Monthly Archives: August 2012

The purchasing forecast of videogames for the remainder of 2012

It’s gotten to the point that this upcoming autumn slash winter, in terms of videogame release dates, is becoming a messy blur, and I can no longer keep things pinned nicely on the bulletin board in my mind. Usually there’s just one or two games I really, really want, but not this time around. Seems like everything is coming to a head to round out the year of our unmaking. Oh boy, oh girl.

And so I come here, to Grinding Down, my e-refrigerator of sorts, to jot everything down next to the grocery list so I can keep track of it all. I’m sure this is not as interesting as me trying out Facebook social games and complaining about the Energy template or writing lame haikus or talking about videogames I traded in when I was young and dumb, but I like staying organized and orderly, and this helps with those two personality aspects immensely.

And we’re off…

Borderlands 2
System: Xbox 360
Release date: September 18, 2012

Already got this one pre-ordered, which means I’ll get early access to the now controversial fifth class. You know, the one with the “girlfriend mode” skill tree, where shooting a gun near an enemy is considered good enough to damage it. Chances are I won’t play as any other class than the trusted soldier with his trusty turret, but we’ll see. Really looking forward to this one, especially since I’ve been dipping back into the original game as a late to clean up some Achievements and missed quests. Does anyone know if you can carry over some guns with saved data? I’ve got this sick acid-based pistol that obliterates armor I want to keep.

Pokemon White/Black 2
System: Nintendo DS
Release date: October 7, 2012

Um, no, I have not yet beaten my copy of Pokemon White, and so I don’t know how the story ends. I’m at the final fight area, but have to do a lot of grinding to get a team up to snuff, and that’s not a lot of fun. The fun, for Pokemon videogames and me, comes from the beginning hours, where you go out into the wild to grab your first few pocket monsters, and then begin to construct a team to your liking. There’s another reason that I now pretty much buy these Pokemon games like a natural reflect, but I’m not ready to talk about that just yet.

Code of Princess
System: Nintendo 3DS
Release date: October 9, 2012

Now, I’m not actually certain I’ll be picking up Code of Princess, but it does have two big points going for it: quirky characters and ATLUS. That might be enough, but I’ll hold back and see what reviews say first. Hopefully Giant Bomb does a Quick Look of it.

Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask
System: Nintendo 3DS
Release date: October 28, 2012

Hey, it’s the professor’s first adventure–on this side of Earth, at least–in the third dimension! Think of the possibilities. Can’t wait to remove match sticks in 3D. This is a no-brainer, really. Wonder if it’ll come with another bonus mini-game like Professor Layton’s London Life. I loved that experience more than the actual game, but it still made for a crazy good package all in all.

Assassin’s Creed III
System: Xbox 360
Release date: October 30, 2012

Some time before this comes out, I’ll have to read a wiki summary for Assassin’s Creed: Revelations as I skipped that one. It seemed, from what I could tell, to be more Brotherhood, with little variation. More Brotherhood isn’t a terrible premise, as that adventure was leaps and bounds ahead of others, but to fall flat and not contain many revelations–for shame. Otherwise, the newest entry looks great, with new types of terrain and weaponry to master. Plus, naval combat. I’m in.

Paper Mario: Sticker Star
System: Nintendo 3DS
Release date: November 11, 2012

Mario, RPG elements, and sticker collecting. Who knew this combo would be so desirable?

Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion
System: Nintendo 3DS
Release date: November 18, 2012

The people that made Monster Tale are making this, using Castle of Illusion for inspiration. I don’t need any more reasoning than that. Please, take my money.

LEGO Lord of the Rings
System: Xbox 360
Release date: Holiday 2012

One has to assume this will come out right around the same time part one of eight-seven for Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit drops. I mean, if I had the mind of a businessman, that’s how I’d plan for it. Symmetry and brand recognition, right? Yeah, that’s it. Over the weekend, Tara and I finished up collecting every noodle and nail in LEGO Harry Potter, Years 5-7, which was exhausting, and so we’ll take a break from the LEGO games until this one comes out. Still not sure how to accept the addition of voices in the newer titles…

THE POOL OF UNCERTAINTY MIGHT STILL CONTAIN SOME OF THESE GAMES FOR 2012 OR MAYBE NOT…

Fantasy Life
System: Nintendo 3DS
Release date: ???

A few weeks ago, new screenshots–mostly in Japanese, mind you–were released for the long-awaited Fantasy Life, and I was excited. This would be the game that could stave off my Animal Crossing withdrawal. Coupled with these screenshots was the promise of a release date shortly thereafter, but that time has come to pass, and not a new word has surfaced since then. That’s…extremely disheartening. C’mon. Let me get this for Christmas.

Bravely Default: Flying Fairy
System: Nintendo 3DS
Release date: ???

A unique battle system, the ability to change jobs, character designs from the character designer behind Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes, and absolutely stunning graphics. Seriously, this game looks gorgeous, and that’s a word usually saved for things like supermodels and Thanksgiving feasts. Other than that, little else is known, but I’m keeping my eyeballs peeled for this nonetheless.

Oh boy. Also: ugh. There’s more titles here than I previously thought I wanted. Thank goodness a few got delayed to 2013, such as Luigi’s Mansion 2 and BioShock Infinite, because I am going to make a serious attempt to balance gaming time with drawing a lot of comics time, as the latter is actually an important adventure I want to see to the end. There’s not many gaps here; seems like a game comes out every week once the leaves start changing, and my wallet is in for a hurting.

What’s on your to-buy list for the remainder of 2012? Are we getting any of the same games? JINX!

Check out my sweet Claptrap Bobblehead collection

As you’ll recall, mostly because I only posted about it one week ago, I’m back in Borderlands for a bit. At least until Borderlands 2 comes out, and then I will never return to where it all began because…that’s just how it goes. I don’t know. The shinier and newer toy is always more appealing.

Anyways, I’m not mindlessly running around blasting skags in the mouth. I do have a few goals. None require obtaining more killer weapons; I’m pretty set there. First, I’m trying to hit level 61, and it’s slow-going, but I’m creeping up towards level 58 at the moment. Second, I’m working on playing through the Secret Armory of General Knoxx DLC of a second time. Third, collecting all those annoying collectibles that drop from Claptrap enemies, such as oil cans, bobbleheads, and pizza slices. That last goal has required some serious grinding in the form of multiple boss runs to take on the MINAC, a huge, robotic death-machine capable of releasing endless amounts of Claptraps to shoot for parts, but only after you take out all of its turrets. Most drop gears and motherboards, but a few leave behind the good stuff. Still, I swear I’ve fought that dang thing at least six or seven times now, to the point that it has become extremely tedious, especially when I walk away with only one, two, or three desired collectibles, but whatever. Grinding down, y’know.

Well, just as I picked up what I believed to be my eleventh Claptrap bobblehead after scouring the landscape post-MINAC fight and reached for my pen and paper to mark it down, this beautiful thing pinged:


Bobble-Trap (10G): Collected 15 Claptrap bobbleheads

Oh…cool. I guess at some point before I actually began writing down when I found a collectible in this game that won’t just track these things for me…I found some collectibles. I just don’t really remember picking up four other bobbleheads, but that’s memory for you–sometimes it’s strong, and sometimes it is long in the years.

And so, if my notes are correct and I don’t actually have more than I currently believe I do, I need 13 more oil cans and six more slices of pizza to unlock the other two collectible-based Achievements for the Claptrap’s New Robot Revolution DLC. Isn’t that exciting? You don’t have to answer all at once. I’ll get there, though I think I’ll move back to my other goal of getting through General Knoxx’s armory for a second time, now on a tougher playthrough. The enemies were grueling at level 54 and level 55, but now I’m sitting cool at level 57 and feeling much more confident in my shooting skills. This is also the place to gain some good EXP, and the higher I get, the less times I have to use Second Wind to slink my way through a fight. Plus, always in the back of my mind, that giant crab monster, the one associated with a quest called You. Will. Die. Mm-hmm…

Breaking on through to the other side of Devil Summoner Overclocked

Let’s travel back in time. About a year ago, a crazy hurricane named Irene tore through the eastern side of the United States, doing insane damage and just being overall terrible and freaky. Let’s hope she never returns. It also forced Tara and I out of the house we had just begun renting, pushing us to stay with her parents until power was restored in the Pennsylvania area. Before all of this happened, as a handheld gamer is wont to do knowing that a lockdown is imminent, I bought a new game for the Nintendo 3DS to help…ahem weather the storm. That’s the second time I’ve used that joke, and no, I’m not apologizing for it.

Anyways, that game was Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner Overclocked, and it seemed like something I’d like at first glance, but proved a little too difficult early on to overcome. Which is a shame, as the story was very promising and had all its hooks in me. And so I set it aside, disappointed in my second retail purchase for that nifty videogame system that displays things in three dimensions with no use of special glasses, only to pick it up nearly a year later to try again and knock down the wall blocking any and all progress. The main reason behind this? Well, I have finally begun watching the lengthy and amusing Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 Endurance Run at Giant Bomb, and all the talk of fusing different Personas and casting of spells like Bufu and Zio and growing relationships amid chaos and disaster reminded me that I had a game quite similar to that. Just a SRPG instead of a JRPG, that’s all.

And so, I hopped back into the thick of things. If you’ll recall, I put Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner Overclocked down at what I assumed was a boss-like battle early on during Day One of the lockdown in Tokyo, but was really just a traditional battle that stood in the way of the story progressing. My problem with it is that monsters would encircle a character and his or her team of Personas, and then they would KO super fast, then causing the other teams to follow just as speedily. This time around, I strategized and planned to move my trio of teens directly at the toughest enemy on the screen, killing it as fast as possible while keeping everybody close to each other. Also, I learned how to better use certain spells like Aggravate and Dia, as well as exploiting certain weaknesses for specific enemies, which then grant extra turns vital to staying alive. And lo and behold, I was victorious.

As Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner Overclocked continues on, I’ve entered a few more battles like the one that stopped me in my tracks before. It can be a little frustrating, but I’m beginning to see my mistakes and how I can handle things better. The opening few turns really do foretell how things will go, and one can grind on free battles if they need to level up their teams and Personas. In short, I’m definitely getting the hang of battles more, and I hate–with the deepest and darkest passion you can hold in the blackest spot of your heart–the demon Moh Shuvuu. One thing I still haven’t learned is to not attack her unless you can kill her in a single fight, because she will just Dia (heal) herself immediately after.

Last night, I completed Day One of the lockdown, and am now waking up to Day Two, with the counter on our collective deathclocks reading…one. Aww, boo. The story’s still fantastic, and Yuzu says some hilarious things, especially when nonchalantly talking about summoning demons from handheld COMPs and that one time they all took down a snowman. The voice-acting has really helped keep me engaged as the battles are most stressful than enjoyable, though I have only just gotten into them at this point. Learning to steal skills from enemies gives me a good goal towards perfectly the Personas currently in my party.

But yeah, I’m pretty stoked to have broken down that wall and gotten to continue on in the game. Don’t quote me on this, but it’s looking like I won’t be getting a new game until late September 2012 when Borderlands 2 drops, and so re-visiting a number of games from my backlog and continuing on with them is a good thing. Saves me money and makes me feel better about some of these purchases. Well, maybe not Game of Thrones: The Game; maybe not ever.

The Sword of Hope II is srprsngly fntstc and addctng

A few days ago, I treated myself to $10.00 of spending e-bucks for the Nintendo 3DS eshop. Y’know, my favorite place to buy digital videogames. I kid, I kid. Actually, it’s gotten a whole lot better since I last perused the shop with a purpose, and I saw a whole bunch of strong contenders, but sadly, most of those titles costed $7.00 or $8.00, and I’m always trying to get the most for the very least. Yes, I shop at The Dollar Tree quite frequently, and yes, I’m proud of it.

Anyways, here’s what I actually ended up getting, leaving my account with just $0.40 left over:

  • 3,2,1…Words Up!
  • Kirby’s Pinball Land
  • The Sword of Hope II

The first two listed above are perfect for quick gaming on the side. 3,2,1…Words Up! is quite similar to a Facebook game I used to play with family members called Wordtwist, wherein you are given a bunch of letters and a time limit, and have to create as many different words from those letters as you can. Less stressful and more fun than Quarrel, that’s for sure. And pinball is pinball, no matter what character or theme or brand name you slap in front of it.

Most surprising of these purchases has been The Sword of Hope II. It’s a game I’ve never heard of before, and the sequel to another game I never heard of. Both were released long, long ago in the early 1990s for the Nintendo Game Boy, and I was only interested in Mario and Tetris back then, so it’s not shocking that I missed these releases. Chances are, you did too, and so it’s a little strange to see the second game in the franchise get a re-release for 3DSWare, but I’m guessing that, of the two, it is the superior adventure.

Now, I can admit that it is not a superior adventure in the grand scheme of adventures, but it is a lot of fun. It’s old-school RPGness in the style of games like Wizardry and Bard’s Tale, with single-screen rooms and text-based actions like “look,” “hit,” and “open.” You control Prince Theo, who is sent out into the wild to recover the Sword of Hope yet again (um, see the previous game, I guess) to stop some evil wizard guy. Yeah, it’s generic story-stuff and not entirely examined any deeper than that. Since claiming the game’s wiki page on Giant Bomb as my own, I’ve scoured the Internet for more details, but there isn’t much out there. So I’m updating the page as I play in hopes of nailing down who did what to whom and why.

Battles are turn-based. You can attack, use magic, or opt for an item. Some characters learn spells, others attack with melee weapons, like rapiers, swords, and knives. I only have three characters in my company so far, and here’s how they break down: Theo is strong with sword, Mute is magical, and Nina is a waste of space. Winning battles earns money and experience, with the occasional special coin, which you can sell for a smooth 150 gold. It’s been pretty clear when I am supposed to be grinding, too. Y’know, RPG stuff.

The most entertaining part of The Sword of Hope II stems from the character limit problem on the Nintendo Game Boy had. It starts pretty innocently enough, with CAVE BHD WTRFALL:

I get that. Not enough room for all the descriptive text. I can still quickly read that as CAVE BEHIND WATERFALL and move on with the game. But then Prince Theo and company arrive here, and I’m stopped dead in my tracks, mouth agape, completely befuddled:

The…what? Fort TNT? IT’S GONNA BLOOOOW!

Oh, oh. All right.

There’s even more brain-bending names that don’t fit throughout the game, including some humorous items and weapons in shop menus. Like the WDN BMRNG. But I won’t spoil ’em all. I highly recommend you check the game out if you have a 3DS; The Sword of Hope II is only $2.99, and it’s a solid price for some straightforward RPGing that is more addicting than first impressions imply.

If you love corridors, you’ll love Rage’s final mission

Admittedly, I never payed too much attention to the story in Rage. Once I saw that Rage was not another take on Fallout 3 or even Borderlands, and that it was much more about shooting mutants and racing, I just kind of zoned out, played the game in short bursts, focusing simply on completing missions, which meant going to X, shooting enemies until enemies stopped running at me with guns locked and loaded, finding the sweet spot, and then doubling back to whatever town was nearby to turn in the quest. Once I got to the sewers, which meant the second disc on the Xbox 360, I gave up trying to find all the recipes, cards, race trophies, and jump ramps. The only direction was forward, with blinders on.

And so, just last weekend, I sat down to play Rage some more, intending to finish up another mission or two. Y’know, inch my way on. I was still in Subway Town, sleuthing by the locals and speaking in whispers with my team of rebels hiding even further down below the sewers. They had a plan to attack Capital Prime and unearth all the other buried Arks in the wasteland. Or maybe the world. I remember seeing a global map at some point. But first, I had to take out the defenses on the Authority Bridge, which was simply done. After that, it’s off to Capital Prime to start the revolution. Here’s how rebel team leader John Marshall tells me before I head out:

This is it, what we’ve been planning for so many years. Now, we hit the Authority where it hurts.

Take this Code-Cipher. You’ll be able to access any Personnel Entrance near Capital Prime’s main gate. Be careful, it will be heavily guarded. Once inside get to the Ark Control Center, and Upload the data from your ID Drive. That will trigger the emergence of the remaining Arks.

Mankind’s future depends on you now. God speed soldier.

Upon re-reading the mission text, yeah, it sure sounds like this could be the final mission, but it also seems like the “kick to the groin” mission, the swift attack before the actual smackdown, and then we get one last push at defeating the mysterious and shadow-wreathed Authority. Surely we’ll navigate a complex city structure and then have to take down some big baddie akin to that boss battle earlier in Rage, where scope got served and a monster the size of a building crumbled and bled through the walls and dramatically changed navigation. I mean, someone has to be telling these Authority goons what to do–it has been strange to not have a clear antagonist all this time. General Joe M. Authority is my guess.

Nope. Instead, we get narrow corridors. Filled with Mutants and Enforcers, which are easy to deal with since you receive basically the BFG before the mission starts, which obliterates anything alive. And then more corridors. More Mutants and Enforcers. You begin to suspect copy/pasting is at work. I mean, you hear the name Capital Prime, and one immediately imagines a futuristic and bustling city-state, a place where people live and work and get things done. Not just a bunch of hallways that all look the same. Ugh. Eventually you get to ride a three-tiered elevator ride, with each stop bringing out a wave of mutants to shoot and a button to press. Touch that third button, and the game is over. Cue badly rendered cutscene and confusion. That’s it. Back to the main menu screen select. It’s over fast and unexpected and strangely without any kind of final boss. I honestly emitted the following words after pushing that third button, and please note that I was completely alone at the time: “Wait, what?”

So, a disappointing close to a pretty mediocre first-person shooter with decent mini-games. I’m curious to see if there will be a Rage 2, as the non-ending implies more things are happening, what with every Ark across the globe turning on and resurfacing, but I’m not holding out much hope.

Back to Borderlands for a little bit

Well, since beating Rage last weekend, I’ve been kind of meh about anything new to play on the ol’ Xbox 360. The truth is, I still have several incompleted games in my collection that I should try to beat one day–Eternal Sonata, Game of Thrones, Grand Theft Auto IV, Nier, Quarrel–but none of those look the least bit desirable right now. Especially the newest of them all: Game of Thrones. Sorry, not even a hardcore fanboy can enjoy that mess, though I will at some point soon talk about why it would probably should’ve sank fast and furiously during the Battle of Blackwater.

Recently, I visited my local GameStop to pick up a new wired Xbox 360 controller as my previous one was on the brink of failure, and even then, with shelves full of names and images and discounted prices, nothing jumped out. Well, maybe Dragon’s Dogma and The Witcher 2, but those are still a little too pricey for me. I’d call this a summer slump, but the truth is I do have some stuff to play, but it’s mostly on my laptop thanks to the Steam Summer Sale or on my Nintendo 3DS.

I did, however, pre-order Borderlands 2, which then gave me the itch to return to the 2009 original title. Turns out, there was still more to do with my Playthrough 2 character. Like collect items in that Claptrap’s New Robot Revolution DLC and finish missions and kill some giant crab in The Secret Armory of General Knoxx DLC and hit level 61 and then beyond and even more things. But first…a patch to download! This patch gave me hope that the drop rates for oil cans, bobbleheads, pizza slices, and so on got fixed, because in its original form it was nearly impossible to find any of those items. And yes, it seems to be better, but still not great. Since the game doesn’t keep track of what you pick up as you crawl upwards toward those Achievements, I kept track. Check out this blurry photo:

Sorry, my camera phone is pretty lackluster. I will reproduce it below:

  • Oil Cans (need 25): 4 so far
  • Bobbleheads (need 15): 5 so far
  • Panties (need 3): 3 found, completed
  • Fish in a Bag (need 5): 5 found, completed
  • Pizza Slices (need 15): 0 so far

And that’s after playing for a few hours and taking on the MINAC twice. So yeah, it’s still pretty slow. The barren wasteland of pizza slices has me worried the most though, considering I’ve yet to see even a single slice drop off a Claptrap. But I’ll keep trying because, if anything, it’s at least more experience points towards a new level. I’ve read some tricks online about hiding from the MINAC so that it keeps producing Claptraps and then runs them over, endlessly producing loot. Will have to try that at some point, but I’ve moved over to running through the Robot Revolution DLC a second time on my Playthrough 2, which is at least providing a challenge for my LV 56 soldier. Also, I got taken for a ride:


Sucker born every minute (10G): Paid for a worthless tour of the world’s largest bullet

Well, that was $8,000,000 spent on an Achievement. Which is fine, really, as I don’t need a lot of money at this point as I have a ton of weapons and love, and I never see anything in the shop worth buying. Though I am still keeping my eye out for a better shield.

So, I’m back in Borderlands, at least for a little bit. Borderlands 2 comes out in the middle of next month, and I’m pretty excited for it. The pre-order bonus comes with some special guns and access to a new class, but I predict I’ll be rolling with the soldier again, as I love that turret. It is like having another soldier on the field, which is vital to me, since I pretty much play these co-op ready games solo.

Outernauts and the nature of the human being to face challenges

It seems like, once a year now, I try another Facebook game. I gave The Sims Social a go for a decent bit back in late 2011, eventually moving away when my house full of trees and bushes took forever to load, as well as the fact that I was running out of complete-able quests. Before that, in 2010, I enjoyed my short time–and I do mean short–as a chocobo rancher. I don’t really desire gaming on Facebook other than the occasional round of Words With Friends, and I’m totally aware of its constant trappings and never-yielding plot to annoy my online friends, fill my wall up with ridiculous claims, and attempt to have me spend real cash-money on things like Sim coins and star gems and poodle bucks.

And so, here we are in 2012, and I’m just getting into Outernauts. It’s got some good and some bad, and, for the time being, I’m willing to overlook the bad to embrace the good. But I can’t see this experience lasting for very long though.

Right. So, Outernauts. Basically, it’s Pokemon in space. And there’s nothing wrong with that. At all. In fact, it’s a stellar idea, and I’m somewhat surprised we haven’t seen it yet; if a game like this already exists, I missed it or it didn’t shout its premise loud enough for the world to hear. I mean, there are plenty of Pokemon clones out there–Digimon and Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker, for instance–but neither of those focus on space critters and traversing different galaxies. Outernauts does, and it makes much more sense when you realize that Insomniac Games is behind it. Yes, more from the creative minds behind all the zany weapons, monsters, and planets in the Ratchet and Clank series. That’s actually what grabbed my interest first before the whole “gotta catch ’em all” aspect.

For a free-to-play Facebook game, surprisingly, there’s a story. I can’t remember the specifics or names, so I’ll just use this generic text from Insomniac’s website for Outernauts:

As a member of United Earth’s elite Outernaut force, you’ll encounter both friends and foes as you uncover the riddle behind the mysterious “ancients” while battling pirates and evil corporations seeking to control the galaxy.

All in all, you’re looking for a thing, and so is an evil corporation, and to stop them from getting the thing, you need to battle and beat them with a team of exotic beasts. You level these beasts up by battling them and tweaking their abilities.

Right now, my cosmic team of battling beasties consists of these:

Note that those are the nicknames I gave my beasts, not their actual names. I think my leading one is a…Pumasear? Scorl is a Scorling. Can’t tell you what the other two are. I don’t remember. I have too many ‘mon names in my brain to differentiate this from that and that from this. Anyways, Purrburn is my strongest beast, mostly because I used all my Star Gems on it, not knowing that those are the “FarmVille bucks” of the game, limited and then only acquirable thereafter with real money. Oh well.

The music and artwork and design of everything is great, classic Insomniac charm. Colorful and inventive, with the gusto of space opera and pomp of Buzz Lightyear. Everything is easily explained and clear, and there’s lots of carrots on sticks to chase after. However, as with all Facebook games, the most disappointing and distrusting element is…energy. To battle, use 3 energy. To clear a path, use energy. To gather fuel, use energy. Need more energy? Pay up or wait awhile. The point is, you run out of energy real fast, and so playing Outernauts quickly becomes a game of management over experiencing, and that’s not too much fun. But I’d rather do as much as I can at once rather than blow my time on a wasted fight, which ends with my beasts being knocked out and unable to battle any more.

I’ll keep logging in for now to give Outernauts ten or fifteen minutes of my attention each day, but eventually I’ll walk away. Too many strange limitations in how many beasts I can have in my party and what I can actually do in a certain span of time, and I can just easily go back to my copies of Pokemon HeartGold, Pokemon White, or Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker to fill in the gaps.