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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.

The Xbox 360's best Indie Games, Part One

The Xbox 360's best Indie Games, Part One

An expansion of Microsoft's XNA Creator's Club initiative, the Community Games area (now known as Indie Games) is a place for creative individuals, independent developers and small studios to have their work seen by the 360 audience at large. Anyone who thinks they've got a great idea can enter a submission through the Indie process and eventually have a game ready to be sold and downloaded to hard drives all across the world. It's a great opportunity, and the only program of its kind to be available on a home console. Unfortunately, Microsoft has given this area of Live very little attention, and despite being an incredibly exciting and innovative feature, very few players know the first thing about it.

With any luck, this article will help change that.

Batman: Arkham Asylum demo and 'Splosion Man

I had a chance to play the Batman: Arkham Asylum demo currently available for download. The title is obviously getting a lot of attention for a number of reasons, a primary one being that it looks like it's going to turn out pretty decently—an achievement considering that the majority (if not all) previous attempts to bring the Caped Crusader to consoles have been trash.

Atlus Extravaganza!!!

Ok, so if you read this blog even once in a while, it's pretty likely that you know I'm a pretty big Atlus fan. I'm not quite sure if I've crossed into full-blown Atlus whoredom, but I may be getting there. In any event, because they have a great upcoming lineup (and because I have no other blog topics this evening) here's a quick preview of four games coming down the pipe from the hardest-working developer in showbiz…

Cocoto Platform Jumper, 'Splosion Man and The Legend of Neil

Huge thanks to Anonymous for tipping me off on how to defeat the gorilla boss in world four of Cocoto Platform Jumper (WiiWare).

It's a simple little game that by all reckoning should have been a complete cakewalk, but this gorilla seemed invincible and all efforts to find answers on the Internet were a complete fail. My frustration at this part had grown to the point that I had actually quit the game in disgust, and I was contemplating calling Nintendo to complain that they were selling a piece of defective software. Then, lo and behold, Anonymous chips in with a comment and solves the mystery.

Guest Blog: Writer Ann Aguirre talks games

Guest Blog: Ann Aguirre talks games

For a little change of pace, I invited my good friend and super-author An Aguirre to sound off on games from a female perspective. As you can see from her gameography, she’s no newbie to RPGs and has definite opinions on a few topics… I gave her free rein to jot down whatever she felt like, and here’s what she came up with. I think you’ll agree that there’s some interesting stuff here:

I'm not a level grinder or a number cruncher or a loot monkey. It will probably come as no surprise that I love the stories these games tell. I'm in it from start to finish because I want to know how it ends. That's the same reason I read a book. Sadly, many games seem to have rushed endings; it's 100% awesome until you get to the wrap-up and it's like the designers said, "Ok, good enough, the end," and you're left wondering why you spent $50 on this. My affinity for story is also why it irritates me to no end to pick up an awesome-looking game and realize I have to play Captain Jack Dawson, and screw me if I don't like it.

Heatwave, Avalon Code, and Tweeting

I'm getting pretty damned sick of the heat wave that's been plaguing Western Washington recently.

Before global warming started getting really bad, Seattle and the surrounding parts was famous for its mild weather. The misconception is that it rains all the time here, but that's actually not the case. It's incredibly cloudy for a large portion of the year, but there are tons of places that get a lot more rain than we do.

Anyway, since our summers are usually so pleasant, it's pretty rare to find a house that has an air-conditioning unit installed. I think that trend may be changing. It's been so hot here that I have literally been afraid to turn on any of my consoles for fear that they will overheat and die. If my house had air conditioning or if it got some shade, that might be different story, but the way my domicile is positioned, it's like a friggin' oven. If I spilled some flour on my counter and left a few eggs out in the morning, I'd have muffins by mid-afternoon…

Still in Dark Athena

The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena Screenshot

Still playing Dark Athena on 360.

I thought I had reached the end of the game when the developers surprised me and whipped out another new chunk of content to get through. To be perfectly frank, I think I was ready for the game to be over. I'm a little concerned now that it might overstay its welcome.

Phantasy Star Portable and Emergency! Disaster Rescue Squad

Phantasy Star Portable Screenshot

I'm at the final boss in Phantasy Star Portable.

I expected to have it done and on my shelf a few days ago, but the sharp spike in difficulty was a real turnoff and I decided to take a break before I'd be tempted to chuck the thing across the room.

The game itself is nothing special, although I will say that I was in the mood for a loot-earning, clothes-changing dungeon crawler and it satisfied my craving perfectly. I would have been thrilled to complete it without much thought, but now it seems apparent that the only way I'm going to see credits roll is to grind out another ten or fifteen levels.

After twelve hours of play this isn't exactly the way I wanted things to wrap up, but I imagine I'll get back to it and chip away at the remains incrementally.

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