I had originally intended to write four mini-reviews, covering four different types of media — interactive game, music album, film, and book (for once, non-fiction!) — but after writing the first two the following two never came. The two that I had written then sat in limbo for a week. Might as well post them.
Lucky Wander Boy seems like it would be an obvious book for me. The plot focuses on a nostalgic gamer (though he’s purely nostalgic, not interested in the new and the future, as I am) not knowing exactly what to do in life, going from a fake designer job (in Poland, no less) to a fake writer job at a fake wannabe Hollywood production house. I’d use the word “phony”, but that reminds me too much of a book I do not care for at all.
During his “wandering”, he starts writing the Compendium of Obsolete Entertainments, a sort of cultural critical analysis of classic era games. Through this, he starts to obsess about a (fictional) game from his youth, Lucky Wander Boy. A game that seems to have disappeared from the face of the world (no ROMs exist, no one has seen an arcade machine.) It’s that search for the heart of that game that basically constitutes the plot. This is where I think it kind of falls apart. Maybe it’s just me, but I find the Compendium entries on Pac-Man and Donkey Kong and Double Dragon to be better than the actual storyline. Reading that nostalgic mental masturbation fascinates me a lot more than reading about the main character physically masturbating while playing Adventure.
That’s not to say that it’s bad, it’s just that in the end, it feels a little… weak. Now, if the Compendium were a real book, I’d buy that! 3/5.
House of Flying Daggers. Despite wanting to see this film for a while, my impressions of Hero kept me away until last week. It is better than Hero, but that’s not necessarily a compliment. I really did not like Hero. It was shot beautifully, but the pacing and execution of the plot paled in comparison to the cinematography. The plot “twists” seemed forced and unnecessary and the very strong nationalist fervour was offputting (to put it mildly.) The movie was basically like “this is what happened. No liar, this is what happend. No, this is what actually happend. This is what should happen. GO NATIONALISM.”
The first half of Flying Daggers starts off promising enough, without any of the faults that killed Hero, but by the end it too succumbed to some of the same problems. Back and forth flip-flopping and a really forced (and sudden) love triangle that seemed to exist for no purpose but to add drama to the end. Which is something that the movie had enough of on its own. There is a lot to be said about a focused plot. This was not. Disappointing. 2/5.