Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Derrol's February 2010 in review

Ok, so it was 30 days...

I'm still waiting on Steve's stuff.  The dude's been massively busy, but he has content produced.  It's just a matter of him getting enough time to either post it himself or to send it to me to post for him.  It's coming soon (I think...).

At any rate, gaming continues.  February was a slow month overall for me.  I only knocked out one game (although I'm thisclose to taking out another as we speak):

3. The Godfather II (X360)

This was one of the most confusing games I've ever played.  It wasn't hard at all.  I just didn't know what I thought of it from one minute to the next.  Graphically, it's positively hideous for a current generation title.  It reminded me a lot of Scarface (PS2/Xbox), which wasn't great for it's own time.  The sound wasn't really anything to write home about and the story was pretty mediocre.  But, on the other hand, it's about as close to a squad-based game as I'm going to get and I had a ton of fun with it.  And since fun is what it's all about, I finished it having a positive opinion of the game overall.  Oh, and if anyone has played it and knows what that Tom Jones-y sounding song that plays in the brothels is, let me know!

As far as the acquisitions go, there wasn't much numbers-wise, but I got a couple of fairly big titles:

-Brutal Legend (X360)
-Fallout 3: Game of the Year Edition (X360)
-Dragon Age Origins (X360)

My year of the epic RPG is about to commence with Dragon Age and Fallout 3 (once I finish Yakuza and pack away my PS2 again).  I already had the lunchbox edition of Fallout 3, but nabbing the GotY version actually saves me a bit of money.  And Brutal Legend was a Valentine's gift from my lovely wife (who still amazes me by putting up with...and habit).

It's now March and the weather is going to start warming up anytime now (...isn't it?).  This also means baseball season is upon us, so I'm going to try the Sony offering for baseball this year.  I'll be getting MLB 10 The Show sometime very soon.  I need something to a) break up the series of huge, minimum 50 hour long RPGs I'm going to start playing and b) get some use out of my neglected PS3.

Unfortunately, I won't be able to make it up to the Midwest Gaming Classic this year.  I had been really excited to go since they moved it to a bigger, nicer place.  But, I'm getting ready to dump a significant amount of money into the Wifemobile so I can't really afford it this time around.  I've learned my lesson though: I've already begun saving my pennies for MGC 2011!

That's it for now.  I'm hoping to get Steve's stuff up here in the next week or so.  We'll see.  Until next time...

Monday, February 1, 2010

Derrol's January 2010 in review

Now that Steve's a part of this thing (his first post is coming soon, I promise), I feel like I should specify that this is my month in review.  At any rate, January was a decent start to the new year.

The "Year of Epic RPGs" that I had planned for 2010 isn't off to a very good start.  I did finish off two games, putting me (for now, at least) on the same pace I set in 2009.  The latest victims:

1. Grand Theft Auto: The Lost and Damned (X360)
2. WWE Legends of Wrestlemania (PS3)

The Lost and Damned came via the Liberty City Stories compilation disc.  I was able to obtain 100% completion and unlock all the available achievements.  It was the usual GTA fun from a slightly different perspective.  I enjoyed the change.  While the basics are the same, playing as a biker made the game somehow feel a bit newer.  And I've always enjoyed playing through missions from different perspectives (like the jewel exchange in the museum).  Overall, it was a great addition to the GTA IV story and should be held up as an example of what downloadable content (it's original release format) should be.

Those of you who have followed my monthly braindump for awhile might recognize Legends of Wrestlemania from early last year.  I liked the game so much that, when I got my new PlayStation 3, I decided to buy it again.  This time, I created Irwin R. Schyster (remember him?) for my romp through the Legend Killer mode.  I completed the game again, this time getting my first platinum trophy in the process.  It's still an awesome trip down memory, especially for a big 80s-90s wrestling mark like me.

This was actually a pretty sneaky month for acquisitions, considering there were no gift-giving holidays to account for in January.  Here's the list:

-Sony PlayStation 3 (120 GB Slim model)
-Facebreaker (X360)
-Demon's Souls (PS3)
-Ticket to Ride (XBLA)
-The Saboteur (PS3)
-WWE Legends of Wrestlemania (PS3)
-Buzz!: The Mega Quiz (PS2)
-WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2009 (PS3)
-Diablo (PS)
-Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas-Special Edition (PS2)
-The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion-Collector's Edition (X360)

It was a pretty successful month overall.  The last two are just special editions of games I already have, but have DVDs included that I wanted (although the San Andreas one was a bit disappointing).

As far as this month goes, I'm kind of at a loss for what to play.  I've been grinding TNA iMPACT! for "style points" so, when I play through the story mode, I have more than three moves at my disposal.  But other than that, nothing's really sticking right now.  I'm thinking it might be time to go old-school and fire up the ol' NES or something.  I have about $85 left on gift cards from Christmas, so I might go nab a game or two and see if they shake me out of my gaming confusion.  We'll see.

That's it for now.  The next update is only twenty-eight days away!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

How an Obsessive Video Game Collector Was Born-Part 1

Note: This is a repost from my GameSpot page in November.  I plan on continuing this series soon, so I figured I should post the beginning for those who didn't follow me there.

I remember it as if it were yesterday (to use a cliche):

It was the beginning of the summer vacation after third grade in 1988. I had just brought home my fourth quarter report card...the one that, if it contained straight A's, my father promised to buy me a NES. I had discovered the NES the previous summer (having, up to that point, been an Atari-exclusive kid) and had spent most of the ensuing year begging and pleading with various friends in town to let me play while begging and pleading with my father to get me one. I had always been one of those "underachieving" students, mostly because I was bored stiff and couldn't sit still to save my life, so my dad cut the aforementioned deal. There was the carrot: straight A's = NES.

Unfortunately for my father (or more accurately, his wallet), he didn't consider that the constant chirping that had finally worn him down would erode the resistance of someone with significantly less my teacher. As I jumped off the bus and ran up to my house, I threw my bag full of all the crap a third grader accumulates over a school year and, since my dad was still at work, promptly forgot about my report card and the NES and went to play with my best friend, Steve. That evening, as soon as I realized that my dad was going to be home from work soon, I tore across my giant town of 250 residents as quickly as my bike would take me to await my judgement.

I hadn't been able to bring myself to look at my report card (which now resembled a cardstock ball from being stuffed in my giant bag o' junk), so I had no idea if I would spend my time playing as a certain mustachioed plumber or if I would go back to hours and hours of Yar's Revenge.

The moment of truth had arrived. My dad slowly (oh, so slowly) slid the now-mangled blue card from it's yellow envelope and opened it up. As I stood there, holding my breath, I watched my dad's face run a gamut of emotions from "aw, crap" to stunned to sort of happy and back to "aw, crap" as he realized that he was going to be about $150 poorer in a matter of hours. I still wasn't sure though. Then he handed the report card to my mom, who got a big smile on her face. I knew now! I let out a victory cry that scared half the town and promptly got me yelled at for being too loud. I didn't care...I had my NES!

Dinner was excruciating as I waited for the 10 mile trip to Wal-Mart. I knew that the Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt combo cart came with the system, but I figured that I'd get another game to go with it. By the time we left, I had decided on Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! Then my dad dropped this little bomb on me...since my sister got good grades too (straight S+ for the kindergartener), she would get to pick the game.
What?!?! Are you kidding me? My sister would go on to become the straightest of straight-A students. She would fart and the teacher would give her an A. This wasn't an event! At any rate, that older sibling instinct kicked in and, using all the salesman skills I'd acquired by trying to get her not to cry when she'd just damn near been killed by some sort of stupidity I'd just pulled, I set about trying to talk her into Punch-Out!!

Now, we're talking twenty-plus years ago, so the memories are as fuzzy in some spots as they are vivid in others, but I'm fairly certain she was eyeballing Zelda (which, in retrospect, would have been an equally awesome choice). Eventually, my charm (and the promise that she'd get to pick next month's game) won out and Mike Tyson came home with us.

The one game a month rule eventually fell by the wayside, as my parents discovered the Dragon Warrior series and started playing as well. Their focus on turn-based RPGs began a search far and wide for similar games (which, oddly, did not include the first Final Fantasy). In the meantime, we amassed a then-impressive collection of around 70 games. The reacquisition of these original games (a convoluted story in it's own right) was one of the seeds that started the collection I have today.

As far as the straight A's go, I'm 99% sure that my grades were fudged a bit. Granted, I was an A-B student (but the Pirate Kid could do sooo much more if he'd only apply himself!), so it wasn't a huge stretch. But, I'd never gotten straight A's before and I never did it again. Whether it was the prospect of a summer of icy stares from the kid behind the catcher's mask (because my failure to get the grades would have totally been her fault) or the fact that she was a sweet lady who didn't want to see a kid's heart broken (my personal guess), something made her give me the grades. For that, I thank you, Mrs. Rincker (and my dad probably doesn't...).

Coming soon-Part 2: PlayStation, N64, and the reacquisition of old friends.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A New Challenger Approaches!

Things have been a bit slow starting out, but hopefully that's about to change.  Steve Cisna will be joining me as part of the Game Horde.  Look for him to start popping up here and there soon.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A Look Back at 2009

2009 was an interesting year.  I got a new job, did some interesting things, and, with much regret, left my longtime home for all things game collecting, the Candid Collector's Union on GameSpot.  But one thing has remained constant: I still love video games.  I'm pretty sure that will never change.

That said, let's take a look back at what was a sneaky-successful year on the gaming/collecting front for me.

-I had said that I was going to cut back my acquisitions a bit this year and was a point.  I added 140 new titles and one new system to my collection (as opposed to the 183 I picked up in 2008).  To be fair, much of that can be attributed to a couple of huge hauls early in the year.  I ended the year with 969 games and I foresee the 1,000 title barrier falling sometime near the end of March, most likely at the Midwest Gaming Classic.

-At the beginning of the year, I had a friend give me a number of games to complete for the year.  He suggested 24, and we went with that.  I'd never finished more than 19 in any given year.  Well, not only did I meed the goal, I surpassed it (

2009 Completed Games
-Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude (Xbox)
-Champions of Norrath: Realms of Everquest (PS2)
-Max Payne (PS2)
-DiRT (X360)
-Dash of Destruction (XBLA)
-Rygar (NES)
-WWE: Legends of WrestleMania (X360)
-Soul Blazer (SNES)
-Fight Night Round 3 (X360)
-Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust (X360)
-Dungeons & Dragons: Heroes (Xbox)
-Metroid (NES)
-Gauntlet: Dark Legacy (PS2)
-Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne (PS2)
-Champions: Return to Arms (PS2)
-Metal Gear (NES)
-Earthbound (SNES)
-Deja Vu (NES)
-Uninvited (NES)
-Tecmo Bowl (NES)
-Castlevania (NES)
-WCW Nitro (PS)
-Shadowgate Classic (GBC)
-Saints Row 2 (X360)
-Assassin's Creed II (X360)

-My Game of the Year: Assassin's Creed II (X360).  Of all the games I played this year, this one sucked me in from the very start and didn't let me go until I'd finished it.  It was a common occurrence for me to come home from work, start playing, and look up at the clock seemingly five minutes later only to learn that it was suddenly after 3:00 in the morning.  Games like this don't come along that's really nearly perfect save for a couple very minor issues I had with the controls.  I really can't recommend this one enough.

-My Biggest Disappointment of the Year: Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust (X360).  This was so easy to pick.  You don't go into a Leisure Suit Larry game expecting high quality.  You go in expecting fart and sex jokes.  So when a game that uses that as it's calling card isn't funny, and throws in ugly visuals and broken controls to boot, it's a certifiable turd.  The one bright point (and even this is stretching it) was Patrick Warburton's performance as the voice of Damone LeCocque.  It was an utter pile and, as someone who prides himself on being masochistic enough to see even the crappiest games through to the end, I can't even say I'm proud to have finished it.

I'd like to say that I'll cut back my game buying this year, but I'll probably look back next December, see another 150 new games and just shake my head in disbelief.  I've got a new PSP and a PS3 on the way, so I'll need games for them.  I'd also like to get a DS and Wii to round out my collection of the latest consoles.  Then again, there's the new TV I want too...sigh.

It looks like the first GTA IV expansion is going to be my first completion of the year.  I had planned for this to be the year of the epic RPG by concentrating on finshing fewer, more involved games (Fallout 3 and it's thirty-seven expansions, anyone?), but then my wife gave me Batman: Arkham Asylum for Christmas and shot that idea all to hell.  So, let's call 42,000 gamerscore (didn't even get close to 40,000 last year), my first 100 PS3 trophies, and five older games the goals for this year.

One year ends, another begins.  If 2010 is anywhere near as good as the last few years have been on the gaming front, it should be awesome.

Now, if you'll excuse me...I have goals to work on.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Introductions all around

After three and a half years of dumping the scrambled video game-related contents of my brain onto a page on GameSpot, I've decided it's high time I strike out on my own.  I've been linking my blog to a couple different sites and it recently occurred to me that people who aren't GameSpot members might want to throw their two cents in on occasion.  That, the continued lack of attention paid to some well-known and ridiculous site issues, and some downright bizarre auto-censoring have finally convinced me to start doing this thing in a semi-independent manner.

Now, as the great Austin Powers once said, "Please allow myself to introduce...myself."

Who am I?
As of this very moment, I'm a 31 year old career underachiever who schleps appliances around for a major retailer.  I'm married to an unbelievable woman who puts up with this nasty video game addiction I have and somehow maintains a smile.  We live in a small-ish Illinois town with our three cats and my fairly sizable video game collection.  I seem to have a knack for this using-the-English-language thing, so it seemed like a good idea to combine my powers for something that could be construed as constructive instead of just drooling down the front of my t-shirt while spraying pixelated lead.

Why am I here?
I'm an opinionated bastard.  I like video games.  I like to write.  That about sums it up.

What will you see here?
I have several ideas as far as what I'm going to do with this blog.  Here are some of the preliminary ideas for features.

Monthly reviews-My month-in-review updates will continue here just as they have on GameSpot for the last year.  They're generally a recap of what I've picked up, what I've finished, and what I'm going to do for the next month.  December's will run on GameSpot, but starting with January they'll be here.

Mailbag-Providing anyone actually reads this, I'll do a mailbag type of thing where I'll answer any questions (or a sampling of such, should it get too large...yeah) I get over the course of a to-be-determined period of time.  If you want to get a jump on that, direct your email to

Mini-Reviews-Many of the games I play are older and/or have been reviewed to death.  The last thing this world needs is another knucklehead waxing poetic on the virtues of Pac-Man.  Instead, I'll condense my impression of a game down to a paragraph and a letter grade (did I mention I was married to a teacher?).

Other random postings-The rest of it will most likely consist of stories, op-ed type pieces, and whatever else crosses my mind that I deem noteworthy.  There will also be a lot of items reposted from my original GameSpot blog, just for continuity's sake.  You have input on this too...if there's something you want to see, drop a line at that email address I mentioned before.

Now, it could be argued that calling one person "The Game Horde" is a bit presumptuous.  And you'd be correct.  Consider me ambitious, but I'm thinking that, should this take off, there may be another writer or two appearing at some point.  You never know.

We'll kick this thing off some time during the first week of January with my 2009 year in review.  Until then, I'm off to go try to figure out Photoshop...this place needs some decoration.  Until next time...