Thursday, May 31, 2012

The RX-V671 is Here!

My Yamaha RX-V671 is finally here! Now, I can have both my PlayStation 3 and X-Box 360 running at 1080p again without connecting them straight to the display and without having the sound streamed out via additional cables. I haven't connected everything to it yet - the spouse rented The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 on Blu-ray and we decided to watch it in my Game Room so I had to stop working on it - but hopefully, by the end of day tomorrow, everything will be all set. The one thing that I made sure to try out though was the receiver's 1080p upconversion. I have only tested that for the PlayStation 2 and I must say that this receiver does a better job upconverting the games than my original PS3 model ever did. I ran Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 and Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria with the 1080p bump and everything looks crystal clear. Bear in mind that the engine is left untouched because this is just a signal upconversion compared to how immaculate things look using the PCSX2 on the Personal Computer. When it comes to the sound performance, this receiver definitely triumphs over my TX-SR674. After some quick calibration, I noticed that everything sounded clearer and the surround separation became a lot more distinct. So overall, I am quite happy with the RX-V671. I look forward to the continual aural bliss it could provide me for years and years to come.

Loving the display customization feature. No more generic input name.

The Best Time to Play League of Legends

Well, actually, anytime is a great time to play League of Legends on the Personal Computer but this weekend, starting Friday June 1st 7pm PDT until Monday June 4th 7am, is definitely the best time to play this game like ever. You want to know why? Well, to celebrate the game's success in gathering 3.4 million likes on Facebook, Riot Games is boosting Influence Points gain by 34%! The coolest thing here is that the more people like the page, the higher the bonus boost will become. Not familiar with IPs? Well, they are used as a currency in LoL and they are generously awarded to you every time you complete a match. This means that you can unlock runes and champions 34% faster by playing the game like crazy this weekend. If you are new to LoL, this is the perfect time to start playing so that you can gain access to more champions quicker! The game is truly free to play - you don't have to pay a single dime to access the complete gameplay experience. Click here to open your summoner account now so that you can take advantage of this incredible opportunity. You can read more about this celebratory period by clicking here.

Update Note: 8:31pm - Forget 34%... It's now double IP weekend! Stop being stubborn if you haven't experienced LoL and start playing the game already! You won't regret it. If you're scared of getting matched with rude people, read my Social Tips for New Players and you should be good to go!

This should be the proper way to punish those who don't play LoL.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Games Played 05/21/2012 - 05/27/2012

- 05/21/2012 -
Diablo III - PC

- 05/22/2012 -
Diablo III - PC

- 05/23/2012 -
Akai Katana - X-Box 360
Bug Princess - iPad
Diablo III - PC
League of Legends - PC
Super Crossfire HD - iPad

- 05/24/2012 -
Akai Katana - X-Box 360
Diablo III - PC
League of Legends - PC
Pilotwings Resort - 3DS

- 05/25/2012 -
Diablo III - PC
League of Legends - PC

- 05/26/2012 -
Beat Hazard Ultra - iPad
Diablo III - PC
League of Legends - PC

- 05/27/2012 -
Diablo III - PC
League of Legends - PC

Monday, May 28, 2012

Putting an Old Receiver to Rest

The current audio/video receiver that I have connecting all of my devices in the Game Room - well, almost all of them - is Onkyo TX-SR674. I bought it around mid 2007 and so far, it is the best AVR I have ever used. The sad news here is that over the past several weeks, the 674 has been showing signs that it's going downhill. More specifically, the HDMI switching for it has been going on and off and now, its capability to output 1080p and analog signals via HDMI has been completely diminished. I used to have a lot of my older consoles hooked up to the receiver with only one HDMI going into my high definition display but now, all analog signals must be connected straight to the display while I have to downscale my PlayStation 3 and my X-Box 360 to run at 720p. Sure, I can always just connect them straight to my display like I did with the Personal Computer but it's not worth it for the clutter because doing so will result in the need for an additional optical cable to send the surround sound from my display to the receiver. Besides, the 1080p on the 360 has never been native anyway and only less than 1% of games on the PS3 actually run at native 1080p so I'm not missing much, right?

I will miss your alternate function as a full-fledge heater during the winter time...

Still, the perfectionist that I am, I know that I have to get everything back in order. I did a lot of reseach and noticed that a lot of people encountered the same problem with the HDMI functionality of the 674, only that it happened for them during the warranty period and I am of course no longer qualify to have Onkyo fix this for free. So I decided to just get myself a new unit. Because of the pleasant experience I have with my Onkyo - I have purchased a total of 3 Onkyo units, one sitting in the living room for my spouse's entertainment center - I was going to get another from them. But little did I know that there are a lot of complaints about the brand recently in regards to their HDMI boards. I want the next receiver to be able to functional for at least 5 years and all of the complaints I have read about the Onkyo HDMI problems deterred me from getting the TX-NR609 - I mean, I myself have just experienced them and worse still, I found out that these problems are affecting not just a particular model but the majority of the Onkyo line-up. Though I was left disappointed with the situation, I was invigorated by the other options available out there. In the end, I decided to go with a Yamaha RX-V671. It pretty much has everything that is important to me: plenty of HDMI inputs and the ability to upscale analog signals to 1080p. With this new receiver, I finally have enough HDMI slots to hook up my PC via HDMI through the receiver, thus eliminating the clutter of the analog 7.1 discreet sound input. Sure, this unit doesn't have 4K upscaling but I doubt that we will be seeing those Super HD televisions becoming a standard anytime soon. I am really looking forward to the arrival of the new receiver: My dear Onkyo TX-SR674, let's enjoy ourselves while we wait for your eventual end.

This will be my very first Yamaha receiver.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

L.G. Approved: Beat Hazard iOS

If you have an iPhone or an iPad, head over to the App Store now and download Beat Hazard Ultra from Cold Beam Games. It is currently being offered for free and if you have read my review of the Personal Computer version of the game, it is certainly one of the best, if not the best, music hybrid game in existence. I downloaded the game myself even though I already have it for the PC. I just want to provide a quick impression of this iOS version of the game. It's pretty much a carbon copy of the PC game with all the features, except the online multiplayer, intact. The visuals are pretty close to the PC version and all of those crazy flashing lights are there. The only thing that made this game less than perfect on the iPad is the controls. There is a mode where you just control the ship with one virtual stick and the shooting/aiming is down automatically. This does make things a lot easier because you only have to worry about the fidgety accuracy of one stick but when do use two, things can get a little frustrating. Still, Beat Hazard Ultra is still one awesome game, especially if you have a lot of songs downloaded to your iOS device. I only have one actually but perhaps this will encourage me to get moe digital music from the Apple.

RATING: 4 out of 5

Apple needs to release a "Dual Circle Pad Pro" for the iPad!

Is That Even LIVE Gold Related?

As I have mentioned not too long ago, my LIVE Gold subscription is expiring soon. Microsoft of course knows this and added a user-specific ad on the dashboard to remind me of that fact - little do they know that I don't give a unicorn's buttocks about its imminent dissipation. When I clicked on the ad to check out Microsoft's oh-so-generous offer (compared to the free online play offered on all other platforms), I immediately noticed that there was something wrong about the image that was used for the promotion. Please take a look:

So the Gold Membership will provide me with two kids and family game time?

It really doesn't make sense. Shouldn't that be a picture of four people talking via split screen to indicate that they are playing together from different locations? Or perhaps something a lot more accurate, like a picture of all those unnecessary apps like Netflix and Hulu for example, apps that can be accessed for free anywhere else other than on the X-Box 360? Not that honesty in your advertising would ever bring me back to LIVE Gold, Microsoft...

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Darn, That's Fast

The spouse and I had planned to leave our current Internet service provider, AT&T U-verse for a little while now. Not that the service was bad. We initially subscribed to it when we moved into our new home in 2009 and at that time, the high definition signal was quite horrible: there was a large amount of pixelation during fast moving scenes. It would have bothered me a lot but the spouse never noticed it. That problem eventually got fixed and there was nothing really to complain about. The one thing that the spouse wasn't happy with was the speed. A year ago, we upgraded to 18Mbps but of course, the main line stayed in my Game Room and the rest of the house was connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi. The spouse does have a computer room on the other side of the house and a good, stable connection to that room was surely lacking. The fastest connection offered by AT&T is 25Mbps and though that number sounds fine with me, the spouse wanted more. Well today, we have switched to SureWest as our ISP and with it, we have entered the world of fiber-optic speed.

Oh my galaxy. That's more internet power that the both of us could use at a time like ever.

The coolest thing about this of course is that we get fast access to the Internet no matter where we are in the house and we do have tons of devices hooked up to our connection. It was great that the SureWest technician was able to open up a secondary line for my spouse's computer room, which of course made the spouse really, really happy. The service also comes with two sets of cable boxes and since we don't have a HD display in the bedroom (yet), we have decided to just plop it down in my Game Room. I hardly watch television but I guess it wouldn't hurt to jump on the thing once in a while - I did look for something to watch earlier this evening but I couldn't find anything of interest between those 100+ channels. To me of course, having access to a faster Internet means that I get to download my digital games a lot faster now. I also have the convenience of fast uploads to my YouTube channel and perhaps I can start streaming my gameplay with much frequency again. And I thought that I could only get this kind of Internet connection speed if I were to live in Japan.

Soraka is Still Ugly but Who's Counting?

The visual upgrade for League of Legends on the Personal Computer is finally live today. As if this game wasn't addicting enough to begin with, now, it will be more impossible than ever before to get away from this game. I am glad that they didn't go for the aesthetic overhaul that they had previewed before but instead, they just focused on adding more details to the game map. The game was pleasing to the eyes before but after you have seen this upgrade, there is certainly no turning back. The difference is like night and day. The game looks quite expensive now and a bit darker in its overall tone, which is perfect to complement the arrival of the game's new champion, Darius, who can guillotine his enemies - complete with a nasty looking gore effect.  The bushes where you can hide in look less geometric now, the water transparencies look more convincing, and the ground textures are more varied with deeper, more varying color palettes. One of the game's 98 champions, Ashe, has even gotten a new character model as well and hopefully, this will continue to happen to the in-game models of the older champions because they don't look as good as the new ones, with Soraka being the ugliest. The coolest thing about the Ashe update is that all of her alternative skins have been revamped as well and her Queen Ashe skin that I bought is now looking a lot more gorgeous! Riot Games, you guys are the best! If you have not played LoL, now is the perfect time to start! Click here to create your new summoner account. The game is 100% free to play! Join now! Click here to read the details of the game's latest patch.

With Diablo III being out, this visual upgrade is a great move to keep people playing.

Now that is a queen!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Games Played 05/14/2012 - 05/20/2012

- 05/14/2012 -
PixelJunk SideScroller - PlayStation 3
Tekken 6 - PlayStation 3

- 05/15/2012 -
Diablo III - PC
League of Legends - PC
Mini Ninjas Demo - PC
Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II - PC

- 05/16/2012 -
Dear Esther - PC
Diablo III - PC
League of Legends - PC
Serious Sam: Double D - PC

- 05/17/2012 -
Awakening: The Dreamless Castle HD - iPad
Diablo III - PC
iFighter: The Pacific 1942 - iPad
League of Legends - PC

- 05/18/2012 -
Diablo III - PC
League of Legends - PC

- 05/19/2012 -
Diablo III - PC
League of Legends - PC
Shoot Many Robots - PC

- 05/20/2012 -
Diablo III - PC
League of Legends - PC
Rock Band 2 - X-Box 360

Screenshot of the Week:

A familiar chase.
Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II - Personal Computer

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Double Tagging: Is That Even Legal?

I went to Fry's Electronics today, specifically to check out the new televisions and receivers for the eventual  Game Room enhancements in the near future and when I got home, the green tag light on my Nintendo 3DS was lit - oh yeah another tag! When I checked to see who tagged me, I realized that it was that same Fry's employee from last month!

I see you're wearing a Mario hat now... Johnny dearest.

I would never have guessed that you can tag the same people multiple times. This is cool however because as long as I bring my 3DS with me to Fry's, I can continue to get an endless supply of new panels for Puzzle Swap as well as characters for Find Mii. The other fascinating thing is that the interaction between the two Miis were different during this second tag: It was funny how the Johnny Mii was asking about what I thought of him. Now I am really looking forward to see how things develop for the third tag - if that is even possible. Nintendo, you are so full of surprises.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Gaming with Ranidaphobia: Frog Meal

Frogs. What is it about frogs that inspire game developers to  feature them so predominantly in their games? Just think about that gigantic frog in Trine 2 - replacing it with a chameleon would have worked perfectly, right? But no, they just have to put a frog there instead. At least that frog wasn't doing anything crazy... like swallowing a person whole but that is exactly the kind of frog I found while playing Diablo III for the Personal Computer. I mainly play as the Witch Doctor and he has access to a spell called "Rain of Toads". Just the name of the spell brought the fear deep into my soul but after using it, it was actually not bad at all. You just see small little frogs jumping everywhere. These small frogs look really simple graphically: they just look green. I didn't like the spell anyway so I don't use it at all but even if I got stuck with it, it wouldn't be a problem for me. When my level was high enough, I eventually gain access to the "Toad of Hugeness" skill rune for that spell and I became curious. You know what curiosity did to all those unfortunate cats right? Well, it almost did the same to me. When you cast this spell, a huge toad appears out of nowhere and actually swallows one of your enemies whole. Yes, the tongue sticks out like Yoshi from those beloved Nintendo games and yanks the unfortunate victims in. I think I threw up a little bit in my mouth when it happened. Yes, this is why I hate frogs. They are evil and they can fit you into their slippery, elastic mouths...

I will never cast that spell again... Ever!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Achievement Enhancements Now!

As you may know, I am not a big fan of the whole "achievement" craze that got its start on the X-Box 360. When it comes to "task unlockers" though, the one found on Steam is definitely the best one there is. Playing Diablo III over the last couple of days reminded me however that when it comes to the actual presentation, Blizzard's own achievement pop-up is certainly the best in the business. I am of course only talking about the aesthetics here, not the function because placing number values on top of achievements for me is still a cheesy idea. As with the achievement pop-up in their other game, World of Warcraft, whenever you unlock an achievement in DIII, a beautiful icon and description popped up on the screen with sparkling golden flashes. It definitely feels infinitely more celebratory than those found on Steam, the PlayStation 3, and the 360. This leads me to this question: how come there hasn't been an update yet for the looks of achievement pop-ups for the platforms I mentioned? You know how generic that one on the X-Box 360 looks and it's worse on the PlayStation 3 and Steam. If you think that the "chie/phie" whores are horrible now, just wait to see how much crazier they will get if the achievement pop-up looks as beautiful as Blizzy's, which is of course a good thing for developers because if they offer easy achievement/trophies, they will get guaranteed sales! Wait are you waiting for Microsoft/Sony/Valve? Do it! Make those achievement pop-ups pretty!

Update Note: 05/17/2012 - I must also add that the friend achievement notification that pops up whenever your friend unlocks an achievement is a great idea that should be implemented everywhere as well. It can be turned on and off in case you have too many friends playing and it pops up non-stop. It would be entertaining to see the announcements while playing on the 360 for example, especially when an achievement whore is in heat and I am sure "chie/phie" whores would appreciate this feature very much. It would be funny because they won't play until their friends are online to get the full effect of the whoring session.

Not sure which is cuter: the actual pop-up or the name of the achievement.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Of Demons and Inter-Species Animal Mingling

As I have posted yesterday, I stayed up for the launch of Daiblo III for the Personal Computer by Blizzard. And the result of that? Well, unfortunately, I wasn't one of the lucky ones who were able to actually sneak into game servers alongside the millions who were plugging in their account passwords and clicking enter like a madman/woman/cat. I was so happy when I was able to actually get authenticated by the server but then after about a couple of minutes of trying to access the database of my characters, which of course were none since I haven't played the game yet, the server timed out on me. After trying intermittently for about half hour, I went to bed. The good news? Well, as soon as I woke up this morning, I was able to get into the game immediately. My friend Dan from Gameolio who was attempting to log in from Australia was able to get in around 3am PDT so apparently it took about 3 hours to get almost everyone into the game. Though I was annoyed that I couldn't get in at launch, I wasn't bitter about it because well, it's only the most anticipated game sequels in the last 10 years so the ridiculous amount of turn out was expected though I still personally think that Blizzy could have handled it a lot better.

The first thing I did early this morning. The spouse wasn't too pleased.

But guess what? One game actually made me stop playing DIII today for a bit and that game was Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II via Steam. I noticed that it was made available to be downloaded earlier than usual for its release day so I did just that immediately. I will tell you that so far, I am very impressed by the game. It is miles better than Episode I, no pun intended. I have only completed 2 and a half zones thus far out of the 4 - and I haven't touched the Metal Sonic scenario yet - but I can tell you that one of the acts is definitely the best stage in a Sonic game like ever. It was totally incredible: I will tell you which one in my review of the game but Sonic fans will probably feel it too while they are going through that act. Then, there is that Dr. Eggman boss battle for the first zone. If all the remaining Eggman bosses in this game are even remotely close to this, then it means that Sonic Team has learned its lesson from the first game - or maybe Dimps just took over the whole thing. I really love how the game teases you with a potential repeat boss then BAM! It's a brand new Eggman boss - woah! I haven't been this excited playing a Sonic game in a very, very long time. That in itself should indicate how good this game really is.

Binary Domain and now this? Sega, welcome back to your godly pedestal!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Steam: Now Invading a GameStop Near You!

Oh this is so unexpected. Steam has partnered up with GameStop to have the retailer sell Steam Wallet Codes to their customers. I am not sure if this whole situation supposed to be ironic or just plain sadistic. I mean, you know that GameStop retail stores are going to disappear in the near future due to digital distribution of games but now they are working with Steam in selling money for people to put into their Steam Wallet. The other part that's confusing to me is the fact that Valve chose GameStop for this in the first place. 7 Eleven, maybe, but GameStop? I mean, no Personal Computer gamers in their right mind would ever stop into a retail store anyway these days to pick up games because, well, Steam is all digital though some games do get physical copies that can be registered into your Steam account. And I thought GameStop hated digital download distributors because they are definite cause of Gamestop's eventual nonexistent retail business? Maybe GameStop is just embracing its fate and decided to make some last bit of money before the ability to do that via retail is gone. It is more likely that this is just Valve's ploy to get the Steam brand into the minds of those crazy console-only gamers so that those maniacs can finally learn about the powerhouse of gaming experience offered by the Steam service. I can see it now... A couple of console-only gamers walking into their favorite GameStop, saw the Steam Wallet Codes, and started asking the clueless GameStop employees about Steam. Smart move Valve but yes, very, very sadistic of you. Click here to learn more abut the Steam Wallet Codes.

At first I was like, "What the heck is GameStop doing in my Steam?"

The Longest 6 Hours of My Life?

After pre-loading the game file from Blizzard less than 2 weeks ago, the Diablo III client on my Personal Computer was able to fully install the game for me earlier this morning. It was quick, it was easy, and it was another testament to the grandeur that is direct digital distribution of games. Now, DIII owners around the world are just waiting for Blizzard to make the game's servers available, starting at 12:01 PDT tomorrow morning. It's going to get ugly because there will be many people trying to get into the game the moment those servers go live. The real question here, should I even make an attempt to wait it out and be one of the millions to play the game as soon as it becomes available?

I want to play it now!

The answer to that is easy: It's a definite yes. I mean, if the servers ended up being overloaded and there is a horrible wait time, I can just easily head to the bedroom and go to sleep, no harm done - though that would be rather frustrating. I am hoping that everything will be smooth though: I am sure Blizzard knows that there are plenty of people wanting to play this game. With the decision to say up determined, now I have to plan out the rest of the night to make the wait bearable. I am one of those people who really hates waiting. I get restless when I wait and I become unable to focus on doing anything productive. Still, I think that there are things that I can do to help me out tonight. Here are my options:

1) Play some League of Legends - one match on the Summoner's Rift map could last from half an hour to a full hour. The game is so engaging, it will be easy to breeze through 6-7 rounds of LoL.

2) Continue my Titan Quest, Sacred 2: Fallen Angel, as well as my Torchlight II Beta adventures. You know how these games work. Time flies by so fast when you are completing quests, slaying monsters, and picking up a never-ending amount of loot. The only problem with this is that it may be an overkill to transition between them to DIII.

3) Try to convince the spouse to spend some time with me in the Game Room. This is a challenging task but the reward it yields is awesome. I really love having the spouse watch me play games and start asking me questions about what exactly it is that I do with the games I play. Being able to do this tonight will distract me for at least one hour - if it would even last that long. Oh darn, I forgot... That stupid show "America's Got Talent" premiers tonight and the spouse loves that show to death.

4) Watch some new movies. There are a couple of them I have been dying to experience, like the recently released Mother's Day and that one horror import from the Philippines called The Road. I think if I combine these two, I will reach midnight shortly after.

And there you have it. it's going to be very busy for a Monday night, packed full of activities to ensure that I will make it to midnight in one piece with my sanity still intact. Oh yes, this is going to be the longest night of my life indeed.

Games Played 05/07/2012 - 05/13/2012

- 05/07/2012 -
Fishdom HD - iPad
Sacred 2: Fallen Angel - PC
Titan Quest - PC

- 05/08/2012 -
Fishdom HD - iPad
League of Legends - PC
Sacred 2: Fallen Angel - PC

- 05/09/2012 -
Beat the Beast HD - iPad
League of Legends - PC
Sacred 2: Fallen Angel - PC

- 05/10/2012 -
League of Legends - PC
Sacred 2: Fallen Angel - PC
Super Crossfire HD - iPad
Swordigo - iPad

- 05/11/2012 -
Fishdom HD - iPad
League of Legends - PC
Sacred 2: Fallen Angel - PC
Warlock: Master of the Arcane - PC

- 05/12/2012 -
Fishdom HD - iPad
League of Legends - PC
Street Fighter x Tekken - PC
Torchlight II Beta - PC

- 05/13/2012 -
Guild Wars - PC
League of Legends - PC
Mission Sword - iPad
Otomedius Excellent - X-Box 360
Sacred 2: Fallen Angel - PC
Street Fighter x Tekken - PC
Warlock: Master of the Arcane - PC

Screenshot of the Week:

Battling the mighty Cerberus.
Titan Quest - Personal Computer

Sunday, May 13, 2012

April 2012 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.


Total Games Played: 67

It was another predictable month: League of Legends for the Personal Computer once again reigned supreme over all other games that I played. But what's this? The DOTA 2 Beta on the PC had slowly crept up the ladder and was the second played game of the month. I still haven't played with another live human being ever since I discovered that I could just team up with the game's bots and I will continue to do so until I am more comfortable with the game because I am still cautious about the game's community. There is a player report function in DOTA 2 and I like that you are able to also commend players for taking a positive role in the game in addition to reporting the abusive players. Of course, the system can easily be abused and there is also a limit to the amount that you can submit. Can't say much about the community however because I haven't participate fully in it just yet but the first impression was not so pleasant though when I did team-up with others against the bots.

Then we have Elf Defense for the iOS. It's a tower defense game and it's actually pretty good. I downloaded it when it was offered for free but then I removed it from my Game Library because of its broken gameplay. To play the game proper, one is forced to make in-app purchases because just having the towers are not enough. I tried repeating the completed maps over and over again and I still find myself handicapped when I try to to progress through the game. It's a real shame because without the dependence on the cash shop, this could have easily been one of the better games for the genre on the iOS because of its adorable graphics and cool looking character-towers.

This Month's Inductees:

Total Inductions: 35

Friday, May 11, 2012

Impossible Crossover Now Possible

Today, Capcom's Street Fighter x Tekken has finally been released for the Personal Computer. It's a game that I have been looking forward to because the very idea of having Street Fighter characters fighting Tekken characters is just so preposterous and crazy, you can't help but to say yes to the whole thing. If really thought that Tekken vs. Virtua Fighter would happen first before this game because those two games directly compete with each other and such pairing makes a lot more sense. Still, Capcom is able to make it happen, despite all the grumblings in regards to the developer's greedy practices: withholding the full character roster as well as the extra costumes only to be unlockable later thus securing more money from the customers.

You know it's hot when Ryu is posing with a guy other than Ken.

How do I feel about Capcom's greed? Well, it's expected. This game is a huge deal, just like how Street Fighter IV was and they know that they can make a lot of money from it. At least we should be thankful that they are committing to just provide all the additional updates into the main game via downloadable contents instead of opting for standalone releases like they did with SFIV and Marvel vs. Capcom 3. I can agree that it's annoying but since I find much value in the game, it doesn't bother me - as you can probably gather from me purchasing that costume pack for Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition last year - as much as it bothers those who found it to be inexcusable. We all have to remember that the gaming industry is a cutthroat business and developers need to do whatever they possibly can to secure some good revenues in.

Capcom's visual interpretation of Tekken characters is brilliant.

Now on to the game itself. Performance-wise, though this should be expected by now from Capcom's other console ports, SFxT performs beautifully on my Personal Computer, running at native 1920 x 1080 at silky smooth 60 frames per second with everything maxed out. I have heard people complaining about how laggy the online matches are. The one match that I was able to find with an opponent in the same region with a 3 bar connection and an "A" benchmark rating had no lag but there was hardly anyone playing this game online when I was searching earlier with those criteria selected. Gameplay wise, I really like how the Tekken characters play and the adjustments made to the Street Fighter characters to balance out the roster. It's a 2 versus 2 game but the round will end when one of the fighters in your team falls. Its tag-empowered mechanics encourages players to link combos and play really aggressively. It feels like a Street Fighter game with a little bit of Tekken thrown in. It doesn't feel as polished as SFIV and it is somewhat disappointing that the Capcom fighters look the same as they did in SFIV - it would have been cooler if they get new 3D models and animation - but what really makes this game enjoyable is the cast from Tekken. They all look fresh and new though definitely a bit too jolly than their usual selves. Their signature moves made it into the game but they don't look as flashy as the ones that the Street Fighter guys have in their disposal. I am really looking forward to explore this game more but too bad that the spouse would never touch the second controller to play the local co-op mode. Well, at least the game allows me to find an online co-op partner. I hope there will be plenty of people looking for one because I really do "Love to Tag".

My two favorite girls in the same game! No... Vega is not one of them.


Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Journey's End Could Be... Now

My Game Library has reached the 2,500+ count just the other day and that started me thinking again about that analysis I wrote back in January of 2011 regarding the number of gaming hours I would need to get through all of my video games that I have yet to fully explore. I have gotten 300+ games added to the total number since then so I know that the time commitment to experience all of these wonderful games I have is continually going up by each gaming induction. I was also thinking about how short our lives in this plain of existence really is and wondered how far I would be able to get when it comes to the ever-evolving video gaming experience and technology but I know better than to dwell too long in the past and fantasize too much about the future.

Completion is not space-filled, but a heart fulfilled.

We have to live in the moment and cherish what it is that we have as a result of what happened in our past and by the prospect that the future would yield nothing but the best. The fact of the matter is, I have a lot of video games. Perhaps too many. If I were to stop inducting more games into my Game Library, it really doesn't matter anymore. I could pretty much live the rest of my life with what I already have now. Sure, I would love to experience the new things that gaming has to offer and I know there are still plenty of things the gaming world can bring into the lives of us gamers. But what is "new" anyway? Is it new technology? New game design? "New" is really in its barest essence in video gaming has a lot to do with the activity of playing video games and though a game may have been inducted into my Game Library a decade ago, if I never explore its contents in their entirety, that that game can still be classified as "new". Time doesn't move chronologically as a gamer, time stands still contextually until it is spent playing a game. Video games do last forever, a constant, even though I don't but that's just how the game is played. I think it's only responsible to embrace that rule if I want to be successful in taking advantage of the wonder and fulfillment that video games can provide me.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Grand Torchlight Giveaway!

I have an extra copy of the Steam version of Torchlight by Runic Games for the Personal Computer that I would love to present to one lucky reader! Are you itching for some dungeon crawling action while waiting for the release of Diablo III next week? Not feeling that pre-order promotion for Torchlight II on Steam that does give you the original Torchlight for free? Or are you just hungry for a new game to play? Whatever the reason may be, here is your chance to win this $14.99 game! You must have a Steam account to qualify and the game will be delivered to the winner via the Steam client. To enter, you must leave a comment on this very article expressing your interest. If you don't have a blogger profile that has your contact email, please make sure to include it in your comment. You must also follow the blog, if you haven't already, by clicking "Join this site" link to the right hand side of the page. Entries must be submitted by 8am PDT Saturday 05/12/2012. The randomly selected winner will be announced shortly after the deadline. Good luck!

Not advertised are the included level editor and the MAC version.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Just 1 More Month to LIVE

I think it is safe for me to conclude, once again, that the X-Box LIVE Gold subscription has no place in my gaming life. About two months ago, I got a 3-month free access to LIVE Gold and since then, I have played zero seconds of online games on the X-Box 360. I don't care about the other worthless features of the LIVE Gold subscription - I can cross-game chat and even cross-platform chat using Skype or Steam and get access to streams and social sites for free on the Personal Computer. Mind you that it's not that I was never on the 360: I actually like to jump on the 360 usually during the early evening. The friend of mine who was supposed to play some online games with me decided to actually quit LIVE Gold in early April, after failing to appear throughout the month of March. He was the reason why I even considered getting the $1 for a month LIVE Gold subscription because he was insisting that I come back for some online fun: So glad I didn't waste my money. It's not like this is the only time I am left disappointed with my return to LIVE, there was that free month in December of last year and that proved to be useless as well. June 6th is actual date when my LIVE Gold expires. I doubt anything exciting is going to happen before then.

Maybe it would help if the beacons can go beyond your registered friends list.

Monday, May 7, 2012

No Stink of Fish Poop: Digital Aquarium

When Fishdom HD for the iOS by Playrix Entertainment was offered as a free download sometime last week, I snatched it up immediately and I have been playing it a lot whenever I get a chance to: on the bed, on the toilet, during game load screens, during dinner, and so on and so forth. The game is a puzzle plus digital aquarium hybrid. The puzzle aspect of the game requires you to clear colored panels on a large board by matching three or more similar aquatic-themed icons. When you have completed a level, you are rewarded with cash that can then be spent on your digital aquarium. It's quite addicting, especially for someone like me who is crazy about aquariums, digital or otherwise. And yes, I may have aquaphobia but aquariums are okay with me.

There are three different tanks for you to work on!

While showing my pimped up aquarium to the spouse today, I came up with a brilliant idea:The Fishdom HD aquarium should be a permanent fixture of  my Game Room. I managed to accomplish this by using the game's view mode to remove all the user interface so that the aquarium can be admired in full view and then turning off the screen locking function of the iPad. I then placed the iPad on a stand on top of the game cabinet next to the entertainment center and this will become the permanent storage location for my iPad. I also muted the game music while leaving the sound effect on and the result? A cool looking digital aquarium! Sure the game looks cartoon-ish but the movement and animation of the fish in the game are actually pretty darn impressive. Everything is so colorful and it's relaxing to see the random movement of the fish. The fact that I can always change things up on the screen makes this the best aquarium ever! Well, real fish is always way cooler but this is certainly almost as exciting!

Now I don't have to buy that small aquarium for my room anymore hun.

Games Played 04/30/2012 - 05/06/2012

- 04/30/2012 -
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind Game of the Year Edition - PC
Elf Defense - iPad
FantasyxRunners - iPad
Final Freeway - iPad

- 05/01/2012 -
Dodonpachi Resurrection - iPad
Dodonpachi Resurrection HD Lite - iPad
The 7th Guest - iPad
The 7th Guest: Infection - iPad

- 05/02/2012 -
Binary Domain - PC
FantasyxRunners - iPad
League of Legends - PC

- 05/03/2012 -
Aralon: Sword and Shadow HD - iPad
FantasyxRunners - iPad
Final Fantasy XII - PlayStation 2
Gatling Gears - PC
League of Legends - PC
Shadow Hearts: Covenant - PlayStation 2
Soul Calibur III - PlayStation 2

- 05/04/2012 -
Assault Heroes 2 - X-Box 360
Bejeweled 3 - PC
Fishdom HD - iPad
Kingdom Hearts II - PlayStation 2
League of Legends - PC
Gatling Gears - PC
Rock Band 2 - X-Box 360
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 - PlayStation 2

- 05/05/2012 -
League of Legends - PC
Ridge Racer: Unbounded Demo - PC
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 - PlayStation 2
Titan Attacks! - PC
Train Defense - PC

- 05/06/2012 -
Fishdom HD - iPad
League of Legends - PC
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 - PlayStation 2
Soul Calibur III - PlayStation 2
Titan Quest - PC

Screenshot of the Week:

Our hidden strengths are also our hidden weaknesses.
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 - PlayStation 2

Friday, May 4, 2012

LoL: Some Charity for Your Vanity

I was going to get an alternate skin for Lux for League of Legends on the Personal Computer today since it one is currently on sale but then my attention got shifted to a special promotion for an awesome skin for Jax. So I decided to get "Jaximus" instead because 100% of the sale for this skin between today and 10:30am PST on 05/18/2012 will go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The skin itself looks pretty darn awesome though I hardly ever play Jax but this should encourage me to try him out every now and then .

I have always hated his default lamppost weapon. That axe however... Heck yeah baby!

Diablo III on the X-Box 360

It looks like Diablo III has reached the X-Box 360... in the form of an advertisement. I am very intrigued by this. Why would Blizzard spend money to advertise on the X-Box 360 dashboard? Perhaps that they think that there are a lot of Personal Computer gamers are multi-platform gamers? Well, that assumption would probably be true and I am one of them. But it would be insane to think that PC gamers who also game on the 360 would not already be informed about Diablo III so isn't it a waste of money to advertise here? Then again, I do know some people who rather game on the 360 than the PC for some weird reason so perhaps Blizzy is aiming at those people? I don't know, it doesn't make sense. Maybe this is a prep for the eventual Kinect-powered 360 version of Diablo III where you move the character by moving your left hand, aim using the right hand, and trigger abilities using voice commands?

 What's next? PlayStation 3 and Wii U commercials on the 360?

Back to PCSX2

I first started messing around with the PCSX2, the PlayStation 2 emulator that allows you to run PS2 discs on your Personal Computer, a couple of years ago, in June of 2010 to be exact. Though flawed and riddled with bugs, the PCSX2 emulator is a powerful piece of software but several days after messing with it, I decided to just stick to the PlayStation 3 to play my PS2 games because it's a lot more convenient and I don't have to worry about encountering graphical bugs, which really overweighs the emulator's ability to render PS2 games to stunning high resolution - it can even run the games at native 1080p, something that a lot of those recent supposed "HD" remakes can't even provide.

Well, my original backwards-compatible PS3 died in August of 2010 while I was really having fun playing my PS2 games. The event stopped me in my PS2 gaming tracks, perhaps because it was such a traumatic event, the fact that I then decided to just get the newer PS3 model, thus losing my ability to play my PS2 games on it - to be honest, not much was lost because the upscaler of the PS3 for the PS2 games was, let's just say, not very spectacular. I didn't even think about playing my PS2 games on the PCSX2 again, until yesterday. Thus, I downloaded the latest version of the software from the official site and started to see if it has become more stable than it was before. I have upgraded my graphics card between then and now so I was expecting things to be a little better this time around and it is, to an extent.

Kingdom Hearts II running at 4 times its original resolution is quite a sight to behold.

A definite improvement now for me is that the software doesn't crash as often as it did before - it only did once over the past 2 days. In terms of the actual game performance, well, that's title dependent and the games that are listed as playable on the official list doesn't necessary translate into a smooth experience. It is hard to tell whether or not the new graphics card helped because the games that I have troubles with before like Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria is still buggy as heck with slow frame rates and corrupted visuals. But then when I booted Final Fantasy XII up, the slight slowdown and sound bugs I encountered before are now gone. I do think that using the Direct X10/11 engine causes less graphical problems and I couldn't select it before on my previous graphics card. The one thing that I want to do this time around is just stick to a couple of games and play through them until the end instead of jumping from one title to the next and I do have a whole lot of PS2 games so it's easy to get lost in the whole excitement. I found that Kingdom Hearts II runs extremely well. So does FFXII and if you could see these running at native full HD, you will be in awe by how incredible they look through the PCSX2. I am definitely going to start with these titles or at least ensure that they will be my focus. That first act of KHII can be extremely boring though but I have gotten through it once so I know I can do it again, especially now with the sharp, boosted graphics. If you would like to see just how great things could look when playing PS2 games using the PCSX2, check out the official PCSX2 channel on YouTube.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

It May Not Be Indie, But It's a Good Deal

Okay, so if you are able to get your games published by Electronic Arts, one of the largest, and most ruthless, gaming companies there is, your games should not be considered "indie" titles. But in such a strange twist of fate, EA themselves are bundling a bunch of their games into what they are calling an "Indie Bundle" via Steam. I am assuming that EA knows that people usually like to support indie games instead of those published by megalomaniac companies so attaching that name to this bundle would result in a lot of profit.

70% discount? Hard to say no to that.

Okay, so the games included in this bundle are not indie games but they are games that I am definitely interested in. Sure, the bundle may be misleading - EA should have just called it an "EA Love Bundle" or something - but that's a pretty good deal on all of those games. I have been wanting to play Gatling Gears by Vanguard Games for a long while now, being a shoot-'em-up fanatic that I am, so I thought that it was a good time to finally get in on the action - and oh, it ends up being such a great game too! Really loving it. I am looking forward to play the rest of these "indie" games as well.

A game that looks THIS good can't possibly be an indie title...

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Top 10 Greatest Games Update

This update doesn't happen very often. The last time it did was in 2009, but I have waited long enough to make this official. League of Legends by Riot Games for the Personal Computer has now made it into my Top 10 Greatest Games of All Time list. Why has it taken this long for this to happen when I pretty much play the game almost every single day you ask? Well, the one thing that always bothers me about the game is the community. Though definitely a lot friendlier than those found in its Multiplayer Online Battle Arena competitors, I always find several unsavory people to play with almost every single time that I logged into the game. Riot has worked hard to fix this with the implementation of the Tribunal System and they have always encouraged absolute adherence to the Summoner's Code. It's almost impossible to completely clean up the community and Riot can't be blamed for that. They did something remarkable with the last patch with the Spectator Mode however: cross team chat is now disabled by default! One of the favorite activities of rude people in this game is that they like to complain to the enemy team about their own teammates - yeah, so damaging to team morale. All of a sudden, now the team chat is a lot quieter ever since this implementation. I think that Riot has already done everything that they could with the community so I am happy to announce that LoL not only made the list, but it has become the third greatest game that I have ever played in my life thus far. Want to join in on the fun? Sign up to play the game today by clicking here.

Diablo III Brewing in My Hard Drive

Today is that fateful day when I actually pre-purchased Diablo III for the Personal Computer. And no, I didn't pre-purchase the physical copy of the game but the digital version straight from Blizzard. When the game is unlocked on the 15th of this month, all I have to do is access the game without having to wait for it to be delivered to me via mail nor do I have to actually travel to an electronic store to pick one up. This kind of purchase is an example of how convenient direct digital distribution truly is and it is the eventual future of video gaming. Well, it's already mostly a reality for PC gamers.

Don't waste your gas. Don't waste your time. Just do the digital! 

The one thing that I frequently see many people complaining about in gaming forums in regards to direct digital distribution - beside that unquenchable desire to hold on to physical things - is the possibility of people being unable to download newly released games because many people will want to buy it on the day of release thus overloading the download server. Well, the part that these people don't realize is that digital games can be downloaded in advance only to be unlocked later. Sure, big games will result in slower download on the actual day of release but why wait until then when you can download them into your HDD  say a couple of days before? As digital distribution becomes a standard across the spectrum of video gaming universe, Internet technology and speed will continually become much improved so I doubt that failure for fast download would be a prominent issue. Just remember this folks - which would you rather have when you need to move to a new place or if, galaxy forbids, something were to happen to your home? Digital games that you easily can back-up to a HDD and conveniently re-download or a massive pile of physical games that you know cannot fit into both of your hands? I can tell you right now that moving my humongous physical game collection to my new house in 2009 was a true "rear touch". Embrace technology... today!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

LoL Spectator Mode: Who's Watching You?

Today, Riot Games has released the Spectator Mode for League of Legends on the Personal Computer. Now you can forget watching ugly streams with bad commentary from game streaming sites and instead, watch quality matches at fluid 60 frames per second in your display's native high resolution with the in-game engine. LoL is a game that is fun to play but it is also very fun to watch. Since I am alone in playing my video games at the local level, sometimes I just want to watch other people play video games and that is why I like to frequent Now, I know that I can just boot up LoL and just watch matches when I don't feel like playing the game. The coolest thing about this feature is the ability to easily jump into a friend's match and watch that friend play the game! Of course the mode has a 6 minute delay so that cheating becomes impossible. You can read up on the details of this awesome new mode by clicking here. Still not playing LoL - have you checked your brain yet to detect for possible neuron deterioration? - please click here immediately to sign up for your free summoner account. The game is truly free. Do it now! Want to watch me play? Feel free to add Circumstance to your friend's list!

The delicious fun that is voyeurism.

Zelda Wall Crawl: Impossible Mission?

My Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Poster Set from Club Nintendo arrived yesterday and man, they look really good. I want these babies posted up on the wall of my Game Room but my walls are already very busy, so busy that one of my previous Nintendo posters had to be placed outside of the room. There is actually one area where I could place them and that is the empty wall behind my entertainment center. This is going to be quite challenging because it may involve me moving the display out of the way. One thing that I am considering right now is using actual poster frames for these three posters because it would definitely make the whole process easier. Instead of trying to flatten these posters to the wall with adhesives, I just have to properly placed some nails on the wall and everything will be set. We'll see how things go.

The many faces of Link.

The final frontier of poster hanging.

Morrowind Mod Madness

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind Game of the Year Edition is currently discounted on Steam and I decided to induct it into my Game Library yesterday. I have played the game before on the X-Box and though I have the GotY X-Box edition, I have never played the expanded contents of the game. I did play through the original content with the vanilla Morrowind and when the GotY version came out, I gave that original version away to a friend of mine to justify the purchase of the GotY. I know that the mod community for the Personal Computer version has worked very, very hard ever since the game's release to improve upon the graphics of the game so I know that I would be in for a treat with this PC version. As soon as the game has been installed by the Steam client, I immediately went to the Morrowind Overhaul website which houses what many say is the best mod compilation for the game. Basically, the 1.58GB file that you download from this site - that is one a half times larger than the actual game - contains the community's best mods, packaged as one, and everything even comes with an easy to follow instruction as well as an easier to execute installation process. I will let the result speak for itself. These are screenshots taken from the very familiar starting area of the game:

It looks like a recently released title.

I can't wait to explore Morrowind again!

I must add that with the new incredible graphical enhancements, the game is running very smoothly on my PC. The most exciting prospect to this is that I can now explore the game's expansions with better a visual presentation. I really helps that the game will at least look new when I am exploring the original content. Note that I didn't have any gameplay alterations enabled with the included mods except for the user interface changes because I don't bellieve in those. I just want the graphical improvement but not gameplay deviations. If I want to make the game easier, well, I may as well just play The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, right? There is one annoying thing about the Morrowind Overhaul however: you must disable Window's User Account Control for it to be able to work its magic with the game. I am a control freak and that of course bothers me. It's a good trade off but if only it could be remedied somehow, then everything would be utterly perfect.

Update Note: 09/02/2014 - I have learned last week that on Windows 8, I don't even have to turn off UAC to get this beauty working so I re-installed the game plus the mod and everything ran perfectly! So those who are interested in getting this mod but is unwilling to risk potential PC damage can now enjoy this major graphical overhaul for the game and partake in the fun!