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Brad Gallaway's blog

Replayability and Muramasa

A while ago, I received a request for a quote from a guy named Chris at a site called The Submission. Chris was putting together an article about replayability, and I was glad to contribute, although I don't quite think I said what he expected… In any event, I thought it was an interesting read when all was said and done.

My review of Cursed Mountain is nearly done and I've got another piece coming up for (believe it or not) Sudoku Ball Detective. In the meantime, I've started playing Muramasa: The Demon Blade for the Wii, and I'm finding it to be a difficult experience. Difficult not in the sense that it's hard to play, but difficult in that part of me wants to praise it and admire it, while another part is deeply unsatisfied with its structure and content.

I definitely need to play more of it before making up my mind, but whichever way it goes, I have a feeling that this is going to be a difficult piece to write.

Back in action!!!

Apologies to all my readers. I completely forgot to post a message here to let everyone know that I would be skipping updates for a few days due to my wife and I moving to a new place. My computer has been in a crate since I posted the last update about PAX Day Two, and with all of the hubbub and box-lifting, it didn't even occur to me that I had forgotten to say something until this afternoon. If you've been checking in and wondering WTF was going on, wonder no longer.

Anyway, although I haven't quite gotten my office space properly set up, the blogging will commence... Now!!

The Games of PAX - Day Two

The Games of PAX - Day Two

Since this was my first year going to a conference as a family unit (mommy-daddy-baby) I decided to skip most of the presentations and after-hours events. My little boy was great on the exhibition floor, but I didn't want to push my luck… or his endurance. Since I don't have much to say on the other events that occurred (and boy, there were an absolute ton of them) here's my final rundown of the games I saw and played.

The Games of PAX - Day One

The Games of PAX - Day One - Dark Void Screenshot

Today was the first day of PAX (Penny Arcade Expo) 2009. I have to admit that I hadn't really been paying attention to many of the press materials prior to the show, and I was a little taken aback when the family unit and I arrived on-site to find that the place was an even larger, more spread-out roil of gamers than it was last year. I think the expo may be reaching its critical mass at the Washington State Trade & Convention Center, honestly. I certainly don't want it to leave, but I have a hard time imagining more people being able to cram into that space.

Early impressions of Atlus' Demon's Souls

Early impressions of Atlus' Demon's Souls

Got my hands on a pre-release copy of Demon's Souls from Atlus today. It's certainly been one of my more anticipated titles, yet has remained a fairly large question mark. It's easy enough to get the gist, but as we all know, the devil is in the details… Fortunately, although I didn't have as much time to sink into it as I would have liked, the time I did have was extremely impressive—even moreso than I had anticipated after watching several videos available via the Internet.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed - Tatooine DLC

Just completed the new Tatooine DLC for Star Wars: The Force Unleashed on Xbox 360. As my co-podcaster Tim Spaeth so eloquently put it, it's another piece of "stealth DLC" arriving with no forewarning or fanfare, much like Mass Effect's Pinnacle Station. However, unlike Pinnacle Station, this add-on is pretty sweet.

Starting out, the mission assumes that the player became the Emperor's new disciple at the end of The Force Unleashed proper. (This was only one of two possible endings.) Seeing main character Starkiller as a desiccated metallic husk consumed by the dark side was a bit of a shock, but still pretty cool, regardless.

Pinnacle Station: No sizzle, no steak

Mass Effect Screenshot

So, out of my ten-year career reviewing games professionally, I've only awarded two perfect "10" scores. I'm no math whiz, but if you average that out, I'm pretty sure that's one for every five years. My gist? I don't hand them out lightly.

One of the games to which I gave top marks was BioWare's Mass Effect. Encapsulating basically everything I love about videogames, action, and sci-fi all in one complete package, I blew through the game and devoured every last tasty morsel. Couldn't get enough. Although it's true all good things come to an end, thanks to the implementation of DLC, good things can keep going for a little longer. More Mass Effect? Yes, please.

NyxQuest, Dragon Age Limited, and too-early DLC

Started NyxQuest: Kindred Spirits on WiiWare yesterday. I only had time to get two or three levels into it, but I was really liking what I saw. The art style is very minimal and clean, and the mechanics are immediately accessible.

Basically, you take control of a winged girl and navigate puzzle-ish levels on a 2D plane. The jumping/flapping/gliding works well, and the formula is enriched by using the Wiimote to manipulate certain objects in the environment. In certain sections, you're controlling the girl with the left stick and a button, and moving stone blocks with the Wiimote pointer and a trigger. It's a little like the old "rub your stomach and pat your head" routine, but in a good way.

I look forward to spending more time with it.

Sidetracked by Trials HD

I had originally intended to write about Avalon Code tonight, but before I get to that I have to discuss Trials HD.

Anyway, never in a million years would I have predicted that I would have become as obsessed with this game as I have, but it's been dominating my life for the last few days.

Reminding me a lot of an updated Excitebike early on, I knocked out the first few clusters of levels pretty quickly. I didn't get gold medals on all of them, but I did well enough to satisfy my own personal sense of achievement. Moving up, the Hard level was indeed hard. When I got to Extreme, I couldn't believe it.

Trials HD and messed-up demos

I would never have guessed it, but I've been completely addicted to Trials HD on the Xbox 360 this week. One of the spotlight Summer Arcade releases, it's basically an updated version of the venerable NES classic Excitebike hopped up on stupidiculous amounts of steroids.

I'm not a fan of games that feature timed runs as a core part of gameplay, and I'm not usually a fan of games that emphasize an extremely high degree of technical precision, but in spite of those preferences, I got hooked immediately and I've been putting an unusual amount of time into it every night.

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