Tis the season for some shopping as capitalism ramps up for the Holidays. I’ve failed to secure a Playstation 5 or Xbox Series X and I’m totally OK with this. I’ve plugged in my Xbox One that launched dust particles from its previously dormant state. This haunted old console tends to turn itself on at random with the spooky sound of the boot chime. After a bit of research, I was able to bust the ghost in the Xbox One; there are some issues with the Energy Saving which is not worth using because disabling this feature provides a better experience. Games stay in a suspended state and the console fires up with much more effieciency. It will also download updates while in a sleep state.
One of my friends turned me onto Xbox Live Ultimate Gold Edition (or whatever the subscription service is called), which is a something like a combination of Xbox Live Gold and Game Pass. I’m starting to feel like I’m signing up for a cable TV service. It was $1 for 3 months and $14.99/mo after the fact. Considering the library of gaming titles includes ALL of the Kingdom Hearts titles*, THEN WHAT… Fortunately, I won’t have to speak to a representative from Xbox or Microsoft to try and drive down the cost of this service, but I really am interested to see what is being offered and how well it works. So far, so good.
As I wait for the software packages to arrive on the slow rotational drive, I’m browsing with great curiosity and a spark of joy coming from the dry bones of the Playstation Plus subscription service which has honestly failed to deliver in comparison. I’ve reviewed my library of PS Plus games and was pretty let down. You get what you pay for, I suppose, and there is the PS Now service that isn’t half bad. I don’t think streaming services are compatiable with internet service providers with data caps and throttling so there’s room for growth there.
My library did have certain games I still had access to and an additional library which brings me to Max: The Curse of Brotherhood and thinking outside the box. This brillaint compilation of puzzles, fighting baddies, and drawing all over my TV with a magic marker had truly brought me back to the Xbox. I had been hooked on my PS4 playing titles like Nioh, The Last of Us II, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Ghost of Tsushima, Doom Eternal, Days Gone, Control, and Death Strainding in which some are now availble to play on Windows. This felt like the console wars! I stood on the fence beside Steam and the lack of Half Life 3 wanting the best gaming experience that could be offered at the most cost effective rate.
I’m re-visiting Max: The Curse of Brotherhood as I had left it in cold storage in my closet along with the Xbox One. It’s a fun tale where you use some magical marker to create platforms out of earth elements to progress through sidescrolling levels to reach the next area that are farily recognizable through color coding. The colors show you where to activate your special magic marker powers. The magic marker weapon is the most important mechanic in the game. For example, you can grow vines that can be cut off to form a platform to get Max over a slimey spike pit to collect a part of a medallion. What I’m getting at is this game will work your puzzle solving, timing, and achievement hunting gears all at once.
So after a few levels I moved on to Carrion, an antagonist adventure as a bio-creature escaped from a lab to figure out why I’m escaping and why do I have such noodly apendages. It immediately reminds me of Super Metroid and I am taken in. By taken in, I mean I now have to adapt to another controller schematic to control this red Carrion thing. I quickly lose interest as I’m not a fan of the screaming and devouring of humans. Maybe I’ll come back to this one.
Then I stumbled upon Ori and the Blind Forest to completion. What a beautiful and moving experience. The world is vibrant and colorful. Ori and the Blind Forest has truly satisified my Metroidvania craving by checking all the boxes for collecting new powers, to access areas that aren’t available at first. This ended up being a lot more challenging than I anticipated and a bit frustrating at times but I loved every second. Now I’m moving on to play through the sequel Ori and the Will of the Wisps and write a blog post about it. I absolutely LOVE Ori.
There’s a lot to cover here so I’ll end with Super Lucky’s Tale which is lighthearted and not too morbid. It’s similar to games like Crash Bandicoot or Spyro the Dragon. Simple and fun. The Xbox is a clear winner with connectivity to other services provided by Microsoft. It’s been a wonderful experience dusting off my console and re-connecting with the cloud. That’s what is so great about Game Pass: there’s a lot of Indie and AAA games to play. I’m 100% sold on Microsoft’s services but I’m left to wonder is Microsoft the Empire?
UPDATE: Monday I launched the Target app on my phone and managed to purchase an Xbox Series X. I thought there was no way there would be one available Christmas week, but Target had one just for me. I didn’t even have to go into the store to pick it up as Target offers a contactless pickup service scheduled through their Target app or Target.com. In-store pickup and same day delivery are also available. Great options for minimizing contact during the pandemic.
*All titles are not included because there’s 100 Kingdom Hearts games.
Screen captures are my own content captured on Xbox One.