If you’ve been following us on Virtual Bastion, you may be familiar with Listmas, a little holiday we celebrate every December. Listmas involves a rather fun format of blog posts, lists, which can be about anything at all, as long as you’re listing something. While December at Virtual Bastion is dedicated to gaming lists, I decided to create some non-gaming lists here on my own blog, as well! To begin, I thought I’d start with something easy…future cosplay ideas! Continue reading Listmas 2018: Future Cosplay Ideas
Happy Halloween, fellow mortals! I have been simply dying to show you my Ratchet and Clank stretching portraits, and today is finally the day to discover just how those pictured in my earlier post met their ghastly ends…. Continue reading Is This Blog Post Actually Stretching?
Look closely at the image below and tell me if it looks familiar…. Continue reading This Blog Post Has No Windows and No Doors
As you can see, I’m still working my way through the 30 days’ worth of video game topics, and I’ve just managed to get a couple days past the halfway point. Yay for me! Day 17’s topic is my favorite antagonist. For me, talking about my favorite of anything can be difficult because my favorites change all the time. Which is something that kind of bugs me about myself. Duck, you are a fickle, unpredictable creature. Stop it! Ahem, well, the arbitrary list of topics says I must discuss my favorite antagonist, so I’m going to pick the villain I’ve probably liked for the longest span of time, Dr. Nefarious. Continue reading Day 17: Favorite Antagonist
The newest of the 30-day video game topics is my current or most recent video game-themed wallpaper. As much as I would like to have actual video game wallpaper, I’m assuming they must mean my computer’s desktop. And due to my obvious level of obsession with all things gaming, it should come as no surprise to anyone that I do indeed have a video game desktop.
I actually went through many different images for my desktop in the semi-distant past. I…don’t remember most of them, but I do recall having a screenshot of the secret ending of Donkey Kong Country 2, where the Kongs are gazing at the sunset, along with a Jak 2 screensaver. That’s right, there was a Jak 2 screensaver, which I earned by completing this odd, little game on the game’s official web site. It had Jak sitting in jail, looking bored, while bugs crawled around and the sky outside would change depending on the time of day. Kind of…weird, to say the last. Continue reading Day 14: Current (or Most Recent) Gaming Wallpaper
After a long wait, the Ratchet and Clank movie has finally come out. Video game movies have a long history of being pretty terrible, but after watching the trailer (um…several dozen times), this one looked like it would be the first video game movie to be of quality. Nevertheless, after its release in theatres, I watched as the ratings went down and down, from a high of 21% on Rotten Tomatoes down to a dismal 17%. I expect it to drop lower in the coming weeks. While I found this aggravating, it did not surprise me. People will never accept such a movie until they accept the medium that inspired it. Why mobile games like Angry Birds gain such widespread acceptance, while console and PC games continue to thrive only outside the mainstream population, I know not, but alas, that is not the topic of this post. Suffice it to say, us gamers are a very special group indeed, and it appears we will remain that way.
I knew the reviews would only annoy me, but I skimmed over a few anyway. Critics complained of an unoriginal storyline and flat characters, among other things. They even claimed many elements were stolen from more recent movies. I was baffled because these statements were unfounded. How can a movie based on a game from 2002 steal elements from movies that came out far after the game’s original release date? This is not just my opinion; it is logically impossible. Likewise, the Ratchet and Clank series has a history of fun, but well-developed characters and interesting stories. I find the characters from this series to be among the best in video games, and how characters I have formed a deep bond with, from the naïve, but intelligent Clank to the arrogant, but well-meaning (after his redemption, anyway) Qwark…how they could be described as flat, well, I’m astounded. They might as well state Mario is not an icon of gaming or Sonic is not Sega’s most famous character. Continue reading The First Good Video Game Movie is Here
I went on a bit of a spending spree around Christmas time. When I was stocking up on supplies for this year’s masquerade, I decided, while I was at it, I might as well buy a whole bunch of Ratchet and Clank figurines. As if that wasn’t enough, I also decided this was a great time to catch up on some of the games I had missed from the series, as well, so I went ahead and bought Quest for Booty and Into the Nexus (the latter was just $10, which was a pretty good deal, I think, and I am well aware of the fact that Nexus is supposed to come with a downloadable copy of Quest for Booty, but I like hard copies, darn it!).
Now, the reason I didn’t bother buying these games at first was because I heard they were short. I mean, it’s great that Insomniac has been making so many R&C games, but any joy this might bring is greatly lessened when many of their games lately are so absurdly tiny. I don’t want to spend all that money on a game that’s 5 hours long. I know they are priced cheaper than typical games, but I’d much rather pay full price for a full-length game myself. And yet, the pain of feeling left out spurred me to buy these games to see what I had been missing because I am weak like that. Continue reading Into the Nexus, I Hardly Knew Thee
I had a rather short dream the night of 8/7/14, but I wanted to write about it anyway because it related to one of my favorite games of all time, “Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy”. In this dream, the game apparently had a scene with Gol and Maia, the main villains, that got cut from the game, and I remember I was playing the game and exploring this place that was supposed to be Gol and Maia’s citadel, but it was more like a Medieval castle. I remember being in this hallway, and there were these platforms that would only appear in the wall for a limited time, and you had to climb up them to get through this doorway. I tried multiple times to climb up them as quickly as I could, and I eventually made it through the doorway, which ended up leading outside Continue reading The Duck Dreams of PlayStation Characters
Today’s topic for the 100 theme blog challenge is number 12, insanity. This sounds pretty easy. Insanity. I know just what that is. It’s when someone is…well, insane. Crazy. Bonkers. A nutter. But, the more I think about this topic, the more I think about how not-easy writing about it really is. It’s a single word, but there is so much that can be written on it, can’t it? And I’m certainly no expert on mental disorders, so I had to think of a different way to write about such a topic. And then I got it, in the form of a question. Why is insanity so appealing?
Don’t look at me like that. It is, in a way. I mean, they have an entire archetype commonly seen in stories that is related to insanity. The mad scientist. No, not angry scientists, though many of them do seem to have some bone to pick with society. Crazy scientists. Why was this stereotype even invented if insanity wasn’t in some way appealing or intriguing? And insanity, as you’d expect, whether they be mad scientist or not, is most often portrayed in villains. Because you really don’t see that many crazy good guys, do you? No, it’s the villains that think up all kinds of bizarre plots for such goals as world domination or other methods of obtaining unstoppable power (the terrible movie “The Blood Waters of Doctor Z” featured a mad scientist that turned himself into a fish in his plot for world domination; I have no idea how he thought that would work, however), while the poor good guy always has no choice but to go and stop it. Our hero very rarely is crazy. Maybe brave or foolhardy, but it is most often the villain who is deeply disturbed, which is all the more explanation for their wild plots.
And so, to kind of expand on that, when it comes to villains, what kinds does this Duck usually like the most? That’s right, you guessed it. The insane ones. In many stories, I typically like the villain the most. Or, at the very least, I often find them to be the most interesting, and I wonder why they do what they do. But, the villains that always interest me the most are the crazy ones. The weird, eccentric ones. Because, frankly, villains that got it together (bad grammar on purpose) are boring. It’s the crazy ones that are obviously in need of some therapy that always capture my attention most of all, and that is what I’m here to discuss, with as few tirades as I can manage.
Let’s take Bowser, for example. A lot of people know about him, no? He’s the main villain of the “Mario” series and an experienced princess-napper. And I don’t think anyone would consider him insane. Nope, he’s a huge jerk, but he’s not crazy. He doesn’t like his rival, Mario, which is understandable, as the ‘stached plumber constantly puts a stop to Bowser’s plans. He also seems to have a thing for Peach, especially in “Paper Mario”, but hey, you can’t really blame him. And you don’t need to be a villain to understand his desire to rule the Mushroom Kingdom. I mean, who doesn’t want to rule the world or a kingdom of ‘shrooms? Antagonist or protagonist, world domination is pretty appealing. And so, while Bowser is quite the creep, I don’t find him to be that interesting. His plans are uninspired, but I don’t get the crazy vibe from him. And that just won’t do. You’re too sane for my tastes, Bowser.
And then I come to the villains that are nuttier than those bags of peanuts that you get on airplanes. These disturbed villains can be many things. They are usually interesting. They are most often rather…unique individuals. And they typically range between comical or downright disturbing. I may like a villain in a more lighthearted series because I think they are hilarious in a way that only someone nuts can be. On the other end of the spectrum, some crazy villains are scary because of their insanity, and that’s why I find them to be particularly…villainous. Because they manage to truly frighten me, while at the same time making me curious about them all the more.
Let’s take two examples of some of my favorite villains. These two are insane by every definition of the word, and they are Dr. Nefarious of the “Ratchet and Clank” series and Lord Ghirahim of “The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword”. Now, this post is in no way intended to just talk about how great I think these villains are, even though I certainly do. It’s intended to explain my point on insanity. And explain it, I shall.
Dr. Nefarious is insane in a way that is on the lighter end of the insanity spectrum. This robotic villain is not someone to take lightly, as his plots have involved trying to turn all organic life into robots and trying to turn back time in order to undo all the times in the past that the good guys have prevailed over evil, which he is more than capable of doing because he’s also a genius (we got a mad scientist here, folks). And no one can disagree with me that this guy is crazy, from his bizarre plans to his maniacal ranting and screaming. And I will never fully understand why he hates organic life when he used to be one himself (and don’t ask me how that happened because I’m still not sure). All I do know is that Nefarious is a nut and seriously needs to be put into an insane asylum. But, his bizarre behavior is what makes me like him so much, as he is quite an entertaining character in an already rather hilarious group of games. Few can deny that his cut scenes are some of the best scenes in the series. And if Nefarious wasn’t insane, he wouldn’t be nearly as great.
And then I come to Lord Ghirahim, another character that is positively crazy. This guy is just weird. I don’t know. Nefarious, I kind of get. A little. But, this guy is, well, a lunatic. Ghirahim is rather flamboyant and, like pretty much all villains, quite enamored with himself. He can be pretty darn feminine and is known by all to make some pretty strange comments that can make you laugh (probably one of his most memorable lines is, “This news has just filled my heart with rainbows.”), but that doesn’t make him any less scary. That’s right, this guy is frightening. Rainbow-filled heart or not, Ghirahim is a terrifying dude in the way he can start off all calm and composed one moment and then threaten to do all kinds of unspeakable things to Link the next. And seeing as he starts off so much more powerful than our hero at the beginning of the game, this makes his threats all the more frightening because he is more than capable of carrying them out.
Ghirahim is evil and sadistic, and even though he can say some pretty corny things, he is not as laughable as you may think. He will stop at nothing to achieve his goals, and you know what, he actually does. Oftentimes heroes stop the villains, but unfortunately, Ghirahim manages to be a bit more competent than Link even is. You may be able to laugh at Ghirahim’s strange dialogue and his goofy victory dance, but it’s his insanity, the same thing that makes him behave this way, that makes him so much scarier than he would have been without it. I have to give Nintendo credit for managing to create a villain that can say goofy things, and yet we still can take him seriously. Not everyone can do that, and that’s why Ghirahim is another one of my favorite villains, as he is by far one of the most complex characters I have ever known.
So I was right, after all, wasn’t I? Insanity is indeed appealing. At least, it can make certain characters more interesting or entertaining, because it often makes them either funny, frightening, or a combination of the two. When I try to look for any correlation between the characters I like and those that I don’t, often times it is the weirdos I find the most intriguing. And most of the time, it’s the villains that are the nutty ones, and that may be one reason why the villains are usually my favorite characters in a story. Insanity is interesting. Insanity can make certain characters stand out from all the rest. The mad scientist archetype is proof enough of that, with such examples as Dr. Eggman, Dr. Nefarious, and Professor Hojo, not to mention the most famous of all, Dr. Frankenstein. If insanity wasn’t intriguing, then who knows if these characters would even exist.
Not an Insane Duck
There are many games that I hear good things about that I never end up playing. “Bioshock”, “Mass Effect”, “Skyrim”. But every time I look into these games, they are rated M for all kinds of naughty things, and I decide I don’t want to play them, no matter how much other people like them. And I might be missing out, but such games are often not my thing. (I watch “Andy Griffith” on TV, for crying out loud!) And then I kept hearing about how great a game called “Portal 2” was, and I looked into it, and guess what, it was rated E. E! (Well, E 10+, but I have a theory that’s just an extra paranoid rating invented to prevent lawsuits, because a “Kirby” game is certainly not harmful to those younger than 10, and those games have that rating nowadays, too.) Now that is more my thing. More my thing indeed.
And so I bought it, and as is normally the next step after buying a video game (well, after taking off the plastic, I suppose, a task that involves varying degrees of difficulty, and putting the disc in the console, which also can be difficult when it doesn’t want to come out of the case, I’m looking at you, GameCube discs…), I finally got around to playing it. My first impressions? First, it was funny. Very funny, actually. Second, it was fun and challenging in a whole new way I had never seen before. Third, I love it. I love the game. But, I get ahead of myself.
When I first started playing this game, it did take some getting used to. In case you haven’t yet played this delightful game, all the puzzles are solved using this portal gun that can make up to two portals at a time. And it is pretty disorientating at times. I mean, my first time through a portal, I was watching myself go through it at the same time. Which was pretty weird. It was also a rather frightening experience at first falling through portals far below and then being shot out another one. And it was pretty darn confusing at first, too. You finally get the portal gun and the ability to make not one, but two portals, and I just didn’t know what to do with myself. (And it didn’t help that I was looking at some useful diagrams sideways at one point…)
But, once I did get used to it all, it was awesome. Seriously. This game has such creative, challenging puzzles. It’s not just the portals, though those are the main things you use. There are also solid bridges of light to traverse and lasers to redirect and turrets to avoid, and it was just great. I loved these puzzles. One of my favorite things in games are challenging puzzles (which is why the “Zelda” series is one of my favorites, when the puzzles are actually difficult), but too often, puzzles are too uninspired and easy, or they are hard, but you start seeing repeats, and they just get old. A puzzle is no good anymore once you’ve seen it a dozen times before, even if it was challenging the first few times you did it. One example is the puzzles in the “Zelda” series, involving Link sliding a block over ice to get it to a certain location, and once you push the block, it slides until it hits something. Well, “Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box” had the same thing, only instead of a block, it was the Professor ice-skating over a frozen lake. It was fun, but I had seen it before. (And spoiler, figure out your route backwards…)
But, sometimes something awesome and grand happens. Sometimes a game actually offers something new in terms of puzzles. What, creativity? Who’s heard of such a thing! The first example that comes to mind is “Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time”, which involves the most creative puzzles involving time and multiple recordings of yourself. These puzzles involved Clank recording himself doing actions, then, he could play recordings of himself pressing buttons and other such things and work with those recordings to get to places he couldn’t go alone. That may not make any sense, but trust me, they were some of the best puzzles I’ve ever seen. That game was worth it just for those puzzles and the humor alone.
And being too lazy to think of more examples, or perhaps, there aren’t any (no, there probably are, and I’m just too lazy), I return to my discussion of “Portal 2” (and likely the game that came before it, but as of writing this post, I have not played that yet). It’s just a really wonderful game. The puzzles were just so creative and challenging. Sometimes, I just wandered around for twenty minutes before I figured one out. But, I always did. That’s what makes them so great. They are difficult, but they are all do-able. In fact, the solutions are pretty easy once you figure out what they are. Sometimes, you jus have to try things or backtrack a little, and then the solution just comes to you.
Another thing that needs mentioning is that they managed to make this into an actual game-game, which is also impressive. What I mean is, it’s not just a series of puzzles the entire time like I expected. There is more to the gameplay than just that (which I’ll get to in the next paragraph), plus a story and two great characters, the robots GLaDOS (a character that I’ve heard about specifically and who played a large role in me getting the game so I could see who she was) and Wheatley, who have some of the best dialogue ever, making this game so much more fun to play.
And then, besides the rooms of puzzles you go through at certain points throughout the game, a good chunk of the game is also spent exploring the abandoned Aperture facility (all the while learning about some of the history of the company), and the only way to explore this crumbling, old place is to use your brain, the portal gun, and your environment. The catwalk is missing, and the door you must reach is a good 50 feet away? No problem. Just find a good place to make portals, and you’re as good as there. Your door is now 50 feet up? Pshaw, portal gun and some blue gel. Pow! I’m so through that door it’s not even funny! (Or is it?) So if you’re like me and don’t want a game that’s simply a collection of puzzles, well, this one isn’t. I mean, it really is, but the puzzles are hidden amidst the exploring.
So people who have told me “Portal 2” is great, thank you. I would have never bought the game if no one had told me how good it was. I saw it in stores, but always just passed it by, not giving it a second thought. But, now that I’ve tried it, I really enjoyed it, and I just love when I can get a game that has creative, challenging puzzles, and I am so impressed they were able to make this game into something more. I didn’t expect that. In short, puzzles. Humor. Exploring. Plus GLaDOS and Wheatley. Is a good time.
Few Know That the D in GLaDOS Stands For Duck…