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Which class will you pick, Fighter, Elf, Wizard, or Woman

Filed under: General — 19day @ 19:38:55

I’ve been thinking about this entry for a while, so I’ve sat down and I’m going to try to type the thing. Basically, it’s about the role of women in videogames (in the videogames themselves) while having done absolutely no research, heh, but it’s an opinion piece, so you can leave taking away that I’m just crazy and forget it.

So what we seem to have these days, is an increase in female characters in strong, leading positions, but it seems the people making the characters almost always get it wrong (assuming what they are trying to get right is making female characters feministically acceptable, which I’ll probably have to define later, but it’s more of a feeling than a defined state, plus I just made it up).

Let’s start at the beginning, women didn’t play games, they didn’t care (apparently), well, girls I guess, since at the time, video games were for a younger audience, things like PacMan. So they come up with Ms. PacMan, which was actually a surprisingly good step when you think about it. They added a Bow, okay, stereotypical, she’s adorning herself, but when the original character was a pizza with a slice missing, it certainly seems acceptable. And hey, it’s not like they added two really big yellow circles just ahead of her intersecting with the body, and bobbing along as she moved.

Well, actually, if you read the history of Pacman itself from the original creator, it seems that the point of the original Pacman was to appeal to women, and that the Ms. Pacman bit was just a gimmick later on. But when I read his inspiration, I think it’s a little chilling, don’t you?

“So there I was, wondering what sort of things women would look for in a video game. I sat in cafés and listened to what they were talking about: mostly it was fashion and boyfriends. Neither of those was really the stuff of a good video game. Then they started talking about food – about cakes and sweets and fruit – and it hit me: that food and eating would be the thing to concentrate on to get the girls interested.”

- Toru Iwatani,,7-1718312,00.html

I don’t know, something about that makes me feel depressed. I wonder if Pacman were created now, that after eating all the dots you needed to get to the middle section and vomit all the dots up before moving on the next level, oh, and the bonus items would now be worth negative points, and would spawn immediately in your way.

Ms Pac Man purging

What the last step of each level would be if it had been made today

Okay, so his reasons weren’t great, in my humble opinion, but still, something for the girls. Well, also, a way to market to girls to get their lovely money, if I were to be cynical about it, but when have I ever been cynical… really.

But as a yellow dot goes, it’s not like it was revolutionary anyway, more like lip service. It seems that the big jump to a positive female gaming role model would be in the form of Samus Aran. I was never part of the group that played it at the time, in fact, I started with Metroid II, and never played the original until quite recently. From what I heard, it was a bit of a stir when it was revealed that under that suit was a woman, especially since the instruction manual referred to the character as a He, so either they were trying to throw players off, or they were just as surprised as everyone else. The nifty thing about the character, all the way through to the 3D Metroid Prime (the last Metroid game I played) was that there was no inherent sexuality involved. The character was a woman, in a suit, so it dodged any Lara-Croft’ian problems, which might be a cop-out, but at least it’s neutral…

Except of course, whenever they get the basic idea right, they ruin it utterly and miss the point. For it’s been a sort of tradition now, in Metroid games, that you get ‘rewards’ for completing the game fast enough, and with enough of the items, so that in the credit sequence, various things happen. In Super Metroid, if you finish the game in less than three hours, you get to see Samus in what I can only describe as a bathing suit, no doubt required for her suit to function. So hurrah, strong female character, itty bitty bathing suit. Alas.

Samus stripping

Obviously they wanted to remove any lingering doubt as to her gender

Okay, so lets move away from the strong female leads, into the damsels in distress. These are easy to pick on, but I will anyway. So we’ve got a mustachioed Italian plumber rescuing princesses left, right and center. At least the princess got out and started fighting a bit herself in Super Mario Bros II, the Doki Doki Panic hijacked game. Sure, she was in a dress, but somehow that allowed her to float, which was a characteristic I liked since I’m terrible at the tricky jumping crap. Mario seems to be ceaselessly rescuing this woman, well, Princess Toadstool in most of the games, but Princess Daisy in the gameboy game, perhaps others, I wasn’t paying enough attention.

Link is just as bad in this regard, always rescuing Zelda, for the same reasons (damsel in distress archetype), but a Link to the Past made this worse, she was captured a number of times, as well as several other girls, and they are supposed to be all magical, but of course are defenseless. Zelda herself doesn’t appear to be overtly sexualized yet, so her being a playable character in a Zelda game (perhaps, where she rescues Link, hmm?) would be compelling enough. In Wind Waker, the last Zelda game I played, she at least was a decent character, but not playable and not very active herself, until the very end, where she helpfully shot light arrows at you. Thanks. Maybe the new one will do something more with her, Twilight Princess I think it’s called, might be promising.

Zelda fighting for her man

Scene from Link: A Zelda to the Past
Link is about to be imprisoned in crystal

I’m on a never ending quest to save my boyfriend

I should perhaps now talk about a game that did things pretty well. American McGee’s Alice is one that stands out for me. It’s just you, a slightly grown up Alice, against a deranged wonderland. You are neither attractive nor not, somehow striking a good balance that is more easily seen in male characters in other games, where they are neither chiseled nor lanky. She is herself, running around wonderland, with a knife. Though she does sob a lot through the story, it all makes sense and is perfectly orchestrated, it makes you wish you could fight your own demons as literally. I enjoyed playing the character, and I wasn’t outraged once. The nifty story and environment helped too.

Alice pulling a Duke Nukem

At this point, the narrator was running out of ideas

In terms of sexism on all sides, there can hardly be a better example than Duke Nukem. Both 3D and the Manhattan Project 3D-sidescroller thingy that came later (under license). Now, I liked Duke Nukem 3D, I thought it was a great game, but there were also the naughty bits. It had really great environments, not just dank dungeons like Doom and Quake, but places that looks like what they were, if, unfortunately, theaters of and dance halls of ill repute. The story hopped along well enough, challenge was decent, enemies were, well, lacking somewhat, but had interesting characteristics. It’s also the only game I took my hand at creating maps for, making a semi-completely and mostly terrible Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy run of maps, with the story of Duke following on the heels of Arthur and Ford across the various locations, Vogon Ship, Magrathea, Heart of Gold, Milliways, Frogstar C, Krikkit, and others, while killing ‘Vogons’ who looked suspiciously like the aliens having been killed up to this point. Ah, memories.

But it was sometimes difficult populating those maps, since, and I think this is a telling point, that the only non-hostile animated and interactive ‘people’ in the game were either strippers, prostitutes, or women held or killed by alien intervention. I swear that in Lameduke, a really fantastically crappy alpha of the game released for fun by 3D Realms, that there was a male, normal, NPC… but I could be wrong, hard to recall. In any case, basically the prostitute was the only useful one since out of the context you normally found them in the game, they still looked like they could belong elsewhere. While the dancing and stripping women did not. Not at a cricket match, in any event.

Naked girl tied by slime
Naked girl suspended by slimeNaked girl restrained to alien postNaked girl empaled by alien post
Naked girl in slime cocoonStripperYet another stripperProstitute

Yes, we have much to answer for. This is true.

Duke Nukem 3D, in addition to having these sprites in the game at all, decided to make them interactive as well, in two ways that I think caused upset in some circles at the time. Firstly, you could walk up to them, the dancers, strippers and prostitutes and hit the USE button, which otherwise activated things in the game, and you would give them money, say something like “Shake it Baby”, and the strippers would, in exchange, flash you and shake their.. er, tassels, at you. Of course, this illicit act is pixilated all to hell and isn’t alluring, but it’s still something that might have best been left on the drawing board (but given the things reportedly seen and done in GTA: San Andreas, I suppose it could have been worse)

Which brings me to the second thing you can do in Duke Nukem with these characters that brings us to that worseness, which is kill them. You can blow away any of the NPC’s, which range from the strippers, to the alien-goop-bound girls. When you do, Duke says “Dammit” to himself (we’re really feeling for him at those times) and usually, this causes more enemies to appear. So I guess that’s one thing, it punishes you for killing them. To me, that’s not too bad really. But if they had some male NPC’s, and didn’t sexualize them as much, then it would have just been by-standers getting killed and it would be up to the player to avoid them since it just produced more enemies.

But, from the pictures, pixilated as they may be, I think the game goes overboard. And also for male sexism too, look at him, all muscle, all attitude, probably flooded with steroids. He screams he male version of the sexist attitude, but it doesn’t affect men as much it seems. Well, researchers say that it does have some effect, and I can well believe that. But for some reason, a man can just be a man, as long as he’s not grotesquely fat or ugly or anything. I have yet to see a game where a serious lead character was some fat guy, because no one, not guys, nor women, would want to play such a character. But you can have an average built guy character, but the women have to be these bombshells.

Now it gets tricky after that, why would women want this anyway, why aspire to the female “ideal” (and I really do mean the quoting there). They do seem overly preoccupied with how they look. Of course, there’s a trap right there, as from their point of view, men might be thought of as insufficiently preoccupied by how they look, suggesting some baseline “normal” level, that itself shares the type of quotes I put around “ideal” earlier. I really don’t know, but back to Duke Nukem 3D

Duke standing on a broken barrel with money in his hand

Duke standing on a broken barrel with money in his hand

If you need further evidence of this game’s general sexist theme, one need only listen to the last bit of audio once you beat the game.
Duke: “My name’s Duke Nukem. After a few days of R & R, I’ll be ready for more action”
Woman: “Ohh, come back to bed Duke. I’m ready for some action, now!”
[grunting, moaning, and Duke ending with a bit of a laugh]

Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project took the character and the attitude to a 3D sidescroller, where to beat each level you needed to find a key, and also disarm a bomb that would mutate some captured pneumatic woman. On rescuing them, they show their appreciation by jumping up and down. I decided to fix her reaction by quoting Rocky Horror Picture show.

Duke getting shot down

Ooooh, burn! Duke is denied! [general Fox audience noises]

I remember an article, can’t seem to find it (but as this is still an opinion piece, I’ll just say stuff without evidence). Anyway, I remember this article about a game development studio that was working on a title, and they were trying to decide whether to have multiple characters. I don’t recall if the change was anything other than cosmetic, but they had a guy character, and a girl character, and they found themselves asking internally if people played one more than the other, and if so, why? And as it turned out from their own investigation, no one was really playing the male character, and the reasons are kind of funny. Girls play girls, since it’s a reflection of themselves in the game-world they are in. Guys, however, play girls, since they like looking at girls. Huzzah.

Of course, the above recollection doesn’t make a whole lot of sense (it did play out like that, but I can’t remember why exactly they did their investigation) since most games give different skills to the different playable classes, so playing as a woman would be different than playing as a man (if those were the only options)

Which is sort where the title of this entry comes from, since I’m reminded of Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance. It was the first of that series-types-whatever of games I had played. Curtis and I were playing as a duo (not the whole time, we imported around a bit), I played as the gruff Dwarf, and he played as the unnecessarily buxom and pert Elven Sorceress. And it’s funny how that went, since of course the woman is weak in nearly every way, which were two important ways: Firstly, she couldn’t carry much, and half the point of the areas was to get weapons and then sell them for gold to buy the good stuff later on. Secondly, she couldn’t really fight. She had some spells, but it was a lot of hit and run tactics when Curtis was playing alone. There were areas early in the game (when we had been playing separately) where I had run up and just slashed my way through, where he had to cast, cast, cast, refill on mana, and cast again to survive. Then we teamed up, I went barreling in, while I got magic backup. And we both got experience as we went, and the Sorceress got quite powerful in fact. Ball Lightning, a somewhat cheap semi-area affecting spell, was leveled up until basically it killed everything before I could get there, even when using my Dwarven Magic Flatulence. Still, she couldn’t carry much. Now I’m not sure what the point of this section was, oh well.

And I think the telling factor of the Tomb Raider series is that when I was looking for game shots, I also found lots of fairly suggestive fan art, and then the fairly suggestive game shots on which they were based. There’s not much of a challenge there, people have been going after that series for years.

Lara Croft and her charms

90% of the polygon count was allocated to the stars of the game

Here’s one final bit from a game I liked way back when I played in arcades. It was called Astyanax, but being a non-word, it took me quite a long time to track down a ROM for it. I played through it in MAME, it’s your typical side scrolling monster killing quarter guzzler. You’re some muscle bound guy, hurrah, killing monsters and grasshoppers, hurrah, and then in one of the later levels, you attack women. Okay, fine, but part of defeating them is cutting off their tops, they expose themselves (in 16 by 16 pixel glory) and run around embarassed, where you can finish them off without further defiance. How sporting.

Lara Croft and her charms

Will I get 1000 points if I disrobe someone? Now that’s imitatable

And I think it’s important to show that, at least in a single sample, that it’s not just the games alone that have succum to this effect, but even in the basic notion of 3D gaming itself. Here again is the picture of the 3D game programming book I bought a while ago. I rest my case…. oh, sorry, I thought that was just a figure of speech… case closed.

Cover for Game Coding Complete, complete with sex symbol

3D basics: vectors, matricies, half-naked-ninja-women

Anyway, I think I’ve prattled on enough. I don’t offer any solutions, just pointing out some of our past difficulties. I think, and hope, that as more women enter the technical fields, such as programming, and become involved in these projects, that there will be a balancing out of concept and perhaps women will be portrayed better. Unless this is what everyone wants, women included.

In which case sorry for wasting your time


A Virgin’s Guide to Sex

Filed under: General — 19day @ 16:02:20

This article is presented as was originally not published in MathNEWS many years ago. It was rejected because the editors were simply too wimpy (opinion, not libel) of its content, and I always felt mathnews, as part of mathSOC, was pretty cliquey. Also, considering the quality of the other articles accepted, I didn’t really have that much hope. The only thing I’m really embarassed about in this is the Seinfeld reference.

A Virgin’s Guide to Sex

This article is directed and intended for those of us who are both mathies, and virgins (in pretty much every sense). You know who you are, the shy, those who go to a party and lean against the wall, probably trying to avoid being spotted as you didn’t have any friends to invite you.

This is presented as a series of points, to help speed reading of the article, and so they can be referenced quickly later (but please, not when attempting what is described below, nothing wisens a person to the inexperience of their partner than when they are caught referencing a manual). This article has been modified from it’s original version, it has been changed to fit your page. I suggest you get the wide-page version.
(This article assumes a certain amount of knowledge. If you don’t get the ‘mulva’ joke from Seinfeld, now would be a perfect time for you to stop reading.)

Some general points:

-Guys, if you must, you can gauge your successes in your head, but do not volunteer this information to your friends, or it might get back to the girl, and does increase the chances of saying “boobies, score!” at an inopportune moment.

-Do not complement the fiddly bits on your girlfriend. If you say “You’ve got amazing [insert part(s) here]!” then she might believe that you would rather exclusively date those parts, take them out dancing and out for coffee afterwards. While this in and of itself is not much of a problem, the girl to which they are attached might feel left out. This also applies to girls staring at guy-ass, but this is much less of a problem as guy-ass is nasty anyway.

-It is probably a good idea to know your lovers name before engaging in sexual relations, as you might resort to moaning out the names of ex’s, family pets, and deities who would probably not like to be called on at that moment.

-Remember guys, No means No. I’m sure no girl would be interested in your lengthy mathematical proof that No, in fact, does equal Yes, no matter how many lemmas you use.

-Please, for the love of Bob, do not use math-related pickup lines like “Let’s integrate baby”, or even worse, if you’re a CS major, ones like “I’m gunna mount your drive” or “Programmers ‘do it’ bit by bit”.

-Never ask your friends for advice on sex and relationships. If you are reading this article for advice on sex and relationships, then you probably don’t have any friends anyway, or you would have asked them first. The risk about asking friends is that they might not have had ever been with anyone either, so any advice they give is likely to be absolutely wrong or very dangerous, or both. Try not to look at the title of the article at this point.

-Math can never be used to make a sexual joke, no matter how funny you think the integral of e to the power of x is.

-Don’t bother remarking how many times integration has been mentioned thus far, I have my own problems.

-In fact, it’s best not to mention you were ever a mathie, say you were in Arts

Of course, all this doesn’t guarantee that you will find someone. In a search, I once started with a rough approximation of 6,000,000,000 people, halved it for a female population, take the percent that live in this province, another for those of whom I would fit their attraction threshold, and again of whom would fit my attraction threshold, again for religion, language, hobbies, general dispositions, and worked it out to one girl, she didn’t return my call.

Good luck to you


Well, perhaps in addition, some elements go against my later feminist attitudes… they were always present, but I think I even might have been a little harsh on some of this, but I think of it more of a parody of people’s behaviour. The part I most relish, to this day, is the last section, where I can say that she did finally return my call, but she was permenantly washing her hair. The hair wants what it wants, alas.


damn spoofs

Filed under: General — 19day @ 19:16:56

I’ve gotten a lot of emails from sources claiming to be me, well, various accounts off my domain. Usually a few, maybe 10. Today, it seems that a spambot decided to spoof one of these fake addresses of my domain to a bunch of other people, and they got bounced back, all 231 of them.

How I hate what the net has become.

I’ve given up, and set my non-routable email address to bounce.


Towers open file

Filed under: General — 19day @ 00:54:30

I don’t know about any of you loyal Firefox users, but I had run into a problem recently, and only now discovered how to ’solve’ it. The problem was an odd one: Saving something to disk took waaaaay too long to get underway, like, you’d click a link to something and save it, and then it would take upwards of 30 seconds for it to respond afterwards, just spinning the system. It was a part of the main UI thread I’m guessing, since sometimes the download would complete before FF would respond again.

Anyway, I always have a few things running that I put up as ante against the problem, some software that’s always running playing with my disk *cough*, oh, and my USB drive which I’m never sure if it’s causing problems.

I didn’t really discover the problem until recently, but it acted like it crept up on me, but certainly it occured after installing Firefox 1.5. Anyway, I finally figured out, possibly, what it was.

I never clean out my Downloads window, I tend to just close it. It had, after all the time I’ve used firefox (I think it ported the history from previous versions) gotten so large that adding a new entry to it brought the system down to it’s knees. I had disconnected the USB, closed down everything else and saw it was still happening, so on a whim I clicked the cleanup button… then it took entirely too long to clean up, and then blamo, everything downloads insta-like again.

A lesson kids, always implement such frivolous features as a bounded queue (maybe it already is, maybe my computer just sucks)

Brought to you by Θ(n!)


What is the fascination

Filed under: General — 19day @ 01:07:13

I’ve just looked at my website’s stats, and people left right and center are coming in and killing (relative to the 3 and a half bytes of traffic I get a month usually) me with linking to my photo1alter.jpg I mentioned in my previous post as an aside.

I’ve got people seemingly coming across it all the time through image searches on the term ‘junk’ (for google, it’s on the first page, but only barely), people on myspace linking to it, and it’s posted on forums for some reason. It’s not that interesting a picture, they don’t even say much about it, if anything, it’s just a half-meg picture they link to which has been downloaded, apparently, over 500 times. Nutso.

Instead of just locking those sites out with the no-hotlink-for-you bit, which would be cruel, I’m just going to move it elsewhere. Perhaps to be slowly rediscovered again, I’ll put a downsampled one in it’s place to keep from breaking the interwebs :P

Looking closer, it was worse in January, but I didn’t realize it.. I forgot to carry the one :P

Asylum Dev journal downdate

Filed under: Asylum — 19day @ 00:01:32

It’s been a while since I’ve last worked on Asylum, a pity, but I’ve had a lot of work to do and pulled long nights and some weekend work, and I have my PS2 which keeps me entertained as well. I also have a predilection for buying DVD box sets, the latest being a british comedy called Chef, which I loved way back when watching WNED on saturday nights.

Anyway, I had bought a new book and read through most of it. Called Introduction to 3D Game Programming with DirectX 9.0 by Frank D. Luna (got to love snappy, concise book titles, eh?). Anyway, I wanted more of a background in Direct3D since I’m still porting elements over from the old DirectDraw style. I also need a new videocard, but that’s another story.

The book was alright, didn’t go into too much detail (but given my project’s requirements, I don’t need blazing poly-pushing just yet) but has some nice examples I might be able to learn from. It has to be better than that last book I got, not that it was a bad book, but the example code was in the form of a single massive project that demonstrated everything at the same time, and plain doesn’t compile. And not just for me, for others as well. I still managed to isolate bits of code and play with them enough to understand them, but usually when I think of example code, I think of … well, an example,.. not an entire project which happens to have a million other things going on. Which in turn is why I seriously dislike the DirectX samples MS ships with, the test framework does too much, it’s hard to figure out what is absolutely required, and what is just cruft.

Hopefully I’ll be able to devote more time to this project soon. Though a lot of it will still need to be in the planning stages, since a Mysty like game is one where a mistake can cost hours and hours of wasted effort. Course, not everyone likes Myst like games anymore, a slew of them came out in the past few years, mostly awful, but nice looking. Maybe by the time my game is ready, everyone will be so sick of senso-feely fully-immersive 4D games that mine will seem shockingly retro, heh.

I’d also like to note that lots of people seem to find the asylum subsite due to google image searches for the terms “castle sketch”, funny, my brother drew that, and is basically the only real inspiration I ever had for asylum. If only I could draw.


I don’t have a future, just a very persistent present

Filed under: General — 19day @ 00:12:49

arrow through heart

Another year, another Valentine’s day sans autre significatif, turning into quite of a pattern. Sure, it’s a Hallmark Holiday (it’s alright to look for the hallmark on the back of the day) to sell cardboard splattered with pink, decomposing vegetation, and sugary milk solids in boxes which may or may not be in the shape of parts possessed by women. But maybe it would be fun, maybe.

I’ve never been on the receiving end of an honest valentine, or gotten a candy-gram or whatever. Still, I guess I’ll miss richard’s odd Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle valentines he used to spring on us at uni. Heheh. But other than that, I guess I shouldn’t have expected anything to change, as I haven’t.

Anyway, a lament for the day as it ever has been. I have nothing further to add.


Something Awful

Filed under: General — 19day @ 01:47:33

I don’t usually like to post blogs that are just a pointer to another internet address, to be dereferenced … ah, yes, anyway, but I’ve stopped by Something Awful a lot recently. I never used to go there, but I stumbled across the ROM Pit, and laughed my amble buttocks off. I’ve explored the Photoshop Phridays and other odds and ends. I particularly like those, or any image-manipulation joke.

I took part in something similar once, I created an altered version of a source image where there was a guy standing in the midground (thus having to mirror a part of that tree by the house and fill in some shadow detail) and also the boy hadn’t actually rammed the firehose in the girl’s back, that was an alteration too. And there was a water stream in the left that I totally excised (from the girl). For some reason it’s a popular image, this one Myspace account hotlinked to it for some reason. I was going to alter my selective filter to use the No-Hotlink-For-You image but I decided not to bother until my bandwidth starts to suffer, which will probably be never at my current monthly visitation rate.

Anyway, back to Something Awful. I’ve been browsing over some altered Choose Your Own Adventure book covers, and I laughed pretty hard at most of them. Then I saw this one, and I fell in love. Here it is, not hotlinked to avoid ire, the creator was one softbomb.

Choose your own simultaneously superimposed adventure, until it is observed

I am happy.


Graffiti Kingdom

Filed under: General — 19day @ 03:24:11

Title image

I just beat this game, so I thought I’d write up an entry on it. It was a game I actually had to beat myself, as there don’t appear to be any walkthroughs available online. Anyway, the background: It’s a PS2 game, given to me by Alicia for christmas. It’s a quasi-sequel to another game by the same people, where you drew up your own monsters and fought them RPG style. In this game, you can build up 3d creatures, create attacks (sort of, the game does a lot of autopilot of what you mean, but it does it well), and then fight the enemies hand to hand, adventure-zelda style. It has a basic health and attack power level up feature akin to Illusion of Gaia (for example). The experience is gathered in the form of ‘coins’ dropped by enemies on defeat, which dissapear after a while, which adds a bit of worry to the battles. They can also drop cards, which when taken allow you to become that enemy form whenever you want. There is a ‘capture’ ability which allows you to take on an enemy form without their card, but only for a short time.

The plot is very familiar, and could be summed up by just saying ‘Secret of Mana’. You are Prince Pixel (oh dear god how I hate ironically chosen names), who being a mischevious little boyish girlish boy (since he has the title prince, and has a male voice, I’m prepared to accept him as male) finds a secret passage into a basement where he takes a wand-like paintbrush accidentally uses it to break the seal on a demon who had been defeated ages before by the power of Graffiti (in Japan, it was called Scribble Kingdom I beleive, which is far more appropriate, but whatever). Anyway, a boxdog who was sealed as well to safeguard the demon seal becomes your sidekick, and you are both thrown clear while the big demon changes your kingdom into a weird mutated kid-toy of itself. The boxdog (who goes by the name as Pastel, ugh) has the most highpitched annoying voice I’ve heard in a video game in a long time, but you get used to it. Anyway, so your mission is to use the power of Graffiti (draw or capture other drawn creatures) and fight your way to the devil.

Pixel and Pastel

My progress through the game was slow, helped by having to start over after falling victim to the memory-card-half-in effect. I found it hard to get into the game, there was very little direction, which I suppose wasn’t needed since most of the game was very linear, but a map system might have made it feel a little more connected. The gameplay itself, I’m sad to say, was rediculously boring at times, especially near the beginning. It was just hack and slash the whole time, in an unending kiddy-woodland environment. There were indications as to the fake-ness of the world, like exposed wall edged with a corrogated cardboard texture, but it would have been more fun if it had been more overt, like bits of the scenery collapsing or something. Some bits were boring to tears, while other parts were really hard. The save system is mostly forgiving, if you die you go back to the last save point (they also restore your health if you approch them) and they are placed every few areas, including right before and right after major boss battles.

The bosses offered some interesting challenges, including one boss that had three roulette style areas that attacked you without mercy (with whatever attack it randomly chose) while the boss tore you to shreds. Luckly curtis was over and played my game, and after many many attempts finally beat him. He also created Mr. Jones, the ungodly four legged (nice shapely legs too) thing with a earwig pincer on it’s front, a head that wobbles about and three arms, armed with a wooden paddle, a club, and a sword. I tried my hand at a few creatures but I never saved them, I might try again now that I beat it (with Mr. Jones).

The funny thing about the bosses that I wasn’t really paying attention to at the time, is that by the end of the game you will have beaten 7 bosses, but there are only really 4 major worlds. The trick is that most of the time you have no idea which world you’re in, or where one begins or ends except for a nexus point that connects them for you. That’s sort of the problem, the areas just weren’t that memorable. The enemies, while numerous, could easily have been reduced into easy, annoying, and bloody hard categories. The bosses were amusing enough in their techniques.

The cutscenes, however, are hilarious, as the main characters is casually sarcastic most of the time to his boxdog (which turns out to girl, his age no less, which he totally fails to get off with) and there is another character, an evil demon, member of all these creatures who caused the problem in the first place. I swore it was supposed to be a she, it even has a girl voice, but it’s referred to by others as a He. Oh well, the He/She fights you occasionally to test you, and gives you advice on the other battles. Then at the end… well, I won’t ruin it for anyone (curtis).

Actually, one of those battles is where I found an interesting bug-like thing in the game, I was on a platform over death-fall areas fighting Him/Her, and I did a whirlwind attack where you sort of lose control of your direction. I knocked Him/Her over the edge, and I was about to wonder whether that counted as killing Him/Her, when I fell off the platform myself. Normally, when you fall off a platform, you lose a little health and get sent back to the door you entered the area from with all the enemies respawned, so I thought to myself “Crap, I’ll have to start over this battle at best with nearly no health, or start from the save point many screens back at worst, since I had a sliver left when I fell”. Oddly, a cutscene started to play, apparently I defeated the He/She, well, that’s nice. But then when it was over, I was on the platform again… but I couldn’t move… what? Couple seconds later, “Game Over”. I was dead, but it took the game a bit to understand this. Luckly, when I returned again from the savepoint, I had still won the battle according to the game, so I didn’t have to do it again. Anyway, I consider this a bug just due to the fact that most games don’t allow you to win if you die during the fight, which is annoying but sort of expected and works around some problems.

The final boss fight was actually a bit of a pain. I fought a stage one fight that I beat faily easily, but I had to fight it twice in a row, then I had to fight a new form another 3 times. I died during that fight, a few times, but I was permitted to start from that point on reincarnation. All the time with Mr. Jones, a very powerful custom creature. I found the game creatures to be nearly useless. Except for one I seemed to absolutely need. There’s a bit in the final level that I could not pass due to platforms being too far apart or too high from one to the next. None of the enemy cards I had were effective either. There were these deadly flying birds nearby, but it was nearly impossible to kill them without pushing them over the edge of the platforms to their death (despite the fact they can fly). I tried about a hundred times before I gave up and returned to an earlier area to finally get the card. Now, I had leveled up to the Wings component for custom creatures, but no matter what I did, I could never induce my custom guys to fly, they just sort of crawled along. When I finally got the bird and edited it’s attacks to see what the hell I had done wrong, apparently “Fly” was a technique aquired from that card… I have no idea what the hell the point of the wings are then. Maybe I hadn’t levelled up enough, I don’t know.

Anyway, the game is over for now. I don’t want to knock it in all that I said above, but the real point of this… PS2 program, is to create monsters and try them out. The game portion was sort of tacked on as the environment and reason that you have this ability at all. The magic is in the engine, it’s a pity I have little imagination (meanwhile curtis fell in love). I might try building a new creature now that I have all the bits (at least, I think I do). But now it’s time for sleep.

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