Most entertaining stuff of 2005

I was rooting around on my bookshelf today and noticed the book that I enjoyed the most last year: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon.

Most fun movie? I’m picking a black horse this time: The 40 Year Old Virgin. It surprised me by being better than I expected.

Most entertaining video game? I’m going to go with Guitar Hero (see my earlier post), but if I’d discovered Katamari Damacy or We ♥ Katamari, it would have been very close. Just when you think every genre of videogame has been invented, along comes fresh new ideas. In the Katamari series of games, you roll a ball around; as you roll up more things, your Katamari grows larger, until finally you’re rolling up islands and countries. It’s so much fun that I’m ordering the Katamari soundtrack.

Review: Guitar Hero

Normally I’m not much of a game player. My idea of a good game is Time Pilot: one joystick, one button, and the objective is to shoot everything. Your bullets don’t hurt any good guys, only bad guys, so you can basically descend into a frenzy of carpal-tunnel-inducing button mashing.

This year I got several non-traditional video games for Christmas. One of the games that I’ve really been enjoying is Guitar Hero, a PlayStation 2 game from Harmonix. (Disclosure: The lead programmer of Guitar Hero and I were in grad school together. But don’t take my word for it; other people like it too.)

What’s special about Guitar Hero? First, it comes with neat guitar controller with five colored buttons on the frets. When you see a note come at you on the screen, you push the button for that note. It’s easier than it sounds, at least on the lower levels. On the early levels, the game is easy enough that you can strut around and show off as you play “I Wanna Be Sedated” by the Ramones. If you nail certain notes, you gain Star Power, which can let you rack up extra points. To start using your Star Power, just point the guitar toward the sky–the controller has a motion sensor built in.

It’s hard to describe, but the game really pulls you in, especially if you take turns with 3-4 people. A group of us spent most of Christmas Day playing it, which resulted in this:

We won!

But my absolute favorite part of the game? It also comes with stickers of flames, stars, etc. Instead of using the stickers on the mini-guitar, I slapped a skull-and-bones sticker on my laptop so it looks totally bad-ass. Unless you’re going through airport security, and then you feel a little sheepish.

I’d definitely recommend Guitar Hero if you play video games. What video games are you enjoying now?

(Yeah yeah, I’m still traveling and not approving new commenters, blah blah.)