atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#1841: Sirius, lose the James Brown. Seriously.

I've had Sirius-XM's "Holiday Traditions" channel on. For the most part they play nice Christmas music: there's no John Lennon, Paul McCarthy, Madonna, WHAM!, USA for Africa, Band Aid, nor anyone of their ilk. There is no hippie moralizing, nor are there any songs which attempt to minimize Christmas spirit by making you feel guilty for not living in a third world country. In general, this is good. I would not mind getting through an entire holiday season without hearing the signature Christmas tunes of those performers/groups.

In fact, in the entire time I've listened so far this season, they've played one version of "Santa, Baby" once, and it wasn't the version by Madonna. Believe me, this is a mark in their favor.

And the same goes for many modern performances of Christmas music. No matter which artist does it, I haven't heard a single contemporary version of a Christmas carol which was worth squat. (Mannheim Steamroller does yeoman service, but even their most recent emission was sub-par. Too much "this is what made us successful" and too little "this is actually well-done".)

But it's not unalloyed bliss. There are three problems I have with Sirius-XM's musical lineup. (I would not be writing about it if I couldn't complain.)

First: James Brown is a marvelously talented performer--I wouldn't even begin to attempt to argue he wasn't--but no performer can hit every note or sing every song. There are all kinds of songs the man has sung which cannot be imitated by others, but James Brown and Christmas carols simply do not go together.

Second: "Baby, It's Cold Outside". This is not a bad song; it does not mean it must be played at least once per hour. There are some four or five versions of it in the channel's playlist; I think it could safely be trimmed to one or two.

Third: "Merry Christmas, Baby". Ditto. Christmas-themed blues songs which are not depressing are rare; but this one doesn't need to be played all the damned time.

If I could hack into their playlist, after I made those changes, I'd also add a few Mannheim Steamroller songs. (The good ones, not the commercial ones.) Hilary Stagg's Winter Magic would go in. Maybe selected tracks from David Arkenstone's Christmas album, just to mix it up.

Generally speaking, this year their mix is better than last year's. So that's good.

* * *

Well, I tried playing Resident Evil 2 on the PSOne. Boy, did that suck.

It was like the Sensei! Ninomiya-kun! video game in Minami-ke.
For a certain reason, Kana and Chiaki are playing a game that Kana has borrowed from a friend. We see the screen of the TV as they play the game. Chiaki is controlling "sensei" and Kana is controlling "Ninomiya-kun", a high school girl.

They walk into a room. The high school girl runs into a crate and stalls, running in place. A zombie comes out of the side door and starts attacking the girl. She screams ("kyaa!"), still running in place, and it attacks her again. She screams again, suddenly fires two rounds from a gun she hadn't had a moment before, and then dies. "Ninomiya-kun!" says sensei.

This is the funniest moment in the series so far, at least to me. Why? Because it was so real. The element of truth was what made it so funny: Kana is playing a game she's never played before, and she doesn't know how to play it. So her character fumbles around on the screen and gets killed in very short order: "Kyaa! Kyaa! blam blam Eeyaiggh! Ninomiya-kun!"
My attempt at playing RE2 approximated that...five times in a row.

I spent more time watching the cutscenes than I did playing the game, including skipping past them 4 additional times.

When the game finally starts, your character is surrounded by five or so zombies. None of the controls are intuitive (it took me three character deaths before I learned that you have to hold R1 while pressing the attack button in order to shoot) and the character moves at a slow walk when you try to move him around.

Yeah, you read that correctly: I died three times before I managed to fire so much as a single freaking shot. (WITH reading the manual pamphlet.)

When you get killed, you're treated to a 30-second animation of zombies eating your character, while the DualShock controller vibrates like a gasoline-powered marital aid. There is no way to skip it; you get to watch the whole thing while blood splatters the screen and the words "YOU DIED" slowly fade in. (No shit? My character died? I couldn't have guessed from the way he folded like a bad tent in a hurricane and now has zombies swarming all over him making messy eating sounds.)

I spent more time watching the "you died" animation than I did playing the game.

And this was on the easiest mode, where you start with a machine gun and inifinite ammunition.

After death #5 I decided This shit isn't worth it and took the thing out. I very nearly smashed the CD over my knee to make the point, but I decided I might someday wish to fob this piece of crap off on someone who has the reflexes of a 15-year-old gamer geek who lives on Mountain Dew and Skittles.

It provides, in fact, a textbook example of how not to make a game. Making the starting screen fricking impossible for a novice to clear is not going to make the novice in question want to come back for more, nor is it going to make the novice interested in seeing what else the series has to offer.

You start off slowly, because some people need to learn how to run the character before they can jump in and fend off five zombies. (Five zombies, I might add, which can take multiple bullets from a 9mm machine gun before dying.) Start with one zombie, maybe two. Five? No.

While we're at it, having the character move faster than a slow walk would be a plus. He's just narrowly escaped death and he's surrounded by the living dead--I think he'd be amped up on adrenaline, for one, and would probably default to sprinting. (I would. And the character is a rookie cop, first day on the job; he's not a 40-something fatass who spends most of his time in front of a computer.)

So I think RE2 is a shit game, and I think it's a shit game because I can't stay alive long enough in it to enjoy it. I don't need this kind of crap.

If I thought I could get anything worthwhile for the effort, I'd take the sports games and this junk to GameStop--but they'd probably give me about $4 in store credit. What would that buy me, part of a DS game? Screw it. I started Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus with a view to rescuing every last mudokan. So far, 33 out of 75 (the first part of the game) and zero casualties...though I've had to make heavy use of quicksave to do it.

* * *

Looking for the quote about Minami-ke led me to some other posts, and I found this quote: "Minor complaint: the new version of Solitaire in Windows Vista doesn't let you resent the "win/lose" statistic." Heh. You don't need the software to let you resent it. Typo FTW!

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