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I choose not to have an avatar or blog header at this time, for the following reasons:

1) I don't have to.

2) I don't have any awesome URLs handy in the correct sizes.

3) I don't need any more reasons.

I write reviews of movies, games and the occasional CD, as well as articles on www.justpressplay.net. I do not apologize for the plug. My writing name is SaulB. I'll ask you to look me up, but if you don't want to, that's fine too. You have a right to not answer my call of attention. And I have a right to ignore or wittily pick apart nonsensical reasoning, arguments or assaults on my character. You have a right to call me a little gay wordy bitch. I have a right to laugh.

My name is Saul. But you can call me awesome.
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So I beat Bioshock at the palindromic time of .M.P 12:21 P.M. this afternoon, on Hard, less than 2 days after starting it. It's kind of unsettling to know the years of designing and programming that went into my 40 hours of entertainment will not be repeated, as single player games have never really had much immediate replay value for me. I only beat RE4 and Twilight Princess once each before trading them in, for example.

The game was stupendous, though; a work of art I won't soon forget.

Which brings me to my titular title:

In 40 hours, I attained 32 Acheivements, and 695 Gamerpoints: more than half those possible and more than half my previous Gamerscore from my first 4 months of owning a 360. Hell, I got 240 points almost instantly for beating the game as I did. Sure, it was on Hard, but I shouldn't get 100 points for beating the final boss and then another 40 for beating the game 4 seconds later, should I? And that's not even counting the additional 100 points I got simultaneously for doing something awesome on my way to the finale.

What I'm saying is, from what I'm looking at on my Gamer Profile, easily less than a hundred points came from legitimate ACHIEVEMENTS, IE: Things I did that weren't necessary to the completion of the game or its required progression, and are substantial enough to be considered... substantial.

Hell, I got 30 points for defeating a boss who was more or less an in-game cutscene.



My numbers have increased,

But my score has not.








Hello there. I'm Saul. I'm moderately-remarkably awesome, depending on with whom I am speaking. You may see me around often, you may not. But right now, I have a sorry and terrifying tale of mental anguish and 8-bit abuse. I am speaking, of course, of the NES classic,

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.


My first word was "Turtle." In fact, it was my only word for s while. My mom was worried. Seerslay. I loved the heroes in a half-shell since age 1, and haven't stopped since. I've bought the DVDs, avoided the disastrous new show like the bubonic plague that it's so readily comparable to, and loved the heck out of the new flick. But in all the games, from the Game Boy classic Fall of the Foot Clan to Turtles in Time, there has been one fucking motherfucker that has eluded my mastery. That is the NES original.

At the beginning of last summer, I hooked up my Nintendo again, for the first time in a while. I played some games, beat some games, some froze on me. And then I popped in the irredeemably difficult TMNT, and proceeded to have my ass kicked. From that day forth, I set out to conquer the damned thing. It was my GOAL of the SUMMER to complete that gray plastic-encased demon.

And I got close.

So

Damned

Close.

Over the course of the next month, I mastered every bit of the game. I finally passed the God Dam level with the bombs, for the first time in my recollection. I then, without any guide of any kind, figured out the quickest and most painless route through the maze of city streets in the Turtle Van. I saved Splinter. Then I went to the 17-warehouse military base, and got up to the end twice before besting the Infernal Insta-Kill Spike Room of Nefarious Death, and I never died there again. The giant robot motha' was cake after that.

Then, nearing the dreaded Technodrome, I worked my way around the cavernous caves, filled with porcupines and spinny mantises or what have you. Before doing this, I discovered a way to give all four turtles boomerangs. I was set. Knowing full well that the Porcubastards and Mantamothers would disappear if they walked off the edge, I tricked them into doing just that. My, if you could've seen me. I was like a masterful ballerina.

I poked the Technodrome in the eye with a 5 foot wooden stick and jumped into its Techno Dome. Inside, I found killer kangaroos and flying blue foot soldiers. They did immense damage, and so it took me a few tries to get very far in the Drome. Finally, almost a month after starting out, I found myself in the final hallway before the inevitable fight with Krang and Shredder. I went a little in, dodged a few guys, threw some boomerangs, and died. Now, to be clear, once you die in this hallway, it doesn't matter how many turtles you have left; they will all invariably have significant damage on them and most likely wont be able to get very far at all. Die in the hallway, and you'll lose a continue, or get a game over, no doubts.

So I tried again.

The same hallway killed me, but I realized something: This place has dozens of the strongest enemies in the game, it's narrow as hell, and there's no way to guage how long it goes on.

A year later, after first giving up and then downloading the game off the Virtual Console, I still have no idea just how long that hallway goes on for. About a mile and a half in, it narrows to the point where you can't jump or duck under anything.

Do you have

ANY idea

How heartbreaking it is

To master a game until the very end, an hour in, and not be physically, mentally or in any other way able to complete one would-be miniscule part? I am hesitant to waste any more time on the game. And I consider myself a gaming master, the best I personally know. Everyone I hang out with agrees.

But that fucking passageway is the devil incarnate. It's... it's irresponsible. Kids of ages 3-30 bought this game for 50 dollars when it first came out. If 1% of them completed it, I'd be surprised. I don't even know what Krang and Shred Head are up to at the end of that thing. I don't know if there's pizza or what. They could be blowing each other for all I know. They could be throwing a surprise party for us, and wondering where oh where the turtles could be.


"I hope the soldiers got our memo of peace," Krang says to Shredder.

Shredder's eyes close and go into an anime-style upwards crescent, signifying carefree happiness. "Of course, they did, Krangy-Wangy," he says with a smirk under his metal faceplate.

"Of course they did."