Saturday, September 20, 2008

In Deck – Post 360 Breakdown

After my Xbox 360 got the red rings of death, I’ve had to move on to play other games and systems. Unlike J, I didn’t do much portable gaming during the blackout, as I tried to spend time where electricity was on (school, friends’). Additionally, with school about to launch into its third week for me, I haven’t been playing so much as I’ve had homework and early bedtimes so I can make it to butt-early-in-the-morning classes. Still, I am getting gaming time in, so I figured I’d take a look at what I’ve been playing.

Triggerheart Exelica

As an XBLA title, this shouldn’t count, but it is the last game I was able to play on my 360, late night Saturday/early morning Sunday last week, and I wanted to talk about it. After the content-packed bargains I found in Bionic Commando Rearmed ($10) and Castle Crashers ($15), paying $10 for Triggerheart Exelica when it’s only 5 levels and can be beaten in about 15-20 minutes seemed a bit disappointing. However, I kept playing it over and over, and now I miss it.

It’s a basic shooter, with anime girls in robot suits (more like robot shells & less-than-modest clothing) and a tractor-beam mechanic that allows you to trap enemies and swing them around as a shield. Music is pleasing, levels are fun, though graphics aren’t the greatest. It’s an addictive game, though later levels have so many swarms of bullets coming at you, it’s as impossible as Ikaruga would be without the ability to dodge half of them by changing color (though Ikaruga was pretty hard even with the color changing).

Even with two characters, each with a different shot pattern, it’s really short, but that makes it perfect for a quick bout of gaming. Overall I don’t regret the purchase and I can’t wait to play it again.

Final Fantasy III

I’ve gotten more playtime in FFIII and finally got around to figuring out if I wanted to switch jobs for my characters or keep the old ones (a dilemma from my first on deck). While new jobs were novel, they ended up being very annoying and practically worthless (especially the bard class). I wasn’t used to them, the job levels were rock bottom and I hated the limitations imposed on some classes. So I switched back to the mainstay jobs I’ve held throughout most of the game. I’m sure if I had more patience, it’d be fun to tinker with jobs, but I guess I’m pretty resistant to change. Basically between trying things out and grinding (I love to grind for some reason), I haven’t progressed much further in the game.

Rock Band

How can I play Rock Band without a working 360, or even a copy of the game? Simple: by having friends that have both. I’ve been to my buddy, Aaron’s, for a couple “Rock Band parties," where there’s enough people to play all instruments. I love this game, more than Guitar Hero, and it’s really fun to switch things up. I’m still not great at these “guitar games” so I play on medium. And even though I’ve spent years as a percussionist, the Rock Band drums seem counter intuitive and I can barely hang. That doesn't seem to be a problem for non-real life drummers (or maybe I'm just rusty). Even though I’m not the greatest musician, Rock Band is tons of fun and the ultimate party game.

PaRappa the Rapper

Speaking of music games, I broke out one of the earliest here recently. Step on the gas! Now step on the brake! Kick, punch, it’s all in the mind! And all that… I’ve been wanting to show my beloved Maureen PaRappa for awhile, but never really got motivated to load it up until I saw Mega64’s brilliant re-enactment of the game. After that, I had to play it again. I played with friends, and holy crap, it’s hard! I remember struggling when I first played it, so I’m probably re-learning the mechanics all over again. Still, we made it to the bathroom rap battle (the second to last stage), before giving up. It was good to play it again; for the most part, it holds up even today.

And, much to my delight, I can still make PaRappa say “Crack, crack, crack, into the crack bowl,” on the cake making level.

Katamari Damacy

It makes sense that after the 360 broke down when we tried to play Beautiful Katamari, we’d want to play the original. I’ve played a little and love how pure it is. Maureen’s done most of the playing, though last night we had friends over—one of who had never seen any Katamari game in action. He laughed like crazy at the intro, and became addicted almost instantly. It’s been really awesome revisiting this classic.

No More Heroes

I’m a really easily distracted person, which may explain why I leave games unfinished only to linger in my backlog. I took a step to fix this by revisiting No More Heroes, one of the most unique (and violent) Wii games around. While some reviewers complained that the open city setting was shallow and didn’t hold up to its GTA appearance, I think they missed the point. To me, No More Heroes is a lot like Shadow of the Colossus, where boss battles take the center stage. Of course, there are also minor skirmishes, some NPC characters/shops, and tons of mini-games and missions, but the boss battles are the meat of the game. I played through a couple of them, and ran into some unexpected surprises and weirdness along the way. While it’s not for everybody, this game is one of the most unique experiences to be had.


Although I didn’t really "get" Okami the first time I saw it on PS2, I really wanted to try the Wii version when it came out. I have just started Okami, basically playing through the tutorial, and I am impressed. It’s so aesthetically pleasing and the storytelling is great. I can really see why many compare Okami to a Zelda game. Using the brush with the Wii remote isn’t as hard as I thought it’d be, though I’ve only learned basic stroke moves so far. It’s also nice to see the wolf actually running like a wolf—unlike Link’s wolf form in Zelda: Twilight Princess, which basically ran the same way as Epona the horse. I’m definitely going to be spending more time with this one.

I’ve been occupied and been having good times, but I still gotta say: come back soon 360!


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