Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Capsule Review Day

Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga (GBA):
One good thing about having a Gameboy DS is that it plays all the original Game Boy Advance games, which opens up a whole arena of games I never played when they were topical three and four years ago. Superstar Saga is the prequel to Mario and Luigi: Partners in Time which I loved and is an action/role-playing game like Paper Mario. It's definitely fun, but it's not as exciting as its sequel, probably because it's so similar and not quite as well executed. One problem I have is that around halfway through the game, the overworld map just opens up and you can go pretty much everywhere. I prefer games where you're constrained to a smaller area and have to figure out everything before moving on. Zelda games do this to perfection by putting secrets in plain sight then blocking them with obstacles that you won't clear until later. In Superstar Saga, I always just felt like I was missing too much and never quite sure where to wander next. Also, digging up beans is really annoying. I haven't beat this game yet, and haven't really had the urge to play it at all recently. Final Grade: B-

Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap (GBA):
A classic Zelda adventure in the vein of Link to the Past. The central conceit of this game is that Link can shrink into a tiny being by wearing a cap, which means that every scene can be approached from two different angles. I haven't had a lot of time to really get into this game (only about 15% through it), but I bet that I'd like it if I ever sat down and played for more than a few minutes at a time. Final Grade: B+

Brain Age (DS):
Brain Age is a budget title that's hot in Japan. It's a collection of puzzles and tests supposedly designed to sharpen your mental acuity if you play it daily. As a testing tool, it's horrible, because it often misunderstands your voice, and is incapable of deciphering 4's and 8's that I write. This generally drops a few points off my scores. As a bonus, the game comes with tons of Sudoku puzzles, making this a perfect "just a few minutes" game to bring along on trips. Final Grade: B-

XM Roady XT and the Altec Lansing 3120:
My old XM radio was over two years old with fuzzy connections, so I picked up the Roady XT right after I got back from the beach. The FM reception is much improved although it takes a few extra seconds to turn on, and runs quite hot. Two nice improvements: long titles and names now scroll on the screen, and you can pick any FM frequency you want rather than having to select them from a predefined list. Final Grade: A Buying this product forced my around-the-house receivers into planned obsolesence since the connectors are all different now. Rather than replace the three home kits (office, living room, and party room), I picked up the Altec Lansing docking station. The unit gets good reception and has a great sound quality for personal use. For larger venues, you'd probably want to run a cable from the headphone jack to a receiver though. Final Grade: A-

A History of Violence:
This movie is about a small-town everyman who stops a robbery in his diner and becomes a national hero. This leads to several heads of organized crime believing that he's a runaway hit man. The first 2/3rds of the movie are great, but the last 1/3 just dragged on and didn't really add anything. Also, having sex on stairs looks pretty painful. Final Grade: C+

Inside Man:
I love heist movies, and this one was great despite featuring Clive Owen who likes to sulk and brood through every movie he's in. It wasn't particularly preachy for a Spike Lee Joint, and even had a few light-hearted funny moments to it. Denzel was good as always, and Jodie Foster was unnecessary. Final Grade: B+

Happy Birthday Anne Lamond!

Porn broadcast stuns viewers
Live rattlesnakes released during movie
Porn still in the news. Porn porn porn.

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