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LONG BLOG

Shoot the Breeze: All Hail Rex

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Thank you, Rex, for a title so profound I can't believe I haven't been using all along. Fantastic mention to Turtle for ""Uncertainty: The Might-iest of All."

Listen, it's about time someone was upfront about this. Unclogging a toilet sucks, particularly if you aren't the one at fault. Nobody is debating that. However, what so often gets overlooked is that moment of sweeping exaltation that rushes forest fire-wild through every fibre of your being with the first clean flush. You think to yourself, "This is it. It is done. I am a lavatory god." Briefly, you consider a career as a plumber. Not just any plumber. The greatest in the world. The David Bowie of plungers. For that brief, shining second, life is good. And then you remember why you came to the washroom in the first place.

Mm. Kind of at a quirky place in my life. A couple of weeks ago, I subscribed to a terrible melancholy, which is sort of like subscribing to People, only one is full of a howling, desperate emptiness and the other, well, it has fewer pictures of Justin Bieber. And then I started drinking. Depression and alcoholism. My artistic credibility is through the roof. How're you kids doing?

Alright, alright. Welcome, welcome, faithful readers. Man, so this blogging thing? It's like, I don't know, Where the Wild Things Are. I'm Max and, uh, something is them Wild Things. Ideas, maybe? I've got to stare them down and become their king? Or, could be you folks are the hideous, chimeran beasts with whom I cavort away the night. Yeah, I could dig that.

Woah. Okay. Was this always so hard? Hm. Moving on. Not much to talk about this week, but I'm hoping to lay the groundwork for more 'breezes in the future. Whipping up a gust, y'hear? Anyway, 'pologies, wrote this in a rush, I haven't taken the time to flesh anything out. But hey, it's something.

ohmygoshsocute



So, I picked up - uh, hang on, can I use "picked up" regarding digitally distributed products? I mean, there's nothing to really pick up. Hm. Maybe the direction is wanting? Really, I suppose it was downloaded. Okay, hang on.

So, I picked down ilomilo, an XBL indie game made out of sunshine, gumdrops and pre-midnight snack gremlins, and yaaay. Man, I am digging it. Quick break down - ilomilo is a neat little puzzle game. The focus of each level is bringing together the co-protagonists, Ilo and Milo, between whom control can be switched back and forth, and the challenge comes from navigating the escheresque worlds. And there, things get nutty. A nice pool of kitschy elements like extending bridges and magic carpets which tilt characters onto different planes allow the developers to build a commendable bunch of puzzles. Oh, and the worlds are made out of blocks. Oh again, and everything is so cute it wounds.

Gameplay-wise, it's a ball. Not unforgivingly difficult, but engrossing and fun. Every level is stuffed full of collectibles, not just mindless fluff, but music and pictures and bits of story and these little googly creatures whose collection unlocks even more bonus levels. The googly creatures are, of course, themselves cute. There are also leaderboards which show off your personal best and, a cooler touch, the community's average score. Not a biggie, but a great incentive to come back and do better. Beyond all that, it's just a real joy to bobble about, poking your way to a solution.

But lord, the charm, that's where this game is at. It's like if Hayao Miyazaki was a Powerpuff Girl, this would be his/her baby. Yeah, Ilo and Milo are adorable, but everything else is great too. There's this real Sackboy-esque storybook vibe over everything and, more than that, every bit is inundated with character. Movable blocks have goofy dog faces. The tutorial giver rides a beetle. Load screens talk about the barbershop aspirations of the world's blocks. I'm pretty sure there's a UFO wearing a tutu in the background. There's so much heart it's impossible to not grin.

Yeah, so, it's pretty decent. A groovy, peaceful kind of fun in story about love and tea. Not convinced? Look at this. Buy this game or I will hate punch you with my fists.

ohmygoshsocastlecrashers



I also grabbed Corrupted off the Indie games section. Let's do words about that.

Corrupted is a solid little twinstick brawler RPG mess. Left sticks moves you about, right stick swings your sword thing/shoots arrows. Bumpers do super attacks, X and B throw some magic in the mix, A chugs healing bits, and Y wonders why it bothered showing up. Needless to say, there's a lot going on, but it works surprisingly well. It's sort of like, uh, if Too Human was a top-down game and didn't swallow Amelia Earhart into the void of its broken gameplay. Theres also a coop option which the game isn't afraid to push. I didn't have the chance to check it out, but I imagine it would only improve the experience.

(sidebar: I've been meaning to play Too Human again. Is it as much of a trudge as I remember?)

The game is definitely a bit of a slog. Much too often I find myself groaning as another wave of drudging enemies stomps towards me. Even so, the actual action, while undeniably monotonous, is entertaining. It has a sense of rhythm to it that stands up well, a sort of swing-swing-swing-block-repeat that works its way up to an engrossing groove. Throw in the afore-mentioned special attacks and magic upgrades to spice the scene up and it does the trick pretty well. And hey, between the scenes, there's some fairly robust levelling up to be had. Cash collected over the course of the stages can be put towards an assortment of upgrades.

I'm not that far in, but the story is, uh, it's there. A good knight corrupted by an evil mage to capture the land's princesses and bam, we're ready to roll. It's always a survivable twist to play the bad guy, but it hasn't done much to up the narrative ante so far. Toss in wooden dialogue and some clunky fourth wall breaking and you've got something which is offensive, but not much to get behind.

More than anything, it's worth talking about how closely this game parallels Castle Crashers. A similar focus on coop, a sea of enemies to brawl through, a steady trickle of level ups. Just about everything feels familiar, but that's certainly no bad thing. The formula holds up well and the core gameplay is sufficiently different to warrant a look. True, it's missing the humour and polish, but the game looks good and plays solidly. At 240 magic dollars, it's worth demoing first, but do take a look if you've got the time.

ohmygoshsoycocktail



Soy milk. It's pretty good. See you next week.
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About Beyamorone of us since 1:10 PM on 06.24.2009

I知 a gamer. Take a minute and get over that shock. I can say I知 an Xbox man, though I値l support anything that advances gaming (I love you Sackboy). I致e also got a DS Chunky, so I can take this whole nerd thing on the road.

As far as genres, shooters and western RPGs top my list. Halo, Fable, and Morrowind, for instance, rock my socks hard. Of course other things, stuff like Animal Crossing and Kingdom Hearts, do their share of stocking rocking.

In the world outside of buttons and pixels, I知 an engineering student (that nerd thing I mentioned? I do it hardcore) on the west coast of the Great White North. I知 a fan of a harder rock, bands like Breaking Benjamin and Hurt, though I値l kick it (very much figuratively) to stuff ranging from The Fray through Franz Ferdinand to Five Finger Death Punch. Optimus Prime is my hero, but I do love Starscream. Finally, thumbs up to you for reading this. You池e never getting that time back.


Kirbey by the talented and generously endowed (probably) Enkido