Archive for the ‘Video Gaming’ Category

Halo 3 at Midnight? Atmosphere is Underwhelming…

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

So, the only reason I am here just before midnight, Texas time, at Dallas’ North Park mall is because I leave for home on a flight in just over 8 hours, and there’s no Halo 3 to be found on Bonaire.

pic

There are about 80 other people in line with me and my daughter, and I am pretty sure I am the oldest human here (at 43). It’s all a pretty sedate crowd too.

No one is wearing Master Chief uniforms or looks (much) like an alien.

About half the folks are using some sort of electronic gadget to keep themselves occupied with the tedium of waiting in a non-moving line, myself included since I am typing this post on my phone.

Ah, and now excitement mounts, kind of – we just got the 10 minute warning.

I must say that the last Harry Potter book launch I went to was more fun. At least we had wizards, witches, and Harry Potter clones present.

And there was much more squealing too.

I hope playing Halo 3 will be more fun than waiting to buy it. Wouldn’t be hard. At least I know a little of what to expect, as I got a private demo of Halo 3 from Bungie back at E3 in July, and played the multiplayer Beta…

Update – 2007-09-25 @ 1:10AM: The line processed quickly and we were out the door with a couple of copies of the regular Halo 3 at ten past midnight. Glad we didn’t manage to pre-order the Legendary Edition – it would not have fit in our carry-on luggage.

Review – Dragon’s Lair on Blu-ray Disc

Wednesday, June 6th, 2007

Back in my younger years, which I peg at over 25 years ago, I worked part-time at a computer store located right next to an arcade (Fun N’ Games in Framingham, Massachusetts), and as the manager was the father of a friend, I used to get advanced access to new arcade games as they came out. The job ended but I still enjoyed occasional gaming privileges during my college years when I came back to the area to visit my folks. One of the most frustrating games I remember from that day and age was something called Dragon’s Lair.

Dragon’s Lair was effectively an interactive cartoon, where at particular (and frequent) points you needed to use a joy stick and indicate which direction the protagonist – Dirk the Daring – should go in order to avoid impending doom. You typically could choose one of four (or less directions) for Dirk to “move” at these decision points.


Dirk about to die

Doom is pretty much what always befell my attempts to play through the game. I lost a lot of money (gaming privileges meant early access, not free play, alas) on Dragon’s Lair. I have always blamed my poor performance on the lag in response of the joystick – not an unreasonable excuse considering that Dragon’s Lair was based on a laser disc and the joystick controlled a decision tree, and it would take finite amount of time for the disc head to get to wherever the next scene needed to come from, be it a death scene like the one above, or a rare (in my case) continuation of the game. Mind you, it’s quite possible the lag was human lag, i.e. mine, but I’d never admit that in public.

I never finished Dragon’s Lair, but did always consider it a standout at a time when arcade graphics were blocky, and even the PC games at the time that I developed were not particularly attractive (although there was less game play lag). Dragon’s Lair featured cel-based animation by famed animator Don Bluth, digitized to laser disc. Big visual difference to pixel-based gaming. At the time, and for years to come, Dragon’s Lair was the closest thing to wide spread “3D” gaming arcade game players experienced, even though the subject was actually flat (it was a cartoon, after all) and all motions and paths were fully predetermined – you could only choose which of those predetermined paths to follow.

Some years back, Dirk was repurposed for a couple of different and more dynamically interactive Dragon’s Lair games for various consoles – game play was moderately fun, although my then eight year old son enjoyed the games more than I did.

But Dragon’s Lair has returned to its optical video medium roots. A couple of months ago, I received a pre-release of Dragon’s Lair on Blu-ray Disc. The kids and I played with it extensively – they greatly enjoyed the Dad-induced death scenes, while for me it brought back the humiliation of defeat. And this time, perhaps, it was human lag (at least to some extent) that was the cause of death as we played the game on our Sony PS3 on our 61” DLP 1080p screen. The game would have been well-nigh impossible to play with the PS3 controller, but using the optional Sony PS3 Blu-ray Remote control it worked out moderately well – except for my accidentally hitting “Stop” and having to start the game all over again, multiple times. Dragon’s Lair on Blu-ray Disc will play on any Blu-ray Disc player which supports BD-J (which should be all of them).

It was entertaining while it lasted, but I found the non-linear play of Dragon’s Lair frustrating. Let me explain that. If you are really good at Dragon’s Lair and never fail, there will be some sense of linearity from one scene to another (or at least it will appear that way), but if you cause Dirk to die, as I am wont to do, then Dirk resurrects in some random location, making it seem like you’re jumping all over the place all the time. I’m told by the folks at Digital Leisure that the original arcade version worked like this too, which is perhaps something I blocked as a painful childhood memory.

The manual I received with the Blu-ray Disc version also made reference to a visual cue appearing on-screen at a time when a decision needed to be made, but that never happened during our game play, and I was later told this is for the HD-DVD version of the game (even though the manual was Blu-ray Disc specific). However it was a pre-release, so that may have now been corrected.

For anyone who was a big Dragon’s Lair fan, or just wants to play a video game on their non-game console Blu-ray Disc player, Dragon’s Lair on Blu-ray Disc will definitely provide entertainment and nostalgia. I did go through a bit of nostalgia myself, but mostly about how easy it was for me to get Dirk the Daring killed during my gameplay (see image above for reference).

I personally found myself yearning for some fragging on Halo 2 or playing some current next-gen gaming titles with a more explorable world after a period of playing Dragon’s Lair. Perhaps I’ve become spoiled, but to me Dragon’s Lair seemed antiquated compared to modern console gaming. But perhaps new gamers will appreciate the novelty of this approach more than I.

I give Dragon’s Lair on Blu-ray Disc a 5.5 out of 10.0 on The Richter Scale.

Dragon’s Lair on Blu-ray Disc is available for $49.95.


Dragon’s Lair on Blu-ray Disc

Halo 3 Release Date Announced

Wednesday, May 16th, 2007

In an update to the post below, Microsoft has announced that Halo 3 will ship commercially on September 25, 2007. By all accounts, this is anticipated to be the biggest game title launch of the year, if not of the industry.

In conjunction with the ramp up for Halo 3, the open multiplayer Beta of Halo 3 kicked off today. For those who had early access, there was a patch issued this morning for the game – content unknown (at least to me).

Incidentally, I did notice that in single user (non-splitscreen) mode, I was getting full width display this morning (in contrast to my observations in the post below about Halo 3 using a smaller screen size, at least in dual-user mode). Game play also felt more responsive than previously, but that could just be luck of the draw with respect to hosting servers at it having been 5am EDT that I was playing the Halo 3 Multiplayer Beta.

The Beta ends on June 6th, so those of you able to participate should do so soon. If you don’t already have a Beta access key or method, then Microsoft kindly reminded us this morning that it’s still possible to buy Crackdown, another Xbox 360 shooter game, to get access to the Halo 3 Beta. Nice of them to offer that (and sell more copies of Crackdown, of course).

On a related note, Microsoft will also be cross marketing Halo 3 with a Halo 3 Edition of their Zune media player. That will be available as of June 15th for an estimated retail price of $249, exclusively at GameStop.

The Halo 3 Beta

Tuesday, May 15th, 2007

Thanks to a PC-centric (and console averse) friend who attended one of the two Halo 3 launch events this past weekend, I ended up with an early Halo 3 Beta access key for my Xbox 360. The public Beta kicks off tomorrow morning for people who purchased a special version of Crackdown.

The kids and I have now spent a few hours with Halo 3, to mixed reviews. The Beta of Halo 3, which consists of a 941MB download, only features three levels (but so far we’ve only managed to play two of them – no idea what the third level looks like), and is only playable via Xbox Live – you need an Xbox Live Gold account to use it.

It’s also possible to play split-screen with a second local player in one of the training modes offered through the Xbox Live set-up. Playing with more than two local players in an on-line game is not enabled.

The Xbox Live live lobby set-up is a bit tedious, as you spend precious minutes waiting to fill out a roster of six players, although if six players are not found after some time, the game will start with less. We also found that a number of times the screen would blank out during play, and then inform us that the system was uploading (not sure what it was uploading), and after about a minute game play would resume – it appears this happened when existing players dropped out, so perhaps it was a swap to a new server to continue the match. The other thing was that on-line game response was all over the board for us – mind you, we’re down in the Caribbean, and have a not insubstantial delay (80-100ms) for data traffic to most U.S. servers – but in some sessions things were responsive, while in others it felt like we were in a small time shift. In the “slow” games it was well nigh impossible to beat down an opponent unless you struck before you reached them, which in turn assumed they were not also moving. Very frustrating.

Halo 3’s graphics are a definite improvement over those of Halo and Halo 2 played on an Xbox 360, but that’s no surprise considering the game is designed for the Xbox 360’s graphics engine, which is a real improvement over that of the original Xbox. However, the graphics are not nearly as good as I had imagined them, perhaps being jaded by things like Gears of War. The other odd thing is that although I have my Xbox 360 set up for 1920×1080 resolution, Halo 3 plays at a reduced horizontal resolution (closer to a 4:3 aspect ratio than the 16:9 my display is configured for), resulting in a lot of visual real estate that is not even put to use. I hope the released version of the game will allow for proper wide screen aspect ratios.

Controls are a bit different too, in that the Right Button on the Xbox 360 controller is what is now used to pick up weapons, ride vehicles, and reload (for Halo 2 it was the X button). The X button now allows you to drop and deploy special objects you pick up along the way, such as the bubble shield (protects you from attack outside the shield but opponents can still walk through the shield and nail you), a gravity lift (emits a blue anti-grav beam you can ride up one “level” of height – can also be used to upset vehicles when they drive over it), and an energy drain bomb. You can only carry one special object at any one time.

Weapons have changed a bit too, with the addition of a red laser gun, and the ability to remove a mounted machine gun from its post and walk around with it – albeit much more slowly. Existing weapons also respond a bit differently in terms of power and control.

Having played mostly Halo 2 in the last 18 months on the Xbox 360, I was not able to draw real comparisons to the original Halo, but my 10 year old son claims (and this appears to be backed up by comments in other media sources) that Halo 3 is more similar to the original Halo than Halo 2. He wasn’t able to quantify his observation. As he put it, “it just is”.

The Halo 3 Beta has been mostly enjoyable so far, but it seems to me that the folks at Bungie still have a ways to go to make game play smoother and more engrossing. But that’s what a Beta test period is all about – get the software tested, get bugs and usability feedback, and hopefully release an improved product. I personally am looking forward to the campaign mode and hope it is better than that in Halo 2, which was disappointingly short and simple compared to the original Halo. We’ll see later this year what Bungie actually delivers.

Xbox Live Account Management and Support Needs an Overhaul

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

While Microsoft’s apparent goal with their gaming hardware – first the Xbox and then the Xbox 360 – is to have it be ubiquitous, and in conjunction with that, sell lots of Xbox Live memberships, their implementation and support of multiple Xbox households sucks, to put it bluntly. At one point I had several Xbox in my house, and yet another in my office in Texas. Because of the lack of portability of Xbox Live accounts, I had set up three Xbox Live accounts on those various systems.

When the Xbox 360 came out, I got two separate Xbox Live Gold accounts for similar reasons (and thanks to Xploder’s Xbox 360 Cheat Saves I can actually use the same Xbox Live Gold Gamertag on two different Xbox 360s, so my third Xbox 360 shares with one of my other ones).  After a few months of parallel uses, I bundled up the original Xbox systems in my house and put them away, seeing as many of the Xbox games I liked to play worked on the Xbox 360 (or at least there was indication they would be supported sooner or later).

So now, a year later, I start getting these “Automatic Renewal Notification for Yearly subscription to Xbox Live” e-mails from Microsoft telling me I will be automatically billed for a renewal of my old Xbox Live accounts. The e-mail says:

Dear Jake Richter,

Your subscription to Yearly subscription to Xbox Live is scheduled to be automatically renewed on Monday, April 16, 2007. Here is a description of the service:

We’re glad that you’ve chosen to challenge your friends in the ultimate high-speed gaming arena, with access to downloads, tournaments, and exclusive features like your unique gamertag and friends list across every game. Your subscription to Xbox LiveTM covers 12 months of Xbox LiveTM service. For this subscription you will be charged $49.99 per year, plus applicable taxes. Unless you cancel your subscription before it ends, you will automatically renew to the currently selected renewal subscription type at the then current price, which is viewable in the Account Management section of the Xbox Dashboard. For information about cancelling your subscription and the refund policy for your subscription, please see http://www.xbox.com/live/accounts.

Please confirm that your account and payment information is up to date.

To update your credit card information, go to the Xbox Dashboard, select Xbox Live, and then select Account Management and update your billing information. If you have any questions, please go to http://www.xbox.com/support or call Xbox Customer Support at 1 (800) 4MY-XBOX.

Thank you for using Microsoft Online Services.

The Xbox Live team.

Note: Please do not respond to this message.

To receive notifications at a different e-mail address, go to the Xbox Dashboard, select Xbox Live, and then select Account Management and update your billing information.

It was very nice of them to notify me about this pending renewal, so I figured I would go and cancel the account since I no longer needed it. But I could not do so.

Notice something missing in Microsoft’s message? First, there’s no account ID information in the e-mail. So, I have no idea what account this refers to, and being an aging 42 years old, I no longer remember my exact account names.

Second, the only way to access my account is through the Xbox Live interface on the Xbox consoles. But the three consoles, which each have separate Xbox Live accounts (and I have no idea which one this renewal notice refers to), are either somewhere in my vast storage unit, or in my office in Texas a couple thousand miles away from here on Bonaire, and I’m not about to buy a plane ticket just to cancel the account. Note that I did try the support link shown in Microsoft’s e-mail, but that was useless, as there’s no account management option for Xbox Live accounts on the web site – you have to use the Xbox to get in. And even if there were, I have no idea what the Gamertags to use would be because Microsoft chose to not include them in the renewal notice to me.

So, I do the next thing Microsoft suggests. Twice. I call Xbox Customer Support at 1-800-4MY-XBOX. You may remember the outsourcing outcry during the last presidential elections. Well, people should not have been complaining about jobs being lost to Indian telecomm workers but instead to the absolutely horrific level of support those Indian telecomm people provide.

Both my lengthy calls went something like this – and I should note that there was huge amounts of background noise, so I could not hear the support guy very well (and that was on top of interpreting his accented English):

Me: Hi, I just got a renewal notice for one of my Xbox Live accounts, but I need to cancel it.

Jeem Bahb the Indian Support Dude (not his real name): What is your gamer tag?

Me: I don’t know. I have five of them, but don’t know exactly what three of them are. This is one of those three.

Jeem Bahb: Five? (he sounds puzzled)

Me: Yes. I have lots of different systems and accounts.

Jeem Bahb: Why?

Me: Because I do. Some of my systems are in different locations too.

Jeem Bahb: But I need your gamer tag to help you.

Me: I don’t know the one the notice refers to. Would be nice if your notice mentioned the gamer tag so I could tell you. Can you find it some other way?

Jeem Bahb: No. Well, maybe. Let me put you on hold. (Goes away for several minutes)

Jeem Bahb: Ok. What’s your address?

Me: Well, I’m on the Caribbean island of Bonaire, but how does that help you?

Jeem Bahb: I need an address.

Me: What kind of address?

(This exchange goes on for a bit and I finally get him to explain he needs my billing address for the account so he can attempt to use that to look things up.)

Me: I don’t know which credit card I used on the account in question, and the credit card would determine the billing address. How about I give you one of my billing addresses and you see what you can find?

Jeem Bahb: Ok.

Me: (I give the address over about a three minute span, because Jeem Bahb either can’t spell, is dyslexic, or something – I keep having to repeat myself)

Jeem Bahb: Be right back (goes away for five minutes)

Jeem Bahb: I’m sorry, but I can’t find it.

Me: Well, could you look it up by my e-mail address?

Jeem Bahb: Maybe. What is the e-mail address?

Me: (same agonizing effort to get him to copy my e-mail address down properly)

Jeem Bahb: Be right back (goes away for several more minutes)

Jeem Bahb: Oh, and I need your gamer tag too.

Me: Can I speak with your supervisor?

Jeem Bahb: I don’t know. Let me see. (goes away for several more minutes, comes back to ask me to hold some more, and then goes away again. I hang up during this last wait)

The second attempt at resolving this by phone did not go much better (actually I think it was worse, as I had guesses on the gamertags in question, but still could not get them to assist – they suggested I get on my Xbox to manage my account). All this left me with a rather sour taste in my mouth when it comes to both Microsoft Xbox support as well as the outsourcing of support to India.

But I did not feel entirely defeated. I figured I had one last option – I tried using e-mail support as suggested on an obscure page of the Xbox web site.

Here’s what I sent them:

Service:

Xbox Live

What type of problem do you have?

xbox live – other

Full Name:

Jake Richter

What e-mail address would you like a response sent to?

jake@xxxxx.yyy

Be specific when describing your problem. The details that you include enable us to promptly send you the most likely solution to your issue.

According to an e-mail from Microsoft I was billed yesterday for an Xbox Live Renewal. However neither of my two Xbox Live Xbox 360 accounts were due for renewal, so the e-mail must refer to one of my old and abandoned *or so I had hoped* regular Xbox Xbox Live accounts. I no longer have access to any of those 3 Xbox systems, and as your e-mail made no reference to the gamer tag it was renewing, I have no idea what’s up. The renewal e-mail was sent to jake@xxxxx.yyy, and had a date of 03/21 – hopefully that will help you locate it. Please reverse the charge and cancel the related Xbox Live account’s automatic renewal – it’s probably one of these gamer tags: [redacted1], [redacted2], or [redacted3].

Oh, and please, in future renewal e-mails, list the Gamer Tag and provide a Web-based method of being able to access the account. Requiring someone who might have multiple accounts to guess/remember what the e-mail refers to is stupid. And requiring people to have to use their console to manage the billing on the account is equally inane, especially in a world moving to the next gen consoles from the previous generation, where even more confusion arises.

Which operating system are you using?Windows XP: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.8.1.3) Gecko/20070309 Firefox/2.0.0.3

Which browser are you using: Firefox2.0.0.3

Location: en-us – English (United States)

Type of Support: E-mail Support

The eminently useful reply I got back was one I should have figured on, but nonetheless it was still a rude shock:

Hello Jake!

Thank you for writing Xbox Customer Support!

We deeply apologize for the inconvenience. I understand that you have problem with regards to billing and cancellation of your Xbox Live account.

But all cancellations, billing questions, inquiries, and account or subscription problems are being address through our phone support line. We at email support lines do not have the capabilities to process your request. Proper troubleshooting and immediate action will be given to your inquiries or request. It is best that you call the Xbox Customer Support number for better assistance; United States and Canada: 1-800-4MY-XBOX (1-800-469-9269) International direct dial to US: 1- 425-635-7180.

For further assistance, please don’t hesitate to write back or call Xbox Phone Support at your earliest convenience, and we will be happy to help you.

Xbox Customer Support Hotline: 1-800-4MY-XBOX (1-800-469-9269)

International (direct dial to U.S.): 425-635-7180

Sincerely,

Jay

Xbox Customer Care Team

So, basically, they suggested I go back to phone hell. I tried to point this out to them:

I have attempted to do this with your phone support group and they are, sad to say, completely useless. First, the Indian gentleman I spoke with was very difficult to hear because of an incredible amount of background noise in his call center. Second, he could not fathom why someone might have five different Xbox Live accounts. Third, he was unable to look up which gamer tage/Live ID it was that the e-mail from Microsoft referenced.

Please escalate this to a supervisor.

Jake Richter

The response was a bit more helpful, assuming I was willing to subject myself to Indian support phone torture, which I was not after having wasted an hour on this matter already:

Hello Jake,

Thank you for writing Xbox Customer Support!

Thank you for writing to Xbox Live. I am sorry to hear that you had problems trying to cancel your Xbox Live Account when you called the Xbox Customer Support. It seems that there was a problem trying to pull up information for the gamertag that you wish to cancel.

We are more than eager to assist you with your concern, however, this support line is only limited to technical troubleshooting and Xbox setup only. Cancellation of Xbox Live accounts could not be done via email support line due to the inaccessibility of your secured customer account via this support option.

We are requesting for your patience to call the Xbox Customer Support again for the cancellation of your Xbox Live account be given immediate and proper action. Access to a customer’s account information requires high level of verification and or personal information could not be divulged over email. This is for the confidentiality and security of your account.

Again, we apologize for any inconvenience. Thank you for visiting Xbox.com.  If you need to reply to this e-mail, please reply ‘with history’ (include any previous e-mail) so we can expedite our service to you. If you should have future questions on Xbox products or services, please be sure to revisit our Web site as we are continually adding information to enhance our service.

Please call the Xbox Customer Support in the United States or Canada at 1-800-4MYXBOX (1-800-469-9269), at your earliest convenience, and we will be happy to help you. We are open everyday from 9am to 1am EST/ 6am to 10pm PST.

To expedite service, please provide Service Request Number 1032019023 when you call.

For more information about Xbox Live, please visit our website at http://www.xbox.com/en-US/live.

Sincerely,

Taynz

Xbox Customer Care Team

My reply was succinct:

So where do I go when e-mail support tells me to contact Phone support, and phone support has no clue what they are doing and tells me that in not so many words?

Jake

Microsoft Xbox Support’s reply was non-existant.

This saga ends with Microsoft somehow managing to charge me for a one year subscription on a credit card that had been cancelled months earlier, and my disputing the charge with American Express, who indicated they would be happy to work this all out with Microsoft on my behalf. Bless them.

But now I have a new saga to embark on – my inability to pay for a second installation of the Blastacular map pack for Halo 2 on the same gamertag. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that I cannot download a second installation that I wish to pay for. I may have actually already been charged, but the system won’t let me download. The background is that I succeeded in installing the map pack last night on two of my Xbox 360s (each having a unique gamer tag), but this morning after I acknowledged my desire to purchase the map pack again, it failed to install on my third Xbox 360, which uses the same gamer tag for Xbox Live as one of the other systems. And the error message says I need to contact Xbox Support.

I don’t think I have enough alcohol in the house to dull the pain another call to Xbox Support would cause.

Update – May 25, 2007: I just found that American Express was not successful (in this pass) in having the charge reversed for the membership I could not get Microsoft to acknowledge nor cancel. Microsoft told AMEX that I apparently renewed the subscription. Not sure how that’s possible as they can’t even tell me what membership it is, and the Xbox it is attached to has not been used in many many months (and I’m not sure which Xbox it even is). I will note, however, that in the interim, the two other old Xbox Live accounts were not renewed and Microsoft was nice enough to send me e-mails to indicate my credit card for those accounts was invalid, which is as it should be, since I had cancelled it back in January. I have resubmitted my charge dispute to AMEX, with a link to this blog entry for further support. Let’s see what happens next.

Jake’s Video Game Work-Out Plan

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007

As I have oft documented in these pages, I am (trying to be) on a life long low-carbohydrate, high protein diet. I started the diet almost exactly two years ago, when I weighed in at nearly 250 pounds, and had regular colds and illnesses, suffered regularly from fatigue and other maladies. Never mind being embarrassed about my large belly, my increasing large jowls, and yes, even man-breasts.

Since being on the diet, I’ve dropped a lot of weight (was down around 205 pounds, but am now holding steady around 210), losing the jowls, man breasts, and enough around my midsection to drop from a 38-40 waist to a 32-34 waist (and a whole new wardrode). And my health has improved remarkably too. I’ve not had a serious sick day in almost two years, my energy levels are good, and based on a very thorough physical back in November at Duke University’s Executive Health Center, my blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol are also in great shape. That’s all mostly due to diet – I am definitely a low-carb believer.

The area I found to be below par during my physical was exercise. I really don’t like exercising. I find it mundane, boring, and rather pointless. I’m a type-A person, and I feel like I need to be accomplishing something most of the time, and while I cognitively understand the long term benefits of exercise, the short term achiever in me finds “better” things to do. I get my best ordinary exercise when traveling and staying in cities, because I try to walk most everywhere. Duke gave me a pedometer, and I find that most days in a city on business or vacation, I average 8,000 to 15,000 steps (anything over 10,000 is considered reasonable exercise, and 3,000 or less is being a couch potato).

But that doesn’t help me at home. Enter Nintendo. Yes, Nintendo.

Thanks to the game Age of Empires (a turn-based strategy war game) on my DS Lite, I can do about 10 miles on my recumbent exercise bicycle in half an hour, never realizing how hard a cardio workout I’m getting (but I am getting my pulse into the target range Duke set for me), because the game has me so distracted. My cycling activity is natural, autonomous, and repetitive – perfect for doing while mentally focused elsewhere. However, I have found that I’m not getting any upper body work-out doing this bicycle thing, and this week, upon returned from a trip to Santa Fe (see below) along with a few extra pounds of carb weight, I decided to do something about it. I call it my Wii Workout.

Three times a week (that’s the plan – I’ve only done it twice so far, but the week’s not over), I play Wii Sports on the Nintendo Wii in my living room, playing a combination of both Wii Tennis and Wii Boxing (Golf, Bowling, and Baseball don’t appear to give enough of a workout). I’ve used Wii Sports in the training mode, in the workout mode (too short for my needs), and ordinary game play against “computer” players. The latter seems to be the most intensive.

My very sore and aching muscles yesterday and today after my first Wii Workout on Monday (two days ago) bear witness to the fact that playing tennis and boxing on the Wii have already put various upper body muscles to use which have not seen a workout in months, if not years. A couple of ibuprofen or acetaminophen pills and I’m feeling better.

This morning’s Wii Workout stretched those muscles again (they aren’t as tender now, but let’s see how I feel tomorrow), and I also tried playing tennis left handed (I’m a righty) to balance out the workout on both sides of my torso.

An auxiliary benefit to the Wii Workout is that I might finally get good enough to beat my kids at Wii Tennis and other Wii games.

My actual goal, though, is to be really buff in a few month’s time, thanks mainly to video gaming, combined with my on-going diet of course. Think it’ll work?