Tag Archives: Xbox 360

Catherine vs Katherine

First off – I didn’t actually *play* Catherine in the strictest sense of the word. Rather I sat and watched my husband play it. I do this quite frequently. I generally have one of two reactions – 1. I determine that I would hate playing the game, stop and consider why other people like it, and then go back to playing WoW; or 2. I watch him play, engrossed, until he does something “wrong” and then I itch to yank the controller away until he is done playing then play it myself so I can do it right.

Demon Souls and Brothers in Arms were part of the first category. Valkyria Chronicles and Persona 4 were  part of the second.

Catherine is the first game that has fallen solidly between the two. The game is a action puzzle game, by Atlus’s Persona team. I was very excited about the game, because I am such a fan of Persona 4. The action portions of the game consist of what is essentially a huge puzzle block tower the player must climb. The “social” portions are of the player and the other characters in the game hanging out at a bar.

Honestly, after watching him play a few stages, I was completely convinced not only would I not want to play this part, but I would be bored to tears. The methods of moving up the tower are unchanged, regardless of the trick blocks, enemies, and boss events that try to break it up. Once you have figured out the general moves, you have figured out the game.

However, the “social” part of the game was utterly fascinating. The surreal encounters, the background characters, the strange effects thrown about, it all added up to an exceptional world that was interesting. I could crawl into the world portrayed and spent hours simply getting to figure out all the weird stuff going on. I do think however that the point of the mysterious murders will be lost on most American players.

*Spoilers*

So the Boss is killing young men who are of the appropriate age and economic status to get married and have kids, but are unwilling to do so because they like their freedom. They want to remain independent and “having fun” as opposed to settling down.

It doesn’t make a ton of sense to American Culture, but in Japan, where a negative birthrate is literally affecting the stability of their culture and society, it would seem completely logical. The Boss is taking out the men who are causing this problem. Essentially saying, “Get with it, or get out of the way.”

*End Spoilers*

The game also does some very interesting things with it’s Order and Chaos meter, in addition to using it to determine the one of 9 possible outcomes. I love that the “canon” of the game changes based on your order/chaos level and responses to questions. It makes me wonder though, if they did a sequel, would they do it like Persona, and ignore the previous entry’s “canon” or chose one to make it the “correct” ending?

While I didn’t play Catherine myself, I do believe it is an interesting game to experience. There is a demo, which should be played, but even so the game stands true with other Atlus games as beautiful, fascinating, relatively fun although possibly grindy to play, with interesting insights into Japanese culture. Though mostly it just made me want to play Persona 4 again, or think about what awesome things they might be doing for Persona 5.

Alan Wake – Day… Something

So I ranted quite strongly about Alan Wake. And I have not changed my mind. The game is simply too hard in it’s “normal” mode to appeal to novice players.

However, since then, I have seen my husband complete Alan Wake, and even further, gotten the strategy guide to further my own attempts. Knowledge is power, and knowing those four guys are coming up really helps in that I save my flares and shotguns until that point.

I like Alan Wake. It has everything a good game “should” have. An engaging (if not terribly original) story. A hero and characters we as players identify with. Good voice acting with decent writing and good dialog. Great and varied environments. A simple gameplay that is slowly complicated over the course of the game but never gets to the point that it feels like a different game is being played. Wonderful set dressing and side notes about the world and characters. And best of all, “Omg wtf was that? Did you see that? Did I see that? Was that supposed to happen? That was AWESOME.” moments.

Except it is missing one thing. An ending. The game has an ending and quite a stellar one in fact. The opening strains of “Space Oddity” was more than enough to set my heart at ease let me slump back on the couch with a sigh. But then the unthinkable happened. “Alan Wake’s journey in the darkness continues.” As it turns out, in an attempt to get players to hang onto the game, they are putting out DLC this summer to continue the story (and another even later after that). I like DLC, I am a proponent of logical non-greedy DLC. But to so clearly add it to a game that didn’t need it, and in doing so RUIN the ending of a game… I was more than annoyed.

Even if they shipped the game certain they would be creating a sequel, they didn’t need to give the player anymore than “It isn’t a lake, it’s an ocean.” A small breadcrumb that doesn’t break the story or set up the “next week” mentality. This is why we end up with endless numbered sequels and reboots of the same old thing. A game isn’t allowed to just be good and then be done. No we have to milk it for everything it is worth. It isn’t like there aren’t 50 million other horror stories or horror situations we could use this same world, same characters (side ones of course), and same gameplay to explore. No, we have to rehash the story that has already been completed so well.

My favorite part of Alan Wake:

Early in the second chapter Alan is walking down a road alongside a row of cabins, he is looking for a trail to go to a spot to meet the kidnapper. Of course, as an exploration game any good player stops and explores. Inside one of the cabins is a tv set, which switches on when Alan’s flashlight crosses it (as they all do). I had already seen this episode so I turned to explore the cabin while it played as I didn’t want to leave before it was done in case it mattered for the achievement. As I turned something big and dark rushed passed a window. My heart leapt. I gasped and prepared to battle one of the Taken. But as the tv sputtered on, nothing happened. No dark shade came through the door. No creepy voices. No more shadows over the window. So, being the courageous explorer I am, I went outside to explore. Nothing. Nothing around the cabin, inside it, under it, or even on top of it. Nothing. “It must have been a trick of my eyes.” I thought. But always the one to test, I reloaded and made my way back down to the cabin. I double checked the perimeter and then headed inside. Nothing. Flashing the tv I quickly turned back to the window. And the thick shadow washed across it. Once again I ran outside to see nothing. What had it been? What had I seen? What designer in their right MIND would put such a cool little one off so few players would likely NEVER see? Clearly a good one. /salute.

RRoD Part 2

Here, now, almost a month after the dreaded RRoD, our beloved family member is set to return home.

It has taken this long to get used to *not* having the Xbox 360 around. When you get used to doing things a certain why, you develop the habit, then breaking it is shockingly hard to do. We have all done it at some point of other. I can remember being a kid, the power would go out occasionally, and my mother, now unable to play on her computer would say, well I guess I could watch tv.

I did the same thing. Well I don’t feel like playing WoW, I guess I should go play xbox and get a few gamer points. Oh wait.

Now we get our baby back and I am sure the resulting flood of gameplaying will make it feel more than loved.

RRoD

Do you know anyone who hasn’t had an XBox 360 Red Ring of Death on them?

Until yesterday I did. Then my XBox 360 suddenly showed that pretty crimson light and flashed three segments. Lovely. I posted such on my Facebook and Twitter. Shockingly no one was surprised. In fact most people pointed to when theirs had RRoD. I am a gamer and friends with gamers mostly, so the audience is mostly people who own an XBox 360. And of a rather wide pool of people, with various skus of XBox, no one has a system that *hasn’t* RRoD.

After much research through Google it comes down to most people believing that there is a 30-35% failure rate. Game Informer did a survey and got a 50% failure rate response. Regardless, this is an insanely high failure rate. It makes me wonder, did Microsoft actually do better than the PS3 as far as not losing as much on the console or worse? Seems to me having to replace that many XBoxes would cost quite a bit more.