Tag Archives: create

My Thoughts On ModNation Racers

13 Jun

When I was little my first game system was the Nintendo 64. To this day I still think the most fun I ever had gaming was with that system. Every week my father would take me and my little brother to rent a game from the nearby Blockbuster, and we’d either take turns playing it or play together if it had multiplayer. The look and feel of games then was simple. There was no need for realistic graphics back then. All that we cared about was having fun playing games. We didn’t need elaborate stories, we just wanted funny dialogue, catchy music, and some great gameplay of course. Those days of simplicity are long gone though. Not that I don’t like modern games. I just wish I could relive those days one more time. Just once more!

And now I can…

ModNation Racers is a kart racing game. While playing it, I felt like I was playing an improved version of one of my old N64 games. It’s so cool! You start of by creating your own custom racer, called a mod. The character creation system is VERY deep. It allows you to fine tune little details of your mod with ease, as well as make him stand out very easily in a crowd. Changing hair, facial expressions, his clothes, etc., is very fun and enjoyable.

After creatign your character, you are able to design his/her kart that he/she will race in. This is also very detailed, allowing you to choose parts for your kart that let people know that it’s your kart. Want a cardboard box for your kart’s body? Knock yourself out! How about a Duracell battery for an engine, or a lawn mower? Go right ahead. The choice is yours!

Where the game really shines though is in track creation. The ability to create your own track is awesome, but the fact that it’s so easy is what’s so surprising. Creating a track to race on is often more fun than making your mod and kart. The options for customization allow you not only to created the track itself, but the environment on the edges of it, the time of day, where the sun is positioned (which changes the map’s lighting), even the weather.

And then the LittleBigPlanet formula comes into play: Play, Create, Share. The sharing part is amazing. You can instantly download other players creations from around the globe into your game. This includes mods, karts, and tracks. You can drive around in the Mystery Machine, play as Iron Man, drive on tracks that are in the exact shape of a snake if you look at them from above, etc. There’s a ton to do here.

The racing itself is a blast. Drifting past opponents and knocking them out with power-ups feels very rewarding. The power-ups in this game are also upgradeable. By this I mean that when you pick up a power-up, it is of use, but only to a certain degree. If you save the power-up and pick up another one, the one you have will go up a level and be more useful. A speed up power-up may seem useful, but it’s even more useful if you upgrade it into a teleporter, jumping way ahead of the pack.

When I played those old games on the Nintendo, I always wanted to play them with lots of other people. With online play, that fantasy has been realized. The online multiplayer runs very smoothly and is super addicting. Testing your skills against smarter foes is a challenge, but a rewarding one. There’s a level-up system that goes with online play, and you get experience points for doing well in races. The goal in doing this is to become the best racer in the game, who gets a big statue of himself/herself put up in the community area in the game, which is basically an ingame lobby where players can meet each other, chat, and decide what they plan to do for the day.

Overall, ModNation Racers is a great game. It allows me to relive the days when it was just me, my brother, and my N64. I believe anyone who likes kart racers, or owns a PS3, should pick it up. You won’t regret it.

Dylan Alexander on Art

17 Dec

What is art? I honestly want you to consider that question right now and define the word “art” to yourself, from your own perspective, from your own viewpoint. What is it? Where does it come from? Why has it stayed with us for so long? Well, I believe the reason it has managed to stay with us all this time is because there is one thing that makes it different from other things in every way. It’s different from doctoring people, teaching people, working with chemicals, discovering new animals, digging up fossils, building roads, washing cars, solving equations, baking cakes, chopping wood, and many other things, because of an attribute it has, a feature it holds all to itself. You see, each of the actions listed above has its limits. Art’s limits: none.

Art can also be many things, the primary being illustrating, painting, writing, film, drama, and music. All of these are passions of mine. All of these are also dropping like flies from public school programs. Mathematics is important. Grammar (or English, if you prefer) is important. Science is important. P.E. is important. Guess what else is important? Art. Most people have said that this is because it is a way for children, teens, and adults alike to express their inner feelings. Although agreeable, if you think about it, it is also a morale device. Here’s a perfect way to prove this to yourself. Grab a piece of paper, right now. Go ahead and get one. Now that you have this paper, I want you to get a pencil or pen. Do that now. Get it. You have one now? Good. Take this pen, and draw a circle on it. Now it is merely a circle, but you see that you have created this circle. Give it dotted eyes. Now give it a smile, and a nose. Don’t worry too much about how detailed it looks, just do all of that. Now draw small hairs on its head. Just little lines that are like hairs. You make them smooth or make them stick up in the air, it’s your creation. It’s yours. You can even make an afro if you want. You done? Good. Now write its name under it, and be creative with this name. Make it a name you’ll never forget, and one that relates to you or who you want to be. You have that down? Good. Now under his name, give him a title (i.e. Lord of the Lollipops). And you can make it serious, silly, whatever you like. Are you finished? Great! Now in any corner of the page write your name and the date under it. Now, tell me how you feel after that?

I know you probably feel quite pleased with that new creation. And you know something, so do kids, teens, and everyone else on this planet. Art is a piece of the soul. It breathes life into people, and brings them joy. No matter how little or small the joy may be, it brings it. If students were already feeling joyous as they entered a classroom to study, how do think they might do? Well, I know how I feel whenever this is the case: I soar through my courses. If the faculty of schools cutting these classes really gave a damn about the products that they would be getting when their students graduated, they’d be using art to fuel their students, not stripping it from them. And I really hate this excuse, “The students are doing enough art on their own time now, so the art class is useless.” Bull. That’s merely a justifier for taking it from the kids. It isn’t fair to make excuses like that.

I understand that there’s a budget to deal with. I also understand that the other classes are important. But outright cutting art down is wrong. I honestly believe this is just some plot to rid the world’s children of creativity. If their budget’s been cut down than maybe (and I said maybe so hear me out) one could have parents pay a small fee for art classes every months or every few months, and the profit would build up from the amount of kids being given back their art classes on these terms. This would be a nice plan and it would be better for everybody.

Art is a subject that isn’t given enough consideration. It needs more. It needs to be viewed with more importance. And if some suppressive person wants to drive it into the ground, then by God, fight back people! Because this isn’t just education we’re talking about anymore. This is the future. Without good, intelligent, creative, inventive kids to take charge when the adults of today kick the bucket, this civilization will be lost. Without culture, it will die. And that is the cold, hard truth.

Sincerely,

Dylan Alexander, Age 14

Artist

Dylan Alexander