Fez

Hot. Damn. You guys, did I ever love this game.  When I first started playing it (a little over a week ago), and tried to explain to people what I liked about it, basically just sounds of joy and buzz words poured forth from my babbling maw.  So, I needed to give myself a cool down period, to hopefully translate all that loquaciousness into something coherent.

The quickest, best description I’ve heard of the game is that it’s a “2D game set in a 3D world.” How I like to think of it is this: the whole world is a cube, but you can only see one side of the cube at a time.  You switch between the sides of a cube in order to access the entirety of the world.  Sounds simplistic? Well, Fez is designed so well that it almost seems like there are more than 4 sides of the world’s cube for you to explore.  This isn’t a perfect description, but it will do until you decide you want to go pick up the game yourself.

Your protagonist is Gomez. He is white and blobby and wears… a fez.  Yes.

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Playtesting: June 2012

Something I had been anticipating finally happened a couple weeks ago – I got bored with playing the Mass Effect franchise.  After an eight-month stint with Oblivion (which I was trying to plow through in preparation for Skyrim), I decided to blow through ME1 & 2 before the third game came out in March.  To put in perspective how attached I got to those three games, I just now (two days ago) bought Skyrim.  I played through ME1 once, and ME2 & 3 twice in about four months’ time.  There were just so many options in the world, and in those 3 different ways you could go – and the third way, neutral, could go any thousands of ways depending on the personality/decisions of the person playing the games – that I found enough to keep me very interested through two almost complete play-throughs.  I started that third play-through (Paragon) of 2 (I wanted to skip 1 and use the little genesis/creation comic instead) and almost immediately wanted to put down the controller and walk away.  Luckily, since I own the games, I can come back to it anytime, and probably will one of these days!

The last few weeks have been hectic with getting everything together so I can blow the currently popcorn stand I’m inhabiting and move in with some of my two-and-four-legged buddies.  In 5 days, that will become a crazy reality.  To distract myself a little bit from the emotional fur flying around, and the stress of trying to make sure the packing and moving will go smoothly, I’ve been play testing some X-Box Live Arcade games to see if there’s anything that’s the right combination of relaxing and challenging for some light gaming.  Instead of the usual immersive experience I seek out with games, I’ve been wanting something I can pick up, play for half an hour or forty five minutes and put back down.

SIDEBAR/ Weirdly, I’ve been seeking out the exact same thing in a book, in a sort of sideways way.  I do have one Kindle book from the library that I’m almost done with, but mostly I’ve been re-reading some fantasy books I’ve owned forever, and have read at least 3 or 4 times.  I really want to make no big commitments to anything until after I move, not even a book! Really, reading these books is like a big ol’ brain tranquilizer, not at all thought-provoking or challenging. /SIDEBAR

Anyway, here are some of the games I’ve been playing recently, and what I think about them.  Maybe you’ll find a good little time-killing game for yourself!

1. Solar 2

Maybe someone out there remembers the first Solar game? If not, Google it, it’s a fun little browser game now, if you want to kill a few minutes.  Both games were developed by Murudai, which does not seem to have done much else of note, but has made a good little game in Solar 2. Instead of me explaining the game to you in great detail, scope out this game play:

The game is essentially about the universe, from beginning (Big Bang!) to end (Black Holes!), and all the broad strokes in between.  A die-hard astronomer will be pretty disappointed if they’re expecting detailed examinations of the science behind stars and asteroids and solar systems, or realistic physics.  With a very soothing background soundtrack as your soporific lullabye, you zip around a seemingly endless open universe as an asteroid, star, and, eventually, black hole, alternately slamming into things or sucking them into your orbit in order to advance to the next state of being. An entire round can be played in about half an hour.  Also, since every round is different, and there are many, many hidden “tasks” the snarky, invisible narrator has left around for you, replay value is pretty high.  Plus, it’s only $5.oo on the arcade, so why not?  You can also download on your computer, via Steam.

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1 Bad Thing and 7 Good Ones

I always get sad between the 2nd week of April and Mother’s day.  This directly correlates to me not having a mom around to celebrate her birthday with (May 7) or take to Mother’s Day brunch (May 13, this year).  Boo Hiss.  As anyone missing a mum or a da knows, these greeting card holidays are especially terrible – you can’t turn on the tv (to watch Law & Order: SVU, which I’ve been obsessed with lately, and is my main gym jam) or walk into the drug store to get your shampoo, or, appropriately, your anxiety meds, without being bombarded with commercials, displays, advertisements, etc. that just remind you of what you don’t have that everyone else seems to have.  I know enough dad-and-momless kids to know this isn’t true, but damn if the advertising industry doesn’t try its best to make you think that for about two weeks in May.  I do think that, of all these made up holidays, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are two of the most well-intentioned though, so as I say of drinks, enjoy ’em if you got ’em kids.  If you don’t, call another friend, parent, grandparent, stepparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, etc. that you do have and chat for awhile.  Chances are you have someone in your life you can commiserate with, since it’s not particularly rare, so go track them down virtually or in person and distract each other for awhile.   Or, do what I do, and get the hell out of dodge and go on a weekend trip.

Anyway, since I was bumming about this today, I wanted to make a little list of stuff I’ve been doing that’s made me exceedingly happy.  My life is full to bursting (in a good way), and I have even more stuff coming up, so I wanted to appreciate it for a few minutes instead of focusing on the stuff that hasn’t turned out exactly right, which I have a tendency to do.

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Some Incoherent Thoughts on Mass Effect (Given through Tears, Filled with Regrets) – Part 2 of 2

Mass Effect 3 – Beam Me Up Shepard!

You guys, I’m still processing this one.  My feelings about the prior two entries in the series were fairly uncomplicated, I think because they themselves were fairly uncomplicated.  That’s arguable, I’m sure, but it’s how I feel about them!

THE DECISIONS you have to make in Mass Effect 3, my lord.  My internal decision metric for my Shepard was pretty good by the time I got to the third game (especially because I had just finished the second game), so it didn’t take me long minutes of agonizing before I went for the storyline I wanted to go for.  Or thought I wanted to go for, that is! I know people who thought about it and tried to figure out the implications of the decisions, but I didn’t want to do that, I wanted to be surprised, goddamnit.  Was I ever, boy-o.

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Some Incoherent Thoughts on Mass Effect (Given through Tears, Filled with Regrets) – Part 1 of 2

I’m only a little kidding with that title.  I’m definitely bummed that there won’t be any more Shepard adventures, and I definitely made a bunch of blunders in ME 1-3 that lead to some less-than-desirable outcomes.  I think, however, that since I’ve gone through so many book and movie series coming to an end, I’ve had to deal with this feeling a lot.  LotR, Battlestar, Lost, the X-Files, the upcoming completion of the Kingkiller Chronicle (which I am DREADING by the way), etc. etc. We’re used to franchises like Batman, Spiderman, James Bond, Elder Scrolls, Dr. Who, and others that either by design or by heavy contrivance can just be rebooted and rebooted endlessly.  These things are mostly great, with some exceptions, and I even like some of the more recent reboots – the new Star Trek movie was surprisingly enjoyable, for instance – but it can also be great to have a nice little trilogy or quadrilogy (is that a word? Did I just make that word up? oh well) that stands on its own.  Immediately, however, that opens your ending up to a lot of criticism; there will be no next story, no next reboot to redeem whatever flaws fans found in the wind-up. Anyway, now that I’ve jumped into the middle (I mean end), let’s go back to the beginning.

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ME3

Just a little note to let you know what I’m thinking about this week.  I just finished Mass Effect 3 last night and am still processing my feelings about it.  You might think a video game can’t give you capital-F Feelings, but you would be wrong.  Sadly, my processing speed is not as fast as EDI’s, so it might be a few days (and, probably, multiple posts) before I’m able to get all my thoughts down on interweb paper.

For now, I’ll just say that the endgame felt like those last days before you graduate college, where you’re rushing to get everything done, say your goodbyes to everyone, and you get that familiar feeling that it’ll really just be a couple summer months and then we’ll all be back you guys! But, a sad realistic part of you knows it’s not true. I actually teared up when Joker (a.k.a my supreme unfulfilled ME crush) told Shepard it had been an honor serving with her.  Thank god I still have a renegade run-through to do.