My wife hands me a FedEx envelope and says, “This arrived for you today.” I always enjoy when companies are kind enough to send me press copies of games because it often means I have the chance to try out titles I wouldn’t normally pay any mind to. This is definitely the case here as I open up the package and find The Godfather II inside. The game has been so far off my radar that I didn’t even know it was in development, let alone being released. Obviously something so violent and mature isn’t appropriate to play in front of my toddler son, so I wait until after he’s asleep then pop the disc in my Playstation 3. I sometimes wonder why these types of games are so popular, but after a couple hours of playing the answer is clear to see. A very cinematic presentation, a fun combat system, an excellent map, plenty of depth in building your own “family” of mobsters, and too much more to mention would probably be like mafioso nirvana for anyone into the genre. In a nutshell, it’s good fun. However, even though I’m enjoying the game, a small voice in the back of my head is becoming progressively louder and keeps repeating one word over and over: “Peggle, Peggle, Peggle.” I’m sorry, Godfather II. You’ve earned my respect and I’m sure plenty of other gamers will deservedly love you, but I’ve got to put in something a little more my speed. Don’t despair, though, for now that I’ve tasted the fascinating world of organized crime I may be back before you know it. Until then, it’s time for Peggle.
Whoops. As the new barber in town, this is certainly not the way to earn the respect of my potential clients. Mr. Stickle the celery stalk came into my shop asking for a “bowler hat” hairdo, and a few stray snips of the scissors later, he’s looking worse than before I started. The good news is he hasn’t seemed to have noticed my mistake yet, so I still have the opportunity to set things right. I grab my spray bottle and give his mop top a few pumps of water. Voila! New foliage sprouts almost instantly. Now to shape it. I make sure to take extra precaution with my scissors and trim his leafy mane into just the shape he requested. He seems pleased with the results, but I decide to add just a bit of pizazz in the form of color. A dash of red, a streak of white… now he’s truly styling. Mr. Stickle is almost jumping out of the chair with glee and he gives me the highest honor a barber can hope for: a five star rating! If I keep this up my barber shop will be booming with business in no time.
This may have turned out to be a bad idea. Instead of forming up a proper party, I decided to venture through the desert on my own. All of the enemies I’ve faced until this point pale in comparison to the massive beast that looms before. Not only is he gigantic, but the fact that he can fly makes him a difficult target. After cruising around for a couple minutes, he finally he decides to land and I run up to pummel him with my weapon of choice — a long bone with a slab of meat on it. To my dismay, my blows do absolutely no damage. I try other weapons in my arsenal and come away with the same sad result: nothing. Meanwhile, my adversary seems to be toying with me, throwing boulders at me and generally doing his best to be a pest. In a last ditch effort I unleash a flurry of autogun fire his way and miraculously discover the monster’s weak point: his wings! Ah-ha! I refocus my shots and whittle away at his strength until before long the behemoth falls to the ground like a ton of bricks. However, he doesn’t go down without a fight, and it takes what seems like an eternity until he drops for the final time. What a battle! I’m glad I was able to make it out alive, but I’m definitely bringing friends along on my next adventure.
From the pit we don’t have any real view of the course, but judging from the strange vehicles that keep rolling in for repairs, this may very well be the weirdest race ever. Luckily, my crew consists of six hardworking women who seem to live for me giving them directions about what parts of the racers they should fix. Without warning a massive toilet pulls into the pit and the ladies stand at the ready as the await my orders. I waste no time in divvying up the duties and my crew quickly and efficiently gets the toilet back in tip-top condition. The toilet speeds off to rejoin the race and we barely have a moment to catch our breath before a huge flowerpot on wheels zooms into the pit. A pit crew’s work is never done, it seems.
Returning to the world of Sinnoh after a long hiatus reminds me not only of just how much I love this place, but that there is unfinished business here. I still need to battle one more gym leader and finally move on to face the Elite Four. Either I’ve forgotten how to be a great trainer or my Pokémon have gotten lazy in my absence. Either way, we’re having trouble with some of the challengers we’ve faced on our way to Sunyshore City to face its gym leader, Volkner. My Pokémon seem woefully underpowered, so I guess it’s going to take a lot of battling to whip these guys into shape. I walk up to a potential opponent and soon our Pokémon are facing off against one another. Here we go again…
“What’s that?” I’m supposed to be on my break, relaxing my mind from the stress that comes with working with the public, and here is one of my coworkers bothering me. Can’t she see I have headphones in and am playing a game? But I humor her since she means well. “This is my Game Boy Micro.” She asks another question and I only hear half of it. My attention is centered on guiding Jill and her adorable mech suit to the bottom of a giant missile headed deep into the Earth’s core so as to stop it from wreaking havoc. My coworker is still looking at me. Damn it. I smile and give some general response. But she doesn’t let up. I think she’s telling me something about how it’s time for her to go home. Good! Go already! Back in the game, Jill’s running low on time and I’m furiously directing her to drill as fast as she can and reach the bottom of the missile before time runs out. Jill was alloted three minutes to complete the task, and now there’s only about thirty seconds left. But my focus is broken once again by yet more unsolicited conversation. My coworker says she’ll see me tomorrow. I give an obligatory smile and utter something polite in return. In the process I let Jill down. We’re out of time and the missile’s progress has not been halted. Now I’ll have to wait until my next break to try again.
Izuna and Mitsumoto are delving deeper and deeper into Madoimi Cave once again. This dungeon is not unfamiliar to them, for they have ventured into it a few times already, but sadly the cave’s monster inhabitants have prevented them from completing their quest. Thus far, there have been few problems to deal with this time around. Izuna came across a Dragon Claw that she quickly equipped, and hacking her way through enemies has been a breeze. Finally the two adventurers descend to the dungeon’s fifteenth level and face off against the twin duo of mischievous gods that have taken up roost there. Izuna puts up a good fight but even her Dragon Claw can’t hold off the onslaught of such formidable foes. Mitsumoto takes her place but his power is much weaker than Izuna’s, and within a couple attacks he’s also knocked out of action. The scene fades and time passes. Izuna and Mitsumoto wake up in a nearby village. After loading up on fresh supplies, they make their way back to entrance of Madoimi Cave and begin their quest anew.
A birthday gift from Daddy for a car-obsessed toddler: Cars for the Xbox 360! My son hops into my lap and soon we’re racing around the town of Radiator Springs as Lightning McQueen. Okay, what to do first? We drive around aimlessly for a few minutes then finally stumble upon a racing event. Apparently this stuffy British car ventured over to “our side of the pond” to race the great Lightning McQueen. Well, we’re about to give you what for, buddy. The race begins and we speed off… but my son quickly loses interest after the first lap and climbs out of my lap, making his way over to play with his toy cars. “Hey, don’t you want to sit with Daddy and play the game?” Apparently not. I power off the 360, head over to where my son is sitting, plop down next to him, and we push around the toy cars together. “Vrooom vroom!” He’s right. This is more fun.
I need to reach the goal, but there are some disgusting enemies blocking my way. And by “disgusting” I mean seriously disgusting. If I’m not careful, I could be on the receiving end of mucous, stinky armpit hair, or poop. The problem is that each time I move, they move. I’ve got to be smart and plan each step out ahead of time. I’m methodically inching my way toward where I want to be, but a flying butt is making its way towards me. Finally I’m in what seems to be the home stretch, but I make a wrong move and become trapped. The butt corners me and before I know it I’m covered in… well, you don’t want to know.
Our favorite thrift store on a Saturday afternoon is, as always, a complete zoo. After circling the parking lot for about five minutes, we finally find a spot and soon we’re inside the store. My son and I head over to the electronics counter and scour the wall of goodies. There is only one clerk on duty and she’s busy showing a man a chainsaw. He’s taking forever to look at it and I’m starting to feel impatient. Finally he decides not to buy it, hands it back to the clerk, and she turns to me. I ask her to show me a basket filled with old games and proceed to dig my way through it, looking for anything interesting. When all seems lost, I finally come across a very clean copy of Tetris Attack and I decide to buy it. My wife, meanwhile, has found an amazing play rug as well as a Thomas the Tank Engine kids chair. We make our way home with our treasures and before long I’m on Yoshi’s Island, moving blocks around to make them disappear before they reach the top of the screen. Why would someone part with this? At least this charming little cartridge has gone to a good home!