Space Giraffe : The LNLM

As you (and by “you”, I mean “me” – nobody else reads this shit, do they?) might have guessed from my last post, right after I posted my six-weeks-in-gestation Tempest post, the Space Giraffe patch was released onto Xbox Live – removing the old exploits and resetting the Leaderboards as a consequence. So I updated, and leapt into a game… which just happened to launch me to the top of the Leaderboards for a second or so.

The most difficult Achievement in the Giraffe is, undoubtedly, the Long-Necked Long March – starting at Level 1, ploughing through every level in the game ’til you beat Level 100. Last night’s game was the second time I’d seen my LNLM attempt bomb out at Level 88; this morning was the second time I’d bombed out at Level 92 (after a particularly hideous brace of levels in the late 80’s). So, instead of beginning another assault (hey – these attempts were over two hours each!), I thought I’d start trying to resurrect my Level scores, and start the climb back to 400+ million.

Several attempts at Level 1 (using the time-honoured slow-start-left-inch-bull-left technique) saw me better my previous best by about 60,000 points. Level 2 went pretty well too, and before I knew it I was in the thirties, forties, sixties. The seventies sailed by, and – as usual – 88 and 89 tripped me mightily, reducing my lives dramatically. I only just scraped through Level 92 with one life in hand – I was stoked, though, as I’d never managed this before. I glean an extra life or two, and start playing ultra-conservatively…

…and suddenly I’m on Level 97 with 5 lives in hand. Holy shit, I think to myself, I can do this. I whore for lives, snaffling an extra three. I’m starting to shake; I sense the adrenaline starting to cause jitters, my hands shake when I take them off the controller. I take a break, try to calm down… Level 98 is smooth sailing, but I’ve never had problems with it before. Unlike Level 99, which has always given me grief.

I take another break, thinking calming thoughts.

I return to Level 99, and it becomes apparent that something is different. I’m playing this level completely differently, and have one of those weird out-of-body experiences where I look on in wonder. My giraffe dances about the rim, leaping over those bastard spiky buggers before blasting them to smithereens; I am ZONING, I am at One with the Game. The level ends; I’ve got 9 lives in hand, with one level to play.

I risk the ZONE and take another break. My legs are jelly, my hands are trembling mush. I return to my 360, pick up the controller; I try to recall my previous mental state, then begin Level 100. Its lazy opening jars me a little, the calm before the storm I know is coming – I just want the action, dammit! – but soon the zappy things appear, followed closely by spiky bastards and screaming flowers and feedback monsters…

…and then I’m through. The little Achievement toast pops up, and I view it with almost disbelief. The game is over; I have won. 377 million points are on the board (4th on the new Leaderboard), when all I really wanted was the 320 thousand from Level 1. I throw my hands in my air when it hits me – I have walked the Long-Necked Long March.

And so, but one task remains before I put a tick next to Space Giraffe in the To-Do List: return my scores to their original, pre-update levels. But, having missed my personal best tallied score by a mere 25-odd million on a LNLM run, I’m beginning to think I’m going to aim higher…

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