Monthly Archives: January 2011

Our latest and greatest videogame purchases

Tara and I went shopping over the weekend. I bought jeans and two flannel-infused shirts that go well with–wait, what? You don’t care about the good deals I got on clothes from Kohl’s? Hmph. I see how it is. Bunch of anti-fashionistas. I guess you’d prefer me to talk about all the many videogames purchased this weekend. I guess your wish is about to get…granted!

Warning: this list of games bought is going to blow your mind. Can’t say from what. Surely not the total awesomesauce. Maybe more from the randomness, the WTFs. Steel yourself!

Paul’s Purchases

It was selling for a cool $39.99, and the Internet will not shut up about how good it is. Haven’t touched the multiplayer except for the tutorial level. Oh, I tried. Waited for 15 minutes to have it log me into a new session…and then summarily kick me out. Boo-hoo. Single-player is a much improved performance over the original Assassin’s Creed. Never got to play Assassin’s Creed II. Anyways, if anyone wants to help me give online multiplayer a try, my Xbox Live Gamertag is PaulyAulyWog. Please?

It was dirt cheap. I’ve played maybe an hour of it and also tried Firefight by myself. I’m a smidge above a vacuum. Meh.

Oh man. Where do I begin? Actually, let’s just keep this short. Now that we have our Nintendo Wii set up in the Leaky Cauldron, I’d like to catch up on some GameCube games I never got to play. Such as Pikman and Windwaker and Luigi’s Mansion. All in good time though. And I believe I’ve also previously mentioned my obsession with all things Lord of the Rings. Now, here’s the real tough question; did this version of The Hobbit cost me $1.99, $2.99, $3.99, or $4.99?

It cost less than The Hobbit, and its cover made me laugh.

Tara’s Purchases

This is now our third version of this game owned. Tara’s more interested in it than the Wii version because the controls are simpler. Plus, I heard that you can actually play old Nintendo games within this game–wicked! She liked the sound of that, too. It’ll be curious to experience this version last, seeing as I started out on Animal Crossing: Wild World and then moved on to Animal Crossing: City Folk. Granted, they are, more or less, the same game, but the minute differences are actually where it counts the most.

Mmm…LEGO games.

And those were our big purchases. The funny/annoying thing is that I assumed one could use the Wiimote to play GameCube games on the Nintendo Wii. Y’know, turn it sideways like a traditional controller. Nope. Because the GameCube controller was freakish and had so many random buttons. So we haven’t got to try any of our GameCube buys just yet. We also need an old memory card. The only good thing the Wii does is…uh, let you put the CD into its slot. Geez, it might have been easier just to buy an old GameCube system, but truthfully, we’ve run out of outlets and the back of our entertainment stand looks like the Great Cthulhu, but with wires instead of tentacles. Truly nightmarish.

Pretty sure Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, Fallout: New Vegas, and some other games will be able to keep my attention busy until February, and then it’ll be time to travel through alternate dimensions in Radiant Historia.

All Achievements Achieved – Dead Rising 2: Case Zero

For some reason, I expected the Achievements to be much harder for Dead Rising 2: Case Zero. Especially the one for killing 1,000 zombies, but I quickly realized that it only sounded more difficult than it truly was. I just spent a good 15 minutes running them over and over and over again with the pushcart thingy when I had to carry back the first bike part. Yup, even a zombie game has its percent of grinding to do…

The toughest of the bunch focused on fetch quests:


Still Creek Survivor (20G): Saved all the survivors in Still Creek. So much work in such a short stay!

This one required dedication and attention. Given the strict time limit in Dead Rising 2: Case Zero, you basically have to forgo finding all the bike parts in favor of saving everyone else stranded in Still Creek. That’s fine. I never really liked Chuck’s daughter, and seeing her taken away by the military for a second time bothered me not a bit. Now, actually saving the survivors is not a walk in the park. In fact, it’s more like a walk in a zombie-infested park. And they’re all drunk off moonshine. Okay, okay–maybe only one is actually drunk, but the rest sure do act like a bunch of inebriated clowns. Basically, you go find where these survivors are and then get them to follow you back. Sounds simple. It’s not. They like to run directly into groups of zombies instead of following the path you’ve cleared for them with your spiked bat and electric rake. The worst survivor is a sick woman you have to carry all the way back to your hideout; I flashbacked hard to Musashi: Samurai Legend and felt everything inside of me twist upside-down from repressed torture and anguish.

Seven Achievements are guaranteed to unlock during your first playthrough. The rest require another playthrough or two, but don’t take long at all to get. Small Town, Deep Pockets was the last to unlock for me after buying way too many stuffed moose heads from Dick’s pawnshop. A surprisingly easy 200 Gamerscore overall.

Games Completed in 2011, #3 – Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection

This collection of just under 50 Sega Genesis games could’ve used a better title. As is, Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection is misleading. I mean…is this a gathering of only Sonic games? Or are these games handpicked by the speedy, blue hedgehog himself? And if that, where is Toe Jam and Earl or Mortal Kombat or Boogerman: A Pick and Flick Adventure? Okay, maybe I don’t really give two cares about that last one…

Regardless, this is a good deal. You get a lot of games for an excellent price ($18 used, I think?) rather than buying a lot of them individually on XBLA for 400 MP a pop. Eek. However, for a lot of these games, no one should waste their money. Going in, I’d heard of a good number, played a few in my childhood over at friends’ houses, and experienced the rest as brand new things in 2010/2011. A lot are just meh. Can’t say it any straighter. Bonanza Bros. is ridiculous and a mess strategically. Sonic 3D Blast should come packaged with Advil. Controlling the helicopter in Super Thunder Blade is broken. I jumped to my death quickly in Space Harrier and never went back to it.

I only had a good time revisiting more familiar titles, such as Streets of Rage, Golden Axe, Sonic II, Beyond Oasis, and Ecco the Dolphin. Tara and I played some of these together, but as is usual with older games, frustration reigns supreme. We’d get more mad than glad during split-screen Sonic the Hedgehog 2 versus adventures. I was most surprised to find myself really enjoying generic platformers like Dynamite Headdy and Kid Chameleon.

Honest disclaimer: I have not beaten every single game in this collection. Not even close on most of them, nor do I really want to. So, the reason I’m considering this one completed for 2011 is based off its Achievements. I’ve unlocked them all. Woo-hoo? Woo. They’re split down the middle between super easy and soul-crushingly difficult. I’ll discuss them greater in another post, devoting way too many words to the Achievement for Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine. How I will forever hate that one.

If you’re looking to do some retro gaming and have everything you wanted from the SNES generation on your Wii or Nintendo DS, then this one’s worth a spin.

Chez Cthulhu will drive you mad from a good time

Over the years, my gaming group has occasionally branched out from the Steve Jackson Games staple of Munchkin (and its bajillion incarnations). We’ve tried things like Elixir and Descent and the ever-so-slow Settlers of Catan, but probably my second favorite party board game is another product from SJG called Chez Geek, and not just cause everyone in my group thinks I look like the game’s main slacker:

Um…no. I only have one tattoo.

Basically, Chez Geek is about an apartment of roommates all striving for one thing, and one thing only: to reach their Slack goal. Players are given Job cards to represent how much Income and Free Time they have for activities like shopping, watching TV, or having loud nookie, and other cards help towards achieving one’s Slack goal via clear-cut means. It’s every roommate for themselves, and backstabbery is plentiful. All in all, it’s frantic, frenetic, funny, and fun.

So I was doubly excited when Chez Cthulhu came out! I mean, it’s the gameplay of Chez Geek mixed with the dark craziness of the Lovecraft mythos. I was drooling tentacles and preparing for a life of servitude before I knew it!

There is, however, a new gameplay mechanic introduced into Chez Cthulhu, and alas, it’s the one that hurt the group’s enjoyment the most: Madness. Sure, the High Priest to the Great Old Ones and madness go hand in hand, but for this board game it looks a lot more like befuddlement. See, some cards give players Madness tokens, which count against their Slack goal.  If you get enough Madness tokens you can go Stark Raving Mad, and then any further tokens count for your Slack goal. The confusion comes from the time between one Madness token and, say, eight Madness tokens. We were running out of markers and a little unsure of how to count everything, but wine and a whole lot of beercheese fondue could also be to blame for that. I’ve yet to win using the Madness strategy, but then again…I’ve yet to win at all. I take more pleasure in reading the flavor text, finding all the tiny details in John Kovalic’s drawings, and watching as cards demonically interact with each other.

It’s a good time, really; just don’t get mad at all the Madness.

Check out some sample cards from Chez Cthulhu below:

Scared for your sanity? Go on over to the game’s main website for more then: http://www.sjgames.com/chezcthulhu/

Stop worrying and love the Giant Bomb

I understand the point for most people creating a blog is to attract readers to their blog, to keep these readers, build an army, gain fame and love and lots of cash-money, to maybe, just maybe get videogame companies to send over free review copies (HINT! HINT!), and then retire early, and that linking to a much cooler videogame website counteracts all of this. But still. I gotta do it.

The website is called Giant Bomb, and I only really discovered it a few weeks ago. Truthfully, I’ve been aware of it for some time now, seeing many on Twitter linking to it. It’s from former GameSpot editors Jeff Gerstmann and Ryan Davis in collaboration with Whiskey Media. Actually, calling it a videogame website is a bit misleading; it’s a videogame hub, operating as a wiki first and a traditional website second. It strives to be fun rather than all about business, and they’ve succeeded hands-down. Perusing Giant Bomb is fun. Minigame-like fun, with an addicting nature covering everything you click on. Videogames have Achievements, and Giant Bomb has Quests. These are presented with vague clues, and then you’re off to search for, say, the five locations most “improved” by the Fallout franchise. A lot of these Quests really test your videogame knowledge, and sure, a lot of answers can be Googled, but most can’t. Thankfully, the Quests forum is brimming with more hints and clues, and no simple spoilers, making each completed Quest feeling like a piece of hard work well earned.

But yeah. There’s lots to do. One’s profile can have its own blog, lists, forums, images, and so on. Even the site’s wiki entries can be edited by users to further better the world. In fact, I did one edit already, changing “buddys” to “buddies.” Yes, I’m an editor, and yes, it shows in everything I do. However, the Quests are what keeps me coming back!

If you’re reading this and also a Giant Bomb member, please help me inch closer to completing the Viva la Revolucion! Quest by following me: http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/pabba/

Games Completed in 2011, #2 – Fallout: New Vegas

Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Platforms: Xbox 360 [reviewed], PlayStation 3, PC
Genres: RPG, FPS, Western
Modes: Single-player
Hours clocked: Last save slot says around 55 hours

::exhales::

Well…it’s done. The final battle for the Hoover Dam is over, and the Courier, my Courier, made his choices, and then just before the credits rolled a series of end-game screens showed how great or not-so-greatly the Mojave Wasteland was affected by my presence. That idea worked, but its execution fell short; I was really hoping for something bigger, something better in the end. I guess the same could be said of Fallout: New Vegas, which might go down in history as one of the most frustrating games ever.

Set many years after the events in Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas opens with a bang. Or a pew. Or however you like your gunshots to sound like. You play as the Courier, a man or woman that ends up getting shot in the head by a mysterious man in a tacky suit because he wanted something you were carrying very badly. Lucky for you, a robot drags you out of your new grave and brings you to the local doctor in Goodsprings where the game truly begins. And that’s the carrot on the stick–revenge. On your journey to find out who shot you and why, you’ll eventually stumble upon a number of factions all striving for control of the Hoover Dam, which is the mega power source keeping New Vegas functioning. That’s all well and good, but the heart of Fallout: New Vegas pumps from its love of sidequests and companions and a thousand other things to do than actually play through the main storyline. I mean, at least in Fallout 3, chasing after someone meant something unequivocably personal–it was freaking Liam Neeson your father!

I actually found myself rather indifferent to tracking down my killer. Sure, he shot me, he stole from me, he left me dirt-deep, but I knew very little of the situation to begin with to even care. Granted, if I had continued after Tacky Suit Man from the get-go then a lot more would’ve been clearer, but for me, waking up alive in Goodsprings was more than enough. I ventured out into the unknown, explored, leveled up, collected stuff, made some friends, made some enemies, and was somewhere around level 17 or so before heading towards the bright lights of the City of Sin.

I never used a companion in Fallout 3, but they’ve been greatly improved for Fallout: New Vegas. A control wheel helps keep them active, healed, and armed. Plus, each companion has a strong personality, as well as their own quest. My two favorites, when they worked, were Boone and ED-E. There’s also a slew of new weapons, outfits, and food items to search for, making it harder to carry everything around. Wish there were more “home” options though as traveling back and forth to the Lucky 38 was a hassle. Perks are only gained every two levels now, which adds actually a lot to the game, forcing you to really think about what ones you pick.

Where there’s Vegas, there’s gambling. Players can enjoy some blackjack, slots, and roulette, as well as Caravan. However, I found I didn’t need a lot of help making caps in the Mojave Wasteland so I never got into this aspect. Or the Survival skill. Or even test the waters with Hardcore mode. Too much to do! That’s the desert motto.

Alas, as we all know, Fallout: New Vegas is not a good game in terms of being a videogame. It is bloated with bugs, glitches, freezes, and wonky design choices. It uses the same engine as Fallout 3, and it shows. Dialogue action screens are still locked in limbo, companions get lost and stuck with the greatest of ease, and for some reason, when wielding a rifle, my character likes to randomly lift his arms. For the final battle, I found myself frantically saving as the game would freeze when going into V.A.T.S. four times out of ten, probably because there was a lot going on what with Centurions getting shot up and ED-E fritzing out. Grrr…

Yet…I loved the time I spent in Fallout: New Vegas. And I can’t wait to do it again, this time as an evil redhead with a deep love of animals and melee weapons. Please suggest names for her in the meantime.

ATHORE COMMENTS AL TOTOL LIES

Okay. So, there’s this Flash-based RPG called Super PSTW Action RPG (which I’ve never played and most likely never will), and someone under the username of AXMAN13 did not have a good time being super in an action RPG. Snartleblast, right? Naturally, this reviewer left his thoughts behind for all to read, but Newgrounds users RicePirate and D-Mac-Double decided that these snippets of poetry and fine 18th century literature were better suited as a typography video. In short, a Flash video of a review of a Flash game. It’s pretty superb with some amazing voice work and sound effects, and I’d love to see all negative reviews, whether justified or not, whether written by 13-year-olds or actual gaming journalists, brought to life like so.

Go watch: http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/558516

Games Completed in 2011, #1 – Dead Rising 2: Case Zero

Developers: Capcom, Blue Castle Games
Publisher: Capcom
Platform: Xbox 360 exclusive
Genres: Action adventure, zombie slaying, survival horror
Modes: Single-player
Hours clocked: Roughly four to five

A five dollar videogame doesn’t sound like a good thing. I mean, I’m imagining getting something like this or this or even this for such a low price. I did not, in all honesty, expect to get something good, something fun–a game I’d replay three times without blinking an eye. And that’s Dead Rising 2: Case Zero for you, a bite-size Dead Rising 2 experience that does a great job of fleshing (puns intended!) out the gameplay mechanics of its bigger brother, as well as supplying its own unique story, location, and set of characters.

The hero of Dead Rising 2: Case Zero is Chuck Greene, a former motocross champion, and every hero has its loser counterpart, and we’ll call her Katey. That’s his daughter, and she’s sick from a motherly zombie bite, forcing him to scrounge for Zombrex to keep her human and alive long enough until he can figure out a more final solution to his daughter’s problems. The game takes place three years before the events of Dead Rising 2 in a town called Still Creek, which is brimming with the undead. Unfortunately, Chuck and Katey get stranded there, and his mission is to fix a broken motorcycle, keep Katey alive, save the town’s citizens, kill some zombies via inhumane weapons, and get out safe and sound with his daughter. This has to all happen within the time limit of one day, or else the military will arrive and take his daughter away to be, and I’m assuming here, beheaded and burned like the little zombie kids all are.

Bad news for Katey as this time limit took me by surprise, and I was unable to do the needful before the military came to steal her away. This earned me Ending D. What’s really nice is that when you “beat” the game, as I clearly did the first time around, you can replay it with all earned money, stats, combo cards, and Chuck’s PP saved. New game+ is always a good thing. Anyways, this helped greatly with my second playthrough, earning me Ending A. I then romped around Still Creek for a third time to mop up some Achievements, and this third playthrough was unique in that I actually got to experience saving the town’s citizens. Also, all PP is transferable for those moving on to Dead Rising 2.

However, most likely, I won’t be moving on to Dead Rising 2. Or the original Dead Rising. Or even Dead Rising 2: Case West. This “paid demo” experience was more than enough for me, and I had a lot of fun whacking zombies with spiked bats/throwing casino poker chips in their faces, but overall the gameplay would most likely get stale for me. I mean, there’s only so many ways to skin a cat  kill a zombie, and between that and the frustrating time limit/save system, I just don’t think a full zombie release is my cup of tea.

But yeah, for five bucks…or 400 Microsoft Points if you like to speak the language of global corporation domination. It’s worth it. So, instead of buying a sandwich from Quick Chek/WaWa/wherever today, I heartedly recommend downloading Dead Rising 2: Case Zero, and that’s saying a lot because I absolutely love sandwichs.

Skyrim, the land of rare beards

Truthfully, I’m not a big fan of people that scan print magazine articles and then pass them around the Internet without a shred of guilt. I’ve spent a good number of years working in the print industry, and it’s sad to see such progress stolen and spread arrogantly. That said, the latest issue of Game Informer has hit the World Wide Web via scans, and if anyone wants to look at them, they can. I openly admit to glancing at them; they aren’t worth it in terms of getting a good read or strong take on how Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim looks and plays. For that, I’m gonna need to wait for video. And I can wait. I mean, screenshot-wise, the game looks to be using the Gamebryo engine when all reports say otherwise.

But with scans comes great responsibility write-ups. These have gone over various changes and plot details and skill system settings and so on. Some sounds good, some sounds extremely lame (::cough cough:: level scaling), and some sounds undecided. I’ll continue to wait for more details to emerge before digging deeper into Skyrim‘s plausibility to be a better game than Oblivion.

However, there’s one detail that has knocked me over like a great troll swinging a mallet. And it is this: beards. Skyrim is going to be sporting beards.

BEARDS!

Now, shall I make Merlin, Gandalf, or Dumbledore as my first character come 11/11/11? You’re right. I’ll just make one super wizard named Merdalfdore and be done with it. Thanks!

Dead Rising 2: Case Zero is full of PP

Browsing the Xbox Arcade marketplace last night led to a delightful surprise: Dead Rising 2: Case Zero was only 400 Microsoft Points. That’s probably a great deal. Or maybe it’s always been 400 MP, and I just never realized this. Either way, as I still had 800 MP left from Tara‘s Christmas gift to me, I decided to give it a try. I never played the original game, and I’m very wishy-washy when it comes to loving this zombie craze sweeping entertainment media like…well, like a zombie plague. But the fact that this is a condensed version of a much larger game appealed to me greatly, as did its asking price.

So far, it’s pretty fun! You play as a stone-faced fella named Chuck, and you kill lots of zombies. Oh, and you have to find medicine for your daughter to keep her alive. Gameplay happens in faux real time, and so you have to be constantly aware of what time it is so as to not fail missions…I mean, cases. Obviously, the game’s biggest draw is zombie slaying, and there’s a varied amount of weapons to be picked up and used. My favorite, so far, is poker chips. Just kidding. And you can also build weapons by piecing together different items and using the magic that is duct tape.

Fun, surprisingly deep, solid presentation. Good job, Dead Rising 2‘s prologue.

But I got a big problem with Prestige Points, the game’s marker for gaining experience and moving up levels. More commonly called PP, and it’s just wrong. Disturbingly bizarre. Tara was laughing her head off last night as load screens offered such tips as, “Save citizens to earn bonus PP!” I mean, come on. Didn’t anyone at Capcom and Blue Castle Games read this stuff out loud? Why didn’t anyone suggest Zombie Points (ZP) or Having Fun Hitting Zombies with Poker Chips Points (HFHZPCP)?

In case you are confused, it goes like this: Prestige Points. PP. Pee-pee.

Was there pee-pee in…I mean, was there PP in the original Dead Rising, too? For the sake of zombie janitors everywhere, I hope not.