Archive for February, 2010
Sod the stupid goblins, time to play properly.
Played for about twenty minutes over lunch, which consisted of wandering up to the first dungeon, beating the rubbish boss in two or three rounds, then getting congratulated for my great success. It’s nice to be thanked, but I didn’t even get a free stay at the inn for my troubles.
Did get a lute, though. It’s a key item, so I assume it comes into play later in the game. Talking of which, I must remember to go back to the castle and the Chaos Shrine once I’ve got hold of the mysterious Mystic Key. Apparently some elf chap’s been keeping it safe. I assume I’ll run into him at some point.
(As you can probably tell, despite having played and completed this game before, memories of the specifics aren’t exactly flooding back.)
No gaming, because I went to see Alice in Wonderland last night. It was “regional premiere”, which meant our names were checked on a clipboard before we were let in and before the film they showed live footage of everyone arriving at the actual premiere in London. Lots of shots of Johnny Depp spending about two hours signing things for every single person who’d turned up, ladies in fancy dresses getting very, very wet, people shaking Prince Charles’s hand. That sort of thing. The interviewer (Alex Zane? I dunno) did a decent job, but got utterly flummoxed every time one of the British comic actors was actually witty and didn’t give a normal, Hollywood answer. It was interesting at times, dull as all fuck at others, but definitely helped make it feel like more of an occasion than just another movie screening.
Anyway, after over an hour of that, it was time for…
DISNEY presents Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland
Johnny Depp… as Willy Wonka, if Willy Wonka hadn’t been Michael Jackson
Mia Somethingorother… as a winsome young lady Alice who discovers her inner fortitude
Crispin Glover… who doesn’t dance, the bastard
Helena Bonham-Carter… with a big head
Anne Hathaway… as Nigella Lawson
Matt Lucas… as two Matt Lucases
Stephen Fry… who does actual voice acting and doesn’t just read his lines
Paul Whitehouse… who against all my expectations, still does know how to be damn funny
Alan Rickman… who nearly steals the movie, just by doing what he does best
Christopher Lee… who actually steals the movie with just two lines
Babs Mitchell-Windsor… playing a character her actual, real size
I can see why the they’ve not really wanted to call the film a proper sequel. It is that, being the story of a nineteen year old Alice who returns to barely-remembered Wonderland, but it also lifts dialogue and scenes from the original books. The story is your standard journey, emotionally, but all set in a very Tim Burton Wonderland.
Which, of course, looks bloody astounding. Wonderland is an amazing place, often colourful, but equally often ravaged and desolate. It’s a treat for the eyes and the imagination and design shines through the technology. (It’s very, very good, but strange things happen if you look somewhere the 3D doesn’t want you to look and there’s the odd moment of strangely stiff animation, especially when human(-like) characters are completely CGI-ed up.)
Unexpectedly, it sometimes feels like one of the Narnia films (though makes those movies look like accountant-led spreadsheets that have been printed out on toilet paper and left out in the rain), but mainly it’s exactly what you’d expect from Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. It’s a great big treat of a movie, to be sure. Given that it’s Tim Burton working with Disney, it’s often gruesome and scary, but not too much. It makes you laugh at times, it pins you to the back of your seat at others, it gets you leaning forward trying to drink in every detail of the place, but it’s not ever actually surprising. You know what’s up, you know where things are going and you’re never shocked. (Maybe once, in a quiet, horrible scene that stands out, even amongst the rest.) Even if you’ve not seen a single still photo or second of footage, if you know Wonderland and you know Tim Burton, you can picture it yourself effortlessly.
So much of it is still in my head this morning, but it’s all visual. There’s no heartache or sense of triumph that lingers after a great story. Funny as it is, there’s only one line I’m ever likely to quote (a single word). I just have these amazing images left in my brain. In that sense, then, it’s appropriately dream-like.
I doubt I’ll go back and watch it again at the cinema, but I’m most definitely getting the Blu-Ray when it comes out next week, or whenever Disney decided they should bring it out.
If it feels like I’ve damned it with faint praise, I don’t intend to. It’s all pretty wonderful for the two hours it takes to speed past you, but I just want to make it clear – nothing that goes into your ears or your heart ever quite matches what goes into your eyes.
I’ve played a lot of Final Fantasy games, but the only one I’ve completed is the first. (Though I completed the Gameboy Advance version, rather than the NES original.) It was released last night on the iPhone and I bought it, despite the relatively steep £5.49 price, because I’m dying to play through it again. While it was downloading, I read my blog posts about my playthrough of the GBA version to see if there were any hints and the only one I found is that I wished I hadn’t had a thief in my party.
With that in mind, I decided to go with a party consisting of a Warrior and one of each of the mages. I may regret the lack of heavy physical damage dealers in the later game, but we’ll see.
I haven’t done much so far. I went to see the king, bought some new weapons and magic and ran around killing some goblins. All my characters are up to level three now and I’ll see how much grinding I can stand before I set out on the real adventure. Probably quite a lot, because there’s just something charming about the game, even (especially?) in these early stages.
Running around triggering random encounters, returning to the inn to sleep, it’s all intensely familiar, like a favourite blanket. The nostalgia factor isn’t hurt by the fantastic music and the much-loved sound effects. It’s the gaming equivalent of comfort food.
There are a few niggles. The touch screen controls work wonderfully for the most part, but sometimes seem not to register properly, especially when trying to talk to people. It’s as if the hit box is slightly smaller than the sprites you’re trying to click. A very minor issue. Another annoyance is the terrible framerate in the town. It doesn’t hurt the gameplay at all, but it’s very unpleasant to look at.
Whether or not you’ll like this if you’ve not played it before, I don’t know – but four years ago when I played the GBA version I’d never played it before and I loved it then, so it might be worth a go… unless you hate the traditional JPRG mechanics.
And that’s it! One hundred percent completion. The last achievement I got was for breaking 250 street lights, soon after the one for calling in ten air strikes.
I’m pleased, of course, but I feel a bit empty now. Still, there’s always high scores to go for.
I’m top of a couple of the leaderboards, but not the main score ones.
I wonder if I’ll have the motivation any more, though? It’ll be interesting to find out. Regardless, I easily got my money’s worth from the game.
Oh, come on! BROMANCE is a word! Okay, maybe it’s not in your fancy, la-di-da leather-bound “dictionaries“, but it most certainly is a word!
Talking of which, they should add LOLcat speech to the game, too. HAZ would be a very useful word sometimes.
Also, how about just allowing combinations of letters that look like they should be words? I mean, if they look right they’ll probably be actual words soon enough, right? Right?
Right then, kids, that’s a new high score for Pure mode. I’m now top of my Friends leaderboard, so I guess I better move on to Supernova mode, where I’m only joint top. (It actually lists me as second, which seems unfair, as we’re both on 118 points. I’m just going to have to beat that, then.)
“THIS OUR MOST AMAZING UPDATE EVER!”
That’s what the release notes said.
So I downloaded the update to see what was so amazing.
You can play the game with an optional rainforest theme, which looks nice, but covers up important parts of the screen.
Sorry, I don’t get it. These novelty themes for Doodle Jump are interesting for a game or so, but aren’t anywhere near as good as the original theme when it comes to actually playing them. If they had separate leaderboards there might be some sort of point to them, but without that, I really don’t see why they exist. I could just get some shiny star-shaped stickers and put them on my iPhone screen and call it Galaxy mode, it wouldn’t amount to the same thing.
Doodle Jump’s one of the very best games on the iPhone, though it took me a long time to realise that. These other themes do nothing but add novelty and annoyance. As soon as the novelty wears off, which doesn’t take long, all your left with is the annoyance.
Still, nice rain effect in that forest theme, I’ll give them that.
I’m in the top ten (or thereabouts) on many of the leaderboards. This doesn’t mean that I’m good, though, as much it means that not enough people have bought this excellent game.
Maybe they’re waiting to see if the Freeverse takeover means this will go freemium soon. Maybe they’re put off by people playing for five minutes and then saying they can’t tell what’s going on. Maybe it’s just lost in the huge, ungainly App Store.
Whatever the reason, it’s not right. More people should be playing this – and if that means my scores start to look rubbish, so be it.
No, there’s not a lot of variety. As far as I can tell, every character’s stage is different only in the colour palette and there’s a limited number of objects to interact with. It doesn’t seem to matter, though, as I’ve played for a few hours now and haven’t got tired of it.
Once I’ve polished off the achievements I might find I play it less – I’ve only got a couple of endurance achievements left, I’ve completed all the ones that require any skill – but I’ve certainly had enough fun from this to make it a worthwhile purchase.
More than anything concrete, though, is that I just plain like it for reasons more emotional than just a bullet list of features or the ratio of price to time spent playing. It fits the platform and, more importantly, it fits me.
Yesterday I was saying that gambles are never worth the risk – and last night I had a classic example of that, shown above. I knew that it was dangerous to make the word HIP up there, but took a chance anyway – and it backfired in spectacular fashion. Will I ever learn my own lessons?
So, right, there are three zombies who are, somehow, superheroes. They’re aliens, I think, and they want to get back to their home planet. They’re not very bright, though, so instead of building a spaceship of something, they build a cannon and fire themselves out of it. They don’t get home, but they do fly through the city, slamming into things and generally causing a mess.
You choose an angle and fire your chosen zombie out of the cannon. You control how they move with a thrust button and tilt controls, making sure to stay under the tops of the skyscrapers so you don’t get shot down by the Air Force. You get points for distance travelled and how much stuff you hit along the way and get a bonus multiplier for hitting pinball-style obstacles along the way.
Between each round you get to purchase upgrades, such as more fuel or armour. After three rounds (or more, if you buy them) it’s back to the beginning.
Longevity comes from achievements, leaderboards (I’m currently fourth in the world using the second zombie) and, you know, this just being a damn fine game that’s fun to replay.
Sometimes unfair and often random, it takes a while to reveal its charms. At first it’s very hard to tell what’s going on with the fast-moving, tiny graphics and you’ve no idea how or why you’re getting points – but after half an hour or so of confusion it all begins to click and I find it very hard to tear myself away once I start it up.
I’m still not quite sure about everything – like what most of the “mystery” items you can buy actually do – but it’s a lot less confusing than it was at first. I’ve got tactics and everything now. Pretty cool, eh?