Sunday, January 27, 2008

Portals open every five minutes!

There is a realm of mystery and wonder just outside the winter-dreary city of Madison, a place they call..."The Dells." The Dells hide a number of attractions such as Ripley's Believe it or Not and The Haunted Mansion (non-Disney version), but the most important of these encounter locations?

Wizard Quest!

She Who Must Be Obeyed and I went up to the Dells this weekend, and I was able to finagle her to go to Wizard Quest, a prop-filled building where you play a fruity game to "Free the Four Elemental Wizards from the four realms of the Quadrasphere!"

Its actually a pretty darn cool game. They have this huge building filled with crazy props and little notes and stuff hidden away that say things about the various trolls and whatnot that live in the wizard realms. The goal of the game is to find and free the four wizards in each elemental plane within 90 minutes, but there's a lot more to it than just walking around a fancy maze. You have to collect magic points called "glimmers" to free the wizards (each wizard costs "200-250 glimmers" to free). I was unable to call them "glimmers" without laughing, so I used the more comfortable term "mana" when referring to the magic points. Dr. Girlfriend kept referring to them as "twinkles" the whole game, which was hilarious. All the "glimmers" are recorded on a strip of paper with a barcode on it that you scan to activate the various computer terminals around the place.

Anyway, to get more magic points you can do a number of things, mostly answer questions on these computer scattered around the place that refer to specific clues hidden around (20 points per correct answer). There's also cool puzzles and stuff that cost points to try, and then award more points if you successfully do the stuff right. Plus a lot of it is really physical challenges too, so you can't be afraid to jump in the ball pit or crawl through tunnels on your hands and knees to find the clues.

For those of you "in the know," it was like a big True Dungeon without any battling but much better props and very openly explorable (with plenty of one-way secret passages). Also the puzzles aren't dependent on a "DM" in the corner, they're all computer controlled so if you do the puzzle right the door opens/chest unlocks/etc. There's also a bunch of side quests that the computer terminals tell you whether you've beaten them or not when you go to answer more questions.

Saving the wizards gets you a bunch of cheesy dialogue from said wizard (the whole game has a cheesyness about it, which they acknowledge), and cumulative 5% off anything in the store for each wizard you save. We saved three of the wizards. For the life of me I couldn't locate the goddamn Earth wizard, even though we collected enough "glimmers" to save him. We spent about ten minutes at this door puzzle in the Earth realm before we gave up, and on the drive home I'm pretty sure I figured it out (damn!).

But in any case, did we take advantage of our epic success (and 15% discount)?

Hell yes we did (and yeah, that hat lights up).

If anyone wants to take a trip up to the Dells to face the Wizard's Quest we would be happy to go again. Don't worry about us ruining anything, the next time I go my only goal will be to find that damn Earth Wizard, glimmers be damned!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Intergalactic Planetary

Working full-time doesn't give you nearly as much time to goof around and write blogposts. With the writer's strike TV hasn't been worth a crap and the perpetual Wisconsin snow prevents any outdoor activities from taking place during the week. So here's my synopsis of shows I've been watching while painting Lord of the Rings miniatures:

The Sarah Connor Chronicles
- so far its a 'meh.' Its got River from Firefly, which is why I'm still giving it a chance, but its a little loose with the temporal paradox thing. I'm willing to overlook temporal paradoxes for big, important stuff, but when they start jumping in little 10-year leaps (just so the show can be based in 2007 instead of 1997), with full-on resistance cells jumping back in time to help the Connor team, it starts to get a little ridiculous. I'm still entertained for now though, and the John Connor kid does an alright job of acting like a perpetually unhappy Edward Furlong.

Prison Break - Season 1 of this show was phenomenal. Season 2 was pretty darn good. Season 3 has nauseum. I don't know how many prisons they need to escape from or how many attempts at each escape need to be performed but this Panama prison break has gone on long enough. The 'prison break' tbeme has gotten so ridiculous they'll probably put him in a maximum security prison on the moon in Season 4...and I'll probably watch it.

Daily Show and Colbert Report - Wow. Not worth a crap since the strike. Get your writers back or go on hiatus guys. Its like watching bad high school improv up there.

Snoop Dogg's Fatherhood - Yeah, with the strike its inevitable a reality show would have to make the list. While reality TV is generally piss-poor, when its Snoop complaining about all the dishes he has to do something about that is really funny. Not that great, but here on Scantabulous we can't get enough Snoop so we watch it.

I've also constructed a kick-ass computer rig (with some advice on parts from my buddy Kevin) that, once I get a legit copy of XP Pro, will soon go fully online and replace my 2003 computer. For now its just an extremely expensive video game console that I can play Dark Messiah of Might and Magic on.

Neverwinter Nights 2, here I come!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

30% Chance of Flurries

Tim and Munch won't like this one...

Delp took me to the Green Bay Packer's playoff game this weekend. Delp got his mits on some tickets through some sort of unscrupulous deal involving three roosters, two bushels of cantalope, and a drunken bet during a Canadian curling competition. In any case, since he knew that I had recently been converted to football, he decided to try and convert me further from a Bears fan to a Packers fan by taking me to a playoff game at Lambeau Field.

We got there nice and early in the morning, so I could get the whole tailgating/warm-up experience.

As a new Wisconsonian, I ate the curds and drank the Leinies (out of a can, no less) in Green Bay.

Packers' fans are a rowdy bunch, but are a fine group of green-and-yellow folks. After every play in which the Packers got a touchdown, made a first down, or Bigby got a sweet tackle, everyone would congratulate each other in a perpetual 360 degree high-fiving celebration that lasted the whole game (except for the first minute-and-a-half). Even in the bathroom at halftime there was high-fiving, which I thought was verboten in areas containing urinals, but I didn't yet fully understand the passion Green Bay fans have for their team.

Seahawks fans weren't treated badly either, to my surprise, though plenty of taunts were thrown their way during the game (again, except for the first minute-and-a-half). Also, much like the Catholic church, Packer fans follow the tradition of Early Indoctrination.

Watching the game at Lambeau field was awesome, and makes you realize how small the field really is and how big the players really are. The crowd was well represented on the Jumbotron. In fact, at one point in the game I actually saw Cullen's mom up on the Jumbotron holding a sign that said "Iowa luvs (hearts) the Packers!" That was cool. I couldn't snap a pic of that fast enough, but here's another one of Delp.

It snowed like a madman at the game and by half-time the field was covered in snow, such that they had to put away the brooms and pull out the shovels to clear the 10-yard increment lines. But the snow seemed to be the Packers superpower, as after the first three minutes of the game (where the Hawks scored two touchdowns) it started snowing, and the more it snowed the more amazing Green Bay played.

I'm especially glad the Packs got the snow-boost, because at about 40 seconds into the first quarter I could see the look in Delp's face wondering whether the Packer fumble-for-14 to the Seahawks was all my fault. I knew he was considering sacrificing the Bears fan to the Packer fans to change Grant's luck. Fortunately it didn't come to that.

Seeing the Packers at a playoff game in Lambeau field in the snow was the greatest sporting event I'll probably ever witness. And I have to say that I'm sorry Muncher, Tim, Brian, Devon, Rex (well, not Rex), Brian#2, and Orton, but I have officially been converted to the Great Wisconsin Green Machine.

I'll miss your mustache, Kyle.

Go Pack Go!

PS: Favorite player of the game: Bigby (#20). That guy's like an American Gladiator out there.