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Confessions of a Backlogged Gamer, Week 37: Chloroform and Liquid Nitrogen

I’ve gone through a rather complicated cycle with regards to Scribblenauts.  When I first heard about it, I thought it sounded like a cool idea, but I didn’t think it was really going to be for me.  Games with too many choices, ironically, often make me feel trapped.  This is why I usually prefer JRPGs to western; if I can’t do everything, I sometimes find it hard to do anything.  Personal neuroses aside, however, the idea of Scribblenauts eventually intrigued me enough that (with the not-so-gentle prodding of coworkers and friends behind me), I of course ended up procuring a copy.  Upon playing it for a while, though, I’m back to being not so sure.  As I’ve heard said many ways by various people, this game is perhaps the greatest example of an awesome idea with sub-par execution in recent memory.

As I’m sure probably 99% of its purchasers did, I spent a good hour when I first began playing Scribblenauts simply sitting on the title screen summoning up various critters and making them fight each other to the death.  One thing that this game has in its favor is that the included vocabulary is truly impressive, even if things don’t always work quite the way you thought they would.  Once I got into the actual levels, however, things weren’t quite as fun.  They’re split into two sections: puzzle levels, wherein you must call up objects to fulfill certain conditions, and action levels, which require you to make your way through a level to obtain the star at the end.  I’ve found that I really enjoy the former, while the latter tend to be frustrating and clumsy.  I’m still trying to get through all of them, because the currency (”ollars”) that you earn is how you pay to unlock further levels, and I do want to get all of those opened up.  Once that’s done, I may defect to exclusively playing puzzle levels.  We’ll see.  Oh, and protip: when in a jam, most things can be solved by a jetpack and Cthulhu.  And although using chloroform is perfectly okay, the engine will not recognize any alcoholic beverage.  I tried to summon up a glass of wine and was soundly rebuked.

It’s been rather difficult to go to work or have a conversation with any PS3 owner in the past week or so without hearing a lengthy diatribe on how great Uncharted 2 is.  On one hand, I think this is fantastic, because the PS3 really needs the boost for their software now that they have that whole console thing sorted out properly, but on the other hand, it’s a little annoying to me personally because I haven’t played the first Uncharted and therefore am not particularly likely to start messing with the second.  That’s why I decided to play Uncharted (1): Drake’s Fortune.  So far, I’m enjoying the game quite a bit; the aiming can get a little clumsy, but I’m proving to be surprisingly adept at headshots (who knew?), and the fact that your health comes back as long as you can hide long enough for it to do so means that I don’t tend to get too frustrated.  The platforming bits only occasionally splatter me all over the rocks, but the checkpoints are frequent enough that it doesn’t really become an issue, and the hint system is well-timed so that they are offered generally just as I’m deciding that I’m lost.  The visuals are gorgeous, and the story is engaging; it’s nice to have a female non-lead who is fully capable of taking care of herself, as well.  I hear that it only gets better from here, so I’m looking forward to both the rest of this game and the entirety of the second once I’m done.  Fuck grenades, though.  I only tried that once.  Damn you, Sixaxis.  Damn you straight to hell.

Elaine and Dan took pity on me this week and decided to shepherd me through the ODST campaign; I’m actually pretty proud of myself for holding my own on Heroic, but I am definitely glad that I have help, because I’d get splattered if I tried this on my own (not to mention horribly, horribly lost).  Bungie tried something a little off-the-wall with the storytelling in this one, and for a story in a shooter, it isn’t bad; in fact, I think it’s pretty neat.  I think we’ll have it done in one more sitting, though, so hopefully my escorts can put up with a) me squealing every time I do something good and b) hearing “guys?  …I think I lost you again….” long enough for that to happen.  I’m not *that* bad, right?  (<3 you guys….)

Current backlog total: 101

Now playing: Scribblenauts (DS); Halo 3: ODST (360); Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune (PS3); Shin Megami Tensei: Persona (PSP)

New games added: Half-Minute Hero (PSP)

Games completed: none

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