Mini Blog - Mega Man Legends 3

So they are actually going to make Mega Man Legends 3. My first thought was "Sweet, I'm really excited," but after really thinking about those games, I remember that they were really clunky and grind heavy. I think my memory made them a little better than they actually were.  I hope they take some time and keep good and revamp the bad. I remember grinding forever so I could level up my weapons. I don't have the time to do that now-a-days.


Spider-Man: Shattered Version of Arkham Asylum?

I have to say that Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions was a poor-man's version of Arkham Asylum, which isn't really a bad thing. It's kind of like calling Serria Mist a poor man's version of Sprite. I'll drink both, but I prefer one over the other.

I finished Spider-Man: SD last night; and, besides some uneven difficulty spikes and some annoying repetitive dialogue, Spider-Man: SD is one of the better Spider-Man games I have played. Admittedly, I haven't played too many Spider-Man games because a lot of them are garbage.

When reflecting over the experience, I couldn't help but compare SD to Arkham Asylum because it takes so many cues from the previously mentioned game. If you look at the Noir segments (especially the Mysterio section), it becomes apparent that someone said, "Let's do what Rocksteady did, but we'll do it with Spider-Man." And the result is a fun game that doesn't hold a candle to its sister game.

But in the end, it was better than a lot of the crap out there, and it is good enough to keep me playing for the entirety of the game.


5 Solid Videogame Podcasts

1. The Bombcast - This is the podcast that got me into podcasts. It's the four main guys that run Giantbomb--Ryan Davis , Vinny Caravella, Brad Shoemaker, and Jeff Gerstmann. They follow the basic setup of most videogame podcasts: whacha been playing, news, new releases, and fan emails. The main thing that makes this podcast standout is that all four casters have a crap load of personality. These are four guys that I look forward to listening to every week. I don't listen to the Bombcast to waste time, I listen to the Bombcast because it's two hours of sweet videogame nerdery, and while they are prone to get off topic, it's always for the best. My wife likes to listen to these guys and she doesn't care about games.

2. 1up's Retronauts - This podcast is for a very particular type of gamer; it focuses on retro games, which is the cool term for old games. Retronauts dedicated a whole podcast to the Virtual Boy...That's right, the effing Virtual Boy and it's entire catalog of seventeen games (I think it's seventeen). This a old man gamer's podcast. Interested in old NES games like Ducktales? Want to know about Master Blaster's storied history? If so, this podcast is for you. The lead caster Jeremy Parish (check out his Megaman knit cap) may seem monotone at first; but, like a rash, he grows on you, and his knowledge of games will impress you.

3. IGN's Girlfight - What's the hook? It's just a normal videogame podcast but from an all girl perspective. If you listen to many videogame podcasts, then you will quickly find out how male driven the whole industry is. This podcast changes that up. They discuss games from World of Warcraft and God of War 3 to Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing. Many may expect something overtly sexual from an all female podcast, but their expectations would be incorrect. This is a podcast for people who like games and are interested to hear some girls talk about who they choose to have a relationship with in Mass Effect 2.
4. 1up's Active Time Babble - Much like Retronauts, this podcast is for a certain type of gamer--the RPG type that is. In ATB, (campy title in the best possible way) they discuss classic and modern RPGs. Interested in MMORPGs? Check. Western RPGs? Check. Japanese RPGs? Check. Pen and paper RPGs? Check. Much like Retronauts, this podcast is headed up by Kat Baily and he is just a smooth and understated as in Retronauts. If you like hearing people talk about if Zelda should be classified as an RPG, then listen to this podcast.

5. IGN's Beyond - Do you at all feel like a Sony fanboy? If you do, then Beyond is here to support you in you fanboyism. This podcast is loaded with trophy whoring, PSP playing, PS3 fanboys ready to nerdgasm over any Sony exclusive game. The best part is they aren't trying to hide how much they love their Sony products. The Beyond crew write for IGN's PS3 division and they love the Sony brand. This Podcast is standout for the casters' personalities--they're funny, full of energy, and constantly reminding you how your Xbox 360 can break at any second. 
Note: I love A Life Well Wasted, but it comes out so rarely that I just left it off the list.


Thoughts on Red Dead Redemption and Final Bosses

So I bought Red Dead Redemption last Tuesday, and it's been an engrossing experience. My wife has been annoyed with the late night shootouts in Pikes Basin, my students have been jealous of my achievement whoring (me and a few students have an ongoing achievement contest), and I've--well--I've been lulled into John Marston's world, and I'm just waking from this week-long slumber.

But now that the single player campaign is over and I've hung my poncho on the coat rack, I've been thinking about the ending of the game (no spoilers I promise). I've come to the conclusion that the final "boss" encounter was very appropriate. It seems that many games--Mass Effect 2 and Bioshock come to mind--have final bosses that don't fit the ebb and flow of the game. While I love both Mass Effect 2 and Bioshock, the final bosses felt like they were trying to match what consumers want from a final encounter. Apparently, we all want big bosses and epic encounters even if they don't sensibly fit into the story. These types of encounters seem to be disconnected with the process that built to the end of the game.

Luckily, Red Dead Redemption doesn't fall into that trap. The end encounter (it doesn't really have a singular boss per se) matches the game's sense of climax. And that is where Red Dead Redemption hits all the right note--its gives the player great highs and good lows. Red Dead Redemption gives the player a chance to sit back and let things sink in. I was never given that false sense of "hurry or the world will end" that many games resort to. The worst part of that scenario is that it's almost always a lie. Normally, I see these moments and decide that I'm going to finish up all my sidequests before beating the game. Red Dead Redemption doesn't have to do this because, like a good essay or movie, you have an idea that the end is looming, you feel it coming. And while you don't want it to end, you know it has to.


Achievement Issues

 I'm not writing to rant against achievements or trophies. I'm writing to say that I'm done trying to get all of them. Let's take a few steps back so I can fully explain myself.

Since I bought my Xbox 360, I've noticed that achievement points have slowly become more and more important to me. When I started playing 360 games, achievements were unimportant to say the least. They were merely random interruptions during a game. I was like, "what do they points even do?" And when I realized that they were not worth anything monetarily, I just ignored them.

But slowly as my gamerscore got larger, they became more of a focus when I played a game. Eventually, achievements replaced what I called "the ultimate game save." In short, if you are really into a game and maxing out your characters, the ultimate game save is the save file that has everything unlocked so that you could prove (to your 2 friends who actually care) that you had completed everything in a game. I have about four PSX memory cards and two PS2 memory cards filled with my end game saves. But with the invention of achievements, the ultimate game save is no longer needed. If I get 1000/1000 (or a platinum trophy), then the score is new medium through which I express my commitment and nerdy love of a game.

Sadly, this expression of love became more of an addiction. I found myself playing games I didn't really like to boost my overall score. Eventually the point became the points. I stayed away from games that had extremely hard achievements. I played games that had extremely easy achievements. I bought bad DLC so that I could keep a perfect score. I constantly resorted to YouTube walk throughs. While my addiction has not taken me down the Avatar: the Last Airbender path, I've spent a lot of time considering playing it for a quick 1000/1000.

During my first attempt to stop obsessing over meaningless points, I tried turning the notifications off. Needless to say, I missed the reward of accomplishing an event in a game. I missed the warm fuzzies that came with the notification that I destroyed 30 barriers with the biotic ability Warp. So I broke down and switch the notifications back on.

Eventually, meaning at this moment, I've concluded that I'm to not going to worry about achievements unless I genuinely care about the game. I don't want to quit because I like getting achievements. I like proving my love for Mass Effect 2 by beating the game on Insanity.I never would have attempted this unless there were an achievement for it. I'm done dropping 8 hours into a mediocre game that I don't really want to finish.

Like it or not, in-game achievements are here to stay. Most people really like them, and in many cases, they give players a reason to explore the cool but unimportant nooks of a videogame world. If it wasn't for achievements, then I wouldn't have done all the extra stuff in FF13, which I found to be much more engaging than the actual story. But for every fun achievement in a game like FF13, there is a grindy one that saps hours of my life that I will never get back.


My Gamefly Experience (updated)


NOTE: If you like to collect games or you constantly find yourself playing online multiplayer games, this blog will, most likely, not interest you, unless you just want to hear about the money I saved by using Gamefly.

Once upon a time, I collected videogames. I had an alright collection of games with some semi-rare stuff. I was a lightweight when compared to some collectors, but I had some jewels that I personally felt proud of. For example, I had mint/complete copies of Suikoden 1 and Suikoden 2 with the Suikoden 2 guide and a complete copy of Panzer Dragoon Saga.

Well, a few years ago I started noticing that my collection was getting to be a little too big and I wasn’t playing any of my personal treasures. So I slowly started to sell off my collection, starting with the games I hadn’t played in years. Eventually, I was parting ways with games I never thought I would give up. I was using the money I made from my old games to pay for the new games I wanted to play. I kept newer titles for the most part, but once I started teaching high school full-time and college part-time, I just didn’t have the time to keep up with the new games and play them through multiple times (with exceptions for games I love like Mass Effect 1 & 2 and Limbo). Once I stopped collecting, I took the next step of beating games as fast as possible and then selling them on eBay or Craigslist to get maximum value for the title. I say all this to ensure that people know that I'm am not longer a collector. I've given up collected and have been focused on just playing games to play them, which is important if you want to use Gamefly.

In the end, I decided to try out

And I am totally happy with their service. I haven’t missed a game that I really wanted to play since I got the service and I've saved a crapload of money. But I have also learned how to work their system to ensure that I get the game I want when I want it, which leads me to my two fold thesis (which was delayed because of my personal narrative).

1. I wanted to show how much money I’ve saved using the service
2. I want offer one or two tips to ensure that people interested in Gamefly maximize their value.


I have been using Gamefly for eight months at 16.59 a month (tax included), meaning I've forked over 132.72$ to Gamefly. Here is a list of games I've played and finished using my account. I have also included how much they cost new at the time of rental. I note this because I suck at waiting. I want to play the newest game now, meaning I spend too much money playing games because I don't wait for price drops.

List of Rentals
Metroid: Other M - 49.99 (currently playing)
Metro 2033 - 49.99
Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands - 39.99
Singularity - 59.99
Super Mario Galaxy 2 - 49.99
Puzzle Quest 2 - 29.99
Alan Wake - 59.99
Demon's Souls - 39.99
No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle - 49.99
Just Cause 2 - 59.99
God of War III - 59.99
Heavy Rain - 59.99
Darksiders - 59.99
MagnaCarta 2 - 39.99

Total Money Not Spent - 709.86 on new games (759.55 with 7% tax added)

Total of estimated savings - 626.83

Note: I would not have played about 5 of these games if I had to pay full price. I don't know if that works in Gamefly's favor or not.


Finally, I want to discuss a common problem that people bring up when discussing Gamefly. Many people complain because they have to wait a long time to play the hottest new games. I have found a way to help with this problem. When using Gamefly, they ask you to pick at least ten games to put on your game queue. Don't do this because they will send you the first available game, which is normally not a newer game. I always only have one game on my queue at one time to ensure that it is top priority. I also try to make sure I have only one game on my queue before its release.

For example, I got Metroid: Other M the day after it came out. I did that by ensuring that my last rental was back before Metroid: Other M shipped. Also, as previously stated, Metroid: Other M was the only game on my queue making it higher in priority.

I’ve used this method for Heavy Rain, God of War III, Alan Wake, Super Mario Galaxy 2, and Metroid: Other M. Each time I received the game one day after it came out. If I had not done this, then I would be waiting for quite a while to get many of these games, which makes Gamefly a rip off.

So I’m going to stop writing because I’ve wasted my entire planning period, and I’ve got to get back to work. Hope this has given you an idea of how to use Gamefly to save some cash.