Sunday, August 1, 2010

A New Addition!

Hey everyone, so I've gotten behind on this blog because my wife had the baby early! It's a baby boy and he and his mom are both doing well. For internet purposes we're going to refer to him as Mark Rypien Jr. He's three weeks old now and we're starting to settle back into a schedule.

So how has this affected my pile of shame? Not as much as I thought it would honestly. He sleeps almost all of the time and there's a lot of late nights waiting for his next feeding. I'm too exhausted during my free time to do anything more productive than watch TV or play videogames.

During the hospital stay I did make some more progress on Pokemon Platinum. The DSI XL was very handy in that situation and I was even able to do some web browsing from it.

I've also still managed to keep playing Rock Band 2 which I thought would definitely stop. I play it during the day when he's sleeping to much to wake him up. So I've made some more progress in the World Tour mode and finally unlocked a few more achievements.

I've also continued my obsession with soccer games by continuing to play 2010 FIFA World Cup and FIFA 10. I've started playing FIFA's Utimate Team mode which has the same appeal of Fantasy Football. You buy packs of cards that will give you random players that you can then put into multiple teams. There are bronze, silver, and gold level players. This is important because some tournaments you can enter have requirements like all players must be silver or the maximum player level is bronze. There is a team chemistry aspect that doesn't seem to work very well.  Players from the same club team, country, or league have a "chemistry" together. The more players from the same club in proximate positions the better your team should play together theoretically. It doesn't to really work though. Fielded the best players seems to give you a better team than fielding a team with the best chemistry.

I've also been playing Darksiders. It's has been billed as Zelda meets God of War and it lives up to that description. It doesn't have the complexity of either  Legend of Zelda puzzles and dungeons or the combo system of God of War. It still ends up being a good combo of mechanics. The gameplay is polished and the level design is varied enough. I'm having a lot of fun with it though its one of those games that's hard to describe what makes it so enjoyable.

I've also recently bought Prince of Persia 2008 to add yet another game to my pile of shame. I've only played it a little bit but I've enoyed it so far. I like the cel-shaded art design and the easy to pick up controls. Many people complained about the "no-fail" mechanic of the characer Elika saving you everytime you fall and returning you to a spot just before you fell. I have no problem with this, I actualy like it a lot, it takes away some of the frustration of failing at the same jump over and over.

So, that's it for the past few weeks. I'm going to keep plugging away at Rock Band 2 and Darksiders. Catch you all later.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

World Cup Fever and the Steam Sale

So my pile of shame has grown quite a bit the last few days thanks to the massive Steam sale going on. I picked up the CodeMasters Racing Pack, Trine, Zeno Clash, Crysis Warhead, Shatter, Beat Hazard, Torchlight, Toki Tori.

My brother has Shatter on his Ps3 and it is definitely my favorite of the "brick-breaker" games, largely due to the twists it puts on the genre. Beat Hazard is a twin stick shooter that creates levels based on your music. So it has a similar idea to Audio Surf but is executed differently. It is a rather fun take on the twin-stick shooter and has some great visual effects. I've played a little of Toki Tori and have been a bit disappointed in it. It is a decent action puzzler, I am little perplexed at the critical reception it got. I haven't even installed most of the other games I downloaded yet. Got save some space on the hard drive!

Of all the games in CodeMasters Racing Pack the only one I've been playing is FUEL. Which is at the very bottom of my list and the worst reviewed game on it. I've enjoyed myself so far, but I've only played a few minutes. I tell you what though, the 360 controller for Windows I bought doesn't seem like such a waste now.

Back on the 360 all of my gaming has been eaten up by 2010 FIFA World Cup. The controls, graphics, and gameplay are all virtually identical to FIFA 10. World Cup probably should be a mode in the main FIFA game. But if it was people wouldn't shell out 60 bucks simply to play a World Cup mode.

My complaints with the game being noted, the online World Cup is implemented very well. You don't have to join an actual World Cup tournament in progress. You can play the games whenever you want, because after you face one opponent in your group you don't face them again in the Group Stage. So you're still trying qualify against them even if you're all playing at different times.

The rest of the game is quality as well, so if you need a World Cup game, I would recommend this. If you have FIFA 10 or Pro Evo this isn't an improvement in terms of gameplay. But this is the only licensed World Cup simulation.

That's it for this week. I'm going to keep plugging away at Rock Band 2 and hopefully start to make some headway on my list. Buying a new game every week isn't helping my cause though.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Pile of Shame

So here it is the actual pile of shame! So it's about 10 less cases than actual games on the pile of shame. That is because some of the games are anthologies and I have a few Games on Demand and Steam games. Last year I was almost vehemently opposed to "digital downloads" replacing physical media, but I have done a complete 180 on that. It may not look like a lot of games in a neat pile, but is taking up a significant amount of space that those Steam and Games on Demand games aren't.

There are still advantages to physical copies of games though. I like having the manuals and being able to quickly look at all my games in one place. I am much more likely to actually play a game if it is someplace I can see.

No big update this week, I haven't made any progress on my pile of shame, but I hope to plug away some more next week. I did get Warioware D.I.Y. from Gamefly this week. I was initially taken by the possibilities and glad that they spelled things out explicitly. But now I've become frustrated with the many limitations. The plan is this week to finish up some achievements in NBA 2K10 and UFC Undisputed 2010 and then try to plug away at Rock Band 2. Oh yeah, and enjoy some more Super Mario Galaxy 2 if I have time.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Where you at?

So, where have I been for the past few weeks? I haven't been meaningfully neglected this blog, but too many other things have gotten in the way such as work and life. I haven't chipped away much at the ol' pile of shame at all lately.

I have been steadily attacking Rock Band 2, slowly but surely. That campaign seems a lot longer than the original's or maybe its my lack of four hour play sessions.  As excited as I was for Green Day Rock Band I believe I may know wait until 2 is polished off.

I have completed a few games since the last post, which is keeping them off of the pile of shame if not helping to decrease its overall size. I got really caught up in Mass Effect 2 and burned through that pretty quickly. And I completed every single loyalty quest. To be honest, I'm sort of itching to 100% that game but there's just no way I'd have time for that. That whole world, it's characters, settings, and history is fascinating to me. Its world is quite possibly much more drawn out than the Star Wars Universe.

I also managed to complete New Super Mario Bros. Wii literally the night before Super Mario Galaxy 2 came out. That last dungeon is brutal. That whole game is extremely enjoyable. It felt more like an original game with original game mechanics than New Super Mario Bros on DS which I found a little soulless.

I've only played through about 15 stars of Galaxy 2. I think I'm a bit letdown because I may have let the hype get to me. The first Galaxy is in all serious my favorite game of all time. Galaxy 2 feels more polished and adds a ton of new gameplay elements, but I don't know if I've really reached a stage that wowed me as much as the first game. It may be a case of it feeling a bit like a re-tread. That being said, the more I play it the more I like it and the more it seems to open up. My opinion is likely to change drastically.

I've also been playing UFC Undisputed 2010 almost non-stop since I bought it last weekend. I'd just like to get good at, but that seems like a lost cause. Its fighting system is incredibly deep which is both good and bad. I get my ass kicked every time I go online but I don't get tired of the fighting like I do in wrestling and boxing games.

This week the name of the game is polish off a few achievements in NBA 2K10 and put that one to bed and continue drudging forward on Rock Band 2. With the World Cup going on I'll likely also be spending some time trying to finish off FIFA 10 as well.

That's it for this update. I'll return to a regular schedule and start giving some more frequent updates.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Pokemon Platinum and DSiWare on the Go

So, once again no time to play Rock Band 2 last week Still reviewing Red Steel 2, playing through Mass Effect 2, playing with my DSi XL, and Bioshock 2 came in the mail from Gamefly as well. So, I'm all about the sequels right now. I've also been playing quite a bit of NBA 2K10 because March Madness and the NBA Playoffs got me in the mood for it.We took a trip up to NJ for my Grandma's birthday so I ended up putting a chunk of time into playing DS and DSiWare games.

Its funny, when I was younger, even in High School, I was being driven around a lot more and had much more time to play Gameboy and DS. Since that time has passed I've tried a few things to get some more portable gaming in but it hasn't always worked.When Pokemon Fire Red came out I tried playing it on my GBA during workouts at the gym. It made the treadmill less tedious, but also made me queasy. When I first got my DS I tried playing it in bed before I went to sleep. Unfortunately, it often got me too wound up, especially while playing intense games like Contra 4 or Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword. I bus commute to work everyday and that would be an ideal time to bust out the DS, but I like to use that time to catch up on my sleep. Also, after staring at a computer screen for 8 hours, I really don't feel like staring at another LCD screen. So now the majority of portable gaming happens on long family trips or long trips were my wife and I switch off driving.

Anyway, a few thoughts on the DSiWare shop. The majority of my DSiWare gaming has been with Art Style:Pictobits, Starship Defense, and the previously mentioned Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again.

It took me a while to wrap my head around Pictobits and not approach it like Tetris. I think I've got it down now, but I'm still getting overwhelmed at the end of levels. I may need to adjust my play style once more.

Starship Defense is Tower Defense game where you try to protect your ship. It has a cool Study Hall activity look with line drawings over a graph-paper background. It is a more accesible Tower Defense game than most as well. It teaches you weapons and strategies slowly and has a fast-forward button so you're not wasting away waiting for the next wave.

I would have spent more time with the DSiWare titles but the road was very bumpy and that made it hard to look at the shapes and react quickly. Couldn't play those games effectively because of that. So the majority of my time was spent with Pokemon Platinum. Before the trip I traded myself between my Pokemon Pearl and Pokemon Platinum games. So now on Platinum I have two starter Pokemon.

I think it was a success pile of shame wise. I acquired my 6th badge,my Monferno evolved into an Infernape, and my Prinlup evolved into a Empoleon. I did spend quite a bit of time wandering around wondering what to do. Then I realized that since I had just acquired the HM Surf I had to Surf somewhere. It's a bit funny how little direction there is sometimes in what is supposed to be a kids' game.

Anyway, this is starting to be too long of a post, so I'll save my Pokemon history for another post. Back in the normal pile of shame, I am looking forward to some Rock Band 2 this week!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Update on No Updates

So, I didn't have time this week to play any games on my pile of shame. My currently playing list is growing to the point were my pile of shame will be growing larger soon as well. I am still playing through New Super Mario Bros. Wii from last November.  I just got to the World 8, and it's getting pretty interesting. I recently bought Dragon Age: Origins, and Mass Effect 2. I also got FIFA 10 and NBA 2K10 as late Christmas presents two months ago which I want to put more time into before the next versions come out. I also just got Red Steel 2 in for review so most of my gaming time has been spent on that.

Oh, and I just bought a  DSi XL. Which I'm enjoying. I really like the bigger screen. The camera stuff if  a fun distraction, even if it's not very capable. I also really like the DSiWare shop. I've only downloaded a few games, but I've enjoyed them so far. Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis is especially clever. I was disappointed in the Dr. Mario Express game. I was really hoping it would have stylus control. After playing the version of Dr. Mario on Brain Age 2. That felt like the most natural way to play the game. All I really want is a full version of Dr. Mario with stylus control. Is that so much to ask from Nintendo?

Anyway, so sorry, no update this week. I don't expect to be playing any Rock Band 2 this week. But  since I am currently enamored with my DSi XL and I'm going away next weekend I may play some Pokemon Platinum this week.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Rock Band 2 - Week 1

So I've been playing a lot of Rock Band 2 the last week; catching a few minutes here and there. I haven't had time to put in any marathon hours into it. It is a great way to unwind after a crowded stressful bus commute home.

I've played some guitar,bass, and drums this week, but no singing. Because no one wants to here that, not even me.

Playing drums on Alice in Chains "Spoonman" I came across a drum solo, which I thought was pretty cool. That's the first time I can remember encountering a drum solo, though I may have played one before. I'm pretty sure I've played a bass solo before.

I played bass on a few "punk" songs, mostly Pixies, Blink-182, and the Offspring. It's a bit odd, but in a few of those songs it felt like the bass notes were timed a hair off. Which is very unfortunate, because that is the DLC that is the most fun to play on the drums and guitar. The drum parts are surprisingly  complex; which is funny because "punk takes no talent". The guitar parts aren't as hard but the note-tracking feels very realistic.

Speaking of DLC, other downloads I would recommend is the Foo Fighters The Colour and the Shape, No Doubt's The Singles 1992-2003, and the Cars - the Cars. Every part is fun on the No Doubt songs, though for some reason every drum part seems to be insane. Also my wife loves No Doubt, so when I get her to play with me, it's usually her singing the No Doubt songs. I was a bit disappointed in the the Cars guitar note tracking, but the songs are a blast on bass and drums. The Foo Fighters songs are again good all around. I love the Who and wish I could recommend their DLC more highly but there is too much empty spaces between notes in most of their songs.

Anyway, I've got a long way to go still. I'm still opening up cities and venues. Doubtful I'll get to play any this weekend, I'm going to be busy non-stop.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

AC/DC Live: Rock Band Track Pack

I was totally in the mood for some Rock Band 2 today after I waited for the bus for an hour this afternoon! But by the time I got home I had a headache. After dinner I felt better and did play Rock Band. Some AC/DC Live Track Pack that is.  It was after 10 (after 30 Rock) so it was too late to rock out on the drums. So I played a few songs on Guitar in the Medium Solo Tour.

It's not on my pile of shame yet, because I just got it a few a weeks ago, and I have to have owned a game at least 6 months and it has be at least two years old before I consider part of my pile of shame. Otherwise I still
consider it to be a game I am currently playing. At least that's the logic I just made up this instant.

It's fine I ended up playing it on guitar  because I was down to the last few songs on the drum solo tour when I got to "Let There Be Rock". That song is just stupid on the drums. Far too much pedal. I should have never decided to start on Medium instead of Easy. So I think I may be finishing the tour on Guitar.

It's really regrettable that AC/DC Live was based on the Rock Band 1 engine. It would be nice to change difficulty at will like you can in Rock Band 2. And play the same tour with friends or by yourself. And it would be really nice if you were actually playing as AC/DC. It seems kind of lame to be performing live AC/DC songs as random schmoes.

As for the actual songs, they're pretty good but not great. The energy is captured nicely, but I don't like the note-tracking as much as I do for the Who or Pixies DLC. The live thing is good in concept, but the songs tend to get a bit repetitive and overlong, especially when you're waiting almost half a minute between notes at times. People who love AC/DC will definitely have fun with this Track Pack though.

In sort of related thoughts; I'm excited about the Green Day:Rock Band. I loved The Beatles:Rock Band and if Green Day gets the same sort of treatment I think the game will be pretty sweet. A lot of people are complaining about the choice of Green Day. Green Day's career is more varied than most people think and they've had plenty of big hits. Also I don't think they really get the credit they deserve for their musicianship. It's not Stephen Sondheim, but its not just three-chord Punk-Pop either.

Anyway, I'm hoping to play some Rock Band 2 drums sometime this weekend....

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Hello Internet World!

Welcome to my new blog!  My name is Mark and like many people I have a large stack of unfinished games, books, and movies. The most egregious pile of shame I have is the videogame one with almost 50 games I haven't finished.

This idea came about because we are going to be moving soon and I was trying consolidate my possessions. While organizing all my media I noticed how many games I owned that I haven't really put much time into. So I thought, I really should play these  games or get rid of them. So I'm going to try to play through them. I thought it might be interesting to blog about that process.


  • For one to save money and get something out of the investment I already put into this large pile. Even if I only paid $5 for each game, that is still over $200 of money spent that I haven't gotten much entertainment out of yet. I'm going to downgrade my Gamefly account to decrease that bill which will also give me more gaming time to tackle this pile. 
  • My fondest memories of games are of one that I have completed. "Lesser" games that I have played to completion have been more memorable to me than "great" games I only played a few hours of. 
  • While searching the Internet I didn't find any recent blogs that covered this specific topic. I think it could open up some interesting discussions. 

  • I will try to play one of the games on my list at least once a week and blog about it. I will possibly post more and will probably play more than that but my goal is once a week. 
  • I will play every game on the easiest difficulty. The point is to get through the games and experience them; not prove my mettle as a gamer. I have never felt a game wasn't fun because it was too easy (aside from some sports and music games), only because it  was too hard.
  • If I get stuck I will use a guide or a walkthrough. Getting stuck at a frustrating part is the main reason I shelve a game. I will define "getting stuck" as failing at the same task three times or more. I have no qualms about walkthroughs, I have rarely felt remorse for using one.
  • I will define "completing" a game as finishing the single-player story or campaign mode. I have not yet decided what to do if I am unable to finish a game. 

  • The list is of games I currenlty own copies of. 
  • The list ordered based on criticial acclaim, a few podcasts I want to listen to (like Rebel FM's Game Club), a desire to play games in a series chronologically, and personal preference. Rock Band 2 is at the top of the list because I'm having a kid soon and the rocking out will have to be kept to a minimum. 
  • My goal is have taken at least 10 games off my list by a year from now. 
  • I have a full-time job, a wonderful wife, will soon have a new baby, three other sites that I write for, and a normal life full of other hobbies so I may miss a week or two occasionally. 
I am planning on kicking this blog of for realzies at the beginning of April. I'd love to hear what you guys think. Feel free to comment with gameplay tips, thoughts on the games,  opinion which games you'd  like to me to tackle next, or anything else. Let me know, I look forward to any feedback.       

So check back in a week or so for the first "real" post.