Sometimes I even surprise myself. Sounds a little egotistical, I know, but it's true. I do things or come up with ideas that shock me that I would even consider the notion of doing or planning whatever it is I drummed up in my noggin. This time, however, I can't take credit for coming up with the idea. I'm just surprised I actually took it seriously and decided to roll with it.
I honestly had no intention of playing any more Angry Birds games after my four day romp through the wilderness that yielded very little opportunities to play games, except for a whole lot of Angry Birds on my phone before I wore the battery down. After coming back into the grid and posting about my game playing of Angry Birds, my amigo Ben pointed out on Twitter that I should just do a whole week of Angry Birds, to fulfill my "Week Of..." series for the month of October. Whether or not he was actually serious when he suggested it, the idea grew legs on the social media site and a legit discussion came about of if I could do it, and more importantly, if I should do it.
Well, considering I had four games consecutively already done and out of the way, and because there just happens to be seven Angry Birds mobile games available right now to play, it was like the stars aligned and a sign from the heavens beckoned me to fulfill the semi-controversial Week Of Angry Birds to the end. Except, this isn't the actual "Week Of..." for October, this is merely the Official, Unofficial Week Of... Angry Birds.
Confused? Don't be. Just sit back, relax and read about some more Angry Birds. Or don't. You might as well, though, since you're already here, right?
First thing you probably noticed is that this isn't an actual Angry Birds game, per say. It's a spin-off game, actually, giving the villains of the Angry Birds franchise, the spotlight for a change. The pigs, also known as the Bad Piggies, finally got their own game, free of being beat up and bullied by the flock of birds constantly being flung at them via cartoonishly large slingshots. But this game isn't at all what you think it might be, if you're not already familiar with it.
Instead of trying to eliminate the threat, you are faced with the challenge of somehow getting the pigs from the start of the level to the end, hopefully accomplishing the mini-accomplishments along the way. Since they are pigs and not birds, they don't have the gift of flight, so they are reduced to using homemade contraptions that will propel them to their goal. And you, the player, has to build the vehicles.
Playing the game for the first time in a really long time, I instantly remembered why I gave up on in when I did. The game is ridiculously hard, especially if you're not in a puzzle solving type of mood. Sure, you struggle your way to the finish line on even the hardest of levels, but if you are a completionist, be prepared to put your thinking caps on. It's not based strictly on luck and skill shots, but actual in-game engineering along with a lot of trial and error needs to happens to perfect each level.
I love the challenge of the game, even if it's not a true Angry Birds game. But it was a nice break from the wash-rinse-repeat formula of the franchise, that's for sure.
At the point where Angry Birds Space came out, it was already highly regarded as one of the most popular, downloaded and played games on mobile devices. Everyone who had a phone or device that could play games on it had probably played one version of the Angry Birds games, whether it be one of the full games or the free versions of each. Apparently, they didn't think enough people knew about the franchise, however.
Or they just wanted to go over the top with marketing Angry Birds Space. Of all the crazy, kooky things they could have done, they decided to go big and make an impact, doing something that I didn't even know was possible. Somehow, with the gazillions of dollars they made over the years, they were able to make the Space Needle tower in Seattle into a marketing device, turning it into a slingshot as if it was to launch the iconic red bird into space.
Genius. Absolutely genius. Every news outlet picked up on the story, even if it was just for a small story, but they got the message across. Angry Birds is here to stay as part of the gaming universe forever, changing the notion of how successful mobile games can be.
Playing this game again today reminded me of all the cool new space physics were in this game, as every Angry Birds game before it couldn't prepare you for playing this game. All the game play mechanics you were familiar with beforehand get thrown out the window, except of course the launching of the birds. After that, once those little birds are flung into orbit, the game is like nothing you have played before. In fact, this remains as the only Angry Birds game that I never completely finished the initial levels of.
This game is awesome, and while it totally feels like an Angry Birds game, it feels like something completely different as well. Maybe one of these days I'll finish it, but not today. It was a long camping trip and I'm actually kind of sick of Angry Birds. It got me through the weekend though, and for that I'm thankful, but for now, I'm ready to get back into some real games.
Like I said, just when I thought Angry Birds couldn't reinvent themselves anymore than they already had, they went and decided to do a tie-in with an upcoming digitally animated blockbuster movie. In hindsight, it makes perfect sense, especially since Rio is all about colorful, quirky and kind of crazy birds, just like Angry Birds.
But honestly, at the time, it felt like the franchise was selling out, trying to earn a quick buck on the coattails of a movie and essentially trotting out the same game once again, just re-skinned to match the movie. Again, this is what I just assumed before jumped in to the game for the first time. Once again, as much as it is starting to sound like a broken record, the franchise surprised me again.
Angry Birds Rio completely melted together and combined the traditional Angry Birds game with the Rio movie, which honestly, I had little interest in even watching until I played this game. They recreated all the main areas of the movie within the game as levels, but that's not where they stopped. Instead of trying to kill pigs, you instead were trying to free captured birds from the poachers. In other levels, you were trying to defeat evil monkeys. And then Rio did the unthinkable.
They introduced boss battles. After all Angry Birds had done to this point, the traditional game mechanic of defeating bosses had been absent from their games, until Rio. And I had totally forgot that until I went back and played this game again. I forgot how fun it was to look for golden fruit, use birds I've seen in a movie and most importantly, defeating bosses.
Cash grab and easy money because of the movie tie-in? Yeah, maybe it was, but they also went above and beyond to make sure everyone who bought the game felt like they got a complete, new game, not just a re-skinned blueprint of the successful franchise.
When I first picked up Angry Birds Seasons, it was right after it was first released. I was already in love with the original game. I enjoyed that the developers kept pumping out new levels and stages for the original game for free, so I was a little perplexed why they would come out with a completely separate game just to add some Halloween-themed levels. But, after being so pleasantly surprised by Angry Birds once, I banked on them not pushing out something that would be just a money grab.
Well, I loved Seasons too. The Halloween theme was very cool, but the difficulty seemed to ramp up a lot more so than the original game, almost to the point where it felt like a completely new game. Which, I guess when you think about it, it was a brand new game. After the Halloween levels were complete, I wasn't sure what to expect after that, but once again, I was shocked.
The next set of levels were Christmas themed levels. They were all fantastic, with new physics based around snow, presents and other items. It was the same blueprint, sure, but again, it felt like a new game.
Since then, they have continued to push out holiday or season based levels, now into year three of the cycle. Each time they update it, it seems to be better than the last. They have used Seasons to introduce new types of items to smash, new birds, new physics and new ways to play Angry Birds, when it comes down to it.
I still love playing this game, just jumping around from season to season, holiday to holiday, year to year, trying to find all the improvements and upgrades they made. I still find the levels, especially when going for three stars, harder than the original game, but that's one of the most compelling aspects of the game.
But just when I thought the Angry Birds franchise knew all the ways to reinvent the wheel with Seasons, they changed up the game once again...
Okay, I don't wan to beat around the bush here. I took a vacation of sorts, I have a few days of blogs to write here. You see, this wasn't just any vacation, but rather a camping trip, up in a canyon, away from it all. And I mean that in every sense of the word. We were as removed from civilization as possible, as I didn't have any cell phone service about 15 minutes into the canyon. We camped about 45 minutes drive time from where we lost cell service, for reference.
The only cell service available would have meant to climb to the top of the canyon hilltop, about 600 yards almost straight up from where we were camping. Sure, it would have been possible, but without a really, really good reason to hike up there, I wasn't going to risk broken ankles, oxygen deprivation and rattlesnake battles just to try and post a blog. Plus, even if I did it once for one day of the blog, I surely wasn't going to be doing it everyday. So alas, I'm making up for it now.
Just because I was out of touch with civilization completely didn't mean I didn't play games. I did, after all, have nothing but time on my hands to do something. While Pokémon got a lot of play time (until the battery ran out), I also had my phone to game on, which if you have it in airplane mode since there is zero cell service to constantly search for, the battery lasts a lot longer than you would imagine.
Even if you are playing a bunch of Angry Birds on it.
I figured since I was becoming one with Mother Nature, I might as relate my blogs someone to my wilderness excursion, right? Well, the best I could do (or wanted to do, for that matter), was an Angry Birds marathon, starting with the game that started it all. When I first downloaded this game waaaaaay back in the day, I had heard about it from somewhere, it being the next big thing. Well, I was skeptical at the time, as I had only had my iPhone for a short while and was very weary about spending money on the app store. But with the kind of praise it was getting, I figured a dollar was worth it.
Well, I have never gotten addicted to a game so quickly, so unexpectedly as I did with Angry Birds. I fell head over heals for this game, instantly. I don't know if it was the quirky charm, the competitiveness of trying to get three stars, or just the mind-numbing fun, but whatever it was, it was fantastic. And even going back and playing it again, even the very first levels, gave me that same smile, frustration and push to get a better score than the last.
And just think: at the time this game was at the top of the mountain, who knew there would be more? A lot, lot more to come.
I don't know why, but I've been on a serious superhero kick lately. I've been watching lots of old comic books turned movies, especially from the Marvel Universe, like the X-Men movies, the solo movies of the Avengers team, and so on and so forth. With the new Thor movie coming out, Guardians of the Galaxy wrapping up filming, Ant Man beginning to be made, and even the new Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television show on, I can't help but smile about all the superhero love being spread over so many different media avenues.
And don't get me started on all things Batman related on the horizon.
Anyway, I am beginning to realize how culturally acceptable it is be a fan of superheros these days. Even when you walk up and down the Halloween costume isles in the stores, it seems like at least half of them are some form of superhero. It's actually really cool, and because of this wave I'm riding, I decided to go back and play an excellent fighting game that I love just because of what it is: Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds.
We all know by now how I feel about fighting games, but when you incorporate so many fantastic video game characters from Capcom games and pit them against an entire roster of Marvel heroes and villains, you can't count me in for sure. The game itself is fun, as I remember how renowned the second game in this series was, and the most recent addition to the series is nothing short of phenomenal.
While I completely suck at nailing awesome combos without assistance from the game, I still thoroughly enjoy the game and playing it, if only to lose myself in the world and characters. Being able to be Hulk one second, Spider-Man the next and then Magneto? Are you kidding me? Oh, and least we not forget about Deadpool, who EASILY steals the show in this game, with his constant destruction of the fourth wall. He even goes as far as to jump up and use the health bar on the screen as a weapon in the game, which is hilarious whether it is the first time you have seen it, or the last.
The Capcom characters are cool also, in their own way, especially Wesker. But for the most part, I feel like I have controlled most of these characters in games before, so the special feeling of being apart of a comic book universe as you control your favorite characters is unmatched.
It's a great fighting game, and one I enjoy going back to every so often. Unfortunately, with the Injustice game that came out earlier this year, all I can think about and wish to be true is a Marvel vs. DC game, whether it is in the style of the Injustice game or the Vs. game, I don't care, but it needs to happen, one way or another.
When Telltale Games brought The Walking Dead universe to the video game world for the first time, it immediately captured the hearts and minds of gamers from all corners of the industry. Before then, Telltale was known for games like Back to the Future and Jurassic Park, but never really created anything that was universally critically acclaimed. Unlike their previous games, Telltale decided that the license associated with the game wasn't as important as the story they were trying to tell within the game. They focused on forcing the player to experience difficult scenarios, make tough choices and ensure that everyone playing connected with the characters more than ever before.
Their new formula worked perfectly, and it was highly regarded as one of the best games of the year, if not the best game in some pundits eyes. It remains to be seen whether or not the sheer excitement and hype of The Walking Dead universe had anything to do with the awesomeness of the game, but either way, they brought fantastic storytelling to the forefront of the industry.
It's well known that they are busy making the second season of The Walking Dead, but they aren't putting all their eggs into one basket and being complacent with the success they have already received. No, part of their studio has been busy, working away on another titles they hope will take off in the same fashion that The Walking Dead did.
The Wold Among Us is other project, one that us bound to sneak up on people more so than the uber-popular zombie game. It is based off of the comic book series called "Fables," which is about iconic fairy tale and fable characters who establish a community in New York as they try to fit in to the general population. While Telltale wanted to use "Fables" as the title of this game, they weren't allowed to due to the Fable video game series, as people with the power to make decisions ultimately decided that consumers would be confused by the name.
Anyway, you are forced to decide whether or not to allow Bigby Wolf, the mayor of Fabletown, will try to help all citizens or let his wolf out to create chaos and havoc. And yes, before you ask, he used to be the Big Bad Wolf, hence the not-so-subtle references. There has been a brutal murder, and his authority is being questioned.
They used all the same game mechanics and blueprints that made The Walking Dead so popular, which is great news for all those who loved that game. Sure, the loading screens are slow and the gameplay is still a little difficult and inaccurate, but it's tolerable, as the voice acting and story are thankfully the strong points of this game. Essentially, this game looks and feels like The Walking Dead, and that's a great thing.
My only worry is that this game won't get near the accolades as The Walking Dead, as quite simply, it's going to sell well below what TWD did. It can't even use its own name as the name of the game, which is a killer for those who don't dig deep into games or read all about the newest and hottest things. They can't even reference Fables, which would be like The Walking Dead not being able to use The Walking Dead. Essentially, something out of their control is going to severely hurt their bottom line figures.
It's unfortunate, because what I've seen so far - with four more chapters yet to be released - this game is going to be awesome, and hopefully can not only keep up with the quality of The Walking Dead, but surpass it when it is all said and done. But like they say, if a tree falls in the woods, does it make a sound?
Okay, Microsoft. I appreciate your attempt to give your Xbox Live Gold members a reward for being gold members. You are trying to placate to the masses' outcry that Sony's PlayStation Plus service is leaps and bounds above what Microsoft offers, thanks in part to the handfuls of free games that PS+ subscribers get every month. Sure, Sony started giving away games a while ago, as an attempt to catch up with Xbox 360's online community, and while it was slow to start out with, they eventually revved up the service and started giving away tons of awesome games.
So Microsoft started giving away free games too, but unfortunately, they are few and far between, and several years old.
Wait. Have I written this before? I feel like I said the exact same stuff with the last free Xbox Live game I wrote about. I guess I could go back and check, but I don't even remember what game it was, if that tells you anything about how interested I am in their service. I guess when it feels like Microsoft doesn't even care about what they are putting out, I shouldn't bother to care either.
Anyway, the latest addition to the free game library is Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes. I had never even heard of this game before, and definitely had no idea it was a full on series. Buy hey, if there is one good thing about this year of gaming I'm going through, it is discovering new games or trying franchises that I never touched before.
So this game is interesting. It's a weird cross between puzzle games and RPGs, in a unique way I've never seen before. It seems and feels overwhelming, but with a little patience, you can grasp the core concepts. Unfortunately, I didn't have the patience needed to get deep into the game or the experience. I'm not sure if it was the puzzle aspect, the RPG aspect, the entire game itself, my lack of knowledge of the universe it takes place in, or just my complete disinterest in everything Xbox 360 these days. Whatever it was, though, I probably didn't gibe the game a fair shake, but in all honesty, it is and never will be the type of game I would invest time in to.
I know this bums out all the Xbox supporters out there, but I just don't care about the console at all anymore. Hopefully the Xbox One will rejuvenate my passion for Microsoft like I once had. Of course, they have to try as well.
My name is Josh, and I have a problem. They say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, right? Well, I have a problem when it comes to gaming, and it may or may not have something to do with my unwavering desire to collect things. At first, it was just in-game collecting, but since the launch of the first Skylanders game, my collecting habit has transcended digital collecting and transformed into an obsession to collect physical gaming pieces.
Skylanders, Skylanders Giants were the biggest enablers of my addiction, but more recently with Disney Infinity and even Pokémon Rumble U, I'm finding more and more things to collect. Thankfully, I never got into collecting statues from collector's editions or stuff like that, probably because they didn't serve any purpose at all other than collecting dust, but with these NFC seri, I am able to justify it more easily. Not that I really have to justify it at all to anyone, but it keeps me from feeling horrible about myself, riddled with buyer's remorse each time I go out and buy a new character.
My eight year old son is who I got into Skylanders for originally. I got him the first game and some characters for Christmas one year, not knowing if he would dig it or not. Well, he fell in love with it immediately, and I knew what that meant: we would be investing much more into this game than originally thought. Again, at first, it was all for him, but the more time I spent hunting down hard-to-find characters, the more I fell in love with the collecting process. It was the thrill of the hunt, the satisfaction of finding one left, and then the reward of adding it to the growing collection.
Eventually we finished off all the Skylanders in the first series, and then with Giants, we just recently did the same. Unfortunately, because of the upheaval of familial status that happened which led to me moving out, our bond over the series and the collection we amassed would change drastically. I'm not around all the time to talk to him about the ones we don't have, bring home new ones and just genuinely enjoy the games with each other. It sucks, but it's totally something I'm trying my best to adapt to.
Well, with his birthday conveniently falling so close to the release of the newest Skylanders game, Swap Force, it was only inevitable that I get the game for him. His little sister and I went out to the store early in the morning to pick up the starter pack for him, and while she wanted to pick out a new, additional character to give him for his birthday, I chose not to dive in to the investment as I normally would. For one, I don't want to be that guy who feels like sticking it to the ex by going above and beyond with gifts for the kids, because that's not my style. But also, I have a plan for collecting this series of Skylanders figures.
You see, when the PS4 is released, I think I am going to get this game for myself. According from people in the know, the PS4 version seems to be the definitive version of this game. That makes me excited, for sure. But also, I really want to play the game, enjoy the game, and collect the figures for myself, since I can't really do that with my boy like I used to. So instead of buying him all the figures and letting him keep them at his mom's house where they will go unappreciated and probably end up in a box or gone before I know it, I figure I can collect them, and if he wants to borrow them sometimes, or just play the game over here when he comes over, that would work.
I also realized that I really want all of the series 1 and 2 Skylanders as well, if I'm going to be jumping into series 3. Part of me just wants to go and start buying all the old ones, but I don't know how hard that will end up being, much less expensive. I then wonder if my boy would want to keep them over here with me at some point, either when he loses interest in the series or just because he would have more fun with them with me anyway. I'm not sure which route to go with this, but it's proof that my addiction to collecting is reaching all-time highs.
The game itself is fun, by the way. The new characters are fun, especially the swapping ones. While swapping bottoms and tops of figures with other ones seems gimmicky, it actually adds some unique strategy to the game that it's been missing in previous entries, from what I can tell from the time I spent with it. But honestly, I can't wait to see what this game looks like on the PS4. It's going to be sweet, I'm sure.
So do I really have a problem? I don't know. It's fun collecting all these things, and since they have a purpose, it makes it far more enjoyable. I like the Disney characters because, well, they are Disney characters, and Disney is just awesome. I like the Pokémon figures for nostalgia purposes, and because they are a lot cheaper. I haven't fully committed to them, though, in hopes of real Pokémon figures and a game being in the developmental pipeline. And the Skylanders figures? They are unique, original, and make me remember back to my childhood when I was always using my imagination to create crazy monsters and creatures. They are really cool characters and they seem to keep getting better, despite it being a massive cash cow.
Maybe this is just a cry for help. Maybe not. Either way, the first step is done.
Gotta catch 'em all.
It's a tagline. It's a challenge. It's a school of thought. It's a way of life. And it's the definition in the purest form of my OCD with collecting things within video games. Sure, it didn't start with Pokémon (I have the coins in the first Mario game to thank for that), but the very first Pokémon games - Red and Blue - exacerbated my digital hoarding tendencies and cemented the obsessive compulsive behavior of trying to collect everything in games that I still fight to this day.
Let's start with a trip down memory lane before we get into the new hotness, shall we? When Red and Blue came out, the first Pokémon games to come to North America (two years after Japan, mind you), I was just starting the 10th grade. My cousin actually introduced me to them, who was a couple of years younger than I, but I immediately fell in love. The idea of an entire world filled with fictional yet still somewhat realistic animals that you had to find, catch, raise and battle against others was fantastic. But honestly, the challenge of finding and catching them all drew me in hook, line and sinker.
I remember how frustrating it was just at the beginning, having to pick one of three starters, as I worried the other two wouldn't be able to be found and caught in the wild. This of course led to the purchase of data cables to trade with others to get the ones needed checked off on the list. And when I realized some were exclusive to the color game that you had, I about lost my mind. Everyone seemed to have Red, for whatever reason, so when a kid with a Blue came around, it was like finding a lost treasure.
The thing with Pokémon is that everyone seemed to see it as a "kiddie game," which made it hard at my age to like it so much. There was a cartoon that was phenomenal that I would watch every day, but it always felt like it was my own guilty pleasure, afraid to let anyone know I was watching it. While normal kids my age were sneaking around trying to watch porn or dabbling in drugs, I was sneaking around with Pokémon. Whether it was wrong or not, justified or not, I always felt like I would be persecuted for my enjoyment of Pokémon.
So I kept it to myself. It was my dirty little secret.
When the Pokémon movie came out, my aunt asked me to go with my two cousins to the theater to watch it with them, acting as the responsible, older cousin. The thought of being caught at the theater with my younger cousins watching Pokémon by friends or peers scared me senseless, so I declined her request. She ended up bribing me with cash, and because I secretly wanted to go anyway, I turned it into a win-win situation. Before the movie started, we went to Burger King which was in the same parking lot as the theater, for dinner. We only went there, as I found out after the fact, because in the kids meals they had Pokémon toys that my cousins wanted, mainly so they could pretend to be Pokémon trainers. At their age, it was totally acceptable. For me, I just had to roll my eyes at them and pretend to hate everything about everything Pokémon.
But man, that movie was awesome. In a totally cheesy, should never really be considered "awesome" kind of way.
Long story short, I grew up being afraid to embrace my appreciation and admiration for Pokémon Because of that, I stepped away from the series for a very, very long time. Sure, I played a couple of the spin-off games, like Snap!, pinball and such, but I always tried to stay away from the core games. That was until I bought my first 3DS when it launched. There were no good games at all at launch, and I think I picked up Street Fighter just to say that I had a 3DS title. So to supplement the lack of games, and to actually make use of the system I just bought, I picked up Pokémon White, the newest Pokémon title at the time. I played through it and enjoyed every second of it, but I felt a bit of disconnect with it. Also, I was judged in my own house for playing it, mocked and belittled for wanting to play a "kid's game like Pokémon."
Fast forward to the present. Finally, us Pokémon fans have what we have always wanted: a good looking Pokémon game, with 3D Pokémon character models and full on battle animations. When X and Y were announced, I knew right away this game would be mine. And thankfully, I no longer have to feel judged or mocked for liking Pokémon I'm free to fly my geek flag and play the kiddie game I've loved for so long, without fear, finally.
I picked up Y because, well, Y's are sort of my thing. Also, I had no interest in the deer-looking Legendary Pokémon of the X version. I went to twitter and everyone seemed to be leaning towards the X version as well, so I felt compelled at that point to go the other direction. When I went to the stores, however, the Y's were all sold out. There were plenty of X's everywhere, but I had to go to three different stores before I was able to find a copy of Y. Take that, Twitter!
Anyway, this game is amazing. It truly is everything I have always wanted from a Pokémon game. Thankfully it doesn't take too long to get started, and you are out and about searching for Pokémon to capture quicker than any other game in the series I can remember. Once I got to that point, I couldn't stop walking around, searching for wild Pokémon to capture. In the four hours I spent playing the game, I only have the first gym badge, but have over 30 Pokémon in my Pokédex. My starter Pokémon is level 20 already, and my team is looking pretty solid and balanced for where I am in the game.
Yes, picking a starter Pokémon was a difficult process once again, as it always is, but staying true to form, I went with the fire element again. What through me for a loop, however, was when I encountered the Professor and he gave me the choice of one of the three original starter Pokémon to keep! Normally I would have went Charmander, but since I was already rocking a fire based guy as my go-to Pokémon. I panicked and ended up choosing Bulbasaur. If I could have a mulligan, I would probably go with Squirtel, because really, anybody who is anybody knows that Squirtel and the Squirtel Squad is where coolness originated. But, as they say, c'est la vie.
Now I just need to find some friends to start trading with, because not having those Pokémon I didn't choose will cause the collector in me to freak out endlessly until they are safely in Pokéballs, in my possession. Gotta collect 'em all, as they say.
Speaking of which...
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Games played for project : 365