Grandma's current game list
Xenosaga III was, sadly, the last of the Xenosaga series; originally planned as a six installment legacy. It didn't deviate much from the original two in style, so be prepared for tons of anime cutscenes to wrap up the story and tie everything together in a semi-religious theme. It's a two disc game for the Playstation 2, the second disc is reserved for merely the last two chapters of the game; an unholy gauntlet of boss battles that left Grandma with a tired taste of victory in the wee hours of the morning when she finally told me "well, I did it" like some surgeon come to tell the family of an unlucky patient after a difficult operation. I haven't played any of the Xenosaga games. Shit, I confused the title of the first game with Xenogears when she first told me about her interest. Grandma will have a full review of the game prepared soon, but know that you should probably sink the first two games under your belt before you buy this one. Buying all three at once will keep you occupied for a month or so.
Lego Star Wars II is a fantastic little platformer that's available for just about every system. Xbox, Xbox 360, PS2, GameCube, GBA, DS, PC, PSP... we're surprised they didn't make an 8-bit cartridge for all those NES players still holding out for the 'next best thing.' There were a few glitches evident on the 360 version, but nothing uncommon for the genre. You can get stuck in the scenery on certain levels, Dagobah especially, and unless you're in Free Play Mode and can switch to a character that can use a thermal detonator to blow themselves back into play, you have to go back to the cantina and reset the level.
Because we're shameless purists when it comes to Star Wars, we had to (for reasons of nostalgia and research) get the original movies that recently became available once George Lucas decided he wanted a slightly bigger pool lined with gold and that nifty retractable roof he saw in the Nieman Marcus catalog for each of his three thousand dog houses. Grandma never saw Episode I. She saw Episode II on cable and was adequately disgusted enough to go back to playing a video game. We were among those who waited in line for the first midnight showing of Episode III. Grandma fell asleep in the theater.
We could probably throw the first discs away. The original movies are disgracefully included as a "bonus feature" on the second DVD.
The best interpretation of a Star Wars cinematic moment into Lego absurdist theater would have to be the beginning of the first chapter in Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi, in which Darth Vader's conversation with some poor commander about his dissatisfaction with the progress of the new Death Star's construction becomes a stern gesture towards some Lego construction workers taking a coffee break and spinning aimlessly in their chairs.
Beyond the game's cutesy, animated humor, however, lies some puzzles that can only be described as "a bitch." The XBox 360 version's achievements go further than the game's own determination of 100% to squeeze every drop of frustrated rage from us all.
Grandma's currently playing Okami upstairs. She's not very far into the game yet, and trying to master the unique paintbrush style of gameplay proves harder than she first imagined when she demo'd the thing at Capcom's booth last E3. The game is undeniably beautiful. The screen is almost always shown with a canvas texture and they moved away from particle effects to a cartoon sprite style reminiscent of Wind Waker, but it's no copy.
Are any of you folks playing this yet? What the hell do you make of it?
Also, Evan sent Grandma an XBox 360 Live Vision Camera. Now if any of you want to bug the shit out of Grandma while she's playing online, you can both flip each other off in style!
Mogwai, our official "Friend in Japan," sent Grandma a fantastic goody box filled with the culture and gaming kitsch that Grandma would have seen had she been able to attend TGS last September, including some food to which we've all become addicted. I'd say more about this incredibly generous and awesome supply of all things Japanese, but I don't want to give you guys any ideas :) Thank you so much, man.
Alright- I have to talk about the one thing: among the gifts was a keychain with a label that simply read "IN" followed by an illustration of Mario heading towards a pipe. When you press the button, it emits the strange sound we've all been conditioned to understand to be "Pipe Entry." You KNOW this sound. Everyone does! Whatever you do, don't try to unlock your doors with keyless entry while fumbling in your pocket with this keychain attached. You'll get stares of both recognition and disgust.
On second thought, go ahead. Fuck that second group. The hell do they know?