Brawlhalla • Played 3 games in the Free-for-All matchmaking queue • 15G • 25.18% of gamers unlocked this
I played some Brawhalla earlier this year when visiting in-laws, and it looked like a fun free-to-play game for mainstream console owners who missed the frenzied combat of Super Smash Bros. It was easy enough for my son to play, largely attributable to its simple controls of move, jump and attack, and some slight variations on those themes, and I like to set him as the benchmark for what he should and shouldn’t be in the lounge room watching the TV for.
I got another achievement essentially just for logging in, so I figured that a few games wouldn’t go astray. In the space of three games I managed to come last, second last and then second! There’s certainly room for growth!
Right now though, I’m falling asleep writing this entry – so I that makes a brilliant idea.
Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown • Win a match in Arcade Mode without losing a round (any difficulty level) • 40G • 63.54% of gamers unlocked this
It’s funny, but I have never really been able to master fighting games. Considering some of my earliest gaming memories are spending ages on the Street Fighter and/or Mortal Kombat arcade machines, and even having a Bison action figure, you would think that I would have a good sixth sense, or at least some muscle memory, to adapt and play combat games with some degree of success.
As it turns out, I’m just a clunky old man who sometimes gets lucky with a series of punches and kicks.
Today’s achievement is, by-and-large, a crafted effort. I didn’t want to be rushing to try and get an achievement by the end of the day (again), and I felt like all of my arcade offerings were probably going to take a little more effort, or time, than I had this morning – and so Virtua Fighter it is.
As far as my fighting games go, I think I know the characters of Virtua Fighter the least … and that’s saying something. Even DragonBall FighterZ has more recognisable character names than VF5, and I don’t even watch the show! So, when it comes to character selection … it really is, and was, a case of clicking the first option that was on the screen. I made the match ‘Very Easy’, and I adjusted the health bars to favour my character – though, as it turns out, that was largely unnecessary as I trounced my opponent without too much effort fairly quickly.
A quick-and-easy achievement to start the day – could you ask for much more than that?
I’ll come back to Virtua Fighter, probably later in the week, because there appears to be a few other ‘quick win’ achievements I can work towards, but I’ll do some more research and make sure I don’t have to put ‘too’ much effort in.
Otherwise, completing today’s achievement means I’ve got more time for both Making a Murderer and RDR2 tonight. Yee-ha!
Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two • Finished Yen Sid’s Lab • 20G • 74.26% of gamers unlocked this
Had I have known that I was going to have the day I had today, I probably wouldn’t have chosen to try and squeeze in an achievement this morning before I left for work. But I did, and I got one. Que Sera Sera, Carpe Diem, or whatever your Latin phrase-of-choice is … the net result is that I got an achievement.
Following the disappointment (achievement-wise) that was Victor Vran, I really was looking for a ‘quick win’ this morning. I had gotten the kids dressed, and served them breakfast, so with two sets of beady little eyes watching me, I stumbled across Epic Mickey … which I think was one of the Games with Gold titles from last month – but in either event, I didn’t realise that I had downloaded it already, so it seemed like as good a place as any to start.
Despite growing up in an era where it was cool to have understood Fantasia, I’ve never actually been able to watch more than 5-10 minutes of it at a time without being freaked out, so I was a bit unsure what was happening at the start of this game when small brooms started marching up stairs and Mickey was invited to follow. It seemed like that this was going to be, essentially, Fantasia: The Game, but the mechanics involved between painting and ‘thinning’ the environment meant that the background noise that would normally constitute Fantasia blended into the background.
I am sure that the mechanics of the paint will become more-and-more complex as time goes on, but for now, I’m taking it slow. With any luck, this might become our new Max and the Curse of Brotherhood, which was a great family game … though I suspect the graphics in Mickey are going to be a step down from Max.
Time will tell how much of a graphics snob I have turned into!
Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy • Defeat Ripper Roo
There are very few tortures for parents beyond being forced to wake up earlier than your necessitated 7 hours of sleep and entertain your kids. For me, that pretty much sums up my morning – and much of my day if I’m honest … for a not-insignificantly pained man who has had a bad run of sleep and is slowly decomposing while still alive, it was really the last thing I wanted to do.
What better garnish to a torture than Crash Bandicoot?
To be honest, despite being a traditionally PlayStation guy (until they started baulking at … you know … ‘progress’), my formative years were much more PC and SEGA Master System. As a result, I think my demographic was ‘just’ off the necessary bracket to really feel nostalgic when it comes to Crash … but at the same time, a reboot (or remaster) offers the perfect chance to get back/onto the bandwagon.
It might take me a little longer.
The best thing about Crash is that the levels are nice and short, and you can power through them with your kids (at 6am). The bad thing is – time’s have changed – and there’s just a big assortment of other games that can be played, that look better, feel better, and just generally all-around are more fun to play. Ratchet and Clank is a good example of a reboot done properly, whereas Crash is trying to compete with the like’s of Super Lucky’s Tale and – dare I say it – Knack.
Needless to say, that I was kind of pleased to earn an achievement on this one so I could take it easy for the rest of the day.
And take it easy, I did. My brain now needs a spell from listening to the tunes of Blaze and the Monster Machines.
About sixteen months ago, I had an existential crisis. I don’t think that is particularly uncommon for people in my position or demographic, but it was enough to prompt me to resign from my desk job in the city and make a commitment to spend more time with my family, and doing things that I enjoyed – rather than continue to persevere in a job with people, and in a field, that I simply didn’t enjoy.
A little over twelve months ago, I had the idea to reinvigorate something I had tried, and failed, to do while I was working: earn a gaming achievement every single day. I guess the intention was that my new outlook on life meant that I needed less emphasis on my ‘job’, and having an activity that I was passionate about, that also had some purpose to it, meant that I wasn’t confined to the common trap of self-identifying as my profession. Instead, I could be a writer, a gamer, and a miserable white-collar 9-to-5’er as well. I figured the turn of the financial year was as good a time as any, and my passion at the time was pretty uniquely Xbox, and so with that in mind – I set myself some personal barriers, and started my journey.
For many, many gamers, earning an achievement a day isn’t actually that much of an effort. For variety streamers and even home enthusiasts, they complete this requirement unconsciously. The time and energy they put into their gaming means that achievements just tick into their account effortlessly. However, they also – like me – have birthdays, and families, and Christmas and work functions and any multitude of life events that they can go to without the mental burden of having to ‘squeeze in’ an achievement.
Others, do make an effort. Psyonix VP Jeremy Dunham (in)famously claimed that he pursued an Xbox Achievement and a PlayStation Trophy every single day. A quick look around the internet will also prompt you to stumble across the occasional long-term achievement hunter.
Big milestone for me today. Probably the longest thing I've ever dedicated myself to. Day 2000 of getting at least one Xbox achievement daily. This spans a few years now, trips, illnesses, work… And, I'm still trucking! And I rarely stop at one a day… @Xbox @TrueAchievements pic.twitter.com/HV4TVshwNT
My point here is that I’m neither new or unique in my approach to achievement hunting. I don’t have a 2,000 day streak, there’s been some days when I’ve only earned one achivement and there’s been others that I’ve absolutely ‘cleaned house’. But for the 2017-18 Financial Year (and a little bit before that as I ‘warmed up’), I’ve earned, and documented, my journey towards obtaining an achievement every single day.
So, what did I learn?
I did learn that gaming can impact on those around you. Sometimes, towards the end of the day – I would have to try and wrap-up whatever we were watching in order to jump onto my Xbox One and knock-out an achievement. I will be honest, that sometimes meant that I was somewhat bullish about sharing the TV, even at the expense of watching something that I enjoyed as much as other family members.
There were a couple of times where my achievement hunting required me to push through right to the stroke of midnight, and there were others where I deliberately (and overtly, I usually made-mention of the fact) would stay up past midnight when I knew there was an achievement to be obtained – essentially ‘freeing up’ the following day. It is these small allowances that were necessary in order to get through what I’ve affectionately thought of as ‘Year One’. And it these strategies which I will most likely carry forward into ‘Year Two’.
So, what’s next?
I’ve thought about this a lot over the past few months when I seemed fairly confident that I was ‘going to make it’. I typically have balanced out my effort to grab an achievement on Xbox and then still make comment on other games as I’ve played them, particularly the likes of God of War which I’ve fawned over the past few months, as well as, more recently, a few puzzle games such as Puzzle Agent 2 on PC. Is that sustainable? Probably. Do I want it to be? I’m not really sure.
Right now, I am very very happy that I’ve completed my self-imposed challenge. I’ve done it within the parameters I set myself and in the time I allowed. I know, from history, that sometimes it’s easier to broader the horizons a bit and allow yourself time to experience new things – and in the gaming sense this means trying new games, from small indie romps through to the latest offering from a AAA First Party Studio. Xbox has done a pretty good job under Phil Spencer to deliver on those offerings, but practically speaking – sometimes it’s easier to get a quick lunch-break achievement rather than burn out during the day at work and then pursue a gaming session at night. I’m spending nearly ten days away from my normal gaming devices later this year, but I can promise you I’ll be taking my iPad and my Vita. It’s these instances that I want to allow myself some flexibility on, so the balance I’m seeking here is, essentially, ‘achievable but challenging’.
What does this mean?
Simple. From tomorrow, 1 July 2018, you are going to still get your achievement a day. However those achievements may no longer be exclusively Xbox. I don’t want to lie though, I still find the Xbox to undoubtedly be (forgive the marketing Kool-Aid) ‘the best place to play’, meaning that there will likely be a disproportionate number of Xbox achievements to other platforms – but I also don’t want this to come back and bite me on the bum when somebody does an audit (no doubt when I’m a rich, famous gamer) who finds a ‘gap’ in my record.
With that in mind, this leads to my second change. Scheduled posts. Every day this past year (except one accidental error in posting slightly after midnight) I have played a game, written a post and published it on this blog – but whether it’s timezone changes, daylight savings, or just gremlins in the system, I still have a number of days where posts appear to be ‘doubled up’ on particular days, and completely absent on others. My solution to this will be to schedule a post every evening just before midnight in order to get, roughly, a consistent battle rhythm when it comes to posts. Some days I might still earn the late night or ‘wee hour’ achievements, but you will still see the post time as being from late the following night. I hope that this brings about some consistency going foward, but if there’s any issues, then I may consider doing a ‘minus one’ approach to posting, and just automatically post, even if I have to backdate, at lunchtime, 12pm on the day I earn them. Watch this space.
And now, I plan on settling down for the evening, watching a bit of Netflix and doing very little for the rest of the day. Tomorrow is the start of a new adventure, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing what I’ve missed out on across the gaming spectrum. There’s a Steam Sale in full swing, I’ve recently obtained a new Humble Bundle (well, they took my money out) and I have some cheap-and-cheerful PlayStation discounts to dive into from their sale earlier in the year.
BattleBlock Theatre • Free a fellow prisoner • 5G • 67.62% of gamers unlocked this
How much fun is this game?! I feel like BattleBlock Theatre has always just been one of those sweet little arcade games that sits in the back of your mind as something that you might have played, or maybe you didn’t, but nobody really requires you to have committed to it because it is otherwise a fun, but innocuous title in among the AAAs of the world.
I can’t really remember when I downloaded BattleBlock, but I was just putting my shoes on for the morning and I figured I’d give it a go. Sure enough, twenty minutes later I’m still playing – the kids are running late for kinder (not that they cared! They loved BattleBlock as well!), and there’s suddenly a mad scramble to get everyone breakfast, dressed and out the door.
Perhaps these fun little titles are best saved for times where there’s less time pressure that a Friday morning in my household.
I unlocked a couple of achievements in this early run, but I think the game is fun enough that I might persevere and unlock a few more.
I’m still working my way through the God of War Valkyrie’s at the moment, stopping at the moment to work my way through the Trials of Muspelheim (there’s a Valkyrie in Muspelheim that I’m heading towards, so this isn’t so much of a detour). I’m absolutely committed to milking GoW for as much and as long as I can in pursuit of a platinum trophy, so I expect to be banging on about it for a bit longer yet, but wanted to give some context as to why I’m not playing things that would otherwise be considered ‘fun’.
… fun, like BattleBlock Theatre fun. And damn good fun it is!
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed • Hit an opponent with a weapon while looking backwards • 10G • 13.69% of gamers unlocked this
A bit more Sonic today. Incidentally, as I logged on to type this entry, the top entry in my news feed was an article from MyNintendoNews which was reporting on the composer for upcoming Sonic Racing title.
The conspiracy theorist in me suggests that Xbox may have timed the release of Sonic All-Stars Racing as a Games with Gold title not all together accidentally.
Of course, as a result, I went hunting around the web for more details. I feel like this is a title that I should have heard about, or (more likely) I had heard about it in passing and then promptly dismissed it, but as I read about the new iteration (or reboot? Or just all-around new game?) of Sonic Racing, the less I became excited. Destructoid, in particular, were particularly scathing of their first look at the game – boiled down to “not particularly impressive”.
One thing that was common while reading though, was comparing the new title to All-Stars. What was equally common was the fondness for which author’s had for this game – an emotion which I probably think is ‘a bit far’ for what is a fun little racer, but I am nonetheless pleased to see it still holds up in the view of ‘real’ critics, and not just in the mind of a rambling blogger who is clutching at nostalgia.
(In case you haven’t worked it out … That’s me … I’m the rambling blogger)
In other news, I’ve been trying to find myself a new gamertag. Yes, I’ve reached that point in my gaming life where I feel like a bit of an identity refresh. I don’t know whether to go with an obscure combination of letters and numbers (which really appeals to me), or find myself a witty combination of words and mash them together, or just suck it up and stick with what I have. What I find soothing is that I have the option to make the change – and that on its own means that my anxiety around my online identity remains in-check. I look forward to another E3 where Sony continue to just show games and offer no service improvements.
Either way – if you follow me on Xbox and you suddenly find yourself with an obscure new friend on your list – then check that it’s not just ‘the new me’ first … but don’t worry, I’m yet to find any evidence that a new online day improves one’s ability to play games.