Thursday, June 30, 2011

Nancy Drew: The Captive Curse

Here's the video walkthrough for Nancy Drew: The Captive Curse. It's finally done!

































Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Who Done It?

There's only one more video left in my video walkthrough for Nancy Drew: The Captive Curse.  Before we find out who the real culprit is, I think it's time for some guessing.  Who do you think the culprit is, and why?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Doctor Lautrec and The Forgotten Knights

One of the games I'm looking forward to is Doctor Lautrec and the Forgotten Knights.  It's a pretty blatant Professor Layton knock-off game that's coming out this summer.  The hero, Dr. Lautrec, is a gentleman with a British accent, a top hat, and an obsession with solving puzzles.




I'm all for playing a Layton knock-off while waiting for the real Layton game to appear at an unspecified date this year.  Also, I find it amusing that they made sure that Lautrec is an archeologist, just like Layton, but they went out of their way to give him a higher educational degree.

So far, the Internet seems excited about this game because Doctor Lautrec has a righteous mustache.  Unlike Layton, he is rocking the facial hair, and it's definitely paying off for him.  His sidekick is a beautiful young woman (a potential love interest?), not just some random kid.  Unless the preview is lying, it seems that the good doctor has two beautiful young women as sidekicks.  And he has a monkey sidekick as well.  Doctor Lautrec's house is apparently Sidekick Central.
Also, judging by what we see of the two main villains (shown at 1:22 in the video), it is clear that the game's producers went out of their way to find the worst British accents possible.  This game has to be a success, and I'll make sure to buy it when...
 
 
Wait, it's only being released on the 3DS?  Oh, no way!  Give it a dual 3DS and DS release!  Actually, they should do that for a lot of 3DS games.  I think the results of such an experiment would be surprising.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Corpus Christi

Seeing as today is the solemnity of Corpus Christi, I thought I'd share a brief reflection about the Eucharist.

I went to a wedding in Washington D.C. last month.  On the car ride there, I tried to grill Dan (the brother of the groom) for details about the wedding itself.  I specifically recall that Dan said they weren't going to "waste any time with the stations of the cross or the Eucharist or anything symbolic like that".

I was offended by the insinuation that the Eucharist is a waste of time, seeing as it is the source, summit and center of the life of the Catholic Church.  But I couldn't help but be struck by the idea that a merely symbolic Eucharist is a waste of time.

For Catholics, the Eucharist is not symbolic.  It is not a symbol of the Body and Blood of Christ; it is the Body and Blood of Christ, through the power of transubstantiation.  Jesus Christ is really and truly present on the altar in the form of bread and wine.

But other Christian denominations deny this entirely, and in a sense, they "demote" the Eucharist to the level of symbolism.  I still don't understand the reasoning behind this.  Why would people prefer a symbolic presence over the True Presence?  Why would you want to attend a mass where you simply remember Jesus, in favor of a mass where you actually encounter Jesus?  How could replacing the Body and Blood of Christ with a mere symbol be anything other than a horrible loss?

Although I don't agree with what Dan said about the Eucharist, perhaps he is correct in believing that if Christ is not truly present at a mass, then attending that mass is just a waste of time.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Three Things

I have returned from the summer camp / youth retreat.  It was pretty intense, and I am officially worn out from sunburns, the fast pacing, the intense discussion, and the five hour bus ride back home.

1. I was in charge of arts and crafts for three days at the retreat. I volunteered for this because I'm usually good at arts and crafts.  However, all of the craft-making they had were things I didn't know how to do, such as candle making and weaving friendship bracelets.  The candle I ended up making is really weird looking, and the friendship bracelet is so ugly that I think I'll give it to my enemies, not my friends.  And since I don't have any enemies, that means no one will get the bracelet.

2. There were only 57 emails waiting for me when I got back from the week of camp.

3. It seems that New York has legalized gay marriage.  All the news reports I've read credit New York as "the home of the gay rights movement".  I don't think the gay rights people in San Francisco are very happy about that.  As for me, I'm going to stick by what I said earlier and say that the whole gay marriage issue won't be "officially" decided until it reaches the US Supreme Court.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Retreat

I'm a counselor-in-training on a summer camp/retreat thing this week.  I'll be back on Saturday or so.  See ya!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Captive Curse Update

I'm busy playing Nancy Drew: The Captive Curse right now, and I keep getting stuck. Not the "I'm in the middle of a difficult puzzle, and I can't figure out the solution" stuck. More like "I only have a vague idea of what I'm supposed to do now" stuck.
For example, here are some places I got stuck. 
  1. A puzzle requires you to find "the florist's letter", among other things. I spent about twenty minutes, going over every screen in the castle, trying to find this letter.  It turns out the letter was outside.
  2. The entrance to a hidden passageway is inside a certain room.  I think I spent fifteen minutes trying to find it.  It turns out you need to use an item.
  3. I also spent fifteen minutes trying to find the nine stained glass pieces...and it turned out that I had them all along.  Whoops.
  4. Finding the security key took me fifteen minutes, and again, it turned out that I had the right item all along.  It just doesn't look like a key.
And now that I think about it, there's a definite pattern here.  I keep spending fifteen minutes, looking for an item that I already have. I should stop doing that.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Thoughts on Wii Zelda

At the recent E3 convention, they showed a preview for Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.  They also had three playable demos for the game.  The demos were...well, let me back up for a moment.


The previous Zelda game is Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.  They had various demos for that game, at E3 2005 and E3 2006.  These demos included...

  • The goat herding minigame
  • The horseback battle with King Bulbin
  • Link's home village, especially the hawk guiding
  • The first dungeon
  • The second dungeon

The demos were great, although some of them were blatant excuses to show off the Wii's motion technology.  I'm looking at you, bow and arrow.  Also at you, hawk gliding.

In the actual game itself, the things that were shown off in the demos ended up being isolated.  You only do the goat herding challenge once in the game, twice if you want a heart piece.  You only do hawk guiding once, twice if you're observant enough to find the second piece of hawk grass on Death Mountain Trail.  The special weapon of the first dungeon gets used twice, and horseback battling occurs three times.

So really, the things that were shown off in the Twilight Princess demos were basically made just for the sake of having good demos.  They did not really come into play during the actual game itself.  Personally, I'm a little disappointed that the cool hawk guiding demo didn't get used in the game itself, whereas I'm glad they didn't have more goat herding challenges, because that was kind of bothersome.

There were three Skyward Sword demos at the recent E3. They all were in HD and ran off of the Wii U system.  The idea was to show off the Wii U's HD capabilities.  The actual Zelda game itself will not be in HD, or run off of the Wii U.  So again, these are things they made just for the purposes of having a cool demo.


Then again, the game is done in Toon Link style.  Do we really need HD Toon Link?  I can't tell the difference between HD cartoons and non-HD cartoons.

Demo #1 was a bird-flying minigame.  It's basically the same as horseback racing in the other Zelda games, where you press A to make your animal spring forward, and you have to wait for your meter to refill before you can do it again.  Do you remember the bird-flying challenge in Twilight Princess?  It's basically the exact same thing, except now you have people that you are racing.

The bird flying looked kind of boring, actually, compared to the near-identical bird races in Super Mario Galaxy 2.  In Mario's game, you had all sorts of walls and obstructions to dodge, which made it a challenge.  In the Zelda demo, it was pretty much all just open skies and clouds, with an occasional floating island in your way.  Maybe in the actual game itself, it will be a more difficult challenge.

The second demo was Forest Dungeon, which I'm guessing is Dungeon #1.  Why is the forest dungeon always first, it seems?  That was the case in Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask and Twilight Princess.  Most of the dungeon involved using the flying beetle item.  Just like the birds from the first demo, you use the Wii-mote to control the flight path of the beetle.  Hit a wall, and you have to start over.

The person playing the demo I watched was really bad, and he kept smashing into walls.  The beetle seemed like an interesting item, but I only saw it used for one purpose: hitting switches that are high up in the air.  Let's hope it has more functionality in the actual game, or else I'm just going to use the bow and arrow instead.


The third demo was the boss battle.  This was a tech demo, basically.  It's supposed to show off how good the controls are, and how you have to be very precise with your movements. The idea is that you use your Wii-mote as an actual sword, but to be honest, it looked somewhat counter-intuitive. At this point, everyone is so used to "waggle the Wii-mote to get a reaction" that "waggle the Wii-mote in very precise directions" seemed unnecessarily challenging.

Also, it looks like you absolutely have to stand up to use these controls.  I have not played a Wii game while standing up in years.  I play the games while sitting down, because my TV is at eye level with my couch. I would like to avoid playing this game standing up, if that is at all possible.

Without having used these precise sword controls, I can't tell you if they're good or not.  It looks like they could be a pain, and it looks like they could add a level of realism to the game.  I am reminded of the sword fighting challenge in Wii Sports Resort, where the controls were super-precise and complicated, but really, the way you won the challenge was by randomly waving your arm all over the place.  So really, it could go either way at this point.


All in all, Skyward Sword looks like a decent enough game so far. The controls seem to work perfectly fine for everything, except maybe the sword fighting, where too much precision seems like too much hassle. The graphics look good, even if I'm still not sold on the Toon Link graphical style. But all complaints aside, we know for certain that Link has a flying thing which follows him around and tells him what to do. That means it's sure to be another exciting Zelda adventure.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Three Things

I just got my copy of Nancy Drew: The Captive Curse, and I have no idea what my opinion on the game is yet.  I've played for about an hour, and I think half of that was spent wandering around, completely lost.  I managed to find two of the characters in the game by pure luck.
1.  So far, I have not seen anything about a curse.  Instead, it's all about a monster who is haunting the Castle Finster.

2. I managed to die within the first five minutes.

3. There is crazy stuff that happens between Nancy and Ned.  That's all I'm going to say at this point.  Also, it seems that Ned hangs out with the Hardy Boys. Who knew?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

More Prop 8 Drama

In the news recently, there has been more drama over Prop. 8, here in California.  To put it briefly, Prop 8 is the proposed law which says "Gay marriage is legal in the state of California".

This was a big deal in 2008 general election, when the Gay Rights people managed to get Prop 8 on the state ballot.  After all the votes were tallied, though, Prop 8 failed.  The majority of people in the state voted against legalizing gay marriage.

The Gay Rights people responded by saying Prop 8 is completely unconstitutional, and it should never have been put on the ballot to begin with.  I find this ironic, because this is coming from the people who put it on the ballot in the first place.

Well, for the past three years, Prop 8 has been bouncing around the courts like a pinball.  Whenever one side wins in court, the other side appeals for a new court.  Both sides refuse to give up fighting over this issue, and it probably won't be settled until it reaches the National Supreme Court.

The most recent piece of news is that a judge ruled in favor of gay marriage.  This is not surprising, because the judge himself is openly gay and has had a boyfriend for several years.  People have complained the ruling is unfair, because the judge had a personal interest in the matter.  And by "complained", I mean "sued".

Another judge has come out and ruled that the gay judge was within his rights to rule on the case.  Both rulings are being appealed.  Also, there is a third appeal which is somehow involved, although the news sources didn't entirely explain this.  Maybe someone is suing the appeals courts?  I dunno.  Anyway, that's the latest news on Prop 8.  It's still being tried in multiple courts, and nobody seems to care that the state already voted on the issue.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My Car's Setup

My relatives borrowed my car the other day, and it completely threw me off when I had to drive my car again.  They moved everything around, so nothing was in the right space.

And that's strange, because nothing is in the right space to begin with.  Here's where things go in my car.

  1. The GPS goes inside the CD holder, because that's the only space big enough to hold it.
  2. The sunglasses go in one of the drink holders, because the sunglasses holder is on the passenger side, where I can't reach it.
  3. The cell phone and cell phone earpiece go in the other drink holder.
  4. Since both drink holders are filled, you are not allowed to bring drinks in my car.

My relatives must not have gotten the memo, because for some crazy reason, they put my sunglasses in the sunglasses holder, and a drink in the drink holder.  It was madness, I tell you.  I couldn't find anything at all.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Virgin Mary -- Always Virgin

Every now and then, when I'm going about my duties as a Catholic seminarian, someone will accost me and demand to know why Catholics say the Virgin Mary never had sex.  I like to respond by calmly explaining that is what the word "virgin" means.

There are a few times in the New Testament where they speak of Jesus' "brothers", that being the generic Greek word for "relatives".  Ancient Greek is less specific about relatives than English; Latin, on the other hand, is more specific about relatives than English. But by and large, the people who are confused about the topic of Mary's virginity are not Scripture scholars, so they don't know about these passages.

No, the reason why people seem to have trouble with accepting Mary's virginity seems to be a cultural thing, as our society likes to promote sex as the highest value.  To promote virginity, as the church has always done, is counter-cultural to these twisted modern-day values, but we must remember that as Catholics, we are called to preach the Gospel in and out of season.

The Blessed Virgin was a virgin, before, during and after the birth of Jesus Christ, and her virginal pregnancy is clearly represented in the Bible as the miraculous work of God the Holy Spirit.  Some may be inclined to doubt this, as St. Joseph once did, but to deny the virginity of Mary is contrary to what has been divinely revealed, taught and believed by Christians in all places at all times.  Therefore, let us not doubt or alter the Scriptures to suit our own tastes, but instead let us pray that God the Spirit will continue to work within us, granting us the wisdom, understanding and humility necessary to accept this teaching.

Mary, Seat of Wisdom, pray for us.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Virtual Console

I just found out that you can purchase Virtual Console games on Amazon.com, which lets you completely bypass Nintendo's "points" system.

I was tempted to buy a game like Super Metroid, which costs 800 Nintendo Points.  See, the "trick" is that Nintendo only sells points in multiples of 500.  So if you want to buy Super Metroid, you basically have to pay for 200 extra points that you don't need.  And in fact, you can't use the 200 points for anything, because they don't have any 200-point games for purchase.

All I bought was Paper Mario for the N64.  I like the Paper Mario series, and to be honest, the only 3DS game I'm excited for is Paper Mario 3DS.  The idea of seeing the 2D Mario series on a 3D system is, for some reason, really enticing to me.  It's like a guarantee that the game developers decided to focus on gameplay, not graphics.


So far, Paper Mario 64 seems just as good as the other entries in the series.  The only complaint I have is that the font they use in the game is kind of weird.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The DC Wedding Reception

Okay, so I gave the DC wedding ceremony something like a two out of ten, because I get ridiculous uptight if I start praying the rosary, and I'm not allowed to finish.  The wedding reception, though, gets a perfect ten out of ten, because I got to meet all sorts of great people, who are about twelve times cooler in real life.

Here's the group photo of the gaming crew:


Most of us got seated together, except #2-5 from the left, who were at the wedding table.  Our table was called the Wright & Co. Law Offices.  I'm starting to wish I took notes on everything we talked about, because I'm pretty sure we talked about everything, from musical instruments to RPGs to The Little Mermaid 2: Return to the Sea.

The food was better than the stuff we get catered over here on the west coast, which seems unfair to me, because we're geographically closer to farmlands.  I guess I'd say that our food is fresher, but their food is tastier.  Both sides of the country have McDonald's, though, so there's no need to panic on the food front.


There wasn't enough room to dance in the reception hall, because Paul and Lizo have so many friends.  So instead of sharing a first dance, they had a first game together.  Specifically, they played a level on Little Big Planet, made just for the occasion.  Some of the older guests in attendance were confused at how a planet could be both big and little at the same time, but fortunately, we were able to explain it to them.


All in all, it was one of those super-fun nights that you wish could have gone on forever, except you're still jet-lagged, so you have to go home and sleep.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Nancy Drew: The Captive Curse Characters

When I wasn't looking, someone uploaded the list of characters in the upcoming Nancy Drew game.

Apparently, "Burgermeister" is German for "mayor".  I thought it had something to do with hamburgers, myself.  Now I'm going to have to track down a copy of Santa Claus is Coming to Town, just so my video walkthrough can have a clip of Burgermeister Meisterburger.

Personally, none of the culprits look suspicious to me yet, except for the old woman.  Other people have told me that they think the young boy is suspicious.  Who do you think the culprit is?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Speeches

As part of my E3 coverage, I had to listen to a lot of speeches at press conferences.  This has led me to a conclusion:

All of the presenters are exactly the same.


These people are all businessmen, so they've all taken the same "how to give business presentations" lessons.  They all talk in the same tone of voice, they all take pauses in the exact same places, and they use the exact same hand gestures.


In fact, the person they most resemble is President Barack Obama. His speeches are the same way.  I've never seen the President break the mold; he uses the exact same delivery for every speech, regargless of its content.  He gives good speeches, but I've never seen him vary when it comes to tone of voice, gestures, etc.


In fact, that's part of the reason why I didn't watch the last Presidential debate for very long.  It was really hard to tell the difference between the Republican and Democratic candidates.  They were both saying the exact same thing: "I plan on saving the American economy".  And they were both using the same speech-giving techniques.  The result was that they both sounded almost identical.


And that's what happened with E3 this week.  Most of the presenters are using the same speech-giving techniques as the President.  Sure, these techniques have been proven effective, but it sort of turns people into speech-giving robots, because everyone's speeches sound the same.  I'd rather see someone inject some personality into their speeches.


I don't exempt myself from this judgment, however.  It also bugs me when I watch my videos, and I see myself using default speech patterns.  I need to switch out of default mode every once in a while.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The DC Wedding

So, Paul's wedding in DC was...

...Oh man, Paul's wedding.  I like Paul, but as a Catholic seminarian, I almost had a heart attack upon witnessing the Unitarian wedding.

Nathaniel was sitting next to me, and he will confirm the fact that I choked on air as soon as I saw the priestess.  Her chasuble was sparkly green.  You know those glitter pens?  That was the color of the chasuble.  It's hard to believe someone would ever wear something so ridiculously hideous in public.

But really, what bugged me the most is that the color of the chasuble was liturgically inappropriate.  It is still Easter season.  Therefore, all priests should wear white chasubles.  Green chasubles get worn during ordinary time.

The second big problem with her vestments was that she was wearing her stole on the outside of the chasuble.  The stole is supposed to be worn underneath the chasuble during masses.  Wearing an undergarment over an outergarment is like wearing a vest on top of your jacket: it's just wrong.

Third, the stole did not match the chasuble in color.  That's a Catholic rule, but it's also common sense.  The colors of your clothes should match, right?  Right.  I don't have to explain this any further.

Fourth, she was not wearing an alb.  Not that I was expecting it at this point.

So, that's why I choked after seeing the priestess.  I wanted to invoke the "three strikes, you're out" rule, because all three vestments (alb, stole, chasuble) were incorrect.

Sorry to rant about vestments, but--actually, hold on a second.  I'm not done ranting.  Things did not get better once the wedding started.

The priestess launched into a speech about how gardens are traditionally places where good things happen, which is not technically accurate (Garden of Eden, anyone?), but I'll let it slide, because the mass was taking place in a garden.  During the speech, I wondered, "Has it started yet?  Or is she just giving an introductory speech before the mass begins?  When is she going to do the sign of the cross?"  About two minutes later, she put her piece of paper down and the procession began, so I figured that things had started.

I took out my rosary at this point.  My plan was to pray the rosary during the mass, to dedicate the marriage to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  However, I wasn't able to carry out this plan because first of all, it wasn't a mass, and second--well, I'll get to that later.

The procession was slightly amusing, because Paul looked like he was going to collapse from nervousness.  His parents practically frog-marched him to where he was supposed to stand.

The first reading--the only reading, mind you--was from The Velveteen Rabbit.  For those of you who don't know, that is a children's picture book.  Really?  A picture book?  You're getting married, and you read from a children's book?!  If that was your plan, why didn't you just go for broke and read  The Cat in the Hat to everyone?

(I am so getting a nasty email from Paul about this.)

Okay, Paul, listen up.  If you only have one reading at your wedding--which is crazy talk; you should have three--you pick the one from the Letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 13.  That's the one where Paul gives his famous speech on love.  Everyone uses that one at their weddings.  There are other readings from the Bible that come highly recommended, such as from Songs of Songs (which is a wedding canticle), but everyone uses Corinthians Chapter 13.  Just to let you know.

After we learned about the magical bunny rabbit, the Best Man and Best Woman both read from their pieces of paper.  Then, the priestess led Paul in saying various things which somewhat resembled the traditional wedding vows.  I mean, I'm no expert on marriage vows, but I'm pretty sure it's "in sickness and in health", not "in sickness and in wellness".  Any mention of God or Jesus or anything remotely religious was taken out of the vows.

Then, it was suddenly over, without any warning.  No final word from the priestess, no sign of the cross, no "The mass has ended.  Go in peace to love and serve the Lord".  Everyone just turned around and left.

I had to double-check my watch to see how long it was.  Ten minutes.  That's not a wedding; that's half of a Simpsons episode.  Obviously, I wasn't able to finish the rosary, because it taks about fifteen minutes to pray the rosary.

Just think, if someone showed up ten minutes late to the wedding, he would have missed the entire thing.

In comparison, the shortest possible Catholic mass is about twenty minutes, and that's if the priest is really rushing things. Obviously, the length of the mass depends on various factors such as how many people are in attendance, but your typical Sunday mass will be from forty minutes to an hour long.  Priests generally respect the unofficial hour-long time limit.

For a wedding, you do some extra things that you don't usually do at a mass, such as a twenty-person procession and an exchange of vows; therefore, wedding usually take longer than a normal mass.  I was not expecting a wedding that was shorter than a normal mass.

To conclude my review of the DC Wedding...
  1. The wedding was way too short.
  2. The priestess' vestments were all wrong.
  3. They read children's books instead of the Bible.
  4. There was not enough transubstantiation to suit the tastes of the Catholics everywhere.
The wedding reception followed the wedding, and that was much, much better.  I'll talk about that the next time I discuss my trip to Washington DC.  Right now, I have to answer some angy emails from Paul and his wife.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Washington DC, Day Two

On day two of my Washington DC trip, I wasn't able to get up and about until around ten.  Mom and I figured we'd go downtown and get something to eat.

They were having an Indonesian fair that day, and I thought I would buy a fancy shirt for the wedding.  They had some colorful formal shirts which were sort of a mix between a barong and a Hawaiian shirt.  I found a great one which was only forty dollars, but it was one size too small.  And I was all set to buy the same shirt in the large size, when I learned that it costs $80.

What?!  The price doubles when you go up one size?  Those crazy Indonesians!

So instead of buying a fancy shirt, my mother and I went into a Borders Bookstore, to take advantage of their massive "our company just went bankrupt" sales.  A lot of people were doing the exact same thing.  It's somewhat ironic that Borders has gained a lot of business, by going out of business.  The only downside to the store was that they only had one employee at the cash register, but I've noticed that most bookstores are short-staffed.

After that, Mom and I ran into the parents of the groom.  They were able to tell us when the wedding was, which is really something I should have tried to learn before the day of the wedding.  The wedding was at five, and they were going to leave at three.  I was invited to join them, but I declined.  I don't show up two hours early for a mass I'm not participating in, without good reason.

Mom and I scoured the area for a place to eat.  Needless to say, we weren't going to stop at a Burger King or some place we could visit at home.  We wanted to eat at a local DC restaurant.  We ended up going to a burger joint called Fuddruckers, who call themselves "Home of the World's Best Burger".  The burgers weren't that good, though.  We officially decided that they are "Home of the World's Most Okay Burger".

And what happened there?  By complete coincidence, we ran into my friend Paul!  It was absolutely amazing to meet Paul for the first time, in real life.  It was also kind of ridiculous, because he was wandering around aimlessly on his wedding day, visiting random burger joints.

Paul was dressed for the occasion in a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles t-shirt, which was my clue that maybe I didn't need to buy a fancy shirt for the wedding after all.  At the wedding, I just wore my standard formal wear, minus the spiffy suitcoat and collar.  I sort of look like an art designer when I dress like that, but it worked perfectly.

After talking with Paul for an hour or so, Mom and I thought we'd fight the Washington Metro system for a while.  The Metro won, so we went back to the hotel.  I got to meet Nathaniel, another Internet friend for the first time, which was equally awesome as meeting Paul.  We talked for about an hour, and shortly after that, we caught a ride to the wedding, which I'll discuss later.

(Paul and Nathaniel are both taller in real life, by the way.)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Nancy Drew: White Wolf of Icicle Creek

This month, I'm going to do a video walkthrough for Nancy Drew: White Wolf of Icicle Creek.





It's funny, because I did a walkthrough for the Wii version, two years ago. Half the comments on that walkthrough are "I don't like the Wii; do the PC version instead" complaints. And now that this walkthrough has started, half the comments are "Why are you doing this game again?" complaints.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Voice Acting

Pretty much every animated movie that comes out today stars big name actors.  And to be honest, I'm not sure why, because a lot of those big name actors can't do voice acting.  They just talk in their normal voices.

You'd think that they would hire professional voice actors to be in animated movies.  They're cheaper, they do better voices, and they do multiple voices.  I mean, just think how much money Dreamworks would save if they just hired the guys from Spongebob or The Simpsons for their next movie.

It's not like the kids who watch the movies are going to be able to tell the difference.  I highly doubt that eight-year-olds care whether or not Danny Devito voices a character in the movie.  They don't even know who he is!

Anyway, I'm just kind of tired of certain celebrities--I won't say any particular names here--who get away with lazy voice acting and large paychecks.  Especially if the bad voice ruins the movie.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Walkthroughs

You know, I think I've done more guide-writing in the past two months than I did in all of 2010.  Here's a list of all the guides I've done recently.
  1. Miles Edgeworth: Ace Attorney: Investigations.  This is a very, very long guide.  I basically wrote it in little chunks over several months, and I stopped writing whenever I got bored.
  2. Nancy Drew Dossier: Resorting to Danger.  The way I wrote this guide was by taking another person's guide, and writing mine over it.  That worked surprisingly well.
  3. Back to the Future: Episode Four.  This was easy enough to write.  I wrote a guide for all four episodes so far; short games with a lot of cutscenes make for easy guide writing. I have all four guides listed as "Version 1.21", but no one seems amused.
  4. The Adventures of Willy Beamish.  I wrote this guide several years ago, but I had to update my old guide, after I played through this game with Paul, and we got completely stuck.
  5. Nancy Drew: Creature of Kapu Cave.  I wrote ten pages of this guide, and then I just let it sit there, half-finished, for over two years.  Eventually, I decided to stop putting it off, so I wrote the second half of the guide.
  6. Nancy Drew: Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake. Just like the above, I wrote part of the guide, and left it there, partly-finished, for over two years.  I was surprised to discover that the guide was only fifty words away from being finished.
  7. Hardy Boys: Treasure on the Tracks.  I wrote this guide, by watching my video walkthrough, then describing what I did in the videos.
  8. Matches and Matrimony: A Pride and Prejudice Tale.  I wrote a guide, using the walkthrough on the game's website.  Their walkthrough is really just a spreadsheet, not an actual walkthrough.
  9. Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box.  I wrote this guide, while making my video walkthrough. It was pretty convenient, actually.  I wrote the guide while the computer was busy processing the video files.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance

Welcome back to my series about the handheld Castlevania games, which will remind everyone which game is which, because honestly, they tend to blur together after a while.  Today's game is the second GBA Castlevania game, Harmony of Dissonance.

People generally agree that Harmony of Dissonance was not very good.  In fact, it's the worst of the three GBA Castlevania games.  It also happens to be my favorite of the three games.  I'm weird like that.

The plot of the game, which is disturbingly similar to the plot of the previous game, is that three people have entered Dracula's Castle. One person is Juste Belmont, the hero. Another person is Maxim, who starts out as Juste's friend, but gets progressively evil as the game goes on.  The third person is Lydie, who is being held hostage by Dracula and needs to be rescued.

There's also a subplot about amnesia, but fittingly enough, I don't remember what it is.

The best part about this game, hands down, are the graphics.  It has super-fancy graphics, and everything looks great.  I like the graphics, but I think it's kind of weird that they gave the series a complete graphical overhaul, after only one game.  It's especially weird, because the graphics were a high point in the first game, so they didn't need to be revamped.

Despite the new graphics, most of the enemies and locations are copy/pasted from the first game.  This is either going to strike you as a staple of the series--"Every Castlevania game has to have a tower filled with clockwork gears!"--or as laziness on the part of the developers--"I have to fight bat enemies again?".  In fact, the only place that I can really remember that was new and different was the skeleton level, where everything was made out of bones.  You have to fight giant spider skeletons, and there was a room with a huge Pit and the Pendulum-style pendulum axe, and the skeleton theme was done so well that I made no bones about it.

I like the fact that they basically doubled the number of boss battles in this game.  People complain that the boss battles are super-easy, but I didn't think that made them any less fun.  And sure, some of the boss battles used the old "let's take a normal enemy, but make it bigger and call it a boss" technique, but that didn't upset me either.  Who cares if Giant Bat is the same as a normal bat, but giant?

In fact, this boss creation technique resulted in my favorite boss battle: the one against the blob enemy who's made out of jelly.  They have the normal blob enemy expand, until it fills half of the sceen.  Every time you hit the boss, it gets smaller and smaller, until it reaches the point where it becomes a normal-sized enemy again.  At that point, Juste puts the jelly enemy on some toast and eats it for breakfast.  It was a deliciously good boss battle.

If I had to complain about this game, I would use the classic "it's too short" complaint. This game feels a lot shorter than the previous one. This is in spite of the fact that the game has a dual overworld. So basically, you play through the entire castle twice, once when it's the "good world", and once when it's the "bad world". And the game still feels kind of short? That's a letdown.

Other complaints I would have about this game include...
  • Replaying the game as Maxm is almost impossible to do, because he can't get any life upgrades, so you're stuck on Level One for the entire game. And half of his moves are complicated combos like "press A and B, then up, down + A, left, R + L, R + A + B + Down + Left, then B".  None of these combos are described in the game.  You're supposed to figure them all out on your own.
  • There is no reward for completing the furniture collection sidequest.  Its only purpose is to waste your time.
  • The game has multiple endings, which is good, but figuring out how to unlock them is confusing.
  • They got rid of the DSS card/magic system from the first game, which I really liked because I would abuse the "stand in place to be healed slowly" spell.  They replaced it with the subweapon system, which I never used.
All in all, the second GBA Castlevania game is more of the same at best, and a lazy repeat of the first game at worst.  It was only the second Castlevania game I had ever played, so I was still excited about the series and the way it was playing out.  As I said earlier, this is my favorite Castlevania GBA game, despite its flaws, and I still think it's more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

Vampire monkeys.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Days of our Lives

When I met Paul in Washington DC, my mom and I talked for a bit about Days of our Lives.  She hadn't seen the show in a week, so she wanted to know what happened while she was going.

We tried to explain the show to Paul, but it is almost impossible to describe a plotline on a soap opera without sounding crazy. For example, these are the plotlines:
  • Sami is married to Rafe.  However, an evil villain got plastic surgery in order to look exactly like Rafe, and he replaced Rafe in Sami's life.  After months of drama, Sami has figured out the deception, and she has been reunited with Real Rafe.
  • Oh, and Real Rafe has amnesia.
  • Brady has just learned that the car accident which killed his fiancee...was not an accident at all.  He believes EJ is behind the murder, and he is furious.  (Drama!)
  • Vivian, who was locked in a coffin for a few months, then trapped on a remote island in the Carribean for a month after that, is planning to get revenge on everyone who has wronged her.  This includes everyone on the show.
  • Dr. Carly Manning is getting addicted to drugs.
Soap operas are pretty interesting, because they make an hour-long show, every single day.  Since the show "never" ends, the stories just keep going on and on.  And as you can probably tell from the plotlines, sometimes they run up against deadlines, and they just write the first thing that comes into their heads.
 
The writing staff has ten to fifteen people on it, unless I'm mistaken.  It's too bad that they don't display the writers' names more prominently.  I'm sure you would learn interesting information that way, such as Writer #1 likes to put Sami in his episodes, or Writer #3 is the one that they bring in for all the high school scenes, or Writer #8 is the one who writes the boring filler episodes.

Most of this week was filler, from what I hear.  I remember several years ago, where they had an entire month of filler episodes.  The fans practically revolted.  So then the show took all the plotlines that were dragging on, and they wrapped them up in one week.  It was pretty much the best week ever, because they were going through plots left and right.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Next Disney Movie

For months now, I've been wondering what the next Disney movie is going to be, after Winnie the Pooh is released this summer.  Disney has not said much of anything on the subject, which I find kind of odd.  After all, Pixar has been very open about what projects they're working on; since 2009, we've known that their next three projects were Toy Story 3, Cars 2 and Monsters Inc. 2.  They said something about another project called Bear and the Arrow, I think, which is set in Scotland, but the news outlets decided to focus on the three sequels instead.

So, Pixar is pretty forthcoming when it comes to what animated movies they're making, but Disney is playing things close to the vest.  I did some sleuting, however, and I was able to figure out what Disney's next project is.

Brace yourselves.  It's a pretty bad "we care more about money than integrity" ploy.

Their next movie is The Lion King, now in 3D.

...Ugh.  On the official "List of Movies That Don't Need to Remade in 3D", which is every single movie ever made, The Lion King is pretty high up there.  There is nothing about the movie which demands the use of fake 3D.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011