February 13, 2007

We're turning this blog up to 11.

I've found myself playing more and more video games these days. Part of it is to keep myself occupied whilst Meagan is either at the hospital for her surgery rotation or sleeping to recover from the 14+ hour days (starting at 4 AM!!) she has to endure. The other part is a series of events that have made me want to escape the real world for large chunks at a time, which I may or may not go into at a later time.

But mostly because there are a TON of good games out there right now. Aside from the obvious Zelda (though I've cooled off on that since I had to start over thanks to a fatal design flaw) and Final Fantasy (I'm still going through dungeons despite having played 100 hours -- a great thing, yes, but even better when taken in smaller chunks), I've started to really enjoy rhythm games. We've had Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix for a while, and have really enjoyed. The premise of the game is unique -- use a floor pad with four arrows to dance to the tunes played by the game. As the song progresses, arrows scroll up the screen, and it's your job as the player to stomp on the corresponding arrow. the song list includes many, MANY remixes of songs that are well-known to those of us who whiled away childhood hours poring over Mario games. It's easier (and FAR more hilarious) to describe by demonstrating rather than in words. I've gotten back into this partly because I'm about to start a "Biggest Loser" competition at work, where whomever can lose the most weight wins a prize of some sort. And, yes, I fully realize that using video games to lose weight already qualifies me as a Big Loser. We'll just call that a head start.

Then, over the holiday, I discovered Elite Beat Agents, quite possibly one of the MOST absurdly hilarious games I've ever witnessed, much less played. We're talking Power Stone II level absurdity here. The gameplay premise is similar: Songs are played, and 'buttons' will appear on the DS touchscreen. Your job as the player is to tap said buttons with the stylus at the appropriate moments. What seperates this game from other rhythm games, though, is the plot surrounding just why you'd want to do this in the first place. The title character Elite Beat Agents are a squad sent in to help citiznes when all hope in a given task seems lost. Throughout each song, a stylized animation (read: manga) of the scenario plays on the top screen while behind the buttons on the bottom, you actually get to see the Agents perform their funky-fresh (you heard me: Funky. Fresh.) moves as they successfully (you hope) mitigate the problems and give their clients the proverbial Happy Ever After. The songlist varies, including covers of old-school classics ("September", "A-B-C", and "Jumpin' Jack Flash" **shudder** to name a few) as well as some very well done covers of newer hits, including "Sk8r Boi" and "Without a Fight"). It's a ridiculously amusing game that makes me look absolutely stupid when playing, but it's easily the best DS game I've played yet.

But even that was merely an appetizer. As a celebration of our work bonus being better than expected, Meagan let me splurge and buy Guitar Hero II. Again, the premise is similar to most rhythm games: Songs are played, you play notes in time with buttons that scroll down the screen. What's so great about it? The controller that comes with the game is a simulated guitar. Many of the controller mechanics mimic that of an actual guitar, including the use of a 'whammy' bar. It is rather simplified, however, almost like playing ith one string rather than six.

The fun, though, lies in the music. The covers for almost all of the 60-some-odd songs are fantastic, and there's something to be said about jamming to songs that have instantly become some of my new favorites. What I've enjoyed the most about it is not recognizing a song as I select it, then hearing a few bars and instantly realizing that it's such a great song that I simply didn't know the name of. As lame as it sounds, though, you instantly feel cool when starting to shred along with the game. Maybe it's the crowd shots reacting to a great riff, maybe it's simply the feeling of holding a guitar and rocking out, simplified though it might be, as a rock anthem blasts through the speakers. With each song, though, you can understand why musicians love the rush of being on stage, and can almost validate all of the wild tendancies. Slash's top hat covering a mop of greasy hair? Sure. The wild-eye stare of Jack Black? Completely understandable. Wearing tight, flourescent pants while headbanging bleached, frizzy hair? Ok, maybe not EVERY tendancy, but the point still remains. It really makes me want to learn how to play an actual guitar, though I doubt I'll ever be able to play the type of things that the game provides. That doesn't stop me from creating video game-guitar hybrids, though. I've already drawn up plans for a TriForce model. Then, there's the pinnacle -- the Mario pinnacle of power-ups. That's right. It's an Invincibility Gui-Star.

God. No matter how cool I think I might feel, I'm still a big geek.

February 09, 2007

The weary world rejoices!!


I'm sure it doesn't help that since his divorce from Reese "I'm the only reason Ryan Phillippe gets noticed" Whitherspoon, no one has offered him any work.