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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.

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…

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