Monday, June 9, 2008

3 DL Games, The Mist, and Smoking  

Games: Since I was laid up this weekend, I got caught up on my gaming. I didn't feel like doing much else besides laying down, blowing my nose, and sipping tea, so I went with it.

First, I downloaded EchoChrome on the PS3. I've been eagerly awaiting this title for quite awhile since I'm a big fan of games with minimalist aesthetics and the demo I saw a few months ago looked absolutely fascinating. For those of you who don't know, the game is best described as a moving M.C Escher drawing, based on perspective and illusion. After getting through the tutorial, I found myself absolutely stumped on the first level and decided to save it for later. I'm blaming that on my illness, but that might be an excuse.

Next, I switched to the 360 and started (and finished) Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness. I'm thinking of cooking up a review, but for the moment I'll say that it was a pretty solid RPG. The core combat engine is mostly fun and could eventually be excellent with a little more polish. The writing was quirky-smart and had more than a few laughs, and the art was absolutely in line with Penny Arcade itself. A great first effort, and I'm looking forward to the next installment. Recommended, and doubly so if you're a PA fan.

Finally, I jumped consoles again and spent some time with Final Fantasy Chrystal Chronicles: My Life As a King on the Wii. I'm not a fan of the FFCC series, but this one is a pretty big departure in terms of formula. Basically, you play the role of the King, and it's your job to develop your town in such a way as to keep your villagers happy. You also recruit townsfolk to go dungeon crawling for you, and eventually you get the option to change them from standard warriors into the other various classes (Black Mage, Thief, etc.) that are common to the FF games. I was a little hesitant at first, but the game sucked me right in and I'm pretty addicted to it at the moment. Definitely a thumbs up, and although it starts slow and simple (which is a good thing) it heats up pretty quick and I'm on the verge of feeling overwhelmed at the moment. In a good way. At this point (Day 53 in the game) it's Recommended.

Film: Since we were both still feeling so rotten, we decided to bail on our fifth SIFF film and stay home while we recuperated. Kind of bummed about that, but there's always next year. Anyway, instead we rented The Mist, the recent adaptation of Stephen King's novella. Personally, I'm not much of a King fan, but I did like this story when I first read it a long time ago.

In watching the film, I felt like it was quite faithful where it needed to be, and what I was seeing on the screen matched up with what I had in my head to a good degree. I thought it was a very good film for the same reason that the story was good; the scariest parts in it are the people and how they react to being put in a terrible situation.

Also, it's worth mentioning that the end of the film is radically different than the end of the novella. I had heard that the director had taken some license, but I wasn't sure what to expect. I don't want to ruin it for anyone, but let me assure you, the last few minutes of this film are a complete shock and... and... if I say anymore, I'm going to spoil it. I definitely approved, though... the wife and I were talking about it for an hour afterwards. Recommended.

Random: So the other day, I was standing outside and two alterna-fellows that were walking down the sidewalk chose a spot 5 feet away from me to start shooting the breeze as they lit up some cigarettes. I'm not a smoker myself, and I can't stand the smell or being around people who are smoking. In that particular circumstance, I couldn't leave so I was forced to stay where I was and try to avoid the secondhand smoke they were blowing my way. Of course, every time I tried to shift position, the wind would move to blow smoke straight back into my face.

I realize that smokers feel like they're a persecuted group right now, but the simple fact is that smoking is not healthy and it's also one of the very few bad habits that isn't limited to the person partaking of it. You may have the right to smoke if you want to, but I have the right to not be exposed to the carcinogens you're spewing my way.

I mean, I don't drink but I don't care if people do. If I'm out with friends and they're enjoying some alcohol, none of it accidentally spills and falls into my mouth. I don't eat beef, and if I go out to lunch with people who order burgers, none of it ends up in my stomach. Smoking is the exception here... it's the one vice where it's nearly impossible to contain it to the person who's doing it, and for that reason I feel like laws should be stricter and people who smoke should be more limited in where they can light up.

It especially drives me crazy when I see parents who smoke around their young children. I mean technically, is that not some sort of child abuse? A parent who exposes their underage child to alcohol is breaking the law, and a parent who strikes or physically disciplines their child is risking abuse charges... how is breathing poisonous smoke into the face of a toddler deemed perfectly acceptable?

Sorry to go off on a rant there-- but seriously, people.

What next?

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