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Friday, July 31, 2009

New Games Alert!

In case you were wondering where the rest of the $75 Amazon.com gift certificate went, I spent them on more games. The story of my life, I'm telling you. I may have picked up too many games this month if there is such a thing. For some reason, my large online order was split into two and I received my Nintendo Points Card first before the remainder of the order arrived today. It's all about the Nintendo Wii apparently because the games that I selected were Ultimate Shooting Collection and Dewy's Adventure. On top of those games, I also received a 1600 Microsoft Points card for the X-Box 360. I have already spent 800 points on the Fallout 3: Broken Steel expansion because I am about ready to get back into some post-nuclear war adventuring again. I am still undecided on what to do with the rest of the points. I almost spent them on Peggle Deluxe but since that game is planned for a PlayStation 3 release, I rather wait for it to hit Sony's console.


I think I did pretty well with the $75. I got a generous amount of games from it.

Chrono Triggered

Have you ever experienced that moment when seeing an object from the past triggered an overwhelming rush of forgotten memories that it almost felt like you were transported back in time? Well, I just had one earlier this morning while I was boxing up more items in preparation for my move into a new house - I haven't boxed up any of my video games yet since things have not been finalized at this point due to unexpected personal situations. The object in question here is a June 1997 issue of a video game magazine:


Open the floodgates!


As we all know, there used to be a dark and uncivilized time when the Internet was hardly a significant fabric of mainstream society. So, to keep up with the gaming news during that awful time, I did purchase quite a number of video game magazines. The best out of the bunch to me has always been the UK-based multi-platform magazine, Computer and Video Games - and these guys are still around today! I have stopped subscribing to them a long time ago but I do check out their website every so often but back then, CvG had the best looking covers as well as the most honest reviews compared to the rest. In era of journalism that was mostly anti-Sega, CvG's impartial take on the industry was refreshing, leading to bold reviews of what are now considered classic Sega games such as giving the maximum "High-Five" rating to SegaSaturn's Fighters MegaMix in this particular issue of the magazine. Staring at this magazine this morning and flipping through its pages reminded me of some of the lowest points in my life that I don't particularly want to discuss here but more importantly, it brought back memories of the now fabled Sega dominance over the industry especially with the classic Sonic actually being on the magazine's cover. In hindsight, the joyous celebration of Sonic Jam for the SegaSaturn that was featured here ended up being the beginning of the end for the blue hedgehog. But yes, those were the days... when video games had more artistic integrity than being mostly a fashionable trend for the mass market.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Games Played 07/10/2009

Well, this is the first time in a very long while where I didn't play a single game in a period of a day. I believe the last time this happened to me was while I was doing my undergraduate studies. I always manage to find a video game to play wherever I go - thank goodness for those handhelds - and thinking back to the July 10th date, I can't recall any special reason why I didn't touch a single game that day. It was a Friday and I know that I didn't go out on a date that evening (not that it would stop me from sneaking in several of minutes of gameplay during the actual date - I know, I can be a terrible companion sometimes). I also remember being surprised the next day when I made an entry into my Daily Game Log notebook and noticed that I didn't play anything the day before. Since this is a special occasion, I'm going to skip one "Random Game of the Day" entry as well.


So you got these many games and you didn't even play ONE that day? What?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Games Played 07/09/2009

Dead or Alive - PlayStation
Everyday Shooter - PlayStation 3
Mega Man Anniversary Collection - GameCube
Mystic Heroes - PlayStation 2
Rhythm Heaven - NDS
Street Fighter IV - PlayStation 3


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Chaos Field Expanded (2005)
Developer: Milestone Inc.
Platform: Nintendo GameCube
Purchase Date: 05/26/2005


Amidst utter chaos lies... More chaos?!

So what happens when an inexperienced developer decided to combine Radiant Silvergun and Ikaruga into one game? You get Chaos Field - an odd and unfocused mess that tried to fuse the boss encounter after boss encounter structure as well as the bullet-eater sword weapon from Radiant Silvergun with the duality-switching mechanics from Ikaruga - only here instead of switching polarities, you switch between two dimensions: an order field and, you guessed it, a chaos field. When you switch to the chaos field, your ship's weaponry becomes stronger but your enemies experience the same boost in firepower so their attack patterns become more complex and their bullets travel faster as well. It's a give and take kind of situation where you have to really know when you can dish out the most damage before you switch to the chaos field. The problem with this game is that a majority of the boss encounters are boring and it takes twice the effort to learn the enemy attack patterns between the two separate fields. The game's spiritual sequel, Radio Allergy and Karous, have ditched the whole dimension switching mechanics and are supposedly better games because of that. Those two games, alongside Chaos Field, are included in Ultimate Shooting Collection for the Nintendo Wii that was released domestically in January of this year. I recently placed an order for the collection and it should arrive any day now. I will soon discover if the chaos has truly subsided and if so, the sequels should be very good indeed.

LIBRARY STATUS: 3 out of 5

Games Played 07/08/2009

Chrono Cross - PlayStation
The Dark Eye: Drakensang - PC
Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure - NDS
Mesmerize - PlayStation 3
Street Fighter IV - PlayStation 3


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Go! Go! Hypergrind (2003)
Developer: Poponchi
Platform: Nintendo GameCube
Purchase Date: 01/07/2004


Look, it's Gigi! The bucktoothed tomboy in a pink bunny suit!

Atlus would normally publish and make games that are very Japanese in their nature so in that regards, Go! Go! Hypergrind is the most unique game that has ever been associated with the company's name. When it comes to the game's setup, it is as weird and offbeat as they come: In an alternate reality populated by "real" cartoon characters, Spumco - yes, as in the same animation studio responsible for the cultural phenomenon known as The Ren & Stimpy Show - is holding an audition for an upcoming skateboard-based action feature and you get to play as one of the loony auditioning characters. So basically, this is a skateboard game but with a nasty twist: while you are out doing the regular grinds and tricks, you are also required to get your character to obtain "Negative Reactions" by getting purposely brutalized by many of the environments' devious contraptions - this includes getting decapitated by a huge buzz saw, flattened by an incoming car, or shocked by electrical conductors. Other than the zany character designs by Spumco (my favorite being the very phallic "The Johnson Brothers"), I don't find anything particularly engaging about this game. This is another impulse buy for me and it was pretty cheap when I picked it up. The game tries to differentiate itself by adding a flair of humor and fantasy into the skateboard game genre but as funny as the self-mutilations are - which happen to be its biggest gameplay feature - they lose their appeals rather quickly and suddenly they become a crutch to the flow of the gameplay.

LIBRARY STATUS: 2 out of 5

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

New Games Alert!

I purchased 2 new Nintendo Wii games today, courtesy of the Wii Shop Channel. I think it's due time that I show the Wii downloadable games some love. I have been meaning to get M.U.S.H.A. from early this year but I kept holding back on it because I know at least it wouldn't go away anytime soon - that's the beauty of direct download games. Swords & Soldiers is one of the most attractive Wii Ware games that I have seen so far and since my mood for strategy games has been heightened by my constant playtime with Demigod, I thought that it was a better choice over the recently released Pulseman. By the way, I used the Nintendo Points Card to purchase these games. I recently received a $75 Amazon.com gift certificate, thus the points card. Since this is the first time I have ever used it, I am very surprised to find out that the points card is very cheaply made - it's not the thick plastic cards you would get with the PSN Store, the Microsoft Points, or your typical retailer gift cards but instead, it's a very thin piece of cardboard paper. Nintendo really knows how to keep its production costs down.


Looks can be deceiving. That thing is not really a "card".


They look really happy together, so why are they at war with each other?


It's not a complete super hybrid armor without the metallic uniframe.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Games Played 07/07/2009

The Dark Eye: Drakensang - PC
Demigod - PC
Raiden Fighters Aces - X-Box 360
Rhythm Heaven - NDS


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


God of War (2005)
Developer: SCEA Studios Santa Monica
Platform: PlayStation 2
Purchase Date: 03/24/2005


The Hydra may be pretty mean but Kratos is a thousand times nastier.

I am usually the first person who would react to video game hypes with hesitation not because I am a pessimist, but rather because I am a realist. When God of War first came out, the buzz was unlike anything else that the PlayStation 2 console has ever experienced - with the exception of Final Fantasy X and God of War II. As I have mentioned in the past, I am not big at reading or watching reviews by game critics because they like to say too much about a game to the point that they rob away the magical "first time" sensation you would have experienced with the game: I normally would just consider the first and last paragraphs as well as the overall score. My first impression of this game was more of a befuddlement: How come Kratos looks like one of those rock band lead singer instead of a battle-hardened Greek warrior? By the way, that pathetic "let's make him cool-looking and current" goatee just kills me even to this day. Then, I played it and I was amazed at how incredible the experience was. The game's creative manipulations of space and polygons created some of the most visually majestic set pieces ever accomplished in a video game. As an action adventure title, the game never feels repetitive because of how closely knit each on-screen action is to its masterful storytelling of a mortal's journey to destroy the god Ares and it is a tale filled with clever artistic representations of the Greek mythology. The game was close to being a disaster though because the epic boss fight that occured at the end of the game's first stage almost made the rest of the adventure seem trivial because the remainder of the game lacks the necessary amount of boss encounters. Thankfully, the fast-paced build up of the game's ever escalating plot line holds everything together. I love all the filthy violence in the game too because it's a necessary venue to show off Kratos' bloody madness and rage. I consider this game better than the sequel because at least it is a complete experience on its own.

LIBRARY STATUS: 5 out of 5

Don't Get Stuck with the Stickers

While scouring the gaming channels on YouTube, I noticed that there are these videos on how to completely remove pesky price-tag stickers off the DVD case or the CD jewel case of a game. I don't experience this problem much with console games because I never buy them used but I do experience that frustration sometimes with Personal Computer games. Most of these demonstration videos show some truly bizarre and crude ways of removing the stickers and even the better ones - like using a grease remover or a blow dryer - take time. There was a time in the past when I would use heat to remove these stickers: I would hover the sticker area over the light bulb of my table lamp for a couple of minutes before easily stripping the sticker away. This method works great but the success rate is lower with stickers that have been left alone for too long because those tend to leave a bit of residue behind.

I later discovered the following product: Ecoline Contact Cleaner by Techspray. It's mostly used for electrical components by computer technicians and I was introduced to it by one of them. I am telling you, this is the easiest way to remove unwanted stickers from your video game cases. You basically spray the product directly on top of the stickers and moments later, the stickers would literally melt away when you wipe them off with a piece of cloth. The greatest thing here is that it doesn't have any detrimental impact on the plastic underneath the stickers. As mentioned earlier, my sticker problems these days usually come from PC games and this even works on the cardboard box game packaging though you want to be more careful with the process because it could potentially wash out the prints on the box with excessive spraying. I have left comments on the YouTube videos I encountered, recommending others to use this excellent product. I never hear back from these individuals but I sure hope that they would give this product a try. If you are one of those gamers who still have ugly stickers on your game cases/cartridges/etc. and are too mortified to peel them off because you don't want to make them look worse, here's the effortless solution to your problem. Enjoy!


Shop at Gamestop much?
The Ecoline Contact Cleaner is your friend!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Games Played 07/06/2009

Chibi-Robo! - GameCube
Demigod - PC
Gley Lancer - Wii
Rhtyhm Heaven - NDS


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


XGRA: Extreme G Racing Association (2003)
Developer: Acclaim Studios Cheltenham
Platform: X-Box
Purchase Date: 12/17/2003


The association needs to be disbanded so that we can have our old XG Racing back.

After the huge success of XGIII in 2001, it was extremely disappointing to discover that XGRA failed to live up to the high standards set by its predecessor. The first downgrade that's noticeable in this game is the graphics. Though it supports more complex background architectures and a higher number of polygons, everything looks washed out compared to the previous game. The razor sharp clarity of XGIII is replaced with muddy textures and dull colors. Even the futuristic bike looks like a blocky mess and the game has definitely lost the pretty glow effects that were found previously. I know that graphics isn't everything but unfortunately, the gameplay here is lacking as well. The controls are now less responsive and the weapon system simply doesn't work. Your primary weapon's strength is tied to the number of enemies you can destroy during a race and this makes the game too combat focus when the series has always been primarily about racing instead of combat. Your secondary weapon on the other hand depends on your ability to collect power-ups during the race. Unlike games like WipEout or even Mario Kart, these power-ups are scattered sparsely across the entire length of the race and only one will be available at a spot at a time. This means that sometimes, you can never get to the highest weapon tier because it's somewhat impossible to get to these power-ups quickly. Even the track designs are less inspired this time around and though they are truly dramatic in their scopes, they tend to get too complicated for their own good. The cheesy announcers don't help either - what makes Acclaim think that these life-or-death races should be a tongue-in-cheek sort of affair? The game is most certainly playable but it should have been so much more.

LIBRARY STATUS: 2 out of 5

Games Played 07/05/2009

Demigod - PC
Okage: Shadow King - PlayStation 2
Raiden Fighters Aces - X-Box 360
Uncharted: Drake's Fortune - PlayStation 3


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Enemy Zero (1997)
Developer: WARP
Platform: SegaSaturn
Purchase Date: 11/21/1997


The game's quiet moments eventually lead to some seriously horrific scares.

Nothing is scarier than being trapped inside an isolated space station with something murderous occupying the same space. Ridley Scott's masterpiece, Alien, has immortalized this fear cinematically and the video game equivalent of that has got to be Electronic Art's morbid Dead Space that was released late last year. More than a decade before Dead Space though, the best representation of ultimate fear in the deepest reaches of space belonged to Enemy Zero. You play as Laura Lewis, the co-pilot of the spaceship Aki. During the course of the ship's return trip to Earth, something has happened inside the ship that caused everyone to be forced out of hyper-sleep. Laura soon discovers that an invisible alien is roaming about the ship, killing its crew. The game is a combination of a point-and-click adventure that utilizes full motion videos to show your every move and a first person 3D shooter while travelling between the rooms of the ship. To truly enjoy this game, you do have to put yourself in a mindset that you are playing an interactive movie. The pacing is incredibly restrained and slow with the FMV showing detailed animations of every interaction that takes place between Laura and everything else around her. But it is this kind of pacing that gives the game its high level of tension and fear. The FMV sections' relaxed but disturbing aura is a sharp contrast against the fluid 3D sections of the game and this provides the player with an effective sense of paranoia and panic. Oh, did I mention that the aliens that she is facing are invisible and the only way she can avoid death is by using aural queues that signify the location of the creatures? Scary from the beginning until the very end in a very unique way that even its more playable sequel, D.2, failed to replicate.

LIBRARY STATUS: 5 out of 5

Games Played 07/04/2009

BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger - PlayStation 3
Demigod - PC


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Shining Tears (2004)
Developer: Amusement Vision
Platform: PlayStation 2
Purchase Date: 03/24/2005


Those pesky elf girls... All they ever wanted from you is money.

Ever since Sega lost Camelot Software Planning to Nintendo, we have been denied a proper new entry into the spectacular Shining Force series on the newer consoles. This tragedy does bring us its own set of joy though starting with the release of Shining Tears which happens to be a magnificent title: it is definitely a worthy spin-off to continue carrying the brand's legacy. Just like other Sega games under the "Shining" banner, the game's main menu is presented in a fairy-tale fashion, with the game being presented as a tale being told by a wise storyteller. Other than that though, the game departs from other Shining games with its seemingly bland - it's actually quite addictive if you give it enough time - real time action battle system. It's hard to find original stories in a JRPG, so don't expect anything too memorable here. You play as a hero who suffers a serious form of amnesia - oh! another one? He soon learns about his past and is placed in the middle of a struggle of epic proportions. Whenever you enter the battle areas, you are allowed to bring a partner with you who will fight along your side. These partner characters each have unique abilities that may provide you with the needed advantage against the screen-filling number of enemies that you will encounter. The character portraits that are used during the conversations look wonderful so it's a shame that your actual on-screen characters are represented with that bobble-head look typically found in JRPGs. If they made the character sprites look better, Shining Tears would have packed a bit more punch to it.

LIBRARY STATUS: 4 out of 5

Saturday, July 25, 2009

New Game Alert!

I love Breakout/Arkanoid clones - yes, I even purchased Block Breaker Deluxe on the Nintendo Wii - so the recently released Shatter for the PlayStation 3 was an immediate purchase for me. Surprisingly, this may be the best Breakout game ever with its superb graphics and clever tweaks to the classic formula. I am really loving it! I think Sidhe Interactive has struck gold with this one. The price is reasonable too - it's only $7.99 on the PlayStation Network Store for a software that could have easily been released as a full-price retail game. [Update Note: I can't believe I missed Magic Ball that was released on the PSN Store earlier this year - I have to check that out soon!]


The best game in the genre? Now that would be earth-shattering!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Games Played 07/03/2009

BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger - PlayStation 3
Castle of Shikigami III - Wii
Demigod - PC
Shikigami no Shiro II - Dreamcast
SingStar - PlayStation 3


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Onimusha: Warlords (2001)
Developer: Capcom Co., Ltd.
Platform: PlayStation 2
Purchase Date: 03/06/2001


As old-fashioned as this game was, I wished Resident Evil 5 was made this way.

The one thing that I remember the most about this purchase is that the game was released on the DVD format. If I recall correctly, there were not many DVD-based games on the PlayStation 2 back then. Even though I know better than to think so these days, the idea that a larger media format was used for the game seemed to promise a grandeur gaming experience. Unfortunately, what you get here is a short Resident Evil clone. The game is not scary in any sense of the word but the dread factor is there and it does have a lot of cheap jump scare moments that are undoubtedly helped by the moody 2D backdrops and their cinematic angles. You play as Samanosuke, a lone swordsman who is trying to save a princess from the grasp of a demon horde. She is being held inside a large castle and just like RE, you explore different parts of the "large mansion" by solving puzzles while surviving relentless attacks from the demons. The game is action heavy thankfully and you never feel outnumbered or insufficient when battling the enemies. You can enhance your weapons by spending red souls collected from fallen enemies and you will gain access to more powerful moves as the game progresses. To my surprise, the graphics still look gorgeous with detailed, colorful backgrounds and impressive high-resolution CG full motion videos. Not the best in the series because it was unwilling to stray far from a formula that was starting to grow a bit stale back then.

LIBRARY STATUS: 3 out of 5

Heroes of Newerth: 3 Beta Keys

A quick update on the Heroes of Newerth closed beta: I really do enjoy the game, I found it to be quite addicting. It plays just like Demigod - which we know is heavily influenced by the Warcraft III mod Defense of the Ancients - only with more hero characters to choose from but with a dead on graphical presentation of DotA. The latter is a big problem for me: the game has a very outdated, slightly angled top down view of the battlefield and you cannot rotate the map. Heck, you can't even zoom out that far so the space in which you get to play in is just too rigid and claustrophobic. The game looks extremely good and the 3D engine is solid but the lack of a good camera control really makes the game a bit of a chore to play. There are 40+ unique hero characters you can choose from and that totally owns the 8 currently offered in Demigod but the camera control on Demigod makes it a far more enjoyable experience. If they don't change the graphical presentation, I would still buy the game but it would be a missed opportunity of major proportions. By the way, the community is downright terrible: a majority of the people I have played with were condescending and downright snippy. Judging from the forum posts, apparently this is brought upon by the infamously hardcore, rude DotA players who are making the transition to HoN.

If you are still looking to join the closed beta, I have 3 keys to give out. All you have to do is send me an email at loner.gamer@yahoo.com. Just like the previous beta giveaway, it's first come, first served - the first 3 emails that get to me will receive the beta keys. An update note will be posted here once all the keys are gone.

Update Note: 9:31am - The 1st key is gone, 2 more to go.
Update Note: 08/05/2009, 1:53pm - The 2nd key is gone, 1 more to go.
Update Note: 08/05/2009, 3:23pm - The 3rd key has been claimed.
Update Note: 08/07/2009, 7:27am - I have 2 additional beta keys!
Update Note: 08/13/2009, 7:57am - All out!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Games Played 07/02/2009



RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Kirby Air Ride (2003)
Developer: HAL Laboratory, Inc./Nintendo
Platform: Nintendo GameCube
Purchase Date: 10/16/2003


The best feature of this game is its F-Zero inspired race tracks.

As what you would expect from a Kirby racing game, Kirby Air Ride is simple, offbeat, and fun. I almost picked this game up as an import and I am glad I didn't because it's not as spectacular as it should have been. Unlike other racing titles, there is no accelerate button in the game, and it's all about properly navigating the game's fantastical racing venues to gain speed advantage against your opponents. The main mechanics here is the the boost button that should be used whenever you make sharp turns. Boosting significantly reduces your speed so it would cause a terrible disadvantage when used excessively. There are plenty of vehicles that you can unlock in the game, including a couple of "Legendary" Air Ride machines. Of course, the game also allows you to use Kirby's copy ability and by swallowing any one of the unfortunate that litter the racing tracks. This will enable you to access various attacks that you can use against your opponents. The game offers a couple of unique racing modes as well: there's a tournament mode where you build up your vehicle's stats before battling your opponents and then there's a weird mini-racing game that's presented with a top-down viewpoint, reminiscing of racing games of old. The lack of any real depth in the controls becomes a hindrance for the game and I became bored of it rather quickly but if you are a big Kirby fan like myself, you won't be able to resist the allure of it all.

LIBRARY STATUS: 3 out of 5

Loner's YouTube Fun

When I opened a YouTube account in late April of this year, my main goal was to see if I could attract a fraction of YouTube's large gaming community to visit this site. I would lying to you if I claim that I don't care about the amount of readers I have. As a writer, the two most satisfying joys in my life are:

1) having written - nothing is more rewarding than completing an article, a short story, a novel, or a poem. Yes, to me, it's even more rewarding than completing a video game - and,

2) being read - knowing that I actually have readers who hopefully enjoy the things that I write about. You wouldn't know by visiting this site that I am also a poet who produce at a regular basis. There used to be a time years ago when I was able to find fellow poets at the work place and we would share and comment each other's work constantly.

So where am I at 3 months into this experimentation? 6 subscribers. Well, that's triple the amount compared to this site's "visible" dedicated readers but I really doubt that those 6 care about visiting the site because the numbers don't translate as they should when I look at this site's statistics. They are probably just waiting to see the new videos that will come out next and this is probably the main dilemma here: If you could get your entertainment or information from watching, why would you be reading? It's apparent that my goal is a bit far-fetched and undoubtedly misguided.

It probably doesn't help that everything on my YouTube page is designed to point the viewers directly to this site. I mean, I am very forthcoming about what I wanted to do there - I specifically stated that I am a blogger, not a vlogger: I just enjoy writing so very much. The videos I posted - if you want to call them that - are basically quick summaries of the articles that I wrote for the site. I even named my YouTube page "A Loner Gamer Visual Companion", that's right, it's just a companion piece to the real deal.

Perhaps the worse thing about this is that I am too experimental and artsy for my own good. Instead of using the stare at the camera or the faceless, disembodied voice methods to show off new games I picked up, I did a collage of the games' cover art. Instead of reading out a review over some gameplay footage, I inter-cut texts from my articles with screenshots of the reviewed game. Instead of subscribing to every single gamer on YouTube in hope of a returned "favor", I only subscribe to channels that entertain me: but what's the use of having many subscribers if they don't come to your page anyway?

I must say that the experience so far has been quite intriguing. I am proud that at least my unpopular channel is unique. An acquired taste and a bit of an anti-stance against what YouTube is supposed to be about - I can't blame people for not wanting to watch because in the end, I wanted them to read instead of merely watching.

Fun Factoids Time:


While some videos received "successful" ratings...


...most received the coveted 1 star suckage.


The most viewed video so far... I wonder why?


The least viewed video so far... I wonder why?


Best. Comment. Ever.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Games Played 07/01/2009



RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner (2003)
Developer: Konami Computer Entertainment Japan
Platform: PlayStation 2
Purchase Date: 03/15/2003


The PS2 is still a graphically competent system, as proven by this game's visuals.

For a game released in the early 2003, Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner still hasn't aged a bit when it comes to its eye candy. Instead, this game looks like it's made for the current generation systems with its overabundant, excessive usage of particles and mesmerizing light effects. The game continues where the first one left off and fortunately, things have been much improved this time around. The controls and battle mechanics are carbon copies of the original game - you still battle a large number of enemies using a cool looking flying robot - but the team has now given the player a wide range of environments to battle through, unlike the repetitious terrains that plagued the game previously. I like how they fused traditional anime into the real-time 3D cinematic - they look much more alive than the polygonal characters from the past. Typical of a Hideo Kojima production, the story is definitely self-indulgent with a lot of unnecessary story elements cluttering the narrative flow. Even the game's attract sequence is extremely long and showed too many plot threads that should have remained a mystery until the player arrives at those parts of the game. It is nice that a concise synopsis of the first game is included in the front menu option so even if you never played that game, you can still enjoy The 2nd Runner to the fullest.

LIBRARY STATUS: 4 out of 5

Monday, July 20, 2009

Yeah! Heroes of Newerth Beta!

Okay, I was a bit behind in finding out that another Defense of the Ancients clone is currently in production for the Personal Computer: Heroes of Newerth by S2 Games, the same people who made Savage 2. It's pretty much a team-based battle arena role playing game and after playing Demigod, I am hungry for some more. There is a closed beta for the game currently and many beta keys have been distributed across the Internet. Last night, I frantically looked all over the world wide web for a beta key and the effort paid off when I received mine this morning! The beta agreement specifically stated full confidentiality of the game information so unfortunately, I will not be discussing much about this game at its current state but I will make a quick comment soon on the Daily Game Log entry whether or not I am having a good time with the game [Update Note: Public discussions for the game are now allowed but media items like movies and screenshots are still out of bounds]. I will start playing the game later today. Interested in a beta key? Get yours at Linux Games - quick, they still have 100+ left when I last checked just a couple of minutes ago!


Will it be better than Demigod? I can't wait to find out!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

June 2009 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: 52

As you can probably tell from the game's review posted earlier this month, most of my play time in June 2009 was dominated by Demigod. The game was such a pleasant surprise for me and it couldn't have come at a better time because it was able to satisfy my need for a rewarding action role playing experience in the same vein of the player-versus-player battlegrounds found in World of Warcraft that I almost return to last month. This game is definitely the best purchase I have made this year and despite its technical shortcomings and its poor online community, I keep coming back to it over and over again. Here's a funny little fact: After I posted the review, I have only experienced one occurrence of fatal crash while playing the game compared to the random crashes that occurred once or twice every hour or so before. I sure hope that Gas Powered Game will unleash more Demigods into the game soon on top of the 8 spectacular ones available at the moment.

Raiden Fighters Aces took the number two slot - It's so easy to just sit down and play this great shooter for a quickie 15-30 minute session. The game disc has been sitting inside my X-Box 360 most of the time and I would play the game every time I turn the system on, even when I wanted to play other games at that moment - like a couple of the other 360 games listed above.

I was very determined to get really deep into Guild Wars. I was even able to find a new friend who has explored a majority of the game's content to play with. It didn't last though so I only ended up playing it for about 5 days. I can tell you now that so far, I haven't even logged in to the game this month. I did enjoy the time I spent while I was playing the game and I know that the culprit that is stopping me from going back to it is definitely Demigod. I will have to get back to Guild Wars soon.

Tied with Guild Wars is Infamous, a game that I found to be a bit boring. Every time I played it, I felt like I am forcing myself to proceed through the game and that clearly indicated that I was just not in the mood to get into that game at all. The open world structure is just so... last decade. I really wish that developers would stop making Grand Theft Auto III clones already. Infamous does have its interesting bits - like the lightning/electricity super powers - so I will have to give it another chance in the foreseeable future.

Best New Game of the Month:
Demigod (Personal Computer)

Unexpectedly Forgotten New Game of the Month:
The Sims 3 (Personal Computer)

I Missed You I Want You Game of the Month:
Overlord II (Personal Computer)

The Real Deal

If you are an X-Box Live Gold member, here's an offer that you can't pass up. Ikaruga is currently on sale for just 400 Microsoft Points! That's $5 - as in the usual amount of cash you would normally spend on fast food or Starbucks coffee. You would have to be insane - or just plain ignorant - not to buy it!


Infinite goodness, deep wisdom, and pure unadulterated fun = $5
Owning one of the most intelligently designed games of all time = Priceless

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Games Played 06/30/2009

Demigod - PC
Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends - PC
Shadowgrounds Demo - PC
Trine Demo - PC


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Street Fighter Zero (1996)
Developer: Capcom Co., Ltd.
Platform: SegaSaturn
Purchase Date: 01/27/2006


Who knew that a Final Fight boss can become a playable Street Fighter character?

This first entry into the Street Fighter Zero series (known as Street Fighter Alpha in North America) is definitely the weakest one of them all because of its lackluster cast of characters as well as its repetitive, lazy, and uninspired background graphics. The fighting is tight and responsive and the game's A.I. opponents are some of the smartest and most the cruel in the entire Street Fighter franchise. The new air blocking is of course both a blessing and a curse but if anything, this game brings with it a fresh, new level of energy and a hipper sense of identity to the Street Fighter universe. The game has a long loading time between the matches and this bothered me even back then. Though the game itself doesn't make any significant mark in the genre, at least its birth created the awesome, mystical character "Rose" and also the remarkable sequel soon after. Another noteworthy fact about the game: Do you know that at one point in his life, Ken was living as a drag queen? Just look at the cover art if you don't believe me.

LIBRARY STATUS: 3 out of 5

Games Played 06/29/2009



RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Legaia 2: Duel Saga (2002)
Developer: Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.
Platform: PlayStation 2
Purchase Date: 10/05/2002


I know I'm behind on my Daily Game Log but you don't have to be pushy about it!

Just because I purchase a game, it doesn't mean that I will be playing that game immediately. I have mentioned before that I would at least try out my new purchases to make sure that they are working properly. I just like knowing that I have those games in my library so that I can access them at any given time. Sometimes, a game is so good that I can't stop playing it and a great a example of this is Legaia 2: Duel Saga. When I picked up this game, I was busy playing some other games at that time and I made a clear decision from the get go to play it a little bit later in the near future. Once I put the disc into my PlayStation 2 though, it stayed in there until I completed the game. What really pulled me in were the 3D models of the characters and the way they interact with each other. During that time, mature, tall, and well-proportioned characters in Japanese role playing games were a rarity and having them properly animate to portray character interactions were even more so. Besides the fresh visuals, the game also has an interesting turn-based battle system where you enter directional button inputs to execute different attacks. Some combinations will result in the execution of special moves, just like the commands in a fighting game. The story starts off with a quest to recover your village's stolen magical artifact but of course this eventually lead to a more desperate mission of saving the world. The story doesn't impress but the characters are memorable. What is impressive about this game though is the invisible loading time - another rarity in the genre post-cartridge era. Going in and out of houses, towns, and even battle screens take merely a second or two - this truly encourages full exploration of the game's content.

LIBRARY STATUS: 4 out of 5

Friday, July 17, 2009

Games Played 06/28/2009

Demigod - PC
Raiden Fighters Aces - X-Box 360
Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends - PC
The Sims 3 - PC


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Thunder Force Gold Pack 1 (1996)
Developer: Technosoft Co., Ltd.
Platform: SegaSaturn
Purchase Date: 07/11/2002


Twin bosses are fun and the Twin Vulcan is no exception.

This collection contains two Thunder Force shoot-'em-ups from the Sega Genesis: Thunder Force II MD and the legendary Thunder Force III. I don't care too much about the former, especially its top down stages where you can move the ship in any direction - it's just awkward in its execution. The latter though has a huge impact on me. It's a game that has made me cry because I couldn't own it while I was growing up - my parents didn't get me a Genesis until Thunder Force IV showed up. I can still remember to this day how painful it was to want that game so badly. Everyday I would daydream about playing it and I often had dreams about it at night. Yes, I had it bad. So what is so special about Thunder Force III? For starters, it looks awesome. Not that great too gawk at these days but still, that swirly lava effect on the Gorgon stage still manages to look cool and current. Then, you have the awesome synth metal soundtrack that still remains, composition-wise, as some of the best ever on the Genesis or any other game console in existence. Unlike number II, this one only contains side scrolling stages. Your ship has multiple weapons you can use from homing shots to powerful laser beams. The trick to the game is to keep replenishing your shield power-up so that you can always keep your "claws" with you at all time - these units rotate around your ship and gives you additional firepower. I just love the big "Emergency" warning sign that scrolls across the screen whenever a gigantic level boss shows up. Unfortunately, this version has a slight issue when it comes to the soundtrack - when the background music reaches the end of its track, there is a slight delay before it loops back to the beginning and of course this didn't happen on the original cartridge.

LIBRARY STATUS: 4 out of 5

New Game Alert!

Again? Yeah - I bought quite a bit this month compared to the monthly purchases during the first half of this year. I have been behind on my Purchase List so I need to make sure that there's some movement there whenever possible. Last night, I picked up Spore: Galactic Adventure for the Personal Computer. I was not the most active contributor on the Spore community when it comes to the creature creation but maybe I can get more into building the end game missions/scenarios that this expansion adds to the game.


Spore is a a bit of a bore as you progress deeper into the game.
This expansion should do the trick in making things more exciting.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

New Game Alert!

I have been wanting to get this for a while now and I was able to find it new at an incredibly cheap price online. I may be a bit too late for the party though because even though the game offers X-Box 360 - Personal Computer cross platform multiplayer, the online lobbies are pretty much dead when I visited them last night.


The universe is at war but the human participation is minimal these days.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Games Played 06/27/2009



RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


KOF: Maximum Impact (2004)
Developer: SNK Playmore
Platform: PlayStation 2
Purchase Date: 2004


The ultimate battle of the boobs - I mean - babes.

Poor SNK - they hardly get any loving for trying to bring something new to the fighting genre. It is not a secret that their brands of 2D fighting are mostly reserved for the hardcore but Maximum Impact tried to change all of that. It's basically a simplified version of the Fatal Fury fighting mechanics but everything here is presented in 3D while the gameplay stays mostly 2D - mind you, this is way before Street Fighter IV and no, the Street Fighter EX series doesn't count. In addition to a fast-paced 2D gameplay, familiar features to 3D fighting games like juggling your opponents into a wall and side dodging are also implemented nicely into the mix. Unfortunately, either intentionally or by accident, the collision detection is leaning more towards a Tekken or a Virtua Fighter game rather than the "pixel perfect" precision normally found in a 2D fighting title. This, coupled with a limited character roaster, makes for a disappointing game overall. I do like the fact that many of the familiar characters like Mai Shiranui and Athena Asamiya are given alternate costumes that make them look like new characters. The game comes with a fun but negligible bonus "Behind the Scene" DVD.

LIBRARY STATUS: 3 out of 5

Games Played 06/26/2009

Demigod - PC
Raiden Fighters Aces - X-Box 360


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Night Raid (2002)
Developer: Takumi
Platform: PlayStation
Purchase Date: 03/17/2004


Can you survive through that many bullets thrown at you at high speed?

Night Raid is the one and only Japanese import PlayStation game that I own. Like their other shooters that I have previously featured here - Mars Matrix and Giga Wing 2 - this one is all about properly timing the usage of a special move and then using your skill to avoid getting killed while the special move bar fills up again. That special move here is in the form of a "Wave" attack and triggering it will make your ship invincible as it slams into all available enemy ships that happen to show up on screen. The more ships, the higher the chains and the longer both the invincibility and attack lasts. This is a 2D shooter but the graphics are entirely 3D. The game's visuals are a little messy though and everything looks very blocky in that early polygon-era kind of way. The ship may look big and in the screenshot above, you may think it's downright impossible to avoid getting killed quickly in the game but in actuality, this game has one of the smallest, most forgiving hit boxes in the genre. How forgiving? Sometimes, your ship looks like it is entirely covered in enemy bullets and yet it is still not destroyed.

LIBRARY STATUS: 4 out of 5

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

"New" Game Alert!

My order of Street Fighter IV for the Personal Computer arrived today and for some reason, I was very excited about it even though I have played this game already on the PlayStation 3. The box is a bit big just so that they could fit the Mad Catz Fightpad in there. After playing it this evening, I must say that I am very impressed with the graphics and I do have my PC hooked up to my Samsung LCD. There are so many little details that were impossible to notice before, both on the characters and backgrounds, while playing the game on the PS3. If you think that this game is stunning on the consoles, it's twice as good looking on the PC. Unfortunately, hooking up the controller actually resulted in some sort of conflict between it and my X-Box 360 Wireless Receiver that stopped working all of a sudden. I don't like it when things are not working as they should so I know that this problem is going to just kill me while I am looking for a solution for it.


They could have included an artbook or a figurine in there...


Now I can play Super Street Fighter Turbo HD Remix properly!

Club Nintendo: Rewards Revealed

Nintendo has revealed the highly anticipated special rewards for last fiscal year's Gold and Platinum Club Nintendo members! It's not an advance copy of Super Mario Galaxy 2. I know, it's disappointing. Instead, Platinum members are able to choose from two available options while Gold members are stuck with a set reward. Frankly, I think that Platinum members should be rewarded with both the Gold reward item and one of the Platinum rewards.


Cool but hardly Platinum quality...


I like cool looking calendars so it's a bummer that I can't have this.

The rewards will become available November 1st but members must claim them by August 11, 2009. Guess which reward I selected? I will reveal it when I receive it!