Rooting Around

February 11, 2009

In about eight hours I’ll be getting my tooth drilled for a root canal. Not looking forward to that. Hopefully all goes well, but I’m really tired of having dentists beat the crap out of my mouth.

Not much gaming related to talk about, and I’m not thinking too much about that stuff anyway given the dental work. I also have an appointment to get my hair cut tomorrow night. I think I’m going short again. It’s time for a change.

If you have an iPhone, check out SlotZ Racer. It’s a great little slot car game that just recently got a nice little update to it. It amazes me that iPhone developers can sell games for $4.99 and then pass along free updates like that. What’s wrong with the rest of the industry that we’re paying $59.99 for half a game and then getting another $50 in downloads available later?

Everyone better watch out, because if these iPhone things ever get cheap enough… hoo boy.

Going Rogue

February 3, 2009

There are so many games I have on my rack that I’ve barely touched. Some of them have never been opened, sealed in shrinkwrap like those behind the counter of your local Gamecube Hut. Every year I say to myself that I should play those games instead of new ones that are coming out, and every year I fail miserably to do that.

Well, this year’s different! Sort of! While I’ll probably buy some new games too, I’m definitely going to play some of these ones that have been taking up space for so long without even a spin of the disc. I managed to get this insane plot started last night with Level 5’s Rogue Galaxy, a Japanese role-playing game from the people who made Dark Cloud 1 and 2 and more recently Professor Layton. How on Earth did I arrive at Rogue Galaxy among all the titles I could be playing? It’s something called “GAF Plays” that helped make my choice.

The Gaming Age Forums have been around a long time, and there are some staple threads that pop up from time to time. Among them are these GAF Plays threads where someone picks a game that’s not brand new and just starts a play through of it while asking others to join them on the journey. RPGs are a popular genre for it because of their length and the abundant options available for character development. I stumbled into that one and decided I want in.

You can read my impressions of the game after two hours of play right here in that same thread. Post 95 is also from me, but if you’re interested in how these threads work, I do recommend just kind of starting from the beginning and working your way down. It definitely helps to be playing along, but if Rogue Galaxy caught your eye somewhere along the way and you’re wondering what it’s about, then this is a good way to get some info.


On a more personal non-game related note, my second session of indoor soccer starts tomorrow night. Really looking forward to that, but it’s definitely going to cut into the Rogue Galaxy time.

Personally Training Myself: Cooking

January 31, 2009

About a month ago, I read Kyle Orland’s superb Games for Lunch column entry for Nintendo’s Personal Trainer: Cooking. He seemed pretty satisfied wtih the overall experience so when I was thinking of ideas for my birthday (Jan. 19), I figured it was an easy choice to add it to my list. I end up with far more games than I can play to completion throughout a year, so I’m always looking for things that are either a.) different enough that I don’t mind if it sits there for a bit before I get to it or b.) game related books or other junk.

Tonight was the first test of Cooking, with a US recipe for Fried Chicken. The software allows you to pick your recipes by pretty much any way you can think to categorize food, but probably the most fun way to choose is to pick a country and go from there. To make it easy on myself, I chose the US since I’d probably have most of the ingredients on hand already and would have a good idea how it should taste.

I made a huge mess, but ended up with some pretty great tasting fried chicken! The relatively simple recipe called for Cayenne Pepper as one of its spices, and that added some nice heat underneath the batter. My first go at the batter was a disaster and I think either the recipe was a little off or I simply put too much flour in there. It was nowhere near “smooth” and I had to chuck it. Some really cool features of the software are video clips for various cooking techniques and hands off control for moving through the steps. Unfortunately as Kyle noted in his column,  the DS “hears” you making all sorts of noise in the kitchen so you have to turn off the voice recognition or the cooking steps will be over before you start!

Now that I’m finished everything (shopping, prep, cooking, eating, cleanup), I think I’ll be happy to try it all again sometime soon. There’s an abundance of good looking recipes to choose from and having those videos really came in handy to see how to chop parsley properly and cut the chicken for cooking. I took the DS shopping today and the built-in shopping list for my recipe was very handy. Plus I could check to see if I had all the cooking utensils I’d need right there in the recipe.

The whole experience was a little more satisfying as a learning tool than using a book, and even though my DS needed to be cleaned up afterward, it was all worth the effort. If you’re looking for something a little different that’s videogame related but not just another game to throw on the pile, check it out.


Frustration and Pain

January 30, 2009

The title of this post can refer to two things… game-related, it’s all about Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II and more specifically Games for Windows Live.  Personally, it’s about the gaping hole I have in one of my teeth; large enough to park a bus inside it.

Fortunately, the pain hasn’t arrived with the tooth yet. One of my fillings fell out last night and I’ve had all kinds of frustration with this particular molar and fillings just not sticking. At some point it’s likely to require a root canal, but I won’t find out until Thursday if that’s the case this time as that’s the first I could get in. Soft foods and lots of mouthwashing for me until then.

As for Warhammer and Games for Windows Live: it’s Universe At War all over again. Just as in that RTS, I simply cannot get GFWLive to work on my machine with Dawn of War II. I have tried everything. I’ve opened every port they require for GFWLive and gone as far as I’m willing to go. It’s just plain nuts that it won’t work!

What’s even more frustrating is that it’s an entirely unnecessary layer between myself and playing the game. For years and years PC gaming has gotten along just fine without additional services that want massive amounts of open ports on your router, sign-on names and achievements. The games were fun to play all on their own, and finding other players was as easy as clicking on “Multiplayer” and seeing a list of servers. GFWLive throws a whole other layer in the way of me playing and because it’s not transparent, it makes me fume.

I can separate the problems of GFWLive (Microsoft) from those of Relic (the game’s developer) or THQ (the game’s publisher), but how many others who encounter the same problems as me are going to do the same? What completely boggles my mind is why a developer and publisher would want their cart tied to this particular horse. It just seems like a complete waste of time, resources, and consumer good will.

Nothing good has come out of the Games for Windows initiative that Microsoft started and seems happy to mostly ignore in development, technical support and marketing. Just like nothing good has come of this damn tooth and its fillings that keep falling out. It’s probably time for both of them to go away for good.


On a completely unrelated note, Jackyl is coming to Allentown, and I’ll be there even if I have to go myself!


January 25, 2009

Never read the comics when they were being released, though it was during a time I was collecting. For years I’ve heard how great the limited series was and to pick up the graphic novel. Now with the film headed our way in March, I finally went out and bought it.

It’s every bit as good as I was told it was. Makes me excited about comics again, to be honest. The days of me collecting are long gone so this won’t get me back on the bandwagon, but it’s definitely a great primer for the film.

I read that there are plans for a videogame adaptation of some sort and I wonder why? This isn’t something that translates in any way to videogames. Why shoehorn it in? It’s also rated R and should be a pretty cold-hearted R at that. No need to go pushing these “heroes” that way.

Just hearing that there is or was a videogame in the works reminds me that videogames always seem to be this secondary thing to all other forms of entertainment. It’s almost like they’re always a promotional tool instead of the prime entertainment form itself. Developers and publishers have to cut that out. It makes the hobby always seem second rate.


Rocking – Sort of…

January 22, 2009

Got free tickets to 3 Doors Down, Hinder and Hoobastank tonight. I’ve seen 3DD and Hoobastank before at different shows. Both put on a decent concert. Never saw Hinder, but I suspect they’ll be watchable at the least.

Not something I would’ve gone to see otherwise, but a fine night out thanks to free tix.

EDIT! – OK, so I was wrong about Hoobastank. I swear I got an e-mail claiming they were also on the bill as a late addition. Hmmmm…

The show was pretty good regardless. 3 Doors Down really have their thing nailed down and Hinder were kind of schlocky and perfectly suited to arena rock. SafetySuit were kind of… there.

Xbox 360: The Pinto of Videogames

January 20, 2009

Once you’ve chosen the exploding car, it’s comforting to go around picking up your friends. When everyone risks being burned, your own risk seems diminished.” – Gray “The Shape” Nicholson in games™ #77.

Yes, that’s a direct quote from his editorial. It’s an article about how the Xbox 360 matches nicely with Ford’s legendary Pinto. Did you know they sold the Pinto (quite well) for ten years even though it was known to explode upon rear impact? The 360 isn’t likely to end your life, but the comparison sure does ring true. Here we are three years plus from the system’s initial release date and pretty much everyone has had to replace at least one console. Some, like writer Tom Chick, have a red batphone in their house for the almost monthly system swap.

Yet people continue to recommend the system to friends, including Mr. Nicholson, who arrives at the above conclusion after convincing someone that you can get it fixed, and you should just expect to be without it for a week or two every year. It’s insane. He claims the cost is the key, as it was with the Pinto… $200 for an Arcade system that will let you play Grand Theft Auto IV compared to $400 for a low end PS3. Even crazier, his friend buys it despite being someone who lives on a farm and was raised with practicality at her core.

I guess that’s how far we’ve come with electronics. We just don’t care anymore when they fail on us. We simply bend over and take our whipping, then move on to the next box. There’s something really rotten at the core of it all, but I guess people are totally immune to it anymore?