Tuesday, November 18, 2008

2008: random cool stuff

This will probably be my last entry this month because I’m going to Miami (bienvenidos a Miami!) for T-Day. Until then, I’ll be spending all my spare time wheedling G to take me here.


A couple of comments first:

  • Not all of these things were originally introduced in 2008, but since that’s when I first saw/ate/played/used them, they belong on this list.
  • These aren’t in any particular order.
  • Sorry for the discrepancy in picture size, but I lack the motivation to make them all even. Also, sorry for the Will Smith earworm up there.
  • Your mileage may vary.

I’m not ordinarily into fighting games, but when I found out that God Hand was created by the genius behind Resident Evil and Devil May Cry, I knew I had to check it out. It’s insanely hard, but it’s also one of the funniest games I’ve ever played. Some of your enemies include a gorilla, the Mad Midget Five, and two flamboyantly gay guys in jockstraps and feathers. One of your attacks involves putting female enemies over your knee and spanking the hell out of them. And when you’re not fighting, you can earn money by playing in the casino and betting on---ready for this?---poison Chihuahua races. Good times!

Dexter Morgan is a blood spatter expert with the Miami-Dade police department…by day, anyway. By night, he’s a serial killer who was raised by his foster father to channel his homicidal urges in a productive manner by only killing other murderers. It’s based on the novels by Jeff Lindsay, but this is one of those rare instances where they managed to significantly improve upon the source material. It’s filled with black humor, more twists and turns than a bag of pretzels, and great acting, especially by Michael C. Hall as Dexter.

In No Reservations, celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain travels around the world sampling regional cuisine. It’s a pleasure to watch, because he’s so funny and gloriously cranky, and the cinematography is beautiful. G paid it the ultimate compliment when he said, “I hate to travel and I couldn’t care less about eating, but this show makes me want to do both.” I would love to hang out with Anthony Bourdain, although he’d probably hate my ass because I’m such a fussy eater.

My diet can be summed up as “sweets ‘n’ meats”, but every once in a blue moon, I'll discover a food I like that's actually GOOD for me, like this yogurt. Pomegranate Blueberry is my absolute favorite, but the Pomegranate Acai is really good too.

Okay, I'll admit it; the cheesy little charms hanging off the side of the can made me buy this, because basically I'm a crow. But what will keep me buying this hairspray is that it smells exactly like strawberry Pop Rocks.

This show follows the titular band, fresh from New Zealand, as they try to make it big in the US. The show is really funny, but the perfect musical parodies are what make it a must-see. My favorites are “Boom”, a Sean Paul clone, and “Foux de Fa Fa”, which would be right at home in a candy-colored French musical from the 60’s.

Imagine that a Snickers and a cup of chai had a baby. Throw in some coconut flavoring and you have this candy bar. It provoked wildly different reactions in everyone who tried it; G and C absolutely hated it, but M, my cubemate J, and I loved it. (Maybe it's a girl thing?) Unfortunately (or perhaps not, considering that they were the caloric equivalent of a cheeseburger), they were a limited edition and disappeared from the shelves at the end of summer.

I almost bought a PSP for the sole purpose of playing this game. Fortunately, I was able to save my pennies, because it was ported to the PS2. You play Travis Grady, a trucker who finds himself in Silent Hill, where things quickly go crazy apeshit. Thanks to its (heh) origins, the graphics are merely serviceable, but the storyline is intriguing, the monsters are repulsive, and the soundtrack is my second favorite out of the series. It’s pretty short---probably less than 20 hours to get all three endings---but I enjoyed the hell out of it.

In this slice ‘n’ dicer, you play Frank West, a photojournalist investigating a zombie outbreak in a small town. He winds up barricaded in a shopping mall with other survivors…and thousands and thousands of zombies. If the game lets you pick it up, you can use it as a weapon, whether it’s a lawn mower or a teddy bear. And when Frank’s not busy taking out a zombie or twenty, he’s escorting other survivors to safety, fighting off human psychopaths, snapping pictures, trying on new outfits (including dresses), and uncovering the truth behind the outbreak.

When I first reviewed this game back in May, I said that it could have been one of my favorite games of all time if it weren't for some of its serious flaws. You know what? Fuck it; it IS one of my favorite games of all time. Sure, the constant phone calls from the janitor are irritating, and the learning curve is so steep that it's the equivalent of trying to drive up a wall, and until you get Frank properly leveled up, you're gonna get killed over and over and over. But godDAMN, the stuff that's good about this game is utterly sublime. Once we got the hang of Dead Rising, it was so much fun that we couldn't leave it alone. (Hell, just typing this paragraph made me want to play it again!) A must for any wannabe zombie slayer.

There's no way I can describe MTV's The Paper better than Rich over at fourfour did, so click on the link if you'd like a detailed analysis and review. I'll just say that I got hooked immediately; it's like watching a slightly defanged, real life version of Welcome to the Dollhouse.

RPGs aren’t usually my thing, but when I heard that this game takes place during Frederic Chopin’s deathbed fever dream, I had to check it out. It’s the most beautiful video game I’ve ever played, and you can’t beat that premise for originality. Plus co-op mode meant G and I got to play together…a rare treat indeed, since most co-op games make me woobly.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit would be the same as pretty much any other cop show if it weren't for Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni and their mad chemistry. I can’t decide whether I want them to get together or not; on the one hand, it would be scorching hot, but on the other, it would probably ruin the show.

Also, I cannot wait for tonight's episode because this fellow will be making an appearance:

LOOK AT HIS LITTLE SHIRT. Garage doors all over my neighborhood will open thanks to my ultrasonic squeals of glee.

In this delightful game, you follow Professor Layton and his apprentice Luke as they try to find a treasure in the town of St. Mystere. The residents of the village are all obsessed with puzzles, and before they give you any clues or information, they make you solve a logic or numerical puzzle first. The puzzles range in difficulty from easy to tear-your-hair-out, but you have the option of using a “hint coin” if you get truly stuck. The art is very charming; it reminds me of Miyazaki or The Triplets of Belleville. G and I love playing this game together.

I’ll be posting a full review of this game in my November media update, so I won’t go into it now, but I wanted to include it here as well. With two new Silent Hill games in one year, I was a very happy girl!

In this rhythm game/dating sim hybrid, you play as a teenage girl who's magically transported to another land. Turns out that the princess of that land has two left feet, and she doesn't want to go to the ball, so she begs you (her exact double) to attend in her place. You agree, and once you get there, you have a month to get ready for the ball and find the prince of your dreams. You learn new dances by following a pattern on the screen with your stylus, which may sound easy, but the dances get faster and harder as you go along. Along the way, you’re also wooed by a succession of princes. It’s unbelievably girly and sappy, but it’s also really fun, and a refreshing change of pace from my usual blood 'n' guts games.