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Stuff I’ve Been Playing Lately

March 25, 2008

I haven’t had the attention span to sit down and play a whole PS2 game lately – I think the pick-up-and-play nature of most Nintendo DS titles sits right with me these days. And, sadly, while there are plenty of DS games out there that do interesting things with games as a medium, there aren’t a whole lot out there that tangle with race and gender in any particularly interesting ways. (Not that I know of, anyway – feel free to comment with some suggestions!) So while I haven’t had a whole lot of directly topical material for the blog, I have been playing a few things worth mentioning.

On the PS2 side, I’ve been playing around with the NiGHTS Into Dreams remake. I actually have the original for my semi-functional-but-no-memory-card Sega Saturn, so I was stoked to play a visually updated version with the Dual Shock analog sticks because I never shelled out for the NiGHTS 3D pad back in the day. I haven’t played it very seriously – just a level here and there when I feel like picking it up – but the way it feels to fly in that game, to bounce and careen and soar in its oddly 2.5D space, is completely unrivaled. It’s very Sega – in fact, it feels like a perfect SAT analogy. NiGHTS is to flying in Super Mario World what Sonic the Hedgehog is to walking Super Mario Bros.

Also making a brief appearance on the PS2 is Tori No Hoshi: Aerial Planet, though only for one fairly short session. For some reason, my R1 button doesn’t seem to be accelerating like I’m supposed to be, meaning that flying is kind of a pain. The game is supposed to be relaxing, largely – you fly around a planet that’s mostly forest and ocean on a fairly quiet little glider, and you look for birds, eventually coming to mimic their calls and such. I don’t know if I’m actually going to play it much, but the flying and admiring the scenery alone is worth some time every now and then, if only to mellow out a little bit. I bet it’d be fun stoned, especially if you muted the music and played your own instead.

On the DS side I’ve been a little more active. I played through Apollo Justice, of course, and my love for the Ace Attorney series has not abated in the slightest. I won’t spoil it for anyone, but suffice to say that the writing just keeps getting better, and the storytelling gets ever more interesting. As the title indicates, Phoenix is not the main character, but he ends up being quite significant nevertheless. He also starts looking surprisingly grown and sexy with the hoodie, beanie, and five-o’clock-shadow.

After Apollo Justice I dithered around with Professor Layton and the Curious Village, but it hasn’t really held my interest quite so much. Since then I’ve been playing around with Ninja Gaiden DS (only in Japan so far, sorry), which is awesome in control and visuals and a little bit boring in terms of level design. Seriously, each level has a bunch of fights, maybe a puzzle, and then a boss fight – and the boss fights, puzzles, and fights in each room are largely identical. If the combat itself weren’t so darn fun (stylus input) and surprisingly precise then it would never get away with it. Grrrr. The other game that has caught my eyes lately is Bangai-O Spirits, the DS version of the cult shooter hit Bangai-O, which I never played. I think Tim Rogers says it better than I could, though – “Brain Training for God”.

That’s about all I got for now. Any recommendations? PS2, DS, and (shhhh) emulated systems only! Thanks.

pat m.

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