Thursday, September 18, 2008

Aging 360, Projector Woes, Braid, No More Heroes...

First things first. It looks like my 360 might be on its last legs. I've been noticing degraded video quality for a few weeks now. I figured it was due to the capture device I have attached, but I was able to rule that out. Then I wasn't able to change from 480p to any other HD mode. Then I wasn't able to get any video signal (but I do get audio). I checked the cable with a demo kit that I have and it seems to work fine.

This leads me to believe that my 360 is dying. Sadness. It's an original that I lined up for on the original launch date. It's served me well, but I guess it's time to move on. Thankfully there are big price cuts right now.

On another "aging tech" issue, my projector seems to also be dying. At first I thought it might just be the bulb, but after doing some research online I learned that the problem I am experiencing (projector display turns off after a few minutes until I power cycle it, then it works fine) might not have to do with the bulb and might have to do with some other defect. I'll do a bit more research, but hopefully it's just a bulb issue.

I "completed" the main quest line in Braid tonight. I use the quotation marks because I had to cheat on 2 of the 60 puzzles. Maybe if I'd read the text more closely -- or maybe if I'd struggled a little longer I would have solved it. Interestingly, both puzzles had the same solution (you needed to kill yourself to grab the puzzle piece). It was something I just didn't grok.

All in all it was a very satisfying experience -- right from moment one. It felt different and special in all the right ways. The design was intensely clever and really blew my mind. I can still think of a number of levels that I could solve in a way that made sense at the time -- but that I could never explain in words to anyone else.

I also decided to start plowing through my Gamefly Q a bit since the 360 is down. I popped in No More Heroes -- a Wii game that received some critical acclaim but not any real commercial success. It's a mature rated title for language, violence, and I'm assuming subject matter. You play an aspiring hitman who is 11th best. Your goal is to eliminate the 10 hitmen above you. The art direction of the game pokes fun its own low-res (at least compared to most 360 and PS3 games) look by deliberately adding some old-school pixel UI elements and game components. I guess this is supposed to be nostalgic to the older more hardcore player this game is meant to appeal to.

It's interesting that I picked this one up at the same time as Alone in the Dark. Both games are trying to make motion-control mechanics a centerpiece of game play. I reviewed the AitD demo a while back -- and I have a feeling that my conclusion of that review will be similar to my review of No More Heroes: It's worthwhile as a case study of what works and what does NOT work in terms of motion-controlled core game play mechanics. Hopefully the gems will be mined and the crag will be left behind.

One of the coolest moments (even though it took me a while to figure out) was when I received a cell phone call. I heard the phone ring and my Wii-mote vibrated. Then I watched my character pick up his phone. But I couldn't hear the conversation. All I could hear was a low scratchy voice.

Then I realized that the scratchy voice was actually coming from my Wii-mote. Yep, I had to lift the Wii-mote to my ear to hear the conversation that was being played over the cheap internal speaker. Clever!

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