Monday, April 30, 2012

Games Played 04/23/2012 - 04/29/2012

- 04/23/2012 -
Call of Atlantis HD - iPad
Noitu Love 2 Devolution - PC
Super Monday Night Combat - PC

- 04/24/2012 -
Call of Atlantis HD - iPad
eXceed 3rd: Jade Penetrate Black Package Trial - PC
League of Legends - PC
Radiant Defense - iPad
Ultimate Shooting Collection - Wii
Valhellio Trial - PC

- 04/25/2012 -
Call of Atlantis HD - iPad
League of Legends - PC

- 04/26/2012 -
Cradle of Rome 2 HD - iPad
Kingdom Rush HD - iPad
Match Panic - iPad
Rage - PC
Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition - PC

- 04/27/2012 -
Alaron: Sword and Shadow HD - iPad
DOTA 2 Beta - PC
Kingdom Rush HD - iPad
League of Legends - PC
Raccoon Rising - iPad

- 04/28/2012 -
Alaron: Sword and Shadow HD - iPad
Atlantis Quest HD - iPad
DOTA 2 Beta - PC
Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition - PC
Trouble Witches Neo - Episode 1: Daughters of Amalgam - X-Box 360

- 04/29/2012 -
Alaron: Sword and Shadow HD - iPad
Castle Attack: Ultimate HD+ - iPad
FantasyxRunners - iPad
Kingdom Rush HD - iPad
Towers N' Trolls HD - iPad
Treasure Defense HD - iPad
Warlock: Master of Arcane Demo - PC

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Point to Pathos: Chapter 2, Part 3

     "I don't think I like where this is going," he said annoyingly.
     "Praeston, I don't know how to say this without embarrassing you but I think that if I don't say it now, especially with your escalating negative behavior around the department, you will end up hurting yourself," said Jupiter. "Trust me, we need to have this conversation."
     Praeston couldn't get himself to say anything after noticing the concerned look on Jupiter's face. He knew that he was being defensive for a reason and tried to calm himself down by taking in a couple of deep breaths. Jupiter, noticing the change in Praeston, allowed him to regain his composure for a brief period of time. Praeston was staring at the floor to the far left corner of the room throughout this time. When his eyes moved back to Jupiter, she knew that he was ready.
     "Okay Jupe, spit it out," he said calmly.
     "Praeston, everyone knows you are in love with Ansen," she said. She could see rage building up in Praeston's eyes. "Praeston, they know."
     "What do you mean they know?" He said in a shaky voice. "What do you mean by that?"
     "Praeston, we have all noticed how you have changed ever since Ansen got here. I know you never talked about your private life, but we kind of guessed that you like men. You never talked about going out on dates and I never see you eye any of our attractive female co-workers... and that includes myself," Jupiter ended her statement with a slight chuckle to lessen the harshness of her statement.
     "Jupe, you are a bitch," Praeston said and stood up. "I can't believe that I actually sat there for that. Fuck you."

Saturday, April 28, 2012

SSFIV Alternate Costume Fun

Ever since I unlocked the "All-In Costume Pack" for Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition on my Personal Computer in August of last year, I have only seen several of these extra costumes myself. All that mattered to me back then was getting Rose to look beautiful but since I haven't been that active with the game, I haven't explored all the other alternate looks of the game's big selections of characters though I did play a lot of Chun Li since she is one of my top favorites. I have been back on my SSFIV:AE groove recently so I am making an effort to check out these costumes. Though I haven't gotten through the entire roster, I must say that Rufus' Chinese zombie attire, complete with the scroll over his face, is the best one yet for it looks a lot cooler than his default outfit:

The best way to describe Rufus in that silly getup.

It is sad to say however that the majority of the alternate looks I have seen are not all that great. Even Rufus' other two looks are pretty darn ugly. I just don't understand why the artists responsible in the creation of these alternate costumes didn't go all the way and just make everything over the top. The worst that I have seen is definitely this one for Cody. I sure hope that the other 70% of the costumes I still haven't seen are not this boring:

I'd yawn too if I looked that pedestrian...

Friday, April 27, 2012

Getting Comfy with the G700

Last week, I got the Logitech Wireless Gaming Mouse G700, which is actually my first specialized gaming mouse. I have been wanting the Razer Naga Epic Gaming Mouse for the longest time but the high price has always been a deterrent. The G700 is definitely a more economical choice with only slight sacrifices in overall features. There is nothing wrong with gaming with a regular mouse but the reason why I have been itching for one with a lot of buttons on it is to to make playing certain games a lot more convenient. The keyboard + mouse combo controls in Personal Computer gaming is easily the most flexible form of game controller ever but sometimes, the developers do get a little crazy with the control setup. The one thing in particular that has always been a concern of mine is when I have to utilize the whole row of number keys on the top portion of the keyboard. This particular setup can often be found in dungeon crawlers and role playing games. I never have a problem with this in a massively multiplayer online RPG however because I would just click on the icons in the quickbars instead of going crazy with the keyboard presses. I think that in the perfect control setup for the keyboard + mouse combo, the keyboard itself should be limited to only a couple of action inputs and menu keys on top of the character movement control, which usually adheres to the WASD standard but of course some games just cannot accommodate that, and they shouldn't - and this is where the G700 gaming mouse comes in.

You can tell a good mouse by the extreme curve of its body?

The main feature of a gaming mouse, besides the lightning fast input response, which can be hard to gauge - I think we should be more worried about online lag - is that it has customizable buttons on it. In the case of the G700, you get 10 additional buttons than what you would normally find in a regular mouse. Input demanding games are all of a sudden made simpler because everything is quickly accessible on the mouse. League of Legends is not a complicated game to control but often times, I would mistakenly press the wrong key where while attempting to activate an item which is assigned to the top number keys by default, I would activate an ability instead, which is normally assigned to the next row under on the QWER keys. Now, I am able to just transfer the item activation input to the buttons found on the side and top left hand side of the mouse and ever since I have done that, the game now plays a lot smoother for me with no more key press errors. Bear in mind however that hitting the additional buttons on the mouse itself does take a some practice because one has to get used to their placements, which is easy to reach by slightly moving one's index finger and thumb. But once you are familiarized with them, it becomes second nature to get to them. I assigned the number keys to these extra mouse buttons to make it easy for me to customize controls across games that take advantage of the mouse and this actually eliminate the need for me to create multiple profiles using Logitech's SetPoint software. I have only taken advantage of this mouse while playing LoL, DOTA 2 Beta, and Torchlight but I am really looking forward for the convenience it will bring to my other games both new and old. There is also a macro programming function that I have yet to explore. The mouse does drain a lot of battery power  even when I am not using the two gaming power modes because it only runs on one AA battery so it requires constant recharge attention. Despite that one setback, those who are looking for a new mouse with the ability to enhance their PC gaming experience, this Logitech Wireless Gaming Mouse G700 is definitely worth the investment.

RATING: 4 out of 5

Binary Domain PC Performance Test

Big robots will always win a gamer's heart.

When Sega announced that they were releasing Binary Domain for the Personal Computer after the game's brief exclusivity on the consoles, I was ecstatic. When they decided to use Steamworks as the primary means of the game's distribution, I was definitely ready to worship Sega as a gaming deity once again. When the game was only being sold for $39.99 compared to the ridiculous $59.99 price point for the console versions, I immediately pre-ordered it. And after I just tested the game this morning now that the game has finally been launched for the PC, I want to kiss Sega on the mouth.

Big Bo loves him some Geisha.

If you are worried about the quality of the game's port, be assured that the PC version of Binary Domain is the best version of the game. After running through the first two chapters of the game, I went to my X-Box 360 and checked out the game demo of the console version. Even though there are very little amount of customization options found in the PC version, the difference between it and the console version is quite apparent. I am able to run the game with everything maxed out at native 1920 x 1080 resolution with my PC setup and the game maintains a steady 60 frames per second except during the cut scenes that are unfortunately presented at 30 fps to give these sequences that cinematic flair. I really rather them stick with 60 fps for the cut scenes for the sake of consistency. On the 360, the game is upscaled to 1080p but the frame rate is stuck at half of what the PC version is able to accomplish. You can see a lot of details on the PC version because of the native high resolution but of course that also means the low resolution textures that can be found here and there in the game becomes more apparent as well. Despite the missing texture reworks and limited graphics customization options, developer Devil's Details did a great job in translating this game for the PC - which should not be surprising because they also did a nice job on the PC version of Sonic Generations. The improved clarity and frame rate makes the PC version feels like an entirely different game.

You know what they say about men with big guns.

Now on to a quick impression of the game itself. Binary Domain is a third person cover shooter, a Gears of War clone with that delicious Japanese twist. It tells a futuristic story of a covert team of soldiers who are tasked to infiltrate Japan to locate a scientist who broke the Geneva Convention for creating robots that resemble humans. Just like GoW, you get to play with computer controlled teammates. You can't play the campaign with human partners online however even though the game does come with online multiplayer separate from the campaign. The game relies heavily on that cover then shoot mechanics and you regain health as long as you are not damaged for a set number of time. One cool thing about your AI partners is that you can choose to use voice command to interact with them. Not only can you use this to give them the necessary battle instructions, but you can also say the plethora of recognizable words to them just to hear their reactions to your nonsense. I had a blast saying "Love you," and "I like you," only to receive my teammates' hostile responses during a heated battle, which is actually a lot more fun than it sounds. There is also a relationship building element to the game where can gain and lose the trust level of your teammates based on your interactions with them. The robot enemies have full body damage modelling and the way that you can chip away at their metal encasing with your arsenal of weapons is extremely satisfying. When you destroy their legs, they will start crawling, and when you destroy their heads, they will then shoot anything nearby so being smart about where to shoot can provide you with a strategic advantage. So far, the mechanics is holding up and it helps that there are constant interactions between the characters and new events seem to show up frequently as well to move the story along.

Robots don't bleed. They shatter.

Binary Domain fully supports the X-Box 360 controller and that is the way that I choose to play the game. The game even has customizable keyboard and mouse controls if that is more of your thing. The only problem that I am having with this game is the SpeechFX technology that seems to have a hard time recognizing my voice input. It probably has something to do with the X-Box 360 wired headset however because I know that it doesn't sound very clear when I use it to talk on Skype so I may have to hook up my USB microphone to improve the situation. I am really loving Binary Domain. So far, it's engaging, action-packed, intriguing, and those robots look stellar. Head to Steam right now and get the game to support Sega today. And Sega, you know what to do. Give us more of your gaming goodness for the PC via Steam please!

Sega's future in PC gaming is looking pretty bright.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Pirates Really?

Today's release of Risen 2: Dark Waters by Piranha Bytes on Steam for the Personal Computer made me wonder: Aren't we a little bit tired of the whole pirate thing by now? When it comes to medieval fantasy games, you mostly find yourself playing a knight/templar, a wizard/sorcerer, or the least pleasant of the variety, a pirate. Why can't we get something a little bit fresh like perhaps an evil jester or a pregnant castle maid? How about a midwife mistaken for a witch or maybe a vile executioner out to hunt supposed amoral criminals? But yes, no thanks. I wouldn't want to play as a priest who is tasked to bring "god's enlightenment" into the world - these kind of activities should never be encouraged. But it seems like developers do like to stick with the familiar territories. Risen 2 does look rather interesting so I may have to check it out sometime soon. The first game was rather entertaining so I hope that this one can be the same despite the whole pirate vibe it has going on.

Pirates this, pirates that. A pirate's life cannot be that exciting...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dog Pics Frenzy

You know, I never understood why people like to take pictures of their dogs at every single chance they get, that is until I adopted Yoshi in late February this year. It's been 2 months since she arrived at our home and she has been such a lovable dog. I will admit that potty training a 2 year old dog who used to be an outside dog was definitely a bad form of "rear touch" but all the hard work has paid off now that she is acclimated to her current environment. But yes, I must have taken a lot of pictures of her, at least once a day, whenever she starts looking irresistibly cute, something that happens only 99% of the time when she's around me. So it's hard to put the camera away because I don't want to miss out on her never ending number of super cute poses or facial expressions. And of course after I have taken a picture of her, I would have to post them on my Twitter and personal Facebook account. So it is safe to say that along with my video game obsession, I have found a new hobby that I just cannot live without and that hobby is called "Yoshi-loving".

Oh Yoshi, you are so photogenic.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Games Played 04/16/2012 - 04/22/2012

- 04/16/2012 -
DOTA 2 Beta - PC
Galaga Legions - X-Box 360
Infinity Blade II - iPad
Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition - PC
Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars - Wii
Trine 2 - PC
Xenoblade Chronicles - Wii

- 04/17/2012 -
League of Legends - PC
Super Crossfire HD - iPad
Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition - PC
Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars - Wii
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition - PC
Xenoblade Chronicles - Wii

- 04/18/2012 -
League of Legends - PC
Paper Monsters - iPad
Super Crossfire HD - iPad

- 04/19/2012 -
Hyperlight - iPad
League of Legends - PC
Torchlight - PC

- 04/20/2012 -
Aion: Ascension - PC
AstroBurst - iPad
DOTA 2 Beta - PC
League of Legends - PC
Treasure Defense HD - iPad

- 04/21/2012 -
Call of Atlantis HD - iPad
League of Legends - PC
Night of the Living Dead Defense - iPad
Treasure Defense HD - iPad

- 04/22/2012 -
Elf Defense - iPad
League of Legends - PC
Night of the Living Dead Defense - iPad
Rage - PC

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Project Wall Shelves is Over!

The four wall shelves are finally up where they belong! I really thought that I was going to get everything done yesterday but I got caught up doing too much gaming instead. I am very satisfied with the way that they look on the wall:

My right wrist hurts really bad. Putting these up was harder than waggling the Wii-mote.

Now that the wall shelves are ready to be used, I discovered that I don't have enough gaming items to place on them! I shouldn't be surprised however because I got the extra shelves to last me another year of physical games for the consoles with the top horizontal shelf reserved for my Nintendo 3DS games. To make the shelves look functional, I placed some of the games from the Game Treasury on them to help fill up some of the empty slots:

It's always great to have more storage space for my games.

Zombie Apocalypse Guest Star, Leona?

I don't dream as often as I would like to when I sleep but when they do happen, they are most often quite fascinating. Recently however, I have been having a surge of zombie apocalypse nightmares. Not sure of the reason behind it because I haven't been playing any horror games and I don't even watch that popular The Walking Dead show - the spouse really loves that show though and finds it hard to believe that I rather be playing League of Legends than watching it. Last night's subconscious adventure was the third in a series of nightmares over the past week but what made this one a worthwhile mention was involvement of this particular video game character:

When you are this beautiful, you know you will leave marks in a person's mind.

Yes, Leona from the incredibly addictive game, League of Legends for the Personal Computer actually made an appearance in my zombie nightmare. Now, she didn't actually show up to defend me from hordes of the undead nor did she actually showcase any of her abilities to good use. She was just there as a fellow survivor, which was actually rather surprising. I don't remember seeing her carrying the sword nor that epic shield but she was definitely in her full battle regalia. Since the mood of the nightmare was quite dire, the realistic portrayal of Leona fit the entire scheme rather well. At one point, Leona assisted the group in searching through the rubbles and debris of an old building looking for a cat for one of the survivors - don't ask me why, it had something to do with our survival apparently. I do play a whole lot of LoL as you can gather from my monthly gaming analyses but it had never invaded my dreams before when they really should. I did play about 3 games with Leona yesterday and was having a real blast with her but little did I know that the play session was more meaningful than I thought. I wonder why I never had a dream with Soraka in it since I mainly play her. Oh wait, I know... Her in-game character model is rather horrid. Even her color scheme in-game is wrong... Please make her prettier Riot Games!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Project Wall Shelves Go!

It's something that I have always wanted to do for a long time and thanks to that recent trip to IKEA earlier during the week, I can now journey into the unexplored frontier of storage solution and accessible display of wall shelving. After a much delayed start to the installation process - having the right tools help - I finally got one of the four shelves up on my wall:

You know you have too many games when you start installing wall shelves.

I plan to get all of the shelves up by the end of the day. Though I like the prospect that wall shelving can provide to my gaming space in the future - if I free up those walls of the game posters, I can put more of these babies up - but I just hope that the console gaming industry will embrace the all digital download distribution soon. I do have a feeling that we have to wait two generations for that to happen because of how stubborn our typical console gamers brethren are when it comes to embracing change. The PlayStation Vita, for example is an ugly, fat, and non-lubricated middle finger to digital distribution. Thankfully, a majority of my personal gaming inductions these days are for the Personal Computer so these 4 shelves should last me for a good while.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

StreetPass Tag Hunting Ground: Fry's

In this regular feature, I will be reporting the unexpected places where I received a StreetPass tag for my Nintendo 3DS. I bring my 3DS pretty much everywhere these days, an action that is made easier thanks to the Hard Pouch. Hopefully, these articles will help you plan out the places you need to hit in that desperation to score just one more visitor to your Mii Plaza. Today's location is not that extraordinary because you should be getting easy tags here but it made the list because the tag itself is somewhat unique.

Fry's Electronics. Now serving free StreetPass tag?

I have been to Fry's Electronics many times before and even though I always expect to get a lot of tags from the store, that has not been the case. Apparently, people don't think that it's a good idea to bring their 3DS handhelds with them to a store that has a huge video game section. Last night, the spouse wanted a new computer so we went to Fry's to check out our options. We walked out of there with a nice quad-core Hewlett-Packard computer - I am baffled that the spouse got a quad-core before I do but at least my dual-core is still amazing for being able to handle The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings really well. Of course I was a bit envious but I am in no rush to get a new motherboard. The tag pictured above is special because apparently, it's from one of the employees who managed to give me a store greeting with his Mii. This guy has a lot of puzzle panels as well. Whether the brand messaging was influenced by his personal pride for being a Fry's employee or he may be using the company's 3DS will remain a mystery - I am also unable to associate that face to any of the regular associates I see working there - but the fact remains that this should encourage other video game retailers to perhaps adopt StreetPass tagging as a way to endear themselves to their customers. It would be great to have a representative, or two, or three, from each major retail chains in my Mii Plaza. But of course you will never, ever see me with one that says "Welcome to Walmart!" nor "Welcome to GameStop!"


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Operation Wii Overscan Assassination

If there is one thing I hate about gaming on my Nintendo Wii is having to deal with overscan. What is an overscan you ask? It's image cropping that occured on all four corners of the screen. It's a problem that is nonexistent if you are displaying a digital signal on your high definition display, as long as that screen is capable of producing 1:1 pixel mapping, which is a standard feature in newer televisions. Have you ever noticed that some games provide you with the option to zoom in or out the game's display area? Well, that option is there to accomodate those who are still impacted by overscan or in rare instances, underscan. The Wii is only capable of streaming analog signal by default and since Nintendo is not proactive in providing us the ability to customize the display area, overscan is a big problem for the system when it could have been easily addressed at the hardware level. The problem could have been solved by mandating all developers to provide the adjustment option with every Wii game. Well, while I was playing Xenoblade Chronicles, I wondered just how much of the overall picture that I was missing and that prompted me to look for something that could resolve the overscan issue for my Wii once and for all.

My solution of choice.

Before I use the Wii 2 HDMI converter, I have my Wii connected to my receiver via the component cable. The receiver then sends the signal to my high definition LCD via an HDMI cable. Even though the visual signal is sent via HDMI, the signal itself is still analog versus digital and my LCD is not able to force the 1:1 pixel mapping on the video feed. Now that I am using this converter, I am finally able to use the 1:1 feature because the signal has been changed into a digital one straight from the back of the Wii itself via an HDMI cable. Perhaps the most impressive thing about this neat little device is that the video is automatically upscale to 720p or if you want, 1080p! The upconversion may not make the Wii games look like its current generation competitors but the important thing here is that I now gain a pristine, crystal clear video feed on the screen. The difference is like night and day! Also, you can now see everything that should have been properly displayed on your screen. Sure, you can always wait until the Wii U comes out to see if you can see your Wii games get upscaled to 1080p - it's possible that it will not even have that feature - but why wait when you can experience better image fidelity for the system now. As a bonus, you also get to see your favorite GameCube games getting the same treatment!

It's time to show you some comparison shots. Notice the missing corners found in my previous setup and the vibrant colors coming from the new setup. The images taken while running the Wii 2 HDMI converter were captured while running at the 1080p mode. I don't have the proper equipment to present the best screenshots here but hopefully, you will get the general idea of the benefits of playing your Wii games without that annoying overscan.

Xenoblade Chronicles:

Component cable.

Wii 2 HDMI.

Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars

Component cable.

Wii 2 HDMI.

Monday, April 16, 2012

StreetPass Tag Hunting Ground: IKEA

In this new feature, I will be reporting the unexpected places where I received a StreetPass tag for my Nintendo 3DS. I bring my 3DS pretty much everywhere these days, an action that is made easier thanks to the Hard Pouch. Hopefully, these articles will help you plan out the places you need to hit in that desperation to score just one more visitor to your Mii Plaza. Today's location is:

I was scared... I was very, very scared when I first stepped in.

Today was the first day that I have ever stepped into an IKEA store. Why is that? Well, the spouse loves browsing for furniture and foo foo house stuff and I have no interest in that whole mess whatsoever. I am currently looking for a room divider and we were driving past an IKEA after our dinner date and I suggested that we should stop there since we haven't had much luck finding it anywhere else - so it was really my fault. I was pleasantly surprised by the room displays in the store however and even though we didn't find what we were looking for since they only had one horrible, cheap looking unit, we actually walked out of there with a nice picture frame for the spouse and four neat-looking wall shelves for yours truly: stay tuned for the update when they have been installed on the walls of my Game Room. And then of course, as a bonus, my green 3DS light was blinking when I pulled the handheld out of my jeans pocket.


DOTA 2: Team Up with Bots!

I just discovered something extremely cool today while playing the DOTA 2 Beta for the Personal Computer. After a co-op match with some rather impolite teammates, I went to create a personal lobby and started messing around with the options. I didn't know that you could actually play this game exclusively with the bots! That's right, you can actually have bot teammates! Now, no longer will I ever have to deal with nasty people while I am getting myself familiar with the game. There are multiple difficulties for the bots too with "Unfair" being the most challenging. I have made a note about the game's bots before in last month's gaming analysis, that they are far superior and a lot more intelligent compared to those found in League of Legends so playing the game this way should remain engaging and fun for me. Besides being merciless, there is another wonderful thing about the game's bots. Those that play with you actually communicate with you! The first time a group chat message came up during my co-op with bots match, I thought somehow another player managed to join the game until I realized that it was a bot telling me that he wanted to ambush a hero from the opposing team. Yes, these bots constantly communicate to you their intents, like roaming the map, defending, or hunting down a target. It was quite remarkable. Sure, these bots have their quirks - like they don't warn you when heroes are missing from the lanes - but I rather my time having fun with them than a rude player any day of the week.

It's a one way communication but it's still an impressive bot programming.

Not Deleting It This Time Around...

My "Scroll of Resurrection" free week pass for World of Warcraft has ended over the weekend and though things started off strong when I first got back in, I didn't even play the game for more than three days. This should not be viewed as a negative reflection of the game however. WoW is a magnificent game, and the content overhaul I found in Cataclysm was quite engaging. It's just that the game has simply been bested value-wise.

Yes, we may, in a very distant future.

When I heard that Aion ended their subscription program to adopt a free to play model of business via the Ascension update, I was intrigued, mostly because they wanted to make the game "Truly Free". Though the limit of that has yet to be tested, I am currently at level 10 and I have visited my first major city in the game and thus far, everything has been free and there was no sign of necessary purchases to lift any kind of limitations. I also have to think of things this way: If things work out with Aion, I know that I can always have access to my characters at any time and that my investment of time and efforts will be worthwhile because I will not lose access to those characters like I would with WoW if I decided to stop paying my monthly fee. That is a huge plus, especially the fact that Aion is really starting to grow on me. WoW may still offer the best massively multiplayer online role playing game experience out there but Aion is not horrible and the fact that it's free makes it a solid alternative. With Diablo III arriving soon, I think that it is smart to just stick with something that I don't have to pay for because I know that I would be playing more Diablo III than WoW when that time comes and it would have been a waste of WoW subscription time.

Celebrating a new life in a new world.

I have learned my lesson from the past however: I will not be deleting WoW from my hard drive this time around. You never know what the future holds so I will let the game sit there for a while. Then again, since reinstalling it was less painful with Blizzard's new client, perhaps it wouldn't be too big of a deal to just purge the game out of my system...

Games Played 04/09/2012 - 04/15/2012

- 04/09/2012 -
A Pew Pew Land II HD: Ultimate Tower Defense Game - iPad
Cradle of Rome 2 HD - iPad
Dino Cap - iPad
Elf Defense - iPad
World of Warcraft - PC

- 04/10/2012 -
Elf Defense - iPad
Dino Cap 2 - iPad
World of Warcraft - PC
Xenoblade Chronicles - Wii

- 04/11/2012 -
Aion: Ascension - PC
Elf Defense - iPad
Legend of Grimrock - PC
League of Legends - PC
Raid Leader - iPad

- 04/12/2012 -
Aion: Ascension - PC
Elf Defense - iPad
Legend of Grimrock - PC
League of Legends - PC

- 04/13/2012 -
Aion: Ascension - PC
Legend of Grimrock - PC
League of Legends - PC
Mass Effect 3 - PC

- 04/14/2012 -
Aion: Ascension - PC
DOTA 2 Beta - PC
Infinity Blade II - iPad
Jetrats Defense - iPad
League of Legends - PC
Slash It! - iPad

- 04/15/2012 -
DOTA 2 Beta - PC
Infinity Blade II - iPad
League of Legends - PC
Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes - PC

Sunday, April 15, 2012

It's Got to Be in 3D Right?

I got tired of waiting for more people to get to my Mii Plaza using the StreetPass on my Nintendo 3DS - and I have the 3DS in my jacket everwhere I go - so decided to use up my Play Coins to see if I could complete one of the puzzle panels in Puzzle Swap. You can get one random puzzle piece for just 2 coins - random as in it could give you the same piece that you already own over the separate collection panels that you have - and it took me about 100 coins to finally complete the New Super Mario Bros. Wii panel. When it was completed, I was pleasently surprised you are given access to the animated real-time 3D version of the picture in the panel, complete with 3D depths. I really didn't see that one coming and it felt rather rewarding. Now I am very curious about the other panels, especially the one for Metroid: Other M that features a close up view of Samus. I still have around 230 more coins to spend...

A fun interpretation of the original game cover.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Aion: Ascended

It has been two days since I started playing Aion: Ascension on the Personal Computer and I want to just do a quick report in regards to the game's "Truly Free" design. I have reached level 7 so far and there has not been any indication of any kind of gameplay limitation that I would have already encountered in your standard supposedly "free to play" massively multiplayer online role playing game. I would have noticed inventory shortage and dual currency in the in-game store by now, but I have not... yet. There is a cash shop icon that is accessible from the game's user interface that will take you to the "Black Cloud Marketplace" and the good news here is that a lot of the things on sale are definitely optional, like costumes and experience boosters. Sadly, there are a few questionable things on there like items that reduce the cooldown of what looks to be access to dungeons or instances as well as potions that will provide players with health points regeneration or increased critical chances. The latter may prove to be damaging to the balance of the gameplay since this game does have a heavy player versus player focus to it via the game's two warring factions. I will continue to play the game however, I am enjoying it so far, so that I can make a conclusive determination about the game's "Truly Free" claim.

It always help to see pretty vistas while you are out there questing.

It's all about the wings and you can buy a super large vanity pair from the cash shop.
Oh and Hagen, abstinence is not something you that should strive for.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Extremes of Valoran Social Spectrum

Last night, I picked up two more alternate skins for League of Legends on the Personal Computer: These two looks are certainly opposites of one another as one represent a class and the other, the lack thereof? The default Gragas is a disgusting half naked drunkard of a morbidly obese man and what can be even more tasteless than that other than having him strap on a denim overall and color his facial hair blond with his Hillbilly Gragas skin. Now Sona also decided to go blond with her Muse Sona skin but the effect is definitely a lot different with her. I do prefer this new hairdo because her default blue hair is a bit too anime for a League champion and my taste. The white dress is nice and true to Sona's sense of style, it's still vulgar enough to showcase her... assets.

I think Sona could easily fit inside Gragas' bloated tummy.

Can "Truly Free" Be Trusted?

You know, it's really funny. Just when I was getting so pumped up about getting back to World of Warcraft, despite the slight hesitation that came with it, my attention shifted - thanks to a friend - towards another massively multiplayer online role playing game by the name of Aion. Sure, I have played it before and it has some horrible annoyances, but NCsoft has recently adopted a "Truly Free" model for the game and claims that it's different than the other "free to play" MMO games out there. You know how I feel about those supposedly FTP MMOs: they are never really free. The only game that has been proven to be truly free, and it's not an MMO, is League of Legends. But it looks like NCsoft is really trying to shake up the status quo and based on what I have read, they are just going to stick with selling level boosters and vanity items for the players and everything else in the game would be free to access. If this is true, then paying to play the game will be completely optional and since I do buy alternate champion skins in LoL, I really wouldn't mind buying vanity items for my character in Aion if I am really enjoying the game and if NCsoft is really making this completely free to play. Based on my initial impression, I would never pay a subscription fee to play this game so this change is a good one for Aion.

I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt, NCsoft. Don't disappoint me.

Apparently, this "Truly Free" model has been implemented in their other game, Lineage II: Goddess of Destruction and now that I have been made aware of it, I want to test ride that MMO as well. It looks like I am going to put my WoW craze on hold for now because logically, it is not very smart to be on a pay to play subscription model when I can get, hopefully, the same MMO excitement potentially from these games. I will report on my "Truly Free' investigation of these games soon. I have been burned by the promise of "FTP" before, but let's see if NCsoft is going to be the first do it right in an MMO.

Update Note: 10:00am - Well, things are off to a horrible start. I had a problem launching Aion last night where it would crash soon after it was launched and after trying so many different things to it with no favorable results, including this official troubleshooting guide,I thought that it was probably just a corrupted file download. Thus, I started the download process again last night. Well, now that everything had been reinstalled and patched, the problem persists. I am about ready to give up on Aion. 2:00pm - It finally works! That was close.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Cataclysm Impact

Now that I am on my third day returning to World of Warcraft, I am beginning to feel unsure about a longer stay. It's not because the experience has been bad either. For the first time ever, I have now seen the difference that the Cataclysm expansion has brought to the game, specifically the environmental changes that has wrought Azeroth and with them, the restructured content of the impacted areas. Instead of trying to level up my high level characters, I have decided to create a new one. I have made a Tauren Paladin, which is of course a new race/class combination introduced by Cataclysm. The starting area has a combination of new and old quests that concluded in a real time event, the like that I have only seen before in Northern from the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. Then, when I left for Ogrimmar, I was astounded by how great the place look now. The structures have been given more details and right outside of the Orc fortress, exciting new quests awaited my Paladin. The experience feels new and my excitement level went up.

It helps that WoW still has some of the best looking armor pieces in the genre.

So everything may sound hunky-dory but there is still a dark cloud looming over my head that keeps reminding me that perhaps I will not have the luxury of time to enjoy this game plus the other games that I now have and those that I would like to play in the future. It is possible however to just reserve a daily time slot for some WoW and be disciplined enough to follow a set schedule. The other thing that I was thinking of is that subscribing to WoW may actually help me with my game price sweet spot because it would make the wait for a price drop a lot more bearable since I would be playing something else that I am heavily invested in. But then again the same could be said about League of Legends. But with WoW, perhaps I could even say no to the spouse wanting to get me full priced games and have the effect of the savings expanded. So there are pros and cons to getting back on WoW and I have about 4 more days left to do some heavy duty soul searching.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Games Played 04/02/2012 - 04/08/2012

- 04/02/2012 -
Infinity Blade - iPad

- 04/03/2012 -
League of Legends - PC
Shank 2 - PlayStation 3
Trine 2 - PC

- 04/04/2012 -
DOTA 2 Beta - PC
League of Legends - PC
Shift 2: Unleashed - PlayStation 3
Super Laser: The Alien Fighter - iPad
Trine 2 - PC
Waveform - PC
4 Elements HD - iPad

- 04/05/2012 -
DOTA 2 Beta - PC
League of Legends - PC
4 Elements HD - iPad

- 04/06/2012 -
League of Legends - PC
4 Elements HD - iPad

- 04/07/2012 -
Defence: Power of Magic - iPad 
Endless War - iPad
Gardenscapes HD - iPad
Hero of Might and Magic - iPad
Kid Icarus: Uprising - 3DS
League of Legends - PC
Mutant Mudds Demo - 3DS
World of Warcraft - PC
4 Elements HD - iPad

- 04/08/2012 -
Defence: Power of Magic - iPad
Elf Defense - iPad
Endless War - iPad
Forest Defense - iPad
League of Legends  - PC
Hero of Might and Magic - iPad
World of Warcraft - PC

Sunday, April 8, 2012

So Many Free iOS Games!

Ever since I started gaming on the iPad early this year, I have learned something about the game apps found in the App Store. If you are persistent in staying up to date with the store contents, there are always priced games being offered to customers for free for a limited amount of time. This is the reason why the number of iOS games I own has been increasing at a steady pace compared to the other platforms. Just last night alone, I was able to get 7 games from the free promotions - I repeat, seven games!

If you are patient, you don't have to ever pay to play any game on the iOS.

Of course the quality of these games can range form very good to extremely bad but the most important thing is to claim the free games and have them linked to my Apple account. One can then choose to keep the downloads or delete them immediately - the latter is recommended to save some memory space when the games ended being rotten. Sure, these are not the overpriced $59.99 games being offered for free but when they are fun, you would be thankful that you were able to get them without paying any money. Many of these do come with "In-App Purchases" or micro-transactions but thankfully, a majority of those are truly optional and they don't ruin the overall experience. These never ending free downloads will be able to keep me busy with my iPad for a very long time, especially since they keep coming without any sign of stopping anytime soon.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A Special Azeroth Resurrection

I activated a "Scroll of Resurrection" for World of Warcraft on the Personal Computer tonight that I received from my friend Dan from Gameolio. Why am I back on WoW? It's because I really do miss playing a massively multiplayer online role playing game. These scrolls provide the opportunity for players who have left the game to return for free for a period of one week. This time around though, Blizzard has up the ante and provided great bonuses for those who resurrected themselves into the game. First and foremost, the account is upgraded to the last expansion, Cataclysm - I stopped playing the game at Wrath of the Lich King so that is a $39.99 value! I was also given the opportunity to bump up my character of choice immediately to level 80! Since my main, Circumstance, the Undead Priest is already level 78 and my secondary character Obscura, the Tauren Druid is level 70, I decided to bless this bonus to Abstinent, the level 4 Goblin Shaman that I played for a little bit in late 2010. Then, Blizzard even provided me the ability to transfer the character to the server where my friend is playing on! I have a feeling that I may actually stick with WoW for a little bit here but I can't say that with absolute certainty. I will see how things fare before I make a definite decision on the matter. If I like it a lot, I may do the one year commitment so that I could score Diablo III for free.

That is quite a generous return package!

Now one other cool thing I must add is that the game download doesn't take the whole entire day anymore and was faster this time around. Still took hours but it didn't clog up my bandwidth for the entire day, no. Apparently, Blizzy had upgraded the client to smooth out the initial setup for new players. The problem with me is that I am so stingy about my hard drive space - even though I have 3 terabyte worth - and I did delete WoW from my computer since the last time I returned to the game last year. So the initial impression of my return has been positive thus far. I hope things will work out this time around because I have always considered WoW to be the best MMO around.

It is funny that this new gobby gets to ride an epic flying mount before my main does.

March 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: 56

I was a little worried that my interest in League of Legends for the Personal Computer may be waining when I stopped playing it for several days but it didn't take that long to get addicted by the game again once I jumped back on it. I was expecting DOTA 2 Beta to shoot all the way up once I have gained access to play it but surprisingly, that hasn't been the case. Perhaps I am just a bit too cautious about the game's community. I have only been playing the versus bots mode and even in there, I found a large number of unsavory people. I must say that I am very impressed with the intelligence of the bots in DOTA 2 - sure, they have their quirks, like the inability to make a decision to come back to base to stop a large push but overall, they offer quite a challenge. I am going to continue to learn the game's nuances this way before I start playing the regular matches against human opponents.

Sine Mora for the X-Box 360 did get a good number of play last moth but it is another game that I thought I was going to come back to over and over again but I didn't. It's such a great game however but mastering that time extend mechanics can be somewhat a frustrating experience. I have to go at it Ikaruga-style and play the game nonstop for months on end and I am sure if I do that, I will get very far with it.

This Month's Inductees:

Total Inductions: 36

Xenoblade: The GameStop Story

For fans of the Nintendo Wii, yesterday was an important day because of the release of the game that almost didn't make it to North America: Xenoblade Chronicles by Monolith Soft. While eating out in a restaurant last night, I shared my frustration in regards to the game with the spouse. I hated the fact that Nintendo was so unsure about the game that they ended up selling the game exclusively from GameStop and I am not a fan of that place whatsoever. The spouse offered to get me the game because it was priced higher than my price sweet spot but there was a catch. The spouse didn't want to order it from the Nintendo online store and wanted to take me to a GameStop instead. It had been ages since I last stepped into one of these stores and it was apparent that the spouse was poking fun at me because my displeasure about GameStop is very well known between the two of us.

Once we arrived, I was approached by two young female employees who greeted me like I just stepped into a Hooters restaurant. There was a male staff who was doing something in the back but I got the new strategy here: This GameStop is apparently selling a bit of sex to score an easy victory over their typical customers. I asked them if they have Xenoblade Chronicles on sale and one of the girls said "Oh Xenosaga Chronicles?" and said that they do and instructed the other girl to get it from the cabinet behind her. While ringing it up for me, the girl  tried to sell me the "PowerUp Rewards Card", which is fine because that is what she's supposed to do. Then, perhaps noticing our wedding rings, she explained that "moms usually love this card", referring to the premium paid membership. Not sure why she would even mention that, it's not like we brought any kids with us. I didn't buy the membership of course since I don't plan on shopping at a GameStop ever again. Then, as she was placing the game into a plastic bag, she told me that she hoped that I will be having fun with the game and that she never heard of the game before. It would have been better if she didn't say anything. The spouse just smiled at me as we stepped out of the store, satisfied with the torture that was just inflicted mercilessly upon me. When I registered the game on Club Nintendo, I wrote the following:

I sure hope that you take this seriously, Nintendo.

Going Green Doesn't Have to Be Boring

I received my copy of Kid Icarus: Uprising for the Nintendo 3DS last night and I was surprised that the game came bundled with the stand. I haven't tried out the game yet so I can't say whether it would be necessary to play the game with it but despite the elevation it gives the 3DS while sitting on it, I really do prefer the way the system looks sitting in its charging cradle.

It's really a basic stand that has no mechanism to lock the 3DS firmly in place.

Now the game case itself however is quite special. You know how game cases these days are going eco-friendly with multiple gaps inside of it to minimize the use of plastic in its construction? I know a lot of people don't like this because it does make the cases a lot more flimsy than before. I don't mind it because I am very careful with the way that I handle my video games and it also helps that I am just ready to embrace a full digital distribution solution for gaming. Well, Nintendo has found a clever use for them by strategically placing the characters' faces on the back of the game cover so that they would be peering out of the holes. Out of the 6 3DS games I have, Kid Icarus: Uprising is the only game case that showcases this! I really hope to see more of this kind of detail in future 3Ds game cases. I mean, it couldn't be that hard to accomplish, right?

That almost makes up for Nintendo's recent decrease in intstruction manual thickness.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

My Reply to Maya

Ever since I received that email from Maya, my exercise coach from Yourself!Fitness on the X-Box, I have not been in contact with her. I was so afraid to reply back to her because I wasn't ready to re-enroll in her hellish but effective routines. I know that I cannot reply back to her with just a simple "no". Well, thanks to the arrival of Yoshi into my household last month, I was finally able to muster up the courage to send her a response:

I sure hope she undersands. I mean, she has my physical address...

An evening walk with Yoshi.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Triple Play Should Be Triple the Gaming Fun

There's a promotion going on with the X-Box LIVE Reward program on the X-Box 360 for the month of April in which gamers can earn a measly 300 Microsoft Points by completing 3 tasks from the 3 main functions of the console: gaming, entertainment, and social. Yes, we are all smart enough as a gamer to notice that "entertainment" and "social" could actual fall into "gaming" but no, Microsoft wants you to see that they are not. Be very, very afraid 360 lovers because it is apparent now that the console is no longer seen as a gaming console primarily by Microsoft. Click here to see the "gaming" requirements needed to qualify for the 300 MP but I am going to show you below the disgusting tasks from the the other two portions of the promotion:

Do you know you can access all those things on item 2 for free everywhere else but the 360?

By now, you probably have noticed that this promotion is really about showcasing these other frivolous, non-gaming features found on a now supposed gaming console and I am sure that many would not just pay 400 MP just to gain the reward of 300MP so realistically, to come up on top of this whole deal, you would have to do item 2. But 10 hours of using those applications on the 360? That is just ridiculous. I mean seriously, the people who actually use that many hours of doing those things on the 360 should consider accessing them from other set top boxes because they can gain access to those services for free versus paying for the LIVE Gold subscription. Heck, if you are serious about accessing those things easily, consider hooking up a Personal Computer to your living room display - it's possible and extremely easy. Why the high requirement in this "Be Entertained" area? My idea of being entertained by a 360 has something to do with playing video games on the darn console and not doing non-gaming things on a gaming console. Now let's look at the "Be Social" requirements that don't make sense at all in the gaming context:

My idea of being social on a console is playing a co-op game!

So it's cool that the 360 has social networking capabilities but the way that they are separated from the actual gaming experience is troubling and that is the way that they are presented in this promotion. Why not count multiplayer gaming hours as a requirement instead of doing something that may or may not have anything to do with you doing some gaming on a gaming console? Do you know that you can do these things on your smart phone? I always find it funny when people choose to game on the 360 because they can "party it up" with friends when they can just use Skype to even do some cross-platform gaming. My point here is that Microsoft needs to stop turning the 360 into something it shouldn't be: a set top box with gaming options. It should be a premier gaming console. The way it is presented in this promotion however is a clear indication that it is anything but that.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Gaming with Ranidaphobia

The fear from everyday life can sometimes manifest itself strongly while playing a video game. As if it wasn't enough that I have major trouble playing games that revolves around open water, today, I was in for a shocking surprise when I encountered a giant frog in Trine 2 for the Personal Computer.

It's so disgusting! Get it off the screen now!

Yes, it's true. Yours truly is scared of frogs. Of course the fact that the frog I encountered here  is so huge and animated brilliantly made the whole thing quite unbearable. Thankfully, it didn't last very long but I was pretty much looking away from the screen during the short ordeal. There have been plenty of frogs in games before but only a few of them managed to scar me for life because most of them are either too unrealistic and non-threatening or that they do not have any major impact on the gameplay. The evil frogs that can paralyze you in Dark Souls for the PlayStation 3 can make me flee the Game Room, especially when they have me cornered. Even when they are dead, pushing against their nasty jelly like bodies can easily churn my stomach. The most violent reaction I ever had was that one boss encounter in Devil May Cry 4 for the PS3 when you thought that you were fighting two ice maidens and then all of a sudden, this huge frog just jumped out at you from the shadows. I jumped so high that night, I may have been mistaken for a frog myself. I think I may have wet my pants too. That was just so mean. Just meeting a big toad is scary enough, but coupled with that ambush, it was psychologically damaging. The funny thing about my fear of frogs is that I don't have any problems with tadpoles when they still look like a fish. But as soon as those legs grow out, I would be out of there. Frogs are slimy, frightful creatures. Their mouths are too big, it's like you can lose a fist in there. That's how I have always felt about them since I was a little boy and apparently, it's just something that I have to live with for the rest of my life.