Ratatouille and Mario and Sonic

A brief roundup of things I have watched, read and played over the Christmas period:

Ratatouille

Ratatouille is in contention for my ‘most rewatchable movie’ award. This has previously been the sole province of Master and Commander, another movie that doesn’t adhere to normal traditions of pacing and plotting. I’ve watched Ratatouille about four times now (at the theatre, on the plane, on DVD) and I’m not in any danger of getting tired of it – or its wonderful song, Le Festin.

Mario and Sonic at the Olympics (Wii)

I lent my Wii to a friend using it for a church teen videogames night, and he asked me to recommend a new party game, under the assumption that Wii Sports probably wouldn’t provide the same draw as it did last year. Mario and Sonic at the Olympics was what he ended up getting, and he kindly gave me the game afterwards.

It’s not a bad four player game, I suppose, but I can’t say I enjoy it much. It’s a compilation of sports minigames, of course, which needn’t be a bad thing – I quite liked Wario Ware, for example, and Rayman Raving Rabbids was entertaining as well. The problem with Mario and Sonic is that the minigames are surprisingly difficult to play well. Each minigame has anywhere between four and twelve pages of instructions, at the end of which you’re left scratching your head wondering what buttons you’re supposed to press, and in which order to do them in. And when you finally get around to playing the minigames, you find that they are either trivially easy, or frustratingly obtuse.

Trivially easy: 100m dash, 100m swimming, 110 hurdles, shooting, fencing. These all involve either shaking the controllers very fast, or pointing at things.

Frustratingly obtuse: Javelin, triple-jump, long jump. None of these are supposed to be hard, but despite reading the instructions several times and pressing the buttons at the right times, we just couldn’t figure it out. Four Oxbridge graduates couldn’t work out how to throw the javelin, and it took me literally a dozen tries to realise what I was doing wrong.

Some games are entertaining; archery, trampolining, rowing… that’s about it. And you can unlock some interesting ‘Dream Events’ which are basically Mario or Sonic-related games (i.e. nothing to do with ‘real’ sports). After a couple of hours of play, I’ve managed to unlock one, and I don’t think I have the patience to get the other three. I suspect it will be on eBay before long.

Tomorrow: Puzzle Quest, and an entire new novel by a bestselling author for free – legally!

PowerPlay Golf

From BBC News Online:

In PowerPlay Golf, each green has two holes instead of one, with a black flag denoting a more difficult pin placing and a white flag the easier one.

Over nine holes, players have to make three powerplays where they have to go for the harder option.

(…) Other innovations being considered include placing a 30-foot diameter circle around the last black flag hole. Players can win bonus points for landing shots within the circle but will lose points for misses.

It sounds fun, but it doesn’t seem like the sort of people who watch golf would be interested by something like this; either they’d find it silly and childish, or they don’t find normal golf sufficiently boring to switch. Golf on TV is heavily edited as it is. I suppose it might attract new followers, but I’m not convinced that this is fast and interesting enough for the ‘kids’.

It’d make a great game on the Wii though.

Wii

I have my Wii, preordered from Woolworths about three weeks ago. If I tried ordering through Amazon or Play.com, there’s no change I’d have it today. High street retail clearly still outranks the Internet, at least in some areas.