Monday, January 15, 2007


See, when I said Dust Forms Words would get back on a normal posting schedule, I lied. In short, I and a few others have something else cooking right now that's eating a lot of internet time. If you know what I'm talking about, then that's great, and if you don't, then I really can't talk about it. I'll post here when I get time.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Thursday Movies - January

Continuing the tradition of Thursday night movie watching at Hoyts Belconnen, the titles for the next month will be:

11 January - Arthur and the Invisibles
Director Luc Besson (La Femme Nikita, The Fifth Element) directs a (mostly) CGI animated children's film. There's evil grownups threatening to take possession of a kid's house, and magical little people in the bottom of the garden, but mostly there's Besson's wonderful ability to make entertainment regardless of whether there's a worthwhile plot to be seen. There's also voice work by the likes of David Bowie, Madonna and Snoop Dogg. Should be fun.

18 January - Pan's Labyrinth
Continuing the theme of fairy tales from unlikely directors, this time it's Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy) who's venturing into the woods, although it's certainly not a film aimed at children. Post-war fascist Spain has never looked so magical. If you were left disappointed by last year's Mirrormask or Lady in the Water then this is probably the movie you were waiting for.

25 January - The Fountain
The Fountain looks like the best of an odd crop of movies this week. Director Darren Aronofsky (Pi, Requiem for a Dream) tells the millennia-spanning story of conquistador Thomas Creo (Hugh Jackman) and his search for the Tree of Life, source of eternal youth.

1 February - Stranger Than Fiction
Will Ferrell stars as an IRS auditor who finds himself suddenly beset by a mysterious voice narrating the progress of his life. Directed by Marc Forster (Finding Neverland, Monster's Ball) and also starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, Queen Latifah, Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson. It sounds like it might get me through until Charlie Kaufman's next movie hits screens.

As always, $11, Thursday nights at Belconnen Hoyts, at the first session on the late side of 6.30, and it helps to RSVP with me in advance. If I don't have anyone notify me that they're coming I reserve the right to cancel at the last minute. If you want to vote out a movie and tag something else being released that week, let me know, but for the most part they're really not hard picks.

Speaking of Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), I just heard he was responsible for one of the earlier (unused) drafts for the recent A Scanner Darkly adaptation. I can't help but wonder how that would have turned out.

Sunday, January 07, 2007


So here's a thing. Today I took a break from the novelty of watching Homestar Runner on the big screen via the Wii browser, and played a little of the original NES Pinball on the Virtual Console.

Apparently when your score clicks over to 100,000 the flippers become invisible. Does anyone know if this is a deliberate feature of the game or just an emulation problem?

ANSWER: No, this is a feature of the original game, apparently. If I'd managed to hold out till 150,000 they would have reappeared and stayed visible until I ran out of balls. Strange stuff.

Back in Canberra

I am now back in Canberra and normal service to the Dust Forms Words should now resume.

Big thanks to everyone who made me feel so welcome in Perth, not the least of which are Wuffie, Akshoslaa, Sassamifrass, Karlski, Cricketk, Juffles, Melelel, Kae-dash, Mynxii, Mexicanjewlizard, Terrycat, and... uh... Kandace, Rick, Paul S, Jocelyn, Andrew S, Kendra, Peter L, Margaret D, Msquared, and everyone else that I don't know an LJ or blog for or have just impolitely temporarily forgotten.

Y'all should hang out at my blog and leave comments. Don't let the non-stop hardcore gaming talk fool you - it's a regular speakeasy around these parts.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Rayman Raving Rabbids Post-Mortem

I've only had one experience with Rayman before, and that was a horrible encounter with one of the franchise's less-than-illustrious mobile phone outings. So initially I wasn't too keen on picking up Rayman Raving Rabbids for the Wii.

The Wii launched with a real shortage of quality titles, though, so I was pretty much forced to buy the damn thing - it was that or *shudder* Open Season. Which turned out to be a fairly fortunate turn of events for me, because Rayman Raving Rabbids is one hell of a good game.

You don't have to know anything about Rayman. The synopsis is simple. Rayman (the good guy) is having lunch with some Globoxes (also good guys, but kinda helpless), when they're all attacked by Rabbids (evil, crazy bunnies). Then Rayman has to fight daily in an arena. It's a simple story of boy meets Rabbids, boy shoots Rabbids with plungers, boy escapes from Rabbids.

"Fighting in the arena" actually consists of playing a variety of minigames. Most of the minigames are wildly unique, and they all involve interesting uses of the Wiimote. One early game sees you spinning the controller above your head like a lassoo in order to throw a cow attached to a length of chain. Another has you bopping bunnies with a shovel in a version of whack-a-mole. Yet another will require a pumping motion with both hands in order to drown scuba-diving rabbids with carrot juice (!).

The games vary both in quality and difficulty. Some games you'll want to play again and again, but will often be disappointed by how easy they are to conquer. Others will make you want to beat small children with the Wiimote. Anecdotal evidence, however, suggests that the game actually succeeds in having something for every taste, and few of the games are really objectively awful.

There are a few games you'll see a lot of, and thankfully these are the best ones of the bunch. Once each "day" of the game you'll be challenged to a dance off against killer bunnies, in which you must shake the Wiimote and nunchuk like maracas in time to music. It plays a lot like DDR-lite, and you'll likely want to come back and play it a lot. The soundtrack has some highs and lows. The three licensed tracks (Misirlou, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, and La Bamba) being fantastic, complete with Smurf-like vocals allegedly performed by the Rabbids themselves. The rest of the songs, however, are original compositions that will just leave you wishing there was more licensed music.

The other heavily featured game is a rail shooter in the style of Time Crisis or House of the Dead, where you're equipped with a plunger-shooting pistols and tasked with plungering hordes of bunnies from a moving first-person perspective. The Wiimote operates like a light gun, and is responsive and easy to use. (You reload by shaking the nunchuk.) These segments are absolutely fantastic, and could easily be fleshed out into an entire game all by themselves. The only criticism to be made is that they're a little easy.

Rayman Raving Rabbids claims to support up to four players in multiplayer mode, and it does, after a fashion. There are a few caveats though. Firstly, you'll need a nunchuk for each and every player, a feat which my wallet hasn't yet hurdled. Secondly, not every game is really compatible with four players. Some will let everyone in your room go nuts at once, while others will require you to effectively take turns playing the single player game, or work in pairs. There's really no good way to find out how a minigame works multiplayer other than to try it.
Also, you need to know that there's no multiplayer right out of the box. Before you can play any games whatsoever, you need to unlock them by finishing them in the single player story mode. This can be annoying if you've invited friends round for the day, but luckily the story mode doesn't take long to conquer.

You can also play the game in a score mode, where play individual minigames while aiming for a high score. Your high scores across all games are added together, and when certain milestones are achieved you unlock bonus content such as short movies and concept art.

Rayman Raving Rabbids has fairly solid gameplay, and is reasonably replayable and fun, but what really makes it excel is its style and charm. The Rabbids are absolutely hilarious to watch doing just about anything - they're possessed of a laugh-out-loud kinetic insanity; goofy, aggressive and off-the-wall crazy. Their assorted screams and exclamations are done with a mix of nutty gargling sounds that are incredibly endearing, and every corner of the game is crammed with slapstick and sight-gags that never seem to get old. Rayman Raving Rabbids is comedy gold, and is the kind of game you'll want to show to everyone you know.

If you're a new Wii owner, and you're dismayed by some of the rushed launch games and crummy ports on offer at the moment, you absolutely cannot go past this gem of a game to get you through until the triple-A titles start hitting shelves. Highly recommended.

Monday, January 01, 2007


Apologies to all those reading via Dustfeed or other RSS who had my last fortnight of posts inexplicably republished to their friends list/RSS reader on New Year's Eve. I don't know what happened there, but I suspect it's a side effect of the upgrade to Blogger 2.0. If you're getting stuff like this leave a comment so I can unleash my debugging monkeys against it.

Also I'm noticing that the new Blogger labels don't show up in the feeds. Obviously you can access the labels at my actual site if you want to do funky stuff with them but if anyone out there actually misses the old non-interactive text ones for some reason then, again, wire me some word.

UPDATE: Apparently the feed problems are the result of the side-splittingly deadly Y2K7 bug. Or at least, if they're not, then we can all have a good laugh at Scott, who filled my ear with his tech-geek propaganda on the subject.

Happy New Year's!

I think doing some sort of festive post at this time of year is obligatory. May all you dedicated Dustbunnies bask in the warm radiance of the greater Decemberween period.

Currently my New Year's resolution is to defeat that last case in Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney. Damn you, Jake Marshall, you'll dangle on a hangman's noose yet, mark my words!

UPDATE: Okay, so Jake Marshall wasn't the killer. But I still solved the case.