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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Some Games are Just Not Rentable

I am still waiting for my first two rental games to arrive. I live in Northern California and the closest GameFly distribution center is located in Los Angeles. Realistically, it should really take one day for them to arrive but we all know how slow the US Mail is so it should take about 2 days (or 3 on a bad week) for them to get to me. I am not too much in a hurry to play Final Fantasy XIII-2, though I did find the demo on the PlayStation Network Store interesting. I placed it on top of my queue mostly to test out whether or not a game that popular would make it out of the queue easily - guess I got lucky this time. The second game sent to me is Catherine for the PlayStation 3. I thought about getting one PS3 and then one X-Box 360 game at a time so that the consoles don't have to endue long sessions of play but then I know that I was just being silly.

The selections are not bad, but not all of them will work as rental games.

While I was browsing the list of games available on GameFly, I noticed that I just couldn't make myself place certain games into the queue. I realized that it doesn't make sense for me to rent games that I cannot possibly play repeatedly one day after the other. These include racing games - like the upcoming SSX, fighting games - like the recently released Soul Calibur V, as well as other games that have that are designed with short-burst gameplay in mind - like Rhythm Heaven Fever that will be released shortly. I may lose interest in them after a day or two only to have that desire to play them again a little later on. What I have decided to do is focused on the long adventure games or those titles that usually have no gameplay to offer after a single play-through. Besides the two games mentioned in the previous paragraph, these include Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, Asura's Wrath, and Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. It is a little too early to worry about these things I suppose. I have to wait to see if I could survive the initial wave of games first.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Unlimited PC Play... What?

I was able to get a referral back to the GameFly service so the game rentals will start to become a part of my life from this day forth. I did place Final Fantasy XIII-2 first on my queue but I am doubting that I will be getting that mailed to me (impress me GameFly, impress me, I tripple dare you). With their recent merger with Direct2Drive comes another game download client, and this one is still in beta... I don't like these things, especially when it takes five times as much memory to run compared to Steam, ewww. I was pleasantly surprised to find out however that "Unlimited PC Play" has been added to the GameFly service and this includes access to 275 Personal Computer games that you can freely download to your computer to play. A majority of these games are quite horrible where you can find the likes of the Diner Dash series amongst other dity pile of trash but slotted between them are a number of recognizably quality titles like The Dark Eye: Drakensang and Saints Row 2. Hey, free games are free games and they didn't have to include these to the service but they did. After you have downloaded the games, you can play them without running the GameFly client or having it connected to the Internet. My understanding is that once you stop the GameFly subscription, you will no longer have access to these free games but since it's not directly linked to the client, I am not exactly sure how that works. I tried looking for traces of something running in the background concurrent to the games but found none: Interesting. Well, I am off to a good start here. We'll see how long my relationship with this service last.

How things have changed since I last saw you, GameFly.
Wait, the number of distribution centers is still the same?!

Update Note: Wow, right before I publish this post, I went to look at my queue real quickly and saw that they have shipped out Final Fantasy XIII-2 for the PlayStation 3 to me. Oh my galaxy... This is good.

Games Played 01/23/2012 - 01/29/2012

- 01/23/2012 -
Final Fantasy IV - NDS
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time - NDS
Photo Dojo - NDS

- 01/24/2012 -
Age of Zombies Anniversary - iPad
Bug Princess - iPad
Danmaku: Unlimited - iPad
Dodonpachi Resurrection - iPad
Final Fantasy IV - NDS
Fishdom HD - iPad
League of Legends - PC

- 01/25/2012 -
Deathsmiles IIX - X-Box 360
League of Legends - PC
Photo Dojo - NDS
Super Mario 3D Land - 3DS

- 01/26/2012 -
League of Legends - PC
Satazius - PC

- 01/27/2012 -
League of Legends - PC

- 01/28/2012 -
Etrian Odyssey - NDS
League of Legends - PC

- 01/29/2012 -
The King of Fighters XIII - PlayStation 3
Fishdom - PC
Fishdom H2O: Hidden Odyssey - PC
League of Legends - PC
Raiden IV - X-Box 360

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Flight Risk

I made mentioned of the dichotomy between "owning" and "playing" video games over the past week and I think it's time that I lay out my major gaming plan for the year 2012. I think the spouse's curry beef dinner really hit the spot too and it motivated me to write a little bit more today. About two and a half years ago, I decided to start renting games through GameFly due to curiosity. Renting video games did change the way I play my games, in which I made sure that I dedicate a good amount of time getting through the games that I rented versus my usual mood-dependent gaming. Though I didn't like that feeling of rushing through a game - this can be conquered after spending a lot of time renting I am sure - it was a positive experience overall. The main reason why I stopped renting was because I was moving to my new house and if that didn't happen, I am sure that I would probably still be with GameFly at the moment. I have started looking for restart discounts and when I find one, it's game on. Though it would be easier to find discounts as a new user, I do want to keep my current GameFly account because it is attached to my recently merged Direct2Drive account.

That is a very good question...

The gaming goal for 2012 is to minimize the induction of console games into my Game Library. Of course, there will always be exceptions to that rule. There will always be rented games that I may end up inducting later on in the future and all of this will be tracked in my Rented Games list. The induction rate for Personal Computer games, though possibly impacted by time spent on rented games, would probably remain the same because PC games can't be rented: Please, don't even talk to me about OnLive. The same can be said about the direct download games on the consoles though those will be few and far between. I can't wait to get this started. 2012 will be am interesting year of gaming for me.

X-Box 360 Dashboard: A Strange Observation

I found the free "My Xbox LIVE" application from Microsoft on the iPad's App Store today and thought that I should give it a download. It's basically the simplified version of the 360's dashboard where you can access the console's featured videos, your friend's list and their real time status, as well as your game history. You can edit your avatar and you can even send messages from the app, providing of course that you are a LIVE Gold member. The cool thing here is that all the avatars presented in the app are drawn with real-time 3D models, which is actually cooler to look at than the faux 3D found on the xbox.com site. It's a really silky smooth app but then something hit me. Why is it that all the presentation of the 360 dashboard whether as an app, or on the website, or through Game for Windows LIVE better than the actual dashboard of the console itself? Sure you do get to do more on the actual 360 dashboard but it's also sometimes clunky and slow. I guess the only answer to this may have something to do with the free members of the 360 community. Since those who don't pay for LIVE Gold also get to access the dashboard, Microsoft just doesn't want to make that too much of a premium, silky-smooth experience because then, well, they may have to charge everyone who plays on the console.

This app is kind of worthless to non-Gold members since you can't communicate with your friends.

Now That is How You Make a Soundtrack CD!

I just got my PlayStation 3 copy of The King of Fighters XIII and with it includes the wonderful The King of Soundtracks 94-XIII. The game itself is incredibly fun and as a longtime fan of the series, this latest addition is definitely one of the bests, if not the best - Of course, I do have to play it a lot more to come to that determination. I did skip on XII however because the lack of characters in that one gave me the impression that it was a rushed product, in which it probably is. But back to the soundtrack collection - it must be said that this thing was made with a lot of love:

Don't ask me what Kula is doing to Raiden there in the background...

Though not a complete collection, the soundtracks are comprehensive enough to include a good selection of memorable tracks from every single game in the series, and because of the long running history of the KoF games, they separated the tracks into four discs, the last one being the complete soundtrack from the latest game. They managed to include TKOF'96's "CLUB-M ~Aozora ni Flute~" in there, so I'm definitely really happy about that but it's weird that the version of "Psycho Soldier" with lyrics from the same year wasn't included. The 4 CDs are stored in colorful, folder sleeves with quite a number of iconic images from the games and best of all, the distinctive title logos for every single series entry also got printed on the sleeves. I am very impressed by the production value of this bonus content. Thank you Atlus for the effort. And yes, this kind of thing is a lot better than getting undergarments and pillow cases...

Stylish indeed but it is hard to get those CDs out of the sleeves.

Friday, January 27, 2012

last.fm - Tell Me Something I Didn't Know

I received an interesting email from last.fm today. Well, it's more funny than it is interesting. Apparently, they want people to access the free Internet radio service more than just merely accessing it via the X-Box 360 which by the way, forces you to pay for a Gold subscription to be able to connect to it:

Oh really? And why is it free to access outside of the 360 I wonder?

While I was on LIVE Gold, I had probably used last.fm a couple of times. I use my 360 to play games, not to just leave it on to play music, I could do that easily on my Personal Computer... Perhaps the more important question to ponder when it comes to this email however is whether Microsoft is upset about last.fm reaching out to the 360 users in this fashion. I know for certain that there are people out there who are so sheltered that they think that last.fm is a miracle that only the 360 could provide. Now that the cover's blown to these folks, perhaps Microsoft will allow free access to the frivolous things on the 360? Nah, they are too greedy to allow that to happen.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Yearly Gaming Analysis: 2011

2011 went by very fast, like a blur. When it comes to gaming, I only remember one thing from last year however: League of Legends for the Personal Computer - everything else seems less memorable. I practically play that game almost every day and with the exception of Nights: Into Dreams... on the SegaSaturn and the Culdcept games, no other games could be this interesting for this huge amount of time. Of course 2011 was a very special year because yours truly now calls the significant other a spouse. I did induct a whole lot of games this year but I couldn't have possibly go through all of them of course. I could always put that blame on LoL but actually, I am the one responsible for my inaction. As I went through the list of games from last year, something really hit me hard: the idea of "owning" and "playing".

It's funny. The game that I play the most, LoL, is actually free to play. It doesn't cost me anything - though I do spend some cash on it to buy those delicious alternate champion skins which is not necessary to play the game to the fullest. The games that I actually paid money for to access them give me limited entertainment value. Sure, this goes back to my want to have access to a huge gaming library but I don't know, maybe I have just gotten wiser these days and that resulted in my cancellation of the frivolous X-Box LIVE Gold service and that rather somber time commitment analysis to go through all the games I do have. At this point in my life, I believe that I am ready to accept that I am just a mortal being with a very limited lifespan. I always say that we all live once so do whatever it is that you want to do while you still can. The same can be applied to video gaming but I have to be careful not to turn that into an overcommitment. These games deserved to be played and they only have one person who is supposed to be playing them all.

This analysis will include all games that were inducted in 2011, even if the games were released prior to that year. The brackets shown in the number counts signify the difference between 2010 and 2011. I hope you will find this report informative and an entertaining read.


--- HANDHELDS ---

NINTENDO DS
Total Year Inductions: 3 (-7)

NINTENDO 3DS
Total Year Inductions: 3 (+3)

PLAYSTATION PORTABLE
Total Year Induction: 1 (-3)

Favorite Handheld Game of the Year:
Kirby: Mass Attack
Induction Date: 11/08/2011

And you thought one Kirby was fun. A whole orgy of them? Just wow.

This game is proof that with a little bit of creative imagination, you can make a touch-control game work flawlessly. It's the kind of polish and innovation that can only be accomplished on the Nintendo DS system. It is extremely satisfying to control up to 10 Kirbys using just the stylus, especially when you instruct them to gang up on the enemies - they all jump on the enemy and started beating them up mercilessly. It may not be a real Kirby game but it is definitely one of the best Kirby-featured games ever made.

Disappointment of the Year:

That PlayStation Vita announcement. Sony should not have returned to the handheld market and just stick with focusing all of their attention on the PlayStation 3. Sure the technical specifications of the Vita sound remarkable but do I really need a mini PS3 in my hand? The touch screen seems tacked on and unlike the Nintendo's dual screen layout, it doesn't make sense to have your fingers all over that tiny screen when all you want to really do is look at the pretty graphics. The touch sensitive back of the system is cool but realistically, it's a desperate attempt to make the system unique. The final nail on the coffin came in the form of the Vita's inflexible internal memory where you must buy overpriced Vita-specific memory cards. Even its big brother, the PS3, doesn't have a proprietary internal hard drive so why do it on the Vita? This one is doomed to fail folks and perhaps Sony will finally learn their lesson this time: Just leave the handheld market to Nintendo. The bigger fish to fry is the PS3.


--- NINTENDO WII ---
Total Year Inductions: 3 (-11)

Favorite Game of the Year:
Kirby's Return to Dream Land
Induction Date: 10/30/2011

You know with a cover that whimsical that you are going to have fun.

What is this, the year of the fat pink blob? It is a close call however because The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword also got released last year but between the two, I spent a lot more time with Kirby rather than with Link. Return to Dream Land is simple and sometimes easy but it contains that classic platformer magic that is just sorely missing in a majority of game releases these days. Let's hope that such a game design will never be lost in the future.

Disappointment of the Year:

I suppose it's inevitable... The announcement of the Wii U means that the Nintendo Wii is living its last breaths. I just feel that the Wii's potentials haven't been utilized to its very limits. The console has proven again and again that you don't need HD resolution to birth remarkable looking games - the Super Mario Galaxy series, Sin & Punishment: Star Successor, and Muramasa: The Demon Blade are great examples of this - so why the sudden hunger for graphical boost when we know that the new console's raw power would not be fully maxed out as well. As a person who has been gaming for such a long time, I am really hating the idea of buying new consoles. Now if they make these consoles like the Personal Computer where you can upgrade them after several years, then I'm fine with that but we know that will never happen. I have a feeling that I will probably stick to PC gaming eventually because it offers the best stability in the entire spectrum of this gaming hobby.


--- PERSONAL COMPUTER ---
Total Year Inductions: 123 (+55)

Favorite Game of the Year:
Induction Date: 02/22/2011

The stealthiest surprise of the year. Never saw it coming.

Just because League of Legends reigns supreme on top of all other games on the PC (as well as the other platforms), it does mean that I will deprive providing proper accolade to a deserving new PC addition from 2011. Two World II fits that bill for being such a unexpected delight. After a mediocre first game, who would have expected the sequel to end up being one of the best open world action role playing games ever made? It may not be as hyped up as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim but it certainly plays and looks a lot better. It may not have that crazy RED Engine from The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings but it offers an adventure that is a lot more engaging and less pretentious.

Disappointment of the Year:

It's ironic isn't it? It seems like game developers are always looking for bigger and better graphical technology as console makers always seem to be scheming in the background waiting to unleash new systems but then when it comes to making the actual games, they often opt for the the lowest common denominator. Such is the case with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Though it cannot be denied that this is a fun, wonderful game, it is disappointing that the game was really built with the X-Box 360 in mind - as exemplified by the horrible stutter problems on the PS3 version. Though the PC version is still the best looking and best performing out of the bunch, PC owners have to rely on the works of modders to truly make the game look up to par to modern standards. Thankfully, Steam will make modding the game easy thanks to their willingness to allow mod application through the Steam client but this is a clear example of why new consoles are not necessary - developers will always find a way to cut corners. Skyrim could have been so much more...


--- THE PLAYSTATION BRAND ---

PLAYSTATION 2
Total Year Inductions: 2 (+1)

PLAYSTATION 3
Total Year Inductions: 45 (+11)

Favorite Game of the Year:
Mortal Kombat
Induction Date: 05/01/2011

It's always about Scorpion and Sub-Zero!

Any game that allows you to kill off Kratos in a variety of gruesome fashion should always win some sort of awards in my book and of course only the PS3 version of the game allows you that pleasure. Of course, those who didn't play the complete God of War trilogy would not understand the pleasure behind killing off Kratos over and over and over again. But on a serious note, this new Mortal Kombat not only manages to become the best in the series, but it is also one of the bests in the genre. The collision detection is spot on and the combos are deliciously vicious. There are a lot of unlockables and the cheesy story mode, though extremely difficult, is rather rotten and awful in that entertaining way. The fatalities could have been better presented without the need of camera cuts and hopefully, that would be implemented in the eventual sequel.

Disappointment of the Year:

What a way to ruin a game by implementing a horrible online multiplayer system! Yes, I am of course talking about Dark Souls. Unlike the first game where it is possible to play with friends, or anyone else that is, despite the stringent level requirements, in this sequel, players are dumped randomly into multiple servers. What does that mean? It is quite impossible to play together with your friends and it also reduces your chances of playing with random strangers whenever you are unlucky enough to land on an unpopulated server. Thankfully, the game is playable solo and no, don't believe for a second to those claims that the game is hard. It's not. Thanks Namco Bandai for stealing the publishing rights to this game from Atlus because I am sure that the latter would have done a better job with the online aspect of the game.


--- X-BOX 360 ---
Total Year Inductions: 13 (-14)

Favorite Game of the Year:
Developer: Treasure
Induction Date: 09/14/2011

You may think this scene is funny... Until you get to the game's horrifically tragic end.

Quite frankly, this re-release is so good that it should be a system seller. If I didn't have a 360, I would have gotten it to gain access to this game. Ranked second on my Top 10 Favorite Games of All Time, Radiant Silvergun has it all: a heartbreaking, powerful storyline, nonstop action, amazing graphics made even more incredible with the HD upgrade, and some of the most memorable soundtrack to ever grace a video game. It's a legendary game and its re-release exclusivity feels somewhat undeserved for the 360 market, at least for the console's North American audience who are mostly just obsessed with first person shooters.

Disappointment of the Year:

Well, since I started my abandonment of the X-Box LIVE Gold service in early 2011, there was nothing that I got disappointed about with the console. As a matter of fact, this section should be called Enlightenment of the Year. With the very little time I spent on the console these days, paying money for the online services would have been wasteful spending. So I can't play Culdcept Saga online anymore but it's not like there's anyone who wanted to play that with me anyway when I was actually on LIVE even throughout the time that I activated my free month of Gold. Well, I suppose that is a bit of a disappointment.


--- INTERESTING TIDBITS ---

MOST PLAYED GAMES OF THE YEAR:
Games that have been played for 10 days or more within the year:

2011 had 365 days. I played some LoL during 313 of those days.

TOTAL NUMBER OF GAMES PLAYED: 314 (-98)
13.1 % of the entire collection as of 01/14/2012

TOTAL NUMBER OF GAMES INDUCTED: 193 (+35)
8.0% of the entire collection as of 01/14/2012




HOPING THAT THE WII U AND PLAYSTATION VITA ARE THE LAST OF NEW SYSTEM RELEASES AND ANNOUNCEMENTS FOR 2012 AND BEYOND!

Admiring Sejuani

I have finally amassed enough Influence Points to unlock Sejuani, the Winter's Wrath, in League of Legends for the Personal Computer last night who happens to be the newest champion on the roster: Only 11 champions left to unlock! Well, that is until Ziggs arrives. For those who wonder how quickly one can unlock a champion by just playing the game versus spending actual money, it normally takes me about a week for the most expensive champions worth 6300 Influence Points. Anyway, I just want to share how impressed I am with the character model for this champion. First of all, she is riding a large boar! There is no other character out there who is actually riding an animal. No, Urfrider Corki doesn't count, let me explain why: the character models for both Sejuani and the boar are not stuck to each other. If you do the dance animation for Sejuani, she actually jumps on top of the boar after slapping her legs convincingly on its sides. Then, there's the death animation where Sejuani is knocked off backwards by the boar before it lands right on top of her. Such detailed work! Bravo, Riot Games. Amazing stuff. I sure hope that you guys can now revisit the older champions to improve upon their animations. And oh, Soraka still looks rather ugly and she is my most played champion!

Half-naked boar dancing: Only legal in Runeterra.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

League of Legends: Proper Bots?

The last time Riot Games made an announcement about creating intelligent bots for League of Legends, it ended up being a disappointment because the bots we ended up with are still so very predictable and has low intelligence. Riot wants to fix all that it looks like with today's announcement of an "Expanded Co-Op vs. AI" update that is being teased for a release in the near future:


The most exciting thing about this update is that we can now play against bots in Dominion mode. It helps of course that the bots fighting against each other in the video footage above do look alright - though I did notice the occasional zombie like movements and reactions. Why is it that bots development is so important in a game like this? Sure, LoL is at its most tastiest when played against a team of human players but every now and then, you want a challenge without having to bother with possibly fighting alongside or against nasty people with horrible attitudes. I am really excited about this new development. I don't care if developing super-intelligent bots will eventually doom humanity when they finally turn on us as long as we get to enjoy them for a short period of time.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Games Played 01/16/2012 - 01/22/2012

- 01/16/2012 -
Asphalt 6: Adrenaline - iPad
Call of Atlantis HD - iPad
Fishdom: Harvest Splash - PC

- 01/17/2012 -
Bejeweled 3 - PC
Fantasy War - PC
Game Dev Story - iPad
League of Legends - PC

- 01/18/2012 -
AR Games - 3DS
League of Legends - PC

- 01/19/2012 -
League of Legends - PC

- 01/20/2012 -
Final Fantasy XIII-2 Demo - PlayStation 3
League of Legends - PC
Resident Evil: Revelations Demo - 3DS

- 01/21/2012 -
An Assassin in Orlandes Lite - iPad
AR Games - 3DS
Bejeweled 3 - PC
Fate of the World - PC
Hardy Pig - iPad
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Demo - PC
League of Legends - PC
Pinball HD Collection - iPad
Photo Dojo - NDS

- 01/22/2012 -
Bejeweled 3 - PC
League of Legends - PC
Photo Dojo - NDS
Super Mario 3D Land - 3DS

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Nintendo Characters in the Game Room

I finally got to the character AR Cards for the Nintendo 3DS. It's fun to mess around with them for a couple of minutes but Nintendo could have given us more characters. I really don't see myself going out of my ways to take AR Card pictures outside of the house however.

Samus fighting the romance bears.

Mario jumps off the top of the stacked boxes in the Game Treasury.

Point to Pathos - Chapter 2, Part 2

     "But we only have one life, Mr. Roberts," Jupiter said. "It has to count for something-"
     "Yes, it has to count for something or it is worth nothing," Ansen said, cutting her off. "Well, carry on Jupiter. I am hoping for the best. Staroam-5 is it, at least for this generation."
     Ansen walked out of Jupiter's office, leaving a slightly perplexed Jupiter. Before she could get back to her reports, Praeston rushed into the office and motioned the door to close behind him.
     "You know, you are so his pet, it's disgusting," he said as he motioned a magnet chair from the far corner wall and slid it smoothly towards the front of Jupiter's table. "It's like he fancies you, Jupe."
     Jupiter shook her head as Praeston took a seat in front of her.
     "Whatever you say Praeston," she said and started working on the report, completely ignoring him.
     "You know what? I hate that he acts like he knows everything. You know Ansen was born here right? But he talks to us like he had actually lived on Earth before, like with the whole morning and night thing..." Praeston reached out his right hand and scooped out a bunch of chocolate minis from Jupiter's candy bowl before putting them in his mouth to munch on one at a time.
     "You've been eavesdropping on us again? What is wrong with you anyway, Ansen's a good guy." Jupiter was still staring at the screen with her fingers moving fast on top of the touch board. "So what that he was born here, he works with a bunch of Earth-origins, what do you expect?"
     "But that's what makes him so fake, Jupe." Praeston said. "He's so fucking fake."
     "And how many times do I have to hear this from you?" She asked. "I know you are sexually attracted to him but you got to stop this nonsense. It's probably why he doesn't talk to you much, you know?"

Friday, January 20, 2012

Point to Pathos - Chapter 2, Part 1

     "How was your little romantic dinner date last night?"
     It was Ansen, the young but confident manager whom Jupiter reports to who enjoyed keeping a tab on the personal lives of his subordinates, especially Jupiter.
     "Oh hi Mr. Roberts. It was fun, we went to the Second Taste again."
     "I still have been meaning to check out that place. You two seem to swear by that restaurant," he said.
     "Oh, I highly recommend it. The setup is really unique," Jupiter stopped typing her reports to pay full attention to the conversation. "Sorry, just had to complete that last edit."
     "Is that the summary of the LF test?" Ansen asked as he turned the computer screen around towards him. "I thought that central is still working on the preliminaries?"
     "Well, Larnel handed it to me this morning. I was surprised myself. I still haven't gotten through the entire document yet but it doesn't look good," confirmed Jupiter. "There's a high probability that we should commence on the fiber readjustment soon."

3DS Getting Hard

I just received my Hard Pouch by Hori that is compatible with all of Nintendo's recent dual screen models. Usually, I am not big on optional gaming accessories but with my recent interest in raking up Play Coins for the Nintendo 3DS, all of a sudden I feel the need to have some sort of protective sleeve for the system. The idea of having my 3DS scratched up as I take it in and out of my jacket pocket or as I take it on and off surfaces of varying textures scares me. After what happened to my PlayStation Portable that one hot summer day back in 2010, I am not taking anymore chances.

It's hard and sexy.

Though not made to protect the 3DS from a violent impact, this sleek little pouch has a solid build that will ensure that no outside sources will hurt your precious thanks to its hardened outer casing. The inside of the pouch is actually a little larger than the 3DS itself. Still, I don't see any possibility of friction damage because the looseness of it is very slight. I do like that there is a soft partition to cover the top of your system and this further separate the space where you can fit 3 game cartridges and a stylus from the system itself. The only problem with this thing is that it's too big to put into your pants pocket, so it is meant to be held in your hand or tucked neatly away in your jacket's pocket. It is a cheap solution for those who like to take their system out often. As for me, it's just a good thing to have so that I can quickly move the 3DS around without worrying that I might accidentally bump the system against something in that regretful and unwanted fashion.

RATING: 4 out of 5

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Time to Revisit XIII?

When my Playstation 3 died in 2010 and I decided to get the "slim" model to replace it, I lost a lot of game saves. One of the most important saves being the file for Final Fantasy XIII - I have reached the final part of the game where you are granted that open world and you can optionally do those silly quests. With the sequel coming out at the end of the month, perhaps it's time that I man up and play through the first game again from the very beginning. Not that I am trying to rush to get the sequel. Oh no, I am not planning to do that any time soon because of my my budget range - and hun, there are other games that I would be interested in if you think of surprising me yet again.

It's hard to replay a Japanese role playing game. Oh well, at least this one is really pretty.

Thankfully, I really do like the story of FFXIII. As a matter of fact, I rank it one of the best in the series, second only to FFX and FFX-2. No wonder these two entries get their own sequels, it makes a lot of sense to me. I hope that things will go well with my play-through this time around. By the way, I have been working on my Yearly Gaming Analysis for last year. Looking at the list of games inducted last year reminded me that I have so many games waiting to be played and that actually has curbed my appetite for inducting more games this year. How much of an impact this has on me? We shall know at the end of 2012.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

3DS Play Coins: Married to the Machine

Oh Nintendo, you are so brilliantly evil. You implemented this Play Coin system for the Nintendo 3DS as a way to ensure that people will never ever leave the 3DS just laying around somewhere, away from the owners because using the built-in pedometer, the handheld will reward 1 coin for every 100 registered steps. Ever since I have seen the number of unlockables on the free Swapnote software, I am now quite obsessed with carrying my 3DS everywhere I go. I have ordered one of those 3DS protection case recently too because I want to make sure that my 3DS will be able to weather the elements and survive the harsh environments that it will be exposed to. I do find it a bit annoying that the coins are only given in the full hundred increments during the 24 hour period so if you stop at 99 steps before the end of the day, make sure to shake that 3DS so that you can claim that one coin before the new day starts.

Continually touched throughout the day.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Return of the Fridge

The last time I placed a mini refrigerator in my Game Room was in June of 2010 but it didn't stay in there for too long because it was empty for the most part. Well, ever since its eviction, it had been sitting in the hallway close to the family computer but it was never plugged in. The spouse suggested that I should just move it back to my Game Room again just to clear up space and I agreed. The next task: fill it up with goodies!

It's still empty at the moment however.

Games Played 01/09/2012 - 01/15/2012

- 01/09/2012 -
BlastZone 2 Lite - iPad
Bug Princess - iPad
Lucid - PC
Parsec - iPad

- 01/10/2012 -
Age of Zombies Lite - iPad
A Space Shooter for Free - iPad
Bejeweled Blitz - iPad
Bejeweled 3 - PC
Dodonpachi Resurrection - iPad
Guwange - X-Box 360
Jetpack Joyride - iPad
League of Legends - PC
Sonic CD Trial - X-Box 360
Tiny Tower - iPad
Zen Pinball - iPad

- 01/11/2012 -
League of Legends - PC
Temple Run - iPad

- 01/12/2012 -
Age of Zombies Anniversary - iPad
Bejeweled 3 - PC
League of Legends - PC
Parsec - iPad
Raiden IV - X-Box 360
Tap Tap Radiation - iPad

- 01/13/2012 -
Brickshooter Egypt - PC
Bug Princess - iPad
Deathsmiles IIX - X-Box 360
Fishdom HD - iPad
Fishdom: Harvest Splash - PC
League of Legends - PC
Outpost Kaloki X - X-Box 360
Rise of Atlantis HD - iPad
4 Elements HD - iPad

- 01/14/2012 -
Asphalt 6: Adrenaline - iPad
Bejeweled 3 - PC
Face Raiders - 3DS
Fishdom: Harvest Splash - PC
League of Legends - PC

- 01/15/2012 -
Game Dev Story - iPad
League of Legends - PC
Mario Kart 7 - 3DS

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Best iOS Game Thus Far!

So I may be new to the whole iOS gaming scene but I know a magnificent game when I stumble into one, especially when I keep on playing it mercilessly for hours on end. Last night, I played this game until I actually got dizzy and my eyes were so dry and tired that I felt that they were going to pop out of my skull. The last time I felt this way was when I played the original PlayStation's Valkyrie Profile. What iOS game could have such an impact on yours truly? Well, it's Kairosoft's Game Dev Story that was originally released in 2010!

Wouldn't you want to play that game?

This game developer simulator is deceivingly simple to play but unbelievably addictive and ridiculously epic, featuring direct references to both the culture and history of the real life gaming industry. You basically have to manage your game company by hiring staff members to actually planning out and developing games for multiple platforms of your choice in the ever evolving gaming industry. The success of your game creation is depended upon the talents you have under your wings as well as how much money you are willing to spend in the development process for things like hiring outside help to advertising fees. You can hire and fire your employees as well as level them up. Though the game is light in the scope of its micro-management, it provides you with an addicting rhythm once you are able to get good control of your finances and start pumping out one game after another.  The most intriguing thing about GDS is that you actually don't see the games that you are making for you only know them by the game type and genre as well as the name you have given them. Still, that doesn't stop you from gaining absolute satisfaction concocting strange games limited only to your own imagination. Once a game is released, you get to see how it is reviewed by the critics and the number of units you are able to sell.

The Lonely Gaming team hard at work.

For a game that have make you look primarily at plain text and a static view of your gaming office, except when you are attending award shows and gaming conventions, the way Kairosoft is able to appeal to your gaming sensibility is just absolutely miraculous. You can definitely see that game that you are making in your own head and all that excitement as well as the disappointment you received as a direct result of your creation becomes a motivator for you to keep playing. You want to make bigger and better games for the public and you will work tirelessly to get there, in-game and out. I am surprised that they haven't released the HD remake of GDS but even in its horrendously ugly pixelated glory when played at 2x on my iPad, the game's overall charm triumphed in the end. The game is also available on Android so don't miss out on it!

With just a little bit of imagination, you too can have a lot of fun with this game.

FIRST IMPRESSION: 5 out of 5

Saturday, January 14, 2012

4 a Week Ago?

These curious little things called the Game Apps on my iPad... They multiply rather quickly. Remember that there were only 4 of them there just a about week ago and now... Oh my galaxy. I don't know what I did to cause such rapid growth... I didn't dip it in water and I certainly didn't feed it at night. I really don't know what to do anymore. I'm scared.

A normal growth? Or a sign of something more sinister at work?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Uplay Getting a Nose Job?

Ah, Ubisoft's Uplay service, the poorly received form of extreme digital rights management that just cannot compare to Valve's Steam or even Electronic Art's nasty Origin. For me, I rather just access Steam for all my digital game purchases but of course they always try to mess that up. Well, Ubisoft has soften up their control somewhat over the years and a good example of that is Assassin's Creed II itself where now, you can access the game without even logging on to the Uplay service because the Uplay client has been equipped with an offline mode. I applause them for finally treating their customers with respect and even though I still dislike the fact that Ubisoft games that I will get from Steam in the future will always get a double DRM, I know that it is unavoidable. Competition is always a good thing I suppose. Ubisoft really wants to make Uplay more attractive by introducing a new avatar system for the client to see if they could convince people to actually log onto the service whenever they play a Uplay infested game - I do think most people are already willing to do it just to register their achievements though.

Ubisoft wanting to take the service to the next level.

The cool thing about the new avatar system is that you can create a boy as well as a girl version of yourself where you can switch back and forth between the two at your discretion - I guess this is for those situations when you want to pretend to be the opposite sex to gain some sort of favor from unsuspecting online friends. On top of this, you can also choose a hero avatar that you can switch to and these are filled with popular characters from the Ubisoft universe. I am really digging this whole thing but the problem here is that there are very limited options when it comes to the avatar customizations. I wished that were to be the case for the hero avatars only since these avatars are supposed to be true to their in-game counterparts. You can't even choose a body type! The avatars are also not in real 3D like those on X-Box LIVE but you can change the pose to at least make him or her look kind of cool. I have a feeling that they may be charging real money to further customize the avatar in the near future. I think we should be able to buy new accessories using the units you earn from unlocking achievements. Still, this avatar thing is a nice thing to have with the service, since we are going to be stuck using it when want to play a new Ubisoft game... even if they don't have a nose for some weird reason.

Because I carry a giant scimitar with me all the time in real life (in my pants)!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Pretty Skin: A Close Call

With the arrival of Chinese New Year on the horizon, represented in the game world as "Lunar Revel" celebrated by Valorans, Riot Games has decided to release several Chinese-inspired skins for the lucky four champions of League of Legends on the Personal Computer. These skins are quite beautiful and I was very, very tempted to actually get that Guqin Sona so very badly. I have only purchased skins when they were on sale but I really thought that this one was worth getting immediately. It is being sold for 975 Riot Points which equal $7.50. It's not that bad but I am going to hold off on it at the moment. Good job though Riot! The quality of these skins are improving with each release.

Best of the bunch but I bet a lot of people are crazy about the new "Strider" Talon.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Free Game Apps Filled with Traps!

Ever since I got a hold of my own iPad last week, I have been scouring the Apps Store like crazy to find good games to download. It didn't surprise me that its a casual gaming wonderland in there but there is some validity to the whole proceeding. You see, most of these games are meant to be enjoyed in small bursts and I miss those kind of gameplay dearly. Besides League of Legends, a game that provides a complete experience in each round of match, many modern games these days like to focus on lengthy adventures that you probably do not want to replay after the whole thing is over and done with *cough cough* like the Uncharted games for example. That being said, the games found here have to be approached with a certain degree of caution, especially if you are looking to score the free ones, which became my priority target before I actually spend more on the ones that has to be purchased. I would say an overwhelming majority of the free to play games here are not true to that claim. I did manage to find three that are truly free to play that I am going to keep on the iPad.

Avoid the deadly lasers!

This one is called Jetpack Joyride by Halfbrick Studios. Basically, you strap yourself onto a jet-pack to see how far of a distance you can go before dying. It's quick, it's simple, and moving up and down the screen only requires you to use a simple tap on the touch screen. The game is pretty addictive and there are so many things that you can unlock using the coins you collected during your so-called Joyride like new costumes. jet-packs, and game modes. You can choose to spend money to buy coins so that you can unlock these things faster but to me, the coin collecting to get access to the extras becomes the true motivation to keep on playing the game over and over again.

Don't touch the idol!

The second game is Temple Run by Imangi Studios and this game features the same coin-collecting mechanics as the previous game where impatient players can pay cash to get more from the game faster. Temple Run is also about trying to get the best distance possible but this time instead of jet-packs or other cool contraptions, you are only using your feet. You have to steer your character left and right when the path ends as well as jump up and slide down to avoid obstacles, all the while collecting coins that littered the area you are running through. The fact that you are being chased by supposed demon monkeys make the game even more thrilling. They sound kind of crazy too!

The retro always has a place in the future.

Last but not least is Parsec by IdeaKnow, a Galaga-inspired space shooter where you control a small ship at the bottom of the screen as it destroys a variety of enemy formation at the top portion of the screen. Don't be fooled thinking that this is a slow, boring game. I almost made that mistake. At the very beginning, power ups do not drop but keep moving up to the next stages and you will experience one heck of a frantic, fast-paced shooter. Definitely the best out of the three, especially the fact that this one is truly free to play. They could have gotten away with charging 99 cents for this game. Not sure why they didn't but I am thankful that the game is free of course!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

December 2011 Gaming Analysis

The results shown below are of course based on the combined data from the Daily Game Log which should provide a clear indication of a game's usage frequency. Bear in mind that even if a game is played twice or more during a particular day, it would still register as 1 in the Day Count column below. In a sense, "merits" are given based on how often a particular game can make me play it again throughout the entire period of the month on a daily basis. A game that makes a gamer play it over and over again or at least spend a lot of time with it... Isn't that what we mostly want from a great game? I don't think it's really fair to count all the way down to the number of hours played since some games only require a short amount of time to properly serve their purposes.

OVERALL BREAKDOWN:


Total Games Played: 54

A lot of games were played last month thanks to Valve and their Steam Holiday Sale event. There were achievements to unlock for the chance of winning prizes and I love winning free things however unsuccessful the end result ended up being. Besides the sudden spike of games played, the one game that ruled them all was still League of Legends on the Personal Computer. Again, very close to being played every single day but I missed the 15th because I was distracted by my new Nintendo 3DS and getting my spouse ready for New York. And yes, I did play LoL on Christmas, thank you very much.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for the PC did manage to climb up to second place but at merely 7 additional days on top of the same number from November 2011, I expected to be engrossed a lot more than that. The game is a lot of fun but after spending about 34 hours on it, I am getting annoyed by idiotic pause to change spell system. Why can't I just switch spell by a click of a key or a press on the D-Pad? It just doesn't make sense to me.

Then we have Kirby: Mass Attack for the Nintendo DS and of course, Mario Kart 7 for the Nintendo 3DS tied at third place. The former is touch screen gaming at its finest and I just love seeing a gang of Kirbys beating the pink out of their enemies, big or small. As for the latter, the 3D graphics are quite enthralling but the game itself is rather formulaic. My favorite racer? You guessed it... Peach!


This Month's Inductees:


Total Inductions: 45

Monday, January 9, 2012

Games Played 01/02/2012 - 01/08/2012

- 01/02/2012 -
Batman: Arkham City - PC
Mario Kart 7 - 3DS

- 01/03/2012 -
Batman: Arkham City - PC
Boom Boom Rocket - X-Box 360
El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron - PlayStation 3
League of Legends - PC
Mario Kart 7 - 3DS
Nier - PlayStation 3
Puzzle Agent - PC

- 01/04/2012 -
Batman: Arkham City - PC
God of War: Origins Collection - PlayStation 3
Mario Kart 7 - 3DS
Puzzle Agent - PC

- 01/05/2012 -
Bejeweled Blitz - iPad
Bug Princess - iPad
Danmaku: Unlimited - iPad
Dodonpachi Resurrection Lite - iPad
Dungeon Hunter Allilance - PlayStation 3
ESPGaluda II Black Label - X-Box 360
ESPGaluda II HD Lite - iPad
League of Legends - PC
Photo Dojo - NDS
Satazius - PC
Shmup Lite - iPad
Super Laser Lite - iPad

- 01/06/2012 -
AirAttack Lite - iPad
Battleheart - iPad
Bug Princess - iPad
Danmaku: Unlilmited - iPad
Dodonpachi Resurrection - iPad
God of War: Origins Collection - PlayStation 3
Hungry Shark: Part 1 HD - iPad
League of Legends - PC
Monopoly HD - iPad
Mushihimesama Bug Panic - iPad
Singularity - PlayStation 3
SOCOM 4: U.S. Navy Seals - PlayStation 3
Temple Run - iPad

- 01/07/2012 -
Bug Princess - iPad
Dead Space - iPad
Dodonpachi Resurrection - iPad
God of War: Origins Collection - PlayStation 3
iFighter 1945 Lite - iPad
League of Legends - PC
Mirror's Edge - iPad
Monopoly HD - iPad
The Simpsons Arcade Free - iPad
The Sims FreePlay - iPad
Temple Run - iPad

- 01/08/2012 -
Assault Squadron Lite - iPad
Bug Princess - iPad
Dodonpachi Resurrection - iPad
League of Legends - PC
Lightning Fighter Free - iPad
Parsec - iPad
rRootage Online - iPad
Space Invaders: Infinity Gene Lite - iPad
Super Laser Lite - iPad
Temple Run - iPad
Tyrian Lite - iPad
Ultrablast Special Edition - iPad

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Gwyneth Paltrow: That Face is Forever

Gwyneth, you know that I adore you. Ever since I saw you in Seven and Emma, it was very apparent that you are a one of a kind actress. I still can't get over the fact that you actually managed to become extremely adorable in those cheesy Iron Man movies but then... You agreed to act in Contagion. Sure, I have not watched the movie yet but you know that when you make that horrid face - which is a really scary good expression - that it would become a trademark for that movie and that they have used that face extensively in both the trailer and the print promotions for the film. As a matter of fact, that face even shows up on a recent promotion for the movie on the X-Box 360 dashboard.

It's like your neck is about ready to melt and your head is about ready to grow spider legs...

Gwyneth, you are still captivating but that face has left a scar in me because I have seen it too many times. When I think of you now, I can't help but to think that you are that actress who did that crazy face in Contagion. I don't think that you can ever live this down but then again, that could be a compliment because I don't think any other actresses would make that kind of a face ever because perhaps they don't want to reveal that they could potentially look so... very... human (who is in some kind of hellish agony).

Friday, January 6, 2012

It Starts with 4...

After perusing the App Store on my iPad like a madman last night, I ended up with inducting four games into my Game Library. Of course the titles that I was most interested in are the bullet heaven shoot-'em-ups by Cave. I am a bit disappointed though that the newer releases are not custom made for the iPad because they are not bumped up to high resolution (unlike the recent iOS re-release of ESPGaluda II HD that easily rivals the X-Box 360 version of the game that I own) but it's still a steal to be able to get a hold of these games for the low prices you have to pay to play them. I used up the $10 credit that had been sitting in my Apple account for ages now - it was a gift from work - to acquire the following titles: the real time action strategy Battleheart, the original Mushihimesama translated for the North American release as Bug Princess, a bullet grazing shooter Danmaku: Unlimited, and Mushihimesama Bug Panic, a shooter spin-off based on the Mushihimesama games.

This screen will be filled up rather quickly...

I just cannot stop playing Bug Princess and even last night, I kept playing it in bed while waiting for the spouse to join me. I had my doubts at first when it comes to the thought of playing a Cave shooter properly using touch-based controls but thank the galaxy for the free demo downloads because as soon as I tried them, the genius visual buttons and the smooth precision of movement accomplished via finger sliding is utterly unbelievable. After using up all the avaialable cedits I had last night, I stopped myself from pursuing the other game apps out there. I do have to snatch up Dodonpachi Resurrection before January 10th though because it is on sale at the moment. I could always just get the import region-free PAL copy of that game for the X-Box 360 - which does come with HD graphics and extra game modes - but that will cost me $70. With merely $6, I can experience the core game on my iPad... The latter seems to make a lot more sense to me. Even when they eventually release the iPad exclusive HD version with Black Label, it would still cost a lot less than getting the same game on the console. Having access to choices is true gaming freedom.