As always, it’s been a solid week here at Scanline HQ. Between various family members ending their college semesters, an internship, and celebrating Mother’s Day, we managed to get in a few hours of stellar (and not so stellar) entertainment. In the time that it takes you to read what we’ve been up to, I’ll try (and fail) to claim my rightful place at the top of the Impossible Road leaderboard. Have at it!
One of my most memorable gaming experiences involved exploring the islands of Riven with a notepad in hand. There was nobody to shoot, slice or smash; you were simply introduced to an alien world and asked to learn its past, present and future through observation and immersing yourself in the culture of the natives. Riven was no walk in the part, but it let you learn at your own pace, which made any success feel like an overwhelming triumph.
Fez’s complex platforming might make it closer to a traditional game than Riven, but the same spirit of personal discovery reverberates throughout its pixelated wonderland. Gomez’s world is chock full of secrets, from a symbol-based language to a lighthouse just out of your reach, but the game isn’t interested in hurrying you along to the next setpiece. The gorgeous sunsets and calming music prime your mind to solve difficult riddles left by architects from the past. And when your “eureka!” moments hit, few rewards are as satisfying as watching Gomez grin from ear to ear as another anticube is unearthed.
After my mixed review of Star Command, I found myself picking the game back up to delve into its equivalent of New Game Plus. It’s… busted is probably too harsh? But the balance is complete shit. There is an astonishing level of new content– like, seriously, that most people will have given up the game before they see it is really a shame– but the old content is manhandled something awful. Fights that were a cake walk originally are now, in your presumably better ship, a half-hour long ordeal.
It’s also a chance to see through the smoke and mirrors. The game presents itself as having a branching storyline, but a second playthrough reveals that to be a whole bunch of bullshit. Options like “fight these guys or ally with these guys” turn out to be “fight these guys or have two extra lines of dialogue, then fight these guys.” It’s really irritating to find out that a game I barely gave a thumbs up to begin with is actually an Old West-style fake storefront with nothing in the back.
Those updates better come fast, and they better be substantial, because I’m losing patience with this shit.
Impossible Road takes the rapid-fire twitch gameplay of Super Hexagon, throws it onto a never-ending sloped road reminiscent of Rainbow Road, and asks you to “cheat”. Yes, it’s inevitable that you’ll fall off the course, but quick reflexes and a little luck can save your run by landing on the track below at the right angle. It’s a relatively simple game, but the speedy nature and the drive to get just a little bit further keeps me coming back. It doesn’t hurt that I’m just a few slots away from Edge’s Jason Killingsworth near the top of the leaderboard; by the end of the next week, I hope to have his proverbial head on my platter!
The Great Gatsby
I’m not usually the type to get furious when a film adaptation goes somewhere different than the novel it’s based on (especially if that change helps it fit the format better), but Baz Luhrmann completely misinterprets the message of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic. Nick Carraway is meant to be disgusted at the vapid, hopeless lives of the rich and famous; instead, Luhrmann wants us to think the residents of East and West Egg are to be admired, and assaults the senses with more gilding than the entirety of the Roaring Twenties. Even Daisy Buchanan is given more sympathy than the character deserves, robbing her cruel actions of any motivation in the final acts. When it comes to the acting Leonardo DiCaprio is certainly “worth the whole damn bunch put together,” but even he falls victim to a movie that defines style over substance.
Also, please stop hiring Tobey Maguire.
Haven’t seen the trash film, and not gonna, just wanted to say if somehow you managed to not read Great Gatsby in high school, or have since forgotten about it, give it a read. I’m not big on the so-called “Great Books” but Gatsby is just absolutely incredible.
Iron Man 3
I’m not much of a theatre-goer, but I was hearing some pretty nice things about Iron Man 3, and I had an afternoon to kill, so I went ahead and checked it out. There was a brief scare when it looked like I could only see it in 3D (I cannot stand 3D), but there was a 2D showing after all, and I sat down with my Icee and my “small” popcorn (As big as my head! Complete lunacy.) to enjoy some cinema.
I walked out of the movie pretty satisfied. Robert Downey Jr. is as much of a treat in the role as ever, and Tony Stark has some really interesting character development in this one. You’d figure that by the third one, there wouldn’t be much left to do with him, but they actually do an interesting thing with how he sees himself in the wake of the Avengers– just a man in a suit of armor, alongside gods and supersoldiers.
There’s some stuff with a child actor that kinda… look. He’s good for a child actor, but that’s not much of a compliment, if you follow. Tolerable, but not especially enjoyable. There’s a relatively minor plot hole (in my opinion), and other than that, it’s a really fun, pretty good movie. I went in with high expectations, and I wasn’t impressed, but I was satisfied.
Ever since The Avengers left its super-sized hole on the box office, I’ve fallen out of love with Marvel’s movie franchises. There’s something about their films that feels crass, banal and hollow, with creativity sacrificed to Disney’s monolithic mouse for untold riches from the masses. While it was certainly a competent action film, Iron Man 3 did nothing to change my mind; how could Shane Black, the writer of Lethal Weapon and director of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, lose all of his trademark wit? Both Tony Stark and his fellow Mightiest Heroes need a break before they burn through our collective goodwill.