September 28, 2009

Jasper

Yesterday I picked up Renee's Xmas present, a new XBox 360 to replace the dead one, at Fry's. This one is a Jasper motherboard, so it should run cooler overall (the power supply is perhaps 70% the size of the original). Since this model has the smaller GPU too, I hope we won't experience another video failure.

I grabbed it now on the slim chance that the Microsoft rebate program which ends October 5th will actually be honored. Generally, I assume that the rebate is a scam, since that's been my experience in the past.

Anyway, we are giving the box a burn-in period during the return grace period from Fry's. Then it goes into a closet until Xmas!

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:07 AM | Comments (0)

September 21, 2009

Death of a Console

According to my notes, I bought my Xbox360 on August 31, 2006.

In the intervening 3+ years, I've used it quite a bit, but tapered off gradually until my weekly usage was easily under an hour. In the meantime, conversely, Renee's usage has grown, especially over summers, such that some weeks she logs high double-digit game time.

I warned her about the red ring of death, and how extended play could shorten the lifespan of the console. Of course, it's all free to her, so she was oblivious, and would frequently leave the box on for hours while gabbing on her cellphone, or chatting away on the Internet.

So anyway, the last week she's been playing Fable 2 and complaining that the screen would begin to take on a staticky green hue after playing for an hour. Then after playing for half an hour. Then upon startup. Tonight, no video signal at all. Yes, she killed my Xbox. I've browsed the forums, this is a well known problem, and unlike the red ring, is not covered by any extended warranty. And since I'm just outside of three years with this box, I don't think it matters.

Renee wants an Xbox360 for Christmas. I'm told that I'll be allowed to play it when she is not using it, which hardly seems fair since she broke mine, but then, I realize that it's not any different than how it's been for the last couple of years.

So, Tom, anyone else from my gang... Feel like beating on a warped motherboard?

Oh, and P.S. - I just checked my notes, and I bought my PS2 over eight years ago! Of course, Renee is now hammering on it since she doesn't have an Xbox360 to kick around any more, so it'll probably go in the next month, but still!

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:35 PM | Comments (0)

April 12, 2009

Bosstopus

Bosstopus Several weeks ago Renee and I were imagining a boss monster for an RPG, and came up with Bosstopus! I won't go into the details just yet. I was waiting for Renee to render a larger image, but she's not ready, so I'll just hook this one in to remind me to describe it's attacks later.

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:42 PM | Comments (0)

December 09, 2008

Portal: Still Alive

I almost forgot. The pressure cooker has eased up a bit, momentarily, and I have had part of my weekends back. As a result, I grabbed the arcade version of Portal: Still Alive. It's generally pretty flexible on pick-up/put-down, so I managed to traverse it in little spurts. I took most of the Thanksgiving holiday off from work, so I finished it then. The game clocks in at around six hours, but I'm sure I did eight or more, due to my clumsiness and wooden reflexes (there are a few segments requiring quick reaction times).

Like most people reviewing it, I have to say that it was great fun, and felt really original, regardless of predecessors. It's not like I play a huge variety of games, so this felt new to me. What really made it was not just the mechanics of play, but the integration of the humorous 'story', such as it was. I laughed out loud several times. When I completed it, I felt such a sense of accomplishment, that I got a little knot in my throat during the closing song.

No, I didn't try for any of the achievements. That would have ruined my enjoyment. I did try to play through the first few test chambers again with the developer commentary turned on, but after awhile, it got frustrating that the developers would be drowned out by the in-game narration. Seems they thought very carefully about game design, but not about the developer commentary.

All told, I wish there were more clever, fun, short games like this.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:45 PM | Comments (0)

May 07, 2007

Settlers of Catan

I am really torn about the new Xbox Live Arcade version of Settlers of Catan. On the one hand, I like the idea of having a version of the game with AIs for the other players, so I don't have to tie my schedule to anybody else's.

On the other, if I do want to engage in multiplayer games, I can only do it online. It's one player per box!!! WTF??!?!?

I know of at least one young woman in my household, and one friend of hers, who would enjoy playing this game with me, and I have three controllers. If I can play online, if I can play against three AIs on my box, why can't I play against two other humans on my box?

Since I'm still not interested in buying a Gold account to go online, that means the game is only a single-player emulation of a multi-player game. That sucks.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:17 PM | Comments (2)

September 20, 2006

Gaming

Real life or videogames? Hmmm....

Since I've been tending to play at most an hour, more likely a half hour, on weekday evenings, and sometimes not at all, I've discovered that I'm reliably lazy. Dead Rising requires some degree of work to make progress, and for my clumsy reflexes it's relatively easy to get killed. Then I get to start over from the beginning, albeit with a slightly stronger character (nice feature). Since that gets tedious when playing in half-hour batches, I've defaulted to playing Enchanted Arms almost exclusively. Unlimited saves at any point in the game (excluding narrative cut scenes and battles) make it very easy to move forward in the storyline in tiny bites.

Tomorrow night I am the elected proxy to attend Renee's back to school event, so I doubt I'll fire up the 360 at all. Maybe over the weekend I'll take a stab at some Dead Rising. It really is a fun game! I'm just lazy, is all...

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:02 PM | Comments (0)

September 13, 2006

Brute Force Wins

I mentioned earlier that I accidentally mangled the super-seekrit code for my first purchase of Microsoft Monopoly Money. After much scrutinizing with a magnifying glass and a bright light source, I concluded that there were four characters which were most in doubt. One could have been a 'C' or an 'O'. Another could have been a 'P' or an 'F'. And so on... Holding all the other characters constant and generating all the permutations meant that there were 24 possible matches.

I wrote up a quick program in Python to generate all the possible strings, then sat down and started trying them, one after another. On try number 11, I succeeded! Glad I only had to try less than half the combos, since 'typing' with a game controller sucks.

Just for chuckles, here's the Python 'brute force' program, with the fake 'constant' characters to protect the innocent:

def gen_stuff():
    
    ONE = "PX"
    TWO = "MN "
    THR = "EF"
    FOU = "G 12345 67890 HIJ"
    FIV = "Z"
    
    for ONE_ in ["C", "O"]:
        for TWO_ in ["P", "F"]:
            for THR_ in ["E", "F", "P"]:
                for FOU_ in ["E", "F"]:
                    print ''.join([ONE, ONE_, TWO, TWO_, THR, THR_, FOU, FOU_, FIV])

gen_stuff()

The bonus of this geeky little exercise is that I -- all unawares -- turned a problem into a 'problem', and got a giggly little boost instead of a headache!

Update

I decided I liked the example program better with 'real' letters, so I amended my sample above with substitutes. That allows me to inflict the result on you:

 PXCMN PEFEG 12345 67890 HIJEZ
 PXCMN PEFEG 12345 67890 HIJFZ
 PXCMN PEFFG 12345 67890 HIJEZ
 PXCMN PEFFG 12345 67890 HIJFZ
 PXCMN PEFPG 12345 67890 HIJEZ
 PXCMN PEFPG 12345 67890 HIJFZ
 PXCMN FEFEG 12345 67890 HIJEZ
 PXCMN FEFEG 12345 67890 HIJFZ
 PXCMN FEFFG 12345 67890 HIJEZ
 PXCMN FEFFG 12345 67890 HIJFZ
 PXCMN FEFPG 12345 67890 HIJEZ <== TeH Winx0rz!!
 PXCMN FEFPG 12345 67890 HIJFZ
 PXOMN PEFEG 12345 67890 HIJEZ
 PXOMN PEFEG 12345 67890 HIJFZ
 PXOMN PEFFG 12345 67890 HIJEZ
 PXOMN PEFFG 12345 67890 HIJFZ
 PXOMN PEFPG 12345 67890 HIJEZ
 PXOMN PEFPG 12345 67890 HIJFZ
 PXOMN FEFEG 12345 67890 HIJEZ
 PXOMN FEFEG 12345 67890 HIJFZ
 PXOMN FEFFG 12345 67890 HIJEZ
 PXOMN FEFFG 12345 67890 HIJFZ
 PXOMN FEFPG 12345 67890 HIJEZ
 PXOMN FEFPG 12345 67890 HIJFZ

Yeah, something like that.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:38 PM | Comments (0)

September 12, 2006

Games and Goofs

So Monday I took back the new router and the Xbox 360 wireless adapter for credit, using it to buy a copy of Enchanted Arms, a longish cat5e ethernet cable and 1600 Microsoft points. Now that the rig is all set up, complete with neatly tucked-away ethernet connection, I've been alternating between Dead Rising and Enchanted Arms. I'm barely started on either, but having fun with both.

I expect that I'll never catch up with Alan on Dead Rising, for two reasons: one, I spend maybe a half-hour or an hour at a time playing, preferring to take time with Jean in the evening before geeking out. Two, Alan has the magic god-hand, and I have nerve-less fists. Dead Rising requires some dexterity, which as we have established over time, I have none of.

Enchanted Arms appears to be a standard Japanese RPG, and so far lacks any of the action-oriented 'enhancements' of Shadow Hearts or Magna Carta. I.e. there are no 'judgement rings' or timed button sequences, which the earlier games require in order to let you even try to launch an attack. I've managed to enjoy both those games, but in spite of the action gimmicks, rather than because of them.

Renee's RPG-Radar is functioning beautifully. I've been sneaking sessions of Enchanted Arms in during her evening shower and bedtime prep rituals, hoping to get a bit into the game before she starts to insert herself into my sessions. However, tonight she popped out of the bathroom wearing a towel and dripping, and creeped into the den, asking "what's that?" Before I knew it, she was smashing barrels wherever they appeared.

As for Microsoft points, or MS Funny Money (tm), I bought a card with some of my exchange credit at Fry's, thinking that I'd save the bother of trying to use my credit card online with Xbox Live. The card has a scratch'n'sniff window where the security code for your credit resides. I didn't have a coin handy, so I used a nail file. Unfortunately, the plastic was so fragile, that I scratched off part of the underlying code. I'm hoping either Xbox Live or Fry's will show me some mercy. Otherwise, I'm kinda sour on the whole MS Monopoly Money experience...

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:11 PM | Comments (0)

September 10, 2006

360 Converging

I'd like to thank all the little people... Jean for watching Renee after getting home from work while I went over to Tom's place, Tom for letting me haul my Xbox 360 over to his place and plugging it into his network in not one, but two places...

Anyway, with Tom's help, I was able to confirm that the ethernet port on my Xbox 360 was dead, dead, DEAD! Out of the box! Okay, after all my other diagnostic work, I was pretty sure that was the case, but Tom allowed me to get concrete evidence of same.

Afterwards, we went out to dinner at the Beaverton Wu's Open Kitchen, where I had the Kung Pao Shrimp, which was tasty, but strangely subdued. I spent a couple hours at Tom's chatting, then back home for an early evening.

This morning I went down to Fry's and returned the Xbox 360 for an exchange. I hooked up the new unit to my router -- via the ethernet port -- and yes! It connected to Xbox Live immediately! Thank you Jean and Renee for your patience. Thank you Tom for your help. Thank you Alan for your moral support in encouraging me to do the final diagnostic. So nice to have working hardware.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:56 PM | Comments (0)

June 14, 2006

Geek Cred

The Nintendo DS Lite came out on Sunday, I went to work on Sunday, work is a two minute drive from Fry's Electronics... Can you see where I'm heading here?

I thought about waiting until there were more color choices than frost white, but I don't really care, it goes with my ratty old iPod. I already had Resident Evil: Deadly Silence. I bought The Age of Empires: Age of Kings and Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time to round things out.

In time I plan to buy a few more offbeat choices, like Electroplankton, Trauma Center: Under the Knife, and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (already a collector's item, it seems).

But first I have to get out from under the huge wodge of tasks piled on me at work. Then I can play...

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:42 PM | Comments (0)

February 20, 2006

Resident Evil: Deadly Silence

After my first round of fillings, I decided to buy myself a treat. Eric Ho assures me that the new Nintendo DS Lite will be available in North America very shortly after it's March 2nd Japan release date, so I decided to hold off on buying my own DS. Instead, I talked Renee into letting me use her DS to try out games on. I ran over to Fry's after work and picked up Resident Evil: Deadly Silence (not so coincidentally abbreviated RE: DS).

So far I've only played some in Classic Mode, which aims to replicate the original gameplay and story line. The entire game, including a new play mode called Rebirth, fits onto a card the size of a postage stamp. It's got the opening 'live actor' video from the original PS One game, and the same damnably bad voice acting. I'm kinda amazed that all this stuff fits on such a little card, but I shouldn't be.

In any case, I'll be wrestling with Renee for occasional access to her DS until the Lite hits U.S. shores.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:40 AM | Comments (0)

December 16, 2005

Deadly Silence

No, not my recent posting record...

Crap, this almost makes me want to buy my own Nintendo DS. (if you're into this sort of thing, be sure to check out the gameplay movie for a dose of bad voice-acting nostalgia)

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:07 PM | Comments (0)

November 21, 2005

Guitar Hero

After NOVA, a crowd of us headed over to Tom's house. He hooked up his PS2, and Alan broke out his new copy of Guitar Hero. This is a rhythm game like Bust a Groove, but instead of using the regular controller, you use a 3/4 scale guitar-shaped controller.

Just about everybody there took a turn, including me (even though I sucked so bad at Bust a Groove that I bought myself a shirt that says "More Rhythm!", one of the taunts that game shoots at you when you miss too many beats). I was one of only two people who 'failed', trying to play along with Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water". Alan, Valeska, Tom, all played at the Easy level, and then Chris stepped up and immediately chose Medium. Of course. He's a DDR fanatic.

Years ago, as I hinted, I bought a copy of Bust a Groove, and played it even though I sucked. Then my wife started playing it, and man was she good! So I'm thinking that we need to buy a copy of Guitar Hero for Christmas. Just so I can watch her work her magic. We'll just have to see...

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:47 PM | Comments (0)

Magna Maxima Carta

Turns out I'm not the only one interested in Magna Carta. I sat down at NOVA Saturday, when Alan walked in. I mentioned that I was getting Magna Carta for a stocking stuffer, and he acted excited. "Where did you get it? Do they have more?" Turns out Gamestop is sold out. So I told him Fry's had them, and in fact that they were carrying the collector's edition, and had plenty on Friday.

Then in walked Tom. Alan mentioned that he wanted to go to Fry's to buy Magna Carta. Tom said "I bought it this morning." Bing! So the three of us piled into Tom's car and drove down to Fry's so that Alan could buy his own copy. Did they have any? They had plenty. It's so pleasant to have young, single engineers as friends. While we were there, Alan saw a box for Guitar Hero, and after only a moment's internal debate, he grabbed that too. More on that in a later post.

So anyway, I'm not the only RPG fan around.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:32 PM | Comments (2)

October 16, 2005

Sudoku

Jean got me hooked on sudoku, the constraint solving puzzle that's enjoying a surge of popularity right now. This is exactly the sort of puzzle I love, which runs on pure logic, solving a puzzle based solely on reasoning out the constraints present in the starting conditions (a previous obsession of this nature: pixel puzzles). To be frank, I've been skipping posts on the weblog because I've spent me spare evening time solving sudoku. Initially I was running through paper puzzles available from PrintSudoku.com, but I just bought the Astraware Sudoku program for my new Palm Pilot, and I use that now. Wait for the novelty to wear off, and you'll probably hear from me again...

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:32 PM | Comments (0)

August 14, 2005

In Honor of My Suckitude

Not that I'd ever give anyone else a chance to play against me:

Player vs. Player

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:40 AM | Comments (0)

August 03, 2005

Dawn Is Responsible, Somehow!

Okay, Dawn, 'fess up! You used some sort of psychic emanation to trick my daughter into getting hooked on Neopets! She's waiting anxiously for her parental permission form to be registered so she can do even more fun stuff, but she's been spending hours online playing games, writing messages and reading Neopets web comics.

I can only hope this doesn't last as long as the whole Pokemon thing has...

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:57 PM | Comments (2)

May 24, 2005

Katamari E3

E3 promotional gimmick. It's cute.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:29 PM

May 18, 2005

Pop Cult

I took the trouble to add MTV to my ReplayTV lineup long enough to record the Xbox360 launch show, and promptly removed it afterwards. The launch 'party' was a thirty minute show that I managed to watch in about ten minutes. Maybe that was an over-investment of time. In any case, I found it sufficiently vapid that I wasn't going to bother writing an entry. Until I read Gabe's entry, which I shamelessly quote almost in it's entirety:

"The important thing to understand here is [...] that show was not for us. When I say us I am referring to the hardcore. The sorts of people who perhaps downloaded a torrent of last night's MTV show. The sorts of people who had to call their cable company to find out what channel MTV was on. The sorts of people who had their Tivo or media PC grab the show for them so that they could watch it at their leisure. Last night's unveiling of the Xbox 360 was not for us it was for the people who were already watching MTV. It's true, there are human beings out there who watch MTV in the same way your mom might watch ABC. Sitting through show after show and watching as rides are pimped and celebrities are punked. Last night's show was for them and when you look at it that way I have to say I think the show was a success. I cannot imagine those sorts of people not being entertained for the entire 30 minutes by the flashing lights and famous people. Gaming is cool now. Isn't that awesome."

I don't consider myself "the hardcore". Maybe a bit of a geek, but he captures my feelings about the MTV 'special' pretty well.

Oh, and if I do eventually buy an Xbox360 (when the prices are below a gajillion dollars), it will not be because of the label, "As Seen on MTV!"

Posted by dpwakefield at 06:57 AM

October 30, 2004

Katamari Kelly

As if my own awkwardness wasn't enough, there are other impediments to my progress in Katamari Damacy. Kelly has decided that even when I replay a stage ('build a star 4', for instance) and double the size of my katamari, I should abandon my progress if there is a danger of replacing a 'cute' star name with a less cute one. After a few minutes of frustration I finally copied over the game save to a second memory card, and I'm now allowed to save my new gains without damaging her aesthetic.

I wonder if there's a name for forces outside of a game limiting your progress in that game? Oh yeah, 'life'!

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:38 PM

October 20, 2004

Katamari Fumble-fingers

Except for the more deliberative RPGs and turn-based strategy games, video games almost all require two or more of:

This applies to platformers, action/adventure, fighting games, the list goes on. Unfortunately, I lack all three of these skills in spades. I'm undoubtedly the slowest on the trigger of any gamer around. Where the controller requires a light touch, I almost always peg the joystick all the way over. And get me in a fight with two or more enemies and my conscious decision making falls apart in a cascade of button jabbing. I can't help it.

So it should come as no surprise that I've stalled out on Katamari Damacy. I cannot for the life of me complete 'Build a Star 7'. I'm given 10 minutes to complete a katamari that's 6 meters wide. I've never been able to get above 4.5 meters. And I've tried a lot of times.

My friends who've seen me play know this about me, but some haven't really internalized it. Adam still tries to get me to play various flash games requiring coordination, and while he makes a nod to my awkwardness when talking up various games, he still keeps pointing me at the challenging stuff. Maybe when I tell him I got stuck 'making a star', he'll really understand what a clutz I am.

In the meantime, I'll be replaying the levels I can finish, trying to rope Kelly into playing versus mode, and conning her into using her young reflexes to overcome 'Build a Star 7', though it'll take practice, which for her is usually too much like work. I've read that '7' is one of the hardest levels, so if I can Tom Sawyer her into beating that one for me, I might be able to enjoy the following levels myself!

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:41 PM

October 10, 2004

Videogames, Game Music and Too Damn Little Time!

I've been sitting here thinking about what games I've had the time and energy to play recently, and what have I been listening to while pondering? The soundtrack music to Katamari Damacy. I grabbed it off the net because it struck me while playing various levels with Kelly that it would make wicked cool background music. And it does! Now that I've sampled it, I'm afraid it's time for a trip to CD Japan to see if I can get a legal copy.

Never one to spend great wodges of time playing videogames (no really, Jean, Final Fantasy X, Resident Evil: Director's Cut and Silent Hill are the exception!) I've certainly been buying a lot of them recently. And paying full price too. Of course, Katamari Damacy wasn't too painful, at $20 new. But before that was Fable, at full price, and before that was Tales of Symphonia (full price), and before that was La Pucelle Tactics (another chunk of great music, by the way), again at full price. I promise I'm going to cut that out, having blown my allowance right out of the water.

And I've enjoyed playing every one of them, though I hardly seem to start them before the next one rolls along (katamari, hah!). Fable is languishing downstairs, Symphonia is on hold as the Gamecube has moved back to the living room. At least Katamari Damacy is holding up. I played last night and got through another level (added another star to the sky), but then failed on the following level and got roundly dressed down by the king. He really tears into you.

I was so disappointed () that I popped La Pucelle Tactics in and cleared a couple of stages (still in the training phase, I know, I know). It reminded me how much I enjoy this type of game, and how I was disappointed that I'd missed it's predecessor, Disgaea. It's back in the stores again, but at full price! Remember where I swore off buying games at full price? Especially if they've been out for awhile?

And to make matters worse, the follow-up to La Pucelle is out now. Phantom Brave sounds like a lotta fun, but is of course full price. So I'm gonna be a good guy and just put it on my want list for the future. Okay, so final confession. Remember when I was talking about Shadow Hearts? Gamestop's web store was offering it as a freebie to those who pre-ordered Shadow Hearts: Covenant. It turns out, in the fine print, that this was "while supplies last." Translate that as "lotsa luck, bub." So I succeeded in skipping buying a full price game, even if bundled with a free one.

So I was at Fry's looking for an extra Katamari Damacy for Jean's nieces, and there on the shelf, directly above Shadow Hearts: Covenant, was a $20 copy of Shadow Hearts. So okay, I bought it, and have yet to open the sucker. I might do it tonight after putting the little women to bed, and I might wait for a week or two. It wouldn't be my nature to just sit down and play the darn thing!

Update...

Funny! Winding down for the night, I'm reading the MP3 weblog Music (For Robots). I go there for ideas for new music, only occasionally finding something I like (they're really into house, hip-hop and the like). But tonight, TONIGHT, the headline review is for ... Katamari Damacy Soundtrack. They like it a whole lot, too!

And for reference, CD Japan has it, and yes, it costs more than the game. Ugh.

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:33 PM

October 03, 2004

Rolling Along

Kelly and I are now playing Katamari Damacy. Rather, I'm playing and she's watching, commenting and directing me. At least in this game she's not demanding to play, then throwing the controller at me whenever there's a battle (leaving me to fumble for the controller during the crucial first moments of conflict).

Penny Arcade (more specifically Tycho) reviewed the game, and said "Katamari Damacy is, in no uncertain terms, the finest 20 dollars I have ever spent on a new game." I have to agree. For $20 I usually am buying a used game, a 'greatest hits' game, and many of these have been tons of fun. But $20 for a new game rarely yields this level of fun.

Now if only I can get far enough along to rope Kelly into playing versus mode. I think she's fast enough to beat me, and I know she'd be tickled to roll over my guy with her ball, and watch him wiggle his little legs as he gets swept away!

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:56 PM

September 12, 2004

GameGlut

Why is there always a glut of games just when the new television season is starting? Maybe that's why the networks are watching their viewer numbers take a nosedive. All I know is, Tuesday I'll probably get a call from Gamestop telling me my reserve copy of Fable is in. While I'm there, if I'm not very self-controlled, I'll probably see if they're doing the same offer as their website for Shadow Hearts: Covenant (reserve one, get the original Shadow Hearts free). If so, I'm in. Not that I have time to play these things through from start to finish. Me just likee pretty pictures!

Saturday, I joined Tom and the gang over at his place, and among the strange nonsense such as the 1978 live-action Japanese Spiderman episode we watched (complete with Giant Robot named Marveller), there was a demo of Burnout 3: Takedown. It's a racing game, but with a twist. The creators have acknowledged something that every guy secretly knows. We like to crash stuff. So you can actually get points for stylish crashes. There's even a mode where you just drive your car into an interesection with the goal of maximizing damage in multi-car pileup style.

Remembering how much Kelly enjoyed Simpsons Road Rage, I got to thinking that this would be a swell game to kill a few Sunday afternoons with. Now I'll be honest. Even given that there is an emphasis on crashing, I don't think I can play this game well. No, I'd generally run off the road and then watch while the other cars buzz by. I'm really that bad. But I'd get a lift out of watching Kelly wreak havoc, so it's still a candidate. I'm just hoping I can wait for this one to come down in price.

So you see my dilemma. I haven't really even made a complete list here. These are just the ones available in the next 30 days that I want. Where am I gonna get the money? Where am I gonna get the time?

Yeah, I can hear those tiny violins already.

Yay.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:50 PM

July 02, 2004

Front Mission 4

Seems like ages ago, I signed up for a free sample of a new video game coming out, Front Mission 4. Well, the game is out now, so of course my demo version arrived this week. I've been playing with it a bit, and it seems like fun. There's no save in the demo, and none of the missions are complete, but it's clearly a Square strategy game. I might even buy it when it's price drops.

I originally wanted to get the demo to share with James, Alan's roommate, but by now he's bought it, being such a mecha fan. Strike that, he probably bought the Japanese import with kanji menus a year ago.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:12 PM

June 25, 2004

Comprehensive Obsolescence

Yeah, all the console manufacturers are starting their buzz machines for the next gen boxes, but I never buy the new box as soon as it comes out, so figger a year at least. I have my PS2, plenty of gameplay on that one. I have my Xbox, not so much play, but already amortised in my books. Now, now, I've got a Gamecube.

Actually, I'm 50% owner of a Gamecube. Kelly bought Pokemon Channel a couple months ago, after saving quite assiduously -- I'm really quite impressed. Then I took a boatload of old games to Gamespot and sold 'em for credit. I made a deal with Kelly that if she could save around half the price of a used console, I'd kick in my credits. So her birthday rolled around, and she got the b'day checks from the grands, and oh, boy, oh boy!

After factoring in the memory card, she's paid exactly half on this rig. I'm a little late posting about this, as she's had it since before we left for Disneyland, and I'm getting really tired of the Pokemon Channel 'busy mode' music. Not to mention Pokemon News Channel (gibberish in a high pitched raspy voice).

I have yet to buy a game that I want to play. But Sudeki and Fable are both looming in the near future, and I think I'd be willing to pay full price for either of those. Then we will judge just how 50% my share really is...

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:05 PM

May 01, 2004

Queens of Chess

Today I spent a good chunk of the day with Kelly at a chess tournament. It was divided into two classes, K-3 and 4-6. We left home around 7:30am, and returned around 4:15pm. The tournament itself was a sequence of five games for each player, lasting as long as they took. Turnaround was about an hour a game.

Kelly lost her first three games, but was upbeat about it. "It's just a game." I'm convinced that if she was serious about chess she'd have done much better, but I don't mind that she treats it casually. She won her fourth game against a younger player who really clearly didn't have much idea of what she was doing. Then she fought her fifth game to a stalemate. She could have won this one, but wasn't really being careful, and trapped her opponent's king without checking it.

There were 72 kids in the tournament, and when we left, the midday rankings were all that had been posted. Kelly was ranked 44th after her third game. They're supposed to post final results on their website, and I'll update this post when I know.

Kelly wanted to stay for the awards ceremony, so we stuck around, and I watched several of the other games. When it was down to one I watched the whole thing. One of the players really should have resigned. She was in no position to win, but kept playing. The other player could have mated her in another six or so moves, but decided she wanted to win without promoting one of her pawns, so took much longer. Hence our late arrival home.

Will Kelly want to play in any more tournaments? I don't know today, but she was really positive about the whole experience. I enjoyed myself despite walking around with a wrenched back I inflicted on myself mid-week. Needless to say, I'm sleeping in tomorrow.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:21 PM

March 29, 2004

Fatal Frame

Long time, no post. Work's been a grind, and I've been totally wiped out with what little free time I've had. Still, I must be crawling a little way up the slope as yesterday I bought a new video game. It still remains to be seen if I'll get very far in it, but as I've finished Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance, and the replay value of that game is pretty weak, I decided to get something new.

I thought I was going to get Morrowind, but after cruising Costco with Kelly, I put the game back on the shelf, resolved to just play something I had at home. Then as we were leaving Costco, I said, "say, that new Game Spot is open, let's go look there."

I can tell I'll be going there too often. Lots of used games, and soooo convenient to my workplace. Fry's has gotten a lot of my money, now it's these guys' turn!

After looking at every stinking PS2 and Xbox game (twice!) I finally settled on Fatal Frame. The sequel is already out on PS2, so the original was kinda scarce when I went looking for it. And here it was, ported to the Xbox. So now I've got it in my hot little hands. This is a fairly arty member of the survival-horror genre, and seems to be in a similar mood mode as the Silent Hill series, which in my opinion beat Resident Evil all to heck.

The very same evening... I got Kelly through all her night time chores and then put both my angels to bed. Down into the bowels of the house I descended, to offer up my silver disk to the green monster. Getting florid, must ... slap ... self!

I was playing through the introductory section of the game when Kelly came downstairs. She does this little shtick on school nights where she appears downstairs and sits on the couch without talking, as if I'm not there, or as if she's not. When I call her on it, she utters the magical phrase "father-daughter time!"

So I just said hi and kept on playing, knowing that this would be a good way to teach her a lesson. Behind me I could sense her progressively curling into a little nest of clustered pillows and comforters. Eventually, I reached the part where Miku is introduced, saved and quit for the night. As I was getting ready to nudge Kelly toward bed, she emerged from her pillow fort (a little) and in a peeved voice, asked "what exactly is the point of that game?"

So I explained the mechanics of using the camera to weaken ghosts and the goal of collecting clues to find the lost people, even though I could tell her question was rhetorical. I just had fun pulling her chain. But she got back at me. She said she was a little too scared to go back to her room with no one to protect her. So I ended up coming up stairs and reading a book in the den, so she could see the light.

I'm looking forward to the next pass at the game, but maybe not tonight. I'm pretty exhausted. In fact, doing a quick pass over this post, I can tell it's a little incoherent, but I'm gonna let that ride, as I'm too tired to do editing, and I wanna get a post out there so family and friends know I'm not dead.

I'm not dead yet! I'm feeling much better! I think I'll go for a walk! ...

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:51 PM

February 20, 2004

Somebody's Evil...

I got home from work last night to find a mail from Official Xbox Magazine. I registered my Xbox, so I thought, "okay, here comes the spam." But when I opened it, it was a bill! Not a subscription offer, but an unambiguous bill. "Thank you for your subscription to the Official Xbox Magazine. Your first issue is in the mail. Please render payment to..."

Well, this stinks. I know I didn't subscribe. I deliberately threw that blow-in card into the trash, and it didn't have my name or address on it. So I look in the mail and find the website, go there, and find no way to cancel the subscription. I do find a nice, prominent link to pay after I enter the serial number in the letter. No way, Jose.

So I look again, and find a phone number. I call it, get a recording. The gist is, "if you are calling about problems with our subscription, please go to our website and use the convenient links." I know already how convenient these are, so I wait. After this dismissive message, the phone begins to play Muzak. I'm supposed to think there's nothing more and hang up. I don't.

After ten or fifteen seconds of this nobody's-home-I'm-in-the-shower dodge, another recorded voice comes on: "if you do not have access to the Internet and would like to blah blah blah, press 1." So I do, and almost immediately I get a real live person. "May I have your area code please?"

After all the preliminaries, she asks "how may I help you?"

"I received a bill for your magazine, but I didn't subscribe."

A pause, almost imperceptible, but there. Then, "I'm sorry for the mixup sir, I'll cancel your subscription. The April issue is already mailed, you may keep that, and ignore any further billings." That last part about further billings sounds ominous, but I'll deal with that if they get nasty later. I hung up.

Point is, she was expecting callers who wanted to cancel subscriptions they didn't ask for! This damn magazine is autosubscribing anyone who registers their Xbox and assuming that some folks will just shrug and pay up. That's damned unethical, and slimy to boot! Almost makes me regret buying the Xbox (if not for Baldur's Gate ).

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:37 AM | Comments (1)

February 14, 2004

Taking the Plunge

Now I know how Dirk the Daring felt. Last night I was playing Baldur's Gate when I reached the Thieves' Guild level. There I was confronted with a chasm, and the only way to cross was to leap across a series of floating stones. Only the stones had the disturbing tendency to drop (like a rock!) into the chasm, taking me with them. It was already too late, so while I was analyzing the stones for patterns of collapse, and trying to move faster, slower, and what not, I overlooked the obvious, that the stones would flicker before they began to fall.

Today after lunch I took another stab, after reading the above clue on GameFAQs, and made it across in only a few tries. Then the suckers confront me with another chasm, more than twice as wide. That one took longer, but not as long as the previous night. Now I'm merrily trolling along whacking thieves and spiders (and bugbears, oh my!) while trying to preserve my strength for the boss 'monster' of this level, the Thieves' Guild leader.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:21 PM

February 05, 2004

Checkmate

As if playing dungeon crawls until bedtime wasn't enough, I had to get up early this morning to take Kelly to her first of five once-a-week sessions of the Chess Club. Reports are that she enjoyed it, and when I suggested we play chess using the chess program on Mac OS X, she was pretty enthusiastic.

Now I play a rather weak game of chess, it's been maybe thirty years since I played with any seriousness, after all. My main strategy is to capture as many pieces as I can. Well, against Kelly, a rank beginner, this works fine. I beat her in the first game, then relented against her in the second, after her repeated playful pleas of "please don't kill me!"

I actually had a hard time not checkmating her, and had to take back several moves before I managed to give her my final bishop, leading to a draw. I told her that I didn't want to let her win deliberately, because I felt that soon enough she'd learn how to beat me on her own, and then it would feel that much sweeter. I sure hope I'm right.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:40 PM

Tar Pit

Now this is why I generally don't play dungeon crawls after 9pm. I put the family to bed, watched Enterprise, and decided to see if I could get past the particular part of the sewers where I was killed last time I played Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance. After a short while, I looked up and realized I'd been playing for ninety minutes! I swear I was only going to spend a half hour doing this then go upstairs and do some reading. Now it's pretty much bedtime.

BG:DA is as much fun as Diablo II. Maybe even as much as Dungeon Siege, I haven't made up my mind yet. Damn. Now I want to play Diablo II for awhile!

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:34 PM

January 28, 2004

With Great Power Comes Great You-know-whats

Okay, so I bought Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance already. I used to play a lot of Dungeons & Dragons lo these many years ago, and BG has a rep as a fine adaptation of the pencil-and-paper-and-dice game to the console realm.

I managed to rip Kelly away from Simpsons: Road Rage for a few brief moments this evening to try out BG, and got a few minutes into the storyline. One of the non-player characters (NPC) was a tavern owner, who happened to be a woman dressed up like a refugee of I Dream of Jeannie. I'm honestly just listening to the spiel, and Kelly says, "Dad, why does she have such big you-know-whats?"

Well, I could have given her a quick answer, but it was a really good question. So I said, "I think we should ask your Mom." No, not copping out here, I wanted Kelly to hear the perspective of an intelligent adult woman. So while Kelly was explaining to Jean about the woman with 'freakishly large' bossoms, I was laying the groundwork of what the game was.

"So Phin, what kind of people play D&D?"

"Nerds."

"Male nerds. So it's probably true that this game was written by a guy or guys..."

We went on from there, and discussed everything from evolutionary imperatives to shallow teenage boys. Gotta prep Kelly early for that first smiling nogoodnik! I was impressed with how long Kelly's attention held. And I was very happy that Jean was there to spell it out for Kelly from the viewpoint of a real woman, living in the real world. With luck, Kelly will grow up with enough self-esteem that she won't feel the need to buy a pair of great you-know-whats.

Oh, and when I used to play D&D, I knew at least three women who played in my various groups. Granted, they were usually the only woman, but no one ever pawed them that I recall...

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:29 PM | Comments (3)

January 26, 2004

My Reward

I got a good grade on my dental hygiene exam last week (after a somewhat sketchier one previously) and Dr. Kierkegaarde said it was probably due to my assiduous application of the Pik Pocket subgingival attachments they prescribed the last time. I should hope so. Using these things is te-di-ous. Add to that my recent dazzling progress on my project at work (despite my personal milestone whizzing past at the end of next month) and just general comfort for my recent fluey illness, and I felt free to spend my Christmas money buying a midrange treat:

Xbox! Yeah, I've already got a console, but even if I suck at most games, I enjoy them immensely, and the Xbox is getting several new exclusives that I really wanna try out. So I blew my roll on the green monster. This was a package deal. It came with the controller, of course, and three games:

Then I picked up a 'Platinum Hit' to round things out. I wanted to get Munch's Oddysee, but Kelly didn't like the looks of it, and since she was in tow, I wanted her to feel like she had some input. The whole thing that got me thinking about another console was when Kelly had asked for Pokemon Channel for Christmas. Unfortunately, it only comes on the Nintendo Gamecube, a console I do not own. So I looked seriously at the console, with the criterion that they had to have enough games that I wanted to play to justify a new console. No go. But it got me thinking...

Back to the present. Kelly got input. We settled on Simpsons Road Rage, which is sort of a franchised knock-off of Crazy Taxi. Kelly spent most of yesterday evening playing it. I could have gotten Simpsons Hit and Run, which is their new franchise game, a knock-off of Grand Theft Auto, but that was full price, and I figured Kelly would never know the difference.

So what's up next? First, paying off the credit card for this lump purchase. A little later, I'll pick up one of the Baldur's Gate games, and maybe the Morrowind title. Yeah, I know, I'm a sucker for a good dungeon crawl...

This summer is Sudeki! Gotta play! Ain't I just a juvenile with a grey beard?

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:42 PM

January 05, 2004

Devil May Cry

Devil May Cry is fun, but like most of the skill-based shooters I've tried, is probably going to strand me before I get too far into it. Last night I finished 'Mission 6 - Evil of the Waterways', and saved before getting into 'Mission 7- Holding the Key of Ardor'. Some of the missions are longer than others, but just about all of them crank my heartrate way up, as I try to keep up with the fights. At that point, I've abandoned all hope of strategically applying combos and I'm just mashing buttons. That's a guaranteed way to get your butt handed to you in the advanced levels, so I expect I'll stall out in another two or three levels. Still, it served it's purpose.

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:53 PM

January 04, 2004

Atom Heart no Himitsu

This is the game that James gave me at the NOVA Christmas party. I've been playing it on and off, and finally got stuck near the end of the first stage (next to last picture, the red-legged robot insect thingy).

So this weekend, James pointed me to the message board on GameFAQs for the game, suggesting I could find hints there. No go. Everybody there just talks about how to find the various hidden characters, and how easy mode is too easy. This is the mode I'm stuck on.

I suppose I could post a message asking for help/hints, but I have to 'work up my courage' as I'm sure all these hard-core guys will snicker at where I got stuck. Oh well.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:11 PM

December 30, 2003

Curse of the Bloody Puppets

As is my wont occasionally, I bought a videogame out of the bargain bin at Fry's, to have something to noodle with during the New Year's holiday. This time out, it was Devil May Cry, by the creator of Onimusha and Resident Evil. With a pedigree like that, you can imagine that it's a bit disturbing.

So Kelly was in the bedroom when I watched the initial video cutscene, and when I first started walking Dante toward Mission One: Curse of the Bloody Puppets. After awhile, the atmosphere got a little too spooky and she left. No monsters yet, she was just doing a preemptive strike. So I played on until I met the first batch of puppets and got killed. Of course. I had no idea what I was doing, as I hadn't read any directions, and was just fumbling with the keys. Even when I know what I'm doing, it's touch and go if I'll move fast enough to survive.

After the killing, I put the game away, and wandered into the living room. Kelly was by this time taking a bath. Jean looked up and reported the following. Kelly came into the living room, and Jean asked her what she'd been watching. "Something called 'Curse of the Bloody Puppets'."

"Was it gross?" asked Jean.

After a pause, Kelly gave her 'that look' and replied "well, the name says it all, don't you think?"

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:12 PM

December 27, 2003

Atom Heart no Himitsu

So I spent a little time scanning the 'net looking for translations of the instructions for this game, and found none. I found a few reviews, and it sounds like an interesting game, but I still want a bit more info. I scanned a few of the pages and blew them up to 8X10 size to allow my aged eyes to see the kanji without exploding. Now I have to look up a few. I'm truly stale on my Japanese, as I accidentally selected the hard level when I saw the hiragana for 'muzukashi' and thought "I know that word! It means easy!"

So Tom, James, if you know where I can get translations of the booklet, lemme know!

Posted by dpwakefield at 06:22 PM

December 07, 2003

Final Fantasy X

With Final Fantasy X-2 now out, I finally stirred myself to work through the DVD set Tom lent me. This set of DVDs captures the storyline elements (cut scenes) from the game, as a sort of prolonged movie. As I had a four day weekend over Thanksgiving, I started to watch it then. I just now finished the first disc.

I appreciated Tom's offer, because, as you may recall, I got stalled in the game at some point and couldn't progress any further. In fact I gave up in disgust after succeeding in the defeat of a flying worm only to be thrust into a battle without any save point. Bam went my characters, and I just didn't have the energy to try again.

So having finished the first DVD, I think it's fair to say this probably represents about half of the actual game. And guess what? I played all the scenes on this disc. So I was at least halfway through when I stalled out. Too bad.

Now it turns out that I didn't even have to keep the DVDs. My iLamp and VLC software are able to play the DVD VOB files after they have been copied to my hard drive. So I'm going to give the discs back to Tom next NOVA meeting, and watch the VOBs as I have time. I'm deleting them as I go, since each VOB is about a Gig, and I don't want to eat up that much hard disc space for files I'll never watch twice.

Sorry for keeping things so long, Tom!

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:39 PM

October 03, 2003

Wuthering Heights the RPG

I wish I still had the time to play old-fashioned pen-and-paper, multi-sided dice roleplaying games. This has got to be the most amusing idea for an RPG I've heard of in a long time...

Just in case I ever get that perfect group of people together, here are the rules.

And WHTRPG isn't alone, apparently. Search near the bottom of this page for some other truly odd RPGs.

Posted by dpwakefield at 06:54 PM

September 17, 2003

Ghost In The Machine

Okay, now I know why Primal was on clearance at Fry's. There is a very annoying bug which only crops up when you are deep into the first level. Scree, the gargoyle sidekick, who is necessary for successful play, occasionally eludes a clipping plane and ends up in 'inside-out' world. He seems to be stuck behind the walls of the world, and while every once in awhile he can maneuver into the same space as Jen, he cannot interact with her. He flashes in and out of existance, but he just ain't there man!

I think I'll try to play through the first level, saving frequently so I can go back to the last place where he wasn't stuck, which is tedious but doable. But if I try another level and this sort of thing continues, then it goes on the shelf.

By the way, I've already gotten my money's worth by the movie scale, so I don't feel gyped, or lured into a scam by that low price.

P.S. - Searching the Internet, I found this quote:

And then there were the lovely multiple instances of dropping out into a skybox (all architecture disappeared and I was left with just the background image that’s wrapped around the whole level), once with each character, and once simply by walking up to a wall. The first time this happened, I tried saving and resetting the PS2, but it saved the skyboxed character as well. If for some reason someone happened to save over their only savegame, they’d have to start over from scratch. Clipping issues that result in skyboxes are something that should be caught by QA long before the game ships, and it was utterly frustrating to see a game that otherwise felt very polished end up as such.

PSX2 Reviews

"Skybox", that's a word that's goin' into my gamer's vocabulary, right up there with "gibbed".

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:38 PM

September 12, 2003

Primal

Over the Labor Day weekend, I went down to Fry's to buy a GBA game that Kelly wanted for Christmas. It was on sale, so worth the trip. Woe unto the geek, though, who travels to Fry's on a holiday. There were sales everywhere, and I didn't escape unscathed. They had a big rack of games on sale, and Primal was there for only $9.90! On my movie benchmark system, I'd only have to play for about four hours to get my money's worth. So I figgered, hey, why not?

It's creeping up on two weeks since I bought the game, and I've definitely racked up more than four hours. I'm about halfway through the first level, Solum. I'm pretty sure I'll finish that level, then I can either continue playing or put it on the shelf to gather dust.

Thing is, what's made it so easy to play is that I moved the PS2 to the den. When it was in the family room, I often had to pass, because Jean or Kelly would be using the television or the exercise machine down there, and so it would have been rude to play a game. Now, with it in the den, my 'official' hangout, I can play whenever time permits and I'm in the mood. To think I moved it up here to facilitate watching Region 3 DVDs!

If that isn't enough, I decided to ditch the cords, and got a wireless controller. Makes things a bit easier without having to watch for the cord every time I shift my legs.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:09 PM | Comments (2)

August 28, 2003

Teen Titans

I had another one of those cartoon/videogame crossover moments just now. I was looking up the voice actors for Teen Titans because one of them seemed familiar. The character of Raven is played by Tara Strong, who has worked a lot in voice acting.

But one voice acting gig she has done stands out, and is probably where I recognized Raven from:

Always shocking and amusing to see the cross-over...

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:45 PM | Comments (4)

June 19, 2003

Neverwinter Nights

I realize all you Wintel owners have already had this game for a year or two, and grown bored with it. That's fine. I'm not driven by trendyness, I just want the fun games eventually. And since I'm completely uninterested in online play, the fact that the gamer's community has moved on to the Next Big Thing disturbs me not in the least.

So I saw on Slashdot a couple of days ago that Neverwinter Nights was available as a downloadable tech demo. I grabbed it and have been playing it ever since (thus temporarily displacing both Dungeon Siege and Fallout as my time waster of choice).

I've seen player reviews on GameFAQs.com give wildly differing ratings of the game, so I've been unsure if I wanted to get it when it came out on the Mac. Playing it myself, I'd more or less convinced myself that I'd go ahead and buy it, until tonight, when midway through a long section of the game, it crashed. Granted, it is a tech demo, rather than a completed game, but many of the negative reviews for the PC version ding it because it frequently crashed. If this is so, no way am I going to spend good money on it. So I'll wait awhile after the full release and check the reviews...

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:44 PM

May 26, 2003

Dungeon Siege

I've enjoyed puttering about with Diablo II, so when I saw that Dungeon Siege was out for the Mac, I asked my friend Alan if he thought it was worth buying, since he's had it for ages, being on Wintel. The verdict was thumbs up, so I decided to buy it.

Kelly was immediately pushing me to play it -- for us to play it, rather. So last night I sat down with her and fired it up. You can guess what happened, can't you?

$50 game, on a brand new 1Ghz G4 Macintosh. 3-D rendered environment, lotsa big-bad-uglies invading poor innocent farmholds. What does Kelly do? She chases the chickens!

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:04 PM

April 09, 2003

GP32

This article is probably the best review I've seen so far of the Game Park 32, a Korean handheld console which can emulate a wide array of other platforms. Linking here for my game-playing friends...

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:22 PM

March 18, 2003

Wastrel

As you know if you've been following my posts, I've had a string of annoying problems which all seem to contribute to my lack of sleep. This isn't entirely true, as I actually slept more while fighting the flu than I had before. Now that the flu is pretty much gone, I'm apparently reverting to restless and choppy sleep, given last night as an example. I don't know when or if this condition will correct itself.

The upshot of this is that I concentrate all my mental acuity into the daylight hours at work, and by the time I arrive home, my brain is pretty much ready for a vacation. I've postponed my self-study evenings for this reason and the reason that I've been on call to act as math tutor during my wife's classes. But while I can handle algebra problems, I'm not in the mood for really tough mental acrobatics.

So where am I heading with this? Simply that I've been buying a few 'clearance sale' console games to fill the odd evening hour without a lot of thought. A few weeks ago I bought the Playstation 2 Winter 2002 Jampack, which is a sampler of playable demos and video previews for various games. This was a great purchase at $8, as I got to sample several games I was curious about without dropping list price for the full versions.

Kelly and I tried out Wild Arms 3, which looked like a cute premise, but had disappointing gameplay. Also on the disk were Mark of Kri, which has beautiful artwork and some interesting game mechanics, but overall didin't really grab me. I was very interested in the preview for Primal, as I'd just read a lengthy positive review in Play magazine. In the end, I think it's pretty clear that this is like Oni, a great idea, with an interesting story, but slanted toward someone with much faster reflexes and better coordination than I...

There were also a couple of platform games included. One, Sly Cooper and the Thievious Racoonus, was just too hard for me, so we gave it a pass, moving on to... Ratchet and Clank. I've got to say, if this didn't have so darn much blasting the bad guys built in, the platforming aspect would have made this a real winner. Kelly played it over and over, concentrating on the platforming, and throwing the controller at me whenever it came to fighting. She told me if I "wanted to buy the game, it would be okay by her." Sorry Kelly, you'll just have to make do with the demo.

The only other playable game I tried was SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs, which looked like an interesting game for it's stealth aspect, but overall didn't grab me.

Then I read a gushing review of Herdy Gerdy, a platformer with virtually no violence, and thought I'd get a copy for Kelly and I to play. So far we've just covered a couple of levels, but I think we'll be revisiting it on any given idle afternoon.

For my own entertainment, in the past month I've bought Onimusha, on sale for less than twenty bucks, and Silent Hill 2, also on sale.

Onimusha is interesting, and feels sort of like Resident Evil in medieval Japan. This right down to the 'auto-aim' Bushido blade! I kinda stalled out when I bought the Jampack mentioned above, but I'll be getting back to it eventually.

Way back when, I played the original Silent Hill, and it is probably my favorite console game of all time. It's certainly my favorite survival horror game. So I have high hopes for SH2. However, I don't have the brainpower or reflexes to take it on full force, so I've started the game in 'begginer' mode, where the monsters generally can't do a lot of damage, to spare myself the stress of trying to ax them before they bite my head off.

It's made for some amusing play. The first variety of monster I've run into is a sort of zombie-in-a-straightjacket shambling around town. If they're in a straightjacket (it's creepier than that, really), how do they attack? By bowing out their chest and spraying you with what I presume is poison. But since I'm playing beginner, it doesn't hurt my character so much as disgust him. It puts me in mind of the scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail where the Black Knight is hopping around on his remaining leg trying to get Arthur to fight him one more time. " What are you going to do, bleed on me?"

In fact, I'm afraid that the game is a little too gentle in this mode, and I may have to restart at 'normal' level. For the nonce, I've taken to referring to my sessions with SH2 as "strolling around Spooky Town." Which can lead to trouble, as the second time I used the phrase to let Jean know I was going downstairs, she acted confused, then burst out laughing. "I thought you were using some weird figure of speech!"

Lastly in my pile of gaming distractions, I've begun revisiting my little stack of Gameboy Advance games, probably in preparation for the new GBA SP when it comes out. Lately I've been playing Tactics Ogre: The Knights of Lodis. This is a turn-based strategy game, with limited role-playing aspects. I really enjoy this kind of game, but seldom have the time to play it for any length.

The other game I've begun to revisit is Castlevania: Circle of the Moon. This is a platform adventure game, and as such can be put down pretty much anytime, provided you can hie thee to a save room first. But the reason I put it aside is that it is generally too full of detail for casual play. This game is directed at the idle fan who can try every variation of every level until they know the magic combo to unlock the next area. That's generally more work than I want to do on a handheld game, so I've let it sit idle.

Maybe I'll invest in a new game when I buy the GBA SP. Two candidates are Zelda: A Link to the Past and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, though the latter may not be out in North America on the GBA SP release date. I'll cover that when I buy the unit.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:37 PM

March 04, 2003

So It Begins

I saw my first Gameboy Advance SP commercial this evening. Yes, I've said I don't watch commercials, but if I'm in the living room reading while Kelly has the television on, some of them leak through.

The commercial is in a dark, misty wood in the middle of the night. Moths are fluttering toward a brilliant light in the distance. They break into a clearing, and there is the shining front-lit screen of the GBA SP. Some marketing text about 'simply brilliant' or some such appears as the gadget folds shut.

Almost makes me want to not buy it. However, it's too late. Kelly spotted two new Pokemon games that are for the GBA only, and asked for them for her birthday. Jean didn't know the difference between a GBA game and a GBA Advance game, so she said 'maybe'. In the course of talking it out, I more or less spilled the beans in front of Kelly that I was thinking about getting a new unit and giving my old one to her. So now it's almost set in stone.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:08 PM

January 28, 2003

Head Games

I dropped Kelly off at school this morning. She took her Gameboy Color in the car to entertain herself on the drive to Bridgeport. But, she is not allowed to take it into school with her, so as I was getting out of the car, she asked "where should I put my Gameboy?"

"Give it to me," I said, and put it in my jacket pocket.

"But don't keep it!" she said.

"Oh, you want me to give it away?"

"No! Just give it back to me when you get home!"

"Oh. Why would I want to keep your Gameboy Color? I've got a Gameboy Advance."

Silence...

"Oh, yeah. I guess that's right!"

Posted by dpwakefield at 06:30 PM

January 23, 2003

Dance Dance Revolution - In Action

While I have historically been a couch potato where video games are concerned, some of my friends are fans of a much more physical game called Dance Dance Revolution, or DDR, as it is affectionately abbreviated. Originally an arcade game, as pictured in the link, it was later reproduced with a portable floor pad for the Playstation game console.

I actually debated getting a floor pad and one of the first game discs (each disc comes with new songs and dance moves), thinking that Kelly would enjoy it. But I ended up not doing it for the simple reason that Kelly's legs are still too short to reach all the squares on the pad comfortably. So I remain a couch potato gamer.

Browsing weblogs last night I came across a link to this site. What is it? A guy visiting Japan took his video camera with him and shot a bunch of videos of Japanese teenagers playing the original arcade game. It turns out some of them are freakishly good at the game. I downloaded two videos, and the quality is about what you'd expect. The video is low-resolution, and the sound is abominable, you can just barely make out the music over the noise.

The guy has a dozen different videos, but I'd only bother trying one or two, as you get the idea pretty rapidly. The phrase 'crazy-legs' comes to mind.

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:52 AM