Saturday, September 12, 2009

Those Other Pursuits

I've gone from not playing any video games, to revisiting some old ones, and suddenly I've got all sorts of digital distractions.

First there was Batman. Now, I haven't been playing Batman myself, but I have been helping. I am the Alfred to Jeff's Bruce Wayne. I sit back an watch the story unfold while helping to spot secrets. I highly recommend this game. Jeff had a lot of fun playing it, and is still working on some of the challenges which is a good indication of how much he likes it. The story unfolds fluidly through game play with lots of nice video, but the scenes aren't so long that you're getting antsy waiting for the fighting to start again. If you like Batman and fighting games then you need to play this, if you like Batman and know someone who can play it for you then you should get it for them so that you can watch.

I downloaded Word Ace for my iPhone, and it's been mostly a positive experience. The dictionary and I disagree sometimes on what is or is not a valid word, and I have a feeling that some of the people are "cheating" because there just can't be that many people who can make a 7 letter word with 1 vowel and 4 Ks without help. I could be wrong, maybe I just haven't met this subset of humanity before, these scary spelling superstars. I have enjoyed trying to stretch my brain even if I don't like some of the gambling aspects (like bluffing). With 1000 free chips a day, it's not like you really have to worry about the "money". A big plus here is that I can play it one handed. So I can play a few hands while Max insists on sleeping in my arms, and it doesn't disturb him. I did once end up at a table where the chat involved people asking for pics of each other, and talking about digging insecure *itches, but that was once out of tons of tables. Mostly there is little to no chat going on, and it's a single line at the top of the screen, unless you click to enbiggen, and is pretty easy to ignore. The few times someone has talked to/at me it was to ask about the pic of Cabbit that is my avatar or to say "nice" when I got a good word out of the letters.

It seems like ever since Professor Layton and the Curious Village I've been waiting for the next Layton game to come out. The wait is over with Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box. At first I was not enjoying the game as much as I had the first. I'm not a huge fan of the voices this time around, and I think the puzzles are a little easier than before. Although that means less trial and error for me. I'm still having hell with the jumping balls over other balls to make all but one disappear puzzles, but your mileage may vary. After playing a bit I've come to enjoy at least as much as the first, and the built in mini-games I've liked quite a bit. There is the finding tea ingredients and making tea for people that is okay. The build a camera (super fun) leading to some spot the difference in two pictures puzzles that are pretty good. But my fave was the get your hamster in shape so he can spot hint coins for you game. I named my hamster Jeff.

Little Big Planet has been out for a while now, and really shouldn't be news to anyone. Jeff and I played a demo of it, and even though there was a two-player mode (actually up to four I think, but there's only two of us) I wasn't really sold on it. The controls are a bit wonky and I have a hard time navigating my sack person in the depth of field available. Still, it is a platform game so it is right up my alley. When we were outside a level and I started exploding my sack boy over and over, giggling at his different facial expressions it clinched it for Jeff. When he had to go out for cat food last night, he came back with Little Big Planet. I'm glad he did, we played through a few levels last night and had a really good time. The one and only time we tried to join an online player we couldn't get in. We were watching this other person play and finally managed to escape the level, right about the time it looked like our characters were popping in. Ah well, we'll try again sometime... maybe. Oh, and by the way, platformers where you need to swing from place to place over gaps are difficult to manage with two players. I can't imagine trying to get 4 people in sync on some of these levels. Sounds like a fun thing to try when they group has had a beer or two and something to avoid once people move on to their third. Playing as a vampire frog though, that makes it all worthwhile, a vampire frog that can explode.

The other game that Jeff came home with yesterday was The Beatles Rock Band. Totally digging it. Load times between songs (including having to hit start every time) are kind of annoying, but other than that it is a lot of fun. I enjoyed singing, and really look forward to getting more mics so that we can play some harmony with people. It would also be nice to have a mic stand so I could sing and play at the same time. This is music that I know well enough that I don't have to stare at the lyric line the entire time. It's been really great to play Rock Band and be excited by more songs than not. Usually I feel a bit musically backward for not having heard of the bands and not knowing the music. The game does not disappoint this Beatles fan. Over and over I was thrilled with the songs they chose. The videos so far have been entertaining too. I had no idea what big dorks they were, it's terrific.

Have you played any new games lately, even if they're only new to you? I'd love to hear about them.


Karen said...

Hi, I'm Karen and I'm a Guitar Hero addict. (Yes, I know I'm a bit late to the party on this one.) So far I've played and enjoyed both 2 & 3, although I've found that 3 offers better playability (the frets don't blend in with the background as much). The Metallica edition is tons of fun, too, and it allows you to play as Zombie Kirk Hammett, which is pretty awesome. It did feel somewhat anticlimactic, as there was no "boss fight" type challenge at the end of the game.

Oh, and seeing as the Beatles were my first and truest musical love, I'm desperate to play the Beatles Rock Band game. I nearly wept for joy the first time I saw the commercial. :)

Anonymous said...

Looking forward to borrowing Batman from you.. :D. That was the most enjoyable demo I've played in a long time.

I go back and forth with Little Big Planet (and I wish I had known you were interested, I would have let you borrow mine). I find the controls, especially once you get to the harder levels, far too wonky. I don't understand why people feel the need to do 2d platforms with just enough 3d to make it suck. That said, I enjoy the sense of humor some of the time. But the multiplayer is horrible. And good. Because you watch people and figure out how the levels work. But the lag is bad, and it just sort of magically puts you in a multiplayer level. Which is irritating since some levels need multiplayer (in which case you can't get a multiplayer game), and some don't (in which case you'll get stuck with a bunch of 12 year olds talking about fags). The game's decent, but I feel like that speaks more to the quality of platformers (I'm also dissapointed with the controls of the "New Super Mario Bros" on DS. They're good, but just not tight enough to be called a mario game).

I'll stop ranting now.