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!
NPChloe is the weekly inward musings of one pensive and game-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.
Bye Bye Birdie, Grease….how could I top those? Xanadu, that’s how! I looked up Olivia Newton-John’s other work and soon found myself enthralled with this musical rollerskating fantasy. The 1980 film is about an artist, (played by Michael Beck), a former orchestra leader (played by Gene Kelly), and a beautiful muse, one of nine sister muses, played by Olivia herself. It’s a beautiful tale of love and art. The film’s title, Xanadu, refers to Samuel Coleridge’s famous poem, Kubla Khan. The first few lines of which are:
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
Beautiful, isn’t it? Though I think I could hear Bink snickering when he stopped and watched a few minutes with me. He just has no taste, the big blue grump. When I explained to him that Xanadu is the epitome of class and talent, he nearly lost his head laughing so hard! I could even hear him chuckling a little from the other room a whole hour later. Silly kitty, doesn’t know what he’s missing!
I didn’t try to Newton-John myself this time. I just wanted to see what I’d look like in a pair of skates!
Have you heard? It’s Read an RPG Book in Public Week! Apparently this is a thrice-a-year event organized by The Escapist to promote awareness of the hobby and to get it “out of the basement.” I don’t know how widespread this event is, but I hope it catches on if it hasn’t already. I’m really tired of the stigma associated with playing tabletop RPGs. And I have to admit, it weighs over me when I wonder if I should tell a non-geek friend or a coworker that I played D&D when they ask me about my weekend. The way I see it, there are 3 levels of nerd stigma that a lot of people buy into when it comes to games. This is all gleaned from my completely subjective experiences of course.
1) Consoles: Playing XBox and PS3 is a minor blip on the nerd radar. Wii doesn’t even register. Maybe I’m too embedded in the geeky lifestyle, but it seems like consoles are pretty mainstream these days. Still, an Xbox-playing dude seems more accepted than an Xbox-playing girl.
2) MMOs: Nerd flags start waving. Telling certain people I play World of Warcraft can be harrowing. I often feel I have to preface it with an eye roll and “I know it’s really nerdy” comment. We even have a closet WoW-player reading the comic, as evidenced in the comments on a recent post.
3) Tabletop RPGs like D&D: Major Nerd Alert. And not “affectionate cute nerd.” More like “off-her-rocker loser nerd.” It would be really difficult for me to tell a non-geek outside of my close circle of friends that I play D&D.
So it’s great to see an event like Read an RPG Book in Public Week. And I’m going to try, although I don’t actually read RPG books… I’m new to D&D, and we’ve figured out everything while we’re playing. But John recently ordered the book for a really cool story-heavy sci-fi RPG called Diaspora. So I’m going to try that on the subway this week.
If you want more info about Read an RPG Book in Public, check out the info over on The Escapist. It occurs February 28 – March 6, July 25-31, and September 26 – October 2.