Really, it just feels eternal.

It is my birthday today. I am 30. Commence celebrating in whatever manner feels appropriate. Call me old or send me some cake. Or pictures of cake.

I got zombie related gifts from two people yesterday. Of particular note, John got me the first couple of books from The Walking Dead series. I finished them both last night – very good. Go. Buy them. Read them.

I finished Eternal Sonata last night, and I still couldn’t really tell you what my feelings are toward that game. I’m mostly just feeling relieved to be done with it. It’s *very* pretty – the game renders its doe-eyed protagonists in full cell-shaded glory, and even the most tedious dungeon crawls are made palatable by the beauty and detail of each location. The combat system was nicely done too. It’s not the same “select your set of actions from a menu and execute” routine that you get in most RPGs. You actually take part in the combat – meaning that executing your super-powerful moves requires a bit more finesse than just selecting Thundaja from the menu. You not only level your characters, you level your party, which leads to more powerful, but more complicated combat tactics.

As much as I enjoy the hands-on approach, I will admit that when it came to just grinding levels, I wished I could just set up my gambits and not think about what I was doing anymore.

The game is set inside the head of Frederic Chopin as he lays in a coma during the final hours of his life – a bizzare premise that justifies the purchase on its own. Completion of each chapter earns you snippets of Chopin’s history throught cut scenes and musical interludes, both of which seem to take up more time than actual gameplay. Near the beginning in particular – you have about 5 minutes of active playing. Now here’s a boss battle. Now here’s a cut scene. Now here’s a slideshow of Vienna.

Wait, what?

Anyway. The game took me forever to get through. Part of this is my own fault, as I have to explore every area of any game I play. Part of it is the level designer’s fault for making complex dungeons, but completely pissing on the notion of any kind of map feature. I spent about an hour looking for maps online for one dungeon in particular. Gave up. Made my own maps for a couple of levels. Realized there were another 10 levels of this bullshit that I’d have to sketch out and decided that there had to be a bigger nerd than me out there that had already done this. Success! Maps for Mysterious Unison are here if anyone needs them. Spoilery info there, obviously.

Without giving too much away, I will say that while Mysterious Unison is optional, you won’t get the complete ending to the game unless you do it. Without it, the game ends with what amounts to ten minutes PSAs and life affirmations that stop just short of actually saying “The more you know”.

Oh, and when I say ending, what I really mean is recovery period before you embark on your second leg of the journey. In order to truly complete the game, you have to play the goddamn thing twice. Now, I have replayed games before – to go on missions that I skipped, to try different classes out, or just because the game was that freaking good. But I strongly dislike the fact that I am denied true closure with this game because it’s designed so that a second playthrough is required.

For now I’m done with it – I have Assassin’s Creed laying on my shelf and Metroid still waiting to be completed. So I should really stop typing now. I have work to do.

Children Approve of Transgenderism

While I was visiting the home of a friend of mine, his 8 year old daughter presented a portrait of me crafted by her own tiny hand.


Drawring

I realize that this pic might not look exactly like me, but please keep in mind that I did have dark hair at the time. I was pleased to an absurd degree by this – probably because she didn’t decide to draw anyone else, just me. I’m special. Not the rest of you, just me.

I cannot begin to stress the importance of my approval rating among the gradeschool set.

I noted that she surrounded me with symbols of happiness and affirmation, as if to say “I accept and love you exactly the way you are.” Of course, if you look closely, she has also given me an Adam’s apple, as if to say “I know you used to be a man.” I’m not sure if she’s trying to say that transsexuals are ok, or if that was a subtle solicitation of hush money to keep my secret. Believe me, if you knew the girl, you’d say it could go either way.

While I don’t typically approve of those who extort money from people living a secret alternative lifestyle, her saving grace is that she made me what is probably the coolest birthday card ever:


Front Inside Back

I’m either having a special adult party, or a special audit party. Either way, I doubt it’s child appropriate.