Friday, January 12, 2007

Be strong and laugh and shout, shout, shout, shout at the devil

So I’ve spent much of the last month playing video games in the time when I should have been sleeping, or writing Revolver, or writing Hunter recaps. It’s like I’m in third grade all over again.

It’s been two games, mostly. First it was The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time, which FRINAN was kind enough to lend me. (That and its sequel, Majora’s Mask, along with his Nintendo 64, which is a fickle piece of machinery. You can’t play unless it wants to, by gawd.) The game is truly incredible, which makes me feel like an ass. See, I’ve spent a great deal of time over the last few years saying less-than-hospitable things about it. This is because when I originally played it upon its release several years ago, I never really got into it, and ended up selling it. (Along with Majora’s Mask, which I played for maybe thirty minutes.)

The problem, I realize now, wasn’t the game—it was my sister. Since I was working and going to school at the time, I couldn’t play the game that much. But she was home all the time, which meant she got to play whenever she wanted. And play she did, only with the Strategy Guide open beside her. This type of gameplay baffles me—if you’re just going to follow everything the Strategy Guide says step-by-step, what’s the point of playing the damn game at all? I ended up watching her do most of the game, and when it became my turn, I didn’t really feel like sitting it through all the cut scenes all over again. Thus, I never got into it.

Big mistake. While I still prefer the original for nostalgic reasons, and I think Link to the Past has the edge in fun gameplay, Ocarina of Time is a true masterpiece. And I wish I knew a song I could play that would change night into day.

The other game I bought shortly after Christmas: Guitar Hero II for the PS2. Oh yeah.

This is the most addictive game I’ve played in years. I usually don’t care for rhythm games (like Dance Dance Revolution—fucking blech), but I just can’t stop playing this. Is it the better music? The too-cool-for-school guitar controller? Yes. And yes. You can play the game with the standard controller, but why?

And I’m also surprised at how much better I’ve become. When I first played it, anything outside of Easy difficulty was incomprehensible. Since then, I’ve mastered that, and pulled five-star performances on every song on the Medium difficulty. Well, okay two songs I can only do four stars on: “Institutionalized,” because of all the frantic double-strumming I can’t quite do, and “Free Bird.” Because it’s “Free Bird.” Meanwhile, I’m making very slight headway into the Hard difficulty, which is almost unfair in how sharply it ramps up on you. (Except for “Strutter,” the Kiss song, which is by far the easiest track in the game.) Expert difficulty remains a blank, Here-There-Be-Dragons on my map. If you’d watched me stumble through “Carry On Wayward Son,” you’d understand why.

And because I’m not entirely throwing my life away playing video games, I started a game of Vampire: Bloodlines on Steve’s computer. Yep: just like third grade. Only with better graphics.

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