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Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Trouble with Steam Trading Cards

When Valve introduced Steam's new "Trading Cards" system recently, I was quite amused because initially, I thought that the card would drop continuously as you play games that support this new "task unlocker" mechanism. I later realized that there is maximum amount of card that would drop per game and that you cannot even unlock all of the trading cards needed to craft a game badge on your own. This system mandates that you trade with your friends and other players. You don't get experience points when you get a card drop - that only happens when you have crafted a badge. Since no one in their right mind would be giving away card drops for free, this whole thing ended up being just an endeavor for those with money to burn. Well, these cards can easily be bought from the Steam Community Market. Depending on their rarities - there are rare card drops that can provide you better experience points when crafted - these cards range from dirt cheap to the cost of a cheap Steam game. By now, it should be pretty apparent that Valve introduced this system so that they could make some money from Steam users since they net a bit from any money transaction made in the Market. So overall, I am disappointed by the Steam Trading Cards. After having the best "task unlocker" in the business with their achievement system, this badge crafting activity ended up being rather foul. Worse still, we now have a new kind of "task unlocker whores" to join the ranks of both the Achievement Whores and Trophy Whores and it sounds worse than those two: Badge Whores. Unless I have friends who fell and knocked their heads hard, you will never see my profile holding any completed game badges. Ever.

It would have been great if the cards only have a 0.001% chance to drop every time
you play a STC game but you are provided with the chance to get all of the cards on your own.


Update Note: 07/13/2013 - I discovered today that you could actually unlock duplicate trading cards and this revelation actually changed a bit of the badge crafting mechanics. This means that even though it will take you quite a long time over many, many games - that is if you, like me, choose to not pay for these trading cards - you could eventually craft a badge if you trade your duplicate cards with people who have duplicate cards of the cards you want. Since the duplicate cards still count towards the maximum number of trading cards you can unlock in a game, we are all then still living in a Badge Whore world and unless you choose to pay for these cards to collect them, you will never, ever be able to craft every single game badges but I suppose at least we normal people could participate somewhat in the fun of "proper" trading.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Real Curse of the Sinistrals

There is one important thing that you want to be able to see when you pick up a game case at the retail store - screenshots. Sure, the cover art is what probably made you pick up the game case in the first place but you want to be able to gawk over, hopefully, some in-game screenshots. Well, I suppose in this day and age, one could always research information about a game on the Internet before stepping into the store but even after you have done that, unless the game case is behind a locked shelf, you are going to grab it, sniff it, shake it, and flip it around anyway. Well, most people would grab it and look intently at both the front and back cover but I actually have seen people shake the case and sniff it before. At least I would sniff mine at home after I unwrap them from their plastic covering. Apparently the people at Natsume had forgotten about the screenshot thing because the game case for Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals on the Nintendo DS that I recently inducted into my Game Library actually had none on it:

At least some description on how the game looks like? Oh, that's classified too?

I checked some of my other physical games I have from publisher Natsume and they do have screenshots on the back so it's not like this is a usual occurrence for them whatsoever. So was this an oversight? Was it intentional? What's the deeper meaning behind this? Is it a commentary on blind consumerism? Don't judge a game by its back cover? I can confirm that the game, which uses 3D graphics, does look pretty remarkable so there was no reason why they wouldn't slap a screenshot or two on the back of the case.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Taric: The Fashion Collection & Heimer?

For being such a fabulous champion, it's disappointing to see that Taric, the Gem Knight, in League of Legends for the Personal Computer only has two alternate skins. I unlocked his very manly "Armor of the Fifth Age" earlier this year and today, I got the even manlier "Bloodstone" skin for him:

From coals to diamonds?

I think there should be a skin for him where he wears plenty of jewelries like necklaces and rings on top of a ravishing sparkly outfit. I'd so buy that skin, like almost immediately. I also saw a Heimerdinger skin on sale earlier this week and I decided to unlock it too. I really hate the default Heimer skin, with his blonde afro looking particularly weird especially with the way he bobs his head when he moves around. So this "Blast Zone" skin provides me much relief whenever I get to random him in my Howling Abyss matches:

A more casual Heimer.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Turn Off Trophy Notifications?

And I thought the DOMA and Prop 8 Supreme Court decisions today were historic but apparently, there was something big also happening in gaming. There was a patch yesterday for the PlayStation 3 that I just downloaded when I booted up the system tonight and it is quite groundbreaking - with software version 4.46, you can now... Turn off the display notifications when you unlock a trophy!

Am I dreaming? Thank you Sony, thank you!

To many people, unlocking trophies has become an activity that can be equated to drug abuse. The level of addiction for these individuals just reached quite a disturbing level. Is Sony trying to help people combat this delirium? But certainly no one would ever choose the option to not display trophy notifications except for me? I hate it because I don't hunt trophies and when they suddenly show up, it would startle me and that can be bad for the heart! Without seeing that pop-up when completing a silly task though, I am sure that people would rather play on the X-Box 360 and Steam to see the achievements rather than turn this off. Such a weird update. Perhaps this is a test to see how people would react when they don't see the trophy notifications because on the PlayStation 4, there is the possibility that only PlayStation Plus members will see them pop-up? Whatever the reason may be, in a world where gamers would not play anything without being rewarded with a "task unlocker" popping up on their screens, Sony had just done something that is nothing short of... revolutionary!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Project X Zone: Target's Last Copy

If there was one gaming regret that still haunts me from my past, it would be not picking up a copy of Super Robot Taisen OG Saga: Endless Frontier for the Nintendo DS when I saw it sitting on the retail shelf at Fry's Electronics when the game was first released before taking with me another game to the cash register. Ever since then, I was unable to find the game again at retail and it would not make sense if I were to purchase it at the ridiculous price that people are selling the game for ever since it went rare. So when Project X Zone was announced for the Nintendo 3DS, I was ecstatic. I kept reminding myself to pre-order a copy at Amazon just to ensure that I get the game - and you know pre-ordering is a pretty rare thing for me so it should tell you just how special this game is. The fact that Namco x Capcom for the PlayStation 2 never reaches the North American shores made the game even more desirable for many people. For me, the appearances of familiar game characters from across Capcom, Namco Bandai Games, and Sega was the most exciting thing about Project X Zone but it is the frenetic 2D sprite battles made the game even more adorable. Well, a week ago I finally remembered to place my pre-order and of course by then, the game was no longer available on Amazon. Immediately there were already crazy sellers offering the game at high prices to take advantage of the situation. I felt silly of course that I didn't pre-order earlier but at least I feel a whole lot better about things now:

Building up my Game Library for my modern Nintendo platforms.

As you can see, I did manage to score a copy today from the most unexpected of places... Target?! Fry's didn't have the game yet, which is to be expected these days with their weird inventory situation, but I was able to get the last copy from a local Target store. In a way, things worked out better because I didn't have to wait for the game to arrive from Amazon and there's even another bonus! Target also had Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate for the Wii U on sale so I decided to bring that home as well. I am trying to do my best to support my Wii U since I have decided to bypass the PlayStation 4 and the X-Box One due to their inappropriate FEE-to-play onlilne multiplayer practice. I remember someone telling me that I should still get one of those consoles just for the single player games and play all the online-multiplayer games on my Personal Computer. Well, that's like buying a pair of underwear to put on at the beach only that there's a large hole in the front and my private part is left out in the open. That would probably work great when shooting pornography but not for a public beach. No thank you. I don't know why people would buy the PS4 and/or the XOne if they don't plan on paying the online multiplayer fees because that's a lot more dumb than getting the PS4 and/or the XOne and actually paying the online multiplayer fees.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Games Played 06/17/2013 - 06/23/2013

- 06/17/2013 -
Eschatos - X-Box 360
KAMUI - PC
Under Defeat HD: Deluxe Edition - PlayStation 3

- 06/18/2013 -
Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara - PC
League of Legends - PC

- 06/19/2013 -
The Secret World - PC

- 06/20/2013 -
Animal Crossing: New Leaf - 3DS
League of Legends - PC
New Super Mario Bros. U - Wii U
Raiden Legacy - PC

- 06/21/2013 -
ALLTYNEX Second - PC
Animal Crossing: New Leaf - 3DS
Eschatos - X-Box 360
League of Legends - PC
Pinball FX2 - PC
RefleX - PC
Soul Sacrifice - Vita
Tyrian 2000 - PC

- 06/22/2013 -
Ether Vapor Remaster - PC
League of Legends - PC
Monsters Love You! - PC
Really Big Sky - PC
Rhythm Heaven Fever - Wii
The Secret World - PC
Star Parodier - Wii
Trine 2 - PC

- 06/23/2013 -
Animal Crossing: New Leaf - 3DS
League of Legends - PC
The Secret World - PC


Screenshot of the Week:

Oh, it's no secret. I love this game.
The Secret World (Personal Computer)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

X-Box One Turnaround - A Thought

So the X-Box One has recently decided to match the PlayStation 4's used game as well as no Internet check policies. Well, that's all good and well. But you know what? Imagine what would happen if people actually use their brains and start boycotting both Sony and Microsoft for their insistence on implementing/keeping FEE-to-play online multiplayer? Yeah, that thing would be history. The funny thing here is that I don't even understand why the 24-hour check was such a big deal since almost all XOne users would be on LIVE Gold anyway to access online multiplayer so they would be online almost all the time they are using the console. Remember that there was a time when Microsoft tried to charge a fee to access LIVE-enabled online modes for the Personal Computer and they quickly changed it so that PC gamers can access online multiplayer via the LIVE service for free because PC gamers just couldn't be fooled. The chances of that happening for PS4 and XOne? Nil. Unfortunately, there are a lot of not so smart people out there. Why did you think Sony actually dared to slap a price on PS4 online multiplayer? The amount of PlayStation Plus "rental program" subscribers tell them all they needed to know about how gullible their victims are...

No free online multiplayer = No sale for me.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Wii U Pro Controller

I don't know why I felt the urge to get the Wii U Pro Controller but I did. Perhaps I am just preparing for the future where I envision myself playing Wii U games without that gigantic Wii U Gamepad sitting in front of me. Now that the controller is here, I have to say that I am a bit disappointed that I rushed its acquisition because the Wii U Pro Controller just feels... strange. It is easily the second worst controller Nintendo had ever made next to the Wii Classic Controller Pro. First off, the Pro Controller feels too light in my hands and the almost flat face that tries to mimic the surface of the X-Box 360 controller just feels odd where the base of your thumbs rest as they beg for little bit more slope. The placement of the second analog stick at the top right hand side, a decision made for the sake of consistency with the Wii U Gamepad versus efficient functionality though not much of a hindrance, is definitely puzzling. I also don't understand why the Pro Controller would light up every time you press a button while the console is off, just like the Wiimote. It should just be completely off until it is turned on. Other than those concerns, the controller itself is responsive. I suppose I was expecting some high quality controller build because of its rather hefty $49.99 price tag but overall, the controller feels really cheap. I'd say it should be sold for a mere $19.99. If you are curious about the Pro Controller, keep that curiosity in check or it will definitely kill the cat. Just stick to the Wii U Gamepad until Nintendo releases a better standard controller for the console.

The Wii U Pro Controller on the right is almost as bad as its older sister on the left.
Oh well, at least it knows how to rumble.


RATING: 3 out of 5

Monday, June 17, 2013

Games Played 06/10/2013 - 06/16/2013

- 06/10/2013 -
ALLTYNEX Second - PC
Guwange - X-Box 360
KAMUI - PC
RefleX - PC

- 06/11/2013 -
ALLTYNEX Second - PC
Botanicula - PC
Galaxy on Fire 2 HD - PC
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light - PC
League of Legends - PC
Really Big Sky - PC
Sine Mora - PC
Wonder Boy III: Monster Lair - PC
Ys Origin - PC

- 06/12/2013 -
Animal Crossing: New Leaf - 3DS
League of Legends - PC

- 06/13/2013 -
ALLTYNEX Second - PC
Animal Crossing: New Leaf - 3DS
League of Legends - PC
Monsters Love You! - PC
Soul Sacrifice - Vita
Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition - PC
Toro's Friend Network - Vita

- 06/14/2013 -
League of Legends - PC
RefleX - PC
They Bleed Pixels - PC

- 06/15/2013 -
League of Legends - PC
RefleX - PC
Soul Sacrifice - Vita

- 06/16/2013 -
ALLTYNEX Second - PC
Animal Crossing: New Leaf - 3DS
Blazing Lazers - Wii
Gate of Thunder - Wii
Rift - PC
Soldier Blade - Wii
Super Star Soldier - Wii


Screenshot of the Week:

I can finally enjoy my LoL once again! The game was crashing on me starting two patches ago
but I found a quick fix that works since Riot hasn't figured out the issue yet.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Wii U: Fatter Than Ever

My PlayStation 3 got its TB treatment about a year ago and now, it's time to do the same with the Wii U. Today, I finally got a 2TB external hard drive for the console - click here to see a list of the ones that have been tested to work with the Wii U. I waited so long because I was waiting for something big to download from the eShop and with the arrival of New Super Luigi U later this month, I could finally justify the investment. 2TB is plenty of space. The PS3 only got a 1TB and my Personal Computer totals at 4TB. I just hope that Nintendo will provide me plenty of reasons to fill up the external HDD. Sticking to a smart digital distribution strategy can do Nintendo wonders. You know what to do Nintendo!

I got the space. Now give me the reasonably priced games!

LG's Game Room: Now Cooler Than Ever?

I hate hot weather. That's the cold hard truth. The spouse loves heat. Yes, that creates quite a complication in our relationship. During winter time, the spouse wants to turn up the temperature all the way up, which of course drives me insane. During the summer time, I want to turn down the temperature down and that usually makes the spouse literally sick. Even with the vents properly closed when they needed to be, it is hard to control the house temperature with the central system we have. Since the data managed by our thermostat normally reads from the living room environment, the spouse does suffer the most from the discrepancies. When the heater is turned on, it's never hot enough in the living room while it's blazing hot hell fire in my Game Room. When I turn on the air conditioner, the spouse would almost turn frozen solid while it feels just nice where I'm at. Well, the spouse decided to present to me with... A room air conditioner! Since I spend most of my time in the Game Room, I now have that thing installed in one of my windows. I hate how I can hear sounds from outside the house now and how noisy the air conditioner can get. But that's what you do for love. Yeah. My Game Room is definitely the coolest room in the house!

Now I can be in my sweet, sweet winter land all the time!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Almost Perfect Reversible Cover Art

I secured a copy of Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon for the Nintendo Wii today and apparently it has one of those game cases that have a reversible cover art: they all should though right? The alternate cover definitely looks rather amazing as you can see below image:

Simply stunning. Why can't this be the official cover art in the first place?

If you haven't noticed from the above picture however, it is definitely impossible to justify using the alternate cover art for someone like me who has a serious case of obsessive compulsive disorder because of one very major flaw: Yes, the Wii logo is missing on the top portion of the spine so if I place this case in between the other Wii game cases, it will look sorely out of place. Why, XSEED Games? Why? How could you not notice that the Wii logo is missing? Oh well.

Expand That Digital Distribution, Nintendo!

I really like what Nintendo is doing with the upcoming release of the New Super Mario Bros. U expansion, New Super Luigi U - I like it so much that I think that it could become a valid strategy for Nintendo when it comes to releasing all of their future Wii U games. Just think about it for a moment: The more Nintendo is able to sell directly to the customers via their eShop, the more money they can make by skipping the retail channel and they didn't have to worry about production of the physical game cases, manuals, and discs. Why wouldn't they want to make more money? Nintendo will be releasing the huge expansion to the game via digital distribution on the 20th of this month at only $19.99 while selling the retail version 2 months later in late August at $29.99! This is just pure genius. Unless you are really rich and like to spend your money like it's nothing but a fart to be released to the wind, one would be mad not to get the digital version of this game. Even if your Internet sucks, you can just let the thing download while you go to work or watch television. That price difference is sweet too and Nintendo should implement this kind of price reduction to all of the digital versions of the retail releases for Wii U. For those $59.99 games, Nintendo should be selling them at the sweet price of $39.99 via the eShop. I am in the process of getting a 2TB external hard drive for my Wii U at the moment since I am going to get the digital version of New Super Luigi U and I hope that Nintendo will fix the prices for the other games on the eShop so that I could start downloading them.

What a brilliant marketing plan. Bravo Nintendo, bravo!

The Last of Us: To See the Stars

There used to be a time when I told people to get all the consoles to be able to experience all that gaming has to offer, that one should pursue the games and not their association to a particular console. But things were different back then and I don't believe in that anymore. One thing still holds true however: there is no such thing as a "console war", especially when people have the freedom to own all the consoles and that war is just a figment of a one console loyalist's imagination, something that I suspect sparked from jealousy when one could only afford one over the others. I have now gained a new understanding to the non-existence of console war, in which when one can be free from their allure in the first place. I have been gaming all my life and my recent decision to abandon Sony and Microsoft in their supposed "next generation" crusade made me feel quite free. I now know that I will not be seeing the PlayStation 4 and the X-Box One consoles in my Game Room and that knowledge brought me unparalleled satisfaction. Both consoles insist on FEE-to-play online multiplayer and I don't support that whatsoever. I originally planned to at least get the PS4 down the line but now, the PS4 is nothing different than the XOne. While Microsoft wants to push non-essential non-gaming features down gamers' throats and bundling access to those things with the ability to play online multiplayer for a fee, Sony's now mandatory PlayStation Plus subscription for online functions means that Sony really wants to push their game rental agenda. They will offer a lot of free games through the PS+ service, just like what they are doing now and more people will be subscribing to the service because they want to access a crucial feature of any gaming platform: the online multiplayer. Once that program ends, all those free games that people thought they own will go away. If you think Sony doesn't care about digital rights management, you are clearly mistaken. It's a simple trick: convince people to stop buying games at retail by offering those games eventually on PS+ and people will then just wait for the eventual PS+ "free" releases that they never truly own. I don't see that PS+ is going to go away for a long time, sure, but I will never pay Sony for that rental program.

The PlayStation 3 and the X-Box 360: The last of their kind

Though there are some truths to Sony "winning" the E3 show, I do find it funny how PS4 loyalists are thinking that this spells doom for the XOne. Don't they know that just like them, the XOne loyalists cannot be deterred from buying a Microsoft console? I mean, these are the same people who have been paying for online multiplayer without questioning the audacity of such a fee so an extra $100 is nothing to them. They have survived the "red ring of death", the obnoxious fee, and Microsoft's non-gaming focus on the X-Box 360 so they will keep supporting the XOne even if that means having the console validated over the Internet every 24 hours. Also, the non-gaming portion of the XOne will ensure that non-gamers will eat the console up if they want a cool cable set top box! Yeah, I see the major success of the XOne for sure and hand-in-hand with the PS4, many will be buying these console, except for me. It's funny. I started with just one console during the Genesis vs. Super Nintendo Entertainment System era and now, history repeats itself. It'll be me and the Wii U and the powerful companion of the Personal Computer. The PS4 and the XOne are both unnecessary to me, especially the fact that their predecessors are still capable of giving so much more yet rudely abandoned by both companies. I am certain that many will say that I will be missing out but I do know deep within me that this new found feeling of total freedom is something that I could never let go. To think that I used to stress out about getting the many games under the many platforms, just look at how long my Purchase List is now, but with this epiphany, I now feel that I have things under control, not to mention I will have plenty of spare cash. I don't doubt that there are going to be games that I may be interested in that will be out for those new consoles but I have been interested in many games in the past and they normally ended up just sitting quietly in my Game Library untouched all these years because the proper moods to play them have not arrived yet. It's important to bear in mind that things should always be kept into perspective. Please, don't tell me that I should get the new consoles without paying for PS+ and LIVE Gold because that's telling me that I should get a meal at a restaurant that is already half-eaten. What an odd but fascinating twist in my gaming life that the gaming universe has thrown at me.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Nintendo's E3 2013 Live Stream Failure

Well, as the last place for me to spend money on console-wise for this latest cycle of new consoles, I had some high expectations for Nintendo to deliver the goods after both Microsoft and Sony left me deserted and disgusted. Nintendo definitely didn't disappoint with many promising titles shown in their E3 video this year with games like Super Mario 3D World, Mario Kart 8, and that gorgeous action role playing game being developed by Monolith Software currently entitled X. The new Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze looked suspiciously like a Wii game however so it was probably originally developed for the older system and just sloppily ported over to the Wii U. But that live video stream... Oh how it failed miserably with lags and skips throughout the short 40+ minute presentation. Thankfully, Nintendo posted the video up on their YouTube channel soon after so I was able check out the things I have missed. Watching that live video though was quite a miserable experience. Also, the whole presentation felt a bit... sad. It's almost like Nintendo is not even trying. Maybe they now regret launching the Wii U? Don't tell me they are thinking of abandoning it soon and launching a new console? Then again maybe they are ready to team up with Valve to release all future Nintendo games on Steam once they stop supporting the Wii U?


Nintendo's final E3 presentation? You decide!

Monday, June 10, 2013

PS4: The PS+ Factor

Sony's E3 press conference today may have signified a dominating win over Microsoft's weak showing earlier this morning with the PlayStation 4 being $100 less at $399, ready for your preorder and its insistence of using physical game distribution but for me, I found myself being alienated to a point of no return away from the console. This is due to the fact that online multiplayer on the PS4 will require a PlayStation Plus subscription and I do not believe in paying money to access the online multiplayer portion of a game. It looks like for this next cycle of supposed "next generation" consoles, I am just going to stick with Nintendo's Wii U while enjoying whatever game that may land on the Personal Computer.

If you think this is good news, you are mistaken.

Sony's bold, money hungry move involving the PS+ came as a surprise to me but less shocking was the fact that they are still shying away from exclusive digital distribution. I personally believe that it's time that we move away from games in physical form but unless you have spent a lot of time gaming on the PC, the whole concept becomes too alien and scary and Sony's cowardice ensures that things will stay that way for a long time to come. Oh well, at least I know that Sony and Microsoft will be diligently working on the successor for both the PS4 and X-Box One soon after those consoles are released so I won't be waiting that long to possibly get back into both the PlayStation/X-Box brand.

X-Box One: E3 2013

You know that I am not a fan of console developers pushing their "next generation" agenda when the current consoles out there in the marketplace today still hold some crazy untapped demonic powers within them. Out of the three, I do favor the Wii U the most for it did end up being in my Game Room unexpectedly, the PlayStation 4 second but I don't plan on getting it in the next 2 years, and the X-Box One dead last as I am certain that I have no interest in it. The fact that the X-Box One will require a LIVE Gold subscription fee to access all of its features, just like how things are handled on the X-Box 360, helped in sealing the deal for me. Even though I have no interest in the X-Box One, I was curious to see Microsoft's E3 briefing for this year but apparently, deep in my subconscious, I really didn't want to watch it because I had totally forgotten about it until the presentation almost ended. So I didn't watch it live for the first time in all these years and when watching the recording, I pretty much skipped through the whole thing because it wasn't interesting whatsoever. The only really fascinating thing about the whole thing was the twitch.tv integration - Valve, it's time to implement that into Steam, even Origin has that for a while now. The price point of $499.99 does feel expensive, especially if you consider how obsolete the technology behind the console actually is compared to what you can truly achieve currently on a decent gaming Personal Computer. Hun, don't be sneaky with me with the X-Box One - I do not want it so don't buy it for me!

After gaming for a long time, I just want a gaming revolution, not a new gaming console...

Wait, what's this doing below the official stream page?

You really want to know Microsoft?

I am sure my story won't get front-page posting from Microsoft:

Well, you did ask for my story.

Games Played 06/03/2013 - 06/09/2013

- 06/03/2013 -
Fire Emblem: Awakening - 3DS
The Guild 2: Renaissance - PC

- 06/04/2013 -
League of Legends - PC
Marvel Heroes - PC
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale - Vita
Super Stardust Delta - Vita

- 06/05/2013 -
League of Legends - PC

- 06/06/2013 -
League of Legends - PC
Raiden Legacy - PC

- 06/07/2013 -
Audiosurf - PC
Dead or Alive 5 - PlayStation 3
League of Legends - PC
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale - PlayStation 3
Toro's Friend Network - Vita

- 06/08/2013 -
Audiosurf - PC
Diablo III - PC
League of Legends - PC
Raiden IV - X-Box 360
Rez HD - X-Box 360
Toro's Friend Network - Vita

- 06/09/2013 -
Akai Katana - X-Box 360
Audiosurf - PC
Dodonpachi Resurrection - X-Box 360
Don't Starve - PC
Fire Amblem: Awakening - 3DS
Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn - GameCube
League of Legends - PC
Raiden IV - X-Box 360


Screenshot of the Week:

That almost looks like your future $500 X-Box One without paying LIVE Gold fee.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Toro's Friend Network

You would think that everything that Sony does when it comes to handheld gaming will always come second to Nintendo's offerings but that has changed with the Toro's Friend Network application that was just released for the PlayStation Vita earlier this week. The idea behind this app is not original for it is inspired by Nintendo's Streetpass Mii Plaza but it is far better than that. With TFN, you can actually send and receive friend requests - something that is sorely missing from Mii Plaza - on top of the ability to play mini games - including clearing dungeons (sounds familiar?) - with your acquired friends. Sadly however, Nintendo's "Mii" people just can't be beaten when it comes to their cute and potentially accurate representation of their creators so in TFN, your avatar doesn't look all that good with the head being a square box with whatever picture you used in the profile on the PlayStation Network or a social network website.

The app is not hard to figure out but the tutorial is annoyingly long.

I really like this app because it provides a way a nice little venue for people to make friends a lot more easily. Outside of the application, sending people random friend invites may result in you being called a stalker or worse but not here. There seems to be an end goal of making 100 friends via the app to turn Toro into a human but since all the friendship you made in this game gets registered into your actual PSN account, I am not sure if Sony now allows you to go beyond the 100 friend limit if you already have pre-existing friends. It's definitely a misstep that your pre-existing friends are not already added into the actual game but I suppose this app wants to ensure that they also have a Vita so that the benefits you get from the app are mutually shared.

Pick 10 random strangers a day!

There is one thing that holds back the experience of this fun little app and that is... the ridiculous in-game cash shop! Yes, Sony wants to make a lot of money from this little app... Even more money than they would get from you when you buy a new Vita or PlayStation 3 game! Of course, you don't have to buy the things they are selling and I don't plan on ever doing that but you have to really grind to get anywhere without them. At least Nintendo doesn't do that to us and for an app that should make people love the Vita a bit more, I don't know what Sony was thinking. Well, I know what they were thinking - $$$ first, the players second. Why do you think they are itching to release the PlayStation 4 already when the PS3 would suffice for another 10 years?

Now let's see if we would actually interact outside of this app.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Vita's First Real Outing

It was easy for me to criticize the PlayStation Vita like I did recently in regards to its cross-buy feature but sometimes, I have to place the Vita inside the right environment to allow it to show its shine. I have mentioned in the past that playing the Vita in the bedroom, away from my gaming hub that is my Game Room, is quite a treat but that is nothing like the experience I had with it today. The venue? How about a place away from home? More specifically, what we are talking about here is the hospital waiting room. The spouse had to undergo surgery this morning - everything went well and the prognosis is good - and as you could probably imagine, sitting in that waiting room was quite a stressful time for me. I had to make a decision before leaving the house between taking the Nintendo 3DS or the Vita with me and I am so glad that I picked the Vita. In that sterile, desolate landscape, the Vita transported me away to a more cheerful place via PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale and you know what? I was even able to participate in my first online free-for-all match over the crappy hospital Wi-Fi without any connection loss nor lag! I didn't win the match but I had a blast:

I should only play my Vita when I'm outside of the Game Room.

As I was playing sitting there playing the Vita, I could appreciate the clarify and richness of the system's display, even though it's not even high definition, and I was thankful that the graphics were indeed nice enough. I surely wished that I had fully charged up the system last night though because I couldn't keep playing the Vita for the entirety of my wait but I had no one else to blame but myself. Thanks Vita for being there for me in my time of need.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Facebook is Annoying

Okay, it's time again to step out of the gaming universe and talk about other things in life like... Facebook for instance. From the beginning, I never liked Facebook. I thought it intrudes on our personal lives too much while the whole white and blue motif was just too sterile for me. I was a Myspace fan however because of its wild predisposition without trying to do a literal and figurative colonoscopy on you. After a while though, my friends started moving to Facebook and since Myspace started to become a bit too inconvenient with too many ads popping up everywhere, I made the switch. I sure wish I didn't these days. Checking my Facebook everyday can be quite hazardous as well as annoying because of the whole "Like" whoring phenomenon where strange organizations or groups beg to be liked by the community. And they will do anything and I mean ANYTHING to secure a "Like". Here's a really outlandish example:

Wait... What?

Of course those who don't see the blatant criminal audacity of this, coupled with their misguided sense of morality, would immediately hit that "Like" button and soon, the Facebook zombies would spread this annoying demand all over the place. Now you would think that perhaps this message was prompted by some socially responsible group of people because of the life and death dilemma posed but no... This particular message was promoted by:

I don't know what a "cuttest" is but no, pulling that nasty like-begging trick is not cute at all.

Apparently, posting pictures of scantily-clothed men and women of Mexican descent - I am not a fan of "racial" messages because I see all of us as being humans instead of being parts of some man-made idea of races and ethnicity, so why not just call the group "Cutest People"? - is not enough for the page's admins to get the amount of likes that they need to feel good about themselves so they resort to some really horrifying message to get people to hit that Like button. The fact that this is happening is disturbing enough but of course it is more alarming to know that some of my acquaintances on Facebook actually fell for this kind of moronic crusade. I think there was a time when Facebook actually had a "Dislike" button but I could be wrong. I think such functionality should be included on Facebook and that both the Like and Dislike counts should be shown on all messages and group pages because you know as well as I do that this particular one would have gotten millions of Dislikes... At least I hope so but I could be very wrong about that based on what I have been seeing.

April 2013 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: 45


This Month's Inductees:


Total Inductions: 18

Games Played 05/27/2013 - 06/02/2013

- 05/27/2013 -
The Sims 3 - PC

- 05/28/2013 -
Audiosurf - PC
League of Legends - PC
New Super Mario Bros. 2 - 3DS
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale - PlayStation 3/Vita
Super House of Dead Ninjas - PC

- 05/29/2013 -
Audiosurf - PC
Borderlands 2 - PC
God of War: Ascension - PlayStation 3
League of Legends - PC
New Super Mario Bros. 2 - 3DS

- 05/30/2013 -
League of Legends - PC
New Super Mario Bros. 2 - 3DS
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale - PlayStation 3
Warlock: Master of the Arcane - PC

- 05/31/2013 -
League of Legends - PC
Super Mario Galaxy - Wii
New Super Mario Bros. 2 - 3DS
The Sims 3 - PC
Tokyo Crash Mob - 3DS

- 06/01/2013 -
Audiosurf - PC
League of Legends - PC
Rift - PC
Sine Mora - PC

- 06/02/2013 -
Fire Emblem: Awakening - 3DS
The Guild 2 Demo - PC
League of Legends - PC


Screenshot of the Week:

Attending the Fall Festival. Something I'd probably never do in real life.
The Sims 3 (Personal Computer)