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Monday, January 31, 2011

Games Played 01/24/2011 - 01/30/2011

- 01/24/2011 -
Resonance of Fate - X-Box 360

- 01/25/2011 -
Dead or Alice Ultimate - X-Box
Magicka Demo - PC

- 01/26/2011 -
Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria - PlayStation 2

- 01/27/2011 -
Guild Wars - PC

- 01/28/2011 -
Halo: Reach - X-Box 360

- 01/29/2011 -
Halo: Reach - X-Box 360

- 01/30/2011 -
Need for Speed: Underground - PlayStation 2
Pinball FX2 - X-Box 360
Resonance of Fate - X-Box 360
Tales of the Abyss - PlayStation 2

Saturday, January 29, 2011

All-Day Gaming

I can't recall the last time that I have played a video game nonstop from the time I wake up in the morning until it's about time for me to go to bed. Well, "non-stop" here does include the occasional bathroom breaks and snack runs. Though I didn't stop to eat a big meal in the form of breakfast or lunch - I did eat a full dinner however - I did ensure that I had a good intake of nutrients and water to sustain me. The game that had me glued to my gaming chair was non other than League of Legends for the Personal Computer. Time went by so very fast because I was having such a blast. Usually on a Saturday, I do try to spend my time doing things other than gaming but since my significant other was in the mood for a trash television marathon, I thought it would be best that we both spend the day doing the individual things that each of us enjoy.

Irelia is one of my current favorites.

After dinner, I did manage to pull myself away from LoL and played a little bit of Halo:Reach on the X-Box 360. Is it just me or is this game just a bit boring? The graphics are rather awful though they are much improved from the previous Halo games. I really like the cool-looking armor pieces that can be equipped on your Spartan but since this game is played in the first person view, you can't rally admire how your character looks unless you decide to watch the video replays. Oh well, at least you can gawk at it while watching the real time story cinematic. After about half an hour of this game, I went straight back to LoL. So how does it feel to play video games all day long? It was a lot of fun and it didn't drain much energy from me. As a matter of fact, I am thinking of playing a couple of more rounds of LoL before I go to bed. I don't know, maybe I should really just go to sleep instead so that I can do this all over again tomorrow.

The manliest Spartan ever?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Next Generation Portable: Move Aside 3DS?

Sony has finally announced during a media event in Tokyo tonight that the "Next Generation Portable" or the successor to the PlayStation Portable is a reality and that it should be hitting the stores this holiday season. The device looks like a slimmer PSP but with things that that the Nintendo 3DS is lacking: a dual analogue stick setup, a double touch sensor located both on the game screen and on the back of the handheld, a really advanced hardware that is supposedly as powerful as the PlayStation 3, and a high resolution OLED display (4x the current PSP resolution, so that's up to 1080p... Freaking unbelievable! - Update Note 01/27/2011: It looks like it's only going to be limited to 960 x 544 so PS3 graphics my butt, well that's disappointing). These things are enough to convince me to hold off on spending anything on the 3DS the way that it is designed currently and that whole dual-stick thing on this new PSP, just wait... It will get implemented into the "improved" 3DS - didn't you notice the big empty space at the bottom right hand corner of the 3DS that just begs to be used as a place to implant the second analogue stick?

Click here to learn more about the NGP.

There are some troubling things that came with the announcement however. Firstly, there are not enough new games shown available for it. It looks like the new handheld will get a new Uncharted but other than that, he other games like Monster Hunter and Yakuza are ports of previously released games. Then, there's the concern over game storage. Apparently, the NGP will be using direct digital download distribution (hooray!) and if they really want to accomplish PS3 quality visuals and experience, that's a lot of GB to think about. Lastly, the NGP will be hooked up to a persistent 3G network connection: What does this mean? Do we have to pay a monthly service fee to play this thing or will that 3G service come free with the system? It is disappointing however that this thing will not be backwards compatible with UMDs but will the NGP be able to play the old digital PSP games? What I am really curious about is this: Will we be able to play anything we get for the PS3 from the PlayStation Store on the NGP and vice versa? The price and exact release date was not revealed during the show. I hope we will get that information soon. My guess? This thing will probably cost $299.99. Knowing Sony though, they do have the balls to even push that price all the way up to $349.99. We will just have to wait and see.

Random Game Quote of the Day

The demon kids are just hungry but Yuri is definitely something else.
----- Shadow Hearts (PlayStation 2) -----

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The 3DS is Not Cheap

Last week, the pricing and the release date of the new Nintendo 3DS were revealed and as a fan of anything Nintendo, I am of course excited about the announcement. The one thing that seems to be troubling a lot of people about the 3DS is the battery life - a short 3 to 5 hours when the 3D mode is enabled - but as someone who has hardly played more than a couple hours on the road on other handhelds, that is not a problem for me at all. The real problem for me if of course the price. $249.99! What the heck! The 3DS is officially the most expensive handheld video game system ever made but judging from the footage of the Resident Evil and the Super Street Fighter IV titles being played on the thing, it looks like the 3DS has some real power behind it. Of course, it is hard to really say if it would look as beautiful with the thing sitting in my hands but if the low quality videos I have seen could evoke the great sense of awe that I felt, I am sure that the 3DS just will not disappoint graphically. I am not too big on the 3D thing because it seems like you have to be very stiff with your arms to get the optimal effect while holding the handheld but 3D without glasses is very cool and we are seeing that the television manufacturers are trying to perfect that technology as well. So overall, there might be a delay in me actually going out and getting a 3DS due to that ridilculous price but it's great to know that the technology will arrive very shortly. It's also nice to know that the games will not be so expensive either - $39.99 per title? That's pretty sweet.

Click here to learn more about the 3DS.

Random Game of the Day

Dead or Alive Ultimate (2004)
Developer: Tecmo, Inc.
Platform: X-Box
Induction Date: 2004

Things are getting a bit wet and wild at the large aquarium dome.

If you have never played any of the Dead or Alive fighting games before, this release is definitely the best place for you to start and perhaps even stop. As I have explained before in this article involving doppelganger games, this series pretty much stopped its progress after the second game came into the picture. This edition of the game may not have the full roster of the characters found in the entire series but it makes up for it with the amount of content found within. Ultimate was made after the disappointing Dead or Alive 3 that was released for the X-Box in 2001. It is basically a combo-pack that comes with the arcade perfect rendition of the original game and the remade, much graphically improved sequel. The real star here is Dead or Alive 2 of course which has been reworked visually to showcase what the console is capable of. This resulted in a game that is very beautiful to look at even to this day. Some of the stages are really huge and some are spiced up using cool special effects like snow displacements and thunderstorms. The character models pretty much look the same as the ones found in Dead or Alive 4 on the X-Box 360, minus the high resolution clothing details. The game is all about simple to pull off but fancy looking fast combos and counter moves. Though they can be fun to fool around with, the action doesn't feel as rewarding as the more refined Virtua Fighter or the Tekken series. Unlike part 3 and 4, both the original and the sequel presented here offers a lot - and I mean a lot - of costumes for the characters and they range from goofy to super sexy. Some of the characters get up to 20 costumes each! Ultimate makes its successors feel like mere afterthoughts. The only thing that is missing from it now is the online play because of the shut down of the Live service for the original X-Box last year.

LIBRARY STATUS: 4 out of 5

Monday, January 24, 2011

What is Wrong with 6 Face Buttons?

I was doing some heavy cleaning in my Game Room today because the place has been in shambles over the past week because I have been pretty ill. I was dusting off the game controllers that were out in the open and I had a sudden moment of pure admiration as I was working on the face of the X-Box controller. The one that I have hooked up to the console right now is the revised, smaller controller from Microsoft and it is a thing of beauty. It certainly looks cute and it has something that the current controller for the X-Box 360 does not have: 6 input buttons on the right hand side of it. Sure, four buttons are good but some games do benefit from having more. I think we can all blame Sony for making the four buttons thing cool since the release of the first PlayStation but Microsoft should have stick with the old design when it comes to button-mapping. By the way, the Sega Dreamcast did fall prey to the whole 4-button hype as well. The 6 buttons are not intimidating and it is always good to have more options for developers to toy around with, especially when it comes to fighting games. Those extra buttons do look pretty darn sexy so I should choose some X-Box games to play with soon so I could purposefully rub my thumb all over them.

It may not have fancy lights glowing on top of it but the extra buttons are magnificent.

Games Played 01/17/2011 - 01/23/2011

- 01/17/2011 -
Resonance of Fate - X-Box 360

- 01/18/2011 -
ESPGaluda II Black Label - X-Box 360

- 01/19/2011 -

- 01/20/2011 -
Resonance of Fate - X-Box 360

- 01/21/2011 -
Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City - NDS
Resonance of Fate - X-Box 360

- 01/22/2011 -
Halo: Reach - X-Box 360
Rez HD - X-Box 360

- 01/23/2011 -
Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria - PlayStation 2
Resonance of Fate - X-Box 360

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Oh No! Do I Have ED?

Maybe it's because I am getting older or maybe it's because I have been quite ill for over a week now but I have this really strange feeling that I have a sort of Evaporating Desire to actually buy new games of late. LittleBigPlanet 2 was just released not too long ago and I do consider that game to be a must have - especially seeing how easy it is to make side scrolling space shooter using it. Then again, the original does enable the creation of run and gun shooters and I haven't seen myself attempting to make much use out of it. That doesn't stop me from buying games before though. I am so easily distracted from continuing to play what I play unless a game is just so incredibly good and I have always rationalize as well as accepted the fact that I do love increasing the number of titles in my Game Library because it is all about being able to access them any time I want. I still do want to believe that but lately I have been thinking of strange number calculations, you know like the type that one may hallucinate about while one is laying on the bed with a throbbing headache and feverish temperature while one is staring up at the weird bumps on the ceiling.

Play Me! Play Me!

Now let us just pretend for a moment that each game title I own requires at least 40 hours - I know some games do last longer than that and some ended up being shorter experiences that you don't want to repeat frequently - and as of the date this article is published, I own 2,188 games. So, 40 x 2188 = 87520. That's eighty seven thousand five hundred and twenty hours of gaming required to really go through them thoroughly. Now the distraction disease only started occurring several years ago so even if I assume that I have experienced fully half of my gaming collection, that still leaves me with another 43,760 hours to be dedicated towards taking care of the other half of the equation. I normally get around 6-7 hours of sleep a day. This means that I am awake for around 18 hours a day. The most that I have spent gaming on a typical weekday is about 8 hours and that number goes up to 12 hours during a weekend day - assuming that I am not doing anything else like spending time with the significant other as well as doing other normal everyday activities. Let's just round up those number by month so on average, I would be playing video games around 208 hours a month. This means that I have to spend around 210 months - that's 17 and a half years - to go through all of them all the way to their optimal potentials.

Well, at least I don't have to worry about playing that game again...

Like I mentioned earlier, it could be that I am older and I am starting to think about these kind of things or it could be just my delirium talking... Or, it could be just the League of Legends fever that seems to be taking too much of my free time away but there is some validity in the concern. The more games I add to my Game Library means the more of my future free time must be reserved for them. The thing about me is that even though I play games in the moment, I do want to experience everything that I do have within my grasp. I don't want to be a "collector". I truly despise that word associated to gamers - all games should always have extra/complete contents and that there should not be a distinction between "regular" editions and those that carry the "collector's" label. Games are meant to be played. They are not meant to be left untouched in their factory-sealed plastic wraps. I have made a commitment to myself to experience everything that the video gaming world could offer me and that doesn't mean just owning these games, but that also means that I want to experience them and understand them to the best of my abilities. Will this mean that I will have less gaming inductions this year? Possibly. One thing for certain is that I am just more wary about the time commitment I have to put in to give each and every single game in my Game Library the love and care they each deserve in the form of their proper utilization.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Co-Op in LoL

It looks like Riot Games is really doing their very best to make League of Legends one of the most incredible games ever made. They have announced that a new co-op versus the computer controlled champions is in the works. It is possible to do human vs. A.I. at the moment but the computer is just extremely dumb and there are a limited amount of champion variety to fight against. Riot Games is looking to change that with the implementation of smart A.I. that sends champions to guard important spots on the map and even "gank" the players. The addition of this is great in case you are just looking to do some challenging practice run or you are just looking to reduce the amount of time you get to meet ragers and griefers in the game. This is giving LoL another great advantage over Heroes of Newerth - I still cannot force myself to stop playing LoL and jump back on HoN - but only time will tell if S2 Games is going to wisen up and finally create some versus A.I. mode for players to have fun with in HoN. I haven't mentioned this in a while but I hope people realize that this game is truly free to play and anyone with a gaming Personal Computer (or any gamer who appreciates the art of gaming as far as I am concerned) should not be without it.

The game keeps getting better and better.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Not Dead Last But...

A friend of mine who just completed his first play-through of Dead Space on the X-Box 360 very recently was asking me how I feel about the game as well as my excitement level when it comes to its sequel that will be released at the end of the month. I gave him an honest answer of course: I didn't finish the game because it was too darn scary. As what I stated in my preview article, Dead Space is the scariest game that I have ever played, topping even the extreme fear-fest that is Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly on the previous generation consoles. I only mustered up the courage to play the game all the way up to Chapter 4 if I am not mistaken and after that, I just couldn't handle it anymore.

Do I dare put the unholy game disc back into my console?

My friend found my honesty refreshing since he said he had a lot of other people telling him that they didn't finish the game because they "didn't like it". He then explained to me that he felt the same level of fear and desperation while playing the game but he forced himself to play through it because he want to be able to play the sequel soon. Not that playing chronologically is much of a necessity but I understand what he meant. He said that he reduced the sound volume of the game tremendously to get around the tension. I used to do that a long time ago myself while I was playing Resident Evil 3 for the PlayStation but soon after I started doing that, I felt that I was in a way "cheating" the game because sound is an important element of the entire video gaming experience so I never do that anymore. Maybe I should have because I was practically scared to death by the spooky aural presentation of Fatal Frame II. So what was the reasoning behind this entry? Surely, I don't have to further explain myself that I am now very sensitive to horror games. I was actually encouraged to try and play Dead Space again in the near future and complete the game once and for all. No, this is not a crazy race to prepare myself to play the upcoming sequel - I just thought that if my friend who admitted that he was psychologically tormented by the game can survive the game's horror, so could I. We both also agreed upon one other thing - this game would have benefited from a co-op feature so that those who are immersed in its violent, horrific world could at least scream on top of their lungs like little girls together while playing it.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Mother/Hater?

Electronic Arts is utilizing a great advertising campaign for their soon to be released Dead Space 2 for the Personal Computer, PlayStation 3, and the X-Box 360: mom shock reactions. They have supposedly conducted a "market research" where holier-than-thou mothers were shown nasty clips from the game and were asked to share their reactions to all the carnage. I really doubt that the whole scenario was authentic but one thing is for sure, it makes for one heck of an entertaining show. Check out the funny clips by clicking this hilariously named website and enjoy the stereotypical view of what a conservative mom is really all about when it comes to video game violence and horror.

I don't know, I thought those "Real Housewives" shows would be a lot more terrifying than this game.

Time. It Goes By So Fast.

While I was working on my Daily Game Log entry this morning, a thought came into my mind. The way that I have been keeping track of the games I play is simple: Whenever I play one, I would then write the title of the game - mostly after I have played it - into my small, trusty notebook. When the week is over, I would then transfer the information onto this site and into an Excel spreadsheet. This morning, I was wondering about the number of pages in the notebook that it took for me to log what I played in 2010. The answer to that was not necessary surprising as it was more enlightening: 9 and a half pages.

It looks like I am going to be using this notebook for a long time to come....

Sure, it makes a lot of sense because I wasn't writing a novel but abbreviations of the names of the video games I played throughout those days but something about the whole thing reminded me about the relativity of time: how a big part of my life became so simplified by the notebook entries. Well that and the entertaining idea that if one without the knowledge of video gaming was tasked to decipher its content, that individual may conclude that the notebook used to belong to a disillusioned madman who likes to "laugh out loud" a lot, especially during the notebook's more recent entries...

Games Played 01/10/2011 - 01/16/2011

- 01/10/2011 -
Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City - NDS
Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne - PlayStation 2

- 01/11/2011 -
Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City - NDS

- 01/12/2011 -
Alien Soldier - Wii
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - PlayStation 3
The House of the Dead: Overkill - Wii

- 01/13/2011 -

- 01/14/2011 -
ESPGaluda II Black Label - X-Box 360
Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne - PlayStation 2
Sin & Punishment: Star Successor - Wii

- 01/15/2011 -
Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City - NDS
Resonance of Fate - X-Box 360
Sin & Punishment: Star Successor - Wii

- 01/16/2011 -
Resonance of Fate - X-Box 360

Friday, January 14, 2011

Yearly Gaming Analysis: 2010

The year 2010 started off quite horribly for me because of the death of a family member. Things got a little worse when Bayonetta ended up being a disappointment! Then, it turned into a freaking nightmare when I was suddenly attacked by achievement/trophy whores! Things did get better though after the rough start, especially with a new found interest in a game that truly dominated my time last year and if you have been reading my entries, you should know the name of that very game. Please be aware that I have changed the term "purchase" with "induction" - you have probably noticed that in my new game announcements - because sometimes, these games were not necessarily bought but they were received as gifts, et cetera. As with what I did for 2009, the analysis will include all games that were inducted in 2010, even if the games were released prior to that year. The brackets shown in the number counts signify the difference between 2009 and 2010. I hope you will find this report informative and an entertaining read.


--- NINTENDO DS ---
Total Year Inductions: 10 (0)

Favorite Game of the Year:
Dragon Quest IX - Sentinels of the Starry Skies
Developer: Level-5
Induction Date: 07/30/2010

It may be a downgrade but only ever so slightly.

This latest entry into the Dragon Quest series should have landed on one of the current generation consoles but it got developed for the Nintendo DS instead due to the immense popularity of the handheld in Japan! Though we lost what could have been the next graphical evolution of Akira Toriyama's artwork in a video game, Dragon Quest IX still looks stunning on the DS and the simplistic nature of the game's battle mechanics easily survived the regressive platform decision. The addition of detailed character customizations via armor equipment bring a lot to the game and it should remain a staple for the series for the upcoming entries. It may not be as amazing as Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King for the PlayStation 2 - the lack of voice acting in IX further ensured that fact - but Dragon Quest IX is certainly a must have for DS owners.

Disappointment of the Year:

Because of the download service available on the Nintendo DSi system, I almost picked it up last year - I really wanted Photo Dojo and Shantae: Risky's Revenge - but now I am so glad that I didn't because of the eventual arrival of the new Nintendo 3DS sometime this year. What I am disappointed about is Nintendo's current attitude of dumping and leaving. They hardly made any camera-related game for the current DSi and now they are just going to abandon those people who have spent their hard earned cash upgrading to the newest DS iteration. It really makes me skeptical about how long the first generation of the 3DS will remain in the marketplace before it is quickly replaced by a badder, bigger version of itself. With the current buzz for the impending release of the 3DS, I know that I would probably not be able to score one of them upon their arrival but that could be a very good thing if Nintendo decided to release the enhanced, much improved upgrade for the new handheld system soon after.


--- NINTENDO WII ---
Total Year Inductions: 14 (-3)

Favorite Game of the Year:
Sin & Punishment: Star Successor
Developer: Treasure
Induction Date: 06/27/2010

Transforming motion controls from mere gimmickry to utter necessity.

When Treasure makes a shooter, you just know that it is going to be really good and Star Successor is no exception. The haphazard, unfocused original just cannot compare to this fully realized sequel and the most noteworthy thing about the new game is how perfect the control scheme is and no dual-stick controllers can ever replicate the immediacy and accuracy of the Wii-mote for this game. This is the first game that truly showcases the validity of motion control in "hardcore" gaming. The graphics are great and though anyone can pick the game up and play it, mastering it is no easy task. Addictive rail shooting? Check. Brilliant enemy and bullet patterns? Check. Crazy screen-filling mega bosses? Check. Will the game be released on the PlayStation 3 with improved high definition graphics and Move-enabled controls? I surely hope so!

Disappointment of the Year:

Longer means better, no?

The idea of making a phallic object longer, fatter, and more precise is usually desired but the Wii Motion Plus add-on is just clunky and ugly even if it does provide amazing 1:1 motion tracking. And how many games are utilizing it now? It's so low you can practically say zero. Then, Nintendo released the new enhanced Wii-motes that has the thing built into the original design, ensuring that one would feel cheated using the super-extended Wii-mote plus the add-on.  So why didn't you think about this in the first place when you made the controller, Nintendo? This is why Sony's PlayStation Move controller for the PlayStation 3 is way better than Nintendo Wii's wee-wee.


--- PERSONAL COMPUTER ---
Total Year Inductions: 68 (+36)

Favorite Game of the Year:
Developer: Riot Games
Induction Date: 04/03/2010

Your gateway into infinite fun. Just watch out for those ragers and griefers.

I have already ran out of words to describe the greatness of this game after featuring it months after months on the Monthly Gaming Analysis as the most played game for seven consecutive months. It has broken the record for the most consecutively played game in my life. I remember playing a lot of Nights: Into Dreams... on the SegaSaturn but I don't remember playing it as much as I am playing this game! The only thing that is stopping this multiplayer online battle arena game from breaking into my Top 10 Greatest Games of All Time is the messed up community. Though better than the people found in its direct competitor, Heroes of Newerth, unless when I am playing with my friends, there is always, always a rude jerk who is ready to ruin the game and my day for me and since this game lives and dies by its multiplayer feature, the game becomes both a blessing and a curse. Riot is going to release a brilliant new way to combat all of the nasty people though with the implementation of a tribunal "jury" system where the players themselves will be the judge of other people's behaviors where you can actually review chat logs and accusations from the community and mark the perpetrators guilty or innocent. The uncivilized people are already crying foul over this proposition but I cannot wait to see it get implemented. When the community is cleaned up, the game will then have a place in my Top 10 list.

Disappointment of the Year:

Let me translate it for you: "We don't like your money... Go away!"

Progress is always a good thing but you can never forget about those who are left behind because of it. The decision to make the PC version of Just Cause 2 incompatible with Windows XP is crude, evil, and unnecessary. Yes, I want Windows 7 but I am not in hurry to upgrade because I still like what I have now and there is always that whole situation with money. As if the PC gaming industry is not suffering enough, reducing the number of your potential customers is just not very smart. I ended up getting the game for the X-Box 360 and it is evident that Avalanche Studios made the wrong (not to mention offensive) move here because other developers are still allowing Direct X10 compatible games to be playable on Windows XP. Why not enjoy both worlds as the developer by enabling those with Vista and 7 to experience better graphics while still allowing XP gamers to play your game with slighly downgraded visuals? PC gamers have different hardware setups anyway, so toggling graphical options on and off is really a standard in the industry.


--- PLAYSTATION 2 ---
Total Year Inductions: 1 (-4)

Yes, the PlayStation 2 is officially dead. That's not a bad thing though, considering the fact that the PlayStation 3 has been out for quite some time and I still have a number of PS2 games that I wanted to get listed on my Purchase List. The only game I got in 2010 was Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love. I suppose I could have gotten it for the Nintendo Wii and there would have been zero games inducted for the PS2 console for this year. Thankfully, the PS2 version of the game came in a premium package and that was the reason why I opted to get it for this console. I am sure that I will have quite a few more entries for my PS2 collection but I think it's time to say my farewell to the "market life" of this system. The PS2 was and will always be the most special console I have ever had the pleasure of playing and it will remain active in my Game Room for a long time to come - something that should be very easy to accomplish because as of the date of this article, I own 462 games for the system and no other platforms come even remotely close to that number. I truly, truly love you my PS2!


--- PLAYSTATION 3 ---
Total Year Inductions: 34 (+15)

Favorite Game of the Year:
Developer: SideQuest Studios
Induction Date: 05/25/2010

There are so many bullets flying about, the game should be made into a screen saver.

I may not like the practice of selling additional content to what should have already been a full game but this side-scrolling shoot-'em-up was the most exciting thing that happened to the PlayStation 3 last year. The first game originated as a port of a PC game and this sequel was made specifically for the PS3. Yes, it is not an over-extended adventure game that cannot be completed in one sitting featuring a dashing, rugged guy whom you may or may not be secretly attracted to but what this game has is replayability. To access more areas in the game, you have to locate secret keys in the stages and once you have discovered them all, there are challenges to beat for each of the stages. There is also the online leaderboards that encourage the players to master the game. The graphics are stunning as well and though the art style is a bit lacking, it still manages to set a new standard of visual fidelity for the genre.

Disappointment of the Year:

Doing this was more fun than playing through the climax of the game.

Game of the year? No. Seriously, I don't understand why people went nuts for God of War III. I will admit that I was goo-goo ga-ga about the game while playing the first sequence where Kratos is climbing Mount Olympus on top of Gaia and that one decapitation scene still haunts me to this day. The problem with this game is that it soon fades into mediocrity the further you play it and the graphics engine sometimes looks suspiciously PS2. I have a feeling that the game was probably originally planned for the PS2 release. I mean, it would make sense to have the trilogy completed on the same system. Then, there were those first person kill scenes: my best guess is that they wanted to mimic those cheesy and forced poking sequences in 3D movies. I rather see the actual dismemberment and torture like the way it was presented during the decapitation scene. I don't get a boner seeing Kratos doing things to me in the perspective of the victims. The impact was just not there because I thought I was supposed to be Kratos! I felt like I was denied the satisfaction of offing Zeus at the end - the very reason why we play the game since the beginning of God of War II. This game should not be celebrated. Instead, it should be universally reviled for giving a very horrible end to what could have been an epic closure to a revered video game trilogy.


--- PLAYSTATION PORTABLE ---
Total Year Inductions: 4 (0)

Favorite Game of the Year:
Ys Seven
Induction Date: 08/21/2010

Say yes to Ys.

Ys Seven is a fun action role playing game. It's nothing too extraordinary unless you are a fan of the genre and/or the series. The graphics are quite plain but you want to play this for the action elements. This game was the only title that was able to engage me for a while soon after I picked it up but overall, 2010 was a bit of a dead year for my PSP - which reminds me that I should probably hook that thing up to the wall today so that the rechargeable battery wouldn't be forever dead the next time I want to play the system again.

Disappointment of the Year:

So it was revealed that the PlayStation Portable 2 is current in the works. Is Sony crazy?  Just step away from the handheld gaming race and just focus on the PlayStation 3 and the direct download service for both that console and the current PSP. Unless the new PSP2 is going to have a 3D display like the Nintendo 3DS, nobody should be touching it because we know what would happen to it in a 3DS controlled market.


--- X-BOX 360 ---
Total Year Inductions: 27 (+19)

Favorite Game of the Year:
ESPGaluda II Black Label
Developer: Cave
Induction Date: 03/04/2010

Bullet-cancel your way like you have never bullet cancel before!

This incredible "bullet-heaven" shooter may have marked the end of Cave's short period of region-free retail game releases, but even that couldn't take away the goodness that comes with this release. ESPGaluda II has one of the most complex play mechanics in a shmup and making it work for you is part of the fun. Ikaruga may still reign supreme with its polarity switching mechanics but you can always count on Cave to try and copy Treasure's success with something more outrageous, but less refined, like the delicious gender-switching time control setup found in this game!

Disappointment of the Year:

It is always easy to find something to be disappointment with when it comes to Microsoft and this year, they have stooped down to a new low with the price increase for the X-Box Live Gold membership fee. The justification? Worthless, non-gaming additions to the service like the ESPN channel and Hulu Plus. What is the X-Box 360? It's a video gaming console. What Microsoft is trying to do is turn the 360 into a PC only without the freedom to choose what kind of entertainment services you want to pay for. Disgusting.


--- INTERESTING TIDBITS ---

MOST PLAYED GAME OF 2010
Games that have been played for 10 days or more within the year:


TOTAL NUMBER OF GAMES PLAYED: 412 (-86)
18.8% of the entire collection as of 01/07/2011

TOTAL NUMBER OF GAMES INDUCTED: 158 (+63)
7.2% of the entire collection as of 01/07/2011




I HOPE THAT 2011 WILL BE A TERRIFIC YEAR FOR US GAMERS!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Change of Heart: Gaming as a Couple

Something amazing happened yesterday - my significant wanted to play a video game with me. I was given the option to pick the title for our delightful yet sudden gaming session and my mind of course immediately went to the Nintendo Wii because of the ease and comfort of controlling using the Wii-mote. The game of choice? The House of the Dead: Overkill and the reason for that is simple - the game only requires you to point the controller and shoot! We had a blast playing the game and what was supposed to be a half an hour session ended up being extended to an hour of sweet togetherness.

It may seem to be an odd choice but we have a history of playing this game before.

My significant explained to me that this will be an ongoing activity for us. I later found out that the new interest into gaming was triggered by an article that list different things that couples need to do with each other to strengthen their relationships. Apparently, playing video games together was one of the things listed. I am not sure if this magical writing was the work of Oprah.com but I am not going to complain nor ask too many questions in regards to it. Instead, I thanked my significant other for the lovely time and I plan to just enjoy these moments whenever they happen - it may be only once or twice a week but that is certainly better than nothing! The next time that we are going to do this, we are going to play a game that uses the conventional controller! I cannot wait!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Review: A Single Man

A Single Man (2009)
Genre: Drama
Format: Blu-ray
Director: Tom Ford

I am sure that many of us would agree that we don't like to think about our mortality while living our daily lives. It is a fact that everyone dies and it is also a fact that sometimes, we live as if this life will go on forever. There is probably a good reason why we should not dwell on death because it would take a lot from our enjoyment of living in the moment. The loss of a loved one can change all of that however and that is what this movie is all about.

George Falconer is a professor teaching at a university in the 1960s Los Angeles. He is still mourning over the death of his life partner, Jim, who died from a car accident several months ago. The lack of closure that came with Jim's sudden demise has completely taken over his will to live. The movie shows us a day in the life of the lonely professor as he tries to cope with the utter sense of longing and abandonment from losing someone he desperately loves. Many things remind him of the good times but those only push him further into depression.

Though this movie brings with it the usual trappings of a suppressed gay love in a time when such thing is not socially acceptable - sadly, it is still a bane to a lot of people even to this day - but the great thing about A Single Man is that it is more about the issue of coping with the aftermath of death versus the difficulty of maintaining or consummating such a relationship. This is exemplified by the love interests that present themselves to George throughout the progression of the day. Investing into somebody new is not that difficult. It's letting go of someone you have loved so dearly that is the real dilemma here.

A Single Man may not leave a lasting impression as Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain. It is more constrained and certainly less emotional. The new love subplot may be pushing things just a little bit when it comes to the realism of the situation but it does become a necessary plot device when the final moment of the film is finally revealed. The movie is still affecting and the pain presented here is certainly universal. It also has Julianne Moore with a British accent - that in itself just cannot be missed!

RATING: 3 out of 5

Monday, January 10, 2011

Video Games vs. Religious Indoctrinations

I just remembered a conversation I had with a college professor friend of mine several years ago around this time of the year. We were drinking coffee at Starbucks of all places - I don't drink coffee but I am such an accommodating person - and we ended up talking about religious indoctrinations. My friend is a semi-agnostic, semi-Christian and he asked me why I chose to become an atheist. I explained to him about my childhood, how religion never made sense to me even when I was a child. I was told by my parents that those who were not of the same religion would go to hell and my mind even back then went straight to the thoughts of people who were born in places where religions may not exist... Like the amazon jungle for example. Yes, I was quite an informed child but it didn't take being an adult to figure out that I was living amongst other people with different belief systems than that of my own family. I thought that it was not fair that just because you were born into a family of that particular religion that you get a chance to go to heaven because if you were born in a family with another religion - and I was sure then that the other religions claimed to be the true religion as well - that you would automatically go to hell if you die before converting. Of course, what could a child do living under his parents' roof and I had to suffer through my family's religious ways until I was old enough to get the heck out of there and leave that life behind.

Is this thing as dangerous as any religion's "holy book"?

During this whole discourse, I mentioned that video games - those oblique Japanese role playing games in particular - could have some importance in developing every child's mind about religions because they offer a great insight into the whole "origin" mythos that generally mimic how things work in real life. Most often, these games would address a community's understanding about their way of life and how that very faith ends up being something that could destroy them. Sometimes, the games reveal the secrets behind some made-up yet familiar ideologies and how those beliefs only truly benefited the evil doers who created them. The example that I used was Xenogears for the PlayStation and how it incorporates biblical references into its rather "blasphemous" overall storyline. I told my friend that I believe that in this world, they will always be people who would be looking for supernatural answers to why we exist and without any sort of religious belief, they would go into utter lunacy (or they would just end their misery by offing themselves) without something concrete to believe in because they couldn't cope with a truth where life actually bears no significant meaning outside of being alive itself and that an afterlife does not exist. But, exposure to the portrayal of religions in video gaming may help people clearly see the mechanics of real life religions from the perspective of someone on the outside looking in. Oh my friend was not happy with all of these things. He snapped and quickly told me that having a child playing such video games when say, he or she is born into a Christian family, is in a way, a form of indoctrination because you are trying to convince the child that your parents' religion is false and that there is another explanation out there. I explained to my friend that it is not a form of indoctrination at all. In fact, being born into a family of any religion is a form of indoctrination but the alternate views that are being shared by the video gaming media are not. I gave him this comparison: Take a religion, any religion - they each claim to be "the truth" and you cannot question their validity whatsoever (you may even lose your life by doing so). Take any religious ramblings either for or against theology in any video games - they claim to be fiction and they are open for discussions and they are certainly open to individual interpretations.

How come the births of organized religions were not synonymous with the birth of human sentience?

In the end, my friend still couldn't see it. I know it was his semi-Christian self not allowing him to see pass a certain threshold. Still, that's the way he wants to live his life and that choice is of course his. As I stated before, many people need religion to maintain a sort of order within their daily lives and a portion of them need a reason to do the good things in their lives. The bottom line is, as long as they do good things, then I am fine with that assuming that they don't try to impose their religious view upon others. The problem with religion is that many countries are under its spell and some even dictate that you cannot legally abandon the religion that you were "born with". Look, religion is not hereditary. It is a in fact, a choice. Just think about all those people who have died before the existence of your chosen religion. So they all just go to hell or whatever form of punishment that religions could devise just for being born into this existence prematurely? I don't think it is right for parents to indoctrinate their children with their religious view and it is not right to have classifications based on religion or the lack of. Indoctrination is a powerful tool and many are just not strong enough to get themselves out of that state of hypnosis. I think it is great that video games are there to perhaps help neutralize some of the effects of indoctrination. They help in freeing the mind with their robust, flexible database of information but no, they are not a form of mind control themselves.

Games Played 01/03/2011 - 01/09/2011

- 01/03/2011 -
.hack//G.U. Vol. 1: Rebirth - PlayStation 2
Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga - PlayStation 2
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 - PlayStation 2
Wizardry: Tale of the Forsaken Land - PlayStation 2

- 01/04/2011 -
.hack//G.U. Vol. 1: Rebirth - PlayStation 2
Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga - PlayStation 2

- 01/05/2011 -
.hack//G.U. Vol. 1: Rebirth - PlayStation 2
Rez - PlayStation 2

- 01/06/2011 -
Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City - NDS
Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne - PlayStation 2

- 01/07/2011 -
Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City - NDS

- 01/08/2011 -
Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City - NDS
Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne - PlayStation 2

- 01/09/2011 -
Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City - NDS
Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne - PlayStation 2

Sunday, January 9, 2011

PS3 Netflix at 1080p?

I was playing too much League of Legends on the Personal Computer this morning and since I forgot to charge my wireless mouse last night, I had to stop my extended session so that the mouse wouldn't just die on me mid match. Since I had been gaming for hours on end, I just wanted to relax with some Netflix streams and since I had to charge up my mouse on its charging dock, I decided to use the PlayStation 3 to do so. I was surprised that the stream is now upscaled to 1080p - during its introduction, it was stuck at 720p. I still prefer watching Netflix on the PC but it looks like the PS3 is now a good alternative for me instead of my noisy X-Box 360 Elite. Besides the Nintendo Wii, I also have another Netflix-enabled device in the living room in the form of a Samsung Blu-ray player that I got for my significant other. We would use that to watch random movies whenever we are in the mood but that also means that my Game Room is now strictly for gaming instead of also being a movie room for the two of us.

While most PS3 games are still at 720p, I'm just glad they at least fixed that problem for Netflix.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Don't Judge a Dungeon Crawler By Its Platform

Another new addition to my forever expanding Game Library today in the form of a Nintendo DS title: Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City. The first Etrian Odyssey that was released in 2007 is still one of the best dungeon crawler role playing games in the market with its old school hardcore design that forces you level grind your characters and make intelligent decisions when customizing their individual growth as well as their overall effectiveness as a team. It looks like this third entry is almost a carbon copy of the first game - I still haven't picked up the second but now I have an idea of how that one was probably designed - and even the first quest that involves you talking to a guard to completely charter your first dungeon map is delivered in too similar of a fashion. The environmental settings have changed however and the character classes are a lot more interesting. This game is dangerously addictive and tonight, I actually chose to play it instead of League of Legends because I want to keep leveling up my characters! Yes, Etrian Odyssey III that good.

Not only did it drown the city, it will also eat up a lot of your precious free time.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Several More From Last Year

Three new games have been inducted into the Game Library today. I had these ordered late last month because they were on sale and since I had a lot of new Steam games to mess around with, I didn't see any need to expedite the shipping. Two of them are for the X-Box 360 - Enslaved: Odyssey to the West and Resonance of Fate - while the third is Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Limited Edition for the PlayStation 3. I was really impressed by the demo for Enslaved so I hope that the remainder of the game is as memorable as the truly spectacular opening sequence. Resonance of Fate is a Tri-Ace creation so I am expecting  an engaging battle mechanics - the whole "acrobatic gun battles" seems to be rather unique. The one thing that really excites me about this game is that you can see actual changes to the characters' looks when you have them equipped with new new equipments and outfits, something that needs to happen more in Japanese role playing games. I wasn't too thrilled about Castlevania: LoS when I played the demo even with its extremely gorgeous graphics. The promise of epic boss battles in the forms of towering monstrosities in that Shadow of the Colossus fashion convinced me to pick up the game however. I hope that they will not disappoint. The packaging for the "Limited Edition" is very fancy. The case itself has an utterly lacking-in-content artbook attached inside of it and it is wrapped with a plastic sleeve. This edition comes with a soundtrack CD as well.

The first "new" games of 2011.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

December 2010 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: 41

As usual, League of Legends for the Personal Computer took the number one spot as the most played game of the month. I am still playing the non-ranked matches and I am still looking for a regular group to play with even though I do get random invites from those who are on my friend list quite regularly. I have a majority of the champions unlocked and since I have a sufficient collection of runes to customize my champion builds with, I can keep spending the accumulated Influence Points on expanding my champion roster.

999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors for the Nintendo DS really captivated me with its darkly mysterious and astonishingly gripping narrative. I am close to completing the game and this is one game that I want to finish at least by the end of January 2011 because once I have left it untouched for a while, I know that I will not be able to just jump in and play it from the mid-way point.

I was in the mood for some music last month and it had been a while since the last time I sat down to listen to my music collection. So I decided to do it the proper way - by Audiosruf-ing them! Well, I could have used the crazy wild Beat Hazard as frequently as well but since I was looking for a more relaxing overall experience, I opted for Audiosurf instead. I did play most of the tracks using the harder difficulty modes though so it ended up being more action packed than I anticipated the whole thing to be.

Best New Game of the Month:
999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors (Nintendo DS)

Unexpectedly Forgotten New Game of the Month:
Kung-Fu Live (PlayStation 3)

I Missed You I Want You Game of the Month:
DanceMasters (X-Box 360)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Games Played 12/27/2010 - 01/02/2011

- 12/27/2010 -
Dead Rising 2 - PC
Dragon Age: Origins - PC
Plants vs. Zombies - PC

- 12/28/2010 -
Dead Rising 2 - PC
Lost Planet 2 - PC
Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers - PC

- 12/29/2010 -
BattleForge - PC
Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers - PC
Serious Sam HD: Gold Edition - PC

- 12/30/2010 -
Dead Rising 2 - PC
Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers - PC

- 12/31/2010 -
Guardians of Graxia - PC
La Pucelle Tactics - PlayStation 2
Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers - PC
Red Dead Redemption - X-Box 360

- 01/01/2011 -
Etrian Odyssey - NDS
Forever Kingdom - PlayStation 2
La Pucelle Tactics - PlayStation 2
Red Dead Redemption - X-Box 360
Trapt - PlayStation 2
Wizardry: Tale of the Forsaken Land - PlayStation 2

- 01/02/2011 -
Etrian Odyssey - NDS
Wizardry: Tale of the Forsaken Land - PlayStation 2

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Rich in Games?

I stumbled upon a funny comment left on one of my silly YouTube videos yesterday where I showcased my Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS games. "you are rich I think" the comment stated and that really made me laugh. I responded with "I just don't trade in my games at Gamestop :) I keep them all."

It took some time to fill up those media towers.

It's always fascinating how people view wealth and its definition will vary from person to person of course. Generally though, it is all related to how much cash you have amassed and how you go about spending them. If I was one of those collector types who would pay high prices for rare games all the time, then yes I would then consider myself rich in that conventional sense. I can tell you honestly that I don't make a lot of money. The almost never-ending list of items on my Purchase List should reflect that. Sure I have an almost infinite desire for more games that perhaps could never ever be satiated and that may have contributed somewhat to the length of the list. If I was rich however, I would make sure that the list is short all the time since I would be able to afford them easily.

I used to get my own copies of movies until several years ago.
Not anymore though. Who knows if that will happen to my video gaming life as well.

After putting aside money for basic but important things like food, bills, and savings (and things that my significant other loves) I do however spend what remains on my video gaming hobby. Since these games don't evaporate into thin air nor do they get processed through our digestive system, they do keep their physical forms and the need for space will continue to expand as more and more of them are accumulated... At least until the arrival of the new era of full direct download for game software, something that I hope will be here soon because I don't want to completely run out of space in my Game Room.

I started keeping my gaming items early but not early enough.

I know there are a lot of people out there who have twice or even more video gaming items in their collections compared to what I have. I do suspect that these individuals a) have more money to spend on these things, or b) started to accumulate their games earlier than me. However, I never see them as being "rich" people. The bottom line is that you don't have to be rich to have an expansive video game collection. You just have to be smart about it by keeping what you picked up and you also have to be patient about the whole process because it will definitely take some time... and a little bit of money.

Decide what is valuable in your existence and stay true to yourself to enjoy living your life.