Monday, December 20, 2010

Sick, Rancid, Grotesque...

When the remarkable becomes bizarre, reason turns rancid.

- Cheshire Cat (idle), American' McGee's Alice.

An image from the sequel, Alice: Madness Returns.
These games are considered part of the action-horror genre.

American McGee's Alice is a third person shooter video game released in 2000. I haven't played many games in my life but this is my favorite game of all time. Not only is the music amazing and the environments riveting, it's also insane, dark, twisted, and extremely violent. Alice's family has perished in a fire and she's gone mad, locked away in an asylum. She goes back to Wonderland to confront the broken, horrific mess it's become. The game does a fine job at referencing the source material and is so far up my alley I used to think I dreamed it up myself. Apparently, the long awaited sequel will be released in the Spring next year. Yippee!

Alice collects a host of weapons including the Vorpal Blade, Ice Wand, Croquet Mallet, Demon Dice, and Jack Bomb, among many others. My personal favorite weapons are the Vorpal Blade, Ice Wand, and Croquet Mallet, with the Croquet Mallet being the most satisfying of all ("Here's a riddle: When is a croquet mallet like a billy club? I'll tell you: whenever you want it to be." - Cheshire Cat). Alice's enemies are relentless, powerful, and ruthless and you really have to fight for your life. Even my two best characters, Mock Turtle and Gryphon, make an appearance. Thankfully, they're on Alice's side.

The Cheshire Cat acts as a kind of guide to the game and often makes cryptic, disturbing comments but he's a friend and sometime companion. There are four levels: Easy, Medium, Hard, and Nightmare. I've played all four levels many, many times with Nightmare being my favorite. I even have a version of the game for my Mac which is apparently difficult to find. I haven't played the game in years but the comfort of recognition and the glory of reveling in all that darkness really relaxes me.

Here's a link to the trailer if you want to get a sense for how dark this game is.

When I was coming up with a name and persona for this blog, I initially considered becoming Cheshire Cat since he was my favorite Alice character while I was growing up but I was moved by the quote in the blog header and how they used it at the end of the 1985 film Dreamchild starring Ian Holm as The Rev. Charles L. Dodgson AKA Lewis Carroll, a sort of background film about the writing of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The Wonderland characters in Dreamchild were created by Jim Henson's Muppet Shop, and they were huge, gross, and nightmarish. It was the first time I'd ever thought of Alice has being a little scary and it was really cool!

The Mock Turtle persona really suits me. I think I've grown into it well. Writing this post makes me wonder when the other Wonderland characters will show up in my weird little world. None of them are there now and I think they deserve a place. Or at least a few of them do. Hmm. I'll have to ponder that idea.

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