Buying Random
Episode I


Anyone familiar with me has likely seen or heard me utter a phrase along the lines of “crawling out from under the security blanket.”  A security blanket is a term for a comfort object that someone clings to in order to deal with strange, unusual, or unfamiliar situations.  At some point in our lives, pretty much all of us develop a security blanket for something.  In gaming, it’s when a gamer clings hard to specific franchises or genres afraid to try anything else out there.  You’ll find a lot of these as Nintendo fans afraid to play anything that doesn’t have Mario, Pikachu, or Link on the cover.  You’ll find these in hardcore Call of Duty fans who are eager to buy the next rehash every year to once again tromp through familiar territory.  Its why sequels are usually guaranteed sales, and why terrible Final Fantasy fans are so eager to have so many games in the franchise remade—luckily for them, Square-Enix is only too happy to do exactly that except for their ultimate darling, Final Fantasy VII.  


So what’s a random purchase?  Normally I’d expect this to be obvious, but then I remembered that this is the internet, and unless I include a hefty explanation no one will read, they’ll interpret it in some baffling manner.  Random is why I buy a game where I’m probably not familiar with the IP, haven’t played any other games in the franchise, caught it on sale or as part of some buy-two-get-one bargain, or simply don’t have much, if any, review information. That’s what this crap is about—in multiple episodes, maybe.  This is also not intended to be as starkly serious as some of my other blogs, as I have to have a sense of humor about some of the nonsense I’ve purchased or, by the tentacles of Great Cthulhu, I would be insane now.


So, I no longer have a security blanket that I’m aware of.  I don’t know what games are guaranteed enjoyment for me, especially after watching three of my favorite franchises suddenly turn to pure, unadulterated, almost prideful suckfests with latter-day releases:  Resident Evil, Metroid, and (if you count it), that terrible Hard Corps uprising that I will not actually count as an “actual” Contra game because I describe “actual” Contra games as “fun.”


Buying random carries its risks and doesn’t always work out for me, but I’m going to chronicle this all the same and maybe, just maybe, one person out there will do the same—and finally start seeking scary new experiences instead of constantly whining that Nintendo or Square-Enix or whoever just needs to remake every damn thing they already made twenty years ago, because screw you guys, some of us want to play something other than what we already played twenty times over the past decade.




You blocked! Quick, recalibrate the Wii Remote!


1.       Swords (Wii)


If you meander over to MobyGames and look up this game, you’ll notice my username (almost identical to this one) as the guy who added it to the database.  I’m also the only reviewer.  I did this ages after the game released and I purchased it randomly from Target for $6 on a clearance shelf.  Target has a notoriously terrible game selection for some reason, and this didn’t help things.  They didn’t carry MadWorld or Manhunt 2, but they sure as hell stocked this gem.


Basically, it’s Punch-Out with sword-play instead of face punching.  It’s designed with the Wii Motion Plus in mind.  It’s also completely terrible.  I finished it the first and only time I’ve played it—which took about two hours, almost all of which was frustrating because the controller would literally lose its crap every 10~20 seconds.  Which means that every 10~20 seconds, I had to pause the game set the Wii Remote+ on the floor, and recalibrate it.  This is one of the worst games I own, and despite its mediocrity, shortness, generic graphics, and utterly broken controls, I had an awful time playing it…for two hours.  But it was not enough for me to regress to my security blanket to try to convince myself that Metroid: Other M was suddenly good.




It's a Fable because no one grins like this in real life.


2.       Fable II (Xbox 360)


Another clearance shelf title.  I knew a little bit about the Fable franchise prior to purchasing it—mostly that it existed and that it is published by Microsoft, and apparently everyone hates Peter Molyneux.  It was the Platinum hits rerelease, and it had two DLC packs included.  One was a very large island where you changed the weather, the other seemed only to facilitate the ability to get one (1) whole Achievement.


Suffice to say, this was also one of my first Xbox 360 games, and it remained a hearty favorite for a very long time.  Yep, I thoroughly enjoyed this one.  The graphics, story, and atmosphere were very likable and inviting, and only the controls were wonky and unintuitive.  Also, I was the most evil I had ever been in any video game—all due to my overwhelming corruption wherein I purchased every available property and ramped up prices across the board.  I had about six wives and a husband—most of whom left me due to my overwhelming evil and devil horns.  It was the most fun I’ve ever had being a complete ass.  The punishment for murder is thirty seconds of community service. I recommend this game.




A happy kaleidoscope of horror.


3.       Peggle: Dual Shot (Nintendo DS)


This is the DS version of Peggle.  I didn’t know too much about Peggle, and I asked my girlfriend as she had played it on her phone.  It’s like Plinko from The Price is Right, sort of.  Essentially, it’s a casual-friendly puzzle game where you have ten balls (think Pinball, not gonads), and you aim a shooter at a screen filled with pegs and such with the goal of getting the ball to bounce around and obliterate all of the orange or red-colored pegs to clear a stage.  I’m not entirely sure what inspired me to buy it.


Peggle has obscenely colorful graphics and ghastly generic animal mascots for the levels.  On the surface, it looks like its art was designed by a 12 year old girl with too many Crayola markers.  But each animal mascot features a series of different levels and each one has a different gimmick to them, such as blasting blazing balls through pegs rather than bouncing off, or improving your chances of catching the ball at the bottom in some way so you get an extra one.  The DS version actually has two full Peggle games therein—hence the “dual shot” in the title which also works the “DS” abbreviation in there.  Despite the acid trip visuals and soulless monster mascots, the game is a great addition to any DS library. If, of course, you don’t already have it on your phone or something else since it’s been released literally everywhere.




In 3D, it looks 7,000 times bigger.


4.       Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy (Nintendo 3DS)


This is the 3DS game that shares the name of the console Ace Combat: Assault Horizon game without actually being related to it in any way, shape, or form.  That is, the console Assault Horizon game takes place on the real contemporary planet Earth—which is also awesome, by the way, except for that inane mission where I fly a high-altitude B-2 stealth bomber low through a damn valley and carefully to avoid “radar cones.”  Legacy takes place in an alternate universe that looks like Earth and has humans meandering about flying planes, but outside of airplane designs, it in no way resembles reality.  In that regard, it might as well have had giant spiders and wizards.


This was my first prolonged exposure to the Ace Combat franchise, and I bought it having read all of about 2 review snippets on it because for no reason, everyone was apparently too busy attempting to complain that the 3DS “doesn’t have games” instead of reviewing the games released for it. Perfectly understandable, I suppose—people like to complain more than they like to play video games, which is why, I’m sure, they don’t buy the Wii U because then they can’t whine as much about how its existence truly pains them.  At any rate, I was instantly hooked on Ace Combat and despite its short length, I fail to see why anyone would not enjoy it unless said person doesn’t like fun, sort of how I picture Dick Cheney in real life.  The action was smooth and entertaining, the 3-D is some of the most impressive on the system, and it controlled were almost perfectly. This led to me later getting the console game wherein I could be confused how they could share titles but not universes.




"No Mom, I'm busy doing Gears stuff.  I don't really care what you get Dom for his birthday.
Maybe a new wife?"


5.       Gears of War: Triple Pack (Xbox 360)


Believe it or not, Gears of War was a random purchase.  I had played the first game early on in my X360 gaming as a former friend (who is now a drain on society) brought it over and I struggled to play it.  The visuals were crowded, the gameplay initially awkward, and the giant hulking characters didn’t help things, and it was my first gameplay experience with such a cover system.  Fast-forward to when Bulletstorm launched, and Target had a deal to get the Gears of War Triple Pack (which is a lie, the third part of this is just add-on stuff for Gears 2, not an actual third game so it’s like a double and a half pack) for $10 when you bought Bulletstorm.  I was already planning to get Bulletstorm and figured, why the hell not?  And got Gears of War with it.


My girlfriend and I struggled to get through Gears 1—and I say struggled because that’s the one where the AI team members are too stupid to pick you up if you fall—but we also generally enjoyed the overall game.  We really loved Gears 2, and as the depth of the story and characters grew by leagues, we grew to love the franchise.  Currently playing Call of Duty: Ghosts online on the Wii U, our team is “Dom” and my player is named “Marcus” and hers is a female soldier with “Dominique.”  It’s too bad people online can’t see those names.  Only me sniping with a machine gun as they knife me in the back.  At any rate, we both became Gears fans to the point that it is about the only franchise that might make me consider and XBO over a PS4.  Maybe Alan Wake. We also played through the pre-Judgement trilogy entirely on hard mode, which is totally a big deal to us.




I know a guy that looks like him.


6.       Punch-Out!! (Wii remake)


Here’s another stupid theme to this adventure:  Target is a great place to get some games for great clearance prices.  Case in point, Punch-Out!! for the Wii.  Dammit, I hate those exclamation points.  Just call it “Punch-Out” already.  It doesn’t need to be screamed like that.  So anyway, one day, I was walking through Target.  Punch-Out!! (sigh) was sitting on a shelf, in a box, with a Wii Nunchuck—for $35.  I thought, well that’s interesting. I get Punch-Out!! and a Nunchuck for only $35. Exactly like that. You can’t prove I didn’t.  Nunchucks were still about $20 at this time.  I turned around and saw the regular version of Punch-Out!! on the shelf sans Nunchuck.  It was $50.   Figuring I could always use another Nunchuck and “how bad could Punch-Out!! be,” I bought the clearance-priced boxed version that apparently used to be $60 and nobody wanted that one because screw bargains.


I did this despite my history with Punch-Out!! wherein I’m absolutely terrible at the game, and had only ever played it for a few minutes—long enough to suck good and hard.  I got home, finally understood how to play the bloody game, and as it turned out, I loved it and hailed it as one of the best games Nintendo made for the Wii (yeah, yeah, they actually farmed out development to someone else—deal with it).  The graphics were amazing, it looked even better on my plasma TV with the component cables hooked up to the Wii, and the gameplay was fun and challenging. Otherwise known as the exact opposite of the first piece of crap on this list.  You know what’s even better? I never played it using the Nunchuck that came with it.  I just used the Wii Remote.