Friday, September 28, 2012

Virtual to Reality--Nina Williams: Shirts Are Overrated But Red Leopard Print is Fine

Tekken Series--Nina Williams
Nina Williams is one of the most popular characters in the Tekken series, appearing in every single game as the powerful "silent assassin". Her following is so strong that she has even been featured in her own spin-off title...but we do not speak of the disappointing mess that is Death by Degrees. Please, forget I even mentioned that disaster.

Though Nina has been featured in many different outfits, the main theme seems to be anything that's skin-tight and deep purple. But her standard outfit in Tekken 3 took a slight detour from that pattern and everyone's favorite assassin ended up in red leopard print and leather--and no shirt, because you don't really need one of those silly things, right? When you're hired killer (especially one in a video game), small details like covering up your chest don't matter.

Side note: I must admit that the process of settling on a Nina outfit for this post took much longer than the creation of the outfit. Learning that red leopard print vests pretty much don't exist in real life made it all worth it though. Thank goodness for that.

Anyway...Do you play Tekken? Who's your favorite character?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Determined Frustration: Why Rhythm Heaven Is Extremely Annoying But Amazingly Fun

Welcome to Rhythm Heaven, a fun test for your patience.
Anyone knows that a good game is fun to play; that pretty much goes without saying. But a really good game is one that is not only fun to play but one that always leaves you just two seconds away from completely destroying it, frustrating you just enough to present a challenge that keeps you coming back for more without making you want to give up forever.

Rhythm Heaven is that game. Excruciatingly frustrating at times, but almost impossible to put down. 

Once you get used to holding your DS vertically like a book instead of the normal horizontal orientation, the controls are deceivingly simple. Pretty much all of the games require you to tap or flick the touch screen or use a combination of the two (one does use the R button, but it's not too much of a stretch). And the overall concept is simple too: follow the beat of the music to clear the game. Whether you're playing soccer in space, building unexplained objects or kicking bombs to practice karate, all you have to do is flick and tap in time to some surprisingly catchy songs. Easy enough, right?

Well, not really. This game starts off slow, but then you realize that the creators have thought of almost every single tap and flick combination possible with the intention of making this simple concept as difficult as possible. One moment you're bopping your head to the music or singing along, the next you're stabbing the screen wondering why you just can't seem to get it right.

You might find the individual games easy to handle but that's where the remixes come in. Each one combines a handful of games in random ways to create new songs and trip you up just when you reach your stride. If you don't think that's bad enough, the challenge of a perfect performance is guaranteed to take up a chunk of your life. Especially since it doesn't count until the game gives you the opportunity, which seems to be randomly triggered over time. And you only get three chances. Mess up and you have to wait all over again.

In all seriousness, this is the only game that is much easier to handle with your eyes closed. The graphics--though very charming in their theme-matching simplicity and quirkiness--are more distracting than the crazy backgrounds used in the higher levels of Tetris. The game even suggests that you don't pay to much attention to them if you mess up at a certain point. It's called Rhythm Heaven for a reason.

The big point I'm trying to make here: If you haven't tried this game, go find it now. And get ready to get a bit angry. The thrill of success is well worth the frustration.

Have you played Rhythm Heaven? What do you think about it? Is there any game that you love to struggle with?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ocarina of Time: How It Feels to Give Up On the "Greatest Game Ever Made"

Greatest Game. Biggest Regret.
My name is Erin and I have a problem. I have a bad habit of not finishing video games. My collection is full of games that I have set aside for various reasons, hoping to eventually get back to them later. I regret every unfinished adventure, but the most heartbreaking entry on my growing list of "Games Still Awaiting Completion" is one many people consider the greatest game ever made: Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

I can feel your disappointment.

After all, in the late 90's many kids grew up in Hyrule, traveling through time and defeating Ganondorf's monsters. But, I was extremely late to the party. We were well into the new millenium (2004/2005, maybe?) when I received a copy of the game from my older brother, who only heard that the game was good from a helpful sales associate. I didn't know much about the game--or anything about it, really--but I did understand that I had magic in my hands.

Soon, I found myself completely immersed in Link's adventures. Many of my days revolved around saving Zelda and Navi's "Hey! Listen!" kept ringing in my ears. The game could pretty much do no wrong in my eyes; even the Water Temple wasn't that bad. I finally understood what all the fuss was about.

And then I made it to the Shadow Temple. (Fear shot through me as I wrote that sentence. Real, unadulterated fear. That's just how much it still gets to me.) When I unlocked the temple, I didn't even go in at first. After Kakariko went up in flames, I just shut the system off and ignored it for a few days. Realizing that I was being unreasonable, I decided to not let a little darkness stand in my way. Link traveled into the depths of the dungeon as I sat on the edge of my bed in the middle of the afternoon with all the blinds open. And I still couldn't get through the first few moments. Haven't tried again since.

Now, let me say that I love Zelda. I have saved the princess and the land many times. My wall is currently showcasing the Club Nintendo Zelda poster set and one of my greatest possessions is the Phantom Hourglass Feather Pen Stylus. In my mind, it is one of the best game series ever created. But I hesitate to call myself a fan because of my irrational fear of completing what most people consider the pinnacle of the series. One day, I will scratch Ocarina of Time off my list. One day. Maybe.

Have you ever been too afraid to finish a game? Was it a title that isn't even supposed to be that scary? Did you overcome your fear?

More on my absolutely terrible track record:
Super Mario 64 and Why It Shouldn't Take Eight Years to Collect 120 Stars

Monday, September 17, 2012

Umbrella Corporation + Inception = FAIL. Resident Evil: Retribution Review

It looks epic? Don't get your hopes up.
Being a fan of the Resident Evil movie franchise, I felt like I had to see the recent installment Retribution as soon as it hit the big screen. So, I got a group together, grabbed some cheap over-buttered popcorn and settled in to enjoy some amazing action. The action was indeed amazing, but I can't say that I enjoyed any of it.

Let's be clear: You should never go into a live action Resident Evil film with high expectations. The big draw is the gratuitous violence and the numerous references to the game series that movies are "based" on. This isn't brilliant cinema; this is mindless fun.

But with Retribution, it seemed like the series wanted to pretend it's brilliant and it failed miserably. It's as if someone on the production team saw Inception and screamed "I want our next film to be like that!" without a clue how to do it effectively. Their closest guess was to take Umbrella's clone fixation up to eleven in an attempt to thicken the storyline. All of a sudden, dead characters from the previous installments are back to their old tricks and Alice's adventures seem like a infected dream within a housewife dream within another stupid plot twist dream. The first quarter of the film feels like about 4 or 5 different films, none of which are even remotely worth watching.

And Leon. Oh my goodness, Leon. I don't recommend this film because of that character alone. The fanbase has been wishing, hoping and praying for Leon S. Kennedy's appearance in the series since this whole thing started. I was so excited but as soon as he hit the screen, all of my hopes were blown to bits with a rocket launcher. Not only did he look like an dirty scruffy-chinned jerk, he sounded like one and acted like one. Every time the actor muttered his lines with the emotional depth of a cardboard cutout of Edward Cullen, I found myself saying telling him to shut up. Every single time. Leon's terrible adaptation is made even worse when one of the series-exclusive characters dies pretty much only so Leon can live and appear in the next film. Oh joy!

Did you think that the series was over? Yeah, right. We still have one more to go. That's if the box office numbers add up and I can't see why they wouldn't. Have you seen the opening figure? $21 million in ticket sales. The question isn't whether or not there will be another film, it's whether or not anyone will actually care.

I made this brief review as spoiler-free as possible, just in case you actually want to torture yourself and see it, but there are easier and more enjoyable ways to waste your money. Like throwing it into oncoming traffic for example. Even if you are dying to know what happened after the last cliff-hanger, don't bother. Almost nothing is resolved and what was could have been sorted out in a just few moments. In the end, you're just left with another absolutely outrageous cliff-hanger that is an obvious attempt to get another ticket purchase out of you later.

At least the costumes were good. My fashionable side was pleased, but the view of the clothing was not worth the price of admission.

It's time and money you can never get back.

Are you a fan of the Resident Evil film series? Do you want to see Retribution? If you already have, what did you think?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Controllers and School Books (or Why I Haven't Posted in a Month)

A snapshot of my life.
It's been a long time since my last post. During that time, I moved back on campus and got right back into the basic grind of an English major. Read, write, rinse, repeat. Honestly, the start of the semester got the best of me. The realization that I have less time for video games hit me like a brick (or five).

When you need to write grammatically correct essays, read novels that double as sleep aids, write enlightened poetry from random prompts and prepare for the next painful exam, video games seem like a great escape that you don't even have time to think about. Finding balance between grades and gaming takes time. But getting good grades and basking in the joys of video gaming is completely possible. It's just not easy.

Case in point: I haven't gone cold turkey from my gaming habit. In the last couple weeks, I've been able to catch up on some Smash Bros. Brawl action with my main group of players and I've even started two new games (Tales of Symphonia and Rhythm Heaven. Details on them later.) There was just a bit of a problem adjusting to life without all the free time that goes along with summer vacation. I think it's all leveling out now.

Are you in school? How do you balance video games and academics? This feels like a throwback to my post on having a career and playing games so if you haven't read that go check it out and leave a comment there too. This is obviously a conversation that won't end very soon.
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