Thursday, 11 August 2011

something that goes snicker snack, snicker snack

first, we had american mc gee's alice. then we had alice: the movie. now, we have alice: madness returns.

congratulations to me for procrastinating, and instead of finding a job or finalising my phd applications, i took a week off, in which i completed multiple small projects (i.e. nothing much). however, i did manage to complete the newest installation to the 'alice' series on my friend's ps3. i'll try not to be as big a fanboi as i usually am about lewis carroll's stuff, and try to keep my post to a very short impression of the game. please bear in mind that this means that this piece will not review the game, instead will be my two cents' worth of an 'aye or nay':

the good:
- the game keeps true to its predecessor as well as lewis carroll's original (and this should count thrice because my expectations were exceedingly high).

- story-line is actually very immense and deep. in fact, one might even say it was too well constructed, such that some of my friends who watched me play (intermittently) needed speedy updates from time to time. the plot progresses well, and keeps you entertained, although one could predict the final villain. the twists and turns do make for very good red herrings, though, and i definitely was thrown off the track more than once.

- the art is beautiful. really. couple of bad shadowing here and there, but nothing too glaring. overall a 9/10.

- music score is not too distracting, but not too bland. it blends well with the changes in themes, and transitions into combat. however, it's nothing stellar (although this could be influenced by me not playing with the speakers up, and all the background noise going on. hmm). on second take, i'll retract that! music is awesomesauce.

- gameplay is fairly intuitive, controls are easy to remember and maneuverability is a lot better than the first installation.

- there's more good points, but let's move forward! let's just assume that if i've not listed something in 'the bad', then it deserves some merit in 'the good'.

the bad:
- sometimes camera angles can be annoying, at other times it can be unintuitive, and once in a blue moon, it can be downright annoying! luckily the camera is easily manipulated with the right thumbstick, but camera adjustment speed seems a tad low, and, especially when performing some of the more acrobatic jumps, aiming for a mushroom / moving platform / specific spot can be horrendously skewed when you cannot rotate the camera in time or end up with a bad angle. just takes some getting used to, but i'm nitpicky about this, as the whole game centres around a lot of platform play.

- mini games. some love them, some hate them. there's a nice balance of mini games in 'alice', to retract from the 3rd person shooter/rpg so that it doesn't become too monotonous. however, if you're one of those persons who are like me, i found there to be just a bit of repetition in a couple of the mini games. the slippery-slide ones are okay. the side-scrollers are a bit teeth-grinding (luckily they aren't particularly hard), and the puzzle-box (?) chess puzzles were sufficiently hard but not 'omg-i-need-a-walkthrough' hard. if anything, there could be a few more of the chess puzzles. those were fun. which brings me to another mini game that deserves its own mention in 'the bad' section...

- sidescroller / 3rd person baby doll head mini game. this. is. so. [insert ragefase]. it's quite infuriating because the physics and mechanics of this mini game are quite poor compared to the other aspects of the game. alice, i am disappoint. if you take a look at the clip below (it's very long so i won't recommend viewing the whole thing), you can see an example of a box-rearrangement puzzle (this was probably the hardest one) at the very beginning, and compare that to the head-rolling minigame (this was the easiest as it was our first encounter with this mini game) at the 10th minute.

i guess i'll blame my inability to perform these mini games on my childhood depravity of mario and sonic, but hey, luckily it's just a small (although time-consuming, if you failed like me) part of the game.
- besides these particularities, in general there seems to be a bit of a clipping issue if you jump near ledges. just a tad. teeny weeny. itsy bitsy. yellow polka dot magnitude. it did cause me some grief especially with the purple/invisible platforms, but i guess i'm just a bit of a n00b to be complaining about this. maybe some other players won't notice this.

- my friend, miss-tanuki, pointed out that during the guitar-hero mini games, there was no audio cue. small pedanticism, but it would have been a simple and nice addition to the game.

- the game might be a bit linear for the newer generation of gamers who have become accustomed to 'limitless' worlds like in fallout 3 (also an epic game, btw), but i liked it.

the insane:
- if you have a minor ocd like me, you'll find yourself looking for teeth, which are required to upgrade your weapons, even long after you've fully upgraded your weapons. smashing boxes and treasure chests which you know will just contain more (useless) teeth and extending your game time unnecessarily. damn you, developers. similarly, with potion bottles (which, we found out only after finishing the game, is required for viewing extra material), rose paint, random secrets here and there. just like any other game, though, this depends on how particular you are about chasing that 'perfect game'.

- there really are no 'boss fights' per se (you just get introduced to a new monster-type, that eventually becomes bread and butter baddies) except for the final boss [no spoilarz plx! you're welcome]. i have nothing against this, but it would have been nice to have had battles against some boss characters, similar to the first 'alice'. i can already think of some game mechanics that might be nice, but i'm no game developer, so i'll leave this up to your opinion.

- and finally, here comes the eye candy. when you've played through the game once, and seen all the different themes in the game, you'll quickly come to realise that you've had chosen your favourite theme / dress / weapon / character etc. i don't know why, but i became attached to the characters and themes in the game fairly quick. blame it on the whole lewis carroll obsession, but i have no doubt many players will, too. in any case, you get to mess around with alice's costumes. not gonna use the word dress-up here, to save all the male players out there some grace. each dress has its own ability, but let's just concentrate on the aesthetics here:

my personal favourite is probably the 'royal suit' (the red dress with a cards theme, pictured below with alice holding the hobby horse weapon). the steamdress (black but not gothic one) comes in a very close second, though, because steampunk is so awesome. have a look through the video and see for yourself.

p/s: a friend pointed out that the fleshmaiden dress looks like something out of a lady gaga concert. the white pupils and permanent hysteria mode, however, make it worth equipping. also, it's in theme with little-sister liddle's queen of hearts. awwww. cute in a tentacle-rape sisterly kind of way... how disturbing.

Monday, 8 August 2011

looking for the colour fuchsia

certain cultures in this world believe that men and women are made in pairs. they believe that every individual is created, long before their souls are breathed into any physical form, and made attached - spiritually, at the very least - to another. if there is any notion of heaven or heavenliness, these cultures believe that a pair of souls are made, intertwined and already in relation, separated then by the souls' journeys to earth. and while their transcendence (or fall) to a physical plane dooms them to separation , the cultures (at the very least) believe that they are destined to rejoin.

this is romantic, at the very least, and a self-fulfilling prophecy, at most. i want to believe in this, but the sheer amount of polygamists, divorcees, never-been-marrieds and homosexuals leads me to think - romanticism has long died and her predecessor, pragmatism, is a cruel and banal dictator. i'm sure the number of each of the aforementioned categories varies from culture to culture, but even the very existence of these categories is doubt enough.

in effect, all i'm saying is that having a fuchsia or et cetera out there waiting for you - fully devoted, admiring and subservient to your every essence and being - is a beautiful idea. it is such a beautiful romance for and of the soul. it is so much a beautiful construct. but, really, that's all it is. an idea, a construct, a novelty. you cannot wait for him or her to come for you and instead, you must create that person yourself. for those who believe, i am envious. for those who disbelieve, i am sorry (and sorrowful). and because of that, i am most sorry for myself.

maybe one day i will learn to paint without the colour fuchsia, but until then, i will keep my palate with only one colour.

Monday, 1 August 2011

parting is such sweet -fsck it-

what’s that, my dear?
nothing to fear,
just something less than chinaware;
you sure it’s true?
it comes for you,
for fair, it actually comes in pairs.

but worry not,
for eyes so hot,
instead ask why it has to part?
now that you’ve gone,
left me forlorn,
why, now I see a broken heart.

it makes much sense,
this decadence,
now rise to fill this empty shell;
with ignorance,
and no two cents,
my dear, this heart has left to swell.

come lonely nights,
with bitter fights,
that exist not because of loss;
my love, farewell,
or fare-thee-well,
now that I can no more accost.

since I once thought,
that was for naught,
for sometimes lies cannot come true;
yet hold on now
and ask me how?
i messed it up for me, for you?

it was a simple, dainty dish – to feast upon this soul’s last wish,
and yet could not be answered by whom now I beg to ask her why,

instead I plead you let us part with nary shattered, broken heart,
but know that till that day arrives, my dear, you spare me not our lives.


for those who read sinfest, you may be familiar with our protagonist - a certain short, skinny, blond man-child who goes by the calling of slick. imagine now, how he is and can be a connoisseur of woman and lustfulness, but at the same time is in love with his muse, monique. imagine, too (now non-canonically) that monique is no longer his friend, even when leading him on, and has chosen to disappear from slick's life with nary a trace, and not a social response.

slick has become the loneliest of the forever alones. shallow, sick and sad, is it more describable of slick, or that of monique (of the red roses)?

p/s: do read the comic. it's one of my favourites.