Friday, May 20, 2011

Clean-up! (Super Meat Boy and Romeo x Juliet Included)

I just finished another successful semester in college! The bad thing is I don't get to do more of my own personal writing, so it's time to play some catch-up!

Here's how I see things. I'm going to cover some anime and video games, spanning all the way back to January. I don't think it's completely fair to judge something when I haven't touched it for months, so I will be giving a more brief analysis on those particular items.

Titles for clean-up:

-Super Meat Boy
-Romeo x Juliet

Coming soon!

-Final Fantasy IV DS
-Eternal Sonata
-Donkey Kong Country Returns

Without further ado!

Super Meat Boy:

Super Meat Boy is most definitely last year's indie hit. For a mere $10 you have over 300 levels to play, and many of the later levels are challenging. Death is a theme in this game, or maybe it's because you die. All the time. Death and rebirth then. Yup that's the theme! Oh, and to rescue your beloved Bandage Girl from Dr. Fetus.

Each level has a recommended time in which you should complete it, scoring an awesome A+ where you can enter a tougher, "dark world" version of the level. Levels are composed of spinning saw blades, guided missiles, and other contraptions that kill Meat Boy along the way. Each time you die it starts you back at the beginning of the level with the timer restarted. The only thing that remains from your last jaunt out is a trail of blood that Meat Boy leaves behind.

The first day I played Super Meat Boy I played for hours. My hand cramped and it was sore because of the way I held the controller. With how short the levels can be, I think this goes to show that the game can be consumed in segments. A fair warning though, the later levels may only require 15 seconds to get an A+ but they may take upwards to 30 minutes to beat in such a time.

This is the most frustrating and rewarding aspect about Super Meat Boy. It's all about being spot on with your jumping and landing abilities, and sometimes having a lot of luck. You scope out a level, finding the best places to not die along the way. After playing a level 20, 30, or 50 times and you finally save Bandage Girl and get an A+, you know you did something awesome right there. And then the next level pops up and it's time to start all over again.

I could go further into Super Meat Boy but I haven't played it in months. It's a great platformer, made for those who don't get too frustrated if they need to replay a level multiple times. It can be beaten by going through the majority of standard levels, but has the dark world for those who want an extra challenge. It hosts characters from other indie games and has cool retro levels to boot.

It's $10! C'mon, go get it!

P.S. I hear the PC version now has a level editor. That's wicked cool, and I wonder what people have cooked up. Check it out!

Romeo x Juliet:

This one's going to be brief. Romeo x Juliet is an anime series that came out in 2007 and was picked up for release in the U.S. by Funimation in 2009. It's an adaptation of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, although maybe saying it's heavily inspired by the classic play is a better choice of words.

I'm not going to go into many of the story's plot devices, but I do believe it is one of the series' largest flaws. I enjoy when Juliet plays up the Red Whirlwind masked-fighter bit in the first arc of the show, but when she ditches the costume the series literally splits in two directions. Romeo goes to one location while Juliet goes to another. These episodes are used to build their individual character separately, but unfortunately it loses that longing of "I want Romeo and Juliet to come together and save Neo Verona".

Overall the story is good and clear to follow. I just wish it captured that charming love story like it did in the first 7 or 8 episodes all the way throughout the series. It's fairly natural and believable, even with flying Dragon-steeds, until the ending where we learn the truth about the characters. I remember reading someone's comment on Hulu stating "they (the creators) had to go the more anime route", literally because special beings and powers are brought into the fray. I think if these elements were left out and we had a more natural Romeo and Juliet story, I would find the series to have greater strength and a more satisfying ending than the one I received.

Of special note, I watched the series in English and Funimation did a great job. They attempt Old English in the dub, thus the adapted script is impressive. It was fun listening to the voice-actors, so props to them!

At the time Romeo x Juliet was streaming on Hulu for free, so it's fairly easy to watch the series. It's captivating at first but struggles half way through. If you are connected to the characters and want to know what will happen in the end (because let's face it we all know the ending...), then it's worth the watch. If anything, check out the opening theme. It uses an adaptation of "You Raise Me Up" and fits the series perfectly.

-Jared C.

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