Saturday, February 26, 2011

Party like it's 1995!

That's right.  I'm asking you: Do you have what it takes to party like it's 1995?

Because if you do, then have I got the game for you.

  It's Yoshi's Island....but it's on the DS!  Now, don't get me wrong, I'm loving this.  I tossed this little gem in after remembering that I picked it up as my "one free" in a buy two get one situation at Gamestop (love that!).  I was playing my go-to PC games, and when WoW wasn't cutting it, and the Sims 3 was having some serious graphic issues, I thought, "Hey - the toddler isn't looking, maybe I can sneak in some time with the DS."  And it was good.
Prepare to be shocked: I never owned an SNES.  That and N64 were the two Nintendo systems that I somehow missed out on.  I think because my family went Sega for a while there, and totally screwed with my Nintendo mojo.  That said, it means I missed out on a lot of these beauties until my high school years when my dear and darling friend Janelle-o had an SNES which we spent hours upon hours playing.  I have also had to relive the beauty of these games on my Gamecube, and, if I wasn't so cheap, I suppose I would enjoy them as downloadable content on the Wii.

I had to tell you that story to say that I didn't have a lot of experience with Yoshi's Island when it first came out, although I did play it in high school, and I remember it being a lot of fun.  And it ports extremely well to the DS.  It seems to me that it ported so well, that it is the exact same game.  I don't know if they had to change a thing!  If they did, I certainly can't remember.  In fact, there are unlockable mini-games on the DS version, which might even be an awesome addition to the SNES version.

I love purchasing these golden oldies on my current handhelds.  It is so awesome to relive games that I loved then, and still love now.  Maybe even love more, because I can play them anytime, anywhere...(when the toddler isn't looking.)  If you have a DS and a love for Nintendo, or even just a love for fun adventure side-scrollers, go pick up Yoshi's Island DS.  It is a blast from the past.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sometimes, I Hate Achievements. There, I Said It.

I usually love achievements. They are like a virtual pat on the back complete with adorable sound effects. But sometimes, the achievements seem less like goals and more like punishment. Here are a few that make me roll my eyes.

If I'm not playing a racing game, you can take your time trails and shove it. Making already complex puzzle games or RPGs into a test of speed is annoying. Playing games like that are nice due to the fact that they are based on the thought process and strategy. Rushing through makes my heart race and sucks all the fun out for me. Alas, I am close to being alone on this. There are many out there that would disag
ree using examples like speed chess or those guys who can do the Rubik Cube really fast. But making me beat the clock in something like Final Fantasy is just uncalled for.

When playing multiplayer games, my level of entertainment is directly reliant on which game type I am playing. So if I have to spend hours or even days trying to bust open an achievo on Lone Wolf, I'm not going to do it. That goes for a lot of Halo 3 achievements. Telling me that I have to be on a specific map with a specific weapon and only on one game type is frustrating. What you end up with is a lobby full of grumpy people that are only there for the points. They should open these up to other game types or at least more maps.

"Hey there, did y
ou have fun playing this incredibly long game ? Well if you want all the points, you better go to the bathroom and grab another beverage because you have to do it all over again". Forcing me to play a single player game more than once is just rude. There are games that can completely change when you play through as a good or bad guy. And if people don't have the motivation of an achievement, they might never see the hard, creative work that went into the other side. But if there are no major changes or you only get to keep your upgrades, then the second go around is clearly a waste of time. Its just plain boring.

A controversial one is achievements that come attached to DLC. I actually like achievos with DLC, but its easy to see why they are unfair. Many people go through the effort of flipping a game because they love to be 100% done. Just as they have finished celebrating the victory, DLC comes out and drops the percentage back to less than complete. In order to show their work, they have to fork out up to twelve dollars for one single piece of DLC just to keep their rank intact. Its not right. But still, if I put in work that you didn't, it should be reflected. And sometimes, I might not even buy DLC unless it has achievements attached to it. This one is definitely a double edge sword.

The last achievement up for discussion is brought on by greedy developers and publishers. There are some amazing solo games out there. As discussed last time, Bioshock and AC2 were hella awesome. But when most people have finished playing, the games are traded in which slows and eventually stops new sales. But if there is a multiplayer tossed in, players are more likely to hold onto their games for longer and even pay for things like new maps. Unfortunately, rock solid games like Bioshock and Assassin's Creed don't translate well into multiplayer. So now gamers have to suffer through some poorly thought out online play just to keep their percentages in tact. To me this is unforgivable.

With all this being said, I realize that achievements aren't there because they are easy. They are meant to refle
ct challenges and goals that will show a players skill and dedication. But if Mass Effect comes out with multiplayer, I'm gonna cut a bitch.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

I've Never Played Bejeweled ..... Did I Just Blow Your Mind ?!?!?

Its one thing for me to not play the same game as other regular gamers. Not everyone plays Halo. Lots of people have never played Mass Effect. And many young consumers don't even bother to try out Final Fantasy, (there is a special ring in Hell for those people). Having never succumbed to the seductive advertising powers of a publisher is something to brag about. But when I don't play the same little games as even my non-gaming friends, that boastful feeling turns to ultra-nerd isolation.

My biggest example is Bejeweled. It can be played on computers, phones, and soon it will be in console form as well. Do I turn my back on this mini-phenomenon ? I don't want to be left out while everyone else exchanges their highest scores or level reached. I hate being behind the trend. I must play it !

But where do I draw the line ? There are all those Farmville whores that I never engaged with. And the cubicle jockeys that play Solitaire all day ? Don't even get me started on that elitist bunch of jerks that do the daily crossword puzzles. I mean seriously, blue pen ? No one will ever love you with that attitude, get off your high horse. My point is, I can't play every single game. So what is a girl to do ?

My first theory was that I could test drive each game. Maybe just play a few levels of Bejeweled. Or play Farmville for a week or two just to see what its like. This would even be good material for the blog. But I have a totally addictive personality. Lindsey suggested My Tribe to me just to see what I thought and now I have been playing for 190 consecutive days ! That's not okay.

My second plan was to just take the games as they come. Play Bejeweled until its no longer popular. Tackle a little Angry Birds until the next cool thing comes along. This plan is actually more practical so far. Games come and go in waves. But there are so many things out at the same time. I need to sleep at some point !

So for right now, I will just have to pick and chose. Every time a game comes along, I will have to read the reviews, get some advice, and see if its something I can walk away from. Now if you will excuse me, I have some castles to crash.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood goes the way of Bioshock 2

Did you like Assassin's Creed ? Did you love Assassin's Creed 2 ? Well then, you are going regress back to like for Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood !

This is a series that is near and dear to my heart. I lived and breathed AC2, logging in something close to 100 hours of game play. You can finish it in 10 to 15 hours, but I couldn't escape it's glory and stretched it well past its breaking point. I completed every side mission, found every feather, and opened every single treasure chest in the whole game. That last one isn't even an achievement or a mission, I just did it. I had lost my mind.

But Brotherhood made the classic mistake of taking something that was amazing, changing hardly anything, and shuffling the exact same product out the door with a new name. With the exception of multiplayer, Brotherhood has almost nothing new to offer. It plays like an extension of AC2. There was no noticeable changes in the fluidity of the gameplay. The graphics certainly weren't any better. There were areas of the map that clearly didn't receive any touch ups with missing textures and awkward pixels.

A few new additions were welcome. I was happy to see that I could easily go back and replay memories and DNA sequences. I was also happy with the variety of missions. Not everything was "find and kill" and "follow and eavesdrop". But it was sort of too little too late.

There was the huge addition of the multiplayer portion of the game. But it seemed like a lame attempt to tap into the online market. It takes a long time for games to start and there doesn't seem to be too many people playing it regularly. The game types are interesting in concept, but overall, the games are boring and at times unbalanced with the random addition of guns. Yes, a very stealthy 14th century gun. I have found it to be completely passable with the exception that I have to play in order to get some of the achievements.

All in all, this game had almost the exact same end-result as Bioshock 2. The online feature is sloppy and boring. The game mechanics show little to no improvement. And the story isn't vital to the mythology. This game seems to be almost exclusively for the financial reaping of its developers and publishers. All in can do for now is wait and pray for Assassin's Creed 3.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What Would You Do?

Ok - does anyone else sing the What Would You Do? theme song in their head every time they say that phrase?  I know I do.

Back to the blog at hand:

Look how freaking cute these creatures are!
So my toddler asked me if she could play Viva Pinata yesterday, and I was like, "Totally!  That game is so cute, you'll love it!"  So I loaded up my save game, which I hadn't been on in like a year and a half..and completely couldn't remember how to play the game.  I kind of gimped through a few things, mostly just showed my daughter the cute cartoon creatures, and then she wanted to dress my avatar and I got to quit.  When the girls laid down for their nap I loaded Viva back up for another go-round, wondering if it would come back to me.  Like riding a bike right?

An hour later, I still felt confused.  What pinatas was I trying to mate?  Which ones was I trying to draw to my garden?  What is the purpose of this giant mine building!?

What would you do in this situation?  I have hours of game-time into this game, and I am totally not the type to just let my save file go away.  I don't know if I can have a second garden or if this is one of those one-save-file only games.  This game is probably not one that I am going to lose hours of sleep over - I'll probably just gimp through it any time I play it again and never get that 100%.. sad.  But this isn't my first time in this situation.  Especially after my extended hiatus from Xbox earlier this year.  I have many games that haven't seen the light of a disc-reader in over a year.  What do I do?  How do you get yourself re-involved in a game when you pick it up after a long time away?  Or do you let go of your past efforts and start a new game?