Efectos Especiales

Ramblings, rants, musings, ideas and observations. Topics include (but are not limited to): programming (especially Python), books, games (especially CCGs and board games), astrology, design, writing, painting, etc.

icon:gc #739 Luigi's Mansion

A Gamecube game that turned out to be more fun than I first thought.

Luigi (from Super Mario Bros) has inherited a mansion. Problem is, it's full of ghosts and other creepy things. Naturally, the player's task is to get rid of the spectral pests.

To help him with this job, Luigi has a number of special tools at his disposal, most importantly a vacuum cleaner (the so-called "Poltergust 3000"). The idea is to surprise ghosts with your flashlight, so their heart becomes visible (?), then swoop them up with the vacuum. This is more difficult than it sounds, because not all ghosts are easily "flashed", and will usually resist vigorously when trapped in the vacuum's suction. (When this happens, the ghost's life points will dwindle as you suck up more of it.)

So far, so good. The mansion consists of a large number of rooms, only a few of which can be accessed at first. The rooms are initially dark; after cleaning them of ghosts, the light turns on, and a treasure chest will often appear, containing gold, extra life points (in the shape of a heart), or a key that grants access to other rooms.

There are various types of ghosts. The first ones are rather easily caught, but as the game proceeds, they become more sophisticated. There are ghosts that try to strangle you, for example; you have to shake them off, then surprise them with the flashlight in order to catch them. Other ghosts aren't as harmful, but jump out of hiding unexpectedly and stun you for a short while.

There are also other spectral creatures moving about, like mice and bats, that damage you upon contact. These are mostly found in the hallways and don't need to be caught. It helps to get rid of them so you don't accidentally run into them, but they will be back the next time you enter the hallway or room.

Then there are the so-called boos. These are round little ghosts that hide in lighted rooms. Your detector tells you (more or less) where they are; cleaning out suspicious spots will bring the little monster out. You catch it like usual, but boos are capable of flying through walls, enabling them to get away and hide in another room. There are 50 of these critters in the whole game.

/* spoilers ahead */

More interesting are the special ghosts. These once existed on paintings, and were somehow brought to life. Catching them is more challenging because it often requires some kind of trick. The first one of these must be caught off guard with the flashlight, otherwise shining on him won't have any effect. There's a fat ghost eating a spectral pie; to be able to catch him, you have to suck up the pie with your vacuum. (There are "butlers" that bring him new ones; you have to catch these first.) Furiously, the ghost will start throwing fireballs at you. Apparently, this is tiring, because he will sometimes pause to catch his breath. This is your cue to shine your flashlight on him and start sucking him up. ...Other ghosts are just as ingenious, like the one in the music chamber that will only appear when you play all instruments, or the jock in the sports room that you must take out by sending a punching bag flying into him.

Well, and then there are bosses. I don't personally like boss monsters, but they seem to be part of every game nowadays, so there you go. Fortunately, at least some of them are easy enough so that even I can beat them. Who'd have thought a baby would make such a ferocious boss? He hurls rocking horses and balls at you; when you get a break, you can pick up one of these balls and throw it back. (Or rather, you suck it up with your multifunctional vacuum, point at the baby (which has reached giant proportions by then, so it's hardly child abuse), and release, which will set the ball flying.)
A similar technique is used to defeat the second boss, called Bogmire. Rather than balls, you suck up other ghosts, then send the resulting tar ball flying at Bogmire. This will occupy him for a while, and give you the opportunity to catch him.
The third boss is much more difficult. The aptly named Boolossus consists of 15 boos. To defeat him, you have to lure (or suck) him into an unicorn statue; he will pop and the individual boos will appear. You can pelt these boos with ice and then suck them up, but it's far from easy, as they avoid your ice blaster and charge at you when you're defenseless or not paying attention.

All in all, this game was better than I thought. It's well-designed (which I have come to expect from Nintendo). Cleaning out the rooms one by one gives a sense of accomplishment, and the variety of ghosts prevents it from being a tedious task. The mansion is fairly large, but not so huge as to have you pointlessly running all over the place just to get from A to B, and the respawning ghosts in the hallways keep you on your toes.

Toad (the mushroom guy from Super Mario) lets you save the game at various points. It's also automatically saved after you catch a boo, which is convenient. (I normally don't like "save points", preferring to be able to save whenever and wherever I want, but it isn't too much of a nuisance in this game.)

One nitpick though: why do some of these game have such retarded controls? You push the C stick up, and Luigi points his vacuum *down*. Argh! (Wind Waker suffers from a similar problem, by the way. Up and down work as expected, but to look to the left, you have to push the C stick to the *right*.)

Rating: 8/10

/* Posted by Hans Nowak at 2005-02-19 12:25 */

icon:wax #738 Some people are actually using Wax ^_^

ConfigEditor is a simple configuration file editor. (Needs a recent version of Wax; see the download area.)

/* Posted by Hans Nowak at 2005-02-13 22:21 */

icon:mac #737 Looking back at the Mac

A while ago, I wrote about my experiences with Mac OS X. As somebody pointed out back then, my experiences went from elation to frustration. I seemed to be the only one though, since pretty much everybody else who owned a Mac was enthusiastic and didn't appear to have the problems that I encountered.

But recently I noticed a few more "voices of dissent". Keith talks about brain-dead keyboard shortcuts. I had the same problem, and found it very frustrating to write even a short text on the Mac. Of course, I didn't have this information back then (although I don't know if it would have solved my problems, and I cannot test it now, since I don't have a Mac anymore).

Then I saw this post by Jeremy Zawodny who apparently also thought that Mac OS X would be the best of two worlds. So did I, at first.

Maybe someday I'll give it another try... but it doesn't look like I can replace this Windows box anytime soon.

/* Posted by Hans Nowak at 2005-02-09 21:40 */

icon:nl2 #736 U-klucht

Turk Drusus kust Ruth ruw. Ruth, puur, duwt Drusus stuurs t'rug. Turk brult: 'Zuur nuf!', drukt cru Ruth's buust. 'Bruut!' Ruth vlucht Drusus' lust. Nu spuwt Turk vuur: 'Trut! Uw buur, Guus Justus, kust U! Justus blust uw vuur!' Ruth stuurt buur Guus. Guus plukt, rukt, stuwt Drusus' rug. Turk, murw, vlucht. Gul kust Ruth Guus. Guus Justus huurt hut, huwt Ruth.

(Yes, this is valid Dutch, although a bit unusual. emoticon:smile)

/* Posted by Hans Nowak at 2005-02-08 23:10 */

icon:default #735 Something to ponder

Basically, everybody is capable of creating something original, useful, innovative, smart, and/or beautiful.

So why do so few people actually do this?

/* Posted by Hans Nowak at 2005-02-06 23:52 */

icon:default #734 Everybody's got one

"Ik heb zelfs het angstige vermoeden dat de bevolking van ons land de neiging niet meer kan onderdrukken om op elk moment te zeggen wat het vindt, denkt en vooral voelt.
Dat iedereen het recht claimt om zijn of haar onoordeelkundige opvattingen luidkeels te ventileren.
Er is nu al haast geen krant of TV programma meer, waar de man/vrouw in de straat niet naar een mening wordt gevraagd.
Hoe stompzinnig ook, het wordt afgedrukt en uitgezonden.
Enig blijk van ontwikkeling, opvoeding of welgemanierdheid strekt daarbij zeker niet tot aanbeveling.
En wie er het lef heeft om tegen "de wil van het volk" te zijn of niet meehost met de massa, loopt een gerede kans een klap op z'n bek te krijgen of erger."

/* Posted by Hans Nowak at 2005-02-05 23:56 */

icon:cats1 #733 Eye of the beholder

/* Posted by Hans Nowak at 2005-02-01 22:36 */

icon:default #732 I miss my comments

(...or your comments, depending on how you look at it...)

Dayum, I wish I had my comment option back. It feels like I only have half a weblog now. Feedback has become much more sparse. But I couldn't let it be the way it was, with sometimes over 200 spam comments a day. emoticon:nooo

One possible solution would be to enable comments, but only for the last N posts, or posts younger than N days. Comments on posts older than the "threshold" could be archived. (Spam is usually targeted at posts that have been around for a while, at least in my case.) Sounds neat, but it's a non-trivial hack. And my blog is client-based, so everything will need to happen at build time.

It would be better if I could use an existing comment system that had a way to combat spam. (Obviously the pycs comments, Haloscan, or Enetation don't cut it anymore.) Does anybody know of such a beast?

/* Posted by Hans Nowak at 2005-01-31 12:26 */

icon:wax #731 A trickle of documentation

I don't have much time or energy lately, but occasionally I do manage to sneak in a bit of Wax documentation. Way too slow; I should really force myself to write a bit every evening. For now, I'll just write about whatever comes to mind, and worry about the big picture later. (Structure? What's that?)

The following new pages are online:

If you see things that are incorrect, unclear, or could otherwise use improvement, let me know. (Aside from things that I obviously plan to add in the future, like stuff in /* comments */.)

/* Posted by Hans Nowak at 2005-01-27 22:19 */

icon:wax #730 Wax core controls

An overview of Wax core controls.

If you would like to contribute, please focus on the core. I am interested to know if these controls

Also, if you have questions about how certain things work, let me know. I am still setting up the documentation, and the right questions can put me on the right track.

Short examples are also welcome. I am looking for short snippets that demonstrate important features of core controls. (Of course I will eventually write these myself, but every contribution, however small, is appreciated.)

/* Posted by Hans Nowak at 2005-01-21 23:31 */