Archive for September, 2013

“Disney’s Think Fast”: A Magical Time with Trivia

Monday, September 30th, 2013
Who's the leader of the club?

Darn, this mouse’s head is everywhere!

You never know what you might find when you go off the beaten path.  For instance, I recently went on a garage sale trip with my parents and came back with a highly unusual game, a trivia extravaganza known as Disney’s Think Fast.  I remember reading about this game on Wikipedia and watching a handful of YouTube videos of other people playing, and wondered if I would like playing it if I ever got my hands on a copy.  Well, I have finally gotten my chance to do so, and I am pleased to report that it is indeed a rapid, fun, magical trivia tussle.

Disney’s Think Fast is a 2008 game for the Wii and PlayStation 2 (I played my version on the latter system) from Disney Interactive Studios in which players get to play through a question-filled game show themed after the wide world of Disney movies.  The set on which the game is played is shaped like Mickey Mouse’s head, the Genie from Aladdin  is your host, and your selection of contestants includes Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, Scrooge McDuck, and even some relatively obscure characters such as Horace Horsecollar, Clarabelle Cow, and even Magica DeSpell (one of Scrooge’s rivals from the old Ducktales TV show, and she’s voiced by her signature voice actress, June “Rocky the Flying Squirrel” Foray!).  One to four players use special game show buzzer-shaped controllers to battle their way through five to seven rounds of regular trivia, Pictionary-type drawings, and quirky mini-games.  Highest score at the end of the game wins!

For my first time playing, I played a seven-round solo game as Goofy and the setting was at London’s Regents Park from 101 Dalmations (you can pick different backgrounds as well including Hawaii from Lilo and Stitch, Ariel’s grotto from The Little Mermaid, and the Pride Lands from The Lion King).  Most of the game was made up of trivia questions as one might expect: a question would pop up with various pictures representing the possible answers.  I picked answers by pressing the corresponding colored button on my controller.  If I chose the right answer, I got points, but if I got the wrong answer, I lost points.  I knew some of the answers, but not all of them.  It was a nice mix of questions, some of it based on Disney, and some based on real-world analogues to Disney characters and locations (Which of these animals is most similar to Lady from Lady and the Tramp?  Choose the picture of the dog for the win!).  The Pictionary drawing round was surprisingly similar to the straight-up trivia rounds: identify the character or place being drawn from a field of choices. 

Things got a bit strange when I  got to the “special guest” round.  I did not expect Lucky from 101 Dalmations to read questions about his movie, but then I thought, “Wow, it’s awesome that there are other characters here I didn’t know about!”  Apparently, other “guests” can appear based on the location you play in, so if you’re in the Pride Lands for instance, Simba will stop by, or if you’re playing in Hawaii, Stitch becomes the guest.  I can’t wait to see what Stitch might be like; he’s one of my favorite Disney characters from recent times, so I think it’ll be pretty cool to see him again!

One mini-game showed up during my solo play.  It involved spotting the differences between a group of Grecian urns featuring the muses from Hercules.  The instructions for this game stated it would get harder as time ticked away, but I did not notice any particular increase in difficulty.  The only major change I noticed was that the muses started wearing sunglasses, which did make them look quite silly to me!  I think the only way that an increase in the level of difficulty might be a major factor is if a young person was playing this game, but, with a little help,  they might do well because the differences are usually very obvious.

Overall, my first time playing Disney’s Think Fast left a very favorable impression on me.  The questions were a nice mix of easy and obscure stuff with a few stumpers that threw me off guard.  The presentation is top-notch with some great shout-outs to different Disney properties, and the Genie makes for a great, if somewhat hyperactive, game show host.  I think this game might be a big winner with my family and friends at parties.  There’s room for up to four players with everyone having their own buzzer controller, so I would not mind having three more human opponents to share the magic with me.  This game gets a big thumbs up from me!

How good are you at trivia games?  What’s the most obscure piece of trivia you have ever heard of?  Let me know in the comments.  Until next time, keep wishing on those stars and always let your conscience be your guide!  (Pinochio is still cool with the kids, right?)

Pop Culture Haikus: “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

A haiku is a beautiful type of poem with a certain number of syllables for each of its three lines: five for the first line, seven for the second, and five again for the third.  I was inspired by last night’s premiere of the new Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. show (you can watch that episode here) to try my own hand at writing some haikus.  The following haikus are based on some of the characters and moments that stuck out to me the most from the first episode.  I think this show has a lot of neat ideas, and I cannot wait to see what else it has up its sleeve.

Agent Phil Coulson

He died but still lives/Still brings loners together/Same old tricks, “new” dog?

Rising Tide/Agent Skye

Crusading blogger/Spoke loudly against black suits/Now sleeping with enemy.

The Hooded Hero

Average worker/Not-so-average powers/That’s a bad mix, yes?

Agent Grant Ward

New kid on the block/Too serious in fun world/Loosen up, kiddo!

Agent Melinda May

Veteran spy girl/Played by one who voiced Mulan/She knows how to fight!

Agents Fitz and Simmons

Resident techies/Solving problems in nick of time/Good minds think alike.

Lola (Coulson’s Car)

Refurbished classic/Hidden features under wheels/Sounds just right for spies!

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Spies in heroes’ world/Movies part of TV now/Comics do no wrong!

I think I will post more haikus in the future if that is all right with everyone.  What do you guys think?  If you saw the first episode of S.H.I.E.L.D., what did you think of it?  How awesome is it that we now get to see Clark Gregg on ABC TV each week?  Leave your thoughts in the comments, and please watch S.H.I.E.L.D. in the coming weeks.  I think we’ve got a really special show on our hands here!

Random Top Three: Neat Little Details In the “The Incredibles” Portion of “Disney Infinity”

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

 

The Dash likes!

The official symbol of Pixar’s superhero family. Really is an “i”-ful (eyeful)!

Disney Infinity is one of the coolest video games that I have played in a long time.  The concept behind it is one that I instantly liked when I first heard about it: play as all of my favorite Disney characters in worlds inspired by the films they star in, then play around in a “Toy Box” where I can create my very own Disney-inspired world using a variety of chatacters, settings, and props.  What more can a Disney fan ask for??!!  I’ve only froliced in this virtual playground for a short time, but I’m finding it to be very fun and endlessly surprising so far.  I am particularly impressed with one of the movie worlds the game’s developers put together; the city of Metroville from The Incredibles (which reminds me of Jimmy Neutron‘s Retroville, if only in name).  I am amazed by some of the details the developers put into this city that make it very vibrant to me.  Here’s a small laundry list of details concerning life in the city I especially like.

1. There’s always a need for a hero.

In the world of The Incredibles, superheroes are everywhere, so it would stand to reason that there would be plenty of trials and tribulations for them to address.  Fortunately for Disney Infinity players, the city is full of peril with new problems popping up all the time.  For instance, as soon as I (playing as Mr. Incredible) had finished smashing all the evil Omnidroid robots and putting out the fires they had started in nearby buildings (Thank goodness the city invested in all of those rooftop water towers!), a supervillainess had swooped down from the skies and dropped some sleep-inducing spores onto the streets that I had to get rid of.  Every minute I am in the city there is always some new act of superheroic derring-do that needs doing.  As you can well imagine, boredom is in decidedly short supply in Metroville.

2. All of the evil robots run on batteries.

One of Disney Infinity‘s main ideas is that everything in the game is actually a bunch of toys that magically come to life.  The characters you play as are lifelike action figures; the worlds you play in are referred to as “play sets”; seemingly everything that is not nailed down or part of the landscape is made out of shiny plastic.  I think this makes just about everything in the game look adorable, even the enemies I battle against.  The Incredibles world’s primary bad guys are Omnidroids who like to play around with flamethrowers, missiles, and laser beams.  Normally, these things would be incredibly dangerous, but in toy form, they can be defeated with just a few simple punches.  I feel sort of bad about beating them up, though, because they look so super-cute.  Not to mention that I recently discovered a tiny battery compartment on their backsides.  So that’s how all of their fantastic weaponry is powered!  Now all I need to do is find a tiny screwdriver, open their battery packs, remove the source of their power, and they’ll never bother me again!  (I’m probably not going to find a screwdriver in this game, am I, guys?  Oh well, one can dream, I guess…)

3. Edna Mode is in this game!!!

Another one of my favorite parts of Disney Infinity so far is seeing all of the different characters that have been put into the game.  In addition to characters the player directly controls (in the case of The Incredibles, you can play as all four members of the title family, Mr. Incredible’s friend Frozone, and in a bizzarre twist, the movie’s main villain Syndrome), there are a number of other individuals who populate the game’s worlds.  Seeing who made it in has been a fun pastime for me, sort of like a game of Where’s Waldo but with Disney characters instead of the stripe-shirted guy.  Some of these characters have been an absolute delight for me to find.  One particular surprise (although given the material being used, I really shouldn’t be surprised, but I digress) has been Edna Mode, the fashion designer for the super set.  She doesn’t seem to be making any new super suits (yet), but she has found a cushy new calling as a mission coordinator.  I often hear her wonderfully raspy, shockingly shrill voice barking at me over my character’s radio (Which makes me wonder…where would he/she carry a radio?  They must all be wearing hidden earpieces and microphones.), and I always follow her instructions to the letter.  I’m quite happy to do so, lest I suffer her wrath and be forced to wear something completely tacky, and with a cape to boot (Anyone who’s watched the movie knows those things are walking deathtraps, but I think they’re pretty cool.  What’s wrong with taking a calculated risk?)!

Disney Infinity still has plenty of surprises up its sleeve, and the day isn’t quite saved in The Incredibles just yet.  I can’t wait to see what else is in store, and if I can make a few Metroville citizens (and Edna) happy, then it’s all worth it to me.  Up, up, and away!

What Disney characters (or any other characters if you don’t like Disney) would you like to meet in real life?  If you’re playing Disney Infinity, what’s the most surprising thing you’ve seen in the game?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments.