Monday, February 25, 2013

The best book and game of 2010 for me Jan 06, 2011 3:12PM PST


the only game I played (Christmas present)

and the only book that wasn't a textbook I read (though I'm currently trying to finish all four books in the Hobbit/LotR series before going back to college on the 11th)


Sonic Colors DS is a very fun, very replayable game. It works because the levels focus exclusively on Sonic, whether or not the cartoon introductions to each level and mission do; in other words, Knuckles shows up but he doesn't go for boring-as-hell emerald hunts you have to play through like in Adventure 2.

There are some areas where you have to follow an almost precise method just to finish the level, but I don't mind the challenge, though some missions (side quests outside the main areas and boss battles) are a bit ridiculous in this regard. The special levels are no challenging, but they are a fun way to incorporate touch screen. Speaking of the screens, the dual screen dynamic can be a bit cheap sometimes, making it confusing to know exactly where Sonic is at a given time, and causing deaths that would otherwise be avoided.

All in all though, it's a very solid platformer, especially if you're a Sonic fan. Just don't expect it to make you feel particularly mature, as the pop-rock music and some of the art direction here might make people assume you're ten years old mentally if you're seen playing it; good news being playing such a great Sonic game might just make you feel ten in a good way. It even features a few (about five maybe) short CGI clips from the Wii version.

Verdict: Solid, replayable platformer that's a blast if you don't mind giving up a few man points when staring at its "colorful" art direction. Despite its short length, I doubt you'll get the highest scores in each level without quite some time.

The Accidental Billionaires on the other hand, while it spawned a film many have on their top ten films list for 2010 (I haven't seen The Social Network, but really want to) is not exactly the most compelling read. Far from lacking any sense of intrigue, sure, as I did want to finish it and it certainly wasn't altogether boring, but it's just too matter of fact for its own good.

The chapters are each told from the perspective (though the narrative is always in third person) of various players in the creation of Facebook. The Winklevoss twins, handsome, wealthy Harvard and later Olympic rowers, Eduardo Saverin, Zuckerberg's supposed best friend early on and co-founder of Facebook (the story is usually told from his perspective, presumably because Mezrich got much of the information from him), Sean Parker, co-creator of Napster and later partner of Zuckerberg's, and a bunch of women that are not well (if at all) developed and are basically just sex/status symbols round out the cast of characters.

Like those hot women, the book's narrative is compelling simply for what it is, but on only the most shallow of levels; I've never actually read the frat-boy manifesto I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, but I'd imagine it's a lot like that book with douchebags replaced by intellectual Harvard nerds. Despite Mezrich's in-depth descriptions of what a dorm room or a Harvard party looks like, or his assertion that Zuckerberg's mission is anti-establishment where Saverin's is business, the Winklevoss twins' is honor and Sean Parker is a mix of both Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin's ambitions, this book feels like it would be just as much of a page turner if it were simply a compilation of letters and documents Mezrich used to write it. In fact, all but Sean Parker are, like Mezrich, Harvard educated, so a series of letters from them compiled into a book wouldn't have been a terrible read.

To be more specific, where the book fails is not in that it doesn't describe what's going on, but that it doesn't savor its best moments like the context of not being a flat-out historical document allows it to. There's one scene where Zuckerberg goes to an important meeting in his pajamas, and it sounds awesome... only you never get to hear about the reactions to this attire, just that Sean Parker saw him go into the boardroom like this. Sure, it's a nice little bit of character study on Zuckerberg's attitude (who has very little dialogue in the book given his lack of cooperation in its making), but if you're already putting out a story written by the accounts of angry parties with no retort from the guy getting attacked, it's not completely out of the question to fabricate something more interesting than "college kid in over his head was acting like cocky college kid, walked into meeting in pajamas; that is all." The matter of factness and lack of female character development even clash in one scene, where one character's girlfriend does something insane while he's away. Why? Because she's insane... that's the only character trait that's really given other than "cute" and "Asian," and the scene comes and goes about as quickly as any emotion we have towards this girl or the incident I'm trying not to spoil.

Verdict: If you're really curious how facebook got started and don't want to surf through Google for documents or watch the movie, rent this from your local library. You'll be done in a few hours, the read will have been intriguing enough to not be a complete waste of time despite its dryness, and you'll learn a few things perhaps you didn't know about facebook's invention. What you may wonder is just what Asian girls are like aside from being cute, supposedly being smart enough to go to Harvard, and willing to screw nerdy guys, because that's about all this book will tell you about them.

Note: Mezrich describes an iPod as schizophrenic for having two very disctinct musical styles. This actually implies it would have dissociative identity disorder (in which one feels they are two different people), not schizophrenia (often characterized by auditory hallucinations among other things, but not comparitive to DID other than translating to "split" "mind"). Also, I realize the lack of female character development might be nitpicky in a story dominated by a cast of male characters who had the most to do with the story, but in terms of the girlfriend I described it actually gets annoying in that specific instance.



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