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.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Grandma sucks at Guitar Hero 2

Grandma wanted me to post a very specific point so all of you know; she wants to be extremely clear in announcing to the world that she is terribly horribly bad at Guitar Hero II on the PS2 and the 360. She has asked me to tell you exactly how god-awful she is, so there is no mistaking her complete and utter lack of skill when it comes to rhythm games.

"I fucking suck," she says. "But I can't stop playing the goddamn thing."

It was sort of a surprise to see her so excited about the GHII launch for the 360, she already had both games for the PS2 as well as an extra guitar controller for family tournaments. It might have been curiosity about the graphics improvement, which is sort of silly seeing as one stares only at the never ending bar of little colored dots sliding down the bottom of the screen. It might have been the excitement of the song download capabilities of XBox Live. Who knows? But she wanted it, goddammit.

She's sort of peeved at the local GameStop for constantly trying to get her to preorder things (nothing new, really) after she was refused a copy of God of War 2 and yet could obtain one easily at the hated Circuit City behind the store the day of launch (which included a free t-shirt that's started many a public conversation.) So she decided to patronize WalMart for this one. She called the morning it launched on a whim that they might have a few. A man in the electronics department told her he would hold it for 30 minutes for her if she came to pick it up right away. She snatched me away from the computer and said "we're going to WalMart. Now."

As we walked in the store, there was a man who looked to be in his thirties walking briskly with his wife directly in front of us. I immediately clocked them as trouble. Sure enough, they made the same bee-line we did to the electronics department in the back of the store and asked if there were any copies of Guitar Hero II for the 360. The employee answered that no, they had all sold within the first hour of the store opening that morning. Apparently a group of people had waited for the store to open to snag theirs. Grandma, being a bit more than hard of hearing, strolled up to the same employee as the rejected customers stood around disappointed and said rather loudly "Hi! I called this morning about Guitar Hero for the 360."
"Yes ma'm! It's right here for you."

I felt really bad watching this uncomfortable scene unfold. I don't know if the rejected couple heard Grandma, but I still felt like we had cheated someone somehow. I knew Grandma didn't really like the songs on the second game, and minus "Possum Kingdom" she probably wasn't going to like the new ones added to the 360 version. She had three guitar controllers hanging on her game room wall at home and quite frankly didn't NEED a fourth, but here she was smiling and chatting with the WalMart employees as she retrieved her bank card as two potential Guitar Hero fans left empty handed.

It didn't seem fair.

Grandma didn't provide much consolation. "Did you see those people in front of us? That guy told me he shouldn't have held it for me, that it was against the rules or something, but he was nice enough. HAHAHAHAAA!! I FUCKING GOT IT!! It's mine."
"Karma is going to eat you alive one day."
"I know."

The graphics ARE improved on the 360 version. It's pretty obvious in some of the venues. Grandma cranked out the Easy Mode in a few days and is trying to get five stars in each song. For the rest of us in the house, Easy Mode is a hellish, boring place. We're can't five star Jordan on Expert by any means, but we need a bit of challenge, you know? Grandma, however, sucks at Guitar Hero. She hasn't spent too much time in Practice sessions on Medium and Hard but I'm sure she'll get the hang of it one day; so Easy Mode is her way of enjoying the game.

To each their own, I suppose.

I'm confident she'll at least complete Medium and Hard modes if for no other reason she's a bit of an Achievement Points Whore. It provides her with just enough added incentive to learn how to hammer-on.

It's not like I can say much, though. Both Bobby and Kenny could most likely kick my ass competitively on two player mode.

Speaking of the 360, here are the XBLA games Grandma's trying to destroy:

Alien Hominid HD is a fun, quirky little gem that is FUCKING HARD, JESUS CHRIST ON A FUCKING CROSS. I'm not kidding. This is a game best played on co-op if for no other reason than its absolute, Fuck-You difficulty. Sure we all screwed around with it when it was nothing more than a cool little game on Newgrounds, but goddamn if this game doesn't make you question your self-worth as a gamer.

The Mini-Games are worth the trouble of blistering your fingers to unlock. The 360 really does the animation justice, which in some instances consists nothing more than stick figures and block sprites- but it's smooth.

It's not uncommon to see Grandma wring her hands; visibly communicating that "gee, that particular part in the game was indeed quite the button masher" but it's a guarantee in this one. There's no way in hell she's getting some of those achievements and she's better than I am at 2D side-scrollers.

If you do play by yourself, make sure no one is around to watch. It's just humiliating.

Worms was disappointing for those of us familiar with the PC games because of the lack of some of the more interesting weapons, but Grandma wasn't, so she wasn't disappointed. It's a tactical, time-limited turn based game. She hasn't tried the multiplayer mode yet because she's not comfortable with her blow-torch wielding abilities.

The AI on the challenge modes can be pretty difficult to beat, but if you learn how to use the rope and the dynamite you'll get through most of the harder ones with at least a couple of your little wormy guys left.

It's definitely worth the download, but you may want to turn down the worm voices after 50th time you here that falsetto "Special Delivery!" line.

Also, practice aiming that bazooka in the Quick Play modes before you even ATTEMPT the later challenge modes. As Grandma discovered, your ass will be handed to you. (The ass of the worm is the end without the eyes.)

Luxor 2 has become the reason that Grandma has been reading more books lately. It's easier than Zuma in some ways, but it's still a bitch. Ever since Evan gave her the code for the full version, someone (who will remain nameless) hijacked Grandma's game room to play "just one more level, wait until I die... I still have more lives left....I'll be done here in a minute..." Even on the easiest difficulty, once that fifth color shows up on your screen you'll start irrationally cursing the Ancient Egyptians for their peculiar ball-floaty powers.

You learn early on that the trick is to work everything into getting combos as the screen fills; at least that's the way to get the most points. It's a deadly strategy later though, as things start going a bit faster and you stop caring about points and start caring about survival.

Graphics-wise, it's prettier than Zuma in many respects, but I don't know what that implies about the artistic competition between the Mayans and the Egyptians.

It's not really a game for me, but if- like Grandma, you really dug Zuma, then it's like a fresh expansion.

She's also into the XBLA Castlevania, but that's a post for another day.

I'm hoping to get a video of Grandma playing Guitar Hero II here soon if work doesn't interfere (it's been busy around here lately.) And the next post will likely be about Super Paper Mario for the Wii, a game she's fallen in love with since we got it a few days ago- but I have to tell you this story now because it really ties in with what happened earlier with GHII:

She stopped playing Super Paper Mario last night because the batteries on two of her Wii controllers died and we didn't have any replacements. Rather than buy rechargeable batteries, she decided to hunt down a couple of those Wii-controller charge packs everyone's been raving about instead. The one place that had them was Circuit City.

She rushed out to get them (along with Oblivion for the PS3; long story) but the people directly in front of her in the store bought the last two. They don't know when they're going to get more.

I couldn't help but smile :)

In the meantime though, she just bought more regular batteries so we'll update you as she continues the game.

Game on!!

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Video 19 - Grandma plays God of War 2

When Cory Barlog and his motley gang of misfits and outcasts designed the FANTASTIC game that is God of War 2, they made certain that you would learn to hate the 'O' button on your controller. You'll notice that the 'O' button is the farthest right button on the pad, and the most difficult to mash when your thumb has been hovering over 'X' and 'Δ'; it's just that much more of a pain in the ass!

There also wasn't as much random ass kicking this time around, there seemed to be many more puzzles and boss-like instances rather than the hoards of disposable red-orb bearing creatures put in your way just for the satisfaction of trying that new move you acquired.

Now, I don't want to say it but Grandma feels it needs to be said: "Prince of Persia." I don't really have a point, but one notices the time-shifting elements of GoW2 are somewhat familiar.

The game is simply fucking beautiful. It's short, but it's beautiful. God and Titan Modes will teach you the importance of blocking and dodging, and also make you question your self-worth as a gamer and as a person. Grandma STILL hasn't completed the first one in God Mode.

If you have a PS2, buy this game and rejoice.
If you have a PS3, buy this game, you won't miss the rumble.


Coming up this week: Grandma and Guitar Hero II (360), as well as Alien Hominid HD and Worms.

Game on!

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