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Title: Terrible ad
Posted: October 08, 2009 (12:51 PM)
I've seen a lot of bad internet ads but this one just fills me with disgust. Is this what happened to Carrot Top?
Title: Huge thank you to Honest Gamers
Posted: October 04, 2009 (05:15 PM)
I just wanted to say my thanks to everyone here who writes, comments, or is in other ways involved on a regular basis with the site, in particular Jason for beginning the whole mess.
I gained the courage to go to Graduate School through my writing on this site. I feel I've grown so much here, being surrounded by such excellent writers and such diverse writers. Posting nearly 60 reviews in the last fourteen months or so has been no menial feat and it makes the two or three papers I have to do at Grad school seem like nothing.
It's also taught me that, even when critically assessing something, we have to keep our audience in mind. After all, how many of us can relate to the experience of being handed an essay by a professor and groaning our way through its tedious word choices and over-the-top analyzations?
The skills of the reviewer are being put to good use. I promise you, no matter how technical a topic I have to cover, I will never contribute another groan to the academic world. That's my payment back to all of you have helped me grow so much in my writing and my life.
Title: Message for Zigfried and anyone else who uses fancy html
Posted: October 02, 2009 (02:33 PM)
How do you align an image, like in your most recent review? Also, what's the html for captions?
I'm trying to make better use of our online medium in my reviews.
Title: My decision to buy Dissidia
Posted: September 27, 2009 (03:00 AM)
For a long time now I've chronicled the connections between the various FF worlds, beyond the normal "Cid" "Chocobo" "Moogle" stuff. Why? I think it because the human mind thrives on connection. We live in a world where everything is inextricably but subtly connected and there is some joy for us that can only be achieved by discovering those connections and marking them. Thus, with a series which ostensibly has no connection between the games, what little information I can find to prove otherwise fascinates me.
My main focus was on connecting settings. I started long ago by collecting all the FF maps I could get my hands on and running comparisons. This was really little more than a child's way of going about making the connection. After all, one of the earliest things we learn to rely on is our eyesight, and so it was only to be expected that in my search I would first turn to the visual plane. Of course, there's actually very little to be told from the maps, except for some striking similarities between some of the game's continental layouts and the fact that most of the games use very similar landmasses. Also, most of the games feature three major continents with two or three smaller continents and then a number of islands. Inevitably one of the continents is noticeably larger than the others and generally is the one on which the players start the game (see FF7, FF1, FF4, FF6, etc.)
My next method, when I was a little older, was to check out all the in-game crossovers. There are a lot. Aside from the afore mentioned species and name similarities, there are plenty of re-used items and weapons, mini games, in-jokes (you spoony bard!) even humorous character references (like Zidane commenting on Cloud's sword in FF9 or there being a "Cloud's shop" in FF8) and character re-occurences (Biggs and Wedge). But there are also some very concrete and subtle references that seem to be showing a definite connection between all the games.
How does one decide the difference between an easter egg and a cannonical tie-in? Mostly it's in terms of style and presentation. A single shop named after Cloud in FF8 does not prove that THAT Cloud is running the shop or that FF7's world eventually becomes FF8's world. For one thing, it's too brief a reference. For another, too many things don't make sense if it's taken as cannon. FF8's world is given a long and well documented history. If Cloud is still alive and running a shop in this world, it doesn't make sense with that history (he'd have to be at least 300 years old for this to work) and anyway at the end of FF7 it shows a pretty clear indication that the world looks pretty much the same 100 or 200 years after Meteor Fall (not mentioned in FF8). Now, one could speculate on all sorts of things, here. Maybe Cloud's abilities and exposure to Jenova cells kept him alive for long enough to exist in Squall's time. Maybe Meteor Fall IS referenced in FF8 as the Lunar Cry! OMG! Maybe the sorceror's power, only passed down through women, is actually JENOVA'S POWER!
Yeah, see, fans could jump on this kind of stuff all day and while fun and satisfying to the aforementioned connection part of our brain, these speculations are just that... speculations. At the end of them we've left the original evidence so far behind that our new theory holds no water. And all sparked by a single line of text . These are not the kind of things I'm after. Therefore, I label these kind of things "Easter Eggs."
I mean, christ... FF9 even references Resident Evil 2. And, on that note, Parasite Eve includes Chocobo's in the Museum and Gunblades in the second game. So, like I said... those SE guys love easter eggs.
A now-famous scene in which a character named Shinra in FFX-2 discusses plans to utilize the planet's lifestream in creating a city worthy of his name... now that, on the other hand... now that I call evidence.
Using such evidence (which I shall shortly lay out), I have deduced that only the following Final Fantasy worlds are connected:
(Also note that Ivalice is the only common setting that is specifically named as such for any FF games (specifically any game in the Tactics series and FFXII). It is the setting for Vagrant Story as well.)
Final Fantasy 7 and Final Fantasy X's connections have already been noted. The Shinra conversation, as well as an interview with the series director, confirmed that the worlds are meant to be one in the same. Final Fantasy 7 presumably takes place generations after FFX, as Shinra says the process would take that long to refine.
This is certainly plausible. Final Fantasy 7's pre-history comes in three parts. The first is ancient history, which involves the Cetra's discovering the planet and cultivating it. 2000 years before the game, Jenova lands, ending this history. The next bit of history begins 30 years before the game and involves the finding of Jenova by Gast and Hojo, the birth of Aerith and most of the FF cast, the fall of Vincent, and the birth of Sephiroth. This period ends 5 years before the game, with the events of Crisis Core forming the final foundation for what happens in FF7.
Now, FFX's history is a 1000 years long, so it could easily take place sometime after Jenova is defeated and before she is discovered by the elite and wealthy running the planet under the guise of the Shinra electrical company.
Despite those being the only two cannonical setting connections thus far, there are a couple characters that cannonically cross worlds.
Cloud is the first. In FF7 he falls into the Lifestream and his soul and mind essentially leave his body, seperating from one another... this is the fate of all who fall into the lifestream or become oversaturated with mako energy in some other way. Since mako is essentially concentrated soul stuff, the person's soul becomes entrapped with it, while the mind, usually bound by the soul, is freed from its bounds and wanders.
(This even happens to Sephiroth. He needs the Black Materia to give him enough power to reawaken his body. His mind is connected to Jenova which is connected to all the clones, so rather than losing his mind, Sephiroth is able to jump between the minds of Hojo's experimental soldiers, even being able to alter their genetic appearance to match his and then transmute their bodies cells into re-incarnations of Jenova, which the party fights.)
Cloud's mind goes to Ivalice. This is documented in the events of FF Tactics, where the power of the Zodiac stones pulls his free conciousness to Ramza's time. Cloud mentions Sephiroth and having fallen into the lifestream as the last thing he remembers. It is assumed that when the Zodiac stones are destroyed at the end of the game, Cloud's mind is freed again. Either that or it is called back to his soul with Tifa's summon.
Cloud's soul becomes stuck in the lifestream, until Tifa reconnects it with the mind by working through Cloud's past and thus freeing him from the lifestream.
The other character who travels cannonically between games is Gilgamesh. At the end of FF5, Gilgamesh is trapped inside the X-zone, a zone that is breached at least three more times by other characters in FF history. First it is opened again by the Ra Devil in the not-very-well-known FFLOTC (legends of the crystal) anime OAV. It is also breached in FF6 by the spell banish, which opens up a gate to the x-zone (very recognizable) and takes creatures inside (it was a popular spell back in the day due to a glitch with the spell vanish, which makes ALL magic always work.... even on bosses... making X-zone an instant kill for nearly every boss in the game... Kefka not included).
Most importantly, however, the rift is opened by Seifer in FF8, when he kills the Odin Summon. As he does so, Gilgamesh appears and claims Odin's sword. He is confused at first, going so far as to start to ask for Bartz in the Japanese version. He then promptly murders Seifer and becomes a summon for the rest of the game, coming in an out of the rift as he pleases.
He retains this ability after the game, appearing in FF9 (with a changed appearance to disguise who he is), and in FFXII (as one of the coolest battles of the game, replete with his "battle on the bridge" music).
In this respect, Gilgamesh has most likely gained the same sort of demi god powers as the summons and beings such as Chaos, in that he is able to consciously travel between worlds.
There are also some connections I'd love to be able to make but can't while sticking to my strict requirements.
The FF1-FF9 connection is pretty strong. It's got the crystals, it's got the fiends, and Garland makes an appearance in the game as a very important, though short lived, character. His history, which was never quite fully understood in FF1, is also finally fleshed out. We realize that he was more than a Knight who happened on power, but already a powerful mage-knight by the time of FF1 and comes from a different world, that of Terra. He arrives in FF1's world (simply called Gaia) and tries to destroy it to make way for the Terrans, but he is defeated by the light warriors (note: this is specifically referenced in FF9). Having failed to destroy the world himself, he plans to have the residents of Gaia do it for him... thus the events of FF9.
Now, since Dissidia, I have heard this connection has been retconned out of existence, as Garland is given a full history relating to FF1 in that game. So it joins the list.
Someone makes a remarkably strong case for FF8 being connected to FF3 (a connection I had considered because of the Hyne reference) but as the entire theory originates from the single mention of a familiar name, I can't consider it cannon. FF8 will forever be the game fans try to place in the continuum.
Another is FF2 and FF4, which was only created recently in the remakes of those games. FF4 for the DS adds an extensive amount of history to the characters, with an emphasis on Kain, Cecil, and Golbez. Kain's father's name is given in the game as Richard who was a character in the remade version of FF2, who gives his son's name as Kain. Both Kains have blond hair and remark that they will follow in their father's footsteps. Both are also adopted. It's obviously just some sort of elaborate easter egg as the geographies and character histories wouldn't work together, but it's the first time I've seen a dual-crossover in the series that was so blatant.
Any game with the Crystals in it perks my interest, as they are such a strong theme and image, but not one used in all the games (therefore not to be discredited like Chocobos or Moogles or Behemoths). They usually play the same role and two games in particular, FF1 and FF3, beg to be connected by the Crystals, as FF3 even references warriors of light who free the Crystals. Still, FF3 has a history involving a floating island and a mage who summons the Cloud of Darkness while FF1 has a history involving Chaos and Garland's attempt to become him. Again, plenty here for fan theories, not enough for a true mark of cannon.
I'd also love to connect FF7 with FF1, seeing as Dirge of Cerberus is directly connected to Chaos, but then that would be like connecting all the FF worlds because of Ifrit. Chaos is a godlike being, I have no doubt he can appear in many places throughout time if he wants to.
For the longest time I also wanted to connect FF6 and FF4 for the "Ancient Castle" which bears much in common with Castle Baron... also the name "Baron Falls" though I believe this was a mis-translation from "Baren Falls." In any case, just a child's fancy to tie together his favourite two RPGs from his childhood.
I'd also like to point out that Cecil is the only Final Fantasy character to actually have lines in another video game, having a scene devoted to him in Secret of Evermore. However, as Evermore is a dream world, we can assume he isn't actually there.
In conclusion, I'll be buying Dissidia over Blazblu.
(The best FF site out there for information on games released prior to 2009 is Final Fantasy Compendium)
Title: Mouse Guard #3
Posted: September 25, 2009 (01:49 AM)
It's been awhile since I wrote a synopsis. We just finished our 7th session, so I figure I'd better get writing before I start forgetting those earlier tales. On with story #3!
Spring was coming to a close. The rains had not abated and Fallan's thoughts were often drawn, against his will, to the people of Port Sumac. He wondered whether the dam he and Abram had reinforced had held. He often wondered about Patrick.
He had not seen his friend since returning to Lockhaven. Patrick had left sometime before Fallan's return and so he had not had time to deliver the news of his sister's death. In truth, Fallan was relieved.
About a week after returning to Lockhaven, Gwendolyn once again summoned Fallan. The wise leader of Lockhaven spoke calmly to Fallan, yet there was a strictness in her voice that made his hair stand on end.
"I've read your report," she said. "Something troubles me. When you knew that there were crabs invading the coast, why did you not hunt them down? Crabs are dangerous."
Fallan took a deep breath to compose himself. "We fought the war so that we could free Mousedom from the cycle of violence and death. I believe that we can peacefully maintain its borders. If we chase off the crabs often enough, they will stop coming here and there will have been no need for bloodshed."
Gwendolyn did not share his optimism. "I appreciate your ideals, but a Mouse Guard must be prepared to do whatever is necessary to defend the people."
"But is such violence necessary?" Fallan countered.
"It is if I say it is," Gwendolyn responded in a level tone. Fallan realized he'd over-stepped his boundaries. Gwendolyn continued. "Predators are predators. You, as an experienced fighter, may be able to drive them off, but what about the times you aren't there? Could some poor merchant do the same? Or a young basket weaver? What about a child? Your plan is a kind one, but to initiate it would take time and resources we don't have. And in such matters, hesitation on our part means the death of another innocent."
"As my lady commands. I shall think well over what you have said and will act accordingly in the future."
Fallan bowed, his open eyes staring at the complicated carvings in the floor of Gwendolyn's comfortable study. He was seeing other images, however. Children. Why had she mentioned children? Did she suspect? His mind wandered back to the dark days of the war. Did she know?
Gwendolyn continued. "I have another mission for your patrol. This Spring rain has washed away the scent borders, they will need replacing. Take this letter to the scientist Amos in Sprucetuck. He'll provide you with the scent mixture. Then proceed to the Eastern border and lay the scent. Be careful. With the border down, there's no telling what's gotten into the kingdom."
Fallan left the room quietly. He was only thankful Gwendolyn hadn't mentioned Patrick's sister. But then, why would she? Fallan hadn't included her in his report.
"The scent border? We have to lay down urine?" Freya didn't seem pleased at the job they'd been given.
"Someone's got to do it," Abram remarked in his quiet way. Fallan gave him the letter to Amos. Fallan was thinking about other things. Many faces kept flashing before his eyes; foremost of them all was Sera's, her fur soaked with sweat as she died in his arms. He was determined to prove he could save a life.
Gwendolyn might be sending them out to mark the border, but he would show her he was capable of so much more. He would prove to himself he had made the right decision joining the Guard. He would prove that their deaths, and hers, hadn't been his fault.
Fallan thinks he has his goal all figured out, but the other members have goals of their own. What will they think when their leader starts acting strangely? Stay tuned to find out!
Title: Need advice on game purchase
Posted: September 24, 2009 (04:56 PM)
I'm really torn between Dissidia and BlazBlu.
Dissidia is an interesting take on the fighter mechanics with characters I know and love and a lot of stuff to do. It's probably lacking in the story department and I know it is lacking in the multiplayer department (no online, just adhoc).
BlazBlu is possibly one of the greatest fighters ever made with definitely the best story of any fighter ever made (and a good story for games in general). Again, tons of shit to do. However, it is also a highly technical fighter that you really have to pour your soul into if you hope to get anything out of it. Of course, the pay off is that you can then use those learned abilities to show off in what I hear is a lag-free online rumble fuck.
Blaz is probably higher on my list, but I do question my ability to sustain myself through a technical fighter.
Title: A day in the life of Jon (musings on the real, uncredited, creator of Silent Hill)
Posted: September 23, 2009 (01:13 AM)
Well, spent yesterday board-gaming it with a bunch of friends. We do that every monday... at around 11:00pm we started up a philosophical discussion on Batman which lasted until 2:30 in the morning.
Today saw me create a card game based on Zombie films, called City of the Damned. I'll be playtesting in the next few weeks and then printing and selling by December, with any luck. Keep an eye out for it!
Also saw 9 today. It's gotten panned by the critics, but I think it's fucking awesome. It's true, the visual effects are probably its strongest point. The dialogue is meaningless to the point of being derivative, but then I think that's how these characters are SUPPOSED to be. They are simple characters and shouldn't be engaged in deep conversation. The story, too, is a very symbolic metaphorical story and I think people just didn't catch on because they aren't well-read enough to pick up on all that.
In any case, it's a big budget indie film and I really dug it.
Came home and was excited to see that Sony released Silent Hill 1 a while back. I never played the first one, though I always wanted to. In fact, the only SH I've played was duo and I thought that was over hyped. So why did I want to play the first one? I don't know, I think it's gonna be great, though.
Funny story about Silent Hill... right before the game was announced, me and my friend Tyson Michael (a jazz drummer now in New York) came up with this idea for a new horror game. It would use RE controls except for a few sections which would be first person. It involved a man going with a friend to the vity of Ethaniel Grove. On the way, a fog rolls in and he gets in a car crash when a little girl walks in front of his vehicle. When he wakes up, his friend is missing and the town is covered in a white fog.
Walking through the town he quickly discovers that anywhere touched by the fog is bad news bears, as those areas are twisted and decaying and filled with ghosts and monsters that hunt him relentlessly and cannot be killed.
Eventually he learns the whole thing is due to the actions of a cult that used to live in the town 200 years ago. We even had a joke ending, called the "pirate ending" where if you followed the sound of a wailing jig through the fog, you'd come across a crazed pirate who claimed the whole thing was a rum-soaked dream and that they'd reach land soon.
The main thing that separated it from SH (which I remind you had not been announced or released yet!) was that you had to play the game multiple times to get the full story. The first playthrough was the longest and took you through the main character's discovery of his friend's dead body, the discovery of the cult, and the destruction of a cultish circle that allows him to leave the town.
Then there were eight subsequent and much shorter "side stories," one unlocked after completion of each story and they gave the broader picture. Somewhere I have notes on all the characters you could play, but let me see what I can remember...
Well, one playthrough was for the friend, where you find out what happens to him and how he meets his demise.
Another was for the little girl that causes your car to crash. There was another one for a school janitor, too, but I don't recall the full details of that except I think he turns into one of the boss monsters.
One of my favourites was for a man you meet throughout the first playthrough that you eventually find out is dead. This side story took him through a much younger version of the town, during the civil war and detailed the beginnings of the cult.
There was also a playthrough as two government agents (well, one specifically, but they see a lot of each other) sent into the town to investigate it that you meet in the first playthrough. If I recall, their's was the last playthrough and reveals that the government contains members of the cult who are about to start something big...
... cue sequel!
Anyways, the game was to be called Surrealistic. It was also going to incorporate a psychological/sanity aspect that I later saw used in Eternal Darkness.
Apparently I am a fucking genius. In all honesty, it was just me and a friend isolating what scared us most in games and films and saying "hey, wouldn't it be cool to see that?"
Nice of someone else to do it for us.
So anyways, I went home after the film tonight, downloaded SH1 and, instead of playing it, proceeded to watch some of the SH movie, which I own.
I really like the SH movie. But I'm in the silent minority.
Title: Cleaning out the life... old Nintendo Powers and a helpful link
Posted: September 21, 2009 (12:25 AM)
As part of my "kill myself at Graduate School" campaign I've been cleaning out old boxes and what not from my attic. Finding a box of EGM, PSM, and Gamepro was not hard to throw onto my Dad's burn pile but then...
... well, then I came across a box of old Nintendo Power. I'm talking OLD. Like, Nester and Howard comics are still being run in these fuckers.
And you know? Every time I think of tossing them a knot forms in my chest. I don't know what it is. They aren't in great condition and the chances of me reading them again are slim. Even if I somehow did get the desire, there's a great site out with all that stuff:
Still, I don't know. It's not a significant amount of space (well, about three large boxes, actually), but it's still stuff, you know? It's still carrying around my past with me. And yet there is something undeniably satisfying about picking up a magazine with a walk through of Maniac Mansion or a preview of Chrono Trigger or an interview with the creator of Earthbound or an ad that says "Donkey Kong Country: the biggest game to ever SWING ONTO your console!"
Satisfying isn't really the right word, actually. It's more a deep pain in my chest, like I'm looking at the ashes of my dead lover or something. It's nostalgia, and nostalgia is one of the strongest emotions I experience. Memories are very powerful for me, sometimes more powerful than what's occurring in the present. For me, the present doesn't usually become powerful until it's the past. Opening up these boxes is like opening up a hole somewhere deep in my chest and not quite knowing what to fill it with.
I'll probably get rid of them. I'd say hold on to them for my kids someday, but... what kids?
EDIT: Just came across some old photos bundled with love letters. That puts it all in perspective.
Hah, nowadays we have the internet as our closet. One day I'll be looking back at these reviews and posts and smiling sadly, wondering what happened to the me that was writing this.
Title: ROTW coming... on another note, Robocop still works
Posted: September 20, 2009 (12:54 AM)
Seriously, I hadn't seen that film in about ten or fifteen years and I watched it again tonight. Still awesome. It's mostly satire, is the main reason. It's not trying to be a serious film. And there's some awesome special effects. I still cringe at the toxic waste man. Ergh...
Also, best commercials in a film. Ever.
I only ever played one of the Robocop games, number 2, and it was terrible. I'll probably do one of those short reviews for it sometime soon. You know, a one or two paragrapher. I'm still trying to figure out the best angle to take on my WE HATE YOUR ASS review, since I can't possibly play my assigned game any more. It's too painful. I'm thinking I'm just gonna go nuts with this review and not worry, for once, about it being the standard review fare. I've got something I'd like to try that's very different from anything I've done in the past... we'll see how it pans out.
In other news, Grad School starts in a week. I'm busy trying to get my life in order before that, which accounts for the lack of ROTW tonight. So, for those of you who still want in on the action you have... seven minutes to submit a review.
I'm pumped. I love writing the ROTW.
Title: Garfield minus Garfield
Posted: September 18, 2009 (12:17 AM)
Man this shit is great.
Title: More Mouse Guard
Posted: September 12, 2009 (03:33 PM)
The second adventure began about a week or two later. Storms have raged against the coast of mousedom and are moving inland. Fallan ran into an old friend, a mouse who had served alongside him in the war by the name of Patrick Delaney. Patrick's hometown was the port of Sumac but with the storms he couldn't easily return there. While at war's end, Fallan had been determined to join the guard in order to bring peace to mousedom, Patrick had tired of fighting and had taken up trade as a merchant, his dead father's business. Fallan often wondered if his friend had made the better choice of them.
In a meeting with the head of the Guard, Lady Gwendolyn, Fallan was told that these storms were more than a general hindrance. The port town of Sumac had been flooded and the Guard patrol sent to help out had not reported back. Fallan was to take his group and head to the port town to give any aid they could and ascertain what had held up the other patrol. Before leaving, Fallan tried to find Patrick and inform him of the town's danger, but his friend had disappeared into the general bustle of Lockhaven and there was no time to search him out. However, knowing that Patrick's family lived in Sumac, Fallan made a personal oath to ensure their safety.
The going was not easy. Freya was the group's scout, but she was young yet and her abilities were not fully developed. Still, determined to impress Fallan, she pushed the group onwards, never losing spirit. Abram chipped in with his cooking skills, keeping the party well fed throughout the wet journey. In fact, it was Fallan who seemed most distraught. Several times he tried to lead the group to higher ground to trace a better route through the jungle, but failed every time. With each failure, he became more despondent and the others more concerned.
Such was the state of mind they were in when they came near to Sumac. Here they found several tracks leading away from Sumac towards the beach. Fallan and Abram were reluctant to follow them, but Freya adamantly argued that the tracks could very well belong to mice in need of aid. Abram was more convinced they belonged to looters who had fled the town. In either case, Fallan ultimately felt it was their duty to follow them, though he said they would do so for only an hour and then turn around.
An hour brought them to the shore. Here the tracks headed to the beach and then circled around, crossing the beach back towards Sumac. Figuring that at least the tracks were now headed in their direction, Fallan ordered that they would continue following them. This resolution brought them, at last, to a cave. But the cave already had a denizen: an angry crab.
As usual, Fallan's first reaction was towards diplomacy. While he knew it was pointless to try and communicate with a crab, he did know that it was not necessary to kill the thing. With this in mind, he ordered the group in formation and the three rushed the beast. Freya fought more fiercely than any of them and it was mostly due to her relentless attacks that the crab left its home and scuttled away into the surf.
The cave turned out to contain a nasty surprise. Here the group found three tattered Guard cloaks. Fearing the worst, Fallan took the cloaks and the party continued on their way to Sumac.
The town was in a state of disarray. A dam was quickly being built to prevent the tide of water from encroaching any further on the town, but it was obvious the workers were understaffed. Reports of crab sightings along the coast worried the town mayor. Then, too, several townspeople had gone missing. Among them was Patrick Delaney's sister, Serah. "Red" volunteered to search out the missing townspeople, while Fallan and Abram stayed behind to help build the dam. Though their efforts were successful, Fallan's mind was constantly on Patrick's sister and he had just decided to leave Abram to finish the work and go look for her when "Red" re-appeared. She had Serah, though she had found no one else. Also, Serah was ill from exposure and dying.
Having experience with the healing arts, Fallan brought the mouse girl to her parent's home and made preparations for curing her of her illness. His skill, however, failed him and the young girl died in his arms. Cast out by Patrick's mother as a failure to the Guard, Fallan called an end to the mission and the troop returned to Lockhaven, altogether a dejected party.
How does Fallan's failure affect the party on their next mission? Stay tuned to find out!
Title: Mouse Guard
Posted: September 12, 2009 (02:24 AM)
I've been playing Mouse Guard with some friends lately and we're having a really good time. Thought I'd log our adventures and share with y'all.
The story for us begins in Fall 1152, ignoring the cannon of the book. In our story a grain merchant sets out with a map of Lockhaven, a capital offense as no maps are allowed to be made of that main city. The day is a bright one and the grain merchant senses no danger in the natural sounds of the forest about him. The rustling in the bushes seems to be just the wind... until he is swallowed whole by a forest snake. He never saw it coming.
Or so surmises Fallan, leader of a patrol (and my character). A grey haired mouse with a white cape signifying his purity, at 25 Fallan is one of the youngest patrol leaders in mouse history. Having proven himself on the battlefield against the Weasels at a very young age and winning a strategical victory in one of the main battles, Fallan is considered somewhat of a prodigy. He is also characterized by his thoughtful nature and his abhorance of violence.
It is he who is first to react when the snake attacks his patrol at the upset grain merchant's cart. He quickly falls back, resorting to a bow while his second, Abram (my friend Ryan), leads the initial charge. Abram is a somewhat aloof and abnormally large mouse, known for following orders but also for having a touch of selfishness about him and a stinginess with money. He is a decent enough fighter, but his true skill lies in the knowledge and application of healing medicants and herbs. His cloak and fur are both brown, the brown cape signifying his down-to-earth nature.
The true fighter of the group is young Freya (my friend Michelle), affectionately called "Red" by the two older members of the group (on account of her red hair, a rarity among mice). At just 14, she is the new recruit in this patrol (called a "tenderpaw") and has yet to earn a cloak to signify her as a member of the Guard. She is spunky and headstrong and often chafes under Fallan's command.
Together, the three mice engage the serpent, but the creature proves too strong for them. Reluctantly the three retreat, though Freya takes her time about it and is almost eaten before Fallan can get her to follow his orders to flee. The snake seems not to care about the mice once they have fled and leaves them.
The leader then suggests a daring plan. One of the mice most serve as bait to lure the snake into the woods while the others check the grain wagon for more clues as to the whereabouts of the grain merchant. Though Red, eager to prove her worth and still chafing from having been forced to flee, volunteers Fallan is not one to let his patrol be in danger before him. He orders the other two to check the wagon while he baits the serpent. This time he draws his blade before heading into the brush. Abram leaves for the wagon at once, but Freya can't help but snarl at Fallan's back, wondering if it is wise or good leadership for Fallan to place himself in such danger.
Fallan's plan is a desperate one, but it turns out to be a success. By continually feinting and luring the serpent, Fallan leads it on a tense chase through the woods, hiding here and there and then popping out to taunt the beast again just when it has started to lose interest.
Meanwhile, back at the cart, Abram discovers the map of Lockhaven hidden in the grain. Shortly after, an exhausted Fallan rejoins them minus his blade, saying he has spent himself on the task and can do no more and the three take off before the serpent returns.
Their mission completed, they return to Lockhaven post haste. There are still questions lingering in the air... who made this map and who was it going to? For now, Lockhaven and the patrols will simply have to sharpen their senses and their blades.
That was just the first adventure. Several more have followed and shall be shared shortly!
Title: Mytran Wars for the PSP
Posted: September 10, 2009 (06:49 PM)
This is a review that I wrote about a month or two ago and then continued to work on occasionally until the embargo was lifted this week.
I would love any feedback on it, once it shows up on the site. Later this week(end) look for a Wolfenstein review!
Title: Never judge a book by its cover... or even its first few pages
Posted: September 01, 2009 (11:12 PM)
After playing more of Wolfenstein I must regrettably lower my original recommendation of the game. While it still retains a nice atmosphere and very smooth controls, overall it just feels dated. It doesn't do anything to push the envelope and is even content to let a few things (like graphics and enemy AI) slip back to the very post office.
But then, that's why we don't rush out and write reviews after first getting our hands on a product. Even Arkham Asylum, which remained good until the end but with which I have to agree with Lewis on... very mediocre final confrontation.
Of course, all of this will hopefully be coming out in two reviews over the next week or so.
In other news, my Television is now picking up broadband radio stations while I play games in addition to cutting off a good 5-10% of the screen. I need a new TV badly. I'm STILL on SD, sigh. It doesn't make sense for a PS3 owner.
Title: Two amazing games
Posted: August 27, 2009 (01:22 PM)
I am dreadfully ill. Have been for nearly three weeks now. But now it's okay, because it's given me time to play two amazing games.
Been playing Batman Arkham Asylum, first of all. Good lord... True's review really says it all, though I hope I can find more to say because I plan on writing a review of it myself once I'm done working my way through it. It's surprisingly long and there's a lot to do, especially if you get caught up in the Riddler's puzzles and the challenge mode (I am proud to report that I rank number 12 in the world at challenge number 2).
The other game is Wolfenstein. Good lord. I have enjoyed the Wolfenstein games in the past (not the originals, I never had the honor of playing the stealth ones) and I knew I would like this but... holy shit, I didn't expect to like it as much as Half Life 2. Seriously. It's the best shooter I've played since HL2. It has just as much, if not more, ambience, even smoother controls, great sound, and a surprisingly good and twisted story that leaves you wondering which of your fellow rebels is going to break under the pressure and turn you into the Nazis.
I know it's not the obvious title, but I highly recommend that any fan of FPS pick up Wolfenstein.
As for Arkham Asylum, any fan of FUN should pick that one up.
Title: Some demo discussion
Posted: August 22, 2009 (02:08 AM)
I've been playing a couple of demos quite a bit lately.
The first is Batman Arkham Asylum. Holy shit.
Okay, so this demo is about 5 minutes long (15 if you take your time and talk to everyone and explore everything there is to see). It's also extremely linear and shows possibly one of the most boring parts of the game: the tutorial-like opening.
So why have I played it 20 times already?
Part of the reason is that, despite everything I said above about linearity, each time I've played it it's been different. There's this one room with five or six guys that you have free reign to take down, as long as you aren't shot to hell, which means you don't want to be spotted.
Let me stop there for a moment and elaborate on that. This isn't Tenchu, where your game ends immediately if you're spotted. It's not even Metal Gear, where being spotted leads to a lengthy fleeing sequence punctuated by Otacon yelling SNAAAAAAAKE when you eventually die.
Batman moves like a panther and can disappear almost at whim. He can take down a horde of enemies with fluid martial arts moves, all activated via the use of a single button (there are two other buttons you CAN press if you want to get fancy and more strategic).
Yet he has his ONE RULE. He does not kill.
So forget about pulling up those automatic machine guns and blind firing your way through the game. Batman preys on people's fears. He takes guys out one by one until the last one left standing is a jibbering mess.
And each time I've played, I've found another way to take down each guy, another way to strike fear into the hearts of these clowns.
And they always find another way to lose it, to go crazy, to yell at each other and, even, to occasionally surprise me and gain the upper hand.
If you've seen it in a Batman film or in the show, you can do it here. Everything you ever wanted a Batman game to be about is here. And every corner of the Asylum oozes a delicious promise of a dark story.
And that's just the demo. I can't wait for full release.
In other news, me and Dissidia have patched up our differences. I now enjoy the game quite frequently. Once I understood the controls a bit better I started to see the strategic possibilities. There are still some things I don't like, such as the repetitiveness of the animations (especially after seeing something as smooth as Arkham Asylum) and the difficulty of timing the blocks AND the ease of timing the dodges.
On that last note, the thing about a block is it takes your opponent off guard and opens them up for a hit. In Dissidia you are constantly moving and dodging. A hit can set you up for a fatal combo. You don't want to get hit. Now, dodging is pretty easy, which is good except... well, it's easy for the enemy, too. Which means you end up in these prolonged dodge-fests where no one can land a hit.
Enter blocking. Now you can see why opening up someone for a hit is so desireable, even more so than usual in a fighting game. And yet it's so hard to do. Not every attack is blockable, I'm convinced and it's very hard to tell when a character is about to hit you, as they have very stylistic forms of fighting which are hard to predict.
Now, that all looks pretty sweet, I have to admit. It feels like you're directing your very own FF FMV. Like I said, though, the moves are a little limited for that to work IN THE DEMO. I don't feel it's quite a fair criticism, yet, because I've been assured that there's quite a few more moves coming in the full release.
In any case, I play it whenever I have a few moments to spare. It's a "moment to spare" kind've game. But whereas Arkham Asylum is a demo that has already sold me and only promises to do more in a full release, Dissidia is a demo that is selling me based more on its promises than what it's already delivered.
It's the difference between a promising game (DIssidia) and what is sure to be an instant and enduring classic (Batman).
I've also, incidentally, been playing a fuck-ton of FF7, but we'll save the discussion of an FF Remake for another blog post.
Title: Silent Hill 2
Posted: August 19, 2009 (10:10 PM)
Yahtzee's latest review was FINALLY on this game, explaining to audiences why he holds it up so much.
But you know? I'm not buying it. There were aspects of SH2 I really liked (such as every character except for James) and some of the enemies were genius (namely Pyramid Head and the SH cheerleaders: the Nurses). But overall I found the title to be a bit of a mess, with little scares and far too obtuse a script (and too terrible of voice actors) to really draw me in to the psychological disturbances. There were some key moments of imposing dread and every time I start the game I get this terrifyingly oppressive feeling in my chest like someone's sitting on me after having eaten twelve subway sandwiches, but it wears off once I realize that I'm running around a big empty map with enough shotgun shells to take on Hitler's army.
Anyone else share my sentiments?
Title: The Amazing Adventures of Honest Men!- Part 2
Posted: August 19, 2009 (03:02 PM)
“Holy Satchel Bomb, Sashanan! Are we really going to blow up this entire cliff?”
“We’ll have to finish climbing it, first, Amiga-boy. But yes, EmP’s fortress may not be allowed to be a blight on this cliff face any longer!”
It wasn’t a particularly pretty cliff, as cliffs go. After all, it was evil. That’s why EmP had choosen it. In fact, it was a disguisting cliff face and difficult to climb. Especially with all the slimy brown stains that caused the hands to slip. Sashanan thought it best not to wonder what these stains were.
He was a man of details, not action. But he didn't like to work TOO hard on deciphering those details. It was not a good idea, he'd learned. Often you discovered something you didn't want to. Sashanan was also a man of habit and rules. For instance, though he responded to it, Sashanan didn’t look towards the voice speaking to him. It was coming from beneath him, and that meant he would have to look down, which was something he had learned to avoid in his career. Looking down, he found, had little benefit unless you were trying to find something you dropped.
Sashanan never dropped anything. He was not THAT kind of man.
Of course, being the world’s greatest detective, he was often called upon to find things other people dropped, but that was what he had Aschultz, also known as Amiga-boy, for. Sashanan hadn’t spent three million dollars turning his high-tech suit fashionable just so he could dirty it crawling around on the ground. It was not an easy job, or a cheap one, to transform the clothing equivalent of a swiss army knife into something that school children wouldn’t laugh at. It was still a little tight about the shoulders, making it uncomfortable to be in unless Sashanan had his hands on his hips and his elbows thrust out in a dramatic position. So he did that a lot. He wanted to do it now, in fact, partially because his shoulders were aching and partially because you never knew when a paparazzi might be lurking around and he didn’t want to be seen in his currently embarrassing predicament. But he was afraid if he moved, his cape might come loose and he would plummet to his doom. It would be a long plummet, one in which he would have ample time to reflect on his career and that wasn’t too bad a prospect. After all, it had been a particularly amazing career. Still, he wasn’t quite ready for it to be over yet.
“I’m almost there, Sashanan!” Aschultz called from beneath him. “About twenty more feet and I should be able to get that rope reattached!”
“Very good, Amiga-boy. Continue on.”
Sashanan looked straight ahead while he said this. If looking down in general was a bad idea, it was an especially bad idea when one was climbing up the side of a six thousand metre high cliff.
“These things happen!” Aschultz continued. “I wouldn’t worry yourself about it!”
“Of course not. That’s why I wear the cape.”
Actually, he wore the cape because he couldn’t find anywhere else to clip his I-Pod to, but it had other handy uses. For instance, though it certainly had not been designed as a last minute save during a freak climbing accident, it had in this case snagged on an outcrop when his rope broke and thus saved him from a ambiguous death in his first scene.
Psycho Penguin wasn’t so lucky. He’ll be dead before I’ve finished this sentence. But that’s another story.
Aschultz’s gloved hand came into Sashanan’s view. This was followed by a flash of the boy’s quick smile and red-and-white checkered suit as he quickly scrambled to the outcrop above Sashanan and began working at securing him and getting the cape free.
“It looks like there’s a full ledge up here and... Holy back entrances, Sashanan! There’s a huge gaping hole in the cliff here! It looks like an entrance into EmP’s fortress!”
“Don’t even consider it, Aschultz. Once you start on one path, you finish it, I say! Once you start deviating from your chosen course, you begin to unravel the very fabric of your conviction! To stray is to fray!”
“Of course, you are always right, Sashanan. But it seems such a waste to complete this grueling climb when such an easy exit has presented itself!”
“Do you not understand the way, my trusty cohort?”
“Enlighten me, Sashanan! I beg you!”
“The longest road may get you there last, but it will get you there in one piece! Never look to the easy road, for it is the path of weakness! With shortcuts come dangers!”
“My logic has stunned you, has it not?”
“No! I mean, yes, but that’s not why I... ah!”
“What is occurring on that ledge, Amiga-boy?”
“Something is coming out of the tunnel! It’s... brown and... it looks like... Holy Hell, Sashanan, it’s headed right for us! Look out below!”
The next couple of minutes were exceedingly disgusting.
Stay tuned next week for the incredible journey of Lewis and Janus through the bowels of EmP's castle and a dastardly discovery!
Title: Fat Princess, Staff Review
Posted: August 16, 2009 (11:31 AM)
I started penning this review a good two or three weeks ago when the game first came out. I initially held off on posting it because I wanted to give Titan Studios a chance to fix their online connection issues (which they did).
Once that was done, I was able to go back in and remove the focus from server issues and put it more squarely on the game, which is really what I wanted to do in the first place (but couldn't with a clear conscience as long as I continued to recieve "host is lost" messages every time I wanted to play).
The result I then stewed on for a week more, rereading all the comments I received during the TT and by those who have been trading comments with me as per my offer on the site.
So, this end result has really been tailored by everyone kind enough to leave me feedback over the last couple weeks. I've taken all your advice to heart and I hope it shows. I would, of course, love any feedback on this, especially seeing as how it builds on what you've already told me.
The review will be linked here once it pops up and once I get back from work.
Title: Most annoying sequence in video game history
Posted: August 14, 2009 (08:52 PM)
End of God of War, where Kratos has to protect his family. Even more frustrating is when my game freezes after I spent an hour beating it.
I think I may cry.
Title: The Amazing Adventures of Honest Men- Part 1
Posted: August 14, 2009 (03:16 PM)
Professor V stood, ramrod straight, by the TV monitor, waiting. It had been nearly three hours since his teams had departed for the cliffs of doomnation, where the castle that was their ultimate destination perched precariously... “like an evil eagle roosting on the dark cliffs of insanity,” as the Professor thought of it. He hated birds.
He was also a very poetic man, or so most people told him. He didn’t listen to the others. They were probably bird watchers.
There was a chair in the room, but it was dusty from the years in which it had not been sat in. The war had left Professor Venter without a lower spine, giving him no ability to bend in any direction whatsoever. His entire buttocks had been replaced with a cybernetic ass in a beautiful silver casing. It was a delicate instrument and as such any form of sitting was impossible. But the device had other benefits.
“Calling Professor V,” The voice emanated from the Professor’s rear end. “This is Janus contacting base, come in Professor.”
“Go ahead, Janus, I read you,” Venter didn’t have to say this loudly. His cybernetic rear end had very precise microphones. He did, however, lean his head slightly to one side, so as to direct his voice downward.
“I’m with Lewis. We’ve infiltrated the lower levels of EmP’s stronghold.”
“I lost radio contact with you for a while, where were you?”
“You know EmP, he never does a final check on his fortresses. Turns out he left a maintenance hatch open that led to the sewers. Lewis discovered it. He’s very thorough.”
“Hmmm, a sewer system in a castle? Sounds suspicious.”
“Well, sort’ve. It’s really just a long run off to the edge of the cliff, where it falls onto the villages below.”
“Huh. It’s just like EmP to shove his shit off on other people.”
“It’s a long ways down. It may be EmP’s shit, but it still travels slowly.”
“Our one saving grace in this case. Alright, our mission has become two fold. We must put a halt to EmP’s constant flow of shit and investigate further its source.”
“Er... sir? It’s source? Isn’t that... well, apparent?”
“Not at all. With EmP, it’s never that simple. When you find him, make him tell you the whole truth of his plan. Make him... make him Honest.”
“Understood, sir. Janus, out.”
“Yes, indeed,” ruminated Venter, as a final hiss of static emanated from behind him. “For that was the point of the Honest Men, to bring truth to the darkest corners of the world. Even the ones with the Eagles.”
Tune in next time for the introduction of team beta, comprised of the enterprising duo Sashanan and Aschultz!!
Title: Honest Gamers has influence on my short film
Posted: August 14, 2009 (02:15 PM)
The company that made everything in the post-apopalyptic world is called "Venter Physics." The name came to me and wouldn't leave, so I kept it in the final draft.
I'm hoping to point to the site in the trivia/commentary that will go along with the DVDs, maybe point some people towards this site. I'm always trying to get more people to come here.
Title: What Would Kratos do?
Posted: August 10, 2009 (07:04 PM)
It's not my favorite review, but it's short and very readable and it has one of my favorite lines in it.
Because, really, what WOULD Kratos do?
Title: Arkham Asylum Demo
Posted: August 08, 2009 (10:36 AM)
Woot. Gotta try this out in between my filming schedule.
Title: Apologies, but no preview this weekend
Posted: August 07, 2009 (03:24 PM)
Now, if the judges take their time, I may get one up during the first part of next week, but this weekend I'm filming, going to a wedding, assisting in the beta testing of a line of computers, and working. So... no time, folks.
I will say I wouldn't be surprised if Zig wins his match against me. I see Zig has spruced up his review somewhat for our big match. I appreciate that. And when I say spruced up somewhat, I actually mean a full remodel, complete with pictures, coloured text, and even a block of text that gets smaller until it dissappears. I know these kind of things are sometimes considered frills here at HG, but I think Zigfried deserves a lot of credit for what he’s done here.
I believe anytime we work in a medium, we have to try and exploit that medium’s peculariarities. You wouldn’t write a film script that didn’t utilize a lot of visual elements and movement. Similarly, the internet is a medium that handles embedded pictures and innovative layouts quite well. It’s nice to see Zig put that to good use in this review.
Compared to that, my Soul Blazer effort comes off as a little old fashioned. It’s a technical piece, for one thing. It reads well, and even has some humorous interludes, but it’s stiff when put aside Zig’s more upbeat and colourful Sodan. The one thing that stands out as better than Zig’s review is the ending, which is a heartfelt declaration on childhood memories and how often they are ruined.
Still, I highly doubt if it will win against Zigfried’s more vibrant effort. If only the man had been producing such intense reviews throughout the tournament, he might be going to finals next week. Certainly this match showcases his abilities and I tip my non-existent hat to him.