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11:44 AM on 05.29.2011

I Miss You Cblogs...



Hey everyone, it's been awhile since I've been around these parts. I figured I'd drop by, see how you all were doing and give you a bit of an update on myself. Life has been pretty crazy for me as of late, I'm one semester away from graduating with a dual major in video game design and communications and my life has been almost non-stop work for the past half year or so.

Most of the past six months were spent working on a video game for my Game Dev 2 class. I worked on a team of 5 people and our game is called Season of Thorns. It stars four princesses on a quest to rescue four heroes from the clutches of the evil wizard Equinox. The game features no combat and puts a heavy emphasis on exploration and puzzle solving. Solving puzzles unlocks new abilities and new abilities allow you to explore new areas and solve increasingly complex puzzles. The game is unfinished, it only exists in demo form but it got a great crowd reaction when we showed it off at GameFest. For that reason, I intend on making it available to my Dtoid brethren in the near future as I think it might be of interest to some of you.

Some of you may remember me talking about making my projects from Game Dev 1 available here but I'm not so sure I'm going to do that anymore. If I can get an executable working for the first game I did in that class, Zenshiro: Astro Samurai, then I'll throw that up here along with Season of Thorns but I've been trying for almost a year now and it isn't looking good. Games written in Pygame are a pain to export to an executable file. It's a real shame. In the meantime, check out the text adventure I made a few semesters ago if you're really dying to play some of my work.

Other than creating games, I've been busy putting my resume and portfolio together and looking for a job. It hasn't been easy but RPI has some great connections with the industry so I should eventually find something that suits me perfectly. Currently I'm also taking computer science 2 as a summer course, it's really tough since I'm not a programer but I should get through it. I need it to graduate after all.

As far as playing games goes, I've been into a lot of stuff lately. I played through Bayonetta finally, I loved it but the repeated boss fights were a pain in the ass. I also picked up the Medal of Honor reboot. I was actually surprised by that one, I wasn't expecting much but it ended up being a much more realistic take on the Call of Duty formula and I ended up really loving it. I haven't played the multiplayer at all but from what I hear, I'm just missing a sniperfest, still I'll check it out some day. I also bought and played through Portal 2 and the new Mortal Kombat, I won't spoil anything but I thought they both had excellent single player campaigns. Also, the co-op in Portal 2 is a blast, I'll be finishing that up tonight with my cousin. Portal 2 is the front runner for GOTY so far, we'll have to wait and see how it stacks up against Duke Nukem, Skyrim and Dark Souls.

So sorry I haven't been around lately, it's not because I don't love you cbloggers, you know that. I say this a lot but I'm going to make an effort to find more time for you, I promise. This community is just too awesome to not be apart of.   read


3:10 PM on 03.17.2011

You've Got Mail: Air Guitar Rocker and Story Builder Toys



Once upon a time, I was in a Best Buy and I saw the worlds greatest invention;The Guitar Hero Air Guitar Rocker. Sadly, an evil witch convinced me not to buy it. I have been sad ever since. Today, this grave injustice has been rectified. This most excellent of toys just arrived in the mail and now I'll be able to live happily ever after, knowing that whenever I want, I can walk into a room full of strangers and blow their minds with an air guitar solo THAT ACTUALLY PLAYS MUSIC. Truly, my life is complete.

That's not all I got in the mail today. I also received my stuffed beedog and plushtoid from Zodiac Eclipse and Story Builder Toys. I'm very happy with the quality of the toys and how quick they got to me. It was just as quick as amazon! That's really saying something. Also, I'd like to thank her and Topher Cantler for donating $12 from every beedog sold to help Japan. Knowing that I helped contributed to charity AND got an awesome stuffed beeddog just warms the cockles of my frigid heart. So thank you for that opportunity Zodiac and Topher, you guys rock!

  read


10:17 AM on 02.02.2011

5 Things Junction Point Studios can do to Improve Epic Mickey



Most people, when complaining about Epic Mickey, will point to two things, the camera and the graphics. Iím going to be upfront and say that I donít address these two issues in this blog because in my mind, theyíre not issues at all. The camera in Epic Mickey is comparable to any other 3D Adventure/Platformer game and I had almost zero issues with it. I think most people that complain about the camera either didnít realize you have total control over it with the D-Pad or they were just too lazy to use the camera controls. Sure there were times when youíre not allowed to rotate the camera and it fixes itself in an awkward position, but those times are few and far between, most of the time that the camera becomes fixed, the position is just fine. As for the graphics, the most common complaint is that they donít live up to the concept art and that somehow, if the game were on 360/PS3 that problem would be solved. I honestly feel that anyone making such a claim hasnít played the game all the way through. Such locations as Mickey Junk Mountain and Skull Island look great in game and easily evoke the same feelings as the concept art. I played this game on a 40 inch LED TV and it looked awesome the whole time. I donít think the game would benefit from a transition to HD systems at all. The only reason I would want to see the sequel on 360 and PS3 is so a wider audience could play it. That being said, letís address what I think does need to be improved for the inevitable sequel to Epic Mickey.



1. Trim the Fat
In my mind, the biggest problem that Epic Mickey has is repetition. The last few hours of the game are spent running around the various hub worlds youíve found, completing fetch quests and eventually fighting the ink blot in each area. The problem is, each fight with the Ink Blot (or rather, his ďbloticlesĒ) is almost exactly the same. By the time youíve cleared all the bloticles out of all the hub worlds, youíre damn ready for the game to end, or at least I was. But no, there is still an hour or two of gameplay left. Sure we get thrown a new idea in the form of a rotate the gargoyle statue puzzle, but the problem is they repeat that puzzle four different times as well. It seems that whoever designed the quests in Epic Mickey just designed 4-5 different quests and then repeated them throughout the game in order to pad its length, and it really shows in the endgame. This is exactly what Jim was talking about in his recent piece on game length. Junction Point wanted to avoid accusations of their game being too short, so they threw in a bunch of filler. Itís ironic because the game would have been much better if it was about five hours shorter.

2. More Variety
Going along with what I said in number one, the game would benefit from more variety in its quests. Now, I still think the game was overly long, so I still think they should shorten its run time but in addition to that, they should really design a few more quest types for the game. Almost every quest in the game, both the main quests and side quests, are fetch quests. Now, I donít usually complain about fetch quests, but when that is 90% of your game, there is reason for concern. If they had included more variety in the quests, the game would have felt like much less of a grind.



3. Allow Back Tracking
If there is anything that annoys me more than a game full of fetch quests, itís not being able to finish said fetch quests. Sure there is a lot of back tracking in Epic Mickey, you have to go to the hubworlds like Mean Street, Ostown and Venture Land many times throughout the course of the game, but the places you would actually like to explore again, like Lonesome Manor and Skull Island, only let you visit them once. Then there is the fact that most of these places have items you need to finish your quests, so if you missed them the first time around, tough shit, start the game over. This is simply inexcusable in an adventure game and they donít even explain why you canít go back to these areas in game. This lack of being able to explore freely and at your leisure made the game feel much more constricted than it would have otherwise. Honestly, if Junction Point Studios only fixes one thing on this list, I hope this is it.

4. Longer 2D Levels
A lot of people claim that the 2D levels of Epic Mickey are among the best parts of the game, and they would be right. My wish is that for the sequel, they are made a bit longer. Maybe instead of just using them as transportation between levels, they could also be used in place of the larger 3D levels. Not exclusively of course, but a good mix of short 2D levels, long 2D levels and long 3D levels would make the game feel much more varied.



5. Better Combat
The combat in Epic Mickey is severely lacking. There are some good concepts behind it, such as the choice between using paint and thinner to defeat enemies, but the execution sucks. First of all, only a small handful of enemies can be befriended with paint, if I were designing the game, every single enemy would be able to be turned into a friend. Also, the controls for shooting the paint and thinner need some work. The lock-on function is a god send, but it would be nice if instead of just locking the camera on your enemy, it locked your brush on the enemy as well, so you wouldnít have to aim. It was just too hard at times to be precise with your brush in the heat of combat. Last but not least, get rid of the infinitely respawning enemies. I hate every game that uses this tactic and Epic Mickey is no exception. Sure they explain why the enemies respawn in game, and you do usually get an opportunity to destroy whatever machine they are coming out of, but that doesnít stop it from feeling extremely cheap. Nothing pisses me off more than clearing an area of enemies for exploration, only to find out when Iím done that every single one of them respawned and I need to shut down some stupid machine and do it all over again. Either fix the frustrating combat or nix it all together. Epic Mickey would have been perfectly fine as a pure adventure game with no combat at all.



Now keep in mind, I donít hate this game, in fact it has become one of my favorite Wii games. However, no game is perfect and I feel these fixes Iíve come up with would move it that much closer to perfection. What are some things that you think could improve the Epic Mickey formula?   read


10:56 AM on 12.31.2010

CONTEST WINNER: Manasteel88, Kaggen and Lenigod, Get in Here!


Manasteel88's winning photoshop.

Despite the lower number of entrants, this years contest was much harder for me to judge than last years. Because the three dtoiders that entered did such good work, I've decided to throw a prize to the two runners up as well as the winner. Manasteel88 really impressed me with his first photoshop, which was also the first entry into this contest. Manasteel88 definitely set the bar high, the epic feeling his shop gives me is great and the reason I am awarding him first place and the Indie Beat Pack. He also had a couple of other entries into the contest which were equally as awesome, you can check them out bellow.


Manasteel88


Manasteel88

However, that's not to say the other entries were poor. Kaggen did a great job with his two hand drawn submissions. Similarly, I am a sucker for inside jokes, so I really enjoyed Lenigod's submission as well. To show my appreciation to these two, I am awarding them both second place as well as a copy of Evil Genius on Steam. If you haven't played Evil Genius, it's like Dungeon Master meets Austin Powers and it's just as awesome as it sounds. Check out their entries bellow.


Kaggen


Kaggen


Lenigod

Thanks a lot guys, I really appreciate you taking the time to enter my little contest. If the three of you could leave your Steam IDs bellow in the comments, I'll get you your games as fast as I can.

Here is the last bonus video from this holiday contest. There are no words to describe what happens here, just watch.

[embed]190584:35085[/embed]   read


12:13 PM on 12.30.2010

LAST CALL: Win the Indie Beat Pack on Steam!



Attention Dtoiders, you now have less than 12 hours to submit a photoshop to my contest and secure your chance to win 5 games! Tonight at midnight eastern time, I will be checking the submissions and picking a winner. Tomorrow around this time I will be posting the winner. Check here for full contest details. I only have three entries so far so you have a pretty good chance of winning if you enter.

Here is today's bonus video. I present to you, the exact opposite of the N64 kid:
[embed]190549:35073[/embed]   read


11:41 AM on 12.28.2010

CONTEST REMINDER: Win the Indie Beat Pack on Steam!


You want this...

This is just a reminder to all dtoiders that you now have a little over 2 days to enter my Holiday contest, the winner of which will receive the Indie Beat Pack on Steam which includes Beat Hazard, Chime and Bit.Trip Beat! Full details are here. Feel free to post your entries here in this blog or in the original blog post. Here is a look at your competition so far:

From manasteel88:


From Kaggen:


From Lenigod:


The competition is fierce this year but don't let that dissuade you from entering. After all, you stand a chance to win 5 steam games just for making a simple photoshop, so have at it!

Here is today's bonus video. We all know that Jesus is black, but did you know that Santa is black too?
[embed]190438:35054[/embed]   read


1:59 PM on 12.23.2010

HOLIDAY CONTEST: Steam Indie Beat Pack


Last year's winning entry, by Gyrael.

Last year for the Holidays, I decided to give back to the Dtoid community by giving away Torchlight in a small contest right here on my cblog. It was one of the most fulfilling things I've ever done here on Destructoid, so I'm doing it again this year.

It took me awhile to decide which game I was going to give away this year. I was leaning towards Super Meat Boy because I love it so much but a lot of people on Dtoid have probably already purchased it. Then I was thinking about giving away the games in the second Humble Indie Bundle, but again, I figured that most people who would want those games, probably already have them.

That's when I made my decision, I would give away Beat Hazard, which is probably my favorite game on Steam and XNA. When I went to check the price on Steam, I realized that it was the same price as the "Indie Beat Pack" which comes with five games: Beat Hazard, Chime, Bit.Trip Beat, Rhythm Zone and Turba. That sealed it for me, I'm giving away the Indie Beat Pack. Beat Hazard is amazing like I've already mentioned, but so is Chime, which is another game I've purchased multiple copies of due to how awesome it is. Bit.Trip Beat is one of my favorite WiiWare games and although I haven't tried the PC port yet, I'm quite sure it is up to snuff. As for the other two games, Turba and Rhythm Zone, I haven't played them so let me know in the comments if they're any good.


Win this!

To win this bundle you will obviously have to have a Steam account, or be willing to create one if you win. The winner will be the person who submits the most creative photoshop involving Commander Video from the Bit.Trip games and Mr. Destructoid. Bonus points if it has a Holiday theme. Feel free to use existing pictures of Commander Video and Mr. Destructoid, or draw your own. I'm not judging these based on skill with photoshop, just on how awesome/funny it is. That being said, of course a well done shop has the potential to be funnier/more awesome than something that was slapped together in MS paint in five seconds. The good news is, unlike last year, I'm giving you a lot more than 12 hours to work with. I will be picking a winner when I wake up on New Years Eve, so entries will be due by midnight on December 30th eastern time. I will be posting several reminder blogs between now and then. Post your submission in this blog or one of the reminder blogs in order to be considered. Don't forget to include your Steam User Name with your submission! Submissions that are PMed to me or otherwise given to me will not be accepted. Good luck everybody!

As a bonus, I will be including holiday and or video game themed videos with each contest update I post. Today's video has a dog going crazy over a 360 Avatar's virtual Pug. I would never ever let a dog scratch my TV like that, dog owners are nuts.

[embed]190221:34996[/embed]   read


11:48 AM on 12.17.2010

New Setup Blog (20+ pics!)


This is the view of my living room from the couch.

So itís been a while since I posted one of these and you all seemed to like the last two I did so here I am with round three. Iíve actually been using this current setup for about half a year now, sorry it took me so long to get some pics taken. So without further adieu, letís get to the pictures!


Here is a close up of my TV stand. The TV is angled like that so that is parallel to my couch.


Super close up of the boys. The 360 has a 120 gig hard drive while the PS3 has a 60. The PS3 is fully backwards compatible and has a new 120 gig hard drive waiting to go in it.


Due to a lack of space, my Wii hides behind my TV. Also, check out how thin my TV is, LED technology is badass.


Open the doors on my TV cabinet and youíll find my Playstation, Dreamcast and Super Nintendo collections. Note the original Final Fantasy III cart in the lower right hand corner. That is my favorite part of my video game collection


Here are some peripherals for my 360. Thatís the renegade edition of DJ Hero, two tournament edition fight sticks from madcatz, one of which is the limited edition BlazBlue model, #1224 out of 1500, and the 360 racing wheel.


My desktop PC and Nintendo collections are displayed here. The PC is mostly used for watching illegally downloaded wrestling PPVs but I also enjoy an occasional round of Team Fortress 2 on the big screen. The NES games Iíve had since I was a kid. They could use a good cleaning.


Mr. Destructoid stands watch over my current-gen handheld games. I wish I could display my old gameboy/gameboy color/game boy advanced games but theyíre small and not conducive to being displayed. Theyíre all in that ďgame stuffĒ bag you see at the bottom of this image.


This of course, is my Steel Battalion controller. Whatís that? You donít own one of these? Well I guess youíre not much of a collector are you? You can also kind of see my Genesis 1 and 2 underneath the shelf. Above the Steel Battalion controller is a bunch of random charge wires, headsets and controllers, as well as my original Playstation and Playstation 2.


Here are my two game towers. Iíd really like to replace them with one unit but that unit will need to hold 300+ DVD cases. I just havenít found the right one yet I guess. Also, I know I listed each game in my collection for my last setup blog, but that was waaaay too much work, so I wonít be doing that again. Check out my Backloggery for a full list of my current gen games (I still need to add everything from last generation and back).


Check out my floor to ceiling tower of game boxes! I donít know why Iím so proud of it but I am. Let me tell you, every time I buy a new game that comes in a box I can display, it is a total pain in the ass re-arranging everything so the new addition can fit. That question mark box is probably one of my favorite things ever. It is the box that my Club Nintendo platinum reward statue arrived in and I have to say, I almost like it more than the statue itself. By the way, the DVDs on the second and third shelves arenít games, theyíre movies. Exciting, I know.


This is my other bookshelf, the one I actually keep books on. But because books on a shelf are quite boring, I keep my game related action figures here too. Iíve got a few stuffed Pokemon on top, along with my stock Xbox 360 faceplate. And the next two shelves hold figures I have purchased or received from collectorís editions and happy meals.


On the right there is the Club Nintendo platinum reward statue I mentioned earlier. Itís pretty neat, itís made out of a really tough rubbery material and it feels like it could really take a beating. Also pictured here are the Lugia and Ho Oh statues I got for preordering Pokemon Heart Gold and Soul Silver as well as the die cast Skyline model I got with the collectorís edition of Gran Turismo 5. The three toys on the left were from Taco Bell kidís meals. This also happens to be the shelf I keep all my old strategy guides on, check Ďem out on the left.


More game figures, from left to right they are: The Bioshock collectorís edition Big Daddy statue, Fallout 3 vault boy bobble head, Undertaker figure I got with a slurpee from 7-11, Crimson Viper figure which came with the Street Fighter IV collectorís edition, two Viewtiful Joe figures I bought and the Mickey Mouse figure that came with the collectorís edition of Epic Mickey.


This is the stand that sits behind my couch (notice the ugly plaid pattern on the bottom? Thatís my couch. I know, yuck) it holds my game controllers so I donít have to keep them on my coffee table. I also keep my DSi, DS and PSP here. And obviously, the centerpiece is the Legendary Edition statue from Halo Reach.


Moving out of the living room, this is my laundry room, which Master Chief looks after for me.


Here is my bedroom setup. The systems on the lower shelf are unfortunately not hooked up, but the Xbox, Dreamcast and Gamecube up top are all ready to go. I tell you, nothing sets the mood in the bedroom like a couple rounds of Crazy Taxi.


I had to take a picture of my awesome Bloodrayne poster above my bed. God bless the women who sleep with me, they put up with so much.


Hereís a shot of my kitchen table with the Master Chief helmet from Halo 3ís Legendary Edition as a centerpiece. Again, the women in my life put up with quite a bit.


Why am I showing you a shot of the rest of my kitchen? Take a closer look if youíre really not sure.


Yep, I keep a Playstation 2 hooked up in my kitchen. Did I mention that the women I have over put up with a lot? Yeah, I thought soÖ

So thatís my current setup, Iím rather proud of it. I know Iím a maniac but so are most collectors. If you made it this far, be sure to leave me a comment telling me what you think.   read


10:20 AM on 12.13.2010

Poker Night at the Inventory Quick Review + Where Have I Been?



First I just want to say that I am not the biggest fan of poker. I have seen it on TV briefly, Iíve paid $20 so my cousin Dan can laugh at me while he takes my money, hell, I even own a poker set, I keep it somewhere in my closet. Texas Hold Ďem is among my least favorite card games of all time. If there is something I canít stand as a budding video game designer, itís games of chance. However, when you take four characters as awesome as Tycho, Strong Bad, Max and Heavy together in one game and give them full dialog as well, I canít help but buy it, especially when itís just five bucks.

To put my review simply: This is the most fun Iíve ever had playing poker while alone in my apartment. And I think thatís the highest praise I can give a poker video game that doesnít feature a multiplayer mode. If I have any complaints itís that the computer cheats. Iím not sure if programmers make these games cheat, or computers have always been sentient and enjoy defeating humans at their simple games of skill, but I am sure that a lot games feel like theyíre cheating you and this is one of them. The computer just seems to get too lucky too often if you know what I mean. Thatís not to say itís impossible to win. I actually found my poker skills getting better as I played this game, probably because I took a lot more risky bets than I would in real life and I was able to see what happened and learn from it.


Who needs a multiplayer mode when you've got these guys?

Other than that there really isnít much to say. The dialogue is fantastic, but you already knew that because itís a Telltale game featuring Tycho. Seriously though, this game had me literally laughing out loud on many occasions. If you simply hate poker and canít even play it with friends, then you probably wonít like this game. If youíre not crazy about poker but youíve played it with friends (like me), this game is a good way to relive some of those wild nights. If you are crazy about poker youíve probably already bought this game. Overall, I give Poker Night at the Inventory a 9 out of 10.

BONUS PARAGRAPH

For reading this far, you have won a free bonus paragraph! Click here to verify that you're over 18 and eligible for this prize by sending me all of your money.

Seriously though, some of you may be wondering where Iíve been these past few months. And the answer is simple; this semester was crazy for me. I took Game Development 1 at school and it was an insane amount of work. In groups of 5-6 we built four games in total (new groups for each game), we had two weeks to work on the first three games, and four weeks to work on the last game. It was a lot of work but a lot of fun too, it did however severely limit my Destructoid time. However, I plan on making a comeback in a big way, starting with this here review of my new favorite poker game, and continuing with the set-up blog I promised way back in the summer. Yep, I promise to finally get off my ass and take pictures of the sweet set-up Iíve been rocking the past half a year or so. Be on the lookout for that sometime soon. Also, Iím going to look at getting two of the games I created this semester up on here as well, one of them, Zenshiro: Astro Samurai is a 2D space shooter and the other, Orphan, is a 3D action game with To Live is to Die by Metallica as its soundtrack. I canít promise delivery on either of these games as Iím not sure Iíll be able to get an executable for them but I will do my best.   read


10:43 AM on 08.03.2010

Happy Birthday to me! Or why August 3rd is the greatest day of the year.



24 years old and I don't even rule the world yet, otherwise today would be a national holiday. I give it another decade or so before you petulant hypocritical tapeworms realize that I am the best in the world at what I do.

So what does a DaedHead do on his birthday? Well, I started out this morning by getting myself a little gift, I preordered both Halo Reach Legendary Edition and Gran Tourismo 5 Collectors Edition. $250 well spent in my opinion. Currently I'm writing this blog and after that I plan on playing a little Fallout 3, I'm playing the Mothership Zeta DLC at the moment and it is so much better than the internet has lead me to believe. Around 1 o'clock my younger brother is supposed to come over to watch Book of Eli with me and around dinner time I'll be getting some female companionship (I didn't even have to pay! Wooo!) to close out the night. Sometime after she arrives we'll be placing an order on Amazon.com for my Playstation 3, since amazon is the only place you can get one of those backwards compatible 60 gigs without spending an arm and a leg.

So it's shaping up to be quite a fun birthday for me, the only thing this future world ruler could want on a day like today is birthday wishes from his favorite place on the internet, destructoid.com, so have at it parasites. You know I love you all.   read


5:09 PM on 07.07.2010

A little preview of next month...



My last setup blog was rather popular on here but as most of you know, I no longer have access to that setup and have been saving my money for new stuff for about a year now. Well, I bought the Wii a few months ago, I've been told by a very reliable source that I'll be getting a Playstation 3 for my birthday next month (August 3rd, in case you want to buy me stuff), and today the last piece of the puzzle fell into place, my new Samsung LED HDTV. Full specs on my setup and much higher quality pictures incoming next month. Stay tuned. >=)   read


6:56 PM on 06.15.2010

NFS Prostreet, Sega Rally Revo, Metroid Prime Trilogy and Free Games!



Now that the semester is over I've been playing a ton of video games, trying to catch up on my backlog (see header image and link in sidebar) and I would like to talk about a few of them. First up is NFS Prostreet, I've been in love with the Need For Speed games ever since I played the first one on PC waaaaaay back in the day. Even though the modern NFS games leave a lot to be desired, I still feel the need to play through them all. I refuse to buy them for $60 because they often frustrate me, so I wait until I can get them for $20 or less, preferably new. I only just now got around to playing Prostreet, which was released back in November of 2007.



At first I didn't really understand why this game was considered the black sheep of the NFS family. It seemed like it had a good concept, taking the racing off of the streets and putting it on the track where it belongs. Finally, I thought, I wouldn't be plagued by traffic and cops that ruin otherwise perfect laps. Finally, a game that encourages the droves of bros in their modified Hondas to seek out real competition on a track. And for the first 90% of the game, it totally delivered. I genuinely had a great time working my way up the ranks. The racing in the game is really tight and the challenge was juuuuust right. Then right around the end of the game, it hit a brick wall at 200mph+. You see, to progress in the game, you participate in race days which contain a series of races. Each race gives you points and if you score enough points you will "win" the race day, which is usually enough to progress. Score even more points and you will "dominate" the race day, which I was doing for every event through the whole game, it usually just meant racing all the races in the race day, instead of only doing one or two. However, at the end of the game, I got to the race day right before challenging the "Grip King" (Grip being one of the four game modes). I won the race day after beating 3 out of the 6 races and figured dominating it would be easy. I beat the next three races and was shocked to discover I hadn't dominated it. I was short by a measly 900 points. I tried racing a few of the races over but could only squeeze out a few hundred more points total. I figured, whatever, I don't need to dominate EVERYTHING (even though that would net me a nice 125 point achievement) so I quit the raceday, figuring the fact that I at least won the day would let me move on to the Grip King. But nope, turns out you need to dominate that day in order to progress, which royally ticked me off. It's total bullshit that I can place first in every race in a race day and still not dominate it, that's just poor game balancing in my mind. I figure I'll go back to the game some day and try a bit harder to wrap it up but for now I've moved on to a new racing game, Sega Rally Revo.



Now here is a racing game I can really get into. Another game that didn't quite get rave reviews (unless you live in Europe) yet one that I feel was unfairly criticized. Sega Rally Revo is a game with old school arcade sensibilities. It sports an AI that rarely makes mistakes, tracks with difficulty ranging from easy peasy to crushingly difficult and cars which are more or less evenly matched. There is no tuning to make your cars faster than your opponents, you're required to win on your driving skill alone. The really impressive feature of this game is the "GeoDeformation" that occurs. You see, each track has a variety of surfaces, from your standard asphalt to mud, water and snow. As cars drive around the track, they leave tire tracks in the softer surfaces (mud, snow, sand) which affects handling and speed. This all makes for a very unique driving experience that is reminiscent of the MotorStorm games, albeit without the wide open tracks. While I don't expect to ever beat this game, I will have a great time working my way as far into it as possible. The only problem I have with the game is there is no restart option during a race, and races in championship mode are in groups of three, so if you screw up in race three and take second place or worse, you have to restart from race one just to get another chance at taking first in race three. Very annoying. Lucky for me there is an epic series of games I just picked up for the Wii that will go far to ease my frustrations with the racing genre.



I purchased Metroid Prime Trilogy today and I am very excited to finally play through these games. I do own the GameCube version of the original Metroid Prime, but I never beat it, so first up I'll be giving that modern classic another shot. My first impression of the new control scheme is a positive one, I really think I have a good chance of sticking with this game until the end this time around.

The story of how I got Metroid Prime Trilogy is an interesting one, and it's where the free games part of my headline comes into play. I've been filling out surveys for various companies over the last year on a site called utalkback.com. Each survey I filled out gave me points and if I collected 450 points, I could get a $50 GameStop giftcard. They also offered $25 cards for 300 points. Well, last month I finally reached 450 points and selected the card as my reward. Up until this point I was rather skeptical of the site but it turns out it's legit. I got my card in the mail today and used it to buy Metroid Prime Trilogy. So yeah, if you have the time to fill out surveys every now and again, I'd highly recommend signing up on that site. The only downside is that you have to wait for survey opportunities, I averaged about 2 per week. Also, you may not qualify for every survey they send you, you get between 30 and 50 points for completing a survey, but only 2-5 points for not qualifying. Still, there are a wealth of rewards available, not just GameStop cards, so you should really check it out.   read


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