Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Unbelievable Achievements

Ok...I'll preface this by saying I'm not proud*... but I did use my 3 year old daughter, K,  to get an achievement on an XBLA game.

 Yes, it was Feeding Frenzy.  And not even the second one...the original.  We downloaded this game probably 2 years ago, and it has since been one of my daughter's favorites.  She loves it.  I can't say that I haven't logged some time playing it too - it's great for mindlessly passing the time.  But it's only great for that for about...10 minutes.  Then it's boring.  The game is exactly the same, over and over, for about 40 levels.  I'd say at your speediest you could beat each level in 1-2 minutes, but that would be pretty impressive.  So, this game, all together, could rate about 2 hours out of your life to beat it in it's entirety.

SO of course it makes sense that two of the achievements are Play for 10 Hours and 40,000 Fish in the Fish Bank.  After years of K playing this game fairly regularly, we finally finally hit the 10 hour mark.  I could not believe it.  That is how exciting this game is: after just an hour you feel like you probably deserve the 10 hour achievement, but you won't get won't get it until 2 years later.  And on top of that - our fish bank only has 21,000 or so fish in it.  So you're telling me this game wants another 10 hours of my life!?  For 10 gamerscore!? This is just too much to bear

I'd like to know how developers decide the requirements for their achievements, and the amount of GS you are awarded for getting it.  I really don't think a game that cost me 400 Microsoft Points and is pretty boring should ask for 20 hours of my life to 100%.  And yes, I really am complaining about this because I want to be a completionist and finish this thing.  Good thing I have K around to help me through the time grind.  And when she's bored with it, the 1 year old should be about ready to log in her hours.  :-D

*Note: I actually am kind of proud.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Misheard Game Titles, Vol. 2

Hello fellow Achievos!  I have got to say, before I start this blog, that I am so thankful and indebted to Debbie.  She is such an awesome blogger and friend.  I have been away from the internet and gaming for the last 6 weeks due to Real Life, and she has been so good about keeping our blog active.  And not only active, but awesome - her blogs are hilarious and full of good information.  So thank you, Debbie, for being the best co-blogger a girl could ask for.

*end sappy transmission*

We now will provide you with the second installment of Misheard Game Titles.  The stupidity of our nation provides endless entertainment.  And don't forget, if you have a misheard title, send it to

Modern Welfare 2

When the difficulties of life pile up on you, sometimes you have to turn to a little government help.  Modern Welfare 2, the sequel to the smashingly popular simulation game Modern Welfare, continues helping the player learn how to spend those WIC coupons and food stamp cards!  In the first installment, your toon went to the Welfare office and got signed up.  In MW2 there is no more of that tricky paperwork to navigate or long lines to wait through (although that was a clever way to mask load times.)  Instead, you are out there spending away, and learning healthy eating habits in the process!  Plus there are fun side games where you get to blast Welfare mis-users out of the program.  Did you see that WIC consumer drive up in that chromed out 2010 Escalade?  Now's your chance to turn them in to The Man*!  (*where "turn them in to The Man = blowing that Caddie up with a grenade launcher.)

The Beetles Rock Band

The wildly popular band has been replaced by their lesser known counterparts, The Beetles!  Spelling has never been so important as it is in this new Rock Band title.  Popular songs include Eleanor Bugby, All You Need is Loam, and Norwegian Wood (Your Delicious Diet).  Gameplay is as you would expect from any Rock Band titles, but prepare yourself to bug out over new peripherals (pun intended).  The graphics leave a little to be desired, mostly due to hyper-realism and hundreds of TVs nationwide being broken by genteel ladies screaming and hitting the screen with their high heels.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Escalation Map Pack, Yeah, I Can Handle That

Ever since the Escalation Map Pack for Black Ops was released, people keep asking me questions. They weren't your standard questions about relationships, politics, or deep thoughts (for that hilarity, submit your questions here). But I've been getting asked things like "How do you like the new map pack? What's your favorite map? Have you played the new zombies yet?" So here are some of my thoughts on the latest addition to Black Ops. First, on the regular multiplayer maps, I like them. I actually really like them. The maps feel like there was more time spent testing their playability than just making them look cool or gimmicky. Don't get me wrong, there is a lot of gimmicky crap like elevators and raised tracks. But they are more practically executed throughout the maps than in the past.

I say they have better playability because they are really well balanced compared to other maps. The Call of Duty series has a strong history of super unbalanced maps, especially for objective games. Compared to the layouts of Quarry, Carnival, Trailer Park, and more from Modern Warfare 2, the Black Ops original and add-on maps are much improved.

The new zombie map, Call of the Dead, is also a huge improvement for multiple reasons. First is the obviously awesome addition of some pretty amazing actors from horror and scifi. The map itself features a zombified, electrified George Romero. While that in and of itself might be cool enough for some people, his presence makes the game significantly more difficult. I have spent many hours with friends sitting in the same spot of the map, bottle-necking zombies just to mow them down repetitively. Romero walking around forces the players to keep moving and prevents teams from just barricading in a corner and easily reaching ridiculous levels.

So for those who haven't purchased it yet, I definitely recommend the Escalation Map Pack. It may be $15, but for the first time in a long time, the maps are worth the price. Does that answer your question ?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

In Honor of Mother's Day ..... Final Fantasy 10

When I was a wee lil gamer, my mom bought our family their very first home gaming system. On Christmas morning we tore into a brand new NES complete with Mario, Power Pad, and Zelda. We weren't allowed to play Zelda until mom finished it first. And in those days, before online walkthroughs and strats, mom made her own maps complete with secret locations and codes for every level using a only pencil and graph paper. Mom still plays video games more than most of my friends. So in honor of our family's original gamer, I present a review of one of mom's favorite games, the classic Final Fantasy 10.

Final Fantasy 10 was the start of a new era for the Final Fantasy franchise and for it's publisher, what we now know as Square Enix. The series was previously full of ugly pixelation. The tenth installment on the Playstation 2 would definitely be its best looking game up to that point. FF10 even looks better than some of today's releases. Number ten also brought in the use of voice actors for the first time, and decent ones at that. People instantly fell in love with the characters of Yuna and Tidus.

Speaking of the main characters, this game stayed on course with the series's tradition of strong stories. Final Fantasy 10 has everything. There is romance, a son trying to understand his father, and the impending destruction of the world. The characters are compelling and the ending has some respectable twists. Definitely worth a play through.

FF10 was the first game in the series that either of us played, and its a great place to begin. The conditional turn-based battle system is extremely user friendly as is the sphere grid. The game has a lot of worlds, maps, and exploring to do. And newer players can find their niche in melee, ranged, or magical attacks. So there really is a style for almost everyone. This game is a great introduction to the series.

With all that said, you should dig out and dust off your PS2. Final Fantasy 10 is a classic game that will easily enhance your gamer credibility. Plus, if you don't play it, you are going to get shut down by by a 59 year old woman. So do what mother says; "wash your hands and play your video games". Happy Mother's Day !!!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

How Hulu Helped Me Cut the Cable

For the first time, we decided to cut off all the cable in my apartment. As I am getting older, I have way less time to watch television. Between that and all the online streaming services, I don't really need to pay $80 every month. Thanks to Netflix and Hulu, I don't even crouch over my laptop, rather sit back and enjoy on my television. But is Hulu Plus worth the money ?

I have been using the website for about a year. Its super useful for someone like me who never seems to be home when the shows I love actually air. They began as a basic servic
e. There is no charge and you don't even have to register if you don't want to. The site carries shows from broadcast networks and some other channels like USA, Comedy Central, and more. For each series the site hosts, they usually keep a back log of around 5 of the most recent episodes so there is plenty of time to catch up.

While this free portion of the service is still available, there is now an additional, paid service called Hulu Plus. With this, there are more shows and they keep huge back logs, sometimes the entire series. Hulu Plus is also really cheap. The newly extended service is only $7.99 per month. And unlike Netflix, when a new episode airs on tv, there isn't a wait time. The newest shows are usually available the very next morning.

So why are we covering this on our gaming blog ? Hulu Plus is now available on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 ! I was pretty psyched when the Plus service launched on consoles. It seems like such a natural fit, just how Netflix was such an obviously good choice for the same release.

But the Hulu Plus service has some noticeable hiccups with its appearance on the gaming
systems. There are a significant number of popular shows that are only viewable on their website. I absolutely love the show Fringe, but it is "web-only". So that was a huge disappointment. And even though the service is paid, there are still regular commercials. The amount of commercials are not as long as those on regular, live television, but its still annoying.

So it's up to you if this service is worth it. I would much rather pay the $8/month and suffer through some commercials than pay literally ten times that amount for cable. And I extra love that I can access this through my gaming console. The question I have is, "What next?" I would love to see CNN or MSNBC come to these platforms. What new services would like see ?