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What I’ve Been Doing 30 Dec 2013 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Dec 30th, 2013 by Dan

Arepas in Boston

Yeah, this has nothing to do with a week summary. In fact, this happened in like…May, but I saw it and I love arepas and it looked so good. Mmmm…arepas…

Welcome to the last WIBD of the year! I’ve been a little bad about keeping up with this list throughout the year, but I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing what I’ve been up to and I hope to continue to talk about what I’m doing next year too.

Movies

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – Not the first time I’ve seen it, but the first time Katie’s ever seen it all the way through. Is the movie a little cheesy/corny when viewed in the 2010s? Yeah, a little, but it’s also kind of supposed to be that way. Solid fun.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – My dad randomly got way into The Hunger Games when he saw it with my brother and he wanted to watch Catching Fire, so we went to the movies early on Christmas and had us a jolly time. Definitely an exciting movie, but it’s not gonna win any awards or anything.

TV

Key & Peele – Katie and Kara were randomly watching a few episodes. Hell of a show. Super hilarious.

How I Met Your Mother – The mother episodes continue being real stand-out affairs. Loved seeing Andrew Rannells again. He’s a funny dude.

Parenthood – Yeah, the mayor campaign subplot was a little silly. I also wasn’t expecting them to cancel the wedding.

Trophy Wife – I’d heard good things about the show and I do love Malin Åkerman, so this show seemed like it would be pretty good. On the whole, it’s a little predictable, but it’s got a solid cast and makes for some good laughs. Not gonna blow anyone away with groundbreaking comedy, but I will say that I laughed pretty hard a few times.

The Amazing Race – Moving on through season 21. I’m loving watching it again. I don’t know why people disliked this season, it was super fun.

Music

I’m sure I’ve put The Weeknd’s “Wicked Games” up here before, but it’s so tight. Damn…

Books

Well Played 1.0: Video Games, value, and Meaning – Right now I’m on a good section about Shadow of the Colossus and something the author is calling “futile interactivity”, which really is an interesting mechanic that is not used often enough in games.

Video Games

Civilization V – The long break has slowed Eric and David’s ability (mostly David’s) to play turns. It’s been an agonizing wait…

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies – Still on that final case. Just found out that there’s a nefarious third party influencing things, but I have no idea where we’re supposed to proceed in this case. Getting interesting.

Super Mario 3D Land – The good times I experienced in Super Mario 3D World made me want to go back and view the source material. It makes a lot of the things I saw in 3D world make a little more sense as an extension of things introduced in 3D Land, but 3D Land uses depth in ways that are way neater, but also impossible on a non-3D system.

XCOM: Enemy Within – Another game bites the dust. Moved on to a new game and turned off the Second Wave stuff. It makes the game more interesting and tougher, but I’m having too hard a time actually winning for me to leave them on. I’ll start to remix on further playthroughs.

NES Remix – Nintendo stealth released this during their most recent Nintendo Direct. It’s a little like WarioWare, but without the zaniness. The idea is that you’re supposed to complete mini challenges with old NES classics within a time limit. Works pretty well, but some of those old games are tough. Also it’s weird that they don’t allow custom button mappings. I don’t want to use A and B, I want to use Y and B.

Pokemon Y – Barely beat that ice gym thanks to Sturdy. I mean, I almost lost, for sure. All my original team is gone/dead, so I’m down to a new set that I’m grinding up to level 50 before I try to tackle Victory Road. The Elite Four is gonna be a struggle, I know it.

Super Mario 3D World – I played this a whole bunch with my siblings over the break and…holy cow, still so good. That final world?! That FINAL BOSS?! Just an incredible moment that I totally dug. I need to talk about it more, but I’ll probably talk about it in my year end video game thing.

Project X Zone – Ok, picture this: What if Namco, Capcom, and Sega made a crossover tactical RPG game with all their famous characters? That’s what this is. I played the demo before picking it up and Ryu and Ken were battling monsters with Valkyria Chronicles dudes. Namco guys were there too (no idea who they were). It’s neat, but I don’t think I have the hang of the battle system yet. Looking forward to putting more time in next year.

Risk of Rain – Played this with Lee and Min. It starts off feeling a little thin because you’ve only got one guy unlocked, but with two we seemed to be getting the hang of it a lot more. Really fun as a multiplayer game. Can’t wait to get more time in with the guys.

The Walking Dead 400 Days – It’s short, but it’s more of that Walking Dead flavor that everyone needs. It’s full of short vignettes about companionship and survival and I really loved all the connections between the characters.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds – Unlocked the first item to rent (bow), but I haven’t entered the Eastern Temple yet. Loving the game so far.

The Walking Dead Season 2 – Just…brutal. There’s this thing that happens where Clementine’s trust is betrayed…SO GOOD.

Valkyria, Tomb Raider, and Realism? [Sony]
Dec 4th, 2008 by Dan

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about it, but I’m still very excited for Valkyria Chronicles. I promised my family that I wouldn’t make any purchases until after Christmas (not that I should be making any at this point), so I have to wait until at least then to hope that I get what promises to be a sweet looking video game. Enjoy the video review.

We shall see if it’s as good as it’s claimed to be by people like Shane Betenhousen and the PA guys.

Now for a bit of a digression/editorial:

This excerpt from an Action Button Dot Net review of Tomb Raider: Underworld written collectively by the staff will spearhead our topic:

“Does anyone in the audience here have the upper body strength to do one pull-up? It’s really hard, isn’t it? Now imagine doing a pull-up and then, at the end of the pull-up, pulling down so hard with your biceps that you launch your entire body six feet into the air, then grabbing a ledge and doing another pull-up and launching yourself six feet into the air. It takes roughly six hundred times the upper body strength* (*these figures have not been evaluated by the Olympic gymnastics committee) to launch yourself six feet in the air after a pull-up as it does to do a single pull-up in general. Now imagine a wispy girl doing it, fourteen times in two minutes, and with two sub-machine guns on her back (about eight pounds each, we reckon), with a pair of D-cup breasts pressed uncomfortably against the rock.

We say, the better the graphics get in these games (current status of game graphics: “Prettttttttty! Good!”) the more ridiculous these things look. You might as well just make the hero of this game a super-hero. Iron Woman, maybe. As-is, you’re kind of giving impressionable young people the wrong . . . impression.”

So yeah, I mean, why bother worrying about stuff like realism when it comes to a series so clearly based in unrealism as Tomb Raider. Lara Croft is a caricature of what a real woman is like. She is, as many have said in their reviews, a Barbie running around these exotic locales (exterminating endangered wildlife the whole way through!) that are looking more and more photo-realistic with each iteration. Her face, her character model, her proportions, they just don’t fit in any more. Not to mention how unlikely her ability to complete the actions she completes are.

Call me a nerd. I’ll take it in stride. I write a blog! It’s mostly centered around video games. I have a strong desire to make this a career. How else can you describe me? However, there is a deeper level that you don’t know about. I’m an engineer, so I am almost physically wounded by witnessing bad physics in movies and games (so long as I’m thinking of it in a real context). Nathan Drake, for some reason, didn’t bug me as much. He’s a lot less ridiculous, but he’s also able to make leaps that require ridiculous upper-body strength and grab hold to precarious handholds. The rest does seem somewhat more realistic though…although the gunplay is equally ridiculous. A shotgun to the body should kill in one hit…

Sorry, I’ve been wandering…my point is that somewhere, deep within my consciousness, I crave a more realistic experience. I want a game where if you jump from a high enough location, you break your legs. I want a game where one good slash of a sword will kill you. Bullets should be more lethal. It seems like a really bad idea, but I think they kind of do that with the Rainbow Six series (at least the first one).

Then again, how would that be fun? Say you’re playing a regular Joe in one of these games. You probably couldn’t run full speed around the whole map without getting tired. You probably couldn’t carry infinite inventory and run as far as you could before. You probably can’t stuff a giant sword into your pants to store it.

There are people who love stuff like this, they’re crazy tabletop RPG players, but that’s not what I want to do. I just want to boot up a video game and complete a cool scenario that doesn’t require me to be a superhero. I want the game to be about a regular guy, have regular physics, and just make a lot more sense. You could still have aliens, but recognize that organic life is organic life. A good bullet to an alien will still probably kill them, right?

I’m rambling, but we’ll see if something like this ever happens in the future. We’ll see if anything like this will ever be fun.

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