Early on, I knew I was going to have problems in life due to clumsiness and lack of awareness of my surroundings. My fiancé has since dubbed me “spatially challenged” – but this dates from well before we met. I was something of a clumsy child and I was always bad about gauging distances and accidentally running into things or knocking things about. My spatial problems haven’t gotten much better, (I have a perma-bruise on my left thigh because I can’t not hit the edge of my desk every time I walk around it) and they definitely affect me in games – from being a poor judge of distances between gaps to being confused by directionless landscapes (I will use “bread crumb trails” in a game any time they are given.) If one game really brought to the forefront my non-spatial tendencies, it was Zaxxon – though, in this case, the 1984 DOS version by Sega Enterprises.
Zaxxon “was an air shooter with an isometric perspective.” Or, in my crappy translation, the game was set on an 3D-like, angled landscape in which you could move your ship up, down, left, and right, blasting things and avoiding obstacles along the way. If there was a story behind Zaxxon, I wouldn’t have known. I was too busy dying to pay attention. Yet I continually played because the point of games was to beat them, right? So I was going to beat the damn thing come hell or high water.
As a gamer I’ve been a player, but I’ve also been an observer and supporter. It’s with those latter two roles in mind that I write this post and discuss my experiences with one of my fiancé’s favorite games: Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater (1999). (Click here for a great write-up on the Tony Hawk series.)
I met my fiancé a little more than a year before THPS came out, and within weeks of knowing each other, we had established ourselves as two gamers that were destined to be together. Hahaha…ha..hoo boy…no. Okay, so it wasn’t all roses and rainbows at first, but we did quickly establish a common ground with video games, which has remained with us, and has probably helped keep us together to some degree over the past many years. He was also a skateboarder and I, well…I knew about skateboards because we once lived next to a kid with a skateboard. I tried it and learned to roll down his driveway and fall on my ass. It was…um…fun? Yeah, I didn’t know much about skateboarding or its culture. So in 1999, when my significant other and his friends nearly flipped their collective lids when they heard about THPS, I looked on with a mixture of “that’s cool” and ambivalence. I could barely picture myself on a skateboard let alone playing a skateboarding game.
In exactly one month, on June 19th, a couple important things are happening. Lego Batman 2: DC Superheroes is being released on all consoles and I’m getting married. Say what you will about priorities, but I suppose I’ll have to wait couple weeks to get Lego Batman 2. I’ve been a little out of touch with the gaming world of late, and only learned of Lego Batman 2 just recently, and what I’ve heard is pretty exciting. Numerous playable characters are supposed to appear in a re-worked open world concept. Plus, it’s Legos! That’s enough of a sell for me. It’s been awhile since I’ve played a Lego game, the last one, not so coincidentally, being Lego Batman: The Videogame (2008) on the DS.
It’s a simple enough question that, back in the 1990s, led to some serious grumbly mumbles amongst players. SF had better controls but MK had better graphics. MK had fatalities and blood but SF had a well-established history. SF had more fighters but MK offered more special moves. Or whatever. In my world then, a fighting game was just a fighting game, and I had only played one: Street Fighter II Turbo, so I had an unsubstantial basis for comparison.
Even so, the SF seeds were planted. My younger brother and I played the game…a lot. And the fact of the matter was that I had learned SFII Turbo’s moves fairly well. The controls were great, I really enjoyed the gameplay, and I looooved played as Zangief, Chun-Li, and Sagat.
My recent post on Super Mario 64 finally inspired me to turn our Wii from a modern paperweight back into an actual gaming system. Over the past weekend, we got the thing hooked up to to the network and scoured through our dusty shoebox of Wii accessories for the remotes and such. During this process, I was reminded of how little time I’ve spent with the Wii of late. In fact, short of Epic Mickey, I haven’t played much on it at all over the past couple years. But I was going to change all that. Once I remembered how the remote worked, I headed to the Shop to gleefully discover that I still had 1000 unspent Wii points! Woo-OMG-hoo!! Like a kid in a candy store, however, I didn’t just pick up the one candy bar I thought I really wanted — I got lost in the choices. I perused through the shop for almost an hour until the memories started seeping out my ears, and I finally narrowed my selection to three games: Super Mario 64, Paper Mario, and Mega Man X. Which one…which one…holycrapwhichone??!
My fiancé got The Orange Box back in 2007 primarily for Half-Life 2. Team Fortress and Portal were just bonuses…and who the heck even knew what Portal was? Some oddball video game involving portals and puzzles? Yeah, that sounds like a a whole lotta not-fun. By the time he got around to playing Portal it was mid-2008 and I was headlong into my Mass Effect addiction, and nothing, nothing I tell ya!, was going to divert my attention.
I don’t know exactly what prompted me to get Professor Layton and the Curious Village (2008) for the Nintendo DS. In late 2008, I remember seeing a review for it on X-Play and it seemed highly enjoyable, but…puzzles? I’m not so good at those, and I don’t mean the actual cardboard puzzles that come in boxes and will forever perpetuate the legacy of Thomas Kinkade (RIP). I mean brain teasers, logic puzzles, movement or slide puzzles, mathematical quizzes, or anything that requires the use of my overtaxed left brain. But the Curious Village, with its droll humor and unusual look, had wormed its way into my mind. Okay so that worm had to sit around, feast on thought compost, and wait for almost a year until I saw the game on sale at our local Gamestop and decided to by it, but still.
Professor Layton and the Curious Village (PLCV) told the very British story of the aforementioned professor and his odd, youthful companion Luke’s adventures in the curious village of St. Mystere where, at the behest of one of the town’s denizens, they were to retrieve a certain “very special item.” (Doing my best to not be spolier-y.) The player’s progress through the village was measured by the completion of puzzles. This base play was accompanied by some fantastically animated cut scenes they were kind of a mix of European animation and low-key anime. The game used both DS screens to their fullest, with most of the action being on the bottom screen and necessary information being displayed on the top screen. The game possessed 120 puzzles and a limited number of hints for each puzzle could also be bought using coins that were collected in each level.
What initially caught my eye about PLCV was its style. The trailer made it look like an animated movie. All the characters were fully voiced (no Mario “woo-hoos!” or Lego game grunts here) and interacted with each other, both in the game and through the cut scenes. The controls were unique, incorporating both action movements and puzzle solving using the DS’s stylus. It seemed like a fine investment…and it mostly was.
Despite my perceived limitations, I really enjoyed playing through PLCV, but some of those puzzles…man. Some of them were just damn frustrating. Especially the sliding puzzles in which you had to slide blocks or obstacles around in order to free an object. Honestly, I’m not much of a cheater when it comes to video games. I’ll check the occasional walkthrough if I get really stuck; but when it came to PLCV, I was a blatant rogue. This blog became my best friend and me and the internet became a little closer.
Thank you very much for introducing me to Professorlaytonwalkthrough.blogspot.com. As you probably know from the writing all over you, the Curious Village is a fun puzzle game with a bit of difficulty thrown in. Some of those puzzles are really meant to stretch one’s grey matter, eh? Well, my grey matter seemed to be doing just fine with the game, until I hit #97: Princess in a Box 1. This puzzle…oh how shall I put this delicately?… This puzzle sucked royal otter balls. I tried to remove the red block, and nearly had an stroke while doing so. Why would Professor Layton want to hurt me so? Is it because he is tortured by having to be accompanied by Luke, with his questionable “boyish” nature, that he feels the need to cause gamers to suffer brain damage whilst solving his puzzles? If that is the case, I do feel sorry for him, but that’s no reason to take it out on me. My money is already spent. Anywho, the aforementioned blog was certainly a big help, and I am very glad that you allowed a very nice and creative person to write down all the helpful advice needed for one to make it through the Curious Village without a trip to the hospital.
P. S. You remember that one time when I searched for “Professor Layton and the Curious Village” and porn appeared in my sidebar? You should let those women know that the tag “Professor Layton and the Curious Village” is much different from “Professor Lay-a-ton and the Bi-Curious Village,” which is what I’m presuming they were going for. Just trying to pay it forward. c.
Professor Layton and the Curious Village was enjoyable, even if it meant having to careen through the dodgey yet loveable internet for help with the puzzles. You couldn’t beat the animations and renderings – amazing stuff for the DS. The amount of detail that was put into each scene of the village was truly astounding. And it felt very dimensional, even though it wasn’t. For me, though, the game lacked any replay value. At most, since you didn’t have to beat every puzzle to complete the game, you could have gone back and played all the games you missed. And I did…and I cheated some more, just to get 100%. I didn’t feel very good about myself, but dammit, I didn’t need further headaches either. I vowed to do better with the next game in the series. (And did I? Stay tuned…! *cue dramatic drum solo*)
OMFG, I am having the worst, worst, worst time with Skyrim right now. I found a couple more hours to play the other day, and I really couldn’t stand it, and I mean everything about it. The insufferable quest that I couldn’t figure out, my character, Lydia, all the annoying NPCs, my inability to navigate, all of it. I’ve barely made the tiniest of dents in the game and I am about ready to give up *sigh*.
This ordeal has me severely questioning my current relationship with video games, so much so that it’s given me a week-long headache (or maybe it’s just allergies). Allow me a few thoughts to clear my head…