Playlist: April 14th

Quiet week, right? We’re sorry, really. For my job, this weekend is quite literally the busiest of the year– I’m sore places I didn’t know existed. Been completely overwhelmed. But don’t think we’ve forgotten about you. We’ve got some special things planned for next week, just you wait….

PLAYED

Guacamelee!

guacameleeBen:

Take a base of Castlevania and Metroid, add two scoops of God of War, throw in some Super Meat Boy and top it all off with a pinch of cumin and a dash of lime to cook up a mean dish of Guacamelee! The Internet memes on the crust are a tad unpleasant, but it can’t drown out the rest of the rich flavors that leave my thumbs begging for more. The demanding combat system and platforming might make things difficult for those with weak stomachs, but a little perseverance ought to see most participants to the end of their meals. It also scales nicely for any occasion, whether you’re looking for something bite-sized on your Vita or eating with a friend on your PS3.

WATCHED

Room 237

room237Ben:

For a documentary dealing with ludicrous interpretations of The Shining, Room 237 does its best to remain impartial. Sides aren’t taken, and we never see the faces of the theorists; the only directorial decisions involve lining up their explanations with on-screen visuals and adding an unobtrusive soundtrack, attempting to give us their somewhat questionable sense of sight. While I never saw Stanley Kubrick’s face in the clouds or bought the “desk boner” (don’t ask), I started to sense that there was definitely more to the horror at Overlook Hotel than met the eye. It felt like these fanatics had discovered the pieces, but they didn’t fit the answers provided. The inhabitants of Room 237 might be spouting mere flights of fancy, but their dedication and eye for detail will leave you with newfound appreciation for Stanley Kubrick and his legendary filmmaking.

Injustice: Gods Among Us

injusticeColin:

Admittedly, this is a game, not a movie, but the game actually isn’t out yet, and when pro fighting game competitor Arturo Sanchez (“Sabin,” whose Dhalsim is feared by both East and West) put on a multi-hour stream of the game’s online with others who had prerelease copies, I tuned in. I’ve been pretty vocal in my dislike of everything I’ve seen about Injustice before, and I was curious if a few hours would change my mind.

Well… yes and no? I’ll stop making snide remarks about it being trash, but the game that I saw seems like it has any number of really bad design choices– an unhealthy emphasis on the ranged game, a pretty stupid double health bar system to replace rounds (it was a bad idea when Darkstalkers did it, it’s still a bad idea today), and waaaay too many cinematics in the middle of a fight. I also think the environmental interactions are clumsily executed. So, it does some things well, it’s just that those things (animations, footsies, etc.) are things that every other serious fighting game does better. Sorry, Injustice. You’re not trash, you’re just… ill-conceived.

READ

Cold Days (Jim Butcher)

colddaysColin:

I’ve been reading the Dresden Files for a number of years, and they are just deeply enjoyable books. If you’re not familiar with the series, our protagonist is Harry Dresden, a private investigator and professional mage living in Chicago, and dealing with its more supernatural dangers. The premise sounds a bit absurd, but the books are anything but– at times lighthearted, but mostly just well-written, exciting adventures with plenty of magic, blood, and bullets. This series gets daaaark, so don’t come in expecting “You’re a wizard, Harry.”

The last book in the series, Ghost Stories, was a real step down in quality for the series. It was fine, it wasn’t a bad book, but it just wasn’t all that engaging and felt pretty disappointing overall. I’m happy to report that Cold Days is a grand return to form, bringing us all the blood we demand with some incredible… am I allowed to say “setpiece moments” for a book? Regardless, plenty of moments awesome enough to warrant an ear to ear grin, and this is from a man who, people tell me, isn’t even smiling when he thinks he is. Highly recommended… but you’d have to start at the beginning to get much out of it.