Whoa, the NPC Facebook page really jumped this week – we’re already past 400 fans! As promised, I uploaded more avatars. These are from the latest comics. To access, go to the last page of the avatar album on the FB page. Enjoy!
NPChloe is the weekly inward musings of one pensive and game-culture-loving feline, Chloe. The words and art below have been ripped directly from her diary and spread out on the internets here for all to see. She’s a little tied up this week, but we found a past entry she made.
I recently had the opportunity to stream the excellent film, Man on Wire, through Netflix. It’s a 2008 documentary directed by James Marsh, chronicling Frenchman Philippe Petit’s astonishing feat of walking a wire suspended between the two World Trade Center towers in New York City in 1974. It’s a story of breath-taking courage, or suicidal insanity, depending on how you look at it. At times it was difficult for me to watch at all without getting a chilling sense of vertigo. I sketched myself on walking a wire, though I didn’t think of myself as being nearly as high as he was. I don’t think I could have finished the sketch if I did! I also assumed that my tail and natural feline sense of balance obviated the need for a the balance pole he held.
Given the nature of the recent comics, I figure it’d be appropriate to post the Tron: Legacy trailer released earlier this week. The Disney sequel is set to release December 17 of this year. And yes, recent Oscar-winner Jeff Bridges is in it.
First Impressions is a regular feature in which Mary shares her -surprise! – first impressions of a game she’s been playing while she should have been making comics.
I’d heard a lot about Plants Vs. Zombies, but didn’t get this single player Tower Defense game until it hit the iPhone app store this February. I’m glad I waited, because it is truly the perfect iPhone game. And by that I mean the perfect game for me to play while on the subway, or waiting in line, or curled up in bed before turning the light out. I still dabble in Bejeweled now and then, but PvZ is a meatier casual game. There’s just a little more to grab on to. A lot more, actually. And yet, it still possesses the ability unique to casual games: it’s easy to pick up and put down. Well, maybe not that easy to put down. But if you’re in a pinch, like say, if your subway doors are about to close as you realize you almost missed your stop, you can turn it off quickly and not lose progress.
As far as tower defense games go, it’s not as hard as the few TD games I’ve played. Defender Chronicles, Geo Defense Swarm, and Field Runners are all more difficult and require a little more strategic thinking than PvZ. But don’t get the wrong impression – PvZ warms you up slowly, gradually increasing the difficulty as it throws a variety of zombies and even surfaces at you. Luckily, you also build up a collection of unique plants in your arsenal. It’s a lot to keep track of, but you’re limited to 7 slots (you can buy more as you go – I have 8 and I’m saving up for 9!) of plants to use on any given level. And you also quickly unlock a handy almanac detailing all the abilities of plants and zombies that you’re already encountered.
My strategy has generally been to line up sunflowers (and at nighttime, mushrooms) at the back row, sometimes doubling them up. The next row is a line of shooters, then a line of a special ability plant, usually one that slows. Then I leave a space or two for later planting, and start building a defensive row of Wall-nuts. Preferably, Tall-nuts. They’re my favorite unit so far. I get so sad when I lose one! Fortunately, they’re pretty tough and don’t get lost too often.
Oh, and did I mention that the game is absolutely charming? It’s charming. I was not paid to write this. I want to adopt a Tall-nut (Pop Cap merchandising opportunity?), the graphics are adorable (even the zombies!), and the music is somehow both soothing and adrenaline-pumping at the same time.
Straphanger review: If you have a seat, like most games, you’re golden. If you’re interrupted, you can easily pause the game and pick it up where you left off. The addictive and immersive nature of the game can be hazardous to your awareness of your stop, so stay alert! Standing and playing isn’t ideal, but can be done, as I have many times. It’s possible to play the game one handed, cupping the device and playing with your free thumb, while you hang on to your chosen means of balance. That thumb will stay very busy though, picking up suns, coins, and planting your zombie killers!
Plants Vs. Zombies is published by PopCap Games and designed by George Fan. You can try it for free on their site, buy it for $2.99 from the iTunes App Store for your iPhone or iPod Touch, or download it to your Mac or PC for $19.99. It’s also been announced to Xbox Live Arcade, though I didn’t find a release date.
As promised, I uploaded avatars taken from the latest comics to the NPC Facebook Page, to celebrate surpassing 300 fans. Thanks everyone for joining! The screencap above is just a few of the avatars. I’ll upload more at every one-hundred mark, and I’ll make ’em special for the 500-fan mark! So join up if you haven’t already, and tell your FB friends about NPC if you think they’d be interested. Thanks!