Posts Tagged ‘platformer’

Grump Talk – The Grump Who Came In From the Cold

February 4, 2011

Oh god, grumpeteers, where have I been? The short of it is: not here. The long answer is that I’ve been embroiled in the final year of my post-graduate education, trying to finish my counseling psychology degree, which involves completing an internship. I won’t bore you with all the gory details, but currently I’m having to help out with a drug addiction recovery group, work four days a week at a homeless shelter, and devoting my Saturdays to working a doomed (dooooomed) group in an inpatient mental ward at a hospital.

That hasn’t left a lot of free time to devote to making snide comments about A Troll in Central Park.

And that’s my fault. Luckily, Tim has been keeping Grump Factory FLUSH with content in the meantime, which I knew would be an advantage to sharing the blog with another esteemed author. So kudos to him!

So what have I been doing in the meantime, besides slowly killing myself in pursuit of a degree? Same as always: watchin’ movies, TV and playin’ games! Let’s see if I can quickly touch on the stuff I’ve seen and am not planning on writing up in greater detail:

House: No, not the “Holmes in a hospital” weekly procedural; I mean the 1970s psychedelic Japanese horror comedy. The first feature film of a visionary experimental film director, House is about a group of Japanese schoolgirl archetypes that visit an old woman’s country house during summer vacation, where they’re preyed upon by the woman’s ghost who feeds on them to rejuvenate herself. It’s an absolute scream of a movie (pun intended!), full of carnivorous pianos, flying decapitated heads and wacky special effects flourishes. Everyone should check out Criterion’s superb DVD and Blu-Ray release of it.

Tangled: Disney’s return to 3D after the quick two-dimensional detour of The Princess and the Frog. An adaptation of the Rapunzel fairy tale, it’s a slight letdown after its gorgeous, charming, hilarious predecessor. Is that to say that the movie is awful? Helllll no, it’s still a giant leap from classic Disney misfires such as The Aristocats, The Hunchback of Notre Dame or Pocahontas. Where the movie really shines are the hilarious and endearing sidekicks and secondary characters. Rapunzel and Flynn Rider are genial enough, but a little unmemorable. Where the real weaknesses lie are in the lack of memorable musical numbers and the weak villain. An overbearing mother figure? Ehhhh. Glad the movie wasn’t a trainwreck, but The Princess and the Frog raised my expectations for Disney’s releases from hereon out.

The Decalogue: From the director of the sublime The Double Life of Veronique came a ten-part series of short films focusing on the everyday, but compelling, moral difficulties faced by the residents of a Polish apartment complex. I’ve only seen parts 1-3 so far, and the results are… interesting, even if it confirms some of the American stereotypes about foreign movies. Often bleak, frustratingly vague and slow as molasses, there’s still an intriguing core to the exercise that I’m excited to see revisited in the other seven parts I have ahead of me.

Enslaved: An action/adventure title that slipped under just about everyone’s radar, Enslaved (along with Heavy Rain) rekindles my interest in Western gaming. Yeah, it has the typical God of War-inspired combat and upgradeable weaponry and skills and blah blah blah… What really makes this game special is the amount of care that got put into the story that the game hangs off of. Loosely inspired by the classic Asian story Journey to the West, Enslaved features a man named Monkey who escapes from slavers with a plucky young woman named Tripp, whom forces him to help her get back home by enslaving him with a headband that can kill him with the push of a button. It’s wonderfully told and acted in exquisitely-animated cutscenes, which really make you empathize with the characters. It was a bit of a financial flop, so finding it on the cheap should be easy.

Valkyria Chronicles II: The follow-up to my personal favorite PS3 game, Valkyria Chronicles II had a lot to live up to, and already had a few strikes against it for being downgraded to a portable system and for changing the setting to a military training high school. Even though the characters are not even half has likable as the original crew, there’s still a spark in some of the designs and the gameplay largely translated to the portable system, albeit with much smaller combat areas, due to memory restraints. With new units, unit specialization trees and a tighter focus on short and sweet skirmishes, it’s still a fine S-RPG, and one of the most unique on the market.

Kirby’s Epic Yarn: Kirby games typically come out late in a system’s life and are typically fantastic. Even though this didn’t start out as a Kirby game, this one keeps up the tradition by being an effortlessly charming platformer, full of inventive ways of making the player go “Awwww!!” and little twists on the simple platforming that spice up the very easy gameplay. It’s a perfect choice to just chill out and relax to, and it may well be one of the most gorgeous games ever released on the Wii.

Grump Talk: Listen to How an Idiot Plays Mega Man

April 26, 2010

This is going to be part of a new shift in how we do things here at Grump Factory. Real life gets in the way of perfecting the lovingly-crafted articles you’re used to reading here, and I feel guilty not having more content up in regular intervals, so we’ve decided to add some more traditional blog-like posts with short rants or snippets of opinions on stuff we probably won’t ever talk about in-depth. In other words: Grump Talk.

And today I’m focusing on my nemesis, Mega Man.

You might remember my scathing, incendiary piece on Mega Man 9 a few years ago. Back then I couldn’t even get past the third elephant on the stage! I was so upset about the unfairness of the obstacles in the game that I gave up on it for a long time. But then boredom set in one day, I tried it again and figured out the pattern of the elephant and got to the end of the demo! Amazing! I still wasn’t in love with the damn thing, but I was more curious and open-minded to exploring the franchise that millions of people so obviously love, so I decided to download the Mega Man 10 demo when that rolled around and found myself not having as difficult a time as I had been before. I had even picked up the stupidly cheap Prinny platformer inbetween, and got pretty far! Maybe I could lick this thing, yet!

So I decided to buy Mega Man Anniversary Collection for the PS2 and figure out what I’d been missing, and see if I could discover what makes Mega Man such a video game icon after all this time. I started out with Cut Man because, I dunno, I wanted to! I’m not having too much trouble with the stage, some familiarly cheap enemies, but nothing that sent me raging. I actually got to Cut Man on my first continue, only to get killed by his weapon after I’d already killed him. WHAT. That shouldn’t be allowed to happen! Why doesn’t his blade disappear after he dies?! I had to start everything all over again and continue the stage from the beginning. I was seething, but promised myself I’d give the game a try until I’d at least beaten one robot master. So I clawed my way back and beat him FOR REAL this time BECAUSE APPARENTLY YOU CAN BEAT THEM AND STILL LOSE. I got a little pinwheel thing! Great!

So then I pushed my luck and tried out Bomb Man’s stage. Again, not too many parts of the level that pissed me off, except for those little armored things that fly around and shoot in all eight directions. Seems a bit cheap, if you ask me! I fall down into Bomb Man’s pit and beat him on the first try. This isn’t so bad!

But I’m noticing some things. First of all, Mega Man slides after he lands from a jump, and I hate it when platformers do this. Secondly, I haven’t used any weapon besides my Mega Buster yet, and I wonder if I will ever feel the need to. Most things die in three hits from it. I don’t really feel the need to experiment with stuff yet, and I wonder if I’m just missing the point of the game. I don’t like firing them willy-nilly because they require energy…

This may become a thing, folks! Stay tuned!