Tron Legacy (6/10)

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A lot of nerds were really excited by the prospect of a Tron sequel. What they all seemed to fail to take in to account was that the original Tron was a horrible bore. The sequel is, of course, a much more “exciting” film (one could argue that the T.V. Guide channel is more exciting than the original Tron). It also has all the CGI improvements you would expect from a modern film . Every frame of the digital world is a beautifully composed neon painting. However, the story is flatter than something that’s really flat and the characters are equally dimensionless. I found myself unable to follow (or care about) the action sequences: all the baddies look the same and the environments look the same There is no way to know if our heroes are really in real jeopardy when faced with generic helmeted guy #12… oh wait, that’s Tron… the guy? Who cares.

The Coug - Pencil Drawing

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This is a drawing from my sketchbook that I did when I probably should have been working. John “Cougar” Mellencamp as a vigilante hero. We went hunting for The Coug when we visited Bloomington, Indiana several years ago and spotted him zooming by in a convertible Porsche. A rare Coug sighting indeed.

Metroid Prime Trilogy on Nintendo Wii (9/10)

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After many months of playing I have finally finished all three of the games included in this excellent limited edition box-set. The game(s) come in a nice metal tin with a clear plastic outer sleeve. Normally, I don’t care too much about this sort of thing, but it was a nice surprise when I first opened the package to find that they put a little thought into the design. Apparently, this is out-of-print and now fetches prices near $100 on Amazon (when I got it, it was $25, new).

The set contains three games: Metroid PrimeMetroid Prime: Echoes and Metroid Prime: Corruption. The the first two are GameCube games that have been upgraded with Wiimote controls and widescreen graphics. The Prime games are first-person shooters with more emphasis on puzzle solving and exploration rather than the actual shooting part. The FPS mechanics work admirably on the Wii but are just wonky enough that I’m glad that they are not the focus here.

Of the three, I liked Corruption the best. This is probably because there was a plot in which you actively participated. This is as opposed to the optional (and dare I say boring) text pickups you needed to read in the first two games in order to follow the story. Granted, this is not even close to the narrative hooks of Half-Life 2 or most other PC FPS games, but the story isn’t the end-all in Metroid. What keeps you coming back is the beautifully designed worlds that you explore and the satisfying boss battles scattered throughout the game.

Twelve Winds by POLES, tHE - CD (9/10)

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Twelve Winds is much like their As Above, So Below EP but with more songs! (They must have learned from the tragic mistakes of Five Flags Amusement Park: more flags = more fun) Actually, the songs here tend to be a tad bit more mellow than the ones on the EP so I tend to gravitate towards the EP rather than this CD, but I really like the title track and there are a couple of others that are almost as good.

As Above, So Below by POLES, tHE - CD (9/10)

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The capitalization challenged tHE POLES are one of the few bands that Nonagon has played with that I actually really like. This six-song EP features more-or-less standard underground rock songs, but what I think what differentiates them for me is the gruff vocals, varied dynamics within the songs and a driving low-end. Or perhaps maybe I am just responding positively to an early 90s post-punk vibe that I am detecting.

The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson (9/10)

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The Hero of Ages picks up a year or so after the events of The Well of Ascension. This final volume of the Mistborn series is very similar to its predecessor in that much of the book deals with a city under siege (only seen from the other side). Also, like the previous books, chapters begin with a bit of text from an unnamed document. However, in this case, the blurbs refer directly to the event you are reading about in a way that sort of deflated my anticipation of the series’ climax. Despite this, the conclusion is satisfying even though it leans more towards the mystical, fantasy side of things (as opposed to the science-y way that alamancy is handled up to that point).

Dead Space on PC (8/10)

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Aim for the arms! Aim for the arms, dammit! Ever since I installed my completely unnecessary 5.1 surround audio speakers to my PC, I have been looking for a game that would really take advantage of this set up. Dead Space has some really great sound design and what better way to have creepy sounds erupt behind you than with a dark, creepy horror game. Through the game I was, for lack of a better term, surrounded with the creaking, groaning and buzzing sounds of the spaceship Ichimura and would occasionally start at the sound of something scuttling behind me.

The gameplay itself is a bit repetitive. It alternates between pure point-and-click shooting and a handful of zero-gravity platforming environments. The latter was fresh and new, but the majority of the game is just picking off the limbs of necromorphs with your plasma cutter. That’s not a bad thing, but even Resident Evil 4 mixed things up a bit.

When I bought this on Steam (for a measly ten bucks) I was expecting a first-person shooter’an off-rails version of Dead Space: Extraction which I had enjoyed on the Wii. Alas, the game uses a clumsy third-person perspective with sluggish controls that take about a half dozen levels to get used to.

Thankfully, the story is pretty good and has a great ending cinematic that made me glad I finished the game. It is billed as a horror game and it has its fair share of creepy rooms and monsters, but I wasn’t really scared in the way I am currently being creeped out by F.E.A.R. This game relies more on jump scares with grating music cues just at the right moment. Oh and, spoiler alert: add this game to the long list of games that use an ally’s betrayal as a key plot twist at the end. Sigh.

The Green Slime (6/10)

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This is a late sixties Japanese monster movie but it stars mostly Western actors. The rubber-suit monsters, space ships and other effects are cheesy, ridiculous and are probably the main reason a bad movie aficionado would watch this. However, the acting seems sincere and there is actually a decent attempt at story and character development. The title song is a great little blast of prog-rock psychedelica that is completely out of place with the film.

Bosa Nova by Pixies - CD (6/10)

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And so begins the steady demise of Pixies. This is where the band completely lost hold of any punk roots it may have had and succumbed to the pop mind-control gods. I think I like about four of the fourteen tracks on this record, and one of those is a cover. I remember the follow up record was better, but after Bosa Nova I didn’t have the heart to buy another Pixies record.

Doolittle by Pixies - CD (9/10)

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Like most non-hipsters in the late eighties, this was my introduction to the Pixies. I think majority of people consider this their best album, but I find it gets a little boring on the second side. Still, the high points on this record are probably the best tracks the band ever recorded. I tend to prefer Surfer Rosa for its punk edge, but this one almost as good.