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Wednesday, April 14, 2004


Saint (not Satan), the Cousineau family dog, tracks his Kong, which is about 40 feet in the air as this picture is taken Well, that has certainly damped my plans to work on the shed tonight. We'll see what happens.

I would like to personally thank Quentin Tarantino for appearing on American Idol tonight. This caused me to watch the show, something I would normally not do of my own volition. This caused me to see his interesting but not that impressive comments. But more importantly, it meant I got to hear Fantasia's great-by-any-standard rendition of Gershwin's "Summertime."

Brave me. I'm not afraid to admit it when I watch American Idol. But you'll never get out of me which Rae Dawn Chong movies I've seen.

To your right, a picture of Saint. More from the weekend's load of pictures. Coming soon, previews of wedding decorations.

Clean-up week in Port Moody has been a bit of a bike-finding bust. Perhaps my standards have risen too high, but among the many bikes set out for disposal, I haven't found any parts really worth the trouble of dragging home. I'll keep looking. It only takes one gem to make a few hours of scavenging worthwhile.

On the video games front, I have just gone through a remarkable dry spell. Due to other stuff in my life, I simply haven't played many games lately. But in the last week or so, I suddenly picked up my Game Boy Advance once more.

Residing within is the superlative Advance Wars 2 (note to game makers: we can figure that your game is for the GBA: it won't fit in any other console. You do not have to put "Advance" in the name each time. On the other hand, games called "Wars" and "Wars 2" would seem pretty stupid, so maybe in this case it's okay). I don't tend to seek out turn-based "tactics" games, but this is a great one.

Advance Wars 2 does everything that a game should. It is reasonably pretty to look at, it is a solid addition to the tactics genre, and it nicely blends the opportunity for subtle play with fundamentally simple game mechanics.

But it also does the overlooked little things well. I timed it out of curiosity: you can be playing a saved game 16 seconds after you turn on your GBA. That is excellent. That combined with fast saves means that I have no compunctions about powering up the GBA in an idle moment, moving two units, and saving and closing. That takes maybe a minute.

There are not so many units or parameters that you drown in a sea of complexity. There is a lot of stuff to do in this game. I would sometimes find myself playing a campaign for a while, then changing over to play a Battle Map for a change of pace, then back to the Campaign, or maybe buy something in the store, or even build a map.

The best way to say it is that Advance Wars 2 shows respect for its medium. It was clearly designed very close to the metal, and it uses the strengths of the GBA (short bursts of play, quick startup and shutdown) well.

At times, playing the PlayStation 2 feels like a chore: load up the game du jour, wait a minute or two for it to load, wait some more for it to load the save, and then you get to play, but it's really not worth the trouble unless you're trying to kill a half an hour. I don't really mind (except for Oni, a good game ruined by dreadful load times), but it's not as much fun as just grabbing the GBA and going for it.

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