Old Grandma Hardcore

This blog is the chronicle of my experiences with Grandma, the video-game playing queen of her age-bracket and weight class. She will beat any PS2, XBox, GameCube, etc., console game put in front of her, just like she always has. These are her stories. She is absolutely real. She lives in Cleveland.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Week of March 13th: SIE HABEN MUNDGERUCH!!

This week we're going to give you the run down on Grandma's progress in Grandia III (PS2), Marble Blast Ultra (XBox 360), and Crystal Quest (XBox 360); as well as give you a little peak at what FHM Germany thinks about "old people." We also made another video for you, which should become a weekly feature; seeing as this schedule is much easier for us to duplicate.

Let's get something out of the way so this post doesn't end on a downer. FHM Germany ran an article featuring Grandma in their April issue. It's more or less a large picture with some snarky copy underneath. Grandma and I both have spoken with many nice people from Deutschland; we have nothing against Germany. Our regular readers will remember that Der Spiegel ran a fantastic article about mature gaming recently. Now comes, FHM Germany, opening their article (titled by the way "Sterben will gelernt sein") with the sentence: "Sie haben Mundgeruch und Erektionsprobleme."

It doesn't take three years of careful language study or a Babelfish attempt to understand what that means. The article goes on to describe a function of gaming that Grandma and I somehow missed; to win a war one had lost in the past.

Look, there are layers of cultural baggage and resentment for the previous generations in Germany that I can perceive but never truly understand without being German, myself; just as there are similar sentiments for the racist lynch-mob voters in our own history here in The States. I'm not going to compare the two. I'm not going to stew a culture war claiming national superiority or even give the expected cheers of patriotism right now.

Do you know why?

Because it's fucking FHM Magazine, THAT'S why!

It would be one thing if a carefully written grand thesis on the nature of mature gaming compared to the younger generations prepared out of respect for the readers was printed in a nationally syndicated publication of high regard. But this is FHM, a magazine that only serves one purpose no matter what language it's printed:


Nobody reads the ARTICLES!! Are we expecting a lot of traffic from this article? Probably not. Thousands of copies will be found in the German speaking countries of the world with the pages stuck together with German speaker spooge. All men are wankers and those who say they are not have a copy of FHM Germany hidden under their pillows. And more power to them! Whack off as much as you like, it's a natural sort of thing. (Although, for future reference, just go to www.foobies.com for your pornography. I'm not even kidding. Why pay FHM any money when you can get this shit for FREE?!)

If any of Grandma's fans want to send us a copy, e-mail me for the address. At the very least I can give it my little brother so he can discover the joys of naked foreigners. (The kid has to learn somehow.)

Now what the hell was I talking about... Damn.

Ah, yes! Grandia III, a Square-Enix game for the Playstion 2 freshly translated for Anglophone consumption! We're going to provide you a full review next week after Grandma completes the game and gives me her notes. Until then, watch our new video to get the general idea.

Grandma is digging Grandia III. It reminds her of Final Fantasy so much it's SICK. She hasn't been able to find a subtitle option, so you'll notice her big ol' honking headphones connected to the Surround Sound amplifier so she can make out the plot. She's used them since the middle of the first disc, so I'm not quite sure what's going on in the game anymore. All I hear is her reactions. I do know that she thinks the voice acting is well done, she simply wishes they would have something better to SAY.

The gameplay is starting to force her into accepting a MMORG style; although the turn base attack meter looks like something from Zenogears. What Grandma thought were beginning only tutorial messages turned out to be a full game option that she quickly flicked off.

"It makes it too damn easy if it tells you exactly what attacks to use. What's the POINT?! At least in Final Fantasy when you used 'scan' you had to WORK for it!"

Grandia III isn't just a set up for Final Fantasy XII, however; it simply has all the right ingredients. It's what occupies most of her day anymore.

It wasn't that long ago that Grandma purchased Marble Blast Ultra for the XBox 360 via the XBox Live Arcade and declared it "fucking impossible." She's gotten a lot better, mostly from practicing in solo mode. She's finished all of the beginner and intermediate levels, and she's damn close to completing all of the hard class levels as well. One needs the patience of a social worker in a polygamy compound in order to play Marble Blast Ultra. This game punishes you every time you fall off a cliff with an annoying noise and a 3 second delay from the rest of your life, leaving you permanently off-step. We think it's Bill Gates way of conditioning children to appreciate the lessons of physics.

The game becomes multidimensional when the gravity shifts directions; and, of course, it contains that wonderful video-game cliche: ICE.

After awhile, you begin to pay attention to other things to take your mind off of the possibility of taking apart your XBox 360 very carefully with a screwdriver and then burning each individual piece in a vat of acid to seek revenge for the pain caused by Marble Blast Ultra; the graphics for instance. The graphics are crisp and beautiful, and the backgrounds look like something from an early lantern-picture. If you look closely at Grandma's marble, you can even see Cleveland! It's the polluted red blotch right next to the polluted green blotch.

Multiplayer mode has one, huge flaw. If it's intentional, it's pretty fucking stupid. No matter how well or how poor you're doing in a match; bouncing other players off the grid collecting the precious colored gems or trying to catch up by snagging a super-jump powerup from some other rat-bastard even though everyone else is already at a gem site... the game will freeze for a couple seconds and you find yourself hurdling in some other direction, usually right off a cliff. It will PISS YOU OFF TO NO END.

It is for that reason that you will rarely see Grandma in a multiplayer match in Marble Blast Ultra.

Crystal Quest, also for the XBox 360, is an entirely different beast. Crystal Quest serves a couple of functions for Microsoft. First, it's a giant "Fuck You" to Apple. Many of you old timers will remember the Apple][e as that funny looking machine that ran Oregon Trail and ate floppy discs for breakfast. Some of us, though, remember it for Crystal Quest. Second, it once again proves the XBox 360's "next-gen" status by contrasting a new, vastly improved game to it's ancient counterpart. Sure, it's the easy way out, but it works.

It is impossible not to compare Crystal Quest to Geometry Wars. Both games have similar controls, progression of enemies, and opportunities for achievements. Grandma and I love Geometry Wars, but it is because of the differences that we can appreciate Crystal Quest.

One difference is that, unlike Geometry Wars Evolved, you can see the whole field of play at once. If there are any surprises, it is not because an enemy appeared in a cropped corner, it is because we weren't watching carefully. Unlike GWE, bombs in Crystal Quest that destroy enemies will still get you points, allowing for a strategy of a different sort. While GWE is a never ending onslaught of enemies, Crystal Quest levels end upon the successful collection of all gems on the screen and maneuvering into an exit portal. The portal becomes more narrow and will even move in later levels.

It really is a fun game, but before you plop down your 400 Microsoft Points for a copy of your own, there are some things you should know so you don't waste your life trying to get onto the leaderboards as the game is given to you. There are some parameters you're going to have to change.

First, go into help/options; then game options. Now slide the control bar all the way to "fast." It's not so fast it's uncontrollable, but being able to zip around the screen quickly enough to complete the "Wave 1 under 5 seconds) achievement is near impossible on the standard setting, and it will let you escape easier. Second, slide your difficulty or skill level bar all the way to "HARD."

Otherwise, there is really no point in even trying.

In hard mode, common gems are worth 10,000 each. Large gems can be worth over 1,000,000. In standard (5) mode, it will take you a little while to reach that sort of score. In hard mode, enemies are worth more also, but there will be more of them and they will be more accurate and more frequent with their shots. You will also see more mines around the screen. In hard mode, if you touch anything, you're dead. In standard you can bounce a little.


If you buy the game and struggle your way all the way to the 60th wave and check the leaderboards, you will be incredibly angry to find that someone who only reached the 15th wave has almost triple your score.

The achievements in Crystal Quest are not impossible feats. Here's what ya' do: To get the "Score 10 Million achievement" without stabbing yourself in the eye with the nearest sharp object, simply begin a new game in hard mode; now in every wave from 2 to about 10, shoot every enemy on screen until they stop coming, now grab a single gem. You could get all of them in a few seconds if you wanted to, but don't do that. Just take one. Now repeat the process. Kill every enemy until they stop, then grab a single gem. This will increase your chances of having the larger gems appear. You're also racking up some points you wouldn't otherwise get by plowing through the level. Also: the time bonuses are basically worthless. Don't rush yourself into a mine, it's not going to help you at all.

If you want to play dirty with the "Marathon Achievement" because you suck for some reason, turn the skill level down all the way to "1" and play for a half hour or so until you get to Wave 60. It's one of the few achievements that are not dependant on skill level. Collecting 30 bombs or 30 lives is best done on skill level "5," as is the "Navigator" achievement. It's a piece of cake and it looks really nifty on your gamercard.

And who doesn't want a nifty gamercard?!


[We're holding Ask Grandma Hardcore on Thursday this week so everyone gets a chance this time; also- we're going to sit down later today and answer the late questions you left us in the previous thread. Nobody get's fucking left out, man! NOBODY!!]


  • At 12:12 PM, Blogger paine said…

    seeing her play grandia III reminds me of when my fiancee plays to the T, we are going to get it soon, he was going to get zelda but it got pushed back again this time till oct. so his b-day present will be grandia

  • At 4:06 PM, Blogger avid x3ro said…

    I noticed Grandmas GamerScore was rising !

    I can only imagine how huge Her Life Time Gamerscore would be if It existed over 20 years ago.

    All the Games she Completed would put her way up there.

    I hope she has been enjoying marble blast as much as i have. I destroyed Novice, and Intermidiate all under par. Expert is not even worth trying to go under par. The last level took me 60 minutes.

  • At 9:34 PM, Blogger Forza_Motorsport_King said…

    great video granny. game on! I won't mention Zelda this time lmao...oops i just did lol.

  • At 10:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You can go to You Tube and search for Marble Blast Ultra videos there, most of them focus on speed, but you can use their "paths" for solutions on things like level 60.

    I have all 200 gamerpoint for that game and I loved it, but I was done with all the achievments in about a week (and I didn't even play it all that much)

  • At 10:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    avid x3ro,

    I thought the same thing about advanced... but after watching some people play it on YouTube, I finally got all levels under par, my gamertag is:

    Ghost 360 MAFIA

    I thought the achievement for all 20 easter eggs was much harder!

  • At 7:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This FHM article is not about a war or about making fun of old people. It's about videogames boosting the reflexes and training the minds of seniors! That intro sentence is just what the FHM guys think is funny about senior people. Well, it's FHM, what do you expect? But the rest of the article seems to be okay as it describes what is good about games.

  • At 7:55 AM, Blogger CtrlAltDelete said…


    It's just sort of hard for Grandma not to look into the first paragraph or so as a bit of a slap in the face to the elderly folks of Germany. The rest of the article was fine; but you're right! It's FHM!

  • At 10:04 AM, Blogger Unknown said…

    fhm aren't the first to come up with the concept of video gaming vs post war effect. i think i saw a special on it... something about the japanese and the holocaust. video games and movies like robotech and the like. anyhow, i don't understand german at ALL so i did do a babel fish translation and ended up more confused than before.

    i did however note "erektionprobleme" wft? i really wish i knew what the article said. it would be interesting to know. :)

  • At 3:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hey everybody...

    I'm giving away a Free XBOX 360 as part of a contest on my website.

    Check it out!

  • At 5:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi, what is the title of the song at the beginning of the video ?

  • At 6:08 PM, Blogger CtrlAltDelete said…


    The first song in our last video is "The Sunshine Underground" by The Chemical Brothers off the album Surrender, which you can pick up right here. It's one of their best albums.

    A lot of the remixes by local artists are good, but you really can't beat the original, man. That's the good stuff ;)

  • At 6:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thank you very much !

  • At 9:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Grandma and Tim - have you ever played the game "Ratchet: Gladiator"? It came out here in Australia about a month ago so I was wondering if you'd played it and what you thought of it.
    I love hearing about all the games Grandma plays and what she thinks of them. I'd also like to hear sometimes about what Tim and the rest of the family like too, since you all seem really nice and into gaming. Do you play against each other on a regular basis? Also, what consoles do you have in your house, if that isn't a rude question? Just curious to know if you have any of the older ones like Nintendo Master System or Sega Mega Drive (that was what it was called in Aus, think it was Sega Genesis in US? Not sure). That sort of thing.
    Love, Jen (blackroseowl)

  • At 9:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    booyah! Chemical Bros! but, i cant figure out the ending song... little help?

  • At 11:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hey guys!

    I got to read this FHM article during work and it really pissed me off... seems like those guys didn't really bother reading your blog... why else should they write that oghc likes pc games? unfortunately i don't have the magazine myself so i cannot translate it for you... but believe me: it's not worth the effort...

    beste grüße


  • At 3:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    FHM ist quite unknown in Germany.
    Der Spiegel is the biggest News Magazine in Germany.
    The articel in Der Spiegel was great.
    So, no need to be angry.

    Greetings from Germany,


  • At 11:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    FHM isn't a news magazine at all. *lol* It is just "entertainment". For them it isn't important to be correct. They just need a story...
    Der Spiegel is very good by the way.

    I am German and I just heard about Old Grandma Hardcore in the news. Sounded funny so I had to take a look. :)

    Nen schönen Abend,

  • At 2:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You can headDiablo III Gold over to You Tube and show off intended for Pebble Blast cheap D3 Gold Extremely videos presently there, a lot of themcheap D3 items focus on velocity, but you will use his or her "paths" pertaining to answers upon thingsCheap GW2 Gold such as degree 59.


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