Thursday, 21 February 2008

Jumping Just Isn't Healthy Anymore

I'm finding it harder and harder to find excuses as to why my post count hasn't been rising lately. Already so early in the blogging, let's be dramatic and call it an era, and I'm shunning my responsibilities of supplying you, the loyal reader, with our ever-present, ever-important opinions!

Suuuure, I could blame it on work, or laziness, or even the fragment of a social life that I vigilantly clutch to my chest, but let's be ambiguous and say, no matter how much I toil away trying to find her, my princess is still in another godforsaken castle.

Far be it from me to actually use this blog to tell you about the ongoing mini-struggles that occur in my life; those are for me and my large supply of poptarts to deal with. Instead, I'll only provide you with morsels related to games, movies and things that are fun. Well, unless it's a particularly funny struggle. Then I got your back.

For the second time this year I ventured into the outside with my sights set on seeing another film. My previous outing to see Cloverfield with Octopus was an absolute delight and it's safe to say there was an abundance of enjoyment to be had. Unfortunately for Jumper, the next film I decided to see, this meant that the bar was raised almost as high as the Cloverfield monster itself. Hang on, sorry, I guess that could be considered as a spoiler. For the record, the Cloverfield monster isn't tall at all. I'd even go as far as to say it was of medium height.

Anyway, back on the subject of Jumper, it's safe to say I was not disappointed. Not because Jumper compared to Cloverfield (well to be honest, it could be compared. But that's like comparing a kick to the crotch to being smothered with pure-bred awesome*) but because I never held my expectations very high for it, it ended up surpassing them. Not by much, but enough for me to leave the cinema actually with some sweets left, for I was too impressed most of the time that I couldn't possibly eat.

Let's get down to the actual reviewing though (cue collective groan). Jumper at it's roots is an adventure, 'sci-fi'y film thing based around a kid called David (Hayden Christensen) who suddenly finds he has the power to teleport or 'jump' to any location he wants. There's some people called the Paladins who are just essentially religious extremists, or at least one of them is, thank you Samuel. L. Jackson, trying to kill Jumpers (capitalized of the 'J' to avoid confusion and childish giggling) for having the power of being 'in all places at once', a power only God should have. From then on it's essentially an orgasmic thrill-ride of action and fun, leading characters through emotional journeys with the viewer, ending in a satisfying climax.

Or at least that's probably what it intended to do, but I think some of these ideas got lost in the production, bless 'em. Instead, it was a fun movie to watch, where we got to witness one character's emotional development while the viewer just kind of tagged along, that ended in an adequate conclusion, but altogether leaving me unsatisfied.

There are several niggles I had with the movie, to put it gently. Firstly, there wasn't really much jumping to be had. I don't mean the teleportation kind, I mean the 'bend-your-knees-and-propel-yourself-from-the-ground-a-foot-or-two' kind. Not really the greatest niggle of them all and it's kind of stupid saying this, but when I first heard about the film, my mind had already made up what it's going to be like. It had imagined it to be focused on some sort of kangaroo (because they Jump) who gets into dodgy dealings with the mafia and has to repay his debt by whacking a few guys, but eventually getting emotionally involved with a female kangaroo who is the daughter of one of his targets, altogether ending in an epic decision whether he can choose to follow his heart and not kill her father, or be hunted down by the Australian mafia for the rest of his life. In the outback.

I know I practically just described Kangaroo Jack with guns and a plot line, but once my mind had made itself up, it's hard not to get it to change.

Another niggle I had with the film was with the casting of Hayden Christensen as the main character. For those of you who don't know, Hayden is the actor who played the older version of Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars films, episodes 2 and 3. Yes those ones.

Let me first get this across; I'm fine with the acting that Hayden delivered. I'm not that good of a critic when it comes to these things, but I know he didn't do a bad job of it. I'm sure he also sold a few tickets because of his frustratingly charming good looks. What I'm slightly peeved at is that when you're casting for a character who's got a prominent supernatural power, don't cast an actor who's notorious for previously playing a character with a goddamn prominent supernatural power.

The first time Hayden 'jumped' in the film, the immediate thought that ran through my head was "Wait, hang on. Did he just use the Force? Does that make him a Jedi? Or is he actually a Sith? Does this mean he's going to be using his jumping powers for the good of the Republic? Is that a lightsaber in his pocket? Where's all the other Jedi? Oh God I hope Jar Jar isn't in this." When you're a nerd like I am, it's hard to get over the initial 'omigod its anakin from star warz' train of thought. And when I was finally enjoying the film enough that I could forget about the presence of a Sith Lord, I was already halfway in.

I've a few other niggles, but they'd be spoilers, and I would not want to ruin the film for you. Yes, that's right, I recommend you watch this film. Don't ask me why, as I will not be able to tell you. At least not without a professional delving deep into my psyche.

And before you ask, no, it was not a lightsaber in his pocket, and neither was he just happy to see me.

*Yes, it does exist. You can get it in spreadable form too.
-Aquatic Wanderer

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Su Pleh

I do apologize for the drought of posts over here this week, and would like to shift the blame from the laziness of myself and Aquatic onto some other causes. Firstly, the polar ice caps melted a little, which gave me uncontrollable fits of sobbing. Secondly, I have been redecorating and so have had little time to think, let alone blog. Thirdly, my laptop broke =(. And finally, Aquatic was bedridden with the sniffles. But now we are all back, so here goes!

Last weekend, the Wanderer and I ventured to Cinema, in the realms of Outside, to go see Cloverfield. Now, the two of us rarely go out, let alone together, and so evidently it would take something Ammezin to change this. Cloverfield was Amezzin.

Seriously though, all things considered, Cloverfield is possibly one of the best films I've ever seen. J.J. Abrams' storytelling was top notch, the Handycam perspective was fantastic, and the effects were great. I know a lot of sites were slating the film, saying it was overhyped and that the acting was terrible. Now, last year, I saw the first trailer of Cloverfield (back when it was 01-18-08) and immediately sent it to Aquatic. The two of us then agreed to ignore everyhting about it until we saw it ourselves, to save ourselves for the vanilla experience of the cinema, you might say. And it paid off. None of the film was spoilt, and there were lots of "Whoa" moments. The other thing that most reviews ripped into was the acting. Here I have to disagree again. I think the use of Unknowns was fantastic, because if I had noticed George Clooney and Angelina Jolie, it wouldve completely ruined the engrossingness (new word) of the film. And they weren't that bad actors anyway...or maybe we were just distracted by the creature instead. All in all, highly recommended: four-and-a-half handheld video cameras out of five.

Woah...long paragraph. By the way, I saw my first ever iPhone in the wild last week. Bearing in mind I catch the train twice a day with business people, that's quite impressively late, but wahey nonetheless!

The next thing I wanna talk about is my Burnout Paradise hands-on. Now, as you all know, I don't own annext-gen system, so I went to someone's house to play. I should also mention that I played the 360 version. The last Burnout I played was Dominator on PS2, so the sudden change in controls was a little unnerving, but made sense. Triggers to accelerate and brake, A to Boost. pretty simple stuff. I've been a Burnouter for years, and was really looking forward to playing Paradise just because it seems that they've done something radical with it (also vaguely related, Aquatic and I love Black, the shooter from the Burnout team). I love the new roll-up-to-traffic-lights-and-pull-triggers-to-start-race mechanic, it makes it so unbelievably easy, quick and fun to play Paradise. I also missed the Retry button...for about 2 seconds, before I just drove out from when I cocked up to the nearest other race. It's actually fun, and a proper next-gen game. I also had a try online, and the integration is near seamless =D. All in all, Burnout Paradise = Awesome, and I can't wait to get it myself for my imaginary PS3.

Right, the final paragraph goes to the thing the Wanderer mentioned in his last post, that is our new feature. Basically, the plan is to do our top games evar (ie: that we've played) across all consoles, so look for that to start showing up soon.

For now, goodbye!
Fuourescent Octopus

Friday, 8 February 2008

I Wasn't Always A Gamer. I Had Friends.

To say my initiation into gaming was a smooth and glorious one would be much too flattering. In fact, my first real taste of gaming was probably nothing more to me than another pass-time in between creating Lego fortresses and riding my dog around the house. I had no idea how such a thing would engulf my life so profoundly.

It's hard for me to pinpoint the first experience I had with video games. Partly due to the fact that it was most likely when I was about 7, and partly due to the fact it's so late at night that the words on this screen have to be appearing by magic since my brain sure isn't doing this. So I'll just start reeling off early memories of "My First Games" and we'll see what we make of it.

The first thing that springs to mind is the Aladdin game on the PC, for Windows 90...-something. You played as Aladdin, surprise-surprise, in a side-scrolling...action-adventure game, where you had to fight enemies...and I'm pretty sure collect some kind of jewel...?

(When in doubt, Google it.)

"Disney's Aladdin is a video game based on the 1992 motion picture of the same name, released in the 16-bit era. The game mostly involves killing enemies with basic swordplay and jumping across ledges. Several levels were very different, including one level where Aladdin must escape from the Cave of Wonders on Carpet."

Paraphrasing this just a tad, I remember now that it really just involved jumping over rooftops in Agrabah, chucking apples at some slightly effeminate guards with very oddly shaven beards.

But I loved it though. 7 year olds must've been a very easy target market, considering I can remember spending months playing that game, (commonly not getting past the first level but shuttup) and not getting bored of it. And then I remember how many times it crashed because our computer could not handle the obvious intense graphics that Disney's Aladdin had to offer.

The second main event in my 'vie de jeux' I've kind of already touched on. It was the first time I experienced a Resi game. I say experienced because it wasn't me playing it at all, it was some friend of a relative or whatever, and there's no way my parents would let me within a metre of the controller. Regardless, I still got to watch what ensued on the screen.

And let me tell you now, the soul despairingly terrifying ordeal of watching low resolution characters get ripped apart, polygon by blood-splattered polygon will stay with me for the rest of my life. Up until counseling becomes an option at least.

I'm not sure, but I think this little event not only stopped me from playing a Resi game for years, but hindered my entire gaming experience. If only for a week or two. By the time my mind wandered back to games after my haunting, I had reached an age where my voice would be heard by my parents, and gaming for myself became an option.

At this point, we had a lot of gaming 'devices', none of which I had gotten into. To name a few (or all) we had a Sega Megadrive, Gameboy Classic (x3), Gameboy Colour (x2), Gameboy Pocket (x3) and a Playstation. Besides indulging in my brothers multiplaying needs, I really didn't see the draw to games. At least, I assume I thought this, but I probably wasn't smart enough at that time to figure out how to turn on most of these confounded contraptions.

This all changed however, when I got a Nintendo 64. My god, I swear that was god's gift to gamers everywhere. Not only did it have the best library of games ever conceived, but it had Zelda. ZELDA. I know we hear a lot about how this series was "the best evar" but just speaking for myself, IT WAS THE BEST SERIES EVAR.

And it all really started with Ocarina of Time. I'll spare going into detail and doing a whole review on it (I've learnt my lesson), I'll just say that I get goosebumps thinking about the time I had with that game. I would trade almost anything I have now to get that feeling of pure bliss, and wonder and utter perplexity that I had when I explored every nook and cranny, every new adventure that game had to offer. I thought nothing could best it. It was impossible. And then Majora's Mask came along. Needless to say, I loved this game even more. Many of you might disagree, but I found this game bigger, better, and prettier than it's prequel and more deserving of praise than OoT.

And it was pretty much "downhill" from here. I bought copious numbers of games for the the N64 and Gameboy, catching up on the years that I should have spent gaming, which I actually spent socializing with friends and playing with imaginary animals and things far less constructive.

I bought every Nintendo console from then on and I bought and all of the flagship games for each system. I became an avid Ninty fanboy after my first stint with Zelda, and it continued from then on, and I'm proud to say I'm still one today.

There's a part of me that would really like to have gone into more depth about all my past experiences with games. Heck, you may find me reviewing games from now that were on systems like the N64 or the Gamecube, since I know of so many gems that are overlooked, it's not even funny.

Next post we will see the introduction of a new feature, which I hope will give me a cause to expand upon more games from the past which I loved, but don't get your hopes up.

Yeah, I know the quality of writing sucked in this. You try acting coherent and suave at midnight.
-Aquatic Wanderer