Meandering

A muted and moribund start to the gaming week – I didn’t want to continue Killer7 on a school night, and aside from a few more Rub Rabbits attempts (current score is 17-0) nothing else took my fancy.

The weekend saw an old friend escape from family duties for a half-day of gaming; these are always a good laugh, the best being when we explored a whole heap of dodgy Dreamcast games in gobsmacked disbelief. This time, though, we started with Excite Truck (I snaffled one of my six remaining Challenge S-Ranks), before belting through a potted history of my 360 goodies – Bullet Witch, Ninety-Nine Nights, Space Giraffe, E4, Mutant Storm Empire all got a bit of airtime before we settled on Lego Star Wars II. We played through the whole game, ate lots of junk food, he left happy.

After seeing him out, however, I sank back into the lounge chair. This was only the second time the 360 had been connected to the TV (rather than the Dell monitor in my office) and, despite the non-widescreen aspect ratio (yep, I’ve still got a clunky CRT TV!), something really felt different playing 360 games in a laid-back setting. Inspired by a bit of Mutant Storm Empire earlier in the day, I fired up Mutant Storm Reloaded and started poking around Tally Mode, looking at the Leaderboards, comparing scores to friends.

And then the Highscore Bug bit me.

Into the wee small hours of the morning I played, upping the scores of various levels in Tally Mode, all the while keeping one eye on the Leaderboards. I managed to clamber about five thousand places before retiring to bed, only to pick up where I left off the following morning. Upping the first third of the game’s levels to Purple Belt or better dragged me safely inside the Top 4000; plenty of room for improvement there.

The Bug was still there, so I returned to Mutant Storm Empire. It’s a lovely evolution of the twin-stick shooter, and shares the Tally Mode of its predecessor – more Leaderboard clambering, and I managed to Black Belt World 1, too.

Finally, I fired up Ikaruga for the first time since its release on XBLA. I’d bought it as soon as it was available, but not played it – I didn’t want to dent my Gamerscore percentage. Today, though, I bit the bullet and plunged in for a couple of hours, snaffling the Dot Eater Achievement first go (my first Achievement for months!) and grabbing a couple of other boss-beating cheevos. Fantastic game, but lordy those A-Ranks are going to be tough.

Again, though, I got sucked into Leaderboard watching – committing myself to beating certain Friends scores. That scoreboard pressure is unfamiliar to me – it’ll be interesting to see whether that develops at all, especially in the knowledge that some of my XBL chums are hard-core gaming ninjas.

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