Thursday, 13 March 2008

The REAL Umbrella Chronicles

If any of you have played Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles for the Wii, you probably feel a little cheated. There you were, expecting a game detailing one mans journey into madness and excessive gaming as a result of contracting the Umbrella Virus, and what you found was a lightgun shooter with a bit that lets you play as Albert Wesker. Disappointed, you raise the Wiimote to your mouth, hoping that it somehow works like a real gun – the kind of real gun that can end this constant tirade of failure and hurt…

C’mon man, don’t do it! There’s so much to live for! For a start; this post, the Iron Man movie and GTA4. At least wait until after the summer! Are you settled?
Then we’ll begin.
This is the tale of how my week off work coincided with some shitty weather and my contracting of the Umbrella Virus. I was effectively housebound. Oh, and I didn't not get an R4 for my DS – that’s a big part of this too.
The best advice I was given for overcoming the Umbrella Virus was "stay in bed and drink this honey, lemon and whisky." I did that, and for a time, it was good. I grew bored quickly. Occasionally, I found the strength to sit up and play through all three parts of Half-Life 2 and beat the advanced maps of Portal, but I grew tired quickly. I needed something that would better suit my reclined state. Enter: MY TRUSTY DS ™
Despite my rabid hunger for flesh, my family was more than willing to interact with me. I warned them of the virus’ nature, but my mother continued to deliver her witchcraft concoctions and my sister braved upstairs in order to deliver to me a package which didn’t not contain an R4. From this point onwards, being bedridden would never be the same again. Here are the best games of this illness: more than mere titles, they punctuate each stage of the outbreak, from infection, to recovery.

Animal Crossing: Wild World

"Wait! What!? You never said it would cost that much! C’mon man, I paid 10,000 bells for a whole new storey to be added to my house and now you’re charging me 700,000 for a new room on the side! You’re a Crook, Tom Nook!"
Day after day, I spent time in the virtual town of Krondor, ceaselessly gathering various fruits in a desperate attempt to pay off the racoon shylock: Tom Nook. 7,500 bells for 10 minutes work. I couldn’t handle it anymore. Some of my best friends left town because I was too busy working. "I’m sorry guys, things are just really tough at the moment! I’ve got so much debt." They didn’t care. Boone was the first to go. Waiting in my DS memory, ready to populate the next town I visit. Elmer is still around, but all he does is look at me with contempt. No-one writes me letters anymore and Tommy & Tommy could care less about ordering me my exotic dresser – "Yeah mate, it’s coming" they say, week in, week out.
This sorry state of virtual affairs was not helping my condition. I needed to get out of Krondor for a while, visit a new time and place – one that didn’t remind me that I was a fruit –selling zombie.

Hotel Dusk: Room 215

This is by far one of the most intriguing titles available on the DS. For a while, I’ve longed to play it, attracted by it’s noir-ish tone and sketchy art style. It delivers on both levels, although your character is a little less hard-boiled than I would have liked. You play as Kyle ?????? an ex-detective who’s now a travelling salesman. Your looking for your long lost friend whilst carrying out your work. When you end up at Hotel Dusk, things start to unravel. Room 215 (your room) apparently grants wishes. The old woman with an eye patch reluctantly accepts another room. Tough luck Grandma, should have got here faster. I’m not that deep into it, but so far I’ve met a mentally unstable child with a secret puzzle of a duck, that pirate grandma and generic young male type 02, who wishes there were a real gumshoe in the hotel. That’ll be me, then. No murders to solve yet, but it’s only a matter of time. The pace is slow, but comfortable considering my health. The game also asks you to hold the DS on its side (like Brain Training) so that you look like you’re reading some sort of sophisticated futuristic interactive book. It fills me with smug.
The game distracts me to a degree, but I can’t help wondering if maybe my own flesh will serve as a substitute for a full meal of human.

Point Blank DS

I’ve shot hundreds of clay pigeons, thousands of cut-out crooks and ninjas and approximately 43 stuffed elephants. Usually, this would be a pleasurable experience. But knowing that I’m not the one on the receiving end of gunshots, like so many of my Zombie brethren, enhances it greatly.

Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan

Zany, madcap, mental, off the meat rack. Pick your own adjective, because either way you put it, this game is fucking brilliant. If you haven’t heard of it, you may know its English –language spin-off: Elite Beat Agents.
Why would I go to the trouble of getting the Japanese version? Many reasons, but the most important being that it doesn’t contain an absolutely fuck-awful cover version of Avril Levigne’s already fuck-awful ‘Sk8er Boi’. That isn’t to say though that the Japanese version is just more bearable. In fact, it has a far better soundtrack all round, and everything is twice as entertaining when its being screamed at you in Japanese. So far I’ve given inspiration to a depressed potter, stopped a cat pissing in a noodle bar and helped a PE teacher gain the respect of his hottie female students. All this was achieved through the power of dance! Oh, I forgot to mention that it’s a rhythm-action game. Sorry.


This professor keeps talking to me. It looks nice and he has a spaceship. I think I can beat up creatures, but I’m not sure whether it’s a good idea or not. I’m confused enough as it is what with the hunger for flesh subsiding and the fact that I’m off my tits on sugar and whisky by this point. I’ll put this one on the shelf for now.

Advance Wars: Dual Strike

This really is the peak of my gaming road to recovery. This game, in it’s own little way is up there with Half-Life 2 as one of the most perfectly crafted and refined gaming experiences I’ve ever had. It plays out like most turn-based strategy games, only it has fantastic artwork, characters and music, oh the music! The music gets even better whenever you unleash your commanding officer’s special power. My favourite so far is ‘The Power of Money’, whereby the young boy c.o. (Colin, I think) can enhance the power of all his troops by multiples of your cash stockpile. Awesome.

I badly wanted to repress my childish enthusiasm for this game, but it got the better of me. Also, it should be noted though, that this is the kind of game that makes said boyish enthusiasm well up inside me and spill out like an orgasmic fountain of pleasure…hold on, I just have to ring my therapist again…
Anyway, I’ve overlooked this game for long enough, and it hurts even more to know what I had been missing out on all this time. This game is adorable, yet refined and dare I say it, mature, all at the same time. This game exudes confidence in its own design and presentation. If you value either of those qualities, do not hesitate, buy it now.

It’s been a long road to recovery, but at least I can now safely say that I am no longer a zombie. The umbrella virus has completely left my system and I now feel like a powerful wolf drinking the blood of a sheep. I howl at the moon, and go on my way.
I applaud your reading through this. You brave person, you.
The Faux Bot

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