360 Reasons To Play

· by Steve · Read in about 4 min · (730 Words)

So, now that I have my lounge wired networking sorted out, the ground was prepared for my 360 purchase. I was going to wait until between Christmas and New Year before purchasing it, because I put all the games I wanted on my xmas list so people could choose from it, and thus I didn’t want to buy any ‘bundle’ that included games (I’d seen some with Halo 3 and Assassins Creed for example) until I knew what people had got me. As it happened though, I was in town anyway meeting a friend for coffee, and I noticed that all the local deals left in the shops were bundles with games I didn’t really want, such as Forza 2, Pro Evolution Soccer and (dear God no) Smackdown Vs Raw. Since new stock in the next week is unlikely, I figured I’d just get an unbundled machine now instead - which since we don’t pay VAT here was only a smidgen over two hundred quid.

I haven’t bought any retail games - as noted the ones I really want to play are off limits until after Christmas - but I had a list of XBLA games I wanted to try anyway, so given the tumult of games there will be to play later it seemed a good time to seek those out. So I’ve spent a little bit of quality time checking out a lot of demos, and purchasing a couple. I’ve always loved Geometry Wars, so that was a must-buy, and I also bought Pom Pom’s Mutant Storm Empire (I have a history with their Space Tripper and original Mutant Storm on PC) - which is both beautifully crafted and balanced, and hard as nails. Other than that I played most of the demos available out of the box (quite why it’s chosen to put Hexic on my gamercard I’m not sure, I barely played that), and downloaded a few more.

Pac-Man Championship Edition is surprisingly good. It’s a great example of how you can update a classic just enough that it’s different, without destroying what made the original great. It looks and plays brilliantly - in a way it’s like experiencing a game from your past in the way you remember it (in your rose-tinted spectacled mind), rather than how it actually was, given that they’ve upped the graphics to HD with some lovely effects and have mixed up the gameplay with things like dynamically changing levels so we goldfish-attention-span gamers of today don’t get bored. I really enjoyed the demo, not sure if I’ll buy it yet but I’m definitely thinking about it.

Space Giraffe is an enigma. I really want to like it - after all, this is Jeff Minter, one of the few lonestar game designers remaining from previous generations, and he continues to do things his own way. Having played it, I had a mixture of feelings - initial utter confusion at references to ‘Power Zones’ and ‘Cultivating Flowers’, then a slight ray of understanding, then a feeling of being completely overwhelmed by the amount of stuff going on, then bemusement at random ‘bleating’ sounds that I wasn’t sure indicated success or failure, then death. Making sense of the game is certainly tricky, and at most times I was finding it difficult to sort the chaos on screen into some kind of order that I could ‘play’. I wasn’t sure whether I was having fun or not - I think I have to give it another couple of goes before I really make up my mind about it, and I want to give it a chance. I can totally see why it hasn’t sold that well though - in many ways it’s a game from a bygone era, where it just kinda throws it’s wares out there and says ‘come on then, figure me out’, instead of leading you by the nose like modern games. I don’t think that approach works very well any more commercially, and Space Giraffe may well be the last of its kind. For that reason alone I want to give it a good chance at persuading me there’s fun to be had if I give it enough time.

As you can see, I’ve set up my gamertag - Sinbad was unsurprisingly taken, so Sinbad3D it is (it’s like Sinbad, but with more dimensions!), I’m happy to receive friend requests from regulars here 😀