My Greatest Gaming Achievements: Battle over Triumph (Posted July 2010)

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Through the years I've done a significant amount of gaming; I've piled up success here and there, but when I looked through all the titles on my shelf and what achievements I've reached on each one, these 12 stand out the most. Without further ado:

12.) MarioKart Double Dash: Beat the All-Cup tour on 150cc

This was one of my earlier achievements, and receives a noteworthy mention on this list simply because of how it was achieved. My friend and I had endured 15 consecutive races only to find myself 2 points back of the pesky computer-controlled player with Rainbow Road remaining. I had to win that race, knowing that the computer would likely pull Wario's pair in first if I was unable to. My friend raced fairly well, but only well enough for third and itbecame a close race between my car and Wario's pair going into the final lap. I raced one of my best laps on that course right then and there, clinched first by over a second and won the All-Cup tour. Sometimes a tie is just enough to get a taste of success in gaming.

11.) At least one star on every MarioKart DS mission

The mission mode in MarioKart challenged me in ways the game hadn't before, but I felt fairly satisfied upon completion of the 6 levels. That is, until I saw on the internet that there was a 7th level only unlockable if a star ranking is reached on every mission before it. It took quite a bit of trial and error to go from squeaking out the missions to completing them with plenty of time remaining, but when I finally did I was addicted enough to try and do the same on the 7th level. Once that was all said and done, I had 1-3 stars shining at me in the level select screen in mission mode.

10.) Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08: Beating the Tiger Challenge and all 4 Major tournaments

What really made this accomplishment above the ordinary was the difficulty of getting a straight swing in this game. In the previous versions of Tiger Woods PGA that I owned, getting a straight swing was one of the more lenient features of the game, while putting was the more difficult aspect. In this game, you got drilled on the longer shots if you couldn't move the left thumbstick perfectly straight, while the putting had a nice preview feature to allow you to have a second shot at your aim. Amidst the frustrations with keeping the swing straight, I eventually found a controller and technique that worked, and was able to successfully beat the Tiger Challenge and later go on to win the 4 majors. The majors weren't quite as easy as they may appear, as the computer 'cheats' in a way with the opposing players. For example, in the first round of the U.S. Open I shot a 10 under par score, and pulled out to a nice lead. However, in the second round, the computer corrected to make players catch up to me by giving them scores in the 50's and I fell behind after shooting 4 under par in the second round. Basically, the AI bases the opposing players' scores off of your previous round and start of the next round, so you can really get screwed there. Somehow, I pulled out a victory in that major and 3 others despite the faulty AI scoring simulation.

9.) 3 Stars on all MarioKart DS Grand Prix Cups

Although winning a MarioKart Grand Prix Cup with a sweep of 40 points may seem like the best possible scenario for the gamer, the game implements an equation that rates you based on your time and driving skill as well as your final placing. The top rating obtainable in each Cup is 3 stars, and while it's easy to achieve in the 50cc and 100cc circuits, once I hit the 150cc and mirror circuits with the same challenge in mind, it took nothing short of my best racing to pull it off on all 8 cups. This helped build up my skill for the online play and also gave a nice triple star marking to go with my emblem during online races.

8.) 27 of 32 staff ghosts beaten in MarioKart DS

While the challenge of getting 3 stars on each Grand Prix was a test of my skill, nothing brought out my highest potential in this game like the staff ghosts. The times required not only timely boosts with the mushroom powerups, but also a great deal of drift boosting skill. It was very frustrating at times, and it took a reasonable amount of course memorization to make those times finally happen. Although it never was completed, taking down over 84 percent of the time trial challenges still marks my greatest achievement in the MarioKart series.

7.) Halo 3 Achievements on Xbox Live

Although there isn't one particular shining moment in all the time I've spent with this game, I found 5 that stood out in my memory most of all. At one point, I managed to complete a team slayer game with 12 kills and 0 deaths (mostly using BR), the closest I ever came to a legitimate perfection. On a free for all slayer game, I got my best spree at 19 kills, one short of a rampage when I reached the game-winning 25th kill. I got some not particularly epic, but still uncommon medals when I pulled off an Open Season on Last Resort and a Vehicular Manslaughter on High Ground. Lastly, in a close game on Narrows, I pulled my team three kills ahead with a triple kill snipe using a single bullet down in the lowest portion of the map (with the additional consolation of a killing frenzy).

6.) SSX3: 911,539 points on R&B freestyle run

I had spent several long hours mapping out the best way to run this freestyle course, but I even surprised myself when I got all the multipliers I had hoped for and then some to achieve my highest freestyle score ever in that game outside of a halfpipe. Although it was a little short of the platinum benchmark of one million, it was certainly my best run ever in that game, which tops my favorite original Xbox games.

5.) 150 stars on Super Mario 64 DS

I recently picked up this game again after several years, played it through 110 stars, and realized why this was no easy feat. Not only did it take a great handle on the game's controls, but also a bit of strategy here and there to pick up the stars that were trickier to obtain. It was the sense of completion, over the little perks of the castle cannon, fat penguin, and changed bowser speech, that made this lengthy and difficult achievement worthwhile.

4.) 240 star coins on New Super Mario Bros.

Some may consider this a really easy game to complete, but I like to go on the contrary if you're looking for 100% completion to consider this game beaten. Whenever a star coin is picked up in this game, it can only be used to purchase unlockable pathways if the stage is completed right then and there or a checkpoint is reached and the stage is finished on an ensuing run. The "avoid death at all costs with star coins in hand" advice didn't always get into Mario's head at the right times, making this a very difficult and frustrating process. Many of the star coins made me put Mario at a greater risk of getting hit or falling, but the call for sharper handling with the controls presented enough challenge to make this what I consider to be my greatest achievement in any Mario game.

3.) 50 win streak at the Battle Tower in Pokemon Pearl Version

Beating the main story in Pokemon is generally an easy thing to do, assuming you raise one very high-leveled powerhouse (most likely the starter) and bring the necessary items and low-level sacrifices to pull off the victory over the champion. The battle tower is on a completely different end of the difficulty spectrum, as great team planning between your 3 pokemon and ev-training are required for success. Using a combination of Togekiss, Garchomp, and Magnezone, I got past the Tower Tycoon not only at battle 21, but also in the final encounter at 49 in a nailbiter (vs. Heatran, Regigigas, and Cresselia). Timely switches and strong movesets pulled me through in the close matches of that streak, and when it finally came to an end at the hands of an evading Froslass, I still found myself satisfied with my 50 consecutive wins.

2.) 90/95 Expert 5* and 10 Expert FCs on Guitar Hero World Tour, 126/132 Expert 5* and 23 Expert FCs on GH5

Guitar Hero was never really my thing when I first started playing it with GH3. With a great deal of persistence, however, I became a really strong player on Expert guitar and increasingly good at nailing the fast hammer-ons and pull-offs which once made the game so difficult for me. Once GH World Tour hit the stores, and ever since, I've played the game quite often and compiled some great scores in addition to the 5* totals. It's a skill I hope to retain, and one of my greatest gaming achievements worth building on in hopes to overwhelm more opponents on Xbox Live.

1.) Beating Masters Battle Set 8 on Pokemon Battle Revolution

Although you may criticize me all you want for choosing this as my greatest gaming achievement ever, it's the experience and work that goes into the achievement that really defines it for me. I love to see all the great numbers I've piled up through the thousands of hours I've spent on gaming, but that's not my basis for choosing my top achievement of the mix. The set consists of 4 battles: one against an ice-based team, one against a sandstorm-themed team, the stunningly difficult trick room team, and the overpowered monstrosity that is Mysterial's team. Getting past the first two battles was a reasonably consistent trend for my strong ev-trained team (with a Kyogre thrown in as the sole uber for the final battle). The trick room team was manageable as long as I could get the Slowking out of there before the AI had a reasonable chance to take advantage of the trick room strategy. I finally came into the last battle (after several failed attempts) with a hold-the-Kyogre strategy to extinguish the Sunny Day brought out by Mysterial's Groudon. I lead with a Togekiss-Kingdra combination, and while the focus sash wasn't enough to keep Togekiss in the battle after its first attack, Kingdra held on to receive the swift swim speed boost from Kyogre. Once Kyogre, equipped with the choice scarf, got into battle, the water spout combined with a very high special attack and boosted speed allowed Kyogre to hold on and win it for me before taking a great deal of damage and losing water spot's power. Although it may seem like I got a victory in the most difficult battle of the game a little too easily with an uber on my side, it must be also taken into consideration that Mysterial used 3 ubers in opposition (Groudon, Mewtwo, and Dialga). It's an achievement that had hundreds of prior hours of work going into it with all the time it took to ev-train, configure movesets, and raise the team to level 100. The battle was a victory not only over the game's most difficult challenge, but also a victory in the experience and strategy it took to get there.

Achievements in gaming, despite the flashy numbers, epic moments, and bragging rights are really nothing without the personal experience. The building apprehension, the hours upon hours of sidequests and background work make them truly emotional moments for us gamers. When you reflect on your own personal gaming achievements, always remember that the triumph is not self-sustaining, as it feeds off of the battle it took to get there.

My All-Time Favorite Games

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Over the past 7 years or so that I've been into gaming, I've experienced many games, but through evaluating all that I've played, I've chosen the ones I found the most entertaining of all. Currently, I'm giving 8 games the honor in my hall of fame, but there is always room for change.

HALL OF FAME

PC:

*Lego Racers: This game was my first ever, and is still great to play every once in awhile to see if I've still got what it takes to beat Rocket Racer (see my review).

XBOX:

*SSX3: By far the most entertaining game I played on the original XBox. The free roaming in the backcountry and the varied competition styles kept this game fun for a long while. At first my goal was to place in every possible event, then it became trying to score 1st in most freestyle events. The gameplay was very smooth, and the trick possibilities made each event fresh.

XBOX 360:

*Guitar Hero Series: I started playing Guitar Hero games struggling to pass the medium difficulty on songs, and now I can 5 starover 90% of the songson GH 3, 4, and 5 on expert. This series has clocked a large chunk of my gameplay hours on my Xbox 360, and it's a series where I've made significant progress in skill level.

*Halo 3: The campaign was great, but what keeps me coming back is the multiplayer, forge, and online matchmaking. It's the best shooter I've played due to the ease of play in comparison to many other shooters with complex control schemes.

DS:

*MarioKart DS: It was very addictive to try and get a 3 star in every grand prix, and I ultimately reached my goal. Even with that, there's mission mode, time trials/staff ghosts, and online play that kept me playing this game. The handling and ease of drifts makes this my favorite mariokart of all.

*New Super Mario Bros.: This is an excellent 2D platformer that played smoothly, and brought some puzzling scenarios to get out of with its variety of levels. Trying to get all 240 star coins brought out a great addicting challenge to complete. The mini games add to the replay value.

*Super Mario 64 DS: This gave me a chance to play a classic game I never truly got to play, since I never owned a Nintendo 64. As with its 2D counterpart, this 3D platformer kept me hooked trying to get completion through obtaining all 150 stars. The various gimmicks through the stages is what made this game great in its entertainment value.

*Pokémon Diamond and Pearl: I own both versions of this game, and they both deserve recognition since they are by far the games I spent the most hours on. The motivation to raise a full team of EV trained level 100s made its gameplay length greatly extended. Although I don't find it much fun to play now that I have over 10 EVtrained LV100s, they still were really great games that I value due to all the time I put into my teams.