Easing into Gaming: 80s Style

Sometimes I think we forget just how large of a commitment many modern-day games really are.  Having not gamed seriously in the past couple years, I'm actually too intimidated to fire up Fable II or Halo Wars right now, instead opting to start with something simpler.  As such, I'm beginning my return to gaming with a few 80s classics courtesy of Namco Museum: Virtual Arcade and the ridiculous advergame known as Doritos Dash of Destruction.

Galaga (XBLA)

Give me back my son!  I mean,  ship!
Give me back my son! I mean, ship!
The vast majority of gamers have heard of Galaga and probably played it at some point in their lives, whether it be in its original arcade format or later on t he NES and every other console that followed, so I don't need to elaborate on the gameplay mechanics.  Instead, I'll just say that this sucker is hard.  So hard that you'll probably be inclined to check out a few YouTube videos to find out how the experts do it.  Now I'm not trying to say it's unfair or impossible, but simply acknowledging that this game was made to be a quarter-eater when it was released.  On the flip side, the achievements in this game are a breeze thanks to the unlimited continues supplied by Namco.  Work your way to level 31 and you'll have gained 11/12 achievements and be ready to call it a day.  The last one requires a bit more work, requiring you to perfectly clear a challenge stage, but you should be able to get it with a little practice, persistence, and the double ship upgrade.  All in all, I had a good time with this senior citizen of the gaming world and netted 200/200 achievement points in about an hour and a half.

New Rally X (XBLA)

Blue Car > Red Cars
Blue Car > Red Cars
Judging by the reviews I've read, not a lot of people enjoy this game.  I'm on the other end of the spectrum: I love it.  You basically spend your time navigating a maze in search of flags, while fending off enemy cars with your wits and some timely smoke screens.  It's relatively simple in premise, but the real complexity shines through when you attempt to attain a high score.  There are two special flags labeled "S" for special and "L" for lucky.  The Special flag doubles the value of every subsequent flag on that level, as long as you manage to stay alive.  This means you need to avoid the enemy vehicles, boulders, and other flags as you navigate to the Special flag first.  This is possible thanks to a very cool radar feature on the right side of the screen.  The Lucky flag doesn't appear on the radar, but it rewards you based on the amount of fuel you have remaining in your tank, so it behooves you to find it first.  If you like games that mix brains with reflexes, I suggest you give this one a try.  Also, the music rocks.  I spent about an hour and a half and was able to nab all 200/200 achievement points.  A couple of them are tough (100,000 points and clearing levels 1 through 7 without dying), but I had so much fun playing that I wanted to get a perfect on this one.

Doritos Dash of Destruction

If this game allowed the 360 to shoot Doritos out its disc hole, I'd forgive its flaws.
If this game allowed the 360 to shoot Doritos out its disc hole, I'd forgive its flaws.
The developers of this advertisement masquerading as a game actually did a pretty noble job with what they had.  Playing as the dinosaur is a drag because the controls are terrible, but driving a delivery truck away from a stampeding T-Rex has a certain charm.  Overall, the game is fun for a few minutes and the achievements are so easy that you'll have no problem getting them all.  By the time you're ready to move on, you'll have grabbed 200/200 points and only wasted about 30 minutes of your life.

So that was my morning.  600 points later, I'm contemplating playing a little bit more tonight and then I'm heading to Chicago for the weekend to see some friends from college.  Being on vacation for the first time in 6 years is awesome.  Really awesome.