Another solid work of animation from the new and improved Disney animation studios since Pixar took over. It drags a bit in spots but overall a very fun picture set in a videogame world, where the titular Ralph (John C. Reilly) is tired of being the Donkey Kong to a Mario-like hero called Fix-It Felix (Jack McBrayer). Determined to get some respect, he travels to other games and helps the fallen star of a Mario Kart-like game (Sarah Silverman) regain her rightful place.
Wreck-It Ralph could have been a lazy string of references to classic video games, but the script is smart, CGI animation is near-Pixar quality, and the voice work is generally very good, with exceptional work by Silverman. That said, as an animation geek I was just as pleased by the animated short presented beforehand – “Paper Man,” which combines traditional 2D animation with 3D. This has been hailed as revolutionary, and I suppose it is if you ignore one of the greatest animated films of all time- The Iron Giant- but it is very charming and lovely nonetheless, and I hope that Disney will consider longer projects using these techniques.
Either way, you can’t go wrong with Wreck-It Ralph. Between this and 2010′s Tangled, I am optimistic about the future of Disney animation.
Fireproof Games has hit a home run with their debut game for the iPad (version 2 and up). The reviews I have seen are generally praising it as original, and I suppose it must seem so in a market crowded with ports of popular board and arcade games, and different styles of puzzle games; but The Room reminds me of a great point and click puzzle game of yesteryear, Myst. Being an iPad game, it also takes advantage of controls like tilting, tapping, and gestures.
So, while it may not be altogether original to people over 40, The Room is nonetheless a remarkable game to experience. You play an unnamed protagonist investigating the disappearance of a scientist who has become obsessed with the idea of discovering a new element; one that may open a doorway to another world. He has hidden his findings in a series of puzzle-boxes, which you must decipher in order to read more of his findings. Each new puzzle box represents a level of the game; and each level is creepier and more sinister than the last, making very effective use of the game’s superior sound design and graphics. I felt like I had been immersed in an H.P. Lovecraft story as I played.
My only complaint about The Room is that I wish there had been more of it. Much like with Myst, the game is completely linear so there is not much replay potential once you know how to solve the puzzles. At $5.00, it costs a bit more than the average iOS game, but I certainly don’t begrudge the cost. At the game’s conclusion, the developers promise that there is more to come; hopefully that means more levels in a software update.
After a bit of a drought, I find myself doing a fair bit of gaming lately. Here’s what I play the most (and I recognize that many of these are hardly new):
Lego Harry Potter, Years 1-4 (PS3): As always, fun to play through a series of beloved films in Lego form. The cutscenes have some amusing comments on the story; for example, when Lucius drops Tom Riddle’s diary into Ginny’s cauldron, she shrugs and smiles.
Final Fantasy XIII (PS3): I quite enjoy how this game works and I enjoy most of the characters, but as with many of the FF games, I find it hard to stay motivated during that long middle period where you level up for the final battle. Still, I think I will push through, and I am looking forward to the new online FF game.
Monopoly (iPhone): pretty much the board game. Fun though. You wind up doing a lot more auctioning than when you play against people.
Critter Crunch (PS3): fun and cute puzzle game with anime stylings available from PSN for just $6.99.
Scott Pilgrim (PS3): another PSN game, based on the comics and film, basically an 8-bit fighting game with some very cute touches. Very fun and well-made for a film tie-in.
Art Style: Cubello (Wii): this is not a new game at all but I still play it quite a bit and am approaching the last levels (I think). It’s a puzzle game where you try to remove groups of coloured cubes from a slowly rotating mass. Available through WiiWare. The other Art Style games, Rotohex and Orbient, are fun too.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Republic Heroes (PS3): Jack is primarily burning through this one, a series of missions based on the Clone Wars cartoon where you alternate playing as a jedi or a clone trooper. Pretty well designed and not super hard for kids.