Monday, June 30, 2008

On The Road With The DS Web Browser

My new wife and I are sitting here at the Columbus airport, waiting for our honeymoon flight out of here at 5:45 AM. I thought it would be a good time to dust off the Nintendo DS Opera Internet Browser and take it for a quick blogging test drive.

So far, so good. I was relatively quickly able to establish a connection with the airport's Wi - Fi hotspot, and then with blogger. It was a bit sluggish logging on at first, but has functioned well since I got in.

I'm even getting proficient with this tiny touchscreen keyboard and am buzzing along now. It's almost boarding time, though, so I need to see if I can publish this now. More entries may follow later if I have the time.

It's my honeymoon after all.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

My Last Post As A Bachelor

In three hours, I am getting married. After the wedding reception, it's honeymoon time. So it may be awhile before I post again.

I'd like to go into length about how I beat Call of Duty 4 on the Recruit setting (easy), and how amazing every aspect of that game was - especially the story. I can't recall another first person shooter with such a gripping storyline. I just don't have the time right now.

And Portal - wow - I could go on forever about that one. Such a refreshingly original game, with mind-bending puzzles and the best 3D platforming gameplay since Super Mario Galaxy, Portal was one of those games that, once I got it and got into it, I played every free moment over the last few days until I beat it, too. The ending was just epic and left me wanting more. I could easily ramble on a very long time about how good Portal is.

But I have to go put on my tux and get married now. Some things are just more important than playing videogames, and far more important that blogging about videogames. If anyone's still reading - see you in a week or two.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Best Bachelor Party Ever

Last Saturday night, after working both jobs on Friday and Saturday, my best man for my upcoming wedding decides that it was a good night for my bachelor party. Exhausted, and with little food in my belly, I had no choice but to go along with that plan - all my friends work insane hours and have complex lives, so it was really the only chance before the wedding to do this.

We all assembled at the first bar we would be drinking at. When my friends Jared and Jeff (who are also my bosses at my main job) joined us, they were carrying a large bag. Inside the bag was an XBox 360 Pro console, The Orange Box, and an extra controller. I about crapped my pants. My awesome friends and co-workers all pitched in, over the last year or so it seems, to get me the XBox 360 as a wedding present. They decided to give it to me at the bachelor party so I could try it out before the wedding and honeymoon.

Is that cool or what?

I was so horribly hung over on Sunday following the party that it wasn't until 8 PM that evening that I hooked the console up. I didn't get to play anything on it except about a 10 minute session of Half-Life 2. On Monday, I was still hurting, and also had a lot of other things to do, but I did manage to swing by Gamestop and pick up Call of Duty 4 for me, and World Series of Poker Battle for the Bracelets for Monique. Yes, in spite of years of saying that she'd never play it (just as she did with the Wii), my bride-to-be wanted that poker game so she could play her best friend in online poker.

I also on Monday got a long ethernet cable and hooked up to X-Box live. I downloaded a demo of Battlefield : Bad Company and played a little bit of that, as well as more Half Life 2. I got my first achievment by throwing a soda can at a fascist cop in that game.

Later in the week, I managed a few morning sessions of Call of Duty 4, and have just been blown away by both the action and the story. I got one online session of Team Fortress 2 in as well, mostly to see what it's like to play with a headset on. Very cool, I must say.

As the wedding approaches next week I'm sure I'll have even less time to play, much less blog about it. I'll catch up after the honeymoon, though. See you all on the other side!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

It's About Time, Nintendo

Nintendo has the worlds's most popular current generation console and the world's most popular handheld system. Both of them have had, since their releases, Wi-Fi capabilities. A few games on each system actually utilize it, too.

Now comes the breakthrough that should have been in place, as part of a larger and much more ambitious online plan, since these systems got launched. Today, I was able to wirelessly download demos of DS games through the Wii's Nintendo Channel. I played Arkanoid DS and Crosswords DS. It really worked.

It's a shame Nintendo is so sheepish about online play. They could be very successful with it if they were just a little - no, not a little, a whole lot of aggressively more ambitious about all of it.

Smash Brothers Brawl and Mario Kart Wii were good starts, as is this development for DS owners, but competitors are already in the deep end of the online pool while Nintendo is still sticking its toes in the water to see how cold it is. I just want to run up behind them and push them in sometimes.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Both Extremes on the Wii

I'm a gamer of varying tastes - I like cutesy, fun games as well as gritty, hardcore ones. No more was this evident to me when last week, I picked up two games for the Wii that were about as far apart in this scale as is possible.

After beating the campaign mode in Medal of Honor Heroes 2, I decided to treat myself to a new game. Since all I own of the modern generation is a Wii, my options were limited. So I choose Boom Blox, an ultra-sugary but very challenging puzzle game, and (used for $20) Manhunt 2, an over-the-top stealth-and-kill game.

Boom Blox, which was developed by (of all people) Steven Spielberg in conjunction with EA, has players playing with blocks, throwing balls at them, or pulling them out of complex towers Jenga-style. The simple graphics belie the complex gameplay. Precision with the Wii remote is required to solve the increasingly complex puzzles, and to get the "Gold" ranking in them.

The physics of the falling blocks are very realistic and quite impressive. It's a lot of fun playing Boom Blox, and when we get the time, I look forward to playing some of the multiplayer games with Monique, as well as trying out the game's level editor and designing my own levels.

Manhunt 2 is about an escapee from a mental hospital who is looking for clues to his past or something. You sneak around, hide in shadows, and use various items and environemental objects to kill people. The level I just finished featured some sort of kinky S + M club with enemies wearing leather masks and other fetish garb.

It's an interesting game with a few glitches - one enemy I encountered was frozen into place until I started wailing on him with an electric cattle prod - but its story seems like it expects me to make up a lot of it. Maybe I'll discover it along with the character as the game unfolds, but right now it's hard to sympathize with someone who bludgeoned his way out of a mental hospital.

Another baffling thing about Manhunt 2 is the sidekick, another escapee named Leo (I think), who prods me on to do all these killings, but is never actually there to, I don't know, HELP OUT, when it's time to take out guards and hunters. He only physically shows up in the cinematic cut-scenes between levels, where he whines about things. He feels like that kid in Bully who did the same thing, and later betrayed me and became the game's main antagonist.

These two extremely different games on the Wii should keep me busy (with the limited game time I have) up to the wedding. After the wedding and the honeymoon, it's very likely that the Wii will begin to gather dust, as I at long last move on to the fertile gaming pastures offered on the XBox 360. So many big changes are about to happen in my life, but thankfully, there will always be time for some gaming.