Tagged: Xbox Live Arcade

What a Pid-y

Presented with no further comment, here is the minute by minute recount of my time with Pid (so far).

11/1, 8:40pm I’m playing Pid and you probably aren’t.http://raptr.com/dionisio

11/3, 7:11am Pid may be more infuriating than fun. Good thing Bing basically covered the cost of this one. :

7:19am Remembering that some of the people behind Pid were responsible for Bionic Commando ReArmed would’ve helped me decide to pass on this one.

7:36am The soundtrack to Pid is the best thing about it. It’s slow, somber, melodies really help diffuse the seething rage at how hard it can be.

8:24am Pid is very pretty but I don’t think I really wanna stick with this. Very little payoff for the brutal, long-reloading platforming.

8:27am Timed puzzles that require you to take into account the animation priority pushed me over the edge. Done now… and for good?

Shortly thereafter I added Pid to my ‘Games I wish I loved better’ list on GiantBomb.com saying: Annoying load times between screens and deaths and stupid animation priority for timed puzzles pushed me over the edge. It’s gorgeous and has a great soundtrack but nothing more compelling to make it worth the time-wasting, challenging platforming.

Achieving the hushed silence of shadowy success

A little update on my approach to Achieving before today’s story. I’ve finally amassed enough friends on Xbox that the constant pips of them coming and going has really started to get in the way. I turned off notifications recently which also includes Achievement pop-ups so I’ve been playing games pretty much like I used to. After I finish the main mode I’ll pop open the guide and see what I’ve done and what else I can aim for; it’s shaken up the typical Xbox experience for me if nothing else.

I figured Mark of the Ninja would have a few for collecting its hidden haikus and completing its level-specific challenges so I ventured back to the stages I’d missed them in. The game also has Achievements for finishing a stage without killing anyone, finishing a stage without being detected and one for doing both in the same stage. I was determined to get all three Achievements in one go, presumably on the first stage as it would be the least challenging.

A Shattered Stronghold’ was the last stage I needed a challenge seal in, one of the most complex in the game with sandstorms that obscure your view and explosive traps all over the place. The challenge was to retrieve some keys without using any ninja items so I started out with stealth kills in mind. Nevertheless, I found myself avoiding detection altogether even though I was pretty sure this wouldn’t be the stage to do it in. “This is a stupid idea,” I thought as I approached an area with criss-crossing sniper sights. Later it was a narrow passage full of loose and loud debris with guards and dangling explosives. Even with the game’s most useful ability unlocked it was amazing to see there really was a way through without so much as raising an enemy eyebrow. Even more amazing that I was able to pull it off.

By the time I saw the tally screen above I had nailed four Achievements in one super stealthy go. In fact it was so stealthy the Xbox didn’t even ba~goink at me with notifications… oh, right. The only thing I have left is finishing the New Game Plus which makes things tougher but lets me keep all my ninja gear. It’s been great so far and even with the extra challenge I’m feeling decidedly ninja-powered in dealing with these fools a second time through.

Achieving: Tales of Pointless Self Reward in Games retold in brief posts whenever we feel like it.

Done Playing: Trine 2 (Xbox 360)

For my money the original Trine was pretty close to perfect. It taught its character-swapping gameplay and let you focus on the clever physics puzzles, it was absolutely gorgeous to look at and — most importantly — it didn’t overstay its welcome. It’s a lean, focused indie classic whose only fault is that its boring combat is mostly there to break up the puzzle sequences. Trine 2 doesn’t stray far from that formula and starts out strong but the additions to the gameplay managed to kill my excitement in the end. According to Steam and Raptr I’ve played both games for around eleven hours each but Trine 2 might as well have dragged on for an eternity.

Let’s start on the highest of high notes, though, with Trine 2’s presentation. The images here may look nice but they can’t begin to capture the wondrous sight of the game in motion. The title screen alone has more artistic majesty than the entirely of two or three contemporary games combined. My words do it even less justice so I’ll skip the descriptions and sum it up as whimsical. Whimsical as hell! There is never nothing to be amazed about while looking at this game. Seriously, this is what it looks like when unicorns dream!


Our first year on Xbox Live


Here in this day where downloadable games get as big a push as retail releases and their price tags (and content) continue to swell, I sometimes forget what it was like in the early days. I’ve been digging through my Xbox download history, looking for games that have been delisted from the service, and managed to scroll all the way back to 2006.

We were a little late getting an Xbox 360 and didn’t get online until September of ‘06 when we promptly purchased the requisite Geometry Wars and Bejeweled (in which I still have zero achievements). Katy was into the time-management of Outpost Kaloki X and I was excited (however briefly) for a console version of Lumines. Even by today’s standards Lumines Live’s DLC packs are egregiously excessive. Upward of $20 in add-ons that bring such amazing features like ‘computer opponents’ and ‘puzzle mode’. I admit, I bought a few of them before growing tired of the game. The rest of our first year? Movie trailers and a Dynasty Warriors 5 picture pack. Groundbreaking strides in online ecosystems, eh?

Done Playing: World Gone Sour (Xbox Live Arcade)

World Gone Sour is another one of those increasingly common games that I buy not for its apparent quality but because of how it revolves around real people I know online. When certified real person Adam Boyes (from co-developer Beefy Media) plays the game alongside equally real Giant Bomb co-founder Jeff Gerstmann, their banter is more than just a PR dude trying to sell a press guy on the game. They’re friends and though they may not call me the same, I feel a friendly connection to the two from years of Giant Bomb podcasts and tweets. It was during this quick look that Boyes mentioned a Giant Bomb logo hidden in the game which further blurs the line between things I like. If that wasn’t weird enough context to come into this review I also just earned enough free Microsoft Points from Bing to cover the cost of the game. Let’s just qualify it as “individual results will vary”.

World Gone Sour is a game about Sour Patch Kids candy but like in the days of Cool Spot and M.C. Kids it doesn’t shove candy or soda or happy meals down your throat. The licensed property is just there to set the scene, in this case a world where candy that doesn’t get eaten goes crazy and builds contraptions and obstacles out of everyday junk. You’re a saintly sour patch candy whose quest to rescue his friends has suppressed the madness. What that sets up is a Pikmin-lite system where you find other Sour Patch Kids and hurl them at switches, precariously placed pick-ups, or absorb them to grow bigger and enable new powers.

Those powers include growing and shrinking in size, doing a ground pound move and using your buddies like a bowling ball to take out enemies and explore the side-scrolling levels. It’s nothing cerebral like Fez or daunting like Super Meat Boy and paired with the mellow music and narration of Creed Bratton the whole game feels largely subdued. I’d even call it a nice change of pace from other platformers of late that feel like they’re out to prove something. World Gone Sour is also subdued (in a bad way here) in its visuals with textures that almost look out of a PlayStation 2 game. I like the Toy Story scale of things and the depth of field effects but I didn’t expect to be squinting at blurry objects to make out the gag labels in a modern game. That Giant Bomb logo looks crisp though, oh, and so do the Sour Patch Kids themselves. You can practically taste the crystals of high fructose corn syrup that cover them.

World Gone Sour is aware of what it is — a platformer based on a licensed piece of candy — and it tries to make it special. The narration is clever in spots and the Method Man video takes itself perfectly seriously but it doesn’t go far enough to be really memorable. If you don’t also have a strange meta connection to those involved with its production I can only call it a palette cleanser that isn’t as sour as you’d expect from a pun that bad. It’s cheap, lasts for a couple of days, has local co-op play and you’ll likely get all of the Achievements without much extra work. I hate to call it a throwaway diversion between bigger games but given the sugary nature of the source material that may be the most fitting way to put it.