Tuesday, April 30, 2013

20 Random Facts About Me - #5

So, it's that time again. Here are another 20 facts that you may or may not have known about me.

  1. My favorite instrument is piano.
  2. If I ever get pet chinchillas, I'm going to name them Zulf and Zia.
  3. I love lemons and limes.
  4. I honestly don't care for watching movies... very often.
  5. I love animals, but I know so very little about them.
  6. I've become hooked on Doctor Who, but I still reject the term "Whovian."
  7. My brothers are extraordinarily smart.
  8. In my experience, beef soup is better than chicken soup.
  9. I have never worn a tie.
  10. I can't decide whether big marshmallows or small marshmallows are better.
  11. I hate the term "video game."
  12. I hate sports... unless I'm playing them.
  13. My favorite sport to play is Ultimate Frisbee.
  14. I want to meet Steven Moffat someday.
  15. I hate washing dishes, though that's hardly surprising.
  16. I've recently gotten hooked on the manga Fullmetal Alchemist.
  17. A lot of my older blog posts look terrible because of how much I've improved since.
  18. I want to visit New Zealand someday.
  19. I hate waking from a dream.
  20. I don't care for bacon. Mwuahaha.

Special thanks to everybody who ever existed. Mediocre thanks to everybody else.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thursday Impressions: To the Moon

To the Moon is an interactive short story about a man at the end of the road. Johnny Wyles has lived a long life and is nearing death. Though he's certainly had many regrets, there was one regret that stood out: He'd always wanted to go to the moon. A pair of doctors have a way of making his dream come true, somehow, by travelling through his memories.

From the beginning, the player is met by amazing presentation. The visuals are unique, combining SNES-era pixel art with objects and locations that can be found in modern day. The player is immediately drawn into the surreal world and life of Mr. Wyles. The soundtrack moving, and for its quality, it could be priced much higher.

I only played for about forty minutes, but during that time I was definitely intrigued and drawn into the story. Occasionally I felt like so much time was put into the story, the visuals, and the music that the programming wasn't as polished as it could be. The resolution doesn't fit my monitor screen, with the only real solution being to play it in windowed mode, and the point-and-click controls didn't always work properly.

In the end, though, To the Moon looks to be an amazing and emotional story. I can't wait to see the end of it.

Verdict: Keep playing.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Thursday Impressions: NyxQuest

NyxQuest: Kindred Spirit is a 2D side-scrolling platformer that takes place in a post-apocalyptic Ancient Greece, if that makes sense. The story focuses on Nyx, who in Greek mythology was the goddess of the night.

A man named Icarus had been crafted wax wings and had taken to the sky to explore, and thus found the wonderful land in the sky in which the gods and goddesses reside—including Nyx, whom he becomes quite fond of; and she becomes quite fond of him. One day on one of Icarus's flights, the sun decides to send out terrible beams of light and melt his wax wings, sending him plunging to the Earth below. Disobeying the laws set in place by the gods and goddesses, Nyx travels to the world below in search of her friend. Unfortunately, she finds that the entire world is now in ruins because of what the sun did. The only living creatures to be found are strange, flying shadow beasts.

Thus, you are entered into the game to control the goddess of the night, though I'm not certain that she actually is a goddess in this interpretation of the story. I originally played NyxQuest years ago, but it ran terribly on my old computer, and I pretty much forgot about it until now. I can safely say that I'm kind of glad I did, because now I can appreciate it a lot more. I'm familiar with more names, places, etc., and that makes the game a lot more intriguing.

NyxQuest somewhat reminds me in gameplay and setting of another game I've played and beaten, Prince of Persia: The Fallen King. While that game wasn't bad, it wasn't really good either. Similarly, I feel that NyxQuest really has its flaws. The developers worked hard to make the world beautiful, but at the same time the environments could use a little bit more variety. It's decently fun to play through the game, but at the same time it's ever-so-slightly... boring. The soundtrack partially makes up for that, though.

Verdict: Indifferent.
It's a pretty fun game and it has potential, but there's nothing in it that has drawn me in or really made me want to continue playing. I both love and hate Greek mythology, so I'll probably end up beating the game someday, but that might not be for a very long time.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

The Old Man and the Sea

The Old Man and the Sea is a novella by classic writer Ernest Hemingway. It tells the story of an old man and his attempt to catch a giant fish. The old man's name is Santiago, but that's not important.

An elderly fisherman is unlucky—he hasn't caught a good fish in a great long time. The townsfolk know he's unlucky, and so do the parents of the boy who used to be his assistant. Hence the words "used to." Now, old Santiago struggles to get by, though he goes out to sea every single day to hope against hope that a fish will bite.

One day, a fish bites his bait. He's finally caught something, eh? But this fish is so large that he can't haul it in. Instead, the great fish swims off with the bait in its mouth, dragging the boat and the old man with it. Hour after hour goes by, and the old man can do nothing but wait for the opportune moment to kill the great fish and haul it back, strapped to the side of the boat if necessary. But the question is... will that ever-so-persistent fish give in and die, or will the old man die first, from lack of supplies and no way to escape the vast sea?

The Old Man and the Sea is a fairly good book. It's not a masterpiece, but it's definitely worth a read. The story is sad, but few good stories aren't at some point. I probably wouldn't have ever read this in my own time (it was a school assignment), but it's definitely worth a shot. A reader might get bored from how much time Hemingway spends describing the process of fishing in Cuba, but at least this novella's got nothing on Moby Dick in that matter.

If you need something to read, check it out. It's not worthy of cutting the line on your reading list, but it's good nonetheless.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Thursday Impressions: Magnetis

Magnetis is a Tetris-like game that involves dropping magnetic pieces strategically in order to get the highest score.

It turned out to be pretty fun. My first play was pretty awful, but I was somehow able to make a comeback once I figured out how to play. Then each time I tried again I did so much better at the beginning, yet in the end I still managed to always do worse than the previous time. Like Tetris and all the other similar games, it will occupy your time for a while with nothing but its simplistic fun.

Verdict: Um, okay. Keep playing?
I have no real reason to stop playing, but it's not something to which I'll get addicted.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire is the second book in Suzanne Collins's Hunger Games Trilogy. This is not a warning I give often, but I do not recommend reading this review until you have read both The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, as it contains spoilers.

One year after the events of the 74th Hunger Games, we are once again entered into the mind of one Katniss Everdeen, who'd survived the arena as a victor, along with a boy named Peeta Mellark, in the first double-winning in Hunger Games history. For those who do not know (in case you did not heed my advice and are reading this review anyway), the Hunger Games are an annual reminder from a tyrannical government in which 24 teenagers are drawn from the twelve districts and placed in a miles-wide arena to fight to the death.

Seventy-five years ago, a rebellion broke out in the country of Panem (formerly known as North America, long ago), and the Hunger Games were served as a reminder every year since that opposition to the government was a very, very bad idea. But in the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss and Peeta showed the world that the government wasn't as great and powerful as they claimed. While Katniss only wanted to keep herself and her friend alive, she unintentionally sparked a new hope for rebellion, and now that spark would come to haunt her.

In the sequel to the renowned Hunger Games, we are returned again to the dystopian world of Panem. While the first book worked to introduce its readers to the strange future world, the second book no longer has to do that. You're already familiar the world, the characters, and the society... so instead, Catching Fire focuses more on plot; and man, is it good.

Suzanne Collins not only returns with a worthy sequel, but the book surpasses its predecessor. In a gnarled twist, the competitors of 75th Hunger Games are taken entirely from the list of former victors, including Katniss and Peeta. This not only makes for interesting plot, but it makes the whole story more personal. For much of the final half of the book, I was desperately hoping that the ending would not be cliché. In the end, I was not disappointed. In fact, the ending was so awesome that my heart was beating quite hard throughout it.

In conclusion, Collins did a wonderful job of continuing her story. Many people don't care for the book—or at least they like the first one better—but I can't disagree more. The Hunger Games was a spectacular novel, but Catching Fire was phenomenal. Very highly recommended.

Now, I've been told that Mockingjay, the final installment of the trilogy, is a bit of a disappointment; but since I was told the same for Catching Fire, I'm remaining optimistic. I don't plan on reading it immediately, but perhaps sometime within the next few months. Stay tuned!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Thursday Impressions: Caveman Craig 2

Caveman Craig 2 is the sequel to the award-winning freeware title, Caveman Craig. I was a fan of the first game years ago, so when I was given a free Desura download key for Caveman Craig 2, I had to play it and type up my first impressions.

You control Craig, a caveman in prehistoric times. You have to build up your tribe, training new members (who have terrible manners) and defending your cave from dinosaurs, until you can conquer all four enemy tribes and reign supremely. The game plays a lot like the first one, with many, many new features that immediately make it superior.

The graphics got a major overhaul, and not only does the sequel have music, but it's darn good music. Right from the start I was drawn in by the soundtrack. I wasn't expecting it, and it was definitely a pro.

In fact, when I first booted up the game, I both loved and hated with what I was met. Amazing music... but the window was of awkward resolution for my computer, and there was no way to change the window resolution. Fortunately, playing the game in full screen mode fixes any resolution problems, and I was able to enjoy the rest of my experience.

I played for about 45 minutes, and I was able to send the first opposing tribe leader back to whence he came. It was a fun experience, and I actually learned something from it. The game also has unlockable achievements and minigames that I wasn't able to look into much, but I certainly will soon.

Verdict: Keep playing.
I don't know how far I'll get, but I'm enjoying it so far. Thanks to Parabox Games for giving me a free download code on Caveman Craig 2's one-year anniversary!