Monthly Archives: March 2010

Happy anniversary for Grinding Down!

That’s right, my silent and stalky readers. Grinding Down is now celebrating its one-year anniversary. Woo-hoo!

::confetti and Daft Punk tunes::

Back in March 2009, I decided I wanted to take another stab at videogame journalism, but at a much more relaxed pace. Well, maybe too relaxed in the beginning. See, I posted a few times in March 2009 and then quickly forgot about the blog until the summer hit, wherein I found myself with a lot of topics to muse about online. And since then, I’ve been pretty good at keeping this thing lively (just not on the weekends, which is fine by me). There’s some reviews here and there, but it’s more of a home for randomness, reflecting on older games, and having a bit of fun with pictures and words. That really doesn’t plan to change much.

But yeah, a whole year of grinding. Bow-chicka bow-wow! Er, forget I just wrote that. There’s cake and punch in the back.

Rescue the Princess from the demons and die a lot

There’s a new review up over at The First Hour for Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, a game that still causes me to wake up in the dead of morning, sweating, certainly unsure of my safety, curious as to where my suit of armor went to. Anyways, newly minted First Hour writer Ian M. Bagley stabs and dagger-throws his way through as much as he can in sixty minutes, and it’s really no surprise that he was unable to beat the first level in said time.

I’ve only ever played the first level of Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts. Supposedly there’s eight levels total, but if you ask me, there’s one level to this game, and it is the first level you play. Even if you master this level, you will never really play another one. You might glimpse the next one, sure, maybe even make it a few feet inwards…but you will know only the haunted grasslands, the ever-so-cruel tidal waves, the never-ending march of zombies.

And Sir Arthur in his underwear. Be prepared to seem him in the near-nude as much as possible.

So, if the difficulty is so off-putting and frustrating, why would anyone play this? Well, to start, I’d like to believe that all videogamers inherently love a challenge. We don’t just want to tap A and win the prize. Now whether this challenge can be conquered or not in a feasible, expected manner is another thing, but if there’s a wall then there’s got to be a way over it as well. Surely. Practice makes perfect, blah blah blah, you know the drill. I also suspect its cult status has helped spike people’s interest in running, jumping, shooting, and dying. Also, there’s a wizard that will turn you into a seal just for giggles.

Either way, I’m never going back to it. Too many near-tears.

Making it last with Pokémon

According to my save data for Pokémon HeartGold, I’ve now invested over 15 hours into the game. The amazing part? I’ve only made a really small dent. My Pokédex says I’ve seen about 75 Pokémon, of which I’ve caught around 30 or so. I just earned my third gym badge, now finally moving past Goldenrod City to the National Park and the Pokéthlon for some Pokélympic games (side-note: that was way too many pokés for one sentence). A good portion of this time has been spent on grinding my team towards a better balance, as well as just meandering about the world.

But still. Fifteen hours and only a little bit through. For some games, that’s their entire length…or not even. I’m looking directly at you, MySims Agents.

It’s just nice to know that HeartGold is in it for the long haul. And so am I. And so is Abigail:

Magic: The Gathering and its hold on me still

I’m not just a videogame fanatic, but an extreme lover of all kinds of games. Board games, TCGs, CCGs, Solitaire, seeing how many pretzels one can fit in their mouth, and so on. In fact, I’d almost go the distance and say I love board games and card games more than console gaming except for one major hiccup: I rarely have anyone to play with. It’s usually just my fiancée and I playing a few rounds of Munchkin or the occasional grumble match known as Scrabble among family members. In the past I’ve dabbled in Killer Bunnies, Chez Geek, MagiNation (::shudders::), Settlers of Catan, Descent, and, most importantly, Magic: The Gathering.

Now, I’m not going into my full MtG history just yet. That’s a long and winding road, but I can say that the last time I played against a real life opponent was well over six or seven years ago. Yet my interest in the game has never waned. To fill this void, there’s Magic: The Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers, which is decent enough, but certainly lacks the fun and creative outlet of deck customization. Still, every day, I continue to check spoilers of new, upcoming sets and read detailed, in-depth articles about the functionality of specific cards and draft formats and so on. I can’t get away from it…despite being nowhere near any of it.

Anyways, it’s cards like Khalni Hydra, a newly revealed beastie from the upcoming Rise of the Eldrazi set, that really gets me yearning:

Yeah, that’s an 8/8 trampler…for free. Any easy peasy task for any green-loving planeswalker, no doubt. Something I’ve always been at heart. Plus, hydras rock. Already, deck ideas are bouncing around in my head on how to abuse this hydra to no end. Drop two or three into an elf deck or saproling and you’re good to go. I just wonder if the developers learned their lesson after Urza’s Saga and the affinity for artifacts keyword from Mirrodin when it comes to giving stuff away for free. Time will tell for this one.

Want more spoilers for Rise of the Eldrazi? Make with the clicky right here.

So, even though I’ve stayed away from social MtG gaming, I’d like to think I know a decent amount about the game and its evolution over the past few years. Alas, I know I don’t. Looking at spoiler lists and reading strategy guides do nothing for a game like MtG. It has to be played–experienced firsthand–to be understood. While I grok the rules of landfall, I have no idea how it plays.

Every time a prerelease event looms near, I always think, “Man, that’d be fun. Getting back into Magic.” But then it never happens. Time, money, severe anxiety–they all play a part. And so I just keep on reading, reading, and yearning, in that order.

Scott Pilgrim the Videogame looks (and sounds) just like it should

First came the news out of PAX East that chiptune rockstars Anamanaguchi are doing the soundtrack for Scott Pilgrim the Videogame. Then we got some delicious screenshots showing off the fantastic sprite work from Paul Robertson, the creator of the Pirate Baby’s Cabana Battle Street Fight 2006 animation. And the third thing that happened was…my heart. See, it exploded from too much joy!


Seriously, just go check out all the screenshots over at Attract Mode.

But yeah, ever since seeing this, the back cover of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, volume two of the books (and the title of the upcoming movie), I’ve been jonesing for a 2D videogame adaption:

Now I’m not sure what I’m more excited about. The movie, the final book in July, or the game? Hmm. Either way, it looks like this one is getting the right kind of treatment. No systems announced yet, but man oh man would this be perfect for the Nintendo DS.

Guess who is the Ultimate Dragon Warrior?

The following is unexplainable. No, really. I can’t explain it.

I popped Kung Fu Panda back into my Xbox 360 last night and played for a little bit. I HAVE NO IDEA WHY.

Okay, okay. I have a suspicion why, and it has to do with Achievements. Curiously, the last time I played was on 5/11/2009, and while perusing my list of Achievements I noticed that there were some that sounded like they were pretty easy and I wondered why I hadn’t unlocked them before. I mean, the majority left are completing levels on 100% on the Dragon Warrior difficulty, which is not a true challenge. Just a time waster, which is probably why I didn’t go after them initially. Anyways, after thirty minutes or so, I popped the following cherries:

Level 11 100% Completion! (20G): Completed level “The Palace” 100%.

Ultimate Dragon Warrior (30G): All Upgrades have been purchased.

Easy peasy. Might go for a few more just because most of the other console games I’m playing currently really require a lot free headspace, of which I’m running low on.

Also, some things never change: the camera is still horrible and the faux Jack Black voice confuses me every time.

I might be on a podcast, yo

So, last night, I spent about twenty to thirty minutes chatting with Paul Eastwood from The First Hour for the next episode of their podcast. It was my first ever involvement with a podcast, as well as a lot of fun. We chatted about videogames in general, and more specifically about Pokemon HeartGold and my take on it as a Pocket Monster n00b. I hope I didn’t sound too silly, and I managed to actually go the entire time without trying to say some of the crazy Pokemon names. Honestly, I have no idea how to safely pronounce Quilava or Buizel or Girafarig. There were a couple of topics that I thought about discussing only after the fact–such as how I’ve grown attached to the first few ‘mons I’ve caught and have no idea who is good to use and who is a waste of time–but that’s okay.

Hopefully our chat makes the cut! I think the episode is planning to go live…next week. Not sure on that, but stay tuned to find out.

Really silly, alternative title for this post that I still might use down the line: Gotta podcatch ’em all!

Scott Pilgrim VS. The World teaser trailer mmm

The teaser trailer for Scott Pilgrim VS. the World debuted today…and it is seriously awesome! I’m a huge fan of the comic books, of which the final volume comes out ten days after my birthday this year, and this is the movie I’m most looking forward to in 2010 (and all the way through 2078). Seriously, it’s tagline reads “an epic of epic epicness” and that is exactly what it will be. Epicky.

As one can see from the image above, the comics are bloated with videogame references. There’s jabs at RPG tropes and Zelda fairy companions and air combo juggles, among others. And the movie looks to keep many of those details in check, especially after hearing a Street Fighter-esque KO after Scott punches one of Ramona’s evil exes. So looking forward to this. There’s also a planned videogame tie-in though all development on that has been pretty quiet. Either way, I’m definitely getting it to help support the series.

Yay, Scott Pilgrim!

Spring draws near for my Xbox Live Avatar

Well, the weather is changing in New Jersey from cold to not-so-cold, and that means it is time for another update to Avatar Evolution. I switched out for some new digs, specifically a button-down shirt I’d sooo wear in real life, some khaki shorts, and moccasins. Also got a free grill prop. Turkey burger, anyone?

And that, dear readers, has been today’s exciting post about…digitial clothing.

Size matters, but not to me

For Fallout 3, there’s a varied choice of weaponry: you can go unarmed, you can wield melee weapons like the über awesome Deathclaw Glove, you can toss and set explosives, you can use an array of small guns,you can zap enemies into piles of ash and green goo thanks to energy weapons like the Plasma Rifle, and you can totally demolish just about anything with big guns. Seriously, a Raider is not going to get up after you set a mini nuke off on his/her head.

But get ready for a humdinger.

Of those weapon types just listed and after a collective total of 120 hours spent scouring the Wasteland, I’ve never used a big gun. Not even once. Both my good karma and evil karma characters have instantly attached themselves to smaller weaponry, Chinese Assault Rifle and energy weapons, respectively, and any time I come across a big gun in the wild or off a bullet-infested Super Mutant, I either leave it where it is or sell it as soon as possible. Even missiles, which do not take up inventory space, get sold because I know that, no matter the what and when of the situation, I will never launch them.

I wonder what Sigmund Freud would have to say about this pic.

For one to roleplay Fallout 3 using only big guns…well, that’s a bit challenge at the start. They are hard to come by, weigh a lot, and are often usually in bad condition upon first looting. There’s only a couple of perks to help you on your way to mastering them as well. When you leave Vault 101, you will most likely have a pistol, a police baton, and your jumpsuit. From there, finding or purchasing a good one will take time and a lot of effort. But ammo is scarce, they are not the best weapons in close quarters or when being sneaky is vital, and they even have a greater chance of injuring the Lone Wanderer.

One might assume that some of the tougher enemies like Deathclaws and Super Mutant Behemoths can only be killed via big guns. Those folks are wrong. I’ve dropped a ‘Claw or two thanks to a well-placed bottlecap mine and some undetected shots to the head with Lincoln’s Repeater.

I appreciate that big guns are there in the world and love taking down those that wield gatling guns and such, but I don’t ever really expect to use them. They don’t fit my playing style, now or ever really. After all, Paul means small. And yes, I know I just set myself up there. Go on, try me.