Category: Video Games

I just finished Halo: ODST.  It’s a short experience (about 6 hours or so), but the atmosphere of it was really interesting.  Nice music, too.  I’d definitely recommend it at the Black Friday prices I’ve seen (30 bucks).

I like that it came with an “All the Halo multiplayer stuff” disc, too.  I think that’ll probably just be the disc that sits in my Xbox if I’m not playing something else.  You never know when you’ll want a little Halo Multiplayer :D

I recently posted some photos of a cocktail arcade cabinet I built, and Ithought I’d go over the fabrication for those interested.  Aseries of photos taken during the process is available here.  I also took some photos of a Revenge of Doh cabinetfor research purposes, and those are available here. I’ve detailed software in a different post since that was asignificant undertaking in its own right.

I was inspired to make this cabinetafter watching a documentary called The King ofKong.  It’s about a guy’s attempt at beating the highscore record in Donkey Kong.  It made me try Donkey Kong onMAME, and snowballed into wanting a proper arcade cabinet to enjoyclassic games.  I was also in need of small table for a cornerin my apartment, and an arcade cabinet was the perfect fit.
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UPDATE 2009.12.12 – I’ve detailed the fabrication here, and the software here.

It’s time I let everyone know what I’ve been working on over the last month. I bought a bunch of woodworking tools and have been very secretive about it, but the physical part of it is done now. So here it is:


That there is a cocktail arcade cabinet, which I built for 1. Retro-Gaming and 2. Breakfast-Eating. There’s been an empty corner in the apartment for about a year now, and I figured it was time to fill it. So there ya have it.

This is just The Unveiling, though. I’ve posted a short gallery here so y’all can take a look, but I’ve also taken a bunch of photos of the whole process, and I’ll go in depth on it all next week (hopefully).

Literally.  I got to the end of Fable 2, and was working on getting the rest of the gargoyle heads, when I dropped into Archon’s Knot, where my LAST gargoyle head was.  As I swam out of the water, my character bugged.  I could shoot a single bullet, so I got the gargoyle, but I can’t swing a weapon, and casting a spell acts like I never release the spell button.  The big hurt, though in this bugged mode, I can’t get into the menu to save (you know, because I got all the Gargoyles!).  So I wandered my way (no fast travel if you don’t have the menu) to a game master, loaded up spinnerbox, and exited so it would autosave.  Then I reset my Xbox.

Well, in saving my progress, I also saved my bugged character.  I’m locked in a mode where I can’t attack, can’t equip items, can’t save, can’t fast travel.  
So I guess I’m done playing Fable 2.  Shame it had to end this way.

I had 6 hours of free time yesterday, so I decided to take some time to catch up on Xbox Live games.  I was figuring I’d land on Bionic Commando, but I tried the Braid demo first.  If you haven’t played it yet, and you’re like me, you probably look at the screenshots and go “meh”.  It looks a little… bubbly, I guess.  The name and the graphics don’t let on to how cool it is.  I immediately bought it after getting to the end of the demo.  Bionic Command will have to wait.

Maybe the reason I didn’t know what Braid was about was because it’s kind of hard to explain.  It’s sort of like Mario Bros. in that they have a princess and she’s “in another castle”, but the game is really about puzzles.  At any point in the game you can reverse time.  If you die, rewind.  The puzzles come into play largely by having objects that aren’t affected by time in the same way as your character.  There’s also an interesting story to tie it all together.  You get a little story at the beginning of each or 6 worlds, and then jump into puzzles.
From a technical standpoint, Braid is amazing.  When you rewind, everything goes backwards, exactly as you played it out, even the sound, which I’m really impressed by.  Playing things backwards is not something most software is designed to do, and the software geeks behind Braid have done a really good job.  And the thing about being able to play back your gameplay is that you automatically have a nearly perfect bug reporting and reproducing system, which makes debugging easier.  The game is smooth.
I don’t know.  After writing this I realize it’s really hard to explain Braid.  I bet they’re losing a lot of sales because of that.  If you’re a details type person, you can notice that they took a lot of time balancing the puzzles, working out the gameplay, and making sure it was technically perfect.  As far as Xbox Live games go, I think it’s one of the best (but I haven’t played Bionic Commando yet).  If I had a rating system, it would receieve 13 out of 14 bacon strips.

Holy crap. I don’t know how I missed out on this one all these years. I was reading last week’s escapist issue, and came across this article. “What kind of a name is ‘The Kingdom of Loathing’”, I thought.

I checked it out. It’s awesome.

The Kingdom of Loathing is a browser based pseudo mmo. Let me clarify. By browser based, I mean it runs in your browser, but it doesn’t use flash or fancy graphics. It’s all framed html, img tags, and a bit of javascript. A very plain UI. By pseudo mmo, I mean that you are playing alongside many other people, but they may as well be in parallel universes. You can communicate with them, give each other items, and apparently PvP (i haven’t checked it out yet), but on the whole you just play it alone.

All the graphics are hand drawn stick figures, and the humour in the writing is a lot like Douglas Adams; the humor is all in how it’s written on the page. For example, in the game, one of the quests takes you to The Misspelled Cemetary, where you fight Ghuols, Skleltons, and lihces.

And since it’s free, you should check it out. No, read the article, and then check it out. The guys behind this make their living purely on the donations, and they have an interesting story.

You know how I said I was done with Jeanne D’Arc? Well, something about that game just doesn’t bore me. I’m still playing it, even after I’ve beaten it. Its addictive qualities are not as impressive as Disgaea, but they present some pretty significant challenges after you complete the game and it makes it feel like you haven’t really played the game fully. So now I’m working on leveling a few characters to the level cap, and then we’ll see if I get tired of the darned thing.

I’ve also been introduced to Patapon by a coworker. I didn’t realize it was made by the same people who made Loco Roco. That is, until I booted it up. The artwork and sound is immediately recognizable. I think that’ll be my next PSP game. I loved Loco Roco :D

I just got done with Jeanne D’Arc for the PSP. Well, i should clarify. I BEAT it about 3 weeks ago, but there is a bit of gameplay to be had after you beat it, and i was playing with that. I DECIDED three days ago that i was done. I tried pretty hard to level my characters enough such that i could beat the extra Colosseum levels, but the play style i chose for the normal part of the game just didn’t work for some of the colosseum levels.

I don’t think i play strategy games correctly. I think maybe i don’t like them. I know i don’t really care for RTS games, but i’ve always had fun with turn based strategy games. FF Tactics and Disgaea were tons of fun. The problem i have with them is that i don’t see how any RTS games are different. Warcraft is the same as Total Annihilation is the same as Starcraft is the same as you get the idea. this definitely hinder my ability to enjoy them. The biggest issue with not seeing the differences is that i play them all the same way, and so i’m always just playing the same game. I don’t know if that’s my fault or it’s the fault of the game designers…

Anyways, the way i play all strategy games is with brute force. If my units aren’t tough enough to kill the baddies, i don’t go find the kryptonite unit for what i’m up against, i just make more of the unit i’ve already committed myself to. Maybe i should read some strategy before i play my next strategy game. I bet that would make it a lot more fun.

Ok, Professor Layton is a good game. But god damn, every once in a while one of those puzzles just makes me angry. Specifically, puzzle no 116:

Now, when the instructions say “any three numbers” and “vertically, horizontally, or diagonally”, I’m gonna expect that EVERY row and EVERY column must add to the same amount, not just the middle row and middle column. I spent about 30 minutes playing around under that impression, only to find out I was doing it wrong (the answer for what i thought it was is 47, by the way). I was a little frustrated by that. Only problem is, I’m not really sure how it should be worded to make it any better…

Or take puzzle no. 67. It’s simply not solvable on your own. There isn’t enough information.

That being said, it’s a good game. You take the bad with the good, i guess.

I’m tired of people arguing about whether or not videogames are art. Who are these fools? Yes, Shadow of the Colossus is pretty. Yes, the music is nice. And sure, Roger Ebert made you angry with his comments about video games. But seriously, now the CONTROLS are art, too?!?

Videogames are not art. Videogames are a medium on which you can create art. They’re nothing more than a canvas on which you can do some scribbles or create a deep, though provoking story line with gorgeous imagery. There’s a big difference between Pac-Man and Shadow of the Colossus, but they both have great gameplay. As gamers, we should be enjoying the gameplay. Let the historians argue about “art”.