Saturday, November 21, 2009

GameStop Adventures

I don't really like GameStop. At least not the one at the Bayshore Mall in Eureka, California. The staff is comprised mainly of idiots with a few beacons of hope. I was in there today, though, sick as hell and looking for a game for my daughter. Here is the fun stuff I experienced.

First was a guy trying to buy a strategy guide for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. The young man appeared to be mentally challenged because when they asked his age he said, "I don't know. I was born in 1990." The store refused to sell him the book because it was for a mature-rated game. The manager, who takes every other opportunity to upsell, stated it was company policy. I can see not selling the game (not that I agree with it), but the strategy guide? Wow.

Next up was a guy trying to buy a PSP game for his daughter. He was told the game wasn't in the box, but there was in its place a code so that he could download the game from the PSN store. His response? "Download it on the computer?" The manager quickly corrected him. It only took about four more times before he got a better grasp of the conversation.

Then came the real winners. A mom and son. They were looking for the lastest Super Mario Brothers game for the PS2. Yeah, you read that correctly. When they were told that the franchise never made an appearance on the PlayStation, they got a little testy, but no worries. They were also picking up cheap PC games.

The manager made a point of asking what OS they were using. The lady said it was XP. The manager pressed to make sure because the games wouldn't work on Vista of 7. "No, it's XP," the woman replied. "It's brand new. I got it yesterday at Wal-Mart."

"It might be using 7," the manager said.

"No. It's XP. It's brand new."

I wasn't going to wait around to see how pissed they would be when they brought back the games because the manager told them it would work on their system and it doesn't (and you know how that is how that conversation would go). I would have loved to have heard it, though.

It's always a thrill at GameStop. If it isn't the employees, it's the customers. When will they ever learn?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Sweet Addiction

I cannot explain the addiction to Tetris. It's a simple game with roughly 86,395 variations (using things like candy, exploding bombs, bubbles and so on). It's probably the best thing to come out of Russia since underage mailorder brides (and slightly more legal). It seems like something so easy should not be so appealing, but then again that is the appeal.

The game, which has been studied in its effects in helping with soldiers combat PTSD, keeps you thinking. It never lets up. It gets faster and faster, forcing you to become faster and faster, and when you think you've done all you can, you go back for one more round. No game is the same, and every new shape gives you a whole new realm of possibilities. It's a game loved by people who don't love video games. In other words, it's got mass appeal.

I know of a few people who don't like the game. They don't like to be challenged that way, and that's fine. I like to think it keeps the brain sharp. And unlike various brick breaking games (which I also enjoy), this one keeps you in control. I tend to think that the people who don't like it played it a few times and never got any better, so they pushed it aside and blamed the game.

I felt the same way with Spy Hunter, though I still enjoy it.

Games can be an addiction, and Tetris is the crack of gaming. Go without it for a few days, and you find yourself jonesing for it. Stop cold turkey and go back a year later and see what happens. Yep. Four hours later you're still trying to beat your high score.

Thirty years from now the Grand Theft Auto franchise will be named in books detailing video game history. Tetris will still be played. It will be on all sorts of delivery systems, and it will have kept its main premise (and all its variations). It won't need perfecting or updating because at its core, it's a perfect game. And if you don't believe me, ask your mom. She's played it ... and probably still is.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

When There's No Room Left on the PSN ...

I am not a huge fan of cartoony games, but the premise behind Zombie Tycoon grabbed my interest. You command up to three squads of zombies that you can equip and set loose on a town having them attack buildings and unlucky people. It's a download game only (a minus), and is $7.99 (a plus). I figured I'd take the chance. I'm glad I did. I now have three hordes of zombies that I've been having attack schools and hot dog cart vendors. My blue squad is equipped with hospital gowns and bicycle wheels (for a shield). My red squad is armed only with pencils. My green squad, however, is my baby. I've got them equipped with fish, bunny slippers and sombreros. Brilliant.

The game seems to be a guilty pleasure type thing. It doesn't appear to be too deep or complicated (I'm only on the second city, though), and it's not as open ended yet as I would like. That said, however, there is something really cool about commanding zombies. Fuck soldiers. Fuck orcs. Zombies are where it's at. Seeing my zombies pummel a crook with fish was worth the price alone.

I like the idea of the PSN Minis. It gives players the perfect forum for getting relatively cheap games that are perfect for on the go. Playing this ensures I'll be back for more as they add them.