Getting back to business… slowly

FROM JASON’S POST-HOLIDAY PLAYTIME — Sorry about that. There was a bit of a dead week on the ol’ blag there while Andrew and I played with our new toys. Waiting under the TV for me was Star Trek: The Next Generation seasons one and two, Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga, Guitar Hero 1 and 2 (I already had GH3), and some other little distractions that have been keeping me occupied.

If you’re nerdy enough to be reading this blog, you’re probably familiar with all the above titles. There are reviews a-plenty out there on teh Intarwebs, so I’ll keep my thoughts short:

Three minutes on TNG

I thought briefly about blogging every single Trekisode here, but thought that was kind of pointless while Wil Wheaton — boy genius Wesley Crusher himself — does that with much keener insight over at TV Squad.

A few thoughts, though: This is the first time I’m watching many of the oldest TNG episodes since I was a small boy, and I’m finding the early seasons to be lovably fumbling. It’s clear that the producers initially wanted to stick to the old 1960s camp formula; you can see them stumbling along with bad costumes, overt musical cues ripped straight from the Shatner era, terrible wash planet horizons and foam landscapes, and… well, frankly… some of the gayest shiny 1980s clothing plastered on poor alien males.

It’s also pretty transparent how much they were playing up Tasha Yar as a sex symbol early on, throwing her into skimpy clothing and suggestive lines every chance the producers had. She also displays some jealousy over Riker that makes me wonder if there were some plans to couple the two that panned when Denise Crosby left the show. Troi would later get that vixen status with fans — though I never found her attractive in the least — once she donned that unitard. In season one, though, they have her decked out with an almost Persian look that I suppose is meant to be Betazoid.

legostarwars.jpgA brief word on Lego Star Wars

The Complete Saga for the Nintendo DS does what it promises — it brings the existing titles to a new platform — but little else. I’ll be blunt: If this weren’t Legos and if it weren’t Star Wars, I wouldn’t want to play. But since it is, and it is, respectively… I had an enormous amount of fun.

The game mechanics can be kind of sloppy and repetitive. There are some camera problems, save points are far, far too scarce (especially for a portable title), and it can be pretty tedious blasting every single thing in every single level.

That’s why I’m happy that this game isn’t about gameplay. It’s not really, admit it — it’s about nostalgia, collecting, and light comic relief. Lego Star Wars is about unlocking all of the playable characters — and there are dozens — so you can rush through levels with an unstoppable team of Darth Maul, Mace Windu, a snowtrooper, Wicket, Greedo, R2D2, and C3PO… and maybe a custom character cobbled together from spare Lego people parts.

This time around, some stylus mini-games make collecting studs (moneys) a little more convenient, so unlocking ghost Yoda only takes something on the order of two or three hours. (It’s totally worth it, by the way. Yoda hobbles around super-slowly until he draws his saber, and then he’s by far the fastest character in the game, zipping around acrobatically and bouncing off multiple enemies.)

Of course, I haven’t unlocked General Grievous yet, and he might well kick Yoda’s ass with his four lightsabers. We’ll see. I’m proud to report, though, that I have defeated Episodes I-VI all the way through. Now I must go back and get all the kit parts and mini-games.


A few notes on Guitar Hero

If you haven’t played it by now….

Know this, all ye novices: Guitar Hero 2 is by far the superior entry into the franchise. I have beaten all three on medium and have started working my way (painfully and slowly) through the songs on hard level. I’ve discovered that GH2 is built more solidly, has better song selection, loads faster (all three on PS2), has the best mix of just-for-fun songs to challenging songs, and does the best job of teaching complex chords and use of the dreaded orange button.

This is the party game right now, and nearly everyone I know made it the centerpiece of New Year’s Eve 2007-2008. I’ve been to some lame New Year’s parties where alcohol was the only thing going on, and I can attest to this: Mix that booze with some kickin’ tunes, sweet licks, a 60-inch TV, and a bunch of beginners and Guitar Hero will get your party moving.

Word on the street is that Rock Band is going to dethrone Guitar Hero pretty quickly. I’ve only played that one for a handful of minutes (on the drums) and I think it might be true. But for now, Guitar Hero’s as good as gold and has provided me with a couple hundred hours of entertainment. I’d gladly keep accepting new entries into the franchise. Guitar Hero 12, here I come.


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