Wanderings of a pointy-eared carjacking control freak

GTA 3 came out for the iPhone last week, and for $5, how the hell could I just think about it? I knew that the controls were going to suck a whole liter of milk duds from a dead goat’s ass, but the prospect of GTA on the go is really sweet, especially one from the golden PS2 generation. For now, I will put the onus of mastering the control mechanisms on myself and just quietly shout “hooray.”

But I have a suggestion that would be the perfect icing for this 10 year celebration in the making.

I have often lamented the lack of music library integration with games for the iPhone. Not to diss the original game composers or DJ Lazlo in this case, but there is shit I’d rather be listening to, especially after the 12th hour or so of play. What GTA for the iPhone needs is the ability to customize a radio station for the cars. A playlist that activates when you turn to that station. Give your station a name. Cue up the podcasts and songs you’re planning on listening to. Have audiobook files continue from where you left off. Share your station with other players of GTA as if it were Spotify.

There is an opportunity for an app update to be meaningful here. It is a rare opportunity that if seized, may dispel my pessimism about maintaining what app makers maintain to be the greatest version of their product. But probably not. Who the hell would listen to someone who likes to steal cars to his own soundtrack?

Fuck it, let’s talk about Zelda.

Skyward Sword is pretty much the perfect game. If you’ve been down with the Legend of Zelda before, this game will remind you why. The exploratory nature of a world rich with mysteries invites players to go on an adventure every fucking time they turn it on. The watercolor/pointillism motif is reportedly the product of working around hardware limitations, but passable as modern video game art nonetheless. There is no question as to what you are looking at, so unless your scrotum is bulging with milky purple venom, it’s impossible to say that Skyward Sword boasts “shitty” graphics. People who prefer the cold, rendered steel of a modern military conflict simulator would do well to fuck off and continue thinking that their monstrous murder dance routines are the acme of modern video gaming. But we know the score, don’t we? We know the difference between companies that make epic adventure games and factories that turn out the same old shitbags of yuks and violence year after year. Not that I have a problem with violence (especially in video games), but Jesus, how many times can you stand to get together with a bunch of similarly-minded bloodthirsty fuckheads and kill a bunch of other similarly-minded bloodthirsty fuckheads? Sorry if I think flying on the back of a giant bird is slightly more fantastic.

I could suck Zelda’s dick all day raving about its beauty, scale, challenge, atmosphere and all its other virtues, but I think I’ll harp (oh yeah, jamming on the harp is fucking awesome, too) on the controls, which are extremely complicated in spite of the idea that swinging the Wii remote is supposed to equal swinging your sword. There are multiple drag and point menus you are required to navigate without pausing. There’s a Mario-style dash element complete with an energy scale to manage. You have to fly a bird and learn to skydive. And I’m cool with all those, even though it means my three-year old son has resigned himself to simply watching instead of playing.

But god damn this Motion Plus bullshit. You could say that the biggest innovation to the series is the incorporation of Motion Plus controls which do a much more precise number on mirroring your physical manipulation of the remote-as-a-sword than say, Twilight Princess. But I had to buy a separate Motion Plus unit for my remote which set me back $15 and was also impossible to find on the day that Skyward Sword launched. I get it. Yes, it’s stunning at first to see Link wave his arm back and forth when you do it at the same time, but after a while, you see that there’s still a long way to go before the Wii controls flawlessly capture the player’s body as an on-screen avatar’s skeletal and muscular system. Link is stronger and more agile than me, so that means if I can swing my arm back and forth 200 times in a minute, then he should, too. But he can’t. Of those 200 swings, he’ll do slightly under half, and that’s pathetic. I have to say that I’m pretty much fed up with motion controls unless I’m playing fucking Dance Dance Revolution after a bottle of Jose Cuervo and a handful of pills. It’s not what I sat down to play, and you’re probably not even supposed to sit down. I like the option for on-screen pointing and aiming, but unfortunately, it’s not an option here – it’s the control scheme. In a way, it’s the polar opposite of GTA3 for iPhone’s controls that require the quick precision of a Lilliputian brain surgeon, whereas for Skyward Sword, you have to do it big, and just unauthentically enough for the motion control to replicate your actions (I know that when I get engulfed by a big jelly monster I always shake my wrists back and forth like a coked out maraca player).

And finally, it wouldn’t be a Zelda game for the Wii if there wasn’t a spot where you could completely fuck up your game file and make it impossible to proceed. A warning to all, do NOT talk to any Gorons after finishing the desert dungeon in the second round of quests until you’ve completed all three. Just don’t. They’ll like, put it in you or something.

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