February 12th, 2010



Jaime's in limbo for scans, and we all know what that means. Time for me to ruminate on the latest installments of things I like and why they suck now!

... Okay, that's a bit harsh. Not all of them suck now.

Anyway, Smashing Pumpkins! This whole "reunion" is kind of bullshit no matter what, and Zeitgeist isn't anywhere near as good as the original stuff (this coming from a girl who thinks "Adore" is their best CD, no less). I have to say, though, that the American Gothic EP was a pleasant surprise. It's good. It's really good. The Rose March in particular is epic, but the whole thing is 17 packed minutes of great music. That combined with Song for a Son really got my hopes up. I was skeptical about this whole Teargarden idea, but... yeah... the first track is excellent. Like, on par with some of their older stuff for me. Then came Widow Wake My Mind.

Ugh. Back to Earth. It's not that it's a bad song, because it's not. It's just that it's... not... good. Specifically, the song structure is too repetitive, the vocals are just annoying, and the drumming, while proficient, is boring. Jimmy's gone, and even if I hadn't known that beforehand, I would've been able to tell. It's that dull. I'm sure the new kid is a fantastic drummer on his own, and he's no slouch within the Pumpkins (if you can even still call the band that when it's more like "Billy Corgan and the Ego Trips"), but there's no there there. It's like he's stymied by his own accomplishment - like being recruited into the band has robbed him of the balls to insert any personality into his drumming. He drums rhythms, and that's about it. Of course, this is only one song. It's highly possible that the next one will blow everything out of the water, and my faith will be restored. I'm not counting on it, but it's a possibility. We'll see.

On the plus side, Rock Band and SP forums lead to Jaime's and my discovery of Silversun Pickups a while ago, and I'm obsessed. Now that is some fantastic music. All of it's good, but I'd especially recommend the acoustic set that's floating around. Rusted Wheel acoustic is fucking amazing.

Mighty Boosh! It's hard to be my favorite show - there's a lot of love, but a lot of expectations. The Future Sailors tour did not live up. Much like with Widow Wake My Mind above, it's not that it's bad. I liked it a lot when I first saw it, actually. It's that it's so much less than it should be; it's so far below par that it's, well, not funny. Rewatching it, I noticed just how little of a story there is. Compare that to the first show, where there were plenty of humorous asides and fake theater mishaps, but they almost all occurred within the framework of the plot. Future Sailors, on the other hand, only has a plot for half of the second act. That's it. That's the best part of the show, actually. Vince is still too mean to Howard for my tastes, but at least it's funny. Before Sunflash shows up, it's downright hilarious. Sunflash is also pretty funny, for that matter. I can approve of his addition. What I'm more bothered by is how the first act pretty much consists of milking laughs from the audience based purely on character recognition.

I hate it when entertainment becomes self-aware. It's like when the Project Runway designers applauded Tim Gunn saying "Make it work!" at the start of... the fifth season, I think. Jaime and I winced. The charm is in observing characters you love doing the things they do, not in said characters feeding you what you want to see with a wink and a nudge. Yes, Tony Harrison always declared things an outrage, but it was never a non-sequitur exclamation. When he's saying it because he knows it'll make you laugh, it's not funny anymore. Bob Fossil teaching the audience dance moves was amusing, but was it amusing because he was teaching the audience or because we were watching him dance? How much funnier could it have been if there'd been a reason he was dancing outside of "because that's what Fossil does"? This is where creativity comes in. I know they're capable of crafting amusing plots - the series and the previous live show prove it. This iteration was just lazy, and frankly? I expected better. I'm a little concerned that, based on the lack of activity and the lack of creativity when active lately, the Boosh is dead. I hope I'm wrong. I don't think I am, but I hope.

No More Heroes! First off, NMH2 does not suck. It's not the incredible-improvement-in-virtually-every-aspect sequel that many media outlets seem to think it is, but it is a fantastic game. No lj-cut - I'm going to keep this mostly spoiler-free.

The first big difference you notice is the graphics. Stylistically, they're close to the previous game, but they're both more detailed and cleaner. The palette in this game is breath-taking - lots of deep, heavy tones without feeling too shadowy or muddy. The battle graphics in particular are just about perfect. When fighting, the enemies get thrown around and slashed with glowing streaks in alarmingly pleasant ways. It's a violent visual feast. No complaints there. The cast is pretty strong, too. A lot of familiar faces show up, including a couple that really caught me off guard and a couple others that are playable, and the new assassins as a whole are just as appealing and uniquely psychotic as their predecessors. My only real complaint about the cast is that I would've liked to have seen a couple of them reappear at multiple points in the game instead of the standalone instances they showed up. Not a big problem, really. Just a nitpick.

Nah, the big problem is actually the thing that all the reviewers seem to love - the lack of an overworld. Gone are the long sessions of biking or hoofing about town, trying to find just where your job/mission is while kicking dumpsters and collecting Lovikov balls on the way. Lots of people seem to consider the previous world map nothing more than a time-consuming nuisance and find the new system of simply selecting where you'd like to go and appearing there stream-lined to perfection. I don't. I think the new system is just not fun. Having to drive to a job every time you'd like to try it was annoying, true, but a big chunk of the first game's charm was tooling around on your ridiculous motorcycle and exploring Santa Destroy. We liked randomly hitting pedestrians and stumbling across new shirts. Was it necessary? Nah, but it was fun! I can't really complain about adding the ability to teleport straight to missions, but couldn't they have given the option to ride around town if you want to? It doesn't have to be a requirement, and in fact the game is probably better without it being one, but I maintain that having it as an option would've been nice.

And no matter how fun the new mini-games are, I will never forgive them for subjecting my perfectionist mind to the Strength Training. Talk about a challenge. I kept at it until I beat them all, and in retrospect, it really didn't take me too many tries, but in the moment? So frustrating! Fat Jeane is nothing but love, though. Kitty exercising! :D

Persona 4! Okay, so there's nothing new there. I just wish there was. In the spirit of P3P and all the new features they added to that, I'd like to present "What I want to see in a P4 remake":
- Picking the gender of the MC. Natch.
- Dating both genders. It's been too long since Tatsuya and Jun. That level of freedom needs to return.
- Matchmaking. I know plenty of people wanted to see Kanji and Naoto hook up, and I personally would like to nudge Chie and Yukiko towards a different sort of close relationship. Didn't you ever play matchmaker for your friends in high school? It just makes sense.
- Changeable battle outfits. Surely Yosuke could hide some stuff in a breakroom for you guys to grab before heading into the TV. I want maid costumes for the girls and the boys!
- More missions! Am I the only person who adores those things? They're just too few and far between.
- Variable main plot conversations. It would be great if there were little changes here and there to reflect your social link status with people. Think the random conversations in empty dungeon rooms, but scattered throughout main plot scenes.
- Hmmm... I'm blanking... well, if I think of more later, I'll throw 'em on.

Still twenty minutes until I can expect Jaime back, and then he has to start drinking contrast and we wait until his next scan at 2:30. Sigh. Distractions, distractions...

Dream at Tempo 119 is like the most bitchin' song ever. <3