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October-December 2006 (oldest-to-newest)

24 Oct 2006 - YouTube-ifying

Brandon had a good idea to upload the VM Labs videos to YouTube. Here you go.

Also included is the speech he gave after he and Nick banged on the seal with a hammer (which didn't really seem to affect it).

Damn it's been a while since I've posted...

30 Oct 2006 - Bark at this

I've been slowly chipping away at Guitar Hero. You'd think my ability would have topped out by now, but I'm still continuing to improve. Muscle memory helps more than raw talent me thinks :)

Yesterday, much to my surprise, I completed Bark at the Moon. Knowing that final solo was coming (courtesy of practicing with VGS Player) I had full Star Power saved up. It didn't quite last the whole time, but I managed to survive after it ran out.

Unfortunately I still have one to go. Cowboys From Hell has a crazy hard rhythm that repeats many times at the beginning. I often die around 10%. I'm sure I'll get through it eventually. Other songs have had what I though to be difficult standard rhythms (notably Cochise and bonus song Hey), but now I find those really fun.

Roll on November 7th!

16 Nov 2006 - Meh

I beat Guitar Hero 2 on Hard this morning. I decided to play through that first so I could unlock all the songs. I think I only failed a song a couple times. Now to go back to Expert.

Playing on Hard can be more difficult when you know the song and are expecting to play every note. I really had to adjust when I got to Jane's Addiction's Stop.

I must say I'm disappointed with quite a few of the songs. I can understand throwing in a wider variety, but at least three of the last five songs were ones I'll play to beat, but never play again. I still have to work my way through the bonus songs to find the gems there.

20 Nov 2006 - My Wii tale

No I didn't get one. Yes, I'm jealous of those that did :)

I visited Target on Saturday to ask them how they were handling the launch. They told me they'd hand out tickets at 7:30am and had 84 units. She seemed to think they would sell out "by noon". Ha ha.

I had planned to get there three hours before opening, but given her response I changed that to two hours. When I got there at 6am there was a rather large line already present, including some tents from those that camped out. I mentally did a count as I walked down the line to find my place at the end. I was dismayed as my tally surpassed the 84 units supposedly allotted. It was close, though. I hopped in line and hoped that there were people in line that were only there for moral support (or parents of kids).

It was rather uneventful waiting. The guy right behind me was a rather colorful character. Pretty much the definition game geekdom. I was happy to find myself amongst kin. He was quoting Penny Arcade, Simpsons, and even VG Cats (the Vegonomics one). He had a DS and was playing Elite Beat Agents, trying to beat the final stage on the hardest level and getting a perfect combo. Me? I did my Brain Training for the day, played a couple Clubhouse Games and called it quits.

Around 7am something must have happened near the front because the line became compressed - all tents and chairs were packed away. That's when I snapped a couple pics.

Here's the front of the line - whom I dub "lucky bastards".

And here's the end of the line - whom I dub "Wii-less losers". The guy on the far right was the one behind me.

Around 7:30am a Target guy came out and explained how the thing would work. He confirmed the 84 systems and indicated that for every three games you bought you would receive a $20 gift card (useable only on a future purchase). Imagine that! With some places forcing you to buy bundles just to get a system, here was Target not only letting you buy the system by itself if you want, but giving you a bonus if you bought games.

They started handing out tickets. The last ticket was given to a guy maybe dozen people ahead of me. Curses! If only I'd stuck with my original plan of arriving three hours early. If only the now clearly demented woman hadn't said they'd sell out "by noon" I wouldn't have been so lax. (And if only I hadn't stopped by the video store first to dropp off a movie.)

My tale doesn't end there. Once we knew we wouldn't be getting one we made a mad dash across the street to Walmart. Of course they had opened at 7am and had already sold out of their paltry 20-something units.

Then it was to the Sears in the same shopping center. Aha! Only a dozen or so people in line. There was a rumor that there were only six units available, but I was losing hope so decided to stick it out. The guy behind me in this line asked if anyone wanted in on some DS Metroid multiplayer. Now, I have the cart, but have never played it (life with kids = zero time). He helped me set it up.

Around then a Sears employee came out and confirmed that they only had six. She gave the rest of us 10% off vouchers for any electronics purchase. Hey maybe I'll use it to get Zelda later. The annoying part is that the person at the front of the Sears line got there at 6:30am! If I'd only gone there first instead of Target I would have one!

Dejected, I went to leave when the Metroid guy said, "if you really want one I know where we can get one if you drive me." He was a nice guy and a gamer so I felt safe taking him up on that (and I was getting a wii bit desperate at that point). We hit a couple of Best Buys (tickets already distributed) and even dropped by Costco (no line! but, didn't get any units). No luck.

There were rumors that stores would be getting new stock the next day so maybe I'll call around this week. I'm not holding out much hope, though.

Thank goodness I still have Guitar Hero to wile away the time until I get wiily lucky. I got the wireless guitar, which feels so nice to not worry about cord tripping. Plus my son has gotten into playing so it's nice to not worry about the cord getting yanked. My dream of a gaming buddy is slowly coming to fruition.

22 Nov 2006 - And sometimes you get lucky

So I'm home with my son yesterday because he's sick. I get a call from a voice I don't recognize and my telemarketer warning kicks in. He asked for someone that I didn't understand. I ask him to repeat. He says he's asking for Scott. I say I'm Scott. He asks me to repeat. I'm getting pretty frustrated by now and am ready to hang up on him. Finally he introduces himself as a guy from GameStop.

Back in October I was in a bookstore buying the OPSM issue with the Guitar Hero 2 demo. GameStop is right next door so I stopped in after I had made my purchase. There were several people in line and as I approached I saw they were registering interest in PS3. No one was taking preorders at that point, but they were taking names of people that they would contact when they had more info. Once I got to the front of the line the associate asked if I wanted to put my name down for PS3. I asked if they had a list for Wii. She pulled out another, empty sheet and took down my name and number. I was first on that list.

I never got a call. I read online about GameStop's preorders and how they came and went. I even tried to do the preorder thing, but showed up too late that morning. I was rather irritated that they never called.

So I was surprised when the guy called me last night saying they got in a new batch of Wiis and would I like one? Um, yes please!

I went down there and picked it up along with Zelda. Typical GameStop they tried to sell me a protection plan for the system ($30) and game ($3). Uh, no thanks. Too bad every place was sold out of accessories. I'll have to wait a while before playing two player Wii Sports.

13 Dec 2006 - Breaking straps

I'm getting pretty fed up with the holier-than-thou attitude that the majority of gamers have adopted regarding Nintendo's Wii strap breaking issue.

Even Nintendo itself is laying the blame at the feet of the user (while also quietly pushing out a more sturdy version.)

"Some people are getting a lot more excited than we'd expected." Indeed.

While I have yet to lose grip on the Wii remote, I had one incident during a game of bowling where I felt the remote slip ever so slightly in my grasp. My heart gave a little jump as it happened.

And I'm playing by myself. I can understand how people would get even more gesticulated when playing against a friend or three. Not to mention letting your toddler play Wii golf (Gavin: "Point it down and swiiing!" - warms my heart every time). How can you *not* expect the remote to slip from someone's grasp now and then?

I mean obviously they put the strap there for a reason. Then when it doesn't hold they don't want to be held accountable.

How about an analogy. Let's say you get into a car accident and your air bag fails to deploy. Is it your fault because you happened to get into the accident? Of course not. The product should have worked in all reasonable circumstances. Same with the strap.

Just because you, Joe Q. Hardcoregamer, have an iron grip every time you play doesn't mean that everyone else should too. Open your mind a little and have some empathy.

20 Dec 2006 - Final-freaking-ly

I finally beat Cowboys From Hell on Expert - the last song I needed to finish Guitar Hero. Wow, nearly a full year playing the same game. That's just unheard of for me. And I have no plans to stop playing :)

I know everyone has gone ga-ga over Guitar Hero 2, but I prefer the original, flaws and all. It's the track list that does it for me. Yes there are gobs more songs on the sequel, but the number of good memorable ones is dramatically smaller (IMO of course). Also, it's just so freaking hard! I realize that's a problem more with my own abilities than the game itself, but I really like playing on Expert and when I can't finish half the songs it is really discouraging. And the song I'm stuck on, Freya, is not that great. When I was stuck on Crossroads for four months I never gave up because the song is pretty good.

Guess I need to hit practice mode for a while, but that has its flaws too. Most notably is that it doesn't repeat a section forever - there's a loading screen in between each loop.

I hope they address that issue for the X360 version. If they do that, and offer all the GH1 songs as downloads, then I may have to take the plunge and finally get that console.

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