Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Tri: Of Friendship and Madness

About 36 hours of total play time, and I finally beat Tri: Of Friendship and Madness. Though the game is heavily derivative of Portal, it quickly goes in its own direction with the puzzles.

And difficulty.

After a tutorial level, you're given a Tri, a device that makes triangles which you can use to bridge gaps and make pathways up the walls and along the ceiling. In later levels you use them to reflect light beams, guide lasers, and more! And then you are told to find the fox.

The first ten levels or so are tantalizing and brain-teasing enough, and then level 11 hits. From 11 to the end, the puzzles are MEAN! Multi-step, thinking outside the box, taking these game mechanics and stretching what you can do with them to the very edge of reason! There are some strange maneuvers you have to pull off, and figuring out what you have to do requires paying close attention to the environment.

The puzzles are mean in a good way. Everything you need to solve them is right in front of you. Learning to recognize what is possible with all these devices, how they behave, and how you must use the triangles to make them work together is mind-stretching. This is not for casual players, and I like that.

These are expertly-designed levels. Nothing is unfair, nothing is obtuse. I finished the game without consulting a walkthrough, or taking any hints, and I am proud to have figured everything out by myself. Those last two levels are a doozy--each taking me two sittings to figure out--but everything is logical.

The story is a bit thin. It's told between levels instead of experienced as you progress, but that's a minor gripe. I can see how the foxes went mad with this kind of freedom of movement. I almost went mad figuring this stuff out. Forget thinking with portals. Thinking with Tris will kick your butt!

I have only one real complaint: the music. It's not bad music, but the way it's used is. Each level has a segment of music which lasts one to two minutes, and this clip plays over and over and over, with about 30 seconds of silence in between. On some levels, I heard the same 1-minute loop a hundred times, and it became so tiresome I often switched off the music and played my own. The soundtrack is so much better when it's not broken up and looped. I bought it as a symbol of my triumph!

Other than this flaw, it's a wonderful game. Superbly crafted levels, excellent use of its game mechanic, and foxes!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie

Finally watched the Angry Video Game Nerd Movie. Much like Kooky, it's a filmmaker's movie, meaning it's more of an exercise to show off what the filmmakers are capable of. If it happens to be watchable, that's all the better. AVGN the movie is watchable, though not perfect.

The acting is decent, the special effects are surprisingly numerous. A lot of it is deliberately cheesy, while quite a bit more is superbly well-done.

The story is pretty clever, too. The Nerd takes a trip to prove the great myth of the landfill of Atari E. T. games is false, and the timing of its release couldn't have been better, with the real life digging of the landfill and proving the myth of the Atari E. T. cartridges "burried" (:-)) in a landfill was true this whole time. I enjoyed that half of the story.

But there's a second half of the story that kinda muddles the whole thing. Apparently there's some supreme deity named Death Mwauthzyx trapped inside of Mount Fuji, and he is released and starts destroying stuff. What did that supreme being have to do with anything? I still don't quite get why that monster was there, or what it had to do with the E. T. game. Its presence seems unnecessary, as if the whole thing was included just to spend the movie's budget.

I think the story should have focused on the quest for the truth behind the Atari E. T. game instead of trying to justify why this giant robot thing is in the movie. I kinda wanted to see more of Area 51 and the significance of the floor plan being built into the game. From a story perspective (because that's how I look at everything), it needed to focus on that, as it was far more interesting. From a special effects perspective, however, I can see how Mwauthzyx would be more interesting.

I liked the little references to some of the bad games the Nerd has reviewed over the years, and I think the bad game logic could have been used in the real world to more comic effect. The Humvee being stopped by plate glass, and landing the Top Gun plane for example. More game logic in the real world, please! The movie could have done so much more with that, but it seemed to settle halfway between lampooning bad game logic and referencing B-movie logic. It works well enough, but it could have taken both so much further.

So is it perfect? No, but after all the time and the long wait, I didn't expect it to be. I think the story could have been stronger and more focused, but story isn't really the point of the film. This was James Rolfe's coming out as a filmmaker, and what an entrance! His first theatrical movie, and it's an action comedy with a special effects shot in almost every scene! Watching the VFX before/after feature is astounding--how many VFX went by and I didn't even notice! A tremendous amount of work, and story issues aside, I am still impressed! I don't regret buying it, and I'm happy to support him.

I will say that I think the Nerd has probably gone as far as he can go. James' reviews as the Nerd have been getting calmer and tamer as the years go by, which tells me he's outgrowing the character. If this is the Nerd's farewell, it's a good sendoff. I look forward to whatever he comes up with next.

Available on Amazon.