Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Clerks II & Arcade Madness

[Now Experiencing] [Film] [Computer Gaming]

I got invited to an impromptu viewing of Clerks II tonight, attended by April and Magical Trevor and I. The film was spot on to pretty much every review I'd seen of it. It was mostly the same as the original in tone and format, somewhat less good, but still a decent flick if you can stomach a movie where the phrase "ass to mouth" is a running joke and the climax takes place during a hardcore bestiality stage-show.

For Clerks II Kevin Smith throws away the maturity he'd been groping towards in earlier films such as Chasing Amy, but doesn't quite recapture the geek fringe vitality that powered the original Clerks. The whole effort comes looking a little like Quentin Tarantino had tried to write and direct Empire Records.

Smith still isn't much good at writing believable female characters - of the two women in the movie, one steals all her best lines from Spiderman comics, and the other (Becky, played by Rosario Dawson) is an almost totally generic "girl-next-door-that-the-hero-needs-to-realise-is-his-perfect-soulmate". Dawson really shines in the role, though, and steals most of the scenes she's in, so it all works out okay.

There's no post-credits sequence to the movie, but the credits themselves are worth watching just to see Smith's "special thanks" section. Of particular note is where he thanks his previous movie Jersey Girl for "taking it up the ass". Good to see he has some perspective.

After the movie we all went for hot chocolate, followed by a tour of Canberra's video arcade scene. At Intencity in Belconnen we revisited the original House of the Dead, which Trevor pretty much owned me at, and then moved on to the somewhat newer House of the Dead 4, which features a mechanism where you have to shake the gun in order to reload. I think it broke my wrist and my shoulder. Ouch.

At Capital Funland (or whatever it's called) in Civic we continued the trend by playing House of the Dead 3, with a much more forgiving reload mechanic, but were ultimately defeated by the inexplicable fact that you can only continue 9 times in one game before the machine stops accepting coins. It's the first time I've ever encountered an arcade machine that's shy about taking your money. April was pretty much the stand-out player here.

A match was had of the original Street Fighter II for nostalgia's sake, where I took Trevor to school with Chun Li, and I remembered exactly how much I dislike 2D fighters.

Finally we moved on to the Dance Dance Revolution Extreme, where April proceeded to dance both Trevor and I into the ground. After an hour of non-stop dance, us guys were on the verge of heart-attacks while April was yet to break a sweat. Curse those women and their voodoo dance powers.

I don't think I'd realised exactly how physical arcade gaming really is. My arms are tired from holding (and shaking) some quite heavy gun peripherals, and my legs are aching from the punishing rigours of trying to dance some epic drops out of that blasted Revolution. Gaming really is the sport of kings, and I'm forcecd to admit that I am but a lowly baron in its court.

The evening ended with the manager of Capital Funland subtly hinting that we should leave, by turning off all the machines and the lights and starting to lock the doors. It's the first time I've ever been kicked out of an arcade, and it was kind of cool. Thanks to Magical Trevor for organising the evening, and something like it will certainly have to occur again in the near future.

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