Monday, June 16, 2008

Monday Report [June 9-15]

Super Mario Galaxy
4 hours, total
4 stars on Monday. 2 more on Tuesday. 2 more on Friday. I like it better when the purple coin levels are ones of exploration rather than arbitrary challenges. A few of them have just been 100 coins, scattered about the galaxy. The challenge is to find and get to them all. This pushes to you explore more than you may have before, and use all the tricks the game as taught you up to this point. They are also far less frustrating that some of the arbitrary challenges that you have to face in other levels (usually). The Battlerock's Purple Coins was particularly annoying: collect all the coins while this platform moves you through the level. Do it perfect, or fail.

Xbox 360
I don't actually own one of these. However, I have good friends that do. I was lucky enough this week to get to putz around on theirs, check out and play some favourite arcade games, and even have my choice of full games. Here's what I played:

Frogger 2 (demo)
Whole demo (15 minutes, including distractions)
Guh. I played this mostly because their son (not quite 2) was interested. We gave him the controller for a little while. He's starting to put stick-waggling and button-pressing together with what's going on screen. Mostly he just drowned Frogger. Mostly I wanted to, too. This game is insipid and annoying. It has all the repetitive fun you remember tarted up with a storyline (involving a crash-landed alien), garish graphics, and the most annoying synthesized sound effects you will ever hear. The sound played every time Frogger hops forward will make you want to tear you speakers from the wall. Just don't buy it.

Aces of the Galaxy (demo)
Solo, Easy, 2 Demo Levels
Not a bad little shooter. I managed to survive the two levels the demo allows (on easy) and get a semi-respectable rating. It certainly has shiny graphics, lots of projectiles, and a fair number of abilities and weapons. The timeshift ability is rather interesting and can be used to effectively get you out of a tight spot. It also has a rather banal and poorly written story; I'm not sure why they even bother sometimes. It's not like most of the players care. Oh, and when did Inverted Y-axis not become standard. I had to turn it on before I could play, but maybe I'm just old school. It's not really my kind of game (I suck at aiming at things), but it might be interesting for a while.

Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness, Episode One (demo)
Whole demo
Is it bad that I love that title? Yes, it's pretentious. I'm pretty sure that's the point; the whole damn game is that way. This is actually the second time I've played the demo. I downloaded the PC version the same week it came out. I played it again mostly so I could show my wife, and check out how the combat worked on the controller. It is slightly less broken than on the PC, but not enough to count. There are simply too many button-presses/mouse-clicks to get from a ready attack to actually hitting an enemy. It's frustrating and distracting. The rest of the game is filled with awesome: attention to every minuscule detail, Penny Arcade Humour (which some love, and some can't stand -- I could do without the Fruit F***er), and circumlocution. Bring a dictionary.

2 Rounds (won 1, lost 1)
I'm a fan of the board game, and will readily get it out to play. It fact, I consider it a great gateway game for those whose passing acquaintance with board games encompass Monopoly, Sorry, and Life. The Live Arcade version of the game has a couple advantages the board game does not: you don't have to manually score anything, and you can play by yourself. However, I still prefer the physical edition. I find that keeping track of complex strategies, including farms and hostile takeovers, is harder to do with the graphic distraction the video version provides. You also can't play 6 players, and they have yet to release some of the more interesting expansions. It's a great adaption of the game, and good for scratching that board game itch, but still not as good as the real thing. Oh, this is also not my first (or, likely, last) time playing the Live Arcade version.

About 5 minutes
This was my second time with the game, the first being about an hour of co-op with my friend the night he bought it. I'm fairly convinced that the game creators secretly hate me. This game is the epitome of hardcore, and I would only recommend it to the most masochistic of players. I simply don't have the patients, control, or coordination to do well at it. I got frustrated with it after a few minutes and moved on.

Mass Effect
1.5 Hours
I've wanted to play this since I first heard about it. I still do, only problem is that I don't own an Xbox 360 (or a PC it won't cripple). Despite the fact that I probably won't get much chance to play it, or truly enjoy it, until I get my own copy I decided to start it anyway. I went through the character creation and played the first mission. There are a few things I'd like to say: Wow, that game looks beautiful! Where the hell is the tutorial? Why do all of the aliens look humanoid? (their females even have boobs!) I continue to suck at aiming and shooting. Inverted Y-axis used to be default, I swear! I really need to get a 360, don't I *sigh*?

I'm sure each of those things could be expanded, but that would require its own post, and a bit more play time that I've given the game.

Flash Games
You Don't Know Jack - Episodes 70 & 71
7 minutes each
Not much to say, just more YDKJ fun. Episode 71 contains a Chocolate Rain meme-tastic question.

Through the Machine
5 minutes
Mouse-movement-avoidance game. Nice features include multiple lives, simple clean graphics, and all the movement is tied to the soundtrack. Play with the speakers on. Of course, you'll only play for a few minutes before you grow annoyed and bored.

Lost Pig
45 minutes
An adorable, and not-too-hard, text adventure. Told from the point of view of Grunk, a hapless orc who has lost his boss's pig. Can he find it? Can he get back to the farm? It's worth a few minutes of your time just because of all the wonderfully creative descriptions. If you get stuck, Jay is Games provides a walkthrough (follow the Review and Comments link at the bottom). Try to get all 7 points.

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