Media Mini-Review Quadrio:

Zelda: The Wind Waker: Simply put, this is the finest game I've played in some time. This doesn't necessarily mean that it is the most fun game I've played in some time, but it obviously was well-planned, with consideration given to nearly every moment of the user's experience. No portion of this game seems neglected. There's always something else to do if one gets stuck, and typically clues are available if needed. You would certainly do well to keep a pen and paper handy for notes. The world that Miyazaki has created for Link to adventure in is marvelously consistent and really requires players to make use of all the tools at their disposal. Every interaction one has with the game universe is a satisfying one, and one feels really rewarded for daring to explore and take chances.

Plus I only noiced two text errors and one major collision issue, so for a large and dynamic game, it has surprisingly few apparent glitches.

This game really is an example of how interaction design can be elevated to an art form. I still think that Nintendo shouldn't let Miyamoto anywhere near the hardware design department, but when he directs a game, look out. This game does for me what Link to the Past did for me in the 16-bit era. It is truly the next Zelda, and what more can one ask for?

Super Monkey Ball: I think a better name for this game would be Super Monkey Fuck Goddammit Fuck. At least, the single-player mode should be called that. I request that Sega provide documentation proving that the game has ever been completed on Expert Mode by anyone ever. It's essentially one of those old labyrinth games with the two dials which the player must use to guide a ball bearing through a maze by tilting the plane upon which the maze rests. Remember those? Those were really hard, huh? Same deal here.

The major flaw lies in the camera. In the single-player mode, the landscape tilts just like one of those labyrinth games, leading one to believe that one is controlling the landscape rather than the monkey inside the ball. However, the auto-camera goes against this intuitive concept, seing around the ball as the player changes direction, so it's more like you're controlling the vector of the ball itself rather then the landscape. This half-and-half control scheme is initially very frustrating, and I cannot stress the need for either an independent camera control, or the option to turn off the land-tilt effect in this game.

Despite having an incredibly steep learning curve, it is really really fun. The straightforward concept makes it one of those minute-to-learn-lifetime-to-master sorts of games. Where the game truly sines is in multiplayer. Sega took the basic physics model and then ran with it, creating a handful of multiplayer games including a form of sumo wrestling/boxing, racing, hanggliding, golf and more. The multi-player mode has done more for inter-roomate relations in my house in the past few days than any amount of rational discourse could ever have.

Also, it has monkeys.

Teen Witch: Features witchcraft, Lauper-esque 80's clothing with hot pink tu-tus and all, nerds, a locker-room cheerleading dance sequence set to the tune "I Like Boys", and a trio of posturing white rappers singing "I'm hot, and you're not, but if you wanna hang with me, then I'll give it a shot."

Only available on VHS, and very hard to find, but so worth it. I have seen no other movie than manages to encompass so much stereotypical 80's cheese in one film.

Also, it has the scary midget lady from Poltergeist.

Shaolin Soccer: See this movie RIGHT NOW. I had had this film recommended to me before, but I saw a trailer for it before the home video version of Spy Kids 2, which made it out to be a Nickelodeon-esque comedy. Which is apparently what it is going to be when it is released stateside in August. The American release will have nearly a half an hour of the footage removed in order to make it more palettable to American Audiences and essentially kiddie-fy it for a younger market. The original version which I saw is so fucking awesome I cannot rightly put into words, and features plenty of swearing, sexual innuendo, and savage beatings.

Typically, I find Hong Kong comedy, especially the Stephen Chow films I have seen, is not easily "gotten" by western audiences, myself included. Many of them seem have pretty jarring changes in theme, from comedic to serious, to mock-serious, that's it's easy to lose where the joke lies. I ten dto enjoy them because they are so bizarre, not necessarily because they are laugh-out-loud funny. It's not every film where a a shit-eating joke is bordered by serious dramatic or violent scenes, but it's run of the mill in many Chow films. This tends to be pretty disorienting, and although there is a lot of that in Shaolin Soccer, the comedy is just so incredibly over-the-top ridiculous that it's liable to reduce you to tears.

The film is awash in Matrixy computer-generated shots and bullet-time wire-fu camera trickery, much like many aciton films today. All of these effects seem significantly hokier than is typically seen in action films. This is not an action film, however, it is an action comedy, and comedically, it works great. Every kick is more preposterously powerful than the last, the soccer ball churning up huge tornadoes of flying turf, morphing into a flaming tiger comet, and knocking players sideways like so many ten-pins. Every tme anything happened I would have to struggle for something more expressive of my utter awe then "Holy shit!", which I still said about a dozen times. Now this kind of comedy is very accessible to anyone who's been over-exposed to this kind of stuff in every damn action film that's been released since 1999. Genuine action films will have a very difficult time impressing me after this.

See it. Go out and buy the original version now before everyone you know tells you that you have to run out and see this weird new martial arts film about soccer. You must trust me on this. That is all.


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