Archive for October, 2009

26
Oct
09

I’m here to tell you how awesome Spelunky is.

Alright so I haven’t posted since the beginning of the month and I don’t even have an excuse this time. I was lazy. In the last couple days I’ve been playing a free little game from Derek Yu that has compelled me to post though.

It’s called “Spelunky”. This game has been out for several months now and it’s gotten quite a positive critical response, so perhaps I’m a little late to this party, but it’s due out on the XBLA some time in 2010, so at least I’m ahead of those Microsoft loving plebs.

In the game, you play as a little Indiana Jones style explorer and you need to explore these pseudo randomly generated levels in order to get money and plow through to the bottom of the cave. Apparently the game was made with classics like rogue and nethack in mind, meaning it has an initially simple premise and presentation, but it’s complex and rewarding over time.

What’s so awesome about it?

There is a legitimate sense of adventure. The game gives a quick little tutorial if you want it, but it doesn’t tell you anywhere near everything you need to know to survive. You will learn about the game world as you go, and you will enjoy doing it. Maybe you thought every little pile of bones you walked by was purely decorative until one of them jumped up and attacked you. Maybe you thought you could jump on one of those Audrey II style flowering plants. Maybe level 3 had always been lit, until this time, where you need to play though it in the dark! The game does have a limited number of tricks to throw at you, but for the first many plays, it will be a joy to discover them.

It’s not a completely masochistic game though, in case you’re thinking it is the challenge gamer in me doing all the recommending here. You’ll fail ALOT on your way to the bottom, but you’ll learn as you go… and it will never feel truly unfair. The game teaches you to be careful, to learn from your mistakes, and to be methodical.

When you do die (and you will), there is no recovery. You die and the game is over, regardless of how much wealth you built up on your way through the levels. Some things take hit points from you, but some hazards kill you instantly. This makes the game truly tense when you’re down to your last hit, or when you’re dodging monkeys over a spike pit.

I won’t say the game is “infinitely replayable”, because it’s not. The game is hugely replayable though. It will be a long time before you exhaust every possibility and learns everything there is to learn about Spelunky. Even when you do, perhaps you’ll want to play through and try to get the maximum possible amount of money. Perhaps you’ll wanna get through without killing anything, or trying any number of different challenges. I made fun of this kind of gaming when I ripped apart FFVII, but with this game it is particularly encouraged, plus the game is short enough to allow for it without needing you to be a complete lunatic.

Mac users, this game is worth dual booting to play (although I run it in VMware fusion, just to let Windows know it’s subordinated). If you’re running windows and you haven’t played Spelunky yet… give it a shot!

Advertisements
05
Oct
09

Zombieland!

Woo I decided to wait a little late on this post until I had seen Zombieland. I just got back from it. It was a whole lot of fun. I recommend it for zombie fans and horror/comedy fans easily.

Oh you want more though? Okay fine.

Thankfully, it isn’t a comedy where all the good lines are in the trailers. Many really good lines and moments are in the promo material, but this movie has a fair bit more to show you as well. I’m sure some people are going to wonder how scary it is… all I can say is don’t worry. It might get a mild jump or two out of you early on, but the film doesn’t really milk the scares… ┬áit’s just there to have fun.

What really makes it is the characters. They manage to be funny, distinct, and surprisingly real, for this type of movie. For example, Jesse Eisenberg (who is not Michael Cera, despite all evidence to the contrary) plays a nerd who has survived the zombie apocalypse just because he’s neurotic and extremely careful. What a great little spin on the traditional nerd character of so many horror films and comedies. It makes sense, but somehow feels “new”… even if it isn’t. Woody Harrelson is at first a complete badass lunatic, who seems to want to slay zombies in as many different ways possible, but even he manages to get a couple vulnerable moments throughout the film. These are definitely played for laughs in the end, but they make sense with his character.

The other characters (and the celebrity cameo!) are also well written and fun to watch. While we’re mentioning characters, there aren’t any throwaway characters that join up with the group just to get devoured by the zombies later on. This movie doesn’t use stock horror characters at all.

This is not necessarily a negative for me, but it is worth mentioning. Around the middle of the film, the zombies all but disappear from the story. We see them lots around the beginning, with all the witty narration as Eisenberg’s character tells us all the various rules for surviving the zombie apocalypse, then we see tons of them at the end for the big finale, but the middle of the movie has very few zombies. This didn’t bother me so much, because I was enjoying spending time with the characters, but for the restless gorehounds among us, perhaps this needs to be mentioned.

What is perhaps the only negative in this movie is the aforementioned big finale. As you’ve probably seen in the trailer, they end up at an amusement park as a huge amount of zombies chase them around. It was fine at first, but eventually it reached a point where it felt like they just wanted to use EVERY possible amusement park related idea they could, instead of sticking to a few good ones. This is not a huge criticism, but it’s the one point where the movie feels a little over the top and contrived. Of course, this is a tough argument to make, because I am of course complaining about Woody Harrelson shooting zombies while on a roller coaster… so maybe that’s so awesome it can’t even be over the top.

You should absolutely see Zombieland if you’re even remotely interested. I’m very picky about horror comedies, but this is a great one.