Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Flawless Victoly!

I attended my first games night with the guys I work with last night. We started out on with the Missile Command challenge - which was fun, and I beat Andy who prides himself on being an ubergamer - before moving onto Halo Multiplayer. Regrettably, I didn't do very here, primarily because I'm not used to using a pad for playing FPS games. It was just so sluggish compared to a keyboard/mouse setup, and with two Xboxes linked, it lagged mightily which just didn't help any. The problem was that if you push down the movement stick it makes you crouch, and I'm hamfisted at the best of times, so whenever things got heated and I was trying to dodge, I'd press down the stick and crawl away rather than run. Not exactly helpful. I think that was the cause of about 80% of my deaths.

We tried a bit of King Of The Hill, Team Slayer and Capture The Flag before finishing off with a bit of Free-For-All Slayer, which was just mental. Eight people running around a tight arena chucking all their grenades instantly and lasting on average about one reload per spawn. At least I wasn't bottoming out the tables on most of the maps, despite my control problems.

After everyone got tired of Halo, we moved onto the best game of the night: Pacman Vs.

Everyone reading this should be familiar with Pacman, and if you're not, shame on you. Pacman Vs. is a multiplayer version of traditional Pacman, with four players, one of whom is designated Pacman randomly by the Gamecube, and the rest of whom play the Ghosts. The Ghosts play on the TV, and Pacman plays on a GBA attached to the Gamecube in the fourth controller slot. Once Pacman gets knobbled by a ghost, the people playing the victorious ghost and Pacman swap controllers, so the guy playing the ghost takes over Pacman for the next round, and Pacman's ex-controller becomes a ghost. A player wins by reaching a certain score limit, with gaining control of Pacman scoring 1600 points, and losing control of Pacman incurring the same penalty. Pacman also scores points by eating pills and killing ghosts when you've munched a powerpill.

The twist is that the person playing Pacman on the GBA can see everything in a scrolling, top-down 2D map, whilst the ghosts have a more limited 3D view, requiring teamwork from the ghosts to locate Pacman and knobble him. This leads to lots and lots of shouting, and unusual tactics by some of the ghosts, who tend to camp around the power pills and the fruit (which extends your viewing range). This can play into the hands of the player controlling Pacman, as they can grab one power pill, and make a beeline for the ghosts camping the fruit and the other power pills. It's amazingly thrilling, and there's a definite revolving hunter vs. hunted dynamic. It sounds simple, and it is - which is the main part of the attraction, other than the fact you get to shout at your friends in a safe environment. I even won a game of it, leading inevitably to an exhultant cry of VICTOLY! If Halo is the Xbox's killer app, this could be it for the Gamecube, though you really need four players.

A most enjoyable evening.

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