Monday, August 18, 2008

Soul Bubbles and Happy Hour  

Games: I just received a review copy of Soul Bubbles for the Nintendo DS. I didn't know anything about it except that I saw a full-page ad for it on the back cover of Play magazine and I thought that the illustration looked appealing. After spending about two hours with it this morning, I'm absolutely impressed.

Shocked, even.

The quality of this cart is absolutely top-notch… the graphics, the level of control, the variety and gameplay, the implementation of the stylus… it's all totally polished.

Basically, you play as some sort of fairylike spirit guide tasked with herding ghosts into the next world. The trick is that you can only transport them after enveloping them in bubbles and blowing them through mazelike environments. It doesn't sound like too spectacular a description, but trust me-- this game is absolutely good enough to be a first-party Nintendo title.

Soul Bubbles is only available at Toys "R" Us, an unfortunate circumstance since no one I know really buys games there, in addition to the fact that "exclusive to store X” games usually blow chunks. Not this time, though.

I'll reserve further comment for the moment since I'm still in the early stages of the game, but so far… WOW.

Books: So I've been reading Mark Henry’s Happy Hour of the Damned off and on for the last few weeks, and today I decided to put it down and not come back to it.

It's a clever urban fantasy set in my hometown of Seattle telling the tale of hyper-snarky Amanda Feral, an attractive ad executive turned into a zombie and thrust into the supernatural underworld.

It started strong and kept my attention, but it's too clever for its own good.

Large chunks of the book are nothing but catty dialogue (which is scathingly funny, for the most part) but instead of reading a book and getting involved the characters, I felt as though I was continuously eavesdropping on someone's conversation at a cocktail party.

The other annoying thing about it is that the story is brimming with self-referential comments and observations which take the form of notations at the bottom of a page. I don't have a problem with these insertions in general, but when half the page is text and the other half is notations and asides, it's going a little too far.

I really appreciated that Henry went with a self-aware zombie and stayed away from the completely tired vampire or werewolf characters that are infesting retail bookshelves these days, but the torrential amount of witty conversation just wore me out.

What next?

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