Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Strange Score!

Can you tell me what exactly is going on in the image you see above? There is a perfectly logical explanation, and that is why we're here today! This is an extremely rare find. NO! Not Madden 11, but the fact that I found Madden 11 in a thrift store!

If you'll notice there are two price tags on the front of the case, one ($24.99) is from a local game and DVD resale store called Disc Replay. The other (purple $.99) is in fact from my favorite Salvation Army. There may be a few of you who still don't quite understand just why this has become such as find, so let me explain even further.

I'm not a huge fan of Madden, although I do play them and still prefer the earlier SNES/Genesis versions to their modern day counterparts. I understand that the Madden series is released annually and that the numeric of each Madden is a year ahead of the actual year in which it is released, so that is to say Madden 11 was release in the year 2010. Also, Madden 11 is, as you'll noticed, an Xbox 360 game, which is an extremely rare thing to find in a thrift store, at least around here.

Given that Madden 11 is barely a year old, originally cost someone $25 at Disc Replay and was found (COMPLETE) in a Salvation Army thrift store, I have to say this qualifies as an extremely odd and rare find. Again, I am not saying the game is hard to find, I'm merely saying that under these circumstances, this item wouldn't normally be found.

The game does have a noticeable scratch where the previous owner had put their Xbox 360 up vertically, and the laser moved up and scratched the disc. I'm unsure if the game even works in it's current state, but I am sure it can be resurfaced to work for a couple bucks at the same store the game was originally purchased from. So you think I paid a measly $1 for this game? No! As it was my favorite Salvation Army, I got the senior discount, total $.52!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

PS2 Review: The Getaway

As I've said, and as I do, I challenge myself to try out games that are in the ilk of GTA. I won't be calling The Getaway a GTA clone, I will simply refer to it as an open world game. The reviews for this game looked good, which I've found that generally good reviews mean the game is good and poor reviews are blown way out of proportion, but some games do genuinely suck. Here we have a game that doesn't live up to all the hype I was prepared for.

The Getaway is set in London, and since I've never seen the movie of the same name I can't tell whether the game is based on it or not, but my guess is probably so. The game is meant to play like a movie (complete with a ton of cut scenes you can not bypass!), so you have no maps, health bar, ammo count, nothing on screen other than the action, which can make playing through the game a headache at times. While playing the game, you'll notice the overall stripped down, simplistic feel to it, but it isn't a completely loss.

The game is split up into 2 sections of 12 missions, making the game 24 total missions, that intertwine with each other as the story progresses for both characters you'll be playing. The story seems pretty movie plotty and overplayed with that "seen it before, seen it done better before" feeling. The missions themselves are challenging, coupled with the drastically different gameplay aspect, sometimes the missions take more tries than are even necessary! The standard missions structures are used here; driving, stealth and run and gun. Although that seems to be the main structures for every open world game, much like the rest of those games the story seems to push them along and make them feel unique.

A large part of the game is driving, which is the main reason I wanted to try this game in the first place. The driving control layout leaves much to be desired in comparison to the GTA series, but there is a good selection of cars to drive and they are enjoyable. Without an in-game map, driving directions are handled via a turn signal system, when you need to turn left or right the corresponding turn signal will light up and remind you that you need to go that direction. My only gripe with the vehicles are that you blow the engines way too easily, forcing you to find another vehicle without being hit by traffic (which is an instant death).

The stealth missions are very straight forward as all you have to do is run around and hide behind things to avoid being detected by NPCs. However, when you need to shoot you'll notice there is a lock-on targeting system, but it gets a little confusing when you need to shoot foes that are closing in in a hurry while your character just flails about and you have no clue who you're aiming at without any target marker.

Health is another issue as the only way you can tell if you're about to die is the amount of blood on your clothes, as well as the way your character stumbles about. The only way you can regain health is to find a wall to prop yourself up against and rest, which becomes a serious issue when foes pop up from seemingly nowhere while you're regaining your precious health.

Even with the difficulty curve brought on by the game's simplicity and demand to be a controllable movie, this game didn't take long to beat all 24 missions. Then, and only then, will you unlock the free roaming mode (unless you use the cheat code). Remembering that there is no in-game map to guide you around the city, free roam isn't as fun as it could have been. There are a variety of hidden cars to be found, although there are no open doors like within the missions to explore, but there is the whole of London to explore.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Sam's Newfangled Scores: First Edition

My last entry inspired me to start up a cousin series to my Sam's Scores over at TVG. One that I can fill with more modern scores that don't fit the criteria of vintage gaming, but are still things that I found at cheap prices and were excited to have found. With all the being said, this version will be further and fewer between than the original, because I don't purposely seek out modern gaming items, but if I run across them I will pick them up, if they're cheap enough.

In the inaugural post will be a lot of Playstation 2 games that I picked up at varies Salvation Armies. At one store I found a huge stack of PS2 RPGs, with titles like Shadow Hearts, Wild Arms, Suikoden and many more. I went through the stack and sorted out which ones had their original slips, manuals and games and which ones didn't. Naturally I lean toward buying the complete games rather than the ones missing manuals and having fake Shamestop cover arts, as I just prefer it that way! After sorting through them and doing a little price checking online against what Salvation Army wanted for them, I picked up a handful of them (Dawn of Mana, Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories, Tales of the Abyss and Xenosaga 3). If I had the money, I would have snagged them ALL at the price they were asking.

Part two is some miscellaneous PS2 games that I picked up at the other Salvation Army I frequent. It wasn't much, but I saw them and decided they were cheap enough that I may as well pick them up and see if I could use them. First was Backyard Baseball, child's game yes, but still a video game none the less. I also found Mafia, which I have for the Xbox but was missing the map, since the PS2 copy had the map I have since made a complete set for my Xbox and have just the game and case for the PS2.

But then one of the guys from Salvation Army asked me if I was looking for PS2 games and ran back to grab some he had just found. In a melted Gran Turismo case, there was Midnight Club Street Racing all by itself, in the wrong case! The cashier was just going to throw the game away if I didn't want it so Midnight Club, which I know I love part 3, was a freebie!

Backyard Baseball -$1
Mafia -$1
Midnight Club Street Racing -$Free
Dawn of Mana -$2
Kingdom Hearts -$2
Tales of the Abyss -$2
Xenosaga 3 -$2

What I bought (left) and the stack that I passed up, but someone ended up with (right).

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Well this is odd...

Normally I post all my scores over at TVG, but today's score is a bit too modern for that. Let me first start out by saying at least 75% of the gaming items I have bought within the past year have been due to (in no small part) 2 men who work at a local Salvation Army. I won't tell you their names, in case their superiors are busy working and happen to find my blog.

These guys understand the fact that although Salvation Army is a business, they're a resale shop and not some over the top boutique of pre-enjoyed wares. I've managed to haggle, which is an extremely rare feat these days, and get a lot of good stuff. Its simple fact that if you please a customer by giving them a good deal, in the long run, you're going to make more money because that customer keeps coming back for those good deals!

Twice a week, and sometimes more if I see something that keeps me awake at night telling me to go back and pick it up, I do my thrift store rounds to keep tabs on what they have and what I might want. As any hunter will know, it all depends on the day. Sometimes I go in and find absolutely nothing, while other times I go in and wish I could buy everything and have to walk away disappointed that I couldn't afford to purchase it all.

Most of the time I keep an eye out for the vintage stuff, but I also keep an eye out for the more modern stuff as well. Today, I thought the whole day was a wash until I walked into that Salvation Army. The very first thing I do is I always check the main glass case for systems, wires, controllers,etc. I saw a couple N64 style RF adapters and a Gamecube power supply, nothing special so I went about my bric-a-brac hunt and found nothing.

I asked the usual guy what they had and he told me they had some random wires and nothing much else, when he picked up a Nintendo Gamecube and said it all came with this, but the system doesn't work. Being the hunter I am, I had to prove it to myself so he plugged it in and the light popped on, but the door wouldn't stay shut. After analyzing what all might need fixed with the system I asked him how much he had to have for the whole bundle (Gamecube, AC brick and AV cables). After a bit of haggling I felt secure with a price.

After I got the system home, I thoroughly cleaned the inside tray where the disc goes to make sure that wouldn't later become an issue with gooing over the reading lens. Then I took a Q-tip and some rubbing alcohol to the lens and simply hoped that it would work, not knowing whether it would or not. I popped in the closest Gamecube disc I had, a Gameboy Player boot disc (which I also bought at that Salvation Army!) and it worked, although it told me no Gameboy Player was attached to my system.

I took a moist cleaning scrub to the whole system and made it shine like brand new, despite its few battle scars. Overall the system works (for now at least) and I tested it as thoroughly as I possibly could with Donkey Konga and Mario Kart Double Dash, which itself needs resurfaced. Other than the door release button being stuck everything else was well worth the price! I used to own a Gamecube that needs the laser replaced years ago, but after many failed attempts at adjusting it myself, I toss it in the trash, sadly throwing the AC brick away with it as well.

I wished I had kept the 2 games I had for my old Gamecube, but I sold them to get more vintage games a while back, I did however keep the memory card! I don't have a Gamecube controller, but I do have an adapter that allows me to use a Playstation controller. Want to know how much I paid for the Gamecube? $4+tax! It even came in a Shamestop Gamecube box, which is kind of cool.