Playing With My Weiner

Gaming at the mercy of miniature daschunds.

PAX video game previews in review September 2, 2008

So many games, so little time on each.  Here’s my post-PAX roundup of the games I played.

Starcraft II – I was fortunate to get a total of 40 minutes with this one, thanks to team-camping it with Peter.  He tried the Humans, I tried the Protoss (everyone and their grandmother’s dog tried the Zerg, so I just watched them).  The order of the day is “streamlined”.  Starcraft II feels like Starcraft, but it also feels very slick and smooth – almost too slick and smooth.  For example, gathering has been made quicker by allowing your forces to get more from each node they whack.  Units don’t move, they glide, no matter which race they are.  The Protoss are still unbelievably shiny, and the Zerg still make noises that should never be combined with eating.  The humans are, well, human, and sometimes they zig zag where they should have zug zugged.  That is to say that command and control seemed a bit of an issue, but whether this was because of new controls or the fact that its been so many years since we’ve used the old ones remains to be seen.  As an admitted Blizzard fan, I’ll be watching this one with great interest.



World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King:  Ah, WoW, my not-so-secret vice.  You see, I have this gnome, and she’s stabby…and l33t, and lots of other things that I will never be in real life.  Thus, any new expansion to this cash cow in the Blactivision barn warrants my full attention.  I waited longer to play the beta for ten minutes than I waited for any other single thing at PAX.  And here, readers, is the heresy – it wasn’t worth it.

Yes, I am looking forward to WotLK.  Yes, I will buy it and level my gnomes and roll my tiny pink-haired Death Knight.  That being said, what I saw on the show floor (when the Beta was up) felt not so much like an expansion pack, but rather a major patch.  Of course, I didn’t have time to explore all the new crafting, the second new zone (I only entered the Howling Fjord), or even get a tiny haircut, but I did run around and kill things in an attempt to gain loot, which is the essence of the thing.  The killing was the same as it ever was, the loot was vendorable grays.  I think there is a lot here, to be sure, I just think it will take some deeper delving to discover it.  



Spore:  “What’s with all the screaming?”  I’m a Wright fan since Sim City.  (The original, Maxis version, thank you.)  I like God games.  I farm my pinatas and research feudalism with the best of them, but for some reason, Spore is not grabbing me.  Create your own creature and allow it to evolve?  I’ve played Flow.  Bring a civilization through time?  I’ve played, well, you know.  Launch ’em into space?  I remember Sim Earth. Yes, it’s shiny, yes, penises abound, but I think the proof is in the primordial soup here, and I’m not appetized. Spore doesn’t feel new to me, it feels like work, and I have enough of that on my plate these days.  

I feel the same way about Little Big Planet, by the way.  It looks adorable, but frankly, I’m overwhelmed by the choices.  I absolutely understand that there is a market for these games, and I look forward to the delights that the superusers of these games create.  I’m just wondering when we decided it was a good thing to encourage people to charge us $60 to do their job and make a game.



Fallout 3 – Just to prove I’m not a crank, let me say Fallout 3 is so dirty-shiny it hurts.  I loved watching the VATS system in motion, and I praise Ceiling Cat that Bethesda has learned that first and third-person views can live together in one game without creating a civil war.  I think the leveling system is great, the visual design is spot-on for the retro-apocalyptic flavor of the game world, and I think that scorpions suck.  That is all.



Lock’s Quest – From the folks that brought you Drawn To Life, 5th Cell, comes Lock’s Quest.  First off, let me congratulate 5th Cell for sticking to its DS Wireless Download method of demo this year.  It worked very well for DTL last year, and it was fun to use my DS wireless for something at PAX besides PictoCock and getting creamed at MarioKart.  Not having to wait in line was another big plus.

Lock’s Quest is a strategy RPG which recently won’s Best of E3 Strategy Game award.  Don’t let the game’s faint competition at E3 deter you, though – Lock’s Quest is a solid strategy game with a colorful steampunk art style.  More importantly it brings the building-type strategy RPG firmly to the DS.  You have four different building materials to mine and work with, ala Starcraft or Warcraft, and an able commander in Lock himself.  The DS stylus is an excellent building and drawing tool, allowing you to fashion fortresses and walls with ease.  I’m looking forward to owning this one.


REVIEW: Sims 2: Apartment Pets for DS

Filed under: 2 weiners,DS,Penny Arcade,Reviews,Sims — Gwyddia @ 9:10 pm
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As a gamer who can vacillate between WoW PvP ganking and scritching a Nintendog between the ears in mere seconds, I thought that giving a “fair and balanced” review of a Sims Pets game was going to be tough.  Not so much.  I guess I require my pixellated pooches to actually be more than blurry pixels with mediocre control schemes.


I’m getting ahead of myself.  First, the “plot”.  After the ever-so-detailed character creation experience (featuring both genders and no less than five top and bottom clothing options), you are plopped down in a teeny tiny Sim apartment with an nearly invisible Sim parrot.  If you can get your stylus to touch the parrot just right, it will give you a Sims-type pop up window which will allow you to play a DDR-style minigame with the bird.  Not a bad minigame, moves a bit fast, but it’s a rhythm game, and who doesn’t love those?


Wander around your new space for a bit and you’ll get an e-mail on your PDA (*cough iPhone*) from your Uncle Bill, who owns the apartment and the pet spa below it.  He says he’s off doing research somewhere and thanks you for looking after the place.  In case you have an itch for interior design, Uncle Bill has an “arrangement” with the landlord that gives you carte blanche to paint, paper, and generally tear the place up as you see fit.


This isn’t your mother’s Sims game, though.  No sooner do you begin looking at swatches then the doorbell rings, and your friendly building maintenance guy hands you a puppy.  Why?  Because he found it, of course.  Now you have to care for it.  

Unfortunately, it is the pet care phase that makes this game less a member of the Sims family and more a subpar Nintendogs clone or wannabe Imagine: Veterinarian.  Pets can have a number of negative states, including such technical states as “stinky” or “dirty”.  Your job is to “diagnose” and “treat” these states through washing, perfuming, etc.  


The big problem here is the controls.  For example. it is very difficult to “treat” Stinky when you have to both target his hotspots using the stylus and “spray” him with the same hand (using the right shoulder button).  In addition, there are not one, but two timing mechanisms in play during your task: a standard clock timer and the pet’s “annoyance meter”, which will invariably cause Stinky to run away for a few seconds during the middle of any treatment.  Good luck getting the percentage of treatment needed to “cure” Stinky when you can’t even make him sit still.


And that’s just the pets that are dumped on your doorstep.  You also run a Pet Spa downstairs, which is how you earn money to pamper your pooches and make Uncle Bill’s pad plush.  You get an e-mail when a customer arrives and, if you can force the impossible pathfinding to allow you to take the elevator down, you may even get to diagnose and treat these customers’ pets!  Joy!  Meanwhile, your own motive scores (fatigue, hygiene, etc.) continue to erode over time, as do the scores of each and every pet in your personal menagerie.


Finally, the game doesn’t look great, even for a DS title.  Nintendogs, which was a DS Lite launch title, presents cuter pooches, and Viva Pinata: Pocket Paradise shows what the littlest console can do with textures in a sim game.  Next to those guys, The Sims 2: Apartment Pets looks like a GBA title at best, or at least the parts you can see – the camera only moves up, down, left and right – no swiveling whatsoever.  

Looks like I’ll have to go back to having my gnome rogue farm up pets in Azeroth and Outland.  I’m giving The Sims 2: Apartment Pets – 2 Weiners out of 5.




Hello world!

Filed under: Indy,Sawyer,WeinerCast — Gwyddia @ 4:21 pm
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Welcome to Playing With My Weiner – the only gaming blog brought to you by a chick with two weiners.

Their names are Sawyer and Indy, and they are entirely fascinated with the games Mom plays.  I hope you will be too.  Check back soon for longer posts, a podcast, and more!