Fencing, food and fun – an evening w/Nintendo

Originally posted at GameSpot on October 9, 2010

On May 31, 2010 we went over to a friend’s house and between the good food and Catch Phrase, we were able to enjoy some good ol’ fashioned Nintendo.

Here’s the list of what went on:

  • This was the first time I got to play Wii Resort, and the fencing was something to behold – not to mention more of a workout than I anticipated! It was the closest thing I’ve played so far to a sword simulation, and just the little hint of strategy used (or tried to use) while playing made it fun. That said, I mostly just bashed away. A great time!
  • My daughter loved the jogging “game.” She went to town, running hard in place holding the remote – it was cute. We all played some bowling together as well.
  • Played several DS games with my friend’s son – he was really looking forward to it. I love the connection games give you to someone, no matter the age

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The plumber and the rodent

Originally posted at GameSpot on September 25, 2010

Mario and Sonic – two of the gaming greats.

On March 3rd of this year my brother came over a couple of times and enjoyed the sweetness that is Maro Kart for the DS.

Honestly, I thought I would mop the floor with him – but he’s a quick study and in no time had me accusing him of cheating.

On that same day my wife bought me the Sonic Collection for the DS. I had never played the original Sonic the Hedgehog, and the other games in the collection are a good trip down memory lane (not to mention fantastic) – so I was really excited to get it.

Once again, she displays her amazing ability to get me gifts that rock.

It didn’t disappoint – but that’s for another entry.

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Be nice and play with your friends: DS multi and the big jump

Originally posted at GameSpot on July 15, 2008

Playing a bit of catch up on the gaming front; my brother-in-law had some time before he stated his new job, so he can over last week on Monday (June 7) and Thursday (June 10). He and his girlfriend just bought a DS – one for each of them. How sweet is that?

Monday it was just him and I, and we played The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. This was the first time I had ever seen the game in action, and I was impressed; I hope to get this someday for my DS as well.

I was able to see some of the single-player action; from drawing the path of your boomerang to blowing out candles through the mic. The game play looked engaging, and I think it would be great intro for me into the Zelda universe.

Watching him play was fine, but the multiplayer was outstanding. Playing as either Link or the soldiers, each of you had to stop the other from reaching your respective goals. If Link, the goal was gathering jewels – if a soldier, your goal was stopping him from doing so. The warp doors, wind barriers, and vision tricks the game made each map have its own special craziness.

I especially liked the power-ups – cloning yourself, speed or strength, and then being able to run over and deny them from your opponent was great.

We closed the night with a little “Boarding Action” from Halo: Combat Evolved. He won, naturally – but I will say I enjoy that map a lot more than I used to. Some good moments.

Thursday had even more going on with four DS’s in my living room. My wife was able to try Cooking Mama 2: Dinner with Friends, and she liked it. I was finally able to play some multiplayer for the first time on Star Fox Command, and it didn’t disappoint. Power-ups spread throughout the map were well-balanced, from bombs to various laser options, and barrel rolls while trying to get behind the enemy.

I won more of these battles; but to be fair he had never played the game before.

Other DS multiplayer action involved the New Super Mario Brothers. This is one of the best games for the DS, not just because of the tremendous single-player campaign, but for the fantastic multiplayer. We played some very intense ten star matches, each of us jumping or shooting fireballs like mad trying to crush each other.

Besides the “level” multiplayer, we played some of the mini-games as well. Card games, rolling snowballs, and bouncing Mario’s all made an appearance here – including my former best, the hidden faces! He dominated in a way I didn’t expect – I need some training. Perhaps a refresher course with some Where’s Waldo books?

You can’t play any new Mario without thinking of the old, and I showed him the GBA version of theSuper Mario World. I am currently stuck on a level, but I booted it up just to give him a little nostalgia.

I entered a world just to show him where I was at, and after commenting on how I found the game a little tough I promptly fell off the edge into nothingness. We lost it, laughing so hard at the perfect illustration of my current game progress. Oh course, funnier if you were there, but it was the best set-up I could’ve had.

He fell off once as well for good measure, and we figured it was time to put that baby down before wereally hurt our pride.

Even with all the DS goodness, we managed to get some Xbox in. After trying (and failing) to figure out the multiplayer of Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow and Chaos Theory, we ended up with Need for Speed Most Wanted.

I finally beat the “Get through 6 police roadblocks” on the challenges, but the real jewel of the evening came when my brother-in-law was trying to beat the same challenge. I’ve mentioned this before, but one of the best features of the game is at certain points of the city, the camera will snap back into a cinematic third-person view while everything moves in slow motion. It mixes up the racing very nice at key points, and I find myself trying to hit those “slow-mo points” with as many cops behind me as I can, just to make it a cooler shot.

Anyway, he had just come up to a road block and smashed through; happens all the time right? What was special about this time was the fact that his car was thrown in the air lop-sided, and it was just over a hill at a slow-mo part. So when he flew in the air, car twisting around, it was like watching our own action movie. The car flew up and we both could hardly speak due to all the awesomeness, and then he jumped up with an “Oh yeah!” that I was more then happy to second.

As the car landed he went back into first-person perspective, and we actually saw the landing through the windshield – the car flopping back into place. Simply put, it was a fantastic gaming moment that made us stand up and cheer. When we rushed upstairs to tell the ladies what had happened you could see the light in our eyes, describing how sweet a moment we had just witnessed.

They might not have shared our enthusiasm, but that didn’t matter. It was a great jump, and a great night.

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The New IL-2 (and the dust on the old one)

Originally posted at GameSpot on June 19, 2008

Good news: IL-2 Sturmovik is getting another follow-up in IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey. I’m a big fan of flight simulator games, so this comes as good news. Now if I can just get a PC to play it on. . .

Truth be told, I haven’t even played the original IL-2 Sturmovik, and it’s not for lack of wanting to. I have the game; it’s placed neatly on the rack with all the others. But since the game came out right around the time my PC decided to become obsolete, it has sat on that rack for years – serving as nothing more than eye candy.

It’s a sad tale, I know. It’s the same story with Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty for the PC. I wanted the game so bad I bought it thinking my machine could handle it and if it couldn’t, I would soon get an upgrade. But, that upgrade never came – and the game sits on the same rack, collecting dust.

I really don’t mind – I ended up playing MGS2 on the Xbox thanks to my wife, and now a bigger and better Sturmovik is soon to hit the shelves. I don’t know if I’ll get a PC upgrade or a Xbox 360 next (assuming I ever get either!), but I’ll plan on getting IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey when I do.

I suppose I could get it on the DS, but we’ll have to see what the general consensus is before I do that. Flight is hard to do; I love it on the PC, but everything else is a toss-up.

I have learned my lesson about getting games your system can’t handle though. I know the next time I buy a Sturmovik game, it will be when I know my machine handle it. And once I do, look out friendly skies!

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A big bowl of thanks

Originally posted at GameSpot on March 3, 2008

Being thankful isn’t something I do enough of. I know it’s cliché, but I need to strive at being more aware of the blessings I enjoy each and every day.

This is no different when it comes to video games, and I want take time out with this blog to review what an amazing 4-5 months it’s been in my gaming world.

Due to the generosity of family at Christmas and our tax return, I’ve been able to advance more in my game library is these past few months than I have in quite a while:

Xbox:

Chessmaster

Forza Motorsport

Jade Empire: Limited Edition

Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders

Project Gotham Racing 2

Project: Snowblind

Sid Meier’s Pirates!

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six 3

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow

DS:

Astro Boy: Omega Factor (GBA)

Diner Dash: Sizzle and Serve

Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga

Mario Kart DS

Mario Party DS

New Super Mario Brothers

Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords

Risk / Battleship / Clue (GBA)

Star Fox Command

Super Mario World: Super Mario Advance 2 (GBA)

TMNT (GBA)

Uno / Skipbo / Uno Freefall

Hardware:

Nintendo DS Lite (2)

Fanatec Speedster 3 Forceshock Xbox Racing Wheel

I look at this list with a sense of awe and intimidation, both excited about the purchases but wondering how I’m going to find time for all of them.

That’s the problem with my gaming hobby – I’m acquiring games faster than I can play through them.

I’m not the first person to have this problem, nor will I be the last – and as far as problems go, I think having an abundance of games is probably the best kind to have.

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I quest for puzzles

Originally posted at GameSpot on February 29, 2008

Puzzle Quest for the DS came in the mail yesterday, and now I have a copy of my own. I originally had a copy, but my wife enjoyed the game – so much so she effectively took it over – and told me to take a hike.

So I did – a hike to eBay, that is, and now we can play each other and I can start the single-player campaign.

Here’s to the Quest!

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An elegant weapon for a more civilized age

Originally posted at GameSpot on February 29, 2008

A new GameStop opened up near our home, and I thought I’d help their bottom line by buying a game. I mean, it’s the least I can do, right?

Anyway, after making my way through the games – enhanced by the new carpet smell – I settled on Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga for the DS. It’s been a while since I’ve had a new Star Wars game, and I’m enjoying it so far.

There’s no real fear of dying in the game, you just go through the various levels at your own pace and collect the bricks. This highlights an area of gaming that I haven’t really been a part of before, and that’s the “casual” block. I know that term gets kicked around a lot – and I won’t define it here – but the game is fun, and almost relaxing in a way. It’s really just fan service if you enjoy Star Wars (or Legos, for that matter).

And if you don’t enjoy either of those, then I think you have some serious issues you need to work through.

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But your saved game is in another castle

Originally posted at GameSpot on February 29, 2008

I seem to have a Mario theme going, and I’m going to stick with it – for at least one more post. I recently purchased Super Mario Brothers (the original NES game) for my DS and ended up taking it back within a few days.

Why, you ask? Simple – I wanted more than a port. Of course I loved the game on the NES, but now that I wanted to get it on an updated system I was hoping for an improved version. I don’t mean updated graphics or a ton of new levels, just something that shows me they put a little thought into bringing this treasured game to the portable system. Specifically, I mean a save feature.

I’m no game designer – but a save feature seems like something pretty basic to add. Maybe I’m in the minority, but you can’t honestly expect me to sit down and play through the entire game on my DS, do you? One of the main points of the system (or any portable, for that matter) is being able to pick up, play, and put down at a moment’s notice. Take away that feature, and I’m tethered in front of my DS the same way I would be a TV – thus instantly taking away one of the main reasons to play the game in the first place.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fantastic game – but simply adding a save feature would have made me hang on to it. In light of the added save feature of Super Mario World when it was made portable, I feel it’s something Nintendo should have included.

Amazingly, Miyamoto didn’t call me when they were making the game.

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Ice crystals cause a gasp!

Originally posted at GameSpot on February 14, 2008

Tuesday, February 12, 2008 – We were sent home from work early because the weather was so bad, and I took advantage of the opportunity to get some gaming in. It was almost a year to the day (Valentine’s Day of last year) that work was cancelled because of the snow, and it still felt just as good as it did then.

Quick hits:

Got some good time in with Super Mario World and Star Fox Command. I feel like I should give the latter its own entry, but that might come later.

Super Mario World is getting better, and that’s due directly to the fact that I’m actually progressing in the game now. Figuring out the puzzles or hitting a jump right goes a long way in keeping me playing. Just got out of the Forrest of Illusion and it’s on to the Chocolate Island. I get a little tired of the constant Ghost Houses, but I think that’s just because they’re tougher.

Star Fox Command has really impressed me. Any flight sim I’ve played has been on the PC, and while the game isn’t a simulation per say, I’ve never seen flight combat represented so well on any other platform. The DS control handles very well once you get used to it, and pulling out of a drive or making a sharp turn feel like you’re actually doing something.

The difficulty is just right, bordering on easy sometimes – but then a tough boss or missile shows up to even things out. I do enjoy the missile mechanic of the game more than I thought – it ratchets up the tension, knowing that you could have beat the rest of the level but missing one beacon means it was all for nothing.

The story is nothing too special, although the dialogue gets pretty good when the characters have extended interaction. Lines like, “Outta bed and full of beans,” tend to make you smile every time. I do enjoy the story surprises, though – you finish an area and all of the sudden BAM! Team Wolf pops out of nowhere!

– In both games, I’m found something I didn’t know I missed – the gasp! By the “gasp!“, I mean literally sucking in a lot of air – loudly – whenever something happens. In Super Mario World, this is usually when I die on the same jump for the tenth time in a row, or when I actually squeak by a difficult level. On Star Fox Command, it’s when I’m hitting that last beacon to destroy a mother ship or frantically trying to finish a level before time runs out. During these moments, it’s not unusual to hear a gasp! – or several of them.

I think the gasp! has been missing (or at least in the consistency of when I’m now experiencing them) due to the fact that I haven’t really progressed through a game in a long time. I’ve been racing with the new wheel, or just playing through games I’ve already beat when I have time like Star Wars: Battlefront II. But now I’m playing through levels, advancing unknown stories, and playing the DS in short bursts instead of sitting in front of my Xbox for an extended amount of time.

One isn’t better than the other, but I do enjoy this change of pace – and I’m excited about the potential gasps! to follow.

– Three great lines have come from my wife during this week, all related to Puzzle Quest:

“I’ve done this more today than I’ve knitted.”

She has really been getting into the game, and rightly so – it’s a great game! I showed it to her the night I got it, she said it looked cool, and then I left for work the next morning.

Since then she’s picked it up, and can’t put it down! I’m excited that she enjoys it, and so far she’s played it more than me – for the record, she’s on level 17 and I’m at 5.

“This is my kind of Fable

My wife “played” Fable with me on Xbox, and now she has a version of her own. With the knights, orcs, swords, and other Fable-ish items found in the game, it reminds her a lot of the world of Albion. Seeing her enjoying the puzzle aspect of the game and having her first taste of some RPG elements feels really satisfying – she told me she understands now why I get excited when I level up a character (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic), or want to expand my kingdom as much as possible (Shogun: Total War). Ah, music to my ears! Now she knows why I get excited over the things that I do

“I used yours since my battery died.”

Just as she was about to topple her foe, the DS’s battery died – but instead of quitting and waiting for her battery to re-charge, she finished the game on mine. I think that speaks for itself.

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And Cobalt makes two

Originally posted at GameSpot on February 14, 2008

This past Saturday (Jan. 9th), my wife received her first gaming system, ever – a cobalt blue Nintendo DS Lite.

Having recently become the proud owner of a DS myself, I was more than happy for her. We had talked about getting her one after I had mine, and thanks to some smart shopping by a friend we were able to score the hard-to-find item.

As someone who really appreciates games, be they video game or other, I’m very excited that she has her own system. She’s truly enjoying it as well, with games like Mario Party DS and Puzzle Quest among her favorites.

Now, I have more multiplayer then I know what to do with! It’s going to be a great ride 😀

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