24-UP, Part 1: Fast Cars, Danger, Fire & Knives

By Nate Patrin in Features
Tuesday, April 29, 2008 at 7:20 pm

Well, here goes nothing: 24 video games in 24 hours. I can do this. I will get through this. I will persevere.

First, the ground rules:

-Every hour will consist of 45-55 minutes of actual gameplay and 5-15 minutes to write, post, use the bathroom, eat or whatever else I may need to do to stay awake and alert and prevent this whole thing from falling apart.

-This will be liveblogged and divided into three parts, covering eight hours each. Various impressions, observations and borderline-narcoleptic laments will be updated every so often. If you want to follow this in realtime, I recommend checking back every half hour or so.

-In the event that any of the games or consoles I have pre-selected are inoperable for any reason, I will more or less panic and try to wing it, since I didn’t think ahead when it comes to any sort of backup plan. Whoops!

I should also note that when I fired up my 360 at 6PM, I had 14 friends online, 13 of whom were playing Grand Theft Auto IV and one of whom was on “Away” status. Yeah, I think I might be missing out on something.

TUE, 7PM: Forza Motorsport 2 (360)

I made this. Then I steered it into a tire barricade.

As unhealthy obsessions go, this game has probably gripped me in its clutches tighter than anything this side of the Fallout 2 and Tony La Russa Ultimate Baseball marathons I underwent as a teenager. Barring some weird unforeseen disaster, this game is going to be the first where I get 1000/1000 Xbox 360 achievement points, with most of the grueling ones (own all 300-plus cars; reach level 50) behind me and only the potential timesink of winning 1,000,000 online credits to really worry about. (I'm about 1/3 of the way there, which isn't bad, but seeing as how placing first usually gets you something like 10,000 credits – and I rarely place first – this could take a while.) My big thing with Forza 2 is the whole idea that you can take any car in the game and basically make it yours and yours alone; the parts upgrading and custom paint job systems mean that the cars in this game provide one of the richest examples of personal expression in console gaming. Since it's the game I've been playing the most lately (despite the fact that it's nearly a year old), it's the one I'm going to play to christen this marathon, especially since playing a racing sim in, say, Hour 18 of a sleepless day-and-a-half is a one-way ticket to a close acquaintanceship with a bridge abutment.

7:00 PM: Seeing as how I've plowed my way through the entirety of the game's career mode and there's pretty much nobody around to play online against (thank you very much Niko Bellic), I'm going to have to go to that awkward little corner of Forza 2 that I keep forgetting about: Arcade Mode. This part of the game is split up into two sections: Time Trials, which challenge you to set or beat a specific time on a specific track with a specific car; and Exhibition, which more or less lets you pick whatever car you want from a fairly wide array of vehicles (including ones you've bought, tuned and customized in career mode) to go up against a series of AI opponents. Since Time Trials won't let me smoke the Pirellis off my hyperbolically superpowered 2007 Porsche 997 Turbo -- 680 bhp; 609 lb-ft of torque; 0-100 in 5.2 seconds and a top speed of 222.2 MPH -- Exhibition it is.

7:16 PM: With a bit of futzing around and tuning out of the way, I set about running four laps on Road Atlanta against a host of cars in S-Class -- the game's highest officially limited tier, filled with all kinds of McLarens and Saleens and Koenigseggseses. I completely obliterate them, finishing 9 and a half seconds ahead of the second-place driver and notching a best lap time of 1:23.623. I suppose this would be a bit more remarkable if I'd done this with, say, a Toyota Sprinter Trueno AE86, but it's pretty cool nonetheless. Especially since there isn't a tiered difficulty setting in Exhibition mode, meaning I whooped this kind of ass at a level the developers intended.

7:32 PM: For a change of pace, the next race -- four laps at the pseudo-Daytona-esque Sunset Peninsula Infield -- has me going to my Mugen-tune '99 Civic Si Coupe, which I suppose would be the epitome of ricer cheese if it didn't actually have some real power going for it. Since it's an A-class car, my opponents are less superpowered than the last race, but since it's still a level playing field -- maybe more so -- the Murcielagos and Vipers the AI are driving might still be a challenge. And they are, sort of: I start in fourth place, fall back as far as seventh and take a while to make my way to first, thanks largely to the fact that in this game, putting over 370 horsepower in a Honda Civic is sort of like putting a sausage in the microwave. But somehow I manage to conquer my oversteer and excess throttle wheelspin and defeat my opponents -- who, if they were real, would probably be mortified at losing to an overstuffed subcompact when they were driving supercars. This is why video games are frequently better than real life.

7:48 PM: I've driven a European supercar and a Japanese tuner -- looks like it's time for me to wheel an old-school high-displacement muscle car out of the garage next. The bad news is that the next track is another fictional course, Maple Valley Raceway, which has some of the most taxing turns in the game. The good news is that I have a '69 Camaro Z-28 which handles remarkably well, mostly because I put all my effort into upgrading the suspension and left the engine more or less alone. I do fine on the first lap until I wander off onto the grass on the outer edge of a particularly bastardish uphill sweeper, and I lose my composure, falling behind a Lotus Exige. I eventually fight back to first, but not without being a lot more hesitant around some of the tighter bends. Not hesitant enough, though -- I beat the second-place driver by more than ten seconds. Damn, I am on a roll.

7:51 PM: It has occurred to me that there is a possibility that the reason I have done so well in Exhibition mode is because it is meant to give inexperienced gamers to an easier and less grueling introduction to the actual core of the game, which is significantly more challenging and in-depth. Well... um. Yeah.

TUE, 8PM: Bushido Blade 2 (PS1)

Take that, not-Toshiro Mifune

This was one of the handful of games that made me really, really want a PS1 back in the day: it was a one-on-one fighting game with swords, but unlike the Soul Blade/Soul Calibur series, it felt a lot like a legit (or at least Hollywood/Toho legit) swordfight: you could end the whole altercation with one well-timed strike to the body, while slashes to the arms or legs could render said limb useless. Except for the Krylon-esque blood sprays that defeated foes expel from their collapsing bodies, it's all super-theatrical and stylized, and even if it's not exactly the kind of video game Kurosawa would've made – all the samurai fighters in this game are modernized and hip, and one even looks like he stepped off the set of "Soul Train" circa 1976 – the swordfighting in this comes pretty damn close to his kind of epic. Or at least it did in 2002, the last time I spent a significant amount of time playing this. Let's find out how well it's aged.

8:00 PM: So apparently these two clans of... samurai? Ninja? Samurinja? They're called the Shainto and the Narukagami, and they don't like each other. I think maybe moonshine is involved. Since this is a Squaresoft game, there's a pretty elaborate CGI intro that supposedly explains some portion of the plot (educated guess: they're fighting over a sacred sword or something), but it's so 1998 that I can't focus on anything other than the fact that actual video games look better than that now. There's this one moment where some lady-ninja impales some dude on a sword and blood spurts on her face and it's creepy on so many levels. Good thing the rest of this game won't be this detailed, I guess.

8:06 PM: Story mode time. I get six characters to choose from at the start, and I'm not sure which one I need to pick to unlock Soul Train guy. I decide that Gengoro, who looks regal in a middle-aged way and has some badass muttonchops, is the guy to pick, mostly because he's the only character that doesn't look like a mopey teenager. Apparently different characters have different affinities with different swords, and since I don't know which one's the best for Gengoro I pick the katana. I mean, who can't kick ass with a katana? Nobody, that's who.

8:08 PM: Training exercise go! In order to prove myself I have to murderize a whole bunch of my clan's jobber ninjas, which seems kind of impractical: if they're worthy enough fighters for me to prove myself by killing them, they might actually be equally useful in a non-katana-fodder context, and if they're just a bunch of useless dopes that're just hanging around the shrine, how am I going to measure my worth by mowing 'em down? Stupid samurai.

8:13 PM: The Voice of God is pleased with my ninja-culling skills, and sends me off to go reclaim the sacred sword of whatever it is. I start out in some kind of dock/parking lot and pick up where I left off with the whole ninja-murder thing, only this time the ninjas represent the other clan and apparently are somewhat less inept at the whole cutting-me thing. Then some dude in a purple robe smoking a pipe and toting a big-ass broadsword shows up, talks some boring shit ("My name's Matsumushi; maybe you've heard of me?" No) and gets cut down in approximately 9 seconds. "How foolish," mutters Gengoro. Then some old guy in some sort of Imperial military uniform shows up and plot plot plot etcetera.

8:16 PM: Wait, now I'm the old dude?

8:17 PM: Oops. The first ninja old dude faces cuts him down like a dandelion. So much for that.

8:19 PM: Gengoro shows back up on the scene and kicks out some jams. Dead ninjas everywhere. At one point I run at a ninja, the ninja runs at me, I forget the correct attack button and SPLAT our heads bonk like coconuts and we both fall over. D'oops.

8:21 PM: The remaining ninjas dispatched, I get challenged by teenybopper pissant Tatsumi, who's rocking your typical ridiculous Squaresoft hip-and-with-it fantasy-kid gear on some Akira-meets-the-1979-Pittsburgh-Pirates shit. I cut his ass down and pour out a 40 for Dead Admiral Grampa.

8:23 PM: Wait, what the hell? I'm fighting some go-go-girl in a bikini and she gets a rifle? How is this not bullshit? She kills me! Boo.

8:25 PM: Rematch. And ha ha, guess what? Swords don't run outta bullets, lady. Slickety-slice, getcher ass outta here.

8:28 PM: These ninjas must be better because they're blue instead of purple or green. But not much better, since the first one I go up against tries to change his stance mid-fight, after which I promptly cut his ass. Then there's a cutscene with some Dragonball Z-bad voiceover work, and I'm fighting some dong with improbable hair and a broadsword. He kills me before I figure out something awesome: one of Gengoro's stances with the katana is this deal where he actually sheathes the sword and keeps his hand on the hilt. So broadsword asshole (I think he's Kannuki) pokes me unfatally a couple times, and then schwick, I hit him outta nowhere with the unsheathing death blow and reclaim the sacred sword. Bad. Ass.

8:34 PM: Not Bad Ass: a spunky little kid with a Beaver Cleaver voice and 1978 4th grade portrait hair steps on the scene and is all aw-shucks about getting the sword back home. Now I actually have to play as him for a while. He actually holds his own for a while until a ninja murderfies him, which I don't mind because man I really hate spunky l'il kids in games. Jeez.

8:40 PM: The condensed version of what happens the rest of the way: I cut down some generic purple Taki-from-Soul Calibur-wannabe ditz with a spear, some asshole ninja actually kills me with some kind of blow dart, I mow down a few other ninjas and then my PS3 stops reading the disc or something. Ah, hell. At least it was able to save my progre --



TUE, 9PM: Advance Wars: Days of Ruin (DS)

Not pictured: DEADLY FLOWERS. What? Stop laughing

I am pretty much not a big fan of real-world war as we know it, which is why the Advance Wars series of combat strategy games, at least as previously defined through the cheery Dual Strike, struck a chord with me: you were blowing up bad guys with tanks and helicopters and such, but it was all so self-consciously goofy –- commanding officers tended to be snotty teenagers and cartoonish galoots prone to chortling "GWAR HAR HAR!", fighting over the territory of a fictionalized world -- that it came across like some kind of anime GI Joe minus the gung-ho Reagan-era bombast, as bloodless and strategic as chess. Then the developers had to go all bummer on us: Days of Ruin (which doesn't even acronym into "DS"; what the hell) is all about a few splinter-group armies trying to restore order to a fragmented and crumbling civilization after a whole bunch of meteors decimate Earth-but-not-really and give rise to a disease where the main symptom is the victim having lots of pretty flowers sprout from their skin. So… uh. Hey! There's tanks and shit! That works.

9:00 PM: I'm pretty far along in the game, so whatever mission it is that I'm going to do is probably going to take me at least an hour. This is kind of good, since it gives me a lot less to write about and provides a bit of a respite from this endless wall of text you, the reader, have had to contend with so far. Less kind of good is the fact that I am not sure what else I may be able to communicate about this game outside "gah this is hard" and "shit, I should not have moved my bomber there".

9:05 PM: Starting with Mission 20 here, and I'm not too sure recounting the plot is worth much time, except that I'll note that there is a black doctor in this game who is prone to making weak jokes and laughing excessively at them, which makes me imagine some sort of post-apocalyptic Dr. Hibbert. So there's that. Apparently my army has to make its way to some facility or another to find a vaccine to cure the pretty flower disease, only the Evil Other Army has raided it all and now they want to wreck our shit. They have a crapload of aircraft, my army has a small handful of soldiers and one anti-air unit, and while my allied army has a couple strong anti-air units of its own, they're computer-controlled and therefore largely useless. Great.

9:15 PM: As of Day 7 my ground strategy (build shitloads of anti-aircraft guns and capture as many cities/factories/airports as possible) seems to be working well. My air strategy (fly an expensive fighter jet into the area where three of the enemy fighter jets are congregating) is less successful.

9:27 PM: Day 12. Maybe all their planes and helicopters will just... uh... run out of fuel or something, and then I can declare victory. And then it's Greeted As Liberators time!

9:31 PM: I duped their CO (a rockabilly jet pilot peckerhead named Waylon) to fly his fighter directly in range of two of my missile launchers by luring him with a fighter of my own. That's it: if I lose to a guy like this, with all the tactical skills of a PCP-crazed hippie with a cinder block, I'm going to be pretty upset.

9:35 PM: As an aside, there is somebody down on the street outside in a car with their windows down just blasting Michael Jackson's "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough". This is going to be my rally cry now.

9:48 PM: Day 22. This has become an endless war of attrition: I blow up one of their units, they build two more and start capturing a city. They blow up one of my units, I roll out another anti-air and a couple tanks. This is growing frustrating. You know what? The Geto Boys were right.

TUE, 10PM: Persona 3 (PS2)

So Fellini's making JRPGs now?

I never "got" JRPGs for some reason: whenever I tried playing one it turned out that I didn't like the plot, I hated the characters, I couldn't get with the gameplay (at its worst: "press button; wait 3 minutes"), and/or I just didn't have 60 hours just lying around not being spent. But Persona 3 -- the latest in a line of games in the revered Shin Megami Tensei series -- got such a huge following at all the messageboards and review sites and blogs I lurked at that I opted to give it a shot. (Then again, I've been steered wrong by vocal geeks before; I have been told by similarly obsessed people that Deus Ex is the best game of all time even though almost everything about it appears to me to have aged as well as milk.) I figured I had an out if I bought it and hated it: since it was released by Atlus, who are under the mistaken impression that they are actually Rhino Handmade and can only release a single super-limited pressing of an in-demand title which then goes back into the vaults forever, I could hang on to my Collector's Edition copy for a few years and then sell it on eBay for 4-5 times the amount I paid for it. Then Atlus had to go and release a $30 expanded edition with 30 additional gameplay hours and a "true ending", which devalued my copy pretty much instantly, the assholes. My only hope now is that some conservative parents' group seizes on the fact that Persona 3 involves teenagers shooting themselves in the heads with pistols Evokers to fight minions of Satan Shadows and works up enough Moral Outrage to get it pulled from shelves. But I suspect they'll be busy elsewhere.

10:00 PM: I played a bit of this game when I first got it, and so far my experience has gone like this: conversation, conversation, conversation, cutscene, conversation, run around a bit, fail to help some dopey proto-fratboy with a stupid ballcap answer a question in some kind of history class, run around a bit more, conversation, conversation, tussle with unknown primeval forces from another world unless perhaps they are in fact from our world and then that'd be a bad sign of horrific things to come God help us all. I am still not entirely sure if it is actually a video game yet.

10:10 PM: So anyways, my character's some kid at a mysterious special school for paranormal super-crimefighters or whatever, and since I'm in between missions I'm basically running around in this dormitory while awful, awful fake Japanese rap keeps looping over and over. After figuring out that I needed to head for the 4th floor, I have a cheery conversation with all my paranormal super-crimefighter friends about how I have special demon-fighting abilities and it's my destiny to join their band of knuckleknobs. Occasionally I get to pick an answer or a reaction from a conversation tree, but it's not like Mass Effect where I can just be a rampaging asshole to somebody if they irritate me. This is a problem because almost everyone here irritates me, including Shuji, the advisor and token adult who looks like he should be playing bass in an awful jazz-fusion band. Apparently normal people don't realize that there's an extra hour in the day during which evil business goes down because they are literally encased in coffins, and it's our job to keep the shadows from sucking the life out of these coffin-encased people and blah de blee. Less talk more rock, guys.

10:16 PM: So I join Team Teen Action Demon Patrol and this establishes some sort of "Social Link", which is apparently one of the big strategical cruxes of this game. And BLAMO, now it's the extra hour ("The Dark Hour") and it looks like it's about time to throw down with some evil forces and whatnot, except this creepy twerp in prison pajamas shows up in my bedroom instead and tells me that he was reminded about the whole end of the universe coming or something along those lines and that he decided he'd better tell me, before he, you know, forgot or something. I am presented with the opportunity to reply "I don't care," which is at least pretty funny. Then it turns out that instead of kicking some ass during the Dark Hour, I spend the whole time talking to this horrific little waif (who, speaking of Michael Jackson, kinda talks like him) and being told that, yeah, blah blah power inside me awakening hibberty jibberty oh great it's back to the dorm in regular time and where is the menu option to turn this goddamned music off

10:22 PM: oh how about that, fratty-hatty turns out he's got that special super power, too. Probable Love Interest/reasonably non-annoying girl Yukari has the same reaction I do, which is basically "Really? This asshole?" It is at this point that I notice their school emblem looks like the BMW logo if it were designed to look more fascist. He talks about his power being discovered after he found himself in the middle of a convenience store surrounded by coffins and crying his eyes out, and he gets all chortly and embarrassed over it as if he was recalling this one time he popped a boner when he was trying to give a presentation in front of class instead of I don't know discovering an entirely foreign and disturbing ancient supernatural force at work here, jeez.

10:35 PM: At least with Hat Dork (actual name: Junpei) on the team, it looks like I'll get a chance to start actually doing something that resembles a video game instead of a dating sim where nobody actually has a libido. Neat! So after an entirely pointless interlude at school, the team discuss the whole prospect of bum-rushing this devil's tower thing called Tartarus and we get a pretty snazzy cutscene showing it rising from -- you guessed it! -- the school grounds and assembling itself at the stroke of midnight. Keep in mind this marks about twenty minutes of me doing nothing but pressing the X button so I can continue through the dialogue. So after my emo-hair character gets appointed the leader of this little tower expedition, I wind up going through a door and talking with this super-long-nosed little imp named Igor who winds up being the fourth or fifth person to tell me allllll about my power and how it's unique and shit.

10:39 PM: So maybe you can tell I've been more involved when it comes to writing about this game than playing it. But since I finally got around to a save point and now that it looks like I can equip stuff and check stats and find out what I can do, this might actually start going places. I will say that the design of the Persona characters -- the weird, otherworldly spiritual somethingorothers that help you in your attacks -- is pretty well-realized. And it looks like I've hit the combat section of the game, finally. Well, into the breach.

10:47 PM: All right, now I get to actually fight... uh, a pile of gunk with a mask on. He looks pretty bewildered, actually, which makes sense because he's dubbed a "Cowardly Maya". He gets greased pretty easy, as do the next Cowardly Mayas, though given the fact that Mitsuru (the leader of our groovy gang) keeps telling me about how things work I'm guessing this is just a wave of weak-ass tutorial-facilitating bad guys. There is this one bit where all three members of my party bumrush a weakened enemy and pummel the christ out of him in a cloud of onomotopeia-assisted dust, so I'm starting to hate this game less and less.

10:54 PM:
More super-powered clobber attacks, lots of back-and-forth tag team asskicking action, a decent semi-random reward mechanism -- so this is the heart of the gameplay, huh? Not too bad. It's no Fallout, but I don't think I'm gonna put this back up on eBay anytime soon. Hopefully Junpei will turn out to be less of a schmuck further down the line.

TUE, 11PM: Uncharted: Drake's Fortune (PS3)

Damned kids, stay offa my rope bridge

It's kind of sad that the one thing I own that makes me really happy I have a PS3 is the Blu-ray edition of Blade Runner: The Final Cut. That's probably because I've always tended to gravitate towards the 360 version of whatever multiplatform games come out, between achievements and a larger online friends list and the unfortunate tendency for some developers to horrifically screw up and make PS3 versions buggier and chopper than the 360 equivalent. I'm probably going to be plenty happy once Little Big Planet and Metal Gear Solid 4 and Gran Turismo 5 show up, but they're off out there in some kind of ungraspable future-world and what I have to choose from right now as far as console exclusives go are a handful of decent-enough platformers. The jungle-archeology-shenanigans platformer/shooter/probably some other stuff title Uncharted seems to be the best of these, at least from what experience I've had with it so far: it's holy-damn gorgeous, its gameplay mechanics (especially for the terrain-traversal segments) are entertaining, and as far as I know it's the only notable video game out there where the main protagonist has the same first name I do. But I put it down for some reason after a few solid hours of gameplay, and I'm probably going to need to be reminded why.

11:00 PM: Man, that spinning gold doubloon is pretty and all, but not "I don't mind minute-long loading times" pretty.

11:15 PM: So my plane's crashed in the middle of who knows where, I'm fending off a dozen Unspecified Ethnic Bad Guys with nothing but twelve bullets and my wits, and I'm all ducking and running and popping out of cover all action-movie style, and all I can think is "I really kinda want to climb up some vines and jump around instead". Maybe because Nate can't aim for shit (take your pick which Nate I'm talking about here) and winds up going through bullets like they were Tic-Tacs and he'd just eaten a pesto garlic turkey sub with onions. Less Gears of War aping, more Prince of Persia aping, pls k thx.

11:25 PM: After mowing down a bunch of surprisingly resilient goons, I finally get to some sort of platforming hijinx. My first reaction is to leap off into the great unknown in the hopes of grabbing ahold of something, which results in a boffo-laffs cutscene of Nate flinging himself over the edge of a waterfall and plummeting to his doom. Perhaps a more cautionary approach is in order.

11:36 PM:This whole waterfall navigation sequence is pretty wild: so far I've had to duck behind some kind of parapet and pick off a few bad guys, climb around a couple cliff faces, ride a collapsing platform down just long enough so that I could make a leap to an adjoining platform a few feet away, then, while I'm holding on for dear life with one hand and holding my pistol with the other, shoot a conveniently-placed barrel in the bed of a recently-arrived enemy jeep to blow it up, send the jeep chassis hurtling down until it gets stuck between the platform I'm on and another platform, and then cross the improvised jeep-bridge before the platform collapses. But at least I'm not getting shotgunned in the damn face.

11:50 PM: Well, I found my plane, or what's left of it. I also, coincidentally, found a camp full of heavily-armed goons. Guess what happened? Yes, that's right: I got shot the fuck up. Guess what happened next? I paused the game, went to the "Options" menu, went to the "Game" sub-menu, went to the "Difficulty" section, and changed it to "Easy". Then I ran up on those gun-toting bastards and clobbered their lights out with my bare hands. Yeah, take that, surprisingly-difficult-on-Normal game.

WED, 12AM: Super R-Type (SNES)

Wave one of the Horsehead Nebula Spacefleet's assault on the Frank Gehry Star Destroyer

Ah, the Shmup. The whole spaceship-with-lasers-vs.-flying-armada style of gameplay gave us the first real blockbuster video game genre thanks to Space Invaders, and its on-the-wane status in the States only means that the really hard-ass new classics like Ikaruga stand out as modern legends even more. R-Type is one of the shmup series I remember having a decent amount of fun with back in the day in the arcades (NOTE: "back in the day in the arcades" is going to be a recurring theme here), but apparently I made some sort of mistake: having little experience with the console versions, I wound up picking and downloading maybe the most notoriously difficult installation in this already difficult series. If your spaceship blows up (NOTE: it will, trust me), you will need to start the entire stage from the beginning. End-stage boss fights included. This is going to hurt and hurt bad, and maybe more than any other classic game on this list, it'll lead me to question the wisdom of playing something so punishing for an hour straight.

MIDNIGHT: I'm not tired in the least. Hell, I haven't even had a single Diet Caffeinated Soft Drink Beverage of Unspecified Brand, so maybe this is gonna be a bigger cakewalk than I thought. Maybe I'm speaking too soon, of course -- most typical days, I start finally feeling woozy around 1:30 or 2:00 AM, so there's a chance that I've peaked and my will to continue is about to be crushed into dirt by some good old-fashioned Nintendo Hard cruelty.

12:10 AM: ATTEMPT #1. Repeatedly killed on Stage 1 by hovering mines, some kind of rotating barricade and, on my last life, a huge fucking ship 50 times my size vaporizing me with a big-ass space lazer 1/5 of a second after appearing on screen. 62,600 points.

12:16 AM: ATTEMPT #2. ibid.

12:22 AM: It's OK. You can look at the TV screen. Come on. Just... just look, OK? It won't hurt you. It's just a game. OK, relax. Ready? Good.

12:25 AM: Due to what I can only assume is some sort of coding error or perhaps a limitation to the Super Nintendo's hardware, I actually make it to the boss. The boss is some sort of giant robotic eye or something that lays mines down everywhere, but so long as I can avoid them I think I c

12:26 AM: FUCK

12:27 AM: How are my Scrabulous games doing?

12:32 AM: You know what the real cruel part is? I get an extra life for scoring more than 40,000 points, and scoring 40,000 points isn't actually all that difficult. It just prolongs the agony, is what it does.

12:37 AM: I mentioned Ikaruga previously, and that's the type of shmup that's often referred to as a "bullet hell" shooter, since at many points in the game the screen is filled with hundreds and hundreds of enemy-fired little bullets that can damage and/or kill you unless you can find the one pixel of space where they can't touch you. From what I can tell from the first stage, which doesn't even really have many bullets being fired per se, Super R-Type isn't a "bullet hell" shooter. It's an "everything hell" shooter.

12:42 AM: You know that movie The Last Starfighter, where there's this one video game that turns out to be a secret space-rebellion recruitment tool and if you score high enough on it and beat the game you're recruited to join an intergalactic coalition to save the universe by getting into action-packed space dogfights? I am thinking that if you beat Super R-Type something similar happens, only instead of being called on to defend the galaxy you're immediately hired to work a high-salaried job at an S&M device-testing facility.

12:53 AM: I'll be damned, there is a level 2. Maybe I've finally got the hang of th


12:55 AM: "Oooh, Battletoads is soooo hard, and I could never get past the dam level on Ninja Turtles" -- man, fuck you, you don't know pain.

WED, 1AM: Audiosurf (PC)

A fat controller you mean like the original Xbox lol rofl meme

I'm a game nerd second and a music geek first. So when I found out that there was a $10 indie game out there that kinda-sorta combined Klax, Wipeout and Guitar Hero and turned any MP3 in your collection into a puzzle field/racetrack, it was like learning what chocolate ice cream tasted like when you poured Bailey's on it. Audiosurf is your garden-variety color-matching puzzle game that takes the frequencies and rhythms and crests and ebbs of an audio file and dictates the speed and colors of the blocks accordingly; it also means that fast, loud and busy songs, particularly those with odd time signatures and tempo changes, are more difficult to get a high score on than slow-paced, quiet and simple songs. This is something that basically needs to be seen to be understood, so while I’m just going to post my scores as I finish these rounds/songs, I’ll also upload some videos I took with FRAPS and post them when they’re ready. Please accept my apologies if some of my musical choices are kind of hipsterish. Also please accept my apologies if I wind up sucking horribly at this game.

1:00 AM: The Pointer Sisters, "Pinball Number Count": 52,333 points on Medium using Vegas.

1:15 AM: Justice, "Genesis": 36,004 points on Medium using Eraser. (I kinda forgot to erase anything, but got a Gold medal anyways.)

1:22 AM: Stereolab, "The Free Design": 30,014 on Medium using Pusher.

1:28 AM: Boris, "Ibitsu": 44,937 on Medium using Vegas.

1:37 AM: Squarepusher, "Fat Controller": 37,421 on Medium using Eraser.

1:45 AM: Dan Deacon, "The Crystal Cat": 62,663 on Medium using Eraser.

WED, 2AM: Resident Evil 4 (Wii)

Didn't I blow your mind this time, didn't I

Every video game fan probably has a title that they know they'll love and wind up playing over and over again, if only they could find it in themselves to get past a certain hangup they might have with some thing or another early on in the game. So yeah, here is where I admit that I have not yet gotten past the first village in Resident Evil 4. So far my approaches have consisted of "stand my ground in a supposedly inaccessible building and shoot everyone" (ending in failure), "run and hide" (ending in failure) and "do what the strategy guides on GameFAQs tell you to" (ending in failure and/or chainsaw decapitation). I have been told that once I get past this first village everything basically turns into a wondrous jaunt through super-intense survival horror gunslingery, so damn it, I’m gonna try. And yeah, when else am I going to play this than in the middle of the night with all the lights out?

2:00 AM: I am going to attempt to play this, blog about it, prep Part 2 and finish uploading all my Audiosurf videos to YouTube in more or less the same window of time. You know what's good for keeping me awake? Stress. Also, the fun thing about pulling an all-nighter in this neighborhood? There's plenty of people outside who are glad to indirectly let you know that you are not the only one awake at this hour.

2:15 AM: Man, picking up RE4 for the Wii after several months isn't exactly like remembering how to ride a bike. Since my last save was at a point a good distance away from the village I had a chance to try and reorient myself, but it's not entirely sticking here. Naturally, I wound up baffled and panicked enough at some points to actually swivel my stance so that I actually physically turned to the right as I tried to turn the camera, so hooray immersion I guess. I still think I'm going to die horribly over and over again before I figure out what the button/motion to turn around really quick is.

2:22 AM: You know how bad I suck? Ingrid, the lady at HQ that serves as Leon's radio contact, actually breaks the fourth wall and flat-out says "I'm sending you a playing manual". Jeez, don't go all Metal Gear Solid on me now.

2:28 AM: ACTION TIME! Bum-rush the village, run like hell, run into the house, grab the shotgun, kick down the ladder that the not-really-zombies are climbing up, jump out the window and run... right into a dead end. That's OK, I have a shotgun, I can take care of mySHIT SHIT SHIT HE HAS A CHAINSAW OH SHIT c'mon, aim, steady, HAHA BLAM EAT IT YOU FAT BAGHEADED PIECE OF wait no wait why is he getting back up that was a SHOTGUN TO THE OW OW MY HEAD IS SUPPOSED TO BE UP HERE NOT DOWN THERE OH YOU BASTARD

2:36 AM:OK, got it down now. Rush the village, run into the house, shotgun, kick ladder, jump out, run... let's see, this pathway might be better, gives me some room, and... oh man. That's a lot of pseudo-zombies. AND THERE'S THE CHAINSAW FUCKER C'MON I GOT FIVE SHELLS FOR THAT ASS COME ON COME ON OH MAN NO THAT WAS MY HEAD, I NEEDED THAT

2:41 AM: OK, rush, run, shottie -- oh, hey, there's a box of shells on the bed, sweet -- ladder, jump, run... aha. Looks like ol' chainsaw-wieldin' Doc Salvador is amblin' over here by himself. BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM YEAH MAYBE RANGED WEAPONS REALLY ARE BETTER YOU FAT PANTLOAD! Haha yeah I oh wait uh... uh. Wow, that's a LOT of villagers. All headed this way. OH GOD. SHOOT SHOOT SHOOT KNIFE KNIFE KNIFE KICK HEALTH SPRAY OH SHIT OUT OF BULLETS OH SHIT OH SHIT WAIT THERE'S SOME OVER THERE YEAH RELOAD BLAM BLAM HAHAHA WHOO YEAH YOU KEEP COMIN' AND I'LL KEEP SHOOTIN' YA SICKLE-TOTIN' PEASANT SHITHEELS, I hey wait a sec what's that bell for? Huh. Well, OK, nobody's trying to kill me now and they're all headed to church. JESUS, YOU ARE DEFINITELY MY HOMEBOY. Now all I gotta do is save and figure out what to do next. YEAH!

2:54 AM: A little looting before I save. What do the villagers care? They're zombies! Sort of! Or not!

2:59 AM: By the way, that was all due to adrenaline from tearing it up and mowing down... uh, I guess they're called "ganados". Huh. Anyways, that was totally not sleep-deprivation dementia setting in. There will be no futher caps-lock shenangians. Honest.

Now... on to Part 2!


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