The thing I liked about Surf’s Up was Z, the guy who is this archetypal mentor character whose dark past has made him bitter. But wait, he’s actually not bitter at all. And instead of sulking around like similar characters do in others movies, he emanates this aura of fun. Sure, like most of the recent crop of animated animal movies, Surf’s Up is structured around a simple message (winning isn’t everything). This never bothered me too much, kids could see worse and follow worse advice.
Surf’s Up is a mockumentary about surfing penguins (and one surfing chicken). The main character is your typical looser who admires the presumably dead surf icon Z, and wants to surf himself. It’s obvious where the story goes from there, and most of the time it follows the template. But it’s well done, fun (the part where Z shows Cody how to make a surfboard made me ROFL) and the message is okay.
This was a fitting conclusion, even if it still wasn’t up to the first part. I think to really enjoy it, you have to watch Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End in a row, they are really just two halves of one movie. The thing I found off about the second part surfaced here as well, but much less pronounced. The characters sometimes behave like they were forced to act out of role to further the script, and the plot is too convoluted for its own good. A betrays B, gets then betrayed by C, and all together get betrayed by D. A bit ridiculous. But if you want pirate action, you probably won’t get anything better than this.
While watching the movie the thought popped in my head that it’s funny (or maybe not) how we idealize murders, thieves and general the scum of past times, while those who actually stopped them are always portrayed as villains. I know it’s not as black and white, but pirates aren’t nice people, haven’t been in the past and still aren’t today. And yet, in every movie with pirates they are characterized as heroes. I wonder what future generations will makes out of the scum of today.
8th Wizardry game
Whereas Might & Magic slowly became more and more zombified with each new sequel after the ending of the Xeen saga, and Ultima slowly devolved into an action adventure that never fulfilled the promises of the 7th part, Wizardry got a conclusion fitting for kings.
That is not to say that the 8th part is without problems, but to me they seemed minor. While BotCF and CotDS were as combat heavy as W8, the new 3d environment made the fights cumbersome. Just battling a swarm of insects could take ten times as long (or even much longer) than in previous games. But that Sir-Tech actually implemented the fighting modus from the previous games in a 3d environment is applaudable.
Again your party has gone to another world via spacecraft, this time trying to stop the Dark Savant from ascending to the status of a Cosmic Lord. Old friends and foes from previous games are also around. This was the last game by Sir-Tech, which is sad, and yet, at least they left with a bang. After finishing the game I got what I missed after finishing CotDS, a proper conclusion that left me completely satisfied, both on the plot and the gameplay level.
7th Wizardry game
The absence of the Cosmic Forge (mighty, magical pen) in Wizardry 6 has allowed different factions to find a world long hidden in the depths of space, where a powerful artifacts rests. You go there via spacecraft, to find the artifact before everyone else does, especially the Dark Savant, a sinister and mystical character.
CotDS is superior to BotCF when it comes to graphics (VGA, still block movement) and gameplay. While still using the same core engine, the interface became much more mouse friendly. The gaming world is much bigger, and it seems compared to the predecessor, that there’s more of everything. And it has a map feature.
Often hailed as one of the classic RPGs, it has one big problem that annoyed me to no end. Like every middle part of a trilogy, the ending left me extremely unsatisfied. Sure, 9 years later I got a proper conclusion, but when I finished CotDS the first time, I was, WTF!? Is that it, nothing more? In comparison, BotCF left me much more satisfied at the end. Still, as part of the Dark Savant trilogy, it’s a good game.
6th Wizardry game
This is the first in the Dark Savant trilogy, since the events in this one made it possible for W7 and W8 to take place. Mind you, the Dark Savant never appears. There’s a mighty, magical item, the cosmic pen. Anything written with it becomes reality, and somehow the pen is lost in a haunted, derelict castle.
This is one of the old-school RPGs, where you still move in block-mode. EGA graphics (16 color only) and controls are mostly for keyboard. It can be played with the mouse, but this doesn’t work as efficient as using the keyboard. The game engine was a much needed update over the earlier Wizardry games (I thought the first Wizardry game engine so annoying that I never completed earlier games in the series). You have more races and professions to pick from, a new magic system and a vastly expanded skill set.
The story is, like in many cRPGs compared to their console counterparts, spread all over the game. Little pieces of information the player has to assemble, to understand what happened in the past of the castle. For such an old game I found it extremely playable with an excellent interface (a bit dated these days, but still nifty to use). The only annoying thing is that there’s no map feature, a common problem of older RPGs.
Despite it’s EGA graphics, the game has an excellent style, and the dated graphics makes you actually feel like this is really a decaying castle you’re exploring. Coupled with some really smart puzzles and a great plot, it makes for a great game.
by Black Isle Studios
unofficial Patches by Qwinn . (Download Patches)
I couldn’t answer what’s the best game I’ve ever played, but if you would’ve asked what’s the best RPG, things would have been different. While there are some close contenders (Fallout, later Wizardry & Ultima games), Planescape is still ahead. Things start simple, you wake up an amnesiac, trying to find your way in a strange city. From there it gets more complex.
The most notable thing about PT is its divergence from the common evil vs good template that is pervading nearly all of RPGland, but to say more would spoil the plot. The amount of text in the game is staggering, at least if you’re not used to reading too much. Planescape benefited tremendously from the already excellent Planescape setting, which is arguably the best D&D setting for including philosophical questions about human nature. Using that as a starting point, PT tells a story incorporating themes of redemption and questions about identity.
When it comes to computer or console RPGs, PT is the benchmark to show how high you can reach. But since moments of real brilliance are rare, I’m still waiting for a game to surpass PT.
Directed by Yoshio Takeuchi
This is an animated version of some chapters of the 2001 Nights manga. It’s concentrated on those chapters that deal with the Robinson family, which is a smart move since those were intricately linked with the bigger theme of 2001 Nights, the age of space exploration from start to finish. Due to its limited space some things had to be left out, and the last chapter deviated quite a bit from the manga. Mostly the changes were smartly done, but I still prefer the manga version.
One thing that bothered me about the manga, and it stood out even more in the OVA due to the tightening of the plot. While the abandonment of the colonies made sense on an emotional level, logically it didn’t made much sense. Some colonies might have failed big time, but to assume that all did, seems rather implausible. Still, as I said, on an emotional level it does work, which perfectly complements the other side of 2001 Nights, the rather hardish approach to SFnal ideas.
When I was a kid Transformers was one of these Saturday morning cartoons I watched faithfully, but I never saw the movie. Man did I miss out. This is like Transformers meets Galactus, with a heavy dose of space opera. The movie is like one big, long action sequence, beautifully animated (and still looking good, even compared to modern stuff). The plot is on one hand rather simple (good vs evil Vs world-sized evil), but compared to what I remember from the TV series the execution feels much more sophisticated. It’s also much more violent, every moment seems to see someone crashed or ripped apart.
There might not be much intellectual merit to it, but on a pure visceral level it packs quite a punch.
by Helix Games . (Download, Playthrough by summ22: 1 2)
There are many challenging games, but I have yet to find a game as hard as Jumper (and it’s sequels). It’s a platformer stripped down to the essentials, a little red guy jumping through insanely hard levels. Mind you, it’s never unfair, every stage can be beaten, if you have Ogmo under perfect control. Timing is everything, and it’s good to be able to make pixel-accurate jumps. You have unlimited lives, and you will need them. Some of the later levels you’ll repeat over and over again, until you grok the right sequence of moves. Graphically the game is simple, yet elegant. And I really liked the sound, very addictive, like the game itself. Still, the insane difficulty makes it hard to penetrate through to the later levels and can be rather frustrating, which makes most of the game less accessible for many gamers. Only for experts.
by syn9 / Topa Fari . (Download)
This game is in a certain sense a complete mess, and yet… there’s something about it I find appealing. You’re a stickman-like flat 2d-character inhabiting a 3d-world, running around typical RPG surroundings (dungeons and the likes), killing enemies (bats and other) who are 2d like you. The main problem is that the control of your character is horribly implemented and your viewpoint is fixed in a rather useless angle.
The style of mixing 2d with 3d looks neat, apart from these moments when you or your enemies look like they are standing inside the walls (which happens quite often). Overall the gameplay is simple, but that doesn’t have to say much, sometimes simple is good. Sadly, when the most basic element of a game is broken, like the controls, and playing is annoying instead of fun, it just doesn’t add up to something worthwhile. Still, I like the style of the game.