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Red Ring Chronicles Pt 3: The Return

It looks like the Red Ring Chronicles have come to an end. After languishing unnecessarily in a Texas warehouse for several days, my 360 was picked up by UPS. I knew this because the tracking number I'd gotten over a week ago from Microsoft was finally recognized by the UPS website. The next day was a feverish wait for the UPS truck, a wait that did not end until well past 6:00 PM. Twilight Princess and hard liquor were all that stood between me and a state of feral insanity. And then, there he was: the UPS guy. I had discovered a while ago that I would be receiving a refurbished Xbox 360 -- I saw that my serial had magically changed on, you see -- which is unfortunate. Still, it was all in one piece, no weird rattling or anything like that. The package came with a note and a free 1 month Xbox Live subscription. So, that's nice. But, as any 360 enthusiast knows, there is more to getting back your Xbox than simply plugging it in and making sure it works. Oh no, getting back into the swing of things is a process.

First thing's first, you have to flip that Xbox over and see when it was manufactured. At first, I saw the numbers "07" and was excited that I had received a brand new box. Alas, the feeling didn't last as I collected my thoughts and read the date properly: "2006-05-07." In reality, the box was from May of last year. A bummer to be sure. But wait, what about those fabulous new heatsinks? Was there one in my box? Time for an endoscopy.

From what I could tell, there was definitely something else in there, and judging from other photographs on the net, it looked like I had the new heatsink (note the telltale copper nub on the far left). So, while my box might be refurbished, Microsoft has girded its proverbial loins from future breakdowns at least. Now to see if the dangblasted thing works properly. The power button is a little squishy, lacking the satisfying click of my old box, but I digress. I power it up. I am immediately stupefied by the HD dashboard. Having seen nothing but SD Gamecube and DVDs for several weeks, I had forgotten how pleasing HD really is. I had missed it, perhaps more than I knew. But, time to begin the Gamertag recovery process, which takes nearly 20 minutes, so I stick the progress bar into the "picture-in-picture" on my monitor as I play Zelda. After some productive dungeon exploring, the recovery is complete. I immediately begin downloading everything I had missed and switched on XBLA automatic downloads. BioShock demo: bliss.

So, all told, from the time I shipped my box, August 8th, to the day I got it back, August 22nd, it took fourteen days to turn it around. Not too shabby. Sure, it's a little annoying to deal with a refurbished box (I still have to re-download all of my XBLA games, for example) but at least it's got the new heatsink. If there is one thing I learned from it all, it's that Microsoft has created quite an addictive little machine. The feeling of absolute relief upon hearing the trademark "boo-doo" when I logged into Live is almost alarming in retrospect. Seeing friends online and messaging me right away was pretty cool as well. Now, if this one manages to live a long and healthy life, we'll be in business. I guess the best way I could put it is:

Let's never fight again, okay?

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