Before I begin let me get this out of the way. The Red Ring of Death has come to GiN. That's right, earlier this week my beloved Xbox 360 made breathed its final breath and flashed those three red lights. Fortunately I was able to predict this happening (it flashed for a short while last week) and ordered a warranty coffin from Microsoft. It is currently on its way. But will it be here in time for Halo 3? I can only hope.
The Red Ring of Death couldn't have come at a worse possible time. With Bioshock being released last week (which thankfully I was able to complete before the Rings) and Heroes Season 1 coming out to HD-DVD this week along with Blades of Glory (the first Paramount/Dreamworks HD-DVD exclusive; take that Blu-Pay fanboys,) and of course, the September 25th launch of Halo 3, the last thing I needed was a dead Xbox 360. (The bright side is that I am able to use my HD-DVD player on my laptop, so I will still be able to watch Heroes.)
But last week the elusive Space Giraffe finally arrived on Xbox Live Arcade for the very reasonable price of 400 Microsoft Points ($5.)
Needless to say I downloaded it the moment it was available, and with watching many videos of the game, tech discussions with its creator, Jeff Minter, and reading about it from his www.yakyak.org forum, I knew that I would easily get into it.
And I was right.
I was hooked to the Giraffe and for a while it replaced Madden and Bioshock as the game I was playing the most on 360. I realized after a while I would give it a good score, and I did, in the form of 4.5 Gems out of our highest 5 Gem rating. The half point deduction came in some of the stages being rather difficult, resulting in a loss of a few lives. But unlike other games that increase difficulty almost exponentially, Space Giraffe usually follows up with an easier, or what Minter would call, a "chill out" round. All was well with the world.
And then the reviews came. The first one that shocked me was from the Official Xbox Magazine, which actually gave Space Giraffe a 2.0 out of 10! The reviewer actually claimed the game was ugly and unplayable, but based on some research on the leader boards and his achievements, he had no idea of how to play the game correctly.
The reviewer had NO achievements unlocked, and how can this be possible? The easiest of all the achievements, Boi Bumba (10G,) which is awarded for earning a 9X multiplier on one bull charge, can be earned on Space Level 2 (UV Exposure.) It's even mentioned on the How to Play section, for crying out loud! Does OXM even bother to read the How to Play section, or do they just slap it in play for five minutes, immediately render it unplayable, and slap a 2.0 rating without doing any research?
Team Xbox or IGN weren't very generous either, giving scores in the 4.0 range. Team Xbox actually compared SG to a grueling math problem or logic puzzle. After reading that I would like to know what their IQ level is because I'm able to figure it out easily (but I will admit my IQ is 125).
As for IGN, I would like to know what the heck they are thinking by saying that the visuals will make half the people who play the game "foam at the mouth." Wait a minute, wouldn't you guys foam at the mouth when playing a game which will eventually become Game of the Year as well, or are you referring to Space Giraffe players as mindless idiots who don't know what they're playing? Who's kidding who anyway, IGN?
We know you don't like games on Xbox Live Arcade. Very rarely do you give a high rating to an XBLA title. In fact the only nine rating you gave was for Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, because you knew if you rated it lower you'd be receiving tons of hate mail.
Thankfully there are those who also gave SG respectable reviews as well. The biggest surprise I saw came from Jeff Gerstmann. Yes I know I've been very harsh on him in the past, and will always knock him over his fascination for the 6.2 rating, but by giving SG a 7.5 and referring to it as a "extremely weird and well designed arcade game" he earned my respect. Couldn't have said it better myself.
Angry Gamer still has to come up with the funniest ever score of "Holy crap this is awesome hell yes" out of 10 claiming that once you'll play the game, you'll fall in love with it and will keep playing until you eventually get on the top of the leader boards.
And there's something you don't get to do in games anymore. It seems these days all gamers care about are how a game looks rather than the way it plays. No one even cares about getting a high score in a single game, which I find rather contradictory because they also love to brag about their Gamerscore (16,233 for me by the way,) and gamers only care about seeing the ending. Old school gamers who only want to beat their highest score are a dying breed, and those who remain are thankful that Minter came up with an amazing game like Space Giraffe, no matter what some "intelligent" reviewers want to say about it.
But the strangest incident of all the Space Giraffe hype came in the form of a summary over at www.braid-game.com, which actually compared SG to James Joyce's Ulysses. In a nutshell, those who understood the game (myself included) really enjoyed it, while those who couldn't understand it, or didn't want to understand it, hated it and gave low ratings. Maybe those people should just go download Street Trace NYC instead. I'll stick with playing the Giraffe.
That is, when I get my 360 back from the repair center"
Currently Playing: Metroid Prime 3 (Wii)
Was Playing Before the Red Ring of Death: Space Giraffe (XBLA,) Bioshock (Xbox 360)
Waiting For: Halo 3 (Xbox 360,) Mass Effect (Xbox 360)