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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Games Played 11/18/2008

Culdcept Saga - X-Box 360
Ikaruga - X-Box 360
Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy - X-Box 360


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Final Fantasy VIII (1999)
Developer: Squaresoft
Platform: PlayStation
Purchase Date: 09/10/1999


I'm sorry but Rinoa seems more desperate than anything else.

It may be easy to make fun of the super-extended summon sequences found in this game but back then, they looked so gorgeous that you really wouldn't mind seeing them again and again. I was a big fan of them as I spammed summons after summons against the nonstop waves of random battles the game threw at me. Though the relationship between Rinoa and Squall was hardly believable, the game's mercenary vs. witch storyline was captivating enough until it got really convoluted near the end. The instructor-turned awkward love interest-turned generic party member Quistis is the most memorable thing about this game for me. She's my favorite Final Fantasy character, hands down.

LIBRARY STATUS: 5 out of 5

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Games Played 11/17/2008



RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Resident Evil: Outbreak (2003)
Developer: Capcom Co., Ltd.
Platform: PlayStation 2
Purchase Date: 2004


Let's hide in the restroom!

With the recent success of Left 4 Dead, I wonder if Capcom is going to revive their Resident Evil: Outbreak series. Even with the lack of voice/text chat support as well as some problematic load time issues, I consider this game much superior than Valve's recent effort. There's a heavy focus on strategy and adventuring to be found in Outbreak, not to mention the fact that the game is tense and scary. It stays true to what makes the Resident Evil games fun while adding multi-player elements into the mix. What are you waiting for Capcom?

LIBRARY STATUS: 4 out of 5

Friday, November 28, 2008

Games Played 11/16/2008

Battle Fantasia - X-Box 360
Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia - NDS
Culdcept Saga - X-Box 360
Ikaruga - X-Box 360
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1989 Arcade Classic - X-Box 360


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Super Street Fighter II X for Matching Services (2000)
Developer: Capcom Co., Ltd.
Platform: Sega Dreamcast
Purchase Date: 07/11/2001


Yes Backbone Entertainment, you messed up big time.

If you have read my review of the recently released Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, you know that I was utterly disappointed by the lazy job Backbone Entertainment did on that game's arcade mode. Though this Dreamcast version lacks the high definition graphics in HD Remix, it is the best version of the game you can own because the arcade mode is not neutered. In Japan, the game can even be played online! I am thankful for HD Remix's online mode but I am reminded of how much better it could have been as I was playing this far superior version of the game.

LIBRARY STATUS: 5 out of 5

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Review: Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix


Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix (2008)
Developer: Backbone Entertainment
Platform: X-Box 360
Purchase Date: 11/26/2008


Are you ready to do it all over again?

Street Fighter II redefined the 1-on-1 versus fighting genre when it was first released in 1991 and all of its subsequent arcade revisions and home releases were nothing short of wonderful. One would think that this new release would be the ultimate version of this legendary title because how could you go wrong with adding new high definition graphics to an already time-tested classic gameplay? You can't, it's just impossible... Unless your are Backbone Entertainment.


It's still one of the best fighting games ever. Shocking!

Let's start with the good. The graphics are gorgeous. It makes you want to see the Street Fighter Alpha 3 and Street Fighter III redrawn into glorious HD. No additional frames of animations are added to the characters nor backgrounds but everything feels remarkably fresh and new. Of course, all of this is nothing compared to the visual splendor that is the upcoming Street Fighter IV. There is an arcade mode and some online options, both can be played with the classical gameplay intact or the newly tweaked "HD Remix" mode. The latter empowered a lot of characters with altered special moves and improved timing but it's going to take a lot of battles before one can recognize these tweaks as balance issues or smart redesigns. As long as you can find people with good connections, the online mode is almost lag free but you can't seem to escape the half-second freezes every so often. The original soundtracks still sound pleasing and the new remixed ones are serviceable.


The empty spaces on top of the characters' health bars remain empty in arcade mode.

Now for the bad. There is no scoring system in the arcade mode of the game. That's right, no local leaderboard. There is no sense of accomplishment for playing perfectly through the arcade mode because there will be nothing in the game that will be indicative of your battle performance. The screen would still pop-up with "First Attack" whenever it occurs and we all know that first attacks are supposed to be rewarded with a bonus score - here, there's no score accompanying it. This of course does not have any impact on the delicious online gameplay but Backbone Entertainment apparently forgot that the Street Fighter II experience is also about skillfully completing the arcade mode. So we are left with just half of the experience intact in the form of the brutal versus online play. There is no real reason to play through the arcade mode once you have seen all of the characters' redrawn endings. One may argue that the lack of a scoring system in the arcade mode should encourage players to battle it out online but the thrill of topping previous score performance in the past versions is sorely missed. What a disappointment and it's baffling that the major video game critics failed to notice this missing component. Capcom, stop handing over your high-profile projects to the mediocrity that is Backbone Entertainment. As the saying goes, if you want something done, you have to do it yourself.

RATING: 3 out of 5

Monday, November 24, 2008

Games Played 11/15/2008



RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Unison (2001)
Developer: Tecmo, Ltd.
Platform: PlayStation 2
Purchase Date: 2001


And you thought Guitar Hero was hard...

This is one hardcore rhythm game. Instead of merely matching different controller inputs appearing on screen, Unison forces you to memorize the commands for each of the songs found within. This may sound frustrating but it actually makes a lot of sense because the game tries to replicate the memorization process of dance choreography and the way the dual analogue sticks are moved to accomplish the dance movements feel natural. There's a fun storyline in the game too. I wish they would have left all of the Japanese soundtracks in the game during its localization because the English songs feel totally out of place here.

LIBRARY STATUS: 3 out of 5

Games Played 11/14/2008

Culdcept Saga - X-Box 360
Einhander - PlayStation
Ikaruga - X-Box 360
Left 4 Dead Demo - X- Box 360


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY


Tales of Symphonia (2004)
Developer: Namco Ltd.
Platform: Nintendo GameCube
Purchase Date: 07/14/2004


Don't worry Lloyd. By the end of the game, all the characters will be fully fleshed out.

Tales of Symphonia is no doubt a great role playing game that is only short of being a classic. The game tells a story of a "Chosen One" and her entourage traveling across lands to ensure the regeneration of their dying world. The basic premise is badly cliched at that eye-rolling level but the game surprisingly matures into a sad tale of sacrifice and discrimination. What have helped this tremendously are the clever scripts between the characters and the "Skit Titles" that could pop up at any time during the adventure. These conversations are not merely afterthoughts - they are the real drives to the story. I just recently picked up Symphonia's sequel and I can't wait to see what happened to the characters I have known and loved from this game.

LIBRARY STATUS: 4 out of 5

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Games Played 11/13/2008



RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Pikmin (2001)
Developer: Nintendo
Platform: Nintendo GameCube
Purchase Date: 12/07/2001


How many Pikmin will be lost before Captain Olimar could escape the planet?

This cute real time strategy experience is unexpectedly quite a dark game. The "captain's log" style storyline progression and time constraint to complete the game really provoke a sense of maturity not frequently found in a Nintendo game. Captain Olimar's manipulations of the "Pikmin" creatures are fun to play with but the ambiguous morality and the survival of the fittest nature surrounding the whole occasions brought the game up to a whole new level of enjoyment, intelligence, and understanding.

LIBRARY STATUS: 4 out of 5

Games Played 11/12/2008



RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Parasite Eve (1998)
Developer: Squaresoft
Platform: PlayStation
Date of Purchase: 11/21/1998


A bad date night for detective Aya Brea.

This game will forever hold a special place in my heart because it came to me as a birthday gift from a very important person in my life. The game itself is nice even though it is a tad short. Squaresoft was heavily influenced by the Resident Evil games, which resulted in this game's marriage of role playing game and survival horror. The mitochondria-annihilating-humanity storyline is not as far-fetched as it sounds and the game has that classic detective story feel to it, only with a heavy dose of sci-fi added to the mix. They are not a lot of rpgs out there that takes place in a realistic modern setting, which makes this game very unique.

LIBRARY STATUS: 5 out of 5

Saturday, November 22, 2008

New Games Alert!


From Left to Right:
1) The Last Remnant - X-Box 360
2) Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts - X-Box 360
3) Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World - Nintendo Wii
4) Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe - X-Box 360

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

NXE: My Experience with "The Experience"

Okay, I am not ashamed to admit that I waited until 2:00am PST earlier this morning to download the "New X-Box Experience" for my X-Box 360. I logged in to my Netflix account on my PC and watched some CSI to pass the time... I mean, who can fall asleep watching that show right? The plan worked and all I can saw is Microsoft did an excellent job with this update. If the X-Box 360 is not so prone to malfunctions, it would be easy to declare that it is one of the greatest console ever because of how wonderful this new update really is. So here's a photo diary of what happened before I finally passed out for being awake too long.


For such a big change, the update download only takes about 2-3 minutes.


It was quick and painless.


When the console restarted, a cool looking opening attract sequence commences...


...sadly, it was in a badly compressed full motion video instead of a real time 3D engine.


Time to make a mii - I mean - an avatar!


The facial construction options are limited but at least you can customize the clothing
even though the options for that are also very limited. I smell filthy money...


Wow, what a difference... And my Ikaruga theme is still there.


Accessing the achievement details is so easy and it is so quick.


Time to install a full game into the HDD...


I selected Culdcept Saga of course... The installation took about 10 minutes
but afterwards when playing the game, the console is eerily silent! Though
the loading time difference is negligible, the game seems to run a lot smoother
with less graphical tearing and a more stable framerate.


Little things like using the actual video game cover to represent what
your friends are playing add a significant amount of polish to the experience.
It's a smashing success... Now we wait for Sony to make the next move!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

NXE Tomorrow!

I am very excited about the "New X-Box Experience" free update that will take place in less than a day to all X-Box 360 owners. I will be posting my impression of the console's new features tomorrow. Hopefully, the transition is going to be a smooth one the fact that the X-Box Live service has been nothing but glitchy - sudden disconnects and freezes - over the last several days. Perhaps the most enjoyable thing with this update is the fact that those who used to make fun of the Nintendo Wii's Miis will now know that they are nothing but a bunch of sour, hyprocritical gamists!


The X-Box 360's Miis. Aren't they uhm... Cute?
I prefer Sony's mature look for PSN Home but it's probably never coming out... Ever!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Games Played 11/11/2008

Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia - NDS
Ikaruga - X-Box 360
Left 4 Dead Demo - X-Box 360*
Silent Hill: Homecoming - X-Box 360

*One would think that after the success of the Gears of War series, developers would stop making shooters in first person. Early screenshots hinted that the game may be playable in third person view but unfortunately that is not the case. The game is fun when played with three other friends but it's a bit mindless. It's not cerebral like the Resident Evil Outbreak games on the PlayStation 2. It's an all out shooter. I am not too thrilled about this one though almost all my online friends are just crazy about it.


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Darkwatch (2005)
Developer: High Moon Studios
Platform: X-Box
Purchase Date: 08/09/2005


What happened to all the bandits I should be shooting at?

Darkwatch successfully blends elements from the western first person shooter genre with a heavy dose of the supernatural. The event-filled scenarios in the story mode is fun to play through. It's nothing revolutionary but it kept my interest. Seriously though, who wouldn't want to play as a vampire law enforcer? There is a 16-player X-Box Live mode in the game, a feature that I completely ignored when I first got it. I am trying to be better at exploring the online options of the newer games I purchase.

LIBRARY STATUS: 3 out of 5

Review: Dead Space - Downfall


Dead Space: Downfall (2008)
Genre: Horror
Format: Blu-ray
Director: Chuck Patton

Prequels are a tricky thing to pull off, especially when they are based on a premise that is already proven to be very successful to stand on their own merits. This animated movie is a companion piece to the video game Dead Space that was released a week prior to its premier on DVD/Blu-ray. It is definitely targeted towards those who have played the game looking to extend the thrills they have experienced from it.


Dying on board the Ishimura is not a pretty sight.

Dead Space: Downfall chronicles the events that lead to what happened in the video game. A space mining colony found a creepy looking ancient artifact on a faraway planet that appeared to hold some sort of dark secret but is tied to some religious understanding of that particular time. The planet-cracker starship Ishimura is deployed to the location to extract a portion of the planet and bring the artifact back to earth. After an alarmingly increasing cases of dementia impacting the miners on the planet, the dead start to morph into alien forms that savagely attack anyone around them. These life forms eventually board the Ishimura to continue their violent rampage.


The only thing that's true to the video game is the video com.

While the game is extremely scary, this movie is hardly horrific. Its biggest downfall, pardon the pun, is the jarring difference in visual quality when compared to the game. I think it would have been more successful if it is done using the game's CG - remember the Xenosaga bonus movie DVD from Episode I? The anime look is just unconvincing and lazy and it tones down a lot of the unforgivably bleak and intense atmosphere that it was trying to replicate from the game. Then, you have the problems with the storyline. The movie mainly follows Vincent, a female security officer of the Ishimura who seems to lack both the intelligence and the toughness for the position that she holds, leading to many awkward moments in dialogues and actions. Also, the Ishimura is a big ship and the security measures and personnel portrayed in the movie are laughable. Downfall is a disappointing film that could have been better. It is also an insult to those who have played the video game because it undermines what has been established and it betrays the wonderful memories one might associate with the Dead Space title. Those who love anime violence may get their quick fixes here -there is at least one very disturbing death scene -but even as a stand alone product, it's just another one of those really terrible made for TV horror movies.

RATING: 1 out of 5

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Games Played 11/10/2008

Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia - NDS
Gears of War 2 - X-Box 360
Ikaruga - X-Box 360
Prince of Persia - X-Box 360
Spectral Force 3 - X-Box 360


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


D.2 (2000)
Developer: WARP
Platform: Sega Dreamcast
Purchase Date: 08/26/2000


She is going to catch a cold before she ever reaches that house.

If you can get through the game's snail-paced presentation, you will find yourself playing one of the most atmospheric horror games ever made. You play as Laura, one of the survivors of a commercial flight that crashes down into the Canadian mountain range. It's bad enough that these survivors found themselves helpless in the middle of nowhere, they also have to fend themselves against the alien lifeforms that are lurking everywhere around them. The game brilliantly combines first/third person exploration gameplay segments with a role playing game influenced gunfight battle system whenever Laura is attacked by the enemies. D.2 is quite morbid and does not shy away from allowing its characters to die some horrific deaths. The game understands how to make the player feel completely isolated and hopeless while allowing the game to still remain compelling and fun.

LIBRARY STATUS: 5 out of 5

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Games Played 11/09/2008

Call of Duty 2 - X-Box 360
Fear Effect - PlayStation
FlatOut: Ultimate Carnage - X-Box 360
Ikaruga - X-Box 360
Sega Rally Revo - X-Box 360


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Sega Ages: Castle of Illusion & Quackshot (1998)
Developer: Sega
Platform: SegaSaturn
Purchase Date: 1998


Donald has a bad temper...


...while Mickey has a fear of heights.

Remember the time when Disney games were actually fun to play? It's no urban legend folks, it's true. During the 16-bit consoles era, Sega made a number of highly-playable Disney-based platformers! Two of Sega's best efforts back then were definitely Castle of Illusion and Quackshot. In Castle, you control Mickey Mouse through a variety of fantasy lands in order to save Minnie from the clutches of the evil witch from Snow White. Quackshot is more of a shooter/platformer hybrid starring the lovable Donald Duck who embarks on a treasure-hunting adventure of Indiana Jones proportion - and yes, we are talking about the old Indy, not the Crystal-Skull version. Both games contain marvelous tunes, sweet platforming, and epic boss fights. I used to own both for the Genesis and when this compilation disc became available, I knew I just had to have it. Strange that they both haven't made it to the Virtual Console yet...

LIBRARY STATUS: 5 out of 5

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Where Have All the Vault Boys Gone?

After being trapped inside the lunch box for nearly 2 weeks, I finally found a nice display spot for my Vault Boy bobblehead... He's now placed next to my charging Nintendo DS on the right side of my futon so that whenever I sit down, his head would bob deliriously as intended. It's like killing two birds with one stone: While he's there, he can also protect my Nintendo DS from any upcoming nuclear holocaust.


My cuties.

Games Played 11/08/2008

Gears of War 2 - X-Box 360
Ikaruga - X-Box 360*
Sega Rally Revo - X-Box 360
Strider 2 - PlayStation

*I finally broke the top 100 for the All Chapter run. Yeah!


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Fear Effect (2000)
Developer: Kronos Digital Entertainment, Inc.
Platform: PlayStation
Purchase Date: 2000


It looks stunning as a screenshot but it doesn't fare so well in motion.

This sci-fi adventure game features the first great looking cell-shaded graphics to replicate the anime look that inspired its creation. Just like Space Channel 5, the game's backgrounds are comprised of streaming full motion videos. Though cutting edge for its time, the game doesn't age well as the screen is often filled with pixelated images. I love the game's Asian-influenced storyline and the interesting cast of characters. The control is a bit stiff like the first generation Resident Evil games but the game world is truly alive with mystery and thick with dread.

LIBRARY STATUS: 4 out of 5

Games Played 11/07/2008

Castle Crashers - X-Box 360*
Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia - NDS
Gears of War 2 - X-Box 360
Ikaruga - X-Box 360
Sega Rally Revo - X-Box 360

*There's still no patch to fix the online multiplayer game-crashing bug yet... This game has been out for more than 2 months now. This is very disappointing.

New Games Alert!

Two of the biggest releases this fall are now in my library: PlayStation 3's Resistance 2 and the X-Box 360's Gears of War 2. I haven't touched Resistance 2 yet but Gears 2 is bigger and better than the first one. Which of the two is more bad @$$? I have to play them more to find out. But isn't it wonderful that I get to play both? Fanboys, consider being a poly-gamist!


I don't know why most people choose one or the other when they can have both.

And oh, I saw this on my copy of Gears of War 2:

A total joke the fact that a lot of people got the game earlier this week and they sent obnoxious messages about how much they love the game and proudly teased others to pick it up immediately even when they know that they got it by a stroke of sheer dumb luck. What's worse? Microsoft allowed the multiplayer server to be used before the official date, which was a total failure on Microsoft's part... It's quite disgusting actually.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Games Played 11/06/2008

Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia - NDS
Ikaruga - X-Box 360
Saints Row 2 - X-Box 360

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Games Played 11/05/2008

Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia - NDS
Fallout 3 - PC
LittleBigPlanet - PlayStation 3

October 2008 Monthly Gaming Analysis

The results shown below are of course based on the combined data from the Daily Game Log which should provide a clear indication of a game's usage frequency. Bear in mind that even if a game is played twice or more during a particular day, it would still register as 1 in the Day Count column below. In a sense, "merits" are given based on how often a particular game can make me play it again throughout the entire period of the month on a daily basis. A game that makes a gamer play it over and over again or at least spend a lot of time with it... Isn't that what we mostly want from a great game? I don't think it's really fair to count all the way down to the number of hours played since some games only require a short amount of time to properly serve their purposes.

OVERALL BREAKDOWN:





Total Number of Games Played: 88

Though I get frustrated often by the game - I am so close to hitting top 100 on the Leaderboards - I still play Ikaruga quite frequently. In fact, it has been occupying the top most played spots ever since I started writing these monthly reports. I further improved my score for each stage last month so it looks like it is just a matter of time until I get to reach my goal. Galaga Legions followed closely behind: I am in the top 100 for some of the stages/modes but I can definitely get better at it. I love shoot-'em-ups too much not to play these marvelous games constantly.

Fable II is a great game but the loading time is abysmal. Though Fallout 3 has recently dominated most of my play time, I am determined to further explore Fable II in the near future so that I can discover if there is anything else substantial after the completion of the main quest: I have only been completing the side quests for the most part thus far.

My newest obsession last month was definitely Triggerheart Exelica, a quirky shooter I downloaded early this year but could never get into until recently when I really paid attention to its odd and tricky gameplay. Expect a review for this one soon! I definitely played more quickie arcade games on X-Box 360 than usual - I did this whenever people wanted to have a long chat online.

Best New Game of the Month:
Dead Space (X-Box 360)*
*It really is incredible. I am going to continue playing it again soon.

Unexpectedly Forgotten New Game of the Month:
Silent Hill: Homecoming (X-Box 360)

I Missed You I Want You Game of the Month:
The Eye of Judgment Sets 2 & 3 (PlayStation 3)

New Milestone Celebration

Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia marked the 100th game added to my Nintendo DS library! I started playing Nintendo DS since its release in November 2004, so that's an average of 25 games a year. Click here to view the complete list of my Nintendo DS games or click here to browse the entire game library.


100 and beautiful.