Sunday, October 31, 2010

Super Scribblenauts Update

So something slipped my mind while reviewing Super Scribblenauts yesterday.  The game features a level creator, just as the original did.  And once again you have the option of sharing your creations online and receiving creations from other players.  The editor itself is very in-depth and a little confusing at first.  The interface could definitely use a few improvements but on the whole it's functional and works as much as it needs to.  I've yet to really create anything with it but it's definitely nice to have.
And since this is a pretty small update, there's one more thing I've been meaning to mention:  When I left for Ottawa, I mistakenly left my laptop behind which is why I wasn't tweeting to keep people up to date with the festival as it was going.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Super Scribblenauts Review

Super Scribblenauts Review
This may be my most timely review yet.  Now, as you probably recall, last year the highly anticipated Scribblenauts was released for the Nintendo DS and boasted an incredibly ambitious method of gameplay, stated very simply and effectively in the game's tagline:  "Write Anything, Solve Everything".  For those who may have somehow missed it, the game worked on the mechanic that you could write anything you wanted to appear and then use it to progress through levels.  Ultimately, people seemed to love the game but it still garnered the occasional criticism and while the idea was incredibly charming and still great to mess around with, there were flaws in the game's functionality.
A few weeks ago the sequel, titled Super Scribblenauts, was released.  First off, 5th Cell did address the complaints about the wonky controls, now adding an option to control Maxwell with the D-Pad or buttons, giving you comfortable controls regardless of whether you're a lefty or righty.  More prominently is the thorough rebooting the concept of being able to create anything by adding adjectives to the game's library.
It's now almost possible to truly create anything you can really fathom.  Not only can you add adjectives to the items and creatures you create, but you can stack several adjectives onto each individual entry.  'Giant Metal Zombie Flaming Polka-Dotted Dragon' is a valid entry, for example, and it will produce exactly that.  It's a very impressive execution of the idea, and well reflected in the slightly altered tagline 'Create Anything, Solve Everything'.
One downfall I have come across is that, while the game has an unbelievable library of many words I've never even heard of, I've actually stumbled across some rather obvious adjectives that it has missed.  For example, Super Scribblenauts does not recognize the word 'sturdy'.  But thanks to the myriad of synonyms in the English language, you'll never come across something that you can't get to work, even if you have to stress your creative muscles just a little more.
The 'Action Levels' concept from the first Scribblenauts has been all but dropped in the new title.  The worlds are now represented by constellations and each of the main constellations contains only puzzle-oriented levels.  However, there are two special constellations which contain levels in the style of the original game's Action Levels.
The main levels themselves prove to be great fun, very inventive on the developers' side and produce a difficulty curve that is more or less perfect from beginning to end.  The game opens with a simple tutorial on how to play, which you have the option of skipping, and then moves into simplistic puzzles; as you progress, you will eventually find yourself in situations that can really tax your a good way.
The 'challenge mode' in which you can redo an already completed level 3 times without reusing words makes a comeback and proves to be an even greater joy this time around as the adjectives become a huge help.  The final level in the game is also a neat little surprise and quite literally rewarding.
My only real complaint about the game (well, aside from the lack of the word 'sturdy') is that it on a few occasions has frozen on me.  Whether this occurs for all players I can't say as it's entirely possible that I have a defective game card; much like I did with Zelda Spirit Tracks.  I don't know anyone else who owns the game so I can't be certain for the time being.
In the end, if you liked the original game, you'll love this one.  If you didn't like the original game because of the wonky controls, you'll also love this one.  If you haven't played the original game, I can guarantee you'll love this one anyway.  The only unfortunate bit to this situation is that if you never bought the first game, Super Scribblenauts outdoes it in so many ways (every way, honestly) that there's simply no point to owning both.
If you've read my tweets, you know that I called Super Scribblenauts 'the best game for sandbox play I have ever experienced' and this still holds true.  It's even caused masses of people to form around me in a group effort to create the weirdest stuff we can think of.
If you have a DS, this is one of a good handful of must-haves for the system, and I can't recommend it enough.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Yarns and Freaks

Well, I was doing homework all night last night but I had a 6-hour-long "nap" earlier so I'm feeling a little better now.  So, let's start this post with some personal news:  My brother purchased both Kirby's Epic Yarn and the new Castlevania game a couple days ago.  We started a co-op run through Kirby and so's good.  I'm actually not finding it to be anything special or spectacular, as the reviews would lead you to believe, just yet but it's still very early on.  I've still got other games to get through too, like Super Paper Mario which I haven't touched in weeks.  On that note, I have beaten every level in Super Scribblenauts now so I guess it'll be time for a review of that soon.
Moving on, here's another animated short I saw at Ottawa that I really enjoyed:

There was a little more to it in Ottawa but this is all I could find on YouTube; it is the bulk of it though.  Like Logorama, it's another thing that's already been around for people to have seen, but I hadn't seen it before and wanted to share what I liked of what I saw at the festival.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Some More OIAF Goodies

Well, continuing with the theme of yesterday's post, I'm going to show another short film I saw at OIAF.  Now, it's been pointed out to me that this one's been around for a little while as a friend of mind had already seen it before I went to the festival; nonetheless, it's very worth a watch.  I present Logorama:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I'm Back, Baby

Well, I've returned from Ottawa.  The festival was quite enjoyable with plenty of great animated shorts and features (along with some really bad ones), and awesome presentations.
In the coming posts, I think I'll be posting some of the shorts we saw that were among my personal favourites.  I can't post them all right away because they've proven to be hard to track down.
Incidentally, The Illusionist (a traditionally-animated feature film which premiered at the festival) was absolutely fantastic.

To kick off, here's Blockhead - The Music Scene:

If I was in charge of putting together a team of hand-drawn animators and the person behind this video came to me, they would instantly be the effects animator for the team.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Off to Ottawa Tomorrow

Just a quick update today.  Tomorrow after class, I'll be heading with several classmates to Ottawa.  We are going to the OIAF (Ottawa International Animation Festival; I believe that's what it stands for anyway).  I'll be there until next Sunday.
Until then, if I can get a connection, I might be posting some tweets on my Twitter so if you'd like to keep updated on how the festival is, you can check there.  I'll have my DSi with me too so I'll be sure to have plenty of pictures when I get back.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Starite Star Bright

A second post today for an awesome coincidence.
Tomorrow, a small asteroid will be passing very close to Earth.

This is an awesome coincidence, in my opinion, because it marks the release date of Super Scribblenauts!  Now, as I already mentioned way back in my review of A Boy and His Blob, I love puzzle platformers, and the original Scribblenauts was no exception.  Though it definitely garnered certain criticisms, which have supposedly been addressed for the sequel.  In any case, we'll find out soon enough how it turns out.
The power of adjectives is yours!

Half Time Thoughts

Well, with not much else to talk about yet, let's see what I can say about Super Paper Mario, being about halfway through.

Ultimately, it feels pretty standard.  The experience is run of the mill and a bit less than I was expecting.  The game feels very confined and small-scale most of the time.  For something with such a simple visual execution, I was hoping (and expecting) for there to be a lot more to the worlds you have to traverse, but most of the levels don't really have much to them.  There are some clever puzzles, especially those revolving around the ability to 'flip dimensions' (change from 2D to 3D), and those have been the big saving grace.  The boss battles have proven to be fun as well.
My biggest complaint so far is how dialogue-heavy the game is, especially considering that 1. it's a Mario game and 2. rarely is anything that's being spoken by an NPC actually important (though admittedly this applies more to the time you spend in the town Flipside, than when you're in an actual level).

And that's how I see it at this point.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Not out of it yet.

Hey all, been a little while.  I've still been really busy with school and haven't had really any time at all for games.  I'm about halfway through Super Paper Mario so that might see an Outdated Review in the near future.  Hopefully the long weekend (I'm Canadian, so I have Thanksgiving this weekend) will produce some material to post.
A brief moment for something else:  About 2 hours ago, my cat (Jets) was accidentally run over by my neighbour.  He was very old (for a cat, 16) and was almost blind; he was sleeping in their driveway.  Obviously, he died from it and I'm probably going to have a worse time with this than the rest of my family.  I'm definitely gonna miss the little guy.
Thankfully I wasn't too shaken up.  He was bound to pass away soon enough anyway.  Plus I've already dealt with much worse this year when a friend I had known since grade 5 died.  I have no regrets of how I treated Jets, or Ben (my friend) for that matter, while they were alive, and properly treating those you love while they are alive is what really counts.