Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Please Easter, Don't Be Late

I am currently gripped with what can only be described as gross impatience as the day of Easter draws nigh.

I shall explain, as one usually is not so overjoyed with that particular holiday as to be on pins and needles awaiting its arrival.

I am not a huge fan of candy. Oh sure, I enjoy an occasional Big Kat or Skor bar and I have been known to get Nutrageous from time to time, but if candy were to up and ship out for parts unknown I wouldn't mourn its passing. Linda, on the other hand, would track down wherever candy ended up making its home and gorge herself. Because her love of candy is so strong, I have made it a point to provide her with a selection of sweets on Easter that would cripple lesser mortals. As a result, her Easter "gift" ends up being upwards of 50 lbs of peanut butter eggs and my "gift" is usually a book or movie or handheld game.

It probably comes as no surprise that Linda and I exchange gifts on Easter as I think I have displayed, on a number of occasions, that if a holiday doesn't involve me getting something, it's not worth celebrating. Sucks to be you Arbor Day, but until I start getting gifts, ironically wrapped in the pulped and flattened versions of your botanical brethren, I don't care. I realize this makes me both spiritually bereft and incredibly materialistic and I'm OK with that.

This year, to help Linda out of a gift giving bind, I told her that I would like Puzzle Quest DS for Easter. I have been told that I am difficult to shop for when it comes to games. It certainly doesn't help that Linda's attention span, when it comes to my gaming, is so short that she wouldn't be able to keep herself focused long enough for me to answer the question of which game I'd like. In fact, as I write this, her eyes are probably reflexively glazing over. For those not in the know, imaging a role playing game with character progression, the ability to build and manage castles, capture beasts, ride mounts and craft spells. Now, imagine the same RPG where instead of madly hacking and slashing at your enemy, or firing off bolts of arcane magiks you battle each other playing a tricked out version of Bejeweled and you have Puzzle Quest. Yes, it is exactly as good as it sounds.

I have been playing the PC demo incessantly since downloading it last week, going so far as to start 4 different games so that I can experience the joys of the different character classes. There are subtle differences, like with the Druid who, by all accounts, is completely useless that are best experience in the demo so that you can make all the important RPG decisions before you go too far down the road of puzzle questing. In an odd move, the demo is available for the PC, despite the retail game itself being available for only the PSP and the DS. This is an odd, but strangely satisfying method. There is nothing out on the DS today that would tax modern PC's, and with no means of playing demos, short of hanging around your local GameStop for hours on end hogging the demo kiosk, it lets people try before they buy.

The problem becomes that, on the PC, this is an absolutely gorgeous game, well served by the PC's ample screen real estate. When I move a leering skull to be nearer to his malevolent neighbors, I can feel the grievous injury I am about to inflict upon my adversary. The various mana gems sparkle merrily as if to say, "Horde me so that I may help you smite your foes." Experience gems are a glorious purple, as if to display their regal roots. Gold is, well, gold and looks perfectly gold like. My concern is that the reduced real estate on the DS will make the visuals less striking, possibly reducing the skulls to smaller, infinitely more cute versions of themselves who don't so much inflict pain and suffering but accidentally sit on the remote and change the channel. I have read reports that this is not the case, but alas, once you play it on a PC, you are somewhat spoiled.

At the same time, my children are all too happy to try and press random keys while I'm on the laptop, but seem strangely uninterested in my DS. Perhaps it's because, of late, I'm playing things like Phoenix Wright and Hotel Dusk, populated by spiky haired lawyers and playable A-Ha videos who aren't compelling to those 4 years old and younger. Perhaps they see my lips turn into a snarl of defense when they move towards my DS and know that should they attempt to touch my console, I am not above snapping it closed and feeding their fingertips to it's slavering maw.

The problem is that Easter is so very far away and I am about to a) finish Hotel Dusk and b) get to the level cap in the Puzzle Quest demo. This is unacceptable. Oh Easter, why must you torture me so by being a week and a half away? Why? I guess I can wait. What choice do I have? Jesus waited three whole days in some sort of netherworld between life and death prior to Easter so I guess I can wait 10 or so days to get a new game for my handheld console. What did He do while He was dead anyways? I would have napped. He had had quite a busy few days.

Anyways, between Puzzle Quest and the upcoming Pokemon Diamond and/or Pearl, my DS will be the console of choice for quite some time. Yesterday, when playing Hotel Dusk in front of my daughter, I told her, unbidden, that the DS is my favorite console evar. I too was shocked by the emotion behind that statement as it was tantamount to telling your significant other that you love them for the first time. As was the case with my wife when I told her I loved her, my DS responded with stony silence, however, as was the case with Linda, I knew the sentiment was returned, the bearer just had no way of expressing it at the moment. At least that's what I'm attributing to my DS. It may have just impassively served up pixels, hoping that it's ignoring of me would quell the obvious discomfort it was experiencing. Hell, Linda might have been doing the same thing, however if so, our subsequent marriage was a strange choice of action. At any point, I stand by the statement as the DS's combination of portability and ever expanding software library, filled with titles such as Hotel Dusk and Puzzle Quest ensure that the gameplay experiences it offers are found nowhere else. No longer need we search for the answer to the eternal question: Nintendo DS Lite, great console or greatest console? The answer is clear.


Greg said...

I'm not sure I can claim that I love my DS more than my Wii, and certainly not more than my PC, but I've been enjoying Final Fantasy 3 and Advance Wars DS quite a bit of late. I also have been lusting over Puzzle quest since I heard of it, but hadn't realized that there was a PC demo. I'll be tracking this down soon.

I also am impossible to shop for, since I tend to buy games between the time that someone purchases them as a gift for me and the time they actually give them to me, although I generally like to wait to buy games until the prices drop - I'm still proud of snagging Dark Messiah of Might and Magic for $12.50 since it's a $50 game, and I'm pleasantly surprised that despite horrible reviews, I'm enjoying it quite a lot.

As a side note, the Word Verification for this comment is ghyowl. Have you installed that clairvoyant wordpress module? It's as if it knew that my logons are usually "GHowley" and it simply scrambled it. Eerie.

Bones said...

In yet another testament to "different strokes and all that", the DS in my house is the most ignored of all the gaming outlets. If not for and mahjong demos, the PC would be the holder of the honor, but as it stands we have two DS games in the house, and neither of those are being played anymore.

On a side note, if there is indeed a clairvoyant wordpress module installed, I'd like to know where "eaochbgd" for me came from.

suburbanjoe said...

Bones, can't you hear your DS crying out to be loved? I bet Jacob would enjoy it. I can send him Uno to ensure he has a proper edumacashion. ;)

Yes I have the clarivoyant module installed. It told me you were going to ask that Greg, before you asked it. I also know how you feel about meerkats and I gotta say, "ew". Bones, Eaochbgd is the Lord of Comics so that may have something to do with it. He's also the Lord of Potpies so take it for what it's worth.

Right now my word verification is showing "SausageLover". Oh how you know me clairvoyant module!

Greg said...

Puzzle Quest is glorious. I must have it.

Bones said...

I'll echo Greg's sentiment, I downloaded the demo based on your recommendation (and out of sheer boredom) and it's fantastic. PQ just became my next PSP purchase.

suburbanjoe said...

Bones, I know you're not down with the DS but the PSP version has a bug where trained/captured mounts can't use their special abilities. Not sure if this matters to you or not, but you may have to cede to the Big N on this one. ;)