Posts filed under ‘art’

Ludums: Irem on Nes, Alien: Isolation, make your own adventure aka Minecraft

My new job involves long sit downs in a glass cubicle filled with constant fiddling with variables and often 16 minute returns from a Swedish server built in a summer by a former golf pro. Let that context inform these reviews.

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Metal Storm is probably the best NES game I never played. The music is awesome. I mean really I hear the tunes in my head at work sometimes. It is at heart an R-Type game, but where r-type felt like a draft in memorization as difficultly Metal Storm is more of a full fledged novel. It requires consistent play with its central mechanic: the ability to reverse gravity at will. Its the way the game manages to introduce puzzles with out every signaling you are in a puzzle that makes it unique. I am not sure where, maybe level 3? In which you have to trick some magnets to fire, nearly crushing you, jump onto their platform, and then reverse gravity to get around a block. This section isn’t overtly difficult, but it does require skills. Later level require you to think about power ups switching from shields to blasters to take out different objectives. Its not as Mechanically complex as I would like it to be, but when you attenuate to its antiquated nature it becomes a gem you hum as you reconsider and plot out your next move.

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The hardest part of Alien: Isolation is the beginning. That first stealth puzzle is really the most difficult thing in the game so far. After you’ve managed to take down 3-4 humans the Alien is easy peasy. Why? Because the Alien means death. It is that simple. What to reset a puzzle? Run away from the Alien. Alien: Isolation makes a good case for presence and graphics in video games. It is essentially a love letter to H.R. Geiger and in that it’s a game whose skin is more compelling than often the storyline is. In fact Isolation’s story is sadly rather weak. Its gameplay however is compulsive. I knew I needed it the second I saw the hack tool that said tool exists fully realized inside a set of stealth rules that create serious tension is even better. Alien: Isolation is a film that was chewed and cured into gameplay. However its designer had the lateral thinking skills available to iterate on the known gameplay elements enough to make it work. The result is engrossing exploration situations that are tense, but rarely frightening. The world design brims with detail, but it’s really the story Geiger is telling that makes it important, from the communal shower stalls to the lightbox hallways, the lived in way the station resembles an oil rig or the abundance of hiding spots the belie another meta-game: which spot is truly strategy and which is merely aesthetics? Film is a great medium to play in.

Minecraft is not a game I have ever binged in before, but last week with the server down I redownloaded this hot MS property

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/e2a/7654/files/2014/12/img_3248.png and got to work on my first house which in turn became a 3 hour construction binge including torches, numerous pick axes, cobblestone fences, creepers, and a garden on top of a house. I wanted to change nature to make my house more realizable. It was strangely satisfying to finally have a minecraft property something like what I had seen in youtube videos and then a day later I was bored, so I crafted numerous swords and set out on a journey at midnight fighting Zombies and eating pork chops, minecraft is a game that understands play. It understands that you shouldn’t take it seriously rather that frivolity becomes seriousness the more you play. It is a game that is entertaining as long as you are entertaining. Its the perfect sandbox for tots. Good work Notch 🙂

December 29, 2014 at 1:39 pm Leave a comment

Journals: Etrian Odyssey IV, Atelier Totori, Muramasa Rebirth, Rayman Legends

This week marked a new experience in my life: a psn sale! When I originally bought a ps3 for the last guardian and Ni no Kuni I remember being somewhat not impressed with the offerings on psn. In the age of the vita though (and perhaps due to my insatiable curiosity) the psn store seems a bit more well stocked. The Golden Week sale sold me on 3 things: Atelier Totori (never played an Atelier game before), Muramasa Rebirth (actually the second time I have bought this Vanillaware game), and vagrant story. There is an additional flash sale going on right now which could net me Guacamole!, but I am trying to restrain myself. Psn is starting to understand the nature of steam sales, and news of psn sales also get reported in surprisingly frequency. Making the deals even harder to resist especially when if you don’t buy it now, well it will still be there in the future and the number of titles on the system is limited. Anyways., let’s begin.

Atelier Totori Plus – ps vita
Once upon a time I taught two young girls, and I think this might be the game for them. The Atelier series has been in existence for over a decade now, starting off as a series of sprite based psx games (there might even be a famicom release in there I am not sure). However the ps3 Atelier games (and there will be in total 6 of them) went 3D and the series might be the better for it. Atelier games are essentially bare bones jrpgs with a fluffy girly side to the storytelling and character design. We get introduced to the boyfriend fast. The game however are quite clever in their use of time, Totori had to manage numerous quests which require actions that take up time. Want to “craft” 4 healing salves? That will be one day please. Need to harvest some rock salt? 3 days to the nearest location. A goal is then posted on this clock and the game becomes managing your time so as to effectively meet your deadline. In other words it’s nothing like other jrpgs. The combat system is standard, but here is the catch: you are the weakest party member. You are the support after all. This means when an enemy attacks you you can choose which party member will jump in front of the attack and keep you from taking damage. The result is more time has to be accorded to supporting your party members well. The Atelier games really are perfecting a curious blend of crafting, time management, and buffs and debuffs. Over all I am enjoying the game especially because it doesn’t waste my time.

Rayman Legends – ps vita
The sequel to origins is a great game, but it’s also part of that increasingly evil scene of mobile games with infinite replay ability. People still play Yoshi’s Island on snes because the game is so good and speed runners love to perfect their runs. Legends is quite smart to pick up on this offering leaderboards for each world. However the game is also bogged down in almost excessive little things to do. There is the 1 million lum challenge, the daily challenges (which aren’t that bad), but my point is this: I have finished the game. I have beaten every level in rayman legends. Yet the game has such an excess of things to do outside of the game that I am nowhere near finished. Do I have all the creatures in my daily room? No. All the lums? No. Am I anywhere near finishing every level with a golden cup? No. And this excess reveals how much perfecting and “platinuming” a game had become. As if major studios want their game to be a major time sink so you can’t work on others. Rayman legends platinum requirements are heroic because they require playing the game for reasons beyond simply playing. As does playing it daily to raid your creature room for lums. In that it creates an interesting moral dilemma, and in the grand scheme of things I think I would rather speed run SMB2 than keep collecting Lums over and over again. The game is still great as a platformer, but I am not so sure I want to make this game an everyday occurrence.

Muramasa Rebirth – ps vita
I owned this on Wii and remember playing it once or twice and never again. Then I played Odin Sphere on recommendation from kotaku and loved it. Muramasa is in some way’s Vanillaware’s most engaging title. The combat sequences are based around variety: some enemies need their weapons broken with powerful charge shots, others need fireballs reflected, and other just need to be dodges. The mechanics in the game make 2d brawler combat all the more engaging and the decision to take a page from jrpgs and make each combat section unique means the fights are fun and interesting. What impressed me most was the storyline so far. Much like Odin Sphere I am entranced. I have played this game the least of everything I am posting today, but as an occasional combat treat it is so enjoyable and I really love it. It’s better than Dragon’s Crown IMHO.

Etrian Odyessy IV – 3DS
Playing Atelier Totori reminded me I had never finished Etrian Odyessy IV. So I looked up an FAQ and set out to find the next section of the game. Much to my surprise it turned out the mistake I was making was a simple one. But unfortunately I discovered a slight flaw in the game’s design. Etrian Odyessy requires excessive grinding for minor trinkets required to move on. I have upgraded my tanks armor, but not my magic casters armor. The game is still really cool. Each area is full of mechanics worth thinking about and puzzles that aren’t boggling, but involving. However I have become more sensitive to time wasting over the years and Etrian’s necessary grinding to purchase better loot makes me wary of playing.

May 3, 2014 at 12:27 am Leave a comment

Daily Doodles, Steam Sales, Potentiality, Purchasability

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Yesterday I bought Stylus for my iPad and Valkyrie Chronicles for my ps3. If the later will entertain me as much as the Stylus is open to question, but what’s above I made this morning during a little down period at work.

Concerning Back Logs
Let’s say games are like marbles, the further they are up in the sky, the more fun and force they exert when they hit the track and begin rolling in the track. Games store potential the way gravity does, the problem is Steam lacks gravity sometimes. During these periods, usually Steam sales, the average consumer may as well be playing cars in a super nova. Gravity is warped and the potential of games goes out the window. In my case I have survived numerous steam sales. These sales leave archaeological layers the way dinosaur bones do, you can identify when gamer teenagers graduated to gamer fully employedness by simply looking at their steam log and determining when they first blew over 300 USD in a 36 hour period on Steam sale. Sales build up dirt and grunk in Steam’s layers aka lists. But the thing is a more massive object exerts a greater gravitational force. as everyone knows the fun of dropping things is the force with which they hit. Your account becomes a small planetoid around which potentially shrinks, the length of the drop reduces to nothing. The fun of games is reduced by the size of my back catalog. Their Purchasability shrinks when I still need to finish X and Y. So great is my steam catalog, that I can not justify another purchase. Part of this is simply Steam’s Microsoft like decision to refuse a firm design choice and instead force us to peal through layers of options to choose the rightish design template to reduce back catalog showing. By default Steam shows all games you own, by default iOS makes it somewhat difficult to achieve what Steam does naturally. Apple clearly understands the need to clean up a mess more than Gabe does. The problem with these Steam sales is that conditions return to normal. Those 2.99 triple A games you bought pile up, the planets go back into alignment and gravity resumes it’s due. And all our games come crashing down, more garbage in a pile of wasted potential, and what’s worse is that we have to carry it all around.

When I was in College we were told about an experiment: a group of college students had to carry around all the waste they produced in a week in a bag. Students jokingly thought it would be rather small, but soon discovered the bag grew enormous and eventually untenable. Steam’s inherent UI works like this. Every time I open it, by default it shows me all of my purchases. In order to cope psychologically with the depth of my greed, I have to create categories and determine favorites. I don’t get why it just doesn’t show what’s on my machine (this option is available in a click, but clearly not Dan Gilbert style easy to do). What’s worse is that Steam is one of those schizophrenic types, in reality Steam is a slob, but hey it’s got a second personality as a diligent cleaner. The problem is when the potential exists to be a slob, the cleaner is annoyed. You see we’re fascists. I get down on my knees and scrub toothbrush style to get stains out of my bathroom, giving me the illusion that games aren’t there when they are is just more annoying. Steam can ends it’s delusion of being neat and clean with a simple click, and often does.

Well anyways, My back catalog continues to work one effect: I feel almost no need for new games knowing how many I purchased before and have never played.

P.s. purchases include rockin’ android bundle, Dishonored (gift), and to the moon this season. Waiting on rayman origins to finally drop to 50% before I buy.

July 17, 2013 at 5:19 am Leave a comment

Impressions: Django Unchained

Westerns are usually known more for their dramatic back drops than their in depth conversation. Character can often be conveyed in a glance or something as simple as a gun fight. The problem Tarantino faces is that Inglorious Basterds and even Reservoir Dogs proved, he very strongly loves character and conversation, but the problem is film is a love of space and spectacle two things the Western usually excels at. While he is to “high brow” to give into spectacle, he has at least given us space in Jackie Brown and Pulp Fiction. Basterds was a particularly bad film on this front, it genuinely felt like theater while it was supposed to be a war picture. If Tarantino is consciously deceiving our preconceptions in his films is another question. I am not overly familiar with Westerns, but Django seems to do a good job of avoiding their tropes via homage and irony as much as Basterds did the war film. The problem becomes is this consistent subversion actually doing anything? In Basterds I would argue not a lot, in Django it does help to show the mythic bones behind the Western genre, but at times his consistent need to pull on Greek source material, comes at odds with the Western. Django is not the German myth of Broomhilda is it much more Orpheus in the under world. Taratino’s somewhat understated pairing of the underworld and the voyage into the Candy land plantation does a rather amazing job of equating slavery with depictions of flogging in hell (the slave eaten by dogs next to the tree is reminiscent of Bosch and the scene in general reminds of Buddhist depictions of the 9 hells). However the fact that Django allows what happens there serves as an indicator of both his fidelity to his wife and Tarantino signally this is more a myth from here on out. Slavery in other words becomes a means of bringing the underworld to our hero and less another lesson in the evils of American history. I stopped around there and have yet to resume. Before I go any further, Tarantino is a much bigger fan of film than I will ever be, in all probability the dentist is pulled from another picture as much as Candy is. Pulp Fiction took two characters from Straight to Hell a long with their briefcase and made art out of it, where Unchained pulls from is less known to me, but is quite affective.

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July 4, 2013 at 2:23 am 1 comment

Doodles!

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These are a few inkpad drawings i did over the ladt few days. I think the portraits are a result of face blindness trying to figure out what they’re thinking. Regardless i love ‘m i hope you do to.

June 13, 2011 at 11:42 am Leave a comment

Don’t Touch Huggly

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At times the preservation of art’s status destroys the possibility of a piece. Here thai artist Jenjira Prapantha has knitted an amazing intervention on the first floor of the gallery, but this highly touchable play thing (which would be much more interesting as a sculpture you can interact with) is sadly untouchable.

April 8, 2011 at 1:56 am Leave a comment

Christian Marclay The Clock

If you keep up with the art world you probably already know that Christian Marclay was working on a piece where in a film is a clock. My initial response to the idea was… that sounds stupid, but people far more intelligent than I think it’s sublime. Of course like anything by Marclay the more you think about it, the cleverer it becomes, a film that’s more than a film, it probably has a tie in to Deluezean film theory that it’s to early in the morning for me to see, but anyway people are pirating film works online these days, so enjoy these youtube clips below. As Zadie Smith noted, the film is actually quite good, and that’s perhaps the biggest surprise of The Clock, when I heard about it I thought it would end up like one of Warhol’s experiments conceptually necessary, but boring on the screen, but Ms. Smith is quite correct the work is actually captivating.

I would add some commentary, but click that first link and Zadie Smith will startle you with her commentary, thank you pirates of New York for digi-caming this for us. I had read the film was being streamed online somewhere, but am unable to find that stream… then again I woke up like 3 minutes ago…

p.s. it’s now later in the day and my critical functions are working, but I haven’t come to any conclusions beyond what Smith got to in her article. Essentially the film operates in clock time ala Bergson, but presents us with a variety of subjective time states ala film. I like that for Smith Paul Newman is his own time zone, and that in film a day can last 2 hours or a second, time argues Deleuze is the means that cinema produces meaning, by cutting according to clock time Marclay has cut across subjectivities, but in the resulting work time slows and crawls, speeds up, speeds the time-image decimates clock to the point that one loses track of the work’s functional ability to operate as a clock… maybe clock time is more complicated than Bergson thought?

I love the way it subverts the idea of a clock as an accurate keeper of time in lieu of the reality of how time actually exists, as subjective, varied, differing.

 

p.s. new yoker apparently has a revelation or two watch’n it too, but sadly such content is behind dollar’s bars.

April 8, 2011 at 1:47 am Leave a comment

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