Archive for the ‘XBox 360’ Category

Pac-Man Championship Edition

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

I know I’m a little late to the Pac-Man CE party, but I was also late to the Xbox 360 party, so don’t worry about it.

I managed to find a copy of Namco Museum Virtual Arcade for $20, which has several Virtual Arcade games on it plus a ton of old Namco arcade games, and I had been wanting Pac-Man CE for a while now, which is $10 on its own, it seemed like a no-brainer to pick up the compilation.

It’s kind of hard to explain what the game is without actually playing it or seeing it, but it’s essentially same old Pac Man experience with a few twists.

The maze is divided into two halves, each with a configuration of dots. Eat all the dots on one side and a fruit appears, eat the fruit and the other side of the maze it repopulated with dots, and occasionally the maze is reconfigured slightly. Instead of having to just go forever until you run out of lives, you instead have discrete time limits to score as many points as you can. You still have to worry about running out of lives, but you get lots more (every 20,000 points instead of just one at 10,000).

But this is a game about scoring points. You eat the ghosts, you get points. You eat a second power pill before the first one wore off, you get more points (up to 3200 points per ghost). You stay alive long enough and the dots are worth 10 points, then 20, then 30, then 40, and then 50 (if they get higher than that I don’t know, I didn’t last long enough to find out…), and the bonus fruits get more lucrative as well. Heck, the bonus fruits started go through stuff out of Super Pac-Man (eggs, cake, hamburgers, and coffee), and then from Galaga (enemy ships and the like), and culminated with a Crown which is worth 7650 points. 7650 points, of course, being some kind of pun in Japanese (it phonetically sounds kind of like Namco, I’ve been led to believe).

Death is far less of a big deal here than it had been. You croak and the ghosts are returned to the pen, and you rematerialize back where you stopped, though your point values for the dots reset, that’s kind of a bummer. Even so, death is a bit of a reprieve after a while. As you keep playing the game, the speed gradually increases to the point where you’re zooming around so fast that you get afraid to blink. It was about that time where I found myself missing the occasional turn, which I’d love to blame on the controller, but have to give the nod to my comparatively sluggish reflexes.

Since this game’s on the old 360, there’s also the matter of achievements. There are 12 of them, and I was able to unlock them all in less than an hour and a half. They’re for piddly things like scoring 100,000 points or clearing each of the game modes. Maybe I’m just that good at Pac-Man from wasting a not insignificant portion of my youth in local arcades. But that’s not going to keep me from playing the crap out of this game. It’s way too approachable for that.

Astro Pop

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

Whenever I play most of the games by Popcap, oftentimes I can’t help but think that I’ve ‘been there, done that’.

Take Astro Pop, for example, it’s a pretty blatant clone of a kind-of-obscure game called ‘Magical Drop‘. So, if you know how to play that game, then you pretty much know everything you need to play this one.

Basically, there’s some story about some guys that go through space for some reason, why is pretty immaterial. What you need to know is that there is a series of colored bricks that descend from the top of the screen if they hit the bottom, well, then you lose. But you’re not totally defenseless, you have the ability to grab as many of the same colored block as you can and then throw them up to the top of the screen. Match up four or more in any direction and they disappear, and if you’re feeling really ambitious, you can try to set up chain reactions.

I only played Astro Pop one time, mostly because it was not on my Xbox 360 (which means it was free to me) and because I was really bored (compiling software takes a long time). So I played it and made it to the mid-teens, all the while thinking that I had already played this game before.

So, after that little experience I decided to pack this game back up and not play it again.

And that doesn’t really have that much to do with the fact that I don’t actually own an Xbox 360 of my own.


Monday, July 21st, 2008

Galaga is one of those games that I don’t really remember the first time that I played it… or really much about my early experiences with it at all. I can only assume that I have played it at some point during my formative years, since when I saw it later I recognized it.

I never really was able to figure out if there was a story in this game, all I know is that you have a lone ship and have to take it up against wave after wave of what appears to be space-bugs. You, in your ship have three things you can do: move left, move right, and fire some kind of anti-bug blaster.

The enemies, though get all kinds of special abilities. They can move forward, backward, left, right, off the sides of the screen and onto the other, all while shooting you with whatever weaponry space-bugs have. The thing, though, is that the weird green boss-bug things have this tractor beam where they can suck up your ship to fight on their side. The kicker is, though, that if you kill the boss-bug at just the right time you get your ship back, which immediately gloms onto your current ship doubling both your firepower and vulnerable area. Quite the trade-off.

I think I didn’t play this game very often when it was in arcades because I perpetually had a lack of quarters, which is a side-effect of having a single-digit age. So I mainly just had experience watching the attract screen and learning what point values the different bugs had, and reading my ‘arcade game tips and tricks’ books to pretend like I was playing the game inside my own head. Which was a whole lot cheaper.


Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

The folks behind Bookworm also make lots of games that are fairly obviously clones of other games. And, while I would prefer that companies take chances and make games based on new ideas, I can appreciate the need to create a game that folks might already be familiar with to bolster sales. Making games is a business, after all.

Zuma is a pretty apparent copy of Puzz Loop, even to an untrained eye. But, since I don’t have any experience playing Puzz Loop, I guess my experience with Zuma will have to do.

Zuma has you taking control of this stone frog-thing at the end of a circuitous track that begins somewhere offscreen. A line of marbles comes down this track toward the frog, and if they collide with it, it’s game over. But, the frog also has the ability to shoot more marbles at the ones coming down the track. By matching enough of the same color they disappear, and if you make them all disappear, then you win the level and get to move on to the next, where everything moves a little faster.

I only played this game a couple of times on someone else’s dime and I really wasn’t all that impressed by it. It might be because the game starts out so slow and takes a ridiculous amount of time to get to the Good Stuff(tm). Or it might be that I didn’t think that the XBox 360 controller was particularly well-suited to play a game like this (a paddle controller would be awesome). But I really think I didn’t get a lot of mileage out of this game because it never ‘clicked’ with me. Lots of puzzle games are simple, but they have to tickle that special part of my brain that makes repetitive motions fun, and this one didn’t quite reach it.

Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock

Tuesday, January 1st, 2008

Last night I had my first opportunity to play the latest game in the Guitar Hero series. I’d been intrigued by the games since they first appeared, and since I do like the odd, or sometimes very odd, rhythm game.

Guitar Hero III is about being a, well, it’s about being a rock star, a rock star with a guitar. You’re presented with a song, and lights come down the impossibly-long guitar neck in the middle of the screen. You have to press the corresponding buttons on your guitar and strum the… strummer… in time to the music to actually play the song.

The couple of songs that I did play were quite a bit longer than I remembered them being. They sounded reasonably good and everything, so I suppose that’s a plus. The main problem that I had with this game was that since I’m a neophyte my hands started to cramp up after about 10 minutes or so, so I gave up for the day.

The game was a competent rhythm game. I don’t think I’ll be buying it or anything, so there’s very little chance that I’ll be getting good at it in the near future. Or that I’ll build up my faux-guitar playing muscles to a point that I alleviate the fingers nearly permanently crooked around a plastic guitar neck.

World Series of Poker: Tournament of Champions

Sunday, September 9th, 2007

World Series of Poker: Tournament of Champions is one of the three games that I actually worked on during my brief stint in the video game industry. So, it almost goes without saying that I spent a lot of time with it. A LOT of time.

This game is a video version of poker’s poster child: Texas Hold ‘Em. It’s got other modes, too: Omaha, Razz, Seven Card Stud, and HORSE. Don’t know how to play poker? No problem! There are several tutorial videos that will take you through the basics, hosted by Chris Ferguson (and encoded by yours truly).

Since I did some work on this game, I won’t comment on whether or not I thought the game was good or not, but I will point out a few things that I thought were pretty neat:

  1. Not only can you play the XBox 360 version on Live, but it’s compatible with the Vision Camera, enabling you to actually see what your opponents are doing, and most interestingly, put your own face on your avatar. With a little creativity and patience, you can end up with results like this:

    WSOP Poker Face

    One of my jobs was to try and break the face creator. This face, however, I made in the completed version of the game. There are a few more ways to make… nonstandard faces in this game, but I can’t divulge all the secrets, can I?

  2. The PS2 and PSP versions of this game are interoperable. You can unlock pros in one game and then transfer them to the other game. Almost like Activision’s version of Pokémon, we’ll call it PokérMon. Heck, you can even play online with your PSP against folks on their PS2s. Swank.

Unfortunately, I’m not going to go into any kind of scandals that went down while we were making this game, mostly because there weren’t any. It was a fairly typical as far as development goes, so far as I know.

If you like your poker to be in video game form and fully licensed, then this might be the game for you. Or if you feel the need to purchase something with my name on it, then this also might be the game for you. But then again, I might be a bit biased.