Volpane In Love

Decade Archive of my personal blog from 1999 to 2009.

Friday, April 09, 1999

Play...I've always enjoyed strategy games: competition without the chance of getting really hurt I also like puzzles and role-playing so I've been playing those games more. I list demos that I have taken the time to download and play, but I will have to find more time to write about those.

Vampire: The Eternal Struggle�Currently playing via e-mail with friend Rictus in Idaho this card game based on The Masquerade, a vampire themed role-playing system by White Wolf Games. Probably the best "card/combat" game I've ever played. Those people playing Magic don't know what they are missing.

Computer Games

Zork: Nemesis�I picked this one up used for eight bucks. What a bargain, very reminiscent of the old Infocom games but better, with pictures and music. Interesting references to hermeticism. There are two more titles like this that I will definitely have to play.

Sid Meyer's Civilization�Yes, the old DOS version. I have played the newer version but I have to admit I still like the older version even though I purchased Civilization II recently.

Sid Meyer's Railroad Tycoon�Same story here, DOS version still works fine. The new version looks very cool but why buy new when the old one still works?

Temujin�The best thing about this are the complex and often-absurd characterizations of the people in this supernatural "thriller" puzzle adventure. But don't waste your time on this if you don't like adventure type games and poorly thought out interfaces.

Blade Runner�They sure have captured the atmosphere of the Ridley Scott movie by the same name. Unfortunately the added storylines, rather than paying homage to Phillip K. Dick, the author of the book the movie was based on, simply extrapolate on the characters presented in the movie. Hiring too few voice actors to depict the stock characters leave them flat. Good overall presentation that is hindered by slow game play.

Riven�Those guys from Cyan have done it again. An elegant and intricate if not always logical puzzle adventure between the pages of "linking" books.

Toonstruck�For some reason I am stuck early on in the game and I think it�s a glitch in the game engine. I'll try to finish it when I get Windows98 up and running on my machine. Christopher Lloyd and Tim Curry keep this simple adventure puzzle from being too annoying.

Circle of Blood & Smoking Mirror�This "historical" farce begins very well but looses steam throughout the later part of the game. Lots of well rendered graphics, some interesting if not entirely logical puzzles, a bit too much "juvenile" stereotyping and sexism in the characters.


Caesar III�Very enjoyable but so close to Civilization and Ages of Empires that I wonder if I'd play it once I owned it. Anyone want to give me a copy to find out?

Deadlock�Downloaded this strategy game demo a while ago and I still have it on my drive. Here's a case of the demo being almost too good. I will definitely buy this someday, the question is when?

Hexplore�Not a bad RPG, I just don't know who would pay money to play this so-so game. Lots of repetitive journeys back to health sites so you can keep the characters alive just like Ultima. People! We can do better game design, can't we?
I'm watching... ...mostly movies. I don't watch much television.

I have been watching the American Queer As Folk on Showtime regularly. Can't wait for Further Tales of the City

Fantastic Planet
Egyptian Theatre, Capital Hill, Seattle, WA

Very cool videos I purchased:
Harriet the Spy
Disney's Sleeping Beauty
Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Pom Poku
video, pirated from Japanese television
Don't know if you are a fan of anime and Hayao Miyazaki, but I was just given a video copy of Pom Poku aka War of the Badgers/Raccoons (I suppose it depends on which zoologist you ask as tanuki are indegenous to Japan only). This is a delightful story with very obvious ecological and political lessons. The most fun is had if you are familiar with Japanese culture and legends. Besides the references to fox weddings and the transforming tanuki, in the middle of the movie there is a whole parade of ghosts, goblins and spirits right out of traditional Japanese scroll paintings. The whole thing is reminded me of Kurosawa's Dreams, but with less care taken to include western viewers unfamiliar with Japanese culture.
For example, the tanuki themselves have four different visual aspects to their transforming making it difficult to follow exactly what is happening. One minute they will look like realistically drawn, then the next like teddy bears, then like a children's drawing of a teddy bear and then as a human. Still, despite difficulty following a story heavily based on narration, the tanuki remain very mischievous and the end results of their constant transforming is inherently hilarious. I doubt this will ever get dubbed for English speakers but almost worth the viewing for its novelty. I suppose the movie's biggest failings are due to the fact the Miyazaki didn't direct this film directly. Perhaps his greatest achievements were done earlier in Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Laputa: Castle in the Sky, Totoro: My Neighbor, and Kiki's Delivery Service.

Shakespeare in Love
Uptown Cinemas
I was really surprised that I enjoyed this Hollywood movie. I was thinking that it might be a travesty to poke fun at such an institution as Shakespeare, but this was true to many elements that makes Shakespeare watchable today. Lots of "in" jokes and anachronism which the average viewer might not catch but for me simply added to the whimsy of the whole movie, rather than detracting. I think I enjoyed it because I didn't have expectations. The sets are very authentic and there are tons of very cool costumes, but even that takes downstage to the plot which is genuine and plausible. Again, it was not how I would have scripted it, but then mine probably would have been more controversial than humorous.

Little Voice
Broadway Market
Jane Horrocks does a tour-de-force performance in this otherwise forgettable story supported by Michael Cain, Brenda Blethyn and Ewan McGregor.

Waking Ned Devine
Seven Gables Theater
Darkly funny if somewhat obvious humor, leaves you with the moral dilemma: is it all right to break the law if it benefits everyone?

The Young Girls of Rochefort
Egyptian Theater
Very fun Sixties tribute to the great musicals of the Fifties, � la francaise, starring Catherine Deneuve.

As Good As It Gets
Hollywood Video
Oddly this movie hit home because I've experienced Obsessive-Compulsive behavior at the clinic where I make my day job. I had to see this movie because my mother had pointed it out to me as having a gay character and I wanted to see what she'd seen because the gay character was seen as weak in the gay press.

Hollywood Video
Good old-fashioned story of redemption and betrayal set in the nineties...and Ewan McGregor is impossibly cute. No one on heroin will ever look that good.

Kenneth Branaugh's Hamlet
Hollywood Video
Good acting all around and an amazing cameo from Billy Crystal, of all people...the more I see of this man's work the more I wish he'd try some difficult and serious parts.

Gods & Monsters
Egyptian Theater
Very good. Ian McKellen deserves an Oscar. Brandon Frasier earns his chops. Lynn Redgrave chews scenery wonderfully. A very loving tribute to James Whale, a man forgotten by a generation and immortalized by his iconography.

Broadway Market Theaters
Went by myself and was disappointed by the horrific but contrived action these characters are supposed to commit.What is seen is some incredible acting and creation of all too believable characters. Now if only we could have seen what these characters had supposedly done off screen then I might have truly been moved.