Tag Archives: Grinding Down

Ringing in the new year with 90,000 Gamerscore

When I hit the 80,000 Gamerscore mark in August 2017, I predicated I’d earn the next full 10,000 by March 2018. Mel went with April 2018. Er, whoops. We were a bit off on those guestimations. Here we are almost two weeks into January and, thanks to a number of recently completed games and the Iron Fist martial arts tournament, which I’ll touch upon below, I punched 90,000 Gamerscore perfectly in the nose last night, shortly before hitting the hay:

Go me, go numbers growing higher. Also, at some point, I really do need to look into updating my avatar, seeing as I haven’t rocked a full beard now for many, many months. I can also make my body size a bit slimmer.

Let’s see. Obviously, the games I’ve touched most recently–Wolfenstein: The New Order, Night in the Woods, and Prey–played a bit part in climbing this mountain. As did Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor and all its DLC, which, until typing those very words, I had honestly wiped from my memory despite the number of hours that whole thing took to complete. There’s also Slime Rancher and Murdered: Soul Suspect, of which I got most for the former and all the Achievements for the latter, plus a bunch of smaller games here and there to fill in the gaps, inching my Gamerscore a wee bit closer to the clouds.

However, after finding every single hidden enigma code collectible and unlocking the first puzzle-related one in Wolfenstein: The New Order last night, I saw that I needed 20 more Gamerscore to hit 90,000 perfectly, which wasn’t going to work with the remainder of enigma-related Achievements left in the game. So I began searching through my installed games list, on the hunt for something worth either 20, 15, 10, or 5, though I was hoping to find an easy one for 20 and call it a night. Enter Tekken Tag Tournament 2, and this little gem involving pressing X+Y+RB three times in Practice mode against an opponent standing still and not blocking, all of which took me about 30 seconds to do:


Master of the Direct Tag Assault (20G): You pulled off 3 Direct Tag Assaults.

My skills are undeniable. I don’t even remember which two characters I picked for my team. Either way, the job got done.

Will I achieve 100,000 Gamerscore in 2018? You bet your butt I will.

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Grinding Down’s 2017 gaming resolutions

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This is always dangerous, making promises. I’ve done it in the past here on Grinding Down, only to burn myself and those written words when it, for instance, ultimately, took many more years for me to beat Final Fantasy IX. Still, it’s always good to have goals, something to reach for and hopefully achieve after putting in the hard work, and, at the very least, these empty checkmark boxes give me direction, a place to go when I’m not sure what to do next. I’m not saying I’ll be successful on every account below, but I am willing to try. For all we know, 2017 could be the year of our very unmaking, and I might as well go down fighting for a cause, trivial as some of these may be.

Right. Allow me to highlight some future gaming goals…

Suikoden III

It’s always been my intention to play (and replay) the entire Suikoden series from start to finish to get to the games I’ve never touched yet, specifically Suikoden III, Suikoden IV, and Suikoden Tactics. Actually, now that I think about it, I don’t believe I ever saw credits roll on Suikoden V, but I do have a memory card save…somewhere. I got through replaying the first two games rather quickly, but then moved on to other non-Konami adventures after that.

For 2017, I’d like to get back to collecting them 108 Stars of Destiny, especially after finally playing some Dragon Age: Inquisition last year and seeing a few strong connections between the two. The roadblock is that I want to finish up everything for Dragon Age: Inquisition first before moving on to another large, time-demanding RPG. I just became friends with Dorian and am looking to move things forward romantically with Blackwall before tackling many more side missions. It’s probably going to be awhile.

So, I did play a bit of Suikoden III a few years ago, but my PlayStation 2 copy seems scratched up and unreliable. Thankfully, during some past PSN flash sale, I purchased a digital copy for the PlayStation 3, which means I really have no excuse now. It’s installed, ready to go. The real question is, as always, what to name my castle once I acquire it.

Earthbound

I’m not sure what it’s going to take me to finally start playing EarthBound. I was hoping buying the game, for more or less zero dollars thanks to Nintendo Club’s closing back in May 2015, was a solid place to begin. Alas, nope. I haven’t loaded it up once. Honestly, having this game available on the Wii U gamepad and not actually a Super NES locked to a TV should make this process even easier, considering I can take the experience with me into bed (hey now) before the Sandman visits.

However, that would mean I’d have to put down my Nintendo 3DS for some time, and with Disney Magical World 2 taking up all my pre-sleep time and Pokemon Moon waiting in the wings–as well as the remake of Dragon Quest VIII waiting even further in the wings–this might not happen just yet. Maybe by Spring 2017. I mostly wrote that to both give myself some breathing room, but also a starting point to stick to. This one’s for you, Iwata.

Steam backlog

At the time of writing, I have 362 games in my Steam library. Yeowza. Granted, many are not installed, and not all of them are huge, triple A titles that can’t even run well on my struggling-to-breathe ASUS laptop. Many have not been played at all, in fact. See, I have a bad habit of downloading just about every free thing released on the platform, as well as gobbling up indie bundles for real cheap to bloat this thing out even more. It’s gotten to the point that, when I do finally occasionally scroll through the list, I can barely remember where some of these titles came from, and then I freeze in fear, unable to decide what to try next, eventually settling on something safe, like AdVenture Capitalist or another unsuccessful run in Runestone Keeper. This is a problem.

I’m not here to make any kind of crazy schedule, like trying to play X number of games every week. That’s not going to gel with life. I am, however, here to make an effort, and make that effort known. I’m going to start small, using HowLongToBeat to help identify the not-so-big-timesinks and start whittling away from there. My problem, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this, is that I always want to experience as much of a game as possible, that I can’t remove it simply after beating it if there are, for instance, collectibles remaining to find or extra challenges that could be accomplished. I need to work on that. I need to accept that not every game needs to be squeezed dry, leaving nothing behind but a colorless husk. For 2017, I need to let go more often.

80,000 Gamerscore

This seems more than doable, especially considering that I jumped 10,000 Achievement points in the matter of six months last year. This goal also feeds into the constant sub-goal of clearing up hard-drive space on my consoles and removing finished games, as I continue to download those freebies every month, but not do much else with them except wonder when I’ll find the time. I’m looking to polish off Earthlock: Festival of Magic real soon, as well as a number of those single introductory episodes from Telltale’s numerous adventure gaming series, which will probably help make a good step forward towards this next milestone.

Create something one might call a game or experience or waste of time

Now, I know nothing about programming and code and how to submit something for certification with the big console-makers. It takes me upwards of three minutes to remember how to hyperlink something using HTML when the button doesn’t work here on WordPress. That’s fine. I’m not looking to do all that and beyond. This can obviously be argued, but: I can draw, I can write, and I have ideas.

And so, I want to create something. An experience, with emotions and mood and meaning and jokes, maybe stuff to click on, a puzzle or two or twist you never saw coming. Something interactive. Which leads me to think that a piece of interactive fiction is a good starting area. I plan playing a few pieces of interactive fiction soon, which will hopefully help bring the inspiration juices to a boil (ew gross). The trickier part would be deciding what story to tell, y’know, from the hundreds bouncing around in my brain every day.

Well, there you have it. Five things make a post. Two named games to finally dive into, a whole bunch of things within my Steam library, a larger Gamerscore, and something creative. We’ll stop there, as any more goals will just tip the boat over.

That said, how about y’all? What are you looking forward to accomplishing in 2017? It need not be related to videogames. Perhaps you are finally ready to start cleaning up that garage full of clutter (hi, Dad!) or want to exercise more or get into knitting. Either way, let me know in the comments. I like knowing.

POLISHING OFF: Kung Fu Rabbit

polishing-off-kung-fu-rabbit

Kung Fu Rabbit is a fun, colorful game that is easy to like and enjoy, but only if you give it a chance. Alas, I’m not sure many will. It’s a dime a dozen these days for indie platformers and, unfortunately, there’s an opinion out there that I don’t share at all that a lot of the smaller indie games handed out as freebies for PlayStation Plus are afterthoughts or unable to stand shoulder to shoulder with the AAA games. That said, I’ve never heard of either of the PS3 titles for October 2016. Regardless, I’m thankful I did play this as I found this rabbit-starring puzzle platformer both amusing and challenging. Perhaps more challenging than I initially expected too, which is why after completing the main groups of levels this time last year, I put it aside, despite only having one more Trophy to unlock.

Well, about a month ago, I unlocked it. Hooray for me. I figured I wouldn’t even bother making a post about it, but then this gave me an idea for a new feature on Grinding Down, as polishing off games is something I do from time to time and would like to do a lot more. Basically, this is me finishing whatever is left in a game that is preventing my broken brain and body from simply deleting the whole thing after beating its main thread. Honestly, I can’t say what made me scroll all the way down again on my long, ever-growing list of PlayStation 3 games, but I just wanted to revisit it and see how difficult it might be to finally unlock the Grand Dragon Trophy, which asks players to…well, the description doesn’t actually say what you are supposed to do:


Grand Dragon
– You finally won. They’re erecting statues in your honour and fans are throwing flower petals before you. You’re pure class.

Sounds like quite a celebration. Jaynestown, but for a small, furry mammal. Anyways, to get this Trophy, you must complete all 60 basic rabbit levels, as well as then complete all 60 hardcore rabbit levels. These are like the normal levels, but with the difficult nudged up a wee bit. Think of the Dark World levels from Super Meat Boy, but with less thrashing guitar riffs and more spitting sound effects. Thankfully, you do not need to collect a certain number of carrots each level, only finish the dang thing, and you can burn all that carrot currency on power-ups to help you reach the end without much trouble. Though there were still some levels I refused to do this on, knowing I could beat them with enough patience and attempts.

Hmm. So, while doing some research and fact-checking for this post, I stumbled across this forum thread claiming that you only needed to finish world 7’s hardcore rabbit levels for this to pop. Whoops. I did them all. That’s okay, as I probably would have felt incomplete afterwards, but that trick is out there is you are looking for an even faster means to the end.

With this accomplished, Kung Fu Rabbit is ready to retire to the dojo…for the rest of its days. I mean, universal evil has been vanquished. Also, I’ve played all the levels, unlocked every Trophy, listened to its martial arts sound effects numerous times, squirmed uncomfortably whenever a section devoted to the spitting enemies appeared, and collected all the carrots that I deemed worthy of collecting. That’s it for this rabbit.

Completing a game doesn’t often mean finishing everything there is to do. For many games, long after I’ve given them a haiku review and post of final thoughts, there are still collectibles to find, side quests to complete, things to unlock, challenges to master, and so on. POLISHING OFF is a new regular feature where I dive into these checklist items in hope of finishing the game as fully as possible so that I can then move on to the one hundred and thirty-eight million other games begging for my attention.

You’ll never take this 60,000 Gamerscore away from me

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It was only a couple of months ago that I was touting my latest small victory, of hitting a Gamerscore of 55,555 perfectly on the dot. Now, over my years of gaming since gaining an Xbox 360 and loving the quest of popping many Achievements, I’ve normally only gone after the, in my zany and hairy mind, seemingly milestone-esque amounts, such as 10,000, 20,000, and so on. The big numbers. You can find posts on these ::ahem:: achievements by clicking here. However, I saw an opportunity then to do something silly, and I rounded out that post speculating that I’d hit 60,000 by the end of the summer or 2016. Looks like I second-guessed my ability to do numerous tasks and receive digital rewards for them. Shame on me.

Well, here, enjoy the photographic proof. You’ll notice that I finally upgraded my user pic–I think this colorful dude looks pretty close to me, or, at the very least, close to how I imagine people in the real world view me–as well as gained a couple more friends/followers:

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Speech time. I’d like to personally thank the following games for helping me along the way, in whatever ways possible, since mid-March, because, without them, I wouldn’t be here today talking about 60,000 Gamerscore:

  • Tom Clancy’s The Division – Thanks for having so many collectibles to collect, even if all I got in the end was a rosy pink jacket. Just kidding. Got a ton of Achievements from running around an empty map of New York City in search of cell phones and abandoned laptops while friends did actual missions.
  • Gears of War 2 – Thanks for a fairly okay solo campaign and multiplayer modes that allow me to play against the AI instead of thirteen-year-old kids that like to curse. At some point, I’ll be back to get all them dog tags.
  • Saints Row IV – Thanks for just kickin’ back and saying, “Have at it!” I’m still working towards a few goals in Steelport, but the fact that there’s a menu keeping track of all your stats, such as how many kills you’ve gotten with a specific weapon, is extremely useful.
  • Hitman Absolution – Thanks for being the sort of game that lets you be sneaky sneaky and then all-out action hero when things go wrong. I hope to write about you soon, as I’m having a much better time in your world than I did in Blood Money.
  • Tekken Tag Tournament 2 – Thanks really goes to Bandai Namco for making Tekken 7, as well as giving this one out for free during E3! Tekken has always been one of my favorite fighting game series, though I strangely never got to play any of the Tag games. Until now. So far, I pretty much only use Jun Kazama.
  • Microsoft Treasure Hunt – Thanks for providing that 10G Achievement of revealing a trap on the first level, which helped me nail the 60,000 mark perfectly. You’re a blessing. Also, I promise to come back and play you at some point, as you seem like a mix of Minesweeper and a rogue-like, which…yeah, sure.

::a round of roaring applause while some bouncy exit-stage-left music plays and I’m ushered away behind the curtains::

So, is 70,000 Gamerscore possible in 2016? Hey, anything‘s possible. It’s the doing that takes work. Believe in me, dear readers, and I’ll see you when I get there.

Been blogging at Grinding Down now for six whole years

grinding down celebrating 6 years

Technically, if you dig through my archives, you’ll see that I actually began this ol’ Grinding Down blog of mine back in March 2009 with a smattering of posts, going silent until July 2009 for an additional whooping three posts. However, August 2009 seems to be where I really dug my heels in and stuck with it, eventually turning this place into a melting pot of things, the majority of which are, honest to supreme being in the sky, off the cuff thoughts and ramblings–it is, more or less, the only way I know how to write. And so here we are, six years later, sticking it out.

At first, I tried to treat Grinding Down as a blog styled after the bigger gaming websites I followed, which meant writing previews and reviews littered with line item details and even a number score at the bottom. Maybe this was, in its own way, my tactic for being noticed and hired off the Interwebz to work at one of these fancy gaming sites. Eventually, I drifted from that mentality and found a groove where I more or less wrote about whatever I wanted, how I wanted, using a pic atop each post with hopefully a clever phrase written on it in Showcard Gothic. Here’s a list of links to a few posts I’m still pretty proud of today:

I tried to restrain from compiling just a list of “top five” articles. If you think I missed calling out some other solid posts, by all means, link ’em in the comments. Truthfully, the posts that receive the largest amount of attention from Google searches, according to my stats, that is, are directly related to all things Pokemon. Like this heavy hitter. Anyways…

Things here will likely continue on as usual and pick up steam now that summer is beginning to wind down. Expect plenty more haikus as I polish off what’s currently on my buffet plate (Metal Gear Solid IV on PS3, Lara Croft: Guardian of Light on Xbox 360, LEGO Jurassic World on the 3DS, a bunch of mini things on my phone, and the never-ending Time Clickers on Steam).

At the beginning of the year, I had aspired to come up with some new features for Grinding Down, but alas, none have really materialized yet. Hmm. Perhaps I need to implement some sort of strategy to at least try some of the dozens and dozens of downloaded titles I have sitting quiet and collecting digital dust while I take my time and tip-too through Final Fantasy IX. I also continue to think about doing a podcast–the Grindcast, if you will–but can’t really find many cases where a one-man podcast is something people like listening to.

Out of fear of leaving someone out, I’d like to just thank anyone and everyone that comes by Grinding Down and reads my words. It means a lot to have your support, especially for my certainly random ideas and topics. If you want previews or Early Access impressions, along with review scores, go somewhere else. This is Grinding Down, a gamer’s guide to nothing. Here’s to another six years of waxing muse and grinding onwards. Also, if I have still not played my copy of Katamari Damacy by 2021, please yell at me.

Grinding Down’s new year gaming resolutions for 2015

gd new year gaming resolutions

I’m strange. Sometimes I like to openly talk about a challenge or new goal, such as when I decided to draw 365 bad comics over the course of an entire year, while other endeavors are handled more privately without anyone being the wiser. In fact, I’ve already started on a few over the last several months, and some of those plans will never be brought to light. I’m okay with that. I’m the shyest man yearning for recognition, afraid to be recognized. Again, I’m strange.

As far as I’ve seen over the last few days, game resolutions generally boil down to the same idea: play that game. Whether I do or not is the real challenge, and I’ve had some ups and downs over the last few years when it came to this, but I’m willing to put it out there again, a list of games I own, want to play, and then put away (in my mind).

In 2013, I wanted to beat five specific games I had previously played but never saw credits roll. I ended up beating three of the five, and though my math skills leave a lot to desire, I thought that was pretty good, especially when you consider that Chrono Cross is no short romp through an alternate dimension.

For 2014, I naturally wanted to beat those other two names I missed out on, but that never happened. Then I started playing Suikoden and Suikoden II, with the (laughable) idea I’d get through the rest of the series in short order now that I own all of them. Well, all except for Suikoden Tierkreis. Cue wet fart sound effect? I also had illusions of grandeur for the Metal Gear series, completing the first five games, with plenty more to go. Not “swings and a miss,” but more like “swings and good job, you’re on second base,” now waiting for another player to hit you home. I’ll get through both series in due time, hopefully before Gameageddon actually happens.

With that, here are my gaming resolutions for two thousand fifteen (that’s how all the cool kids are writing it this year). Trumpet blast a-hoy:

1. Stay one step ahead of Giant Bomb for its Metal Gear Scanlon feature. That means I’m not rushing through Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater just yet, which is also the last of the bunch that I’ve actually played. Peace Walker, Guns of the Patriots, and Ground Zeroes will be totally new experiences to me, and I’m looking forward to them greatly, but I don’t want to burn out either on too much too fast. I enjoy watching Dan and Drew react to the wackiness that is Hideo Kojima’s mindset, but only after I’ve swallowed the crazy sugar first.

2. Since I didn’t get to them in 2013 or last year–double shame on me!–both Final Fantasy IX and Radiant Historia are first on the list of must-see-all-the-way-through items. I really don’t want to arrive into 2016 knowing those cute, cuddly critters are still clawing at my ankles, desperate for attention.

3. Silent Hill 3. There, I said it. Or rather, I wrote it. Even though I’m still not over my harrowing time with Silent Hill 2, I must persevere. I’m not ready to explore why.

4. Come up with another new feature at Grinding Down for the year. Games I Regret Parting With seems to be a big fav, but I’ll eventually run out of those to dissect. I used to do Achievements of the Week and Half-hour Hitbox, but those lost steam after awhile, mostly because I lost steam. If you have any ideas or niches you’d like to see my cover, y’know, other than all these unheard of freeware joints or obscure point-and-click adventure games, let me know. I’m interested if you’re interested.

5. Get proper equipment like a microphone and learn how to stream better in preparation for  the next Extra Life event. I want to do it again and have friends over and raise lots of money for those that need it more than me. I’m even hoping to hold out on several games still in hopes of playing them live that during those twenty-four hours.

All right, we’ll stop there. Resolutions are tricky because you can just keep stacking them, and like I said, for gaming stuff, it often ends up being a list of games you want to play. I have too many to even start counting, and most of them are long, lengthy JRPGs, like Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny and Xenosaga. Cue mad scientist laugh? Yeah, cue it hard.

What are some of your new year’s resolutions, gaming-related or not?

Meowgical Tower covers some fur-miliar adventuring ground

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I have to imagine that, for anyone new to reading Grinding Down, this blog is a bit all over the map. In the past few posts alone, I’ve talked about an old PlayStation 1 car combat-limned racer, a game all things DLC, my latest progress on replaying Suikoden II, finally getting around to Botanicula, with a few additional posts about tiny, indie, very far off the radar titles that are more about exploration than gameplay mechanics. In many ways, I’m kind of a cat; I move about the gaming industry at my own pace and course, taking great interest in various things along the way while ignoring others. Sometimes it’s a stuffed mouse to chase, and other times it’s a piece of food I carried over by the couch and forgot to previously eat. This analogy got weird.

Which brings us to Meowgical Tower, created by Neon Deity Games for GameBoy Jam 3, a happening that happened back in August 2014. The rules for the jam were simple though I couldn’t even make a sandwich out of these guidelines, but then again I’m no coder:

  1. The aim of GBJam is to create a GameBoy themed game
  2. All assets must be created during the duration of the Jam
  3. Keep in the original GameBoy screen resolution of 160px x 144px
  4. Use only 4 colors in your game

I think Meowgical Tower covers all those requirements. It stars Catte, an intrepid, inquisitive cat. While out adventuring one evening, Catte must take shelter inside a rather ominous tower to avoid getting wet from a sudden rainstorm. Unfortunately, this tower holds secrets, as well as danger, behind every door.

You use the arrow keys to move in four directions, the X key to inspect or advance text, Z to attack or meow if you are weaponless, and Space to paws…er, pause the game. Pretty simple stuff, and you’ll explore rooms that feel ripped right from a Legend of Zelda dungeon of old. What I found neat is that the key or levers you pick up act like weapons, but only until you use them; then it’s back to being a meowy, defenseless kitty cat.

All this exploration eventually leads to a single, three-step final boss fight. With who, you ask? The Labradoom Deceiver, naturally, which is accompanied by an amusing Borderlands style title card. There’s a pattern to learn with this boss, and it took me a few tries before I realized I had to be patient with my attacks, because trying to rush him for damage after gaining a key/lever meant instant death for the bold, brave Catte. After you take down the Labradoom Deceiver, you get a short cutscene that seems to say this was all done for…well, I’ll let you decide on that.

My two biggest gripes for Meowgical Tower are that you can’t attack diagonally, but your enemies can, which means you have to position yourself just right to make contact. Also, to enter a door, you really have to go at it square-on, otherwise you’ll hit its doorframe and get locked in the “push” animation, often taking damage from an enemy following up behind Catte. Knowing those two critiques is important when viewing my final statistics:

Deaths: 9
Game Time: 21:48

Right. This is just one of many, many entries for GameBoy Jam 3. You can play it online so long as you have Unity installed, for zero dollars. I’d like to check out some other creations from the jam, but with around 240 in total out there, it just might not ever happen. After all, I am a cat, and cats do what cats wanna do; you can’t change their minds.