Feb 11 2011

My Week in Games #2: Overboard

My Week in Games is a little glimpse into my personal quest to tackle my video game backlog and a place for me to report on my exploits with other types of games, be they board, card, or otherwise.

At the rate I’m filling the backlog I might as well plan on a video game sabbatical around mid-year. I picked up a two-game deal on Dead Space (the original) and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. The former is a must-have for me because I thoroughly enjoyed Dead Space: Extraction and I want to continue digging into the storyline and universe, while the latter was more of a try-and-see-if-I-like-it kind of purhcase. It’s been a while since I’ve played a traditional fantasy RPG, so hopefully this rather decorated entry keeps me interested.

Grand Theft Auto IV: Complete Edition

You knew I’d be back at it this week. In anticipation of the (now delayed) arrival of Red Dead Redemption, I was attempting to crank through as much of GTA as possible. I’m still about a third of the way from the ending, but I’m just getting into some of the more cinematic and heart-pumping missions, which is what I’ve been waiting for the whole game.

[GTA4:CE (Xbox 360) on MobyGames]


Oh boy. I’ll save what I have to say about Minecraft, as a whole, for an entirely different post. The bulk of my playtime was performing server maintenance and testing out some new plugins for Bukkit (a server-side mod wrapper; learn more at Bukkit.org) Watching the maturation and development of this ambitious little endeavor is both rewarding and encouraging. Our little kingdom on my lonely private server is growing at a steady pace, despite the lower time investment this week.

[Minecraft (PC/OSX) at Minecraft.net]

Feb 04 2011
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My Week in Games #1: Grand Theft Backlog

My Week in Games is a little glimpse into my personal quest to tackle my video game backlog and a place for me to report on my exploits with other types of games, be they board, card, or otherwise.

My backlog is growing at an alarming rate and, just to complicate things, I recently picked up Red Dead Redemption. Thankfully, in the time it takes to ship I might be able to knock off a couple games whose conclusions I am swiftly approaching. At the moment, I’m committed to at least a handful of full-length games and two Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA) titles. Here’s what I got around to this week:

Grand Theft Auto IV: Complete Edition

By my estimate, I’m halfway through the main story missions of the core game. That leaves the latter half of the game plus two expansions to look forward to; and I truly am looking forward to the conclusion of this masterpiece. Needless to say, I spent the bulk of my playtime this week on GTA4:CE.

[GTA4:CE (Xbox 360) on MobyGames]


I’m hardly lifelong puzzle fan. As a child, I’d concede about a third of the way through every jigsaw puzzle I ever started. I’ve come a long way since those frustrating Saturday afternoons at the dining room table.

The challenging level design in and whimsical art direction in ilomilo had me on board as early as the first demo level I played. I’m nearly finished with the first chapter, but I’m playing a little more sporadically to savor the warm storyline and bright atmosphere.

[ilomilo (XBLA) on metacritic, wikipedia]

Peggle Deluxe

You read that correctly. I play some serious Peggle. I play 11-game series against my friends on Xbox Live. If I could find a reliable way to gamble on Peggle matches, I’d have a bank account wired up and ready to throw down at a moment’s notice. I don’t mess around with Peggle.

You shouldn’t either.

It’s a digital drug trip into a sickeningly colorful land of pachinko with animals, fireworks, and powerups. It’s fun, it’s addictive, it’s dangerous. Simply put, either you control it or it controls you.

[Peggle Deluxe (XBLA) on MobyGames, metacritic; Peggle (PC) at wikipedia, Zero Punctuation (NSFW)]

It was a rather light week for me, but I think next week I’ll get into some Minecraft, Sin and Punishment: Star Successor, and maybe a return to Goldeneye 007. Unless, of course, Red Dead Redemption shows up.

Feb 01 2011
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Slot Junkie

I am not a slot junkie.

At least I thought I wasn’t until this past weekend. I acknowledge that slots are almost the worst bet in the house (keno holds high honors in that department for most casinos). As a rule, I try to limit any and all slot play to casual diversions as I meander through the casino, and nothing more.

This time was different. I, for whatever reason, decided I’d spend a longer-than-advisable amount of time in front of a 2¢ bandit. There had to be a reason behind my irrational behavior. Despite losing money, I actually enjoyed myself. I observed the following:

Two Cents is a Low Barrier to Entry

Gamblers in the know are privy to the fact that penny slots are dollar slots in disguise. The minimum bet is hardly prohibitive, but when you consider most penny machines require multi-payline bets (up to 100 lines) at 1 to 5 cents per line, the cost-per-spin creeps up toward a dollar or more.

I knew this going into battle, and while this machine offered a lower number of paylines (not necessarily a good sign), it was just enough to keep me engaged.

The Allure of Bonus Rounds is Legit

Typically, I make a point to read the rulesheet and check which combos are winners and which trigger the bonus rounds because I need to know what I’m rooting for. Modern slots provide intense visual and aural feedback when your spin is one reel away from triggering the bonus round.

I almost triggered the bonus nearly a dozen times. But as they used to say back on the playground, “‘Almost’ only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.”

I’m a Sucker for Physical-reel Machines

We’re seeing a resurgence of physical-reel machines in casinos (as opposed to video-only), but these aren’t the rusty, mechanical coin-munchers of yesteryear. Like the one I lost my shirt on, they often feature brilliant elements illuminated by LEDs and touch-screen overlays. Some of the more engaging models have ancillary inputs like LCD touch-screens above the reels on which to play bonus games.

Details like this keep players (read: me) spellbound. Add in a few cocktails, and the casino’s met its expected slot margins without breaking a sweat.

I do consider myself a savvy gambler though my performance here says otherwise. I’d ordinarily be at a blackjack or craps table (two of the best bets in the house) but this time it felt so right to be so, so wrong.

Casino 1, Matt 0.