amethyst73: (tazz)

So, I've just beaten the boss of the first real dungeon in Wind Waker.  I have impressions, most notably of my boat.

Here is The Short Version of what my boat and I have had to say to each other. )

I recognize that the world opens up considerably in a little while, and that I shouldn't be impatient.  :)

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 My husband and I downloaded an audiorecording of The City at World's End by Edmund Hamilton and have been listening to it.  It's an excellent recording of a sci-fi novel published in 1951 which starts out with a "super-atomic" exploding over Middletown.  The science, such as it is, is pretty laughable, and Hamilton doesn't exactly have a good opinion of the common man, but it's an interesting read as a product of its time.  I'll probably have a review of it when we're done listening.


A friend lent me a copy of Uranium: War, Energy, and the Rock that shaped the World by Tom Zoellner ().  Zoellner makes no secret of his overall opinion of uranium, but once you get past that, it's an interesting read about uranium's discovery as a radioactive element, its early reception as the best substance on earth (even better than radium!), its development and use as a weapon, and US society's reaction to The Bomb.  There's more than that, but I'm only about halfway through the book, being busily fascinated by such tidbits as Bert the Turtle's song about ducking and covering back in the 1950s.


Finally, as I'm nearly done with Zelda: Skyward Sword (only the very last boss battle to go!), I started Fallout 3 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallout_3), one of the games that came with the PS3 we bought a couple of months ago.  Why Fallout 3?  Why not the original Assassin's Creed, which also came with it?  I think part of it was wanting to play a completely different game from just about anything else I'd played or seen; I think the closest I'll have come to it in style is probably Metroid Prime (which, I will note, I quit partway through).  But from what I've read about Fallout 3, it's much more of an RPG than it is an FPS - you can get your wrist computer to auto-aim for you, you have stats and skills... and, yes, it's set in an alternate 1950s, after the nuclear holocaust.

Anyway.  Me and the end of the world.  What gives, self?

amethyst73: (Default)
L. Frank Baum’s magical land of Oz has been loved for generations.  Ever since the his original series of books entered the public domain, others have taken temporary possession of Oz and run with it in gleeful abandon.  Authors such as Ruth Plumly Thompson and John R. Neil wrote books in keeping with Baum’s original vision; others, most notably Gregory Maguire, imagined alternate versions of the world.  The video game we finished this weekend, Emerald City Confidential, is another wonderful addition to the alternate realities of Oz.


Much is good, and very little is bad! )

Emerald City Confidential is available for Mac and PC on Big Fish and PlayFirst Games (and several other web stores, all of which seem to offer 1 hour of free play) for $6.99 for members ($9.99 for non-members) and through the Mac App Store for $9.99.
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The game we finished this week: Back to the Future - The Videogame (Steam, $24.99)

Huz and I have always been fans of point-and-click adventure games.  We've played all the modern entries in the Monkey Island series, all the Myst games, and the more recent two Sam and Max games with varying degrees of enjoyment.  With an adventure game, the two aspects that really count for us are the story and the puzzles.  It's rare to find a game that executes both aspects flawlessly; most of them are strong in one aspect or the other.  Back to the Future is no exception to the rule, but its storytelling aspects are so good that I'm more than willing to forgive its gameplay/puzzle flaws.

Take me away, I don't mind... )

Overall recommendation: Come for the fan service, stay for the story, and have a walkthrough handy for the occasionally overly dense or poorly designed puzzle.
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Time for a KOTOR update!

So far, I've completed the quests on Dantooine and Tatooine, and done almost everything (except the final test) on Korriban. I've played Bastila like a violin and gotten her to kiss me. (Score!!!) I've had lots of fun, and I've discovered rather a lot about the kind of guy my character Gale is. (Warning: spoilers in the jumps if you haven't played the game yet.)

He values family. )

He doesn't like random torturing and killing. )

It's not being very hard to stay in neutral territory. I just let him do what he wants when he has to make a moral choice, and he ends up mostly staying there. He does have a risk of going down the dark side, because Force Lightning is very fun. Being neutral is a little annoying now that I'm coming across Light- or Dark-Only items - there's an awfully nice set of Light-Only Jedi robes that, well, Bastila and Juhani can wear and enjoy. The Dark-Only gloves and facemask aren't as cool.

Hours played so far: almost 45.

Oh, and I don't remember Le Meridien Hotel in Cambridge as being one of the locations you have to go to in order to find a Star Map, but that's clearly one up on top of the building:
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In KOTOR, I have finished Dantooine.  I is a Jedi, and have logged nearly 31 hours of play. 

Much to my initial distress, Gale now gets Dark Side points every time he asks for a reward from people who don't offer him any in the first place, or if he tries to get them to give him more than they originally offered.  Thing is, this is how he's lived his whole life.  He wants to get comfortably wealthy.  He thinks convincing people to give him money is perfectly fine.  He doesn't think much of what the Sith plan to do to people - doing in an entire planet just to make sure one Jedi dies is overkill in more than one sense of the word - but he also totally fails to get what the Jedi creed is all about.  There are no emotions?  There is no death?  Buddy, see that spaceport over there?  Yeah, I can sell it to you cheap, if you believe all that stuff.

So... it's possible Gale will go dark without my really intending him to.  He has no interest in becoming Dark Lord himself, that's waaaay more responsibility than he wants.  So he'll probably just let the Republic take charge once Darth Malak is dead.  They seem like decent enough people... who might be convinced to quietly leave him alone once things are over.  I'll keep you posted!
amethyst73: (Default)
Had a busy but generally good week and weekend.

Pasted from G+ )
amethyst73: (Default)
According to this story in the Daily Mail, some macaques got hold of a photographer's camera and managed to take some amazing self-portraits.  Even if the story turns out to be untrue, the pictures are still marvelous.

(linkspam from Cute Overload)

------
Also, Steam Sale is on!  I just picked up both parts of Penny Arcade's game (On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness) for a stinkin' dollar and eighty cents.  It's something I'd been very vaguely thinking about for a while, and at that price I couldn't resist.  Also, Tiny Bang Story for something like $3.40.  Different specials every day; sale ends 7/10 I think.  I don't get anything by telling the world about the sale, don't worry.
amethyst73: (mii)
Today I paid Nintendo for two games that I finished over a decade ago.

Back in the late 90s and early 00s, there were a lot of Super Nintendo (SNES) ROMs floating about the still-kinda-new Internet, along with emulators that allowed you to play those ROMs.  I think eBay mostly didn't exist yet, so it was difficult and probably expensive to acquire and play these games legally if you didn't already own them.  

A good friend of mine had been talking for a year or more about how much she'd enjoyed Final Fantasy III (aka Final Fantasy VI, in the 'true' continuity), and after doing some poking around, I found an emulator and a ROM online.  And played and played and played and played and played.  I must have sunk eighty hours or more into that game on my first playthrough.  Some years later, I played the first half again, though never quite bothered with the second half the second time.  It was my first experience with a JRPG, and I loved it.  (Mostly.  The dratted Mages' Tower or whatever it was called I could have done without.  The multiple 'freeze states' that one could have with the emulator sure helped, though.)  From the dates on my freeze files, I probably finished it in April of 1999.

Once I'd finished Final Fantasy III/VI, I of course looked around for similar high-quality games to sink some hours into.  I found this thing called Chrono Trigger, which was even by the same company (Squaresoft, back when it was still Squaresoft and turning out quality titles) as had done FF3, so I was in.  Only much later (years upon years later) did I discover that I'd discovered another JRPG that was considered nigh-on sacred, so high a pillar did it occupy.  It was good!  I piled a lot of hours into it.  I remember playing it at 6 AM when I had bronchitis and honestly couldn't sleep anymore because I was coughing so much.  Time travel.  Cool characters.  Unique multicharacter combo attacks, which were completely new to me and pretty interesting.  And the amazingness of having wandering monsters visible on screen which you could avoid if you were so minded, as opposed to random battles every three to ten seconds.  Wow!  No idea how many hours I put into it, but I finished it in probably August of 2000.  

Nintendo's finally made both these SNES classics available for $8 apiece on their Virtual Console shop, normally filled with titles that most people look at and either go "huh, what was that?" or "why did they release that, it's crap" (with a few exceptions of course).   Yes, I'm lawful good.  I bought both of them.  I probably won't play either of them on the Wii (no freeze states, for one thing), but I can finally say thank you for inventing these games in the first place.

Thanks, Nintendo.  I got way more than $8 of pleasure out of these games years ago.

(Now will you please reconsider your decision not to release current-gen JRPGs in the US?)
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Do you have 10 free minutes?  Good.  Go check out this short point-and-click adventure designed by a 5-year-old (and programmed by her 33-year-old dad, but she did all the art and most of the voicing).

No, really.  Go do it.  It's very sweet (ponycorns!  a combo of ponies and unicorns which, in a 5-year-old crayon art style, end up looking like bugs!) and surreal (ponycorns!  plus an evil lemon!).

I have been told it even has multiple endings, but I'm not certain I'm *that* eager to replay it.
amethyst73: (mii)
There's hints that a movie is being made based on my beloved Phoenix Wright series of video games. 

If they do it right, it could be really cool.  If they do it wrong, it could be... really wrong.  Hence the "I think?" in the title post.

(Meanwhile, when is Miles Edgeworth 2 getting an English translation?  Huh?)

Enjoying Professor Layton.  I tend to play it in bits; I'll load up a puzzle, and if I can't solve it quickly, I'll put the system aside (sometimes still running, sometimes not) and think about the puzzle for a while.  I learned last night that this playing it right before bed is an EXCELLENT way to give me something that's engaging, distracting, and not emotionally loaded to think about as I fall asleep (or alternately, ponder if I wake up in the middle of the night).  Must remember that.  :)

And still enjoying Okamiden, now roughly 20 hours in and ready to go back to the plot for a while.  Still only ~1/2 way through the game plotwise, I think!

Some games

Apr. 29th, 2011 02:56 pm
amethyst73: (mii)
So, I'm something like 11 or 12 hours into Okamiden. What do I think of it? )

I finished Ghost Trick. I like it! )
For my next story-with-puzzles game, I got my hands on a copy of Professor Layton and the Curious Village via EBay the other week.  I'm barely into it, but it looks promising.  Good thing: The voice acting during the movies is really excellent!  Bad thing: Touch screen controls only.  Can't I have buttons for the multiple-guess questions?  Why is the letter and number recognition so poor?  For your entertainment, Penny Arcade's take on Professor Layton (NSFW).

Happy Friday, and have a good weekend!

Game stuff

Feb. 11th, 2011 02:34 pm
amethyst73: (Default)
Finished Hotel Dusk a couple of days ago.  I can't find an entry in which I say I started it (or finished Miles Edgeworth, for that matter), but Huz and I both think I must have started it in mid-to-late December, which makes it a somewhat shorter game than what I've been used to with the Capcom Attorney series of games.  The final timer indicates that my playthrough time - not including reloading after wandering around aimlessly - was only about 8 hours.  Given that I only paid $10 for it, that's okay.  And I've heard that it has replay value, in that you can get a little bit of additional content (at the very end) on your second playthrough.  I might just go watch the videos on YouTube, though; even though I know all the puzzle solutions, it would still be some hours of repetition before getting that payoff.

I have mixed feelings about Hotel Dusk.  I have to concur with various reviews that the strength of the game is in its story and its characters.  Come the end of the game, a good story has been spun, and the actions of all the important characters, present and absent, have been explained.  There are a couple of times when the suspension of disbelief becomes a little difficult - it just strikes one as exceedingly unlikely that almost every guest in the small hotel has some connection to the mystery that main character Hyde uncovers over the course of the game.  But the characters are so varied and well-drawn that you end up not minding too much.

The gameplay is where Hotel Dusk tends to fall flat - I've noted this before, so I won't rehash those issues here.  But be warned, the last chapter has a couple of real problems in terms of gameplay.  First, there's a room where you could die if you didn't happen to have picked up a key item that broadcasts its later importance only in its being not nailed down.  Second, it's entirely possible to fail to even trigger one of the very last puzzles in the game - I had to look at a couple of walkthroughs to find out exactly how and where to walk just to make the puzzle available.  That's just not cool, guys.

Overall, the 7.9 that IGN gives it seems about right.

However, the story and the characters make up for the flawed gameplay enough that if Hotel Dusk's sequel ever gets a US release (hey, [livejournal.com profile] nezumiko , an English version of the sequel, "Last Window: MIdnight Promise" was released in Europe this past fall - could you get it if you see it?), I'll likely pick it up.

Next up: I'll be starting Ghost Trick, made by the team responsible for the Phoenix Wright games.  And I'm assuming that Miles Edgeworth 2 (subbed trailer here) will make it to the US in reasonably short order as well.
amethyst73: (Default)
So, in the Florence of 1476 (as told by Assassin's Creed 2), carts of hay - hayricks? - are fairly abundant. 

Makes sense in its way; the city is an honest-to-gosh city, cobble and stone streets, with very little in the way of greenery.  There's the occasional vines growing in people's yards, but I'm not certain that there's even much in the way of trees in the bit of city we've seen.

The hayricks are quite useful for the player.  You can hide in them to evade detection, and you can land in them without damaging yourself if you jump off a tall building. 

But here's what I want to know: Where are the horses or goats or other animals that actually *eat* the hay??  Everyone we've seen in the city (including our noble parents) travel everywhere on foot.  Or via boat, if you end up in the river. 

Haven't seen a horse.  Anywhere.

Guess I just shouldn't think about the hayricks too much, hmm?
amethyst73: (Default)
Huz downloaded Assassin's Creed II earlier this week off of Steam.  We've looked at the first hour or so of the game.  As soon as you get to Italy, the dialogue really does start to feel a little like this:


from the masters at Penny Arcade; comic posted 11/23/09

Oh joy.

Jan. 31st, 2011 08:49 pm
amethyst73: (Default)
Clindamycin is well known for inducing Clostridium difficile infections

Guess what one of my antibiotics is?  Guess what lovely new symptom I've developed?

(My doctor, by the way, is not particularly concerned about the red swelling.  He *was* concerned about the antibiotics: the clindamycin for the reason stated above, and the sulfa because according to a handy little book, cat bite infections tend to be resistant to it.  I have been given instructions to switch to doxycyclene.  If my, um, current symptoms persist through the night, the doctor is getting a call in the morning to say "Guess what?")

Yogurt and GatorAde consumption commencing... sigh....

----

On another note, Huz has downloaded Assassin's Creed 2.  It's very pretty.
amethyst73: (Default)
I am glad that Half-Life 2 on Steam had a demo mode.  I liked and was intrigued by the bit of Chapter 1 that they let you play.  I really really really did NOT like the body parts and blood sprawled all over the place by destroying zombies in Chapter 6.   I didn't even complete the demo portion - just quit and uninstalled.  Why don't more games let you have demos?  Like, say, Assassin's Creed 2?

Then to cure the ick factor left over from that, I played a little bit of Kirby's Epic Yarn, which I am charmed by.  Being in the beginning levels, everything is pretty easy, though it's not entirely trivial getting to the hard-to-reach places.  It reminds me of the bits of the Paper Mario games that I've played to some extent - maybe because it's a sidescrolling platformer, maybe because it's got that stupid red curtain, I don't know.  But it's pretty, with bright colors and chirpy music and (mostly) very sound controls.  (I can't reliably turn into a car yet, but it'll likely come.)  As pretty much every review has said, it does a great job of being sweet and charming while never overwhelming you with the sense that "I am a CUTE GAME FOR KIDS!  Popcorn and cotton candy for everyone!!!" 

Nope, not done with Crystal Bearers.  Just taking a bit of a break; and Kirby at 6pmish yesterday fit my feeling-icky sense better than fighting monsters did.
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Somewhat to my surprise, I just finished Portal!  I met the final room sometime in December, made progress, discovered I couldn't do it if I had any nervousness at all and that it was stressful, and didn't touch it for a couple of weeks.  (Also the last time I tried, when I tried to quit GlaDOS ate my computer.  I'm not kidding!  It wouldn't quit properly, and so I had to reboot the whole darned thing.)

But I did it just now!  I honestly thought I wouldn't; I'd tried to get that last module into the incinerator twice and it had bounced off the edge and I had like 10 seconds left and figured I was going to die but I DIDN'T!

Okay.  Ready for Portal 2.  :)

--------------------

My last post about Hotel Dusk was erroneous.  I was not backed into a no-win corner; I just hadn't picked up a second key item that I needed, that's all.
amethyst73: (Default)
As I noted this past summer, I picked up Hotel Dusk: Room 215 as a next thing to play after Miles Edgeworth.  So far I've been mostly enjoying it.  The writing is good; the characters seem well-developed.  The gameplay is a little mixed though.  Every so often you'll be thrown a puzzle of some sort (pick the lock, figure out why your toilet isn't flushing).  The puzzles vary in difficulty from pretty trivial to moderately annoying.  (That, and trying to figure out how to use the stylus to manipulate the objects at hand the way the game wants you to, which is sometimes annoying.  Why can't I just break the box down, for example?)  That in itself isn't necessarily bad; what's bad is that the game really railroads you into DOING THIS PUZZLE NOW.  It completely depopulates the hotel if you decide to leave the puzzle and wander around, which is both unrealistic and creepy.  Worse, it's not always clear that you are about to back yourself into a no-man's-land of not being able to get back to the puzzle you abandoned (interviewing a particularly troublesome guest, in this case).  As I have just done, according to one walkthrough I just checked - apparently, I'm supposed to wait to leave the guest's room until he throws me out, *then* retrieving a key item will allow me back into his room.  (I left too soon.  I have the key item, but he isn't letting me in, and as a result I'm in the Empty Hotel of Doom.) (Edit: According to another walkthrough, there's ANOTHER key item I need, but which is easy enough to get.  Couldn't get the guy to throw me out... grr.)

The one saving grace is that the game has three save slots, but you'd better remember to use them - otherwise you'll end up going through a great deal of text, somewhat slowly.  Always save before you start a conversation with someone.  Always, always.  Because boy, you really could screw yourself otherwise.

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