The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

August 2, 2008

No Need to Adjust Your Set, You’re Just Losing Your Mind

Filed under: Random Stuff — Brian Lutz @ 12:46 pm

Of all of the things that I have done on my thirty plus years of existence on this planet, I would probably count camping out all night in front of a Costco in the middle of November to be firmly in the “not-so-sane” category.  This happened a bit less than three years ago, when the Xbox 360 was being released.  During the months leading up to the system’s release, I was somewhat less than enthusiastic about the system, and had fully planned to wait at least six months before getting one.  With a couple of exceptions, the list of release titles on the system was rather forgettable, and with the system expected to be in short supply for quite a while, there just didn’t seem to be a whole lot of reason to bother spending the $500+ it would take to buy the system, accessories and games.  Yet somehow, I found myself spending a cold Monday evening and Tuesday morning camped out, dragging along practically every blanket that I owned in an effort to keep from freezing.

The conditions that night were cold, but far from primitive, as the guy at the front of the line managed to convince someone at Costco to let us use their electricity.  As a result, I think I counted at least five or six TVs and XBoxes in line, several running on newly purchased HDTVs, as you see here.  As far as I know, all of that stuff was plugged into a bunch of chained powerstrips, all plugged into one outlet.  Fortunately, we somehow managed to avoid burning down the place, and as far as I know everyone managed to make it through the night in one piece. 

For some unknown reason, I even brought my own Xbox, along with the monitor and speakers off my PC to run it off of.  Perhaps I should have as much thought to the whole warmth and comfort part of the equation as I had given to the entertainment, but the whole thing pretty much happened on a whim, and I pretty much had to run home, grab some stuff and assume my place in line before all of the available systems were spoken for.  I think I ended up being something like #38 out of 45 that they had allocated to them.

Given my previous ambivalence on the whole Xbox 360 thing at launch, what exactly was it that convinced me not only to buy one, but to spend a semi-miserable night camped out in front of a Costco to do so?

It was a little $5 downloadable game called Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved, shown here on that evening.  Someone who had managed to get a preorder at one of the local Gamestops picked up their system at their Midnight launch, and brought it over to the line I was waiting in, as shown here.  This particular picture doesn’t really show much, but as you progress in the game, it can get incredibly hectic.  The game plays as something of a cross between the old Atari vector games and Robotron, only made about ten times more hectic.  Here’s a video that shows what the game looks like once it really gets going:

Of course, I can’t get anywhere near that in the game, and I think my high score is somewhere in the range of 200,000 points or so.  So why am I bringing this up now?

The game’s sequel (Geometry Wars Retro Evolved²) has just arrived on Xbox Live this week, and I think I’ve been spending way too much time on it, which explains the lack of posting over the last couple of days.  Although the basic blast-em-up mechanics of the original are still there, additional detail has been added to a lot of stuff in the game (given the fact that most of the enemies in the previous game are basically just assorted quadrilaterals and other polygons, I have to imagine that this wasn’t too difficult,) as well as several new game modes and a completely different scoring system.  The graphics have also been refined, and now everything seems to be just a bit more… blurry.

As you can see, the effect here seems to have been intended  to make this look more like what you might have found on an old vector arcade game, but for some reason, the effect serves mostly to make me constantly think that I need to clean my glasses.  Of course, that does nothing, so I take off my glasses and try playing that way, and of course it’s still blurry.  Still, for some reason, I just keep playing the game, particularly Pacifism (no shooting, just dodging and running through gates that destroy nearby enemies) and Deadline (all you can blast for three minutes) and thinking that I should go get my eyes checked.  The fact that the game sticks high score charts right on the main menu showing just how many of your friends are better at the game than you are doesn’t seem to help much, as it just makes you fall into the “Just one more, I’m sure I can beat them THIS time” trap.  Apparently I have a lot of friends that are better than me at the game though, and I’ve got quite a bit of catching up to do, it would seem.

We have seen the future, and it is blurry.  Now if I could just figure out what to do about sore thumbs…

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