Best Ships in Science Fiction (Runners-Up)

Yeah, I left out the Galactica in my top 5. I’m going to skip the part where I pretend to be sorry and say that while it is indeed an awesome ship, it just wasn’t quite up to snuff. To make up for my transgressions against the unwashed masses, here are my runners-up for the top sci-fi ships. I’m keeping it brief this time…

#4. Planet Express Ship (Futurama)

The previous crew of Hubert Farnsworth’s delivery ship might have died horribly (the poor bastards), but the current one’s still around. Not even a cancelation by FOX could keep their shenanigans on hold for long as the Planet Express made its return on Comedy Central. Simple, brightly colored and reminiscent of classic sci-fi serials, the PES is the perfect mix of parody and homage.

#3. SSV Normandy SR-1 (Mass Effect)

Besides having possibly the coolest ship name ever, the Normandy is captained by possibly the most badass space marine ever. Under Commander Shepard, the Normandy races across the galaxy to fight the Reapers, an army of genocidal machines straight out of a Lovecraft story.

#2. Moya (Farscape)

A living ship carrying convicts on the run from an interstellar empire, Moia becomes a mother figure to her fledgling crew. I love the ship and her sleek organic design, but she’s just not as recognizable as some of the others. Still, Farscape is a great—if often overlooked—science fiction property.

#1. Galactica (Battlestar Galactica)

Yeah, yeah… Here she is. A battlestar from the long-past Cylon War, this ship’s decommissioning is short-lived when the Twelve Colonies fall under attack from the Cylons once again. What’s most impressive about the redesigned Galactica is that it not only has a very modern look but also remains incredibly faithful to the 1978 design.

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Top 5 Ships in Science Fiction

What does every sci-fi property need? If your answer was Tricia Helfer, you hit the very close #2 answer. No, if you’re going to have a show that takes to the stars, you need a starship, and it’s gotta be damn cool. It it doesn’t look the part, it has to pull some appropriately ridiculous stunts at some point. Celebrating the coolest space-faring vessels out there, here are my top five ships of sci-fi.

5. Millennium Falcon (Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope)

“What a piece of junk!” Luke Skywalker remarked upon first seeing Han Solo’s modified Corellian YT-1300 freighter. But as we all learned, she really did have it where it counted. (Hooray for double entendre.) On a list of the top five anything from science fiction properties, Star Wars is a given, and whenever you’re talking about ships from Star Wars, the Millennium Falcon is the first that comes up. Yeah, there have been other iconic ships from the trilogy—the X-Wing, Slave-1 and the Star Destroyer, to name a few—but the Falcon is easily the most recognizable of them all.

4. Heart of Gold (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)

Why this ship ever wandered into the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the galaxy is anyone’s guess. It probably had something to do with its Infinite Improbability Drive, which makes the most unlikely things happen. Funnily enough, despite pulling a lot of plot points out of its ass (to the point that calling it ass-pulling might be a stretch), the IID makes for a good dummy’s introduction to quantum physics. Hopping across the galaxy in a wink and turning a missile barrage into a bowl of petunias and a sperm whale are just a couple of the batshit crazy things the Heart of Gold can do. With its virtually infinite capabilities, how could I not include the Heart of Gold?

3. Serenity (Firefly)

Call me out for fanboy douchebaggery all you want. The short-lived Firefly featured one of the most memorable and recognizable ships in science fiction. A Firefly-class transport used by a smuggler crew in the aftermath of a galactic civil war, Serenity is more than “just a ship.” It’s an idea. It’s home, safety, freedom. Serenity is practically written into the show as a tenth character. The way the characters interact with the ship in turn brings the audience closer to it, giving an inanimate object about as much emotional appeal as much of the cast. And sure, it’s a piece of junk that looks like it’s held together by duct tape and twine, but it’s got heaps of character. It looks and feels warm and lived-in, like somebody strapped a couple turbines and a cockpit to a house. Maybe “character” is a cop-out of a reason, but Serenity’s a ship you just can’t help but love.

2. TARDIS (Doctor Who)

Yep, that’s a spaceship. It’s also a freakin’ time machine. It may not look like much, but that ‘60s-style London police box is one hell of a ship. Why a police box? Well, the system that camouflaged it to fit whatever era it appeared in was damaged on a trip to 1963 and no amount of “percussive maintenance” could fix it. Luckily, the Doctor grew to like it—as if he had a choice. Besides being kind of a piece of junk (routinely used as a plot point), the TARDIS is known for taking the Doctor exactly where he needs to go, rather than where he wants (also a frequent plot point). Doctor Who is one of the most enduring and well-known sci-fi properties of all time—so much so that the ship’s name has entered British slang. More than enough to earn the #2 spot.

1.USS Enterprise NCC- 1701 (Star Trek)

Come on. Was there any doubt the sci-fi ship would top the list? Star Trek, with the Enterprise as its star player, would go on to become one of the biggest sci-fi franchises of all time. The Enterprise went through several redesigns across the Star Trek canon, but it’s the original that really stuck. Show anyone a picture of the Enterprise and they’ll know it—if not by name, then by origin. And that’s not just because the name is painted across the damn hull. Like half the stuff on this list, Star Trek is a cultural phenomenon, but it’s the granddaddy of sci-fi pop culture. And sure, I like it a hell of a lot less than Star Wars (although the famously terrible prequel trilogy being gloriously upstaged by Star Trek ’09 helped), but there’s just no comparing the prototypical awesome ship with something like the Millennium Falcon, or even the TARDIS. Love it or hate it, there’s no topping the Enterprise.

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Top 10 Covers of Popular Songs

Everyone likes good covers, except for weird, greasy hippies who obsess over living “in the now.” And when I say good, I mean it. What this means is that you’ll see no Alien Ant Farm, no Avril Lavigne and for the love of God, no Glee. (And don’t even get me started on the musical abortion that is Pat Boone’s career.) So maybe you’ll disagree with my picks for the best covers—you know, if you’re stupid—but here they are anyway.

(With apologies to Santa Esmerelda’s “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” and Gary Jules’s “Mad World.”)

10. “Weird Al” Yankovic: “The Saga Begins”

Yankovic’s affectionate spoof of Don McLean’s “American Pie” isn’t technically a cover, but I couldn’t resist. Especially in how well he imitated McLean’s timbre and singing style, “The Saga Begins” really demonstrates Weird Al’s chops not only as a parody artist, but as a singer/songwriter. A humorous account of Episode I through the eyes of a young Obi-Wan Kenobi, “The Saga Begins” was written primarily based on Internet spoilers prior to the film’s release. Impressively enough, Al didn’t have to do much editing after watching an advance screening. According to Al, Don McLean “couldn’t have been nicer” about letting him use the song and as a fan of McLean’s, he was honored to have recorded the second funniest version of the song—“right behind Madonna.”

9. Reel Big Fish: “Take On Me”

Back in the summer of ska, ragtag groups of scoundrels formed bands in the third wave of the jazz/reggae-inspired rock. One of the many was Reel Big Fish. Of course, RBF were also influenced by ‘80s new wave, a fact evidenced in their tendency to cover ‘80s acts both on their albums and during live shows. And while their covers of The Cure and Lita Ford are fun as hell, one stands proud and tall above the others: A-Ha’s 1985 hit “Take On Me.” Unlike certain other covers of older songs (I’m looking at you, Limp Bizkit…), Reel Big Fish treated the original with respect while managing to update the song for a very different genre.

8. Cake: “I Will Survive”

Gloria Gaynor’s disco classic has been covered by artists ranging from Diana Ross to Conan O’Brien. (I am not making this up.) But of all the covers out there, it’s Cake’s that takes the gold. This version is actually Gloria Gaynor’s least-favorite due to its use of profanity (“I should have changed that stupid lock,” became, “I should have changed my fucking lock.”), but Cake’s laid-back, lounge-style vocals and instrumentation just can’t be beat. I’m biased on this one, because this is the song that first got me listening to Cake, but after Gaynor’s now-legendary break-up anthem, this version stands above the rest.

7. Blind Guardian: “Dream a Little Dream of Me”

Maybe a cover of a big band ballad isn’t something most people would expect from a power metal band, but Blind Guardian (and their side project with Iced Earth, Demons & Wizards) have covered all different sorts of music. “Mr. Sandman,” “Surfin’ U.S.A.,” “White Room”… You name it. But again, there’s one cover that’s miles beyond the rest. The German group’s metal cover proves that even scary metal guys have a soft side. Some are probably wondering, “Don’t they do a lot of screaming in this version, then?” Actually, no, they don’t. Unlike in their Beach Boys and Chordettes covers, the vocals only so often have the harder edge you might expect from metal. They played it safe and reined in their usually abrasive sound, and you know what? It worked in this case.

6. Cream: “Crossroads”

What happens when one legendary guitarist covers another? You get Cream’s cover of the ill-fated bluesman Robert Johnson’s signature song. This version bears little resemblance to the original, apart from the blues-key and the lyrics, but again, both are great. Eric Clapton’s up-tempo, unrestrained guitar work in this cover is brilliant. Hearing it, there’s little wonder that Clapton is hailed as one of the greatest guitarists ever.

5. Elvis Presley: “Hound Dog”

Far from a media darling in his time, The King was no stranger to controversy. After millions of viewers watched his group perform this cover of Big Mama Thornton’s emphatic middle finger of a blues song (and I mean that in the absolute nicest way possible), Presley became a controversy overnight. His swagger, his hip gyrations, his vocal style—The King’s persona pissed off all the wrong people at just the right time. The kids loved him, though! There’s no doubt the performance played a role in Presley’s meteoric rise to rock and roll stardom. No wonder ”Hound Dog” is one of his best-remembered songs.

4. Marvin Gaye: “I Heard it Through the Grapevine”

Did anyone know this was a cover? Chances are good your answer was no. Although Gaye’s version was the third release, he owned the song from that day forth. The Prince of Soul really showed what he could do when he covered Smokey Robinson, letting the tension and anguish show in his vocals, enhanced by the combination of keyboard, guitar and “horror strings.” Although other artists would go on to cover the song, nothing would ever hold a candle to Gaye’s psychedelic soul rendition.

3. The Animals: “House of the Rising Sun”

Another one of those cases where it seems like most people don’t know it’s a cover. (Not that I wasn’t guilty of it until a few weeks ago when I heard the Lead Belly version—also a cover.) Truth is, nobody really knows where this some came from. Some say it’s an American folk song, perhaps written by mountain hermits. Others say it’s as far removed as 1600s England. Wherever it came from, The Animals defined it for decades to come with their haunting, bluesy reimagining. It’s received credit for starting the folk-rock movement, it’s been called revolutionary—call it whatever you want, “House of the Rising Sun” is a great tune.

2. Johnny Cash: “Hurt”

Maybe it’s trite, but I practically had to include the Man in Black. He was even more obligatory than Elvis (and arguably my #1 pick) for his stunning cover of Nine Inch Nails’s “Hurt.” Cash was well into his twilight years when he sang this song, reflecting on a life of failures and successes. Trent Reznor is quoted as being flattered when asked if Cash could perform a cover, though he was worried it would be “gimmicky.” It turns out those fears were misplaced: The cover blew the original version sky-high. What’s most impressive to me is that Cash took a song I disliked and made it good. Hell, better than good. Even Reznor admitted to getting misty-eyed when he heard it for the first time. For a song, especially a cover, to have that kind of impact on the original writer, that speaks volumes.

#1. Jimi Hendrix: “All Along the Watchtower”

I’ll admit, this is kind of a cop-out. I’ll also admit that I’m not the biggest fan of Bob Dylan. Hendrix’s cover of him, on the other hand, is fantastic. Hendrix spent months overdubbing and cutting the song again and again in the studio. The end result was arguably his masterpiece. It’s also his only song to become a Top 40 hit, if you can believe it. Dylan himself remarked upon Hendrix’s cover, calling it an improvement. So much so that he was quoted as saying, “Strange how when I sing it, I always feel it’s a tribute to him in some kind of way.” If that’s not the sign of an amazing cover, I don’t know what is.

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Nerd Rage: IGN’s Star Wars/Marvel Mash-up

Contrary to the title, I’m not going to complain about IGN’s most recent “Versus” series, although I may complain about the people voting in it. Star Wars and Marvel are two of my favorite franchises, so it’s interesting to see a site not run by a fat guy living in his grandparents’ basement hold a series of polls like this.  I’m going to celebrate it by offering my own slightly less nerdy (though still quite nerdy) input on each match.

Obviously, the poll isn’t over yet, with new matchups being added pretty much daily, so you can expect to see this updated every couple of days, when another handful of polls have been added. Moving right along, here are my completely unbiased (haha! …but seriously) picks for the winners of each fight.

1. Darth Maul vs. Wolverine

Winner: Largely because Darth Maul is a pussy.

Come on, really? Why do you people even bring up the Expanded Universe, and how cool Darth Maul allegedly was? First, the Expanded Universe sucks. Almost nothing from it is any good (KotOR and Rogue Squadron aside), so why it’s even being brought up is beyond me. Second, Darth Maul got killed by a Padawan. Sure, he killed Qui-Gonn—after he stunned him with a lucky shot.

Anyway, back to Wolverine: He’s been alive for a long time and mastered several fighting styles as a result, is essentially indestructible and heals any damage he takes. How does Darth Maul compare? He has a lightsaber. “But they can cut through everything!” you’re probably saying. Here’s the thing: They can’t. Furthermore, Wolverine is every bit as agile and skilled as Maul (if not more so), besides his regeneration and resilience. It was over before it started.

2. Luke Skywalker vs. Spider-Man

Winner: Luke just can't keep up.

I don’t care about how Luke fought Space Cthulhu and played golf with black holes. There’s a reason nobody gives a damn about the Expanded Universe: It’s terrible. But this is actually a really interesting matchup. Luke’s lightsaber negates a lot of Spider-Man’s web abilities, depending on how he uses them, and it puts him on the defensive at close range.

However, Spider-Man’s proven to be very resourceful, and he’s much more mobile than Skywalker. He’s also seen a lot more hand-to-hand combat with a wider variety of enemies. When it comes down to it, Spider-Man’s experience gives him the upper hand against Luke’s modest Jedi powers.

3. Charles Xavier vs. Obi-Wan Kenobi

Winner: Xavier just can't bring it.

Another interesting matchup. Obi-Wan can to some extent resist Xavier’s psychic abilities (remember, psychic attacks generally only work on weaker minds, and Old Ben is anything but weak-minded), but Xavier would likely be able to overpower his defenses before too long. But Obi-Wan has a lot of fight in him, and that’s important. Remember, Xavier doesn’t really have any game when it comes to physical combat. That’s what it really comes down to here, and Obi-Wan would probably win it due to his oft-hidden badass side.

4. Deadpool vs. Han Solo

Winner: Because he's a cheapass.

I hate this matchup. Han Solo is my favorite Star Wars character ever, but he just can’t compete with Deadpool’s skills, insanity and healing powers. Solo’s basically an average guy who gets by on wits and improvised combat tactics. Deadpool is a superpowered mercenary who can heal ridiculous amounts of damage, no matter where you hit him. Much as I hate to say it, this is like Maul and Wolverine: It was over before it started.

5. Darth Vader vs. Magneto

Winner: The Master of "Magnet" unsurprisingly triumphs over a cyborg.

At first, I thought, “Magneto’s victory here is obvious.” After all, Vader is famously described as “more machine than man,” with mechanical limbs and life-support systems (as well as body armor, presumably). But then I got to thinking: Could he use the Force to hold himself together? Would he be able to move in that state, with so much of his effort focused on keeping Magneto from taking him apart all at once?

The short answers are yes, and no. Vader could hold himself together with the Force, but doing so would require a significant amount of concentration. A debilitating amount. Magneto, on the other hand, has demonstrated multiple times that he doesn’t need to focus all that much on manipulating metals—at least on the small scale. And it’s never been explicitly stated just how much he can do with his magnetic powers; he’s deflected bullets, lifted submarines and even moved asteroids.

Vader’s a powerful agent of the Dark Side, but his metal body and the metal casing of his lightsaber (his primary weapon) puts him at a massive disadvantage here, considering Magneto can take both apart. He can’t use mental attacks on Magneto either. Not only does Magneto resist psychic abilities, but Vader’s also focused very intently on keeping himself in one piece. Turns out, my gut was right: As has been the case on multiple accounts, Vader never stood a chance.

So, there you have it. I really didn’t want to go this way. The Star Wars films (the only ones that matter, anyway) are among my all-time favorites. They were instant classics. Timeless, even. But when it comes down to it, can its characters measure up to Marvel’s? Unfortunately not. Don’t get me wrong: I love Marvel, but I was batting for the other team on this. And yes, I feel like Star Wars got robbed out of putting up a better fight.

I’d been hoping to see some better matchups, but it seems like IGN went for the obvious characters (no doubt due to fan recognition), and I feel like that worked to this contest’s detriment in a lot of cases. Still, I had a lot of fun writing about this and I’m looking forward to nerd raging about possible future mashups. Until then, screw you, I’m right.

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DHR: Hotel Dusk: Room 215 (DS) Review

Pros: + Good story with likable characters  + Interesting jazz/lounge soundtrack  + Smart use of DS system capabilities

Cons: – Annoying fetch quests  – Pacing issues  – Some sloppy textures  – Occasionally weak sound

An interactive noir novel probably wasn’t the first thing on anyone’s most-wanted DS titles. Most of us wanted to see our favorite tried-and-true Nintendo franchises like Mario, Metroid, and Zelda released post haste. And after developer Cing’s Trace Memory went unnoticed, who would have expected them to come out swinging with another adventure game? Fear not, for Hotel Dusk proves that the genre is still alive and well.

The story follows detective-turned-salesman Kyle Hyde, who uses his sales job to travel the country in search of his old partner. Years prior, Kyle and his partner were investigating a crime syndicate back east. Late in their investigation, Hyde’s partner went missing and was presumed dead.

Back to the present, it’s New Year’s Eve in 1979 and Hyde is in the Southwest U.S. on business. The ex-cop makes a stop at Hotel Dusk, staying in room 215, which supposedly grants wishes. During his stay, Kyle meets all the other guests, many of whom are connected to one another, and some of whom are connected to the mystery of Hyde’s old partner. Every step he takes brings Hyde closer to solving both his own mystery and the one surrounding the hotel.

Though its gameplay is usually simplistic, Hotel Dusk manages a degree of cleverness. You hold the system like a book and use the stylus to move throughout the hotel and interact with objects and characters. On the “bottom” screen (or right, in this case) is a map and on the “top” (again, left when held in this way) is a 3D view of your surroundings.

As you’d expect from an adventure game, there are a lot of puzzles. Early on, most of them are very simple, but they gradually pick up in difficulty. A lot of puzzles in the game involve context-sensitive actions executed with a found item and the stylus, and some are solved with novel tricks like blowing into the microphone or closing and opening the DS. Some of the puzzles feel a little out-of-place and others still can be pretty obtuse, but for the most part the puzzles are made to fit the setting.

There are a lot of different people in the hotel, and they’ve all got their own little mysteries. Needless to say, the not-quite-friendly Kyle Hyde spends most of the night digging up dirt on the other occupants in order to solve their problems (often quite reluctantly). Most of your interactions with the characters involve conversations. If you make a correct dialogue choice, they react accordingly and the conversation continues. Make a wrong choice, though, and you’ll have to replay from your last save.

Each character has their own mannerisms, and their personality quirks are reflected in their dialog. Kyle—a jerk with a heart of gold if there ever was one—will undoubtedly be a favorite to many for his crass, blunt nature with an undertone of a reluctant caring nature. Of course, if players don’t take much of a liking to him, there are plenty of characters other than Hyde, and though some appear less, they each stick out.

There are a couple pacing issues. Sometimes you’ll wander from room to room, wondering exactly what you’re supposed to do. This can go on for a long time, as the game doesn’t hold your hand; usually, it gives you a vague hint and expects you to know where to go. Other times it seems like the game leads you around a bit too much, and you’ll get obtuse messages like, “I should check the laundry room,” despite Hyde having no reason to think so.

Hotel Dusk looks pretty good, but some of the textures are very pixelated or blurry. But the environment is less of a draw than the characters in it; they’re all drawn in monochrome, which adds an interesting look that fits perfectly with the noir motif. There’s a blur effect on them that adds an interesting quality to their movements. Even when they stand still they seem to be in motion, like constantly shifting bits of crumpled paper.

The facial expressions are another highlight of the characters, running the emotional gamut. When Hyde says something mean, characters will either fume or recoil in kind. If you run into a character who’s fond of Hyde, they’ll shout and wave or offer a curt smile. Little touches like these make conversations feel livelier.

Hotel Dusk’s soundtrack has mostly short tracks that you hear fairly often, but none of them are really grating. It’s all got a sort of jazzy lounge style that fits wonderfully with the detective novel theme and sounds a lot like the music from older detective shows, and most of the tracks are a treat to listen to.

Sound effects themselves are generally pretty good, and the only real problem with the audio is that there isn’t really anything in the way of voices. There’s a ton of dialog, so having every line voiced would have been out of the question, but even something like the occasional “Yo, Hyde!” or “Thanks, mister!”—sort of like what was used in Wind Waker and Elite Beat Agents—would have added a bit.

If you’re looking for a fun adventure/puzzle game, Hotel Dusk is probably the best of its kind on the DS. Despite a few pacing problems and occasional tedious fetch quests, Hotel Dusk holds up well. If the puzzles and relative challenge of the game don’t keep you playing, chances are the story will have you interested enough to see the end.

 

The Verdict:

Good: It’s slow to start, but the story will rope you in by the second or third chapter. From there, the puzzles get more complex and the characters more charming.

Buy: It’s hard to find by now, but Hotel Dusk is worth tracking down. Fans of noir or adventure games will appreciate it for sure.

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DHR: PilotWings Resort (3DS) Review

Pros:  + Good graphics  + Good use of 3D  + Collectibles and ranks extend gameplay  + Great controls  + Difficulty curve is just right  + Challenging later missions are a lot of fun

Cons:  – Really short  – Only one island chain  – Not much variety in mission conditions  – Some draw distance issues

PilotWings isn’t a franchise we see often. Usually, it shows up to demonstrate the capabilities of a new Nintendo system, like with the SNES and 64. PilotWings Resort is modestly successful in what it sets out to do. It uses the 3DS’s most prominent feature pretty well, though your mileage may vary as to whether or not it’s used in a meaningful way. Still, the return to Wii Sports Resort’s Wuhu Island is mostly a successful one.

The 3D effect gives you a better sense of your position, helping you to adjust your descent and trajectory. You’ll still do fine without it, thanks in large part to the game’s excellent controls, but the 3D can help you navigate caves, fly through rings and land more smoothly and accurately.

Most of the gameplay comes from Mission Mode, which features several ranks, from Training to Platinum. PilotWings starts off with the kiddy gloves on, but it’s not long before the missions start playing hardball. Early on, you’re completing rudimentary tasks like flying through a series of rings, but the later missions mix things up by having you do things like follow vehicles through narrow caves while shooting balloons they release—without running into anything—all within a set amount of time. When you’re not doing things like simply flying from checkpoint to checkpoint, the missions are a lot more enjoyable, but you don’t see too many outside-the-box goals.

Fortunately, the difficulty curve is merciful. Over the course of Mission Mode, new concepts are gradually introduced, building on the mechanics you’ve learned in previous sections. If you don’t quite have a handle on a new mission, you can always go back and sharpen your skills in earlier ones. And even if you have a lot of trouble, it’s usually harder to get 0 stars out of 3 than it is to get 3.

The Free Flight mode is more relaxed. In this side mode, you can fly around Wuhu Island in any craft you’ve unlocked in Mission Mode. During these brief flights, you find pickups scattered across the tropical resort, near landmarks or hidden in more obscure locations. As you gain more, you add to your high score and earn bonuses like increased maximum flight time. On top of that, for every 20 items you grab with each craft, you earn a diorama to view in 3D outside the main game.

It’s just as well that PilotWings Resort has a good amount of unlockables and hidden items, because the main game is pretty short. Unless you’re aiming for a perfect score in every mission, Mission Mode will take about four hours to complete. Coming back to Mission Mode to improve your high scores will keep you coming back, but the lack of online leaderboards to show off your scores and completion times to other players or friends is baffling. Add to that a general lack of mission variety and PilotWings Resort feels very rushed.

You get three basic craft in PilotWings: Airplanes, hang gliders and jetpacks. Each gets an upgrade once you complete a certain amount of missions in the main mode. These upgrades are alternate craft that have added effects to make them a little more fun to use. So, instead of a hang glider, you can ride a “sky bike,” which allows you to pedal for a little extra distance or height. Still, most of the vehicles don’t do a lot to differentiate themselves, and even the upgrades don’t feel very different—two of them are just faster versions of the normal craft.

Oddly enough, Resort doesn’t have the variety its predecessor on the Nintendo 64 boasted. Wuhu Island is the game’s only location, where 64 had several different islands, all of which could have different weather patterns. Remember skydiving? There’s barely a hint of it in Resort, with only one mission making use of it.

PilotWings Resort looks pretty good; Wuhu Island looks as good on 3DS as it did in Wii Sports Resort. You can fly at three times of day, and while the lighting and color on all times look great, the sunset flights steal the show. The purple shades and orange highlights on the sky and sea look great while you soar above the islands. That’s nice and all, but there’s just not a whole lot to look at—a five-minute flight around the map will reveal almost everything there is to see. That said, flying scant feet above a town or plunging into a volcano’s vent can be thrilling, especially with the 3D active.

There are some draw distance issues, though they’re only immediately apparent when flying from one island to the next. You’ll notice trees and other details popping in as you near an island, and little nags like that take away from an otherwise great-looking game.

But that’s PilotWings Resort’s M.O. It’s a good game that makes some big missteps and just doesn’t have the same appeal as its predecessor, besides its updated graphics and 3D effects. Maybe more time and care could have made it a worthy entry in the PilotWings series, but it’s hard to recommend Resort when it has so little to offer.

 

The Verdict:

Rent/Bargain Bin: What’s here is good, but it feels really stripped-down. Wait for a price drop or rent it over a weekend.

Decent: PilotWings Resort is by no means a bad game, but while it’s fun to play, its technically inferior Nintendo 64 predecessor brings more to the table. What’s more, there are few really creative missions.

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Nuzlocke Challenge, Part 1: Inanity Begins

(I began a Nuzlocke Challenge run in Pokémon Leafgreen today. I don’t know exactly what to expect from this. I’ve heard they’re tough and involve a lot of grinding, but these games usually involve a lot of the latter, anyway. It seems like masochistic fun (the only kind, baby!), so why the hell not?

Amidst my writing of other blog posts people might actually want to read and playing games not intended for children, I’ll periodically update this Nuzlocke… thing. I’m gonna put it out there. If you like it, you can take it. If you don’t, send it right back.

I think I’ll write this in a train-of-thought diary style as I go, posting each section when I feel I’ve accumulated enough—let’s be fair here—bullshit. I know it’s customary to do a Web comic for this sort of thing, but I can’t draw or tell a story worth a damn, so I guess this will have to do. Here goes nothing…)

Day One

My adventure begins. I’ll be the League Champion yet, I tell ya what. But first, I’ll need a Pokémon. Bulbasaur. Yes, he destroys the first two gym leaders. Besides, he’s the only good Grass-type starter, ever. It’ll be smooth sailing early on…

It’s not long before my rival, Calvin (named in honor of the disdain I hold for “Calvin and Hobbes”), wants to fight. He’s such a hyper-competitive twit. I swear. He picks Charmander, my Achilles heel, as rivals are wont to do. No matter. I destroy him, wreaking my vicarious revenge on that stupid comic strip.

Acquired Barry the Bulbasaur.

I’m off. Time to go to the Viridian City Pokémart to pick up Professor Oak’s stupid parcel. Probably has a BDSM kit or something, not that I’m judging the old pervert. Why do I have to do this, anyway? Isn’t Calvin his grandson? Shouldn’t he be asking a family member to pick up his sordid toys? Maybe he’s afraid Calvin will steal it, not that I’m judging the damn klepto.

I try to move on to Route 2, but some old guy is leering at me from his porch, shotgun in hand. He says something about not having his coffee and that he “fought for you assholes,” so I decide to leave him alone for now. Anyway, knowing Oak, he’d tell my mom and get me grounded for not delivering his fetish gear.

With Oak’s parcel delivered, my true journey begins. Oak gives me a Pokédex and tells me I have to embark on some kind of journey of self-discovery. I get the feeling he and my mom just want me out of the house again…

I also have Pokéballs, so I can catch my first Pokémon. I hope it’s a Pidgey. Stupid thing is always a mainstay in my early game. Sure would be great to have a Pidgey… So, naturally, I encounter a Rattata. Oh well. I guess I won’t look a gift rodent in the mouth.

Acquired Riley the Rattata.

Oh look, now I’m in Viridian City all over again. Should have been in Pewter City by now, but hey. Thanks a lot, Oak and Calvin. Perverted kleptomaniac douchebags. Might as well try to catch something out west while I’m here. Hope it doesn’t suck. (As it happens, it does not.) Freaking Mankey. Hell yes, I love this guy. Or girl, in this case, as this Mankey is indeed female.

Acquired Molly the Mankey.

Time to grind. And grind I shall. Luckily, I can literally fast forward for this part of the game, so grinding for three hours becomes grinding for about half an hour to 45 minutes. Thank goodness for ROMs. (I already bought the game new on GameBoy Advance, so it’s not like Nintendo didn’t already get my money. shut up dont judge me)

Barry, Riley and Molly are all level 13 now. What a chore, but at least a couple of them have totally sweet move sets. Now that I have Karate Chop, I fear no Normal-type! Time to move on.

Some old man leaps out of the shadows and tells me how beautiful everything is now that he’s had his coffee. Wait, isn’t this that crazy drunken veteran? Oh well. He asks me if I want to learn how to catch a Pokémon. I try to tell him I already caught two, presenting my three Pokéballs, but it’s too late. He spots a Weedle trying to build a nest, or whatever it is Weedles do, and hurls his Pokéball at it, instantly catching the thing. Come to think of it, I think that was a Master Ball. Was it worth it, old man?

I thank him for the information. I cry a little as I walk away. I am a man now.

Route 2 brings me much joy as I catch a Pidgey. It seems I shall not go wanting for my traditional Flying-type. Welcome to the team, little guy. Or girl. I’m picking up a lot of girls, which is weird, because they usually run away at the mere sight of me. At least I’m a figurative ladies man in a children’s role-playing game.

Acquired Paige the Pidgey.

An hour or so of grinding and a trip to the Mart later, I’m balls-deep in Antidotes and my whole party is level 13. I can do this: Viridian Forest, I’m about to make you my bitch. I can’t wait to catch a totally awesome Bug-type in here or, dare I say it, a Pikac—Fuck me, it’s a Metapod.

Acquired Mary the Metapod.

You know what’s awesome about Metapod? The fact that it only knows Harden. Not a single offensive move. This is torture. Why would I even raise it? Part of me hopes it dies during training so I won’t have to level it to 10. But I suffer through it anyway, the promise of a halfway decent (hah!) Bug-type spurring me on. Finally, the stupid thing evolves, becoming marginally less terrible.

The Pewter City Gym is barely a footnote in my journey to the Pokémon League, not even the mighty Brock able to present a challenge for Barry. Vine Whip, rapin’ errybody out here. How’s that for fetish fuel, Oak? Actually, that shouldn’t be mentioned again, ever.

Brock gives me a stupid TM and shoos me out, probably so he can cry with his dudebro friend while they play Call of Duty and drink Natural Light. Disgusting. I know I’m but a lad, but even I know that light beer is a crime against mankind, and probably Pokékind.

After steamrolling a few trainers on Route 3, I encounter a Spearow. Riley kills it by accident with her weakest attack. That’s my good girl!

As I approach Mt. Moon, there’s only one thing on my mind: The sea of Geodudes and Zubats I’m about to dive into. The only question is which one I’ll encounter first, that retard Clefairy the farthest thing now from my mind. As fate would have it, though… No, just fucking with you—it was a Zubat.

Acquired Zelda the Zubat.

To be continued…

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