the categorical days: Videogames

October 08, 2008

The Inaugural Rock Band Night

photo by Tom

Tom has been wanting to have a Rock Band (the videogame) shindig out at the studio for a long, long time. We ran out of excuses, the planets aligned and it finally happened last night.

Nicole up there in the robot hat killed us with her expert-level guitar work. She even turned away from the TV and played parts by memory to taunt everyone.

I wish more games made losing to someone with skills this much fun.

The other best part?

Saying over and over, "Just one more and then I'm done."

Sadly, it was a weekday so we had to cut it off early because we're all lame and responsible.

If we get it together more often, I have a feeling someone will eventually break out spandex.

Current music: Red Hot Chili Pepper "Give It Away"

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April 10, 2008


Caught on the drive into work this morning

Replace overcast Ohio with a sunny Coconut Beach and I would have felt just like I was in a videogame.

In related linkage: Pontiac pushed the nostalgia button spot on with this Spy Hunter inspired commercial.

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November 18, 2007

Super Mario Galaxy

Setting the remote down for a moment [ + bigger, uncropped ]

Today was a day off.

It was cold and overcast and I sat on the couch in a union suit, playing Super Mario Galaxy for a few hours. If you've read anything about it, you likely heard its awesome.

It totally is (if you like those platformer / mario games).

The music, control, bite-sized levels, gravity, animation. Just spot on good.

Then the sun came out and I had to break away from the game. Bright light on the tv screen and all.

But it was good to pull myself out of that galaxy.

I'm rationing it, avoiding the end.

Not that I ever actually finish videogames, but it's happy fun along the way.

I'll be extra happy when Nintendo has some set-up in place to send new levels through the net. That's the kinda action I want in my inbox.

Bonus link: XOC SMW
The complete soundtrack to Super Mario World, covered by one man using dozens of instruments. Roughly in game order, faithful to the originals, with some bizarre artistic license thrown around. A private hobby made public. Dedicated to Koji Kondo.

Current music: XOC "Valley of Bowser"

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December 14, 2006


I’m a nerd

I just finished Zelda on the Wii.

I've "beat" a handful of games in my days: Jak & Daxter 2 on the PS2, Halo on the XBOX, and other titles I'm forgetting.

I should mention, I've never completed any Zelda game prior. Never finished Super Mario Brothers on the NES, or most videogames for that matter. I play them, see the graphics and mechanics. and when it gets tough, I move on.

Maybe it was because of the new control scheme, Nintendo decided to make this launch game ( slash killer app ) a little on the easy side. I'm fine with that. In fact, I think more games shouldn't stump and leave folks frustrated. That's why there should be difficulty settings.

Don't think I'm smart. I used a game guide – specifically, the great one by Devin Morgan found at GameFaqs (under the nickname DBM11085). I only resorted to a guide after I tried many times to solve something, usually after walking away from the console for a few. But I don't like to be frustrated for too long over anything. Who needs printed game guides anymore? Using the find command on a text file is wonderful.

This is now my favorite Zelda game. The pacing is great, the upgrades in weapons are super awesome, and I never once felt like I was getting the short end of the graphics stick. My only nitpick would be the midi soundtrack (I'd have preferred real orchestration), and the repetitive animation and subtitles that let me know a blue rupee was worth 5.

So that was that. There went 76 hours and 55 minutes of my freetime.

It was great, but I'm ready to revisit human interaction.

Current music: The midi closing credits of Zelda: Twilight Princess

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November 16, 2006

they either love videogames, or ebay markups

Near the Dayton Mall

I could point and laugh at the folks camped outside Best Buy on a cold and rainy night, three days before the new Sony PLAYSTATION comes out...

Or I could wonder if they have jobs...

But mostly, what I think is, well, at least they are dedicated - and that's not something you see every day.

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November 06, 2006

Clubhouse Games

A must have for Nintendo DS folk who like cards and stuff

Since the sheen of the New Super Mario Bros. has faded a tiny bit, and until the Wii comes out - there is Clubhouse Games to fill my gaming needs.

Over 40 games packed in this breath strip sized cartridge: From Old Maid, Spit, Hearts, Rummy, Texas Hold 'Em, Spades, Five Card Draw, Solitaire, MajJong, Checkers, Chess, Dominoes, all the way off the table to bowling, billiards and darts.

And there's more.

A "stamp" mode allows you to play against the computer and not only learn games (all the rules are included onscreen) like Contract Bridge (I still don't get it), but you unlock a few other gems. Trying to figure out Shogi (Japanese Chess, pictured above) is a bit of a challenge, but a fun one.

On top of all that, most of the games are Wi-Fi playable (though I've yet to try that out).

If Canasta was included, I might not be writing this product endorsement (I'd be busy playing it).

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October 13, 2006

leaves, full-on sick, wii

Pictures of autumn leaves were bound to appear

The season is happening fast. A cold front has dropped upon Ohio and strong winds are whistling around the corners. If I don't get some quality leaf peeping in, I will be remiss.

Add to that, I think my throat tickle has transformed into a solid head and chest cold, or allergies. I'm not sure, but I didn't let it stop me from standing in front of the strip mall at 9 am this morning to pre-order a Wii.

There were only three folks out front when I got there. By the time 10 o'clock rolled around, there were 25 people of all shapes and sizes. When the videogame store clerk came out and informed everyone that, due to allocations, they would only have 4 systems to sell, there was grumbling.

I was number 4.

The xBox 360 was the first console I skipped at launch. The Wii is the first console I have ever pre-ordered. Come November 19th, please hold my calls. Now, to find some tissues.

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July 05, 2006

Nintendo DS

The New Super Mario Brothers is my favorite game right now.
It has two action buttons: Run/Shoot, and Jump

This began as a comment on Flickr, but a friend called me today and asked questions about the Nintendo DS. I can't talk on the phone real well to begin with, so I'm putting this here.

Continue reading "Nintendo DS"

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March 24, 2006

franchises gone mobile

Once more with the cheeky cutscenes

Me & My Katamari — Note, this is not my beautiful Katarmari, but I have a friend with a similar ailment, and I got to play with his. No verdict yet, but the game is translated quite well on the beautiful PSP screen. No analog control however, makes this a major hand cramper. And no, I'm not adding handles.

Metroid Prime Hunters — Playing a first person shooter/platformer on a handheld seems suspect, but the stylus for looking with double tap to jump is surprisingly intuitive. I think it will be more fun than Katamari. One of the best titles I've played on the DS.

Blast from the past:

Mario vs. Donkey Kong — I just borrowed this GBA cartridge after getting to the last boss of The Minish Cap (and giving up). It is like DKJr mixed with Lemmings, a great blend of platform and puzzle. The animation of Mario is fantastic.

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January 23, 2005

Katamari Damacy

As usual, I’m late to the game

I got a friend of mine a copy of Katamari Damacy a few weeks ago and played it briefly upon unwrapping. I rolled around through the beginning stages, trying not to skip too fast through the cheeky tutorials, got a few stars and a constellation but had to call it a night before I was sucked in completely.

I’ve been jonesing and humming along ever since. (Now Pratt’s video sinks in)

I got a chance to play it again on Saturday night and it's like I had been practicing in my imagination. My goal was to get big enough to roll over and pick up humans, which I did within a dedicated hour. Then it was time to part ways as it's too early to borrow a present.

Now I’m just wondering what's next? The game scales wonderfully. Scanning in the instruction manual, I see the cruise ship, ferris wheel, jet and stadium... could it be?!

I’ve long since thought innovation is sorely lacking in video games. This game illustrates that risks are worth taking (and selling in the states).

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November 20, 2004

Ratchet and Clank 3

Up Your Arsenal

There's a good way to know when a videogame is good: I lose sleep playing it. Time becomes irrelevant. I just want to get to the next level.

That was Ratchet and Clank 3. Of course, I'm partial to platforming action games with a touch of running and jumping and shooting. Is this game much better than the last? No, not really. But I enjoyed the last one just as much.

There's online play built into this, but I don't have the broadband kit for the PS2. Frankly, I'm better at playing with myself.

That came out wrong.

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October 13, 2004


Mario galore

I still haven't played Paper Mario yet, but I did read the instructions in the bathroom. Seems like Princess Peach went on vacation without her man. I didn't know they were separated, see, since I've never finished a Mario game. I'm sure it will be fun for a few days, or weeks and then I'll get bored and file it away with the rest of the games I collect.

As habits go, i figure this is better than being addicted to nose candy. Somewhat cheaper too.

If it wasn't for videogames, I would never have developed an intense infatuation with pixels and all things square and luminous.

Instead of watching the final Presidential debate, I finished up some pithy descriptions on a section I've been meaning to finish on my website for oh, about 3 years.

ArcadeNintendoPlaystationXboxOl' Consoles Duds

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September 09, 2004

Terror, destruction and mayhem

The Xbox gets better

Vinnie was right. Burnout 3: Takedown is (insert hip lingo for neato).

This game is well worth emptying the quarter jar. I stood in front of the TV tonight, just like back in the day when my parents brought home the Odyssey 2 and we played Speedway/Spinout/Crypto-Logic cart for what seemed like all winter.

Maybe I'm over-hype-ing. But crash up derby with Wipeout-like speed and I'm happily zoned.

And yes, they have versions for all platforms, but I'm sure the GameCube is strictly offline, not sure about the PS2. Microsoft has this arena right down right now.

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August 10, 2004


WarioWare, Inc. Mega Party Game$

Nintendo continues their weird naming conventions and retreads of old videogame franchises in this title released in April. I'm a little late to the party, but man, it's addictive.

Take a bunch of old games like Zelda, Super Mario Bros., ExciteBike, LCD games, retro stuff that looks like it could have been on an Odyssey ^2, and a slew of original button mashers and throw them in a blender.

Each mini-game lasts about 3 seconds.


3 seconds.

In that course of time you have to perform one simple task. It could be to jump over a moving object, dodge a car, shoot down a plane, move Link into a cave, cut a steak with a sawing motion, shake a tree, pick a nose, put Visine in an eye, curl, drop item into container... yada yada yada. You get the jist.

When you're done, it's on to the next thing--lighting fast for the shortest of attention spans.

It's frenetic. The type of hair trigger stuff I normally eschew, but somehow it works.

There's a GameBoy Advance version, but the 'Cube port adds multiplayer (not online) plus you can sit on the couch and stare at the pretty glow of the television.

Do I recommend going out and buying this? No. Rent it first. See how it jives. It's like orange creamsicle fudge... too sugary for some palates.

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July 22, 2004


The second time I've picked up a club in my life.

Xbox Live night has become a natural distraction on Thursdays when I'm home. It's more social than competitive for me. Just being able to sit in front of a console hooked up with headsets and a controller make it a unique experience I'm digging.

Thing is, the games lack. Or maybe it's just the monotony of 3D racing/flying games we have on tap with the common arsenal.

I took a moment to break the seal on Links 2004 before the night officially began and shot 18 holes with a bud. I fumbled for the instructions to find they were not present. Hmmm, musta been a used game. Luckily, the controls were easy enough to pick up, with prompting through the headsets.

I'll give the game a few kudos... Players went at their own speed, you could skip extraneous animations, and it was... mellow.


I've never been a fan of twitch gauges where you have to hit the rising bar at the very precise moment for maximum effect. It adds a layer of willy-nilly-ness that doesn't seem as gratifying as mastering a jump or aiming a grappling hook.

This conversation happened later...

Kevin: I have a personal aversion to 'sports games' converted to video.
Me: I'm with you. I want to suspend my disbelief.
Kevin: Just stupid– go play friggin tennis.

How I wish Nintendo or PlayStation were as far along with online initiatives as Microsoft– they've (almost) got it down. We need Super Mario Kart internet capable. Gimme Lord of the Rings, Ico, Grand Theft Auto, Baldur's Gate, survival horror (sans Resident Evil control schemes), hell, I'd even take Mario Party at this point.

Then let's go back and do the PacMan where all your friends are the ghosts as you run around munching dots. Nintendo did it as multiplayer, now they just need to fess up and address the network as an important component of gaming. I don't care if I can hook up my new fangled two-screened GameBoy to a controller port.

It's all just evolving at this point, I know I need to be patient.

Ratchet and Clank 3 will hopefully bring some whimsy back into the fold when it's released with online capabilities for the PS2 this fall.

Until then, I'll just get dizzy with Crimson Skies and curse those monkey bears for ganging up on everyone.

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April 05, 2004

Slim is unavailable

Looks like I need an extension cable for the controller

Instead of making a big deal about dinner, I had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, then plopped my 30something ass in front of the TV to set up the Xbox to the 'lectrical InterWeb. I wore the headset for no reason through the whole process.

Once complete, I stumbled my way around the game setup interface and joined a random game of what appeared to be 12 year old boys, kicking my mech butt. Repeatedly.

I'm ready for some players that suck as much as I do.

My list of Live Enabled games:
✓ Ninja Gaiden
✓ Midtown Madness 3
✓ Links 2004
✓ MechAssault
✓ Crimson Skies (I can borrow)

This list will be complete with some stealthy Tom Clancy action methinks, and of course, the long awaited Halo 2 — which will make all this worth it.

I have no idea how to seek friends through the interface, but I'll figure it out.

My Gamertag = glasshole (Someone already has Slim)

(Which made the 12 year old boys chuckle as they yelled out, "Take that Glasshole!")

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January 04, 2004

Pancakes, train stations, dream stars and UNO®

This image makes no sense

Sunday, January 4 – It began with the smell of breakfast at the 3 bears house. TheMonkeyBear was in the kitchen, up before anyone else, making pancakes, sausage and eggs. We sat at the new fangled dining room table and sat down to the vittles, complete with parsley and fresh orange garnish.

After the dishes were cleared, Monkey and Art talked photography while the other two-thirds of the three bears joined me for some Mario Party 5 action. Somehow I managed to win and become the Dream Star (Though I much prefer the old Party Star moniker).

Then it was off to the train station to drop off Art so he could head home to Kansas City. Odd place the Amtrak station. I think one fella was still in his hospital garb.

Back at the bears, we spent the evening playing UNO and making up new rules. It started with the basics, compiling Draw Two's and Draw Fours. Then we created a rule for 7's. Each color of 7 forced everyone to switch hands in a different way. If that wasn't enough mayhem, we incorporated math to get rid of the huge hands. For instance, if someone played a red 9, you could start off with a red card and add or subtract whatever you needed to get to 9.

Utter chaos.

It was great fun.

Tangent links:
• Tons of versions of UNO are available. Who knew? (Even a Hello Kitty version)
• There seem to be lots of variations on playing as well.

Filed under: Food, Travel, Videogames | | Comments (0)

October 17, 2003

I like to run and jump


After being amused by this article from Electronic Gaming Monthly, Child's Play, I decided it was time to dust off the console.

Autumn is videogame time of year. I have lots I never play, some unopened. I treasure them though, in hopes that during retirement, I will actually go back through and beat Zelda.

Tonight's pick was Klonoa 2. I picked up my save point from 2001 and got through four more levels. Then I got bored 'cause I had to think and turned it off. It was fun while it lasted.

I like the parts where you just run and jump. This is a good game for that. I don't even have to worry about the camera and 3-D angles. It's a basic side scrolling platformer with mildly spicier graphics.

If they'd lose the cutscenes and make the map world straight-forward, I'd play it more.

Aside from not being too ponderous, I had the notion: Man, I'd love it if my next job were to make a new classic side-scroller that had sweet flat graphics (but updated and anti-aliased), good level design and pertinent music. A blend of:

The control of Mario
+ the addiction of Jumpman Jr
+ the try again joy of Super Monkey Ball or Donkey Kong Jr.
+ the style of Out of This World
+ the vibe of (the first few) OddWorlds
+ the graphic language of Wipeout

In hedging on full out instrumental music.... like the Pauls Boutique era of the Dust Brothers with more of the electronic lilt of Moby - no coherent vocals, or some of modern twist on the midi-like theme songs that defined earlier games.

I'll pick this back up later once I've had time to ruminate.

(link nod to jwz)

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April 09, 2003

The Wind Walker


Dang Nintendo for not releasing Zelda during Christmas, like they were supposed to. Spring is not a good video game season. Thanks to a cold spell though, outdoor activities seem less attractive.

It's likely the finest videogame I've seen on my tv screen, if anything for sheer style and attention to detail. With its release but a few short weeks ago, I've been sneaking in late hours entranced by the game, getting a small kick out of sneaking around a castle under a barrel.

On top of all this, the whole wireless controller Nintendo makes is quite solid. Nice to sit back untethered.

The newness is starting to wear off though, I'm beginning to find myself backtracking and sailing around a lot in a boat. Spring better come soon so i can just put it away unfinished, with all my other unfinished videogame quests.

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