Monday, January 31, 2011

Hell in a Dungeon

I purchased What Did I Do to Deserve This, My Lord!? 2 over the weekend for various reasons.  One of those reasons was the that while looking up the hardest games ever for the PSP, I saw that this was at the top of the rankings.  That sealed the deal, as they say in the condom business.  I was buying the game to prove something to myself.

Unfortunately, all I've proven is that what set me off on this quest may have a ring of truth to it.  I may be getting too old for this shit.

I should've known this game would not be easy when the tutorials themselves needed to be unlocked.  That is a bad, bad sign.  I could do the first few that were unlocked with little problem, but when I got to the unlocked challenges, that's when things quickly fell apart.

The basic concept of the game is that you create an ecosystem in a dungeon to kill adventurers who wander in.  Hey, I like killing things, and I like watching things mate, so this seemed like a slam dunk.  Unfortunately, I believe the game is developed by the Japanese (which means all kinds of high weirdness), and playing God in a dungeon is a lot harder than it is playing God with the Sims people or any of those Civilization games.  I have not been able to get 24 Lizardmen to populate the dungeon for the life of me.  It's not that I'm not trying or not using different strategies.  I just can't do it.  I'm up for the challenge, though.  I will use this addled brain of mine and come up with something that works.  Anything else is just not acceptable.

Of course, I could always go back to Break Quest.  That's cake compared to this one.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


When I was considering an Xbox, I took a look at its premiere game, Halo.  I had heard mixed things about it.  There were people I knew who loved it, but could only say it was because it was "fun."  Then there were those who enjoyed it, but were quick to say it wasn't anything all that special. 

I played a demo of it to see for myself, understanding that the demo would not be the full game but that it should offer me some kind of incentive to get the game.

I found the graphics to be very nice to look at ... and that was about it.  It wasn't anything new, and while blasting shit was enjoyable, it didn't grab me the way it did in Red Faction.  I passed on Halo and passed on the Xbox. 

I understand why this franchise sells well.  It's the same reason Transformers is number one at the box office.  People don't have very high standards and are easily amused and just as easily distracted.  It enables anything that may hold one's attention for longer than ten minutes to be considered "classic." 

I also understand that there will be those who say that since I didn't play the complete game, a demo was no way to judge that.  Normally I'd agree, but the demo in question was made to entice people to purchase the game ... and it didn't work for me.  If a company's sales pitch fails, why would I give the finished product a chance?  If it had gotten me even slightly interested in the game, I would have pursued it to see if it lived up to my expectations, but the demo didn't even come close.  Xbox's flagship title did not draw me in, and therefore I avoided the entire system.  Fair or unfair, that's how it worked.  I still don't have an Xbox and probably never will own one.

But if I do, I won't be buying Halo.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Best Video Game Franchise Ever

When it comes to video games, I have a few things I look for them.  Replay value and enjoyment are two of the key things.  Graphics mean little to me.  Storylines don't mean much, either.  (Most of the storylines in games are awful, and when someone says something like Doom has a great story, I have to question his sanity.)

The Gran Turismo franchise has all this and more, and that is why I consider it the best video game franchise ever.  (Granted, I haven't played Gran Turismo 5, but I imagine it lives up to the series' high standards.)  Some of you will disagree, mainly fans of Mr. Mario, but hear me out.

Besides the incredible replay value, the GT franchise offers something few other games do: it teaches you and gives you the most thorough sense of accomplishment deemed possible in a video game.  Yes, that's right, it teaches you.  Mastering this game will give you a good knowledge of cars and actually make you a better driver.  Few games can make such a boast.

Yes, getting Gold in all the license tests is an exercise in determination and self-control, but if you get that, you deserve them.  While other video games determine if you win or lose by a point or lives, in the GT series you are dealing in thousandths of a second.  If you have to complete a test in 39 seconds, you will fail if you hit 39.001.  Frustrating?  You bet.  But if you stick with it, you will actually deserve that medal.

The series is not without flaws, though.  In the GT community, these flaws are well-known and often discussed.  The AI of your opponent cars is laughable at times.  Up until the fifth game there was no car damage, either.  The damage you can do nothing about, but if you race your car as if it were a real car and try to keep off your opponents you'll find that the game experience is almost makes up for that lack of AI.  It truly is a game that gives you more if you put more into it.

I know my take on this will be contested by people, and I'm fine with that.  Everyone has their favorites.  If all my games but these disappeared, I'd be okay (well, I'd miss a lot of them, including all my FIFA games).  If my GT games disappeared, however, I would be seriously upset.

If you want to argue against it, go right ahead.  I'm waiting ...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Why the Japanese Are Insane

If you've played Work Time Fun you come away from it with only one thought: the Japanese are fucking crazy.

If you've never played it, here's the quick and dirty on it: absurd mini-games where you earn money to buy trinkets, other mini-games, and tools for your PSP.  The mini-games include chopping wood (or bunnies), capping pens, counting people, getting ladies' phone numbers, performing seances, and cooking pottery.  It sounds like a recipe for disaster, but is strangely addictive, as I've written before.  The entire concept of the game is strange to say the least, and I'm slightly disturbed by my daughter's love of the mushroom hunter game, but spending anything more than ten minutes with the game gives you a clear sense that while the Japanese may be insane, they are also brilliant.

The game takes in all the socialization that our Japanese friends seem to love, while also taking advantage of the fact that the PSP works best in short doses.  The games are just strange enough and have such a strange amount of variety that you keep playing just to see what will happen next and collect more stuff (I want more duck training toilets).  This is a game that Americans could make, but would never make this good because we just don't get it.  For some odd reason, the Japanese have some deep understanding of the psyche involved in enjoying something like this -- an absurdist collector mentality, if you will.

I had heard of a sequel being produced, and I thought I saw one, but I believe it is only available in Japan, which means all the instructions will be in Japanese, a language I do not understand. 

If you have a PSP and this game seems remotely interesting, I recommend you download it or find a hard copy for yourself.  You can get it from the PlayStation Network for under ten bucks, so it is well worth it.  If, on the other hand, you didn't understand the appeal of any of this -- stay the hell away.  Playing the game won't change your obviously dysfunctional mind.