Thanksgiving Weekend

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I assume some of you are still recovering from being overstuffed.

Thanks to Carolynn for planning out this year’s Thanksgiving dinner. It was a lot of fun helping prepare the food. Of course it was also fun eating it. There was a pretty good show up this year: Carolynn, Joe, Perry, Sathana, Felix, Tom, Jim, Saran, and Pita (sorry if I misspelled your name). Valerie also showed up later to join in the festivities. We had turkey, stuffing, green beans with onions and bacon bits, mashed potato, yam and marshmallows, pumpkin pie. The stuff was delicious. Now I’m hungry just thinking of it.

After eating, we played some Xbox 360: PES 2009, Rock Band 2, Lips, Gears of Wars 2, and even some 8 person Halo 3.

I took some photos which you can view in the photo album:
Thanksgiving 2008
Thanksgiving 2008

I even recorded a few Rock Band Sessions (posted with permission):
Perry and Pita - The Offspring - Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)Joe - Duran Duran - Hungry Like The Wolf

Unfortunately I ran out of disk space during Perry’s and Pita’s performance.

I picked up Lips earlier in the week at the company store, here’s my semi-review. Since I’ve been an semi-avid Rock Band player, I’ll probably be making many comparisons to it.

The game comes with a good selection of songs. All 40 songs are unlocked at the beginning, so you don’t have to go through some tour mode to unlock them. Given that, we’ve found that even though there were 40 songs, not every song was something people wanted to sing. Unlike Rock Band where singing is optional (where you can choose to play guitar or drums), Lips requires someone to actually sing, and people always have a fear of singing songs they’re not too familiar with, especially when you only know the chorus.

You can’t actually fail in this game, but since you’re the center of attention, people become self conscious. It helps if 2 people are actually singing or if the whole crowd joins in like at a real karaoke.

Additional songs can be purchased at 160 points (about $2) each, but the selection is pretty weak right now, but more are supposed to be coming.

It comes with 2 wireless microphones, which is really neat. However, it’s sad that the microphones do NOT work with Rock Band, which apparently requires a patch from Harmonix. It’d be sweet if I were able to use the wireless mics with Rock Band sometime in the near future. The wireless microphone includes motion sensors similar to the Wiimote and you can use it to swing and make noises and so on. It also required to enable star power or overdrive or whatever Lips calls it.

The singing part uses the the center area for lyrics in big text and jumpy balls like at karaoke, and on the top and bottom are the pitch lines for 1st and 2nd player, which includes another set of lyrics, similar to Rock Band. However, different than Rock Band is that the lyrics move along with the pitch lines vertically, making it hard to read ahead. I can look at the lyrics in the center screen, but then my eyes have to jump back and forth between the lyrics in the center and the pitch lines above. Another pet peeve I have is pitch marker. In Rock Band, there’s this triangle that tells you exactly where your current pitch is. In Lips, they have a ball which is very hard to see, making it difficult to judge if I should increase or decrease my pitch in an instant.

There’s also a mode where you can connect a music player (i.e. iPod or Zune) where you can play your music and sing along to it. I haven’t tried this mode yet, but apparently it also does the pitch lines, but without the lyrics, it becomes hard since most people don’t really know the words outside of the chorus for most songs.

Issues with Lips
I’ve hit into a lot of issues with Lips and I haven’t been able to find anyway to troubleshoot the issue. If anyone’s experience the following issues, I would like to know if you have a way to get around it. I’m pretty sure it’s an issue with the game itself, since I haven’t hit into any of these issues with the other games I play, but it could be that my Xbox 360 is finally dying.

  • When playing 2 players, one of the mic’s lights do not blink according to the music. I’ve tried changing the batteries, resyncing the mics, but the lights will not come on. If I hold the power button, the lights will blink, but supposedly they’re suppose to blink according to the music’s rhythm during game play.
  • Once in awhile, the music becomes out of sync with the game. Other times, there’s a lot of static in the music. And both of these are precursors to the game freezing, which I would then have to reboot. I verified it’s not actually the song or using custom videos as replaying the same song in the same mode has no problems after a reboot.
  • There’s probably a way to get around this, but I haven’t figured a way yet. Once in awhile, I add a song in Sing mode and decide not to sing it, and I can’t seem to get rid of it. Every time I finish singing a song, instead of returning to the main list, it shows this song. Does anyone know how to remove that song so after singing, it returns me to the main list?

On Saturday, I caught dinner with Andrew and watched Milk. The movie was decent. Interesting information about gay history which I never knew about, but it was quite clear who their targeted audience were. I do have to say Josh Brolin once again outdid himself and gave an amazing performance. I didn’t realize it was him until halfway through the movie. After seeing him in No Country for Old Men and W. and now Milk, not only can he act like the person he’s portraying well, but he can LOOK like the person he’s portraying well. Andrew also mentioned, it would’ve been interesting to hear Dan White’s side of the story on this whole affair. Apparently Dan White was the first one to use the Twinkie Defense.

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