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Kevin-V Blog

Golden Margarita Is Not Made Better By Frilly Wallpaper Border

Well, the travails of yellow living room walls continue, this time in the form of the border I chose to "soften the room." Well, see for yourself:

I don't know whether I like it or not, but at least it's done. It's actually a lot homier in person - the camera flash removes the warmth the room projects.

Sorry for the extremely short entry today, but I will be sure to update things tomorrow. Buenas noches, amigos!

My Katamari is Bigger than Your Katamari

OK, I suppose I have made no secret of my profound love for Katamari Damacy, but I am going to use this space to once again implore those who are missing out on this fine gaming experience to skip four fast food dinners this month and buy a copy. For more information and opinions, please see my review, but it's impossible to put into words the pure joy I get from this title; as Bethany put it, KD "scratches the happy spot." It is the gaming equivalent of a dog wiggling its legs while being scratched on the belly. Now, I am eagerly trying to get the biggest cow I can find in the Taurus mission, although I have since "finished" the game, and it is tough. In fact, I was pissed off the first time I played the mission, because I rolled out of the beginning area and over a milk carton - which qualified as a cow! So there was my puny little constellation, and while I am thrilled that my little block-headed girl could feel the cosmos afterwards, I was not so thrilled that a carton of milk qualified as a cow. It's actually rather difficult to avoid all those cows to find a bigger one, especially as the katamari grows, and this applies to the Ursa Major mission as well. I am also slightly disappointed that the VIrgo mission had me rolling over "maidens" instead of virgins. As the title of one of KD's brilliant tunes reminds me, "Que Sera, Sera."

In more personal news, I survived a busy kids' weekend, although Saturday was actually relaxing. We have a total of three PS2's hooked up, two GameCubes, an X-Box, a Nintendo 64, and a computer, and all of them got action on Saturday. I played Myst IV (frustratingly hard) and Dawn of War (a load of fun - Relic, you have never done me wrong!) much of the day, but when I had the urge to return to Katamari Damacy, Dustyn and Gregory fought over Far Cry. Ryan had a chance to destroy some lives in The Sims 2, but most of his time was spent on either Mario Golf or Hot Shots Golf Fore. In the meanwhile, Rich watched me play Katamari Damacy for a bit, called it stupid, and rushed out to the dining room to play Psi-Ops for most of the evening.

Sunday was a tad more dramatic, since Dustyn got sick on his way to his baseball game and barfed all over the backseat. Isn't it odd how strong a presence puke has had in my life the last few weeks? Anyway, Rich was already wound up, since Gregory had been riling things up anyway, so instead of making sure Dustyn was ok, he got pissed and told Dustyn he had to clean it all up. I was rather upset at that point myself, since Rich wasn't making sure his sick child was ok, but rather, concerned about the cleanliness of his beautiful truck. I never question him in front of the kids though, so I waited until he was cleaning the truck (Patty, the ex-wife, forced him to let Dustyn rest inside while he cleaned it up) to ask him about it. He copped to the fact that at that point, Dustyn's puke had plucked his last nerve and he could have been a little more understanding. He also told me that my empathy towards Dustyn simply proved that I was more like "the woman" of the relationship, and he was more like "the man."

OK, now hold up here. First of all, his two previous boyfriends were drag queens in their spare time, so I do not need to have my masculinity questioned! Second of all, since when does empathy and understanding qualify as simply a female attribute? I'll be the first to admit I lean on the sensitive side, but I do not want to be a woman, nor do I want to be with a woman. I do not suscribe to the traditional notion of gender roles in the manner Rich does, and I have made it clear before that I do not want to be anything except an equal partner. How we divide up chores is based purely on who has the time, and who has a preference for one thing or another, and frankly, I do not see myself as any less masculine than him. I knew he was being flip, but honestly, I am a little sensitive to the subject, because he was married to a woman, after all. It's hard enough worrying about losing your partner to another man, let alone, another woman too. He flipped to the other side once, so is there anything keeping him from flipping back? He reassures me we will spending our lives together, but still, it's a button, and he pushed it - nay, pounded it - with that comment.

So, after I infuriatingly proved his point by giving him the "womanly" silent treatment in my very own, special, passive-aggressive manner, I got over myself and realized that he was not questioning my masculinity, merely suggesting that in the traditional world, my empathetic reaction to things is normally the reaction assigned to the wife. Still, he may have meant it as an off-handed remark, but I worry that his old-fashioned views towards partnership could encourage him to push me into roles that I do not want. I don't want to cook all the time, or clean, or wash dishes, or comfort the kids, or read the bedtime stories, not all the time. I want us to share those things, like partners, not as a couple in which I take one role, and he takes another.

So, overreactions aside, the weekend was fine. We also ate at CiCi's pizza for the first time, which is an all-you-can-eat buffet, and at $3.99, it ain't half bad! If you have one in your area, give it a try. In the meantime, I would love to know what buttons your significant other knows so well how to push. How do you keep yourself from getting riled up when you know you shouldn't? Are you overly sensitive to something and wish you could get over it? Tell me I'm not alone!

My Linking Book is an Encyclopedia

It's been a good day as a writer: not only was my review of Anarchy Online: Alien Invasion featured on the front page of the main Anarchy Online website, but my review of The Chronicles of Riddick was quoted in an SFGate article on movie-based games - hand-in-hand with quotes from Greg Kasavin. Any exposure for small sites like IGO is good exposure, and I am pleased that the linked articles could potentially bring the site more hits. It also helps me out; I love IGO, and will continue to be a part of the growing site as long as they will have me, but I do hope that the exposure I get from such quotes will also result in some career growth of my own.

As a gamer, it has been more mixed. On one hand, I am thrilled that Myst 4 is as beautiful as I had hoped, and I am enjoying the games currently on my plate. On the other, I was highly disappointed that Evil Genius apparently possesses an audio bug that keeps me from hearing any dialogue, since I can't review a game in that state. The good news is that instead, I will be writing up evaluations of Dawn of War and Katamari Damacy. After a litany of clunkers (The Sims 2 and Doom 3 notwithstanding), it will be good to write reviews of games that I am really enjoying.

As for the coming weekend, I will be playing full-time stepdaddy, as Dustyn, Ryan and Gregory will be spending the weekend with me and Rich. They are good kids, and I have the feeling that Hot Shots Golf Fore! will keep them busy much of the weekend, and honestly, I have a good time with it too. This will be their first stay in our new apartment and in their own rooom, so I was very careful to get things ready for them. Their room is actually meant to be a den, but we chose the layout because this way, their room will be at the opposite end of the apartment from our bedroom, allowing all of us a little more privacy. Between me and Rich, we have 6 televisions, 3 PS2's, 2 GameCubes, 2 X-boxes, 2 GBA's, and 5 copies of Natalie Imbruglia's "Left of the Middle" album. I'm not sure how we got so many, but regardless, I am glad we will all be able to game without having to fight over systems and TV's. The only potential issue is if Ryan wants to play The Sims 2 while I am on the computer, and in this case, I will have to win out: I have a lot of gaming to do this weekend.

Since the kids are coming, I will be cooking spaghetti Friday night, and I am really looking forward to it, since I will be serving both sausages and meatballs. My trick to spaghetti sauce is one I actually stole from perennial favorite Fannie Farmer: add butter to the sauce about 30 minutes before you serve. It may sound fattening, but it sure does add a sweet richness to the sauce that really makes the whole day's simmering worthwhile. Got any food tricks? Let me know your secrets, and I promise I won't tell a soul!

Katamari Damacy Is Not A Seafood Dish

Nor is Chicken Run a popular fast food restaurant in the metro DC area; that would be Chicken Out. Yet one of my coworkers unwittingly provided two doses of humor in a single day, proclaiming after I mentioned that I wanted to pick up Katamari Damacy after work, that Chinese sounded good to her too; and announcing that she prefers Wendy's, after I said "I really love Chicken Run." It's these unwitting and unironic moments that make life worth living, don't you think?

Speaking of Chicken Run, I was checking out Alex's recent list of purchased DVD's, and realized that I am sorely behind in my 2004 film viewing. When I became single last December, every DVD I had stayed with the "evil ex," so I had to start my collection from scratch, and I realized after I had accumulated dozens of movies that most of the ones I chose to begin the new collection were what I call "comfort movies." You know, the ones that we can watch over and over again that still delight us, like a cup of cocoa on a wintry December morning, or the embrace of a loved one after a long day of work. I am going to hold off on publishing my lists of favorite music, films, and books for another time; instead, I am going to give you my short list of wonderful entertainment that wraps itself around me like a woolen mitten, and would love to hear from others about the things that make you feel warm and fuzzy.

Spirited Away - I confess to not being an Anime enthusiast, although I certainly admire the beauty of the art form's best works. This film, however, never fails to impress me for its delicious pacing, fearless exploration of silence, and the way it embraces the absurd so wholly that everything feels quite normal. Moment of brilliance: Chihiro faces the looming descent of the staircase that leads to the boiler room. Timidly, she takes a few tiny steps, until a stair cracks under her feet, and she runs screaming to the bottom - and smack into a wall. Thanks to carolynmichelle for recommending a film that I may have missed otherwise.

The Hotel New Hampshire - John Irving's most brilliant novel is actually The World According to Garp, but the eclectic Berry family is closest to my heart amongst Irving's unusual creations. Yet, as wonderful as I feel when I open my dog-eared copy, Hotel explores some fairly heavy-handed subject matter: rape, revenge, prostitution, incest, suicide, taxidermy - all explored with equal fascination and an odd, compelling mix of affection and indifference.

Phantom Moon - Duncan Sheik's fantastic, multilayered 2001 album is haunting and unforgettable, and I consider it to be the soundtrack of my life, in so many wonderful ways. As richly textured most of the record is, it's still the track "Mouth On Fire" that moves me most: "Brought my heart to feed, but my mouth was fire; Brought the earth my seed, but it would not flower." And later, "Brought my voice, just noise to poor on Silence; A clanging toy, a clanging toy, empty, strident." This is an album everyone should hear, and the one I turn to when I feel angry, depressed, joyous, lonely - whenever I feel, this is the album that accompanies the emotion.

Rollercoaster Tycoon - Addictive and charming, Chris Sawyer's timesink has given me more pleasure than almost any other game ever created. Whether it be building up coasters only to have them be largely ignored for their high intensity, decorating plots of land with endless seas of tulips, or changing balloon prices so that the park can be full of ebulliant color, playing RTC is the gaming equivalent of putting your feet up on the coffee table and leaning back with a martini.

Of course, there is plenty more in the way of entertainment that warms the cockles of my heart, but these are amongst the best examples of old stand-by's, the things that I turn to that ease me through the pain and joy of everyday existence. Tell me about your own "comfort entertainment," and perhaps we can share that hot cocoa.

Funcom, I Love You. No, I Hate You. Wait, I Love You Again.

Well, I finally managed to get a Second Sight review up last night. As I mentioned before, I had some initial misgivings about this title, particularly when its demanding controls annoyed the hell out of me in the first hours of gameplay. Once I got used to them, the sailing was a little smoother, particularly since the story is so involving, and the narrative style itself is pretty intriguing. Sadly, the story does too much of the work here, and the ease of psi-power control and polished implementation of the Havok physics engine are missing - and as high-minded Free Radical's intentions may have been, the result is decent but rough, so there is a little too much work to get to the fun.

I am also in the process of writing a review for Anarchy Online: Alien Invasion. I am a longtime player of Anarchy Online, and a dedicated fan of The Longest Journey, so the launch debacle of AO notwithstanding, I have a great deal of respect for Funcom's talent. Shadowlands, the previous AO addition, is an example of an expansion done right, with added professions, a whole new perks system, an entirely new realm to explore, and a ton of other content for both new and experienced players. Alien Invasion promised some exciting new enhancements, like player cities and large scale alien attacks, and I eagerly plunged into it upon release (and have been playing for about three weeks now), hoping for an infusion of new energy into my standby MMORPG. It appears as though AI is meant to be a love letter to experienced players, but it takes a tremendous amount of effort and teamwork to reap the benefits. When you finally are able to withstand an alien invasion of your very own, the result is tremendously powerful and exciting, but there is absolutely nothing that would draw in new players interested in exploring an MMO, nor is there anything of interest for those that like soloing (and in Anarchy Online, the first solo-friendly MMO, there are many). A full review will be up shortly, but whether Alien Invasion is a worthwhile purchase depends on your current status within Rubi-Ka. Lower-level players and those that want more depth to their solo experience will be sorely disappointed, but high-level players in guilds will be more than pleased. My reaction, understandably, is mixed.

Just where are MMO's headed, anyway? I'm admittedly a junkie, having played every retail MMO released thus far, and quite a few downloadable ones as well. This year (and last) delivered a number of disappointments, and actually, Horizons stands as my personal choice for failure of the year thus far. Last year, Shadowbane had carried away that dubious MMO honor, even in the wake of ambitious-but-empty entries like EVE. So far this year, City of Heroes has been the only entry in the genre with something new and fun to offer, yet eventually, it grew tiring, if only because the innovations were only skin deep. This isn't to say I require sweeping innovations for a game to be good; to the contrary, I highly enjoyed Doom 3, even though it brings relatively little to the table that hasn't been done before. However, MMO's need a shot of adrenaline, and World of Warcraft and Guild Wars both seem likely to deliver it, even though both take wildly different approaches to solving problems the genre has suffered from for years. And yes, for those ready to tear me up one side and down the other, I know that Guild Wars is not an MMO in ths strictest sense, but it's clearly related to the genre as a whole, and deserves attention within this context. Blizzard is hardly looking to evolutionize massively multiplayer games, but their title could define the pinnacle of MMORPG's in their current state, refining what makes them work, stripping away what hinders them, and forcing other developers to look at their games from a different angle if they wish to compete.

Early October brings reviews of Myst IV and Evil Genius, so keep your eyes peeled. I am just now starting Myst IV, so I will reserve comments until I have played further. Sadly, it seems unlikely that I will get to continue playing X-Men Legends any time soon, and both Dawn of War and Fable look lovely just sitting there on my desk, but I have yet to actually play a lick. Considering I have a week and a half or so between my early October reviews and the ones later in the month, I hope to take that time to game just for my enjoyment.

I Will Never Drink Any Liqueur with the Number "99" in its Name Again

Let me say this: I almost never drink. Aside from the occasional beer or a mixed drink at a nice restaurant, I don't have much taste for alcohol. On the other hand, I have a penchant for banana-flavored anything. Bananas Foster Ice Cream from Haagen Dazs is a current favorite, but I will gobble up anything with banana flavoring, from lollipops, to juice mixes, to banana cheesecake.

Last night, Rich and I joined his family at a dance at the American Legion in Baltimore, where Pasttime, his favorite cover band, was playing. We were running a little late, since beforehand, Rich had an electric razor accident: he meant to simply trim around his ears, and instead managed to zip the trimmer halfway up his head. After some desperate and failed attempts to make him look decent, we just decided to shave the lower half of his head and stick a hat on him. We left the house and zoomed up to Baltimore, stopping at a liquor store on the way so he could pick up two bottles for his mother of schnapps liqueur called 99 Bananas and 99 Apples. Considering beer was included in the cover charge, I was surprised they wanted more booze, but since nothing flavored with bananas has ever done me wrong before, I went with it.

Once we got there, we sat down and I poured myself some Sprite and added a shot or two of the 99 Bananas to it. Tasty. Sweet, but overall, not bad, so I guzzled it down. And another one. Of course, since I rarely drink, I don't have much tolerance for alcohol anyway, so it didn't take long for my lips to get numb and the giggles to escape. Normally, I would have stopped right there, not only so I could enjoy the evening in a tipsy state, but because alcohol makes me sleepy, and I certainly didn't want to be more zoned than I already was. The problem was that I couldn't stop for some reason; either the banana flavor was too appealing, or some sadistic part of me enjoys drooling onto the tablecloth. Eventually, I kept drinking even after the taste of the bananas was sickening, but when my head hit the table, I knew I was done.

So at the age of 32, I finally had my final deflowering: getting sick from being drunk. I have been drunk before, but I have never crossed the line into "puking" territory, and I have never had a hangover. Well, last night, after drooling onto my t-shirt for a considerable period of time, my stomach suddenly felt as though it were about to explode, and I staggered into the bathroom like a tranquilized chimpanzee in barely enough time to make it to the toilet. Indeed, my stomach exploded, and when it was all done, I felt mildly better and somehow made it back to the table.

But it didn't stop. The more I sat, the sicker I felt, and soon enough, I was making another visit to the porcelain god. By the time I returned this time, Rich's mother (God bless her soul) had brought a recycled receptacle apparently made for the very purpose of catching my barf, so I spent the rest of the evening drooling and spitting into it.

Finally, midnight approached and Rich escorted me to the truck. To make matters worse, I tend to get motion sick, so most of the 90 minute ride home was spent with my head hanging over that admittedly handy cardboard bowl until I was dry heaving, my stomach now completely empty. I always imagined that if you got sick from getting drunk that you might throw up once and just pass out; I had no idea it was a long, drawn-out process of coughing and heaving until my diaphragm actually hurt, like it does after you have been laughing too hard for a while. Furthermore, once we finally did get home, I figured I would be so tired I would sleep through the night, but instead, my night was fitful, and I tossed and turned for most of it.

Happily, I don't have any hangover symptoms this morning, which is good, since I am finishing up my Second Sight review today. On the other hand, the very thought of 99 Bananas makes my stomach churn, and I feel fairly confident that I will never drink that much again. If you ever see me in public with a glass of booze in my hand, please be a good samaritan and replace it with ginger ale.

Golden Margarita Is Not Necessarily A Good Color For Your Living Room Walls

In the midst of everything going on in my life, good and bad, I just moved to a new apartment, and I couldn't wait to paint, even before everything was moved. I painted the bedroom earlier this week, a lovely golden tan color named Soft Pebble, and it matches my bedroom decor perfectly. As before, I wanted my living room to be a muted yellow, to offset the denim-hued couch, so I chose a color that looked like it would work called Golden Margarita. I just finished, and I am a tad nervous - it's so ... yellow. I am thinking I will get used to it, and I definitely need a wallpaper border to soften it up, but for now, all I see when I look at the walls is, indeed, a sunny margarita, as if Jimmy Buffet himself did the painting.

Of course, between a few too many doctor visits, moving, work, and my desperate need to finish some reviews for Inside Gamer Online, I haven't had much time for myself, and you know, it rather stinks. I am furiously trying to wade through Second Sight, since I will always finish games before reviewing them, but it has been a chore, which is too bad, since there is so much wasted potential in Free Radical's psychic powers title. To make matters worse, I have to game all weekend so I can finally finish reviews for Anarchy Online: Alien Invasion and Silent Hill 4; the IGO editors have been kind during the recent month, but I am sure they will run out of patience soon enough if I don't get on the ball.

The sad part is that there are other games that I desperately want to play, and the titles I am assigned to evaluate are getting in the way. Fable is still sitting at the Fair Oaks Mall EBGames, waiting for me to pick it up, and my friend Jeff gave me a lovely gift yesterday: X-Men Legends. The Sims 2 also remains a fascinating addiction, even though the review has come and gone. Furthermore, Rich has been addicted to Hot Shots Golf Fore, and even I am drawn in to its considerable charm. Bertha is our current caddy of choice, and she has lots of fantastic one-liners; my favorite is "I weigh three-hundred and fifty pounds!" On top of that, Relic has never done me wrong, and Dawn of War is now sitting on my shelf, begging for an installation. Alas, they will have to wait. I am hoping that perhaps after Half-Life 2's possible imminent release, IGO will let me take a week or so - not just for rest, but so I can catch up on all these games I want to play and just don't have time for.

Next month is an interesting one in terms of my assignments. I was hoping to grab Total War and Tribes: Vengeance, but they are both taken. Instead, I opted for Myst IV, Evil Genius, BloodRayne 2, Otogi 2, and Alien Hominid. There are a ton of high-profile games on the horizon, and I am fortunate to work with such a great group of writers, and for the most part, I trust their judgments. I am saddened that we won't get to a Dawn of War review, but hopefully, the addition of a few new staff members will mean that pc titles get some closer attention at the site.

Luckily, I actually have three PS2's, so Rich can enjoy Fore, while I finish up Second Sight and the boys fight over Madden 2005 and Midnight Club 2. The Xbox will certainly be getting some action now, too, with Silent Hill 4 on tap and Fable still waiting. The poor GameCube, well, outside of a little Viewtiful Joe here and there, and the occasional foray into Animal Crossing for old-times' sake, seems to be collecting more dust than usual. IGO has some great Cube specialists, so it just doesn't get the attention it deserves from me right now.

So for now, I must shield my eyes against the golden rays from my walls and finish up Second Sight. Until then, I promise to remember that margaritas are terrific for sipping on beaches, but not always good for living rooms.

Oh my God - I'm a stepfather

I'm gay. If the very mention of that information twists your brain in an uncomfortable manner, then you may not want to read this entry.

I'm jealous of a 10-year-old.

Sad, but true. When I met my current partner Rich, I knew he had kids - three, as a matter of fact. Of course, a heart in love doesn't necessarily look at the practicality of these kinds of things, and all I knew is that I had met the most important person to ever grace my life, and he was someone to hold on to. Rich is caring, supportive, patient, sensitive but strong, and everything I had always hoped for in a partner. He also came with three - no, make that four - caveats: three pre-adolescent boys and a demanding ex-wife.

Becoming a gay parent to three impressionable children is like jumping onto a rollercoaster that is already hurtling towards a loop-de-loop. They take over your life and your time, and even though they live with their mother during the school year, Rich sees them every night, and gets them every other weekend. Perhaps this in and of itself wouldn't be so tough for me to handle, but the weekends that are supposed to be ours aren't really ours: Dustyn and Gregory have baseball practice at conflicting times, which means Rich has to drive to Baltimore to help with transportation even on non-kid weekends (we live in Washington, DC; it's an interesting daily commute), Dustyn's 10th birthday party is on a non-kid weekend, Halloween - well, you get the point. What was supposed to be every other weekend being for just us has turned into a single weekend in three months, and frankly, it gets to me sometimes.

So now I must come to grips with the fact that my wants have to take second place, and to a gay man who expected to only be sharing his life with a lone individual, it's harder than you may think. I am constantly torn between being the best, most patient partner I know to be, and wishing I could scream out, "what about me? When does what I want matter?" As time progresses, I get more used to it, but the fact of the matter is that I am jealous: jealous of how much time they get from Rich, jealous that he still remains so friendly with his ex-wife, jealous that the things they want they immediately get, while I have to wait for months. It doesn't seem fair - and just saying that makes me feel incredibly, incredibly selfish.

So for now, I am learning how to be a stepfather, and learning how to share my lover and my time. I am fortunate I didn't have to change any diapers. But now, I have to figure out how to completely jump into the rollercoaster without bouncing right back out, and it has been more difficult than I imagined.

Upcoming Reviews, or, How I Learned To Succeed In Writing Without Really Trying

Well, now with The Sims 2 review at IGO behind me, and a few health problems conquered, I sat down to Second Sight last night, eager to play a game I have been anticipating for most of the summer. I had the pleasure of reviewing Psi-Ops earlier this year, and while I liked it, I felt it fell just short of greatness; once I looked past the cool psychic powers, the game's basic design was half-empty, instead of half-full. It was fun, but it lacked the immersive story, intriguing level design, and challenging AI that make most great action games really stand out.

Knowing Free Radical was looking to implement some solid design in Second Sight, and knowing that the story had a unique time-travelling twist, I was almost trembling when I put the disc in my PS2. And you know what? I'm disappointed. I am a huge stickler for control and camera issues, and Psi-Ops had some targeting issues - but nothing compared to the annoying camera angles and controller fumbling that SS features in its first hours. One of Psi-Ops major feats was how easily the psi-powers controlled. In Second Sight, you must cycle through the powers to find the one you want; in practice, along with the continuing camera struggle, this pulls the gamer from immersion just as things get interesting. Too bad - a little more polish could have made the first hours more fun. Keep a look out at IGO or on my GS reader reviews for final impressions once I have completed my evaluation.

I also received an interesting email questioning my "rather high" score for Astro Boy for the PS2 (I scored it a 7.0), and it got me to thinking about quality vs. fun, and how a reviewer is to separate the two. There is no doubt in my mind that a horrible game is horrible to almost everyone across the board; and that a superb game is superb to most as well. For example, most can agree that Half-Life is a great game, just as most can agree that Daikatana is terrible. But what to do with these "guilty pleasures?" In all fairness to the person that sent me the email, Astro Boy is short, not terribly involved, and is more linear than you would think at first glance. On the other hand, I had a great deal of fun with it, and while I recognize its flaws, they are easier to forgive when the things that work work well. I have a lot more forgiveness towards a game when it does something well, even if a few other features fall through the cracks, than a game that reaches for mediocrity in all of its aspects. For example, the worst game I have played this year was Way of the Samurai 2; it didn't succeed at anything it set out to do, and I didn't have any fun (unless you count laughing at the voice acting) simply because it did no one thing all that well. In Astro Boy, pounding on bosses was a hoot, and when you are having a ball, it's easier to overlook the complete lack of replay value, the linear story path, and its abrupt ending.

In the end, I can recognize that an individual can have fun with a game while still recognizing major flaws, but I think its wrong to overlook the enjoyment factor completely. We all have our guilty pleasures: for me, I can say that Oni on the pc is definitely one of them, regardless of its tepid level design and lack of multiplayer. The "fun rush" means those things have less meaning to me, and as a reviewer it's my job to mention them - but their impact on the score or the review text depends on the evaluator. In the end, how good a game is depends not just on its favorable elements, but on how many frustrations you are willing to overlook to get to the fun. In Astro Boy - and Oni - the frustrations weren't annoying enough to keep me from having some fun, and really, isn't that what gaming is all about?