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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Where Did My 450 Riot Points Go?

The ever generous Riot Games has granted 450 Riot Points to the deserving members of the League of Legends community recently and of course as soon as I received the complimentary currency, I planned on using the points to get myself an alternate skin but the question here of course is for which champion? It just so happens that the most disturbing and perhaps the most beautiful champion skin, Monarch Kog'Maw, is currently on sale so the decision was made into as easy one for me.

Q: What's more disgusting than Monarch Kog'Maw?

A: Seeing Monarch Kog'Maw's happy skipping animation while he's moving.

Those crazy wings and bright colors are definitely worth it. This is my favorite LoL alternate skin at the moment. Then, I noticed that I still have enough to unlock another skin and since Aristocrat Vayne, or the obviously Lady Gaga Vayne as many called it, is also on sale, so I said to myself, "Why not?"

Now Vayne can be even more vain.

I guess I better start playing her more now that I got this fancy costume.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Holiday Achievement Game Get!

Oh my galaxy, I finally won something from unlocking achievements for the Steam Holiday Sale event and it is in the form of... the physics sandbox Garry's Mod! That's a $9.99 value and what is this? It actually comes with Steam achievements? Oh Valve, you are so darn funny. Winning this uh, interestiing little game does encourage me to keep working on unlocking these Holiday achievements - Just when I thought that I was completely done with them.

I want to win more please.

New Milestone Celebration!

I have celebrated the 300th game for my Personal Computer earlier this year so this is a little bit scary. Today, I have inducted the 400th game for the PC - that's an additional 100 titles around a period of 6 months. Of course this mainly happened thanks to the Steam digital download service and its super crazy sale events. As a matter of fact, just today I inducted 5 titles from the Steam store - Flight Control HDPuzzle Agent, Puzzle Agent 2, SpaceChem, and last but not least, Universe Sandbox - thus pushing the number up to that 400th mark. PC games are still not the largest selections in my Game Library however for that honor still belongs to the PlayStation 2 at 462 games. At this rate however, it shouldn't take long before that is going to be a thing of the past.

The only way to achieve global peace... Courtesy of Universe Sandbox.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Achievement Whoring: It's Genetics!

The achievement system for the Steam service is something that I consider to be a standard in the video gaming industry as I have pointed out before and with the ongoing Steam Holiday Sale event, achievement hunting has taken a different kind of meaning because you are actually rewarded for unlocking them, no matter how unlucky you are with the random allotment of gaming prizes - Cough! Coupons! Cough! Over the last several days, I have actually stopped caring about unlocking the long list of daily tasks. After doing so vigorously since the start of the event a week ago, I am starting to realize that it's not fun to feverishly jump into a game just for the sake of unlocking an achievement. Sure, something good may happen from the achievement hunting but it is apparent that whoring for achievement is just not in my blood. I want to play video games to have fun, not to follow some rigid instruction that force me to play them a certain way. Granted, some of the tasks were fun - finding all the snowflakes in the tricky puzzler Toki Tori was both challenging and wildly entertaining - but jumping from one game to the next in that wild attempt to secure a lump of coal is not. The cool thing here is that having just merely one coal is satisfactory enough for me for the submission to the grand prize drawing. The more coals you have from the achievements, the higher the number of submissions you have for the drawing but since the Steam community is huge, I don't think it makes too much of a difference. It takes only one coal to win. As for the Holiday achievements that I have access to unlocking plus the upcoming ones for the last 3 remaining days, I will do my best to get to them. I sure wish I was an achievement whore. Well, no, not really.

I still have time to unlock about 10 more from past lists but I just don't feel up to it.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Polynomial Giveaway

Do you want to a travel inside a universe of pretty lights while attempting to shoot things and listening your favorite music? If you answered yes, perhaps you would love to get your hands on The Polynomial: Space of Music by Dmytry Lavrov for the Personal Computer. I have one extra copy of this perplexing yet visually stimulating software that I want to give away to one lucky winner. Please note that you must have a Steam account to claim the game because I will be sending it to the winner as a Steam gift. All you have to do is follow the blog and then leave a comment on this article expressing your interest to win the game. If your email address is not already on your profile, you must include it in your comment. Alternatively, you can post your Steam name with your comment. All comments must be submitted by 12:00am on 01/03/2012.

There's nothing normal about The Polynomial. You know you want it! Good luck!

Games Played 12/19/2011 - 12/25/2011

- 12/19/2011 -
Anomaly: Warzone Earth - PC
Cargo! The Quest for Gravity - PC
Orcs Must Die! - PC
The Shoot - PlayStation 3

- 12/20/2011 -
Dungeons of Dredmor - PC
League of Legends - PC
Mario Kart 7 - 3DS

- 12/21/2011 -
AI War: Fleet Command - PC
Defense Grid: The Awakening - PC
Grotesque Tactics: Evil Heroes - PC
Guardians of Graxia - PC
League of Legends - PC

- 12/22/2011 -
League of Legends - PC
Mario Kart 7 - 3DS
Torchlight - PC

- 12/23/2011 -
Audiosurf - PC
Frozen Synapse - PC
Greed Corp - PC
League of Legends - PC
Toki Tori - PC

- 12/24/2011 -
Hard Reset - PC
Jamestown: Legend of the Lost Colony - PC
League of Legends - PC
Wings of Prey - PC

- 12/25/2011 -
Atom Zombie Smasher - PC
Edge - PC
League of Legends - PC

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Coupons Begone!!!

Ah, those Steam Holiday Sale discount coupons... Don't you just hate them?  When you unlock an achievement, you get a coupon... When you craft coals, you get a coupon. You can't use them on top of the current discounts which ended up better deals than the coupons themselves. There are definitely a lot of hatred surrounding these mystical beings. But they are just misunderstood creatures of the galaxy! I think people are over-reacting about the coupons. They just serve as complimentary prizes. People forget that they are given a lot of opportunities to win game titles during this event. The only mistake that Valve has made here is that the coupons shouldn't be trolling the coal crafting process. Well, whether you love or hate them, my Steam group, the lovable No Wasabi, Just Leftover Sushi will be giving them away next year on January 6th at 6pm PST. This is your chance to get rid of your coupons or get more of them! Only group members are eligible to win, so please make sure to join, and you must also be present during the event! Merry Christmas everyone.

Coupon lovers' wet dream... And coupon killers' paradise!

Friday, December 23, 2011

3DS Funny and 3DS Fun

I plunged myself deep into the Nintendo eShop on my Nintendo 3DS today. I have been avoiding that application since last week because I don't want to be tempted to shop there... I know there are couple of games that I actually wanted to get from the eShop but things are bad enough already with the crazy Steam Holiday Sale that I am really trying to control my spending here. I was able to resist the temptation this time around - I do plan on getting something from it next month however. During my perusal, I did find the board game disclaimer as seen below to be rather hilarious:

I thought the 3DS came with an inter-dimensional molecule replicator?

So yes, we know that what we are buying from this category are digital board games but it looks like Nintendo is afraid that people may expect the game to come with a physical board being shipped to the customers for some weird reason so they added a warning sign that says "board not included" on the screen. Quite silly. Something that is not quite funny - just fun - however is the recently released Swapnote application for the system. It is basically a digital doodle pad where you can write and draw using the stylus and send your note out to your friends as well as random strangers if you want to. The coolest thing about the messages is that when they arrive, they are shown as animations that display how they were drawn onto the pages. I can see this being a lot more fun that emailing, especially when you like drawing. It also helps that you can doodle up to 4 pages per message. The application is free to download as well, so this is a must download for anyone with a 3DS.

I wonder how long it would take before I receive a penis drawing from StreetPass on this thing.

Ever Wondered Why I Keep Playing LoL?

Well, here's one reason why: Riot Games is the most customer focused game company in this world and here's a great example of that: They will be giving out 450 Riot Points to all of the Summoners who are over level 6 and have not been banned over the last two months. Riot Points are only purchasable using real cash and since everything else in League of Legends can be purchased using Influence Points that you accumulate after playing every match, Riot Points are best used to purchase alternate champion skins. Yes, LoL is not only 100% free to play, but it pays your for being loyal to it - on top of giving you blissful gaming pleasure that seems to have no end in sight. Thank you so much Riot!


We should be thanking you for bringing us such an incredible game.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Of Coals and Secret Prizes

Those people at Valve are a bunch of kooky fun loving folks because this Steam Holiday Sale promotion has been a blast so far with its implementation of a much improved task list system that was last seen during the Steam Summer Sale earlier this year. Everyday, a new list of things to do is published and when a task is complete, one may get a random prize that could consist of a free game, a discount coupon, or a lump of coal. Accumulate 7 pieces of coals and one could exchange that for a free game or they could be submitted as entries into the grand prize where one person could win all the game titles in Steam. As you may know, I am not big with unlocking achievements but when you can actually get a real reward from unlocking them, well the process becomes extremely addicting. I haven't won a single game yet and the coupons I got have been pretty disappointing: 50% off Dwarfs?!... Really, Valve? The game is 50% off now so if I really wanted that game, I would have just picked it up without waiting for the coupon to become usable next year. You guys are so funny. Some of my friends have won actual games from unlocking the achievements though so I am just waiting for my turn to arrive. Even if my luck doesn't change when it comes to these small rewards, I sure hope that I will win one of the bigger prizes from the eventual drawing. Sure, the chance of winning is slim but it's a lot of fun to just participate in the process and since it only takes one coal to win and Valve already gave out a couple of those freely, we have nothing to lose but plenty to gain! Madness! I am telling you. This whole thing is just sheer, unadulterated madness!

Big game... Big game... Oh no... Just another lump of coal!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Life of Luxury or Limitation?

Sometimes, I wonder what my life would be like without video games. I used to spend a lot of time writing fiction and poetry as well as drawing comic books and art pieces on top of gaming but these days, I found myself trapped in the vicious, tireless loop shown below:

The daily life of Loner Gamer.

Video gaming not only cost a lot, but it takes a lot of my time too. I have to take things into perspective and try to vary the pattern somewhat. Life is too short and there is only one life to live as an individual. Sure, video gaming is worth the time spent but it doesn't need to eat up the entirety of my free time.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Steam: Not Out of My Nose Please!

The Steam Holiday Sale is here and with it, users are granted access to some incredible savings as well as chances to win free gifts.  Though this is an extremely exciting event, I  am still baffled that the good people at Valve are not prepared for this event themselves. The Steam client is extremely laggy at the moment with the 4 million plus users perusing the sales and unlocking free rewards. It does get very frustrating because I want to see what I have unlocked in my inventory and it is currently showing blank. Not even the items I already have in it are showing right now. Still, I know these last stretches going into the year 2012 are made even more exciting thanks to this event.

2 full weeks of surprises and bliss.

Games Played 12/12/2011 - 12/18/2011

- 12/12/2011 -
Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes - PlayStation 3

- 12/13/2011 -
God of War: Origins Collection - PlayStation 3
League of Legends - PC
Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes - PlayStation 3

- 12/14/2011 -
Kirby: Mass Attack - NDS
Mario Kart 7 - 3DS
League of Legends - PC

- 12/15/2011 -
AR Games - 3DS
Face Raiders - 3DS
Kirby: Mass Attack - NDS
Mario Kart 7 - 3DS
Nintendogs + Cats: French Bulldog & New Friends
Super Mario 3D Land - 3DS

- 12/16/2011 -
League of Legends - PC

- 12/17/2011 -
God of War: Origins Collection - PlayStation 3
League of Legends - PC
Satazius Demo - PC
Super Mario 3D Land - 3DS

- 12/18/2011 -
Face Raiders - 3DS
League of Legends - PC

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Necessary Option for All 3DS Games

It has been 3 days since I got my Nintendo 3DS and every time I play a 3D game on it, that illusion of depth never gets old. It really does look amazing but more impressive is the 3D option that is found in Super Mario 3D Land. In this game, you can choose whether you want the 3D to pop out of the screen or if you want everything to recede into the screen. Both are strikingly different and it's all a matter of personal taste. For me, I found the latter option to look more convincing because I like that feel of looking through a transparent glass window, observing a living, breathing world behind it, versus having something floating above the of the screen. This is an option that every single game on the 3DS should have on top of the depth customization of the 3D slider. Yes, I am having a lot of fun with the 3DS. 3D without glasses is sweet. I really can't wait for it to hit the big screen display... for video gaming purposes that is.

Loving my 3DS... Helps that it looks so sleek too!

Friday, December 16, 2011

In Other News... Part II

Remember about a month ago when I destroyed my poor old Samsung cellular phone? Well after weeks of being stubborn about using the broken device, I finally got myself a new phone. I may be well-versed in the realm of video gaming but when it comes to cellular phone technology, I am a bit of a caveman. I basically use my spouse's hand me downs and only use my cell for the convenience of being able to make and take phone calls. So over the past several weeks, I could only make call outs because the screen was busted and there wasn't an accept button on the phone itself until I later found out that by hooking up my PlayStation Bluetooth headset - that silly thing that never stays lodged to my ear - to the phone, I could answer phone calls by a click of a button on the headset itself. That still didn't alleviate the hassle of calling using the poor voice recognition software - I said nine darn it, not four! - and the fact that I could not determine the origin of an incoming phone call: I am one of those guys who will never pick up a phone call from an unknown number. I've had enough and the result of that is the following new phone:

Look, it has a shark in the middle of a swirling school of fish!

A phone that can do other really cool things is really foreign to me. Well, the previous phone had some cool features but their presentations were very clunky. This is the same phone that the spouse is using right now so I have seen a number of slick applications on it - including a first person shooter game: seeing the spouse trying to play that was an experience of a lifetime. I guess it's never too late to get into the phone apps craze. But knowing me, I will probably just be using this thing for the basic stuff.

X-Box... is Love?

Got another little gift from Microsoft today... I was one of the early folks who participated in the X-Box LIVE Rewards program apparently and as a bonus, I can display to everyone that X-Box indeed loves me by wearing a simple orange t-shirt with that proclamation printed on it. But if you really want to show me some real love Microsoft, just make online multiplayer free on the X-Box 360. Now that is more than just love. I would probably have to kiss you for that!

Just because I am wearing it, doesn't mean that it's true, right?

Okay, I'll admit it. I do look kind of cute in that t-shirt.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Free Month of LIVE Gold!

Woah, Microsoft must have felt the blow from my recent criticism of their measly free weekend access of LIVE Gold for the X-Box 360 in comparison to the generous free month of PlayStation Plus that is offered by Sony - the latter ended up being a shady deal however. It's either that or Microsoft is just thirsting for more cash from more people by offering basically nothing... Or more accurately, from charging people for online multiplayer that should be free to begin with - but I am going off on a tangent here. Basically, I received an email invitation from Microsoft that gives me access to one month of LIVE Gold! I don't see any indication on this email that a credit card will be needed to activate the Gold access because if that was the case, I am not sure if I am going to do it in fear that I may forget to cancel when the trial period ends. I will update this entry if a credit card on file is indeed necessary when I try to use the code tonight! If not, then I would say that Microsoft gets a thumbs up from me for giving me the ability to play my online multiplayer games for a month.

From $2 for 2 months to this? Microsoft is trying really hard to reel us in!

Update Note: 12/16/2011 - Didn't get a chance to activate the code until today and I redeemed it on xbox.com without the need to enter in my credit card information. Good job, Microsoft!

3DS Through My Baby's Eyes

Before I got my Nintendo 3DS, I would always check out the system being displayed at the store. I would have my spouse check out the 3D capabilities of the system too in which my spouse has never been impressed with. Now that the 3DS is home, my spouse still cannot see the 3D from every possible angle, distance, and intensity of the 3D slider. The spouse gave up and said to me: "...you guys are delusional because the 3D is not there. I only see shifting bands of light and dark..." and something about the 3D is just a hype to get people flocking to get the device only to realize that it's all fake. You are funny, hun. I have heard that some people do have problems seeing the 3D on this handheld but I sure wish that the spouse could see it too. Very, very interesting.

But hun, it's really there... You are just pulling my leg. Oh, you are serious!

Update Note: 9:12pm - half an hour before we drove to the airport, my spouse was finally able to see the 3D effect! Took a lot of adjustments and grumblings to get there but the most important thing is that it happened!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Who Designed This 3DS Bundle Box?

Dear Nintendo,

I really want to know the name of the person who was responsible in designing the outer box of the Nintendo 3DS that is bundled with Super Mario 3D Land because the only way that it can be opened is through sheer destruction of one of the side panels of the box. The box is too pretty to mutilate but that becomes necessary to get into the goodness held within. Surely this box could have been designed better with locking flaps like you have done so in the past? Surely something similar to the internal box could be extended to the outer box casing? I just want to let you know that I cried as I peeled off the side of the box as things begin to crumple, tear, and shred. I am very disappointed in you!

Sincerely,

Loner Gamer

That beautiful, colorful print... Left in ruins due to poor box design.

How Santa Ruined My Evil Plan...

I should have known that the spouse was going to do this but I was confident that I already took care of it. Over the past couple of months, my spouse kept asking me about the color of the Nintendo 3DS that I like and I kept responding by saying that I want to wait for a 3DS with a second analog stick before I would invest in getting one. Well, today, I was presented with the following and the spouse quickly said "Oh, just get that second analog add-on when it comes out, okay?" while handing these out to me.

Double the Mario action too!

The spouse has to leave for New York tomorrow until Wednesday of next week to take care of some family business and thought that it would be cool to surprise me with the early Christmas/New Year gift so that I don't have to feel too lonely while I am alone in the house. Honey, thank you so much for being so thoughtful and loving. As for the second analog stick 3DS, well, who needs that when this 3DS has a lot of meaning behind it. I love you.

They Keep Coming as My Interest Keeps Waning

Apparently, more useless things are made available accessible to the X-Box 360's LIVE Gold members today via the console's dashboard, one of them being the extremely popular YouTube channel. First of all, these things should be free to access from the console to begin with. Secondly, your Blu-ray player is probably modern enough to access these channels in the first place. Thirdly, you know that you can hook up your personal computer to your modern television and gain access to these things plus an infinity of Internet goodies without having to pay a premium subscription. Show me a new video game related feature, Microsoft, and then we can start talking.

Let's try to cram as many redundant features into this console and charge people for them.

Sony vs. Microsoft: Generosity Game

While Microsoft recently offered a free weekend for X-Box LIVE Gold access - the highlight of that really is the ability to access online multiplayer games, Sony is now offering a free month of PlayStation Plus via an email invitation. Between the two subscriptions, Plus is of course superior because it's offering free games to you but realistically, I shun both for being totally worthless. The Plus program is really for those who have extra money to burn and those who enjoy just staring at discounts on games that they will never ever buy because the PlayStation Network in itself offers a complete online gaming experience compared to the 360's LIVE that requires you to pay money to access online multiplayer as well as ittle things like Facebook, Netflix, and other non-gaming stuff that you can easily access for free on the PS3 or the Personal Computer. I am of course going to sign up for the free month and play that Tomb Raider: Underworld that is currently made available for free for Plus members. I am sure I will be able to complete the game less than a month before my license to access the game expires. In that sense, Plus is just a poor rental program and people may not be aware that once they stop paying the Plus subscription fee, they will not be able to play their free games anymore.

Update Note: 7:45am - What? A credit card is required to activate the trial? No Sony. You can kiss my Soraka horn. After what happened before, there is absolutely no way that you are going to get a hold of my cedit card information ever again. Those who are willing to share their information with Sony - I highly don't recommend it - and are looking for the free month code can email me and I will send the code over to you. The invite came with three 1-month Plus codes - not sure if everybody actually gets one because of the extra codes made available to share with friends.

Free weekend vs. free month - who comes on top here? Sony of course. [Update: But it's a trap!]

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

LOL in LoL Returns!

I haven't posted the strange, creative, and definitely interesting summoner names that I encountered in League of Legends on the Personal Computer in such a long while. It's not that I haven't seen any that are not fascinating enough to be mentioned here. It's just that I think I am so used to how silly they are. Today is a different story however:

A fed Gangplank is dirtier than HIV for sure.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Games Played 12/05/2011 - 12/11/2011

- 12/05/2011 -
Ace Combat: Assault Horizon - PlayStation 3
Kirby: Mass Attack - NDS

- 12/06/2011 -
League of Legends - PC
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword - Wii

- 12/07/2011 -
League of Legends - PC

- 12/08/2011 -
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - PC
League of Legends - PC
Kirby: Mass Attack - NDS

- 12/09/2011 -
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - PC
Dirt 3 - PC
League of Legends - PC
Sengoke Basara: Samurai Heroes - PlayStation 3

- 12/10/2011 -
Dirt 3 - PC
Dungeons of Dredmor - PC
League of Legends - PC
Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes - PlayStation 3

- 12/11/2011 -
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - PC
League of Legends - PC

Top 10 Favorite Gaming Attract Sequences

Mostly referred to as game intros, attract sequences can easily provide a strong initial impression upon a video game when they are well crafted, which normally involves infusing great music on top of iconic, meaningful moments from the games themselves. They normally can be viewed before or after a game's title screen but bear in mind that they occur before you start playing the game so the following will not include the introduction cinematic movies that show up at the beginning of a game after you hit the start button or whatever command input that is necessary to start a game proper. Also, as another criteria, the games listed must be a part of my Game Library. The list below is my top 10 favorite gaming attract sequences of all time and I do remember actually just sitting in front of the screen, watching them over and over again before I even play the games themselves. [Last Update: 12/12/2011]


---10---
Developer: Capcom Co., Ltd.
Platform: Sega Dreamcast



Noteworthy Moments:
1) Spawn on top of a cross with his epic flowing cape blowing wildly in the air.
2) Spawn stepping on The Clown's head like it's nothing but a dirty toilet rug.


---9---
Gran Turismo 3: A Spec (2001)
Developer: Polyphony Digital
Platform: PlayStation 2



Noteworthy Moments:
1) That one red Suzuki sports car with its front wheels off the ground before slamming back down and it is all happening in sync with the music.
2) Realizing that 90% of the sequence was captured using the in-game graphics.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

November 2011 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: 26

There were plenty of great new games inducted into my Game Library last month but of course, the most played game was indeed League of Legends for the Personal Computer once again. With Season 2 being started in early December, I am have started participating in Ranked matches. I have expressed my interest in joining a friend's Ranked Team so I hope that we will be able to get that going really soon. Tied for second place are Otomedius Excellent for the X-Box 360, a game that will satiate the hunger of any Gradius fan, and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for the Personal Computer, the open world role playing game that is starting to grow on me with every play session - well, the awesome graphics mods help in making the game a lot more inviting to me.

3 games took the third place spot with Dark Souls for the PlayStation 3 as well as The Lord of the Rings: War in the North and Dirt 3 for the Personal Computer. My interest in Dark Souls is waning somewhat these days because of the game's repetitive nature but I do plan on revisiting it soon. I think I have an overdose of action role playing games lately, especially with War in the North added to the mix. I do need to slow down and focus on specific titles to spend most my time on. Unfortunately for these games, that title just happens to be The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword for the Nintendo Wii... But even that game is currently struggling to get some play time even though its allure is extremely strong.


This Month's Inductees:


Total Inductions: 24

Friday, December 9, 2011

Karma: The Fashion Collection

As you may very well know by now, I play a whole lot of League of Legends on the Personal Computer but I spent very little money on the game itself. Let me clarify again for the unfamiliar that this game is 100% free to play and everything in the game is unlockable by just merely playing it. The extra skins for the champions however, which is of course merely vanity items, can only be purchased with real cash. Today marks the first time that I have bought all the skins of one champion... Well, Karma is so unpopular apparently that she only has two extra skins in all. I purchased the Sakura Karma skin back in April of this year. Since it is currently on sale, I went ahead and unlocked the irresistibly delicious Sun Goddess Karma! I have started playing her again in several games this week so this should encourage me to play her more once again. It's time to show the opposing team some painful, karmic justice... Mayan style!

Certainly one of the most extravagant skins in the game.

Adorable isn't she?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

An Affair with Zelda

It is apparent to me now why Nintendo moved forward with naming the latest The Legend of Zelda game for the Nintendo Wii with the subtitle of Skyward Sword. Sure, the whole sky theme is pretty prominent in this game since you started off the adventure on a floating island but it's the sublime beauty of the game that has made my very own sword pointing skyward in excitement. This is an extraordinary looking Wii game, the best on the console, even perhaps the best across all platforms this year. What puts it over the top is the perfect character animation and design. How the characters are able to clearly emote without the use of full voice acting is an art that only Nintendo is capable of mastering. Yes, I am very impressed with the striking visuals of this game and I am only 2 hours in. Hopefully things will remain impressive the further I play the game but I am sure that I have seen the most beautiful thing that this game has to offer when it comes to the visual splendor: Zelda herself.

Good morning, hun.

From that first time she showed up in front of me, the game had suddenly taken a completely different meaning. That grace, that warm expression, those eyes... This is Zelda at her finest. Of course it helps that the hair graphics in this game rocks - the people at Bethesda need to study this game so that they can learn how to make convincing looking hair in their The Elder Scrolls games. After this initial interaction with Zelda, I am convinced now that I must complete this game and make it a priority to do so. I hope the Wii U is going to be capable of upscaling Skyward Sword to high definition but even at 480p, what a beautiful, beautiful game you have crafted for us here Nintendo.

Monday, December 5, 2011

My Pin Badge Collection is Here!

I have finally received the eagerly awaited Mario & Friends Pin Badge Collection from Club Nintendo for achieving the Platinum status during Nintendo's 2011 fiscal year. There are 25 cute pin badges in all and they are neatly stored into 6 separate boxes that can be stacked together to create 3 retro Nintendo Images. To ensure that you can proudly display these boxes without the fear of them tumbling down whenever there's slight movement in close vicinity, the boxes are stacked inside a large, transparent sleeve. What I really love about this year's reward is that it can serve as both a decorative piece as well as being functional. I will certainly be wearing the badges whenever I feel like I want to geek it out while I am out and about - as long as my spouse doesn't freak out about it.  Thank you Nintendo for such a cool gift. One thing though: please don't mail a special reward like this in a large envelope in the future. Please use a sturdy box instead. The box on the top of the cascade was slightly crushed during the transport. I will be massaging that area all night long to mold t it back into place again but such a thing should not have happened in the first place.

I will take some photos of me rocking out the pins in the future.

Games Played 11/28/2011 - 12/04/2011

- 11/28/2011 -
Alien Zombie Megadeath - PC
Bulletstorm - PC
Dungeon Defenders - PC
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - PC
Fortix 2 - PC
League of Legends - PC
Renegade Ops - PC

- 11/29/2011 -
League of Legends - PC

- 11/30/2011 -
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - PC
League of Legends - PC
Renegade Ops - PC

- 12/01/2011 -
Ace Combat: Assault Horizon - PlayStation 3
Alien Zombie Megadeath - PC
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - PC
League of Legends - PC

- 12/02/2011 -
League of Legends - PC

- 12/03/2011 -
Brink - PC
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - PC
League of Legends - PC
Fortix 2 - PC

- 12/04/2011 -
De Blob 2 - PlayStation 3
Kirby: Mass Attack - NDS
League of Legends - PC
Numen: Contest of Heroes - PC
Skydrift Demo - PC

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Steam's Easy Giveaway!

Do you like free games? Not only that, do you like free games of your choosing? Steam is having another awesome, no purchase required contest again in the form of the Daily Wishlist Giveaway! In a show of awesome generosity, Steam will be awarding 10 people per day with the top 10 games on their wishlist! The giveaway starts today and will end when Steam's Holiday Sale commences later this month. And wait until you hear this: all you have to do is visit the promoted sales page on Steam for the day. That's it. Well, you do have to make sure that you have at least 10 games listed on your wishlist. You don't even have to buy the game being featured for the day nor do you have to do anything else. Once you have visited the featured game page, which is easy to find because they have placed it right on top of the screen, you will receive a notification on that page that you have been entered for the day.

These Steam contests are so easy to qualify for... It's like Valve really wants you to win!

The coolest part about this contest is that the winners will be selected within 48 hours of the end of the qualifying day. I haven't been lucky with these Steam drawings in the past but I am hoping that perhaps lady luck will be on my side this time around. And by the way, for those who does know what Steam is, it's a free digital game distribution service. You don't have to pay anything to use it. Even if you don't have a gaming computer, you can download it and use it to stay connected with your friends who have Steam accounts. Just sign up and join in on the fun. If you win the free games, they will stay in your account until you are ready to install and play it on your gaming personal computer.

Third Person Skyrim is Great But...

Last night, I made a major change in the way that I wanted to experience The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for the Personal Computer. I have originally vowed to play the game exclusively in third person because it works very well in the game but I have noticed that I have been missing something that just cannot be replaced when playing the game in the first person perspective and that very special something is called "immersion".

Observing a scene in the third person perspective is different...

...than observing it through the character's - I mean - my own eyes.

The reason why I was so obsessed with the idea of playing a game like this in third person is because of the "cool" factor of being able to see my character but to continue down that path means that I would be missing the very point of this game: It's all about being immersed in a fantasy world, to live and breathe its cultures, its mysteries, its dangers, and its adventures. The only problem here is that the first person perspective itself is not perfect. You can't see your own feet nor your own body and you don't even cast your own shadow. You are just a floating spectre with a set of arms when you are in combat stance. Still, the first person view is truly the right way to play the game as I have come to realize now. This was never a problem in the previous Elder Scrolls games before because the third person view was just so atrocious, it was impossible to play the game in it. In Skyrim, the third person view is so functional that it becomes somewhat of a distraction. I think it would be cool if Bethesda would fix the floating apparition situation for the next game by only allowing the player to "see" his or her character in the game menu, when he or she is looking down, as well as on reflective surfaces around the world while removing the third person perspective all together. Now that would be true immersion.

I'm only going to see admire my character when crafting and horse riding.

Killing things up close and personal is a lot more exciting too!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dawn of the Old Republic

I didn't realize that my beta access for Star Wars: The Old Republic on the Personal Computer only lasted over the last weekend only. I did play a good 3-4 additional hours into the game after I wrote the previous article on the game and based on that experience, I thought that ToR is very polished but it is mostly catered towards fans of Bioware role playing games and the Star Wars license. The real distinction found in this game that other massively multiplayer online RPGs don't have is the cinematic conversation. That is pretty much it. Well that and the whole Jedi thing. Other than those things, it's rather substandard. The graphics do look nice but it just cannot compare to the glory that is Rift. The fact that I actually stopped playing this to jump back to League of Legends - thanks a lot Riot Games for distracting me away from my limited beta access - should tell you where this game stands. My prediction is that ToR will probably become free to play after 6-9 months when people finally realize that unlike the single player Bioware games, their in-game personas are not all that unique in ToR's game universe because of the other similar players running about. If the game is still subscription-based at that point, then it means that the game has long-term value. If not, then I am sure that it will pop-up on Steam under the Free-to-Play section.

Awww... Oh well, back to LoL!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

No Thanks Sony! Vita is Vile

After seeing the memory card pricing setup for Sony's upcoming PlayStation Vita, I am through. I am not excited about this new handheld anymore. I mean, seriously, $120 for the highest capacity unit of 32GB. That is just sad. For a handheld that is supposed to thrive off the PlayStation Network Store, we need at least 1TB and not having any memory space in the handheld out of the box is just plain criminal. Sure you can always just stick to buying the physical games but then I should just be happy making my purchases of the PlayStation 3 version of the Vita games that were supposedly be linked up between the two devices. As with the Nintendo 3DS - still waiting for that inevitable dual-stick model - I will not be jumping on the Vita bandwagon immediately. I am sure that a year down the line, as the Vita struggles to keep up with the 3DS, they will eventually release a Vita that has a large internal memory in addition to any memory card (propriety or preferably otherwise) you add to the system. That would be my Vita of choice, not this incomplete, over expensive launch model.

I think I will just stick with the PS3 for a long while. I smell a fail on the horizon.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Games Played 11/21/2011 - 11/27/2011

- 11/21/2011 -

- 11/22/2011 -
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - PC

- 11/23/2011 -
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - PC
League of Legends - PC
Otomedius Excellent - X-Box 360

- 11/24/2011 -
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - PC
Deathsmiles IIX - X-Box 360
League of Legends - PC
Otomedius Excellent - X-Box 360

- 11/25/2011 -
League of Legends - PC
Otomedius Excellent - X-Box 360

- 11/26/2011 -
League of Legends - PC
Star Wars: The Old Republic Beta - PC

- 11/27/2011 -
Culdcept Saga - X-Box 360
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - PC
League of Legends - PC
Radiant Silvergun - X-Box 360

Is It My Eyes or Is It Skyrim?

I was playing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim on my Personal Computer last night after being away from it for two days and I thought that the game looked really nice. It felt a lot smoother too for some reason. I thought that Bethesda had rolled out a patch for the game but there was nothing in the update notes. I know that I have been very harsh on this game when it comes to its graphics. Well, even now I still think that the game could look a million times better - I mean just look at those horrible looking pine trees - but I am guessing that my eyes have adjusted to the game's looks. The open expanses do look remarkable sometimes, especially when it is all snow covered. So much so that I have used the following image as the wallpaper for my PC:

I love the cold, so this is perfect.

Whether the improvement I was experiencing was imaginary or not, I know for sure that this game is going to look remarkable once those graphics modders are done with the game and I just found out that Nvidia themselves are already helping out with the situation via the release of their newest beta driver and some really helpful tweaks that I am sure going to try out very soon. Update Note - 2:08pm: enabling ambient occlusion as well as the other graphics tweaks suggested by Nvidia do make a big difference in the overall look of the game with minimal performance hits. I highly recommend them!

I used to think that Skyrim is a drab, lifeless place...

But now, there is always a surprise lurking...

...around every corner of the map.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

My First Game Trade on Steam

A friend of mine had asked for me to get Bulletstorm on Steam for him from the Autumn Sale as a trade because of the regional difference in the pricing for the game. Apparently, it is still expensive in Europe while it is only $9.99 here in North America. I asked him to get Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga for me as an exchange and this is my first time ever using Steam's excellent trading feature. Basically, the game must be purchased as a gift to be saved in your inventory. We then both went into the trade screen and presented the items that we have for trade. It was simple and convenient though there was a rather lengthy wait time involved for the transaction to be completed after both partied agreed to the trade. What I really love the most about this feature is that after you have received the game, it is not automatically linked to your library. Instead, it remains in gift form, which means that you may choose to just keep the game in your inventory to be gifted or traded again in the future. If not, you can always link the game to your library. Awesome stuff!

Digital game trading is the way of the future.

The Taste of the Culdcept

I was finally able to convince my friend to play some Culdcept Saga with me last night and it was... beyond delicious. I have not played the game for such a long time and now I am reminded of how incredible this game is and why it deserves to hold a spot in my Top 10 Greatest Games of All Time. Playing the game again felt like the I just had my first kiss, and that I had just fallen in love for the very first time... It's a deeply magical, uncontrollably orgasmic feeling. Culdcept Saga, how I have abandoned you. If there was one game that can make me subscribe to X-Box LIVE Gold again, it would be this game. And no, I am not looking for elitist competitors to play this game with me. I am looking for a friend who enjoys the game as much as I do. A friend who would like to experience the game for the sake of fun. I felt bad last night because I couldn't find the option to use a randomized book to play against my friend - I spent 5 minutes looking for it, I have been away from the game for way too long - but he said he didn't mind. I told him that if we were to play this game more often, I'd subscribe back to Gold. We will see how this is going to develop. I know he just did it just to be nice and not necessary because he is as obsessed with the game as I am. But man, Culdcept Saga is such an incredible game.

The last shining beacon of hope for LIVE Gold...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Star Wars: The Old Republic - A Strange Place

I got my invitation to play the massively multiplayer online role playing game Star Wars: The Old Republic for the Personal Computer by Bioware earllier this week that granted me access to join in on the beta-testing fun starting today at 10am PST. I actually have forgotten to log in until about an hour ago because I was distracted by the Dreamhack tournament live streams earlier today. I have downloaded the game client a couple of nights ago so all I had to do was log in and start playing.

Great introduction movie but the tutorial area where I ended up was a bit boring.

I have only played less than an hour of the beta so this is just a very brief report of my intial reaction to this hyped about game that is scheduled to come out next month on the 20th. The game feels very generic and I am sure that those who have played MMOs in the past would agree. Even though the Star Wars lore is being used brilliantly here, the character classes that you get to choose from are the typical fighter/mage/rogue/hunter variety. This game is pretty much a generic MMO that takes place in the Star Wars universe and they really didn't take the liberty to create some new class categories that we have never really seen before. Of course, it is very easy for me to say this because I haven't leveled up my character at all to discover how things would branch out eventually but the initial descriptions for these classes are just a little too familiar.

Behind that pretty face... Dark side! 

The part that is the most troubling for me with this game is the cinematic conversation that you would have with the non-player characters. Sure I always love these in a Bioware game and sure it does add a lot to the immersion but this also reminds me that the game could have been a single player adventure. Playing SW:TOR feels like you are playing a tarnished, diluted version of one of the previous Bioware titles like the Mass Effect or the Dragon Age series. I think having fully voiced interactions both for your character and the NPCs is wonderful but I couldn't help wishing that this game was not something that you would have to pay monthly fee for to keep playing. But alas, these are just the little quirks that I have against the game. I can tell you for certain that the early part of this ST:TOR beta is not as engaging as the Rift tutorial area but I am going to play as much of this game as I possibly can and write more about my experience as I discover the rest of the game's contents that are made available in this beta.

Friday, November 25, 2011

LoL: I Am Playing This Game Too Much

Riot Games recently released an interesting infographic in regards to its League of Legends subscriber base and that made me reflect upon the amount of time that I have spent playing this game myself. The game has been occupying the number one spot of the most played games for a long while now and I am pretty certain that I have spent more time on this game than all other games I have played before combined. Let's just make an estimation on how many hours I have spent playing LoL, shall we?

The result screen from the last game I played before writing this article.

Bear in mind that this calculation only includes the normal solo queue. I have played a number of ranked matches alongside the smaller 3 versus 3 maps and the new Dominion map. At this point, I have 998 wins and 954 loses. So that is 1,952 matches that I have participated in. A match averages around 30 minutes - though they mostly go a lot longer than that. So 1,952 x 30 minutes = 58,560 minutes, which equals 976 hours. Yes, I have clocked in around 1,000 hours playing LoL. That is just epic. But I just remember: I did play Final Fantasy XI Online and World of Warcraft for several years respectively so perhaps LoL cannot claim the title of my most played game just yet.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

So I'm on LIVE Gold and...

After Thanksgiving dinner earlier this evening, I jumped on my X-Box 360 to check out the free access to the LIVE Gold that was activated for all Silver members for this Thanksgiving weekend. The first thing that I did was sent several messages out to my online friends and then booted up Otomedius Excellent. I soon discovered that nobody was playing that game online - of course they don't - but at least I was able to reconnect with a couple of my old friends and we ended up playing Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing for a while. I was quickly reminded that the problem with paying money for access to online multiplayer is that you have to make sure that you have people that you can play with who also wanted to play the games that you yourself wanted to play. In my case tonight, those games included Culdcept Saga, Deathsmiles IX, and Otomedius Excellent. I really couldn't think of other online-enabled 360 games that I was really in the mood to play. If I were to reactivate my LIVE Gold membership right now, Microsoft is offering a year's worth for only $39.99: that's $20 off! But would that be worth the price if I cannot even get to play my favorite games online consistently? Worse still is that some of my online friends are not even responding back to me when it comes to playing some online game with them this weekend to take advantage of the free access. Oh well. At least I made an interesting discovery tonight while chatting in the X-Box LIVE party:

This character select screen hides a diabolical secret...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Steam Will Keep Us Warm!

Steam has just kicked off its irresistable Autumn Sale and this frustrating - because you want to get them all - but fun event will take place all through the weekend. Every day, new outrageous discounts will be offered alongside hundreds of titles that have their prices nicely slashed. The featured items are getting a big 50% - 75% discounts so keep your eyes peeled for those games that you have always been wanting to get. Microsoft may have X-Box LIVE Gold available for free to Silver members this weekend - a move that should actually be a revelation to the current Gold members that the service should be free to begin with - but I know where I will be spending most of my gaming time... unless of course, if you still wanted to play some Halo, Dan!

We will be rolling in dead leaves... I mean, new games this Thanksgiving weekend!

Arrival in Skyrim

It was somewhat delayed both justifiably and no quite so, but I finally arrived in Skyrim late Monday evening. I must say that graphics wise, things are rather quite disappointing. I remember saying "that's pretty" when I first booted up The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and even Two Worlds II. That didn't happen with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Instead, I said, "Ewww, why is the character hair looks so bad?" Of course, I am playing the Personal Computer version of the game and I have everything maxed out on the graphics options and the game runs really smooth but it is so obvious that the limitations of the X-Box 360 are being kept in mind by developer Bethesda. Thankfully, PC owners do get to play in higher native resolution, almost non-existent load time, and we do get a longer view distance but those bad shadows, bad character polygons, and bad textures... Well, they are just... awful! When you look at everything from afar, things look good - as long as you can avoid long-distance rivers (ugh, they are ugly) - but then once you get close to things, it's like wow, how could it be this terrible? At least the PC community is hard at work to beautify this game. I am not big on gameplay tweaks - that is also called cheating - but I am all about graphics mods. If you can believe it, there are already so many nice graphical mods available and they do improve upon the homely look of the game.

The world of Skyrim is populated by ghosts. We don't leave footprints in the snow...

The visuals may not be all that but the gameplay is definitely there. I do find the prologue to this open world role playing game to be rather weak however. It tried to create a dire situation out of nothing and it ended up feeling a bit forced despite containing a rather gruesome and disturbing scene in it. I am now 4 hours into the game and a couple of levels up and I am just trying to follow the main quest line while indulging in a little bit of the side quests. Things haven't been terribly engaging but the game is quite fun. I am playing the game in third person mode almost exclusively, which is impossible to do in past entries, and it works beautifully unless of course, when I am trying to use a bow. Because of that, I am just going to abandon archery completely. I am very impressed by the perks system that provides immediate impacts on your specialization choices. It makes you feel immediately powerful every time you level up and it also rewards you for planning out a specific character build to be effective in combat. There is definitely a lot of room for experimentation here and creating new characters should be a lot more fun than the previous entries in the series. The perk system is apparently an innovation that is improved upon from the one found in Fallout 3. It must be noted also that Skyrim, like Oblivion, is designed around the use of the gamepad but unlike Oblivion, the gamepad support is built into Skyrim. Good luck navigating the bad interface using a keyboard and mouse if you decide to play it that way. Overall though, I can see a lot of potential in this game. I am really looking forward to building up my destruction plus conjuration focused character. I am playing this concurrently alongside Fallout: New Vegas however, so I am hoping I am not going to get horribly exhausted by them.

Beta testing Star Wars: The Old Republic...

FIRST IMPRESSION: 4 out of 5