Sunday, February 24, 2008

Hit-And-Run Post #4

Here's a game that kinda hurts my brain to think about, but I'm pretty sure I'll buy it when it comes out, Zero Wing text and all. Super Paper Mario's got *nothing* on this.

Ladies and Gentlemen, courtesy of a link to Destructoid, meet Fez.

Second, I've never seen a video game get rickrolled before. I've seen it now.

Meet Ric Doom.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Hit-and-Run post #3: Non-music gaming update

Contrary to Mrs. Addicted's testimony, I do other things besides playing Guitar Hero games, despite the lopsided representation on this blog. Here's updates on some of them.

I recently finished reading Blink, a gift given by a friend of mine a while ago. Very highly recommended, it describes the two centres for decision-making in the brain, one of which is your front brain is able to slowly and logically reason things out. The other acts with minimal information and makes decisions that get interpreted as instinct. This book is an in-depth analysis of that part of the brain and what split-second decision making is good for.

I'm in the middle of another gift, a copy of Wicked, the story of the background of the characters featured in the Wizard of Oz. I expected something that would tie in the Wizard of Oz movie which it does very loosely, and possibly the musical, which it doesn't even slightly. Nonetheless, I'm a little over halfway through and I think I'm enjoying it. The subject material really forces you to re-assess what normal is in the context of a story, and I like it for and despite that. Because I have very little to connect it to, save for Hollow Chocolate Bunnies Of The Apocalypse (I'm not making that title up, it's a phenomenal book that I highly recommend), it's hard to preperly categorize it, but I'd recommend it to anyone looking for some fiction that's decidedly different with a feeling of realness to it.

Thanks to my schedule these past couple of years I've had a lot of trouble playing games that require an investment of an hour or longer at a stretch, especially if it's a single-player game. I haven't yet made appreciable headway in Zelda: Twilight Princess, and am doing my best in Fire Emblem on the Wii, which thankfully is both turn-based and equipped with a save feature that you can use after any and every turn. It's a good game and I highly recommend it if you like turn-based RPGs.

I've been helping out Mrs. Addicted when she gets really frustrated playing Super Mario Galaxy, and I find that while it's a little disorienting (by design, I figure), it really is a lot of fun. I copied her savegame file to another slot so I could take it up when I want to play but the Mrs. isn't around and I don't want to start the game from the beginning.

On the DS I did manage to finish Puzzle Quest, promptly handed it to the wife's maid of honour (yes, the wife's maid of honour, I had my own, too. Kinda.) and promptly apologized. It took her a few days to understand why I apologized, but she was nice enough to accept it then.

I still don't have a functioning left trigger on my DS, so I'm restricted to a couple of games that don't need it like Brain Age and Picross. They're challenging but not always entertaining any more (I love logic puzzles more than most, but 20x20 grids in Picross where you have to guess to make progress isn't always the thrill ride the brochure makes it out to be). Meh, helps me get some reading done between now and the new DS which I'm hoping we can get before August.

One last thing on DS gaming. Get a copy of Professor Leyton and The Mysterious Village. If you like puzzles at all, GET THIS GAME. It won't cost you $40 to get new and it's a game that actually features good animation and voice acting, making it worthy of a purchase for that novelty alone, even if the content were centred around cake (which it thankfully doesn't). I played about 15 minutes of it on a friend's cartridge and told him I'd buy it off of him when he was done.

Other gaming:
At one of our recent nerd coven gaming meetings, I had the chance to play a card game called Fluxx. It's not a deep game, but the fact that the rules of the game are actually contained on the cards and depending on what gets played/discarded, it becomes a sort of Calvinball card game. I picked up a copy because this kind of game suits me just fine, but Mrs. Addicted found she enjoyed watching me play more than actually playing, so I'm on the lookout for more people interested in this kind of weirdness.

Oky, this is kinda long for a hit-and-run post, but I feel a little guilty for not updating very often, so I'm making up for it by giving what, four posts today? One of them even managed not to talk about Guitar Hero. Until now, that is.

Hit-and-run post #2: Guitar Hero III update #2

I knew I shouldn't have posted that first hit-and-run GH3 update.

I whined and complained about The Metal in my previous post, but then realized when company was over today that I hadn't actually tried it in a few weeks. I figured what the heck, I'll flail about on it for a bit and then see what happens. As for the retirement announcement, I've only retired from doing work on the songs, I have no issue with taking a random stab at them now and again to see if I've magically become good enough to complete them.

In Quick Play I figured what the heck, let's give it a whirl and put in on Expert.

...and promptly beat it.

I tried a couple of songs in the next set, specifically Knights of Cydonia and 3s and 7s, and beat them both. I couldn't believe it. I figured I'd push my luck at that point and see if I could manage Cult of Personality, but no go there. At any rate, I figured it was nice to beat them, but it didn't count unless they were on my profile. A little later in the day I tried them again on my profile and beat The Metal and 3 other songs in succession. I know that at the end of the day, even if I beat every song in the game I'm still inferior as a player to a 9-year-old kid, and regardless, these skills amount to pushing buttons on a toy. I harbour no illusions here. That being said, I'm still pretty proud of this. I even took a picture of the screen to show that I have 7 unfinished songs left on Expert, which includes the wussed-out guitar battle with Slash and the unattempted guitar battle with Lou, neither of which I'm interested in. This leaves me with five unfinished songs in Expert difficulty, and after trying a couple of them tonight, I may just finish here. I'll keep you posted either way. (:

Here's the screenshot. Yes, I know, my parents are very proud.

UPDATE: It's been pointed out to me that I have 41/42 songs complete in Hard difficulty, and the one remaining song is the ending guitar battle with Lou, which I haven't attempted in a while, but haven't ever managed to win. I am cool with this despite my OCD leanings when it comes to beating video games.

Enter: Rock Band

There's a weekly nerd meeting that Mrs. Addicted and I attend. At these meetings we indulge in all manner of nerdery, mostly video gaming, some movies, TV shows and the like. Ever since Rock Band was finally delivered to the place where our host had it pre-ordered, it's been the game of choice for our group. It had all the difficulty of Guitar Hero, but with an actual chance to interact with your fellow gamers. Okay, it really just lets more than two people play at once, and you're really playing near more than with, but let's not split hairs, here.

Before Rock Band launched, I may have (even in an earlier post) said that I was skeptical as to whether any game with a $200 price tag would sell.

I was wrong.

In fact, it was Rock Band that made me realize that I wasn't really having fun playing the last few sets in Expert mode on Guitar Hero.

It helps if you have a nerd coven that can split the cost of a video game eight ways, I might not've had a chance to play it otherwise, and I'm sure that the rest of the group is forever grateful for the opportunity to hear me attempt to sing not only Iron Maiden's love ballad Run To The Hills, but even to sing Rush's country/western classic Tom Sawyer.

I'd describe it in detail, but in an effort to retain my flagging readership, I'll just say I have a theatre voice. I performed on stage in musical theatre for several years a while ago, and if you think (like I did) that a theatre voice and actual training would translate well to Rock Band, you are sorely mistaken. In our meetings they give me a guitar and leave me on it for several very good reasons, two of which are mentioned above.

Rock Band is one of the first games that actually can help you learn a transferrable skill. Guitar Hero requires more than a little suspension of disbelief when it comes to helping what Mrs. Addict would call basement-dwelling CHUD to believe they're rock stars. Rock Band has a drum kit that is many times over more sadistic than it looks at first glance. Medium difficulty is the litmus test for weeding out the truly dedicated to the "instrument", and if you can manage some of the stuff that I've seen on Hard and Expert difficulties, then I'd recommend getting a kit for real, because you're not that far off, in my opinion.

On top of it all, it's fun. It's very cool to have four of your friends thrashing away on different instruments and to see the four different sections of the screen all going at once. It's fun to be able to trade instruments and see the same song completely differently.

My favourite mechanic has got to be the one thing that would make Expert difficulty on Guitar Hero do-able and a lot less of a chore. Star power builds up for each instrument the same as in GH, but if one of you fails out on your instrument, the entire song doesn't stop. Someone with enough star power can activate it and bring that player back into the song, and in that way it keeps one person with a brutal solo from being able to bring down the band. You can actually fail twice in a song and be saved by other band members, which is a very useful thing, keeping the entire band from having to do GHIII-esque work to get past certain areas.

In all, wanting to learn the drum part alone has tempted Mrs. Addicted and I to pick up a 360 should room present itself for one in our budget in the coming months. I'll keep you posted on that, but don't count on a post for it until closer to the end of the year.

Hit-and-run post #1: Guitar Hero III update

To all and sundry: I have retired from Guitar Hero III.

This doesn't mean that I've quit playing by any stretch, but I have stopped trying to finish songs I've never finished before.There are 9 songs I haven't finished successfully in Expert difficulty, not counting three guitar battles, which seemed gimmicky anyway.

I spent an hour playing and in practice mode trying to play the ludicrously hard bridge in The Metal, also known as the ending credit music from the movie Tenacious D. Two attempts at the song after this garnered one failure at the expected 50% and another failure at 94%. I noticed after that failure that I had at some point stopped having fun.

I'm confident that I can do it, provided I'm willing to spend as much time as I need to develop the muscle-memory required for this one song. On quick-play mode I tried a few other songs and ran into the same difficulty, that being that there is a stupidly difficult chord sequence or hammer-on sequence each time that you can learn if you're willing to spend the required time to teach your fingers to perform that one sequence, which won't help you with the next song. Ultimately, I'm far enough behind in my unplayed games library that spending hours on hours not having fun with this one simply isn't worth it.

That's not to say that I've stopped playing it, I happen to enjoy the music, particularly the Blue Oyster Cult song Cities on Flame With Rock And Roll, and when company comes over I'm more than happy to play with them. I've just stopped trying to finish every song on my own, and for someone who's willing to farm in caves, that's saying something. It also hasn't stopped me from looking on the Internets for a remotely cheap copy of GH I and II for the PS2 so that we can play all the songs that were in the first two games. But I digress.

I partly blame Rock Band, but that's another entry, coming soon.