You might not have ever noticed, but back in January of last year, I never actually posted a big ol’ rundown of all the assorted junk I got for Christmas. I guess the main reason is that I felt a little bad about the sheer volume of stuff I receive for the holiday, despite the fact that I’m getting into my adult years. A 20-year old probably shouldn’t get quite as much as I did that year, and it seemed wrong for me to go and show off everything.
This year I had originally planned to keep the once-yearly feature buried, but then I saw Matt’s gift roundup on the X-Entertainment blog, and the fact that he got way more stuff than I did made me think that oh, maybe I’m not quite as spoiled as I thought. Given, I don’t have like a hundred siblings, but the point stands. My parents also had a little extra scratch this year, and besides renovating half the house, they also used it to shower us and themseves in Christmas gifts. And that’s basically why I’m running this feature right now, as late as it my be.
Now that the whole semi-related intro groundwork business is laid out I suppose it’s time we get to the down and dirty of this article here: the goodies. Though I’d like to remind you that while I use the term “good”, I can predict that some will groan at at least a few entries on the list. Oh, also like the X-E rundown, this will be somewhat more abbreviated than lists of years past. These kinds of things don’t really deserve two pages.
Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker : One of my fondest memories of classic Game Boy games is the original Dragon Quest Monsters. I spent weeks worth of time playing that games, and still didn’t even come close to finishing it. It was a hard freakin’ game, what can I say? I skipped the second (and third, apparently) installment of the series, but I figured that when they announced a DS sequel that I’d give it a spin, and it’s nearly exactly how I remember it. The idea of the game is obviously a mix between Pokémon and Dragon Quest, and I really can’t decide what franchise I prefer. Pokémon is 90% strategy-based, while DQM is pretty much an “accept button” masher, but offers a far more obsessive-compulsive breeding system. Though with the default battle option being autobattle, it’s nice to sit back and watch your team just massacre everyone. In any case, while it’s very DQ in the way that it demands a lot of level-grinding, I still love it.
Silent Hill Origins : Quite possibly my most longed-for PSP game ever, Silent Hill Origins is a bit of a mixed bag. I haven’t played too far into it as of yet (I’m saving it for when I finish with DQM), but I really like what I’ve played through. On the positive side, the atmosphere is perfect, being completely creepy and one of the the few horror-based franchises that actually frightens me. The less positive being that every weapon you pick up is breakable. And they break fast. It’s not a huge issue, because punching enemies to death works just fine (it just takes a little longer), and if you’re up against more than one enemy at a time, it doesn’t matter what kind of weapon you’re carrying: you will be murdered. Also, Harry would breathe heavily after running for a while in the original Silent Hill, which was a neat touch, but protagonist-man-whose-name-I’ve- currently-forgotten can actually only run for a while before he needs to breathe out or down an energy drink. I hate realism in games because it’s almost always inconvenient. All in all though, it delivers more than enough to be worth it, and I think I’ll really enjoy it once I sit down and give it more than an hour.
Futurama: Bender’s Big Score : Time has done well to Futurama. It may not be exactly what I was hoping for in a fifth season, but the first of however many of these “movies” they’re making sets a pretty good standard. I’ve watched it twice now, which is a lot, considering that I’ve almost never seen a movie twice in such a short span of time. The plot deals with a lot of time travel, which can cause some pretty perplexing plot holes, but as far as I care, the writing staff did a great job avoiding that kind of stuff and workied it out pretty well. One thing I noticed about Futurama over the course of it’s life is that it went from being just about funny to being funny and really fleshing out the characters and their relationships with each other. Bender’s Big Score continues down that road, albeit maybe not as much as the fourth season did, but there’s a good amount of sincerity along with the humour. The only thing I didn’t like is that they referenced like 95% of the old episodes, which is maybe a little too much. Self-referential humour is good and all, but freshness is good too.
Superbad : I saw a brief bit of this movie shortly after it came to DVD (“Do you know how many foods are shaped like dicks? All the good ones!”), and I knew that I had to own it. I do not regret this decision, but I also disagree with all the hype surrounding it. Maybe I just missed something, but I don’t think it’s quite as holy as the general consensus would like you to think. It’s a great movie, yes. It’s hilarious, no doubt. I just don’t really think it’s going to redefine any genres. Then again, I have yet to break into the second disc, which contains extras that might shine some light on exactly why I should think it’s pure genius. So we’ll leave the final word open for now, but it is totally worth buying.
Killswitch Engage – The End of Heartache : I was introduced to Killswitch Engage back in… 04 maybe? Anyway, they had a song on the Resident Evil: Apocalypse soundtrack, and it was one of the standout tracks on the disc (though most of them are pretty good). I downloaded like two more songs to see more of what they were like, and I was kinda apathetic about it all. Their latest single, “My Curse”, in in Guitar Hero 3, and that’s when I decided to give them another shot. I got The End of Heartache for Christmas, and I’m thinking maybe I should go and pick up their two other CDs. I’m not much of a metal connoisseur, so I can’t really say much about them, but I like Killswitch Engage.
HIM – Venus Doom : Yeah, I’m still listening to HIM. A lot of bands I’ll listen to obsessively for a while and then kind of forget about, but HIM is one of the groups with staying power. Their latest offering is quite good. I’ve only had it on in the background while I play video games, so I haven’t really sat down just to listen to it and absorb it, but I do realy like it. Maybe even a bit more than Dark Light, which I was ever so slightly disappointed with. I guess the reason is that I was drawn into the Dark Light hype, so maybe I was expeting too much, I don’t know. In contrast, I didn’t even know about Venus Doom until like a week before Christmas, so I was just excited that there was a new HIM CD.
Dethklok – The Dethalbum : Honestly, what haven’t I said about The Dethalbum already? I downloaded it the day before it was released, and I’ve listened to it probably about 50 times. Now, I own it. The Tall One had to venture to a mall on the other end of the city to find the stupid thing, but it was a trek well worth it. We’re both huge Metalocalypse fans, so either of us probably would have gone even farther to procure it. I’m just slightly disappointed that there weren’t any copies of the special edition available. The bonus disc is short, but the songs on it are totally worth however much extra money they charge for it. Conclusion: wicked CD.
Beetlejuice : I’ve seen this movie on TV so goddamned many times that I really don’t need to own it, but it’s a great addition to my collection anyway. Why wouldn’t you want to watch Beetlejuice? I wouldn’t buy the cartoon series though. It’s one of the few shows I loved in my childhood that I just can’t really get into anymore. Ah well. At least the toys were cool.
Trailer Park Boys Christmas Special : When this first came out maybe two years ago, I skipped it because I figured it would be included on one of the season DVD sets. I was dead wrong. Now I don’t have a Conky finger puppet because I waited, but I guess I’ll find a way to manage without.
Wii Points : Wii Points are a precious resource to me. I can never have enough, and I’m ever so slightly iffed that I only got one card for Christmas. Oh well. The Round One decided he would gift me a Virtual Console game as his present, but there was nothing I didn’t already own that I wanted on the service, so he gave me a raincheck. It’s been three weeks since Christmas and I still have that raincheck. Where are all the good VC games?
Nunchuck attachment : “But Ryan,” you say “when did you get a second Wii Remote?” the fact of the matter is that I did not. I just wanted a second nunchuck so that I could have one just to leave in the Zapper. Honestly, I back-and-forth with the thing a lot, and locking in and winding up the nunchuck, then undoing it all when I’m done is a pain in the ass. The annoyance of the process has on more than one occasion stopped me from playing anything at all, so you can see how Goddamned lazy I really am. Actually, I probably should pick up a second Wiimote just to leave in the Les Paul…
Lost season 3 : The thing between me and TV is that I don’t watch things on purpose. I can never remember when shit is on, or what channel it’s on, so when I find a show I like, I generally just go out and buy the DVDs to save myself the trouble. I don’t usually blaze through DVD sets so quickly, but I’ve already watched every episode from this particular season, and have started hacking away at the bonus features disc. I guess I wouldn’t really call myself a Lost junkie, because I’m not completely fanatical about it, but it is without a doubt my favourite show on TV right now. Season 4 is supposed to the be the end, and it makes me sad, but given the way 3 ended, I guess dragging it on any longer would seem forced. So yeah. I thoroughly enjoy Lost.
The Godzilla Collection : I’ll be honest here, I haven’t seen any classic Godzilla movies in their entirety. I’ve tried to watch a couple over the years, but since they were always on TV quite late, and I was much younger then, I always ended up falling asleep. It’s a lore I’ve always been very interested in though. I’ve played a lot of the Godzilla-based video games, and read up plenty on the subject on the ol’ Wikipedia. When I saw this box, my eyes bugged out and I knew that it had to be mine. And now it is. I still haven’t set aside time to crack it open yet, because I want to marathon it, but I fully intend to sometime within the next week or two. It contains seven movies: the original, and the six Showa series films. I know somewhere out there there’s a box of the Heisei series films, but I just haven’t found it yet. When I do though…
The Doors : This was kind of an odd one. My mom was looking for things for The Tall One, and she pointed this out. I surmised that he probably didn’t listen to the Doors, but that I did, though not really showing much interest. Christmas morning: BAM! You know what? Maybe it’s not something I would pursue under my own power, but it sounds like an interesting movie. I’m pretty sure it’ll be awesome. Because I think the Doors are pretty awesome. Now all I have to do is put aside some spare time in which to watch it. Maybe I’ll do that once I’m done with this stupid article.
Jerry Seinfeld Live on Broadway : It’s Seinfeld. It was a stocking stuffer. Again, not something I would really even give a second look, but ends up being right up my alley. Again, haven’t watched it yet, but fully intend to. If the standup bits on the show were representative of what his real acts are like, then I’m assuming that this will have me busting a gut, so to speak.
Trauma Center: New Blood : You know what’s pretty cool? The Wii Zapper works quite nicely with the Trauma Center games. Never would have thought so, would you? Okay, it hasn’t made a huge difference, but the little bit of extra steadiness helps. In any case, I only started this one up last night. I’m not quite sure if I ever finished the first one, but that’s besides the point. So far, the game is… well, exactly the same. The production values have gone up considerably, though I think the new TV does have a small role to play there. The fact that the entire game is voice-acted is great, because the VAs do a terrific job for the most part. It may not be anything particularly fresh, but hey, Trauma Center is wicked fun.
Whiskey : In the toe of my stocking, rather than finding the traditional orange (which, coincidentally, I’ve never gotten in my stocking), there was a small bottle of Crown Royal. Also, a shot glass with a Santa face on it. Huzzah. Both remain unopened because, quite frankly, I very rarely find myself in a situation where I require alcohol. Mostly because I spend my Friday/Saturday nights alone in my room. I’m not complaining, I’m just sayin’.
Sudoku TV : I’ll admit it, I’m hooked on Sudoku. I blame Brain Age entirely for this. So anyhow, I saw this gizmo at Wal-Mart one night while Christmas shopping with the “fam”, and decided to pick it up because I thought it would be good for a review at the very least. My mom said she’d buy it and told me to act surprised. So on Christmas morning I was treated to a huge box full of plug-n-play Sudoku. And you know what? It’s crap. I mean, it didn’t promise anything that it doens’t deliver, but the buttons are crappy and insensitive, the controls for playing Sudoku on the TV is completely asinine, and the little LCD screen just doesn’t suit the game very well. And I’m not even going to get into the other games that are packed into it. Ugh. It’s usable, but just barely. I will have to go in-depth with it though. It’s just that hilariously bad.
Gift Card Mania!!! : Every year I see more of these little things and it’s like: why don’t you just give me money? They’re not even all in the picture. I mean, I guess the only one I’d be unlikely to use is the one for Blockbuster, because I almost never rent anything, but still. And what’s with the two movie passes? Are you trying to say something? Are you that unsatisfied with me being single? I won five bucks on the Set For Life ticket though. Which is good becaue now I can go get another one, but bad because I know how addicting lottery tickets can be. I already spend way too much money, I don’t need those dumb things nickel-and-diming my bank account down even more.
And that about wraps that up. There are some other assorted thingers that I neglected to mention, mostly clothes and stocking stuffers, but those aren’t interesting in the least. That’s not to say that anything pictured is, but I’m not too concerned about showing the world a new pair of jeans or a pack of gum, you know? Yeah, so that’s the end then. I’m not sure exatly how to cut this off properly. I guess a clean break after the gift card paragraph would have been the best way to do it, but I’ve committed myself to this paragraph and I’m damn well going to see it through. To the end. Which is now.