Random Friday: Lego smashing, Thumper, and gaming gear.

Lego Jurassic Park. Today, it’s all about the cute & fluffy. Pic-wise, anyway. Ok, a T-Rex isn’t really that cute. Or fluffy. But, you know… Lego…

Lego my brain.

I have a lot of Lego games. Which is kind of dumb, because all Lego games are basically the same game with different skins, right? More or less, anyway. Smash everything in sight, collect things, whack on the bad guys, occasionally solve puzzles, frown every time you have to pass something by because none of your current Lego peeps can do anything with it… Granted, some of them were free via Xbox Games with Gold, but still… between Steam, Xbox, and the Vita, I have Batman, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Pirates of the Caribbean, Marvel Super Heroes, Avengers… I even have Dimensions and Lego City Undercover.

All of them are generally amusing, and sometimes they’re laugh-out-loud funny, but there’s really nothing challenging about Lego games. These are games that are actually meant for kids, after all. Every once in a while, I’d run up against something that kept killing me, and eventually I’d realize it was because I wasn’t paying attention at all and missed that I needed to do something specific. I wasn’t paying attention because for me, Lego games are basically the video game equivalent of a stress ball.

It’s the smashing, you see. As far as I’m concerned, the point of all Lego games is to smash things. Sometimes you just need to smash things. It’s thoroughly satisfying to go into a game with no other purpose except to just smash everything in sight. There’s no competition. No stress. My ego is never at stake in a Lego game.

Having a bunch of them just means that I can smash according to my mood. Today, I feel like smashing things with a lightsaber. Ooo, now I want to smash things with a sword. Or, when I really need some stress relief, I can go smash things as the Hulk.

Because nobody smashes better than the Hulk.

Hey, it’s that Deadpool guy again.

Thumper. (Not the rabbit.)

I said I’d check out Thumper on PSVR, but I intended to wait a bit. I’m still neck deep in Persona 5, after all, and I need to get this whole bouncing-around-from-game-to-game thing under control.

Then I found myself stuck on a boss battle in Persona 5, and the easiest way to stay stuck on anything, in any game, is to keep trying after you’ve realized that you’re too irritated to actually be effective. A break was in order, so I said to heck with it, let’s check this out.

At first, I was a little underwhelmed. People kept using words like “terrifying” to describe it, but at the beginning, Thumper didn’t feel all that crazy. Then I reminded myself that most games try to ease you in while they teach you the ropes, and an hour later I was cursing out loud while tearing through turns that I swear were coming at me too fast to actually see… except I obviously could see them, because I hadn’t smashed into them.

In Thumper, you tear along a track in space, surrounded by trippy effects. Sometimes it’s like being inside a lava lamp; other times, it feels like a VR version of that Windows screensaver with all the lines. Like any rhythm game, the point is to do something at a specific moment. In this case, it’s things like, “hit the X when you’re right on top of that little glowing circle,” or “hit X when you’re on top of the glowing bit, hold X while you smash through these bars, and hold X while you smack the left stick over to make a turn.” You know that as the game progresses, it’s going to get increasingly complicated, because that’s how it works. Combos. More speed. Environments that close in on you and then suddenly expand again. Evil space demons. Yeah, I said space demons. You? You’re a space beetle.

I played through the first three levels last night (and replayed the first two, once I got the hang of it), and there were times when the music and the beat and the onscreen action merged to form something that felt truly awesome. During moments like that, pulling off turns and hits felt almost effortless, no matter how fast they came at me, because the music was guiding me through it. Occasionally, though, the music and what you’re doing onscreen don’t quite mesh. It’s not that the beat is off, or anything obvious like that; it’s more like the music just seems to be lacking a vital connection to what the game is asking you to do. It probably wouldn’t even be noticeable if the awesome bits were less awesome.

Thumper is definitely a change of pace, and I’m curious to see just how insane it actually gets.

Lego Pirates! Because… pirates!

On gaming gear and space spiders.

I finally moved the clunky recliner out of my office and replaced it with a Respawn 105, and so far, I’m quite happy with it. So are the cats, apparently, because I hadn’t had it for two days before they’d put little kitty claw marks on it. As it turned out, it wasn’t the chair they were interested in, it was the hoodie I’d slung over the back. Right. Don’t hang stuff off the chair. They’ve ignored it since then.

Then I started thinking about my Xbox controller. Because while I love the controller itself (it’s a Razer Wolverine Ultimate etc. etc.), I don’t love how it occasionally refuses to acknowledge my existence. Sometimes, when I try to use it to start up the Xbox, it just won’t respond. I routinely have to unplug it, wait a short time, and then plug it back in again. Sometimes more than once. Turning the Xbox on manually doesn’t help; it’s like I have to kick the thing a few times before it grudgingly decides to wake up. Otherwise, it’s great. I was a little wary of going back to a wired controller, but the cord is so long it’s never been a problem, and I like not having to constantly recharge batteries. I have an Elite controller, too, but for me, the Razer’s action feels a bit better.

I have a thing for Razer in general. Over on the PC side, I have a Razer Naga Chroma mouse, a Razer BlackWidow Chroma keyboard, and, umm… yes, I also have the Firefly mouse mat. Because dammit, I already had the other stuff, so I figured what the hell. Actually, the mouse mat is also kind of awesome, though it did nearly give me a heart attack one night.

I was playing Watch Dogs 2 in the dark. (When I say “dark”, I mean the lights in the room were off. My PC case, keyboard, mouse, mouse mat, and gameboard all glow, so “dark” never actually means dark.) I happened to glance down at the mouse, and saw a translucent space spider that was glowing blue from the inside crawling along the side of the mouse mat. I freaked out before I could think about it, and smashed it with my fist.

It wasn’t a glowing space spider, of course. It was just a pale, tiny baby spider that happened to be crawling along the glowing-blue edge of the mat, which resulted in a pretty damned cool illusion. Seriously, it looked like something straight out of a sci-fi movie. Then I squashed it. Then I had to wash my hands. And then I decided that there was a silver lining to the whole incident, because when the actual glowing space spiders invade, I’ll obviously be totally ready to fight them.

I also use a Logitech G13 gameboard, and you’ll have to pry it from my cold, dead hands. I love that thing. I live in fear that they’ll discontinue it someday — and not replace it with something comparable enough — so I have three of them. Two are still in the box. For later. Just in case. I occasionally shop around to see if something better is out there, but it seems like nobody thinks you need this many keys. I do. I need exactly this many keys.

Headsets used to be the bane of my existence. They never fit my head quite right. Or they squashed my ears. Or they just didn’t sound all that great. Or they sounded great, but one of the cats chewed through the cord (that happened TWICE. Thankfully, he seems to have grown out of that phase.) I went through about a zillion different brands over the years, never entirely happy with any of them.

Then, last year, I picked up the Sennheiser G4ME ONE headset, and finally, finally my search is at an end. I love those things. They fit perfectly, thanks to the revolutionary idea that over-the-ear cups should go over your actual ears — they’re angled perfectly, so there’s no ear-squashing. They sound amazing, and the open design means I’m less prone to getting the living shit startled out of me when the spousal unit sneaks into the room. They work on PC, Xbox One, and the PS4, though you do need a 2×3.5mm to 1×3.5mm adapter for the consoles. They’re not cheap, but they’re totally worth it.

In closing…

Let’s see… Lego, check… Thumper, check… everything you never wanted to know about my gear, check… let’s have some Lego Hulk!

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