Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Tell me your fears

"What are you afraid of?" asks the clown looking down on me from the billboard, as if he didn't already know.
Oh he knows. He KNOWS.

I have a lot of fears, and many of them are not super rational. But if I were to dissect my fears, they are the symptoms of my real fears and not really my actual fears. My two biggest fears are clowns and getting swarmed by butterflies or spiders. (Note: I am not afraid of spiders, just by being swarmed by them.) Both of these are symptom fears, they are the runny nose of a much bigger flu.

Awhile ago my friend took me to an acting class. She had been trying to get me to go for awhile and I had finally relented. I had stepped away from the theatre awhile back and knew how easy it would be to fall back in. When you first start class, they give you a student interview where everyone gets to ask you questions. We were on the last question and two people raised their hands, my friend and someone else. I called on the other person because I figure my friend either already knows or has a question I don't want to answer.

Eventually my curiosity gets the better of me and I have to ask what her question was.

"What is your greatest fear?"

I thought about it for a moment. Really thought about. Evil clowns? The dark? Being swarmed? Monsters in my closet? Yellow balloons? Getting trapped somewhere? Getting lost and not being able to find my way back? Some of them touched on it, but none of them really sent a shiver down my spine until I looked at their theme and then I had it.

"What do you think it is?"


This was not it. I don't like failing, but I'm not afraid of it. I've failed before and I'll fail again but I pick myself up and learn. Heck, I'm more afraid of success than I am of failure. The only part of failing that instills fear in me is that I won't be able to pick myself up or I won't learn and I'll be stuck. And there it is, my real fear.
Tell me your fear

Evil clowns is a symptom fear of the much larger fear of trusting people. That people are not what they seem and are hiding something, but this is still one of my minor fears. Most of my fears are symptomatic of one specific fear.

Almost every symptom fear is really my fear of stagnation. Of staying forever where I am and watching the world change around me, but never changing with it. To be stuck.

So, what are you afraid of?

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Game Review - Cartoon Edition

Recently I decided to play some games based on cartoons I love: Phineas and Ferb and the Quest For Cool Stuff, Penguins of Madagascar, and Ducktales: Remastered. I steeled myself. A lot of times, when games are based on movies, they come out pretty terribly. I was prepared for the worst, but I was hoping they were at least playable.

Phineas and Ferb: Quest For Cool Stuff

This is a 2D platformer where the player collects items and defeats enemies by jumping on them or using a spin attack. There are 2 stories going on, Perry’s and Dr.
Doofenshmirtz’ story and the kids’ story. This is very much like the cartoon where there are two stories going on and they intersect at times.  The tutorial with Perry the Platypus is nicely done and immersive. The difficulty ramps up at a good pace and there are different unlockables you earn as you go that help you access new parts of levels.

Verdict: The game was fun and surprisingly well done. The animation was a little bit off but it didn’t detract much and the other elements of the game more than made up for a small bit of off animation.

Penguins of Madagascar

This is another 2D platformer where you play as the penguins and use their strengths to get through levels. The basic story is that you are collecting Cheesy Dibbles and completing missions. I wanted to like this one, I really did and it wasn't really a bad game, but I put it down after only an hour. The game itself was actually fairly decent, but it really needed the penguins' voices to make it work. Juicy is when your game has aesthetic elements that give your game character and life. This game lacked juiciness. One thing I did like is that you can switch between the four penguins while playing. If it had been a purely aesthetic switch, it would've been cute and nice to be able to play as your favorite penguin but they took the concept and made it better, it went beyond aesthetics. Each penguin had a different special move and each one had specific skills that you had to use to get past the level.

Verdict: It's not a bad game, but it's really not a good game either. What pushed it into being good was being able to switch between the penguins and use their abilities. Unfortunately, the lack of voices brought it down to mediocrity. I wouldn't buy it.

Ducktales: Remastered

Ducktales is, yet another, 2D platformer. In this one you play as Scrooge McDuck and collect treasures and coins while defeating enemies. This is based on the 1989 NES game, which I unfortunately didn't play. The original scenes are all in there with some expansions and two new levels, a vault tutorial and a volcano level. The characters have all been hand-drawn and the game is fully voiced. It's a fun game and the voices are a nice touch. Once you get past the vault, you can do any of the scenes in any order with the exception of the volcano scene, which doesn't open until all the other scenes are done. This makes it a little bland on ramping up the difficulty. There is a bit of a glitch on the volcano level where your character disappears whenever you do a pogo jump. It's not game-breaking, but it is disconcerting. For me it was probably about 4 hours of gameplay, for others it would probably be more like 3.

Verdict: It’s a fun game that plays on nostalgia and is really decent game. I probably still wouldn't buy it because I finished it in 4 hours and felt like there wasn't that much more I could get out of it.

Both Phineas & Ferb and Ducktales worked and Penguins would have worked with the inclusion of voices. I think part of the reason these games worked was because they had the essence of their source material without copying it. The reason most movies don't make the transition as well has a lot to do with the execution. A lot of times movie-based games are treated as a money-grab, "the movie is popular so let's capitalize." Enough time and care isn't given and/or they rehash what was already done in the movie. We don't need a rehashing; we know how that story went. To really work, besides time and care, we need the essence of the material. We need a continuation of the story; we need to be part of something that didn't already happen.