Weekend Gaming

phantom_lancerIt’s been a while since we’ve discussed what weekend gaming plans you have, so here’s a weekend gaming thread to plan out your weekend!

For me, I am about 3 hours in to Divinity Original Sin and I’m starting to get into a comfortable groove with it. I like the turn-based RPG mechanics, I like the setting and the story doesn’t make me roll my eyes (even though it took a weird turn early). I plan on putting some serious time in with Divinity.

I’m also hyped because this weekend is the finals for the Dota 2 Championship, The International 4. It may be a sign of things to come, but ESPN will actually be broadcasting the Finals and showing a Dota 2 Special Sunday night on ESPN 2.

So ya, in addition to playing Divinity, I’ll be watching Dota 2 as well.

I also dusted off my 3DS and plan on visiting my Animal Crossing town, which almost certainly has fallen into disrepair. I hope the animals recognize me.

What will you be playing?

No Wii Speak (and Possibly Animal Crossing) for Me

Have you been hearing about publishers efforts to block or prevent the resell and trade-in of games? Nintendo’s not any different.

The peripheral can also be used without “Animal Crossing,” just for game-free voice chat, but that requires used of the Wii Speak Channel, which will be released in December.

But there’s a catch, a fine print surprise. There is a pamphlet packaged with the peripheral that includes a 16-character code, a “Wii Download Ticket Number,” to be used for downloading the Wii Speak Channel. According to the pamphlet, this code “cannot be replaced by Nintendo or your retailer if it is lost or stolen.”

A Nintendo rep further clarified to me that the channel won’t be able to be downloaded through any other means. You won’t be able to get it off the Wii Shopping Channel manually, nor would you be able to buy it. Essentially, the Wii Speak Channel will be available to new purchasers of the Wii Speak mic and that’s it.

Gimped games being sold at a premium is coming. It’s for certain publishers are thinking about it. My guess is you’ll buy a disc and have to enter a code or a one-time use key to get a level, ending, weapon, or character. Of course, you’ll need internet access, and I can see companies like Microsoft making it so you have to be a Live Gold subscriber.

My wife wants Animal Crossing. We’re not getting it if we don’t find it without the mic. Who is there going to be to talk to on the Wii anyway? Like I want to share a friend code to talk, and I’d rather take a bat to Tom Nook’s knees, not leave him a message.

What I’m playing

I’ve been pretty busy lately and it’s been cutting into my gaming time. We traveled home to my parents house this past weekend for the buttonSon’s first birthday and we’ll be heading to the button-In-Laws this weekend. What’s a gamer to do when he’s busy and on the road? What games should he play? That’s a great question. And the Nintendo DS is a great answer.

This past weekend I had some time to play a little more Metroid Prime Hunters. I’m searching for the perfect “grip”. I am still leaning towards using the touch screen for aiming but, as just about everyone has said, it’s hard to find a comfortable grip for a long period of time. I’d also like to use the right trigger for my fire button but that isn’t possible without reversing the controls. Neither are deal breakers but are not conducive to long periods of MPH gaming (which, coupled with a lack of save points, can be a pain, as Josh noted). During one of my MPH breaks, I jumped back into Metroid Fusion, which is still a good time. I think I’m close to finally finishing it. The DS and its GBA slot is almost a perfect little machine. The DS Lite can’t arrive soon enough.

I’m also still working off my Nook Loan. Thanks to my helpful commenters, I have been regularly opening my gates and increasing the value of my turnips. I have a flea market coming up this weekend, so I’m starting to hoard the expensive fish.

My Newest RideWhen I have a few moments to game at home, I’ve been playing EVE. I’m giving each of the “professions” a try. I’ve given manufacturing a try, churning out a bunch of small projectile ammo. I was hoping for a great “crafting” experience but it was a little too hands off for my liking. It still seems like a very viable way to make ISK so I haven’t sworn it off yet, I just didn’t get the crafting feedback I had hoped for. I upgraded my Probe for a Thrasher (pictured here) which was a big upgrade, fire-power-wise (even though it looks wimpy with those little turrets). With my newfound muscle I “ganged up” with BM reader Bobster for a little pirate hunting and that was a good time. Not entirely lucrative, but we weren’t going after the big boys. We’ll be trying some low-security mining soon, so we’ll see how that goes. I’ve also been running as many missions as I can.

Since I’ll be out of town again this weekend, I’m hoping to finish up Metroid Fusion, get some more MPH time in and finally crack the seal on one of the games that interested me in the DS in the first place – Trauma Center. Can’t wait.

What about you guys? Playing anything new? Outside of GRAW and Oblivion, there doesn’t seem to be a bunch of new stuff out there. I’ve been eyeing Galactic Civilizations II but I don’t think I can take on another game right now.

What I’m playing

Even though I have a stack of unplayed games (hereafter to be referred to as “The Queue”), I am currently engrossed in Resident Evil 4. Even though I finished the game over a year ago, I’ve been playing the Mercenaries mini game, off and on, for the past couple months. Just recently I decided to endeavor to get 5-star scores on all four boards with the five characters. I unlocked the last character (Albert Wesker) and then spent some time racking up the scores needed on each board. Upon doing so, I unlocked the “Handcannon” which would be available to me next time I played. So I started the regular game over again, this time with the “Pro” difficulty. I figured I’d get to the first encounter with the merchant, buy the Handcannon, go blast some baddies with it and be done with the game. Things didn’t go as planned. I got to the merchant and the handcannon wasn’t available. But I had been enjoying myself so much that I decided to finish the game on Pro difficulty. I just rescued the President’s daughter from the church and now we’re trying to get out of dodge.

Having played this game extensively the past week has reminded me why this is such a great game. The game defines what a polished game is. The attention to detail is what gets me every time. From the authentic Spanish phrases (I will be updating the list with words and phrases I missed the first time through) to the gun reloading animations, I can’t say enough. Just a fantastic game, top to bottom.

Ashley Resident Evil 4I decided to go with the “Special Costumes,” an option you get once you beat the game. Leon is now decked out in his Raccoon City Police Department Uniform. It’s a nice touch. Little did I know that Ashley (the President’s daughter) would also be sporting a new, *ahem*, costume. I couldn’t find any screen shots of the new costume, but she’s gone from the demure and preppy skirt and sweater combo to a revealing cowboy outfit, complete with a rather revealing halter top. It was rather unsettling to see her risqué side. I guess I should come to expect such things.

So yeah, I’ll be playing Resident Evil 4 for a while. I’ll eventually get back to Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and the rest of The Queue, but for now it’s RE4 time, all the time. I still try to squeeze in a game of Guild Wars when I can and I also check in on Animal Crossing: Wild World to check the price of turnips and to water my red turnip, but that’s about it. My animals will probably be complaining and leaving town sooner or later, but tough for them.

I got escort the President’s floozy daughter to safety.

To play or to blog…

One of the comments about gaming blogs from Zonk’s last call for submissions gave me pause:

Gaming blogs are for people that don’t actually play the games, and would rather write about them than fire them up and play them.

When I stopped to think about it, lately I’ve been spending more time with the blog then actually playing video games. I’ve been busy with real life stuff and the Carnival that I just haven’t played much. Just in the past couple of days have I had a chance to sit down a do a little gaming. I get my daily Animal Crossing in but I hadn’t played much else. I’ve finally been able to get back to Fire Emblem on the Gamecube and I’ve started blasting baddies again in Resident Evil 4. The mercenaries mini game, to be exact. I can’t get enough of it.

So I don’t want anyone to think I’m not actually playing any games. Sometimes it just seems like I’m not.

Links all around

Here are a few links for you to finish up the weekend or start off a crappy Monday with:

The first two are Animal Crossing links Animal Crossing Community has been around for a while, but revamped their site with Wild World content. Nook’s Cranny is a decent place to go if you’re looking to trade Animal Crossing WW friend codes. And over at 4 color rebellion, there’s a nice little New Year’s gift from Nintendo.

If you’re looking for cheap games to pass the time during the winter, Circuit City is having another huge clearance sale.

Finally, on doctor’s orders, this poor kid had to stop playing his Playstation. Bummer!

It’s a wild world out there…

So I’ve been playing Animal Crossing for a while now but haven’t mentioned it much past my friend code.

So what about it? Animal Crossing on the Gamecube was a game that I couldn’t explain why I liked. When you boil it down, it’s a game that has no purpose, no “ending” and nothing “manly” about it. The first time a buddy of mine saw me playing it he asked me how I could kill the residents of my town. The conversation went a little like this:

“What’cha playing?”

“Animal Crossing.”

“What’s that? Never heard of it.”

“Well, you’re this kid who moves into a new town populated by animals. You run errands for the animals and plant trees. You can go fishing if you want. Or you can do nothing. You do have a mortgage to pay, but you don’t have to pay that off, either. It’s pretty sweet.”

“Sweet? Sounds lame. Hey, can you shoot that cat?”

“Why would I want to do that? Mitzi (the cat’s name) is my friend. I just took her a shirt that Derwin (a duck in my town) just gave me to deliver to her. She hooked me up with this sweet wallpaper for my house. There’s no shooting, no punching, nothing like that.”

“What’s the point of playing if you can’t shoot anyone?”

“The point? I’ve got a house to pay for and I need to make some bells. I certainly can’t shoot anyone because then there wouldn’t be any one left to run errands for. I guess I could fish, but that’s not the best way to make money.”

“Right… Sounds fun. Wanna play some Turok?”

And so on. I don’t know why I played it so much. It was the first game my wife and I played together, so that had something to do with it. But I woke up early on Sundays so I could buy turnips from the turnip lady because that was the only time she came around. Was it my obsessive nature? What kind of game could get me out of bed? Explaining why it was fun was hard to do.

And so it is with Animal Crossing Wild World. It’s basically the Gamecube version with some added features and it’s still just as addicting. And I still can’t explain why. I’ll probably get to what I like and don’t like at a later time, but I will say that it’s a fun, pointless game.

Without any shooting.

Some thoughts

Animal CrossingAfter spending most of the week playing with WordPress, I’m finally able to do some real blogging.

I’ve been playing two games this week – Halo 2 and Animal Crossing. Guess which one I’m playing with my two-year-old? She loves when I catch fish and always cracks up when I get an old shoe or a tin can. “You have to go to the dump, daddy!” She didn’t particularly like me getting stung by the bees I rudely awoke by shaking their tree. “What’s wrong with his eye?” There has been some recent mentions of Animal Crossing lately: there’s the kid that proposed to his girlfriend via Animal Crossing’s in-game mail service. How cute. Jane at Game Girl Advance mentions playing AC with the animals asking her about how her ex-boyfriend was doing. Freaky.

It is weird how our Animal Crossing town, “pooptown” (I know, how original), continued down its virtual path even though my wife and I hadn’t played for over seven months. There were a couple pooptowners who hadn’t talked to my wife’s character for almost two years. But they happily lived their lives, oblivous to our abscence. Didn’t anyone send out a search party? Wasn’t anyone worried that tony and bella hadn’t been heard of in months? And the police officers? Don’t go there. Those lazy bums didn’t seem to notice were gone. But that creepy fat guy in the station still follows us around like a hawk.

When I had some time to game by myself, I popped Halo 2 in and played some Live matches and jumped back into the single player game. Earlier, I had read the analysis and review over at 7hr33 and as I read I kept thinking, “yup, uh huh” and, “exactly”. One quote in particular stuck out:

Though the weapons are supposed to be more balanced than in the first, they invariably end up feeling rather impotent and bland, and the weapons that most teams scramble over each other to get at are the sword and the rocket launcher, leaving those unequipped or unwilling to use them with no truly effective countermeasure (ie. a powerful, universally distributed mid-range rifle, etc.).

This is so true. I played on Live last night with some friends and it continually dawned on me that I was always looking for the rocket launcher/energy sword/shot gun. As soon as I spawned I knew exactly where I could go to upgrade my SMG. 7hr33 refers to the “the chaotic hail of bullets” (or bullet spam, if you will). So true. A fire-fight usually becomes a “I hope I pulled the triggers first”. Nothing is more frustrating that getting your bullet spam on with someone and a third party enters the fray and picks up the scraps. That’s not skill, that’s luck. One thing Halo taught me was patience. Take your time, pick your shots, go for the head, ease on back if you’re losing the upper-hand. One thing Halo 2 is teaching me is to run and find other people fighting with each other so I can have some easy pickings. Strategy and skill has been dumbed down in Halo 2, which is unfortunate, because it was done so well in Halo.

And I am really becoming disenchanted with Halo 2 on Live. It’s the same frigging three games, over and over. Assualt on Burial Mounds, Team Slayer on Coagulation, one flag CTF on Zanzibar. It’s becoming less and less fun. It’s still good for an occasional Rumble Pit, but unless I’m playing with friends, I doubt I’ll be playing on Live as much as I used to.

Playing the single player missions are still enjoyable, I’m having fun. I still think Halo 2 is a great game, don’t get me wrong, it’s just not a great game.