Portal and Peggle

As you might be able to tell with my various posts, I go in spurts as to what medium I’m devouring at any given time. Sometimes it’s horror movies, other times it’s trades. Recently I’ve been spreading my intake pretty thin, but I have taken the time to watch some flicks, read some trade and play a couple of video games. This post is about a few of the games I’ve been playing on the Xbox 360 (you can do more than watch movies in this thing, did you know that?)

First up, I just finished Portal last week. I know, thanks for the welcome into 2007. I grabbed the Orange Box used after getting my Xbox in December and have been playing Portal on and off for a while. It took me a while to really get into the game, but once I did, I was in like gangbusters. That is until I got to the very last stage of the game. I got kind of frustrated after getting stuck on a previous level (I actually figured out how to beat that level on my way into work one morning and had to wait until I got home that night to actually test and prove my theory), so once the very last battle started giving me trouble, I took a break. Well, last week I finally beat that bad boy and am pretty proud of myself. I’m not usually one for puzzle games, but the crazy amounts of ingenuity that the creators put into the basic gameplay and overall physics of Portal is ridiculously impressive. If I had an award show, I’d give them the grand prize for awesomest video game. Seriously, it’s amazing. Plus, at the very end, you get rewarded with a song. If you haven’t beat the game yet, you don’t really deserve to see this, but it’s already on the internet and this game is a couple years old so what the hell? Enjoy the jam:

The game that I’ve been currently addicted to is called Peggle. It’s available on Xbox Live as a downloadable game as well as PC and the DS. It might be on more platforms, but these are the ones I’ve already heard about. My boss Justin Aclin of Hero House fame turned me onto the demo last week. I got hooked and bought the full game last night with the intention of watching a movie on Netflix Instant Watch, but ended up play this puzzle game for two hours.

Before trying to explain the game you should probably just check this out:

The game is kind of like a mix between Snood, Plinko and pachinko. The point is to shoot a ball and hit all the orange balls and bricks. The blue ones also give you points, but they’re just there to bounce off of. The green ones do cool things on different stages to assist you and the purple/pink ones give you a point bonus. Aside from the thrill of figuring out the best way to work the puzzle, the real upside to playing the game is the extreme closeup as you either hit or miss the last ball, followed by bombastic music, bonus points and a rainbow telling you how many points you’ve gotten. I can’t remember how many gamer points it cost, but I’m far more glad I bought this thatn Braid, which I’m afraid I’m too dumb to figure out without a walkthrough.

Oh, you might have asked yourself what pachinko is. To be honest, I only know that it’s kind of an upright pinball played in Japan (I think) with ball bearings instead of larger balls. Oh and also what I gleaned from this amazing collection of Nic Cage commercials.

Weekend Warrior

As loyal UnitedMonkee readers will have noticed, there wasn’t much (or anything really) in the way of posting this weekend. Well, that was because, I actually did stuff this weekend instead of sitting around the house watching movies (mostly because my lovely wife Em made plans, also it was really nice out this weekend, so nice I got an awkward sunburn, but more on that later).

Friday night we kept it a bit low key with dinner at Woody’s, the best all natural burger place I’ve ever been to (also the only, but it’s still really good). If you’re ever in Cornwall, NY stop by and have a Portabella sandwich, burger or Falafel, you won’t be disappointed. After that we went to my favorite movie theater The Destinta to catch I Love You, Man which I loved. I’m sure I’ll post something on it shortly, I can tell you’re just dying to read what I have to say about it. We finished the evening off by watching more of the last season of Avatar before falling asleep. Hey, it’s not lame, we had a big day planned on Saturday.

And by big day, I mean heading down to NYC to visit with some friends from college Adrienne and Katie (you can check out Katie’s rad NYC food blog here). Before meeting up with Katie I showed Em and Adrienne the Wizard New York City office that I will be relocating to at some point in the future and they freaked out. Apparently it’s in a building called The Atlas Building which is where something having to do with Project Runway happens, which makes sense because it’s in the middle of the fashion district. That’s right folks, keep an eye on the background of future episodes of Project Runway for me looking lost and confused wearing a Batman T-shirt and boat shoes.

After meeting up with Katie at those red bleachers above the TKTS booth, we went to a magical place I’d never been before called the East Village. Heck, I even recognized the name of the area: St. Mark’s. How did I know that’s where we were? We passed a place called St. Mark’s Comics that I wanted to go to along with some record stores, but kept my mouth shut because I was hungry and didn’t want to look like a bigger nerd than I am.

Katie guided us to a place called Yaffa Cafe where we had lunch and I had a couple beers. After having an awesome lunch Katie suggested that we spend the rest of the day drinking, so we went to a couple of different bars (the first had $3 Blue Moon’s but didn’t have orange slices, so Em wasn’t impressed, but they also had a picture of Duke from G.I. Joe in front of an American flag that was clearly printed off of someone’s computer in a frame) and then a place with $5 flavored mojitos and Bloody Maries. I wish I could remember the names of either of these places, especially the second because they had these awesome apple mojitos that tasted like candy. I wish I was drinking one right now. All I know is that they were both on Avenue C and were east-ish. I tried finding them using Google’s street view with no luck (probably because I was on the back patio and not staring at the front of the building).

I gotta say, I felt very cool eating and drinking on these various patios. As Em pointed out, there’s really nothing better to do in NYC than sit around drinking all day because you don’t have to worry about driving anywhere. Just hop on your train, bus or subway and you’ll be home. Even we sobered up by the time we got home (an hour and a half train ride will do that to you). Much fun was had by all. Even though I was tired, I tried watching Girls School Screamers on Netflix when I got home only to fall asleep about 20 minutes in. More on that later too.

Sunday was a lot more mellow as we went to Emily’s friend from work Constantina’s house for Greek Easter (it’s a week after “regular” Easter for some reason). There was SO much food, it was awesome. We basically sat around and ate for five hours in the mountains somewhere kind of close to our house (about 40 minutes or so away). Everyone was super nice and the food was amazing, they even had a lamb on a spit cooking all day, but by the time it was done, most of us were so full we could only eat a little. It was awesome though.

All of which brings me back to my weird sunburn. We were sitting outside under an awning or tent or something all day and the weather was really nice, so I enjoyed being in the sun. I even wore shorts because it was so nice out (and it didn’t even snow or anything). Well, later that night when we got home, I was reading and then playing video games and realized that the tops of my legs right above my knees were irritated on both sides. It wasn’t until I scratched at itch and felt that all-too-familiar burning feeling that I realized that my legs were sunburned. But it was only from the point where my shorts stopped to my knees, so a splotch of about 4-5 inches. Awesome.

We also finished Avatar, I finally beat Portal and I finished Girls School Screams, but expect posts on those separately.