1.17.2009

The Music of Wall-E

I really like the movie Wall-E, and I realized the other night that a couple of the songs from the soundtrack are going to evoke some really powerful memories when Alex is grown up. That's because for the last month or so, ever since his cousin's Wall-E-themed birthday party and we bought it on Blu-ray, Alex and I have watched Wall-E almost every single morning. See, when Alex wakes up at some ungodly hour, the most Nick or I can muster is to plop Wall-E into the PS3 and then curl up on the couch and attempt to watch it with him (though often "watching" consists of me dozing and Alex narrating the movie while trying to stick vegetarian sausages, scrambled egg, or other microwaved breakfast foods into my mouth).

The first 45 minutes or so of this movie are positively brilliant. I'm sure this has been written about all over everywhere so I won't get into too much detail, but the physical storytelling is amazing and makes the movie appeal to my two-year-old as much as it does to me. I'd say most mornings we only watch that first part (he usually doesn't wake up quite that early) before it's time to get ready for work. But sometimes we leave it on in the background, and that's why the soundtrack of Wall-E has become such a prominent part of this little era of our lives.

Of course, there's the song from Hello Dolly that opens the movie, during which Alex dances around looking as cute as a two-year-old could ever look. Then there's my favorite part of the movie, where Eve waits until the spaceship is out of range before busting out into her freeform flying and exploration. I love the song that plays during this part, so much that I can already almost feel the future tears in my eyes when I hear it and remember the joy of having little two-year-old Alex all cuddled up warm with me on the couch saying, "Bye-bye spaceship!" and "Eve flying!"

The same theme plays a little later in the movie, when Eve and Wall-E are in space, Wall-E using the fire-extinguisher to propel himself through the stars. That song is definitely going to remind me of the time I came into the kitchen and saw Alex by the breakfast table with his little space shuttle toy and a car, twirling his arms around in imitation of that part of the movie and gleefully exclaiming, "Eve and Wall-E dancing! FAAAATHT!" (That's how Alex says "fast.")

I wonder if the Peter Gabriel song at the end will remind me of the feeling..."Oh my god, did we watch the whole thing?! What time is it? Am I late for work??!" And how around that moment, Alex would come sit on my lap and refuse to move, saying, "No shower" as I'd try to skulk off to begin getting ready. Or how when he'd glimpse me all dressed at the top of the stairs, he'd say, "Mama work" and then either try to climb over the baby-gate to come with me, or run off to Tutu's room, where they'd wave at me from the window as I rode my scooter off.

I'm sure at some point we'll all tire of Wall-E and move on to the next movie -- as I'm writing this, we're watching Pixar Shorts for the first time, and Alex, Nick, and Tutu are positively rapt. But I hope when Alex is older, I can help him remember how much he savored every minute of his first really beloved cinematic experience, from the Walt Disney title at the very start ("Castle!") and the Pixar intro animation ("Lamp jumping!") all the way through the end credits and their accompanying storyboards and simple cartoon animations. It's brought us pure joy, through and through.

1.06.2009

No. I'm not psychic.

My farewell bio happened to be in what now turns out to be the final EGM. It was just a coincidence, and a sad one at that. We all knew something like this was coming, but I'm not sure anyone realized how extensive the purge would be. I can't sugar-coat it and say this is great for anyone.... just how sad I am for so many people, and that at some point things will all turn out to have happened for the best. Life is just like that.

Update: I know everyone already reads Jeff Green's awesome blog but just in case you don't, this post is worth a gander. While I disagree with a couple of his comments, he's got an extremely enlightening take and one that any true fan of EGM, 1UP, or GFW/CGW will appreciate.

1.03.2009

The New Prince of Persia

I like the latest Prince of Persia, but as I've been playing it, I keep noticing certain things that drive me crazy. Everyone's praised this game for the fact that you don't die and have to restart, and I like this feature. But I still find myself having to do complex platforming sections over and over (and over and over...and OVER AND OVER AD NAUSEUM) because the section where I'm supposed to go next isn't well lit or the camera doesn't swing around in time to show me the jump I'm supposed to be making. Then I miss, and I have to restart from the very beginning. (Right now I'm experiencing this in the Spire of Dreams, but I've struggled throughout the game.)

Obviously, not many other people are having this problem, or the game wouldn't be receiving accolades as easy and "casual-friendly." But because of this challenge, I'm probably not going to finish the game, even though I really really want to! I just don't have time to keep doing the same jump sequence until my creaky fingers press all the buttons just right. Nap time (when my son is sleeping is my only real time to play games) is precious, and after trying something 10 times or more, I just say, "Basta!"

The other thing that I'm completely confused about is combat. I understand the combos (though I really had to study the combo tree to figure out how the system worked). But I just can't get used to the way the game constantly reminds you to block by flashing "RT" (for the Right Trigger button) on the screen. If this has to do with the counter system that was explained briefly in the tutorial, well, I missed or forgot that part. All I know is that *just* as I'm getting ready to attempt a great combo, the game reminds me that all I can do at that point is block. I think. Or am I missing something? Am I actually supposed to spend half my time in combat pressing RT and waiting for my turn? And if this isn't the case (which I hope it isn't, because pressing RT and waiting isn't any fun), then why hasn't the game, which obviously has a huge fondness for flashing text on the screen in the middle of combat, reminded me how to do a counter? Or given me any way to figure out how to do it? I'm not complaining that the combat is too hard, because it isn't. I just don't like being forced into blocking all the time, and I wish the game gave me a way to enjoy the combos and be more active in combat.

I've always loved this series' acrobatic platforming, and this game does that better than ever. But I also loved how the previous games' levels were sort of like puzzles you had to solve, as well as being tests of your reflexes. This game loses the puzzle-solving and mostly just has you power through levels, pressing Y or trying again when in doubt. I miss the puzzles a bit, but -- when I don't have to redo sections because I couldn't tell where or when I was supposed to jump -- I'm enjoying the faster action of this game. And I am still totally digging the architecture and ambiance. Sure, the corny dialogue and voice acting do tend to kill the vibe, but it's a rare game that lets you gaze out at gorgeous vistas while teetering on a ledge that feels like it's a mile high in the sky.

So I'm pretty bummed that I'm not going to finish it. (At least they packed a whole lot of achievement points into the first half-hour of the game!)

Also: HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!