August 7, 2006

Climate Control [Open Thread]

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at August 7, 2006 1:24 PM

Since I tagged archived posts for the past year, I've put the category listing in the sidebar under the monthly archives. I may tweak the formatting some. I'd also like to tag posts further back in the archive—at least as far as the beginning of 2005—but it may not happen immediately.

I guess it's been a while since I posted an open thread, partly due to not having much to review lately and partly due to pure negligence. I need to listen to some new CDs so that I can get back to my usual schedule of posting reviews. (The new Sunset Rubdown album is good on first listen; I'll probably review it next week.)

An Inconvenient Truth: I finally got around to seeing Berkeley's most popular date movie, in which Al Gore delivers a Powerpoint talk on global warming. I'm not someone who needs convincing at this point, but I was curious to see what he had to say. Maybe it's just that I've seen too many scientific Powerpoint talks, but I thought it was rather disorganized—it seemed to jump around between different topics without a clear direction. The film is interspersed with vignettes from Gore's life, to explain why he's taken up this particular issue; I thought these were mostly just distracting, but for a popular audience maybe it helps humanize the issue. Visually the film is sometimes very compelling (especially the section showing various major cities flooding as the sea level rises—there's a GMaps app where you can try this yourself) but sometimes a little too twee (the polar bear, the frog). Gore is optimistic that global warming can be solved through what seemed like relatively minor improvements in energy efficiency and emissions reduction. Maybe this kind of ending is necessary to convince people the problem can be solved at all, but I'm much more pessimistic. Rating: 2.5/5

Metroid Prime: Hunters: I'm catching up on all those DS games now that I can play them. Unlike the Gamecube predecessors in the Metroid Prime series, this installment is focused much more on deathmatch than exploration. In the single-player mode the various maps are often clearly just the deathmatch levels stitched together, and the layout is more straightforward than is typical for a Metroid game. Combat is faster and more dynamic than in earlier Prime games as well. There's a steep learning curve for the stylus/d-pad control scheme, but once I got used to it I was suprised at how well I could move and aim. The game's biggest flaw is the bosses: a game this combat-oriented should have appropriately interesting boss fights, but instead of coming up with eight different enemies it keeps repeating the same two with slightly different capabilities. Apart from this, the single-player game is pretty solid. Now I just need to round up some opponents for the multiplayer. Rating: 3.5/5

Tags: Games, Movies, Open Thread, Science, Website

at some point i should see a inconveneiant truth but it low on my list

Posted by: shellock | August 7, 2006 1:42 PM

Gazebo, go see A Scanner Darkly if you haven't already... It's awesome.

I want to get Puyo Puyo for my DS. I found a good carrying case for it, so at least I checked that off.

The last several times I've played New SMB (single player) I've gotten my butt handed to me after having had a decent positive streak, so I took a break from it. I'm going to get back to it soon.

Posted by: Mason | August 7, 2006 1:51 PM

I was much more favorably impressed by Inconvenient Truth than you, AG. This is an issue I've paid attention to for quite a while, and I still learned things. The skipping around to personal details didn't bother me much, I see it as a genre convention and don't even notice, really. An uninterrupted Keynote talk would have been more interesting to me, but much less interesting to the vast majority of viewers... I'd give it at least a 3.5, if not 4/5. Aside: if you're rating in steps of 0.5, why not just multiply by two and use integer steps?

Agreed on the pessimism, though. :(

Posted by: Justin | August 7, 2006 4:09 PM

Mason: Scanner is probably at the top of my list right now. As for DS games, I'm now working my way through Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow.

Justin: The rating increments are to be consistent with my listal page so that one can look at what I've reviewed recently without going through the archives. Somewhat bizarrely, on the internal side Listal takes integer ratings between 1 and 10 and then divides them by two.

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | August 7, 2006 5:14 PM

I've got a copy of Hunters, and I'd be game to play you--on the other hand, I haven't played much, since it cramps up my hands fairly quickly.

Justin--that (the X/5 scale) has been bugging me for a while, and I *finally* got used to it and stopped thinking about it. Now you gotta go and dig out those skeletons--damn you!

Oh, and Dawn of Sorrow was a fun game. Basically Aria of Sorrow over again, maybe a bit smoother. Personal weapon favorites: the axe and one of the throwing weapons. I don't remember which, but with the right support equipment/souls, one of the throwing weapons gives fairly good (great even when you first get it) DPS, with range to boot. I actually played through enough to get the full set of souls and the chaos ring. Allegedly Symphony of the Night will be coming out for the Xbox Live Arcade thingthing--that kinda floats my boat.

Lastly, it's a crime if you still haven't seen A Scanner Darkly.

Posted by: Lemming | August 8, 2006 11:33 AM

Not that this is on topic at all, but this comic is amusing.

Posted by: Jonathan Adams | August 8, 2006 1:42 PM

Wow, such an awesome comic. I really like the Kepler joke in one of the early ones, the PA comic, and especially the one: "In what Scientists are calling 'Pretty gay', I can't find my shoes.".

On the original topic-thingies. Dunno about metroid hunters, haven't tried it though I should prolly borrow from Lemming. Dawn of Sorrow is awesome, and I was reading that there is a sequel coming soon.

Also, Valkyrie Profile for the PSP kicks ass. Except I can't find that dude with the icicle disaster/glacial blade quote (or whatever that one was that kept getting repeated so much. Besides "Come to me, my noble Einherjar!", which i've taken to saying (in my mind) every time anyone is gathered together. Ex: Mike calls up. I say it's ok for him to come over. In my mind: "Come to me, my noble Einherjar!".), (for reference, we have now left the parenthesized expression, and are back to the not being able to find the quote dude sentence) so that I can stick him in my party and kill him repeatedly.

On a similar note, Tower of Lezard Valeth in chapter 4 sucks royal ass. Is it supposed to be so painfully hard a dungeon?


Posted by: Zifnab | August 8, 2006 4:39 PM

Jonathan: Just about every science blogger has linked that comic in the last few days; I clearly need to go read the archives. (I think I saw it back when Ryan North linked it, but there are a bunch I've missed since then.) Also, this is an open thread so all comments are on-topic. :)

Zifnab: I have been wanting to play PSP Valkyrie Profile, but I am thus far lacking the PSP... But yeah, Lezard's tower is a particularly brutal dungeon, it's sort of the halfway point in the game so I think they made it especially hard for that reason. I think Gray (the Icicle Disaster guy) shows up in chapter 6, certainly not earlier than chapter 5.

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | August 8, 2006 5:33 PM

This one is my current favorite (though the latest is pretty good, as well).

The one I was pointed at was this one, which is pretty good.

Oh, what are good DS games to pick up? We've got Electroplankton and Kirby.

Posted by: Jonathan | August 8, 2006 6:09 PM

Gray comes up in Chapter 6. I just got him. He invoked such powers.

Posted by: Josh | August 8, 2006 9:31 PM

Ah hah, that'd be the problem then as i'm still in chapter 4, working through the darn tower of death. Much hate for zombie dragons, the sorcerer guys and the three headed chimeras.


Posted by: Anonymous | August 8, 2006 11:05 PM

Oh man, icicle disaster. I've been playing FF Tactics and wondering what PSX game to play next, but judging from prices for Valkyrie Profile...maybe not. Unfortunately, the other game I've been thinking about (Tactics Ogre PSX) also has the same problem.

This is what I get for being 6 years behind in my console gaming.

Posted by: Jolene | August 9, 2006 10:04 AM

(Arcanus, one of my comments is in moderation hell)

Any tips on which DS games are good to get? We've got Kirby and Electroplankton, and Trauma Center hasn't quite been reprinted yet (8/22, according to Amazon...). What else is good?

Posted by: Jonathan | August 9, 2006 10:47 AM

Jonathan: Sorry about that. I had the first batch of comment spam (since the move) come in last night and missed the fact that your comment got flagged as well. It's supposed to take three links before a comment gets flagged, but maybe it counts the one in the URL field.

For DS games, New Super Mario Bros. is an excellent if obvious choice. I'm enjoying Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow as well.

Jolene: I was going to say that Valkyrie Profile is worth paying a little extra, but then I saw what it was going for on Amazon. Wow. You might be able to get a used PSP plus the PSP version for less. :)

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | August 9, 2006 11:01 AM

This is something that's been on my mind a lot. I believe the science behind anthropic global warming is really weak. Weak is not the same as wrong.

The thing is this: Everyone seems willing to agree that CO2 is a pretty weak greenhouse gas and its absorption bands are saturated. The response is that a little global heating can cause significant snowball effects, such as causing a greater percentage of atmospheric vapor, which is a powerful greenhouse gas. (That's just an example, and of course the question of cloud formation complicates it).

Alright, I'm fine with that. Let's say I buy into it - what's the response? Under that reasoning reducing CO2 emissions has no effects, because (given the IPCC's questionable CO2 atmospheric liftimes) reducing the amount of CO2 we add to the atmosphere won't have any significant effect for a century. By then we'll either be toast or we won't, and reducing emissions by 15% now won't have meant squat.

I feel that those arguing for anthropic climate change are using arguments that can also be used against reducing CO2 emissions. That's fine if that's where the science takes us, but it makes Gore's arguments seem totally absurd.

Currently I sit on the fence as to anthropic global warming, leaning towards the side where we're a problem. I don't sit on the fence with regard to Al Gore being full of crap.

Posted by: Kyle | August 9, 2006 1:21 PM

AG: Yeah, and ditto on the price of Tactics Ogre vs. the GBA version. I'm going to hit the used racks at some local game stores and see if I can score a lucky <$40 copy or something.

I should probably wait until after my imported board game order comes in before shelling out for PSX antiques though. Ouch.

Posted by: Jolene | August 9, 2006 1:44 PM

DS game reviews: (games L and I own)

New Super Marios Bros: pretty much a must for anyone who likes platformers at all, or who likes the originals.

Mario Kart DS: good kart racing, the online mode is pretty fun too. Nothing like playing against players in japan at 3am and seeing all the strange messages.

Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow: highly recommended for anyone who likes the 2d castlevania, and especially the more recent versions.

Animal Crossing: Wild World: I liked it, but I also get bored of this style of game easily. Easy to come back to and play for a while though, I still love fishing.

Tetris DS: Ok, so I don't own this one, but given our experience of running into 3 guys/girls playing it at Doug's graduation and getting into a 6 player download play game means this gets my seal of approval, and will probably pick it up next time I see it used, just for the multiplayer.

Nintendogs: Lorian loves this one, I haven't really played it.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: The plot and characters in this rock. "OBJECTION!"

Age of Empires: The Age of Kings: A decent turn based strategy game, very reminiscent of AoE (which people may recall is RTS).

Trauma Center: Under the Knife: Excellent use of the stylus, and a pretty wacky plot. Gets very difficult near the end, but still very good.

Kirby: Canvas Curse: Oh yeah! Fly Kirby on light trails into LAVA! Prolly the best stylus-using platformer on the DS currently, and very fun. :)

Super Princess Peach: still on my to play list, L seemed to like it a lot though.

Meteos: Meteors are falling on your world! Link them into rocket ships and blast off, saving the planet! Puzzle game awesomeness, and the variety in planet physics makes it pretty replayable, and the multiplayer is great. :)

Electroplankton: Odd, surreal music making. Very fun if you like putting together short pieces and letting them play for someone nearby to admire your works. Not a good game to play for extended time periods, but easy to pick up and play and put down.

Lunar: Dragon Song: Pretty good RPG, not really up to Valkyrie Profile or similar quality, but prolly the only one i'd recommend for the DS.

Guilty Gear DS: If you like the Guilty Gear fighting games, you'll like this one, just be prepared for a different system for moves (simplified), and two screen, four level of play action with usually 3 enemies on screen. Very crazy-fun, and I love the GG character designs. Took getting used to the alternate move system, but works fine now. Haven't tried the multiplayer.

Prolly a few others i'm forgetting. :)

Posted by: Zifnab | August 9, 2006 2:55 PM

So awesome, thank you Josh! :)

Posted by: Zifnab | August 10, 2006 3:47 PM

Sweet; thanks, Joe.

Posted by: Jonathan | August 11, 2006 3:02 PM

One problem re: Tactics Ogre is that the GBA/PSX titles are, in fact, different games. Very similar gameplay, but different plot. I understand that the PSX game is what sold Square on hiring same dudes (more or less) to make FFT. Much later, they made Knight of Lodis (the GBA Tactics Ogre game) which, plot-wise, is a prequel to the PSX title.

Doesn't someone among us (fungus!) have a copy of the PSX title?

Posted by: Lemming | August 11, 2006 3:50 PM

Oh, and for the record, Knight of Lodis is comparable to FFT in depth/quality/gameplay/etc. It's comfortably scored the bronze and is chatting up show girls while FFT and Disgaea rip each other to shreds for the gold.

Posted by: Lemming | August 11, 2006 3:52 PM
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