Sunday, August 31, 2008

Games Played 08/30/2008

Alundra - PlayStation
Castle Crashers - X-Box 360
ESP Galuda - PlayStation 2
Ikaruga - X-Box 360
Wii Fit - Wii


OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast (2006)
Developer: Sumo Digital
Platform: PlayStation 2
Purchase Date: 04/29/2006

Thank the Galaxy that Sega didn't turn this one into a free-roaming racer.

Out of all the revivals done on Sega's classics, this is probably the best one out there. The game plays just like the original - crazy drifting action, tight control, and simple driving mechanics - only that it looks and sounds much, much better! It's all about getting to the next checkpoint before your time runs out as the game takes you from one fantastic environment to another, each with its own distinct and memorable graphical theme. The arcade version allows for branching routes to the finish line, which is available here plus you can drive through all of the courses in one go. Coast 2 Coast is actually an updated version of the already great OutRun 2 that I own for the X-Box. It is amazing that even though the car handling is hardly realistic, it is still an official Ferrari product! I am also going to take this opportunity to declare that "Shiny World" is one of my top 5 video game music of all time!

LIBRARY STATUS: 4 out of 5

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Games Played 08/29/2008

Dodonpachi Dai-Ou-Jou - PlayStation 2
Donpachi - SegaSaturn
Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift - NDS
Galaga Legions - X-Box 360
Ikaruga - X-Box 360


Alundra (1997)
Developer: Matrix Software
Platform: PlayStation
Purchase Date: 01/10/1998

The village of Inoa holds many secrets...

This Landstalker/Zelda clone is definitely one of the most difficult games I have ever played. The game is tightly structured and it features a lot of mind bending dungeon puzzles and hardcore platforming elements. The storyline has a serious tone to it involving dreams and deaths and it takes a hold on you from the beginning until the end. One of the best imports from Working Designs who were often too lighthearted and cheesy when it comes to translating Japanese games for the western audience.

LIBRARY STATUS: 5 out of 5

Review: Wii Fit

Wii Fit (2008)
Developer: Nintendo
Platform: Nintendo Wii
Purchase Date: 07/08/2008

-Please read the Preview of the game here before proceeding-

Try being a good exercise program, then we'll talk.

After spending about a month with this game, I can report that the experience was less than satisfactory. I can see how the regiment introduced by Wii Fit can be beneficial to those who are totally unmotivated to do anything about maintaining a healthy lifestyle - a nice way to encourage your fat kid/spouse/significant other do something more than just sitting on the couch playing video games during all of his/her free time - but as a competent workout program, it is sorely lacking.

The only kind of help you are ever going to get from the game are
these pop-ups after you completed some of the workouts.

The real problem is the lack of focus and direction: players can pretty much just mix and match different activities from the 4 categories of workouts found within. The danger here is that someone may decide to spend an hour a day doing just the "Balance Games" when spending that much time in "Aerobics" would have ended with better results. The game only accurately reports the players' body mass index but doesn't recommend to the players how they could effectively reduce it. Working out with the Wii Fit feels like you are working out with a passive trainer that compliments you for doing just about anything but at the end of the day, the amount of fat burned solely depends on the your own devices.

Wii Fit deceptively takes credit for any real workout you do outside of it.

People buy workout videos so that they can follow a successful routine that leads to results - this is the reason why Yourself!Fitness is so successful and it even transcends the boundaries of such products. Wii Fit is like a book that explains the different types of exercises available out there but doesn't explain to the readers how to use them properly. Notice that in a lot of editorial Wii Fit Blogs out there, the reports usually involve the users implementing other workout programs alongside Wii Fit itself to accomplish their goals. Wii Fit has a screen that the players can use to input time spent doing other physical things outside of the game... Then why would anyone buy Wii Fit in the first place if it is not a complete solution that it was touted to be? If not for the fact that the Wii Balance Board will be used in other games, I would be more than happy to part with it. The build of the Balance Board itself is sturdy even though sometimes it doesn't register successions of inputs as accurately as it should. The only fit to be found in Wii Fit is that it would fit perfectly inside my trash bin.

RATING: 2 out of 5

Friday, August 29, 2008

Review: Rogue

Rogue (2007)
Genre: Horror
Format: DVD
Director: Greg McLean

An American journalist out to review the local Australian hot spots boards a river cruise with a bunch of other tourists and they all end up being stalked by a huge crocodile. McLean apparently is obsessed the idea that they are some terrible evil out there in the Australian wilderness: a serial killer in Wolf Creek and a serial killing croc here. Though structurally similar to Creek, this tale about a man-eating crocodile is less effective endeavor especially during its second half. The slow build up that was evident in Creek is also found in this movie but since there are many characters abound, you never invest much emotion in any one of them. The tension runs high when the first attack happens but soon after, the movie becomes haphazard and implausible. The final confrontation that happened a little too soon between the journalist and the croc is anti-climactic.

The CG works on the croc itself are average at best. The moments when you only see portions of its body looked great while the full reveal was just utterly bad. The body count and gore scenes are both very disappointing and how one particular person didn't die after being wrangled by that huge monstrosity just doesn't make any sense whatsoever. McLean should stick with human villains instead of trying to make a poor man's Primeval. I was desperately hoping that John Jarrat, who acted as the sadistic killer in Creek but got a pretty boring role here, would just jump into the water, kill the monster, and then kill the other characters brutally one by one. What a load of croc.

RATING: 2 out of 5

Games Played 08/28/2008

Castle Crashers - X-Box 360
Disgaea 3 - PlayStation 3
Final Fantasy Tactics A2 - NDS
Guardian Heroes - SegaSaturn
Ikaruga - X-Box 360
The Last guy - PlayStation 3


Dodonpachi Dai-Ou-Jou (2002)
Developer: Cave Co., Ltd.
Platform: PlayStation 2
Purchase Date: 06/30/2003

Huge streams of laser and billions of bullets fill up the screen at all times.

Play this game for more than half an hour and you may have just given yourself a terrible headache. This shooter demands you to move your ship quickly with perfect precision to avoid the barrage of enemy shots being sent your way constantly. There is never a dull moment and Cave have created some of the most insane boss bullet patterns in a shooter ever. Hard to get into and definitely much more harder to master. A perfect choice for hardcore fans of the genre.

LIBRARY STATUS: 4 out of 5

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Games Played 08/27/2008


Guardian Heroes (1996)
Developer: Treasure
Platform: SegaSaturn
Purchase Date: 04/28/1996

The game is solo-able but to play effectively,
invite a friend over for a Guardian Heroes night.

One of the best 2D side scrolling beat-'em-ups ever made. The role-playing growth progression and strong multiplayer elements are nicely combined to create an addictive experience. While Radiant Silvergun and Ikaruga share a villain in the form of "Stone-Like", Guardian Heroes shares its villain unexpectedly (due to the genre difference) with Gunstar Heroes with the robot "Golden Silver". Treasure should re-release this one on X-Box Live.

LIBRARY STATUS: 5 out of 5

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Games Played 08/26/2008

Champions of Norrath - PlayStation 2
Ikaruga - X-Box 360
R-Type Command - PSP
Tekken Tag Tournament - PlayStation 2


Nightshade (2003)
Developer: Sega WOW
Platform: PlayStation 2
Purchase Date: 02/13/2004

On top of a jet in the middle of the city.
Can't get any more epic than that.

One of Sega's most endearing classics is the Shinobi series that graced Sega's earlier consoles. Nightshade is the second attempt to transition the franchise into 3D. Though as misguided as any other 2D to 3D projects by Sega, the game at least is playable and fun. The exciting scenarios that the game throws at you, like fighting on top of a jet or jumping between moving trucks inside a freeway tunnel, really help make Nightshade less repetitious than it actually is.

LIBRARY STATUS: 3 out of 5

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Games Played 08/25/2008

Champions of Norrath - PlayStation 2
Strikers I & II - PlayStation 2

*Yesterday was a really slow day of gaming for me. I had to do some cross-city travels that left me with very little play time.


Tekken Tag Tournament (1999)
Developer: Namco Ltd.
Platform: PlayStation 2
Purchase Date: 2001

The background may not be 100% 3D but it doesn't matter
when the overall effect looks absolutely stunning!

Unlike Namco's more successful Soul Calibur series, the Tekken games have always been about button mashing. Tournament rises above the rest because of one important addition: This version is the best Tekken ever made because of its focus on 2 vs. 2 bouts. The ability to switch characters on the fly adds a gameplay depth never before available in the first 3 games. When the sequels suddenly lack this feature, they ended up feeling more shallow than ever before. Tekken Tag also has the best graphics in the series even without any fancy 16:9 ratio nor progressive scan mode. It has been years since I last played the game and I am very impressed by how extremely good looking it still is. I absolutely enjoy the fast techno-vibe music that accompanies the fighting. This is the most polished Tekken ever made.

LIBRARY STATUS: 5 out of 5

Monday, August 25, 2008

Games Played 08/24/2008

Champions of Norrath - PlayStation 2
Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift - NDS
Galaga Legions - X-Box 360
Ikaruga - X-Box 360
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Demo - X-Box 360*
Too Human - X-Box 360

*A pleasant surprise. Good control and fancy graphics. I really appreciated the whole Dark Side of the Force vibe. Hopefully that sinister tone will remain consistent throughout the game even with the option to switch to the Jedi's side being there. Looking forward to the final product.


Strikers 1945 I & II (2004)
Developer: X-nauts/Psikyo
Platform: PlayStation 2
Purchase Date: 2004

Non-stop explosive action.

Don't get this game confused with Capcom's 1942 shooters even though the theme and look are similar between the two games. Strikers have better power-ups and a mecha-twist to the enemy bosses where they transform from iconic and vintage war machines into some bullet-spraying robots from hell. As with other Psikyo games, the strategy is to constantly avoid the nasty amount of enemy shots: no gimmicks to be found here, just raw shoot-'em-up action.

LIBRARY STATUS: 4 out of 5

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Games Played 08/23/2008

Bangai-O Spirits - NDS
Dungeons & Dragons: Dragonshard - PC
Final Fantasy IV - NDS
Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift - NDS
Galaga Legions - X-Box 360
Ikaruga - X-Box 360
Spectral Force 3 - X-Box 360
Super Smash Bros. Brawl - Wii
Too Human - X-Box 360

*The "Random Game of the Day" has to be temporarily suspended for 2 postings of my Daily Game Log because I let my friend borrow the camera I use for the site.

Games Played 08/22/2008

Bangai-O Spirits - NDS
Finny the Fish & the Seven Seas - PlayStation 2
Galaga Legions - X-Box 360
Ikaruga - X-Box 360
Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning Preview Weekend - PC

*The "Random Game of the Day" has to be temporarily suspended for 2 postings of my Daily Game Log because I let my friend borrow the camera I use for the site.

Review: Galaga Legions

Galaga Legions (2008)
Developer: Namco Bandai Games Inc.
Platform: X-Box 360
Purchase Date: 08/20/2008

Dear Sonic Team,

The reason why I am writing this letter to you is to help you learn a very valuable lesson. You used to be on top of your game and now, you have become a mere shadow of your former self. Your jealousy over Mario's flawless transition into 3D with the release of Super Mario 64 made you commit a terrible crime against Sega's own superstar: Sonic the Hedgehog. Let me tell you something that you obviously haven't learn throughout all these years following the creation of Sonic Adventure on the Dreamcast: Some games are not meant to transition into 3D gameplay.

It's all about enemy pattern memorizations and there is a lot to remember.
The ship has detachable satellites to help destroy the brutal formations.

I introduce to you Galaga Legions. Do you remember the original Galaga? That game was the first game I have ever played. I still remember going to a video game arcade for the first time and was mesmerized by the promise of its space adventure. As you know, the original game was about moving left and right in 2D space, shooting at different alien ship formations on the top half of the screen. Namco Bandai knew that to make a true sequel to this game, new technology has to be infused to widen its appeal and like you, Sonic Team, they also had 3D in mind. But here's how you differ from these geniuses: Only the game's graphics were transformed into absolutely stunning 3D while the gameplay itself is still in all its untouched 2D glory. By doing this, the players are given absolute control of the ship and the gameplay remains highly polished, clearly reflecting the same core mechanics of the original.

The score-multiplier system requires you to continuously land your shots on enemies.

Instead of just moving left and right, Galaga Legions allow the ship to move everywhere on the screen - a new kind of freedom yet everything is still 2D. Namco Bandai avoided the pitfall of having the game become a full 3D space mess because by doing so, they would not have been able to achieve the sense of control and precision desired here. The game is about rapidly destroying waves after waves of enemies and doing that in real-time 3D would be confusing and slow. They have divided the game into 5 stages - each with its own escalating and complex enemy attack patterns that eventually lead to a grueling area boss! I know you are crazy about adding story elements to your recent 3D Sonic games but notice that in Galaga Legions, the story is kept to a minimum and you only hear a computer voice explaining what happened between the stages and while battling the Galaga hordes in a non-intrusive manner that allows the action of the gameplay to be the primal focus of the experience. The game is short but what it has over all your 3D Sonic games is an infinite replay value. To add nostalgia to the game even more, Namco Bandai allows the player to change the ship and enemy graphics to a variety of old-pixel look. There is also a championship mode where the players can select a stage to play in to beat the high score on the X-Box Live Leaderboards. Your long-winded 3D Sonic games on the other hand, as if they are not horrible enough, have no replay value because you have forgotten that the best of games are the ones that can be completed in one-sitting - average of 1-2 hours or less - but begged to be played again and again like your old 2D Sonic games.

The boss formations are insane!

Sonic Team, Galaga Legions is the perfect example of the fusion of old and new. The 3D graphics technology needs to just be that - a graphical technology update - when it comes to your Sonic franchise. Namco Bandai must be commended for the creation of Galaga Legions not only because they have created an instant classic but also because they are showing developers like you the right way to revive and reinvent a 2D game.


Loner Gamer

RATING: 5 out of 5

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Games Played 08/21/2008

Capcom Classics Collection Vol. 2 - X-Box
Galaga Legions - X-Box 360
Guardian Force - SegaSaturn
Ikaruga - X-Box
Too Human - X-Box 360
Yourself!Fitness - X-Box


Finny the Fish & the Seven Waters (2005)
Developer: Natsume
Platform: PlayStation 2
Purchase Date: 05/24/2005

Finny has a big mouth and though rated E, it's not for the squeamish!

I just can't help it. I like games that have a lot of fish in it. It also doesn't help that Finny is a pretty cute character, making me so drawn to the game. No regrets here since this adventure game ended up being pretty darn fun. The graphics look nice and the eat or be eaten gameplay is quite refreshing. Finny can sometimes get accidentally hooked on a fishing lure and trying to escape from being caught by the fisherman is quite, uh, unique, and a bit disturbing.

LIBRARY STATUS: 4 out of 5

Friday, August 22, 2008

Review: Ratatouille

Ratatouille (2007)
Genre: Animation
Format: Blu-ray
Director: Brad Bird

The beginning of a beautiful friendship.

This tale about a rat who wants to be a top chef in France is so deceivingly simple that once it has unravelled its true self via the magnificent narrative, it's hard not to fall in love with it. Though the idea of a rat communicating and controlling a human being to achieve his goal seems so lavishly forced, Brad Bird's exquisite care in crafting innuendos and social commentaries transformed the whole situation into something that should not be translated only literally. Just like what he has done in The Incredibles, Bird is obviously more interested in communicating a deep message of unity and love than just merely entertaining his audience with high-tech CG wizardry that the movies definitely have.

One of the most original antagonists of all time.

The film looks absolutely stunning, especially the superb work that was done on the rats' furs. This is the best looking Pixar film to date - even better than WALL-E (I still don't have the heart to review that disappointing movie yet). I do find it weird that not all of the cast members speak with a French accent. You would think that French rats would be represented to speak in such fashion. The main human character, Linguini, is also strangely American even though he is apparently French and seemingly lived his entire life in that country. It just seems so tacked on. Bird probably figured that it was best to create some characters that would be easier for a majority of his audience to relate to but the fact that his story is anything but conventional made that decision somewhat illogical. He should never have resolved to cheap characterizations. Though I feel that I had just stumbled into an American bistro misleadingly furnished and decorated as a French-cuisine restaurant, the food served here is definitely of the highest caliber.

RATING: 5 out of 5

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Games Played 08/20/2008


Guardian Force (1998)
Developer: Success
Platform: SegaSaturn
Purchase Date: 07/25/2002

The games uses a lot of fancy 2D effects like scaling and rotation.

Guardian Force is a tank-based 2D shooter with the ability to strategically rotate your shots 360 degrees. Since dual analogue stick controllers didn't exist back then, the shoulder buttons are used to accomplish that effect instead. This is a fun shooter with some unique bosses and power ups. If a dual-stick configuration were to be made possible, it would definitely play much better though. Just too ahead of its time I suppose.

LIBRARY STATUS: 4 out of 5

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Games Played 08/19/2008

Blazing Lazers - Wii
Gate of Thunder - Wii
Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 - X-Box 360
Ikaruga - X-Box 360
Lords of Thunder - Wii
Soldier Blade - Wii
Star Parodier - Wii
Super Star Soldier - Wii
Xyanide - X-Box
Yourself!Fitness - X-Box

*While playing these other great PC-Engine shooters on my Wii, I couldn't help but imagine how terrible they would look if they were all muted or "censored" like Star Parodier and Ninja Commando.


Omega Boost (1999)
Developer: Polyphony Digital
Platform: PlayStation
Purchase Date: 1999

The attack patterns of the small ships are lazy and boring...

The Gran Turismo series developer tried their hands on a 3D shooter with disappointing results. Sure, the graphics look great for the PlayStation but the game is just too easy. There are a lot of boss battles to be found but to destroy them you just need to repeat the following commands: hit the scan button to auto-lock on the targets and shoot.

LIBRARY STATUS: 2 out of 5

Censored Statham II

Goodness gracious, they have done it again. Please click here for my previous report on this phenomenon. Jason Statham's beautiful bald-ing head has been cut off once again as shown in the movie posters for Death Race. It's really appalling (the cropping, not the bald-ing head)!

This bald-ing man as our main guy again? That's alright, we'll fix him in the poster.

Even the foreign poster is quite unforgiving.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Galaga Incoming!

Oh my galaxy. It's coming out tomorrow. I cannot wait! This game, coupled with Too Human, are going to make a pretty darn sweet day of gaming. With Tales of Vesperia and Infinite Undiscovery coming out in the next two weeks, it's a good time to be an owner of all the consoles. To those who don't have an X-Box 360: don't cheat yourself of such wonderful gaming experiences.

Games Played 08/18/2008


Xyanide (2006)
Developer: Playlogic
Platform: X-Box
Purchase Date: 08/30/2006

Big bosses in a shooter always make me smile.

Xyanide is a fun little shooter that really tries hard to make itself unique. One of the most striking things about it is the ever moving background that rotates around the player's ship in a variety of weird angles. It takes a while to get used to shooting enemies that are scattered all over the 3D space but it's a worthwhile effort. The storyline is actually pretty engrossing since the player takes the role of an executioner trying to destroy a powerful witch who created the game's stages. Those who like slower-paced shooters like the R-Types series would definitely enjoy this one.

LIBRARY STATUS: 4 out of 5

Nintendo: The Serial Muter

At first, 90% of all hit flashes were removed from the Nintendo Wii version of Metal Slug Anthology, making the game nearly unplayable because you don't know if your shots registered on the targets. Then, the hit flashes and the vibrant bullets in Ninja Commando got altered. How can it get any worse? Well, I just downloaded Star Parodier from the Virtual Console today and the same treatment that was done on Ninja Commando made it to this classic. These games that we paid for are not perfect ports because of Nintendo's disrespectful alterations.

Grey hit flashes on the bosses. Ewwwwwwwwwwwww!

This is totally ridiculous. It is also showing us Nintendo's new trend in over-reacting to ensure that their new audience that consists of millions and millions of elderly and casual gaming parents will never ever get an epileptic seizure - apparently, the people at Nintendo haven't seen how flashy things get on the regular shows we now have on television. While they got their dirty hands on ruining the looks of these third party games, they have forgotten the greedy use of striking primary colors and special effects on their own games, such as the Mario Party series or the recent super-mega-ultra-flashy Super Smash Bros. Brawl where the screen is just bursting out with enough sparkles to make even Wario himself dizzy.

Nintendo Epilepsy Watch Team: Wooaaaaa... Bright, colorful galaxy! Let's grey it out!
Nintendo Sales Team: No, don't! We need pretty colors to attract the little children.

Am I the only one who have noticed this? I hope not. This is really making me not want to buy any more Virtual Console games anymore. I heard that hit flashes are missing from the Wii release of SNK Arcade Classics Vol. 1 - so be warned and avoid getting that version of the game. I highly encourage everyone to send an email to Nintendo to ask them to stop these unnecessary alterations. Click here to get to the Nintendo customer service form. Don't forget to tell them to re-release these games with their original unaltered graphics intact so we can finally get what we have paid for!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Games Played 08/17/2008

*I'm back to my daily physical punishment... It was hard to start exercising again after being off 4 days. The 6-8 pounds I have lost so far convinced me that it's a daily routine worth keeping.


Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg (2003)
Developer: Sonic Team
Platform: Nintendo GameCube
Purchase Date: 09/27/2003

He may wear a Rooster Suit, but no one calls him Chicken!

After completely abandoning Sonic the Hedgehog to his eventual lurid death, Yuji Naka decided to create a new gaming icon. Sadly, his attempt failed. Miserably. Still obsessed with the spiky-haired look, you get Billy Hatcher who pretty much looks like a boy in a chicken suit. I don't know why Naka didn't go back to the 2D gaming roots after seeing how badly Sonic translated to 3D. There are some Sonic and Nights influences in the game and there are parts that are fun to play. The game always give me a terrible motion sickness because the action is so fast and often times you have to get the character to perform some circular movements with the camera being less accommodating.

LIBRARY STATUS: 3 out of 5

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Games Played 08/16/2008

Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance 2 - PlayStation 2
Bionic Commando Rearmed - X-Box 360
Hyper Duel - SegaSaturn
Ikaruga - X-Box 360
Legend: Hand of God Demo - PC*
Mutant Storm Empire - X-Box 360
Savage 2: Tortured Soul Demo - PC**
Titan Quest - PC

*I am currently on the lookout for a good role playing game so anything that remotely resembles that genre will be investigated. Goodness gracious this game is BAD. The voice acting is one of the worst I have ever heard - and you can't skip the hero's dialogue in a conversation. The cursor on the screen is represented by a fairy who is the hero's friend... Could I say Zelda copycat? It's too bad really because the game's graphics are quite competent.

**Nice blend of RPG/strategy/first person shooter. I just don't like the fact that it is too focused on teamwork-based online play and it lacks any real single player mode. They could easily make this a full-fledged single player adventure game.


The Legend of Dragoon (2000)
Developer: Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.
Platform: PlayStation
Purchase Date: 06/15/2000

The game has some of the best PSOne CG cinematics.

When it comes to Japanese role playing games, I often get into the habit of playing them all the way up until the final chapter before quitting them. For the majority of the time, I blame the high difficulty level as the main culprit behind this. Usually, a JRPG gets unrelenting during its final chapter, forcing players to grind before tackling the final assault and I normally rather jump to the next game waiting to be played. The same thing happened here with The Legend of Dragoon. I do utterly love this game to death and examining it closely again makes me want to complete it. There is an impressive humanity vs. dragons storyline and an absolutely heartbreaking love story involving one of its main characters by the name of Rose. This game has just made it into my list of games that I must play again.

LIBRARY STATUS: 4 out of 5

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Games Played 08/15/2008


Hyper Duel (1996)
Developer: Technosoft Co., Ltd.
Platform: SegaSaturn
Purchase Date: 07/24/2002

Classic 2d-shooter action that never gets old.

I picked this one up during my Ebay-Scavenger phase. Technosoft was famous for their Thunder Force series but their other shooters are not well-known to the general gaming populous. Hyper Duel is unique for the developer because the player's ship can morph into a robot and the player has to adjust between using the ship form and the robot form to survive through the enemy waves. It's faster than Thunder Force - though less refined - and features a two-player co-op mode! Epic bosses, killer soundtracks... It's hyper-fun.

LIBRARY STATUS: 5 out of 5

Friday, August 15, 2008

Games Played 08/14/2008


Hanagumi Taisen Columns 2 (2000)
Developer: Sega Enterprises, Ltd.
Platform: Sega Dreamcast
Purchase Date: 03/01/2000

Pick that nose!

This is the best version of Sega's classic Columns games that I have ever played. The game is mainly designed around the "versus" style of gameplay where the player has to completely cover the opponent's screen with colored gems. Unique here is the player's ability to choose a variety of power up to add to the playable character's individual statistics and the level up system where clearing gems would fill up a small bar at the top of the screen. Once the bar is filled, the player can opt to take an offensive, a defensive maneuver, or keep the accumulated power for future use. The game is filled with the cast of adorable characters from the "Sakura Wars" franchise, a strategy-RPG/dating-sim hybrid game series that never sees the light of day outside of Japan. I especially love some of music in this game. There is even a mini-adventure mode found within.

LIBRARY STATUS: 4 out of 5

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Games Played 08/13/2008

Bionic Commando Rearmed - X-Box 360
Braid - X-Box 360
Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved - X-Box 360
Ikaruga - X-Box 360*
Titan Quest - PC

*Welcome back Ikaruga! Spent about 2 hours practicing Chapter 4 last night. That stage is evil!

**I skipped my usual Yourself!Fitness routine yesterday morning because I had a terrible pain on my right shoulder blade. I must have twisted and/or pulled something. Still feeling it this morning. I am going to stop exercising until this gets better.

***Starting tomorrow, I am going to post a "Random Game of the Day" within my Daily Game Log postings. It's basically a way for me to acknowledge the great (and not so great) games sitting around me, to give them a bit of life - a way for me to say that they are a part of me even when they are not being played constantly. This section will have a snippet of information about the featured game and a profile picture of the game itself.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Review: Braid

Braid (2008)
Developer: Number None Inc.
Platform: X-Box 360
Purchase Date: 08/08/2008

It's time to put on your thinking cap.

From the game's title screen all the way up to its clever ending, Braid is all about style and subtle suggestion. This bite-sized platform adventure is certainly one of the most unique games ever made and one that is serious about presenting itself as being more than just a video game.

There are objects that are not affected by the flow of time.

You play as Tim who is searching for his "Princess" and this journey will take place across 6 cleverly designed worlds. Besides the usual jump and climb mechanics, what separate Braid from the rest is its time-manipulation gameplay. By pressing the X button, all of the things that happened onscreen is reversed as far back as the player wants - thus Tim can never die in the game. Just like what Treasure has done to Ikaruga's polarity-switch concept, this simple rule is then heavily extracted into numerous madly-genius situations and combinations. For example, in one of the worlds, time only moves forward in sync with Tim moving right but when he turns to move left, time itself is moving backwards with him. Within a stage, Tim must collect devilishly-placed puzzle pieces to complete a painting that is assigned to each world. It is not mandatory to collect all the puzzle pieces to proceed to the end of the game - a good thing for those easily frustrated because getting them all is no easy task.

Braid redefines precision jumping in platform games.

The game looks like a classical painting and it is easy to forgive the stiffness of the character animations. The soundtrack is filled with slow moving tunes and they react accordingly to the flow of time. There are numerous homages to classic gaming icons that seem to work nicely with the game's overall sensibility. If you are interested in this game, do yourself a favor and avoid reading the heavily discussed story analyses found in the forums across the internet. Braid's disturbing storyline is meant to be discovered personally by its player. Only after you have finished the game should you discuss the story content with others who have also completed the journey. The only unfortunate thing about Braid is that it has almost no replay value so you should fully embrace the game to its fullest while you are playing it.

RATING: 4 out of 5