Tag Archives: Xbox 360

The Good Old Days


My obsession with retro video games started with mine and Liam’s trip to The Quarters a few weeks ago. That’s no entirely true. While not often one to fall victim to nostalgia, I have always been a fan of the video games of my youth. Let’s say that my most recent obsession with retro video games started with our trip to The Quarters. It was just such a fun walk down memory lane.

XBox 360 (Skyrim/Fallout)

My second step on the nostalgia tour took me to my XBox 360, where I planned (yet again) to play and attempt to finally beat Skyrim or Fallout 3 or both. I already wrote an article about my latest experiences in Skyrim, so I don’t have to repeat myself here. In addition, due to the drive tray issues on my XBox 360, I haven’t even loaded Fallout 3. Oh well, best laid plans and all of that.

That’s not entirely true. I did test both games to make sure that they loaded.

While Skyrim didn’t (spoiler alert if you haven’t read the other article) quite sate my appetite for recaptured youth, that’s not unexpected. I only ever played Morrowind from the Elder Scrolls series and that was well after I had become (at least in the eyes of the law) an adult. I never liked Morrowind much. I did like Skyrim very much, but it also came into my life during quite a difficult time, so maybe I just need to recalibrate the game in my brain space to a happier time.

Nintendo GameCube/Sega Dreamcast (Pokemon Colosseum)

Those of you who follow and read the page regularly know that the Nintendo GameCube was a big storyline through the holidays around here. The short, short story is that Liam wanted one for Christmas, we didn’t buy one because I was confident that we still own ours, and he ultimately felt jipped by Christmas. That led to our trip to The Quarters. It also caused a wild search around the house for our old GameCube.


Liam also found my old Dreamcast, which further supported my theory that the GameCube must be somewhere around the house. I have my PS1, PS2, DreamCast, and Game Boy Advance. I know that I sold my N64 to a local YMCA youth program, and we gave our Wii away to a gift exchange for needy families. That is all consoles (not including the more current ones) that I have owned at one time or another. All except for that dang GameCube.

I don’t know what happened to you little buddy, but know that you are missed.

As one of our ideas to sooth Liam’s broken heart over Christmas, I decided to load up the Dreamcast. I discovered that it has a loose drive door and that it won’t load games consistently. I did get House of the Dead to the loading screen. Other than that, it keeps kicking me back to the main menu. Oh well, best laid plans and all that.

Liam did finally collect enough money by selling some gift cards he got for Christmas to buy the system and the game that he wanted for it, Pokemon Colosseum. I’m glad that we could help him come up with the money to buy it. I’ve never seen him so happy about a game. I suspect that when he’s my age, Pokemon will be one of his go to games for warm and fuzzy feelings from his youth.

Nintendo 64 (Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time)

I loaded this one on a whim a couple of weeks ago. It is probably my second favorite Legend of Zelda game that I’ve played behind A Link to the Past. Quinn got kicked out of the living room one night while Christine was watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer with the older boys, so he took a seat next to me and watched me play. It has become an almost nightly date for me to sit down and play Zelda while Quinn watches and they watch Buffy or Stranger Things if it is just Christine and Aiden.

Most people hate the water temple level, but I’ve never had much of an issue with it. I am, however, currently stuck on the Jabu Jabu level.

Game Boy Advance (Pokemon Pinball)

I can’t fully explain my interest in these types of games. I do know that I played the heck out of Sonic Spinball on my Genesis when I was younger. I also grew up with a father who couldn’t really get into video games, but loved a good pinball machine. I remember going to the boardwalk and he would go up and down the line of pinball machines with his handful of quarters until he found one that he liked. Okay, maybe I can fully explain it.

The thing that I can’t explain is with all of the games that I have available to me on this system, why is this the first one that I play? I have a history with Pokemon all the way back to the first games and I played and enjoyed Pokemon Sun a couple of years ago. But, I’m not crazy about Pokemon like Liam. I don’t know. There’s just something about this game that calls to me. Maybe it just is the connection to my dad, pinball, and those memories.

Atari 2600 (Various, but mostly Frostbite right now)

And so, we return all the way back to my beginning with video games, the Atari 2600. This is the first console I ever owned, bought by my parents for Christmas one year? Maybe? I honestly don’t remember how we ended up with one in the house, but it was so cool to be able to “play the games from the arcade” in my living room. Sure, Pac-Man wasn’t even close to an accurate port, E.T. is routinely blamed for killing the console, but Mario Bros and Jungle Hunt both looked and played as close to their arcade brethren as the limited 2600 hardware allowed.

I know I ask this every time the subject comes up, but what was so bad about E.T.? I loved the game and it is one of the first games I beat.

Jungle Hunt, especially, holds a place close to my heart. I played the game in the arcade one time, plugging quarters into the machine until I finished all of the levels. I don’t remember how much money it took, but it must have been at least 5 and maybe even 10 dollars. Well, I split my head open being a dumb kid. My parents said that because I was so good when I got the stitches in my head, I could get a prize. I chose Jungle Hunt for the Atari 2600 so that I could play it at home and not have to keep dumping quarters into it.

Frostbite, Pitfall, and the other Activision titles are just very good games. I especially played Frostbite and Pitfall so much as a kid. One of my most vivid memories is playing Pitfall all the way to the end at my grandmother’s house. I don’t remember if she also bought a system or if I brought my system with me. I just remember playing it until the timer reached all zeroes.

Post Script

I’m not going to go full “back in my day” mode and argue that games were better then than they are now. That is simply not true. Graphics on modern systems are better. More memory and storage allows for better and deeper stories to be told by games. Sure the games were fun then, but they are fun now, too. The fun of games from my childhood are the fun of children. It’s the repetitive and familiar fun that will get old after a couple of weeks or months. But, I will enjoy it while it lasts.

Protect your Knee

Every year in December and January, I come out of hibernation long enough to get inspired to work on the web page. Usually, that only lasts until February when I start back to school and everything falls into a state of disrepair for a few months. I am not the type to do resolutions, but this year I hope to power though those months of inactivity and instead make the page what I always hoped it would be.

As part of that plan, I’m going to start playing Skyrim and Fallout 3 again. That, too, is tradition. However, this year definitely feels different. I have, so far, avoided the post holiday “blues”. In the past, that is one of the things that has kept me from contributing to the page on a regular basis. If I can just keep that momentum going, things will be good around here.

My father believed firmly in the power of positive thinking. He also lived by the credo, “It’s a good day to die.” Time to start living up to his standards.

I started my trip back into Bethesda fantasy RPG this time with Skyrim. At first, my XBox 360 door did not cooperate and I was afraid that this plan might be dead in the water. However, through persistence (and a little bit of muscle, a steak knife, and a lot of swearing), I got the game up and running. What better way to start this adventure that with a quest!

Once I loaded the game and continued from my last save state, I texted Kevin to laugh that starting back with these games after months off was always an experience (pun not intended). He replied that it always took him about a half an hour to get acquainted again with the story, his character, items, etc. That’s about how long it took me.

Pardon the language, but this is exactly how I felt.

It didn’t help that apparently I saved the game in the sewers and the color scheme was nearly monochromatic. That alone made me almost quit the game and restart. On top of that, the reason I was in the sewer was that I was on the Thieves Guild quests. I had to collect three debts from people. It took me at least 3 failed tries of killing the first person and being put in jail before I considered restarting again.

I didn’t restart. I got smart. In all honesty, I stumbled on quest completion by accident. Instead of pulling out my mace and bludgeoning her to death and then having to beat the rest of the town to death, too, before either dying or ending up in jail, I simply punched her until she submitted. Not necessarily good, but at least it finally advanced the story.

All’s fair in love and Skyrim.

What are the chances that I continue playing to beat that story? That’s been my goal for the six years that I’ve owned the game. I can honestly say that after this latest play session, I don’t know. That’s unusual for me. I’m usually a big fan of the D&D style fantasy.

We slept in the living room last night as a family and we plan on it again tonight, so I played some Hearthstone and Minecraft on the computer. Therefore, I didn’t get a chance to play last night to see if I could find that hook. That’s the main problem. I’m just not that interested in the main story. When I played the other day, I completed the quest to be inducted into the Thieves Guild and I was so excited that I completely zoned out on the conversation that led into the follow up quest.

That’s not an isolated incident. When I first got the game, I played it for 50 hours over two weeks. I was unemployed and had a young child who napped daily back then. How did I play 50 hours and only make it to the Thieves Guild quests? A majority of that time was not spent questing. Mainly, I roamed the countryside looking for butterfly wings and flowers to increase my alchemy skill.

Skyrim can save its damn self.

I took stock of what my life had become and didn’t like it one bit. So, I put the game to the side for the first time. As I wrote, I’ve since given it a few more chances. Here I am giving it one more. One last?

What keeps me coming back? Obviously, I don’t have to like the game. Sure, it is almost universally considered to be one of the best games, both in the series and overall. It’s not like I’m ever shy about going against conventional wisdom. It’s clearly not a “keeping up with the Joneses”.

I think that it just goes back to what I wrote earlier. I’m usually a fan of any type of fantasy setting and I’m a fan of RPGs. I suppose that I just have to face facts and realize that if I’m going to beat this game, I may just have to power through the story that I don’t like very much. It’s either that or hope that some aspect (besides chasing butterflies) of the story finally hooks and speaks to me. As it stands right now, I’d much rather play the apocalyptic future version of the game in Fallout 3. Maybe I will just do that and try again with this game once I’ve finished Fallout.

After all, it’s looking more and more like Fallout might be a instruction manual for the near future.

Bricks in Space!

(Editor’s Note: You got your Lego in my Star Wars! You got your Star Wars in my Lego! Two great tastes that taste great together? Actually, Lego taste gross, so, no.)

We are huge fans of both Star Wars and Lego here at 2 Generations Gaming. it stands to reason that we would be fans of the Lego Star Wars games. in fact, we are not. We find the games lacking in depth of story and character development. They are derivative and insulting to the source material. I would go as far as to say–I’m kidding. We love all of the Lego games. Since our topic on the podcast this week is Star wars, I will focus on them in this article. I promise that won’t be a problem. While I have played almost all of the Lego video games, I haven’t played any of them as extensively as the Star Wars ones.

In fact, the first game that I bought for the XBox 360 was the complete saga. That was even after having beaten the original trilogy on PS2. That was even in the face of a new, and in some ways, more interesting Lego game. Having purchased the “family” version of the XBox 360, it came with Kung Fu Panda and Lego Indiana Jones. Don’t get your knickers in a bunch. I’m not saying that I prefer either the Indiana Jones movies or games to Star Wars. However, I had already beaten the Star Wars games, so I should have wanted to play Indy to try to beat the game and increase my nerd cred.

I don’t need to prove myself to you or anyone.

However, nerd cred be damned! I game what I want! Also, I’m pretty sure that they boys really preferred Star Wars at the time. So, in the name of one of our founding principles, I played games with my kids. I think that I mentioned in past articles what a nightmare that was. Those first Lego games required both players to share the same space. You were not able to break free and explore on your own as you now can. Therefore, half of the game was spent trying to convince your young child that he was the one hindering your progress through the level. The rest of the time was figuring out how to manipulate both controllers to solve the puzzles that required cooperation and, often fine motor or logic skills not usually possessed by the average preschool aged child.

Granted, preschool kids have their own versions of Lego in Duplo and now Juniors, but what lame kid wants to play with Duplo? All the cool kids play with Lego and Duplo are just there to suck up even more money from well meaning parents and grandparents. Kids certainly aren’t going to play a Duplo themed video game. Can you imagine how lame it would be? The mind boggles.

Forget what the Lego movie says. These things will probably just fall apart for no good reason and end up shoved in the far corner of the playroom closet.

So, much of my exploration (such as it was in those days) and enjoyment of the first round of Lego Star Wars games happened alone when the kids were in bed. Imagine that. I went from Fatal Frame, Skyrim, Resident Evil, Fallout 3, and Dead Rising to trying to find that last mini kit piece in level 2 of The Empire Strikes Back. Having children changes you, Man.

However, I can’t blame my kids for the fact that this game led me to many years of purchasing and playing Lego video games. sure, I can say that I’m buying the games for the boys, but we all know the truth. Don’t get me wrong. I love sharing these things with others, especially my flesh and blood, but just like Power Rangers, Star Wars, and Marvel movies, I’m ultimately doing this for me and I have the boys for company because Christine wants nothing to do with any of it.

Some parents dress their kids in designer clothes. I got mine involved in nerdy hobbies. Both acts are equally likely to get them beat up.

My kids, though, they’ve gotten my appreciation for the finer things in nerd life. I didn’t even have to buy Lego The Force Awakens because Liam asked for it for Christmas. Honestly, I wasn’t even going to get the game. Or, maybe, I’d have just ordered it from Gamefly to try it out, because I was going to wait for all 3 of the movies to be released and then the combination game would come out at half of the price of the single versions. I haven’t played it yet, but Liam and Aiden have and they seem to have had fun with it. Maybe I will play it over the next few days and add an addendum to the article with any new opinion on the game itself or the additions to the game.

Because, of all the game series I’ve ever played, Lego games are the ones that improve with every new game that is released. They included the ability to free roam away from the other character. They allow you to purchase characters by bumping into them in the world instead of having to go to the screen to do so. Some of the improvements are significant. Some are simply cosmetic or quality of life improvements. However, all are improvements. So, I’ll have to see how The Force Awakens has changed the series.

To be continued…

Sorry, I usually hate those, too, but it’ll get you to tune in next time!

65 Million Lego Bricks in the Making

(Editor’s Note: Rawr.)

We get back into the podcast game with the first episode of Little Kid Podcast, starring my youngest son. He wanted to talk about dinosaurs in the first episode, so this week’s theme overall will be dinosaurs. I will start the discussion with one of our favorite games over the past few months.

We’ve always been fans of the Lego games. So, naturally, after watching Jurassic World (more on that Friday), we had to try the game. I ordered it from Gamefly, as I do when we want to try before buying them. Hey, we’re cheap gamers!

It took me a while to finally get around to play the game. Aiden, Quinn, and LIam hogged it for the first month or so. More accurately, Quinn and Aiden played the game daily with Liam jumping in every now and then to help out. I didn’t start playing until they needed help on a particularly difficult mission. Once I played the game, I was hooked.

How can you not love a game that lets you stomp through the credits and collect coins as a dinosaur?
How can you not love a game that lets you stomp through the credits and collect coins as a dinosaur?

This should not come as a surprise. I have been playing Lego video games since I discovered Lego Star Wars on the Playstation 2 many years ago. However, the early games left much to be desired in the gameplay department. First, and they quickly fixed this, the original games had only one save slot. That became quickly apparent when the boys went to play the game and erased my almost 100% complete game file. I finally did finish the game 100%, but that’s still a pain in the neck.

As an aside, Pokemon games still only have one slot for save games. Numerous times I’v wanted to start a game only to realize that I will have to delete Liam’s or Aiden’s hard earned progress. Otherwise, I have to buy a new version of the game. And that’s really what they hope will happen.

Must catch them all. The Pikachus command it. Must put them all in a basket and apply lotion. The Pikachus command it.
Must catch them all. The Pikachus command it. Must put them all in a basket and apply lotion. The Pikachus command it.

Thank goodness that the Lego games learned from that mistake and fixed it. I will say that they are one of the best developers when it comes to fixing their games. The only other one I know of that tinkers as much publicly is Blizzard and their “balance” patches are sketchy at best for some of their games. Take Two doesn’t have that problem. Every change is necessary, in my opinion, and addresses a valid complaint.

First, these games are meant to be played cooperatively with your kids. I’ve already mentioned that they asked me and Liam to help them with difficult parts. Sure, you can plant them in front of the electronic babysitter and call it a day, but they will get to parts in the games that are difficult and frustrating for them. Hell, some of them are downright impossible because they were tough for me. When playing with a young child, the main frustration in the game comes from only being allowed to travel as far as the other player will allow you. When that player is constantly running into the “wall” at the other edge of the screen, you lose interest very quickly.

An artist's rendering of the offense, which used to be punishable by unplugging the controller.
An artist’s rendering of the offense, which used to be punishable by unplugging the controller. Then again, most offenses were punishable by unplugging the controller. The more serious offenses, of course, warranted a full reset of the console.

In order to prevent a plague of unplugged controllers and reset consoles, Lego fixed this issue by splitting the screen when one player gets to far away from the other. This broke the tether completely and allowed both players to explore the entire map independent of what wall your partner decides is his best friend. Makes the games infinitely more enjoyable and they were already illegal levels of fun.

The final quality of life improvement in the games is that they’ve made the main stage of the game more interactive. It used to be that they were mostly just for moving from level to level, occasionally hitting things for coins, or creating your character. But, they’ve added secret places, characters wander through the area and allow you to purchase them to play in the game, and even have their own missions to complete.

Overall, the Lego games have come a long way in the time that I’ve been playing them. Instead of resting on their laurels and pumping out game after game with the exact same graphics, story, and gameplay, Take Two continues to improve the game with each new release. The graphics get better, the controls get slightly more responsive, and the gameplay gets better by leaps and bounds. If you are someone who swore off the Lego games due to the limitations of the original releases, come back and play them again. You won’t be disappointed. And, if you are, go back to play some more Call of Duty: Good Luck with the VA department when you retire or whatever the latest version of that run down series is called.

Couldn't resist taking a shot.  Yep, we're back!
Couldn’t resist taking a shot. Yep, we’re back!

What I Did on My Summer Vacation (Part 2 – Console)

(Editor’s Note: Anyone else want to share? Oh, Noob, you’re not finished yet? Well, aren’t you the little chatterbox. Please, continue.)

I have played slightly more of a variety on console. Chris picked up a PS4 a couple of months ago and we played some MK and call of Duty on that. I enjoyed the latest MK and even had fun shooting at Chris and his stupid bot teammates. It actually made me consider getting one for myself, but then I remembered that it is summer and I only make enough to pay bills and go on five vacations. I know, I know. Feel sorry for me. If you feel badly enough, I can open a Kickstarter.

I have played a lot on the Wii U. While the boys and I haven’t continued our adventures in New Super Mario Bros. U, we did finally get a chance to rent Pokken Tournament. Unlike Pokemon Go, which feels like an extremely polished beta and fell slightly short of expectations, Pokken Tournament is everything I had hoped it woudl be and maybe even more.

That’s saying something. Pokken Tournament was one of my most anticipated games of the year. Under normal circumstances, a Pokemon fighting game would not excite me so much. I’ve seen too many of these offshoot type games come and go to know that the only reason they get any attention at all is because of the brand name. Nintendo, especially, is famous for green lighting extremely questionable games for their properties.

Remember Pokemon Dash? Of course you don---oh, you do? Well, then, I'm sorry. I'm very, very sorry.
Remember Pokemon Dash? Of course you don—oh, you do? Well, then, I’m sorry. I’m very, very sorry.

This is not one of those games by any stretch of the imagination. Instead of keeping the development of the game in house, they partnered with the makers of Tekken. Granted, the aforementioned Pokemon Dash was the result of collaboration with an outside company. However, there is a big difference between Namco and whatever out of business company produced that abortion of a game.

Oh, and before you accuse me of a love in with Namco and Tekken, I need to assert that Tekken is not even my favorite game in the technical fighting genre(?) Is that even a thing? Or, did I just make it up? I don’t know. It sounds like a thing. Let’s treat it like a thing because it makes the next paragraph that much easier to write and I don’t have to go into a long back story. Even though we all know that’s what I love and I pretend that you all love it, too, in an attempt to convince myself that it’s all worth it.

So, in what may be a first, a short explanation. Once upon a time, there were two polygonal fighters that revolved more around actual fighting strategy than throwing balls of fire at the opponent. One, of course, was Tekken. The other was Virtua Fighter. I don’t know if the games were meant to be direct competition to one another. But, that’s what we do as gamers. We bring competition where there should be none. After all, look at the Hearthstone phenomenon. Bazinga!

Oh, you've spent the entire game playing strategically and following a carefully crafted gameplan? Here, let me cast a bunch of completely random spells that invalidates all of that and reduces the game to a series of dice rolls and coin flips. Hmm, well played.
Oh, you’ve spent the entire game playing strategically and following a carefully crafted gameplan? Here, let me cast a bunch of completely random spells that invalidates all of that and reduces the game to a series of dice rolls and coin flips. Hmm, well played.

Well, in the great technical fighting game battles of the 1990s, I was firmly in the corner of Virtua Fighter. In fact, Virtua Fighter 2 is probably one of my top 10 games of all time. I say probably, because I haven’t actually ever extended my list officially to 10, but off the top of my head I can’t think of 5 other games that I like better. Hopefully that establishes my credentials as a non fanboy of Tekken. With all of that being said, Namco does make a decent fighting game and they did a heck of a job with Pokken.

They could have just made all of the Pokemon play the exact same and just give them different voices and one or two attacks that fans would recognize. They didn’t. All of the Pokemon play as different fighters with different strategies. This adds a variety and replayability because you want to try to master all of the different styles. The game also makes use of the buddy feature common to many fighting games where you pick a companion Pokemon to fight alongside your main character. Overall, a great game and I can’t wait to play it more and have a more detailed review in November when the boys and I cover the game for Pokemon month.

Pikachu, I choose you! ...to beat the crap out of other Pokemon!

Pikachu, I choose you! …to beat the crap out of other Pokemon!

Aside from my introduction to Pokken, I have actually been catching up (slowly but surely) on my XBox 360 list. I have advanced quite far in the story on both Fallout 3 and Skyrim. I haven’t even been using a walkthrough for Skyrim. Those who know me and have read my articles know that is quite the achievement for such an open world game. I still get distracted by the carrot on a stick side quests, but I’m moving right along. At this pace, I should be done with the main questline right about the time that they release the remake on the XBox One 360 Redux Master edition in 10 years.

Finally, of course, I played some Portal 2. The play through was nothing short of amazing and the game is still special to me. This time was more special, though, because they boys joined me for the journey. Both Liam and Aiden were able to get a kick out of the humor and Quinn was blown away by the sometimes twisted physics of the portal gun. I started an article about why I’m so attached to this game that I will play it time after time over other games that I haven’t yet finished. Maybe I will post it when I’m suffering one of my legendary bouts of writer’s block.

Well, that’s about it for my console summer. I still have two other articles to write about mobile games (where I’ve spent most of my time in the Digital Playground) and tabletop escapades. I haven’t done as much On the Tabletop, but I have gotten back into Magic and started to put together my Hordes armies, so there will be plenty of pictures. Until then, keep on gaming!

We Built This City (on Minecraft)

(Editor’s Note #1: Rock and roll is just a terrible foundation upon which to build a city.)

(Editor’s Note #2: Minecraft? You mean that Lego rip off game? I don’t understand the appeal.)

My thoughts on Minecraft mirrored those in the second editor’s note. Admittedly, they came from ignorance, but that’s how I felt. I couldn’t understand why anyone, let alone tens (or even hundreds) of millions of people, could play the game for hours on end. Heck, I even watched my kids play and joined in on a few games in my attempt to understand. Hey, not every game is for every gamer. Maybe it’s just a kid thing. Still, it nagged at me. There has to be something.

Turns out that, as with most things that are hugely popular, there are many somethings. As cheesy as it might sound, Minecraft is what you make it. (That’s not really a pun, but it was fully intended to invoke the crafting element of the game.) So, what caused this change of heart? As with most wars of ignorance, knowledge won the battle.

Though, to be fair, red or blue lasers would be nice to have in a battle, too.
Though, to be fair, red or blue lasers would be nice to have in a battle, too.

A couple of weeks ago my youngest asked me to play Minecraft again. Irritated, as I often am, with the mind numbing gameplay of Hearthstone, I figured “why not” and joined him in a game It was during this session that I finally learned that there are multiple modes in the game and that we had mostly played “Creative”, which is exactly how it sounds. There is no danger of dying and no objective in the game other than to build.

There’s nothing wrong with that and many people have built amazing things in creative mode. I guess that I am just more of a survival Minecrafter because once I learned about that mode, I was hooked. In survival, you have to mine for your resources, you can die, and actually offers a challenge other beyond recreating your favorite skyline or college football stadium.

Neither my favorite stadium, nor my own work. Grudgingly paying respect to the best college football program in recent history, I suppose.
Neither my favorite stadium, nor my own work. Grudgingly paying respect to the best college football program in recent history, I suppose.

My middle, youngest, and I have since created a survival world that has given us hours of entertainment. We planned our first house by building a moat in the desert to keep out monsters. We laughed when Quinn refused to leave the house and spent his first MInecraft week mostly sleeping. I explored to find a mountain range full of resources for our second, and now main, house. We cheered at mining our first diamonds in that mountain range. We found obsidian, used that to create a nether portal, and now make regular trips into that horrifying plane for supplies. We even researched “The End” and battling the Ender Dragon, but we need more time to plan and collect resources to make that a successful adventure.

Like I said earlier, the discover and subsequent adventuring through Survival mode has me hooked. I bought the game on my tablet (hey, it was only 7 bucks) and recently bought it for the PC, too. We now own the same game for XBox 360, mobile, and PC. There is precedent for me buying the same game more than once, but there usually has to be a special reason. Like it is my favorite game of all time or there was a steam bundle that includes the game.

Those are totally the reasons that I bought Portal 2 more than once. It has nothing to do with GladOS and her plan, with the help of Skynet, to destroy humanity. No, GladOS didn't tell me to say that last part. *nervous look off camera*
Those are totally the reasons that I bought Portal 2 more than once. It has nothing to do with GladOS and her plan, with the help of Skynet, to destroy humanity. No, GladOS didn’t tell me to say that last part. *nervous look off camera*

i don’t think Minecraft is available on Steam. If it is, don’t tell me, because I might just buy it again. That’s only partly a joke. So, what about this game has made me buy it three times? It is a good-great, even-game that offers hours of entertainment.It’s not my favorite game yet. That still goes to Portal 2. Well, why, then? Just tell us, Man!

Well, if you’re going to be impatient about it, I guess I have no choice. The squeaky wheel always gets the grease. Why are metaphors always so gross? Skinning cats, beating dead horses, greasing wheels. Okay, last diversion.

As if that previous statement could possibly be true.
As if that previous statement could possibly be true.

Okay, now for the reasons as to why I bought each version of the game and what they offer so you don’t have to buy them all. You can, of course, and even knowing what I know, I would to support a great company and game. If you are more frugal or con’t care about the fine people at Mojang feeding their families (you monster!), then keep reading.

I bought the XBOX 360 version as the second half of a Groupon (or some other such email marketing gimmick) deal a couple of years ago. Having heard of the game, but not respecting it, I got the game because “The boys will have fun with it.” For the record, Forza something or another was the other game and I have not played more than an hour on that game, played far more Minecraft, and maybe have even played more Minecraft than the kids.

The XBox 360 (and other console versions, I assume) offers a good introduction to the crafting system. Granted, there are FAQs and video guides galore these days to discover the recipes for any item in the Minecrft world, but if you’re more of a traditionalist, the PC version can be a tough nut to craft. Hey, terrible puns and non sequitirs. You get both in spades here at 2 Guys Gaming. If you’re a strict traditionalist, I believe that you can set the options to the classic crafting system and besides, that, there are still plenty of secrets to find in the game even if you play with the assistive crafting system. Besides, there are still plenty of secrets to find in the game even if you play with EZ mode crafting on. One final word of warning before continuing. The console versions lag slightly behind in terms of updates to the game, so you’re not necessarily playing the latest version if you’re only playing on console.

Look at Steve.  He looks so happy to be going on an adventure.  Little does he know that, soon enough, he will be dropped off of cliffs, blown up by creepers, eaten by zombies, doused in lava, and much, much worse.  Let's not tell him.  The surprise is half the fun.
Look at Steve. He looks so happy to be going on an adventure. Little does he know that, soon enough, he will be dropped off of cliffs, blown up by creepers, eaten by zombies, doused in lava, and much, much worse. Let’s not tell him. The surprise is half the fun.

I bought the mobile version next. It was the cheapest version and I wanted to see if was faithful to the big boy versions. SPOILER ALERT: At first glance, it is the same game. You mine blocks, you place blocks. You craft things. You kill zombies, skeletons, and creepers. It’s the same game. Well, not quite. On closer examination, there are things missing. It’s not a huge deal, but the mobile game is not the complete game. Even so, the mobile version also uses an easier crafting system and fairly intuitive controls. If you don’t want to pay full price for the game or want to get an overview before buying the full game, mobile Minecraft is a good place to get your feet wet.

If you’re like me, and Minecraft speaks to you on a deeply personal level, then you want the PC version. It is the most expensive, but allows you to install on an unlimited number of computers. That alone makes it worth the price if you have a bunch of Minecraft fans in the house like we do. There is another reason to invest in the PC version (the best reason, IMO) that I will discuss briefly, but I want to talk about the major drawback first. Unlike the XBox version, or even the mobile version, which both allow multiplayer at an affordable price, you need to spend $27 for each account to play multiplayer on the PC. That restriction even applies to LAN games, as we discovered this past weekend. That was a huge bummer.

Oh well, we still have split screen on the XBox 360 and cross platform support on mobile. What neither of those allow, and this leads into the best reason (in my opinion–and really, this is my article, so what else but my opinion) to own the PC version of the game. As far as I know, the PC is the only version to allow you to play mods that alter the way the game acts and, in some cases, alters the game in almost unrecognizable ways. So far, we have tried Pixelmon and Thaumcraft and have enjoyed them both. I have to say that I’m completely addicted to the study/minigame aspect of Thaumcraft as that one introduces a kind of wizardry to the game. Aiden has played much more of Pixelmon, which is to be expected, but I’ve had some fun with that one, too. That’s how we learned that you need separate accounts to play multiplayer on the PC. I wanted to join in on Aiden’s Pixelmon world, but coudn’t. I’m not willing (yet?) to pay for the multiple accounts. Hopefully, they offer a family account in the not too distant future.

What introduced me to mods and got me hooked to the game was I really wanted to find a mod that allows for Obsidian armor and found one that supposedly introduces technology to the game, but I haven’t gotten that one to run. I am always on the lookout for different mods, though, so if you know of any, send an email or leave it in the comments.

Portal in Minecraft? That might just be the way to get me to spend absurd amounts of money on this game.

Regulars at the page know that I’m perpetually behind the times in all things pop culture. I have no excuse for being this late to the Minecraft party other than ignorance. Nevertheless, if you have missed the boat for as long as I have (or, more likely, if you have children who are just now growing into the age of Minecraft) then I hope that this article serves as a good introduction into the pros and cons of each version so that you can make a more informed decision. Finally, if you do buy the game, give it a try. I can almost guarantee that you will find it entertaining.

Literally (Figuratively) Go Into the Games!

(Editor’s Note: Christine and I are admittedly ignorant when it comes to these types of games. She asked the boys if they were playing Spyro, her quite dated reference since her only experience with that particular game is the original PS1 game, when she saw the game. I’m slightly more with it, but only barely. Keep all of that in mind as you read the article since ignorance has never stopped me from commenting on something.)

The boys were introduced to this new genre of games by friends. I believe it all started with Skylanders, but I’m not positive. That series is the first that I ever remember hearing about and certainly the most popular. However, never ones to be left out, Disney and now Lego have jumped into the huge pile of cash waiting to be made from this. I don’t even know what to call the games. Officially they are part role-playing, part action adventure, part weird immersive technology that let’s you play with your action figures in the game.

I have to admit that, in addition to being ignorant, I was also skeptical about these games. The past of video games, and our own home, is littered with the remains of previous attempts at changing the dynamics of video games. Sure, they’ve made them more varied, added pressure sensitive controls, and offered other advancements. At the end of the day, though, almost all controllers are simply a fancier version of the old arcade joystick. Only Nintendo, generally willing to think outside the proverbial box at the risk of alienating a large portion of the audience, has been able to successfully push the limits of what causes Mario to run across the screen and jump on enemies. Anyone else have a busted or working Kinect just sitting around collecting dust?

Not everything that Nintendo touches is gold. I have two of these things sitting dead in the basement right now. Because, I was going to get in shape, Man. Same stupid Kinect promise.
Not everything that Nintendo touches is gold. I have two of these things sitting dead in the basement right now. Because, I was going to get in shape, Man. Same stupid Kinect promise.

Nevertheless, the boys seemed excited about the games. Therefore, when I saw one of the starter sets at Wal*Mart on clearance, I bought it. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. In terms of another cliche, nothing really to lose, either. I thought the game was only a battle arena game and that they’d tire soon of playing it and that it would join the Kinect and Balance board in the purgatory for expired and forgotten electronics.

Unlike the Kinect, I’m glad that I made the purchase. As soon as the boys loaded up the game, they started up an adventure mode game with a decent story and pretty good voice acting. I was surprised when I heard Patrick Warburton of Seinfeld and The Tick fame. Watching them has me interested and I want to play. Liam even suggested that we do a play through to try to get more content for our Youtube page. Be on the lookout for that, hopefully soon.

Imagine this guy shouting "Spoon!" or "Devils! Devils!" and you have the amount of joy that I got from hearing his voice for the first time.
Imagine this guy shouting “Spoon!” or “Devils! Devils!” and you have the amount of joy that I got from hearing his voice for the first time.

Shortly after getting the game, they traded with their friends to get more figures. Because, of course, the game requires different “types” to unlock certain levels. I’m sure that they hope that ignorant parents will simply buy the characters to keep their little angels quiet, but we got lucky and the boys were able to borrow the figures needed.

More recently, they pooled their allowance money to buy a 3-figure set, which I suppose is an extension of the clueless parent phenomenon. However, since they earned the money, they made more of an effort to get a better deal. The figures were already discounted because they were at Marshalls. Still, the boys chose the 3 pack for 9.99 and took an extra figure that they didn’t want instead of buying the two figures they wanted at 4.99 each since both characters were in the 3 pack. It made me proud as a dad and a cheap gamer.

So, Skylanders turned out to be a good purchase. My cousin and his family have tried the Disney version, but I haven’t asked him if he likes it. I can’t see that it would be as fun or engaging to our boys as Skylanders. They like Disney, but given the choice, I’m almost positive that they’d want Lego dimensions instead.

Elsa - fun to sing along, but I'd rather tour Lego Gotham in my Lego batmobile, amirite?
Elsa – fun to sing along, but I’d rather tour Lego Gotham in my Lego Batmobile, amirite?

A commercial for the Lego version appeared in my Facebook feed several months ago. Everyone laughed at the Batarang joke at the end. If you don’t know that one, either watch the video or you can listen to my impressions of it in one of the “What have you been gaming” segments of the 2 Guys Gaming podcast. After watching the trailer a couple of times, we more or less forgot about the game until I recently saw that they have a “Back to the Future” set with a hoverboard. I mentioned the game to Christine and she responded with, “They’d probably like that.” In a monumental show of restraint, I haven’t yet gone out to buy it, but I keep looking at it and hoping for a price drop.

So, Skylanders hooked them and they’ve figured out a way to save money even as they build a collection. I don’t think Disney has enough to make it worth the investment. Lego, however, are always a big hit in the house. Lego games, too. If I can find a good deal on the starter kit for that one, I will probably pick it up in the hopes that it represents the best of both worlds.

Pretty funny that I still do this, since nobody ever responds. But, there’s always a first time, so here goes. Have you tried Disney Infinity? Lego Dimensions? Are either of the games as much fun as Skylanders? Either email, Tweet us, or leave your comments below.

We Are Builders of (Lego) Worlds

(Editor’s Note: This was supposed to be posted yesterday, but it was VSL night and I crashed after that. Sorry.)

We recorded Episode 5 of the podcast this past weekend. I’m in the process of editing it and it should be live by next weekend. Hopefully, because it is a busy one with a Cub Scouts camping trip followed by a drive to Providence for the Star City Games event. Look for my article about that next week.

We discussed Heroclix and Lego Games in this episode. I already covered several of my favorite super hero themed games last week, so what better way to follow that and the podcast than with more Marvel Madness. Both the Lego games and Heroclix have DC counterparts, but I am an unapologetic Marvel zombie. Also, that alliteration at the end of the last sentence was so worth it, amirite?

I never used to be interested in the Lego video games. I shared the sentiment of a friend who said, “why play Lego games when you can just play Legos? ” (sic. I have since learned that there is no plural to Lego.) I owned Lego Indiana Jones as one of the XBox promotional combos and didn’t play it for the longest time. It wasn’t until they released the Lego Star Wars game that I gave them a chance. Almost immediately, I realized my earlier mistake of equating the games to actual Lego. I would say that Minecraft is more comparable, but even that isn’t the exact same thing. All three fit a niche nicely and can peacefully coexist.

The initial games were fun enough to keep me playing. Eventually, the boys caught wind of the game. It started with them joining me to play. I found this very frustrating because you were limited in how much you could move by the other person playing the game. When playing with young children, this often meant not being able to advance in the level because they didn’t understand this limitation. Unfortunately, no matter how many times I tried to explain to them, nothing changed. I’m not proud of this, but these gaming sessions often ended with me dropping out in frustration and coming back after they went to bed. How funny is that visual? Instead of playing Dead Rising or GTA as I had been, I got relegated to playing Lego Star Wars while they slept so that they didn’t mess up my progress. Alas, karmic retribution will find a way.

The boys figured out how to work the XBox 360 by themselves. As a consequence, they loaded up their new favorite game, Lego Star Wars, and promptly deleted my saved game. There was only one save game slot in the game. Luckily, the designers tackled that and now games have multiple files for saves. I was almost 70% completed, too. All things considered, I think that I handled the situation well. I did what any well-adjusted adult would have done, I complained about it on Facebook and disowned them. I wish them well, as always, with their new families.

Jokes aside, I got over the transgression and have visual proof that I beat the game 100%. It is one of only two games that I do so without help, so I’m proud of the achievement. (For the record, Jak and Daxter, not Ratchet and Clank, is the other.) Adding more slots for saved games is a component of one of the major selling points of the Lego series. Take Two could easily simply churn out decent game after decent game, slap the Lego brand on them, and people would buy them. They don’t.

Not only did they add the save games, but they make other quality of live improvements, too. Remember when I mentioned that playing with young children was frustrating because of movement limitations? No more. It started with a smart split screen that offered more range of motion, became a gameplay mechanic by adding a new puzzle type, and now offers both players complete freedom to move via complete split screen. On the topic of puzzles, the puzzles have been improved and made more challenging. Granted, the games are still mostly geared to kids, but there was at least one part in Marvel Super Heroes that had us all stumped for several days and maybe even as long as a week. The puzzles are varied, too, and often able to be solved in more than one way depending on the characters available. This is important because each successive generation of the game offers more and more characters. In addition (and this is one of the favorite things forLiam and Aiden to do) you can create your own characters. They made their own super hero team and created an entire story while playing through the open world map in Marvel Super Heroes.

I can admit when I’m wrong. It happens often enough that I’m used to it. I never thought that I’d willingly play a Lego video game. It seemed like a silly idea given that Legos (I know, not a word) are a thing and we have so many of them in the house. While we still enjoy playing Legos (there’s that non word again!) and other family toys (Lincoln Logs, Thomas the Tank Engine, board games, etc), the Lego games have become an integral part of at least our father-son game playing time. Christine even noticed the recent announcement of Lego Dimensions, so it is spreading to the whole family.

The Lego games are not only fun to play. They are also constantly improved in nearly every way imaginable. Like actual Lego, they can inspire creativity in players beyond the main game. They are kid friendly, sometimes challenging to adults, and encourage families to play together as a result. Even if you don’t have kids, there is plenty to enjoy about the games. I compared them to Grand Theft Auto in the podcast and there are many similarities, right down to the senseless violence of little Lego men exploding. There is no blood, drinking, drugs, or other elicit activity. If that’s your thing, then stick to GTA. Otherwise, pick up your favorite Lego franchise, convince someone to join you, and have an absolute blast. You won’t regret it.

Dismantling the A-Bomb (Take 2)

(Editor’s Note: Yes, another Fallout article. Yes, another Fallout 3 article about how I’m going to go back and finish the game. This time I have my gamer’s resolution to play new/different games, so I might actually go through with it. Stay tuned for the next Fallout 3 article, coming to 2 Guys Gaming in 6 months.)

As a writer, I learned that you need a hook to get people interested. As a fisherman, I learned that you need to set that hook before you start to reel in your catch. Fallout 1 and 2 both have that same hook of story as the third. So far, they have yet to set that hook to keep me playing beyond the introduction. Fallout 3 does not have that problem. I keep coming back to the game even to the point that I restarted it because I had forgotten some of the story at the beginning. Eventually, I do want to finish the game to move on to the DLC and New Vegas. Eventually starts today!

I grew up with video games. My family owned an Atari 2600 and then a 7800. I received a Commodore 64 for Christmas one year and drooled over the Amiga ads in the magazines. Those same magazines offered programs for video games that I almost never got to work. Still, they inspired me to collaborate with a friend to make a game together. We never made it past the design phase, but a fun experience and I still enjoy programming when I have free time.

Eventually, our parents caved and bought us an NES. After getting my first job, I bought a Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis. When I moved out, money became more of a priority, so I took some time off until the infamous full price Playstation purchase. Since then, I have owned an N64, XBox, XBox 360, PS 2, and Wii. I intend to buy a PS4 if the new Orcs Must Die Unchained game works as well on consoles as on the computer. What’s the point of this? Relax, you must be new here. I promise that the point is coming soon.

You could possibly tell the exact same story as I just did. That’s part of the point. We are alike and you probably enjoyed Fallout 1 and 2. As a result, you may have paled a the thought that Fallout 3 was going first person. When first announced, the internet (as it does) went absolutely nuts over the decision. Similar to Diablo III, I should like the first two games. But, I don’t. What, then, about Fallout 3 appeals to me as an aging gamer when compared with its predecessors?

I have already covered my thoughts on graphics in my previous article. In case you missed it, graphics are not a huge consideration for me. I have played and enjoyed games since they were single color blobs moving across a single colored background. Besides, it’s not like the graphics of Fallout 3 are that impressive. Sure, they are more modern. Comparatively, though, the game came early in the life of the XBox 360 and the graphics show their age.

I’ve already established that I love the story behind the games, too. That is universal. Fallout 3 hooked me from the opening cinematic. In fact, all of the games have incredible opening credits and character introductions. The story kept me playing the first two games longer than I might have normally. On the other hand, instead of avoiding Fallout 3, I find myself drawn to the game and want to play it to the end. More than that, I also have Fallout: New Vegas and all of the expansions for the game that I need to experience. Story, alone, shouldn’t be enough to keep me coming back to the game. Especially when you consider that I could just watch the story on Youtube. That’s what I did with Dead Rising rather than play through the frustrating final battle. I regret nothing.

That brings us to the gameplay. As I mentioned earlier, the internets hated that thought of Fallout 3 when it was announced. You know who you are internets. Don’t try to deny it now. Also, face it. You might have been right about Diablo III and the real money auction house, but you were dead wrong about Fallout 3.

Look, I understand the sentiment. Ever since Doom (really Wolfenstein and I’m sure there’s some nerd more well versed in the history of video games that will point to an earlier iteration of the FPS), game designers have tripped over themselves to capitalize on the success of the FPS genre and it looked like that’s what Bethesda was doing with Fallout 3. This goes against the spirit of the games. Stop trying to be something you’re not, blah blah blah. I don’t know why the decision was made to go from third person RPG to a first person shooter with RPG elelements. However I can (and will) wildly conjecture about their motives.

First, I think that those third person RPG and RTS games were a time and place phenomenon. There will always be exceptions (most notably Starcraft because of the highly popular competitive scene), but go back to play any of those games; Warcraft, Bard’s Tale, Fallout 1 and 2. They are boring. Now matter how interesting the story, the click to move mechanics and the endless searching for clues make for a dull experience. At least the D&D games were mostly linear. I know that sounds weird because D&D isn’t, but it makes for a much better video game. You might argue World of Warcraft or Skyrim in favor of 3rd person RPGs. I will agree with Skyrim. While designed as a first person, I immediately searched for a way to make the game 3rd person and I was better for it.

On the topic of World of Warcraft, I offer the counter argument that its success is due more to the social aspect. I used to play WoW much more than I do now because I used to have friends who played the game and no longer do. Still, it proves that 3rd person RPGs can work and work well. Even so, I have never tried WoW from a first person point of view, but many tanks do and I suspect that it is because of the main point of this article. Finally, all your hard work and dedication to reading this whole article is about to pay off.

If I know anything about story (and sales of my book indicate that I do not), part of the reason to go first person in Fallout 3 and The Elder Scrolls series was to enhance the already superb story. I mention Skyrim again because I initially wanted to experience the game third person due to not being as familiar with the story. I quickly changed my mind and point of view upon being faced with my first dragon encounter. I wanted to experience the power and horror in the full glory and magnificence. I was not disappointed.

Similarly, my favorite parts of the first two Fallout games were when you interact with the NPCs via the full screen interface with the occasional voiceover. First person makes a great story more intense, immerses you in the action, everything feels more immediate, and it personalizes the game to make the experience much more entertaining and enjoyable.

Do you prefer the first person intensity of newer RPGs? Or, are you an old school gamer who just wants whippersnappers like me to get off your lawn with my fancy graphics and engrossing point of view gameplay? Who knows? Maybe I can be persuaded to go back to play the first two games.

Currently Playing…Vol.3


Gears of War: Judgment (360) I’ll admit that based on several negative reviews that I had read about this game, I passed on picking this title up for months. However, that changed a few weeks ago when I saw it sitting in the ol’ bargain bin at Gamestop with a nine dollar price tag. Nine bucks?! For a Gears game?! ?Man, it must be god-awful…just a complete dumpster fire, I thought to myself as I rescued it from the land of misfit games. I figured I own the first three Gears of War games so why not? Turns out, that while there really isn’t much new about this game, it’s still Gears, and it’s still really, really fun. Shawn and I had a blast with it on our last a nerd night we actually played the Survivor(Horde) mode for a good chunk of the night, which is rare for us as we usually like to cycle through games pretty quickly. My only complaint about this game is that the multiplayer options are pretty weak compared to its predecessors. Other than that, I didn’t find anything else wrong with the game. Our bulletproof (bullet-riddled?) strategy of Shawn running around like friggin’ Rambo and my character protecting the E-hole? (insert snickering here), actually seemed to work for the first 8 waves. After that, things got ugly fast: our AI amigos were busy being useless somewhere,? Shawnbo? and I were used for target practice by Boomers and Maulers, and the rest of the Locust basically had our “E-hole” for breakfast (insert high-pitched laughter here).