Metroid extravaganza!

August 29, 2007

Release dates are funny things. For the most part, one can expect to pick up a game the day after the publisher’s announced release date. The reason usually given for this is satisfactory: the “release date” is actually the date that the game is shipped to retailers, so they can’t reasonably be expected to have the game on shelves nationwide the very same day. However, for high profile games, publishers will sometimes ship their copies to the retailers early and inexplicably require the retailers to delay sales until some arbitrary date. On occasion, this can lead to awkward situations wherein certain retailers will break the street date, causing all of geekdom to get up in arms that we might be able to get our paws on the game a few days before anyone else, but more often it just means that you can swing by your local Gamestapo and walk out with the game on the official release date itself.

On the other hand, sometimes you’ll run into a situation such as I did earlier this week. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption had a release date of 8/27/2007, which is a little strange to start with (being a Monday, when most games release on Tuesdays). After eating dinner on this Monday, on a whim, I decided to head across the parking lot to the EBGames to see if Metroid Prime 3 was a big enough release to warrant the early shipping treatment. While acknowledging that it was a long-shot, I lobbed my question at the clerk, who predictably informed me that they would have the game the next day and tried to get me to put down a pre-order. I naturally declined (to this day, the only game I can recall pre-ordering was Quake III Arena, and that’s because I wanted the fancy metal box the pre-ordered version came in), and went on about my business. All that was left before heading home, then, was a trip to Target for some groceries. Now, whenever I enter Target, I always end up swinging past the game section, just on the off chance that they may have some gem of a game on a ridiculous sale. It never happens, but the habit has ingrained itself. On this particular Monday, however, it served me well. Where EBGames didn’t have any copies of Metroid, Target was inundated with them. They were practically falling out of the display case.

Despite not having finished Metroid Prime 2 yet, I tossed Corruption in when my wife and I finally returned home, just to check out the controls. I didn’t spend enough time with it to form an opinion, but early indications are good. It is going to take some getting used to after the arcane-yet-strangely-good setup of the first two Primes. Meanwhile, I’m tearing through Metroid Prime 2 in order to feel comfortable playing through the new one. Even though Metroid titles aren’t usually the most story-intensive, I don’t really feel right skipping an installment of a series. On the plus side, I’m a lot closer to the end than I had originally suspected. I’m not going to be finishing it tonight or anything, but I had forgotten that the percentage reported on the saved games is including every power-up and missile/power-bomb expansion, which I do not, by any means, intend to track down. In other words, while I’m only around the mid 50s on it, I don’t have to reach 100% to mark it off the list.


Well, that wasn’t so bad

August 26, 2007

I had been gearing up for BioShock for a little bit now, battening down the hatches and going on a completion spree to beef up my percentage in the expectation that I wasn’t going to get much else done for a while.  Turns out, if you spend ridiculous stretches of time playing a game into the wee hours of the morning for four days straight, you tear right through a game.  I finished last night, actually, but I’ve been struggling to come up with something fitting to write about the experience.  It truly is an incredible game, but I can’t help but feel disappointed by the ending.  I won’t discuss any details, as I hate spoilers, but it seemed like there should have been more to the ending that what there was.  Now, I believe I saw the “bad” ending, as I harvested quite a few Little Sisters throughout my time in Rapture, but even if the events the ending depicts are “bad,” there’s still no excuse for the overly brief coverage of them that was presented.

I plan on eventually playing through it again and saving every Little Sister, to see the “good” ending — not to mention getting the “Little Sister Savior” Achievement (warning: link shows ALL Achievements for the game, including the spoiler-ific Secret Achievements) — but it’s not a priority, of course.  My next task, then, is to try to clear out Metroid Prime 2: Echoes in anticipation of this week’s release of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption.  This will not actually happen.  I tracked down my Wavebird and memory card last night, tossed the game into the Wii, and fired it up.  I’m only at 35% completion on it, I have no idea where I’m going or what I’m doing in it, and the new game will be on the shelves on Tuesday.  With that being said, I suppose I should probably do less of the yappin’ and more of the playin’…

‘Shock the monkey

August 23, 2007

Given the game’s setting, perhaps the title should specify “the sea monkey.” Anyway, I finally picked up BioShock last night, which I know is a huge surprise to anyone who has read any of my posts for the past week or so. I’m pleased to relate that it truly is as awesome as everyone says. I’m hearing that the plot takes somewhere in the vicinity of twenty hours to complete, which is just about perfect, as far as I’m concerned. Really, when a game gets any longer than that, the chances of it being completed drop off markedly (at least, they used to… now that I’m on a mission, though, it’s a different story). Twenty hours, though, is a respectable amount of time to invest in a game — enough that you don’t feel that you got ripped off, but not too much so that you get bored. On the other hand, if I pull any more 5 hour sessions like last night (unlikely), the twenty hours are going to fly by far too quickly. Good for the ol’ percentage over there, but bad for someone who’s currently craving all the BioShock he can get his paws on.

I’ve decided to move over to the PSP on the handheld side of things, as my remaining DS library is really rather lackluster. I fully intended to start with Field Commander when I switched focus to the PSP, as my recent run through Age of Empires had me felling all strategery-y, but the fates had other plans. With all the BioShock last night, I didn’t get an opportunity to read any of the plethora of excellent comics that were released yesterday. In order to make up for lost time, then, I attempted to get some of ’em read this morning before work. The problem arose, then, when I spent my entire morning reading instead of tracking down Field Commander. On my way out the door, I snagged my PSP with Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters still in it. It works out, though, as I did end up making it past the hoverboard race I was stuck on when last I played the game. On the other hand, I just managed to get myself stuck at another point 10 minutes later. Fantastic.

An open letter to whomever took away Kirby’s arms and legs

August 22, 2007

To whom it may concern:

Screw you, you sadistic bastard.  You should be beaten with a sack full of little pink marshmallow arms and legs.  And rocks.

I understand that Kirby: Canvas Curse was released rather early in the DS’s life cycle, and so it essentially had to use the touch screen as its exclusive means of control.  I’ll even admit that for what it is, it’s actually a rather smooth system.  It’s just that some of the levels are ridiculously annoying to navigate when one does not have direct control over one’s squishy pink avatar.

It pleases me to inform you, however, that despite your nefarious limburglary, I was able to guide my rose-colored puffball to victory this very afternoon.  Furthermore, should you ever attempt to steal another character’s limbs, expecting to “get me back” for foiling your plans, you should be aware that I will not care, and your dastardly deed will be met with indifference.

I bid you good day, sir!

The trifecta is complete

August 20, 2007

The SCEA platformer trifecta, that is. After having just finished Sly 2 and Jak II back to back, I threw in Ratchet: Deadlocked tonight, thinking that it would keep me occupied for the next couple of days. I was wrong. It kept me occupied for the next couple of hours. As I think back on it now, that makes sense, however, as I had basically dropped the game when I got sick of trying to level up all of my weapons to the max. Now that I’m focusing solely on plot completion, it was a cakewalk going through the little bit I had left before.

At this point, I think I may take a bit of a break from the home console gaming for a day or two (until you know what comes out) and focus on the handheld side of things. Then again, I may just play some Overlord on Gametap while I wait. Sure, it won’t count towards the project as it’s the PC version and I’m sticking to my console-only rule for the moment, but it’s damn fun regardless. Besides, I’m ridiculously far ahead of where I expected to be. Honestly, when I said I was going to try to finish Age of Empires or Sly 2 before BioShock hit, I didn’t really expect to finish either one… I was just hoping. Now it turns out that not only did I finish them both, but two more joined them in the finished games’ lounge, where I like to imagine that they’re all kicking back with cold beverages and fine cigars.

Best. Day. Ever.

August 19, 2007

One day, three games completed. Best day ever? Perhaps. In my last post I mentioned having just finished Age of Empires: Age of Kings and Sly 2: Band of Thieves, and said that I would be moving on to Jak II. I knew I had quite a bit of Jak II done, and figured it would be a nice little bit to play in the next few days leading up to BioShock. I didn’t know just how much I had already finished on the game, however. I didn’t think to keep track of it, but I would guess it was no more than three or four hours put into it to bring the game to completion. It could very well have been a bit more, though, as time seems to fly when you’re screaming obscenities at the television.

Jak II really is one of the most frustrating games I’ve had the misfortune to play. I enjoy the storyline quite a lot, and the controls are usually pretty decent (although it NEEDS a lock-on button for shooting… the half-assed auto-target is worthless), but the handling of death is atrocious. It really comes down to the save system that’s in place… the game allows you to save at any point from the menu, but when it has to load (after you die, for a pointed example), it sends you back to some obscure invisible checkpoint 15 minutes and 27 nasty bottomless pits ago. Also, the final boss fight needed to be tweaked a bit… the room it takes place in is filled with goodie crates, but each and every one of ’em contains naught but rifle ammo. There’s no health, there’s no ammo for any of the other guns, there’s just ammo for the plain vanilla semi-automatic gun. I entered the battle with ammo in all my other weapons, but when I would die and start over at the checkpoint (luckily this one was actually at the beginning of the battle), whatever ammo I had used before dying was still gone. After my 94th attempt (or thereabouts… honestly, I lost count), all of my other ammo was gone. Anyway, enough about that… I managed to make it through and bump that percentage up another notch.

Two more out of the way

August 19, 2007

I mentioned previously that I was hoping to complete either Age of Empires: Age of Kings or Sly 2: Band of Thieves before next week (this week, I suppose, since it’s now Sunday), in order to pad my percentage, which is certain to drop on Wednesday with BioShock coming out. In the strictest sense of what I said, I failed, as neither game was finished as of 11:59 in the PM last night. However, at somewhere around 2:00 in the AM today, Age of Empires was crossed off the list. Less than 12 hours later, Sly 2 joined it. I fully expect to be right back where I was in a couple weeks, though. With BioShock coming out this week and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption next week, the gains I just made are sure to be erased. For now, though, I’ll take what I can get.

I face a dilemma with the Sly Cooper series, now. I had originally passed up the latest installment, Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves for the same reason I had skipped Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow. That is, I had gotten stuck on the preceding game in the series and thus felt no compulsion to play the follow-up. Now, having just finished Sly 2, I’m eager to follow the plot further. The problem is, as I just mentioned, I’m already set to add two more games to my list in as many weeks, the last thing I really need to do is to add a third one that I’ve already successfully avoided for two years now.

Age of Empires, on the other hand, I would love to pick up a sequel for, if only one existed. Perhaps it’s because a sequel doesn’t exist that I can so confidently say that I would pick one up, though: imaginary games don’t mess with the list.

Now I just need to decide what’s up next. I just threw Kirby: Canvas Curse into the DS to replace AoE, but I haven’t fired it up yet, and may decide to switch it out. The problem there is that I really don’t want to play the other DS games I’ve got on tap. Phoenix Wright and Hotel Dusk I picked up based on the hype, but I was severely let down. Perhaps they’ll get better, as I haven’t put a lot of time into either one of them, but the small amount I’ve played of each, I was underwhelmed. Super Mario 64 DS was purchased at launch, because there was basically nothing else better to get. Despite the terrible controls, I’ll eventually knock it out (I kinda have to, don’t I?), just not right now. Metroid Prime Hunters is still great, but as with any Metroid game, there’s little to no guidance, and I can’t recall where to go or what to do next in it. Sonic Rush is on the list, even though it’s technically my wife’s game, but I’ve only just played the tiniest bit of it, and I’ve never been so hot at the Sonic games. Depending on how my attempt at Kirby goes, I may be falling back on Sonic.

At home, I’m leaning towards Jak II to hold me over until BioShock, as finishing Sly 2 got me in the mood for some more early-2000s-PS2-platforming. As a bit of a bonus, I believe I’ve already got quite a lot of Jak II under my belt, the biggest reason I haven’t finished it being the same problem I had with Sly 2: I had been focusing entirely too much on getting everything in the game. When next I fire it up, I’m going to be making a conscious effort to just finish the damned thing. Here’s hoping I can do it in two days or so…