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7:22 AM on 05.22.2010

Dante's Inferno is things, also candy bars

I recently had a nice opportunity to visit my best friend in the distant land he has chosen to reside in, and as any proper pair of young male dorks we played lots of videogames. While my friend went out during the day to some activity called a "job", I poured over his exotic pile of PS3 games and chose to try Dante's Inferno. From what I heard on Dtoid, the game was full of lots of wildly offensive things which made me very excited.

As soon as I put in the disc for Dante's InfernoorshouldIsayGodofWar2.5amiriteetc.etc. I was alarmed at what seemed to be a narrative. I anxiously mashed some buttons and successfully skipped a few cutscenes until I was allowed to do some proper killings. The game won some points straight away for featuring Death as the first boss, since the original Castlevania had us believe for decades that Death was supposed to be a second-last boss. Right off the bat, conventions were being broken.

Unfortunately, after seizing Death's epic scythe and running around in a graveyard for some reason I found that the titular Inferno into which Dante was expected to descend into was quite unspectacular and unshocking. I don't know how video games have come to this point where I can witness a giant woman with blade-swinging fetuses coming out of her nipple and be completely unimpressed. In the game's defense, making a mockery of a classic poem and being blatantly offensive just to get attention was the only way for this game to stand out as something other than a God of War clone. Adding a touch of subtlety and nuance to the game's overall presentation in order to properly convey the depravity and vileness of Hell and having a bit of faith in your game's own gameplay really wouldn't have helped at all.

The only thing that really stunned me was that the game shows you Dante's bum at the end. For a game that was all about boobie-boobboob boobity-boobs whenever a woman appeared on screen, it was genuinely a surprise to see the male lead get a little naked. It also added a nice touch of comedy in what was quite a dry and cereal plot. Bums.

Speaking of dry and cereal, I met some Mormon missionaries who were just walking around in suits greeting random strangers and telling them about how great Mormon and the Gang are. Apparently Mormon and some engraved plates as well as Joseph Smith and DID YOU KNOW that there is a person alive today who is spoken to directly by Jesus or something? He lives in Utah, I asked. Since the missionaries were so polite I indulged their desire to say words and they ended up giving me The Book of Mormon, or rather A The Book of Mormon because in reality there are several copies of it. I read the first chapter but the characters weren't really that interesting so I'm putting it aside for now.

In other things, I bought an Oh Henry bar for the first time in several years on my way back home. I couldn't comprehend the amount of peanuts that were in that thing. There were so many of them I could actually legitimately kid myself into thinking I was eating something healthy. It's nice that Faceless Megacorporation is looking out for my well-being like that.


7:25 PM on 05.20.2010

My brain has some opinions on Bit Trip Runner

I have been doing some serious playings on Bit Trip Runner for the past 3 days, and it is quite enjoyable. I have been jumping, kicking, sliding and most importantly running like a crazy man and it has been a whole lot of fun.

When I first heard of Runner, I was immediately concerned. Clearly Gaijin Games was going insane by daring to make a Bit Trip game where you control Commander Video himself instead of an ambiguous blocky shape, and I got quite nauseous and dizzy when I heard there was going to be a "Non Trotski", whatever that is. However, once all the dust settled it became quite clear that Gaijin Games knew what they were doing all along and the world resumed spinning on its normal axis. Runner is certainly quite different from the epic synthaesthetic blobs that precede it, but it is also completely a Bit Trip game.

Instead of demanding that players sit down for 15 minutes to progress through the game, Runner has chopped itself into many small, digestible pieces which makes it much more accessible. Each of the game's 3 worlds is comprised of 11 one-to-two minute long levels and a boss battle, and the game's menu makes it quite easy to pick up and put down the game whenever one wants. However, this setup takes away most of the engrossing, trance-inducing feeling that the series had, since you're not carefully building up a single song over a long period of time. There is still a song-building element in the game, but it only lasts for the duration of each small level and is then reset when you procede to the next.

What Runner does carry on well is rhythmic, timing-based gameplay. Like Vib Ribbon, Canabalt, and probably some other games I haven't played, Runner's game is built entirely around timing moves precisely. The whole running part is done automatically so all one has to fret about is getting those jumps just right. His Royal Lord The Right Honourable King Video also has a few other moves at his disposal. He can kick, slide, and spring up with trampolines, and it's never unclear what obstacle demands which move. There is also a 5th maneuvre in the game, but it is introduced quite late in the game and comes off as redundant and unneccessary especially with the game's bonus levels.

Each level in Runner has a bonus level that can be accessed by catching all of a level's gold bars, and these extra stages are honestly the best part of the game (partly because they look like they came out of an Atari game). These stages are much harder than regular stages and only put to use Senor Video's jumping, sliding, and trampolining abilities. This is the main reason I like the bonus stages so much, because they keep things simple yet incredibly varied and challenging. The funny thing about these stages is that the only significant difference between them and the regular stylized stages is their appearance, lack of music, and difficulty, as if Gaijin Games only made them to point out how much more important good gameplay is to everything else in a game.

Above all of this stuff though, is the game's superb plot which, while open to interpretation, has been thouroughly analyzed and dissected by yours truly. The game is clearly about a man (represented by Emperor Video) who works through many menial jobs like miner and city construction worker (represented by the game's stage backgrounds) in order to get enough money (gold bars) to be able to fulfill his fondest dreams - going for exciting jungle field trips (represented by the pitfall-style bonus stages). Runner is clearly a tale of perseverance and determination, teaching us that you can achieve all that you want as long as you work hard and time your jumps correctly. You can try and outdo my interpretation, but it is basically indisputable because I have countless experiments and books I have read, you see.

The only major complaint I have for this game is that the 3-D perspective sometimes makes it hard to tell how close Captain Video is to an incoming obstacle. Other than that this game clearly deserves:

Cherry Pie A La Mode out of 10.

I suggest everyone to go get it because it is loads of fun and is also only 8 dollars (8 dollars!).   read

7:56 PM on 04.30.2010

My farewell to Podtoid

I just finished listening to Podtoid 148 this evening, because the not-torrent of the Super Mario Bros. movie was taking its sweet time getting all up on my computer. It was sad enough that Anthony and Aaron were leaving, but Topher too? ;-; It's as if I had dropped my ice cream cone on the sidewalk, and when I thought to myself, "oh, well that's quite unfortunate," someone came up and stepped in it too. I will probably go back to get another ice cream later, but it will not fully replace that ice cream that I dropped. Good-bye, ice cream.

Anyhoo, I made something stupid.

Merry Christmas.   read

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