Thursday, March 25, 2010

Firewalker, Fragile Dreams, Patchwork Heroes, Idol & Fried Rice  


Games: BioWare released a brand-new add-on for Mass Effect 2 yesterday. Titled ‘Firewalker’, it adds a hovering scout vehicle to the game, and this new ride is capable of some pretty nifty maneuvers. It's free to players who have activated the Cerberus Network within their copy of the game, and my review of the content is HERE.

In other games news, I'm in the middle of writing my review for the Wii’s Fragile Dreams.

It's a difficult piece to write, since on the one hand I find it to be a fairly refreshing effort conceptually, and quite unlike most of the other games available for the Wii. On the other hand, I have to be brutally frank in saying that it's extremely tedious and not much fun at all. Ideas and artistry only go so far... certain decisions must be made with regard to how the experience feels to play through, and in this case, I'm having a hard time believing that the boredom and frustration I'm getting is something that the developers were actually trying to achieve.

I haven't been playing a lot of portable lately, but I have spent some time with Patchwork Heroes on PSP, and I've got to say that it's pretty fantastic. The gist of the game is that giant airships are approaching the city, so the people living there launch preemptive strikes by sending soldiers to land on these airships and chop them to pieces with handheld saws.

It sounds bizarre, but it absolutely works thanks to the quirky, 2D presentation and easy-to-grasp mechanics that only take a minute or two to get the hang of. It has loads of personality, and has a vibe similar to things like Katamari Damacy or LocoRoco -- things are goofy, but they're intended to be goofy, so it all ends up being humorously tongue-in-cheek. It's early days yet, but I've got nothing but good to say about the title so far.

TV: I’m not going to dwell on this very long, but it needs to be said - this season of American Idol flat-out sucks. After watching the show for the last four or five seasons, it's quite clear to see that this year's crop is the weakest, most talent-free group they've ever picked. It's terrible!

This week’s ‘Top 11’ episode had only two performances that I would say were of the caliber of what should be expected at this point in the competition. The rest of the contestants seemed way out of their league, and a few of them have no discernible singing talent whatsoever. The wife and I (and most of America, evidently) have been sorely disappointed with this season, and we're even debating whether or not we care enough to keep watching.

Not only are the contestants terrible, but the judges are out to lunch as well. I'm often mystified by the praise given to lackluster performances, not to mention the personal antics happening. Ryan Seacrest is coming off like a toothy Chihuahua aggressively marking his territory, Kara DioGuardi apparently underwent a personality transplant and now has trouble keeping her hands off of Simon, and Simon Cowell himself seems mostly occupied with moving onto his new show and getting through this one as quickly as possible. Ellen Degeneres? Well, Ellen's worthless. She rarely says anything that isn't parroted from someone else, and it's like she's physically incapable of saying anything even remotely negative.

Several television pundits have been quoted as saying that Idol could be in serious trouble next season after the poor showing here and the fact that Cowell (long said to be the backbone of the show) is leaving. Based on the current level of quality we’re getting now, I'd say that sounds about right.

Food: Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I just made fried rice for the first time and was quite proud of myself that it turned out to be pretty damned edible.

I was a little hesitant to make it because it was a dish my dad had always tried to cook for us growing up, and he never, ever managed to pull it off. I ate far too many scoops of wet, mushy starch embedded with cubed carrots and previously-frozen peas as a child, and because of my dad's numerous failures, I had somehow convinced myself that such a dish was not meant to be cooked by someone not of Chinese descent. However, it was one of those nights when there really wasn't much in the house and after surveying the available ingredients, the wife thought it was the most feasible prospect. She was right, it turned out pretty good, and I would definitely make it again.

In addition to the rice (of course) I ended up tossing in some mustard greens, frozen spinach, ground turkey, onions, carrots, egg, and fresh ginger. It may sound like a crazy hodgepodge, but I'd say it worked. If you've got some recipes or ideas of your own for fried rice, I'd love to hear them.

Comics: late to the party for sure, but here are a few pics I took at the recent Emerald City Comicon here in Seattle. Captions follow.

The view entering the hall. Hard to tell from this shot, but the place was huge and packed.

Kyle Stevens of Kirby Krackle rocking out at a free show. Hell of a gig.

Nothing like a little fangirl T&A to catch the eyes of passers-by.

Just a costume, and still totally creepy.

Fandom clearly has its price.

No funny comment, I just thought these three were hella cute.

This dude did a great job on his Spider-Man costume.

What next?

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