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    Feb 8th, 2008 at 14:19:45     -    Puzzle Fighter HD (360)

    Gameplay:
    This time around I decided to try the online game. Very much the same, except the people online are better than computer opponents.
    The replay value of this game is very high. I didn’t get bored of it for one second, and I was actively thinking about it the whole time I was playing (for both segments of gameplay). I also discovered many different types of strategies that a player can use to achieve victory. Here are a few:
    1: Small, short attacks that constantly bombard the enemy with small, annoying dormant blocks to constantly screw them up.
    2: Saving up for large crystals/combos (which require more space, and this can cause you to run out of room if you get messed up by the enemy’s dormant blocks) to attack your enemy with potential one-hit-KO attacks
    3: Multiple medium-sized attacks that constantly stack layers of blocks on the enemy.
    There are more, I’m sure I’ll discover them.
    There is also a Crystal which appears rarely. When the crystal lands on top of a color, all blocks of that color are destroyed (This also gives you the same points and attack as if you had destroyed them with normal colored bombs).
    The emergent gameplay style of this game creates so many situations and exceptions to probable fate. One round I played, I was incredibly close to dying (by having my blocks stack to the top), when I got a crystal just in time. I destroyed every red block on my screen, giving me a huge 3 chain-combo, along with 2 or 3 very large red crystals I had amassed. The enemy, who was winning one second before, was instantly destroyed, and I jumped for joy.


    Design:
    The game has a very arcade-anime style. The characters are all 2-D sprites, which would normally seem obsolete for the Xbox 360. However, this game is clearly not about graphics. The high-resolution gives it the feeling that it’s a new game (which it is), and the addicting gameplay pulls focus from the limited sprite animation. Sometimes the game reminds me of Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine (for the Sega Genesis), but it’s a much different game.
    The challenges this game provides are very dynamic. Each situation in each game is different from the last game. Although there are patterns to be recognized, you never know where your enemy is going to throw dormant blocks on you. You always have to be ready.

    I also had a friend come over to play on Local multiplayer, and we played 10 or 15 rounds without even realizing how long we were playing. We were very competitive and had a lot of fun beating each other back and forth. The game never got old, and the only reason we stopped was because it was 2 in the morning when we finished. Even with such a simple, seemingly non-humorous game, we were laughing nearly the whole time, saying things like, “Oh MAN I had the BEST combo coming up, you would have DIED, had you not BLOCKED IT!”

    In many ways, this is one of the most fun and addicting games I’ve ever played. In fact, I want to play more right now.

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    Feb 8th, 2008 at 14:17:01     -    Puzzle Fighter HD (360)

    Summary:
    I downloaded Puzzle Fighter HD on the Xbox Live Arcade and started it up. I was brought to a screen that let me choose between Multiplayer or Single Player. It has local and online multiplayer functionality, but I decided to try out single player before I matched wits with people on the internets.
    I chose Arcade mode on the default X’ mode, and selected my character, Hsien-ko (a strange, final fantasy style blue woman). Each character was differentiated by their different patterned “Counter” style (which I will explain more in due time). Anyway, the computer randomly selected its Puzzle Fighter Character and the game began.
    The game plays a bit like Tetris with battle components, which I will explain in the gameplay section. I figured out the gameplay pretty quickly, and pulled combos to eventually defeat the computer on Hard mode. Now for the gameplay to explain how this incredibly addicting game works.

    Gameplay:
    The game plays a bit like Tetris. The playable area is a tall empty section at the beginning, and you are given a random combination of two colored blocks that cascade down from the top. Each time the block is placed, a new one appears at the top (and you can see the next blocks that will come after you place your blocks). You can turn them and/or make them fall faster (or instantly), in order to make large groups of single colors. However, there is a fundamental difference between Puzzle Fighter’s dynamic and Tetris; In Tetris, you get rid of rows by having a row filled. In this game, each color group can only be destroyed by a Bomb block. Every once in a while, the player is given a Bomb of a certain color, and if it touches another normal block of the same color, all blocks of that color that are touching each other horizontally or vertically are destroyed , and all other blocks above them fall into place below. In this way you can make chains, where destroying one section of colors will cascade another section in such a way as to set them off as well, causing a “2-Chain” or a “3-Chain” or more.
    When you pull combos, or destroy large sections of a single color (which become larger crystals if they take up a great enough area), you “attack” your enemy by dropping dormant colored blocks onto their playing field. The blocks you attack your enemy with fall in patterns that are determined by the counter-block of the character you selected (so each character drops a different pattern of blocks on the enemy when they attack with a combo). So if your enemy is setting up a combo, you can pull your own combo to drop blocks onto them that will stop them from setting off their combo they worked so hard to set up. However, the dormant blocks turn to normal solid blocks after a set number of turns after they fell (usually 4 or 5 turns).
    The fact that you can be proud of your combo and then suddenly have it destroyed by a counter-attack from your enemy’s combo creates an emergent gameplay situation where you say to yourself “OH MAN, I should have set that combo off! One more second and I would have had it!” It causes the player to think “Well, I’ll get it next time..”, and the player is sure to try again.

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    Jan 25th, 2008 at 15:06:03     -    Shadow of the Colossus (PS2)

    GAMELOG 2

    Classics: Shadow of the Colossus

    ENTRY 2

    SUMMARY:
    I left the temple after direct instruction to a new location (which is also pointed-to by the sword's light-rays), to find the next colossus. I mounted the horse and continued south-west of the temple, finding a cliff-side path that led me down to a lake area near a canyon. Soon, the second colossus appeared, with a much different physical structure than the first. This ancient beast was on all-fours, while the first walked on two legs. Using the bow, I shot under its feet as it tried to stomp on me, which brought it kneeling, allowing me to climb up its furry leg to read the back. Once on the back, I found the weak spot and struck it with my sword. It took a few tries, because it kept trying to shake and brush me off of it as I climbed. Upon bringing it down, I was, once again, sent back to the temple after dark spirits knocked me unconscious.

    DESIGN:
    The design of this game is absolutely stunning. Beautiful. I've never played a game that uses its graphical limitations to their fullest and presents them on such an epic scale as this. Even with the limited capabilities of the Playstation 2, in comparison to the new "Next Gen" consols, this game eliminates the need for power by having such a beautiful design and addictive gameplay. The low resolution is overridden by use of fog effects, and the fact that objects in the distance are loaded up respectively, and are rendered simply from far away to give the illusion of distance.

    All the creatures (boss battles) are different from the last, and this game uniquely has no small enemies that most games have. This game has exclusively giant enemies, and presents them each in unique locations with distinct challenges and battle-structure for each, so you never get the sense that the game is repetative.

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    Jan 25th, 2008 at 14:02:08     -    Shadow of the Colossus (PS2)

    Max Weinberg's
    GAMELOG ASSIGNMENT 2
    Classics: Shadow of the Colossus

    ENTRY 1

    SUMMARY
    I started a new file on Shadow of Colossus. The intro cinematic, although somewhat vague, sets the mysterious tone for the game. The setting, called the Colossus, is a massive, epic-scaled landscape with deserts, forests, and grasslands, and gives you the sense, immediately, that your character is very small. The main character is seen carrying the body of a woman, and he lays her down on a stone table inside a large temple. Because your character is alone (besides your faithful horse), you get a sense that you are in forbidden territory. A mysterious voice calls down and tells you that you must quest, and kill the Colossi, on order to be granted the power to revive the woman.

    I continued on and defeated the first colossi, which rests in a valley just north of the starting temple. I was able to find it after using my sword to light the way, glancing sun-rays in the direction of the game's goals.

    Taking down the first colossi consisted of climbing up the grab-able furry patches that spot the creature. Upon finding its weak spots, a few powerful thrusts of my sword took it down. After defeating it, dark spirits swarm out and entered my body, and then I was transported, unconscious, back to the starting temple. The voice congratulates you and tells you that you have taken the first step towards your ultimate goal.

    GAMEPLAY:

    Soon after setting off on the quest, I first noted how uncluttered the HUD (heads up display) is. There is virtually nothing other than your health bar and a "grip" gage (which appears while climbing). It gives a realistic sense, and a cinematic quality that allows for an almost movie-like experience.

    The controls are quite simple. You have a simple attack swipe with the sword, you can mount and dismount your horse, or call your horse, and climb climb-able walls. You can run and jump, and the animation stays very fluid throughout gameplay actions.

    Taking down the first monster was satisfying, giving the sense that even a small individual (like this game's avatar) can take down a monsterous beast using strategy and skill, rather than brute force and power.

    The game's main challenge comes from saving your grip-energy while climbing up the beasts, and finding their weakspots before your grip-energy runs out and you end up falling from great heights.

    I had a lot of fun playing the first section of the game.

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    1Halo 3 (360)Playing
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