Tom Orry, Editor - Donkey Kong Country Returns, Wii
I write about games for a living, but I wouldn't say I'm hardcore when it comes to my gaming tastes or abilities. I'll gladly play the latest FPS, hack 'n' slash or racer, but Normal is my standard go-to difficulty setting. Donkey Kong Country Returns is way harder than Normal. At one point I started a boss stage with 52 red balloons (lives). By the time I decided to let the grinning, flag-waving pig finish the level for me I'd been reduced to just 14 red balloons. The damn swine. I gave in and conceded that I'm not skilled enough to play a game about a cartooney Gorilla who wears a tie.
Martin Gaston, Staff Writer - Professor Layton and Pandora's Box, DS
Here's how Professor Layton works: I start each puzzle with the best of intentions, do my best to work it out and then promptly bugger it all up. After fumbling my way to an answer I - and here's the confession - usually restart the DS. Yes! Now I have all the picarats! I understand the Hint Coins are supposed to help out, but seeing as I don't fancy pretending that my hand is a pneumatic drill on the screen I don't really find many. I did exactly the same with the Curious Village, too. I've never heard of anyone else using such underhand tactics to get through the game, so I'm assuming I'm the only one shameful enough to play like this.
Emily Gera, Staff Writer - Red Dead Redemption, Xbox 360, PS3
Well it took me long enough. I've spent an entire bloody month telling myself I should try and finish this game and putting it off because it's, give or take, one thousand hours long. But it's brilliant. I'm actually surprised how much I cared when my horse inevitably keeled over from exhaustion. It's the kind of emotional response to a fake animal that I've usually saved for when I watch Old Yeller. RIP Trotto :-(
Tom Pearson, Video Producer - Mass Effect 2, Xbox 360
Wow, the dialogue is tremendously time consuming. Five hours in and I've barely peeled this orange. Looking at my pile of shame in the corner, I thought it about time to start the lengthy journey that is Mass Effect 2. Lots of coaching has been given to me prior to my fight with the universe, most of it being about how I should play a girl, and be a total slag to everyone. It's not that I don't like girls, it's just I feel a bit weird when I'm playing a female character and my girlfriend is watching me chat up some virtual space hunk. As a male character, I immediately tried to chat up Kelly on the ship's deck, but the clueless tart obviously wanted none of it. I'm the James Bond of space for crying out loud, I should be able to get any space floozy I want. Seriously though; If Mass Effect decision-making has any relation to real life, my future kids have no chance of successful social interaction.
Jamin Smith, Staff Writer - Pac-Man CE DX, XBLA, PS3
My free time this week has been consumed with one thing and one thing only: trying to beat the Pac-Man scores of my colleagues. I started playing the game some time after Martin and Tommy P, which meant I was going to have to learn the ropes before tackling their scores. My first few runs at Championship II were pathetic; measly figures in the region of 500,000 - right at the bottom of my friends leaderboard. After a few hours (and studying the replays of the world number 1), however, I was comfortably breaking the 1 million mark, and it wasn't long before I was approaching the scores of my peers. I beat Pearson's score the next day, and revelled in throwing some smack talk about on Twitter. Bad idea. My score was beaten within the hour, with Tom not only surpassing me, but reigning champ Martin too. Later the same evening, Martin came back to reclaim his title, and I was relegated to last place in our little competition. This weekend I'll be aiming to fix that.