Command & critique

Between spells of funeral-related matters this weekend (and lots of time spent with the extended family) I’ve had a fair amount of downtime. This is not the same thing as “sleep time,” unfortunately, and my internal clock is now officially out of sync with every time zone. Like, on the planet. I’d need to reach orbit to feel like I was on proper time; I woke up at 4 a.m. San Francisco time Friday and Saturday, and 4 a.m. Michigan time this morning. I think if I can arrange things right I can actually travel backward in time tomorrow morning and wake up sometime yesterday.

Anyway, I’ve put the downtime to some use; I read through JPod as I traveled Friday and finished up Castlevania Circle of the Moon, finally, more than five years after first buying it. I’m glad I’m done with them both, because now I never ever have to think about them again. I had never gotten past the Zombie Dragons in CotM, and now that I have I think I was better off not knowing the unrelenting crapfest of a game that lurked on the other side. If you like leveling up, CotM is the game for you! Otherwise, uh, stay home.

JPod was even more disappointing, since it had been marketed as a sort of sequel to Microserfs, aka the most important book of the 20th century (outside of The Official Nintendo Player’s Guide, I mean). JPod seems more of a bad imitation than a follow-up, though, since it features the same basic characters under new names (sexually confused coder Bug Barbecue is now sexually overactive coder Cancer Cowboy, the soulless marketing dude who makes a curious connection with the main character is now named Steve instead of Ethan, the aloof she-geek who falls for the main character is named Kaitlin rather than Karla — and so on). Unfortunately, the book has the general setup and breezy style of Microserfs but none of its underlying substance; the characters are wrapped up in ever-more-improbable scenarios and don’t actually change or evolve over the course of the story. I mean, it’s great that it has a chapter that begins with the main character mentioning how a phone call has interrupted his Super Metroid speedrun (1:10, less than 50% items), but the best part of Microserfs was the sense that the writer and his friends were growing up. The JPodders just kind of drift, Seinfeld-style, across a sea of geeky pop culture references, responding to events outside their control instead of taking the initative and making something of themselves. And I can’t decide if I admire or detest the author’s Vonnegut-esque self-insertion/deus ex machina.

Anyway, I guess what I’m saying is that it’s a light brain snack when it could have been a full meal and the main thing I’m taking away from it is that reprinting pi to the 10,000th digit is a good way to pad your page count. Also, I highly endorse Igarashi’s decision to expunge Circle of the Moon from the Castlevania canon, because it is a truckload of poop.