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Played Out - Costume Quest

Pant. Gasp. Hey... Slurp. Sorry guys my car broke down and I had to catch a ride with this total fattie from Sheboygan but we kind of connected on a shared opinion of fall planting strategies... Anyway, I made it! And I'm totally in time to write about a Halloween video game, right?! Right?


Well my other option is to blog about this Beau Estes demo reel I found on youtube. But he's a cookie-cutter sports reporter with stupid hair, and the video is boring, so I'll stick with the game.

Costume Quest is a downloadable role-playing game in which you play as little kids who go trick-or-treating. I beat it in one sitting (1AM-6AM), and my memories of that time are quite pleasant. I think I even had a cat in my lap! From that experience, I have drawn two salient talking points to breach with you today. To discuss these points, I will use the form of blog instead of PowerPoint, since we're already here, if that's okay with you. And I won't use a talking gecko who's supposed to be a good mascot because he's a typical middle manager with an accent, either, if that's okay with OH GAWD MY SANITY.

I'm sorry. I don't usually watch commercials, so the baseball playoffs really do a number on me.

Six paragraphs in... It's time for some content!

The Good - Imagination
Costume Quest absolutely bubbles over with Halloween charm, in the same way that a witch's brew bubbles over in animal body parts. It takes everything that's great about the holiday - namely costumes and candy - and transforms them into gameplay a child might imagine if he/she were to dream up a monstrous (but still relatively harmless) evening of trick-or-treat terror.

Because the story is presented from the perspective of the child (and is permeated with adult characters who chat with you as if nothing strange is afoot), there exists the charming possibility that the monsters attacking you are make-believe. This is, in my mind, a perfect pitch for a holiday so engrossed in youthful imagination. As far as I recall, children don't dream in the hallucinatory psychosis of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. Rather, they conjure up scenarios in which they, in the real world they know, are the heroes. How many kids who rang doorbells this weekend actually believed that they had, at least in part, become the persona they wore? A lot of them, and that is the crux at the heart of Costume Quest. You can beat the bad guys because you can wear awesome costumes that transform you into awesome things with awesome powers.

The cute character design and witty dialogue more than support this core concept and managed to keep a cynical grump (aka me) smiling throughout.

The Mediocre - A Cool Breeze
In my five hours of playtime, I died only once. Now, keep in mind that all I do is play video games and image search Aimee Teegarden; nevertheless, the simple "press-the-button-at-the-right-time" battle system which makes up much of the game is breezy and easy, and I was left with some serious spells of zombie-like progression. Haha but at least they weren't serious witch's spells, right lol?

I'm not saying I want some uber-complicated, punishing battle system, especially after I just finished heralding the mature immaturity of the simple story. In fact, I'm quite confused right now about what I want from video game difficulty. I just broke another controller this week thanks to the unbridled rage I hold against computers I perceive to be cheating me (whether they are or not), and I can't say I have fun doing that. Then again, I don't want to be handed a "win" button, because in that case I might as well watch a movie, right rofl? Right?

Actually, not right. By adding any player input at all, video games achieve a wholly different experience than movies. The "problem" of easiness may merely be a symptom of the game being too long for its depth. People already balk at paying $15 for a five-hour game, however, so how can a developer risk anything shorter? Sure, they could always charge less, but they could also aspire to deliver a confined narrative that people consider to be worth $15 (like Saw 3D).

Remove a few repetitive battles, and I think Costume Quest may already represent that aspiration fulfilled.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to make a decision about this Sheboygan relationship. Whatever I decide, remember this: Don't plant in the fall, because winter comes next.

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  1. Blogger qualler | 2:09 PM |  

    Why don't they have the Jack Daniel's Racing postgame show in Minnesota? He's really got stuff covered. Kiteboarding, NASCAR, Atlanta Hawks basketball. And the old show-the-inside-of-the-stadium-via-video-game trick is classic. And I love when he calls Nomar Garciaparra "No-mah!" So clever. And so many puns to be made with the name Ugeth. That video left me hanging on Stephen Jackson's answer about how to answer LeBron James' offensive game, though. B-.

    Brigitte and I still need to work our way through Costume Quest, but first I need to finish Uncharted 2. I'm only on level 9, the one where you have to move all those damn mirrors around to get stuff to happen in that big underground Lost-temple-like room. I've probably died from falling from a great height in that enemy free part than I did at any other point with dudes shotting at me constantly.

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