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14/02/2011 Artistic Novel Gamer Podcast
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Costume Quest Dsi-Ware

Costume Quest



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The Not-so-famous Four do Hallowe'en: The protagonists of Costume Quest are visited by their old-school British cousins and have a thoroughly chipper time!

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It was the first time the Parker children had visited the United States of America. It had also been many years since James and Alice had seen their cousins. What with the excitement of travelling, unsupervised, across the Atlantic on an aeroplane -- although James had suspected the air stewardess had been tipped to keep an eye on them both, much to his chagrin -- Alice was quite beside herself!

"Oh James, isn't it simply too wonderful?" Alice bounced on the back seat of the car, sent to pick them up by their American uncle Victor.

"I say, Alice, do calm down," James told his younger sister. When the two of them were out together James always put on an air of superiority and sophistication, as if he were automatically in charge when Mother and Father were not around. Alice found it most irritating. James paid her be-freckled frown no heed, "we're being seen in this fine country for the first time and I shan't have you making us both appear to be a pair of country bumpkins."

Alice stuck her tongue out at him; an action which she knew would put his back up. She crossed her arms and pouted. She did hope her brother was not going to be a pompous Billy for the whole fortnight!
It was noticeably much warmer here than at home, Alice thought. James squirmed uncomfortably in his seat. He was wearing the sweater which Mother had knitted for his last birthday and it was clearly making him too hot yet he refused to acknowledge this and take it off.

They arrived at their cousins' home quite quickly and were greeted by a pair of unfamiliar faces running down the path in front of the house.

"Gosh, is that them?" James exclaimed despite himself.

"Of course it is, silly," Alice nudged him in the ribs, "it has been many years since we saw them. I dare say we must appear very different to them as well!"

The two cousins stood on the pavement and stared at them; One of them appeared a scrawny but agile looking young man with a mop of brown hair and the other a girl with a short crop of black hair. The boy was called Reynold and the girl Wren. It was apparent to any observant passer-by that they were twins.

Alice simply stared at the girl with her mouth open. The girl's hair was cut quite short at the sides and back and she was wearing jean trousers and a T-Shirt. She couldn't help herself but was terribly aware that she was making O' faces like a goldfish.

Wren came over to her. "Gaht a problem?" she said to Alice, the drawl of her accent totally unfamiliar to the newcomers.

Alice composed herself and looked down at her own attire. "It's just," she began, nervously running her hands down her own green gingham dress, "don't they have pretty girls' dresses here in America?"

"Ha!" the other cousin laughed, giving his sister a firm slap on the shoulder, "it'll be a cold day in hell before this one pretties herself up. I reckon she's more of a guy than I am!"

The girl gave him a reciprocal punch in the gut. Alice looked genuinely horrified.

"Whatever!" the girl said, "I ain't got a problem with dresses. They're just no good for runnin' and fightin'!" She gave Alice a huge grin, once more exposing her missing tooth.

"James Parker at your service," James stepped forward and offered Reynold his hand in a formal handshake.

"Mighty fine to meet you, cuz," Reynold clapped his hand fast and shook it vigorously. "You've picked a great time to come and visit. Y'all can help us make costumes!"

"Costumes!" Alice clapped her hands, delightedly. "Oh I say, whatever for?"

Wren beamed broadly again and whistled through her gappy grin, "you got here jurst in time for Hallowe'en -- we's going Trick or Treatin'!"

James wasn't sure he understood the fascination with All Hallow's Eve, but Reynold and Wren seemed to be excited enough for the four of them. Alice got stuck into her dressmaking of course. It occurred to James that as Alice sat under the tall lamp, with a lap full of material and sewing needles held between her teeth, she was the very image of their Mother.

The costumes were assembled as follows. Reynold had insisted on a Robot theme as he was fascinated with the subject. He had fashioned an outfit from two cardboard boxes with a visor cut from the helmet and a pair of wings drawn on the back. Wren wanted to wear something dashing and heroic, so with a little help from James had creating a medieval knight's costume, complete with a shield and sword made from aluminium foil and wrapped around cardboard. Alice wanted something elegant, so Wren's mother had found her a length of green fabric which she had swirled about her person in the manner of the Statue of Liberty. James had found an old dress cape and attired himself as a vampire.

"That's creepy," Alice told him, "I don't know why you want to wear something so horrid!"

James protested, "I thought this was meant to be a scary holiday. I'm just getting into the spirit of things!"

Reynold came over. "Ahh we'll show you the real meaning of Hallowe'en," he said and handed them each a small bag.

"What's this for?" Alice quizzed him.

"That's for the Trick or Treating, silly," James told her in his authoritative voice. "We're going to knock on the doors of local houses and ask them for sweets."

Alice huffed at her brother. He always had to be a know-it-all!

"He's right," Wren spoke up, "by the end of the night we should have bags full of candy!"

They headed out into the night air and were waved on their way by Reynold and Wren's mother and father.

Alice was astonished. "Really? We're allowed to stay out all evening unsupervised?"

They had not been out for long before they noticed that something was not quite right. There was a suspicious looking gentleman skulking near the gates to a nearby cemetery. James thought he might be a foreigner. He was dressed in sackcloth and his skin was a dark green. He looked quite monstrous and his costume was far too realistic for Alice's liking.

Suddenly, he rushed forward to attack them and as he came into the light they could all see that he was an actual goblin!

Alice's instinct was to drop her bag and run. The others, however, reacted very differently. Wren and Reynold seemed braced for a fight. Before they could react, another goblin from out of sight had grabbed James and had run off with him!

That was when the queerest thing occurred. It seemed to Alice that they all grew tremendously in stature; it was as if she was the Alice in the Wonderland and had eaten the mushroom. As they grew their costumes seemed to shift and change. Also, where one goblin had stood for some reason there now were three!

With a clank of metal and pistons, Reynold now stood a hundred feet high; his limbs were polished steel and his eye a vicious camera. He leapt high into the air and pointed his arm at the attackers. His fist came loose and launched at the first goblin like a rocket.

Alice turned to comment to Wren and instead came face to face with an armour-clad knight. Where there had been aluminium, now there was steel. A gruesome helmet covered Wren's features. She leapt forward and smote the second goblin with her large sword.

One of the goblins made a move toward Alice. She was most perplexed at being this tall and really didn't know how to fight. With a gasp, Alice realised the toy torch that was part of her costume now bore a genuine flame. She waved it at the goblin to ward it off and was most surprised when a flame, like the breath of a dragon, leapt from her torch and burned the goblin.

Reynold drew himself out and puffed up his chest. Miniature red tips appeared in his armoured metal chest and shot forth: a wave of rockets weaved and arced toward the assembled goblins. There was a flash of fire and a shower of tiny wrapped sweets and the goblins were no more. As ash fell and the debris settled the children felt that they were returning to their normal size and attire.

Alice wasn't sure what to say, but settled on a heartfelt "gosh!"

It was the most wonderful adventure, Alice would recall later.

They had set off to rescue James, of course. There could be no other course of action what with him being kidnapped by suspicious individuals.

With some guilt, Alice had to acknowledge that they hadn't exactly taken the quickest path to rescuing her brother. The thing was that there were simply so many exciting things to do around Hallowe'en. They found themselves involved in a game of hide and seek with six other children; there was bobbing for apples (Alice did very well at this game on account of the village fete some weeks before when Alice had gotten plenty of practice) and lots of picture cards to find and even trade with other people.

Eventually they had gone after James and found him being held in what Reynold and Wren called a "Mall". There were lots of things to do here, too, but Alice couldn't help but feel that all of the games were quite similar. They played another game of hide-and-seek, did more apple bobbing and traded some cards.

The trail led them from the mall to a carnival outside town. It was very pretty and nice to have some different scenery but Alice was beginning to grow weary. There was another game of hide-and-seek! And another round of apple bobbing! It seemed that no matter where they went they were being forced to play the same games over and over.

Alice did find that she was enjoying herself greatly, however, in spite of the repetition. "Perhaps people over here don't mind doing the same things again and again," she mused to herself.

One of the things that had kept their adventure lively was that as they travelled around they were given designs for new costumes. They also had a bit of a treasure hunt to find the items to make these new costumes. They looked the part now! Alice was very pleased to have a pretty horse outfit which could shoot rainbows from its mouth. Wren had fashioned herself a jack-o-lantern outfit which blazed with fire whenever they had to fight more goblins. Reynold was dressed with little cat ears that made him look most amusing and adorable -- however when they fought he became a giant black panther that tore into their enemies.

It was, Alice thought, all totally spiffing!

They'd had to get James back, of course. It would have been totally unthinkable to have returned home without him. "What would Mother and Father have thought?" Alice mused to herself as she, James, Reynold and Wren sat on the pavement thoughtfully chewing on the night's takings.

James was, of course, acting very stoic and pretending he was in charge of the whole affair.

"I shouldn't have been in any trouble," he told them all, "I should have escaped before long. You chaps just saved me the trouble by arriving sooner."

"Sure," both Wren and Reynold said at the same time, and then looked at each other, surprised.

Alice began to laugh at this. James joined in too with big hearty belly laughs. Wren and Reynold looked nonplussed for a moment and then a smile cracked across their faces and they laughed with them.

They were all still chuckling as their adventure ended and they found themselves once again at home.

Written by Chris Jarvis

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Chris Jarvis writes the Novel Gamer column.

"I write stories to say what I think about games, for me it's the only way I can really communicate what I feel about them. Do you ever have a response to something that's hard to put into words? I find that sometimes I have something to express that can't be communicated by trying to explain how I feel, directly."

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