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Category Archives: Floppies

It’s All in the Game

Zack & WikiI still consider myself a gaming neophyte, but from reading the reviews at various sites I could tell that Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros Treasure looked like the kind of quirky, under-the-radar sort of thing that I might enjoy. Although the name leaves something to be desired (honestly, it felt embarassing asking the guy at Wal-Mart for “Zack & Wiki”), it’s actually a fun puzzler with a challenging edge that you’d never expect from looking at the game’s kiddie oriented cover art. In the game, you are a boy pirate named Zack who, with the help of an oddly hovering monkey named Wiki, journeys to various settings in order to piece together the golden treasure of the intimidating yet friendly pirate Barbaros (all the while avoiding the aminelike pirate queen and her purple-outfitted goons). OK, the story’s a bit lame, the characters are cardboard-thin, and Wiki’s Japanese schoolgirl voice is grating, but I tended to forget that while gaping at the lush visuals and background music. Did I mention that the game is weirdly Japanese in a way that I can’t put my finger on? As in when Zack is in the presence of other living things, you can wave the wiimote and Wiki turns into a bell (?) — transforming whatever animal you’re next to into an object (??) which may or may not be useful in your quest. Weird and cool at the same time! The video below pretty much echoes my feelings about this gem of a game. (buy at

Alias Smith and Jones

Steven Heller’s recent Design Observer rant over bloggers using aliases is less interesting for the post itself than the heated discussion it prompted. Heller’s basic gist is that a designer (or anyone) who uses an online nom de plume is either cowardly or behind the times.

I’ve always been up front about using my real name. Scrubbles only came into play because “The Matt Hinrichs Blog” sounds too unmemorable. Having a somewhat unusual, sometimes unpronounceable last name may be an annoyance in real life, but it’s an asset online (when it comes to commenting on forums or weblogs, however, only the first name is used). Although some may assume I use my full name for business purposes so potential clients might think (erroneously) that I’m related to the famous Kit Hinrichs, really it’s just me so that’s the logical choice. The name is unique and sticks out in a crowded field. And yet — if you Google my name the first result is the IMDb page for some actor whose sole credit is playing “School Kid” in Napoleon Dynamite. I’ve also discovered another Matt Hinrichs who blogs using his real name, weirdly enough — although any person with half a brain would notice that my blogging doppelgänger is an entirely different person. I really admire Steven Heller’s expertise and own a full shelf of his Chronicle Art Deco compilation books, his argument in this case is weak, weak, weak.

Tennis Injury

Today I invited my parents over to the house for lunch and to give the Wii a try. We played a few games of Wii Sports Bowling and they, of course, had a blast. Before leaving, my mom — an avid tennis buff — wanted to give tennis a spin. We were playing a game of doubles when she tried to do a far-reaching racquet swing, lost her footing, and took a tumble right there in my living room. Shocked and in distress, me and Dad went to her aid. She hit her head on the TV stand and had a big cut in her upper lip. After we applied a wet towel, my dad took her to the emergency room. I felt so guilty! Later that afternoon I called her up to find her in better spirits. She ended up getting seven stitches in her lip (the doctor said it was his first-ever Wii related injury), but even worse is that one of her front teeth fell out and the other one is loose. Now they have to wait until Monday to see a dentist. I was worried and super-apologetic to Mom, but she took it in stride.

Actually, this incident may have shook me up more than them. My parents are in their 60s, retired but still young enough to fully enjoy life. They’ve always been very loving and supportive of me and Christopher, which really compounded my broken heart at seeing her fall today. Needless to say, I don’t think it will deter them from further Wii playing since they like their fun. They love gaming and travel and routinely go to Vegas for Casino hopping. This year, they plan to go to Washington D.C. for the AARP conference along with a stay in Colonial Williamsburg. And in April they’re taking me to Walt Disney World to fulfill a dream I’ve had for decades to see that park. They’re gonna want to try out every ride with me, but that’s still a few months away. For now I’m delivering all my best wishes to Mom for a speedy recovery.

It’s All About Me

Because I’m a total narcissist at heart, I love to troll the web to find out when and for what reason people might be reading Two such occurrences happened this month that deserve mentioning here. First off is Julie Jackson’s interview with Indie Fixx, in which she sweetly mentioned this very weblog as one of her favorite reads. Julie’s an awesome crafter with a wicked wit as seen in her latest brainstorm, Kitty Wigs (not to mention being a great friend of mine). Thanks, Julie! Our other sighting come through the courtesy of Brad Graham, whose wry musings on The BradLands have been a steady favorite of mine for (gulp) seven and a half years now. Brad listed scrubbles on his Favorite Things on the Web 2007 list — which to me is infinitely cooler than being on Oprah’s list between a DVD-equipped refrigerator and a CD by Josh Groban (a singer that only sexually repressed middle aged ladies could love). Thanks, Brad!

He Had to Take a Wii

All right, I promise never to make puns based on the word “Wii” again! Mark Morford’s account of getting a Wii in San Francisco was surprisingly stress-free and not at all a nightmarish free-for-all that makes you fear for the state of humanity.

I’m telling ya, we’re not hardcore gamers or anything, but we’re totally into the Mercury Meltdown Revolution. Christopher and myself are in a bit of a competition to see who can get the furthest guiding that little blob of goo through various challenges. This is something I never would’ve predicted a year ago.

A Mii for Every Mood

It’s been a few days since the Wii arrived, so now I can safely say that I love it. Although we’ve been logging some gameplay on the console, I have to confess that I’ve spent the most time on the Mii Channel, where you can create little avatars in the spirit of a virtual paper doll set. The first one I did was of the Hollywood costume designer Edith Head. Then I made Miis of Diana Ross, Mahatma Ghandi, Lucille Ball, David Bowie, Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. It would be a gas to pair off Bette and Joan in a round of Wii Sports Boxing.

Wii Mii Channel

Speaking of Wii Sports, that game definitely lives up to its reputation for fun and accessibility. The controls are nicely responsive, and I love getting up and moving around during gameplay. Even Christopher got into a few bowling matches. Favorites are, in order: bowling (amazingly realistic), baseball, tennis, golf (pretty but simple), and boxing (can’t tell what I’m doing half the time). WarioWare: Smooth Moves has also proven itself as a lot of fun, easy to get into, but perhaps better enjoyed with a larger group than just myself. Playing something like that by yourself is kinda beside the point, but I liked the weird Japaneseishness of the whole thing and being surprised by whatever crappy looking minigame they throw my way. I also just received The Simpsons Game. Despite bad reviews, I was holding out hope that this would be good. It’s not very good. Despite having the self-awareness and humor to parody other games, it’s a fairly typical deal where you basically run and jump from place to place collecting things. The controls are not very responsive and it feels secondhand, like it doesn’t really belong on the Wii. It’s moderately amusing and I will stick with it at least until reaching the “Mr. Sparkle” level.

My only gripe with this thing is that the games cost too much. Then again I can remember Asteroids for the Atari 2600 costing thirty bucks 25 years ago, so maybe fifty bucks a pop for an exponentially complex game is pretty cheap. The next game I’m expecting will be the puzzler Mercury Meltdown Revolution, only $17.99 at Amazon. Should that one be a disappointment, I won’t feel so cheated anyhow. Oh, I have to check out stuff on the Virtual Console someday, too. Whee.