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honestgamer It's not all an elaborate ruse, some misguided attempt to establish for myself an online persona of dubious quality. I really am dull. If you don't find that unbearable, though, this is my blog that examines just how truly boring I can be.

Title: Silence Your Rooster!
Posted: September 01, 2008 (12:32 AM)
Tonight I saw an amusing little commercial on television that included a link to SilenceYourRooster.com.

The commercial is actually for a product called AmbienCR, which you may have heard of. It helps you to sleep more soundly at night so that you don't wake up before you're rested (I hate waking up in the middle of the night because of a noise or whatever, but thankfully I generally sleep through almost anything).

Anyway, you can view the full assortment of 15-second clips right here if you want to see some funny little ads. They're not as clever as the Geico ones (sometimes) are, perhaps, but they amused me.
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Title: Disgaea 3 review is posted
Posted: August 31, 2008 (06:51 PM)
Well, I've posted my Disgaea 3 review.

This was a pretty difficult review to write. The series is getting so complex at this point, with so many fans drawn to so many different things. It was a big challenge to try to hit all of what I view as the main bullet points and do it with some word economy. Even now, it's right around 1500 words long, when I was hoping for closer to 1000 to 1200!

Anyway, I nailed most of the important points except that I didn't mention magicharge, one of the least noteworthy new features. Basically, a hero and a monster can combine for three turns with the monster boosting your attack and receiving benefits. Then the monster is gone from battle. Enemies did that a lot around me but I never did a magicharge throughout the whole thing. It just wasn't necessary.

Anyway, I could tell from reading other reviews of the game online--after posting mine--that other reviewers were having similar difficulty in reviewing the game. I was feeling bad because my writing wasn't particularly witty or anything, but I found that to be an epidemic in all other reviews for the game... and they spent as many words on things (usually) and didn't cover some of the stuff I did!

So yeah, I'm pretty happy with the review. The only things I would change is maybe to add more personality to my language and to shorten it by about 300 words without losing anything I'm saying. Given the breadth of the material I had to cover, I don't think either of those two things was ever going to happen. So... good review, I guess.
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Title: Disgaea 3 thoughts
Posted: August 24, 2008 (01:17 PM)
I was fortunate enough to get a coy of Disgaea 3 ahead of time, but I've not been fortunate enough to play a lot of it because work has mostly kept me from doing so.

HOWEVER... I had yesterday off (though not today or the next four days) and that meant I was able to devote some good time to it without fear of much interruption.

So far, the game is quite good (though not yet the perfect 10 that I felt its predecessors were; maybe that'll change and maybe it won't). The plot is a lot more humorous than the one in Disgaea 2, though not as clever--I feel--as the one in the first game. It's almost like it's trying too hard and some of the stuff (though at least original and not a repeat of either previous game) is a little bit on the ridiculous side.

Combat hasn't changed a whole lot, except with the introduction of geoblocks instead of those pyramid thingies from the previous game. You can now set off chain reactions just by using one block as a sort of fuse. Tossing a solitary green one against a bunch of green ones clustered somewhere else will trigger said chain reaction, which in turn could cause other stacked blocks to fall and trigger more and more... like in some sort of puzzle game. Really cool if enemies happen to be lurking on top.

Another difference is the class room, which has replaced the dark council but serves many of the same purposes. Now you get to try to be voted for class office and the seating chart you compose will affect what people do well in battle together. Besides that you can extort funds--as usual--and you can arrange topics for discussion (which is about the same as trying to learn skills before).

One final difference worth mentioning--and one I don't like as much--is the way skills are learned. As you wage war, you gain mana points. These must now be spent to progress your ablities. So to clarify, in past games you could use a spell a bunch of times and it would gradually increase in range and also you'd be able to spedify larger swaths of damage. Through use, you'd go from being abe to select one tiny square, to two squares diagonal to one another, to a straight line of three and so forth. Those upgrades are still available now, but you have to buy them manually and they seem to come about less frequently.

Anyway, that's all I have to say for now, but I'll be squeezing play time in around my regular work hours and then probably finishing up the game near the end of the week when I have more time off (since I need to put this one to bed and move onto other projects).

I just thought I'd give you information on the above so that when the game comes out, you're not totally in the dark as to my opinion. I mean, I did get an advance copy and all that. The least I can do is let some of you know a little bit about the game ahead of its release, right?
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Title: Four Days...
Posted: August 15, 2008 (02:29 PM)
I have four days of freedom, at last. After working 10 consecutive days, I definitely feel like I need them! Today I got up at 12:30, after staying up last night until 4AM or so reading. This actually isn't a huge change from my routine, since I often sleep in until sometime after 11, but today I was able to work up without worrying about how best to spend those next few hours before going to work.

Even though I only work 5 or 6 hours most days that they schedule me, those 5 or 6 hours throw my whole day out of line. It feels like I can't possibly get anything done... because I have work. Then I come home and I'm exhausted. It really sucks.

Of course, making money so that I can keep a roof over my head? That's pretty good. And next week, they have me working only 4 days, with slightly longer shifts so that I'm still working the same 25 hours as normal.

What will I do with these days off, then? I will probably just play a lot of games and write about a few of them. I have a pile of games I'm looking forward to playing and am hopeful that good reviews will come of them. Maybe I will also work on some fiction, though that mood hasn't struck quite yet. Too many games, too little time...

I also did some important site tweaking last night, so things have gone well on that end. Maybe I'll do a bit more of that this weekend, as well. Otherwise, it's all gaming and reviewing. Look for new material from me soon.
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Title: My reviews so far in 2008
Posted: August 13, 2008 (02:26 AM)
As of yesterday (technically, though it still feels like the early part of today), I have reviewed 46 games for HonestGamers this year. The list of games follows, and I'll edit in commentary on the reviews at my leisure.

The Bourne Conspiracy (X360) - August 12, 2008

I really like how this review turned out, and I really liked the game. I know that a lot of people won't, but what I tried to do in this case was present the game's strengths on its own merits without devolving into discussion about how people really shouldn't ignore all license-based games. Hopefully, that angle worked as well as I think it did, because I'd love to see more people give this great game a chance.

1942: Joint Strike (XLA) (X360) - August 06, 2008

This is one of my favorite games available on the Xbox 360, and it's a download. Imagine that! Capcom's revival of the 19XX series, even though it was developed by Backbone Entertainment (not always a premier developer), is great stuff. I think my text captured that reasonably well, though not perfectly. Hopefully, I wrote with enough passion that the appropriate individuals who hadn't yet made up their minds will at least now download the demo.

Packaging Man (PC) - August 05, 2008

This game interested me and so I reviewed it. Turns out it didn't interest many other people. Anyway, I wrote a review that I'm pretty happy with and now I'm ready to move on to other things (something I have since done).

Hail to the Chimp (X360) - August 05, 2008

The worst party game I've ever played is Hail to the Chimp. My review was fairly savage, one of the most savage I've ever written, but that probably won't mean anything. By the time my Xbox 360 came back repaired, most people had either bought the game... or wisely decided that they weren't interested. It's a shame, too. Wideload Games is a talented developer. Hopefully, they've secretly been working on something good and Hail to the Chimp was just an elaborate joke. If only I could believe that to be true...

Women’s Volleyball Championship (PS2) - August 04, 2008

After Order Up!, I hoped that the streak of great games would continue. Women's Volleyball Championship brought that dream crashing to the ground with horrible controls and tedious gameplay. It's a $15 game for a reason, unfortunately. I was really into the notion of playing women's volleyball, even though I knew that there would be no gratuitous sexiness. I totally wanted a volleyball sim. Of course, I wanted a well-executed one, too. This was not.

Order Up! (WII) - August 01, 2008

From the moment I saw the first screens, I knew that this game would agree with me. At least, I had a strong suspicion. And I was right! This was some of the most fun I've had with a game all year. The review itself was another rush job, but I'm happy with the ground it covers. Even if none of my text was particularly clever, I think it was effective and should tell people what they need to know before buying, renting or ignoring this delightful title.

Etrian Odyssey II: Heroes of Lagaard (DS) - July 29, 2008

This was going to be a review of Operation Darkness, which was the next game in my pile at the time, but then my Xbox 360 busted. So I played Etrian Odyssey instead and lost myself in its grasp for weeks. Such a great game! My goal with the review was to really capture all that the developers got right while admitting the few flaws but not giving them more weight than they deserved. I didn't want to discourage potential EO fans of the future, after all. This was actually a pretty tough review to write, but I think it turned out well regardless.

The Lost Cases of Sherlock Holmes (PC) - July 14, 2008

I have read every story Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ever published about Sherlock Holmes and I was looking forward to an involving trip through London with the famous sleuth. Instead, I got a 'search and find' game more in line with Dream Day: First Home than the adventure games that have recently starred Britain's most famous sleuth. Even so, I enjoyed working through the game (some of the plots were wonderful) and I feel that the review I wrote was both informative and quite readable. Here's hoping that's true, anyway.

Blast Works (WII) - July 13, 2008

The concept of Blast Works is a lot more exciting than actually playing it, something I learned the hard way. It's still a good game, but the glowing review I would have loved to write for it--one that would have matched those written by many other online critics--had to be tossed into the trash bin... figuratively speaking. The review I wrote instead is rather dull as a result, but the same is often true of the game!

Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2 (DS) - July 07, 2008

I was one of the harshest critics of the original Trauma Center, but the series has really come into its own since that first installment. This newest release won me over by addressing nearly every issue the first game possessed. It's a polished, thoroughly enjoyable sequel that I enjoyed both playing and reviewing. I was pretty happy with how my text turned out.

Overlord: Raising Hell (PS3) - July 01, 2008

This game absorbed me for quite awhile. My wife got tired of me playing it, tired of seeing me raze the countryside with my impish hordes. I was too busy having fun to care, though, and that's what I chose to focus on for the review. This is a good game, and apparently the PS3 version is an actual improvement over its Xbox 360 predecessor (with a better mapping system and such). If you have a PS3, get this one after the inevitable price drop. It's special.

Arkanoid DS (DS) - June 28, 2008

When I told people that I was reviewing this game, they expressed sympathy. No one seemed to think that the game could be any good. That's a little bit unfair to Taito, who did a good job with this revival. However, there is some truth to it: the game wasn't as good as Space Invaders Extreme. I tried not to let that get in the way of a quality review, and I don't think it did. Still, this one is hardly rivetting reading.

GRID (PS3) - June 25, 2008

I really, really wanted to adore GRID and I almost did. I just can't get the controls, no matter how hard I try, and that's fairly important from a racing game. The rewind mechanic helped with that some, but ultimately I got bored playing a game that--from my perspective--was broken and shouldn't have even needed such a back door escape plan. My review is one of the harshest online, but I take comfort knowing that there are a lot of people who will identify with the experience I had with the game and appreciate an honest, distinct perspective from a review site like HG.

Space Invaders Extreme (PSP) - June 23, 2008

This is an awesome revival that probably deserved a more enthusiastic review than I wound up writing, but I was--after all--writing in the middle of a rush of reviews. I think things turned out well enough, but the review did lack a certain spark, probably. One of these years I'll apologize to Taito.

Gals Panic S (Arcade) [Import] - June 22, 2008

Another review brought about by drella's competition. I hadn't planned to write this, but then someone else reviewed a related 'dirty' arcade game, so I went to try and find some screenshots and then wound up downloading and playing this instead. Then I reviewed it, just because I could.

Summon Night: Twin Age (DS) - June 21, 2008

There's really nothing to say about this review, other than that I played the game and was having a devil of a time making much headway. That continued until suddenly a lightbulb came on in my head and I came to appreciate and utilize what you might call a game breaking exploit. Suddenly, the overly difficult game became a walk in the park and only the final boss briefly challenged me. I'm still not sure that my review covers that dynamic quite right, but I'm pretty happy with the text overall and I think it's one of my better reviews this year.

Time Soldiers (Arcade) - June 17, 2008

Drella promised arcade reviews in exchange for each that we wrote. That was too good to pass up, so I turned to Time Soldiers, a game I remembered wanting to get into as a youth. This time, I made good on that interest and even got a review out of it. Then drella buckled (understandably) under the weight of the influx of arcade reviews. Even though he didn't match my Time Soldiers review, it wasn't effort wasted.

Emergency Heroes (WII) - June 10, 2008

This game, developed by the folks behind the Driv3r series, just felt like a rehash of nearly everything boring in the action racing genre. After Emergency Mayhem, it wasn't wacky or original and everything felt a little bit sterile. I'm afraid my review was similarly dull, as if I were going through the motions and little else. Sadly, that's exactly how it was!

Kung Fu Panda (PS3) - June 07, 2008

GUTS said that this game looked horrible, which shows just how little he sometimes knows. Kung Fu Panda was thoroughly enjoyable from beginning to end, perfectly capturing a light-hearted animated style while providing solid gameplay reminiscent of the excellent (but similarly short) Heavenly Sword. This really is one of the best license-based games I've ever played and I tried really hard to prove that point with my review. I'm... not sure I succeeded.

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (X360) - May 20, 2008

I am a Narnia freak and I loved the first game to come from the recent Disney series of films. Hopes were high for the second one, and mostly I wasn't disappointed. There are some definite flaws on display, but overall the game was a lot of fun. I don't think many people read my review, but hopefully it communicated effectively the fun that I had with the game... and the fun that other Narnia freaks are sure to have, as well.

Toy Shop (DS) - May 19, 2008

I've rarely had a game glitch badly on me, but Toy Shop did and that cost it a lot of points when I reviewed it. In fact, I couldn't even finish the game because it wiped my save just short of the ending. I reviewed it then and there. Since then, I've gone back to the game and played most of the way through it a second time. It's one of the worst games I've ever been addicted to.

Speed Racer: The Videogame (WII) - May 16, 2008

I really liked F-Zero X, moreso even than F-Zero GX. My hope when I began playing Speed Racer was that it would emulate the F-Zero series, so I was surprised and delighted when it most closely resembled F-Zero X. I had a lot of fun with the game, but my review is fairly standard. At this point, I've come to realize that most people won't give a license-based game a fair chance no matter what I write. I'm done pleading with them. If they want to skip over a ton of great games, so be it.

The Dog Island (WII) - May 11, 2008

Stop laughing. This is really a good game. I know that it's popular to pick on it because of the absurdly cutesy presentation (which is based on a line of journals and plushy toys, I believe), but most people who actually play the game find themselves enjoying it. There was some surprising depth to the design in places, while in others things got disappointingly redundant. This was actually a difficult game to review, since I didn't want to unfairly validate suspicions that it sucks (it really doesn't) but also didn't want to hype it up as even more special than it really is. I think I found the right balance.

SNK Arcade Classics: Vol. 1 (PS2) - May 10, 2008

I love playing old arcade games in cheap compilations, so of course I loved this bundle. Metal Slug is still the standout title--and not surprisingly, I again enjoyed playing it at length--but there was a lot of other good stuff here. I decided to approach the review like the SNK noob that I am. That particular angle won't work for long if I keep diving through the classic library as all of these compilations arrive...

Emergency Mayhem (WII) - May 09, 2008

I'll admit it: this game interested me because of the notion of shooting bananas at monkeys. That's only a small part of the game, which actually plays a lot more like a Crazy Taxi clone, but the rest fortunately was good enough to keep me amused throughout. This is an odd game that I expect a lot of people to overlook, but hopefully my review captures the attention of the proper individuals... people who will give the game a shot and enjoy it for what it is.

R-Type Command (PSP) - May 07, 2008

I remember thinking "That looks kind of stupid" when this game was first announced, but I gave it a shot anyway because Atlus so rarely steers me wrong. That trust was justified, as this wound up being a really pleasant, deep experience that kept me glued to the screen for many hours.

1943: The Battle of Midway (NES) - April 26, 2008

I didn't even plan to write this one, but then I realized that the site didn't have a review from me of one of my favorite shooters of all time. The NES port of this arcade classic is something truly special. When I was capturing videos of it for YouTube and this site, I played through most of the game all over again. With everything fresh in my mind, it just made sense to go ahead and review it then and there. The accidental review!

Fatal Fury: Battle Archives Vol. 2 (PS2) - April 25, 2008

SNK Playmore was really busy in the early part of this year and this was one game that I was anxious to play because I missed out on the Fatal Fury craze back in the day. Some of the magic in playing these games now was therefore lost on me, but this was still a pretty sweet compilation and I'm glad to be able to play it whenever I like now.

Dream Pinball 3D (WII) - April 25, 2008

I was anxious to play this game to see how it compared to the Williams pinball collection I'd reviewed earlier in the year. It turns out that it compared fairly well but did fall a bit short in the end. Still... good game. My review? Forgettable.

Battle of the Bands (WII) - April 24, 2008

It's popular to hate on this game for being a cutesy Guitar Hero clone of sorts, but it also happens to be a pretty interesting title. I enjoyed playing it, despite its shortcomings, and I had fun reviewing the game.

Gran Turismo 5 Prologue (PS3) - April 21, 2008

While some people complain about the game costing $40 and being just an extended demo, people like me play a game that has more to it than most other releases and are quite content. This title was just what I hoped for and I had a great time unlocking a bunch of cars, speeding around beautiful courses and just dipping my feet into the next-gen Gran Turismo experience. When I reviwed it, I tried to let readers know why they might care to do the same thing. Hopefully, I talked a few people into it, since this is a game that's well worth experiencing... even if it is just a preview of things to come.

Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword (DS) - April 14, 2008

I would've been perfectly happy if Team Ninja made a 2D update to its classic series, but instead the studio opted for the "real game" route that so few seem to follow when it comes to the DS handheld. This game wound up surprising me with its visual quality... and also kicked my butt on numerous occasions. Working through it wound up being more frustrating for me than it was fun, something that definitely factored in when I finally reviewed it.

Bully: Scholarship Edition (WII) - April 02, 2008

I'd always wanted to play Bully but never got around to the PS2 version. Therefore, I was pleased by the opportunity to review the Wii edition. It wound up not particularly astounding me with its quality, though there was no arguing the ambition and lasting value of the package. The game itself is made of higher quality stuff than my eventual review, methinks.

Puchi Puchi Virus (DS) - March 20, 2008

We got a loaner cart so that I could play and review this one ahead of its release. There was no embargo on the text so I posted it, then the game was delayed for ages. Has it even come out yet? Looks like it hasn't. Talk about a delay! It kind of makes me wonder how much has changed, if anything. Hmm...

El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera (PS2) - March 20, 2008

Sometimes when you have a pile of games building, you just want to play quickly through a few, knock out some reviews and move onto something else. That's what I did here. The game was easy to beat--and fairly enjoyable--and the review didn't have to be flashy because I considered my target audience the parents who just want to know if it'll keep their kids amused for a bit. So it was an easy game to play and review, but one that no one reading this blog entry is likely to find interesting.

Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds (PS3) - March 19, 2008

This game's arrival at my door was a complete (and welcome) surprise. I'd not played a Hot Shots game in nearly 10 years, so I was happy to get back to the green with characters I didn't really recognize. The game of golf that lies underneath all of the high-quality production values turned out to be pretty good, so that was neat. It felt sort of odd to be reviewing a second arcade-style golf game in one calendar year, but I was willing to ignore that.

Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection (WII) - March 19, 2008

This was the first of two pinball reviews (so far) and I was happy to be writing it because I like pinball both in its real form and in video games. That is, I do when its well-executed, as it was here. Hopefully, my resulting review communicated that clearly, though I have a feeling that most people never even read it.

One Piece: Unlimited Adventure (WII) - March 14, 2008

Some reviews you just write because no one else will and this was one of them. I expected to enjoy the game but didn't particularly. It was fairly average feeling to me and I don't know much about the show. That meant that on the one hand, I could appreciate the game's depth and rather large size, but on the other I just wanted things to end so I could review it. The end result was one of my least noteworthy reviews of the year.

Destroy All Humans!: Big Willy Unleashed (WII) - March 12, 2008

I really loved the first Destroy All Humans! back when I reviewed an advance copy for Hardcore Gamer Magazine, so I expected similar delight from this newest installment. Unfortunately, it had definitely lost a lot of its magic and really just felt like a low-quality port of a low-quality PSP original. It was still fun and there were still some pretty cool parts, but overall I was disappointed and my review hopefully reflects that.

The Club (PS3) - February 29, 2008

I really enjoyed this game and I also knew that Felix would be reviewing one of the editions. My review hopefully captures some of the fun that this game provided me. Feedback was rather split on this, as I recall, so I think I probably liked what I wrote more than anyone else did. I also happen to think that people figure I was just overhyping a mediocre game. I really wasn't, though. I wish I still owned The Club so I could play it some more right now (unfortunately, I had to sell it to keep a roof over my head).

Dream Day: First Home (PC) - February 18, 2008

The publisher of this game called me at home and woke me up, then arranged for me to get an advance copy and some special commentary from the developer. That was pretty neat, and the game itself is actually fairly cool. It's not the sort of thing that will appeal to the 'core' gamer and I knew that, so I didn't try to dress that fact up in my review but instead just analyzed how the game works without passing a lot of extraneous judgment on the value of its limited premise. So yeah, probably not another fascinating review, but an important one in my mind just the same.

Zoo Tycoon 2 DS (DS) - February 14, 2008

This game surprised me with its accessible nature and I had a lot of fun playing (enough so that I also wrote a FAQ for it). Sometimes, I feel like a lot of people overlook really quality content, so one thing I try to do with my reviews when I stumble across a great game that people are likely to overlook is to make them curious about the title. By the time I wrote this review, though, I'd been writing about the game so much (thanks to the FAQ) that I did a fairly bland rush job. Ah, well. Sometimes, these things happen.

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - Hard Evidence (WII) - January 31, 2008

I like the show pretty well (my wife has the first few seasons on DVD) and this game did a good job of capturing some of that. The more dull elements, admittedly, but that was fine because this was still an interesting and worthwhile experience. Sometimes it felt a bit mechanical and it was easy to get stuck in stupid portions of each investigation, but it did feel true to its source material and all of that important stuff. I don't remember the review being particularly interesting, though.

Furu Furu Park (WII) - January 28, 2008

I had high hopes for this one, but it wound up being one of the worst compilation/mini-game style projects yet released on Wii. There was potential all over the place, but the developer really cut that out of the picture and my review (hopefully) captures my disappointment pretty well.

Super Swing Golf: Season 2 (WII) - January 25, 2008

This game was a lot more fun for me, especially once I began using the 'classic' control scheme that doesn't require swinging the Wii Remote around like a maniac. This was a thoroughly competent and enjoyable title, without being especially astounding. I'm not sure arcade golf will ever amaze me again in the way that Mario Golf did, though, so whatever.

MX vs ATV Untamed (PS3) - January 09, 2008

This was my first review of the year and I'd been working on it since late 2007. It was for a game I had really hoped to enjoy, but in the end I just didn't have the fun with it that I should have. That's probably reflected in the review, both with its approach and with the rather dull nature of it all. Not exactly a rip roaring start to the year in reviews.

At the start of the year, I promised myself that I'd review less. I had a number like 30 reviews or so in mind for the whole year. Clearly, I have made a liar out of myself, but I've also done more fiction writing (like I planned to) and I hope soon to really get back into my fiction. All in all, not a bad year.
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Title: Sneaky update
Posted: August 10, 2008 (04:39 PM)
Gasoline here in Newport, Oregon certainly is expensive. How expensive, you ask? Let's just say that I had the attendant (no self-serve here, by state mandate) put $13.00 of regular unleaded gasoline in my car and received Pi gallons in exchange. Do the math. ;-)

In other news, my game progress looks like this:

* Just completed mission 8/11 in The Bourne Conspiracy for Xbox 360, which I plan to review favorably (unless something changes) sometime this week.

* Played through story mode twice on SoulCalibur IV on PlayStation 3 on the 'Normal' difficulty setting. Didn't lose a single fight. As Talim, managed to defeat a tag team of three opponents without them ever landing a blow. This is because Talim rocks, and also because the game is apparently very easy on that setting (though you can go upward from there if so inclined). I plan to review the game sometime this week, with any luck, though it could be more like next week.

My game progress is halted somewhat by my interest in resuming my marathon of Agatha Christie novel reading (the books are due in less than two weeks and I've used up all of my allowed renewals) and by the fact that I'm presently in the middle of another 10-day work week(s). They just don't like giving me a break!

I'm also working on my fiction--or had been--and have made some good progress on my current project, which I'm quite pleased with and expect to someday maybe even complete in the form of a really long novel, a duology or perhaps a trilogy. Time will tell on that front.

That's all for this little update. I'd like to try updating this blog with a little bit more frequency, but the sad truth is that my life is generally devoid of anything even remotely amusing. Maybe I should make things up, just to spice things up a bit. I could talk about killing people, chopping them up and putting them in my chest freezer in the garage. Of course, that sort of fiction would require telling you all that I have a freezer and that's the sort of lie I just won't tell.
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Title: Braid...
Posted: August 10, 2008 (02:36 AM)
So, I decided to give Braid a shot since I've been hearing a bit about it.

Right away, the game interested me. The title screen is playable. You can walk off to the right and into the level hub without ever really leaving the menu (though text scrolls away).

The game itself, once it begins, is platforming/puzzle action. The hero reminds me of the character from "I Wanna Be the Guy" and controls similarly. The art style here is a lot more detailed, though, with lush locations and a beautiful score to match.

One thing I like about the game is the elements it borrows from Super Mario Bros., including a creature that tells you that the princess is in another castle, a pipe with a piranha plant that tries to eat you, as well as a flag pole you shimmy down at the end of stages.

This is more than just a clone of that game, though--much more, even--and the similarities don't extend much beyond the above areas. The game is more its own sort of thing, with some interesting puzzle action going on throughout and a 'rewind' feature similar to Prince of Persia.

In the first area, I collected puzzle pieces from several chambers that invovled basic puzzle solving. Elsewhere, I noticed that the pieces I had assembled could be pieced together in jigsaw puzzle form. Then that coudl be rotated. Interestingly, the platform depicted in the image could then be hopped to from an area above, and crossing the gap actually requires moving the puzzle as a whole so that you can use its contents to jump to safety.

I've only played through the trial--which can be downloaded for free, of course--but I wouldn't mind playing more. If I had money to spare, I'd probably go for the whole version of the game just to keep playing, since I definitely was having fun. Consider this post a recommendation to spend $0.00 and download the trial edition of Braid.
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Title: Etrian Odyssey II and... fiction?
Posted: July 28, 2008 (02:26 AM)
I will be posting a review for Etrian Odyssey II on Tuesday. It's already written and such, but I want to sit on it for a day or two. In the meantime, here's the preview: the game is really neat for hardcore RPG fans.

Seriously, if you like old school RPGs, you owe it to yourself to check out the game. I hope that you'll read my full review when it goes live and that some of you will buy the game. It definitely isn't for everyone, but I think a lot of you would really enjoy it.

In other news, I had planned tonight to work on my fiction some more. That didn't happen. Instead I played a lot of Etrian Odyssey II (as I have been for weeks now) and finally wrote the review. This is a lighter week for 'real' work, so maybe I'll get some fiction written. On the other hand, I have some games I need to play through and reveiw (as always), so time will tell how I budget my time.

Oh, and I need to do more reading on the Agatha Christie books I checked out at the library. I'm going to check out fewer at a time once I finish this batch. I've now read a fair bit over half her bibliography and I'm still enjoying myself, but gaming has been consuming a lot of my time lately plus the current one of hers that I'm reading is a historical mystery novel set in Egypt. It's interesting and all, but not something that compels me to zip through it in only a night or two.
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Title: The Rings, they haunt me!
Posted: July 10, 2008 (03:39 PM)
I've been superstitiously refusing to talk about my luck with my Xbox 360 because I don't like saying "My Xbox 360 has treated me well, knock on wood."

"Knock on wood" is such a stupid, superstitious expression that makes no sense at all when you consider its roots in the occult. Anyway, I haven't been wanting to say that and so I haven't talked about how lucky I'd been with the Xbox 360.

Today, that luck ended. I was playing through the opening tutorial in Operation Darkness and the game froze. My first thought was "Wow, this isn't a very polished game if it freezes in a tutorial." My second thought upon booting it back up was "Oh, crap. Four red rings!" My second thought was wrong, though. It's actually three red rings, which apparently is even worse.

And so it is that I'm now talking about my Xbox 360 and its red rings. I knew I'd dodged the bullet for a long time, since it seems like everyone who buys an Xbox 360 eventually has those red rings, but I thought maybe I would remain forever one of the lucky ones.

Alas, it was not to be. I've contacted Microsoft by e-mail (since I literally can't afford to call them on the phone) and hopefully they will take care of this at minimal or no cost to me. It's just... this is some seriously bad timing for me. If the system is still covered then it's better timing than it could be, but if I have to pay for anything other than gas to drive it to the post office--and even that's a stretch--I'm screwed.

Dang it! Why couldn't Microsoft have made a system that wouldn't DO this crap?
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Title: Newest review
Posted: July 07, 2008 (02:18 PM)
Well, I'd been planning to churn out a bunch of reviews over the last few days, since I certainly have a lot of games sitting around that I need to cover. However, my job has been robbing most of my time and it looks like I'm lucky to manage one game a week!

This week, that game is Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2 for the Nintendo DS. I realize that I'm a few days late to the party with this (we already have a user review posted), but of course I wanted to play through the whole thing before reviewing it.

I ultimately found this to be the best Trauma Center in the series to date and my review reflects that. Frankly, I can't imagine much good coming out of any additional sequels, since this one refines things pretty nicely. Certainly, I don't see them doing any better than this with the DS hardware and they probably won't on Wii, either.

Anyway, read the review if you want my full impressions. I think it came out fairly well and hopefully it addresses the questions returning fans will have while also proficiently laying out what the games are about for people who might have ignored the games until now. It's a delicate line to walk, so maybe I've stumbled. It also comes in at just under 1200 words--longer than I normally like to write--but I don't see anything left that I'd really cut so hopefully readers will endure.
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