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Five Most Satisfying Achievements

Now that I've had the 360 for a few months, I started thinking about the achievements I've unlocked that have been the most personally satisfying.  Here are five moments in gaming that remind me just how much fun it really is.

#5) Perfection - Time Pilot : Make it to level five without dying.  This one was so nice because there were many times I died on level four.  To take down the boss and realize you're still soaring is a great feeling.  What is also cool is that the world's #1 GamerScorer does not have this achievement.

#4) War Hardened - Call of Duty 2 : Completed the game on Veteran difficulty.  This achievement was so great because it was the culmination of several months of gameplay.  I would play a level at a time and because of the difficulty of some of the levels, I had to creep through them, praying to get to the next checkpoint, taking at times over an hour to finish the level.  After about 20 levels of this, it was great to finally see the 1000/1000.

#3) Complete Level 5 - Frogger : Similar to the Perfection achievement, it takes a while to get to levels 4 and 5, and once there the difficulty is very high until you've practiced enough to learn the patterns needed to survive.

#2) Bulletproof - Contra : Beat Contra without continuing.  I was soooo close so many times that I got hooked on getting this achievement.  If I just avoid that one mistake here or that one mistake there is the attitude I had.  Finally at 1:30 AM on a weeknight :o I took down the heart while seemingly holding my breath hanging on to my last life for what seemed like eternity.  The explosions added to the satisfaction.

#1) Survived 1,000,000 - Geometry Wars Evolved : This was my first completed game and so that added to the splendor.  All good Geometry Wars players know their the ones who evolve from not being able to score 250K to being able to score 1 MIL without breaking a sweat.  As I reached the 800K mark and hadn't yet died, I entered the zone and entered survival mode.  Seing the score roll over to 7 digits was oh so sweet.

Hopefully many more satisfying achievements to come ;) 

Paperboy High Score

Along with Time Pilot an excellent score in this game didn't take too much work.  I managed a perfect Monday thru Wednesday on Hard difficulty and ended up with over 80,000 points and a world ranking of 73rd out of about 72,000.  Oh how I love XBox Live Arcade.

Time Pilot Thrills

Over the last couple weeks I have been playing Time Pilot, the $5 XBox 360 Live Arcade game.

In order to unlock the Perfection achievement, a player must beat the first four levels without dying (getting hit once).

When I first started I would pretty much die once per level.  As for level 4, however, I would die multiple times.

Then I developed some strategies.  By continually flying Northeast and shooting, you are pretty much guaranteed to only have to worry about your tail.  This works for the first two levels.  For level 3, I employed the same strategy, but since this level has homing missiles, I wait for them to get about three lengths behind me, then loop in a circle to throw it off, and I continue northeast.  For level 4, which I still kept dying on despite being able to get there flawlessly, I figured out that I needed to loop more often.  Because the fighter jets on level 4 travel the same speed as I do, they will fly beside me and when I need to loop to avoid a homing missile, I will hit the jet and die.  So I started looping more often so that the jets can't fly beside me.

By the time I was able to get the Perfection achievement, I noticed that my score was ranked about 300th in the world out of about 44,000.  So I continued practicing.  What's interesting is that after you beat level 5 (the final level), level 6 is simply level 1 again with the difficulty turned up a little.  Since levels 4 and 5 are the difficult ones, after beating level 5 I am pretty much guaranteed to make it to level 9.

When I made it to level 10 my world ranking was 187th.  Well I knew if I could get past level 10 I would have a good shot of getting to level 14.  So I played a nearly flawless beginning and ended up making it to level 13, racking up a score of about 460K, good for 63rd in the world!

Geometry Wars Top Gun

I recently cracked the top 1% of all Geometry Wars players when I scored 3.13 million to move up to #3043 in the world. According to, there are approximately 307,000 players, so I just snuck into that top percent.

In my opinion, this 5 dollar Live Arcade game is one of the best games of all time.

The action is very fast paced, but it rarely feels uncontrollable.  The difficulty level is what I find most impressive.  The difficulty lies in the large number of enemies and the number of enemies continually and gradually increases as the game goes on.  At one point it looked like scoring a million points would be near impossible.  But perseverance and learned strategy raise the player's skill.  Then it seemed that surviving a million points would be impossible, but once again the skill increases as the game becomes more familiar and the intricate strategies are learned and practiced.

The player is constantly making decisions based on the enemy in front of him, his position on the board, and the number of bombs at his disposal.  Every death is a miscalculation and it seems possible to remove miscalculations, but to execute such precise calculations is what is so thrilling and compelling about this game.

xbox three sixty

On Black Friday I was able to pick up a premium XBox 360 and three games for $440+tax.

So far I am extremely impressed and excited about the system!  The graphics really are a generation above the PS2.

I love the leaderboards! (currently in the top 40% in Hexic and top 45% in Geometry Wars)

Edit: 12/03/06 = currently top 20% in Hexic and top 15% in Geometry Wars!

Edit: 12/23/06 = top 5% in both Hexic and Geometry Wars (ranked about 17K in Hexic and about 11K in Geometry Wars)

Morality & Video Games

Philippians 4:8 reads "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."

In the pursuit of virtue, which I hold to be the fulfillment of oneself insofar as virtue leads us to God, a clear conscience and a distinctive mind and heart are necessary for the gamer.

Over the last few years especially, moral controversy is riddled in our video games.  The majority side, if I feel the waters correctly, does not want to be chained down by restriction or censorship.  For the gamer, the video game often becomes the highest good.  He knows that video games are an enjoyable hobby which brings pleasure and certain positive effects such as coordination, cleverness, teamwork, etc.  To oppose a video game then seems a personal attack on the gamer and the good he derives from gaming.

The debate centers then on what is "good".  As a gamer myself, it is easy to see the good that is sought in protecting video games and letting the developers enhance games with their creativity.  But as a Christian and one who seeks virtue, I have come to see goodness not as the ability to do anything, but as the ability to do good things.  Is freedom the ability to do whatever one wants? 

Freedom is defined as the ability to move oneself.  When we are thinking of what is good, holy, and true, we come to God and to Christ, who is Himself the Truth.  And the truth will set us free.  Games which contain bad morals have the effect of making us think about things contrary to goodness.  They stir up within us desires of the flesh and not of the spirit.  As such, over time, our minds become chained to immorality.  Whether it be the desire to objectify women or the desire to commit violence, when we participate in such thoughts, it wears us down to the point that the thoughts and actions move us; it is no longer us doing the moving; we are no longer exercising freedom.

Keeping positive morals in our games then is necessary in the fulfillment of our persons through virtue, goodness, and freedom. 

Magician Lord?

Well, I was at level 16 for one day.  I did some searching and it looks like skipping past level 16 is a common occurence.


What was I thinking?  I had some free time and I was sick of my PS2 not being able to read Gran Turismo 4.  That game I have owned for months and have still not played (although it ran fine on a friend's PS2).

So I decided to fix the laser.

Yeah right.  I ended up pulling off the reset ribbon.  My PS2 must be a version -1 or something because the pictures online to fix it do not look like mine at all.  I made matters worse by unscrewing all kinds of things looking for where this ribbon could possibly go.

*Sigh*  I had a moment of silence for my busted machine and put it on the shelf next to all my older systems.

Does this mean I need to get a PS3?

Bought a new System!

Today I finally bought a Nintendo DS; I was waiting for a new color besides white and so I snatched up an Onyx DS Lite.

I have to say that I am very pleased so far with the experience.  The system itself has excellent lighting, excellent sound, is the right size, and I love the dual screens.  I never thought the two screen deal was very useful, but seeing how it is utilized, I am impressed.

When Mario goes down the pipe, he goes to the bottom screen. Genius!  And with Brain Age, the sideways presentation is like a book.

It's the first handheld I've bought since the Game Boy Color, and things have definitely come along way since 1998.

Updated system list = NES, Genesis, N64, PS, GBC, PC, DreamCast, PS2, DS

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