Sunday, August 31, 2008

Crasher of Castles: Part Deux

I completed Castle Crashers today on my own. Red Knight Guy is level 28, and strictly melee oriented. Now that I've had time with the game, I'm really happy with it. My complaints are minor and only relate to a few levels, the multiplayer (though still unstable over Xbox Live at the time of writing this) is absolutely a blast and there are things to collect and unlock. I'm a sucker for that sort of thing.

There are adorable little animals you can find that will follow you around and give a bonus of some sort. For example the ram will periodically knock some enemies down for you, while the frog will retrieve items for you and the chicken will give you stat bonuses. Some are automatically found in the game and others are hidden in various stages. You can also unlock a shitpot of characters, mostly through finishing the game with each character. I'm not sure how many of these I'll do, but the option is nice. The only part of the game I really still dislike is the "All You Can Quaff" minigame, which is just a button bashing exercise. But this is totally optional and separate frtom the main game and is easily ignored.

All told, Castle Crashers is a pleasant surprise and highly recommended, particularly for those who have some friends to play with. It's also made by a small-time developer, and it's nice to give your bucks to the little guys once in a while, even if it is via Microsoft.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Crasher of Castles

Castle Crashers was released on Xbox Live Arcade this week. I knew little about the game other than that there was a buzz on the various gaming sites/forums I visit, and that it was make by the people who did Alien Hominid (didn't care for it.) Apparently the game has been delayed several times, much to the chagrin of The Internet. Release day finally came, and I got to see what all of the fuss was about. I downloaded the demo and promptly purchased the game.

So far it's good but not great. It's a beat-em up, reminiscent of River City Ransom (including some obvious nods to the NES classic.) I can say that 2-player co-op is fun, and I'm looking forward to playing with 3 friends on Xbox Live. The game definitely does not take itself too seriously, and while the poop and fart humor isn't exactly my taste, it's light-hearted and fun. The game is at its best when it doesn't deviate too far from the classic beat 'em up with your pals gameplay. So far, the low points have been a short racing stage, a stage where you're fighting while being carried upstream, and an escape-before-the-timer-is-up level.

Still, the game is pretty fun and challenging without being overwhelming. My experience thusfar is that a strong melee character is far more powerful than a magic-oriented character (you assign skill points when you gain levels) but at higher levels it may be the other way around. All I know is that it's fun, not earth-shattering, but I'd say worth the $15 price tag. I'll make a spirited effort to post a full review here soon.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride

One of the things on my shopping list at this year's Gen Con was a copy of the Ticket to Ride board game. I'd tooled around enough with it on Xbox live to believe it would be a sound investment. The first couple of days I kept an eye out for it and didn't see it for less than $42, which would have constituted a large chunk of our spending cash. I finally broke down and went to the Days of Wonder booth to get a copy and the nice German man there told me they were completely sold out. A single tear ran down my cheek.

It will be mine.

This week I finally got my wife to give it a try on the Xbox and we can hardly put the damn thing down. When we get the money, we'll have to grab a copy. It's a game of building railroads across the country to connect various cities. I've always been intrigued by train games but never tried one. Ticket to Ride is a great introduction to the genre, and I'm not sure if it's representative of how great train games are or an anomaly, but it's worth a look. The rules are simple to learn, there's good amount of planning and strategy involved, a little bit of luck and a dash of screw-your-neighbor thrown into the mix.

Ticket to Ride on Xbox Live

I know there's a whole subculture of train game people at the con every year locked away in the Puffing Billy room playing train games and only occassionaly emerging to be fed and watered. Who knows, maybe years from now I'll be one of the guys at the con in overalls and a little train conductor's hat.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The World Ends and it Somehow Involves You

So I've spent a little over an hour with The World Ends With You, and I'm intrigued so far. The combat is unique, if a little chaotic. Battles take place in real time, and you control protagonist Neku with the stylus while controlling his partner on the top screen with the D-pad. I haven't died yet, but my efforts get ranked with an "E" more than anything. I expect when I face a boss, I may get my digital ass kicked.

Battles in TWEWY are a handful.

The music is interesting so far, but nothing special. I've always shied away from anime-ish things until Persona 3 captured my attention, and I suppose it's unfair to expect that sort of magic from another game. The jury's still out on TWEWY for me.

In other news, today was my first day back at work after a week off for Gen Con. I'm close to sawing my own head off.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Post-Gen Con 2008

Wife and I just got back from Gen Con 08 on Sunday. We went with a couple of friends and had a great time. Can't believe it's already over, and that we won't be back for a whole year. We added a few titles to our small (but growing) board game collection.

Our little collection nearly doubled this weekend.

Much of our time was spent at the Mayfair Games booth, and we came home with the Cities and Knights expansion for Settlers of Catan (love it,) Gangster and Fredericus from them. We also picked up a Carcassonne spin-off called The Discovery (I thought I was buying the original, but it's all good) and a nifty, family-friendly little game called 10 Days in Europe.

Of these, I've spent the most time with Gangster and heartily recommend it to any board game/strategy game buffs out there. I'm currently trying to set up a semi-regular game day with friends, as I'm tired of only gaming a couple of times a year. Always having a full schedule is one of the drawbacks to being an adult I guess.

Great? Shit? Somewhere in between? Time will tell.

I also finally broke down and bought The World Ends with You for Nintendo DS today. I'm going to give it a go and report back some impressions as soon as I can put Final Fantasy Tactics A2 down...

The Big Introduction

I've created this blog for my own purposes, just to have my own quiet little corner of the internet to rant and ramble about my hobbies and whatever else drifts through my thought space.

I'm a 30 year old, happily married father of one. Daughter is 20 months old, and she's a wonderful little handful who loves to get her hands on daddy's Xbox 360 controllers or the PC keyboards. My wife and I are both gamers, ranging from video games to board games to roleplaying games.

So essentially, this blog is some guy going on about various types of games. Because there aren't enough of those out there in internet-land.