To the MOOOOOOONN! and the Official WP Photographer, F. Stop Fitzgerald

Welcome, good lords and ladies, to another edition of The Friday Review.  This week, we bring you a space shuttle of a masterpiece that will (possibly) make you cry, and a book widely revered as a classic this side of paradise.  So grab your ticket for the next bus to Princeton and a box of tissues, because it’s time for…

This Side of Paradise
F. Scott Fitzgerald | Scribner (1920)

F. Scott Fitzgerald is more widely known for his 1925 novel The Great Gatsby, but his debut novel, This Side of Paradise is worth the price of dinner too.  If you are a fan of classic literature, you ought to give this one a go.  If contemporary fiction is more your fare, or if you find romantic protagonists who can’t seem to grow up annoying (which is understandable), look elsewhere for your next read.  This Side of Paradise definitely has its shining moments, but its lack of an actual ending, or at least a decent one, removes it from my “most loved” shelf.

A novel that could use more direction, but a classic.  7 out of 10.

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excellence-visualTo the Moon
Freebird Games | 2011

Oh, where to begin with this one…  Can video games be considered a work of art?  With the creation of To the Moon, the answer to that question has become a resounding “YES.”

Never have I played a game so firmly based on its story.  And what a story it is.  The setting: a future in which doctors can alter the memories of the dying to give them the sensation of having achieved their lifelong wishes.  But it gets so much deeper from there.  How it’s possible to connect with and care about characters rendered in 16-bit style graphics is beyond me, but it is.  I get chills just thinking about the ending.

Some have argued that To the Moon isn’t a game but an interactive movie.  I disagree.  Besides the fact that it lasts twice as long as the average film, it’s gameplay elements go beyond the mere advancement of the story.  Although, it is obvious that the most effort was put into the game’s storytelling.  It’s sparse, slightly repetitive gameplay is its only flaw.

However, the gameplay’s shortcomings detract nothing from the plot, which unfolds like a novel.  It can be played — nay, experienced is the word — in a matter of 4 hours, but it need be no longer.  Its touching story, poignant soundtrack, and multifaceted characters transcend any perceived limits of old-fashioned graphics, coalescing into an unforgettable experience that may find you reaching for that box of tissues.

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No longer need video games be ostracized from the world of art.  For that is truly what To the Moon succeeds in being.  9 out of 10.

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If We Enjoy Smashing Each Other, Then By All Means

Smashing other people with things is generally unkind, and often considered rude.  And so, for the most part, we humans avoid smashing each other despite our relative insanity.  However, there remains one major exception to these rules.

In video games it is considered quite all right to smash other people, crash your car into theirs, shoot them, burn their houses down, lock them in rooms for long periods of time (looking at you, Sims), etc.  Why?  Because you can shoot the police when they try to arrest you!  And if the police kill you, no biggie.  You can always reload from your last save.  YOLO no longer applies when you can live as many times as you want.

And we do want to, many times.  According to Wikipedia, the video game industry raked in an estimated $81.5 billion last year, which is a heck of a lot of moolah.  Granted, not all of that is revenue from Grand Theft Auto and the like.  But you gotta figure a lot of it is.  And when you give gamers the option to do extremely violent and illegal things in video games or give them little choice to do otherwise, rest assured they will.  I can’t imagine extreme gore has any positive psychological effects, especially when you’re the one perpetrating it.

However, I digress.  The act of smashing things itself can be, admittedly, rather cathartic.  Think of a punching bag.  Take away the gore and the act of killing people, move the entire affair to a stadium with a cheering crowd and a cast of characters from across the gaming universe, and what do you get?

You get a game that is insanely fun (esp. with four players), and quite nicely demonstrates the way in which smashing can be harnessed to less M-rated effect.

The reason I bring up smashing in the first place is, well, as an analogy.  See, the bloggers I’ve met who often write about God and His existence or non-existence (which I will here forward refer to as The Final Problem) always tend to fall into two camps: Christians and atheists.  It is no secret that we have differences, and while they are sometimes handled admirably, sometimes some smashing gets done in the comment threads.

SO, with all that in mind, here is a plan I’ve come up with (which originally arose via the inspiration of Tricia while I was over at Colorstorm‘s blog):

  • Anyone reading this whose focus in blogging tends toward The Final Problem or who simply feels strongly on the subject is invited.  (Either to Ark‘s house, because he has cool wildlife and plants and stuff, or to Wally‘s house, because if we all descend upon the very small town in which he lives, it might freak people out, which would be fun.)
  • Surely amongst all of you we can salvage a Wii, four controllers, and a copy of SSBB.  These must be brought, along with stuff to make dinner.  (As we always say at my church, “There is a sign-up sheet in the Commons.”)
  • On a yet-to-be-determined date, we will all get together, have a massive Super Smash Bros. tournament, and then with the smashing out of our systems, discuss The Final Problem politely over dinner.  GENIUS.

C’mon guys, don’t you think that would be SO MUCH FUN?

*    *    *    *    *    *    *

enter THE VOICE OF REASON

“Yes, I realize how unfeasible this is, despite how much fun it would be.  But if any of you all would seriously like to do this over the internet, I will find someone who has a Wii and join you.  Bring it.”

P.S.  I call dibs on Link.

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