Movie, games and other excitement.

I spent this Memorial Day weekend alternately doing chores and playing Penny Arcade’s new game, On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness. It didn’t take too long to beat, but it was a whole lot of fun and I’m looking forward to the next several episodes. Pluses from a metagame standpoint: released for XBox 360, Linux, Mac OS, and Windows. Minuses: Activation DRM. Not as bad as some, and worse than others (live activation is generally a bad idea for the long-term). Any kind of DRM is ultimately self-defeating- especially for those of us interested in game preservation.

Picked up Age of Conan. Pretty good game, and would be a lot better if I had the system reqs to play it on my “normal” computer. As it is, I can only play it every so often, which is pretty defeating when it comes to playing with other folks. :P Well, City of Heroes Episode 12 is out, and that looks to have some pretty nifty features as well.

Offline, we’ve been playing Persona FES and Mario Kart Wii. I’m surprised I missed Atlus’s Persona the first time around- the Japanese fighting RPG/school/date sim is right up our alley. ^_^ Mario Kart Wii is also pretty darned fun.

We’ve seen a few movies recently. I’ll mention a couple that are in my head now for some reason.

Forbidden Kingdom – Saw this one when it came out, with a group of friends. I really enjoyed it. I find it amusing that they took out the kid from all the previews and made it seem solely like a Jet Li/Jackie Chan movie, but I knew I was getting into Neverending Story/Wizard of Oz territory from the earlier trailers. I very much appreciated all of the references to other Kung Fu movies- it was great seeing the Monkey King, the Bride with White Hair, the Shaolin Monk, the Drunken Master, the Golden Swallow, and all those characters from other movies in one film. ^_^

Indiana Jones – We saw Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull with some friends at its opening midnight showing at the Drafthouse South, and all six theaters were sold out. Like any Indy film, it was a ride. Although we both agreed that it was probably the weakest of the Indy films, I didn’t dislike it as much as Q did. I enjoyed that it took all of the crystal skull crazy mythology that’s out there and wrapped it up in one movie. ^_-

Yeehaw.

Long time, no update. ^^

Work and school are keeping us busy, but we still have time to occasionally call home (yes, I’ve been bad the last couple of weeks, sorry!) and participate in a few games. I’m running Expedition to Castle Ravenloft for some of our friends, and one friend in that game is running City of the Spider Queen for his friends, including us. Somewhere in there, we’re also playing in a Mutants and Masterminds game with a GM in Japan, using RPTools and Skype. I’m also supposed to run a Changeling game using the NWOD rules. Somewhere in *there*, I’m playing City of Heroes. No, we can’t do all of these every week… but even so, there’s a lot going on just in the gaming world. Q is playing Professor Layton on the DS now, and every now and then I’ll peek at Oblivion or Lost Odyssey.

Whew. I’m tired just reading that paragraph.

We attended a Jonathan Coulton concert, and one of our friends put a lot of the show up on YouTube (with permission, naturally, although he uses a Creative Commons license for his works.) Just look up Jonathan Coulton here:
http://www.youtube.com/user/athenenumphe

Disgaea made me do it.

For an early Christmas gift, I received a PSP, which I recently decided I had to have.
The reason I wanted a PSP? One word: Disgaea.

Disgaea, for those of you who don’t know, is a tactical game originally created for the Playstation 2, with anime-like animation, a great storyline, and some really memorable characters. The original PS2 game’s full title is Disgaea: Hour of Darkness. The new version for the PSP is Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness. The new version is a port with a few additions, and those additions are pretty darned good. One of them- keeping track if you’ve killed people on your side- is pretty darned important, and I would have *really* have liked to see that in the original. ^_^ (Hint: DON’T KILL YOUR OWN PARTY MEMBERS unless you’re trying to see of the “bad” endings.) So I’m pretty happy with it. Other changes include some multiplayer aspects (!), other records besides the one I mentioned before, and a place to “buy” and listen to songs you encounter through the game, which I appreciate.

One change I haven’t made up my mind about is that one of the English voice actors for a main character- Etna- was redubbed. The English voice acting for the original game was amazing- one of the best I’ve heard- so I’m not sure why they felt the need to redo it.

So yes, I still have my DS, but I’m pretty pleased with the PSP. It came with Battlefronts: Renegade Squadron, which was a lot of fun, but entirely too short.

Wil Wheaton’s PAX Keynote

The King of Kong at the Alamo Drafthouse

This past weekend, Qyandri and I had the opportunity to see a fascinating documentary called the King of Kong: A fistful of quarters at our favorite venue, the Alamo Drafthouse. The Drafthouse held a Donkey Kong competition beforehand, and showed classic gaming shows and commercials as they are wont to do. And of course, there were special guests.

When I first saw the preview for the movie a few weeks ago, I thought it was a Christopher-Guest-type fake documentary. The setup was so perfect for that kind of tongue-in-cheek seriousness: for the last twenty years or so, a group of people have been obsessed with classic arcade games. This is their story.

In one corner, we have Billy Mitchell, the successful and seemingly arrogant title-holder of the record for Donkey Kong as well as other games.

“No matter what what I say, it draws controversy. It’s sort of like the abortion issue.” – Billy Mitchell

In the other corner, we have an everyman searching to triumph in *something* – Steve Wiebe, an all-around nice guy and father who seemed to be getting some rough treatment from the good ol’ boy insiders of the classic arcade world.

Steve is gunning for the title and to be in the Guiness Book of World Records, which has started accepting game scores.

“Some people sort of ruin their lives to be in it.” – words of wisdom from Steve Wiebe’s young daughter.

But the film is a real documentary, and an excellent one. In attendance at the Drafthouse were Steve Wiebe himself and Walter Day, the founder and head judge from Twin Galaxies, the organization responsible for verifying high scores. Also in attendance was one of the insiders unhappy with the film, Dwayne Richard from Canada, who frankly behaved like kind of a jerk by throwing in snide comments as people asked questions and not letting Wiebe answer a few during the Q&A period. In other words, he behaved sort of like the stereotypical gamer who feels that he and/or his friends have been wronged, and actually reinforced some of the criticisms implied by the movie. :P To some extent, I can sympathize a little bit with Richard’s frustration- some members of Twin Galaxies were not at all portrayed favorably, and *some* of that was probably due to editing and musical selection. At the same time, selective editing simply could not be responsible for many of the recorded statements and actions, and some of the implied criticism really does seem to be justified- even when looking beyond the film.

The film didn’t include everything. When Wiebe was initially robbed of his new title by Mitchell by a questionable videotaped entry acceptance by Twin Galaxies, Twin Galaxies gave the title back to Wiebe after a couple of days had passed, acknowledging that they erred in their procedure. The return of the record to Wiebe as Mitchell’s tape was being verified wasn’t in the film- only Wiebe’s utter frustration and “feeling like a total loser” as he went home from the competition (Wiebe’s words from the Q&A). On the other hand, although Walter Day was rather apologetic about the whole thing during the Q&A, the Twin Galaxies people weren’t quite so accepting of those concerns on their forums, which are a fascinating read for those of you interested in looking at past views of Steve Wiebe and current views of the documentary. ^_^ The absolute seriousness that the community portrays in the film portrays is dead on.

The film looks at that seriousness and examines obsession, self-worth, adversity, personal costs, and other subjects all in the context of the world of competitive classic arcade gaming. During Q&A, someone asked – “How many of you here could not relate to someone in this film?” No one in the sold-out audience raised their hand.

Just last week, Mitchell reclaimed the Donkey Kong title. Wiebe tried to top that after the two evening screenings at the Drafthouse, unsuccessfully- but I’m sure he’ll try again. ^_^

And rumor has it that the story is so much like a fictional narrative, well, people want to make it into a Hollywood movie. :P