The guts of a Lizard King and other stories

Originally posted at GameSpot on October 22, 2010

I don’t remember where she got the idea, but after breezing through the latest Professor Layton and Puzzle Quest my wife mentioned she might like Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story.

Come to think of it, maybe she got the idea from me – I had heard good things, great reviews, and I’m sure I would have mentioned it at least once. What ever the case, I bought it for her (and me, in the future) on March 26, 2010.

Since that time, she’s played the game it a bit – but it hasn’t grabbed her like the others I mentioned above. This is the next step – as I see it – for her in the world of RPGs, so we’ll see what happens. And hey, I’m planning on playing it as well!

This ended up being a bigger day for games then I would have thought – that night was at a friend’s house and several things of comment happened:

  • Finally saw Burnout Paradise in action. I’ve wanted this one for a while; Burnout 3 may have been my favorite racing/destruction/I-can’t-believe-the-sense-of-speed-I’m-feeling games of all time
  • Final Fantasy XIII – graphics were nice, but I’ve just never gotten into the series. That’s my excuse for not really being impressed. Still, I’m sure if I had played through the series – even a few of them – I would be more qualified to actually say how the game looked I think
  • My wife and I remembered the good times of Capture the Flag on Halo: Combat Evolved – she the sniper, I the rocket
  • My friend’s wife watched him play through Lost Odyssey – I thought this one looked good, and that’s solid proof in my book

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E3 2008

Originally posted at GameSpot on July 21, 2008

In honor of my first new emblem in nearly three years (watching some of the E3 coverage live for one day), I thought I’d do something I’ve never done before – weigh in on the games at E3 that I’m excited about.

While this is something that everyone else is doing as well, it’s still fresh for me – so here we go in alphabetical order:

Crysis Warhead

Since I have chosen to by food instead of a new computer, I haven’t been able to play the first Crysis game; and I probably won’t get to this one anytime soon. Still, based on reviews and just how the game looks it’s one I definitely want to get to someday.

Empire: Total War

This is a no-brainer for me. The Total War series is an all-time favorite, and I’ve been hooked sinceShogun: Total War. Naval battles and guns – the series time-line keeps moving forward. Will it ever come to present-day I wonder? Whatever the answer, I’m happy in the past.

Fable 2

I enjoyed Fable: The Lost Chapters quite a bit – so a bigger, better version is always a good thing. There’s been a lot of talk about having your pet dog run around with you. I have nothing against owning a dog, but will it really be this amazing game play experience to have an animal with you all the time? Dog or not, I’m looking forward to fun game play and a good story from Fable 2.

Far Cry 2

Much like Half-Life, this is a highly rated FPS series that I just haven’t been able to play yet. Will I get around to Far Cry 2 before the inevitable third installment rolls around? Time will tell.


With all the explosions and gun shots going off around me in these other games, it will be nice to stroll around the grassy fields for a while. I see this game in the same vein as Flow; who knows when I’ll be able to play Playstation games, but I’ll look for this title when I can.

Halo Wars

It’s Halo. It’s war. It’s Halo Wars. I think that pretty much sums it up.

James Bond: Quantum of Solace

Just because I haven’t finished James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing doesn’t mean I can’t want another Bond game! While most of the games involving 007 have been misses, the hits (such as GoldenEye) have been big ones. Let’s hope Quantum is one of them.

Lord of the Rings: Conquest

What’s that? You’re taking the Star Wars Battlefront formula and putting it in the Lord of the Rings universe? I think I’m in some sort of dork heaven right now…seriously, this is easily one of the best games I’ve played – and it isn’t out yet! Yep, it’s that good – I can already tell.

Mercenaries 2: World in Flames

Two words: tactical nukes. I may still get around to the first Merc game, but if I land on this game before so much the better.

Mirror’s Edge

Seems to be some buzz around this one; I do think it looks like an interesting concept but I wonder how truly “free” it is. Can you go anywhere, or is that just an illusion as you move along a linear path? And is that even a bad thing? With anything new, there’s always plenty of room to screw it up – but I’m going to look on the bright side and say this game will turn out just fine.

Prince of Persia

Played Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time; still need to go through the last two-thirds of the modern trilogy. This game is supposed to be completely separate from these three games, so I’m interested to see what will be different. From what I’ve seen so far, it’s an acrobatic Prince looking to save his kingdom (and himself) from certain destruction…which doesn’t sound very different at all. It’s a good formula, however, so we’ll see what happens.


While I’ve had the privilege to play several fantastic racing games (Burnout 3Project Gotham Racing 2Rallisport Challenge, etc.), off-road games seem to have a less stellar track record. Pure looks to change all that, and the videos look amazing.

Puzzle Quest: Galactrix

The first Puzzle Questis great, and this is the next one. The first one is good, so this will be good. I think with iron-clad logic like that, it’s hard to argue.

Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood

There is no denying that Bioware puts out quality RPGs (A little game called Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, for example). I’m assuming the same type of quality will shine through in this game, and the unique idea of Sonic in a RPG on the DS looks very interesting. For those reasons, this one should be good.

Sonic Unleashed

And the Sonic love continues. Truth be told, I haven’t really played the big blue hedgehog since mySonic & Knucklesdays – but those were good days. I’m hoping this game will bring Sonic to prominence in 3-D, because I have yet to see a reason to make the transition.

Star Wars Clone Wars: Lightsaber Battles

At last, all the lightsaber battles I had using my old plastic bat during my childhood will finally pay off! Hopefully the moves you make will transfer to the screen smoothly; to have such a sweet concept fall short would be nothing less then the dark side at work.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

An original storyline coupled with amazing game play and graphics? (WARNING: Tired catch-phrase from the Star Wars Universe about to be used!) The force is strong with this one…

Street Fighter IV

I can remember wishing for a Sega Genesis, and the only game I wanted was Street Fighter II: Championship Edition. That wish was granted, and Street Fighter remains my favorite fighting franchise. I want this one to be good – I won’t get to it for a while, but for the good Street Fighter name I want it to do well.

Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.K.

I’ve always been a little wary of flight sims on consoles; but they keep getting closer to the mark and this game could be the best yet. I wonder how this game will stack up against the Ace Combat series?

There it is, my take on what I’m looking forward to from E3 2008. This doesn’t cover everything, and who knows when I’ll actually be playing these games, but they all have great potential.

Potential for what? What else – potential to rock!

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FIVE GRAND says my boy will smoke this clown

Originally posted at GameSpot on May 22, 2008

I’ve played a lot of Need for Speed Most Wanted from my trade-in the other day, and it’s turned out to be a great buy. I knew the game would be fun, but I’ve been surprised at just how fun. A couple of highlights that stand out for me:

– As is the case with any great game, it’s the little things that count. When you change from third to first person view, the in-game rain sound changes – it gets louder, just like you’re sitting in the car.

Like I said, just a small touch – but a nice one.

– Another small nuance are the ambient “garage sounds” when you’re at your safe house. A distant police siren, cell phone ringing, the sound of body work being done – it all adds a good atmosphere, enough that if it was turned off you would feel a difference.

– I look at this game as the spiritual successor to Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit, and running from the fuzz has never been so well implemented. The “zoom-in” effect really ups the tension as you’re cruising around; you feel like they could pop out around any corner.

– What sort of chord does this game strike? I mean, I enjoy driving away from the cops at break-neck speed while they try to chase me down. In real life I wouldn’t dream of it. In Most Wanted, I can’t get enough! Hiding in the safe zones, hitting the pursuit breakers at just the right moment, etc.; all I’m trying to say is, this game is extremely enjoyable.

– The “heat level” you’re at is well implemented. You start with regular squad cars and go up from there. So far I’ve been to level three, and then I switch cars to lower it down. The police chases are definitely the best part of the game. If only you could play as the cops like previous installments…

– This game has the best sense of speed since Burnout 3. I’ve also noticed some transferable skills crossing over from that game – mainly sideswiping traffic at over one hundred miles an hour.

– Jeff Gerstmann was right – the cut scenes are awesome.

– The city concept is new for me in a racing game. So far, I enjoy it. I just opened up the second section, and now I have a whole new area to explore. Even after I beat everyone on the black list (assuming I do), I can still see myself wanting to drive around in it. Doughnut shops, farms, a realistic freeway system, and brick lane houses that make me think I’m driving through the streets of downtown Gettysburg.

– Another environment perk – there are so many little hideaways and secluded spots that always gives you some place new to drive around or find. Plus, some cool locations are just fun – bus station, ball park, golf course, etc.

– At certain roads or jumps, if you have enough speed, your car goes into a sort of “movie-mode” where you see a short cinematic of your car flying through the air. Nicely down and always cool when it happens.

– I own a red Ford Mustang GT and a black Chevy Cobalt – the former for racing and the latter to keep the heat off. Upgrading each is fun, and I like how you get to pick what kind of upgrade you want after you beat a rival. This includes the random markers, where you may get anything from the pink slip to your opponent’s car to a get-out-of-the-impound-free card.

– The police rap sheet you can tap into is a neat feature, but I can’t say I’m really going to use it much.

– So far, I’ve taken out five rivals – Sonny, Taz (yes, I said Taz), Rick, Izzy, and Big Lou. Razor awaits…

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The Rallisport Brothers

Originally posted at GameSpot on February 27, 2007

February 24, 2007 – My brother came over this past Saturday and we capped off a great afternoon with a little Rallisport Challenge. I hadn’t played the game in awhile, since I’m stuck at that insurmountable plateau I always seem to find.

That plateau is defined by me not get any closer to beating the game in roughly three years. It inevitably happens in every racing game I play. Burnout 3, Gotham Racing 2, etc., it doesn’t matter – I always get to a point that I can’t get any further. Every once in a while I’ll pick it up and try again, but I can never seem to get beyond my limit, so to speak. I keep buying racing games though – so I must get some fun out of it.

Having him over also made me remember how much fun it is to actually play with someone else. Not having Xbox Live or the Internet (my computer’s so slow I’m not sure if it could handle the double-click of a mouse on a webpage), it’s easy to forget.

I love my single-player world, but it’s nice to have a friend over now and again.

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