May 31, 2010

Two Player Platforming is Fun!

Yesterday The Boyfriend and I decided to test out the two player mode in Super Mario Galaxy 2.  Since he is adept at platforming and I am not, I was the "assist" when it came to the game.  Didn't think it was going to be super useful when you're essentially playing on of these guys:

Doesn't look too impressive does he?

Mario is the actual star of this story, so a little Luma isn't going to be able to do much, right?


The player 2 Luma is probably the most helpful dude ever.  As that guy I got to stun most enemies and kill half of them, collect those little star bits, and bring coins/1-ups to Mario.  Half of the stuff that's hard due to timing is no longer difficult because this little dude can stop it. None of the videos I can find really show how useful player 2 is, including the trailer.  I can stop chomps and the dreaded bullet dudes, and I can kill half of the enemies.  If you have a player who knows exactly what you're doing it makes it a lot easier.  I essentially provide half of the coins and star bits, on top of killing 75% of the enemies.  As I told The Boyfriend, it's like I'm sniping a clear path for him.

If I find a way to show how "broken" this can be with a video, I will.  I don't think I will be able to anytime soon but if I do, I'll have to share.  It just makes the game so much easier for player 1!  And considering I love playing games that involve destroying enemies, this is perfect for me.

Hooray!  A two player videogame that actually works!

May 28, 2010

What's wrong with whimsy?

The Boyfriend sent me this link to a reviewer who doesn't understand how adult reviewers are loving Super Mario Galaxy 2.

Essentially, this guy doesn't understand how adult gamers, and by gamers not casual gamers but gamers who play anything and everything on the market worth playing, enjoy Super Mario Galaxy 2.  He complains about the button configuration, but doesn't really argue about why it's not an adult game.

I have a question for the author, Doug Elfman: What should adult reviewers like?  What game is the be all end all of reviewer praise?

I have a lot of problems of the kind of assumptions that Elfman makes.  First of all, in my humble opinion, Elfman thinks games with bright colors, goofy sounds, and no gunfire can not be appealing to "true" gamers.  Second, if you don't like using both hands playing a video game, don't play video games.  I don't know of any console who 80% of the time only uses one hand.  I can understand some of the frustration of a Wii controller, because most people used to the old controllers take a while to adapt to the scheme of it.  But that's old news.  If that's your only complaint, that has nothing to do with adults not liking the game.

There is this perception that there is something juvenile about video games.  Some games are, but some are not.  The industry is juvenile, yes, especially since they have a problem with representing their audience as something other than a horny 17 year old that hides in his basement.  But if you actually play video games, you know that the act itself isn't juvenile.  Sometimes it's like a movie, sometimes it's like reading a story you love, sometimes it is merely shooting everything in sight (L4D is fantastic for this) but it usually involves some brain power, problem solving and coordination.  It's a little more active than a book, probably why it's even more distracting and engrossing.  Books aren't juvenile, TV and movies (which are more passive) aren't juvenile.  Why is it video games are considered such?

It's because the perception of such is perpetuated not only by people outside of the gaming culture, but by the people in it as well.  And when we say a fun game that happens to have goofy sounds and bright colors is only for kids, we forget that there are plenty of adults that read comic books, watch cartoons and even read young adult books whose actions aren't considered childish.

I think it's childish to not consider things that are different than your usual repertoire.  Especially if your usual repertoire helps the industry stay more narrow minded, kind of like what this article I read recently was trying to say.

And getting back to the title of this article, what's wrong with an escapist medium where everything is simple, and whimsical and magical?  That's the Mario universe.  It's not fantasy in the traditional sense, but it is a great world to go to after work or school where there are many demands and sometimes you feel like you're stuck in a hamster wheel.  Sure, you're off to kill bad guys, but they don't even bleed all over the place!  They just go POOF and you're done!  You even get gold if they go poof!  Or stars!

Whimsy is completely entertaining even as an adult.  How has the Wizard of Oz stayed such a movie classic?  It's light hearted and fun!  No one would tell you that it's only for kids just because it is brightly colored and has goofy characters.  It's a cinema classic!

If we start subjecting video games to the same kind of scrutiny that we give of mediums, these kind of comments will come less often.  It'll happen in time.  Soon, the idea of a video game being too childish to play or enjoy will become less of an accepted thing.

Wow, I typed a lot more than I expected.  Thanks for reading!

May 25, 2010

Why can't it be simple! I just want a zombie RPG.

I'm on a zombie kick recently.  I love playing Left 4 Dead 2 (want to play with me on steam?), I loved reading World War Z, and I apparently can't stop thinking about post apocalyptic settings at night.  Not to suggest I'm having nightmares, but still.

So I went to Games Plus this Sunday, I tried to find a good Zombie RPG.  I am sure I could find something online, but I wanted to support a business that has been doing a good job for years.

I saw two games there.  Unfortunately neither one really got to what makes any zombie game good: bare bone grittiness.

I forgot the name of the first one(edit: Hippe Mama reminded me below that is was called Dead Reign), but I knew I couldn't use it.  Apparently zombies don't carry an infection... they feed off of your "life energy" or something similar when they attack you.  That seemed way too mystical for what I wanted, and convoluted.  So zombies don't need to kill me to get what they want?  How are they dangerous then?  Why do they need to attack and kill?

The other one is All Flesh Must Be Eaten, which I had seen around before but never really read.  Once again, though, there was illusion to mystical super powers.  I figured I could avoid that but then the way the used the d20 system was needlessly complicated.  And I've played 3.0 D&D, so I do not say that lightly.  I didn't even want to try it out.

This is all I want from my zombie RPG: stats for zombies, stats for players, ways for combat, idea for making the setting interesting and not just try to recreate L4D (because it's a fun video game, but needs substance for an RPG)

I'm going to look for another one before I give up and make my own.  But I don't want one with magic, with weird stuff on how zombies feed on not people, or any other weird hokey pokey.  Just a fucked up world with zombies.

May 18, 2010

D.C. Douglas is a voice actor and... a political activist?

For those of you who don't know who D.C. Douglas is, he is mostly known for his voice on the Geico commercials ("15 minutes could save you...", not the Gecko). He's also the voice of Legion in ME2. For those of you who know which character that is, you're probably not surprised that you can't tell it's the same guy.

Recently Mr. Douglas in in some trouble with a prank against the group FreedomWorks, the absurdity of the situation can be explained in the first half of this Daily Show clip.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Geico Fires Voice Actor
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Well D.C. decided he wasn't going to take this standing down. I'm posting his response, which I find humorous. The guy lost his job at Geico over this, which may seem a little extreme but then again I can understand why a business that big would do it. Let's hope he gets a good paying gig sometime soon, since he does have a pretty awesome voice.

May 14, 2010

I Am A Mass Effect Fangirl, And It Shows

I never posted about how awesome Mass Effect, and it's successor ME2, are basically some great RPG shooters that you could replay over and over again and have different results.  I'm not super obsessed.  I have no crushes on any quarians or turians.  You want to see how far that can go?  The bioware forums have some interesting talimancer threads from what I've checked out.

I don't feel the need to analyze the game, because there are so many ways it can go and I've only played ME2 twice.  But I do think there are a lot of humorous images and videos for Mass Effect out there that are not getting enough love.


First, who didn't get bored with mineral mining?

Did you know Shepard almost always has a right hook options for when he/she is in a conversation?

Did you know CSI is doing a cross over for the Mass Effect Universe?

So I'm sure if you played Mass Effect 1, you know that Shepard can be such a jerk.

But did you know he's still a jerk in ME2?

Of course, in Mass Effect 2, we have change we can believe in.

I'm about ready to call it a day.  Anyone up for Skyllian Five Poker?

There's more I can post, but I can see I have "fangasmed" enough for today.  Basically I like Mass Effect a lot.  On the border of too much.

I did say on the border.  I ain't no talimancer, yo.

May 12, 2010

A t-shirt I approve

I know that all you faithful readers are aware about my hate for the current vampire trend.  Well it seems I'm not alone:

You can find the shirt at the webcomic Complex Actions.  I only know about this because some friends pointed this out to me, so I can't vouch for the webcomic.  But it does seem nerdy enough for you guys, so dig in!

May 11, 2010

World War Z: Need to Read Nerd Book.

World War Z by Max Brooks is the scariest book I have ever read.  It's not because of zombies being scary in general, it not because of violence, and it's not because it brings something new and exciting to an old monster.  It's because it's a scarily accurate prediction of what were to happen if the zombie apocalypse were to happen.

Brooks essentially takes the world the way it is now and figures out what would happen culturally, politically, psychologically and even geographically with a zombie attack.  The infection starts in China, and over time spread across the entire globe.  There's no explanation as to why the infection starts, nor why it works the way it does.  But it is devastating, partly due to people acting the way people do.

I have to applaud the future world that Brooks creates, and the knowledge of the rest of the world necessary to paint such a perfect picture.

It is structured as interviews taken after the declared success of World War Z.  Each person interview talks about a piece of the experience from different parts of the world.  It's perfect for a zombie apocalypse book since it's the entire world that's affected.  You hear about regular family experiences, military forces, people in special positions.

It is gruesomely true to humanity--all of its strengths and flaws.  The strengths help us actually see the ending of the book, but the flaws help show how gruesome and scarily truthful civilization falls due to the situation.    And that is why this book is scary.  It's extremely truthful.  As a reader, you can see where Brooks gets it right.  It makes you hope that zombies don't happen, because it'll bring out the worst of people, a side you don't want to see.

The political predictions are accurate as well, and makes you see the current world differently.  The split in China, the newly formed Holy Russian Empire,  USA pushing the war effort, and the eeriest thing is what happens to North Korea... but I don't want to spoil it.

If you want a sneak peak of the book, listen to this reading of a chapter by Mark Hamill, about the Battle of Yonkers.  I suggest people read it.  It is enjoyable, and it's the kind of scary where you can still sleep at night (even if you think zombies do exist).  I think it'll be a nerd read necessity soon, added to every geek library.

May 8, 2010

Blog I Support: Hot Guys Reading Books.

(from Hot Guys Reading Books)

No, I would never support objectifying men!  It's a horrible, hypocritical thing for me to do and...

Okay, you know I'm lying.  I'm all for pictures of hot guys reading books.  The hotness factor varies, but you have to admire a site that finds pictures of attractive gentlemen appreciating literature, and not ironically while they pose half naked in front of a waterfall.

May 5, 2010

Getting back to RPGs!

Thanks to my new found time I am getting back into the swing of things rpg wise.

First, I finally got around to running an Unknown Armies one shot.  The boyfriend and a couple other friends joined.  I think I could've done better with a compelling plot line, but it was fun.  And crazy.  The crazy is actually kind of necessary.

Second, I started playing through a Nemesis game on Google Wave.  Now that I've sufficiently done a game through it, I will say this--play with people you trust and try to avoid roll programs if you want to try the 1 roll engine.  There is one out there that works, but it's a lot easier to either have the GM or the players roll and give what the roll is.  For example, since you're looking for the best match, if you roll 8 dice and your best match is 3 5's, it's easier to read that as a player that you got a 3x5 than reading out every number and figuring it out.  Also, I just like physically rolling dice a lot better, and honestly that's a preference.

Finally, I'm going to have a chance to try out pathfinder!  I'm really excited to try it out because I loved DnD 3.5 but admitted it needed some work.  So now I can see what a little work can do to it!  The funny thing is I'm slowly realizing that in a group composed of me, the Boyfriend as a GM, and his two friends, I'm the one who knows most about that system.  It's weird to think that the only girl is the one pwning when it comes to rules.  I don't want to say that the guys don't know what they're doing, but I do think the people I played fantasy roleplay with last had a better grasp, so I'm used to higher standards.  Anyway, this is going to be a long campaign, so I'll let you know what my elf illusionist who's personality is based on Severus Snape is like.

I am sooo glad the RPGs are back, there was a little void in my heart, not gonna lie.  But it is now filled!