Mandala [Feedback]
Jul 23rd, 2009 by Dan

I’m not ready to review the album yet, but the Rx Bandits have released a new album this week! It’s called Mandala and it’s an amazing listen. I’d have to say my favorite track so far is “White Lies.”

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I’ll be seeing them live on 28 August and I can’t wait. There will probably be a concert wrap-up following the show along with a CD review soon.

Until then, enjoy this feature about the making of the album.

P4ER114 [Sony]
Jul 23rd, 2009 by Dan

The endurance run continues to roll on as the Investigation Team works to solve the mystery behind the murders.

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Dragon Questing V Part VII [GO]
Jul 23rd, 2009 by Dan

I like being surprised by a narrative. Too often, especially when it comes to video games, it’s always the same predictable plot twists and points. This was a point where Dan, the player, and Dan, the character, were both stunned at a convention being broken. It seems that Dan is most definitely not the hero of legend. The Zenithian helmet doesn’t fit Dan and Cleohatra is not willing to just loan it to him with the hopes that he’ll eventually run into the hero of legend. She sends Dan off to his previously unknown hometown of Gotha with the intent to track down the leads that Pankraz was following.

While we’re on the topic of defied expectations, there’s was an event along the route to Gotha that I found particularly telling of Horii’s style. Along the path, there was a cave containing a very suspicious old woman. Every statement she makes ends with a suspicious cackle and she seems to want Dan to stay the night. Knowing danger when I see it, I declined her offer at first, fearing for the safety of my party. Then I thought about this feature and made Dan accept this old witch’s hospitatlity to see just what might happen. Cut to a scene where Dan and Debora are sleeping in the same room and Deb complains to Dan about hearing strange noises upstairs. Dan has the option of going to check it out. Knowing that something was clearly amiss, I ordered Dan to get up and check on just what that old woman was doing, but he was paralyzed in place! Things were looking bad, I mean, Dan takes a detour on his way to Gotha and is about to find himself killed. The old woman walked downstairs and crept up to the hero. It turned out that she was simply enhancing Dan’s equipment and he received a +1 permanent strength enhancement. She just paralyzed Dan and Debora so that they would sleep through the night and not have fitful sleep.

It’s totally obvious, in retrospect, that nothing bad would have happened to Dan as a result of simply trusting someone suspicious. Horii is not the kind of guy to just screw over a player for doing something nice, so it makes perfect sense that your actions reward you. The question of whether or not it’s okay to outright punish a player for making a choice so tangential to the main game mechanics or story is bigger than this tiny DQV feature, but I think it bears thinking about. The player does not want to feel like he/she has been unfairly penalized, but I think it would be a fine choice for a notorious trickster, like Kojima, to force upon his unsuspecting audience.

The characterization of Debora also became a point for me. At one point along the path, it seemed like she said something rather nice to me. Quite frankly, the last thing I’d want in this game would be for her to become some sort of weak-kneed woman who is head-over-heels in love with Dan. If I wanted that, I would have had Dan marry Bianca. I’m really hoping that consistency and quality are Horii’s priorities over pandering to male sexist ideas about what a woman should act like. Marrying a Briscoletti continues to be a financially sound decision, as I received another gift on the way to Gotha. In other Debora-related story developments, our arrival in Batenberg was immediately followed by Deb fainting.

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