Friday, October 10, 2008


Nearly 3 months have passed since my last post and a lot has happened...most of it not so good. I think that for the time being I'll just stick to the video game stuff.

The biggest news involves my smallest system, the DS. I have started to use "a device" that is allowing me "access" to games in "a different manner". Is it a good thing? Too soon to tell.

I'm getting overwhelmed with the quantity of games I have and frustrated with the outcome that I never seem to be playing the same game long enough to get to some conclusion, be it completion, stagnation or boredom. Nearly every game starts with a tutorial and contains some measure of specialized controls. If I don't continue with the same game, I spend time just learning new games (tutorials can be tedious) and then can't remember control schemes when I do get the opportunity to get back to old games. But I can't overlook the fact that some games get boring on their own, just repeating the same game mechanic over and over in order to draw out the play time for a selling bullet point.

Going to post this and start a new thread.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

40 on 47

Well, I've gone and done it now - joined the widescreen, HD generation...and there's no going back.

As of this writing, I'm only a few hours shy of pre-ordering my next game machine, the new 60gb Xbox 360. It's not without a certain degree of concern that I do this, too. My library of games, to this point, is crammed with non-HD titles that I don't know if I'll be able to tolerate, let alone enjoy, after seeing the kind of widescreen, ocular-bleed inducing graphics that the 360 and a Sony Bravia can produce. I've already seen what this behemoth can do with just upscaled movies and I'm spoiled. My poor PS2 is relagated to a mesealy composite input and I haven't had the courage yet to put in a disk. Will Rez look ok? How about the already low texture land of GTA:SA? I might be alright with GoW and Shadow of the Colossus might even look cooler, but there are so many. At least GH doesn't care - it's just basic graphics anyway. Cube games will fair better, given that they are going through the component input and some are even setup to do 480p anyway. I'm also planning on marking Xbox games that will work on the 360, maybe with a green dot or something, so I know which ones I can use and which I can't. It will be interesting to see how many are upwardly compatible.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Gaming in July '08

1 - Got in about 1/2 hour of Zelda PH. Really amazing how much they have packed into that little cartridge. Downloaded (but didn't install) patches for Diablo 2 that should make it CD-free. That's always nice.

2 - Some more Zelda at lunch. Damn, why did they make that sail-through-the-fog sequence so hard?? Played some GW:N with John. Tried a demo of Carnival Games DS...and it sucks as bad as the Wii version. (Big surprise, I know.) Note to self: Guitar Hero is not real gaming. It's just rhythmic button pressing. Played some more Zelda late into the night as I had a hard time relaxing after some junior terrorist popped our main circuit breakers around 11pm.

3 - Oh, rapture! I finally made it through that @#$% fog! Mario Kart Wii with John. Di's getting better after her Time Trial workout to open Birdo.

4 - A little Zelda here and there, and several hours of GW:N. Running joke: John says we have to play 12 hours of GW. I say that if those are FFXI hours, we'll be done in 2.

5 - Some more Zelda. I can't believe I didn't figure out that I needed to "blow" on the windmills to make them turn! Wow! What a dummy! Guess I don't "get" these new fangled gaming machines (*grumble*). Tried Super Smash Bros and can't say it was a hit. Same button mashing of the previous games. Did an interesting test with John - Mario Kart wheel vs Wavebird. On open racing, there didn't seem to be much difference. But on close maneuvers and coin or balloon courses, the advantage seemed to be with the gamepad. Also played quite a bit of GW:N. Good game. Update: Serious late night session playing (finally) Second Sight for Cube. An hour and a half of the first section and training (in that order lol) and I remember why I have mountains of games to catch up on before worrying about anything on the 360. It's truly sad to see how much detail was poured into a game like this that had a short shelf life and was, almost certainly, considered a financial disappointment. It's that legacy of poor performance that has caused the piles of corporate and focus group approved titles we see today. Cherish the past.

6 - A nice long GW:N session with John. Good fun.

7 - Aside from changing the DVD drive in my second-hand Xbox (the patient lived!), I tried Red Steel and I think I'll keep it - since it only cost about $9. Not the easiest to control, but I do like the style of the game. Also did 9 holes of Tiger. On the easy setting, it reminds me of Wii Golf, which isn't a bad thing at all. Late night run on the newly refurbished Xbox playing Conker's Bad Fur Day. This title was a good test as there are lots of loading screens early on (with progress bars) and the old drive could barely even make the game run. That old drive was (HOLY CRAP, I BETTER MAKE SURE MY HALO DISC ISN'T STILL IN IT!) in very bad shape. Why it could read Halo ok but not other games, I don't know. Might have to see about getting one more, just to have a spare around. As for the game, it's a funny and crude platformer. Not easy, but fun.

8 - Some Mario Kart Wii with John. Di has a gold wheel now! (And yes, I did leave my Halo disc in the old drive. Fortunately, taking the top off the drive gave me access to it. Good thing as I didn't find a release button.)

9 - Only about 15 minutes of Zelda at lunch. New chargers for Wii-motes came. It's going to be nice to not have to feel bad about running down batteries.

10 - Mario Kart Wii with John to test out the new Wii-mote chargers. Looks pretty good so far. After 1 1/2 hours, one showed 4 bars and the other 3. Downloaded, but not yet played, the new Trauma Center 2 demo.

11 - Off-Friday day off! Tried the TC2 demo. Lame! It was just a quick tumor removal process. Same thing I did during my short stint on the first one. Not sure what I was expecting. Maybe brain surgery!...Loaded L.A. Rush into the Xbox for a spin. A strange merging of Burnout (fast driving and crashing around the streets of LA - complete with automatic "Crashbreaker" explosions) and GTA (race from one yellow beam to the next; even had the stars in the upper right corner when you pissed off the cops; easier to lose stars however). Overall not bad. I'm disappointed with the graphics for an Xbox game. Looked like Burnout 1 stuff. Wish I could lose the crap rap music. Very much a barrio theme to the story mode...Wow! Two white dots in one day. Got some time in with Area-51 for PS2. Good shooter if a bit repetitive. Alien-mutated humans with guns! And LOTS of them. I'm still mostly crap with the aiming, but, thankfully, my teammates make up for it. Actually, there were times when I thought that if I just sat in a corner, they would do all the killing for me. Lazy, I know....GW:N with John. Knocked off 2nd mission.

12 - Enough Zelda:PH to get past the Gust Island boss (yeah!)....GW:N with John.

13 - Decided to take the wrapper of Super Mario Galaxy, if for no other reason that to open a new character in Mario Kart Wii. Very cool game, but I don't know if it was making me nauseous or not. Have to try it again....Mario Kart Wii with John. Yep, Rosilina was opened!....Late night Zelda:PH session. Damn strat guide was wrong about getting the key on the 2nd level of the Ocean King Temple. You don't have to pull the switch, but you do have to hit both orbs to get the key to fall. Still working on getting through the lower levels. Ran out of sand on my last run.

....and this is where the log ends. Sorry, folks. That wasn't working.

I had gone back and re-read some of my old posts, ones I was doing before and during my "Game-a-Week" period. What I found is that I was writing much more informative and interesting entries then; something more like mini-reviews. This "diary" format wasn't providing much more than "good game" or "seems interesting" (note: may not be actual quotes, but close enough). And face it: keeping a record of nightly play isn't something I'm going to want to read again in a month or a year. It's boring and tedious.

There is one more reason to stop this format. Originally, I was trying to convince myself I didn't need a game system from the "next/new generation" beyond my DS or Wii. Well, I will soon (very soon) have a 360 to add to my stable of gaming platforms. Birthdays and sweethearts have a way of changing things. So, I will now have to add another page to my videogame database and my count of unplayed games will jump up by 5 to just under 400. I guess I'm destined to be surrounded by virtual worlds I still need to visit.

Monday, June 30, 2008

June '08 wrap-up rap

Well, as June draws to a close, I thought I'd babble a bit before the month of my 47th birthday starts.

I like the format I started this month and I think I'll continue with it (until I think of something else or just get bored of it). I don't know if it will accomplish its intended purpose of convincing me that I don't need an Xbox 360, however. July will be a tough month to hold out on. Between my b-day and a pretty good rumor that it will drop $50 the weekend just before, I may just fall victim to my own obsession. I mean, I already have 5 games for it! (Yes, I have games for a system I don't own. Sheesh!) But I think I'd rather have the TV upgrade before the game system. As this month has shown, I have so little time for real console gaming anymore unless John is in town. What would be the point?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Gaming in June '08

Ok, new feature - a running (b)log of what I've played for a given month. This sprang from a need to get back to this blog with something about gaming again and a desire to justify my lack of a need for a new game system (in this case, a 360). Also, I just like "talking" about games. ;) So, here goes!

1 - GW session in the afternoon. Finally finished the first real dungeon in Zelda Phantom Hourglass (the fire one). Sucks that you always end up at the beginning of the dungeon when you die and at this point I only had 3 hearts! The drawing mechanic in the game is interesting, but if you can't hold the stylus steady you end up throwing the boomerang into walls a lot. I found using the full sized pen stylus easier.

2 - Mario Kart Wii with John. Got the Lego Indy demo working on the computer! Had to minimize and restore the program to get it to start (weird). I played it with the gamepad (only real way to do it) and it's a good game but I can't help thinking it got "content nerfed" to be more acceptable for today's PC market. I mean, doesn't Indy get to have a gun?

3 - Only got about 10 minutes on Hitman 2 for the Cube. Strange that the game looks better on it than the Xbox. I found the way out of the first mission and it looks like I must have killed just about everyone in the compound. Not very subtle lol.

4 - About 15 minutes of lunchtime play on Zelda Phantom Hourglass...and I actually got it in the game! GW session with John in the evening.

5 - Another lunchtime Zelda break (that countdown timer is going to take a little getting used to). Mario Kart Wii with John (it's always fun!). New thing seen: running over a goombah while giant sized! Downloaded demos for Pirates and Mummy, but only played a little Mummy so far. Interesting to see a demo so early before the movie is released.

6 - GW with John. Finished a really big mission for lots of points!

7 - GW with John, twice. Finished more missions.

8 - Ditto, but no missions done.

9 - The Mummy DS demo sucks; too many sudden death traps that have you right back at the start. Mario Kart Wii with John.

10 - Started playing Arkanoid DS demo. Hate that it "uses the middle", but not too bad. Can't get past the second screen. Tried stylus and pad controls; no clear winner.

11 - No gaming at all.

12 - None again, but was working on stuff for Sarah.

13 - Don't remember, but probably not much if any.

14 to 22 - Gaming vacation! With John out, we played lots of games, but not exactly the ones I expected. Biggest hits: Mario Party 8 for Wii, Pinball for Wii, Guitar Hero II and III for PS2. Tried and tossed: Raving Rabbids 2 for Wii, Excite Truck for Wii, Call of Duty 3 for Wii (looked at the Xbox version and it was MUCH better graphically, but harder to control), Mario Kart Wii (split screens were too small). Quick spins: Mario Party DS, Mario Kart DS. Missing In Action: Lego Indiana Jones (bought but not played), any games from the Xbox collection.

23 - Mario Kart Wii with John. Demoed Hulk DS game from download. Pretty much sucks.

24 - Only a little Zelda PH before bed. Got stuck in an area that was unusually hard for a Zelda game, I thought.

25 - Mario Kart Wii with John.

26 - A little Zelda PH at lunch. Worked on my games spreadsheet. According to latest figures, I have 400 games for various consoles that I've bought, but have never touched. Eeek!

27 - A little more Zelda PH at lunch and Mario Kart Wii with John. Looks like the 360 will drop $50 around the middle of July. B-day, maybe?

28 - A bit more Zelda PH (that new stylus John found works great!). Risk with John (after 2 failed attempts due to network game issues). And 9 holes of Tiger Wii with Ghost before bed. (and boy! Did I wake up with sore arms! Lots of fun, though.)

29 - Got GW Nightfall up and running with John. Pretty much the same as normal GW, but more of a dessert look. Best part is being able to share inventory and money with characters from Prophecies. What would take an ordinary character a week to get together, we had done in an hour!

30 - Well, end of the month and I only did about 10 minutes on a very old 007 game for the N64, The World is Not Enough. Man, by today's standards, did those games look bad! But it was the best they could do. Am I going to look back on PS2/Gamecube/Xbox games with the same level of "horror" when I start gaming in HD? I hope not.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Wanderings in the 64, or The 17th Piece

More chess. More chess books. Better play? Maybe.

I've been playing chess (or at least knew how to play it) for nearly 4 decades. My mom taught me to play on her set which I still have fond memories of. (I think any child who is going to be introduced to the game should be done so using pieces that are not as abstract as the Staunton pieces.) From time to time, I've put chess on the top shelf of my activites. During those times I've read some books and played a handful of games. The result is that now, in my mid 40's, I have to play in the beginner rooms on the online chess rooms.

Some notes and observations:

The "social" room on a chess server seldom is.

I am beginning to see some of my faults when playing. One is that I almost always think I'm going to lose whenever I play anyone who is even remotely capable. The other is that I need to think about my opening moves with the same attention to tactics as I do the middle game. Either that or I need to really start memorizing opening books - like that's going to happen!

The perfect chess computer would be a wood board and pieces with a wireless link back to your PC where the software would run. Games would be saved on the PC and you could also link it into chess servers to play other people while sitting on your sofa or at the table. I guess a USB board that you could hook into a laptop would be almost as good.

I feel like I need to prioritize my chess book reading. I'm starting to build a decent library again and there are books that I should go through.

Different chess machines for different uses: table top ones to play against (good for quick play), PDA programs for game analysis, computer based clients to play against people online. And the occasional wood set for that true chess feel.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Pawn Moves #5: Opening moves

If this keeps up, I may have to change the blog's name or start a new one. I haven't done any video gaming since my last post, unless you count on-line chess as "video gaming".

Nah, I didn't think so.

But so far, I'm still in the grip of Bobby's ghost. I've been surfing chess sites, keeping up with international tournaments, buying chess programs and books (I have to be buying something, you know), restructuring my environment to put chess materials in prominent locations, and, of course, playing chess on-line.

I've taken a slightly different approach to the books this time. At one time, I had a considerable library of chess books. Then, for whatever reason causes me to do these things, I either sold most of them or put them in an unmarked box in the garage. Under my previous ways of doing things, I would have gone to almost any lengths to find them again. Not this time. I fortunately kept the cream of the crop inside and these are now the building blocks for my new collection. I'm giving up on whatever I might or might not still have in the moldy (and slightly vermin attacked) garage. In addition, I'm going to add to it primarily from new books purchased with the frequent coupons I get from Borders and B&N. And, here's the good part, I'm actually going to read the ones I have and buy! Shocker, isn't it?

As for playing games, I've been doing mostly the turn at a time sites. It seems all the head-to-head sites are primarily for quick play. Pardon me if I want to take a few minutes and study a position!

I could go into more detail, but have to go back to the grind. Things to do, ya know.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Pawn Moves #4: Fischer's Ghost

An unexpected change of direction. A new plan of attack. A farewell that awakens old feelings.

When I heard about Bobby Fischer’s passing, I was at work. I felt stunned, reading and rereading the article. Growing up, Fischer was basically my sports hero, my Babe Ruth, my Wilt Chamberlain, my Tiger Woods. Even his decline into an eccentric madness didn’t tarnish how I felt about him. He was still, to me, the greatest chess player that ever lived, or at least, lived in my time. As a silent tribute, I took the white king from a chess set I keep at work and placed it, on its side, on the tray of the white board in my office. To me, he was the fallen king.

As if infecting me like a virus, touching that king piece and remembering my feelings from those days long ago got me, I fear, back into chess. This last week I’ve done little else but check out websites for playing and reading about chess. I’ve ordered a new chess computer, dug out old books (can’t find the bulk – they might have been sold – but thankfully, I kept some of the best ones), ordered new ones from Amazon, and bought two new programs – Cyber Chess (a cheesy and cheap looking program) and Fritz Grandmaster Challenge (I always wanted to get a Fritz chess program). Both were $10 value packs from Fry’s so the investment was minor. The new chess computer (sort of a chess dedicated PDA) was a bit more, coming in at $45.

Actual gaming has been somewhat less than the “material collection” but that’s always how it starts. I’ve played one game on Yahoo (someone thought I’d fall for a fool’s mate) and won. A DS game went somewhat less well. And I’ve got a game going on my Kasparov mini.

How long will this last? Hard to say. Probably not going to get much video gaming in while it lasts, but maybe absence makes the controller grow fonder.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Fossil Findings #3: Playstation Retro

Lost changes to this post just as I was saving. Damn web editor. Just going to post basics and go to bed. :(

Games Played this Week: PS1

Deathtrap Dungeon - crap
Tomb Raider II - crap
Resident Evil: Survivor - clunky, but fun, like a lot of RE games.
The Italian Job - Didn't know it was a Rockstar game.
Tomb Raider III - crap
Apocalypse - Robotron movie starring Bruce Willis
JP:Lost World - Dino-platformer

opening cinematic vs in-game
ps1 controller - no thumbsticks means no camera control
logitech controller - no directional buttons
PS1 pushed into 3D

From Russia with Love (PS2) - Master Chief in a tux.

Games Bought this Week: None

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Fossil Findings #2: Notes work

Can't tell you how many times I tried to come up with new names for this blog entry. Some of the rejected ones were: Notes from the Fossil Pit, Fossil Diggs *wink*, and my truly low point, Gaming to (or with) the Oldies. The name Fossil Findings feels right, at least for now.

I tried something this week that seems to work well - keeping a running entry open and putting in little bits to remind myself what to write Sunday night. Going to keep that up, for sure.

I realized this week that this year will be the first that I won't buy anymore Xbox or Gamecube games. With no new ones being made and my collection containing just about everything there is to get for them, why buy more? As for PS2, there are maybe a few here and there, but I'm not figuring too many. Probably going to be more DS than anything else, with PC second and Wii third. Have to see what the tally is at year's end.

I had some fun this weekend following the exploits of some guys who were trying to play 4 Zelda games (Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, Wind Waker, and Twilight Princess) in 48 hours! Unfortunately, they didn't make it (too much trouble with Mask between lock ups and it being a really hard game), but their "donate to our pizza" fund raised over $1100 for Child's Play!! I can't help but feel slightly envious of these gamers; if I were a college student now, I'd have gone for something like this in half a heartbeat. I'm looking forward to their next attempt.

Games played this week:

Advance Wars (DS) - Started in on this as the new AW:DoR is coming out in a week or two. The DS is the perfect platform for a game like this. And if you can get by the fact the every continent is named for a Greek letter and the armies are all named for colors, it's a fun story lol.

Sims 2 (GBA) - My lunch-time pastime. A very interesting game that is more adventure than Sims, but that's actually a good thing. I named my character Paris and dressed her mostly in pink.

Halo (Xbox) - The perennial favorite to play while Sarah is in the shower. Someday in '08 I'll finish this one. (And why is it I can make one-shot kills on aliens by hitting them over the head with the weapon I'm holding, but I have to pump them full of lead otherwise?)

Games bought this week:

Animal Crossing (DS)- Gamestop had a 20% off coupon and I figured that this was a good game to get with it.

(Almost bought World in Conflict since it was on sale for $30, but chickened out at the register. Alternate history RTS isn't really my kind of game and I already have a ton to play.)

Sunday, January 06, 2008

GotW #1: It begins...

Welcome to my first Games of the Week of '08. This was going to be WCBP, which stood for What's Chessasaur Been Playing, but that just sounded dorky. (Ok, GotW isn't a lot better, but I have to go with something.)

This installment (done on Sunday night now, instead of Monday afternoon) is a bit of a catch up on last year, so more here than usual:

Midnight Club II XBox- Not a bad little racer. Typically tight Xbox controls, GTA style radio blaring, and (strangely) GT style indestructible cars. That last one was a bit of a let down. This was more of a "test drive" for MCIII and my first exposure to the franchise.

House of the Dead III XBox - Wanted to play a bit of quick zombie blasting and went for this sans light gun. It was actually easier to get multiple headshots (all the heads were on the same plane) but much harder to get bonus items and fight the bosses.

Scorpion King GC - Got this a long time ago for the Cube. The movie wasn't too bad and the game got decent reviews. Basically a good experience, but I worry that save points are few and far between. I had to go through a lengthy tutorial, a test, then get several fights into the first mission before I found a save point. Lots of moves to remember. Not the kind of game that is going to be easy to go back to. Camera was a bit hard to control too.

Call of Duty GC - One word: ugh!. This was a console "port" of the fantastic PC game, and frankly, they screwed it up. Crap graphics and poor sound (didn't the designers know what an SMG should sound like? Hint: not like a propeller turning in water) Also, why start with the Stalingrad battle? If this is going to a US audience, why start with the Russkies? Doesn't help in setting the mood. This is one game I could get rid of and not miss.

Final Fantasy X PS2 - My "AAA" Game of the Month. Just got into this (about 1 1/2 hours). I forgot I played a little of the beginning in a demo many years ago. This is one pretty trippy game. Battles aren't really random, which is good, but starting the game with something like 300+ hit points makes you feel like you are playing someone else's character that they started.

Gametap - I got around to playing on Gametap this week and I think I'm hooked. I don't know how they can do what they do (allow users to download games from a library of 70+ free ones, or a giant library of others for $5-$10 a month). I also don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing for gaming. Basically, you only get to rent games (you can buy them, but it's relatively expensive). On the other hand, games that "died out" years ago have been given new life. And the interface is impressive - if the game plays in full screen mode, you'd never even know you were on Gametap. I've been into the free ones (tried Daikatana and found out just how bad it was, but found out good Cannon Fodder was) and might go for the 1 year deal for $60. Not "cheap", but the same I would spend on 3 games at my magic price point.

Oh, and speaking of spending, I did a little math on what I dropped last year on games - just games, mind you. Not controllers, guides, etc. Also, I excluded games I bought as gifts for Sarah and didn't figure in ones I bought on eBay. The total came to basically $2000! OMG!