I wasn’t going to blog today, the reason being that I bought an Xbox arcade game last night and subsequently planned to be very busy for the rest of the week.
But then I reconsidered.
Gaming is a poor reason for not blogging, I thought. I cannot let my readers down, my poor deluded mind said, for they patiently await the next installment of What Did Sheylara Eat/Do/See/Drop on the Floor This Time? and would be very disappointed if they didn’t get to read about how I had a tasty ham sandwich for lunch.
Mind you, my decision to blog has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that I feel rather dizzy after two hours of playing Space Channel 5: Part 2, and need to look at something else for a moment.
Yes. Updating my blog today was a purely altruistic decision. That’s the kind of person I am.
The game is about 11 years old so I am not going to do a review. I first played Part 1 on the Dreamcast in 2001, shortly after which I broke up with the boyfriend who owned the Dreamcast. And then shortly after that, Dreamcast went kaput so I thought that was the end of the game for me, pity, cos I really enjoyed it.
It’s a music and rhythm game, involving jitterbugging space aliens who go, “Chu, chu, chu, hey, chu!”
Piers was very, very disturbed by the game. He said it was a crazy, crazy game. But he could be forgiven for thinking that because he only watched two minutes of it and those two minutes just happened to occur at a stage where my avatar was captured by a space alien monster flower with tentacles, one of which seemed all too ready to probe me for secrets.
And I had to try to shoot at the monster and dodge deadly flying petals while bound spreadeagle by tentacles.
And while all that was happening, the alien was going, “Left, right, left, right, chu, chu, chu!”
Sure, I can see how that might have looked slightly oddball to someone who hadn’t seen the beginning of the game and understood how important it was to save the planet from aliens, not all of whom had tentacles, it was just that flower monster, mind you.
Earlier this afternoon, Piers thought it prudent to dispense some more boyfriendly wisdom. We were chatting on MSN when he said, “Your stupid new game finished yet?”
I said, “What are you talking about? I just bought it last night. And it’s not stupid!”
“It will f*** up your mind,” he said.
“What’s wrong with it?” I asked.
“You fight strange creatures,” was his conclusion.
That was very fine for him to say. I didn’t say a word when, two years ago, he was obssessed with catapulting funny-shaped birds at hapless green pigs.
Anyway, I discovered last night that Space Channel 5: Part 2 was available on Xbox LIVE Arcade so I bought it immediately. While I was playing my new game on his Xbox, Piers was busy playing a fighter jet simulation game on my PC so he wasn’t free to look at my game.
Nevertheless, I said to him, “Hey, we can play co-op on this game. Would you like to play with me?”
His eyes still glued on the PC screen, he said, “Okay, honey, in a minute.” (Meaning: Okay, right after I’m done with pretending to be a fighter pilot, which could be any time between four hours and four years.)
But he did say okay, didn’t he?
Still, his first experience of my game was the tentacles, so I’m suspecting that he has maybe changed his mind since. I can’t imagine why, though. Most guys I know get excited when they see tentacles. I didn’t get a chance to persuade him anymore last night to play my game because we had to watch South Park.
We’ll have to see, tonight. And, for the record, my mind is still very sane and intact, thank you.
I just had a revelation. Actually, I had this revelation a long time ago but let’s not be pedantic over chronology. It came to me one day as I was sitting at my computer, blurry-eyed from lack of sleep.
The message came to me in a sort of vision-ish way, if you would indulge my theatrics for a moment. It said to me in a wispy, ethereal voice as I grinned stupidly at my monitor: “Playing games through the night is so fun.”
That, of course, wasn’t the whole of the message – I haven’t completely bonkered out on my games yet.
The next part of the message came while I was sticking the pointy end into a nasty goblin: “Think how much money you’ve saved staying home gaming.”
There’s the crux of the message. When I find a worthy game, for instance, EverQuest II, I’d rather play it than go shopping. Or clubbing. Or eat a buffet or buy a private jet, and so on.
I have saved hundreds, even thousands, of dollars a month by choosing EQ2 over any number of popular entertainment choices. My bank statements accounting for those months during which I was not subscribed to EQ2 are solid proof.
Here’s a survey: If you had a kid, would you rather he be attached to an online game at home where you can watch him, or would you rather he go out and “get a life”, where he could potentially drink/smoke/spend all your money away?
Okay, I kind of lied about the revelation part. There wasn’t really a wispy, ethereal voice. It was all me. Sorry.
The following was first published in Stuff Magazine, May 2010.
I am going to suggest something revolutionary. I am going to suggest that, if you have kids, you allow them to play games. In fact, make them play games. Start them as young as possible.
It’s easy enough to keep the lads interested since they’re born with the ability to grow gaming controllers between their hands, with or without parental help. But girls might need some nurturing, so keep your home stocked with the latest releases to cultivate their love for gaming.
It’s very important for girls, especially, to love gaming. I’ll tell you why (or I risk my editor throwing this column back in my face).
You want your daughters to grow up as gamers because gamers are smart, fast-thinking and creative. Many important life skills are learnt in games, such as leadership, problem solving and cooking.
But the biggest reason to breed girl gamers is to encourage marital harmony.
Think about it. If women understood the absolute need to play just one more mission to unlock that new kickass skill before coming to bed, there would be fewer quarrels and more happiness.
If women understood the utmost importance of playing Final Fantasy XIII on launch day instead of celebrating one of those ridiculous “monthiversary” things, many household accidents (such as porcelain plates mysteriously flying towards walls) could be avoided.
Sure, there’s gaming addiction to contend with. I’m not denying anything. But I have turned out fine and I enjoy harmonious relationships with men, except when we get competitive over whose computer is more powerful.
So, breed a gamer today. Your daughters and sons-in-law will thank you for it. Not to mention the Singapore government.
As I mentioned yesterday, I had some trouble uploading videos to YouTube this round. I had to re-upload two videos in total, which is a big deal when you consider that each upload takes around four hours, give or take.
And I love that I’m writing for my blog instead of a magazine because, like, you can’t complain about trivial stuff in a magazine.
But people kind of like it when you complain in a blog. I noticed that I get more readers and comments for my ranting blog entries.
The game of the week is X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which released yesterday, for PC and Xbox 360.
I’m rather pleased with it. It’s an action RPG not unlike Ninja Gaiden II, but it’s Wolverine! It’s Hugh Jackman! Superhuman regeneration!
Here, I made a video of the gameplay.
It might be hard to tell from the video, but the cinematics are awe-inspiring (although we really shouldn’t expect any less from action games these days). The gameplay is also fun and furious. I love how cut-scenes and gameplay merge seamlessly to give players a cinematically immersive experience.
The autosave points are frequent enough so you won’t have to tell your girlfriend/wife to give you 30 more minutes to finish up (but of course she doesn’t understand so she’s yelling at you to come to bed right now) and you have no choice but to quit the game with the knowledge that you’d have to replay the stage again later because you don’t want to get ear hell now.
Mini missions guide you along the way to completing main missions, which keeps everything fresh and interesting.
The only downside for me so far is that the game tips for new actions/combos/skills sometimes flash away too quickly, before you’ve even had a chance to read a word because you’re too busy trying to save your own ass.
For example, if you watch my video, I had been mystified by spikes in the ground which I knew I could interact with but couldn’t figure out how.
It was only when I was editing the video and watching my gameplay in freeze frame that I saw the damn game tip telling me how to use the spikes. I never saw it when I playing the game.
But that doesn’t happen all the time, so it’s still within tolerance level.
Well, watch the video for more good stuff. Overall, I’d highly recommend the game.
Swordplay is my pesky li’l bro who spends all his time playing time-wasting games. To make him a little bit more useful, I’m sitting on him and making him recommend one fun and simple web-based game each week.
This is a super old-school TEXT INPUT game. It means you interact with the game by typing text commands.
I don’t know what Swordplay is doing playing games like that.
I used to love games like this when I was a kid. But now, my brains will start a mutiny if I attempt to play such a game. It’s annoying when you can’t think of what command could advance the game because it could be ANY command in the world. It could be “lick toe” or “sing barney song” for all you know.
Still, this game doesn’t look half as bad because it’s part graphical and you move around using arrow keys.
It certainly brings back memories. Especially that annoying 8-bit music that clangs noisily when you first load up the game. The moment I heard it I was, like, OMG turn it off.
But it is quite funny all the same, by virtue of it being so old-school you’d feel embarrassed playing it in a public space.
And I like the tone of fun and humour in the game.
The Sacred series has quite a following, although it’s not really everyone’s cup of tea. It’s basically fun if you like killing and looting sprees, Diablo-style.
It’s been out for the PC for a while already, but it will be releasing for the Xbox 360 and PS3 on May 15.
Here’s an old trailer, which I’m showing because I love the song in it. Haha. It’s written and performed by metal band Blind Guardian specially for the game. The band even has cameo appearances in the game.
A storeroom raid at the Playworks office recently turned up chests full of loot which has been sitting around being of no use to anyone.
If you’d like to buy any of the geek toys listed below, just turn up on Monday to bargain your way to a good deal!
Playworks Garage Sale
1 Stamford Road, #02-04
Date: Monday 4th May Time: 11 am to 7 pm
Note: There are more items on sale than shown in the picture above because the lazy buggers didn’t take photos of everything.
Here’s also a not-very-complete list of stuff on sale:
Assortment of Xbox 360 games
Assortment of PSP games
Assortment of PC games
Assorted software (Anti-virus, backup, utlities, etc…)
Speed pad (Hard plastic mouse pads)
Orange box mouse mats
Everglide mouse mats (Big and small)
GXL Rings (3 sizes)
Plantronics headsets with mic (USB or Audio jack)
Assorted bags, cases, pouches
Wireless Multi-Function Routers
DLink ADSL Eternet Routers
Assorted Loreal beauty products (wtf?)
Knick knacks paddywack give a dog a bone
I know some people like collecting posters, so I’m giving one away this week!
This poster measures about 16.5″ x 23.5″. And it’s also a little bit dented from being knocked about when it was rolled up. Hope you don’t mind. It looks pretty decent if you don’t scrutinise it close up.
Okay, if anyone wants it, just drop a comment before next Friday. You know the drill!
One way that Microsoft is helping new players get comfortable with their online gaming service Xbox LIVE is the introduction of the Xbox Xperts. The first Xpert unveiled by Microsoft was the bubbly Sheylara, a gamer who made her name in the blogging community. We took her aside to ask her a few questions about being an Xpert.
What’s the role of an Xbox Xpert?
Think of us as something like community leaders. When new users join the world of Xbox LIVE, they might feel shy or not know what to do next or how to join in multiplayer games. So we’re there to welcome them, help them get settled, answer their questions and introduce them to the Xbox community.
What’s Newbie Nite?
Newbie Nite was something I came up with to ease new Xbox LIVE members into the multiplayer gaming scene. Many people join Xbox LIVE and face either of two problems immediately: They don’t have online friends to play games with, or they join a random multiplayer game and get thrashed by expert players who have been playing the game for ages. That can be quite unpleasant for some people and doesn’t give them a chance to experience everything that multiplayer gaming has to offer.
So, in Newbie Nites, I get a bunch of new members together and arrange gaming sessions for them. This allows them to make friends with people of the same gaming level. We have fun together online once or twice a week and it’s my hope that lasting friendships will form from these weekly sessions.
Do you feel like you’re a teacher, of sorts?
Haha, don’t call me a teacher! I think I’d prefer the word facilitator or, like I mentioned before, community leader. Sure, I’ve had to answer countless questions about Xbox and Xbox LIVE, but I don’t teach so much as share what I know. I like to think that, in the online world, we’re all sharing information and having fun together.
What’s the Xbox community like?
Like any other community, the Xbox community has all sorts of people in it. We have hardcore gamers and casual gamers. We have shy people and rowdy and fun-loving people. But, basically, it’s just a community of people who love gaming and who love gaming on the Xbox 360.
I’m also very heartened to report that most people in the Xbox community are very friendly and sociable. They love welcoming new gamers into the community because it means there are more people to play multiplayer games with.
Who are the new folks joining Xbox Live? What are they normally like?
They could be anyone, really. Some are people who have been playing on the Xbox for years and just recently decided to join Xbox LIVE. Some are people for whom an Xbox 360 was a birthday present, so they join Xbox LIVE as total newbies, maybe out of curiosity. Some of them learn about Xbox LIVE through the ads that Microsoft runs regularly through the media.
Most of the time, they’re pleased that there are Xbox Xperts onboard to welcome them and they do respond positively. In fact, I’ve made a lot of fast friendships with these new folks and we communicate regularly via Xbox LIVE messaging.
What’s it like to work with the new members? What are typical first impressions of the Xbox Live service?
It’s always a joy for me when I initiate contact with new members and they respond with a friendly message back. We don’t only talk about gaming and Xbox LIVE. Members also share with me about their lives, what they’ve been up to, and their other hobbies. It’s very rewarding for me when they treat me like a friend instead of some distant personality.
I think most of the really new users are surprised to have someone welcome them to Xbox LIVE and that encourages them to explore more. Some will feel overwhelmed initiatlly. That’s why the Xbox Xperts are in place to make sure they’re getting the full benefits of this service!
How does it feel to be an ambassador for the Xbox?
It feels great, of course. I feel truly honoured and touched. Yes, touched, because gaming is one of the most important facets of my life. I’ve been gaming since I was five. To be endorsing a product that is, basically, the very essence of me, means the world to me. It’s the most exciting and fulfilling thing that’s happened to me… so far! Having the honour of being a Gadget3 cover girl comes close! ;)