Gaming without your brother

Category Archives: Xbox Arcade

You guys. Holy crap.

So I heard some of my friends were going to PAX a month or so ago, and I was pretty bummed because for the first time in my life, I thought that I might be able to start going to cool things like PAX or ComicCon or any of the other awesome cons that are around the country. But, because it had never really been on my radar before (in a real, I-can-actually-go sort of way) I wasn’t aware that PAX Prime was Labor Day weekend, and I missed buying tickets. Frankly when they went on sale, I was most likely too poor to buy them anyway.

Arguably the best gaming convention in the USA.

Arguably the best gaming convention in the USA.

Last night I was hanging out with these PAX friends and my hometown of Seattle came up so naturally, one friend asked if I was attending the Prime convention next week. I said no, I was bummed and jealous of them, but also excited for them and thought it would be awesome. AND THEN, the best sentence I had heard in a really, really long time was uttered as this friend said “Do you want to go? I have an extra ticket.”

I said yes without thinking about how my monetary situation is kind of tight right now, but I don’t mind eating beans for the next week and a half and a few weeks afterwards to take advantage of the opportunity. Because there are so many reasons why this is a great thing for me.

A)    I just love being anywhere in the Pacific Northwest. I anticipate being at the convention all day, every day of the weekend, so I doubt I’ll really get to soak in the Puget Sound or the lush greenery, but simply being in the vicinity always makes me feel a little more whole. I’m pretty dang obsessed with the place.

B)     I love video games so being around video games is spectacular. I will get to play games and go to panels and all the great things that come with going to PAX. This is the “duh” bullet point, but I felt like I should at least put it down for the record.

C)    I don’t think I’ve ever been around a large group of people that love video games and nerd culture . . . ever. In this quest to start this blog and work in the game industry, I’ve realized how oppressed I really felt, as though video games were always a waste of time and a lesser hobby than anything else. WRONG. So, spreading my wings even further by going to PAX is just going to help more, with all of those feels.

Always makes me laugh, despite being creepy. Nerds know my feel.

Always makes me laugh, despite being creepy. Nerds know my feel.

D)    I am going to try to network the crap out of that place. I am printing business cards as we speak, that are admittedly sparse, but they list this site and my email address so . . . *sigh* here’s hoping. Head high, Laurie! Hope for the best! I refuse to feel defeated before I even get there. Phew. Good pep talk.

Anyway, these friends I’m going with are just awesome guys, so it’s going to be a blast, I’m positive. And the best news for you guys: I’m gonna blog about it every day! So will everyone else and their dogs I suppose, but hopefully I can offer a more personal perspective and maybe look at things that other news outlets will skim over. At the very least, it will beef up my writing portfolio and I will enjoy it. Boom. The end.

If any of you are going to be at PAX, I would love to bump into you and say hello! We probably won’t have much to talk about, but it would be cool right? I just love strangers with one purpose all together in the same place. Like when everyone sings the same lyrics at a concert. Those are some of my most uplifting memories, that really give me faith in humanity. I don’t want to project too much on PAX, because it could turn out to be full of tools, what do I know? But I actually feel confident at the very least it will be highly enjoyable and at the very most, it will make me love everyone to a Pinkie Pie kind of level. That’s right; I just dropped some Ponies on you.

I might end up loving everyone.

I might end up loving everyone.

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I return in the midst of what I’m sure is e-rotten fruit being thrown at me and e-boos at being gone so long. When I’m sick, I view playing video games as expending energy, and when I’m sick, I expend zero energy. Also, the apocryphal gaming PC I’ve mentioned before is finally all en route to my apartment (in pieces) and because I’m so excited to do some real PC gaming for the first time ever, consoles and 14” laptop screens are just not holding any appeal for me.

Preeeeetty ugly . . . but cheap!

Preeeeetty ugly . . . but cheap case!

I’ve been thinking a lot about what this is going to mean for my Xbox. My Wii is just collecting dust at this point, which makes me sad, but someday . . . someday I’ll get back to it. Anyway, with Steam sales and Amazon sales, digital distribution is simply the cheapest route for gaming and most games today are on Xbox and the PC. So will my Xbox fall to the wayside as I dedicate my soul to PC gaming only?

My first reaction is no. During the steam sale I almost bought L.A. Noire for $5 (and I should have, really) but something tugging at the back of my mind said “No. Rockstar games are meant to be appreciated with a controller in your hand.” Which, of course I can plug a controller into my PC so . . . really, I should’ve bought it. Damn.

Anyway, there are still some mind blocks telling me that I want to do some things on console and some things on PC. I have heard from multiple sources that the Witcher series, although being recently ported to the Xbox, is far superior still on the PC. But, I’ve always loved lazily turning on my console on a weekend morning and playing some casual action game. I believe the developers of Super Meat Boy or maybe it was Fez, had something to say about that (something that agreed with me, that the feeling of playing on a console is just unbeatable) but as I’m writing this, I’m realizing how silly it sounds for me, personally.

Having bought this on a computer, played on a keyboard, and only recently playing it w/ a controller, I can confirm this is true.

Having bought this on a computer, played on a keyboard, and only recently playing it w/ a controller, I can confirm this is true.

I have my consoles and TV in my room. I’m using my TV as a monitor for my PC, and I can plug in my Xbox controller to play with it on my PC. My experiences are going to be . . . next to the same, on either system. The separation between PC gaming and console gaming will be almost gone, with any differences weighing down the benefits of console gaming. As someone who has only console gamed her entire life, this is a sad realization, not because I think console gaming is superior to PC gaming, but because it is familiar.

I never got into the debates about “which was better” because I think its apples to oranges. There is a clear winner in the graphics and speed department, but I think the nostalgia and cheaper alternative is a valuable side of the argument as well. We’ll see how much I keep using my Xbox, and given the exclusive nature of Wii titles, I’m sure I’ll come back to it to get a Mario or Zelda fix, but I wouldn’t be surprised if PC gaming took over my gaming life. The only things raising any doubt are awesome Xbox Live Arcade game exclusives. Other than that, I may be turning into a PC girl . . . Although I’ll probably never sell it because who knows when the next Red Dead Redemption is coming around, that will be another console-exclusive?

Do you guys PC and console game? Do you have strong feelings one way or the other? Leave a comment, let’s discuss.


Castle Crashers was released in 2008 but went on sale for cheap (cheaper than usual) two weeks ago (and really probably had before now but I just never noticed). My brother had recommended it to me as a fun game when he bought it ages ago and he told me about it being on sale so I figured now was the time to take action and finally give it a whirl.

Look at those bad-a knights!

Look at those bad-a knights!

Right off the bat, how can you not love this game? The cartoon-y style by Dan Paladin is endearing and entertaining. The music too is classic questing music with big booms and trumpets and all that you want to hear behind you when swinging a sword and casting a spell. Aside from the aesthetics alone, the animation is lovable. These little bad-a’s aren’t just running around in 2D, they’re glaring and smoochin’ ladies and choppin’ heads. It’s almost dark, but not quite, and that makes it that much more fun.

As I started playing, I realized how static the gameplay was. I was just supposed to be mashing these buttons for how many stages? Sure, there are combos to unlock, and I will say this is one of the few games that I actually take advantage of magical abilities (I’m usually a fan of pure brute force: never use block, never level agility, never press brake), but for the most part,  jump and slash. I’m playing through the first time as the Red Knight, so I’m really just busting heads in with maces and blunt objects. I even tried to branch out and try the other mini games offered (the Arena and All You Can Quaff) but alas, those required even less thought than the game itself! You level up every two levels at least but usually every level. Bosses rarely require anything special, just a few more stat points and a little less jumping right into their attacks, and then you can easily win.

And then last weekend, I was sitting around, thinking how much effort jumping into any of my puzzle or RPG games would take. I found myself looking for something that would take no thought, that would give me a sense of accomplishment when really there was nothing required of me. And I started up Castle Crashers. How can I fault a game for delivering exactly what it advertises? A side-scrolling beat-em-up game that only cost me $6 and makes me laugh with subtle animations and goofy bosses. Sometimes you need that in the middle of games that make you cry or pee your pants in fright or think so hard you rage quit. Castle Crashers is truly relaxing gaming, and I love it for giving me that.

Conclusion?

PLAY THIS GAME!

Need to make a better, solidified graphic for this conclusion . . . but I like the joy on this kid’s face.