Tag Archives: video games

Haruki Murakami: the video game

Behold Memoranda, a point-and-click adventure game that claims to be a magical realist experience in the vein of a Haruki Murakami novel:

Memoranda is a game about forgetting and being forgotten!

A point and click adventure game with magic realism elements that tells the story of a young lady who gradually realizes she is forgetting her own name. Is she really losing her memory or is there something else that could explain the strange circumstances? The story happens in a quiet little town where a few ordinary and strange characters live together. Including a World War II surviving soldier to an elephant taking shelter in a man’s cottage hoping to become a human. There is one thing all these characters have in common: they are losing something. It could be a name, a husband or even someone’s sanity!

I dunno, it seems rather annoyingly twee. I’d say it’s hard to translate the quiet strangeness of Murakami’s novels into the visual medium, but I rather think the Norwegian Wood movie pulled it off. I’m curious, but not enough to pay $17 and change. I’ll probably buy this if the price drops below $5 since I have an abiding lust for point-and-click adventures, but right now I think I’ll hold off.

Hungry like the wolf

So I’m playing Tales From the Borderlands. I’m already on the third episode. This is in contrast to season 2 of The Walking Dead, which I still haven’t finished, and The Wolf Among Us, which took me most of a year to get through.

I think it’s because Tales From the Borderlands is actually fun. It’s not depressing like The Walking Dead (tap X to avoid catching dysentery) or gruesomely violent like The Wolf Among Us.

I’m not kidding about Wolf Among Us – a lot of the Quicktime fight scenes felt shoehorned in, while the crunching sounds of bones snapping and the copious blood leaking out of various gaping wounds was offputting. And I say this as a connoisseur of graphic violence (I have enjoyed works from Messrs. Miller, Tarantino, and Chiba).

It’s probably the air of seedy fictional hyperreality that pervades the game. Fiction always asks that we not pay attention to how artificial their worlds are, but Wolf Among Us was so grubby and bleak that I kept noticing how my narrative path was always railroaded onto the most noirishly depressing options.

But yeah, Tales From the Borderlands – while also containing violence – is too cartoonish for me to be bothered when someone gets shot through the head. And, you know, it’s fun to play. I’ll probably finish it by the end of this week, which is a record for me as far as Telltale Games properties go.

Kung Fu Fighting

Goodness, what is this Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax? A 2D fighting game with modern anime characters, you say?

And it’s available in English on PSN? And there’s a sequel with even more characters?

Let’s see, in the original game there’s Celty and Shizuo from Durarara, Kirino from Oreimo (not a character you’d expect in a fighting game), Holo from Spice and Wolf, Alicia and Selvaria from Valkyria Chronicles (that was also an anime), Satan from The Devil is a Part-Timer . . . Boy, there’s a lot. Fighting game nerds say it’s more for anime nerds, but if I want hardcore I’ll fire up Tekken. This title looks like a pleasant game to relax to as I make cartoon girls assault each other.

The Near-Final Frontier

I’ve been playing Star Trek Timelines, the new mobile F2P game that’s only been out for a few days. I never play these types of games, but I’ve read about them and I’m aware of all the little psychological tricks it’s using to hook me in. But on the other hand, when I click on Worf he says “Today is a good day to die.” Plus, if I keep playing I’ll get to unlock Odo and Chakotay soon. How am I supposed to resist?

The premise is what you’d expect – some time-space hooey is afoot and Q has dragooned you, nameless Starfleet captain, into flying around fixing the problems when past, present, and alternate timelines collide.

The game’s only been out for a few days, though, so some of the kinks are apparently still being ironed out. For instance, I think the beginning is a bit too complicated to just jump into – Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes is noticeably slicker (speaking of another mobile F2P game that I just got into over the holidays) – but zooming around in a Constitution-class starship scanning planets is fun enough by itself.

It’s curious that so far I’ve yet to find a characters from the Bakula Enterprise that’s been voiced, considering that characters from the other series have had voices. Not all of them (Yeoman Rand and Keiko are mute, for instance), but enough that I notice. Perhaps there’s something in the Enterprise actors’ contracts that puts a kibosh on video game adaptations? I do notice that the J.J. Abrams movie versions aren’t included, which I assume is because the game’s contract covers only the TV shows.

Anyway, I’m probably going to keep playing this grindy clickfest until I vomit. It’s Star Trek, how could I not?

The Ones Who Live in the Basement

So someone took The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas and turned it into a viable business model in The Sims:

Screencap of a 4chan post describing how to make a
Click to embiggen

Every time I play The Sims, I start my family with a “painting goblin”.

I make him/her morbidly obese with green skin. I make sure to give him the following traits:

  • likes to be alone
  • likes art
  • hates the outdoors

The first thing I do once I have enough money is build a small room in the basement, send him down there, and then remove the stairs. I set him up in a tiny little area with only an easel, a toilet, a refrigerator, a bed, a shower, and a trash bin.

All he does all day is paint. That’s it. He paints and paints and paints and paints.

Eventually his paintings become very good and worth a lot of money. Every few minutes I go downstairs and sell whatever painting he has finished, and then I return to playing the game.

My family always ends up feeling blessed because of their fortune, and they never find out about the horrible secret living beneath their home.

Future Imperfect

I love point-and-click adventure games. I love walking around their worlds and clicking “look” on each piece of background scenery, I love talking to every character I come across, and I even love obtuse inventory puzzles that leave me wondering how the hell a rubber ducky is supposed to help me get on a subway train. This is not a rational love but one born from the nostalgia of a person who played a lot of Sierra adventure games as a kid.

But art does not exist in a vacuum. Audiences always bring their prior experiences with them when encountering a text. Keeping in mind my partiality toward its genre, I must say this: I like Technobabylon.

Said the cyborg bouncer with the mohawk:

Part police procedural, part conspiracy thriller, and wholly a sci-fi cyberpunk journey through a decadent city of sorrow and sin, Technobabylon is a pleasant return to the old adventure and puzzle gaming formula. You play as three main characters: a curmudgeonly police detective hostile to the newfangled AI that governs his city (like a white Bill Cosby, minus the rape), his younger and more enthusiastic post-op (actually post-genetic-engineering) female-to-male partner who’s down with the hacking and the tweeting and the bipping and the bopping, and an unemployed shut-in on welfare addicted to the Internet who subsists on protein sludge extruded from her shitty apartment’s food machine. Also there’s a murderous plot which could lead all the way to the top. Continue reading Future Imperfect