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zippdementia I'm best known for my extensive work in the fields of this and that. I tend to be better at that, though I have more fun with this.

I'm an odd jobber with an even personality who isn't afraid to roll with the punches but prefers to dodge them when able.

Title: Lord of the Rings Conquest
Posted: January 23, 2009 (01:34 AM)
I've been playing the demo ALL DAY intermittently. I'm a little disappointed in myself, because I thought Battlefront was a terrible game, and this really isn't much different... and yet... it's really addictive.

I'm debating whether to get the full game just for the multiplayer aspect. But no, I'm really still saving up for that PSP, and work isn't giving me a lot of tips lately...
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Title: Persona 4- First Impressions
Posted: January 18, 2009 (07:44 PM)
Well, I went and picked up Persona 4, yes indeed.

Had kind've a funny experience where due to power failures, I had to play the opening two days three times. This didn't really help my opinion of the pacing.

But seriously, it seems like an incredible game. I'm a little perturbed that I'm on day three, nearly an hour and a half into the game, and HAVEN'T ACTUALLY PLAYED YET but the story is MUCH BETTER than Persona 3, or hell, ANY of the Personas. Excellent mixture of Noir and Mystery and Horror, and I LOVE THE FUCKING CHARACTERS SOOO MUCH.

The script is really solid, too.

All around, I think this was a wisely designed game. Well, at least for now... I haven't played any game yet...
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Title: What game should I get?
Posted: January 16, 2009 (06:15 PM)
I'm looking to get a PSP by the end of the month with FF Tactics. What surprised me was to discover I have enough money left over for another game!

Now, I just bought Castlevania... something or other... the one that's the backstory to the whole thing for the PS2.

But I'm debating what else to get. Persona 4 is high on the list. I wouldn't mind fleshing out my DS collection though, and I know The World Ends With You is supposed to be sweet, as is Theresia. Then, too, there's a small backlog of PS3 games I haven't played yet, like Call of Duty 4. Or should I even invest in ANOTHER PSP game, such as Metal Gear Acid or Crysis Core?

Any suggestions, anyone?
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Title: A Zipp rule!
Posted: January 14, 2009 (10:11 PM)
You know how every once in a while you'll discover a rule that you follow, but weren't aware that you followed?

For instance, today I was discussing my reviews with someone and he mentioned that I rarely go into plot details or attacks.

I thought about this hard, because plot is very important to me. Why don't I go into plot? Have I been wrong all this time?

Then I realized I've been following these two rules:

AVOID DISCUSSING PLOT AT LENGTH BECAUSE:

1) gives stuff away that it's better for gamers to experience on their own
2) takes up valuable word space discussing things that are, ultimately, a matter of opinion

I think the exceptions would be when the plot was EXCEPTIONALLY good (Longest Journey) or bad (FFXII, for me at least... but there's that whole opinion).
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Title: Praise the Valkyrur! Or at least their artistic direction.
Posted: January 08, 2009 (07:16 PM)
There comes a point in any game when you just have to go ahead and beat it.

Just like there comes a point in any review when you just have to go ahead and post it:

Valkyria Chronicles
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Title: MGS interview
Posted: January 08, 2009 (10:50 AM)
This is pretty hilarious

IMPROVISATION
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Title: And who says you can't revisit greatness?
Posted: January 08, 2009 (02:31 AM)
If you liked it the first time, you'll love it the second time round.

I rewrote the Mirror's Edge review for Lewis' kick-ass zine, and you can read the reworked version here:

Mirror's Edge

Now please excuse me while I go eat some much needed humble pie.
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Title: Little Big Review
Posted: December 30, 2008 (04:23 PM)
Just a little big:

LBP

I wanted to discuss the physics system more, cause I thought they did an impressive job, especially for a platformer, but I ended focusing more on raw emotion, which is REALLY what the game's about.

LBP makes you feel like you're part of something cool.
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Title: It's about time I advertised my fan fiction
Posted: December 29, 2008 (02:15 AM)
Fan fiction... I can hear the groans already. And if I didn't know the work I'm referring to, I'd be groaning with all of you.

But I'm referring to my Chrono Trigger fan fiction, by the name of Chrono Break. Trust me, I'm a humble guy... really. But I feel I must talk this up a bit, if only to justify the number of hours I've put into it.

First of all, this isn't a send up of the characters. It's not the usual "Crono fought awesomely and he and Marle loved each other forever and ever. And Ayla had lesbian sex with Lucca."

NO.

HECK NO AT ALL.

How best to sum up this story? [b]This is a story about a man whose spirit is slowly broken as he tears his own country apart in a search to find out what is wrong with his life.[/b]

That man happens to be Crono. Becoming king wreaks hell on action needy heroes.

To be more specific, this is my version of what would happen, realistically, after the events of Chrono Trigger. Obviously, it's a little more powerful if you've played the game, but it has value even if you haven't. I've taken a lot of time to write a serious story, here (and I still only really consider it a draft... such is the plight of the writer).

Now all you have to do to validate my existence is read it.

Okay, I think I maxed out on my humble meter. Now you get links.

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Part VI

Part VII

Part VIII

Part IX

More parts are coming!
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Title: Little Big Planet... no small thing
Posted: December 25, 2008 (03:54 AM)
My sister got me Little Big Planet. Me, her, and a couple friends popped it into the PS3 around 10:00pm. Now it's 3:00am and I wonder if I shall be able to sleep... ever again.

Coming into Little Big Planet I was pleasantly amused by the style and surprised by the strength of the platforming gameplay behind it all. I was even happily impressed by the customization of your character and really excited by the multi player capability.

Then I took a look at the editor.

My. God.

I have NEVER in all my days of gaming come across such an in-depth, yet friendly, system for creating your own levels. It's insane! I didn't even realize HOW insane it was until I started playing the levels other people had made.

I had thought of LBP as a great platforming device, and I wasn't dissapointed in this, neither in the main game nor in the general crop of levels designed by the regular joe.

But alongside these well designed levels came things COMPLETELY out of the blue. Like a level that mimics the gameplay of Mirror's Edge. Or a level that isn't anything except a piano playing Bethoveen's Fifth (a humoungous piano). The most impressive, yet perhaps most simple, was a level in which you engage in a game of tic-tac-toe with the computer. Simple. Nothing else there.

BUT HOW THE HELL DID SHE PROGRAM IT?! LBJ isn't a programming game, it's a game of physics and platforms! Even the creators of the game admit they don't know how the tic-tac-toe level works.

Anyways, there's UNLIMITED potential here. UNLIMITED. And I've been looking for that since I was a kid. LBJ is a sort've holy game for me, now. I went into it not knowing what to expect.

Now I just don't know what to make first.
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Title: Excuse me, I have to, er, get another drink (KH Review)
Posted: December 24, 2008 (04:07 PM)
This Christmas I give you Disney and Cloud. Actually, Chain of Memories (now redone for the PS2) has less Disney characters than any of the other games in the series. At the same time, it relies on knowledge of the first game, so I can't really use it as an advertisement for the series.

In any case, I'm fairly pleased with this review. I wanted it to be shorter, but when you're describing a unique system of combat, there's bound to be some added length.

I do think I give an accurate review, though. I hope that by the time you're done reading it, you'll know if the game is for you.

Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories
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Title: putting an emulator on my PS3 (help?)
Posted: December 23, 2008 (03:08 PM)
Anyone know how to do it? I could probably google it and find out, but I trust you folks more than random people online, so figured I'd ask for directions here first.

Even if you know a good site that tells how to do it.
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Title: Shadow Hearts gets a lot of love
Posted: December 19, 2008 (02:13 PM)
Am I the only one on HG that thought that game sucked?

The characters were one dimensional outside of the two main heores, the battle system was slow and boring, the monsters were repetitive, there were WAY too many battles, the leveling got old fast, and you could get stuck with a bad ending because you missed a task about mid way through. There were also levels you had to catch on a first run, or you'd miss em. Even the sound and graphics were poor.

The two areas that the game stood out for me was in story, which was suitably dark, though it had little relevance to itself and the characters weren't emotionally engaging, and in atmosphere, which it did nicely, no complaints.

But I consistently see scores of 8 or higher here for a game that I couldn't even finish, I got so bored (I had a friend finish it for me). Usually I can read reviews and see where my opinion differs slightly, but in this case it seems like we all played a different game.

What's up?
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Title: Brutal Legend
Posted: December 17, 2008 (02:50 PM)
The next game by brilliant (and socially maladjusted) game designer Tim Schaffer, creator of Day of the Tentacle and Psychonauts:

http://www.gametrailers.com/player/43624.html

I suspect this will be like most of Tim Schafer's games:

Great setting, characters, dialouge, and personality, with some well-intentioned but repetitive or otherwise broken gameplay.

I love the "Heavy Metal" theme, I'm adoring some of the character design, and I'll probably get the game for the hell of it, but for Tim to really impress me this time around, he'll have to do a few things:

a) some semblance of non-linear gameplay. Grim Fandango and Psychonauts were great games, but you really only ever want to play them once. No replay or exploration value due to high linearity.

b) non-repetitive combat. Schafer's last game, Psychonauts, really tried to work in combat, but it wasn't very interesting. This is more of a graphical quandry than a button mashing deal. Kingdom Hearts and Dynasty Warriors have proven that hitting a single button over and over can be fun if accompanied by a variety of interesting graphics.

c) better level design. Again looking at Psychonauts, where Tim tried to jump in on the platforming genre, and severely missed-judged the gap. Tim is a writer first and foremost, so his level design tends to be interesting in concept, but poor in execution.

In any case, I'll most likely pick it up. I never finished Psychonauts before discarding my Xbox, and my games at the moment are distinctly lacking in Schafferism. I still retain Grim Fandango, but that's about it. I want my Day of the Tentacle, or Full Throttle. Hopefully Brutal Legend provides.
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Title: What makes a good review?
Posted: December 16, 2008 (01:54 AM)
A very large question, I know.

I've been thinking about it a lot, recently.

One thing I've come to conclude is that, in the case of reviews, shorter IS better. The 800 word range seems to be perfect for a video game. I've been looking over my old reviews, and the longer ones definitely lack the energy of the shorter ones.

It seems to be a "no-brainer." A dry review that's short doesn't outlive its welcome, while an entertaining one leaves you wanting more (a concept we seem to have forgotten in America... not sure about other countries).

Thus, I've been trying to write shorter reviews. I managed to cut my Chrono Trigger DS review down from 1200 to 800, and I'm fairly proud of that.
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Title: Two new reviews coming
Posted: December 15, 2008 (01:44 PM)
Posted the drafts for both Chrono Trigger DS and Everyday Shooter.

Keep an eye out, they should pop up on the site soon.
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Title: My Review of HOME
Posted: December 13, 2008 (02:02 AM)
How best to describe HOME? Itís not a game, though it has games in it. I guess itís best described as an online 3D interactive forum, where you communicate real time via customizable avatars. People familiar with Second Life will recognize the concept, though at this point in time HOME is neither as grand in scale, nor as buggy in execution, as Second Life, and as of yet hasnít become a receptacle for underage porn.

Of course, the real question is, ďwhat do you DO in HOME?Ē The truth is... not a lot right now. You can walk around talking to people and try to start massive dance raves (surprisingly easy to do). You can buy things like clothing and furniture from the mall and play dress up or house to your heartís delight with whatever avatars youíve created. You can go to the theatre and watch previews of games and movies, or head over to the bowling alley and play pool, bowling, or arcade games. Or you can do what I do, which is don a female avatar and flirt with horny nineteen year olds (which I consider a good way to get back at them for all the annoying fads theyíve started).

It may not be much more than a glorified MySpace, but HOME is strangely engrossing. Credit for this definitely has to be given to both the graphics engine and the character creator. The graphics in HOME are exceedingly good, showing the same attention to detail and texturing that youíd expect out of any PS3 game. The environments (especially the user homes and the central plaza, which you could think of as a visualized "general chat" thread on a forum) use a good colour template, combined with a simple but effective shadowing program that creates an image thatís both easy on the eye and interesting to look at. In addition, avatars have wrinkles and skin imperfections and look remarkably realistic as a result. You have a lot of control over your avatarís appearance, and creating avatars is both intuitive and fun. You adjust your characterís structure using the right and left thumbstick to control a tab on a graph of different characteristics (like height on the x axis, and weight on the y axis), and you get to see your results in real time. Itís incredibly intuitive and you can easily put what you visualize onto the screen to be rendered in fine detail.

Another contributing factor is the user base. Maybe itís because of the lack of a combat system and nudity, but you can actually hold decent conversations on HOME. I sat on a bench and talked to a guy named Curian Crusader for a good twenty minutes, which was followed by another twenty minutes spent discussing philosophy and dreams with someone named MIS-behave. This continuation of conversation lasted me a good hour and a half (before turning into a dancing rave), which is far more time than Iíd want to spend with anyone on Xbox Live. Sony might not have gotten the corner on the gaming market, but they definitely have bragging rights when it comes to the people who play their limited selection. Because, at heart, HOME is a complicated chat room, the user base makes up a huge part of its success factor.

Of course, not everything in HOME works quite like it should yet. Games like bowling and chess, while fun to play, only support a very limited number of users. And while the various apartments/houses are appreciated, furnishing your house is a chore of realistic proportions. Also, it's costly, as you have to actually pay for new clothes/couches/rubber dildos, which, frankly, is ridiculous. Besides, the furniture is mostly pretty ugly, and the options for variety highly limited. This gets at the real thing HOME needs: user content. Avatars are an alright expression of user individuality, but HOME really needs user furniture, user environments, user vehicles, user clothing, even user created games. Ideally HOME would be a mix of MySpace and The Sims, mixing gaming and user customization in the controlled setting of an interactive forum. Much of the future of HOME depends on just how much Sony lets people take the world and make it their own. Sony should provide the template and the creation tools. The users should provide the creativity. This would turn HOME into that major exclusive that Sonyís been looking for since the release of the PS3.
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Title: Reviews are a-coming
Posted: December 12, 2008 (02:33 AM)
I think it's been a month since my last review. Well, this weekend should put an end to that.

Coming up tomorrow will be a review of HOME, the exclusive metaverse being offered for PS3 users.

Saturday shall see the posting of the Chrono Trigger DS review (or at least, its draft... has to make it out of the production forum before it hits site).

And... actually, nope... that's all I got. But still! It's a bit of a recovery, right? I'm STILL playing Valkyria Chronicles, albeit slowly in between other games and work. But hopefully I've have a review ready for that sometime before the new year. One can only hope.
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Title: Left 4 Dead thoughts
Posted: December 10, 2008 (03:28 PM)
Despite having very little experience with the game, it did leave an impression on me, one I've found hard to put into words. Today, though, I think I finally found those words.

Endless fun? No. A lot of fun? Yes.

There's a lot of things that keep Left 4 Dead from being the number one title that it could be, though I think the two I get most stuck on are the lack of tension and the lack of graphical quality.

I'll start with graphical quality, because it ties into the tension. I don't usually give a jot for graphics, but I do like them to be used well. Left 4 Dead annoys me with its "one face fits all" approach to the hordes of zombies. While I realize that it greatly reduces processing requirements to have your thousand and one zombies look pretty much alike, I do think an additional three or four faces wouldn't have hurt. Also, I can't usually tell my teammates apart from the zombies, which leads to less friendly fire than you'd think, and more of a general awareness that I'm playing a programmed experience.

This lack of immersion makes me yawn (and lock and load) every time another hoard bursts through a door or pours through a window. I'm simply not impressed by them. It's just one more hoard to mow down. Even when this leads to my untimely demise, the biggest emotion I can muster is "oh well... shall we have another go?"

Now, I'm not saying that Left 4 Dead isn't fun. It's amazingly fun, and offers continual replay value (or will, once it gets ported to a system that's actually worth owning). The controls are great, the level design is good, the final seige moment is awesome... I'm not contending any of this.

But I can also only play so much before I yearn for a more immersive experience. Left 4 Dead had the best chance in gaming history to provide the feeling that you really were in a zombie over-run city. Instead, it provides a great game, but little immersion. And I know that must sound silly to the first person shooter lovers out there, but believe me... a little immersion can go a long way, especially when it has as good a foundation as Left 4 Dead supplies.
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Title: Working man
Posted: December 09, 2008 (02:52 PM)
These days I'm actually working quite a bit. I'm a server at the Old Spaghetti factory, I take care of an autistic child, I work part time at a grochery store, I'm editing a documentary, and I'm producing a film.

Not to mention all the video game playing and reviews (of course, my favourite job).
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Title: No more whiskey...
Posted: December 06, 2008 (12:39 PM)
... ever again.
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Title: Feeling behind...
Posted: December 04, 2008 (03:01 PM)
You know, I haven't written a review in a couple weeks now, and I'm beginning to feel left behind. Especially with a new review popping up every day.

I'd better hurry up and finish Chrono Trigger and Valkyria Chronicles...
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Title: Chrono Trigger came today! (updated)
Posted: December 03, 2008 (08:07 PM)
Through his infinite kindness, Jason has allowed me the privelege of reviewing the new Chrono Trigger for the DS!

I have to say, even from the little bit I've played, it's an amazing game. And I say that not only as a fan of the series, but also as a gamer in general.

From a general standpoint we have a game that's full of heart. The characters, while maybe lacking the depth of those from, say, Xenosaga (which didn't get great reviews, anyway), are enthusiastic and easy to sympathize and fall in love with.

The battle system is a strategic mix of tactical placement and fighting with the turn based system, and if set on active, is really invigorating.

And of course, the presentation is tops. The graphics are loveable, the music is genius, and the dual screen presentation is used to the best of its ability.

That's the general view. From a fan's perspective, there's not much else to do except orgasm over the definitive version of Chrono Trigger. We've got remastered sound, new translation, more story, more dungeons, a battling arena, better controls... I'm in CT heaven right now.

EDIT: Just to show you I'm not all gushing fanboyism, though, I'll say that CT does have it's problems.

The biggest problem CT has always faced is that it's too easy. You level quickly, enemies die quickly, and it's rare to die yourself after level 10. This is truly disappointing in a game that features such impressive bosses and such a diverse line of enemies. Even more disappointing is that the battle system really speaks to strategic play, but is easily tossed aside in favour of brute force.

Also, enemies drop a lot of gold, which means inflation becomes an issue.

A blight on an otherwise stellar game.

Anyways, expect more of this when my review comes. No more previews!
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Title: Someone on Twilight played DMC3... someone influential
Posted: December 01, 2008 (08:47 PM)
Just check out the similarities between these two characters, Alice from Twilight and Lady from DMC3:





But YEAH, see what I mean? So the movie gets 2/5 stars from me, if only for giving me Lady eye-candy to oggle while some crappy non-plot development was going on in the background.

And actually, the more I compare her to Lady, the more freaked out (and aroused) I get. I mean, she REALLY looks like Lady. Considering that the book describes her as having short punk-rocker hair, I have to ask... did someone on the film (someone influential) play DMC3?
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Title: Blade of the Immortal and Poison Elves
Posted: December 01, 2008 (02:45 PM)
I read yesterday that Drew Hayes died sometime last year. Drew Hayes was the creator of the innovative comic series Poison Elves, which was instrumental in the "indy" comic movement. Concerning an asshole nigh-immortal elf Lusiphur, the series started out strong, relying mostly on a mixture of Lusiphur's crass "fuck it all" attitude in the face of MUCH adversity and lots of naked she-elfs.

I didn't read much beyond the foundation, and sadly I hear that, though the middle was strong, before he died Drew had hit a sort've writer's block, and hadn't released a decent issue in a few years.

Sadder still is the fact that he was only 37 when he died, of health complications following pneumonia. Specifically a massive heart attack.

I mention it because it reminds me of the progression of Blade of the Immortal, a MOST EXCELLENT manga from Hiroaki Samura, who uses a very distinct, almost Ukiyo-E, style of art, and tells a winding tale of intense tragedy.

Or at least, it used to.

The story takes place in Tokugawa Japan, at the start of the peace time (and thus the fall of the Samurai), and follows the tale of Rin, a young girl whose parents are killed by the Itto-Ryu, a sword school seeking to break away from the bullshit of Bushido and return to the base primal instinct of the warrior. Seeking revenge on the young leader, a charismatic, soft spoken, brilliant man, Rin hires a bodyguard to help her cut through the Itto-Ryu's ranks. This bodyguard turns out to be Manji, a man who cannot die.

I love the first half of the series. Every chapter was a new reflection on both the tragedy and dichotomy of Rin's situation (killing because her parents were killed) while furthering the strange relationship between her and Manji. And of course, there were brilliant sword fights with a great cast of interesting characters.

But with the second half, Hiroaki seems to have lost the thread of this character development, opting more for disturbing scenarios and a fight scene every two pages. The mangas were always very graphic, and I don't mind that continuation* but it's upsetting that the characters have stopped growing. Because they really are (were) interesting people.

Now they feel like actors who have been type cast, you sort've expect them to act a certain way, and when they don't, you're disappointed. Not that I support type-casting, but to break free of that, a character has to become something else. These guys are just free floating in a kind of undecided grey area.

I think things started going downhill after Secrets, which if I remember correctly was the volume in which one of the characters is tortured and raped for a hundred pages. Believe it or not, this was done well, but it was the last time I truly felt anything strong for the characters. Well, maybe not the LAST time, but it definitely marked a descent.

Anyways, he's done in Japan (or close to done) which means we should see the finale over the next year or so here in the States. It's published by Dark Horse, and I can definitely recommend it, even if I've become a little jaded.

Don't watch the anime, though. It doesn't live up.

It's probably the last manga series I'll ever own. I don't own a lot, and I stopped buying books in general (I just use a library now). I kept Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Sanctuary, Blade of the Immortal, Great Teacher Onizuka... and I think that's it, actually.

*When I say graphic, I mean like a guy who loses his hand, so he methodically shaves his wrist bone into a sharpened point. Or a character who rapes women while cutting off their breasts because "it tightens the muscles down there."
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