Saturday, June 28, 2008

Snores

Penguins told me that I will not be online for a little while, but let me recommend a new lullaby: Tameiki no Hashi

Lyrics:

Bridge of Sighs

Flying over mountain ranges capped in ultramarine
The soft hum of a propeller echoes in the valleys

On a fluttering flag emblazoned a spear
May it still protect someone for millennia to come
passed on through generations

Be it a signpost to where that person is,
that person whose name I do not know


The pale figure floating above the lake surrounding the forest entrance,
may it be of someone known

I pray that the mark shining on its chest
would still illuminate someone for millennia to come
with its golden radiance

Be it the moonlight that connects here to where that person is,
that person whose name I do not know


After millennia have passed, if the two are still with each other,
laughing together, then they need not a thing
The great river taught me so

Braving the stream, I wish to build a bridge,
across to where you are, to join you


even the past now becomes the future

As usual, I won't claim any accuracy lost due to plain lack of comprehension or caffeine.

In case anyone want to sing along:

Tameiki no Hashi

gunjou wo matou yamanami wo koete
hikuku uneru puropera tanima ni kodama suru

tanabiku hata ni wa hitotsu no yari
ikusen no toki ga sugite mo dareka wo mamoru you
uketsugareteiku

namae mo shiranai ano hito no moto
tsunagu michishirube


mori no iriguchi wo kakomu mizuumi ni
shiroku ukabu sugata wa mioboe no aru you

munamoto ni hikaru sono shirushi wa
ikusen no toki ga sugite mo dareka wo teraseru you
kin ni kagayaku

namae mo shiranai ano hito no moto
tsunagu tsukiakari


ikusen no toki ga sugite mo futari ga tomo ni ite
waraiaetara nanimo iranai to
oshiete kureta ooki na kawa

nagare wo tomezu hashi wo kakewatashi
anata no moto e ayumi yotteikou


kako mo ima wa mirai e kawaru

Monday, June 16, 2008

Slaying Mountains

You have a short holiday before very busy times. What would you do? How about slaying mountains?

Some mountains are scaled, others are slain.

Enter Shadow of The Colossus, a PS2 game in which you wander around vast lands looking for colossi, then kill them. One by one.

Well, let's do this in order. The game opens with Wander (a clumsy warrior who just stole a holy sword, you play as him) crossing a long and tall bridge atop his horse, Agro (but the way Wander calls it, it sounds very much like Argo). With them they carry an unconscious girl, Mono. She's dead by the way, not just unconscious (well, if she were conscious, we'd have a complication). Sentence can't adequately describe that bridge, you just have to see it for yourself, and when you see it from the bottom soon into the game, the magnitude really makes itself known.

Enough of the bridge. Wander soon arrives at a huge shrine. Shortly, that place is a forbidden land which can grant wishes. Wander tries to revive Mono by going there, stealing the sword and all. There is a price for that though, Wander has to slay 16 colossi in that land with that stolen sword, only then can Mono be revived. Well, this looks like a common premise for a romantic story, but the maker doesn't really say what's what and left most things for the gamer to figure out anyway.

Basically, the flow of the game is: find a colossus, kill it, find another one, kill it, and so on until you finished off all 16 of them, but it can't be that simple. First finding the colossus is not a constantly easy feat, sometimes it's located in a cave which entrance is so obscure you'd spent a long time finding it, or it might be high on a mountain and you have to climb it, or it might be in the middle of a lake and you have to swim there, etc etc. Then again, one get sidetracked very easily here, because the scenery is just so beautiful. Forget about the colossus, I'm going on a sightseeing trip instead! Well, Mono won't get back to life that way.

Then comes the showdown with a colossus. They are generally huge. Huge. Unlike many action games, you don't just swing around your sword, nibbling at the boss' health while trying your darndest not to get killed, because you can't. One must climb the colossus, find its weak spot, and go stabbity stab stab on it until it's gone, then find another weak spot, climb there, and go stabbity stab stab there. Problem is, climbing is not trivial. For one, Wander can't grab on just any part of the colossus, try climbing a smooth steel wall sometime, and you'd know. Sometimes you have to attract their attention, get them to crouch, sneak behind their back, break their armor and other things. It's really like a puzzle. Then, you only have finite grip strength, and the colossi flail around, wildly. Who wouldn't if some small person climbs up his body with a sword and tries to go stabbity stab stab on his vital point.

The control scheme is also wonderful. I don't know many control scheme, my experience is mostly with RPG games, in most you just have confirm/cancel/menu, or Katamari Damacy which is wonderful in its own right. Shadow of The Colossus control is a nice reminder why gaming is so much fun, one can feel the suspense through the control. This article from Destructoid says it best.

The rest are, of course, best experienced firsthand.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Armed Expedition

But nothing barbaric, really.

A moth:

that silly moth

It's been parking on my dorm wall for a couple of days. I wonder what it's thinking about. No, I'm not going to make it flap its wings in a way that would result in raining kittens halfway around the earth. Wait, that might be a neat idea.

CHDK is a nice thing to play around with. Of course, instead of just goofing around with the settings, I should snap more pictures instead. Guess where in NTU is this:

rad

Yeah, that's too easy. I took that at night, putting the camera on the running track for lack of stable hands. More interesting thing happens at longer exposure, like this one below:

It's still holiday mood around my head, so I can't really be bothered learning about more photo-taking principles, maybe next time.

I said that campus expedition would be better with a working camera, now I'd like to add to that: it's still not as exciting without ENOUGH BATTERIES. Pfft.