Saturday, August 2, 2008

PixelJunk Eden, Folklore, The Dark Knight, and Credit Due  

Another night of random bits and pieces…

First off, I completely forgot to give credit to my wife for snapping the superb photos I used for the Casual Connect coverage. She did a great job, and I apologize for the oversight.

(By the way, I actually don’t drink alcohol. All the drinks you saw me sipping in those pictures were non-alcoholic, just for the record.)

Games: I downloaded PixelJunk Eden today for $10 from the PlayStation Store, and after one session, I’m not regretting the purchase.

The visuals have a definite minimalist flair and the audio is laid-back ambient techno sort of stuff. The presentation definitely works for me.

Gameplay seems like a complete mystery at first, but after a little experimentation it becomes clear… your character is something that looks like a cross between a spider and a tick, or some other parasite. The goal of the game is to collect flower-like icons that are scattered in the extremely vertical levels.

The parasite can leap far distances and cling to any surface, in addition to leaving behind a trail of spider silk. Popping small flowers that float throughout the level (by touching them) releases pollen, and this pollen causes plants to grow. By leaping to the top of a nearby plant and then releasing pollen, plants higher up will grow, providing a means of ascending in the search for the flower icons.

The small blue, yellow and purple specks are your characters hanging from silk.

Jump, land, grow a new flower, jump again, land higher up, repeat.

It sounds a little simplistic, but in practice it’s a beautiful simplicity -- considerable technique is soon revealed behind the careful jumping and manipulation of silk swinging.

So far, I’m loving it. If nothing else, the PS3 seems to be cornering the market on art-house projects. I approve.

Also, before I move on to another topic, I wanted to throw out some praise for the PS3's Folklore. I’m going to cover it in the upcoming Bargain Basement that’ll be seen at GameCritics, but for those of you who might have been considering the title or who are on the fence, I say take the plunge.

It’s definitely got some issues and the core design is rooted in the last generation, but it succeeds wonderfully at creating a sense of mood and ambiance that’s hard to ignore. Additionally, the real-time action is dialed-in, and collecting dozens of monster-like Folks (imagine Pokémon with a much more mature, darker slant) is quite addicting.

I can’t sit here and say that it’s a perfect game, but I will say that I enjoyed it far more than I ever expected to… for people who like some quirk in their games like me, this one’s a winner.

Film: The wife and I just saw The Dark Knight last night, and we both walked out of it feeling supremely disappointed.

Before saying anything else, I will say that Ledger’s Joker was pretty awesome. I don’t think it was Oscar-worthy, but it was certainly the best thing out of the movie and he did an outstanding job. I was pretty captivated with his portrayal, and his interpretation was quite engaging. I can’t say that I was the biggest Ledger fan before this (though Brokeback Mountain was an amazing film) but I am honestly disappointed that he’s no longer with us… I would have loved to see where he could’ve gone with the Joker in another film.

Besides that aspect, the film was pretty much a wash.

I just can’t get into Christian Bale as Batman. He’s got sort of a lisp, his enhanced “bat voice” vocoder was completely cheesy, and for some reason the facial part of the costume just didn’t look right.

Just get the Batmobile fixed already, will you?

Besdies my dislike of Bale, the movie felt bloated, overcomplicated, and overlong. I did not appreciate all the socio-political commentary that felt shoehorned in where it didn’t fit and I felt that the movie would have been leaner and meaner if they had taken out some of the peripheral things and made it at least two hours, if not an hour and 45.

For example, I completely did not buy into the “love triangle” between Maggie Gyllenhall/Batman/Harvey Dent… it felt totally forced and missed the mark, not to mention making Maggie’s character look like a spineless flip-flopper. Besides that, I don’t understand why people who make superhero movies these days seem to think it’s impossible to entertain people with only one villain… Two-Face could have been in a movie all his own, and more screen time with the Joker would have only been a good thing.

The action was boring and unimpressive, the fights weren’t memorable, and I wasn’t able to suspend my disbelief for certain things that happen in the film. I don’t want to get into spoiler territory, so I’ll just say that there was very little excitement for me in terms of action.

Finally, I just had no interest in Batman’s self-doubt throughout the film. Again, I’m going to try to avoid spoilers here, but it was almost like Nolan was trying to make some other sort of film and crammed Batman into it, rather than the entire thing feeling like a natural evolution of Batman himself. It possibly could have worked some other way, but the film as it stands didn’t hit the mark for me.


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2 comments: to “ PixelJunk Eden, Folklore, The Dark Knight, and Credit Due

  • Anonymous


    "the core design is rooted in the last generation"

    "the bones underneath the skin are definitely rooted in the last generation"

    I see this point come up a lot, both here and on Gamecritics, and i'm always wondering what exactly your talking about whenever it's brought up. Perhaps you could state a few examples from this and other games (at Gamecritics or another blog post). Maybe it's just me, but this current gen doesn't seem all that different mechanics wise from the previous one outside of the online components(achievements, downloadable content, etc).


    Check the next post. ; )