An Apology to the People of the Fallout Universe

I owe an apology to the people of the Fallout Universe (at least in games 3 and 4).  I have been quite judgmental as I have played over the years.  I could not understand why they could not take just a small bit of time and clean up their homes a bit.  I mean, you could hardly turn around without running into this stuff:

Fallout Abraxo

Yep, that’s cleaning powder.  I reckon it’s similar to Comet.  So why couldn’t they use the darn stuff?  Everywhere you go in the Fallout world, the interiors of the houses look like this:

Fallout 3 mess

If I lived there, I would surely try to clean it with that abundant cleaning powder, right?  I had thought so up until recently.  Now my own home looks like this:

Flooded House

It’s been that way for over a month, but have I picked up any Comet to start cleaning?  No!  Why not?  Because I know it doesn’t matter right now.  It’s just going to become an even bigger mess later as the contractor comes in and fixes it.  Not only that, but just being in the house drains all of my energy.

I assume that the people of Fallout must have felt similarly after their disaster.  Many of them probably evacuated from the worst areas.  For those who stayed, I’m sure they simply didn’t have the energy to clean up.  People of Fallout, I sincerely apologize.

The Original XBox Came Out 15 Years Ago

xbox-1

Do you want to feel old?  15 years ago today, Microsoft XBox hit the stores.  I had a friend who worked at Target and he set one aside for me on launch day.  I was so excited to fire this up.  At the time, the PS2 was king and nobody really thought this device would pose much of a threat.  The XBox original may not have hurt PS2 much, but its successors have certainly taken their share of Playstation and Nintendo’s console market.  The launch titles were pretty impressive – I picked up Halo, Project Gotham Racing, Tony Hawk’s Pro-Skater 2, Fuzion Frenzy and Azurik.  I remember it well.  I took it home, popped in Halo and had a ton of fun.

The controllers were initially wired (remember those?) and the controller was HUGE.  They slimmed it down a bit later, but those first controllers were hand-stretchers.  The graphics were unlike any seen up until that point and it had *gasp* an internal hard drive!  You no longer needed memory cards, although you could still use them if you wanted to take your save data with you.  It had a built-in ethernet port for online capability.  I was able to burn music to the hard drive and play it as a custom playlist in many games.

I really loved this old system and I have one today to play some of my favorites which haven’t been ported to the newer XBox consoles (namely SSX Tricky).  15 years really flies by when you’re having fun.

Stinkers – Jumble Madness

Genre:  Word/Puzzle
Platform:  DS

I love puzzle games, especially word games.  And I REALLY wanted to like this game.  I was excited to get it and it cost more than your average word game.  I played it for a good couple of hours, but it just never grabbed me.

If you’re not aware of them, Jumbles are puzzles that have been around American newspapers for a very long time, since at least 1962.  I have enjoyed them for a while, though they are not my first choice of word puzzle.  Anyway, I found that this game was far too easy.  It’s not a fun puzzle if you can solve it in 20 seconds.  This game has some sort of story mode, but it didn’t add anything to the game.  It also has a strange “word-jong” mode, which just has you matching letters like a shanghai-tile game.

If you were looking at this one, skip it.  It’s not much fun.

Casual Game Spotlight – Slingo

Genre:  Bingo/Slots
Platform:  DS, PC

Slingo has been around for a long time.  I think I first played it in 2009 or so, possibly earlier.  I would definitely call this a casual game, as you can pick it up whenever you want and quickly put it back down (if you can).  This game is all over the place now – I have a DS game, it’s on Facebook games, there are stand-alone PC games – and there are many different versions of it.  I’m going to focus on Slingo Quest for the Nintendo DS.

It’s fairly easy to sum up this game – it’s a cross between a slot machine and bingo.  You spin the reels at the bottom, and then select the numbers in your Slingo card that match.  Get a standard bingo pattern (minus four corners) and you get points.  Slingo adds in other objectives that vary from card to card as well.

It’s a simple game, but it is a lot of fun and I recommend it for anyone looking for a quick time waster.  There are times when you need to play more than one card at a time, and I love these games:

slingo-1

It’s more challenging and fun.  If you’ve never played Slingo, try it out.  I am fairly sure you’re going to have fun!

Hidden Gems – Puzzles and Dragons

Genre:  Puzzle
Platform:  Nintendo 3DS

Puzzle games are by far my favorite genre.  I hate to brag, but I’m pretty darn good at them.  I think the reason that I’m so good at them is because I’ve played them all for so long that patterns start to emerge and the games start to feel similar.  That being said, I am not good at this game, and I love it!

Puzzles and Dragons Z/Puzzles and Dragons Super Mario Edition is a wonderful game for the 3DS.  The touch screen is perfect for this game.  It may look like your standard match-3 game, which is how I tried to play it for the first two hours, but it is certainly not that.  You can play it that way, but you will be terrible at this game.  Instead of taking one piece and lining it up with two or more of the same kind, you take it and move it anywhere you want on the board, but it shuffles the other pieces around as you do so.  This means that, with some careful strategy, you can get huge combo moves.  This is so different from normal puzzles games that my brain has had trouble adapting to the concept.  I love the new mental challenge, though!

While you play your way through the game, you have to select which “cards” you want to play with as well.  I have only played the Mario Edition so far, but I’m assuming it’s the same with the Z side as well.  As you play these cards, which are essentially characters, you can level them up.  You will constantly be switching cards around, though, because they definitely have advantages and disadvantages toward certain enemies.  You can also build up power to play occasional power moves, which you’re going to need.

As I mentioned, there are two different games on this cartridge.  One is the traditional Puzzles and Dragons Z (this is the latest in a long series of these games) and the other is a Super Mario Edition.  I’ve read that the Z side is actually a bit easier, but I like Mario and I started there first.

puzzles-n-dragons-play-2

If you like puzzle games and you’re tired of being good at them all, pick this one up!  It will definitely challenge your noggin.

Hidden Gems – Harry Potter + Order of the Phoenix for XBox 360

Genre:  Action-Adventure
Platform:  XBox 360

I am a fan of the Harry Potter books and movies.  I wasn’t too sure about playing the games, though, because video games based on movies are notoriously bad.  I picked this one up, anyway.  It was the first Harry Potter game that I had tried.  I was pleasantly surprised and this makes it a hidden gem.

If you are a fan of the Harry Potter series, you will really enjoy this game.  It follows the story of the movie very well, but it lets you set the pace of the story.  You could finish this game in about 8 hours if you wanted.  However, as a bit of a completionist, I did every side quest, played every mini-game and collected every achievement (except for the one that is bugged).  There are a lot of really fun mini-games and things to collect in this game.  My favorite was marbles.  It could be difficult at times, but was a lot of fun.  It also let you have full run of Hogwarts, which felt like a very large and comprehensive environment.  The colors in the game are a bit drab, but I believe it was intentional.  The graphics are also a bit dated at this point, but it’s still quite playable.

Along your way through the story, you have your fellow Hogwarts crew to help you out.  You will do tasks for them and they will return the favor.  In the end, you will fight “He Who Shall Not Be Named” and hopefully come out victorious.

If you’ve not played this, I would recommend you try it out!  Beware, however, that other platform versions of this game are not the same.  For example, the DS version of the game seems to only have the story portion of this game, which makes it a lot less fun.

Hidden Gems – Pogo Island

Genre:  Card and Board, Arcade, Word, Puzzle
Platform:  DS

I believe I have expressed my satisfaction with Pogo.com previously on this site, so it’s no surprise that I really enjoyed this compilation of 5 different Pogo games, Pogo Island for the Nintendo DS.  This game contains a couple of my favorites – Word Whomp, Tri-Peaks Solitaire, Phlinx, Squelchies and Poppit.  Each game is fun in its own right and I can easily play them for hours on end.  This is a great game for travel for me.  Just pop it in and the time on planes just flies by (pun intended).

This game also lets you collect tokens as you play and upload them to your Pogo account, which is a nice bonus.  If you’re a fan of Pogo games or just solitaire games in general, I think that you will really enjoy this one.  I happened to have found it by accident in a GameStop one day and picked it up immediately.  I had never heard of it before, so it was a true hidden gem.