Knock knock. –Who’s there? Disney, FFVII, and anime. –Disney, FFVII, and anime who? Kingdom Hearts.

Several years back, I had the privilege of spending an extended vacation (let’s call it “grad school”) in the San Francisco Bay Area.  During the “grad school” years, we had a good bit of time to enjoy the environment and various locales of the fantabulous place that is northern California.  One day in late 2003, we took a heady trip into San Francisco’s city proper to visit what we had heard was its entertainment and shopping mecca: The Metreon.  (I can’t bear to link to it…now it’s called the Metreon Mall, ugh. Boo, SF) It had an IMAX theatre, places to eat, stuff to buy, things to see, and, most importantly, a place to game.  Well…a place to game Sony’s way, that is.  The Metreon was the brainchild of Sony as a way to get its products out to the people.  And so it was that at the Metreon I was introduced to a little game called Kingdom Hearts.

Kingdom Hearts cover art © Disney, Square, etc. (source)

Continue reading “Knock knock. –Who’s there? Disney, FFVII, and anime. –Disney, FFVII, and anime who? Kingdom Hearts.”

LBP, and a few sorta, kinda related thoughts on online play

Following up on my DKC post, and upon further pondering of that feeling of awesome newness accompanying a unique game, I couldn’t help but write about the second time it happened, just a few years back with Media Molecule’s gem LittleBigPlanet (LBP).

    Little Big Planet cover art © Sony, Media Molecule (source)

The hype accompanying this game was like none that I can recall in recent times.  (Of course, now e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g seems to be accompanied by some sort of hype – Think you’re lazy? Wanna prove it?? Then just throw on the Forever Lazy and see what the world thinks about you then!!! – so maybe it wasn’t that big of a deal.)  But even among the compendium of great games of the late 2000s, LBP stuck out just a little more than the rest, probably because if the insanely cute title character, Sackboy.

Seriously, if you don’t at least smile upon seeing this happy knit face, you really might be deader than dead inside. (source)

LBP is a fantastic, phenomenal, and inventive game.  Yes, there’s a story, but I was too busy playing the game with stars in my happy rainbow eyes to pay much attention to it.  The controls are fairly easy to master and the play is solid and the levels aren’t incredibly difficult, but they are challenging at certain points. And there was so, so, so much stuff to find and gather!  Stickers! Clothing! Accessories! “Skins!” It was like my idyllic elementary school collecting days – stickers or My Little Ponies – thems were my crack.

Er…uh…yeah…

Anyway, we picked up the game upon it’s release in 2008 and were seriously looking forward to it.  Though, we couldn’t help but hold a little dread — even though the bad, bad memories of Cookie and Cream should have been long gone by then, they weren’t.  Had we matured in the seven or so years since that incident?  We would certainly find out. (Short answer: yes…a little.)

After playing a few two-player rounds and not actually killing each other in the living room, we figured we were good to go for the rest of the game.  We quickly realized though that LBP, as fun as it is for one or two players, held many secrets that required three or four people.  Well, since our cat had yet to grow opposable thumbs and develop the capacity for higher learning (c’mon, kitty, get with it!), we had to go online.

SCREEEEEEEEEECHHHH (That’s me hitting the brakes.) Hmm.  No online for me, thank you very much. Even though many an invite or request had popped up while playing LBP, I couldn’t bear the thought of playing with hunnysweets037 or BlAcKkNiGhT or jesuswasaracecardriver, no offense intended.

I don’t want to diverge too far off course, but here’s the thing.  Besides the fact that I’m not really a social butterfly (or mosquito, depending on your point of view), there’s one big reason I can’t and won’t play video games with random people online – they will all surely hate me.

“Aww. No they won’t,” you say,” it’s super fun and helps build skills and levels up your character.”

That may be true, but the online community will have no patience with me.  Trust me.

Add a pitchfork and a million clones and you’ve got the gaming community vs. me. (source)

Why?  Well while it’s not true for every game, the fact is that in a lot of games where I have choices, I will take my sweet, sweet time perusing choices, particularly, and sneer all you friggin’ want, when it comes to accoutrements.  Clothing. Apparel. Gear.  Call it what you wish, but some weird Barbie Doll complex combined with a once-belief that I’d someday become a fashion designer has instilled in me a need to refine and alter my characters ad nauseum.  I’m a terribly visual person, and when my characters look bad, I’ll go out of my way to make them look better.  It happened in GTA IV, ME1 (ME2 not so much), Dragon Age, Fable, and others, where I probably dedicated at least 30-40% of my time to changing my characters clothes/armor/weapons, making them look better or fight better depending on the game’s and my eyeball’s needs.  (There were some ugly-ass armors in ME1 that, though strong, I’d never have put on my girl.) I’ve gotten better about this obsession over the past, but I’ve seen how my fiancé has reacted to this, particularly with LBP, and those daggers he shoots me when I’m taking too long…well, I just know that that most in the gaming community will react the same way.  I know my quirks as a gamer and don’t feel the need to subject random people to them.  So you’re welcome that I’m not online.

However *heavy sigh* yes, we did eventually go online – but not with anyone random.  The group was me, my fiancé, and one of his online friends – a good friend that we know exists in real life.  And y’know what?  It was…gripe, grumble…fun.  Yes, yes it was.   We got through so many levels and found all the little secrets that required at least three players.  However, at the end of every level I HAD to check out all the new stuff we had acquired and change outfits at least once.  The boys got very bored with me very quickly, so I had to motor on with my teddy-fairy-robot Sackgirl, despite the fact that she would have looked so cute in those little secretary glasses we just got!

Cowboys, rappers, roman soldiers, and football players, U-N-I-T-E! (source)

It’s a problem.  I know.  I’m dealing with it.  It might be ADD.  Or maybe it just, y’know, a girl thing.

But more likely it’s ADD; but I’m faaaar beyond Ritalin at this point, so suck it up world!

Anyway, I don’t need to reiterate any more than what been written about LBP being a phenomenal game.  It’s a real “party” game, provided that your game mates have at least a little patience when you really want to make your Sackgirl look like an Arabian knight.  The same is true for Little Big Planet 2 – fun, fun, and more fun.

Both LBP and LBP2 are on our game shelf.  I have to throw LBP2 back in the line-up over the summer because we still have many lands to conquer.

But LBP…oh man…

*voice cracks*  For three years now LBP has been in the wings and not sold because it remains to be “beaten,” i.e. main story completed.  *hangs head in shameful shame* I just can’t get past one particular part in one particular level, and it’s soooooo close to the end too. *sob*

The Bunker.  The one with all the electric obstacles. That large, multi-leveled wheel at the end….grrrr.  I’ve seen the videos, I’ve read the “helpful hints,” I know it can be done.  But. Every. Goddamn. Time. I. Try. I Die.  It’s pretty much THE most maddening things I’ve experience in a game, ever.

It’s so easy, you say, just do A, B, C, and then voila!  I can’t convey enough that I’ve done A, B, C, and X, Y, Z, and Fuck, You, LBP, so many times over that beating the game feels so very hopeless.   But y’know how sometimes, when you’re completely stuck in a game, that if you put it away for an indefinite period then return to it, you usually get past the stuck part without any problems?  Well may, just maybe, if I went and played the game right now, I’d get through that level easily.  Hmmm….

Donkey Kong Country — proof that the 90s weren’t ALL Desert Storm, flannel, and angst.

You know that moment.

That moment of sheer excitement when you start a game that’s so totally different from anything you’ve ever played before and it turns out to be a beautiful thing.

My moment like that happened with Donkey Kong Country.

Donkey Kong County cover art © Nintendo, Rare (source)

It’s a familiar game to most and beloved by many; and DKC set Rare on the map of development titans (at least for a little while).  It was the first “3D” game I ever played.  (Well, it was rendered with 3D graphics, but it was still a side-scroller.)  We got the game at Christmas 94 or 95 (maybe 96?  The 90s are really just a lump of strange and obnoxious and awesome), and I could hardly believe my bedazzled eyes.

Continue reading “Donkey Kong Country — proof that the 90s weren’t ALL Desert Storm, flannel, and angst.”

“Bad” [bad] noun; adverb; adjective — 1. not good in any manner or degree.

When time flies it moves at warp speed.  We just celebrated our one-month anniversary in our new house (squee!).  We are also 11 weeks out from the wedding.  Did I mention that “my fiancé” will soon become “my husband”?   I know you’re like um, yeah, whatevs…games?  But seriously, 11 weeks is not a lot of time considering that I have to work, play house, plan, and try to maintain a modicum of calmness throughout.  Honestly, I still think about video games; I really do.  Maybe, someday, I’ll get to play them again.  Reading other blogs has helped me stay connected and remain grounded when everything else feels so up in the air.  Many thanks to the gaming blogosphere for keeping me in the loop and entertained!

Now on with it, shall we…?

Since a lot of (happy) crap seems to be piling up in my life right now, why not recall a game that was, indeed, a pile of (unhappy) crap.  E.T. the Extra Terrestrial.

E.T. The Extra Terrestrial cover art © Atari, whether they like it or not (source)

Continue reading ““Bad” [bad] noun; adverb; adjective — 1. not good in any manner or degree.”

Furthering the mayhem in Liberty City – Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars

I don’t use the word “glee” much.  It’s just not a word that’s in my regular vocabulary and I don’t watch that TV show by the same title.  Still, if you were to be so curious as to ask me what’s the first thing that pops into my head upon hearing the word “glee,” my answer comes naturally…Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars (2009).

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars cover art © Rockstar, Nintendo (source)

Spoilers ahead…yes, gleeful spoilers…but seriously, spoilers…

I can’t recall a game, a handheld game at that, that was more fun, more insane, and more of a surprise than Chinatown Wars.  Surely you’ve heard about the game’s oddness among other Nintendo titles, its M-rating, complete with some rather ruthless violence, drug running, and all.  Chinatown Wars was so, so, sooooo much stupid, twisted fun.

Continue reading “Furthering the mayhem in Liberty City – Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars”

Giving up on the ones Wii think Wii should love, or, Super Mario Galaxy was great at first, but then…

As much as I try to dedicate myself to loving every game of a particular franchise, the fact is that I’m a fan of video games generally; they usually bring forth lots of joy and happiness. And sometimes they don’t. And sometimes that really baffles me.  Looking back, there are still two titles, both for our trusty Wii that is still Skyward Sword-less, that I just didn’t enjoy as much as I thought I would. They were surely two of the better titles made for the system, and both came from two of gaming’s top franchises.  I was really, really, really looking forward to playing both games till my wrist arthritis set in.

Super Mario Galaxy cover art (c) Nintendo (source)

Continue reading “Giving up on the ones Wii think Wii should love, or, Super Mario Galaxy was great at first, but then…”

The Robotrons of 2084 versus a human that was in all ways superior due to some sort of genetic thingy

It was nice growing up in a technophilic household.  Thank to the help of in-the-know family members and my own parents, we had various PCs and game systems to supplement our school days, He-Man interludes, My Little Pony adventures, and our infamous Barbie vs. Transformer battles (hey, two sisters, one brother…that’s just how we rolled).  My parents usually left us to our own devices, whether to play indoors or out, and they rarely joined in our sugar-fueled chaos. (Though, there were a few years when carob and unsalted potato chips ruled the house – they shall remain unspoken of from henceforth).

The one exception to all that “kids only” fun was our Atari.  It only happened very occasionally that my parents played with us, but it did happen.  We’d gather round the TV to play a few round of tennis, baseball, Pole Position, or E. T. (which one didn’t play as much as admire for it’s unplaybility).  But above all, the one game I remember us playing the most was Robotron 2084.

Continue reading “The Robotrons of 2084 versus a human that was in all ways superior due to some sort of genetic thingy”

Adventures in Albion, round 2

I was psyched to get Fable II at Christmas 2008 since I had been looking forward to it since completing the original Fable.  The game’s creator, the crazy yet loveable Peter Molyneaux, promised that the game would transform RPGs as we knew them, feed the children, and save the whales.  Or something like that.  All I knew was that, after playing the original game, I had to carve out a good bit of time to play.  Fable II was going to take time if I wanted to perfectly cultivate my most awesome RPGs character ever in the history of my awesome customizable RPG characters.  Yeah…it’s a short history, if that.  But still, I didn’t want any distractions, so it took me a few months to finish other games before starting Fable II.

Fable 2 cover art © Microsoft, Lionhead, etc. (source)

(I realize this game is, like, totally old news —  it being an ancient 4 years old and all.  Still, for those who want to play but haven’t yet, spoilers ahead, probably, in some form or another.)

Continue reading “Adventures in Albion, round 2”