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Ben Hornsby

Ben Hornsby

'Alan Wake's American Nightmare' is about escaping meaningless fires to pop songs. It's not as cool as it sounds. Limp-wristed QTEs get in between you and the switches you need to hit; every time you pick up a plot-related item it will leave its watermark on the corner of your screen until you figure out how to use it; there is always at least 10 times the ammunition you could ever need scattered about your immediate vicinity. These and other face-against-wall ideas are scattered all throughout this little game like tiny, chewy raisins in an otherwise just-OK bagel or surprise walnuts in what you already thought was a too-cakey brownie.

Alan finds himself wandering around a dreamlike ghost town where his own personal Dark Tobey Maguire is wreaking havoc on the local townspeople (three women). Alan tries to save them, fails and gets returned to the beginning of the game to try again. Things change each time - the dumb women Alan is trying to help start to get a clue - until Alan ultimately, uh, does whatever. On the way you'll get to experience the revolutionary game mechanics of Pistol, Shotgun, Grenade, and Third-Person Shoot. To be fair, another major mechanic is that you have to blast enemies with your battery-draining flashlight before they're vulnerable to traditional gunfire, and this is almost cool. Except! You're constantly equipped with enough batteries and backup flares to stop an army of shadow-zombies dead in its tracks at any moment.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012 16:07

'Rhythm Heaven Fever': better than 'Guitar Hero'

I guess I'm having trouble deciding what to say about 'Rhythm Heaven Fever.' It's a great name! Definitely. If I made a game I wouldn't hesitate to put any of those three words in the title. I'm taking a break from 'screenwriting' (sitting in the dark listening to 70s Japanese smoke-rock and thinking about Michelangelo Antonioni) to write this review, and it is hitting me that 'Fever' might be a pretty good name for a movie about a lonely guy that works in a mill. 'Rhythm' is also, maybe, not terrible.

Segue: 'Rhythm Heaven Fever,' though, is decidedly not cinematic. It is all game and no blockbuster. It's simple. It's a rhythm game - like 'Rock Band,' yeah - in which many of the songs can be completed with one button and none of them require more than two. You never have to do anything other than either press A or press A and B at the same time. With a Wii Remote, pressing A and B at the same time is a lot like squeezing your controller, which is not a coincidence. 'Rhythm Heaven Fever' is not concerned with videogame controllers so much as distinct inputs: There are no As and Bs; there is The Button, and The Controller. In this song, press The Button to shake your tambourine, and squeeze The Controller to smack it; squeeze to catch an incoming piece of candy, press to swat away an incoming spidermonster.

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