Category Archives: little big planet

Somebody’s Been Watching Way Too Much Tim Burton…

Just the introduction of Scarygirl made me want to run out of the mall Hot Topic I was trapped in and throw up whatever hallucinogenic drug I had accidentally swallowed. Then I realized I was neither at the mall nor at a Tim Burton movie marathon. I was in my living room with the downloaded demo of Scarygirl. Sigh. At least I can delete it when I’m done writing about it, or at least that’s how I felt before playing it.

Scarygirl is based on the gothic graphic novel by Nathan Jurevicius and can probably be found at Hot Topic more often than your local comics shop. No offense meant, but it is 2012, and this whole Goth thing was over some time ago, like probably about the time “South Park” got wind of it. If you’re still Goth now, you’re either a vampire, living in the past, or really really committed – or all three. Again, no offense, The Bride leans that way sometimes, and I still love her.

Scarygirl is the story of a Goth chick who looks like a Tim Burton ragdoll and meets a friendly octopus who’s kind of obsessed with her. There are bunnies and owls and all manner of oddities along her way, but Scarygirl is a Goth chick with a mission, and that mission is to find out what’s what with a nightmare she keeps having. I think. I kinda dozed off.

Now all that said, gameplay is something else altogether. It’s still looks like Tim Burton threw up all over the screen, and the images are a bit disturbing, but it was fun, and even though it was a demo, I got a lot of play out of it, and for me, that’s saying something. It’s a fun world to explore, notably more fun to me than say Little BIG Planet or certainly Incredible Hulk. This is a platformer (see, I’m learning) definitely worth playing, thumbs up from the Non-Gamer.

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Infamously Better

One of the reasons I have never been much of a gamer, and the PS3 with its aversion to multiple player games is a big culprit, because I dislike the ‘turn wait.’ That is to say, I don’t like waiting for my turn at a game when the other player is infinitely better at it than me. This reared its ugly head back in the Nintendo days when The Bride and I used to play Super Mario Bros., and her turn would last for hours. It was also the reason I preferred Dr. Mario as we could both play that at the same time.

The night I talked about a while ago when Jeff and Crystal came over and played the demos, they just didn’t whup my butt at Zombie Apocalypse and Nucleus, they also tried their hands at Watchmen and my favorite, Infamous. I was not disappointed by the long long looong turn wait.

In Watchmen, I had gotten past the wonderful Dave Gibbons motion comic animated art from the original Watchmen comics that form the introduction, but had barely moved anywhere in the prison break. I did find it annoying that whoever you picked to play – Rorschach or Nite Owl II – the other would just stand there doing nothing. Not realistic. Jeff and Crystal ripped through the prison break like they were the real characters.

Then they moved on to the Infamous demo. I had never gotten past zapping folks and cars with electrical powers, and riding to the first station atop the train. For those who don’t know, that’s really not far. Fun, but not far. That keen mutant skill, of both Jeff, and Crystal, derived from years of gaming experience, kicked in and soon they were sailing far ahead in the game and fighting bad guys that I had never even glimpsed in my hours (yes, hours) of playing this game.

The Bride who had watched me play the same two or three scenes from Infamous multiple times, was treated to almost an entirely new movie never seen before. The turn wait was starting to get to her as well, so then they moved on to Little BIG Planet 2. Three people can play that at once.

This turn wait was much longer. I went to bed. When I got up in the morning, I swore I was gonna practice. Years of experience can’t be that hard…

The Infamous Demo

When we first got the PS3, a remarkable thing happened. The entire PlayStation Network was hacked and personal information and passwords were stolen by Mario knows who to do Mario knows what. Nothing bad has happened yet, but Sony encouraged us all to change our passwords and hope for the best.

Oh yeah, as an incentive to get folks to trust them again, they also had what they called their “Welcome Back” program where they would outright give you two free games from The PlayStation Store for each account. The Bride and I looked at each other and said “Hells yeah,” cuz that’s a total of four free games for our inconvenience. That might be fair – as long as no one who stole our info ever uses it.

The problem of course is that there was a 30 day expiration on those free games, and neither I nor my non-technically challenged wife could navigate the terrors of The PlayStation Store/Network/Home to make this thing work no matter how hard we tried. It’s a damn shame, because I was kinda looking forward to two of the free games offered – Little Big Planet and Infamous.

Now we’ve talked about the second Little Big Planet here before, but Infamous was a game whose interest caught me elsewhere. I co-host a weekly vidcast about comics, The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast, and a few months back, one comic book grabbed my attention. It was Infamous from DC Comics, and it was, you guessed it, “Based on the Best-Selling PlayStation Videogame.”

What got me the most was that there was a story here. This wasn’t like the mini-comics that came with the old Atari 2600 games like Star Raiders and EarthQuest that really had nothing to do with the game at all. Infamous had a compelling story and characters, and from everything I had read, this carried over directly from the PS3 game. I really wanted to try.

Dejected at not finding my free games in exchange for being hacked, I was exploring the rest of the Store/Home/Network and found that there were demos that could be downloaded – among them, Infamous. So I went clicky-clicky. I was a bit surprised to find it would take well over two hundred minutes to download, but I let it go overnight and decided to play it the next day.

Unlike a lot of things on the PlayStation, the downloaded game was actually easy to find, and when I clicked it on the intro started, looking very much like a comic book, not the comic book, mind you, but a comic book just the same. Nice art, and animation and flash working together to tell a narrative close to what I already knew. Then it was time to play, and then it got hard.

A diagram of how the controller worked came up on the screen, no, two screens. Wow, maybe I am just a technology caveman, or just easily perplexed, but that’s a whole lotta buttons and functions. Again, I am flummoxed by the controller. I’m going to have to take a picture and print it out to use as a cheat sheet so I can play. Or I can do what I always do, just push all the buttons and move all the levers and hope for the best.

When it comes to playing, I am eased up a bit by the way everything is pretty much spelled out as far as what you have to do, with missions, and onscreen directions. It still doesn’t make it easy. And the controller shaking in my hand is an interesting sensation. There is a learning curve involved, and knowing the basic plot of the game helps. One annoying factor is that when you leave the mission area, you start over.

All in all, I’m still learning, and still trying to play, but this has great graphics and is fun for those who know how to turn on the PS3, and those who don’t. I might just buy the whole version of this one.

Russian to Dawn: Grand Theft Auto IV

The reputed granddaddy of this new generation of videogames could be said to be the Grand Theft Auto series of games. These offered not only an entire world (or if you like, Liberty City and its surroundings) to explore, and technically, no plan or mission, if you really don’t want one. It’s similar to Little BIG Planet in that way I suppose.

I popped the disc in, after asking The Bride several times how to turn the PS3 on, and watching intently as she did it to make sure I had it down. Trust me the new technology does not like me. The story plays out through the introduction and the sweeping credits sequence. Two Russian ne’er-do-wells, Nico and Roman, the cousins Bellic, come to the States in search of the American dream, and in Liberty City, that means a career in the mob it seems.

The instruction booklet is another big one, but it is not without its charm. It is set up like a tour guide, and even has advertisements and places you have to see in the city. Niiice. My only complaint, much the same as with most PS3 games, is that it seems I have to read and study for an hour before I can even play the game. Don’t mind me, I’m just a grumpy old man.

The controller for the PS3 still confounds me. I try to drive but fail miserably. Those who know me personally know that I failed my driver’s test several times because I was terrible at parallel parking. I am worse at driving in this game. The game begins at night, and after a while of trying, I merely waited for dawn before attempting to drive again. The daylight really helped, especially when I hit stuff – the headlights are the first to go.

While waiting in the car, I had the chance to just listen to the radio, albeit Russian dance music, but it was intriguing how much music was available for a videogame where the player sits still for many minutes. When I figured out that I could actually change the channel on the car radio, my mind was really blown, and opened up to how much music there really was. And it’s not just the music, the conversation between Nico and Roman is entertaining as well.

After much much practice (see, I been playing so long I even start to sound like Cousins Bellic) I was finally able to get the car to go a little ways, and then finding interesting, most of them against my will, ways to crash the car. I suppose more practice in order. I go practice more now…

Jumping Around with My Tongue Hanging Out

One of the things that has bothered me since getting the PS3 is the serious lack of games for more than one player. After watching The Bride become mindlessly addicted to Portal and listening to that machine voice taunt her about cake repeatedly for four to five hours at a time, I became even more bothered by this fact.

My friend Crystal, trying lighten the tension of the Portal-divided household, mentioned that Little BIG Planet 2 was a game we could all play. I jumped up and immediately said (as loudly as I could over more electronic cake teasing), “Let’s play that!”

I’m really not sure what the point of the game is. You get to play a creepy little crochet/canvas doll that looks like it escaped from a Jan Svankmajer movie and then you run around. Yeah, at first glance, that’s about it. There’s also the peculiar factor of dressing up your canvas doll. Then you run around these various worlds and play various games within the game, like racing mice or shooting cakes for instance. You are accompanied on these treks by bad disco music most of the time.

Little BIG Planet 2 should have all the charm of other no-rules-just-play games like the Grand Theft Auto games, and it does to a point, but it feels more like an acid trip than anything else. Trying to hold on to what sanity I had left, I made the most bizarre outfit for myself, and stuck my tongue out as far as it would go – mostly so I could differentiate myself from The Bride and Crystal.

In a group, you have to have first multiple controllers, and second you have to catch up with each other. No stragglers, or you’ll die when the others leave you behind. You kinda all have to either be at the same skill level, or have a pro like Crystal telling you what you need to know and do. But then again, that’s what all PS3 games need apparently. Perhaps there’s a PS3 mentoring program?

So I spent an afternoon and a night of running around with my tongue hanging out. What it means, I still don’t know. What I accomplished, I still don’t know. If I can get them to eject this disc though, I want to shoot something, preferably zombies – because isn’t that what videogames are all about anyway?