Wednesday, October 13, 2010

best of 2010: miscellany

I'm posting this particular list earlier than usual, but I'm bored as shit here at work. I need to take advantage of the lull, though, because they're rolling out a new computer program next month that will require, no exaggeration, 40 hours of training. The mere thought makes me want to curl up in a ball and rock back and forth whimpering.

Anyway, this is a list of random things that I loved in 2010. A second list will show up at some point, because HOLY SHIT DEAD RISING 2. G and I haven't fully explored glorious, gore-ious Fortune City, so I can't put it here just yet.

A few notes first:

  • Not all of these things made their debut in 2010, but that's when I first played/watched/ate them.
  • I've already posted extensive reviews of most of the games listed, so these are less detailed. The month in parentheses indicates the month when they showed up in my media update, so if you want more information, please take a gander at the original review. Also, some of these games are available for multiple systems; I've used the box art for the console on which I originally played it.
  • The "Best of 2010" lists for books, movies, and manga/graphic novels will be posted in late November or early December.
  • As always, your mileage may vary.

In this game, you must destroy stacks of blocks or gems by using your Wiimote to throw everything from baseballs to bowling balls at them. Some levels even feature Jenga-like gameplay where you must carefully grab blocks to take apart a building. Sound easy? Well, not so much, because the events are often timed, or you have a limited number of projectiles, or there are penalty blocks that must be avoided. It's hard to describe, but it's insanely addictive. The sequel, Boom Blox Bash Party, is fun too.

In this animated series, the world is divided into four nations: Fire, Water, Air, and Earth. People known as "Benders" have the ability to manipulate the element of their nation by using a style similar to martial arts, but only one person is capable of bending all of them: the Avatar, who keeps the nations in harmony.

Unfortunately, the current Avatar, Aang, freaked out over the enormous responsibility of his position and wound up in a suspended state of animation. During his absence, the Fire Nation ruler started a war in hopes of controlling the entire world. Aang is discovered by Katara and Sokka, two members of the Water Tribe, and together they set out to stop the Fire Nation from taking over. But the Fire Lord's disgraced son Prince Zuko, in hopes of redeeming himself in his father's eyes, is determined to capture Aang at any cost.

G insisted that I watch this show, and now it's one of my favorites of all time, thanks to its stunning animation, excellent voice acting, and memorable characters. One minute I'd be laughing---I was eating during the recap episode and had to stop because I was about to choke---and the next I'd be in tears. I haven't seen the M. Night Shyamalan movie based on this series, nor do I plan to, but I've heard it's an absolute travesty. Please don't let that scare you away from the series, though; you'd seriously be missing out.

In this charming and creative game, you play Maxwell, a "scribblenaut" who can create just about anything simply by writing down its name (i.e., best power ever). In each level, your goal is to receive a Starite by solving a puzzle. For example, you have to get rid of an ant infestation without upsetting a hippie. What to do? Simple: write "anteater" and one will appear on screen and take care of the problem for you! (I guess it doesn't upset the hippie because it's natural, man.) But of course there are numerous solutions to each puzzle, so the replay value is high. I'm not kidding when I say you can write just about anything you want, with the exceptions of alcohol, trademarked names, and vulgarities; there are over 23,000 possible words to use. And if you'll excuse the trite phrasing, it really is fun for all ages. G and I brought it on a family trip, and his nephews went nuts for it. Even Madre joined in the fun!

There are a few irritations in this game, mostly having to do with the physics engine occasionally acting up, but they're overshadowed by the fact that you can make God and Cthulu duke it out to the death. Life is sweet indeed.


In this outrageously funny short, Cheyenne Cinnamon (voiced by alt-country darling Neko Case) is a pop princess who provides helpful advice to teen mothers in the form of her song "Intercourse Is Whack". After taking a big snort from Mt. Cocain-O, she accidentally blinds her flying unicorn with a cigarette and crashes. Unfortunately, Adult Swim hasn't announced plans for a full series, but you can watch it for free on their site here.

This is an alternate version of the first game, and starts in the same fashion. Harry Mason crashes his car, and after he comes to, he realizes that his young daughter Cheryl is missing. He sets out to find her, but Silent Hill isn't going to make that easy. Occasionally, his journey is interrupted when Silent Hill switches to its nightmarish version (here represented by ice, as opposed to the rust of the previous games), and he must flee from creatures that chase him down.

Despite some frustrating design choices like no weapons and no healing items, this is a worthy addition to the Silent Hill universe. In an ingenious twist, psychological profiling affects certain aspects of the game, which adds plenty of replay value. The use of the Wiimote as a flashlight is so immersive that at one point I picked up the game's instruction manual and tried to train the "flashlight" on the page! Akira Yamaoka's soundtrack is perfect as always, and I can't be the only person who teared up at the end. (February)

I can't really boil down my original novella length review to a paragraph or two, so read that if you're so inclined. But in a nutshell, this tense thriller about a desperate father trying to save his son from the clutches of the Origami Killer is one of only three games I'd give a perfect 10, and by far the most memorable gaming experience of my life. (June)

In this gloriously nutty game, you play Travis Touchdown, a hardcore fanboy who's broke as hell thanks to his insatiable appetite for anime, porn, and wrestling memorabilia. He lives in the city of Santa Destroy, sharing a motel room with his figurine collections and his beloved cat Jeane. After winning a "beam katana" in an online auction, Travis decides to become a hitman in order to pay his bills. He attracts the attention of Sylvia Christel (and if that name sounds instantly familiar to you, then you watched a LOT of Skinemax in the 80's), the sultry representative for the United Assassins Association, and she tells him that he has the potential to become the number one assassin in the UAA...but, of course, he has to take out the top ten first. Ultraviolent and gleefully crass, this is the kind of thing Johnny Knoxville (the admitted muse of NMH creator Suda51) would come up with if he made video games instead of causing himself and others great bodily harm. (July)

Look who's back! Yes, it's our buddy Travis again. This time, he's bent on avenging his friend Bishop, who was murdered to send Travis a message. Not as much fun as the first game, in large part due to some terrible gameplay changes and the most frustrating final boss I've ever encountered in my 30+ years of gaming, but fortunately the crude humor, terrific voice acting, and great soundtrack remained intact. Plus the sequel has 400% more male masturbation than the original...really! (August)

Alan Wake is a bestselling novelist who's come down with a very bad case of writer's block. His wife Alice takes him to Bright Falls, a beautiful small town in the Pacific Northwest, in hopes that a change of scenery will inspire him. But Bright Falls isn't quite as idyllic as it seems, and Alice disappears. Alan tries desperately to find her, but his progress is hampered by the Taken, townspeople who have been overcome by darkness. The only way to kill them is to burn away the darkness surrounding them with a flashlight or other light source, and then they can be dispatched through conventional means. As the game progresses, Alan learns more about the strange occurrences in Bright Falls and his connection to them. A bit derivative of Silent Hill and Twin Peaks, but engrossing enough to be forgiven, it's bound to please anybody with a taste for survival horror. (September)


Earlier in the year, a coworker of mine brought in a gorgeous purple cake for the department birthday celebration. I said, "Oh, is that a variation on red velvet cake?" and she replied, "No, it's made from ube, which is a type of purple yam."

Angrily, I whirled around to face her and said, "Bitch, GTFO with that vegetable shit masquerading as dessert! Best be walking your ass over to Vons NOW for a REAL cake or you gonna be wearing this one!"

(Note: above conversation may not be verbatim)

But she insisted it was really good, so I took a small sliver back to my desk...and about two minutes later, I was heading back to the treat table for a bigger slice. It's the only food, aside from my beloved blue moon ice cream, that I can't think of anything else to compare it to tastewise. But trust me, it's nomtacular.


You'd think that a TV show created by the Oscar-winning screenwriter of The Usual Suspects would be good, wouldn't you?

You'd be wrong.

The premise was intriguing: A group of strangers wake up in a hotel located in a desolate town. If they try to escape, a force field knocks them backwards. The only other inhabitants of the town are the creepily cheerful desk manager and the employees of a Chinese restaurant, none of whom speak English. And security cameras are placed everywhere, recording every move they make and transmitting the data to their mysterious captors.

So many questions! Why are they there? Who's holding them hostage? Is there any chance of escape? Why did G and I watch this piece of shit? Well, it was only 12 episodes, and we kept hoping it would get better. It didn't, but by that point, we kept watching for the LOL factor.

The cast of characters included Janet, a single mother desperate to get back to her daughter; Joe, a former priest hiding a big secret; Graham, a soldier tormented by his past; psychiatric patient Moira; spoiled rich girl Tori; snippy dickhead Bill; and James Sunderland widower Charlie. Eventually, a tough prisoner named Erika joins the fold, and of course she's instantly in love with Janet. Gosh, why wouldn't she be? Janet's so gorgeous and perfect and brilliant except, wait, she isn't. She's the Bella Swan of the series in that everybody is obsessed with her despite the fact that she has the personality and depth of a piece of soggy cardboard. At least the actress portraying her gives an Emmy-worthy performance.

Wait, no, that's another lie. This show had some of the WORST acting I've ever seen, bar none. Joe's okay, and Erika is really good, although I don't know whether she's a good actress in general or if she just seems that way compared to the duds they've saddled her with. One character on the "outside", a plucky newspaper editor determined to get the scoop on Janet's disappearance because---oh, who gives a shit. Anyway, she gives some of the worst line readings you can possibly imagine. She makes the average porn actress sound like Meryl Streep.

And Jesus H, the writing! Take the following scene, which I won't bother setting up because, again, who gives a shit. Janet and Joe, who's allergic to bees, are asleep in a cabin together. A loud buzzing sound wakes them up, and to their horror, the cabin is filled with swarms of bees. Joe is paralyzed with fear, and Janet leans over and whispers, "Bees."

Wow, no shit, lady? You think the deathly allergic dude, who I might add has full use of his eyesight and hearing, didn't notice the hundreds of thousands of BEES in the room? Thanks for the ID, you budding entomologist!

To be fair, there are a couple of good reveals in Persons Unknown, but those gems aren't worth sifting through mounds and mounds of horseshit. Avoid.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

found my Halloween costume

Please excuse the bad quality; I wasn't supposed to be taking pictures in the Halloween store.  I'm so naughty, teehee!

Hey, it was that or Slutty Sherlock Holmes.

(Fine, you got me, I won't be wearing this costume on Halloween, though anyone who has the balls/ovaries to do so deserves a full-size Snickers in their treat pail. I won't be wearing anything except my woobs, because I plan on spending Halloween curled up next to G on the couch, eating pizza and playing Dead Rising 2 and watching the premiere of The Walking Dead on AMC. And I wouldn't have it any other way, GOSH.)