November 9th, 2008


Role-Playing with a Dash of Hot Sauce

As I'm sure anyone who's played any video games knows, dragons are a quite common occurrence therein. These appearances date back at least as far as Grundle, Rhindle and Yorgle (each one sharing the first letter of its name with that of its color) in Atari's Adventure. Dragons made the titles of some role-playing games, including the Dragon Quest series. The Zelda games have their own dragon-like creatures, like the multi-headed Gleeoks. Ridley, leader of the space pirates in the Metroid games, is a dragon. Even in the Mario series, Bowser and his family bear some resemblance to dragons. As would probably be expected, dragons are generally quite tough foes, often appearing near the ends of games. There are also sometimes dragons on the side of good, Bahamut from the Final Fantasy series possibly being the most notable example. He's actually named after a giant fish, or at least some kind of sea creature, that supports the world. His transformation into a dragon in the gaming world apparently comes by way of Dungeons & Dragons. Wikipedia actually has a list of video game dragons, although I'm sure it's not comprehensive. One particular series of games that I think might deserve mention is Breath of Fire, Capcom's foray into the world of fantasy role-playing. Has anyone reading this played any of those games? I know my brother had the first three, but I saw very little of the third one. The first seemed a bit primitive for when it came out, but it had some interesting ideas, including a lot of characters with animal features. The hero, Ryu, could turn himself into a dragon. The second game was similar but more advanced and detailed, and allowed you to build a town. (Okay, you didn't actually do any of the building, but you could choose the carpenter and some of the citizens.) The thing I most remember about it, however, is how prominent toilets are. There are several occasions when you have to find something that had fallen into a toilet, or use a toilet as a secret passage. A member of the Joker Gang is peeing against a wall (not that you can actually see anything, thank the Dragon God), and refers to the spot as the hideout's toilet. Seriously, I don't think I've ever seen a game containing that many toilet references, except possibly The Sims. Oh, and one other thing I found interesting (and much less disgusting) about the game was that there were characters named Kilgore and Trout. Who would have expected a Kurt Vonnegut reference in a game about anthropomorphic animals fighting demons?

Speaking of RPGs, I reached the final boss of Final Fantasy V (who isn't a dragon, but some guy who was imprisoned inside a tree), but he kicked my ass. Next time, I think I'll change some of my characters' skills, and make sure I don't get the treasure chest with the monster inside. As I've mentioned before, the tedious thing isn't so much fighting the battle over and over again as it is having to watch the same lengthy dialogue multiple times in a row.

For poor people, this is a restaurant

The Simpsons episode was pretty half-assed, which is kind of a shame, because I think it had potential. The writers apparently forgot that Homer met Ned for the first time when he moved into his current house in the "Lisa's First Word" flashback, but that wasn't even my main concern. It was more that there were only a few good jokes, and the fact that they stuck in two different flashbacks made it difficult for them to really flesh out either one.

Family Guy wasn't great, but I did enjoy New Brian's over-the-top positive attitude, and was amused by the return of Buzz Killington and the crocodile at the alligator convention. Once again, I think American Dad was the best of the three, even though the characters other than Steve hardly even appeared. It seems like they would at least have brought in Roger to help Steve with his revenge. Oh, well.

And hey, 'tis the season for commercials for crappy Christmas movies again! I sure missed those during January through October! There are also a lot of commercials for products with touch screens, for which I fail to see the appeal. I'd rather not get the screen all smudgy with my fingerprints, thank you.