Monday, January 31, 2011

Three Things

1. The promise that I would get a car this weekend turned out to be a false alarm. The car buyers went to Oregon this weekend (so they could buy the car without paying sales tax), but the car remains unpurchased. Looks like I'll have to use my roller blades from now on.

2. I am told that the Professor Layton movie has finally made it to the United Kingdom! It's not going to be released in the United States, however. Presumably, that's because a movie with British protagonists will sell better in England than in America.

I'm excited to see the movie in English, but I'm also kind of sad, because the movie uses the British voice actors, not the American ones.  So our friend who does the voice of Nancy Drew (and Professor Layton's sidekick) will not be making an appearance.  The main character's voice will remain the same, though, so the difference won't be too noticeable.

3. I watched The Incredibles over the weekend, and I don't want to sound mean, but some of the graphics look kind of...ugly.  I was looking at the plants and trees in the background of some of the jungle scenes, and they look really fake compared to what you see today.  I guess computer technology has really improved in the past seven years.

Of course, in another seven years, computer technology will get even better, and all the top-of-the-line special effects-based movies like Avatar and Transformers will look super-ugly and fake, and nobody will watch them anymore.  Does that mean I'm ahead of the curve by not watching them to begin with?  I think it means I'm ahead of the curve.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

More on the iPod Touch

Two days ago, I wrote about the iPod Touch. Loyal readers who know a lot more about these things than I do have filled in on some of the details I was missing.

First off, there are different types of iPods Touch.  The newer it is, the most it costs.  The more memory it has, the more it costs.  They're all out of my price range, though, unless I get a really, really old one with almost no memory.  I'm talking about the floppy disk of iPods Touch here.

A major difference between the iPhone and the iPod is that the phone gets Internet access everywhere, but the pod doesn't.  You see, the pod is like the guy next door who mooches off your Internet so he doesn't have to pay for it himself.  What a bum!  Unless I'm near a wireless Internet router, I can't get Internet on my iPod.

The good news is that here in Silicon Valley, the technology capital of the world, we've been talking about free Internet for years now.  The idea is that the government will install super-routers at strategic locations, so everyone can have free Internet.  So far, the Internet provider companies have alternated between trying to eliminate this program and trying to get government grants to create the super-routers.

I doubt that the government will provide free Internet to everyone, but if it does, this will probably be the place where it happens.  A good portion of the Internet lives here.  In fact, there's a fancy building downtown that holds the machines which contain about a third of the Internet.

After September 11th, 2001, everyone was worried about unexpected terrorists attacks.  The government came up with all sorts of emergency plans to protect major national landmarks, like Mount Rushmore or the Statue of Liberty.  Here in California, I only heard about plans to protect two places:

1. The Internet Building, because people would panic if the Internet died.
2. Disneyland.

I'm not joking.  I never heard anyone talk about plans to protect the Golden Gate Bridge or the state capitol building or Hollywood.  I'm sure those plans were made, but people were more interested in hearing about Disneyland's anti-terrorism measures. Disney worked hard on these plans, and their theme parks are now the only non-government sites that are considered no fly zones. (Dumbo and Peter Pan were heartbroken when they heard this news).

They might have gotten rid of the Internet Building in the past ten years, for security purposes.  Besides, all of the machines there have needed to be replaced since then.  They probably were replaced and relocated at that time.

Anyway, where was I?  Ah, yes, the iPod Touch.  It seems interesting, but I still can't afford one, so I won't get one.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

January Newsletter

The nice Nancy Drew folks have just released the January Newsletter, all about the upcoming Nancy Drew game for the Apple handheld systems.

This game is Nancy Drew: Secret at Shadow Ranch, one of the most popular Nancy Drew books (and games).  It appears to be a choose-your-own-adventure style, with minigames and fun things like that.  I'm pretty sure it's based off of this mathematical formula:

Choose-your-own-adventure + adventure game = Great idea

The newsletter also links to a special mystery video, Nancy Drew: The Case of the Missing iPad. I found it amusing.



Minor edit: The mystery video is now on my channel as well.

Friday, January 28, 2011

iPhone, iPod Touch

From what I understand, the iPhone is a super fancy phone that makes phone calls, connects to the Internet, plays music, records video, and plays "apps".  I don't know what apps are, but they can apparently do everything, from checking your blood sugar to translating ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics.

If I ever got an iPhone, I would basically use it to watch videos and read things.  I would probably get a few games, too, just to see what they're like.  I wouldn't use it to make phone calls, and I'm not sure about those app things.

I was talked with my friends Chris and Paul about iPhones recently, and Paul told me you have to pay $60 a month for an iPhone.  And they only have two year programs.  So, that's about $1500, not including the price of the iPhone itself.  Ouch!  I can't afford that.

Chris told me about the iPod Touch, which I've heard about, but I don't know what it is.  It turns out that the iPod Touch is not an iPod.  It's an iPhone, without the phone.  It has the apps, Internet, music, video camera, and everything else, except the phone.  The best part is that you don't have to pay $60 a month for phone services.

So I was thinking that I should probably get an iPod Touch, because it has all of the features of the iPhone that I would use, minus the large monthly fees I can't afford.  But then Chris told me that the iPod Touch costs $400.  Ouch again!

All in all, it looks like I won't get an iAnything, because they cost a lot of money, and all my money is going towards a new car right now.  I'm getting the car this weekend--cars are cheaper when you buy at the end of the month--so stay tuned to learn what kind of car I'll get!  I'm hoping for a Prius, but the person who is paying the majority of the money (i.e. Dad) gets the final say.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Techno Music

Someone who is much better at playing piano than I am has just recorded a video of herself playing Nancy Drew music. That is, she plays this song...



Right here...



Pretty good! Way better than what I could do, anyway.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Cody Capers

Question: Has anybody played the Cody Capers, the only non-Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys game made by Her Interactive?

Apparently, it's about a dog who pops bubbles. Characters include a squirrel, a lawn gnome named Lenny, and an elderly ladybug. Here's the trailer:



It looks something like the Bubble Bobble arcade game, because they both have bubbles that you have to pop. I know absolutely nothing about this game, besides for what is said here.  What do you guys think about it? Have any of you played this game?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Jokes

I was thinking about jokes earlier today, and I started to get worried because I make jokes a lot.  Oftentimes, these jokes are at the expense of other people, and that's one expense I can't afford to pay.

What worries me is that telling jokes has become a habit with me, and I will tell jokes without thinking them through.  As always, doing something without thinking about it is very dangerous.  It is so easy to say something mean and hurtful, under the guise of the joke.  And in fact, most of the jokes we see told by the comedians on TV are made to attack other people.

Now, some people will say or do something awful, and later, they try to pass it off as "just a joke". They use "I was just kidding" as an excuse to say whatever they want.  The idea behind this is that, as long as it was a joke, it was okay.  You can do anything, as long as you're trying to be funny.  And this idea is clearly false.  Joke Land isn't a place where there is no right or wrong, so you can do whatever you want.  There is no place like that; there is no place where right and wrong don't exist.

You can't escape morality, whether your excuse is "I was just kidding," "I was drunk," "everyone does it," "I didn't know," or any of the thousands of excuses people use.  Every human action has a moral dimension to it.  It is impossible to do something which is neither right nor wrong, even though a lot of people think otherwise.

So, like I said, now I'm kind of worried about the jokes I make. I hope I'm not doing a bad thing by telling jokes.  I'm sure that sometimes, it's bad to tell jokes, and other times, it's good, depending on the circumstances and the joke itself.  I'll try to be more careful about the jokes I make in the future.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Walk for Life

Today, we had the big Walk for Live West Coast even in San Francisco. A group of 45,000 people showed up, to walk all the way from the Bay Bridge to the Golden Gate Bridge, along the street with all the piers. It was pretty exciting to see so many people come out to support human rights.

A lot of people think abortion is a religious issue, but in a sense, it's not really about religion.  We're concerned about the rights of the unborn children, irregardless of their religion or lack thereof.  Of course, it's a tricky issue because pregnant women have their rights, too, but our current laws need to be fixed.  They give all the rights to the mother, and no rights at all to the father, to the child, and in most cases, to the doctor.  These rights need to be more evenly distributed.

About 50 counter-protestors showed up to heckle us.  And because of this is San Francisco, some of them were wearing absolutely ridiculous outfits.  I'd describe these outfits, but I don't want to scare any small children who may read this blog. I'm surprised there weren't counter-counter-protestors at the event, in order to protest against those crazy outfits.

The Most Ridiculous Protestor Award goes to the person who was shouting, "Go back to your homes! San Francisco is a tolerant city!"

Runner-up: The protestor who somehow got us confused with the gay pride parade, and showed up with a bunch of "gays are evil" signs.  I don't know how he made that mistake.  Maybe he accidentally switched the dates on the calendar.

It was a three or four mile walk, and it took a few hours, just because there were so many people.  It's a good thing I brought lunch, because no food was being sold at the event, and you get hungry after hours of walking. Overall, it was a lot of fun to see so many people working together for a common cause. Let's hope that our country's laws will be changed, and everyone will get to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Digital Distribution

On Monday, I talked about new technology putting companies out of business.  I specifically mentioned watches and cell phones, but people seem to prefer the example of Blockbuster.  Blockbuster was a huge company that rented movies and videogames.  Last year, they filed for bankrupcy, and all their stores are being shut down.

The coroner determined that the cause of death was Blockbuster's inability to handle competition from competing movie distribution services like Netflix and Redbox and Direct TV.  In particular, digital distribution provided a killer blow to Blockbuster, because everyone would rather get their movies instantly, instead of having to drive all the way to Blockbuster to get them.  (Plus, the digital distributors have a wider variety of movies available).

The obvious problem I can see with having all your things on a digital device--whether it's files on a computer, or songs on your cell phone, or games on your DS--is that you're probably going to lose the device, or it's going to break, and then you don't have anything.  Computers and cell phones break or malfunction with alarming frequency.

Speaking of which, I am officially unhappy with computers, because they have a life expectancy of two to five years.  I want my devices to have a life expectancy of 80 years, thank you very much.  With all the fancy technology they have today, you'd think that it'd be possible to make a device that lasts a long time.
Some companies don't do anything if your device breaks, and you lose all your files.  That's what my phone company does, anyway (Thanks, Verizon!).  Some companies keep a record of your past purchases, and they allow you to download things over and over again.  So when I get a new computer, I can re-download the games I had on the old computer.  At least, that's how it works on the third party gaming sites I've used (Big Fish Games, Telltale Games, Playfirst Games).  I haven't tried it with Amazon or iTunes, but maybe they have a similar system.  It seems like a good enough way to overcome the problem of "What if all my digital possessions disappear?"

Most companies seem to be switching to digital distribution, probably because it's a lot cheaper. And some people foresee a future where you can only purchase videogames, books, movies, etc. in digital formats.  True, people said the same thing fourteen years ago, and it still hasn't happened yet, but it could happen.

Some companies and industries are handling the change better than others.  Print industries, like newspapers and books, are dying painfully. Videogames seem to be doing better, thanks to the popularity of online gaming services like Xbox Live and iPhone games.  The music industry seems to be doing okay too, even though they said they wouldn't be.

Does anyone remember when the CD companies made a huge fuss about how digital distribution would kill their industry?  Sure enough, the CD stores are all out of business, but the industry isn't as close to dying as they predicted.  Interesting.  Apparently, people are willing to buy digital copies of CDs after all.

Well, things are going to change in the future, like they always do, so I guess we'll see what happens as a result of all this digital distribution.  Maybe everything will switch to a digital format, and then a deadly virus will cause a huge Internet crash, and lots of information will get lost, and people will switch back to non-digital formats. Who knows?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Classes

This week is the first full week of classes, if you don't count the fact that Monday was a holiday.  This semester, I've got five classes, and half of them are classes I've already taken before.

First is Literature, which is a class where you read books.  I kind of got tired of English and literature during my three-year stint as President of the English Club in college. English and reading and writing are all fun, but being in charge of 200 English majors is slightly less fun.

The weird part: I wasn't an English major.
Next is Spanish 3, which is the third class in the Spanish sequence. Now we get to study the two past tenses and be completely confused.  It's a lot like English, except in a different language.

Then there's Anthropology, which involves studying different theories of human nature.  I suppose that's useful, although it seems like yet another class where we go through the entire history of philosophy and see what each philosopher has to say on the subject.  It gets kind of boring to study Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hume and Kant every single semester.

The Cardinal Newman course is one where we read books by Cardinal Newman, who is a famous British person from the 1800's.  I guess with this and the literature class, there's a lot of book reading this semester.
Finally, we have metaphysics, which is the study of being. That's basically just high-level philosophy, which rarely gets used outside of philosophy.  It's interesting to ask questions like "does [insert anything here] really exist?", but in the real world, people generally don't ask questions like that. People tend to have more relaxed criteria for knowledge and existence than philosophers do.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Cell Phones

Recently, I've been hearing people talk about how cell phones are killing the watch industry.  Nobody wants to buy a watch anymore, because you can always check the time by looking at your cell phone.  I personally use a wristwatch, because I have three issues with the idea of using your phone as a watch:

1) I rarely carry my phone with me.
2) There are some places (like school) where you can't use your phone.
3) You can sneak a glance at your wristwatch without anyone noticing.  You can't do this so easily with a cell phone.

I guess if I was one of those people who always had their cell phone at the ready and turned on, then it would be easy enough to use it as a watch.  I still feel kind of bad for the watchmakers, though.  They're going out of business because of phone companies, even though their products have nothing to do with phones. It's like if the pencil companies were putting the shoemakers out of business.

But cell phones aren't content with killing the watch industry.  They're also killing the camera industry, because every cell phone can take high-quality pictures.  Video cameras are next on the chopping block, because it's easier to shoot a video with your iPhone than with a heavy video camera that uses cassette tapes.  Cassettes?  Film is so last century.

I'm betting the other standard cell phone features are killing industries, too.  Who would buy an alarm clock when every phone has an alarm feature?  Same with stopwatches, address books, calendars, planners, and GPS systems. I hear the music players are doing fine for now, but I'm pretty sure they'll start to feel the pinch when everyone carries their music on their phone, rather then getting a separate device for playing music.

My question is what the future will hold.  All the cell phone companies like Verizon have expanded from phones to Internet.  So maybe they're looking towards a future when cell phones are basically the same as laptops--such as the iPad--and people replace their computers with cell phones.  The phone companies have also made moves on the TV industry, so maybe they're hoping to stream TV and movies through your cell phone.

(Or maybe they just want to control everything that people see and hear and think).

In any case, it will be...interesting to see which industries are going to die in the near future.  Enough companies are dying as it is, thanks to the recession.  But the cell phones clearly plan to put even more companies out of business.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Epic Mickey

There's a new videogame from Disney called Epic Mickey, in which Mickey Mouse goes to the evil version of Disneyland.  I've been playing this game for an hour or so, and I like it, but I didn't think it was all that epic until I came to the first battle, in which Mickey fights the "It's a Small World" ride.

Once I heard the creepy version of the Small World song, I was sold on this game.  I can't wait to see what other creepy stuff the game has in store for me.

It's interesting going through an evil version of Disneyland, but there's not too much to do.  It's supposed to be a puzzle-based platformer, but Mickey only has two different abilities, so it's pretty easy to solve every puzzle you come across.  If abililty #1 doesn't work, try ability #2.

Ability #1 makes things disappear, while Ability #2 makes things appear.  The game is cleverly designed, so you can use either ability to get through most of the puzzles. I give them credit for having puzzles that can be solved with two completely opposite actions--it couldn't have been easy to think up puzzles like that--but it sort of takes away most of the challenge when you can solve the puzzle, no matter what you do.

The game is also designed with alternating pathways that let you skip boss battles. I like boss battles, so I won't be taking those alternate paths.  There are alternate sidequests as well.  It's very open ended in this regard.  Right now, I'm playing through the game and focusing on Ability #1.  When I replay the game, I'll focus on Ability #2, which will make different things happen and open up alternate paths.

For some reason, the game so far really reminds me of the Creepy Castle level in Donkey Kong 64.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

My 25th Birthday Party

My birthday was on Monday, but this year, we celebrated it on Friday, because Dad was out of town until Thursday.  My friends and extended family all went to play Bocce Ball.  There were about twenty of us all together, and it was a lot of fun.

For those of you who don't know, Bocce Ball is an Italian sport, and I'm pretty sure that the goal of the game is to get as little exercise as possible.  In the game, you roll one ball, underhand, down a field.  And that's it.  Repeat this for several rounds until one team wins.

There are other rules to the game, of course, but that's the basic gist of it.  Each team has five players, and each player gets one throw per round.  Points are tallied at the end of the round--whoever gets closest to the target gets a point--and the team who gets to twelve points first is the winner.

I was on the green team, and we lost the first round.  The second round was perfect.  We got five points, which is the maximum you can get in a single round.  Then, we lost four rounds in a row, in order to lose the game, 12-5.  I blame my cousin, Jackson, who messed things up for us.  Whenever it looked like we would win a round, he would take his shot and somehow we lost our lead.  It took us too long to realize that Jackson should never be allowed to take the last shot.

It was a lot of fun, because our family gets super-intense about sports.  It's ridiculous for us to get intense, because we're all horrible at Bocce Ball.  I mean, the two seven-year-olds dominated the entire game.  So it was fun for us to act like it was an important match between a group of professional athletes.

I got a lot of birthday presents.  The most unexpected one was from the Bloodmobile.  Yes, the Bloodmobile sends birthday cards!  Apparently, they're still happy that I donated two months ago.  It's generous people like me who are the life-blood of their industry!

Last year, I got a mysterious present from someone named Ellen.  She somehow managed to sneak into the building, which is securely locked after-hours, in order to give me a coffee maker.  I still have no idea who she is or how she did it.

I'm guessing she read one of my five blog entries about the incident, because she didn't give me a gift this year.  No mysterious presents appeared outside my room, except for the rosary that showed up on my door in October.  I don't know who left the rosary.  I just came back to my room after evening prayer (which everyone is supposed to attend) to find a rosary on my door handle.  No note or anything, and no one ever mentioned it to me.  Odd.  Why would someone skip evening prayer in order to anonymously give me a rosary?  It's a really nice rosary from Medugorje, and I like it a lot, but I still want to know who gave it to me.

In any case, there were no birthday presents of unknown origin this year, which is good.  The presents were nice, and the party was nice, and I'm pretty sure everyone had a good time.  It was a nice birthday, even if I lost the Bocce game.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Nancy Drew Wikia

Hey, Nancy Drew fans!  I have recently been informed that there is now a Wikia for Nancy Drew, and it is in bad need of some pages. Personally, I think they should just copy/paste things from the real Wikipedia, which would save a lot of time, but no one has done that yet.

It's just like normal Wikipedia, so feel free to help out the people there by making and editing some pages.  I must say, editing Wikipedia is loads easier now than when I did it ten years ago. We had to hand-program the links with weird formatting and things like that.

As a reward for being helpful, you get a link to a Nancy Drew wallpaper that somebody has made.  It appears to be done in MS Paint, and I think it's kind of wacky.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

How I Make Videos

All right, I finally got around to making a "how I make video walkthroughs" video.



Now everyone can make their own walkthrough videos, and I can retire. All riiiiiiiight!

(I bet this won't stop people from leaving questions about how I record videos, though.)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Inside the Guide

Over the Christmas break, I had enough free time to write two walkthroughs for GameFAQs.  I used to write walkthroughs all the time, but I've mostly stopped doing that when I switched over to making video walkthroughs.

I follow a three-step process when making text walkthroughs.

Step 1: Pick a game to do a walkthrough for.
Step 2: Write two pages of the walkthrough.
Step 3: Forget about it for six months.

There are officially twelve games on my partially-started walkthrough list, the oldest of which dates back to February 2008.  I'm sure I'll get around to finishing them...someday.  Many of them are games that I've done video walkthroughs for, so I know exactly what to do in order to beat the game, but I just never found the time to type that up.

Well, I'm glad that over Christmas break, I was able to finish the walkthrough for Samantha Swift and the Hidden Roses of Athena.  I specifically put this at the top of my Internet browser, so I would see it every day and remember, "Oh, I have to finish that walkthrough!".  And still, it took me nine months to put aside the time to actually do so.

The other walkthrough I wrote was a guide for Back to the Future: Part 1 of 5.  I had to play the game a second time for my review, so I figured I might as well do a walkthrough for it.  It's really short, and no one else had a walkthrough for the game posted yet, which were both big plusses.  Of course, by the time GameFAQs got around to posting my guide, two other walkthroughs were up there, too.

I'm probably not going to do more walkthrough writing for at least a month, even though I really should finish those half-started walkthroughs. Then, I'll probably zoom right through them and wonder why it took so long.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Bento Puzzles

About ten people have contacted me about bento box puzzles in Nancy Drew: Shadow at the Water's Edge.  I'm getting tired of solving the puzzles for people, so I made a video where I solve bento puzzle after bento puzzle.


Hopefully, this will help people figure out how to solve the puzzles on their own.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Back to the Future: The Game (Part 1)

Hey, I just realized that I forgot to post my review of the latest Back to the Future game, which was one of the six or so games I bought last year.

title

Question Everyone Is Asking: Is this game worth playing?

Answer: Sure! It’s not exactly Back to the Future 4, but it’ll do.

The game is made by Telltale games, who made last year’s very successful Tales of Monkey Island games. Some of the problems that plagued the Monkey Island games are still here in the Back to the Future The Game. For one thing, the game’s high quality graphics cause lag if you’re like me and don’t have the world’s best-quality computer. And for another thing, the control scheme was made by drunken cocker spaniels.

You would think a point-and-click adventure game would have a control scheme that involves pointing and clicking. And for the most part, it does. But when you want to move Marty around, you can’t just click on where you want him to go. Instead, you need to click on Marty, and then drag the mouse in the general direction you want Marty to walk in. That way, Marty will be guaranteed to almost never go where you want him to, in favor of getting stuck in corners and the sides of buildings. Stick to using the up/down/left/right arrows, which works much better.

controls
It’s not so easy to hold down both mouse buttons at the same time when you’re on a laptop.

Other reviewers have said that the control scheme is the worst thing ever, and it was created by the Alternate 1985 Biff Tannen, and now Christmas is ruined, and blah blah blah Justin Bieber. Sure, it’s not very good, but like I said, you can use the directional arrows instead. As the DS Zelda games prove, it’s good to have more than one control scheme. I personally used the arrows the whole time, instead of trying to fight the controls designed for the external mouse I don’t have.

The plot of the game is pretty good, but it confused me the first time I played through the game, because I wasn’t sure when the intro section was over. A third of the way through the game, I was still saying, “Wow, this is one long intro.” I’m kind of dumb, what can I say? In any case, the second time I played through the game, I appreciated the plot more. They do a good job of mixing scenes that feel like they’re from a Back to the Future movie with the adventure game parts. It’s not a perfect mixture–some parts feel like they come from an adventure game that has nothing to do with BttF–but I happen to enjoy solving adventure game puzzles, so I won’t complain.

Specifically, the game starts with two scenes, one in the Twin Pines Parking Lot and the other in Doc’s House. These scenes are mostly fanservice, and even though they have almost nothing to do with the plot, it’s still fun to see Marty interact with Adult George and Adult Biff. Once that part is over, the game really gets underway as the time-travelling DeLorean suddenly appears. No one is inside the car except Doc’s dog Einstein. Uh oh! Looks like Doc has gotten himself into trouble somewhere, I mean, somewhen!

original design
Concept art for Einstein, riding inside the time-travelling car.

After some puzzles which involve a woman who has every single newspaper since 1897 (how convenient!), Marty learns that Doc Brown is in 1931. Doc was falsely arrested for burning down a speakeasy. What’s more, the gangster that ran the speakeasy, Kid Tannen, had decided to kill Doc for revenge. It’s up to Marty to go the past and break Doc out of jail before he gets killed. And just to make things interesting, Marty has a few run-ins with Kid Tannen, Young Doc Brown, and his grandfather, Arthur McFly.

The characters in this game are…interesting. It’s been said before, but it seems that Telltale doesn’t know how to make good original characters. Instead, they make generic stereotypes that have one personality trait, at best. For example, Kid Tannen is a generic 1930’s gangster, along the lines of Rocky and Mugsy. He definitely doesn’t feel much like a Tannen, although to be honest, you could say the same thing about Mad Dog Tannen. Tannen’s goons are big and dumb, just like every other villain’s goons, and Marty’s grandfather is a copy/paste version of Young George McFly.

However, this “one character trait” rule doesn’t apply to the characters of Young Doc Brown and Edna Strickland. I’m not sure what to make of these characters. Sometimes it feels like Telltale is trying to make original characters for once, and other times it feels like Telltale has no idea how the characters should act, because the plot demands that they have two character traits. And so, you have characters who are somewhere in the limbo between “original character” and “someone who alternates between two generic character traits”.

I’m going to wait until the other episodes in the series before making a judgment call on these two characters. They certainly have the potential of being interesting original characters, so let’s hope they do. As things stand now, there are one or two good moments for both of them in the game. There are more good moments with Young Doc because he’s in more scenes, and it’s legitimately sad at the end of the game when Marty tells Young Doc that he has to go away forever.

Young Doc and Marty
In one of the funnier scenes, Young Doc pulls Marty aside to argue about Edna (in background).

Oh, hey, thanks for reminding me, caption to the above picture. This game also has funny moments, which is in keeping with the Back to the Future style. Not every joke is good–Old Doc, in particular, has a few awkward misfires–but on the whole, I appreciate the effort. I can also appreciate a few of the less obvious jokes in the game, which reference the Back to the Future movies.

The puzzles are pretty standard adventure game fare, with some classic puzzles like “get a character to leave the room” and “use the only item you can interact with in this scene”. None of them were too painful to figure out. Gamers who aren’t good at adventure game puzzles will be glad to know that the game has a great built-in hint system. It’s done in the popular style of “you can request three hints per puzzle, each hint getting more specific about what you have to do”. I also hear that someone wrote a GameFAQS guide for this game that is very helpful.

The music is awesome, especially the music that comes straight from the movies. It really helped enhance the experience and make it feel like it’s part of the Back to the Future universe. That and the voice acting is really good, too. I’m still confused as to why they hired Michael J. Fox’s official voice double to play someone other than Marty, but I’m not complaining. The graphics might disappoint some people because they’re more cartoony than super-realistic, but they’re not Toon Link bad. My only complaint would be that Marty’s does his “worried” look quite often, and he doesn’t really look worried. It looks more like he kind of has to go to the bathroom. That would explain why he’s worried, to be sure, but I’d still tweak that facial expression just a little bit.

Finally, I’d like to say that the game does a pretty good job of finishing the story with a satisfying ending. Then, they tack on a cliffhanger so we can have Episode Two: Attack of the Clones. I suppose there are a few things that feel like a set-up for the next game (like the Expo that gets mentioned three times), but all in all, that cliffhanger is pretty blatant sequel fodder. For some reason, this doesn’t bother me as much as it should.

continued

My rating for this game is seven out of ten.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

For My 25th Birthday...

It's my birthday tomorrow, and it's a big one.  I am officially turning 25, which is basically one-fourth of my life over and done with.

I think the amazing part is what I remember.  High school?  I can hardly remember the names of the other students and teachers.  But the Wayside School book I read in third grade?  Memorized!

The lesson I should learn from this is that I shouldn't get so upset over the things that happen to me today (such as no one telling me the results of my staff evaluation).  Odds are that I'm going to forget 90% of the school drama, anyway.

To "celebrate", I'm going to officially get rid of all the old stuff I don't need anymore.  There are things that I saved so I could use them some point in the future--mostly books, but also a VHS tape collection of about 60 tapes--and instead of being a materialistic hoarder, I'm going to get rid of anything that only has a 5% chance of seeing the light of day again.

I started off with my old comic strip collections--Foxtrot, Calvin and Hobbes, Zits, Little Orphan Annie.  I had the large collection books, not the small ones, because the large ones have color strips.  The library was very excited to receive them, because those books are constantly checked out of the kids section, and mine are in better shape than the ones they have now.

I take good care of my books, so most of them are in good enough shape for the library.  Maybe 10% are in bad shape--my original Charlotte's Web has seen better days, and a third of the pages in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban are falling out--so those will go to the Book Go Round, the library charity that takes care of donated books.  95% of my VHS tapes should go, but only two of my DVDs are junk-worthy, amazingly enough.  As for my antique book collection, well...I want to read them before getting rid of them.  Some of those rare 1920's L. Frank Baum books took me months to find.

Anyway, happy birthday to me.  My birthday gift to me is a clean room!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Retreat

I'm officially back from the mandatory retreat.  It was fine, but I still don't like silent retreats.  It takes me too long to get used to silence.  Total silence is really nice, but it's hard to break my habit of humming "Swanee River" when I go back to my room after breakfast.

There were two talks each day: one in the morning and one in the afternoon.  I think the best one was the morning talk on Wednesday, about the psychological aspects of priestly celibacy.  I also liked the exegesis of the wedding feast at Cana.  My least favorite talk was the shortest one, about entitlement.  It was a good talk, to be sure, but it was more about the vow of poverty than it was about entitlement, which disappointed me.  The two topics are related, of course, but I wanted to hear more about entitlement and humility.

During my free time, I studied up on the Holy Spirit.  In particular, I studied on the nature of the Holy Spirit's dwelling in the soul.  I also studied on the Catholic persecutions that took place in 1500's England, which is considered their golden era.  Not a golden era for Catholics, though!  They were killed by the thousands.  The odd part is that the only Catholic monarch, Queen Mary, gets called "Bloody" Mary...even though the other English rulers killed about ten times as many people as she did.

Next week, we start off with two more days of talks on various subjects that the bishops want us to know (such as the above-mentioned topic of entitlement, so I guess I'll get to hear more about it after all.  Good!).  Then, school will begin in earnest.

My goal for the year is to learn what will happen to me during the summer before the month of May.  I may be setting my sights a little too high, though.  We'll find out.  Rumors are that I could be sent to Jamaca, Dayton, Ohio, the middle of the woods, and/or Spain.  I'm not making up any of those rumors, and Spain is the most probable, because I need to learn Spanish, and Pope Benedict is going to Spain this summer, too.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Pink Lemons

All right, I'm back from the retreat.  I'll talk more about it tomorrow, but for now, enjoy a brief music video about pink lemons.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Car Troubles

Starting Monday, I'm going on a week-long retreat.  I don't know if this is going to be a silent retreat, or if we're going to be on lockdown the whole time, but it could happen.  So if I mysteriously disappear next week, that's why.

I don't know how I'm going to get to the retreat, because my recent car troubles escalated, and my car can only go in reverse now.  So, basically, I don't have a car anymore.  I have no idea when/if I'll be able to get a new car, because I'm rather poor.  If it turns out I absolutely have to buy a new car, I think I'll get a hybrid.  I hate paying for gas, because I'm rather poor (like I said), so a hybrid sounds good.  But on the other hand, a hybrid costs more than a normal car does, so...

How much do roller blades cost again?