Sunday, January 25, 2009

Speedy thing goes in, speedy thing comes out.

I've had two new video game addictions lately. Being the nerd that I am, I like brain-teaser puzzles. Here's a quick review of the two games that have been burning some of my spare time:

Legend of Zelda on the Nintendo DS. My lovely wife ratted me out. Yes, I probably would have blogged more the last couple of weeks if I hadn't been completely absorbed in playing Zelda through to completion.

Many moons ago, I loved the original Legend of Zelda video game on the Nintendo.

This game is very cleverly put together. If you follow the story line, it will take you through a series of quests for various tools you need to defeat Bellum, the monstrous beast at the end of the story.

The tools include a boomerang, bombs, a bow and arrow, bombchu's (which are like programmable mouse-bombs that will crawl to where you tell them to and then blow up), a grappling hook, a hammer, and a shovel.

I really like the puzzle aspect of this game. Each time you get a new tool, it will present you with a simple task to accomplish with that tool so you understand the basics of how the tool works. Then, as you progress through the story, you will have to figure out what combination of tools and in what manner you need to use them in order to make it through the obstacles and challenges that impede your quest.

You can play multi-player via WiFi, too. ES and I have been played two-player in the car on the way down to Williamsburg last weekend.

The other new video game addiction I've had is Portal. I've been playing it on the X-Box 360, but it's also available on the PC (for a whopping $9.99). It's also now available as a download on the X-Box 360 for something like $15 but it has a bunch of bonus levels to play.

This started out as a loaner from our friend Vince (thaaaaanks, Viiiiince...). He came over to our house for dinner one night. He handed me this disk with a sadistic grin on his face and said, "Here, you need to try this."

I asked him, "Is it a multi-player game we can play together?"

He smirked and said, "No, I just wanna watch you play it."

"Ummmm, oh... uh... okay... I see."

He watched me discover the rules of this new universe through trial and error - no doubt similar errors that he made in his initial excursion into (and out of) the Portals.

In the game, you are some sort of participant in an experiment. You work your way through these mazes while some computer generated voice offers you warnings and advice. The computer generated voice is actually very funny in the silly legal disclaimers they offer throughout the game.

The game involves using a device that can creat these magical portals in walls. Let's say you had one of these devices in your house. You could create a portal in your basement wall down cellar, then walk up the stairs to your bedroom and place another portal in your bedroom wall. Then you could walk through the portal in your bedroom wall and come out the portal in the basement. Make sense?

You have to figure out where to place the portals and move objects around in order to make it past obstacles and moving platforms. Sometimes, in order to overcome some obstacles, you have to use momentum going through one portal in order to shoot out the other portal. "Speedy thing goes in, speedy thing comes out."

Actually, I went to see if I could find something with a demo video to show you, and I found this on YouTube. This is an excellent introduction to what Portal is all about, and it's only a little over 2 minutes long:

Vince ended up loaning me the disk for the weekend. I managed to finish all 19 levels that weekend and got the disk back to him.

It was actually something both good and bad for doing together with ES. Good in the sense that with puzzles, sometimes two heads are better than one. There were a few times that ES figured out what pieces to move where in order to solve a level. Bad in the sense that anytime I let ES take the controller, I found myself quickly getting dizzy and starting to feel motion sick.

Poor ES didn't get to see the end of level 19 though because I finished it after he went to bed. I promised him we'd get our own copy so he could play through to the end, too.

My awesome wife found out it was available as a download on the X-Box and it came with BONUS levels beyond the first 19 levels. So the addiction was back again this weekend. ES and I spent this afternoon working our way through the first 19 levels again and then played a few of the bonus levels.

So, if you like brain-teaser puzzles and you've got either a PC or an X-Box, then I recommend picking up a copy of Portal and giving it a try.


blunoz said...

Before you think me a horrible parent... I just noticed the "T" rating on the cover of Portal. I have no idea why it's rated Teen. It's not like there's any sex or drugs or anything like that in it. If anything, my guess would be that it's due to the complexity of the game and younger kids might not be interested in it. 7 year old ES enjoyed playing it with me though.

Sagey said...

And I got my very own butt massage since Blunoz also hooked up the surround sound speakers in the basement and my chair was vibrating all afternoon as they played with the volume up very HIGH! :-)

Loping Squid said...

man, I can't tell you how many hours I spent playing Zelda as a kid. I don't know if I ever solved it, but I'm pretty sure my kid brother did.

As for Portal. I think it would just be best if we kept that out of this house.



Improvedliving said...
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