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Friday, February 27, 2009

Games Played 02/26/2009



RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Zone of the Enders (2001)
Developer: Konami Computer Entertainment Japan
Platform: PlayStation 2
Purchase Date: 2001


The game looks pretty until you notice the lack of landscape variations.

Zone of the Enders is a mech game where you take the role of a young boy named Leo who is accidentally dropped into the cockpit of the "Jehuty" (or cool looking giant robot in plain English) when his town, located inside a space colony, is being decimated by an army of a rogue military regime. The game has that slight Neon Genesis Evangelion feel to it with the hesitant Leo being forced to become a savior when he has previously failed his "friends" during the opening movie. The game is ambitious with graphics that still look superb when I played it tonight. The controls that are highly responsive and tightly polished. The problem with the game is that it is too repetitive and you are stuck within the confines of the space colony and after a while, the stages started to look too similar to each other.

LIBRARY STATUS: 3 out of 5

Games Played 02/25/2009

Culdcept Saga - X-Box 360
Freedom Fighters - X-Box
Ikaruga - X-Box 360
Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords - X-Box 360
Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy - X-Box
Street Fighter IV - PlayStation 3


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Samurai Warriors (2004)
Developer: Omega Force
Platform: PlayStation 2
Purchase Date: 2004


The game is not complete without a tomboy princess.

The Dynasty Warriors series is a love-it or hate-it kind of game. I personally like the idea of controlling a kick-butt warrior into the midst of battle against hordes of enemies while a prominent kill counter is tracking the number of enemy deaths by my hands. It just never gets old. Samurai Warriors is an alternate version of the game that is set in medieval Japan instead of your usual Chinese cast and events that were adapted from "Romance of the Three Kingdoms". I actually prefer the new ninja/samurai selections because they are cooler and more mystical than those found in the Dynasty Warriors games. New to the series is the first implementation of role playing game inspired character customization options that use experience points to manage attributes and assign new skills to your characters.

LIBRARY STATUS: 4 out of 5

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Review: The Midnight Meat Train


The Midnight Meat Train (2008)
Genre: Horror
Format: Blu-ray
Director: Ryuhei Kitamura

The Midnight Meat Train is yet another movie that I wanted to watch in the theater but due to its poor distributions, I had to wait for its home release. I had high expectations for the movie because it is based on a short story by Clive Barker though the selection of director for it was rather odd. I have never been a fan of Ryuhei Kitamuira's supposed "superior" works in the form of Versus and Alive.

The movie is about a photographer who is in the midst of moving up in the art world due to his keen nature to capture the images of rugged reality of New York living through his camera lens. Unfortunately, his ambition to become a premier artist turns into a violent obsession: During one of his late night photography-hunting sessions, he encounters a man who could possibly be a serial killer who likes to kill late-night subway train passengers. Determined to proof the man a murderer, he begins stalking the man and typical of a Clive Barker tale, this resulted into something incredible nasty for everyone involved.

After watching the movie, I concluded that having Kitamura in this project ended up being a beneficial decision as he was able to transform the city, especially during the subway scenes, into a dark place filled with supernatural aura and energy. The murders that take place inside the train are strangely creative in both the camera work and the unique demise of each victim. The film has a spectacular albeit morbid ending, which is refreshing to watch and is the high probability of why it didn't get released in mainstream theaters. I truly enjoy the fact that Kitamura didn't rely on cheap scare tactics because the movie has zero jump moments but the sense of dread and fear are still remarkably there.

The problem I do have with the movie is its heavy reliance on CG blood... and CG trains! They both look a little cheap and I just don't understand why they rather pay more money to show blood spurts on the screen when they could have just purchased some cheap red syrup and get wet and wild with that stuff. Other than that complaint, The Midnight Meat Train is a fun ride, with a little loophole in logic, and is definitely far from being pedestrian.

RATING: 4 out of 5

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Games Played 02/24/2009

Culdcept Saga - X-Box 360*
Moero! Justice Gakuen - Dreamcast
Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords - X-Box 360
Shadow of the Colossus - PlayStation 2

*I am so happy that my best friend on X-Box Live was able to rent Culdcept Saga several days ago and we have been playing it into the wee hours of the morning. He has been having a tough time with game purchases and has missed the opportunities to get the game due to it. He is completely addicted to Culdcept Saga and after playing just two or three games with him, he started to become very good at organizing his deck. During one battle, he almost obliterated me! He hasn't even barely played the story mode and is just accruing cards from our online battles. Hopefully he will be able to find a copy to buy soon. Thank you Culdra for your blessings!


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy (2003)
Developer: Eurocom Developments, Inc.
Platform: X-Box
Purchase Date: 05/28/2005


This game is so very Zelda. Good thing it is almost as good as what it inspires to be.

I originally bought this game for the Nintendo GameCube in 2003 when it was first released. I didn't really play it until 2005 - I have always been easily distracted - and I absolutely adored it. Then, I noticed that the X-Box version was supposed to support 720p resolution as shown on multiple online reviews. So, I decided to repurchase the game after giving the GameCube version away to a friend. I was very disappointed that the game only runs at 480p - did the game reviewers even test to see if that resolution works? - even though 720p was printed on the back of the game's cover. So I pretty much bought the game twice without getting any additional benefit out of it. Sphinx is a Zelda-clone action adventure with a heavy Egyptian influence. The game's environments are huge and colorful, complete with a good balance of platforming, puzzle-solving, and action. Where the game departs from the Zelda canon is the dual storyline where the player controls, like the title implies, both Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy. The Mummy sections are quite inventive but they tend to feel more like a comedic relief. Still, the two blend together really well, making Sphinx a truly memorable experience.

LIBRARY STATUS: 4 out of 5

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Gaming with Aquaphobia Part 1

Aquapobia is generally defined as the fear of water. In my case, I am fearful of a body of water that is bathtub-sized or larger. I may have understated "fearful" in the previous sentence so let me elaborate: I am deathly scared of it where if I see it or get close to it I would start feeling nauseous and a devastating notion of dread would overwhelm me. Strangely, I am okay with aquariums as long as I am staring at them from the sides instead of looking down into them. The funny thing is, I remember swimming as a child so truth be told, I really don't know where it could have come from. I do know that it started early while I was growing up and it is getting worse by the year.

Video games and realistic looking water were not synonymous until recently and year after year, the technology has provided us with some amazing looking H2O. I can breathe easy for now because game developers have not perfected their graphical and physical representation of water... yet! In this series of articles, I will be sharing my catastrophic but mostly funny experiences with digital water as an acute aquaphobic.


---PART I: SHADOW OF THE COLOSSUS ---


A masterpiece that unintentionally contains some ultra-frightful moments.

This game doesn't have realistic looking water but the reason why the water sections below are so traumatic is because of the game's success in creating a grand sense of scale. The game's hero, Wander, is but a tiny spec compared to his surrounding environment and the majestic beasts that he has to destroy.

i) The Road (or Water) to Colossus 3

For those who are not familiar with the game, at the beginning of each of the game's sections, a disembodied voice would provide Wander with a cryptic clue about the next colossus that he must dispose of. When I reached this mushroom shaped structure in the middle of a large lake, I completely forgot that the voice speficially mentioned that the colossus could be located on top of the structure!


What is that lake doing there? Help...

Because I was in a state of panic and disbelief to what I was about to endure, I ended up spending an hour jumping in and out of the lake and walking around it to see where to colossus may be hiding. In the game, Wander can use his sword that would reflect a guiding light towards the direction of the colossus he is hunting but since the lake is shrouded in mist, making the sword useless, I was continually misguided by my own fear. At one point, I forced myself to jump into the lake and started circling the entire structure as my teary eyes were analyzing the murky water. Because I was too afraid to swim towards the land surrounding the lake, I decided to get on the stone slope that lead up towards the top of the structure and that was when I realized that I had been torturing myself for no logical reason.

ii) In-Flight Beverage

The 5th colossus was a bird but of course, it just had to be fought on a big lake.


It has wings... So why are we here on a lake?

Now getting near the colossus was hard enough because of the amount of swimming that took place - I tried thinking about a happy place with each second of swimming time. The first time I encountered this colossus, I kept falling off it and got dropped right into the creepy lake below. I am so glad that at least I am not that fearful of heights because I would have had a heart attack during this fight.


I rather stay up here for the rest of this battle please.

iii) Debating the Bait

Guess what happened two colossi later... Another big lake and this time around, there was something big lurking underneath. When I first arrived at the lake and saw the gigantic serpent just slithering inside of it, I practically froze. I kept looking at it moving about for probably close to half an hour. When the disembodied voice starting telling me that I needed to lure out the thing by swimming on the water surface, I almost wet myself.


Hell-to-the-no!


While on it, the colossus would sometime dive in pretty deep...
A move more shocking to me than its electrically charged horns.

After the long period of time in total shock, I jumped into the water. When I saw the colossus started heading my way, I felt the shivers run up my spine, freaked out, and got out of the water immediately. After another half hour of doing what I just described repeatedly, I was finally able to finish the job. I was thinking to myself, "That was so messed up".

iv) 4th Time's the Harm

The 12th colossus hid inside another huge lake. Though the surrounding for this one was bright and clear, it still didn't take away the nastiness of it all.


Run! Oh no, there's no land, so I guess it's "Swim!"


A menacing colossus but not as scary as the lake.


It was a big, big, lake.

There is definitely a better way to get to the top of this colossus' head but in a panic-stricken frenzy, I thought that the best way to do it was to swim around the beast and climb up its furry backside. The method worked but I will never forget spending too much time in the water chasing after the colossus as it kept taking me further and further away from the small platforms scattered across the lake, away from where I felt safer!

OVERALL AQUAPHOBIC FACTOR: 5 out 5

Games Played 02/23/2009

Aegis Wing - X-Box 360
Crash: Twinsanity - X-Box
Culdcept Saga - X-Box 360
Heavy Weapon - X-Box 360
Ikaruga - X-Box 360
Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords - X-Box 360
Shadow of the Colossus - PlayStation 2


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Moero! Justice Gakuen (2000)
Developer: Capcom Co., Ltd.
Platform: Sega Dreamcast
Purchase Date: 02/21/2001


Ran should have known that Hayato is camera-shy.

The 3D graphics with 2D gameplay structure of the recently released Street Fighter IV is not something new to Capcom because they have been experimenting with it in a lot in their past fighting games. Though I didn't particularly care much about the Street Fighter EX series that were released for the first two PlayStations, I have played them before and they weren't that bad. Choukkousenki Kikaioh is pretty average so Capcom's best effort prior to Street Fighter IV was Moero! Justice Gakuen, the sequel to Rival Schools on the PlayStation. The game still looks great and the camera remains static for the most part until crazy special moves are executed on the screen. Capcom uses different stereotypes of Japanese high-schoolers to create the game's unique and diverse cast of characters that include a photographer who uses her camera's flash as an attack, a cold-looking violinist, and a member of a swimming team. Sadly, geeks are not included. You can have up to three characters in your team and use combination attacks with them but the game only allows you to switch main characters in between rounds. This Japanese release includes a fun board game that is not found in the domestic version that was released under the title of Project Justice.

LIBRARY STATUS: 4 out of 5

Monday, February 23, 2009

Games Played 02/22/2009



RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Crash: Twinsanity (2004)
Developer: Vivendi Universal Games
Platform: X-Box
Purchase Date: 2004


Is that really your sister waiting for you on the horizon?

I consider Twinsanity the best Crash Bandicoot game in the series. It's always a good idea to make a well-known video game character team up with his or her archenemy - a formula that works almost all the time. What I love the most is its zany sense of humor that is scattered throughout the game. The first stage where Dr. Neo Cortex lures Crash into his devious trap is pretty freaking hilarious. What a way to start off the adventure! The game is a pure platformer with a lot tricky sections that can easily lead to death by falling. Twinsanity looks pretty with smooth animations and colorful graphics. The bosses are fun too. I hope that Crash will return to its roots again and abandon the "monster-jacking" gameplay that he is stuck with as of late.

LIBRARY STATUS: 4 out of 5

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Games Played 02/21/2009

Heavy Weapon - X-Box 360
Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords - X-Box 360
Söldner-X: Himmelssturmer - PlayStation 3
Street Fighter IV - PlayStation 3
X-Men: Children of the Atom - SegaSaturn


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future (2000)
Developer: Appaloosa Interactive Corporation
Platform: Sega Dreamcast
Purchase Date: 08/19/2000


Ecco is so special that he can communicate with shiny crystals like the one above.

While I am big on the idea that 2D gameplay can outshine 3D gameplay any day of the week, some games do gain significant benefits from transitioning from the former to the latter. The Ecco games on the Genesis were great but even back then, the control always felt awkward to me. Defender of the Future is the next logical progression for the series' already exploratory nature and it expands the core experience to its full potential. The game is a free roaming 3D adventure where you control dolphin extraordinaire Ecco as he solves puzzles and beat up hungry sharks to save the world. I have mentioned before that I have aquaphobia so there were some moments were I freaked out playing this game. The game is released for the PlayStation 2 in 2002 with improved graphics and gameplay tweaks but I was already happy with this Dreamcast version.

LIBRARY STATUS: 4 out of 5

Games Played 02/20/2009

Advance Guardian Heroes - GBA
Assassin's Creed - X-Box 360
Heavy Weapon - X-Box 360
Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords - X-Box 360


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Rugby 06 (2006)
Developer: Electronic Arts Inc.
Platform: PlayStation 2
Purchase Date: 02/16/2006


Drop goal, field goal, what's the difference?

Rugby is a the origin of American football and it is also faster, rougher, and more physical in every aspect. I am not big into sports except for the variations of golf and tennis but since I never owned a rugby video game before, I thought I should at least have one in my collection to play with. The game was a hard sale here in the United States and it certainly deserves more recognition. There is a nice tutorial mode that briskly explains the game to those uninformed but those familiar with the mechanics of American football will quickly notice the similarities (and the major differences) between the two games. Electronic Arts used real rugby athletes for the lineup but of course I do not have any inkling of who these guys really are.

LIBRARY STATUS: 3 out of 5

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Games Played 02/19/2009



RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


X-Men: Children of the Atom (1995)
Developer: Capcom Co., Ltd.
Platform: SegaSaturn
Purchase Date: 01/21/1996


This stage started out at the beach before it moved into the middle of the ocean.

The legendary X-Men: Children of the Atom is Capcom's first 1-on-1 Marvel-based fighting game. I am very surprised of how well this game still plays today. It is better than some of the newer fighting games released over the last couple of years. It's slow-paced but meticulous and definitely more strategic than the cross-over series that came after it like X-Men vs. Street Fighter and Marvel vs. Capcom. The game uses three punch buttons and three kick buttons, making it very flexible for combo experimentation. There are only ten characters selectable but they were quite fresh back in the days. The two bosses in the game are Juggernaut and Magneto and they are both pretty formidable. Then there are the game's ever-changing stage backdrops: they are dynamic and are a pleasure to watch. This game is one of the most exciting purchases I have ever made in my video gaming life thus far.

LIBRARY STATUS: 5 out of 5

Friday, February 20, 2009

Games Played 02/18/2009

Siren - PlayStation 2
Street Fighter IV - PlayStation 3


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Advance Guardian Heroes (2004)
Developer: Treasure
Platform: Game Boy Advance
Purchase Date: 2004


Would you like to live 6 additional minutes after you die?

Treasure is one of the most talented video game developers in the world but they do have some troubles when it comes to sequels. Though they tend stick with creating new games - Ikaruga for example, is just a "spiritual" successor to Radiant Silvergun with similar gameplay mechanics and shared themes - but apparently games like Guardian Heroes on the SegaSaturn and Gunstar Heroes on the Genesis are just too popular for them to leave alone. While Guardian Heroes is a straight-up hack-and-slash role playing game, Advance is that plus more. Perhaps a bit too much more. New are the game's counter and platforming mechanics all framed around patterned enemy attacks that feel like they belong in one of Treasure's own shoot-'em-ups. The good news is even with all the hectic hodgepodge of things ,the game is still fun and it moves constantly from one impressive set piece to the next - the first game can get a bit too repetitive with its locales. Treasure really pushed the Game Boy Advance to its limits too with relentless graphical effects that brought the handheld down to its knees, causing some severe slowdown to the action. Thankfully, these instances are not game-breaking. A great game but it's hardly in the same league as the first one.

LIBRARY STATUS: 4 out of 5

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Games Played 02/17/2009

Street Fighter IV - PlayStation 3
Street Fighter Alpha Anthology - Playstation 2


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


PK: Out of the Shadows (2002)
Developer: Ubi Soft Entertainment
Platform: PlayStation 2
Purchase Date: 01/04/2003


Out of the shadows and into the midst of a snow storm.

In an era where simple platform games are hardly made anymore, it was easy for me to pick up PK when it was released. I am also a big fan of Donald Duck, which made the purchase a bit of a plus. The game is a straightforward platformer-shooter and even though it's 3D, the gameplay is mostly restricted to moving forward into the screen. There are stuff to collect, gaps to jump, and scientists to rescue in each stage. The problem with the game is that it's very repetitive and it could have benefited from shorter levels and more bosses. There are also moments when the camera goes a bit haywire and the lack of manual control leads to a slight degree of frustration.

LIBRARY STATUS: 3 out of 5

Games Played 02/16/2009



RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Cosmic Smash (2000)
Developer: Sega
Platform: Sega Dreamcast
Purchase Date: 2000


The big numbers on the floor to the right is the game's time counter. Isn't it smashing?

You can tell that this game has a heavy emphasis on style by just looking at its unique, transparent DVD case. The game is based on squash but here, you have to destroy all the holographic boxes in the room to clear a stage. There are many areas to progress through with an escalating complexity of box configurations after each one. In addition, points are rewarded for performing special moves while accurately aiming the ball to your next target. The graphics are simple, reminiscent of the brilliant Rez and this bring a nice futuristic aura to the whole presentation.

LIBRARY STATUS: 4 out of 5

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Games Played 02/15/2009

Castle Crashers - X-Box 360
Metroid Fusion - GBA
Pain - PlayStation 3
Resistance 2 - PlayStation 3
R-Type Dimensions - X-Box 360
Super Monkey Ball - GameCube
Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix - X-Box 360



RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Siren (2004)
Developer: Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.
Platform: PlayStation 2
Purchase Date: 2004


The realistic looking faces make the whole thing a lot scarier.

There is no doubt that Siren is an inventive and a very, very scary game. You play as one of the ten helpless characters who are trapped inside the village of Hanuda where all of its inhabitants have suddenly turned into bloodthirsty zombie-like creatures called "shibito". The most clever gameplay mechanic in the game is the ability to "sightjack" or look through the eyes of nearby shibito in first person view which in itself is a terrifying experience... especially when you get to see the character you control through its eyes. You need to use the sightjack ability constantly to be able to get your character to the next safe area in one piece by analyzing the shibito's movements. The game is a bit too repetitive with its hide-and-seek mechanics and that becomes both its strength and its weakness: the game's focus on running and hiding does make it morbidly horrifying but it also makes it a bit uneventful.

LIBRARY STATUS: 4 out of 5

ASCII for IV

Though many believe that the arcade stick is the best way to play fighting games on the consoles, I prefer to stick with directional-pad controllers. During the Genesis years, I played a lot of Street Fighter II using the console's 6-button controller. On the X-Box 360 however, I am forced to use the analogue stick to play its fighting games that include Soul Calibur IV and Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix or even to play precision-sensitive game like Ikaruga because the D-pad on the default controller is just plain bad. I regretted buying Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix for the 360 because I could have played it with the controller I am using now for Street Fighter IV.


ASCII Fighting Pad for the PlayStation 2.

I first bought the ASCII Fighting Pad for the PlayStation 2 in 2001. I originally ordered the Sega Dreamcast version of the controller but the online store sent me the PS2 version by mistake. I decided to keep it and I am glad that I did because it did get used a lot when more 2D fighting games were released via import and domestically over the last several years. We all know that the PlayStation 3 doesn't accept connectors from previous generation PlayStations unless they are USB-based. I am able to make the controller work on the PS3 by using a device that was made for the Personal Computer called "Super Joy Box 3". Its purpose is to allow any PS1 or PS2 controller to be used on the PC without the need of any software installation and I purchased it a while back to make it easier for me to play some of my PC games. Since the PS3 accepts pretty much anything USB-based, the device works like a charm.


The magical Super Joy Box 3. The scratches on it were
caused by being in hibernation inside my closet for way too long.


It has been a while since I last used this controller so the D-pad on it feels a bit heavy but it is definitely an improvement over the Dualshock 3. The controller's 6-button layout is responsive and easily accessible versus having to meddle with the shoulder buttons. Though it's not wireless like the new fighting pad from Mad Catz, it still makes the experience of playing Street Fighter IV even better. Those who can't decide between buying an expensive arcade stick or a much-cheaper 6-button fighting pad should give the latter a chance, especially if said individuals haven't touched an arcade stick for a long time because it always take some time to get used to a new control scheme.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

New Game Alert!

I was able to pick up a copy of Street Fighter IV for the PlayStation 3 today and played it for about 5 hours straight. I am still disappointed that there are not enough new characters found in the game - the ones who are there are incredible, it's a shame Capcom didn't make more - but the game itself is highly fun and outrageously beautiful. I will be spending a lot of time playing this one. Included below are a couple of screenshots from my play session.


A stylish cover for a stylish game.


E. Honda madness. Just look at the expression of violent pain on Rufus' face.


Rose is one of my favorite Street Fighter Alpha characters.

Games Played 02/14/2009

Assassin's Creed - X-Box 360
Castle Crashers - X-Box 360


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Suikoden IV (2005)
Developer: Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo
Platform: PlayStation 2
Purchase Date: 01/14/2005


You really can't blame Snowe for behaving the way he does.

After being spoiled by the rich storytelling of Suidoken III, it's hard to love this sequel. It has a much improved battle system - unfortunately with an insanely high instances of random battles - as well as a strategically satisfying naval fleet warfare. It has a consistent presentation when it comes to the character models - as much as I love Suikoden III, the short anime look of the characters did leave a lot to be desired. What it doesn't have is a brilliant tale to be told and in a role playing game, that is considered as a cardinal sin. The story involving the Rune of Punishment set upon the backdrop of pirates and the high seas takes a long time to get going but once you hit that spot, the game ends all of a sudden. It's still a great role playing game but it is unworthy of bearing the Suikoden name.

LIBRARY STATUS: 3 out of 5

Monday, February 16, 2009

Review: Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door


Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door (2007)
Genre: Horror
Format: DVD
Director: Gregory Wilson

This film is an adaptation of Jack Ketchum's novel of the same name that in itself is based on the shocking murder of teenager Sylvia Likens in the 1960s. For those who are not familiar with that murder case, this movie would probably be even more shocking than it is intended to be. Those who are familiar with it however will find that the changes made in both events and names are brilliantly altered to make what's already horrifying in the first place much more horrific without being disrespectful to the true story that inspires it.

The movie takes place in the 1950s and is narrated through the eye of a boy who is unfortunate enough to be involved in the whole tragedy. David is a good friend to the three boys living next door to him. His friends' mother, Ruth, just inherited two young girls from her sister who recently died in a car accident. From the very beginning, there is something not quite right about Ruth as shown by the type of conversations she would have with her sons and David himself. Soon, the seemingly unstable Ruth starts to abuse the two girls and the severity of her despicable acts escalate into a truly perverted, unspeakable frenzy.

I didn't expect much from this viewing and the movie ended up being one of the most disturbing films I have ever watched. The unrelenting and unapologetic nature of the abuse scenes hit really hard when they start to appear even after a number of really terrible and odd things that took place during its exposition. It helps that the film uses the young David to frame the story because of the sense of utter helplessness the audience is exposed to. This movie must be difficult on the young actors involved because of the painful things that happen onscreen. Blanche Baker's depiction of Ruth is haunting and her progression from innocent kookiness to violent spookiness is magnificent. Hard to watch and even harder to forget, Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door proves that human evil is the worst because it is really the only form of evil that exists in this world.

RATING: 4 out of 5

Games Played 02/13/2009

Castle Crashers - X-Box 360
Fable II - X-Box 360
Ikaruga - X-Box 360
Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords - X-Box 360
Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix - X-Box 360


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Super Monkey Ball (2001)
Developer: Amusement Vision, Ltd.
Platform: Nintendo GameCube
Purchase Date: 11/27/2001


Pretty confetti to celebrate your skillful navigational skills.

It's amazing that a twitchy puzzle game featuring a bunch of monkeys confined in a ball could become so successful. More amazing though is the developer's ability to convince Dole Food Company to get its logo slapped onto the bananas you collect in the game! The main game where you tilt the stages to move your monkey in the ball towards the goal is very difficult to play and takes both skillful precision with the controller and loads (I mean LOADS) of patience to complete. There are some sadistically brilliant stages in the game that are seemingly reserved only towards the die-hard puzzle maniacs. This is probably the reason why the multi-player component of the game feels so separated from the main game. The mini-games contained within are so well-developed that the players can opt to play them exclusively.

LIBRARY STATUS: 4 out of 5

Games Played 02/12/2009



RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Sudeki (2004)
Developer: Climax
Platform: X-Box
Purchase Date: 2004


That's one big moon.

Sudeki doesn't bring anything remotely new or exciting in terms of its narrative contents. It does have an exciting real-time battle system that is a blast to play which successfully infuse an optional first person view of the battles, something that you are likely to find in a western shooter and not in a role playing game. Thought it is graphically competent, the character models don't look particularly attractive: they have that wannabe Japanese anime look to them that is just not flattering at all. The bad thing is, their personalities are not that great either especially Ailish who is proven to be too sultry of a princess to be remotely charming - just wait until you hear her high-pitched, irritating voice... She sounds more like one of those evil witches than a princess. It is nice that all the conversations in the game are voice acted and the character customizations are complex enough to keep you playing Sudeki until the end.

LIBRARY STATUS: 3 out of 5

Games Played 02/11/2009

Assassin's Creed - X-Box 360
Culdcept Saga - X-Box 360
Dead Space - X-Box 360
Ikaruga - X-Box 360
SingStar - PlayStation 3
Super Mario Galaxy - Wii
Time Crisis 4 - PlayStation 3
Wii Sports - Wii
X-Men Legends 2: Rise of Apocalypse - PC


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Metroid: Fusion (2002)
Developer: Nintendo
Platform: Game Boy Advance
Purchase Date: 12/22/2002


Brilliant platforming is the norm in Samus' daily existence.

Officially classified as "Metroid 4" by Nintendo in the game's title screen, Metroid: Fusion is a direct sequel to the classic Super Metroid on the Super NES. While it is bigger and better in every aspect compared to its predecessors, the game retains the focus on map exploration and restrained but ingenious sense of progression that the series is famous for. Fusion is a large game and the prevalent sense of dread and isolation are still as strong as ever. New is Samus' cool looking blue armor as she is infused with the Metroid DNA that saved her from the attack from an "X" parasite infection. The parasite has infested a research station and it has created a Samus double that keeps harassing the player throughout the adventure. An epic-scaled game in a small little cartridge. A must to all Metroid fans.

LIBRARY STATUS: 5 out of 5

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Games Played 02/10/2009



RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria (2006)
Developer: tri-Ace Inc.
Platform: PlayStation 2
Purchase Date: 09/27/2006


Her exterior may be calm but Alicia bears the burden of a deep conflict within her.

This sequel is actually a prequel to the first game and it follows the story of a fallen Valkyrie, Silmeria and her rather blasphemous quarrel with Odin while sharing the body of a disowned princess named Alicia. Though the story is a shocking departure from the original, it works pretty well here. Like Lenneth in the first game, Silmeria also recruits souls of the fallen but gone are the grandiose tragedies and personal connections with these "einherjar" for we only get to know very little about them. Still, the idea of recruiting them to empower their souls so that they can be reincarnated is a clever one, which fits the game's more lighthearted theme of redemption, an exact opposite to the overwhelming notions of pain and suffering that were used in the first one. Silmeria is perhaps one of the finest example of the great power of the PlayStation 2. There's hardly any loading time between scenes and the details on the characters are amazing. Though the battles have pseudo-3D elements to them, I adore the fact that the game retains the usage of 2D side-scrolling movements when roaming about the game's lush environments.

LIBRARY STATUS: 4 out of 5