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Here’s a Video Game Ramblings Grab Bag + Mini-Reviews

July 11, 2010 Leave a comment

Haven’t written anything in awhile so I figured I’d just note some things I’ve been thinking about and relay what I’ve been doing in the world of games recently.

First off I purchased Ninja Blade a few days ago.  The game is over a year old but that just means it’s at a good price and quite frankly there isn’t jack shit in terms of $60 games I want until September.  To be quite honest the gameplay is a pretty big rip-off of the newer Ninja Gaiden games.  Am I upset about that?  Hell no!  In truth this game isn’t nearly as good, but there’s still fun to be had with it and I don’t regret purchasing it.  By the way I scored a brand new copy for $32 so I would assume a used one is at about $20 right now.

To summarize you play a ninja who’s about as bad ass as any ninja I can ever remember seeing.  Japan is overrun with parasites that essentially turn humans into monsters.  Pretty standard ridiculousness.  You have a handful of weapons and specialties to upgrade somewhat and the moves are simple but look great.  Finishing moves can also be pulled off if you so desire.  I like the fact that, again similar to the new Ninja Gaidens, this is really an action game from years past converted to 3D.  You fight your way through each level, encounter a sub boss, fight some more, then you face the big boss.  The bosses by the way are huge, which is cool but admittedly they all start to look the same after a short while.

The game definitely has its flaws.  It uses quick time events (QTEs) A LOT.  Any time a cool cutscene happens that involves some type of action you’re required to execute timely button presses when prompted on the screen.  If you don’t perform them properly the game rewinds and you try again.  I thought QTEs were a neat idea when I first played them in Shenmue for the Sega Dreamcast, but they’ve never really been pulled off well.  Seems like developers want to use them but can’t figure out an appropriate punishment for failure.  No one wants to fail a little Simon Says game and have to replay the last 5 minutes of gameplay, but simply trying again defeats the purpose entirely.  That middle ground has never been established, if it even exists at all.  If you’re not familiar with quick time events check out the video below for an example.  It might be hard to notice the button prompts, but they’re right in the middle of the screen.

At any rate as you can see they’re a little silly, especially after the twentieth one that you’re asked to do, but it doesn’t bother me all that much.  Like I said there’s just no penalty whatsoever for failing you just try again.  That being said it’s hard to argue why they’re there at all.  Oh well.

I’ve read some old reviews saying the environments were boring and I agree however most of it is cities lit up at night which is a theme I always liked so I was fine with it.  A park or something would have really helped to mix it up though.

In summary if you’ve already played the best of these action games such as Ninja Gaiden, its sequel, Devil May Cry 4, etc. and you’re looking for more definitely pick this up.  Heck if you’re like me and you just need something to last you a few days still pick it up.  As I mentioned a used copy should run you about $20 so give it a shot if you’re bored with what you already have.  It’s not perfect by any means and I would never have paid full price for it but it’ll get you your fix.

Another game I played recently was Black Light: Tango Down on Xbox Live.  It’s a new downloadable first person shooter with a $15 price tag.  I played the demo and I’m not going to talk about it endlessly because frankly I didn’t care for it at all.  The only reason I was interested in the first place was because I heard you could rank up and unlock guns and upgrades.

The graphics are fairly shitty even for a $15 XBLA game.  I realize this isn’t a full budget title but games like Shadow Complex look ten times better.  The visuals are generic as all hell with some futuristic theme we’ve seen a billion times.  The guns feel like shit as well.  I’m not sure but I don’t think there was even any vibration which really kills it.  You don’t think about it much when you’re playing a game that does have it but when one doesn’t, trust me you notice…..a lot.

You certainly can unlock weapons but that’s boring as well.  You just have a long list of SMGs, a long list of assault rifles, etc. etc. etc.  Also, they’re all blue and look almost exactly the same.  Booooring.  I also tried to jump in an online game and waited about a full minute.  How exciting.   As you may have noticed in the video above the game is excessively quiet as well.  The maps might be too large or something.  Regardless something’s wrong.

My advice would be don’t waste your money on this or at least play the demo.  To be frank that’s all I played, but hey that’s supposed to make me want the full game right?  Plus the demo was of the timed variety so I did have a full hour to play what was essentially the full game.  Just don’t bother with this.  There are a ton of good XBLA games that are better buys than this or if you absolutely must have a shooter suck it up and pay full price for a good one.

OTHER: Well that’s about all I’ve played other than the usual lately.  I traded in Red Dead Redemption because I did just about all their is to do without being redundant.  One last time I’d like to mention it’s an amazing game.  I’ve played some Peggle again, a lot actually.  I’m cheap so I didn’t spring for Peggle Nights and instead replayed the original, which is fine if it’s been awhile.  Some day I’ll shell out for the sequel.

I’ve officially given up on tearing Microsoft Game Room a new asshole.  The last few game packs have been the same old shit I’ve been complaining about so I think I’ve made my point.  It seems like everyone’s wish to have late ’80s arcade games, Sega Master System games, etc. isn’t going to happen.  If it is I don’t know what MS is waiting for.

I finally re-beat Shenmue for the Dreamcast and am now in the middle of the sequel for the original Xbox.  Frankly the beginning was terrible.  It’s starting to get better though and reading some old impressions of it it seems that’s most people’s experience with it.  I’m hoping it’ll be worth the time I’m putting into it.

I wish I had a few extra bucks right now because I’m dying to playing some old games (read: purchase them).  The more I read about retro gaming the more it pains me that I sold all my old Sega stuff eons ago to a friend.  I’d have a nice library of Genesis games, as well as some from Sega CD and 32X, not to mention the Master System.  I have no idea what I ever did with my Sega Saturn but I sure as hell don’t have it anymore.  Oh well, something to look forward to I suppose.  I still have my Dreamcast with most of the games I ever purchased for it.  In a perfect world though I’d like to have all that stuff again so I can work solely on NES and Super NES stuff, two consoles I don’t even own but would love to.  Some day…….some day.

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Daily Gaming Experience 05/25: Red Dead Redemption Review

May 26, 2010 2 comments

Red Dead Redemption is a lot like the movie There Will Be Blood, and I don’t say that just because they’re set in similar periods in history.  If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s a realistic and atmospheric tale of one man, and while the pace is pretty slow you’re just so sucked into the aesthetics and the characterizations that you really don’t mind.  You kind of feel like you’re actually there.  Aside from that it’s punctuated by just a few moments of intense action or drama.  Some people think it’s a phenomenal movie and it drives other people nuts because it’s so quiet for long periods.

That pretty much sums up Red Dead Redemption and what factors hinge on you liking it or disliking it.  It’s definitely a RockStar game and it’s definitely similar to Grand Theft Auto, but the theme and some other less noticeable differences make it a unique experience in comparison to open world games of the past.

You play as John Marston, who is a one-time outlaw that gave up his bad habits to settle down and raise a family.  Unfortunately his old criminal buddies are still terrorizing the entire countryside of New Austin, the fictional state where the game takes place.  As a result the government kidnaps John’s family for his past indiscretions and he’s left no choice but to round up all the bad guys that he used to called ‘friends’.  Not the most logical call to action you’ll ever hear but it gives reason enough for the events of the game to take place.  At the beginning of the story John tries to confront his old gang and almost gets killed in the process.  At that point he’s saved by a female farm owner who gives him a place to sleep and a horse to ride and the game takes off from there.

New Austin is very big.  Most of it is wilderness spotted with towns, small settlements, and farms.  Each of these locations usually has more than a few things to do.  You can interact with prominent NPCs to get the story moving along and take part in missions critical to your advancement or you can stroll around and take in many other distractions.

“Story-driven” isn’t really a good description of this game, because every time you pick it up it’s more of a question of “what do you want to do today?” than anything else and the story only moves forward when you want it to.  When you do move it along the game does provide you a diverse lot of characters that you interact with along the way.  All of them have unique personalities and goals and it’s also worth nothing that all voice acting in this game is very, very good.  It’s probably only an average tale for a video game but the characters and voice performances keep you interested.

Much of the story-based missions involve some sort of shootout and the game handles those well.  There’s an easy to use cover system and I actually think the gun fights in this game work much better than in the Grand Theft Auto series.  Ducking and peeking up to squeeze a couple of shots off really marries well with the Wild West theme.  It’s almost exactly like the gunfights you’re used to seeing in old westerns.  Most of them don’t drag either which is another welcome difference from GTA.

So what else can you do besides the obvious stated above?  Well when you’re in town you can sell your wares and buy new equipment, buy property to use as save points, and best of all:  gamble.  Texas Hold ‘Em, Blackjack, Liar’s Dice, horseshoes, arm wrestling, and others can all be played for money.  If you’re a fan of card games or gambling in general like I am then it’s a fun time and it’s also not out of the question to spend an hour or two with these activities without stopping.  Of course again it depends on how interested you are in games of chance.  One small complaint I have about some of them is that while the animations are kept to a minimum I think they could have pared them down even more.  Games like Texas Hold ‘Em and horseshoes are a chore to play at times simply because all you want to do is skip to your turn.  Overall though I found most of these to be great fun and you can play them in different towns against different players and for different wager limits.

Another major activity that falls somewhere between “time waster” and “plot necessity” is helping out strangers.  When they appear on the map you’ll encounter an NPC asking you to do a unique favor for them.  Their wife could be missing, they could need help persuading someone to sell land to them, or something very unusual.  You don’t have to do any of these but they’re mostly all different and you can often make a moral choice too.

Out in the wilderness there are three main activites:  hunting, gathering, and treasure hunting.  Treasure hunting is more of a long-term endeavor.  You find a map with a vague drawing and in your travels you hope to spot that location and find the treasure, which also contains another map to the next hidden location.  Gathering, or scavenging here, simply has you collecting different flora found on the open range which can be sold or required to complete scavenging challenges (Find and collect 6 desert sage, for example).

Hunting is something you’ll be doing as much or more than any other distraction in the game.  Once you get the hang of shooting a moving target while on horseback it’s really fun.  Spotting a deer in the distance and charging ahead to catch up to it is thrilling.  Hunting also has its own separate challenges to complete if you wish (Kill and skin 5 deer, etc).  Once you skin a dead animal their hide, meat, and sometimes more can be sold in town for profit.  The best thing about hunting is that shortly after the initial thrill has worn off, new animals start showing up.  Given where the game takes place you can probably guess at least a few, but I won’t spoil them regardless.  Seeing and trying to fell new critters keeps hunting fun and always has you keeping your eye out.

In addition to these activities you’ll also encounter random events in the wilderness.  Someone might need saving, lawmen might need help chasing a criminal who’s getting away, or something else.  These events serve to spice up what’s normally expected when out in the wild and while there aren’t quite as many different ones as I would like, they still do a half decent job of perking you up when you’re casually strolling around.

A huge factor that makes traveling on horseback a good, interesting time is the visuals.  They’re about as good as you’re going to get on these current consoles.  New Austin is a vast, sprawling landscape with rock formations, cliffs, and interesting plant life that really make it the great outdoors and the graphics show it all off beautifully.  When you’re out in the early morning and the sun subsequently shines brightly on everything the colors pop wonderfully, and as the sun sets there are some awesome views from high atop plateaus that really could be promotional photos if they were real.

While I’ve gotten a lot out of this game and there are many things to do it does have some faults I feel I should address.  The Wild West theme does hurt a game like this as much as it helps it.  It limits the things you can do because the game’s world simply doesn’t have a lot of technology.  As divisive as Grand Theft Auto IV could be at times, there were just a ton of things to do:  go to an Internet cafe, steal cars for someone, develop relationships, etc.  In this game you obviously can’t do a lot of those things.  Also, the lack of firearm technology is a bit of a hinderance as well.  For a large part of my experience I owned four guns: two revolvers and two rifles.  All of them killed people or large animals with two shots with the odd exception here and there.  There isn’t nearly as much variety as you’d expect from an open world game.  This also goes for the different horses you can break in and ride.  I’ve noticed almost no difference whatsoever in the 4-5 horses I’ve ridden and there’s no stat menu for each horse either.  Aside from one sickly-looking slow horse they all seem the same to me.

Another thing is you can’t interact with nearly as many people.  Many times I accidentally stumbled upon a makeshift camp site or settlement populated by anywhere from 2-10 people, but I couldn’t even talk to any of them let alone perform any tasks.

There isn’t much looting to be done either.  Once in a blue moon you’ll do some exploring and find a chest with some ammo in it (whoopee) but that’s pretty much it.  It’s quite a tease when the game puts you in an abandoned town and there’s nothing to be found.

Also, how did I know John’s back story enough to type it out way at the beginning of this review?  I read a single paragraph describing it in the manual and heard a few snippets of dialogue discussing it in-game.  That’s it.  I know a lot of times us gamers loathe sitting through an opening cut scene when all we want to do is tear into the gameplay itself, but this game desperately needed one of those.  I keep letting the title screen sit for a couple of  minutes hoping a cut scene will start and it just never happens.  You’re literally almost clueless as to John’s motivations if you don’t read the beginning of the manual and even then it’s incredibly general.

Lastly, the more I hear about Free Roam mode the more I’m planning for disappointment.  This was touted as almost another full game on the same disc, but judging by people’s experience with it so far that is quite misleading.  You have free reign of the entire campaign map, but all you can really do is complete challenges and overtake gang hideouts.  That’s not going to warrant a ton of additional play time.  It would have been great to gamble with a few friends over Xbox Live or partake in some co-op specific challenges.  At least the upcoming free DLC will have six of the latter.

That’s a few paragraphs worth of criticisms but in all honesty I still think the game is very good and worthy of a gamer’s money in most cases.  Sure, I just griped about more than a few things but frankly there’s nothing there that the positive aspects of the game can’t allow me to look past.  I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’m disappointed there isn’t more of an RPG flair to the game but when you boil it down that’s my only major issue.

Red Dead Redemption is one of those game’s that could be called an “experience”.  You’re not going to be 100% happy all the time, but it’s a large game with a lot of facets to it so it would be unfair to expect flawlessness.  It’s all about soaking in the scenery and really feeling like you’re a lone cowboy in the heart of the wild west.  With the limited theme it might not feel as fresh at the end as it did in the beginning but there’s more than enough to do to keep yourself interested and having fun and if you still grow tired of it, move right on through the story and you’ll still get your 15-20 hours out of the game.

I’m confident in saying that despite a short list of blemishes most gamers will get their money’s worth out of Red Dead Redemption and usually more.  Do your research and make sure you want to take the plunge, but if you’ve seen even one Hollywood western that you ended up loving then it’s a no brainer.

9.2 out of 10  Like I said it’s “slow and steady wins the race” with this game.  If you don’t need constant stimulation overload from your games it’s great fun.

Daily Gaming Experience 05/21

May 21, 2010 Leave a comment

Well I finally sucked it up and purchased Red Dead Redemption.  I’ve probably put at least 3-4 hours into it so far and at this point I’m pretty pleased overall.  I don’t know if I would use some of the words that review sites are using such as “breathtaking” but it’s a very good game no matter how you look at it and some will find it amazing.

Most of what the reviews say is true though.  You have a vast, open world and “immersive” is probably an appropriate term for the atmosphere.  As opposed to GTA where the ambience is created by a bustling city, the aim of Red Dead Redemption is to give you a feeling of a being a lone cowboy traveling an expansive wilderness spotted with towns with a typical population of about 50.  That’s not a nice way of saying the game is boring either, because it’s not in my opinion.  While you’re out on the open range you can hunt and kill any animal you come across and skin them for meat, pelts, and eventually profit.  There are also random events that occur too, so you might just be minding your own business scouring for a certain flower to complete a challenge when all of a sudden a couple of sheriffs blow by you in hot pursuit of a suspect.  You can simply let them pass and there’s no penalty for doing so or you can help them out and gain honor and/or fame.

Honor and fame are similar to other reward systems in other games.  Honor is basically your “be good or be evil” scale, while fame rises just on the amount of ‘stuff’ you decide to do.  The fame gauge will increase no matter if you’re collecting bounties, winning gunfights, helping strangers, or cheating at poker, but those particular actions will determine your honor level, which has the usual consequences and benefits.

There are a ton of the aforementioned challenges in the game to keep you busy as well and give you purpose for wandering around performing whatever activities you stumble upon.  You can level up as a hunter (obvious), treasure hunter (obvious), and scavenger (picking rare flowers and such).  I don’t believe these levels contribute to your actual character’s abilities but it’s something to do and if you simply enjoy leveling for the sake of leveling you’ll get some enjoyment out of them.  Challenges also come in the form of a list of various tasks to accomplish that will unlock different outfits.  Complete them all and you’ll get some new garb that usually has a small benefit that comes with it.

The only thing that was kind of bugging me in my short time with the game so far was that I had a hard time figuring out what to do next pretty much from the get go.  I’ve been having fun while being lost all this time but I had to go to a message board to finally figure out how to move the story along.  For those that care or are wondering the same, sometimes you must visit prominent NPCs multiple times.  I’m not really a fan of that because once you visit someone how are you supposed to know how many times it takes to advance the story?  I’ve met someone and visited them twice since then and I was told to go visit them again.  Very strange development decision, and even if your journal had just a small tidbit about what to do next it would be great but it doesn’t.  Anyhow, that’s my only real complaint so far.

The only other nitpick I have is that you can’t sell old weapons.  You can sell just about anything else you would realistically want to get rid of so I’m at a loss as to why.  Thankfully money doesn’t seem to come too hard so I haven’t had an issue with it yet and will just have to get over it.

I’m looking forward to trying the Free Roam mode that’s available online.  Word is it’s buggy as all hell right now and pretty much unplayable when you consider most people are getting kicked off after 5-10 minutes of playing.  Regardless I’m sure it will be fixed soon and I’ll be interested to see how it plays because apparently you do gain experience so I want to see what that entails.

All in all I’d say this was a very successful game.  I think it’s right on the edge between “rent it and keep it for awhile” and “buy it immediately” so as always do your research and try to compare it to other games you’ve enjoyed in the past to gauge your interest!

No posts over the weekend, back on Monday!

Daily Gaming Experience 05/19

May 20, 2010 Leave a comment

So it looks like all of a sudden there’s another great game to possibly buy.  I was surprised to say the least that Red Dead Redemption had gotten the incredible praise it’s gotten over the past couple days.  It seems like reviewers and gamers alike are really having a great time with it.  I’ve pretty much seen and heard all there is to see and hear short of actually playing the game.  It’s set in the wild west and being developed by RockStar it has a very Grand Theft Auto-like feel to it.  There’s a vast open world for you to explore and many side quests you can take on that divert you from the main story if you so choose.  The consensus seems to be that the game itself is about 20 hours long if you plow right through and can be twice that if you like to roam like I do.  So far so good.

The multiplayer seems to be average with your standard deathmatch, capture the flag, etc. and the combat is nothing special.  The real draw however is Free Roam mode where you have free reign of the entire campaign world and can do whatever you want with up to 16 players at a time.  Find and shoot each other or join up and take down gangs and perform tasks.  You’ll gain experience points, new guns, and new horses for accomplishing said tasks.  Sounds really cool to me especially when the world seems to be really huge.

My only caveats are little things that personally bug me about these types of games.  In Grand Theft Auto and Mass Effect, while they have their differences, you always start over much too far from where you died during a mission.  I gave up on these games because I simply wasn’t going to go through 5 minutes of gameplay I had already done again or manage a death defying chase I had already gotten past before.  It just killed it for me and I really wanted to like those games.  I’m all for immersing myself in one game.  In fact I prefer it but I don’t want to waste my time replaying parts and going through the motions when there’s a lot more to see and do……and the fact that I just shouldn’t have to do it again!!!

I’m trying to get more feedback on this and so far it’s been favorable (you don’t seem to die that much I guess) but you also can’t sell old guns which seems strange to me.  Oh well.  I guess I’m being too greedy and hoping for a new Borderlands set in the wild west on top of what’s already apparently a great campaign.  That’s a little too unrealistic to ask for I think, however I’ll continue to get more info and hopefully make a decision by next week at the very latest.

Now I’m going to rag on Microsoft Game Room again.  Sorry, but I still don’t think I’ve described aptly the travesty that is this feature.  So what I’m going to do is demo the new group of games that came out today and gives you my thoughts on each.  Below that will be comments from Game Room fans about the same games.

Map Pack 4 (I swear it’s there was 2 at release and this is the 3rd since…..)

……….waiting for it to load.  Why is it at 18% 15 seconds later?  A technical wonder let me tell you………about a minute has gone by now and we’re at 57%.  Why do we have to download game packs in the first place?  Seriously is there is no other place on the dashboard where you have to download a file for the privilege of simply being able to see what you might want to buy.  Honest to god.  Fully downloaded at about the 2 minute mark.  And we’re off:

Asteroids When Asteroids Deluxe was first released in the Game Room, was it just too insane for you to handle?  I mean there was a shield for your spaceship and one new enemy so it’s understandable.  If that’s the case then you’re in luck because the original Asteroids is here!  Sarcasm aside did we seriously need TWO Asteroids games in the first month and a half of Game Room’s existence, or at all for that matter?  What a joke.  Anyways, it’s Asteroids. I don’t think I have to explain the game to you.  It’s not worth $3.  One thing I will admit though is that the cabinet artwork is awesome.  It’s colorful, has an ’80s sci-fi comic book theme, and even the actual screen has artwork around the border.  Very cool and if you have the cash to spend and you’re more concerned with the look of your arcade it might be an impulse buy.  I think the Game Room version looks even better than the one below.  I think the black was replaced with blue or something. FYI Battlezone and Super Breakout fit this description as well if you’re into paying $3 a crack for games you can find on your PC for free any time you want.

Demons to Diamonds This is another Atari 2600 pile of crap that was probably an above average game at the time.  You shoot lasers from the bottom of the screen and can only move left to right.  The blobs….er, demons shuffles from the left and right side of the screen.  Looks like there are also little diamonds you can shoot for points as well.  When you kill a demon it turns into a skull and crossbones and becomes a permanent fixture on the board and doesn’t move.  It’ll also kill you almost instantly if you remain directly under it for more than a millisecond.  The game is too fast for its own good especially with the wonky and somewhat unpredictable controls, and of course it looks like ass.  In true Game Room form, it’s fun for about four seconds.

Grand Prix Another Atari atrocity (say that three times fast), they really can’t be serious with this one.  From a top down view you drive what looks like a pine derby race car from left to right.  The only button accelerates but don’t go too fast!  You might bump into another car slowing you down momentarily or hit an oil slick causing your car to move slight left or right (or from your perspective, up or down)…….and that’s about it.  I played the demo and got first place I guess.  I kept passing cars with no indication as to what place I was in.  There was a “1” at the bottom of the screen but the number never changed throughout the race.  When I reached the finish line the game simply stopped, leaving me to stare at the screen unable to do anything.  Keep in mind when I criticize these games I’m not criticizing the developers at the time or the game’s quality at the time of release.  I’m criticizing the fact that MS could actually think it was worthwhile to port something like this and sell it for an inflated price.

Shark!  Shark! I think we can all agree the title of this one is awesome.  Saying it with the right intonation makes you cool, trust me.  On a related site note, I sorta do mean that about it being a cool title.  The reason is because there’s no way they would name a game in the same way nowadays.  Anyhow, this is an Intellivision game and for reasons I can’t explain I’m a little less hard on these ones than the Atari games.  Maybe it’s just because even with what little Atari had to go by in terms of what makes a good game, Intellivision had even less and probably the inferior technology as well.  This games take place on one single screen in an underwater landscape you play one of a few fish floating around.  All you do is when the shark appears don’t let him touch you.  You have “dart” and “stop” buttons at your disposal but neither seem to really do anything.  I tried to convince myself for a little bit that they were working but to no avail.  It’s nothing more than a pleasant distraction at best but in the early ’80s I could see a child enjoying it.  EDIT:  Now I see from further research you can eat other fish and grow larger.  Kinda like that Feeding Frenzy game (I think).  Meh.

Space Duel Okay I’m really not trying to be a jerk here, but this is Asteroids with colorful graphics and better movement.  That’s it!!!  Seriously why in the world are they subjecting us to all these?  They can’t be waiting this long to drop good arcade games on us.  Maybe they simply don’t have them?  How else can you explain three games that are almost exactly alike and the release of both Millipede and Centipede???  Honestly I wouldn’t at all be surprised if they released the arcade version of Millipede next week, because the Atari version is just not enough!!!  This one also has full cabinet artwork, although I’m not a huge fan of it personally.  Admittedly this is a bad picture.  The graphics actually have clean lines using vector graphics similar to Tempest.

Stampede Yet another Atari game, although I can’t really complain much.  I still wouldn’t be caught dead buying it, but unlike most Game Room releases I don’t feel like my character is moving underwater.  You’re a cowboy on a horse and you press ‘A’ to shoot out your lasso and rope a calf.  The different colored calfs are worth different amounts of points.  For some reason after about 20 seconds of gameplay the game just stops.  Not sure if this is just because it’s a demo, but I think not because I was able to restart.  I would wager it’s a bug simply because based on the short history of Game Room that’s the most likely answer.  I do admit that if the cowboy on horse is the game’s mascot I might have to spend 50 cents to have him riding around my arcade, especially if he uses his lasso intermittently.

Time Pilot This game isn’t really an Asteroids clone per se………….okay it is, but it’s about as far away from Asteroids you can get while still being a clone.  Does that count for anything?  I don’t even know anymore, and I gave up care long ago.  Whatever, it’s got something similar to 8-bit graphics and clouds flying around in the background at least give you the impression you’re soaring in the air.  The gameplay still boils down to spinning around and shooting at things.  I give up.  We’re up to four games that can suitably satisfy your craving for Asteroids.

I seriously thought this entry was going to be redundant, but apparently I’ve found yet another item in the long list of Game Room complaints.  FOUR games that are almost exactly the same?  Come on, we’re past the high price point.  Now MS is directly flipping the bird to anyone that genuinely wants to like Game Room in general.  I mean really you’re not even giving me good variety, and there are THOUSANDS of Atari, Intellivision, and arcade games from the ’80s alone!  I want to like this feature more than life itself and the best you can do is put me on the fence about buying a 50 cent mascot?  So much untapped potential that will probably stay that way, at least until something surprises me in one of the upcoming game packs.

It’s very telling when almost no one on my friend’s list has done anything more than download Game Room, stare at it for a few seconds, and left an empty arcade behind.  I keep my friends list in the family for the most part (i.e., people I’m friends with in real life), but I know more than a few casual and hardcore gamers and a couple guys that plays video games and do little else when they’re not working.  Those guys don’t even have anything in their Game Rooms and they each own hundreds of video games!  Again, what a shame.  This could be so much more but I guess MS just doesn’t care whether or not they squeeze $3 purchases out of a few hundred people instead of $1 or $2 purchases from hundreds of thousands.

Just for fun, I leave you with some of the things real gamers who actually like Game Room are saying about the new games.  Based on what you’ve read above matched against the below comments, decide for yourself who’s crazy.  As always, keep in mind these are 25-30 year old games and the cost of each is $3:

“I’m not sure what I’ll be getting this week but I think Space Duel and Shark! Shark are definites, I’ll check the rest out and see.”

“Shark! Shark! Was my first Intellivision game purchase in Game Room. Now I think I’ll go back and buy some of the others.”

“For now, I’ve only purchased Time Pilot and Space Duel. Never heard of Space Dual, demoed it… loved it”

“Space Duel has honestly impressed me with its concept.”

“i bought asteroids (even though i already had deluxe…just had to have the full collection i guess lol) space duel and time pilot…i may buy 1 or 2 more this week but its no certainty”

“Well I think {the first one I pick up will be} Demons to Diamonds, its freaking awesome so pick it up.”