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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Games Played 12/29/2008



RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Gunvalkyrie (2002)
Developer: Smilebit
Platform: X-Box
Purchase Date: 03/20/2002


This game will break you... Or your thumb, whichever comes first.

A broken control scheme will almost always destroy a game. Gunvalkyrie is an exception to this rule. There is no doubt that the decision to implement the left analogue stick press as a boost button was a disastrous one - especially the fact that boosting plays a major element in the game - but the game's unique blend sci-fi atmosphere, exciting action, clever platforming, and disturbing storyline made it very playable. Yes, it will lead to a violent sore on your thumb but after playing this for a while, I was able to get use to the game's demanding control scheme. It did take me a long time to get there and playing it again for the first time in years, I found the learning curve to be quite nasty and frustrating...

LIBRARY STATUS: 4 out of 5

Games Played 12/28/2008



RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Oceans (2004)
Developer: Monolith Software/tri-Crescendo
Platform: Nintendo GameCube
Purchase Date: 2004


Why use polygons when 2D backdrops can look this amazing?

Omiya Soft may have successfully combined the delicacies of the card battle game with monopoly but they were not quick enough to use that kind of hybrid into a role playing game, which is exactly what was done here in Baten Kaitos. The battles in the game uses random cards extracted from a deck constructed by the player - very original and surprisingly addicting. The vengeance-fueled narrative explores the typical themes found in the genre and like usual, it ended up with the main characters trying to stop the destruction of the world. The locations, soundtrack, and artwork are quite beautiful but the same unfortunately can't be said about the voice acting. The game tries to be deeply emotional but I just didn't feel it when I played it to completion. It's more awkward than anything else... Like talking to someone who really likes you and that person is not telling you how he/she really feels. It's still a great game but I expected better from Monolith.

LIBRARY STATUS: 3 out of 5

Monday, December 29, 2008

Games Played 12/27/2008

Culdcept Saga - X-Box 360*

*Went to brunch and then it was all Culdcept all day and night!


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Street Fighter Alpha Anthology (2006)
Developer: Capcom Co., Ltd.
Platform: PlayStation 2
Purchase Date: 06/16/2006


Chun Li + Track Bottom = Hotness!

In a lot of ways, the upcoming Street Fighter IV reminds me of the Street Fighter Alpha series = they are both pretty much the same game as Street Fighter II, only with a cooler vibe and a new artwork. I guess it's hard to make new characters that people could love... I really can't blame them for wanting to bring back the likes of Ryu, Ken, and Chun Li to the new game but almost the entire SFII cast dominating the title with a very small dose new characters? That's baloney. My disappointment with IV's cast is probably not a popular opinion. I am going to hold my final thoughts about that game until I actually play it... Back to Anthology - a great collection that contains all of the Alpha games, my favorite being number 2 because number 3 is just too over-embellished and the multi-isms just feel a bit indecisive. The addition of Super Gem Fighter: Mini Mix really sweetens the deal and it plays great too.

LIBRARY STATUS: 5 out of 5

Loner Merger

I have decided to merge this blog with my "Loner Gamer as The Film Critic" blog. I have been focusing so much on video gaming that the other site becomes inactive. Thus from this day forward, I will include all future film-related articles here. All of the postings published from that site has also been transferred properly. Notice the "Movies" tag under the "Categorical Archive" on the right hand side of the site.


One focused Loner Gamer is better than two.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Games Played 12/26/2008

Gears of War 2 - X-Box 360
Ikaruga - X-Box 360
Lumines Live! - X-Box 360
Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix - X-Box 360


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Blinx: The Time Sweeper (2002)
Developer: Artoon Co., Ltd.
Platform: X-Box
Purchase Date: 10/11/2002


It's been long suspected that cats have 9 lives...
Never do we know that they can also control time!

Replay saves have been around long before this game's arrival but the original X-Box's 8GB of HDD space did present some interesting opportunities for brave developers looking to tap into the fusion of gameplay with the concept of time-space continuum/virtual remote control a.k.a TIVO-ism. This action platformer is smarter in its theory than in the actual application because the freedom to manipulate time - rewind, pause, fast forward, etc. - are too linear though the illusion of their effectiveness is definitely there. The game is a bit like Braid, only a little too structured and less intelligent.

LIBRARY: 3 out of 5

Culdcept Saga: Completion Celebration II

The road was long and treacherous, filled with tricky requirements and mostly dumb but sometimes infuriatingly lucky A.I.s... It was all worth it in the end because now, I have all the avatar parts for Culdcept Saga! Sometimes, while I was trying to get one thing done, I ended up doing something else and those moments lead to many epiphanies on just how deep this game's complexity truly is. One time I was trying to get a Powder Eater to kill a dragon but instead, I ended up doing massive invasions that lead to me obtaining a different avatar part. Fun!

This accomplishment really makes me want to get 100% card and medal completion for the PlayStation 2 version so expect to see me play it every so often until all the deeds are done.


The last part that prompted the completion of my collection.


My favorite look!


I am an avid collector, apparently.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Games Played 12/25/2008

Ikaruga - X-Box 360
Lego Batman - X-Box 360
Lumines II - PSP
Lumines Live! - X-Box 360
Prince of Persia - X-Box 360


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Einhänder (1998)
Developer: Square Co., Ltd.
Platform: PlayStation
Purchase Date: 05/21/1998


Don't forget to buy your Volks Gasmask!

Einhänder is the most exciting departure from the usual for the role playing game mogul formerly known as Squaresoft. Though the game is hardly epic compared to other shoot-'em-ups, Square managed to make everything work. They avoided making things unnecessarily complicated - thank goodness there are no rpg elements found within. The power-ups are weapons carried by the enemies and the player can choose from several different ships. Some of the bosses are spectacular but there are several uninspired levels in the game. It's too bad that Square is just a little too focused on making rpgs instead of taking the time to perfect the gameplay mechanics explored here.

LIBRARY STATUS: 4 out of 5

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Games Played 12/24/2008

Castle Crashers - X-Box 360*
Ikaruga - X-Box 360
Lego Batman - X-Box 360
Gears of War 2 - X-Box 360

*Finally patched after 4 months of broken online gameplay. Sadly, the patch didn't include a free premium theme for proper compensation...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Games Played 12/23/2008



---HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM LONERGAMER!---


STAY SAFE AND HOPE YOU GET ALL THE GAMES
YOU WANTED THIS HOLIDAY SEASON~

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Games Played 12/22/2008



RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


The Red Star (2007)
Developer: Archangel Studios
Platform: PlayStation 2
Purchase Date: 06/28/2007


The boss fights are memorable because they are very well designed.

The game may have suffered years of delayed release but the end product was surely worth the wait. The combination of beat-'em-up plus shoot-'em-up is not that offbeat of a hybrid but it is the one unique thing about the game. Though it will never be able to truly compete with the best shooters from Japanese developers, The Red Star does imitate those games quite well especially when it comes to throwing the players with many cool boss fights. The constructions of the bosses should be familiar to fans of the genre, a great homage to what inspired the design of the game. The Red Star works best as a top-down shooter - if it didn't include the brawler mechanics, the game may have transcended into a real classic instead of merely achievening a cult following.

LIBRARY STATUS: 4 out of 5

November 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 Games Played: 58

November was an Ikaruga intensive month for me because I was inching closer and closer towards the coveted Top 100 spots on the Leaderboards. I finally made it in near the end of the month and the feeling of accomplishment was amazing. Now, all I have to do is get to the Top 50 and then maybe, just maybe, my life of Ikaruga will be complete. It is such a great game and talking to many people who inquire about it on X-Box Live saddens me somehow because they fail to see the genius behind its design. Most people don't even care about chaining in the game when that system serves as a map on how you navigate your ship to survive through the incoming onslaughts of distinct and patterned enemy waves. In October, I was raving about Triggerheart Exelica - unfortunately for that game, my burning passion for Ikaruga took my attention away from it.

I also started playing Culdcept Saga more intensely in November. I know I have abandoned the game for quite a while and I wanted to get all the cards, something that I never get to finish doing while I was playing the PlayStation 2 version. Now, I am addicted to it again.

Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia is a great game that grabbed my attention immediately after I brought it home. Why can't a great 2D game like this be released on the current generation consoles?

Best New Game of the Month:
Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia (Nintendo DS)

Unexpectedly Forgotten New Game of the Month:
Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix (X-Box 360)

I Missed You I Want You Game of the Month:
Valkyria Chronicles (PlayStation 3)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Culdcept Saga: Completion Celebration

I finally obtained all of the cards in Culdcept Saga - My eyes teared up when the congratulatory reward cut scene was playing in front of me. Next mission? The game provides different customizable parts for the player's character by winning matches under variable conditions: I want to obtain all the avatar parts! I have gotten a lot - only several of the tougher challenges are still not conquered. I found a couple of people to play the game with too, which should lengthen the game's replay factor even more.


I want to create a new world! Culdra... Please show me the way!


The last card that prompted the completion of my collection.


Zeromn's voice is not as majestic as Culdra's.

Games Played 12/21/2008



RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Shadow of Destiny (2001)
Developer: Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo
Platform: PlayStation 2
Purchase Date: 03/11/2001


Time manipulation is powerful but the ramifications are often horrific.

Shadow of Destiny is an adventure game where you control a man named Eike who can manipulate time with to the assistance of a supernatural ally. He is targeted for death and by both experiencing the actual death and changing the past, Eike must find the source of the attack and clean up the after effects of his actions. The game has some truly genius moments, like the inclusion of a parallel timer that shows the progression of the present time while Eike is living in the past. The game's storyline is quite memorable and has many possible endings. The game design is very similar to the new Time Hollow for the Nintendo DS though the main themes found here are much darker in comparison.

LIBRARY STATUS: 5 out of 5

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Games Played 12/20/2008



RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Rez (2001)
Developer: United Game Artists
Platform: Sega Dreamcast
Purchase Date: 2002


Hypnotic, spiritual, and deeply emotional.

This fusion of music, sights, and video game is an important piece of artwork that will never grow old. Thanks to its highly stylized artistic wire-frame visuals, the game still looks stunning even compared to the best looking games made today. The rail-based shooter mechanics is simple but what transcends this into a one of a kind experience is how perfectly the sound and graphics react to everything that happens during gameplay. If one is only listening to the audio of someone else playing Rez, it is easy to think that one is listening to an amazing techno/trance music - the sound design is really that clever. The deceivingly simple storyline is very impactful - I often cry during the unraveling monologue throughout the game's final stage. This Dreamcast version is unfortunately inferior to later releases because of its lower frame rate.

LIBRARY STATUS: 4 out of 5

Games Played 12/19/2008

Culdcept Saga - X-Box 360*
Galaga Legions - X-Box 360
Prince of Persia - X-Box 360

*Two more cards to go. I am so close.


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Bomberman Generation (2002)
Developer: Hudson Soft.
Platform: Nintendo GameCube
Purchase Date: 06/22/2002


Free from the confines of the squares.

I am sure that I am not the only one who has grown tired of the Bomberman battle games. Just like the Dance Dance Revolution series, the Bomberman franchise has really overstayed its welcome. This is the reason why I actually love this Bomberman-inspired adventure game. You still get to use bombs to destroy enemies and clear obstacles but the exploration element really opens up gameplay. The soundtrack is as beautiful as the colorful graphics and it is always fun to beat the cool bosses. For those who still miss the classic battle mode, it is included in the game and it is the same exact thing that all of us have played over and over before.

LIBRARY STATUS: 4 out of 5

Games Played 12/18/2008

Culdcept - PlayStation 2
Culdcept Saga - X-Box 360
Ikaruga - X-Box 360
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 - PlayStation 2
Söldner-X: Himmelssturmer - PlayStation 3


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Wave Race: Blue Storm (2001)
Developer: Nintendo
Platform: Nintendo GameCube
Purchase Date: November 2001


This is the closest I will ever get to actually doing the real thing. I have severe aquaphobia.
I'll tell you a funny story about how that impacted my video gaming one of these days.


This is a follow up to the legendary Wave Race 64 on the Nintendo 64. Staying true to what made the previous game very popular, the realistic water physics is still unmatched by any other water racing game to this date and is a sight to behold during stormy weather conditions. The only problem here is that the race tracks are somewhat tame compared to the brilliantly intense designs found in 64. The music and the character specific voice commentaries are also pretty bad. Thankfully, those things are just little annoyances compared to the game's wet and wild fun.

LIBRARY STATUS: 4 out of 5

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Games Played 12/17/2008

Culdcept Saga - X-Box 360
Dash of Destruction - X-Box 360
Ikaruga - X-Box 360
Puyo Puyo Fever - Dreamcast
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 - PlayStation 2
Söldner-X: Himmelssturmer - PlayStation 3


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Crimson Sea (2002)
Developer: Koei Co., Ltd.
Platform: X-Box
Purchase Date: 12/27/2002


Phantasy Star Offline.

The best way to describe Crimson Sea is that it is a Phantasy Star Online clone. Maybe it's better to describe it as a poor man's Phantasy Star Online. From the spaceship hub to the long range/short range weaponry and the sci-fi tinged storyline, the whole game reeks plagiarism. Still, it's actually a pretty decent game that contains a lot of interesting missions, over-sexualized characters, and massive boss battles. Adding an online co-op mode would have helped this game. It is always a good thing to see Koei doing something different than continually milking their Dynasty Warriors series though...

LIBRARY STATUS: 3 out of 5

Games Played 12/16/2008

Capcom vs. SNK: Millennium Fight 2000 - Dreamcast
Culdcept Saga - X-Box 360
Gears of War 2 - X-Box 360
Ikaruga - X-Box 360
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 - PlayStation 2
Söldner-X: Himmelssturmer - PlayStation 3
Zombie Revenge - Dreamcast


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Conker: Live & Reloaded (2005)
Developer: Rare Limited
Platform: X-Box
Purchase Date: 06/22/2005


Every hero has his/her price. It doesn't take much for Conker though.

This enhanced edition of Nintendo 64's Conker's Bad Hair Day is worth buying even if you have played the original game. The justification for this is not based on the silly new deathmatch multi-player mode that is added on top of the outstanding original adventure game. Instead, it is the phenomenal graphical update to the single player experience that makes this game worth a second playthrough. What's better than playing the filthiest game ever made? Playing it with improved graphics. Unfortunately, all the bad words are still bleeped out when Rare could easily get away with allowing them to be uttered full blast since the game was not on a Nintendo console.

LIBRARY STATUS: 5 out of 5

Games Played 12/15/2008



RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


God Hand (2006)
Developer: Clover Studio Co., Ltd.
Platform: PlayStation 2
Purchase Date: 10/11/2006


Those bad guys will never know what hit them.

The title has a serious tone to it but this game is anything but that. It is perhaps one of the most offbeat game ever made and sadly, it is Clover Studio's final game before they got dissolved. Maddeningly difficult at times, the game demands constant button mashing but it's deeper than that fortunately because of the large amount of fighting moves and upgrades available for the game's hero, Gene. The intentionally super cheesy and rancid voice acting, soundtrack, and storyline had me laughing hard throughout the length of the game. Some of the fighting moves are so out there and are hilarious to execute. The thrills may be cheap and the jokes unsavory but this game is truly one of the best beat-'em-ups ever made.

LIBRARY STATUS: 5 out of 5

Games Played 12/14/2008



RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Gungrave (2002)
Developer: Red/Nightow
Platform: PlayStation 2
Purchase Date: 02/01/2003


Don't try to get between this man and his coffin.

What I absolutely love about Gungrave is its classic design. The game is all action and can be completed in one-sitting. It may seem repetitive to the inexperienced: the basic premise is to shoot anything that moves until you get to the stage's boss. There is definitely a lot to shoot at and things get very hectic quite often. The real trick here is to keep chaining shots to rack up the combo meter - called "Beat" in the game - continuously and this takes some degree of strategy. A great shoot-'em-up that works as a 3D game because of its tight control and simple but addictive gameplay mechanics. Nice character design too... Kick Their A$$!

LIBRARY STATUS: 4 out of 5

Games Played 12/13/2008

Culdcept Saga - X-Box 360
Gears of War 2 - X-Box 360
Lego Batman - X-Box 360
Meteos Wars - X-Box 360
Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix - X-Box 360


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Wario Ware, Inc.: Mega Party Game$! (2004)
Developer: Nintendo
Platform: Nintendo GameCube
Purchase Date: 2004


Turning something this stupid into crazy fun is absolute genius.

Nintendo humor is probably the best kind of humor to be found in the video gaming world because whenever they go crazy and nutty, they do it all the way. This is best exemplified by the Wario Ware series that are filled with mini-games that are absolute lunacy in terms of their design and hilarity. This particular one is less memorable because it is a bit too similar to the first one released on the Game Boy Advance and it is completely overshadowed by the wackier sequel Twisted! on that same handheld. This version does have a more accessible multi-player options but the mini games don't really need them to make the core game a smashing success.

LIBRARY STATUS: 5 out of 5

New Games Alert!

Several more games to further brighten the Holiday season... Unless there are more Atlus role playing games coming out on the PlayStation 2 in the future, I think Yakuza 2 would be the last PlayStation 2 I will ever pick up. I am just glad I can play them on my older but backwards compatible PlayStation 3.


From left to right:
1) Prince of Persia - X-Box 360
2) Eternal Poison - PlayStation 2
3) Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures - X-Box 360

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New Games Alert!


Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 and de Blob...
I guess I am in the mood for something freaky and offbeat this Holiday season.
I also recently downloaded Weapons of Choice and Meteos Wars from X-Box Live.

Games Played 12/12/2008

Meteos Wars - X-Box 360


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Puyo Puyo Fever (2004)
Developer: Sonic Team
Platform: Sega Dreamcast
Purchase Date: 2004


Same Puyo, different game... Wait.

I have always loved the Puyo Puyo games and it has enjoyed many iterations. Unless Sega is going to be releasing them on X-Box Live Arcade/PlayStation Network Store with online functionalities, I think I may have reached my Puyo saturation point with this release. The addition of fever mode is what sets this one apart from the previous games and it is basically a mini puzzle game within the game that acts as a super power to increase the amount of blocks you send to your opponent's screen. The gameplay is deep as always because o its heavy focus on chaining but it also makes the game a bit too draining at times. The game contains both English and Japanese language options - a nice gesture to loyal fans outside of Japan.

LIBRARY STATUS: 4 out of 5

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Games Played 12/11/2008



RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Zombie Revenge (1999)
Developer: Sega Enterprises, Ltd.
Platform: Sega Dreamcast
Purchase Date: 01/28/2000


Nothing is worse than trying to sort through bad gameplay mechanics
while being surrounded by overzealous zombies.

Zombie Revenge is a shooter/beat-'em-up hybrid that sounds cooler than it plays. Even if you are a fan of zombie games, Revenge is often times frustrating because of the cheap hits from both regular enemies and the game's bosses. The co-op mode eases the pain a bit, especially if you are playing with someone who is easily entertained by terrible dialogues and horrendous voice acting because the game does have both of those in abundance.

LIBRARY STATUS: 2 out of 5

Games Played 12/10/2008

Buster Bros. Collection - PlayStation
Culdcept - PlayStation 2
Ikaruga - X-Box 360
Lego Batman - X-Box 360
Meteos Wars Demo - X-Box 360
Metroid Prime - Nintendo GameCube
PowerUp Forever Demo - X-Box 360*
Sega Superstars - PlayStation 2

*Just plain horrible. There's no originality, just endless waves of random enemies to shoot at with no real strategy involved.


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Capcom vs. SNK: Millennium Fight 2000
Developer: Capcom Co., Ltd.
Platform: Sega Dreamcast
Purchase Date: 09/13/2000


No, this is not a M.U.G.E.N.

You would think that a fighting game that pits the best of Capcom's characters against SNK's finest would be the event of a lifetime. The idea that the two companies would risk their own personal greed just to satisfy legions of their loyal fans was a sign of an approaching Armageddon in itself but unfortunately, this game really made little impact on the genre. The main problem is, the whole production value seemed a bit lazy. Yeah, some aspects of the presentation are snazzy like the high resolution backdrops and the many crazy special effects during and after a match but the old, low-resolution, constantly reused character sprites are just not cool. It is also inexcusable that Athena Asamiya is missing from the game.

LIBRARY STATUS: 3 out of 5

Monday, December 15, 2008

Games Played 12/09/2008



RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Culdcept (2003)
Developer: Omiya Soft
Platform: PlayStation 2
Purchase Date: 12/13/2003


A good defense is the best offense in this epic card battle.

This monopoly + magic card hybrid is one of my favorite games of all time. Though I mostly play the newer Culdcept Saga for the X-Box 360, I consider this PlayStation 2 version superior when it comes to the variety of the battle animations and its impressive soundtrack. I only need less than 10 cards to complete my entire card collection in Saga but I actually have double that amount to collect here. It was fun to be able to revisit the cards not found in Saga and the previous looks for many of the cards. If you enjoy Saga, there is no reason why you shouldn't pick up this incredible game.

LIBRARY STATUS: 5 out of 5