Dante’s Infernal

Dante’s Inferno is a game I have awaited with a fair dose of interest. I’m a lit chick, so I do a fair bit of reading and absolute masterpiece classics like La Divina Commedia are all amongst my collection of books- often in more than one language. So when I heard that they were making a game based on this epic the first thing I thought was this could be interesting. Then again, I was also naive enough to think that 2004 film Troy would somehow bear some relation to the Iliad.

Yeah, right.

So, in hindsight, perhaps it was naive to think that Dante’s Inferno would resemble the first part of the epic it was named for. Sure enough the game takes you through the 9 circles of Hell, and you encounter a few familiar faces along the way, but that’s really where the similarities end.

Dante Alighieri has been transformed into a crusader with a bloody past, who, for some inexplicable reason, feels the need to stitch a cross onto his chest. God knows why. (I’m sorry. The bad puns are just. So. Tempting.) Pretty soon after that you find out that Beatrice Portinari has been radically altered for the story’s sake to become Dante’s murdered lover (wait, what?), who needs to be saved from the clutches of the Devil. She’s also not really wearing much of anything. Ever.

I suppose that a game with a Mature rating is expected to have all that in abundance, but the devs may have taken that a bit too literally when designing certain characters and areas of Hell. The blood and gore is mature enough as far as I’m concerned- I personally don’t care for an excessive amount of genitalia of either sex in video games. We get the point, it’s Hell and there are sinners (one circle is dedicated to Lust for a reason) but really. Really. My inner cynic couldn’t help but thinking that maybe the devs were… compensating, when designing certain monsters. Y’know? ;)

The game also feels a little bit repetitive. Perhaps Dante likes to reflect a lot, but not half an hour into the game I couldn’t help but feel that I’d already seen this bit of cutscene. Three times.

But, in all fairness, it’s not a bad game and there were plenty of things I did appreciate about it in spite of the somewhat pointless in-your-face nudity (fan service extraordinaire!) and complete mangling of the two principal characters of the epic.

For example, Virgil is still your guide as you descend further into Hell, and his dialogue is taken straight from the poem. Lit chick squeeage alert. In the same vein, it is well worth dying a few times just to get to see some fragments of the epic that are vaguely topical and well worth reading.

The overall design of the areas is actually quite well done. The ambiance certainly is right for the setting- dark and creepy enough to be Hell even without all the ugly minions roaming around there, and there’s plenty of those to be fought.

Dante has some really cool moves; the guy really knows how to use a scythe. Special attacks and the ability to absolve or punish your adversaries add to a nifty battle system, and the graphics as you execute these are also made of win. If you’re into blood, gore, and other such things anyway.

There are also a good deal of trophies to be earned, varying from the stupidly simple to the insanely hard. Most of them come with tongue-in-cheek names (some witty, some tacky), and one of them even spawned a faux protest campaign to generate more buzz for this game… I know women are supposed to be good with kids and all, but I am a really Bad Nanny.

And honestly, when it comes right down to it I just really, really enjoyed kicking Death’s butt. The game gets instant win (+13) points for that battle alone.

Overall Dante’s Inferno is still worth playing, as long as you don’t expect it to be anything like the epic. It may be a bit of an over-marketed game, and EA’s fake controversy stunts might put some people off, but it’s still a fun hack and slash game to play through, with the occasional literary reference as an added bonus. So, if you do decide to pick up this title (conveniently available for PC, PS3, Xbox and PSP), just remember this:

Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate.


Squee Wars 2

I am a hopeless Guild Wars fangirl. I have played this MMO (or “CORPG”) quite faithfully for nearly 5(!) years now, and logging on still gives me a sense of contentment and glee. I fell in love with the graphics of Pre-Searing Ascalon and have not fallen out of love with the look and feel of the game ever since. (Well, maybe not all of the game’s areas… but still.)

I was even geek enough to start on a Guild Wars fan blog, but quickly abandoned that concept when I realised that it was really a little too much squee and a little too little… well, blog. I suppose that’s my inner fangirl dying for attention. Out of the various posts I made on it, maybe 2 were actually worth reading, so maybe it is better left forgotten.

So one might wonder where I’m going with this, nearly 5 years after Guild Wars was first released and having already stated that my blog of fangirlism is resting in peace somewhere in the murky depths of the internet… Guild Wars 2, of course!

As a hopeless fangirl I may be vaguely sensitive to over-excitement, but this article has my inner squee going wild.

Guild Wars 2 was first announced in 2007, several months before Guild Wars’ next campaign was expected to come out. The next campaign was “downgraded” to an expansion (not the same as a campaign, and never the twain shall meet?) in favour of developing this completely new game, and suddenly Eye of the North was the final major addition to what I think deserves to be called an MMO legend.

It’s 2010 now and the wait has been long and a little agonising, and I won’t dig up the angst concerning ANet’s decision to announce the game so early on (but I do have buckets of mud ready, in case people feel the need to discuss it again here), but I think it’s safe to say that it’s a highly anticipated game, and I for one am really looking forward to it.

I am in love with the artwork, I think the teaser trailers look great, and I’m looking forward to exploring the range of the game’s lore- if it’s anything like its predecessor, then Guild Wars 2 will have a lot to offer.

Then again, I was dense enough not to realise that Rata Sum can be rearranged to spell the word Mursaat… someone needed to point this out to me! So maybe I’m not the most observant fangirl out there. Or did I just open your eyes for you? :)

Professor Layton and Pandora’s Box

I finally managed to disattach myself from my PSP long enough to write another post!

Stuff Spoon is looking forward to: Professor Layton and Pandora’s Box (Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box in Japan), which will be released in Europe on September 25.

I was a huge fan of the first release in the series, Professor Layton and the Curious Village, and have been eagerly anticipating its follow-up ever since I finished the first game. The series has been popular enough in Japan to spawn 4 titles to date since its introduction in 2007, but sadly Europe is lagging behind a little at a meagre 2 titles.

So what is it about the game that I enjoyed so much? Well, I’d have to start with its cute 2D visuals and charming background music, quickly moving on to the interesting and original storyline (complete with unexpected ending!) and from there to the scores of puzzles which range from almost mindlessly simple to frustratingly difficult. The game came with a 3-hint system based on a limited amount of hint coins (to be easily used and abused if combined with the save feature!), and it had a neat little download feature with which it is possible to download even more puzzles. It even had some fully-voiced cutscenes to go with it.

It’s not a typical puzzle game, it’s not a typical whodunnit, and it’s certainly no run-off-the-mill adventure game. The interesting blend of several types of games is exactly what made part 1 so enjoyable, and I for one am looking forward to part 2!

Final Fantasy IV DS

Some games just don’t die. If a game is part of the Final Fantasy franchise, it has a good chance of living forever, or at the very least it will be remade over and over again. (No, this is not me being a cynic. This is me sending Square a not-so-subtle hint to get working on an FFVII remake already.)

Final Fantasy IV is one of the games that Square seems to enjoy reinventing. It was first released in 1991 for the SNES, and after 6 years found itself remade for the PlayStation. Square released another remake of the game in 2002 for the WonderSwan Color (I’m not making this thing up!), and got so into the remake-business that the GameBoy Advance got its own version in 2005.

The funny thing is that although it was released in Japan as IV, it was only the second game in the franchise to be released in the US. Just to keep things simple it was originally released there as Final Fantasy II (not to be confused with the actual Final Fantasy II, of course) and this shuffling of the numbers there continued down the line.

Imagine the confusion when Final Fantasy VII came out and they decided not to re-number it.

The game was never released in Europe prior to its 2005 GBA incarnation, so for people like me a whole new world spread out before us when it finally came ashore in Europe on June 6, 2006. I was one of those geeks who actually marked the date on her calendar. Yes. Really.

Interestingly enough just a simple GBA release wasn’t enough for Square. A Nintendo DS version came out in Japan late in 2007, and eventually made its way to the USA and Europe in 2008. Unlike its GBA predecessor, this version got a complete overhaul to make it shiny.

For example, the 2D graphics were abandoned entirely in favour of a more 3D setting. If you’ve played the DS remake of Final Fantasy III (the Japanese III, not the initial US III, which was actually FFVI) you’ll have a good idea of what FFIV now looks like. Apparently Square loved the style so much that they decided to use it again for IV. Fans of the franchise are still wondering WHY?!

Don’t get me wrong, the DS release has some cool stuff to offer. The story was fleshed out with content left out of earlier versions. This might not sound so thrilling, but it really added to the overall fun and enjoyment of the game. Some of the cutscenes even come fully voiced in this remake, which is not something you’ll find in a lot of DS releases. Even the English translation was given a clean-up and a fair number of lines were given a more accurate translation.

Ironically enough, the bard really was spoony. Spot on.

So why am I writing this now, 2 months after the latest EU release of this incarnation of the game? FFIV is in fact one of my favourite games in the franchise, and if you still haven’t played it, I really recommend you pick it up- if only so you’ll be among those who know what game gave birth to the best line ever.

Welcome to Spoony Bard!

Home of Spoon, the silly and somewhat crazy girl gamer with access to far too many consoles to be considered healthy. She has a strange fondness for handheld games, but does not shy away from bigger consoles.

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