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Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry Christmas to all!

Merry Christmas to all of you who may read this…especially to my friends, since I didn't get around to sending out Christmas cards this year. May you all have a joyous Christmas and a blessed New Year!


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Katamari Damacy: "Clumps of Soul"

First, let me get it out of my system: I LOVE KATAMARI DAMACY! Okay, now I can talk about the game.

I loved the idea the first time I saw it. "I really wish I could play that!", I thought. "That game is so perfect for me!" I read about it time and again, longing to roll up giant whales into my very own "Clump of Soul" (literal translation). Finally, I noticed some magic words: PlayStation 2. My brother and one of my best friends own the PS2! (And I won't admit how long it took me to make the connection.)

By the weekend, I owned Katamari Damacy. That's right, I bought a game–and a memory card–for a system I don't even own. But it's been worth it!

The game is even more addictive than I expected, with great gameplay. Your "katamari" (weird sticky ball you roll around) is controlled a lot like a tank, using the two joysticks. You start out tiny, "rolling up" pushpins and dice, advancing to bigger and bigger items. As you progress, your goals become more challenging, with shorter deadlines. It's a blast!

The storyline is wonderfully absurd. You are the Prince, son of the King of All Cosmos. Your dad got carried away (due to some interesting mushrooms, I suspect) and broke all the stars. Now it's your job to fix it: your dad sends you to earth to create katamaris, which he will turn into stars (or stardust) to restore the sky.

Eggs hatch, chickens cluck, and people squeal or giggle as you collect them all, determined to make your dad proud. If you don't meet your goal, though, be prepared! Let's just say he's not exactly understanding.

A dedicated gamer can beat it fairly quickly, but there's real replay value. You can repeat levels to get faster times, shooting stars, and bigger stars/more complete constellations. If you make a big enough star, you reach "Eternal", removing the time limit for that stage. Then there's the Royal Presents to go back and collect on each stage except the first. The best (and one of the hardest to get) is a camera which allows you to take photos of your katamaris.

Plus, there's two player mode. The "Space Mushroom" is a sort of arena where you and a friend (playing as a Royal Cousin) compete to make the biggest katamari. If you're big enough, you can even roll up the other player! How fun is that?

My advice: if you have a PS2, start rolling. Too bad the game's not available for other platforms.


Sunday, December 04, 2005

Confessions of a Female Geek

Hi, my name is Xandria, and I'm a geek. (Hi, Xandria.)

I like science, math, computers, and gadgets. I've spent Friday nights at the observatory, at software launch events, and at gaming marathons. I play D&D, board games, and an MMORPG; I've even played a TCG. I love scifi/fantasy, and am rarely without a book. I can't find my eyeliner or lipstick, but I can keep track of a TiBook, an iPod, a cell phone, a PDA/GPSr, and a GBA (with only a little trouble). I've even done Live Action Role-Playing and attended movies in costume. Like I said, I'm a geek.

Amazingly, I was in denial until two or three years ago. Sure, I was a bit odd, but that hadn't kept me from finding a (really wonderful!) husband; I had friends, too. In truth, though, I'd been a geek since childhood; I had just never realized it.

It started innocently enough. My parents were both big Star Trek fans, so I grew up watching reruns. Then of course there was Star Wars; my sister and I were avid fans. (I was Princess Leia, and I had the Underoos to prove it! And I can't count how many times we saw A New Hope at the drive-in.) Too, my favorite cartoon was Battle of the Planets. Bad sign!

School didn't improve things: my favorite classes were math and science. (They told me girls could be whatever they wanted to be; I believed them.) I became a bookworm, visiting the library almost daily.

High school was worse: I attended a science magnet program in ninth grade. I took BASIC programming and joined marching band (Flag Corps). When I got bored, I read Niven, Asimov, Robert Aspirin, and Harlan Ellison; I carried a book everywhere. I was guaranteed a place with the "outcasts"—who were much more interesting than the popular kids, since they were willing to be themselves!

In college, I found the local Baptist Student Union, where conformity was not demanded! Freed of the last constraints of high school, I followed a path of increased geekiness and vastly improved pool skills... My new boyfriend (now husband) was a true geek, and he leaped at the chance to indoctrinate me, starting with the writings of Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, and Frank Herbert. His roommates were worse: their contributions included David Eddings, the PlayStation, Nuclear War, and the Illuminati game! (And Paranoia, and AD&D.)

I switched my degree from science to art. (Gee, four quarters of calculus and a semester of quantum mechanics are lovely as electives...) My husband and I did a short stint with live action RPG; then third edition D&D came out, and I was hooked. I also got sucked into MagiNation...and Munchkin, and all the classic "beer and pretzels" games (without the beer).

I realized he was a geek. We began hanging out at the local gaming shop. (No one complained about having an extra female gamer around...even an almost-thirty married chick.)

Oh, did I mention I'm a Mac addict? And I have a gadget problem? (Just a small one—I can still lift my purse...)
With all of this, it became too obvious to ignore: I was a geek. It was hard, at first. But I have embraced my geekness, and wear the label proudly. The geek shall inherit the earth!