Microsoft Games with Gold

Games with Gold

I had just learned this two months ago, which is why I’m posting about this now.  Apparently, for the last year or so, Microsoft has been giving away four games per month to their XBox Live Gold members, which I am.  I pay for my XBox Live membership yearly.  The subscription is required if you want to do anything online, which is pretty much necessary.  So, for a service that I already have to pay for, I get four free games of Microsoft’s choosing every month!

They release them on the 1st and 16th of each month.  Two are for the XBone and two are for the XBox 360.  If you have a XBone, you can play them all on that as the 360 games are immediately on the backwards compatible list.  These are also all downloads.

They are not slouch games, either.  These are major release games.  For example, this month it was the following:

Games with Gold July 2016

That’s Rainbow Six Vegas 2.  A major release.  I am playing Tumblestones now and you can expect a post about it soon.  The others I download and keep until I’m ready to play them.  I did have to get a larger hard drive, but I’ve got plenty of space now.  So just in case you weren’t aware of this, it’s awesome and as good as it seems!

Hidden Gems – Kinect Sports Gems

Genre:  Sports
Platform:  XBox 360

The Kinect is a highly under-appreciated device on the XBox 360 and XBone.  It’s a very innovative device and allows for voice commands and movement tracking.  It works really well, too, even on the first-gen 360s.

Kinect Sports Gems is a suite of games available from the XBox 360 arcade.  They are purchased separately, so you don’t have to get the games you don’t want.  I believe they are $2 each and are very much worth the money.  These games got me off the couch and made me work up a sweat!

I have completed 10-Frame Bowling and Field Goal Challenge.  In each game, there are 10 ranks.  You rank up by completing specific tasks in each game.  For example, in 10-Frame Bowling, there was a task to alternate hands every throw in the game.  You gain stars for each task, and get more stars for the more difficult tasks.  I also have Prize-Driver Golf, Three Point Challenge, Ping Pong, Reaction Ralley, Penalty Saver and Darts vs Zombies.

I have enjoyed each game so far.  They are quick games and are a lot of fun.  Field Goal Challenge has been my favorite and it made me feel like I  was the star of the stadium.  It’s amazing how into these games you’ll get.  Before you know it, you’ll be waving to the crowd and posing for the camera.

Game play is fun and the Kinect is very responsive to your movements.  It had a little bit of trouble with my ceiling fan when trying to navigate through the menus, but it didn’t affect game play at all.  My dog’s constantly-wagging tail did, however, and that made for some interesting game play.  Also make sure that your play area is clear.  I kicked a cat more than once during Field Goal Challenge and gave my poor dog an uppercut while bowling.

If you’ve played the Kinect sports full games, these are very similar to some of the mini games there.  For $2 each, though, I would still strongly recommend picking them up in the arcade, too.

Oldies but Goodies – Bust-a-Move

Genre:  Puzzle
Platform:  SNES

Bust-a-Move has been released, in some form or another, on pretty much every console since SNES.  I had actually played this one first on an arcade machine and immediately had to have it.  To my surprise, I found that it was available for the SNES, which I had.  I still have this game on my SNES and do actually play it.  There have been many clones of this game since, one of my favorites being Phlinx on

This version of the game stars Bub and Bob, of Bubble Bobble fame on the NES.  You are helping them clear a board of balls by matching three or more.  If you’re good, you’ll become skilled at bouncing them off of the walls to make tough shots and have large groups fall at once.

My favorite mode is the multiplayer battle mode.  I played through the story, but this is where the fun is.  You go through rivals until you reach the boss.  You can set how many wins you need per match before you move on to the next foe.  I have played through this many, many times and it’s still fun.

The graphics are just ok, but the soundtrack is great. I was humming it just thinking about it. The sound effects are also cute and add to the game. If you like simple puzzlers without a lot of story in your way, check this out!


Max Morton 1

I’ve been playing Prison Architect on the XBone for a while now and I suddenly have a problem.  I’d like you to meet Max Morton.  As you can see in the stats above, Max is a bad boy.  Max is an asshole.  He’s been in my prison for 33 days now and he’s unlike any other prisoner I’ve had in my 300+ hours playing.  If you notice, he is now sentenced to 890 years in prison.  Here’s another look as to why:

Max Morton 2

This list is big and it’s full of murders.  In one day, Max killed 14 of my staff, mostly guards.  It was a slaughter and I was powerless to prevent it.  He is permanently in solitary confinement now, but he is so strong that he can break down the door when he gets really mad.  I have an armed guard posted in the solitary block.  Max is never happy.  He gets spun up and goes on murderous rampages.  I built a death row facility just so I could kill him, but the game doesn’t work that way.  It seems that I am forever doomed to life with Max in my prison.

“Try leniency!”, I hear you exclaim.  Yeah, I’m not falling for that again.  I have tried that with him a few times now, but the result is always the same – dead staff and inmates as he goes off on a tirade because he’s not near enough to a phone or something.  He’s been quiet for 3 days now, which is UNHEARD of.  I’m just waiting for this ticking time bomb to explode again.  I may have to build a new solitary block just for him.

NES Mini

The gaming world is all abuzz about this new product from Nintendo.  It’s a cute mini-NES system that comes pre-loaded with 30 of Nintendo’s better games from the classic system.  It uses the original controllers (or newer third-party versions) and connects to your TV via wifi.  The price is a bit steep at $60.  I’m a little concerned at how these games will look on a 50″ TV, but I’m sure Nintendo has worked that out.  You can read the original article from Giant Bomb here.

Rumors say that we won’t be able to get our grubby hands on this until November.

Here is the list of games:

  • Balloon Fight
  • Bubble Bobble
  • Castlevania
  • Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest
  • Donkey Kong
  • Donkey Kong Jr.
  • Double Dragon II: The Revenge
  • Dr. Mario
  • Excitebike
  • Final Fantasy
  • Galaga
  • Ghosts ‘n Goblins
  • Gradius
  • Ice Climber
  • Kid Icarus
  • Kirby’s Adventure
  • Mario Bros.
  • Mega Man 2
  • Metroid
  • Ninja Gaiden
  • Pac-Man
  • Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream
  • StarTropics
  • Super C
  • Super Mario Bros.
  • Super Mario Bros. 2
  • Super Mario Bros. 3
  • Tecmo Bowl
  • The Legend of Zelda
  • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

Pikachu crying

This is likely going to get me kicked out of some gaming circles and secret societies, but I have a confession to make.  I have never played a minute of a Pokemon game.  Not the original Gameboy games, not Nintendo DS, not the new mobile game.  Not. One. Minute.  I have never seen the show, either.

I don’t have anything against the odd little creatures, though.  I actually have a few of the games in my collection and I fully intend to play them, it’s just never been very high on my list.  I was in high school when they exploded into popularity here in the US and video games had fallen off my radar a bit at that time.

For those of you really into Pokemon, which game should I start with?  I have just about all of the pre-DS games on my GCW Zero.

Chey’s Top 25 – #11 – Diablo 2

Genre:  Dungeon Crawler
Platform:  PC

We are now entering the “not kidding around” part of my top 25.  I’ve sunk more time than I care to admit into all but two of my remaining top 25.  I’m talking YEARS of actual game time, all combined.  Coming in at number 11 is Diablo 2.

This game was released in June of 2000 and I think I started playing it about a year or so later.  I was immediately sucked in.  This was a very revolutionary game as it really created the genre of dungeon crawlers, which are often called “Diablo clones”.  There was a first Diablo, which was a good game in its own right.  There was also a Diablo 3, which is another great game, and there are rumors of a Diablo 4.  Blizzard, the developer, takes so long on their games, however, that we’ll likely not see it for a good five years, if it even exists.

I loved Diablo 2 for many reasons.  The game play is just fun.  You are constantly clicking on things on the screen.  There is quite a bit of strategy in this game as well as you have a lot of different spells and abilities you can pick from, but can really only have two active at any given time.  You also have to keep a close eye on your mana pool and your health.  This game has a robust tech tree, which makes every play through unique and every character fresh.

Diablo 2 tech tree

The writing is really good.  I have a tendency to ignore a lot of the lore in games, but I read every bit of this that I could.  It’s a story of good vs evil and keeping balance in the world.  Heaven vs Hell.  One of the oldest stories there is.  But let’s not kid ourselves here.  This game is really about the loot.  It’s so satisfying to see gold and items spew from the body of dead foes.  And when you see a really rare piece drop, you really get excited.  However, my biggest issue with this game was a seemingly arbitrarily limited inventory space.  You could not carry much and your bank wasn’t that large, either.  That made for some difficult decisions when seeing that phat lootz drop on the play field.

Diablo 2 inventory

To make inventory matters worse, the game had charms that had to stay in your inventory to have an effect.  Some of them only took up one inventory slot, but some took up three!  This may have been an annoyance, but it also really added to the depth of the game.  The result was keeping different sets of gear for different types of mobs.

This game features some awesome battles, great environments and graphics that are a bit out-dated now, but the game is still wildly popular and fun.  The soundtrack really adds to the tension in some areas.  The maps are different every time you play, too, so it feels different every time you play it.  If by some chance you’ve never played it, DO!