Monday, January 18, 2010

Staycation 2010 (aka the 2nd annual video game-a-thon)

For the 2nd year in a row, I took 3 days off of the week immdiately preceding the start of Laura's spring semester. This gives us a chance to spend some quality time together after the hectic holidays and before the busy back-and-forthing to Waco begins for her anew.

Last year when we chose to do this we were neck deep into our remodeling fiasco and we needed some time to escape and not spend money. We decided that since we own an absurd amount of video games (that we BOTH like to play) that we should dedicate our 'Staycation' to playing games that we already own that we've negelected since purchasing.

Because last year we had no kitchen (not exaggerating) we bought a bunch of food items that could be prepared in the toaster. -Not even trips for food will keep us from our lazing about at home- We kept the 'toaster trash' tradition alive this year and our menu included such classics as pizza pockets, bagel bites, taquitos, snickers ice cream bars, and a grocery store party tray sampler with cheese cubes and salami.

So the staycation came and video games were again the primary focus. We also sprinkled in some massages and a Dallas Stars game just for kicks.

Here are the rules for the gaming:
-We both make a list of all the games we own that we want to play. The list should be longer than what you actually have time for
-We rate the games on our list to determine which games we'd most like to play
-Once prioritized we evaluate what systems the games are on and then set up 2 different TVs with the consoles least likely to conflict with each other for game time
-When play on one of the games begins we set a 90 minute timer. When the timer goes off you finish up what you are doing in the game and switch games.

The switching means that we get to play different games. Seeing as how the point of this is to play games we've bought but have neglected, this method lets us dust off the most neglect possible from a high variety of games.

There were probably about 25 games on my list with priority ratings from 1 to 5. The 6 high (5) priority games this year were:
-Chrono Trigger (played on a PC SNES emulator)
-Knights of the Old Republic (XBOX)
-Zak and Wiki Barbaro's Treasure (Wii)
-No More Heroes (Wii)
-Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (360)
-Dead Space (360)

Lower priority games I also played were
Beautiful Katamari (360)
Rayman Raving Rabbids (Wii)
De Blob (Wii)

I didn't "finish" any of these games and I plan to continue playing them all to completion as they are all good games. I've put about 7-12 hours into each one now and here are my 'halfway point' impressions.

Chrono Trigger - I've started this game a handful of times but wanted to really get into it this time. Its a Japanese style RPG, and is often considered to be in the top 3 all time in that category. This is the oldest game I played as it came out in 1995. The game is instantly entertaining and is full of quirky and likeable characters that belong in a young adult fiction story. For its time the game introduced some really different interactive story telling techniques and will challenge even hard core movie going adults to pay attention as its complex time travel story unfolds. The 'boss' battles are frequent and they keep you feeling that sense of accomplishment that encourages you to explore and investigate the different stages of the story. The other thing that others always talk about with this game are the combination abilities that your characters can activate together. I'll agree with the screaming masses that the combos are really fun and should be in more RPGs.

Knights of the Old Republic - Bioware's Star Wars classic that takes place 1000 years before Episode 1 has been on my list of "must plays" for quite some time. This game was released in 2003, and while I've tried to play it on the PC, its really the original XBOX version that gets most of the praise. I finally borrowed a copy of the original XBOX version for the staycation and dove in. This is also an RPG but not of the Japanese variety. The story telling is great. The game really captures the feel of the Star Wars universe and does it well. The gameplay itself is solid although the maps feel too small after playing next-gen games. This results in the exploration elements feeling pretty easy. The combat flows like a real time or action RPG, but I'm constantly stopping it to switch to my various characters and activate their abilities. This can break up the feel of the game a bit. With around 12 hours in, I'm not really even halfway through, so I need to give this one some more playtime, but I'm enjoying it mostly for the story at this point.

Ok, look out for Staycation part 2 coming soon. . . .

Great post man!

I hope that we can figure out a staycation for ourselves soon.
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