Sunday, December 30, 2007

Xbox Live unfaithful

If you have an Xbox 360 and have been trying to get connected to Xbox Live over the last couple of weeks you've probably noticed a problem. If you haven't been trying to connect to Xbox Live you still might have noticed a problem with all the loud voices complaining over the service they've been getting . . . or not getting . . . form Xbox Live. It's gotten so bad that I've even heard people talk about a class action lawsuit against Microsoft. It makes sense in a way. We've paid for a service that Microsoft promised but we're not getting so shouldn't we be compensated for that loss of service? And what about the pain and suffering associated with that failure to serve? And believe me there is pain and suffering along with heartaches, frustration and despair when you can't get connected to the Live service. But are we ready to take everything that far? A law suit? Microsoft and Xbox Live have been unfaithful to us but once this is all said and done and everyone is playing again, how many of us are going to become unfaithful to Xbox Live and Microsoft? It should be interesting to see.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

To Prestige or not to Prestige?

I know I'm not going to be faced with this problem for awhile, but I've been thinking. I have a friend that is going through the prestige and he's been getting grief for what level he's on with his prestige. I think it's cool. It shows real dedication and commitment to do that. Just when get to the good weapons they're all taken away and you have to start from scratch like a noobie all over again.

Last night we played with someone who is on a higher level of prestige than even my friend. We were all dully impressed, but joked around that if Kralon's been playing it since the day it came out than that guy's been playing it since two weeks before it came out.

So I've been wondering. Should I do it? I still haven't had the chance to bring up a helicopter. And I'm either very lucky or playing a bunch of terrible people if my kills out number my deaths. I don't think I'm that bad of a player but there are some things that makes this game more difficult for me than other shooter games. But that's a post for another time.

Right now I'm only at level 37 (Lt. Colonel). And since I've been playing this game for over a month and that it takes 2-3 nights worth of play time now for me to go up one level I won't be officially faced with the prestige question for awhile. By that time all of my friends will have finished going through all their prestige levels and will be bored of the game. Then while I'm stuck again at level 18 or whatever they'll be playing another game.

Getting to the highest rank should come with a sigh of relief not a nagging question of should I prestige or should I not prestige. But then again some people will say that getting to level 55 the first time is NOT the highest level you can achieve. For me? Well, we'll just have to see what kind of mood I'm in when I get there.

Xbox Live Bio

If you have an Xbox 360 feel free to check out my Bio page on your console. I wrote a funny little poem (those / marks are line breaks) based on the 'Twas the Night Before Christmas poem for all my gaming friends. I'm going to have to copy it down and post it here for all my non Xbox 360 friends to read as well. I could have made it much longer but I wasn't sure how much space I had to work with in the Bio section. Maybe when I post it here I'll expand it a little bit.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Here comes the rain again

Where I live a 20% chance of rain means it's going to be a dry day. Of course, I've seen weathermen live on the television say that there's no chance of rain and I can look out my window and see a downpour. And no it's not the sprinklers. And when the weatherman says it's going to rain late at night, he means while you're sleeping and can't enjoy the patter of rain on your windows.

So when I drove home from work last night and saw the red under glow on the clouds as the sun set I was hopeful, but not expecting anything. When I listened to the weather report of only a "20% chance of rain scattered throughout the valley overnight" I wasn't expecting much. I was surprised to see the roads and sidewalks wet this morning from seemed to be a good size downpour and I realized something. I wanted to play BioShock.

At first this confused me, but then it all started to make sense. I played a terrible night last night in Call of Duty 4. I was worthless and I couldn't concentrate. And I couldn't figure out why. It just didn't feel like the game I should be playing, but I didn't know what else I should have been playing instead.

The first time I played BioShock another storm was moving into the valley. A much bigger and harder hitting one than the one we got last night. I put BioShock in and started the game up. I thought the underwater atmosphere of the game was fitting for the stormy atmosphere I was currently in the middle of. Unfortunately, what I didn't know was that this (along with playing with all the lights out) was going to make the whole game experience that much more creepy. And I admit it. I was scared.

So scared that I stopped playing because I didn't want to have nightmares. Which is a little ironic because I remembered giving my friend Dennis a hard time when he said he had to quit playing one night because he didn't want to have nightmares. From a game? You've got to be kidding. He wasn't and now I knew.

So when the storm moved in last night I guess instead of playing Call of Duty 4 what I subconsciously wanted to play was BioShock. The rain clouds are still around and I had a few times when I actually had to use my windshield washers on the morning commute. How long those clouds stick around with their ominous feel to them, I don't know. I just know that right now all I want to do is go home and play BioShock even if it will scare the pants off of me. Hopefully I won't only play the game when it's raining or dark and moody outside. If that was the case it's going to take me a long time before I ever finish it.

Until then every time it gets cloudy not only will I have lyrics to the Eurythmics's song running through my head but I'll also have a desire to play BioShock. "Here comes the rain again...."

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Poll - Game of the Year

As you've noticed I put a poll up on my blog. Feel free to vote for whatever shows up there. When you're done voting leave a comment here about why you selected what you did. I'll leave this one up until the end of the year. I haven't decided on if I'll do these biweekly or once a month. A month just seems too long and I might get bored of seeing something up there that long. But on the other hand 2 weeks seems too short because I know some friends who check up on things here but since I don't update regularly they don't check in that often. I'll have to work on that. Once the poll is closed I'll post the results and tell you what I voted for and why.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

My life is difficult enough

Okay when I play a game for the first time I always play it on the lowest difficulty setting possible. If I like the game I'll go back and pick a harder setting for the next play through. It takes me a while to get into the flow and feel of a game and I could very easily put it down if it got to hard. I've got tons of other games I could be playing that I enjoy instead of one that's annoying the crap out of me.

Even on the lowest setting of Mass Effect when I got to the first door I had to open and couldn't complete the little mini game fast enough and realized I didn't have enough gel to open the door, I quit. But not wanting to replay a bunch of the game from my last save (since I couldn't remember when that was) I saved it before quitting. Which meant that when I loaded it up again I'd be back facing the same problem.

When I explained my situation with dain he told me to pull the game out and he'd help me through it. Luckily when I pulled up my save files there was an autosave prior to me messing up the door (and not that far back) that we loaded up. It took me a couple of attempts (and a couple of reloads) but I finally managed to get through the door with the minigame.

And don't get me started on Gears of War. I was planning on playing the "Easy" level all on my own but Evil Ric wanted to play some co-op and we were both towards the end of the game so we played through. I have to reluctantly admit that I needed the help because I don't think I would have been able to do it all on my own in the first place. And now that I'm trying to go through the game on the next level up ("Hard") I'm having a hard time. I can't get through to the first boss because I get overwhelmed with locust and I don't have enough ammo to kill them all. Not to mention the fact that I'm a terrible shot.

So I feel like a chump.

I'm a chump for playing on the lowest difficulty level when all my friends are blasting away at the hardcore/insane levels of games. I'm a chump for getting stuck at a very easy point in the game. I'm a chump for not being able to hack it when the difficulty gets turned up.

I thought I was a good player. Not great certainly, but good. I was wrong. I'm just a chump struggling through games on easy. My life is difficult enough that I guess I don't like it when my games are as well.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Retaliation is such a beautiful thing

I think I prefer shooters that give you the ability to respawn after you die. Yes, I know it's not a realistic thing but come on, is Halo 3 THAT realistic to begin with? If you respawn you get to retaliate and that can be a beautiful thing.

I always hate getting killed within in the first 30 seconds in Rainbow 6: Vegas only to sit there and watch all my other team members go on to finish the map. (Okay, not all my team members finish the map alive but one or two of them will . . . usually.) At least with Gears of War I lasted longer. Once I'm dead I usually get up, fix something to eat, go to the bathroom or do whatever as long as I'm back by the time the match ends. Don't get me wrong and think that I don't like R6V. Cause I do. It's just a different style of game play then what I typically like.

I like being able to come back and kill someone who just killed me. Playing Battlefront I knew where everything was. And since where you spawned was your choice I could figure out where I needed to be to get my revenge. With Call of Duty 4 where you respawn is random and for me that makes getting revenge so much harder.

I try to pay attention of where the other team is attacking from and how our team is doing against them. If they're trying to gain access to the three story house on Crash but my team keeps holding them off then I'm pretty sure they'll give up eventually and move on to another area. (Some teams don't appear to be that bright at times.) But I'm not all that familiar with the maps in the game so every time I spawn it takes me a moment or two to get my barrings and figure out which direction I should be headed in.

It doesn't help that every two story building looks like every other two story building on all the maps and my team doesn't have names for things. The names don't have to be descriptive either. Just something we can all remember. If we see a house that is more rubble than house we could call it "Pogue's house" then every one would know what we're talking about. Or the house Sand Dog calls the "the shit house" because it doesn't have a roof could just be called "Sand Dog's house" or just "the dog house". Or the house on the map Backlot (I think) that has some internal stairs that go up to a closed door so they're worthless could be the "hell house" because you can't get to heaven on those stairs. Stupid idea isn't it.

Anyway, Call of Duty 4 has an achievement just for retaliation. The "Cruelty" challenge is to "Kill an enemy, pick up his weapon, and kill the enemy again but with his own weapon". Sounds good to me (even though I haven't unlocked the challenge yet). I don't know if anyone on my friends list has completed that challenge yet, I'll have to ask the next time we play but I think it's a cool challenge. I also think it will be a long time before I get the opportunity to complete it.

There's a patch coming out for the game where the developers said they were added 9 new spawn points to every map. That's great and all but wouldn't it be better if we could pick our respawn points? Maybe divide the maps into zones and have a couple of respawn points in the zone. You could pick the zone but the respawn point you show up at could still be random. After all, retaliation is such a beautiful thing I just want to put myself in a position to get some.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Games I own, but haven't played

Until someone decides to pay me for doing nothing so I can stay home and play video games all day and not have to go to work, I think I'll always own some games that I've never played.

I'm not just talking about sequels I haven't played because I haven't finished playing the original, but other games. Games like Tomb Raider: Legend, Mass Effect and Enchanted Arms for Xbox 360; Doom 3, Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy and Stranger's Wrath for Xbox; Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters and Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth for PSP; Deux Ex: The Conspiracy, Half-Life and Onimusha for PS2; Chrono Trigger, Dragon Warrior VII, Grandia and Medal of Honor: Underground for PS. I have dabbled a little bit in all my Game Cube games but I think that's only because I don't have that many to begin with.

I made the mistake of admitting to some friends that I owned Mass Effect but haven't played it yet and boy did they rip me up and down for that. Okay, I get it and I'm sorry. That game is going to take some time to play instead of 20-30 minutes here and there. Right now that seems to be all the attention span I can handle for any one game. And then there are my friends who keep sending me invites to Call of Duty 4. I suck at the game. My deaths are 2x or 3x my kills, but I still enjoy playing with my friends and finally figuring some of the maps out.

So someday I need to just sit down and pick a game or two and start playing it. You would think the weekends would be perfect for that, but they're not. There's laundry to do, bathrooms to clean and dishes to wash. It's just as much work sometimes at home as it is in the office.

Eventually I will play those games and they can go from "owned, but not played" to "owned, but not finished". That's not much better but it's the best I can do.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

I must have gremlins

Okay, I've got to have gremlins or evil sprites or something that is messing with my internet connection. I tried to get on my PC last night to do some surfing and things started out okay but they didn't last that way for long.

In the middle of downloading a video (and no it wasn't a porn video but a news video from a local tv station) I got a little pop up message saying one of my "cables has become disconnected, please reconnect the cable to continue." What? I was just sitting there minding my own business not touching a thing and my computer is telling me one of my cable was disconnected? This has got to be related to my connection issues when I'm on Xbox Live.

The problem got so frustrating that I had an ISP tech out to test everything. Modem? Good. Wall outlet? Good. I rewired by connection so it wasn't running through my surge protector and that seemed to fix things. At least for a day or two.

Things started acting up and I figured I just wouldn't be able to play certain games from my place. No whatever is going on is effecting my computer. I guess I need to test each cable and cord and see if I've got a bad one in the bunch. But do you know how many cables I've got back there? It seems hundreds. And if they all test out okay then I know I've got gremlins.

Monday, December 3, 2007

My testosterone fueled friends list

Yes, I'm a girl and I have other girls on my friends list, but 95% of the people on my friends list are guys. And lately you can really tell as their testosterone levels are going through the roof.

It didn't use to be that way. Back in the Star Wars Battlefront days competition was friendly and cooperative. You played as a team; win or lose. Every now and then you might go off on your own to extract some revenge for a particularly horrifying kill from someone on the other side, but once you took their head off all was right again in that Galaxy far, far away.

Then Gears of War came around. The teams were smaller and there was no respawning. How you preformed as a team really mattered. You'd talk and coordinate your attacks making sure each weapon point was covered if it couldn't be picked up before the other team got there. But when you died you could talk to anyone else who dies. This led to some good ribbing about a player's skills with the chainsaw when faced with a grenade tagger. There was pride . . . and bragging rights to how you killed someone. And the testosterone levels went up.

Then came Rainbow 6: Vegas. A new style of game play for my rag-tag group of friends. Stealth and sneakery were much more highly valued then shear fire power. If you could snipe someone's head off from the other end of the map you'd gloat and rub it in when the map was over. There was status to be had if you survived a Terrorist Hunt to the very end. And everyone knew they got their experience points because of you. So the testosterone levels went up again.

Now it's Call of Duty 4. It's Battlefront, Gears and Vegas all rolled into one. You have to work as a team to out score your opponent. You have to cover all the hiding places for those snipers that are likely to take your head off before you can figure out where they're at. Getting to prime shooting spots have never been as hard as in other games. So yes, there's a lot of trash talking, name calling, chest thumping, fist pumping action going on before, during and after matches. And don't get me started on what happens when air strikes and helicopters get involved in the game.

Never have I seen my group of mild mannered guys get so heated and worked up for any other game. They'll throw more insults about your mama around than the candy that gets passed out on Halloween. Or how your sister gets passed around more times than a fruit cake at Christmas. Sometimes it funny to just sit back and listen to the banter that gets increasingly louder as the new maps load up. Once that count down starts at the beginning it's game on. And sometimes when the insult "you play like a girl" gets thrown about my guys will get all quiet and ask if I'm going to take that from them. It never fails to take the other team by surprise when they find out they've been playing against a girl this whole time.

But most of the time I just want to play a friendly game. I'm not like my friend Kralon who's on his 4th or 5th level of prestige and knows the game backwards and forwards. But I still like to play and get in the heat of the action. It's all in good fun, right? But sometimes the fun is in short supply for me when my team mates turn into grunting apes, squealing and jumping up and down behind the bars waiting to be let out. But what else can you expect from my testosterone fueled friends list.

Friday, November 30, 2007

"Bioware has done it again"

"Bioware has done it again." That's what my brother said as he was putting in his Mass Effect disk in his Xbox 360 to show me what the game was like. I had just bought the game but I hadn't had a chance to play it yet. I didn't know what he meant at first but then he said Bioware was the developer who did Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Ah, now I understand.

But I didn't really understand. Not at first anyway. Then I watched him play. He replayed the first couple of missions so I could see how the game was set up. I was impressed. And eager to play. But his "Bioware has done it again" comment got me thinking. What else have they done? And did I like any of it?

I looked up Bioware's inventory of games and I was pleasantly surprised. I knew about almost all of them and I not only did I have most of the them I loved them too. Balder's Gate, Neverwinter Nights, KOTOR, Jade Empire and now Mass Effect. These are all great games. KOTOR came out in 2003, Jade Empire 2005 and now Mass Effect in 2007. What great game are they planning on releasing in 2009?

Usually it's the game that gets the attention and then you see who the developer is. If I mentioned Final Fantasy you'd think of Square (Squaresoft, Square Enix or whatever they're calling themselves these days). If I mentioned Crash Bandicoot you'd think of Naughty Dog. And if I mentioned Jak & Daxter you might be a little surprised to realize that Naughty Dog developed them too. And I'm sure you know Ratchet & Clank are done by Insomniac Games. These are all games or a series of games that gets you interested in what the developer is going to do for the next game in that series. But what about new games?

And then there's Bioware. Yes, they've done expansions for Balder's Gate and Neverwinter Nights but they're expansions. Other than that each new game that has come out has been a new entity. A new world to play in. A new chance to be blown away again. I can't wait to see what they come up with next. I hope the next time I can say "Bioware has done it again" . . . and again . . . and again.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Squad Pride

You already know I'm a member of a squad for the game Chromehounds. If not, well you haven't been reading my blog then. Our squad name is "Dark Matter" and lately we've been tickled pink about something. Out squad leader might try to down play it and say "it's not a huge deal" but I know he's pleased to have the squad finally get some recognition.

No we haven't won any Gold Medals or anything like that. We're too honest to boost for 'em like other squads. We like the satisfaction of EARNING our rewards. What has us all excited is our squad is finally listed on the roster at Asher Crestfallen's Chromehounds web site. We have 12 people in our squad but only 8 of us are regulars or semi-regular players of the game (there's been too many new games that have come out for some of us to be completely regular players for a while).

We've had players join and then leave by their own choice only to come back again. Some players have been booted for having more fun blowing up their teammates instead of the enemy. And some were booted because they sold the game back but didn't bother to tell anyone. And even some who joined but never seemed to play. But us regular players like the game and like playing with each other (as long as we all have our hounds in squad colors). We've even had too many members in the lobby at the same time to have everyone go out on missions.

I've met new friends through the squad and tried out new games so I could play with them somewhere else. It's a great group of guys and now we have a little bit of squad pride at being recognized. We're not as good as some of the 100 top ranked squads also listed on the site but now we've got something to shot for.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

When release dates are confusing

I love going to my GameStop store except for one very annoying thing. They know me and know which systems I have and what type of games I like. So what could be so bad as to be annoying? Release dates.

If a game is scheduled with a release date of 11/20 I can't pick it up in the store until the following day. Why? Because supposedly the release date is the day the game ships not the day it's available for retail. Well, if that's the case then why were a lot of my friends playing Mass Effect yesterday but I can't pick mine up until today?

When Assassin's Creed came out I took a day off just so I could play the game for hours on end without interruptions (little did I know I'd actually spend that day running errands and such and got very little time to play anything). Everything I came across said Assassin's Creed was to be released on 11/13. I scheduled the next day off but when I went to my local GameStop to pick it up on the 13th they said they couldn't sell it to me until the next day. In the mean time I went home and watched friends rack up achievements in a game I wasn't allowed to purchase yet.

Now the same thing is happening with Mass Effect. It's starting to get a little annoying especially when the wait to get a new game was unbearable enough before and now I have to wait another day? It makes me want to make all my pre-orders somewhere else. But I like the people there, it's right on the way home from work and there's a Chick-Fil-A nearby if I can't wait for dinner until I get home. Tonight I'll swing by to pick up Mass Effect (a day later than everyone else) but I think I'll stop at House of Yang instead. I don't want chicken today if I'm going to have turkey tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Call of Duty 4 orphan

I don't have Call of Duty 4. Yes, I know that's hard to believe. But it's true. Because of that little fact I haven't played with any of my friends online in two weeks. I'm a Call of Duty 4 orphan.

I have Call of Duty 2 and 3 but I've had a hard time getting into the games. When Call of Duty 4 came out I was ho-hum about it. It's one of those games that if it's any good I'm sure I'll get it eventually. Just not at release.

Besides I was more excited for Assassin's Creed than anything else. Now there was a game that piqued my interest. Would it live up to the hype? Would the movement be as revolutionary as they say? Call of Duty who?

My brother on the other hand is all ga-ga over Mass Effect. I didn't know much about that game but the more I found out the more I started to like it. So after I picked up Assassin's Creed I put Mass Effect on pre-order. Was it possible to have two great games in one month? We're about to find out. There's no way there could be three great games in one month.

But all my friends are talking about Call of Duty 4. And they're playing it too. Most nights 90% of the people on my friend's list online are playing Call of Duty 4. At least they're not sending me invites all the time when they know I don't have it. (My friends did that when Gears of War came out. They would send invites to people who didn't even have an Xbox 360 to entice them to buy it so they could play. It was most annoying . . . until I got my own 360 and started doing the same thing.)

On the forums at all my friends are talking about how great this game is and based on some of their comparisons I think it's time I finally broke down and buy the game and trust that I can get in to it as much as they have. There's a couple of problems though.

1) I can't seem to find the game in stores now that I want it.


2) All my friends said they would play Call of Duty 4 until Mass Effect comes out and then they're moving on to that game.

Mass Effect comes out today so what are my chances of playing Call of Duty 4 with them? I have friends who are working on their second level of prestige, whatever that means. I hate being a late comer to a game that requires skill and practice to play well. While they know all the secrets and layouts of maps I'm left bumbling along getting shot in the head before I can even figure out where it's coming from.

Maybe it's one of those games I'll have to pick up and play on the side until I get good enough to take my skills into online play. Or maybe I'll just stay a Call of Duty 4 orphan; abandoned by my friends in the cold cruel world of assassins and Lego Wookies until someone comes to save me. I wonder if Angelina Jolie is willing to adopt a 30-something video game addict . . . better yet if it was Brad Pitt who adopted me instead.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Xbox Live is 5 years old

So Xbox Live was 5 years old as of yesterday. How long have you been on Xbox Live? Me? I can't remember exactly. I think it will be 3 years in January. If not 3 years than it's only been 2 years since I joined Xbox Live.

That doesn't mean I've only been playing video games for 2 years. Far from it. It's just that I was always too timid to join in the online community of gamers. Also I didn't have the right connection speed with my internet. Now that I think about it I'm pretty sure it will be 3 years come January.

I'm really glad I decided to join the ranks of online players. I've met some really great people through various games. Some of them I would never have the opportunity to meet otherwise. Some I just wondered why I'd never met them before.

I've been really lucky about meeting great people too. I think it goes back to the games I played when I first on online. Star Wars Battlefront is a great game. And it's filled with great people. I only ran into the occasional idiot while playing that game. Most of my friends from those old days have followed me to the 360 era of gaming. We were not just gamers we were Star Wars fans and I think that is what added to our fun, excitement and respect while playing.

So Happy Birthday Xbox Live! Gamers might have been playing online with their computers long before you came around but you changed the face of online gaming forever. When people's only compliant about a great game is that it doesn't have online multiplayer game play you know you've made an impact on the gaming world.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Wii does like to play

So I have a Wii now. Wasn't really planning on getting one that's just how it worked out.

You see I finally finished crocheting the last afghan in a project that has taken me about two years to complete. As a reward for myself I budgeted to get a Nintendo DS Lite. When I got to the store I was curious about how the sales of Wiis were doing with the upcoming holidays. I asked if they had any in stock and they did. Just one system left. I said I'd think about it and walked around looking at DS games.

I was calculating how many DS games I could get (along with the system) and still be under what I would play for a Wii. She told me that I could come back and get a DS Lite any time but they might not have Wiis in stock when I really want to get one. I thought about it some more. There was only one thing else I wanted to know. The Wii comes with one complete controller but if the store didn't have a second complete controller I wasn't going to buy it. Fortunately for me (but unfortunately for my bank account) they did. So I walked out of the store with a Wii, a complete second controller and my collector's edition copy of Assassin's Creed.

I took the day off so I could play Assassin's Creed, but I never even took it out of the box. I took the Wii over to my parent's house to hook it up instead. They have a larger living room than what I have at my apartment. Plus there's so many people and coming and going over there it would get more use than at my place. So there it would stay. Besides a minor hiccup with the S-video cable we finally got everything worked out.

After creating my own Mii I had my mother create one for herself. See really liked it. My brother had come over and he did his. Then it was my father's turn.

"Why would I want to create a Mii?"

"So you can have your own character when you play."

"But if I never play I wouldn't need a Mii."

I eventually convinced him to do it and I think he liked it. We started out with my brother and I playing a game of bowling in Wii Sports (the only games I currently have for the system). I led most of the game until he was able to beat me by 2 pins in the last frame. Now the Wii faced its toughest test: my parents.

We had them set up a game of bowling with their own characters and while my mother kept claiming she didn't know what she was doing she almost doubled my dad's score. I can't remember the last time I laughed so hard either.

Next up was Tennis. It took us a while to figure out how to play that one with only two controllers (the AI were just too annoying to play with). After winning 3 our of 4 matches against my brother we again turned it over to my parents. Again it was all laughter and dodging out of the way as my dad really got into it.

The last game we tried before I had to leave to go home was boxing. Only my brother and I did it and afterwards my arms felt like there were going to fall off. I was able to knock him down three times with the last being a knockout. He knocked me down once.

I left the Wii at my parents house and I hope that they take some time to play it. They're both retired and go walking in the morning so I told them they could come in after that and get their upper body workout with the Wii. We all had a blast and there was some mention of having my other brother bring his video camera over to record the hilarity for posterity. We'll see.

For this family Wii does like to play.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Fast Service . . . same problems

I haven't posted for awhile because I've been busy. I wish I wasn't, but I can't change that. On a brighter note I'm talking the day off on Wednesday so I can play Assassin's Creed all day long.

One of the things I've been busy with is I got my original console back from Microsoft. It took a total of 2 weeks to ship it, get it repaired and have them ship it back to me. If I would have known that ahead of time (they said 3-4 weeks but everyone on my friends list has had theirs out for at least 6 weeks) I might not have bought an Arcade version as a backup. Now that I've got mine original system back I'm glad I bought the backup.

The Red Ring of Death was fixed because I cold turn my system on but I"m still having some of the problems I had prior to sending it in. I still can't play a ranked match of Catan without lagging out. and my system still freezes up on me but not as much as it did before.

I didn't have any of these problems with my Arcade console so I know it's not something on the hard drive. We've tried my hard drive in my original system and my brother's hard drive in my system and we still can't figure it out. My brother currently has my system and he's going to test it out with his internet connection. It seemed to do fine at my parent's house on their internet so it might be something in my internet connection. But only for that game which I think it really weird.

The other thing that has kept me busy (but not nearly busy enough) is that I decided to sign up for National Novel Writing Month this year. I've participated twice in the past and both times where a failure but for different reasons. Why I decided to do it again this year I'm not exactly sure. Oh well. I'll keep you informed as to my continuous failure where NaNoWriMo is concerned. I don't expect to do much especially with Assassin's Creed and Mass Effect coming out this month. Maybe NaNoWriMo should move to another month or great video games shouldn't all get released right at the end of the year.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Some things shouldn't be overlooked

Yes, this is a big week in gaming. Call of Duty 4 comes out . . . well . . . today. But something better comes out tomorrow and it shouldn't be overlooked.

Lego Star Wars The Complete Saga comes out on Tuesday, November 6th 2007. Call of Duty 4 will get all the press. But is it really a better game all around? I don't know since I haven't played it (demo or otherwise) but let me tell you why I'll always like Lego Star Wars Complete Saga over Call of Duty 4 any day.

1) Anyone can play this game. It doesn't matter how old (or how young) you'll be able to move around and do all that the game asks you to do. I have a friend whose 4 year old son plays Lego Star Wars II The Original Trilogy game on his Xbox 360. He loves it. Granted he's not the best player and he doesn't really finish levels like a more experienced player, but he plays the game for fun. He laughs at almost everything, but especially when the Wookie gets to rip someone's arms off. Entertainment value, pure and simple, and isn't that what games are suppose to be about?

2) You get two games in one. Yes, there was already a release of Lego Star Wars games (one for each trilogy) so what's the big deal? Instead of buying those games separately you now get them as one big package. The game for the prequel trilogy was never made available for the Xbox 360. Now you've got the chance to earn achievements for the prequels just like the original movies. So why didn't they just remake the prequel game and release just that? What's wrong with having both movie trilogy games on one disk? You can easily swap and use characters from one movie set to another. If you want to race speeder bikes on Endor you don't have to use Luke or Leia; you could use Jar Jar or Chancelor Palpatine. Or if roaming the streets of Mos Eisley as Luke and Ben Kenobi just isn't your thing you could roll around as a driodekas or Young Anakin. Think of the possibilities.

3) It's Star Wars, stupid. No matter how much you might not like a Star Wars game or movie or book or whatever you have to admit there's something special about Star Wars. A whole generation of children have no grown up with their world defined by the good and evil of the original Star Wars trilogy. It's mythic. It's phenomenal. It's Star Wars. It doesn't matter how real or life like Call of Duty 4 appears. Will it forever alter a whole generation of children's minds? No. In a couple of years it will be a footnote to gaming and looked back fondly by hard core gamers. But there will be something else to take its place. You can't say THAT about Star Wars.

So when you go out to buy Call of Duty 4 why not pick up Lego Star Wars The Complete Saga as well. When you get bored of playing yet another realistic first person shooter just put in The Complete Saga and play something satisfying and entertaining. I'm sure I'll eventually buy and play Call of Duty 4, but I see more entertainment value in The Complete Saga right now. Don't let this game get overlooked.

May the Force be with you!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Back in the Gaming Habit Again

Okay I'm gaming again . . . finally.

I got the coffin for my Xbox 360 on Thursday of last week. I immediately packed it up and shipped it off that same night. I then went straight to Game Stop and bought an Xbox 360 Arcade system. I wanted to find a Core system but couldn't. Besides this was a better deal. A used refurbished console was $250 and I got a new one (with HDMI connection) for $280.

So I go home and hook everything up. Yeah I'm gaming again! Except I've got to download everything before I play anything. Same hard drive but I guess since I have a different console it thinks I need to unlock everything again. Fine. Whatever. Just let me play some games.

I did. But not for long.

I was still having connection issues and getting dumped from games. I'm about ready to pull my hair out and give up gaming all together. I cool down and plug my PS2 back in for some nice relaxing Final Fantasy VII. I took Friday off from work to just play around and have fun and I did.

I met up with my brother over the weekend and after a lot of trial and error and a trip to Fry's Electronics I found myself the proud owner of a new router and a stable connection to the internet. Bring on the games.

The only problem was when I put in Chromehounds to play it wouldn't work. The last time I played it I asked my brother to put a tray under my Xbox 360 so it wouldn't be directly on the carpet. I had just put the disk in when he moved the system. A loud grinding noise could be heard and the disk was scratched. We cleaned it up as best we could and it worked later that night but it wouldn't work Sunday night.

I traded in a couple of games for store credit and bought another copy of Chromehounds and still had store credit left over. I also had to exchange the controller that came with the new system because the headset port kept registering my headset as active even when it was on mute. Depending on the game or situation you heard either static or me talking. I found that out the hard way in a game of Texas Hold 'Em. It's kind of hard to bluff when everyone can hear you on mute.

So outside of a few hiccups and hang ups I'm finally gaming again on my Xbox 360. And after all that I'm starting to wonder if it's all worth it. I remember when I played games without achievements. The thrill of the game was the discovery and plot twists or beating a tough boss after 4 or 5 attempts. It didn't come from a little pop out message saying I just picked up a skull or I just made X amount of kills with a particular weapon. I played and I explored just for the fun of it instead of looking for that hidden room or treasure for 20 gamer points.

I'll still play video games. I'm too much of an addict to stop now . . . or ever. I just need to find that magic tingling feeling you get when you really get absorbed in a good game. Maybe I'll put in Bioshock tonight. Or maybe I'll just take this little breather until I can play Call of Duty 4, Assassin's Creed, and Mass Effect. If those games don't do it for me than nothing will.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Xbox 360 Arcade console

Okay I'm really thinking about getting a backup Xbox 360. I can use it now and when (notice I didn't say IF) my brother's system crashes I'll let him borrow my backup as his back up. Isn't it just swell that we like each other?

I considered getting a Core system but I can't find any new. Then Xbox announced a new system. They call it the Xbox 360 Arcade console. At $280 it's still more than I want to pay for just a backup but I think I can live with that if it means I can play games.

It's essentially a Core with HDMI connection, 5 arcade games, a memory card, wireless controller and headset. It doesn't come with a hard drive but I haven't filled mine up yet. I would like a larger one but I can buy that separately when I get to the point when I need to. If I can find an Xbox Arcade console in the stores I might just pick one up today or tomorrow. My brother offered to let me use his system this weekend. That might be enough to tide me over for awhile but that won't last long.

I called and started my repair ticket last Thursday, but I still haven't received my coffin yet. Due to the fires in California if it's shipping that way it might take a little longer to get here (and longer to get sent back). Yet another reason to get a backup system. Maybe there's hope of me playing agian soon afterall.

Monday, October 22, 2007

A backup Xbox 360 or a new PS3?

Okay I'm trying to decide on whether I should get a backup Xbox 360 since mine has died or a new PS3.

There isn't a whole lot of games out there for the PS3 that I'm interested in right now. That will change I'm sure, but can I justify the cost of the system and a game or two if that's all I have to play on it? A couple of months ago this might not have been such an issue but after looking through how many games I bought for the Game Cube, N64 and Super Nintendo I want to make sure the system is going to be worth it for a long time. Especially at Sony's current price points.

On the other hand I hate the fact that I'm considering buying a backup Xbox 360. One system should be plenty. Two just seems like a waste of money. I bought my original Xbox as a factory refurbished and I haven't had any problems with it for years. So you would think that after I get my Xbox 360 back I should be good to go. Unfortunately I have friends that are on their 6th Xbox 360. Not very promising.

I could just bag both of them and get a Nintendo Wii but does it have enough game play for a single player? I don't know. Sometimes I just need to play a game alone. I don't want a whole system that I only bring out when I have friends or family over. I know I'd get Twilight Princess and Rayman Raving Rabbids (although I have it for the Xbox 360) but what else?

And what's going to happen in a couple of years when they announce the consoles for the next generation? I thought the original Xbox still had some life in it's legs before Microsoft cut them off at the knees. And the Playstation 2 outsold the Playstation 3 last month. Not bad for a system that's 7 years old. I know the "old" generation can't render graphics as well as the new generation of consoles but I'll take a good story and great game play over graphics any day.

I'm just a gamer with some money to spend, but I want to make sure it's worth it.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Revoking my Star Wars fan license

I'm a self proclaimed Star Wars fan. I saw The Phantom Menace more than 32 times in the theatre. How do I know? I stopped saving the ticket stubs when I got up to 32. Yet I goofed with a reference to Star Wars in an earlier post.

It's not Sabacc.

It's Pazaak.

An honest mistake to be sure. Especially since I hadn't played Knights of the Old Republic for at least a year. But can you blame me? They even sound the same.

I know Sabacc is the card game that Lando lost the Millennium Falcon to Han Solo in. I know that the cards in Sabacc can change value. It's very similar to Pazaak. And since Pazaak is a game during Knights of the Old Republic it's quite possible that Pazaak is a precursor to Sabacc of Han Solo's era.

I played Knights tonight and my error was pointed out to me. Both games deal with playing cards. Both games become important to the story in some small way. Both have cards that can change value. Some Pazaak cards can be positive or negative. Can you blame me if I got those two games mixed up?

I hope my Star Wars fan license doesn't get revoked over this. It's just a minor issue right? Then again since when is something concerning the lore of Star Wars ever minor. Not to this fan anyway.

Friday, October 19, 2007

My heart's just not in it

I miss my Xbox 360. I know it's only been 2 days and I went longer than that on my self imposed hiatus, but this time it's different. This time I CAN'T play no matter how much I want to.

Last time I'd look at the white box sitting quiet and peaceful and say "nope I'm not going to play today." This time I look at the white box sitting quiet and peaceful and say "still dead." I almost can't wait until I can ship it off so I don't have to look at it any more.

Off and on I've been considering buying a new Xbox 360 so I always have a backup but that's an awfully expensive backup. I've looked through Craig's List and ebay but I'm a little leery of buying used. How do I know what those machines have gone through? With a console that has a proven history of problems I don't want to be taking on someone else's headache. If I could find a new Core system I think I would get it that way I could swap my hard drive between the consoles and it would be cheaper.

But right now my heart just isn't into gaming. I'm trying to get caught up in Final Fantasy VII. I had played quite a bit (got my characters up to level 48 or something) when I realized I sold a one-of-a-kind Materia when I was hard up for cash. No big deal, right? I read in the back of the book that there is another "Master" Materia you can pick up that you have to master all the other Materia of the same color in order to use. Unfortunately from everything I could find in the book I wasn't going to be able to get another copy of this Materia so my choices were to continue on or restart and pick it up (and keep it). I decided to restart. Now I'm finally back to the Gold Saucer area (way behind where I was before) but I just can't seem to play.

I miss playing with my friends. I miss the thrill of killing them and the agony of getting killed. I miss slow playing someone into going "all in" and knocking them out of the tournament. I miss watching my rank go up (but not it going down) when I play ranked matches. I miss changing my gamer picture to suit my mood (doing it through just doesn't offer as many choices). I miss rubbing it in when I've unlocked an achievement that I know a friend has been working on for awhile. I miss my Xbox 360.

I know I've got a long ways to go before I can play it again (unless I break down and buy another one). And I know that after a few days I'll be back in the swing of gaming on my PS2, Game Cube or whatever. Right now it just doesn't seem worth it. My heart's just not in it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Red Ring of Death

Well, it finally happened. After two weeks of trying to fight it off my Xbox 360 succumbed to the Red Ring of Death. What I thought was just a router issue has turned into something worse.

I'm sure after the sadness has passed I'll look at what good might come out of this. Now I'll have more time to play some long forgotten original Xbox games along with my Playstation games. I might even have time for the Game Cube and other systems.

Only just a couple of days ago I had started to consider buying a 2nd Xbox 360 for just this situation. I'll have to think a lot more about that. Unfortunately this comes at the same time as a discussion about a PS3 game. Folklore. From what I've heard it's a really good game. Enough to buy a PS3? I don't know. But I do know I can't buy both a PS3 and a replacement. And that's not counting the DS Lite and Wii that I had planned on buying before the end of the year.

I have decisions to make. But first I must deal with my grief.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Out of sight, out of mind

I've been having a whole lot of problems with my connection to Xbox Live lately. I keep losing it. I log in. Things seem fine. Then BAM!!! Or should I say bleep. That little pop up comes up saying I'm "disconnected from Xbox Live." Oh really!

I've been playing a lot of Catan ranked matches and that is the worse time to be getting that message. You're blown out of the game so you don't even get credit for playing and everyone sends you bad feedback for "quiting early." Once I started having this problem I had to make sure I only played free tournaments in Texas Hold 'Em. I wouldn't want to lose my buy in because I lagged out. (Especially when I'll probably lose my bankroll when they reset the boards to get rid of cheaters again.)

My brother and I ran some tests and different set ups and it looks like it might be a router issue. I've currently got my Xbox 360 connected directly to my modem and last night it worked fine. There's only one problem with this set up; my computer is not connected to my modem when I do this.

My route is at least four years old but since it sits behind my TV I never really see it. So I never really think about it. Out of sight, out of mind. I should have figured that it might start to go south on me after all it is a piece of electronic equipment. And related to computers as well. We all know how long computer equipment lasts before it's outdated. I'm sure I'll have to replace it and hopefully that will fix the problem completely.

I was ready to give up my Xbox 360 for good. Pack it away so it never sees the light of day again. But then I remembered that Assassin's Creed comes out November 13th and I can't wait to play that game. If I packed it away I'd have to pull it out then and still have to deal with the problem. I think it's best to figure it out now so I can enjoy the game then. I'm even considering taking a day off of work to stay home and just play the game when it comes out. Maybe I'll take a day off next week just to play games.

Friday, October 12, 2007

What I learned when I reconnected

Three Days.

That's as long as I could last. Not long for a self-imposed hiatus, don't you think? I just had to reconnect my Xbox 360 last night and play some games. And after just a few minutes I learned a few things.

First, I don't even have to look in my CD case to get overwhelmed with what game I'm going to play next. All I have to do is look at my list of Arcade games. I picked the games I thought I could unlock achievements in.

Second, I could be working on a particular achievement for days and after a brief break I can load up the game again and get the achievement in the first game without even trying. I picked up a couple of new achievements last night. I wasn't working towards them but I got them anyway. The achievements I WAS working on last night I didn't get. Couldn't even come close. I don't know if getting the achievements is because of the break and that I can look at the game with fresh eyes or that playing the game and not worrying about them means I subconsciously do the things I need to do to get the achievement that I couldn't do if I was thinking about it. Make sense? I didn't think so.

Third, free tournaments in Texas Hold 'Em are boring. They might as well just had their money over to me at the start of the game. I played a really smart game last night. Betting when I knew I would win so I'd get people to play hands they should have folded. Laying off hands that might look good but knew I wouldn't be able to do anything with them. I knew I would win the game from the very first hand . . . and I folded that one. I just hated sitting around waiting for everyone to give me their chips. I'm not as confident when I play the $4,000 buy in tournaments. There's a little more at stake for players in those games. I'm confident I'll be in the money and win something, but just not to win the whole thing. Maybe in time.

Fourth, friends will send you invites to games when they know you don't want to get out of the game you're currently in. Like in the middle of a Texas Hold 'Em tournament. Or a ranked match of Catan. By the time you finish your game their room is full or they've moved on to something else.

Fifth, there's always someone on your friends list who will have the latest game as soon as it comes out. And they'll be playing it. It doesn't matter how much it costs or how many new good games come out, they'll have them. You'll be jealous and spend your time checking up on the achievements for the game to help you get a feel for the game play.

Sixth, there's always someone on your friends list whose gamer score will keep going up and up faster than you can say "what's your gamer score?" How do they do it? Do they not have a job to go to? Do they not have a life? Are they sharing their account with someone else? Is that why it appears that they're online all the time?

Seventh, those little pop ups of who's online and such are annoying. I hate it when you know there's an update for a game that everyone seems to play. Every time someone loads that game they get disconnect from Xbox Live then a few moments later you'll get the pop-up that they're on again. I know you can turn that function off but I like getting the pop up message when I unlock an achievement and I do want to know which friends as just getting online, but not all night long.

Eighth, I think my problem with staying connected to ranked games in Catan might be my connection. It happened again last night. I don't know why this is an issue because it doesn't happen in any other online game or even in player matches of Catan. How on earth am I suppose to get 500 or 1,000 Victory points in ranked matches if I keep lagging out and don't get credit for the game? Can I still get credit for the points? I don't know.

And lastly, I should never go that long without playing my Xbox 360 again. I'll just have to figure out some time sharing plan between all my systems. Or maybe I should take a day off from work just to play video games. Hmmm.....

Thursday, October 11, 2007

When the Mini Games take over

There are some games that I will probably never finish or even get out of the first level. Why? Because they have mini games.

I remember when I first played Blitzball in Final Fantasy X. I didn't know what the heck I was doing. I think my first win was more accident than skill. But I was hooked. When I lost the tournament and Wakka had to leave the sport as a loser I was devastated. I just had to win that trophy. I restarted from my last save and played through 3 or 4 times before I was finally good enough to win. I was thrilled. Every chance I got I played a Blitzball game. Or a tournament. I traded players that weren't working for me as I tried to put the best team together. (And yet I don't understand why people play fantasy sports leagues.)

When I started to play Knights of the Old Republic I became giddy with excitement when I found myself learning how to play Sabacc. Now here's a great game. Easy to master but hard to play against the right opponent. I think I had 20+ hours of game time but only 1-2 hours of actual game play in the story. I had a Sabacc habit and I couldn't stop.

And even though I still don't fully understand how all the numbers on the cards work in Tetra Master (Final Fantasy IX) I love that game. I want every card. I'll play anyone to get them. I've logged countless hours just wandering around villages looking for someone to play with me. Can't a girl get some game around here?

And games that have mini games as part of the way you play the game (Party Game)? Just let me play the mini games and I'm fine. I'd rather spend a hour or two playing several games of Too Cool (the ice cubes) or Speed Bingo in Muppet's Party Cruise than play an actual cruise length game. And my brothers and I always want to play the Waterfall mini game in Fuzion Frenzy instead of a tournament. And Monkey Target and Monkey Bowling (Super Monkey Ball 2) are so much more fun than those mazes (especially when you're stuck getting past one like I am). Even things you wouldn't normally think of as "mini games" like Terrorist Hunt in Rainbow 6: Vegas have been taking up all my time instead of playing the story mode.

When I find these little gems in the story or a side menu I can't help but play them. And when I play them, I fall in love with them. So much so that my progression in the story comes to a screeching halt as I plug in for another mini game playing session. It took a lot of effort to go back to the story in Final Fantasy X and finish it. I still have a previous save ready so I can go back and pick up a game of Blitzball if I feel like it.

So there's going to be a lot of games that I won't get very far in or even have the chance to finish. But that's what happens when the mini games take over.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The first step of recovery . . .

. . . in breaking my Xbox Live addiction is to unplug my Xbox 360. I finally did that last night. Unplugged it. Disconnected all cables. And buried it in the bottom of my TV stand (next to my original Xbox and Game Cube).

Currently the only game system still connected to my big TV is my PS2. My Super Nintendo is still connected to my smaller TV in the bedroom. It's just to much of a hassle to disconnect that one when I'm not playing.

That doesn't mean I'm giving up playing video games. I don't think I could ever do that. I just need to play something else. My Playstation games are getting so lonely. Besides I miss playing my PS2.

There was a time when that was all I played. Even after I got my Xbox and Game Cube I always found myself playing Playstation games. I put a lot of time and effort, but especially a lot of time, into Playstation games but I only finished 2 of them (Legend of Dragoon and Final Fantasy X). I have more games for the Playstation 2 than any other system I own. And if you throw the original Playstation games into the mix, well . . . let's just say I have a lot. (PS=59, PS2=125, PSP=12, Xbox=42, Xbox 360=23, GC=24, N64=12(if I don't find the ones I think I'm missing), Super Nintendo=23, Gameboy=63(all types).)

I've been playing the Xbox 360 so long now that the Playstation dual shock controller feels strange in my hands. It didn't use to be that way. The dual shock controller use to feel like it fit in my hands. The N64 controller felt awkward. The Xbox controller felt fat and heavy. The Dreamcast (my brother's system) felt weird and unbalanced. After moving up from the simplicity of the controller for the Super Nintendo the dual shock felt like what a controller should feel like. I miss playing with that controller.

So after I rearranged my electronics it was late and I probably should have gone to bed. But I just couldn't resist playing just a little bit on my PS2. After all, why did I dismantle my Xbox 360 to have more time to play my PS2 if I wasn't going to play it? And I learned something last night. It doesn't matter if I'm playing on Xbox Live or my PS2 I'm still going to stay up playing video games much longer than I should. Oh well.

Besides, who needs sleep anyway when you have an addiction to feed.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Good news . . . and better news.

I've got good news. I finally beat 3 AI opponents on hard in Catan. I thought I had done it the game before I actually got the achievement, but I realized once again I accidentally hit the button to switch the difficulty back to easy. Oh well. I played one more game and finally did it. Now if I could just get credit for playing a ranked match of Catan I'd be happy. I don't care about the wins I just want to start accumulating victory points.

And on to better news. I was in Game Stop over the weekend and noticed pre-order displays for Assassin's Creed. I'm sure you could pre-order the game long before now but after my experience with my pre-order for Final Fantasy XII I've decided to wait to put in my pre-orders until as close to the date the game is actually coming out. I'll never pre-order something more than a year out again. I can't take the anticipation.

So what if the displays were out, right? Well that means the game will be coming out soon. November. I've read some previews that have made me a little nervous to see if the developers can actually pull this game off. Right now though, I'm still excited. My brother has had his eye on Mass Effect (November release) for some time, but for me it's been Assassin's Creed. I couldn't tell you specifically why, but maybe because I'm a sucker for a mysterious guy in a cowl.

Friday, October 5, 2007

My Favorites Games - Game Cube

Okay, you'll still have to wait on the my favorite games for the N64. I know I've got more games stashed somewhere I just haven't found them yet. So I'm moving on to the Game Cube.

My brother and I both had a Playstation 2 and would meet up every Saturday at my parents house to do laundry. We'd play games all day long. I remember when the Xbox and Game Cube came out. Neither one of use was making enough money to get both systems so we came up with a plan. He would get the Xbox and I would get the Game Cube (he was making more money than me at the time). When we'd meet up on laundry days we'd bring those systems and share. (See mom and dad we can share our toys.) The only problem was the games.

We both wanted to play games from the other system at other times of the week. I wanted to play Hunter the Reckoning to blow off some heads. And He wanted to play some Pikmin to throw little leafy head creatures around. Within a month or two we both broke down and bought the other system. And while that put us both on a very tight budget for awhile neither one of us are sorry we did it.

Here are my favorite games for the Game Cube:

#1 Pikmin 1 & 2
How could you possibly NOT love this game? I knew practically nothing about it when I bought it. It looked bright and comical so I thought I'd give it a shot. I'm so glad I did. I've played this game through to the end 3 times but have never gotten past the last boss. I keep restarting it trying out a different strategy. And I don't regret any minute of doing that. When Pikmin 2 came out I was excited . . . but also a little intimidated. Now you have 2 pilots to control and 2 groups of Pikmin to order about. It's been twice the fun . . . and twice the frustrations sometimes but completely worth it.

#2 Super Monkey Ball 1 & 2
Monkey Target is a blast. Monkey Bowling is a hoot. And Monkey Baseball can get really hilarious. And that's not even getting into the mazes that will open up all those mini-games. Most of the can be down right frustrating until you discover the secret to getting through them alive. Once you figure that out it can be a little disappointing on some of the level but there's always more that will make you say "yeah right. How am I suppose to get through that?"

#3 Ikaruga
This was another game I knew very little about but could get cheap. I'm all for cheap game as long as they're good. And Ikaruga is good. In an old school kind of way. You fly a ship in a vertical scroller firing at things along the way. You have the ability to switch between a light and a dark ship that fires corresponding missiles at the enemy. Based on your ship color and the enemies bullets depends on how much damage (or health) you'll take. Figuring the whole thing out is half the fun. Can you do it?

#4 Mario Cart: Double Dash
I love cart racing games. And this time you can love it twice as much. You're not the only one racing to win the game. You've now got a passenger your opponents will have to deal with. You can mix and match who you place in the cart (and even mix and match your cart to your people) and each person has a different quality and ability they'll add tot he game. Do you want to toss a giant banana behind you as a special attack? They you better pick Donkey Kong or Diddy Kong as one of your players in your cart. And since your players can swap out between driving and throwing red koupa shells around there must be hundred of ways to tailor the perfect driving experience.

#5 Super Mario Sunshine
This is the Game Cube game I'm suppose to be finishing along with my brother. I have to admit I haven't played it much but I still like the game. Who knew cleaning graffiti off of the town walls could be so much fun. Or cleaning up what appears to be oil slicks. Have you ever wanted to fly or propel yourself forward with the power of water? Well now you can. I still have a ways to go in the game but I think my brother made a good choice when he put it on our "must finish" list. May only compliant is why does Nintendo still insist on putting the word "Super" in all their game titles (at least at the time this game came out)?

Honorable Mentions:
Mystic Heroes, Crystal Chronicles, Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem, Gauntlet: Dark Legacy, Evolution Worlds

The Gods of Catan don't like me

I figured the best way to get all the achievements in an Arcade game was to stop trying to play them all and just focus on one or two. Currently I'm focusing on Texas Hold 'Em and Catan. And I'm not having much luck in either one of them. My Texas Hold 'Em bankroll got wiped out awhile back so now I have to start from scratch. And Catan has been even tougher on me.

For the life of me I simply can not beat 3 AIs on hard. It seems I'll never get that achievement. I've been close . . . but no cigar. I've tried focusing on upgrading my settlements to cities as soon as possible. I've tried getting the longest road as soon as possible. The largest army. The most settlements. I just can't seem to pull it off in the end. I've even tried just buying development cards the whole game. That was a bust.

I tried varying my placements at the beginning of the game. I've tried monopolizing a particular resource. And trying to get a little bit of everything. I've tried uses my cards as soon as possible. And tried to hold on to them as long as possible. When I do that someone always rolls a 7 and I lose almost everything I have. I've even tried swapping out the AIs I play against. I still can't find a way to win the game on hard.

To get my achievement for Builder of Catan (for the longest road 10x) I had to go back and play a few games on easy. On hard someone always stole those points from me just in time win the game. And if you're trying to get the Knight of Catan (largest army 10x) achievement make sure Elizabeth isn't in your party. I've learned that the hard way. I guess I'll have to play some easy games again to finish out that achievement.

And playing a ranked game is impossible. I've joined 4 ranked games, but I've never gotten credit for any of them. My ranked matches show as zero wins/zero losses. Every time I get into a ranked game someone either drops out or lags out leaving 3 human players behind. I don't know if those games would still count because a little while later I'll look up and see all AI gamer pictures staring back at me. Everyone's gone.

At first I thought everyone else dropped out so I kept playing the game. I'd get the credit right? Wrong. After the second time this happened I looked at my recent player's list and found that at least 2 of the other players would be playing a match and have exactly the same victory points as they had in the game with me. Does that mean everyone is lagging out? Why can't I stay in a nice 4 human ranked match? I've played a couple of player matches and haven't had a problem.

I just think the Gods of Catan don't like me.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

I hate sniper rifles

I hate sniper rifles.

I just had to say that. Because I really do hate them. Hate being killed by them. Hate using them. I've never seemed to master the techniques needed to become proficient using that weapon.

I don't know why but I can't seem to lead someone right when using those long range weapons. I either shoot way behind them or way in front. When I use other weapons (and thus have to get closer to my target) I can lead someone pretty well. But the further away I get the poorer my shots become.

I first started trying to use sniper rifles when I was playing Star Wars Battlefront. On the right map there's plenty of opportunity . . . and safety to just sit there trying to shoot people's heads off. Kashyyyk's docks is a really good map for that. But I couldn't get people to hold still long enough to shoot them. And the lag made people jump around so much you never knew where they were going to be. I much prefer a good blaster at my side, or a rocket launcher for those pesky vehicles.

Since Gears of War has a specific achievement for the Long Shot I thought maybe I should try practicing with it. While I kind of got the hang of it I found that I ended up with tunnel vision. I could never see anyone coming up around me. My friends all thought this was funny so they'd walk up to me and tap me on the shoulder (or bump into me) to get my attention before they'd put a bullet through my head. Geez, thanks guys.

And last night I played some Halo 3 and they swapped out the weapons to only snipers and shot guns. Our starting weapon was the sniper and I had a hard time finding another weapon to swap it out for. I couldn't hit anyone and I always had a hard time getting out of the scope's zoom when I needed to. (Apparently when I get startled I flinch and click on the zoom unintentionally.) I think I died 9 times before I found where I could swap a weapon out. But it wasn't always there when I needed it.

There's only one game that I've learned how to use a sniper rifle (and a sniper cannon) in. And that's Chromehounds. I don't know why but I can lead it so the enemy hound walks right into the shot. I can also still keep a good eye to what's happening around me so no one can sneak up on me. I don't know if it's the view looking through the scope or what but I don't have too many problems in Chromehounds. I just have to build a hound fast enough (and strong enough to carry the load) to get to the good snipping positions on the map.

I hate getting killed by the sniper rifle as well. I prefer a straight face to face fight. No sitting back on the other side of the map just waiting for me to walk into your sites. Come out and fight you little cowards! I'm sure that has something to do with my initiation to fighting with the melee fighting in the Hunter The Reckoning games. I might die a lot but give me close range fighting any day.

I guess it's just a long range thing for me because I don't like bow type weapons either (though not as much as sniper rifles). I just really do hate those sniper rifles.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Old friends and good memories

So I decided to kick it old school last night. Okay, Star Wars Battlefront isn't exactly old enough to be old school but it's close enough. It brought back a lot of memories.

I was a little intimidated when I first got Battlefront and saw my brother playing it online. It looked there were too many things to be aware of that I wouldn't enjoy the game. But is was Star Wars so how could I NOT at least try to play it?

I joined a couple of rooms and quietly got my ass kicked. I almost gave up, but I'm too stubborn for that. After a lot of play time I finally got to the point where I had more kills than deaths. I then came up with a plan. I'd pick someone on my team who was better than me and just follow them around, watch what they did and learn from it. I picked Killafoola and set my plan in motion. Even if we weren't on the same team I'd still try to find him and hang back far enough not to get killed but close enough to watch.

After a couple of weeks I found my skills greatly improving. I was now able to get the better of Killafoola every now and then when we were on opposite sides. I was feeling pretty confident in not looking like a fool while I played. This was about the time I started talking during games. Several people were surprised I was a girl but most of them accepted me and have since become good friends.

I did find out however, that I wasn't the best player out there. Far from it actually. Since my strategy worked before I decided to apply it to another regular player in the game. Evil Ric became my next target . . . I mean mentor. And to be honest he still is today. But once I learned all I could from him I moved on to the next one. Big Gamer67 (or is it 69?) and MasvHdWndHarry (or spelled something like that), Sdlkal (who we used to call sol-cal because of the way the fonts looked like in the game), Brno32 and HarleyRacer, Kralon and CleeLost, El Sand Dog and DewBird. Devo and Snakes Venon. And all the other regulars I played with and learned from.

But there's one player I always wanted to learn from and although I'd tried my best I was never able to beat him . . . and never will. Ice008. If you've played the game you know the name. Cool as a cucumber, quiet and reserved but with the deadliest skills I had ever seen. And although he doesn't play the game as much as he used to his skills are not as rusty as anyone else's. He's a guy that knows how to play the game. And it's always a challenge going up against him. If you kill him it should count as 2 kills because, more often than not, it will be you who does the dying.

So when I jumped in to a game last night and it was like no time had passed at all. We laughed. We cursed. We killed. We died. We took it personal when we lost. We gloated when we won. We had fun. Some of those guys have moved on, like myself, to the Xbox 360. The new system and newer games take up a lot of our time. But every now and then you can find a bunch of us still kicking it old school. With old friends and good memories.

Monday, October 1, 2007

How cheaters wiped out my bankroll

I love to play Texas Hold 'Em. I use to play it every night on Xbox Live. It's important that you know that especially when I say I could care less if I ever played it again . . . almost. And it's all because of the cheaters.

It seems there's a glitch in the game that allows players to accumulate large amounts of money for their Competitive bank rolls. It has something to do with giggling your internet cable or pushing your standby button on your modem. Whatever it is you have to do you lose connection with the game (or I should say everyone else at the table loses connection with you) so the system thinks they all dropped out which makes you the winner of $2,000 chips (for the free tournament) without playing a hand. Since it only takes a couple of minutes to get a full table and just a couple of seconds to giggle your cable you can rake in a lot of dough in a very short amount of time.

If you ever looked at the leaderboards for the game you'll see a lot of people with large amounts of money with a small amount of hands played. They're either very lucky or very sneaky. Not everyone on the leaderboards are cheaters but it makes it very hard for legitimate players to get there.

So what does Microsoft or Tik Games decide to do about it? They decide to come out with an update for the game that will reset the leaderboards, stop the glitch to prevent cheaters and reset everyone's Competitive bankroll back to the default. Finally someone being proactive about cleaning up a game run by cheaters. It just would have been nice if they would have informed everyone about it before they implemented it.

I've been slowly working towards an achievement in the game to get one of your bankrolls up to $100,000. Since I didn't like battling on player tables where people can just keep buying more chips and I can't bluff the AI in a single player game I figured my best bet would be to work with my Competitive bankroll. I was getting up there too. I had $83,200 before I logged in to play. I got the usual "there is a new update for this game" window and didn't think anything about it.

That was until I tried to find a Competitive Tournament to join and noticed my bankroll. $2,000? WTF? My single player and player match bankrolls were the same but what happened to my Competitive bankroll? I went on line to bitch and moan about this on Xbox's forums when I saw a thread talking about the update. I read it and then I knew what happened.

Now I'm all for resetting the leaderboards and eliminating cheating but why couldn't they have told us about the update before hand? I would have played a few more games the night before to get that $100,000 achievement instead of going to bed. Now all that hard work it gone and for what? Nothing.

Cleaning out the leaderboards and bankrolls of cheaters is a good thing but why does honest players such as myself have to suffer as well? I don't know how you could legitimately tell who was cheating and who wasn't so you could subjectively reset their bankrolls but I have 2,500+ hands and my highest bankroll is (was) only $83,200. I don't think I look like a cheater. Now if this solved the problem so no one could cheat again then fine, I accept this set back for the good of the game. But it didn't.

Within 24 hours of the reset there was already someone in the top spot on the leaderboards with over $104 million dollars. Now I know once you get to the higher buy in tables you can really win a lot of chips but that amount seems a little unrealistic in such a short time. No matter how mad I am at the game I still like playing so I tried my hand at a couple of games and guess what? People were still glitching. Giggling their cables, pressing standby or whatever before the first cards are dealt. In two seconds they win and move on to their next cheat. Things are just as they always were. And things will probably be reset again later. So why bother playing if my bankroll is going to keep getting wiped out?

There will always be cheaters. That's just a fact of playing games, whether that's online or sitting at home with friends. I accept that. I also accept the fact that I will never see my gamer ID on the leaderboards. The only way that will happen is if no one else is playing the game and I played it enough to knock everyone else off the leaderboard who's already on it. And that's no going to happen. I just wish my bankroll hadn't been wiped out because of cheaters.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

When do you play a sequel?

So you play a game and like it. Maybe a year or two later a sequel to the game comes out. You buy it intending to play it as soon as you get home only to realize that you haven't finished playing the first game. What do you do?

Do you put the game in and play it anyway even though you don't know how things ended with the first one? Or are you like me and just tuck it away in a game case for that time when you know you'll (maybe) get around to finishing the first game?

I don't like it when the ending of things (movies, books, games) gets ruined for me. It takes that emotional punch away after all your hard work to see things through until the end. I watched my brother finish Final Fantasy X. I was fascinated with how the story was unfolding, but I wasn't close to finishing the game myself. By the time I got to the end it was still great but it didn't have that "blow me away" factor. Been there; done that.

I can trace this aversion to spoilers to a specific incident all the way back to when I was seven years old. Star Wars had come out and me and my older siblings wanted desperately to go see the movie. Unfortunately my mother couldn't take us when it first came out because she was pregnant with my youngest brother. After he was born she still couldn't take us because she had a new baby. My older sister (13 years old) concocted a plan for her, my older brother (10 years old) and myself to take the bus to the movie theater. We had everything planned out when we presented it to my mother. She agreed. We were thrilled we were finally going to see what everyone had been talking about all summer.

What we didn't figure on was that the bus schedule we used was out dated. When we got to the spot where we needed to transfer routes there was no bus to be seen. We waited for 20 minutes. Still no bus. So we started walking in the direction of the theater. We paused at each bus stop along the way but still no bus. When we were half-way between 2 stops a bus drove by. We waved our arms, screamed and ran after it but it wouldn't stop. We ended up walking the whole way there (I learned later about 2.5 miles). When we finally got to the theater and bought our tickets the girl said the movie just started.

She lied.

We crept in and sat down and started watching the movie in the middle of the cantina scene. Now if you've seen the movie you will know that the cantina scene is NOT at the beginning of the movie. It's about 30 minutes in. I didn't know who any of the people were on the screen. Who were the bad guys? Who were the good guys? Why should I care?

By the end of the movie I couldn't figure out why everyone liked the movie so much because I didn't know what was going on. My sister called my mom from a payphone (yes they did have payphones back in those days) and told her about the buses. Because we had missed a bunch of the movie we were all crying. My mom suggested we talk to the manager to see if he could let us stay to watch the part of the movie that we had missed. I guess looking into the faces of 3 crying children was enough for him because he agreed. We ended up staying for the whole thing. And now that I had seen the WHOLE movie, from beginning to end, I knew why everyone liked it so much.

But when the movie started I also knew a lot of other things as well. I knew what would happen to Obi-Wan by the end of the movie from the moment he walked out. I knew to fear Dark Vader and the Empire even before that Star Destroyer crawls across the top of the screen. I knew Luke was more than a whinny farm boy and that they would save the princess and Han wouldn't do it for the money. I knew the ending. Before I had seen the beginning. Because of that Obi-Wan has always been my favorite character. But since then I've never liked to know how things end before I had seen how things started.

I have video game sequels to Ape Escape, Halo, Dark Cloud, Grandia, Legend of Legaia, Xenosaga, Kingdom Hearts, .Hack, Jak & Daxter, Rachet and Clank, Metal Gear Solid, Spyro, Wild Arms, Suikoden and many other games. And I haven't finish any one of them. Their sequels sit in my large disk chase just waiting for me to play . . . the originals. I have enough games to play a new one every day of the year but that's not going to help finish any of them. And I couldn't play some of them because their sequels.

So when do you play a sequel? I wait to play mine.

To play Halo 3 or to not play Halo 3?

Yes, the biggest sequel in gaming history was released yesterday. And no I don't have my copy yet. I was going to spare myself the trash talking fanboys and wait to pick up a used copy. Why? Because I haven't even the first one yet. But with all the stories about metal Limited Edition cases scratching disks I think I'd rather pick up a new copy thank you very much. But when will I play it?

The only part of Halo 3 I would play right now would be the multiplayer. While I"m sure this would be a lot of fun I wouldn't want anything . . . or anyone to spoil the ending of the saga. There's nothing like letting the excitement build up over a good story only to have someone spill the beans (intentionally or accidentally, it doesn't matter) and have the story ruined for you.

When the Star Wars prequels came out I had to stop paying attention to news reports and all that internet chatter because I didn't want anything to cheapen my experience with the movies. I did the same with the Harry Potter novels. It was kind of hard to live in a world the two weeks before Deathly Hallows came out where everyone wanted to talk about whether Harry lived or died or whether Snape was good or evil.

I've only briefly played the first Halo game. I've also only briefly played a few multiplayer matches on Xbox Live in Halo 2. It's not like I didn't like the game, it's just that I had so many other games to play at the time. I go through phases in what type of game I like to play and when Halo came out I was in my "nothing but RPGs" phase. Where does a shooter fit into that? When I finally got into a shooter mood I was playing Star Wars Battlefront every night on Xbox Live. Was I suppose to stop playing with my friends so I could play alone? I was having too much fun to do that.

Now Halo 3 is out and everyone is playing it. I got on briefly last night and 12 of 17 friends were playing the game. And I noticed some of them were friends who said they would never get the game. Now I want to play with them. That is why they're on my friends list after all.

In order to get caught up in the story I'd have to play through Halo and Halo 2. That's a lot of game time to make up before someone ruins the plot for me. I've already had to skim through reviews so I wouldn't be given too much information on the story line. And with just a couple hours of gaming available each night I would be consumed with playing nothing but Halo. Do I really want to do that?

I'm sure I'll eventually get a copy of Halo 3. It's hard for me to pass up a good game in a genre I like. I just don't know when or how much of it I'll be playing for awhile.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I want my gaming websites at work!

Don't you hate it when you click on a website at work only to get the "games filtered" message in your web browser? Or how when a site is accessible one day only to be blocked the next?

My job is boring and the only excitement I get out of my day is the occasional click of a website that just might happen to have video game related content. It's not like I'm playing a game I just want to read up on news in the gaming industry. If people can spend all their time biding on items on ebay why can't I read articles on Halo 3's release?

And when I do find a video game related site that I can view I'm never sure how long that will last. I could access Asher Crestfallen's Chromehounds site for months until suddenly it was blocked. I could never get to but through Asher's site I could get to the forums page. Now I don't even have that. And Game Stop's website is hit or miss. One week I'll have access. The next week I won't.

With the help of a friend we figured out how to bypass the companies restrictions with a proxy server. Everything was open to me. It was all glorious. My days at work were no longer boring. They were tolerable and sometimes down right enjoyable. That is until they blocked proxy server access.

I've worked with people who spent all day watching ebay and refreshing the page every 5 minutes to see if anyone bid on their items. If you ever went over to their desk all they wanted to talk about was why people were not bidding on their items. And if people were bidding they'd talk about how much of a profit they were going to make because people are suckers for the right item description. And if I'm allowed to spend my day adding things to my wish list on Amazon and refining my recommendations by rating things I've bought why can't I read a preview for Mass Effect? Or a review of games shown at E3?

It only takes a couple of minutes to read an article. I read it; then move on. If I can read my video gaming news I'll be a happier employee. I'll actually enjoy coming in to work instead of feeling like this job is sucking the life out of me as I waste my time sitting behind a desk when I'd rather be gaming. Make me have a reason to come to work instead of a reason to rush home at night. Come on. What do you really want me to do as I sit here? Work?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Finished a Game?

My brother and I popped in Gauntlet Legends for the N64 this last weekend as I tried to refresh my memory for a favorites list. After looking around for a bit (and breezing through the first level) we picked a level (in the middle of a circle of Runes) and dived in.

Apparently it was the final battle and we were faced battling Skorne. Our characters were level 80+ but we had a hard time getting his health bar down. I guess we should have warmed up more than just that first level. And while the style of game play was familiar I had a hard time remembering when we played the game.

Did we beat Skorne and finish the game? Did we get this far and decide to take a break and come back later? Did we try (repeatedly maybe) to beat him and failed? Why can't I remember if I finished a game?

We hacked away as best we could and argued a little bit about whether we finished or not. He said yes. I'm not so sure. I can't imagine either one of us just giving up on a game this close to the end. Yet I don't remember what happened at the end. Did we find other games to play instead? Maybe other systems? I'd love to cross one more game off my list as "played-completed" but can I rightfully do so if I don't remember doing it.

There's only one way for me to make sure I really did finish that game and that's to play it all over again. On Sunday, back at my place, I hooked everything up and breezed through the first 3 levels. Everything came back to me. I knew what the levels looked like, where the tough guys would be and how to get through the whole thing without wasting keys or magic potions. I still couldn't remember how it all ended. But I did remember how tedious hacking and slashing through all those levels were. Did I really want to go through all that again just so I could say I finished the game with a clear consciences? Especially when I have so many newer . . . and better looking . . . games I want to play.

I don't think Gauntlet Legends is a bad game. I loved playing the original Gauntlet in the arcade and I remember when this game came out and the top down 2-dimensional world came alive in this 3-dimensional game. But the graphics haven't held up very well. The style of game play is still around in games like Hunter the Reckoning, Balder's Gate and the likes. It's just your typical hack and slash. But I don't know if I'm ready to progress through all those levels staring at out dated graphics with a controller that no longer feels as comfortable in my hands as it once did.

So, did I finish this game? I'll have to think about that one and let you know.

Dusting off the old systems

I dusted off my old Super Nintendo system and replayed a lot of my games in preparation before complying my list of favorite games for that system. It was nice to play games I hadn't played in quite some time. Years even. It brought back some good memories.

This last weekend I tried to do the same thing with my N64. Notice how I said "tried." Things didn't go so well. I packed up my system and almost all of my games (except Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask and Magical Tetris Challenge) and headed to my parent's house. My brother was going over to do laundry and I wanted another person to help out with some of the multiplayer options in the games. I was a little disappointed to find that I only had 12 games for the system. That didn't seem right, but that's all I had.

Once the system was hooked up my brother popped in Gauntlet Legends and went to load a file from the memory card that was still in my controller. Apparently I had saves from games that I didn't have the cartridge for. At least for none of the cartridges I had in front of me. Did I sell some games back? Do I have a stash of games somewhere that I haven't unpacked?

Yes, I have lived in the same place for 5 years now and still have boxes I haven't unpacked. At least unpacked completely. I have a lot of boxes that are partially unpacked because I couldn't figure out where to put things so it was best to leave them where they were. I thought I knew what treasures were in those boxes but maybe I don't. I've always meant to unpack them and now maybe I have the motivation to do it. I've got games that are missing people. I need to find them!

But since it's been a long time since I played my N64 I was wondering if I sold any of those games back. I remembered owning Aidyn Chronicles (it was a black cartridge) and I have a save for it but did I sell it back? I think I remember owning Turok too. I didn't have a save so where's that game? I've gone through a list online of N64 games and I think there's 10 more games I should have . . . somewhere. Unless I sold them back of course.

I remember when I got my N64. I was just out of college with very little money to spare. I couldn't get every game I wanted to. Even when I found Game Stop and their used games for less money. I had to pick and choose which games I would get because every game was a splurge and my budget couldn't afford too many of them. I also remember picking up a bunch of older Super Nintendo games during that time. They were cheaper.

So I guess I'm going to have to spend some time unpacking boxes and looking for N64 game cartridges which I may or may not still have. I don't feel comfortable putting out a "favorites" list of games for the system if I don't even know what games I have anymore. Maybe I should have dusted off those old systems more often.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Bad Day at Work = Profit for Game Stop

Okay, whenever I have a bad day at work I need something to make up for it. What that usually means is a trip to my local Game Stop. I'm finding the worse my day went the more I spend. And that I've been to Game Stop four times over the last week and a half. Thankfully only this last time was a really bad day.

The last time I was in I wanted one game and one game only. Unfortunately they didn't have it. So I walked out empty handed. And in a worse mood than before. This time I called ahead.

I picked up Bioshock, Blue Dragon and Odin Sphere. All new. If I would have stayed longer I'm sure I would have picked up a bunch more.

Bioshock wasn't a game that caught my attention as something to look for before it came out. I had my sights set on Assassin's Creed and my brother kept talking about Mass Effect. When Bioshock was released it didn't even register on my radar. That is until a bunch of my friends started playing it.

All they talked about was Bioshock. I would try to warn them of a sniper on the top of the building across the LVU campus but they were more interested in talking about their latest encounter with a Big Daddy. Eh? The more I listened the more I got curious about the game. I did some research and found glowing reviews everywhere I looked. How could I have missed a possible Game of the Year winner? At this point I figured I had to have the game . . . the only problem was I could never find it at Game Stop. Sold out. All the time. That's why I called ahead.

Blue Dragon was one that I was interested in getting but would have waited for a used copy and a discounted price before getting. I love RPGs and this game was getting a lot of praise for what it could do for the Xbox 360 in the Japanese market. But since I was in a bad mood I really didn't want to wait to get this game sometime later; I wanted it now! That was the only way I was going to feel better right?

I'd heard some good things about Odin Sphere but have never seen it on the shelves. I'm an optimistic person so I think if a video game store is having a hard time keeping a game on the shelves (like Bioshock) it means there are a lot of people who play it, like it and don't want to give it back. To me that says I should look into the game. That doesn't necessarily mean I'll buy it, but it's one to keep my eye on. Half-Life for the PS2 is prime example of that. I finally got my copy a couple of weeks ago (another bad day) and that's the first I'd ever seen it on shelves since I knew I wanted it (I've had Half-Life 2 for the Xbox for some time now).

I hope any bad days at work and subsequent trips to my local Game Stop all coincide with the release dates of Call of Duty 4, Assassin's Creed, Mass Effect and Halo 3. Otherwise Game Stop is going to have a very nice profit margin . . . and I'm going to have a very empty bank account.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Wheel of Time has claimed its own

The Wheel of Time series of novels was to readers as Everquest is to gamers. A MMORPG with endless places to explore, limitless characters to get to know and story plot lines without end. Unfortunately The Wheel of Time has lost its creator. Robert Jordan has passed away. His stories were immersive and complex. His characters heroic and flawed. His world varied and real. Robert Jordan will be missed but his legacy lives on in every book he wrote. If you haven't read any of his books I would encourage you to do so. The first book in the series is The Eye of the World.

Monday, September 17, 2007

My Favorite Games - Super Nintendo

I first started playing video games at my sister's house. I'd come over to babysit my niece and once I put her to bed I'd stay up and play on my brother-in-law's Nintendo. I would play Tetris for hours. And if I grew bored of that I would put in Mario Brothers for another couple of hours. I liked Duck Hunt too, but the gun always seemed to be broken. For Christmas that year I asked for a Nintendo system. I didn't think I'd get one because my parents didn't see much use in playing video games. When I opened my presents Christmas morning I was surprised, but not in a good way . . . at least at first.

I got a Nintendo system but it was a Super Nintendo system. I was disappointed. I thought I'd never be able to play the games I'd come to love. Now I've got a system that I didn't know how to use and didn't know any of the games I could play on it. My disappointment was obvious to my parents 'cause they kept apologizing all day that they couldn't find a Nintendo system and that the guy in the store said this one would be better. Whatever.

I was young. And I didn't pay any attention to what was going on in the world outside my own neighborhood. I figured this would be one of those Christmas gifts that you play for a few hours over the Holiday break from school before it finally finds a more permanent place in the back corner of your closet. Little did I know that one disappointing Christmas gift would change my life forever and I would cherish for a long time. Thanks Mom and Dad!

To refresh my memories and make sure I had all the right games in the right order I spent the weekend playing almost all of my Super Nintendo games and boy did that take me back.

#1 Super Mario Kart
I learned how to power slide from Mario. I learned that racing and throwing banana peels behind you is a blast. And once I mastered the art of firing red and green Koupa shells there was no one who could stop me. I do love racing games but since I started out with "kart" racing games the realistic stuff doesn't appeal to me very much. I can see that type of racing everyday on the freeway.

#2 Tetris Attack
This was the first game (and probably only game) that I was instinctively better at than my brother from the first moment I picked it up. He always been able to preform better than me in any type of game as soon as he starts to play. If I practice and work at it I will eventually get the better of him more often than not, but that wasn't the case with this game. I don't know why I'm better at it than him. I just tend to see moves way ahead of the move I happen to be making at the time. Because of my natural skill at this game I got to see my brothers competitive side come out. Which of course brought out MY competitive side. (My gamer score is higher than his gamer score)

#3 Super Mario All Stars
Here I was afraid that I'd never be able to play Mario on my new Super Nintendo. Shows you how little I knew of Nintendo. With this game I got the original Mario game plus the hidden levels and Mario 2 & Mario 3. I felt better about owning the latest game system and even bragged to my friends that I have all the games on one cartridge. There were plenty of worlds to jump and explore through and I was loving every one of them.

#4 Super Star Wars trilogy of games
Finally instead of just watching the movies you actually get to play them as well. I figured the Star Wars game would be like the original Star Wars game that I loved to play in the arcade. I was wrong. But I liked being wrong. These games really frustrated me more so than anything else I had been playing. If you wanted to make it up to that top platform you better be sure to make perfect jumps all the way up. One slight miscalculation and you'd find yourself plummeting down to a valley of spikes or some other nasty death. It was all about being careful and precise . . . and I hadn't learned those skills yet. Still working on them too.

Honorable Mentions:
Donkey Kong Country, Frogger, Ms. Pac Man, Space Invaders, Clue