Tag Archives: Microsoft

You can play Happy Wars for free, but it might not make you happy

In a dramatic twist, Happy Wars came out over the weekend with little promotion from Microsoft. Considering it’s a free-to-play tower defense game, where the real income stems from players buying new weapons, armor, and accessories with actual money–well, real money converted into Microsoft Points ridiculously converted a second time into Happy Tickets–you’d think they’d want to let people know the thing exists. Instead, I learned about it from a forum post on Giant Bomb, and then had to sift through menus (and submenus!) to figure out where to download it from. Not ideal, I assure you, and considering I just watched Indie Game: The Movie the other night, placement on the e-marketplace is vital. Especially around launch time.

Happy Wars is a free-to-play tower defense game, with a single player story and online multiplayer matches. War has broken out between…uh, people that dress in white, and people that dress in black. Or something like that. That’s the overall gist, but some story-based missions focus on other topics, like a stolen princess or a mad scientist and his army of crazy red robots. Cute, cartoony graphics help emphasize the happy part of these wars, as does most of the loot, such as a sword made from a dead fish, a flower petal shield, and a stat-boosting pencil you can stick in your avatar’s hair. The look of the game is not going to astound you, but it won’t also annoy you, being just right for this sort of experience of capturing spawn points, building deadly turrets, and using class-based action skills. Reminds me a bit of Quarrel and Costume Quest and something else.

If you don’t remember, tower defense is not one of my favorite gaming genres. It’s a lot of building and waiting until one side tips the scale just enough to wash over their forces. So that part is kind of boring to me, but there are some aspects here that I do like. Such as leveling up items, earning loot, and completing mini challenges during a match. Of the three classes–warrior, cleric, mage–I prefer being a warrior, rushing into the thick of things and using thrown stones to stun opponents before I cut them to pieces. The other classes all have their uses, but I’m not terribly comfortable with them just yet. Give me time. Plus, of those three, I have the better equipment so far for the warrior. Also, the roulette wheel called the Spinner is a wonderful way to spend all your hard-earned Happy Stars; just like in Borderlands 2 with their slot machines, I can’t resist testing my luck. It is a nice feature for those that don’t want to spend really money on item packs to try and get something better for their characters.

There are some problems though. The single player experience is severely hampered by a strange level rank restriction. You beat the first story mission, and you are immediately slapped in the face with a note that says you can only play the next story mission once you’ve achieved a rank of 6 or higher. You can only increase your rank, from what I can tell, in multiplayer matches. Seems simple enough; however, the problem continues from there. Not sure if it just had to do with server issues or initial launch problems, but connecting to an online match or getting one started from the ground up was extremely hit or miss for me. My system kept trying to “connect with Xbox Live…” over and over again before ultimately booting me out of matches that looked promising. I did eventually get a few games in after many attempts, but once you beat the second story mission–made up of two smaller missions really–you are again told you can’t continue playing solo stuff until your rank is 11 or higher. Eep. Back to multiplayer, I guess. Either way, this experience is fairly frustrating, only softened by the fact that I did not pay any more for this game or give it any money so far. Maybe the online matchmaking will shake itself out over the next week or so.

Oh, and free game means free Achievements, none of which have been too tricky to unlock:


First Victory (10G): Get 1 victory in any game session


The Legend Begins (10G): Receive mention in Hero Pop-up in a Quick Match or Co-op mode


Mod 0 (10G): Level-up an item


Rich Man (10G): Get 30 items

I’m not having a great time or a terrible time, but I’d also like to see more of the game before calling it quits. Especially the single player missions, as I don’t have to rely on anyone but myself to get the job done. If you’re on Xbox 360, definitely give this a try, as it won’t cost you anything but a download. Just be aware that after the tutorial and training missions, you’ll be locked out of most content until you can up your rank, and getting online matches to connect is consistently wishy-washy at the moment.

As Happy Wars is the first dip into free-to-play games for Microsoft’s platform, it’ll be interesting to see just how long this war really lasts. I think there’s promise here, some good and bad, but maybe not enough hooks to really keep a crowd coming back. Or I could be completely wrong. Again, these sorts of gaming experiences are generally not for me. Time will surely tell.

Nice to meet you, 20,000 Gamerscore

So, I used to have this little widget thing over in my sidebar that kept track of my Achievements and recently played games. It was a nice thing to have, a quick reminder of where I sat Gamerscore-wise. However, I guess Microsoft recently updated its system, changing the way players’ gamercards looked, and all the code in my widget got thrown for a wild ride. In short, it ended up looking like this hot mess:

Don’t y’all just love my new hair color? Matches my eyes, I’m told.

Anyways, this wasn’t very upsetting, and I figured it would either fix itself in due time or I’d go looking for a new widget. No rush, no rush at all. Except, suddenly, without warning, there was a great need to make sure the world could see my Gamerscore! Great need indeed.

Last night, while playing some Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, I noticed that I was sitting comfy at 19,990 Gamerscore, ten points off from a perfectly pretty whole number. Well, looks like I had a new mission to accomplish then, one not involving finding treasure or assassinating bad dudes or even burning Borgia towers.

Scanning the list of still-locked Achievements in Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, I found only two worth 10 Gamerscore points exactly. One involved using a parachute, which I did not have yet, and the other required me to win some hand-to-hand fights. I knew exactly where that took place, headed over via the lovely fast-traveling tunnel entrances, fought my way through five easy rounds, and unlocked the following with little challenge:


The Gloves Come Off (10G): Win the highest bet at the Fights.

Mmm. So, math time! 19,990 plus 10 equals…uh…hmm. Hold on. Let me get some scratch paper. Let’s see. Carry the…one, and times everything by the denominator. Factor in the ratio of pi versus the radius. Wait, wait. No, I got it! It’s 20,000 Gamerscore! Look, look, thanks to the widget brainiacs over at mygamercard.net:

Sure, pretty meaningless in the grand scheme of things, but I have fun paying attention to it all. In fact, if any of my dear readers will recall, I was also able to perfectly achieve 10,000 Gamerscore when the time came near. Can’t wait for 30,000 Gamerscore to show up next!

Gift cards, and Microsoft Points, and bears! Oh, my!

I have a love/hate relationship with gift cards. Many people probably find them to be the greatest gift ever in that they can now go out and buy anything. I have the exact opposite problem; with a gift card, I can now go out and buy anything. That anything, in my mind, is really anything, an extremely broad selection that comprises books, movies, games, art supplies, clothes, food, and so on.

That said, I’ve had an Amazon gift card sitting in my desk drawer since last Christmas. You know, that holiday from six months yonder. Yeah, I’m just not good at spending those things, and I guess I was waiting for something to really grab my attention, but it hasn’t yet. So I instead used it to–and here comes the irony–to buy 1600 Microsoft Points (MSP) for Xbox Live. Yes, I used a gift card to essentially buy another gift card. Do you dare ask why?

Well, there’s a special deal going on this week to get Peggle at 50% off, meaning 400 Microsoft Points. This deal is only good for Gold members, which I just currently happen to be. I’ve always been interested in the colorful, bubbly addictive puzzle since I played the trial version, and the deal was too good to pass up.

But now I have a problem. I have 1200 MSP remaining, and just like I had trouble spending my Amazon gift card, I’m struggling to decide what to do with them. I could get three more 400 MSP games, or an 800 MSP and a 400 MSP combo, or I could buy some add-ons to games already in my collection (i.e., Borderlands, GTA IV, Mass Effect). I’m not really interested in wasting the points on TV shows, Avatar items, or silly things like themes and gamerpics. So, any ideas? I heard Braid is pretty good, currently priced at 800 MSP. I guess I could ultimately hold on to them and wait for something else to come out (will LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 have DLC? I doubt it), but then I’m just doing what I’ve always done with these things: procrastinating.

One thing I know is that I most certainly will not be buying the Midnight Show DLC for The Saboteur despite how much fun I’m having with the game. The comment at the end of The First Hour‘s review of the game seals the deal; I’m not playing The Saboteur for the nudity, I’m playing it to blow up Nazis and sabotage the bleep out of enemy headquarters.

But yeah. I need ideas for Xbox Live games. Remember, I have 1200 to spend. Please don’t suggest anything that is solely multiplayer as who knows how long I will keep my Gold account locked in. Thanks in advance! Phooey on you in advance too if you suggest nothing.

Fable III has been announced

fableIII

See the announcement and its details here.

No, you did not leave the kettle on the stove by accident. That sound is my girlish cry of joy at its highest screech–can’t wait to rule Albion! Anyone that does not bow to my dog will be tossed off the nearest parapet!