Ruby Red (Kerstin Gier, Translated by Anthea Bell)

I'd seen this book and its two sequels on the shelf in KrimsonRogue's book reviews, and when I stumbled upon it at my local library I decided to check it out with the card I don't believe I ever actually used since I got it a few years ago.

As the first in a trilogy, Ruby Red is mostly laying the groundwork for Sapphire Blue and Emerald Green to actually tell the story. Said groundwork is that throughout history twelve individuals will be born with the power to travel through time, and there's a secret society many of history's greatest minds have been a part of, dedicated to this mystery and cataloging these individual. If these twelve individuals' blood is collected in a mysterious clock some world-changing secret will be revealed, which I'm assuming is going to be the Philosopher's Stone, but the clock has been lost so the collection process pretty much needs to start over.

Not a bad starting point. So what's our time-traveling mystery story going to actually be about? How about cringey teen romance and pop culture references? In Gier's defense, the book was originally written in German so the latter might be on the translator.

What I will not give Gier a pass on is a mini-mystery where, during one of her random time-jumps Gwen runs into a mysterious girl who looks exactly like her, and she can't figure out who it could possibly be. I'm just sitting here thinking "How stupid are these characters and how stupid does this book think I am? I mean, yeah, I'm a fucking moron, but not THIS much of one..."


Wario Ware: Mega Microgame$ (GBA via Wii U Virtual Console)

I've mentioned in the past that I don't get the Wario Ware series. It's the basic elements of a game fired off in rapid succession - time your button press to jump over a pit, or catch a fish, or avoid an earthquake. Line up your attacks with the enemies. Recognize a pattern. But there's no substance or cohesion, so it's just a bombardment of random crap pelting you in the face. Story mode can be completed in an hour and a half, even faster if you're not the crapout I am, and after that it's just a score attack. The best way I can summarize Wario Ware is a video game stripped down to its bones. You can gnaw on it for a little bit of flavor, or try to suck out the marrow if you're desperate, but it ultimately leaves you unsatisfied and heading to the store for a whole chicken.


Yoshi's Woolly World (Wii U, E)

When I played Yoshi's Crafted World I couldn't put my finger on why I liked it more than any Yoshi game since Yoshi's Island, but while playing Woolly World it hit me. Yoshi's Island was a treasure trove of new ideas, but Yoshi's Island DS and Yoshi's New Island, may it burn in Hell, both pointed to Yoshi's Island and said "yeah, more of that." Maybe that was Nintendo's way of running for cover when Yoshi's Story did its own thing and fucked up spectacularly, throwing the baby out with the bathwater and all that.

Crafted World did many things different. Crafted had train yards, grungy port towns, Japanese pagodas, the spaceport, the museum, the alleyway where you're chased by killer clowns, and many more levels and art assets that weren't just Yoshi's Island objects recreated in papercraft. Shit, I still remember the tree level where you wait for a bus. Even the mode where you search for the Poochie Pups in mirrored levels - which weren't just flipped, the camera was rotated to the other side of the level so you could see stuff you couldn't before - was something different, as was spending Flowers to access new areas. And while the vehicle levels were hit and miss, at least there was an attempt.

Woolly World falls into the "yeah, more of that" category, admittedly on the better end (but when the competition is Yoshi's New Island, make what you will of that). It has a few unique levels like the one where you're clinging to curtains sliding along rails, the one with Velcro conveyor belts, or the haunted house where the platforms are only solid when moving curtains reveal them, but the vast majority are just Yoshi's Island levels with a yarn texture thrown over them. And fuck's sake, game, how many times do I have to fight giant Monty Moles and Paratroopas?

And does Nintendo have a clause in some contract somewhere stating every Yoshi game after Yoshi's Island has to have a terrible soundtrack? This is still better than the kazoo farts from Yoshi's New Island, but that ain't saying much since even nails on a chalkboard is preferable to that crap. And there's one song I'm pretty sure was reused in Crafted World.