In contrast to the past two weeks, this week was a little slow on news. No new kings or graduations this time. I started my first classes of my Master’s this week, and from the looks of it they’re going to require more than a little bit of work. Then again, shouldn’t that be the entire point? We won’t get anywhere if it doesn’t take work.
On the gaming front, I’ve still been playing Mario and Darksiders, but due to classes my progress has slowed down a bit. I finished Snapshot and got back into Offspring Fling. Snapshot is good, but I felt that it didn’t explore all of its game mechanics thoroughly enough. There’s a lot that can be done with its, admittedly clever, photography gimmick, but it falls short of its true potential. For example, an incredibly neat mechanic that requires the player to line up background objects so they form a box or a spring which can be spawned by snapping a picture is only used in one level in the entire game, whereas an awful mechanic involving magnets (all together now: UGH) is used in a good six or seven. It’s still a good game, but I would’ve liked to see it be explored more. As for Offspring Fling, it’s an indie platformer in which you throw your babies around. What more could you possibly need?
”Experience the thrill of motherhood in this epic baby-throwing adventure” really says it all.
Finally, last Saturday my friend and I had one of our movie marathons, so that was a lot of fun. We decided to watch Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 2, Cabin in the Woods, Wrath of the Titans and….
Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2.
We’ve never actually watched a movie before just because how bad it was supposed to be. The only movies we ever watch together are either good ones or just movies that might not be “good” per se, but look entertaining. This was the first time we ever watched something out of pure train-wreck value. Because of that, we made a solemn promise to each other:
“If this ever stops being fun to watch, we will immediately shut it off and watch something good instead.”
Not ten minutes after making this promise, we were gasping for air from laughing so hard. The two-hour movie was over before we knew it, and I don’t think we’ve ever been quiet for a minute. There was always something stupid to point out. Highlights included Michael Sheen’s already infamous squee, the creepy little CGI girl (and the 20-something shirtless Jacob we keeps hanging around her all the fucking time), Jacob stripping in front of Bella’s dad, the vampire who is inexplicably the fucking Avatar, and Bella’s facial expressions. As for the latter, the thing is we couldn’t make heads or tails of it. Every time Kristen Stewart tried to show some emotion, we got this:
Seriously, what is that? What the hell is she even trying to convey? Is she angry? Focused? Constipated? In an alternate state of mind due to possession by the Ancient Ones? What the fuck is that?!
As for the other movies, Batman wasn’t very good (way too political, up to and including a blatant Reagan parody) but Cabin was a very clever movie. Lots of great moments in that one, and “the stoner” was fantastic.
Wrath of the Titans is an interesting one. I’m a sucker for Greek mythology, and any movie that features a chimera can do no wrong with me. My main gripe with this movie, and with the original too, is that it’s way too American. The characters are too American, the actors are too American, the dialog is too American, the jokes are too American, the combat is too American, the romance is too American, quite literally the entire movie just feels too American. I get that most movies are American, and most of the time I don’t have a problem with it. It’s just that for a fantasy story, it doesn’t work. Demi-gods don’t spout one-liners, ancient Greeks don’t have a thick US accent, Hades doesn’t threaten to send you to hell, a Greek hero doesn’t kiss the female commander of the army full on the mouth, and the list goes on. The “Americanism” of this movie clashes (haha) with its setting, and it started to bug me something fierce. It’s like if in Lord of the Rings, Saruman were to announce his betrayal to Gandalf with “Sauron is gonna steamroll us if we don’t switch to his side! No way we’re winning this! Join us, Grey, or I’ll send you to the deepest pits of hell myself!”, to which Gandalf replies “You’re an idiot! I’m leaving”. It doesn’t work.
It’s too bad as well, because I always like seeing what moviemakers can come up with for Greek Mythology, and this one went so far as to include even Hephaestus, the most underappreciated god if you ask me. The dude made flying shoes, invisibility helmets, unbreakable shields, robots and even a woman, but he never gets any love.
Overall, I still enjoyed Wrath, though. There’s good action scenes here, and some cool monster designs show up. I also really liked what they did to the character Andromeda, played here by Rosamund Pike, as compared to the original. In the original she was no more than a princess in need of rescue, on par with Princess Peach, but in the sequel she’s the full-fledged commander of a fucking army. Rosamund Pike also pulls some of the most awesome expressions I’ve ever seen.
Rosamund Pike doing the best “Oh shit!”-face ever. Kristen Stewart take notes.
Long story short, I recommend Breaking Dawn 2 if you want to laugh your ass off, and I pray to Zeus that claiming a movie is “too American” isn’t racist in some way.
No matter what the experience was or which game or genre left that strong first impression, such experiences have the potential to open our eyes to the rich history of a series or genre. With any luck, we might find even more to love or something better. A great first experience with RPGs could lead to an undying love affair.
Sometimes a first kiss can be so impactful that the game gets placed on a pedestal and enshrined as a gold standard, which has its own pros and cons. I mean, it is nice to have a basis for comparison, but some folks take it too far. There are people who loved Half-Life, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, or Final Fantasy VII so much that nothing after them really got a fair shake.
So first impressions matter -- they can shape and inform our gaming habits. I grew up on arcades, Nintendo, handhelds, and eventually into RPGs, so much of what I play will be influenced by how I acquired my tastes. I probably like Overwatch a ton because it has a passion for RPG roles, but contextualizes them closer to older shooters focused on objectives more than gear builds and grinding out perks for better killstreaks.
So for this month's Bloggers Wanted, we'd like you head over to the community blogs write about your first kiss, the games that positively influenced you or maybe biased you a little too much for a time. What turned you on to a series or genre? Was it love at first sight? Did it set any expectations in stone or possibly lead you to something better?
Whatever the case might be, remember to use the title "First kiss" and place "Bloggers Wanted" in the tags!
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