Sunday, June 26, 2016

Crabby Pants, Game Rant, Might as Well Face it—I’m Addicted to Cheese

I’m crabby today because I have set myself the goal of sending off two novel queries, and I don’t want to, because the whole situation is beginning to feel completely hopeless and existential on a “Waiting for Godot”-like level. I’ve already had a crying jag before noon just thinking about the futility of sending out novel queries. Mr. Typist distracted me briefly with a walk to our local vegetable stand, but that’s over now and I’m back to being crabby and weepy again. Also, because of the novel submissions, I desperately need new headshots and a new Linked In profile, and trying to keep up on social media demands is making me nuts, and it’s all just too much. I already have a full time job and don’t want a second one.

In an attempt to escape from the madness, last week I bought the game “Samorost 3” from Amanita Studios, the same folks who made “Machinarium” and the much-loved (at least by me) “Botanicula.” I can usually count on games from Amanita Studios to be fun, relaxing, and a nice brain vacation, but “Samorost 3” is completely demented and infuriating. It is beautiful, musically and artistically ingenious, visually stunning, and imaginatively rendered. It’s a true art-house game--but it’s completely maddening to actually play. The puzzles are totally unsolvable without a walkthrough. I watched many a video walkthrough on You Tube by a gentleman named Lord Levan, and his direction (in a heavy Eastern European accent) got me through a few parts, but this damn game felt like work--actual, severe mental work. There were exactly two puzzles that I found intuitive. The rest were insanely cryptic, and even the "hint" book was only moderately helpful, what with its inane, mad-man scribblings and nonsensical, loopy drawings. Also, I am certain that Amanita Studios is obsessed with hallucinogenics. Every other scene involves some interaction with magic mushrooms (and not just in this game, either.) Not that's there's anything wrong with that if that's your scene, but I can't help but wonder if this entire game wasn't created in some drug haze where the developers individual mushroom-trip “logic” reigns supreme and if you don't get it, well tough luck.

I love all of their other games, and I am really bummed that I had to rage quit this one in frustration. Also, the game is very dependent on music, and it felt a bit overbearing to me that I was forced to have a completely immersive musical experience in order to solve certain puzzles. It felt like being forced to listen to your nephew's experimental electronica garage band in order to get a beer at your local bar. Not that the music wasn't beautiful, but that part of it was just a little too show-offy and pretentious for me. I am going back to Salt, the least stressful game on earth, where nothing is expected of you. There are no other players to support, nothing urgent to do, no agenda, and no forced musical reckonings. Now and then you may run into an angry flat-faced pirate, but a few whacks will take him out. That’s what I’m reduced to now.

A few weeks ago, I impulse-bought some Extra Cheesy! Goldfish Crackers during my weekly grocery shop. I proceeded to nom down the entire bag over a three-day time  period, then found myself uncharacteristically slicing off hunks of cheddar cheese from the block in the fridge and eating it recreationally at night. Then I wanted to buy more Extra Cheesy! Goldfish Crackers, an item I don’t usually purchase. When I expressed my dismay about this new-found craving to Mr. Typist, he immediately cited a study he recently read stating definitively that cheese is addictive. What the hell, people? It should be a crime to sell Extra Cheesy! Goldfish Crackers on the open market, just like they’re nothing. How are they getting away with this? Why aren’t they a controlled substance? I now have a back-up bag of Extra Cheesy! Goldfish Crackers stashed in my file drawer at work, and I’m still helplessly carving up of hunks of cheddar cheese for night eating. I’m the victim here. I demand restitution….in the form of a lifetime supply of Extra Cheesy! Goldfish Crackers. Before ye judge, look to thine own cheese habits. Besides, I can stop any time I want.

--Kristen McHenry

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