A New Year Full of Words

So, it's 2009. The older you get, it seems, the faster time flies. Does that mean I'm having fun? I suppose if I have to ask that question, I already know the answer... honestly, though, I don't even know what I'm talking about right now.

The weirdest part? Next year is 2010. It kills me to say that. 2010. 2010 is one of those dates that was always referenced as the far flung future where everybody is supposed to have flying cars and robot butlers and jet packs. Freaks me right out to consider that. And then, not far from that, we have 2012. Depending on who you ask, 2012 is a big deal because that's when the Mayan Calendar ends and may or may not be the end of the world. We've had "this date might be the end of the world" events before and nothing has happened, but it'll at least be interesting to experience it. And then not far after 2012 will be 2015, another big far flung future year - specifically the one referenced in Back to the Future II.

Christmas was alright, I guess. A lot of refurbished or used stuff, but because of that, I got more and better stuff than I usually get. The biggest one is that I got a new camera. For a change, this one is actually pretty decent - a Kodak EasyShare M753. It's still not what you would call a great camera, like a Canon or a Nikon or anything, but it is leaps and bounds over my old camera (7.1 megapixels with tons of settings vs. 5 with almost no settings) and came with a 4GB Memory Card. Finally, no more of that stupid "the camera only holds 9 pictures or one minute of video". 3500 pictures and 80 minutes of video, this time - WITH sound!

Then, we have a cheap MP3 player. This one had 8GB of onboard memory and played a massive list of media formats (audio, video, pictures, etc.) but within two days it was busted and non-functional. Currently seeking a replacement or a refund on that one, though, it was so cheap, a refund might not even be worth it. (Cue "You get what you pay for")

I also scored The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian on DVD, which was sort of weird, but not entirely unappreciated. I mean, I liked the original Narnia movie, I guess. I liked it enough to where I don't think I'll exchange the DVD. I guess I'm just sort of ambivalent because I've taken to renting movies on Netflix before buying them, and I haven't seen this yet to know if I like it enough to own it. Only one way to find out, though!

And then, some ultra-cheap used games. Final Fantasy 1 & 2: Dawn of Souls on the Gameboy Advance, for example. I've been slowly playing FF1 so far and... I really miss this style of Final Fantasy so much. New Final Fantasy games are so... flashy and glamorous in a bad way; lots of overdressed Japanese Supermodels with funny names running around Coruscant from Star Wars: Episode 1. That's all I see Final Fantasy for since FFVIII; and none of that interests me anymore at all. It feels so manufactured and overcooked and just... not for me. Final Fantasy 1 not only retains the classic Final Fantasy vibe, but it's refreshingly open-ended for a Final Fantasy game. After the initial quest to defeat Garland and rescue the Princess, the game basically tells you "Yeah, uh, restore the four crystals, I guess? You'll figure it out." and you're turned loose to go pretty much wherever you please. There's a genuine sense of adventure and discovery that Final Fantasy games haven't had in a very, very long time.

Next up is The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, a game I've been meaning to pick up for ages. I haven't played more than an hour of it so far, but it's already got me hooked in ways Twilight Princess failed to. Twilight Princess, to me, felt like a very technically competent game that was just lacking in any sense of... excitement, I guess. Like the developers went "FINE, if you guys don't like Wind Waker, here's your mature Zelda game" - with all the effort of a parent who is giving in to the temper tantrum of a spoiled child. Twilight Princess just didn't really feel terribly inspired to me, and while there was quite a bit of content in it, a lot of it felt like padding. The game took forever to get any kind of momentum going and there was way too much downtime between dungeons. We'll see how Wind Waker goes - I've heard stories about the terrible Triforce quest near the end of the game.

Rounding out the used games bonanza is the first Sly Cooper game, which I have not had a chance to play just yet. In addition, my cousin lended me the first Gears of War and Mass Effect in addition to providing me with some other goodies, like Two Worlds and a video of a Tenacious D concert - which I'll actually be watching once I finish writing this blog (upon further inspection: the specific name is TENACIOUS D: THE COMPLETE MASTERWORKS 2, written in all caps because you can't do anything but write something like that in all caps).

I've only had a chance to play Gears so far (up to Chapter 4), and it's been a good time, I guess. A lot harder than I was expecting, but in a good way - a game hasn't really challenged me like Gears of War in what feels like forever. But there's something... off feeling about the game. I can't really put my finger on it. It's like the game doesn't interest me, but for some reason, I find myself having a hard time putting the controller down, if that makes any sense. Maybe it's the story - or the lack-there-of. You really get the sense that there's something here, in Gears of War, but Epic Games does not have the tools to rationalize what is going on. Or maybe they're trying to tell a story like Valve tells a story - letting the environment speak for itself. I don't know. There's just enough story here and just enough interesting characters that the almost... too videogame-y stuff about it doesn't mesh well. Like there's supposed to be a weight and a gravitas to everything, but then you have a mine cart level. I've heard things about the final boss for this game, too, like how a lot of people won only through luck, or something, so that's something I'm dreading.

I... think that's about it? I guess? Yeah. Onwards, to 2009! Chances are, it, too, will be over I realize it!