into regarding this game without entering the dreaded spoiler zone, so let me finish this review with a few final words. If you have a PS2 sitting at home gathering dust in a corner somewhere, take it out , give it a good clean. Then get ahold of a copy of Shadow of the Colossus and immerse yourself in a wonderful game that is, in my honest opinion, still better than many modern adventure/RPG titles to come out in the last 3-4 years. But if your an owner of a PS3, I recommend keeping ahold of that money and get the shiny HD remastered team Ico Collection which contains both Shadow of the Colossus and ICO in one neat package. Here’s the trailer if I’ve managed to pique your curiosity.
I promise it will be worth the wait.
You know that advert for a certain brand of frozen foods with the stupid Polar Bear? The one that lives in people’s fridges, judging their choice of foods and pestering unsuspecting suckers on holiday. Cute and cuddly for some; makes me want to punt the TV with my foot and hide behind the sofa. But why? As Brian Conley would say, “It’s a puppet”. It can’t hurt me.
People can’t help but have quirky fears. And it doesn’t help when games developers keep slipping in the odd red herring to keep sales of brown underwear on the rise.
I’m not talking about your obvious horror – you know, things that go bump in the night and then eat your face off when you come to seek out the source of the noise. I’m talking about the things that you know can’t hurt you really, but that creep the hell out of you nevertheless. Here’s a little list I spent some horrible agonising time compiling.
MIMI from SUPER PAPER MARIO
Oh good God, where do I start. From a game that looks like Mario-branded fuzzy felts came this vision of horror. She looks like a cute little girl, talks like a cute little girl, then her head spins around and legs grow out of her torso like a cute little…um…oh. And her war cry is her own name. She’s a master of disguise, but if you’re smart enough (i.e. over age 3) to see through her masquerade then you’ll realise you’re leading your comrades to her spidery brand of doom.
SHIT-A-BRICK RATING: 3
THE SEGA CHORUS from SEGA GAMES SERIES
Everybody knows this, surely. That choral sound whenever you booted up a game on your Sega console. SEEE-GAAA! It’s jaunty, it’s classic, it’s bloody horrifying. No, hear me out: it is. It doesn’t even sound like people, and when I try and imagine it as a choral piece I imagine a bunch of doomed and vengeful spirits trapped inside my Dreamcast, ready to burst out in the night a wreak revenge on the girl that forces them to sing against their will. Even the ‘lighter’ version, used before later games such as Sonic 3D Blast, doesn’t dispel my fear either. Or is it just me?
SHIT-A-BRICK RATING: 6
MAJOR BURROWS from SUPER MARIO GALAXY
For all his chubby Italian charm, Mario is a repeat offender when it comes to bowel-shattering weirdofear. This boss takes the form of a giant mole. Sounds harmless, right? Not if you consider that in reality moles are squinty little creatures with massive claws and snub noses. This is a giant cartoon version, and you know how cartoons exaggerate reality? And have you heard the noise this thing makes? Imagine the cries emitted by Brian Blessed as he is encased in carbonite, a la Han Solo. It’s chilling.
SHIT-A-BRICK RATING: 2
COFAGRIGUS from POKEMON BLACK/WHITE
This little sod puts the ‘Monster’ in ‘Pocket Monster’. I mean, look at it: it’s a coffin. With arms. And if you look at its PokeDex entry in Black Version: “It has been said that they swallow those that get too close and turn them into mummies.” Surely in order to train these Pokemon you have to get close to them? Yeah, that’s right, their trainers. I don’t know about you but I’m burying this one in the storage box system and never getting the bugger out again.
SHIT-A-BRICK RATING: 5
GAME OVER MUSIC from SONIC SERIES
I had an ex-boyfriend who was a walking train wreck apart from his taste in games (hey, doesn’t everyone?). One day he confessed to having a recurring nightmare: he was playing Sonic and died mid-level, only to find the end-game music got stuck on the last note. He turned off the game: it didn’t stop. He turned off the console, unplugged everything and ran out of his room but still the sound followed him all the way, droning in his ears. He couldn’t hear anything else, just the last note of that Game Over music. I wasn’t convinced until I played the game again some time later, and as much as I hate to admit it, he’s right.
SHIT-A-BRICK RATING: 4
RABBIDS from RAYMAN SERIES
I had a rabbit a few years ago. Her name was Misty; she was pure white, timid and cute, and the best thing about her was that not once did she open her jaw up to three times the width of her own face and scream “DAAAAAAAAAH!” in a blood-curdling voice. I used to like Rayman as well; I could even see past the slightly creepy way his arms and legs were separate from the rest of him. And now you’re expected to make these eldritch abominations sing, dance and play party games avoiding the glaring fact: they’re freakish. You expect to find them crouched over the corpses of their own kind, eating the entrails.
SHIT-A-BRICK RATING: 4
THE SMOKY PROGG from PIKMIN 2
Ah, nothing like trawling through the landscape with a herd of Pikmin as your wards. Ooh look, a butterfly. Ooh look, a lovely pool of water. Ooh look, an egg. Let’s smash it open. HOLY MOTHER OF GOD WHAT IS THAT. It looks like a ghost’s abortion. Make it go away, Olimar. I suppose that’s what you get for smashing up eggs.
SHIT-A-BRICK RATING: 4
Author Terry Pratchett once explored the notion of bad dreams in his writing, and he came up with the idea that the worst nightmares are normal things gone wrong. Everyday objects turning evil. Amen, Terry.
Night night, sleep tight. Don’t let your alarm clock bite.
My sophomore year of university, I shared a suite with two guys. I think there were four (five?) game consoles. We had two mini-fridges: one for mixers, one for beer. We converted a desk into a bar. I learnt the art of being an alpha-male arsehole. We made the kind of jokes that would have gotten us killed in public.
It was AWESOME.
For some reason, Guitar Hero was the proving ground that decided which of my two male roommates was the most virile. Not something sensible like, I don’t know, Halo or Warcraft or something, no: Guitar Hero. (One roommate was in a top-rated WoW guild, the other managed a professional team of Warcraft III players. Why not an MMO or an RTS? Who knows.)
The apex of manliness was apparently playing “Texas Flood” on expert with baked goods tied to the hands and getting five stars. We never actually attached anyone’s fingers to bread loaves, and I don’t remember who reached the top of Man Mountain first, but I can tell you that I could only play Guitar Hero when my roommates were both otherwise occupied.
Still, I got in some practice. I think I managed to pass “Cochise” on medium…? Anyway, considering the time I had to work with, I was damn good. (Not so with SmashBros. I suck at SmashBros. FALCOOOOOOON…PAUNCH!)
LofL (the love of my life) found a copy of Guitar Hero, II, and Legends of Rock for three bucks each at Game Stop a few days ago. “Okay, I dig it,” I thought. “I might be able to play this still.” We had a guitar already, five bucks at a garage sale.
That damned guitar. I played like a GOD for oh, five hours. And then I went to sleep, because I hadn’t slept in umpteen hours (writers, amirite?).
Sure, the strum bar didn’t work when you pushed up, but it was okay. Most of the menus were cyclical. I played by thumbing the strum bar down most of the time, anyway.
When I woke up, the downstroke didn’t work at all. It was like a magic suck-button. It either wouldn’t register or would register twice at once. (It took us a little while to figure it out because the only game in which LofL can be truthfully classified as “newb” is Guitar Hero — and when he told me he was playing worse than usual I was like, “So what else is new?” No I wasn’t. I’m not that mean.)
I’ll soothe your burning curiosity immediately: playing only on the upstroke is really goddamn annoying. It’s too slow. My fingers slip.
What could I do? I had four stars on “Sharp Dressed Man” on EASY. I played and played and played. I migrated back and forth over the sofa. I made LofL (my personal technology guru, bless his heart) open both of our guitars to see if he could scavenge parts from the one that didn’t work to make a kind of FrankenGibson. (Alas, no.)
When the guitar was working, I played on medium and managed four and five stars on mostly everything up to “No One Knows”. Also beyond “No One Knows”. Because let’s face it, “No One Knows” is not “medium”, no matter what that game says.
Refer to the riff that first takes place between 1:08 and 1:10 where you have to play both lead guitar and bass guitar at once. That douche killed me every time unless I stared through the screen — because Guitar Hero is like snappy comebacks. If you think about it, you fail. I should have played it drunk.
Anyway, that’s my meandering story. Hope you didn’t loathe it. I could bitch and moan some more about how playing on the upstroke made me repeat “Killer Queen” so many times to get five stars on easy that my neighbourhood dogs started howling and my fish died, or how upstroke killed my cousin’s firstborn and is the progenitor of AIDS and 4-chan. It’s okay; I won’t.
1. Guitar Hero is best played with a working guitar.
2. Guitar Hero is best played whilst either sleep-deprived or drunk.
3. If you can play “Texas Flood” on expert, having baked goods tied to your fingers with string, and subsequently get five stars, you are Alpha Male Plus Numbaa One Strong Man and women will flock to you.
4. Don’t play with the jock. Nobody likes you if you play with the jock.
This past week I was out, so my regular updates naturally ceased for a short while, as did my gaming. Now that I’m back, I have a lot to look forward to! Right before I left, my boyfriend lent me Prince of Persia: Sands of Time for the PS2.
I’ve actually never played any of the Prince games, but I’ve always heard very good things about them. Someone gifted me Prince of Persia: Warrior Within a few years ago as well, but I realized it wasn’t the first game and have thus never played it. Another thing is I watched a friend of mine play through maybe 20% of the most recent Prince game (somewhere in the middle chunk of the game overall) on his laptop, so I had some familiarity with Prince by the time the movie, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time came out a few weeks ago. I recognized the references the movie made to the games, but realized it came a little short. My boyfriend also filled me in on a few storyline points that the movie changed, all the usual stuff.
I played through just the first stage or two (I call them stages, between the save points. You can call it whatever you like.) before going away on my trip. The visuals still hold up very well, I really like all the controls, and the sound track is amazing. Granted, the music in the actual game itself does not sound that good; it’s actually quite choppy and just too compressed. Listening to it from the soundtrack, though, is very pleasant. I really enjoy puzzle games, so I’ve been having a blast with this one!
And when I got home, it was my birthday.
Guess what my wonderful boyfriend gave me? Batman! Game of the Year version Batman AA. I’m thrilled, because I’ve been wanting to play that game for a long time and never really found a good copy at a good used price in the local shops, so I just never bought it. Elsewise, I decided to wait on that game since I’ve been playing other things. Once I’m done with the first Prince of Persia game, I’ll tackle Batman before I move on, I think. He’s my favorite superhero. I actually got 2 awesome gifts from him. Besides Batman, he found this great Green Lantern tumbler and decorated it for me.I know it’s naught to do with gaming, but I still would like to share!
Note that it’s all studded up around the logo and whatnot. The stars that are viewable are actually in the back around the word “WILL”. The bottom has my name sticker’d on. In my next post, I will show everyone what I do to super hero t-shirts and why my friends call me Fabulous Batman. =)
We all have our favourites.
Favourite guilty pleasure TV show.
Favourite gaming platform.
When we all make a choice, oh wait…erm…okay. When most make a choice of what platform they will favour and play on they have a reason. If you’re me you never make a choice completely. The question is, why do you favour one platform over another? I don’t mean, which is better, but why do you like it so much that you’re willing to sink your hard earned cash into it.
I lie, I do play favourites. I have an irrational and rational bias towards the Sony platforms. In regards to the Playstations, it’s usually been a hardware and game bias, mostly hardware. I do love my DS, but there’s just something nice about the shiny PSP that makes me love it. That aside I do own all 3 consoles, both handhelds and a kick ass PC. Not to mention the board games and tabletop RPGs. I flit from platform to another, but most people aren’t like me.
So here’s my question to you: Why’d you make your choice?