Ah, 2007, what a year. A year that should have seen a James Bond movie purely for the marketing potential alone (seriously guys, a 007 calendar year won't happen again for nearly 1000 years), and the year I got my first major employment position at Woolworths (R.I.P). T'was also the year I first signed up for this humble website, after browsing it unconditionally for many months before. See, back then I was quite new to the internet; never had a personal computer previously, and our school's website blockers were annoyingly thorough, so getting to college in 2004 and suddenly having immediate access to all this gaming knowledge was an unmitigated event. Granted, that eagerness to browse IGN (when it was worth reading) and Cube-Europe (the one place I signed up for before here, haven't been back in years) over-rid any work ethic I had so College didn't go as well as I would have liked.
It was a revelation really. For years previous I had bought gaming magazines, and although that sedated my need for knowledge there was always that thought train of being involved in a solo, nerdy hobby (exacerbated mainly by somewhat quiet and timid personal tendencies at both school and college admittedly), so getting online and seeing forums and communities was an eye-opener in many ways. I believe my first few posts consisted of asking if I could ask a question on the forum, then making another posting asking if the Wii's parental lock was stopping me being able to buy certain Virtual Console stuff. Ah, the memories. Lol
Not long after I had joined up here under the username Darkspine Sonic (as a tribute to an awesome Super form for a game that really hasn't aged well ), I chopped off the -onic to move it closer to my real name and started off the Reader Reviews as a means to alleviate some boredom while looking for work. Every Wednesday I'd post something up and while they were vastly inferior to any official Cubed3 review I had fun writing them, and it felt good to be using my limited writing ability to entertain others if only briefly. Next major step was making my own identity, and for this I consulted a certain favourite RPG of mine from the Gamecube, which was Skies of Arcadia Legends.
I loved that game, and although getting halfway through the game and being rewarded with the massive metal tool of destruction that was the Delphinus ship, I always had an odd desire to rename and restyle it. The Grey and Blue tone would be gone, and replaced with Red and Gold flames, and the title of the Phoenixus (lord knows how I came up with that ). Since it didn't look likely that a sequel or downloadable remake was on the cards anytime soon, I took the name itself and built an identity around it; character names in games, email addresses, you name it. Shortly after that, all the news alerts I sent into C3 were enough for the top trio of blokes, Adam, Jorge and Mike Mason (what a legend) to offer me a place on the staff roll, and even if I was unsure if I could do it at first, realizing that they wouldn't have asked if they didn't think I could, got the ball rolling, so a quick pre-emptive cheers for believing in me guys.
This was around the more interesting days of the site if memory serves, when the Wii was in full swing with Wii Fit and daft people were touting that 'Casual' label like it actually meant anything. The E3 conferences in those years were certainly interesting, particularly 2008's which spawned a whole new corridor of the internet for memes and gifs (which makes it oddly fitting that there won't be one this year for reasons I'll get into in just a sec), and I enjoyed every minute of it. I'll admit, keeping up with the motivation to do News Posting did get tricky at times, particularly when I managed to find employment, so the valve did close eventually and I moved on. To an eventual refined username and an even better writing medium.
was my first purely official review for the site (there was technically one for Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars on Wii before that, but that was a converted Reader Review), and it was playing through and writing up games like this over the years that made me realise the folly of review systems as they stand now. Number scores are an effective quick-look barometer of a reviewer's perspective on a game, but it will always be the text that matters and stuff like Metacritic really doesn't help in the long run. Plus, there seems to be a stigma regarding anything below 6 as not worth playing, when a 5 should always count as Average; flawed but playable. Getting swept up in the Twilight Princess shitstorm when Gamespot gave it an 8.8 was an amusing novelty at the time, but looking back on it now it was just hugely embarrassing for gamers and the industry alike.
So anyway from that point on, I continued doing reviews, helping out with Moderation and still doing News Posts too once in a blue moon, and for all accounts and purposes I enjoyed it. The peak was probably covering three of the biggest Wii U launch titles: Tekken Tag 2, Sonic Racing Transformed, and Batman Arkham City. All great games, all highly recommended.
So, the question needs answering I'd say; why the C3 nostalgic trip? Well, all of the staff members here have known for months, and now I'm going to tell the rest of the online world; I'm bowing out of the games industry on a high note and leaving Cubed3 for good. The reason I'm telling you on the day I leave is twofold; one, I felt it would be appropriate to make my last day be on the 6th year sign-up anniversary and the five month gap between making that choice and the day itself would give breathing room. Two, I didn't want to make a big hoo-hah by sharing it a month in advance and having people trying to make me stay or change my mind (though I would appreciate that wholeheartedly, don't get me wrong), or somehow big myself up to make me look more important than the rest of the staff who run rings around me in the hard work department.
A couple of things to clarify first and foremost. When I say leaving the industry, I don't mean stopping playing games entirely. I've grown up with games, they have been quite the educator and although I let myself stay cooped up with them for nearly half my life that is no-one's failing except mine. I always will enjoy games and will regulate them with my future brats (possibly ), but they will definitely become a lesser hobby as a result of leaving. What I do mean by quitting the industry, is completely cutting myself off from forums and gaming websites.
In most cases they can be harmless, but in recent years I've found myself disliking the wider gaming community more and more, be it shoddy and sensationalist journalism worthy of the Sun or the hordes of ignorant entitled knee-jerk reactions in forum threads (a much lesser occurrence here at least). Over time it has grown tiring, and I constantly question why I spend hours staring at the screen pouring over these kinds of opinions like they're really important to anyone except their owners. Instant knowledge of announcements and game features has been a benefit I will admit, but sometimes ignorance really is bliss.
Really, it's the time aspect that made me take this path. I'm going to be completely honest when I post this following statement, and I don't care what repercussions it may have or unneeded amounts of sympathy it may generate, but it is the truth. Be it my timidity or preference to hole myself up in a self-made sanctuary, but my ability to connect with others is far below most normal people; I can count on one hand's worth of fingers how many women I've actually been able to obtain feelings for, and even then it is drowned out by feelings of self-doubt and scepticism. I'm 24, close to 25, and I'm still single, still lonely, and I have no non-internet friends outside of work (and that even then is a low number due to my night shifts). I try telling myself that it's okay to be alone, that it's okay to shun others, but it's merely a temporarily comforting lie, and one I can't continue to perpetuate. I have come a long way since the dark days of Argos where I used a packaging knife to cut my arms to distract from the loneliness, but it is still there festering deep down inside.
I don't regret my activity on this site one single bit, but looking back at all that mindless forum browsing just F5-ing and waiting for updates makes me pissed at the time I wasted and how weak I was to do so.
I have deep respect and appreciation for Cubed3, as the site and its members have do so much for me that I may never be able to repay enough. I started off timid and afraid of expressing myself, and that has changed considerably over the years to the point where I can openly make fun of naysayers and thread-crappers, and moderate the hell out of spammers. My writing ability, whilst originally raw and scattered has been refined considerably to the point I could compare it favourably to all the other reviewers and news posters here. The members here helped me believe I was more capable than I thought I could ever be, proven by the numerous things I've accomplished over those 6 years that I'm still yet to give myself enough credit for, like moving out of the parents' house, fixing my teeth, getting a full time work position, passing my CBT, and getting in shape from the gym. It's just been a fantastic feeling knowing that so many share my tastes as opposed to the minimal number I assumed beforehand; that's an assurance I could never have had before. Rest assured chaps, my Streetpass message will remain as 'See Cubed.com!', and whenever someone asks for Nintendo news, I will happily tell them which site to visit.
The question beckons now, what next? Well, I'll still be around online in some respects. Most of you have me added on your Wii U friend lists (ID: Phoenom) and on the 3DS one (contact me to exchange numbers if you haven't already J), but with all the time freed up I'm playing on keeping a Wordpress blog;
going where I'll post pretty much anything; reviews, opinions, stuff that'll be as interesting as I can possibly make it. I've also reinstated my Twitter account postings here: https://twitter.com/ThePhoenom
so follow that if you want, and a fair few people have me on Facebook already so that's all good.
My two biggest priorities going forward will be getting off Night Work and getting my own Motorbike. The former is a health necessity; it's been three years and right now I'm on sleep medication just to be able to manage more than 4-5 hours at a time. I've enjoyed the job and will always be thankful for them getting me out of Argos, but there is a very good reason why the human body is active in day and in rest at night. Plus having any kind of social life again would be nice. J The latter is equally something I've put off for too long, waiting until the extra-long winter subsided before I'd risk taking one on the roads, now I'm just eagerly hunting one down for a good price. There's also the matter of the Japanese self-teaching, with which I will bite the bullet and admit I need a teacher for. Same with the guitar lessons, which are in an even deeper state of limbo. So yeah, plenty going on.
I wasn't keen on singling out any one person on the site with messages since you're all awesome, but I don't think I could leave without saying a few more things (nothing personal, just a broad statement);
Jorge & Adam
Guys, thank you so much for the opportunity to work and post here, I'll never forget it. Very few random browsers on the site truly realise how much work you put into C3 and how unfairly little is received back in return, so I wanted to reiterate everyone's appreciation for all your hard work. Same goes to Mike Mason if he still looks at the site, thanks for the review break mate.
Dude, you make me feel like an amateur in the world of gaming, no joke. Your enthusiasm and dedication to the site is highly admirable, and you never fail to provide provocative and interesting opinions. It's been an honour to get to know you, and I hope to continue to do so through Wii U and 3DS games online. I'll make the challenge now for the next Smash Brothers.
Although I haven't known you as long as most others Az, your amazing amount of work with the site archives and with news and reviews was to a level I could never hope to match. Youtube may have been arseholes about it, but I really enjoyed your music vids and wish you the best with your future endeavours.
Dude, no word of a lie, you remind me a lot of how I started off on the site. We both developed an instant affinity to the site and our stuff makes up the majority of the reader reviews at least, plus both being Zelda fans is a win win. Cheers for the Monster Hunter tips, hope to hunt online with you again soon.
Knighty & Martin_
You guys probably aren't around here as much as you used to be, what with life and all, but just wanted to express some gratitude for you both helping to toughen me up a bit with our somewhat-friendly forum spats. Good times.
Buddy, I say this with a heavy heart, knowing how well we got on in the first few years and all the races on Mario Kart Wii we enjoyed, but honestly, take a break from gaming for a while. I've never seen someone get so riled up at a corporate business's decisions. :/
So, that's about it I guess, I think I've covered everything I needed to. Be sure to check out my previous blog review if you like, I had a lot of fun writing it. The original plan was to post up one of the short stories I wrote a couple of months ago, but my computer being wiped put that idea out of action unfortunately (btw, anyone who knows how to restore corrupted Word files please get in touch ). The second this gets posted up is when I logout, so don't worry about posting comments or anything because I won't be able to see them. I won't promise that I'll never return ever, but the mindset arrow is pointing at 'indefinitely' for now.
Everyone reading this is fantastic, and thank you for the memories, I'll cherish them. Farewell.
Throughout the history of video gaming, there have been landmark moments. Moments that may rely solely on the advancement of technology, like going from a tennis game with white lines and a blank background to multi-coloured areas and transitional screens. Moments that define developer talent to push a system to its limits and manage more than anyone could ever have expected from it, such as the Super FX chip for Starfox or Shadow of the Colossus on Playstation 2. And there have been moments that completely change the course of a company's dominance in the gaming market in one fell swoop. Square-Enix may not have the same instant seller ability they once had, and Final Fantasy may not be the landmark standout series it once was, but for those looking to the games market and developer scenes as more than a throwaway hobby, it was a monumental shift caused by lucky number seven of the series.
Naturally, we'll go for some context first. A quick word of warning beforehand; the gloves are off for this one as it is neither a fully fledged C3 review where I have to talk posh and restrain myself from really going to town on a game's idiotic flaws, or a proper Reader Review that is restricted to a game that has appeared on a Nintendo format. On the flip side, I also retain the right to go full-on-fanboy with this one when the need arises; remaining praiseworthy but still on the right side of rational.
Anyways, yeah, the context. Everyone knows the story, a story that will probably become legend in a good number of decades; the playground war between Nintendo and Sega, a.k.a the fun years. Master System vs NES, Mega Drive/Genesis vs Super Nintendo. Just bloody aces. Me, I didn't care. Huge Sega fan, loved Nintendo too, had the benefit of being a spoiled brat so I just got both. But I digress. The part of this fable we need to look closer at is the later years of the latter war.
Sega, being the bloomin dimwits they were back then, decided that the cool imagery of the Mega Drive, Sonic, and the whole 'Nintendo is kiddy' marketing bull they had going on at the time, wasn't enough for their bottom line and commissioned the Sega CD to be developed. Some wise guy at Sega HQ probably thought kids everywhere were getting a hard-on for the Sonic&Knuckles lock-on game cartridge and decided to do one better with a side-enabled Sega CD as well as a slot-in 32X accessory that just ended up making the unit look like a clusterfuck of amateur design schematics.
Sorry, off-tangent. Basically for some reason Nintendo saw the Sega CD as a potential threat to their own system that was beating the everloving tar out of the Mega Drive and sought to make a CD machine of their own. In trots Sony, of whom Nintendo had previously worked with to create the sound chips inside of the SNES, and thus the Nintendo Play Station was greenlit. Yup, the gap is intentional, and yup, those two iconic terms, now complete opposites in so many ways, could have been best buds had Sony been a bit more gracious and Nintendo been able to read contracts properly. Word to the wise is that Nintendo discovered a clause in the contract that would give Sony dominating control over what products were released on this Play Station machine, including any Nintendo franchise that were to be represented on there. So Nintendo buggered off to Philips instead and got them to mutate a VCR into the Philips CDi instead (the less said about that travesty the better), and in return publicly shunned Sony's newly unveiled Play Station Prototype. Sony saw red, vowed vengeance in some business-like manner and completed the prototype on their own. The gap in the name was removed since it was still a Nintendo trademark ironically enough, and the Sony Playstation was re-unveiled as a standalone product, proceeding to kick the teeth off of all competitors for over a decade.
Nearly there folks, nearly there, just exercising me grey muscle. Now, be it extreme stubbornness or just an overwhelming dislike of loading times and fragile media (two vices shared by myself admittedly), Nintendo stuck to Cartridges for their next machine, the Nintendo 64, while both Sony's Playstation and the newly presented Sega Saturn fully embraced CD storage. Though that didn't seem to offset Sega's fortunes much, it was a huge boon for Sony as it gave developers more space for content and less fees to deal with; the polar opposite of the N64 carts. One very important developer that saw this contrast was arguably (as in not arguably) the one that shifted the entire industry on its head with one choice; SquareSoft. Final Fantasy VII was slated for release on N64, but bed talk with Nintendo and SquareSoft was frosty to say the least, and the latter decided to try out this Playstation thingy by moving FF7 over to it. And the rest, as they say, is history. Or not, go look up Wikipedia.
-This could have been a thing-
History down, now for some Information Technology. Yeah, School sucked, I agree. Final Fantasy VII is spread across three discs, and not just because of SquareSoft's sudden fetish for the format. Nah, one of the biggest reasons the game hit the public eye the way that it did was the advertising of the CG cutscenes alongside Sony's so-called 'Mature' gaming lineup. Granted, the game outside of the cutscenes at the time was nothing to frown at, but there was a fair bit of fibbing going on with those posters and TV adverts (not too different to today really with -insert ad with 'not in-game footage' here- ) and this undoubtedly swayed a good few away from the temptations of the Nintendo 64 and that strange mushroom stick in the middle of the trident controller.
Discs means loading times, and a fairly hefty one at startup too. Discs also mean external memory required, which like the Vita Memory Cards of today meant a little extra cost (the games were cheaper in contrast to their competition though which helped offset things a bit); not usually a problem though since the machine came with that memory.
Next, the translation work. Hoo boy, here is a case study for the ages. Granted, back then there were very few games on the scale of this one before it with that much text and definition to work through so the developers could be forgiven for the odd blunder or two. Indeed, there were very few errors that outright impeded the game in a reasonable manner, mainly just grammatical ones. Next to the efforts of today though, you can see why many fans of the game want a remake solely for fixing up the script.
-Obvious error, though doing so does build up your limit breaks quicker...-
Info Tech is down, now for the main essay. The name: Final Fantasy VII. The place: Sony Playstation. The time: 1997.
Final Fantasy VII takes place on the world of Gaia, and follows the character of Cloud Strife, a cold-hearted yellow-haired mercenary that likes to act like he has a second huge sword jammed up somewhere, and the eco-terrorist group known as AVALANCHE. Luckily this isn't one of those pieces of media that will throw environmental messages down your neck, but initially you'll be taking Cloud and the group members around to the reactors of a futuristic city called Midgar in order to blow them sky high. The leader of this group, Mr T, or as he's better known, Huge-Black-Bloke-With-A-Kickass-Gun-On-His-Arm, explains that the Shin-ra corporation that controls the city is all-evil and drains Mako energy from the ground for profits. This energy leads to a better lifestyle and more video games but also drains the Planet's lifeforce in the process and is probably not helping it in the long run. Totally not sending eco messages, people.
Cloud is recruited for the group by his childhood friend and the proverbial 'Jesus-Christ-Look-At-Her-She-Is-Clearly-Gagging-for-It' love interest Tifa Lockhart, and later on after a not-so-successful Reactor bombing that involves awesome boss fight music, he falls through a church and ends up in the flower bed (innuendo ho!) of another girl that clearly likes pricks too. Now here is where an already interesting story that even to this day has very few mimickers, takes off in an even more interesting and entirely new direction. Said girl is discovered to be the last living member of an ancient race, and the Fat Man in charge of Shin-ra jumps in and nicks her and lets his head scientist try to mate her with a Canine-Charmander. Cloud and his buddies break into the building to rescue her, and get caught in the process too. Whoops. Cloud's past idol then comes back from the dead, breaks open their cells while everyone is in the land of nod, slithers upstairs and leaves a nice long dagger in the Fat Man's back and makes a dash for it. Thus Cloud and co. jump to the outside of Midgar to hunt down this bloke because as it turns out he killed Mr Personality's Mother and burned down his village. Geez, no wonder he has issues.
Yeah, I probably spoiled a bit of the story for you there. But it is a very small part, trust me on that one. And if it has gotten you interested in seeing what all the craziness is like for yourself, then my job is done and the check from Square will be in the post. Loading times and random battles aside, this is one hell of a long game, and very few games since have been able to replicate or better the emotional impact the game's story has at points. The one bit in particular I won't immediately jump to, but is well known across the interwebs, is when _______ _________, and yeah, that is a tear jerker. Reading a plot synopsis or watching Advent Children Complete for the flashbacks isn't enough; you want the full impact of the tale, you need to play this.
-Not ignoring the fact that the Complete edition of the movie kicks major amounts of booty-
Want more reasons? Good, because I'm not done yet. When we say RPG, some daft git might think Rocket Propelled Grenade, and then I'll tell Michael Patchter to get a fucking clue and go lie in a ditch somewhere. Nope, in this context, it means Role Playing Game, and it is one of the finest examples of the genre (but you knew that already), so naturally that is the cue for shitloads of numbers, elemental spells, Hit Points, big scary monsters that line up and hit you in turns, and summonable creatures that blast your face off with their awesomeness. The genre was still relatively fresh when FF7 hit the market and most of these things we consider old hat today were less so at the time. It would take a determined mind nowadays to adapt to this fully so put down First Person Shooter#621986 and give it a go.
Still here? Okay then, Materia system it is. This brilliant piece of ass-kicking item usage refers to the small coloured gems you find laying about in the gameworld and in shops, and these little sparkling things give you magic powers, like how Diamonds enchant women in real life just not as expensive. This can range from small sparks of fire that rival a Vulpix's fart to a full-on nuclear explosion for regular Green magic Materia at least. Then you have other colours, like Red that can call upon Satan's angry brother to lob fire, or King Arthur's Court to attack with spears and swords (no I'm not kidding). Then you have Support Blue Materia, and Yellow Command Materia, and yada yada yada. Summary; this system, whilst not quite allowing for the character's to differentiate themselves from each other to the extent that some other games might, provides a metric fuckton of customisable possibilities in regards to abilities and powers, and thus to this day remains one of the most notable and variable equip systems ever devised. So not bad in other words.
Right, the graphics whores must be here by now, so I'll address you next. Yes, the game has clearly had better days. No, you're not smart for pointing that out, and neither am I. For those clamouring for a remake of the game on today's hardware, think about this; would all those weird and charming animations like Cloud's skull shake or Don Corneo's pelvic thrusts translate well to an FFXIII-style? Would the Honey Bee Inn, or Cloud's brush with Transexuality be suitable for today's market? You tell me. Because it's these kinds of touches that make the game what it is and ensures that I pray to whoever-your-god-is every day that Square take a page from Nintendo's Ocarina of Time 3D book in how to remake a game should they ever try, and not just stuff bucketloads of pointless cutscenes in like the more modern games.
Anyways, excuse the rage. The game uses pre-rendered background and a fixed-point camera for essentially everywhere your character goes to keep in line with the limitations of the Playstation format, and it works a treat. There is some seriously mesmerising art on show in this game, even more so outside of the cutscenes than in them really. Characters look like Lego men on steroids, yet somehow manage to portray enough charisma through dialogue and animation so that you won't care, and enemy designs kick all amount of backside, giving off enough menace but never making a fight impossible as long as you're prepared enough.
Nope, we're not done. The music, oh good god fuck, the music. I'll play this;
-The second-best FF Villain-
Usually these things end with a summary or wrapup and that's probably what this paragraph will cumulate into, but it won't be with a score. Personally I've always been under the impression that scores do little for a game's worth; a review will always be opinionated regardless of the reviewer's unbiased intentions, purely because one person can see a game at a different vantage point than another. Numbers are all well and good but finding a reviewer that can relate to how you see games is probably the best way to see these things; someone who shares the same genre or franchise interests and who can keep an open mind to changes or similarities should they exist for a reason. This is all fairly obvious really but far too many latch to the overall score and use it in dick-waving contests when it's the body of the review and not the verdict that matters most. So yeah, no score for this game, purely on the basis that it will be different for everyone.
My advice regarding Final Fantasy VII is simple; RPG fan or not, modern Square-Enix supporter or otherwise, Nintendo Fanatic or MicroSlave, it doesn't matter. This game reaches easily the top five of any list that compiles the software range everyone must play at least once in their lives, together with Super Mario Bros, Ocarina of Time, Grand Theft Auto 3 or Vice City, and Sonic & Knuckles 3. It doesn't matter if you end up not liking FF7, trying it is enough. And if you do like it? Well, welcome to your new religion, happy to have you.
Excuse the Pun, it took a while to think of. Blame the lack of kip time.
So, fellow Cubed3 Brethren, the day is nearly here, when Nintendo will finally shake off the shackles of Home Console Standard Definition in Europe and grace the rest of the world with their masterpieces in HD (bias much?).
To be honest, this is going to be more of a personal account of the near-6 long years since December 8th 2006, but feel free to put in your own thoughts and memories in the comments, and as always I'll whack up some gifs to lighten the mood and give a breather from text. Enjoy!
T'was a simpler time, when one could relax in thou bedroom enjoying endless days over videogames and do little else, when work, money, and social communication were but a laughable premise instead of an importance. Not that the Wii changed that mind you, opening my eyes was the trigger there.
December 8th, 2006. An early morning bus ride when the rest of the world was mooning the possibility of getting out of warm beds to a chilly morning. Cue yours truly, freezing his lanky ass off on the Bus which coincidentally has zero heating on that one morning in particular. After thawing himself out when getting off in the city, he heads straight to a big store with Purple Capital Letters depicting its name and business, and hands over a pre-order slip to a Zombie. Or a half-asleep hairy guy, it's vague and blurry right now. Anyways, with the shiny new machine named after a bodily function, he also picks up Zelda Twilight Princess (Thumbs up!) and Red Steel (Screw You ONM/NGamer) with an extra Nunchuk...but Wii Play is sold out? Balls! Luckily the awesome store formerly known as Gamestation (mine closed down ) was nearby, and they had what he needed.
Head held high in smugness, he ventured back to the Bus stop and hitched a ride home, going straight to the back in an attempt to lord it over everyone else, and subsequently sent his White DS Lite flying when there was a sudden stop at one point. Balls indeed.
In all honestly, after that the 6 years are a tightly woven blur of awesome gaming and forum interacting, with a high number of standout moments. Twilight Princess was awesome, Red Steel was far from it although I liked the setting and premise. Mario Galaxy didn't impress me as much as it really should have, though I attribute that fully to being burned out on Platformers over the years; Sonic Colours though was and is fantastic and a true highlight of the library. The Wii gave me the joys of one of my favourite games ever made - Okami, and one that certainly made the list in Little King's Story. There are so many great games I've played on the machine, be it retail games or classics through the games catalogue online that the thought of gamers being dissatisfied with the library of the machine is a truly perplexing one. But that argument has been done to death, so lets move on.
Wii Sports was the true killer app of the system beyond any doubt in my mind. Although it never scaled the unconquerable stubbornness of my Dad in relation to videogames, the amount of time me and my Mum have enjoyed with bowling is immeasurable. As is her complete addictiveness to Dr Mario on Wiiware. 450 hours! Crazy old coot.
Wii was the machine where I started reviewing games officially too. Beforehand it was merely a reader review passtime, namely to keep my writing ability honed whilst I took baby steps into the world of employment, but eventually I guess I impressed the higher ups eventually and got a leg on the Staff ladder. Looking back at my first official review now, it feels a little cringeworthy to read it again; not trying to sound like a cocky knobcheese or anything but I think I've gotten better over the years.
Granted, my title is Deputy Features Editor, and I'll confess to not truly holding up to that name. Be it the Night Shift nature of my work or just general laziness, I really need to make more features for C3, and will soon focus on the two outstanding ones I have in tow after the hype of the WiiU's launch settles somewhat.
Personally speaking *your boredom alarms should be going off right now*, a lot has changed for me outside of gaming too. Starting off with Volunteer work, I finally got into paid employment at Woolworths a.k.a the best job I've ever had, and when the worst branch closure in British history happened it was on to Argos a.k.a. the worst job I've ever had. Thankfully I got out of there before my wrists got permanent knife scars, and now I'm in a fast paced night position that, especially recently now the irritating deadweight old git has left, is a job I get a real kick out of. Definitely never going back on Jobseekers, and I honesty pity anyone who is stuck there as I wish them the best of luck with finding something in the jungle of employment.
Aside from that, there is the matter of my choppers, in that before they were hideous due to my own youthful idiocy, and now they are squeaky straight and clean. Very few people realize how bad it feels to not be able to smile in fear of felling ashamed (not trying to evoke sympathy here, it was all entirely my own fault and I admit that wholeheartedly), but being able to do so again after a lifetime of frowning? There is no better feeling in the world. Granted, the sensation of smiling properly has only just become normal after a year of practice, but it was totally worth saving up all that money.
Moving out was a daunting prospect; I was wise with my money but it felt strange using on things I thought of as trivial before, when I didn't need to splash any cash around at all. Thankfully I quickly got used to it, mainly due to my Brother's patience; annoying grump as he can sometimes be he's still a top bloke. One day I'll thank him properly.
And lately there has been the matter of the bike lessons, in itself a rebellious answer to society's expectation that you need to learn to drive a car (am never being a Chauffeur, that's for certain ). Can't wait to get one in the new year; decided to hold off until it gets warmer and I can save up properly for a good model.
*Boring part over*
As for what to do with that little White toy of joy after the data transfer later this week? Well, the news of a possible Wii Mini has put those plans into question. Selling it on to a friend who is currently looking for a cheap one might be the answer, and getting a Mini eventually as the Region-Free Homebrewer might be the best thing. Either way, the Purple Lunchbox is coming out of retirement folks!
*Raises imaginery glass full of expensive wine* Here's to another half a decade of awesome gaming and kickass forum banter on Cubed3!
Hey guys, it's been a long *counts fingers* 5 days, and it's good to be back! So get comfortable and let me regale you with Phoenom's Italian-themed excursions with his overly-sarcastic brother for a bit.
So, as that implies, I've been in Italy for the past 5 days, only just jetting away from there this morning. And what a trip it was.
Now, gotta be honest here. I don't get out much. Certainly not as much as I should, that's for definite. So last week was pretty much my first time in a lot of key categories. First time in an Airport, first time on a plane, first time in a foreign country, I could go on. But this one trip has made me practically salivate for more, and my writing ability isn't quite strong enough yet to convey how great the time there was but I'll have a go anyway.
So, last Thursday. Waiting for the flight, and was very much crapping myself metaphorically at the thought of being god-knows how high in the air with practically nothing below me. Thankfully didn't need the sick bag despite the blending that the plane's ascents and descents were giving my insides. Got through that and stepped out onto a whole new land, and I kid you not the air smelt even fresher than the country air here.
So, a couple of bus rides later, and we get to Naples Train Station, and subsequently look around for our pre-booked hotel nearby, which didn't take long to find but gave us enough of a chance to take a look around place. Guys, if you think London has pavements built of litter and Graffiti on every corner, try this place. Don't get me wrong, the Italian feel was very strong here, with Cafes and Restaurants outnumbering actual people and loud booming man-mountains, but when you see the place, the rumours of Mafia corruption suddenly don't seem so outlandish.
As we're knackered from the trip, we call it a night at the hotel (and I get accustomed to the kind of snoring that would wake the dead) and decide to take a look around Naples the next day. We hopped on a couple of tour buses that cruised around and pointed out interesting places, including a whooping great castle we went in that came complete with the cheapest vending machines you'll ever see in your life (bottle of water - 30 cents/25-ish-p!), and the docks near the sea that were situated next to freakin huge Cruise Liners. Truth be told, we took full advantage of that day just to adjust if you will, and see what the city offered. In particular, the Margarita Pizza, so feckin good that I had another the next day.
The next few days however, were the best. Whereas that one Naples-focused day was the one where God's bladder would no longer hold, the three after that were treated to glorious sunshine so with that we ventured to glorious tourist-town Sorrento, complete with sun-loungers by the sea and an absolute glutton of Ice Cream flavours. Bounty-flavoured Ice Cream. Snickers, Butterscotch, Vanilla and Choc Chip, Lemon, oh god I wanted it all. I had one cone a day after that, couldn't resist.
We had a break about halfway through the visit, found an English-themed Pub where ironically enough Norwich City were playing on the TVs, and their stadium is barely 20 minutes from where we live. Got my Alcohol fix and journeyed back to the hotel with a far fuller stomach.
Day three was the most dangerous one. Ever heard of Vesuvius? Only Active Volcano in Europe? Si, we went to the top, after the longest bus ride in the world(tm) and a steep slope which put up two fingers to all the disabled folks of the known universe. It was quite a climb indeed, and though I wasn't expecting to see flowing lava or anything (and doing so would be a key sign to run like hell at the very least), the inside of the once-pissed-off-mountain looked very calm, with just a little steam spouting from one of the sides to prove it wasn't anyone's bitch just yet.
Dealing with that visit took the whole day, so we prepared for the next.
Day Four was Pompei day. It's one thing seeing it on TV and books, but being there in person will make you marvel at humanity's early intelligence, and exactly what Mother Nature can do when you tickle her funnybone. We spent a good few hours looking around and snapping pics of every interesting segment. We then spent another few hours looking for the Train Stop we couldn't find because we went out another exit of the Pompei ruins and my geographical skills are quite poor. So that was interesting, to say the least.
We made it back eventually though, and got packed up ready for today.
Woke up early this morning and got to the Airport, the flight was a breeze this time round, probably could have slept through it if I were tired enough. Got home, unpacked, booted up the computer, and now my writing is starting to thin out because of the TV distracting me in the background, so I'll finish up the holiday talk now. Basically it was great. Italy was a great starting point as a first abroad trip, but I'm glad I was with someone; won't be for the next trip, I've sworn that I want to try it on my own next time. Got a couple of souvenirs, the most prominent of which is the huge facial fuzz I now have and will probably style into something as I have now gotten used to it. All Facebook friends can see the pictures I took at their own leisure when I upload them later. ^^
The hotel did have wifi, but posting on C3 with a phone isn't so intuitive so I merely browsed, and very much caught the shenanigans of last Thursday's Nintendo Directs. I have some brief thoughts;
UK Price: Too high. Over £300 is bollocks. £250 for the premium would be fair and I'm glad some sites are hovering around that number. The Supermarkets getting in on it should be good.
Launch Lineup: Looking great, Definitely getting Batman provided I find it at a good price, and probably Tekken or ZombiU as well.
Bayonetta 2: Classic reaction to that. Caught me off guard too, but the amount of childish whining and overreactions I've seen on the net make me ashamed to be a gamer. Pathetic crowd, prospectively awesome game, and it's convinced me to give the first game another chance.
So, C3, miss me?
Okay, third blog in as many weeks, and whilst a quick peep behind me reveals zero presence of a firework up my butt, I think it's safe to say that I've caught a dosage of the writing bug again. Decided to make use of this one to highlight a place I've been getting a lot of use of lately.
Namely, Fanfiction.net. Now, I can guess what you're thinking, and to a degree I kinda agree. Looking at the wrong parts of that site (in particular franchises that involve furry creatures like Sonic the Hedgehog) would easily put you off it completely. But for gaming franchises that place a heavy emphasis on story and building up the main characters, there are some fantastic stories on there that (in my opinion at least) would be worthy of novelization.
I've heard talk that a few select members here (not pointing fingers) prefer the interaction and display of games and movies rather than the allure of a good paperback, so the idea of more reading probably won't be as enticing for you guys as it is others. But I've always believed that really getting into a game world and used to properly developed characters provides enough incentive to see continuations of their stories, whether canon or not.
With that in mind, allow me to point out a few of my favourites. Pardon the initial Persona 4 fanboyism, don't pretend you didn't see it coming Sirlink.
All He Sees is Red - One of the biggest reasons Persona 4 captivated me so much is how Social Links worked and how they felt so rewarding. One minor criticism I do have though is how underdeveloped the romance subplots had, and how little effect they had on the whole game, understandable given everything else that was going on, but definitely a lowlight for me.
This story bridges that gap with an incredibly well-written side-story that puts together a pairing that I honestly couldn't see not happening in the game itself. The writing and characterisation is simply fantastic, and as someone admittedly not clued up on the aspects of romantic feeling as I probably should be , quite interesting.
It's still ongoing, and until earlier this month looked to be discontinued, so I'm chuffed as chips to see the author is still working on it.
Split Personalities - This one takes a more comedic route, by rewriting the game's story to include the Personas as independant entities that accompany the main characters that only they can see. Admittedly this story isn't that well written, but as it goes on the personalities of the Personas take centre stage and make the whole fic well worth reading, Jiraya/Susano-O in particular gets hilarious at times. The human characters are more background filler than anything, but that makes a nice change.
Finally - Now this one I think you guys will all enjoy. A direct storyline sequel to Skyward Sword, and easily one of the best descriptive and imaginative pieces of fiction I've ever read, Nintendo could take some cues from this one for certain. Espcially considering the ties it makes to future Zelda games, as many as SS itself I'd say.
Another story that is still ongoing, but is sadly coming to an end in a few chapters . By the time you get to the end the writer should have finished anyway.
A must read for Zelda fans, I can't emphasise that enough.
Vibrant - Another one that attempts to add to the game's plotline with some background description and explanation for Neku's anti-social attitude, and pulls it off quite well I must say.
A brief list I know, just wanted to provide a couple of recommendations to start you guys off with, check out the categories of some of your favourite games, I think you'll be surprised.
Oh, it has a mobile viewer too for those of you with Smartphones, it's a great book replacement with the right fics.
Some of you blokes and bloke-esses (don't lie I know you exist!) may remember last year when I went to a cafe where they cut my arm open and painfully injected coloured liquid into it (I believe they are called 'Tattoos' nowadays ). Case in point, the finished article;
There was a fair bit of reasoning behind this design of mine. Firstly, the bird itself which you can easily guess as to the type of, with the flame ring providing a subtle hint to those not in the know, and what that bird actually represents in greater lore. Next, the text itself, depicted in Japanese because of my fondness of the culture itself and as a constant reminder to learn the language fluently. Lastly, the text's meaning, literally 'Bankai' or final release, tie-ing into both the Phoenix symbolism and my favourite Anime and Manga series.
One big problem with it though, is the fact that the 'Ban' part of the phrase, in itself the original symbol for peace and prosperity, could easily be mistaken for something else. I didn't really care about that to be honest, and I still don't, but it has annoyed me to no end how much pestering I get about it every time someone sees it.
So I did a little editing, and this time actually got something representative of a video game. Three guesses chaps.
Thankfully, the 'Kai' part that is still visible takes on a whole new meaning, for 'Patience and Understanding'. The former I'm still working on, the latter (as evidenced by all the whining and crying I've seen online over the past few days) I have down to a tee. Best part about the whole thing is that the 'Ban' symbol will still show through when it is healed, but it won't be immediately visible.
Anyways, enough yacking, I wanted to ask you lot for advice on what to get next year (might as well make this a yearly thing) since you all know my eccentric traits better than most. Was thinking of a fire trail going further down the arm, but don't want to make it look as if the Phoenix has constipation or anything.
Zombie Reggie was fucking awesome.
Let's address the elephant in the room first. Yes, Nintendo's hour and a half was hugely disappointing. A large number of us tuned in to see the last major games developer yet to create masterpieces in High Definition finally cross that threshold, and to return to a number of franchises that would benefit hugely from the resolution boost and Gamepad features. That didn't exactly happen.
You won't hear me diss Pikmin 3; it isn't my type of game personally, but I know a damned good one when I see it, and 3 looks set to continue the quality that the first two games set in stone. New Super Mario Bros U, whilst unfortunately continuing the saturated feel that 2D Mario games seem to be getting in recent years, nonetheless has a fantastic Art style and a strong pedigree to follow, so chances are it will be brilliant too.
Lego City is highly intriguing, more so if it is completely exclusive to Nintendo hardware, though my personal belief is that Online and Multiplayer support will make or brake this one.
NintendoLand is...well, I'm not too sure what to make of it. On the surface, it appears to be a way to introduce those who don't have gaming as a regular activity into key Nintendo Franchises that the big N can build a bigger fanbase from, and in a manner familiar to Wii Sports. This game has the biggest chance of being a pack-in title or pre-installed game, but I don't know enough about it to form an impression as of yet. The demonstration time for a couple of the minigames was far too long, definitely.
I think what struck me most about this conference was the sheer amount of time Nintendo gave to 3rd Parties, and their speakers. Ubisoft I was surprised with the most, as few will forget the shitstains they piled upon the Wii in its early years, but for the Wii U launch we have a good number of games that might turn out quite decent. Rayman Legends is a given (I have doubts about its exclusiveness, but following Origins is assuring), ZombiU brings some new ideas and could fulfil the potential that Red Steel 1 never did, and Assassin's Creed 3 speaks for itself.
Scribblenauts Unlimited we pretty much all saw coming, and with luck should be a worthy game like its predecessors. Batman Arkham City, despite being a year old now, provides some interesting GamePad ideas, and as long as the Game of the Year extra content is included, will easily be one of the best launch games, period.
And then we had that reel of other 3rd Party games, like Aliens Colonial Marines, and Mass Effect 3 that admittedly surprised me, but that was all that really did.
For the past year we've heard talk of Nintendo building relations with 3rd Parties, and tailoring the console architecture around their needs, and I believe the conference to be the accumulation of that process. True, nearly all of the games shown by other developers are older and have been out on other hardware for a while, but the fact Nintendo would take time to showcase them and not their own work, when that's pretty much how its been for god knows how many years, speaks volumes.
You won't hear me defending the conference as a whole; none of it was as cringeworthy as the 2008 fiasco, and the promising Pikmin start led to an event that didn't deserve fireworks as the finisher, but I can see where Nintendo were going with what they were showing, even if it were done in the most boring way possible. However, when you look back at all the games that were shown, and realise that all of them are for the Wii U's Launch window, there definitely won't be a repeat of the 3DS's lack of compelling software debut. Nintendo really needed to show a number of their franchises for beyond that window, to ensure people that the Wii U has a bright future, and they fumbled it completely.
Though I definitely don't see anything wrong here, heh.
Speaking of which, we have one more major event later, the 3DS software showcase which may redeem Nintendo's E3 showing in the eyes of many, so we'll see on that one. Just wanted to post this lot up beforehand, especially considering it was all swirling around my mind all night.
Usually its a bullet point list with myself as the dull subject header , but I'll try and be a bit neater with proper paragraphs and all that fancy punctuation stuff.
First up, how is everyone enjoying N64 month? Top credit to the C3 staff here, they've done a fantastic job of providing content and getting stuff done behind the scenes. Considering my unfortunate lack of proper input, all kudos goes to the rest of the staff roster for this month, and maybe I'll win some back next time one of my features of reviews is put up. ^^
Distant Worlds Concert in November baby! Can't wait. Glad to see a couple others on here snagged some tickets too, looking forward to meeting up with you guys! Thankfully there's plenty of time to discuss locations and everything, so no probs.
Sold my XBox! Why, is a good question. Well, to be honest, there were very few exclusives for that machine that I could justify keeping it around for, especially considering I now have a PS3 hooked up to take care of my HD gaming needs. The Gears of War series was fun to play with my brother, but I'm guessing the nextbox will be backwards compatible to a degree for any future games in the series on 360, and I can wait.
Dunno really, I guess gaming is kinda weakening its hold over me. Lately I've been putting far more time and effort into the Gym (and boy is it showing!), and less time planted in front of the TV. Before I'd snap up any cheap game that I was even remotely interested in, and now its only the ones I feel I absolutely have to play (case in point, haven't gotten a single thing from those GAME and Gamestation sales yet), just don't feel its worth the time investment anymore. Will say though, have been playing the hell out of Persona 3 Portable, though since that is close to ending on the second run-through I'm not sure what to expect next. Really need a new outdoor hobby, but for that I need a Daytime job. Balls.
Still nerding out over Persona 4 Golden, the fighting game is coming so that is pretty much a given, and the Animation is nearly done but has been handled so well that I absolutely need to get it on Bluray/DVD when it goes overseas, and on a limited budget as well! Might be the first time I get a game without the host hardware to play it (really wasn't keen on the Vita build with the one I tried in GAME).
Avengers! Can't wait to see it! Next month or the month after I think. Just imagine what'll happen if it does well. Justice League film anyone?
Can't wait for the Summer! Do prefer Winter quite honestly, but I really want a tan this year, haven't relaxed on the beach in ages. And of course, that beloved favourite of maths equations; Added Heat + Hot Females = Less Clothes.
Never quite know how to finish these, so a video series I've been watching lately should be a good way of doing it;
- Lots going on lately. Matalan has been getting busy, so I'm on every weekday night for the forseeable future. Mostly because I'm great at the job (really) and they need a good slave, and yeah the extra money is handy too. Plus now that we're getting appropriately-sized deliveries I don't actually mind doing them that much. Still hate that old bastard I have to work with, if I have to hear him yakking about his Saxophone one more time I'll shove one of the boxes up his ass. >
- I'm back on the anti-depressants folks! Thankfully I didn't get to the full-on depression stage before I started taking them; but I felt it coming and really didn't want to cope with the moping and wrist slashing again.
But I have to say, these ones kick ass. I took Citalopram last time, and whilst that gave me an energy kick and a temporary boost, they didn't last long or help in the long term. But these have completely rewired my perception of things in view; I instantly look for the good in everything now, and feel so much happier about myself that I can be myself more often. It's a night and day difference quite honestly. Can't say I appreciate the extra toilet visits side-effect of the pills, but that's a con I'm quite happy to accept knowing the benefits.
- I've gotten right back into Gymming it up again. Had a slump for a while with batches of illness and low motivation, but the insanely good feeling of an effective workout lured me back, and now I pop down there for a stretch or two every chance I get. Would go swimming too but the water is old people-infested. Bleugh.
- Started a learner course on touch-typing too! Kinda iffy on it right now as I've used two fingers to type for as long as I remember, but now I can type without looking at least, and I'll only get better with practice. I'm a lot faster at it now too. In fact, you guys are the first I've told about this, no-one else knows about it. It isn't some dirty little secret or anything, just one of those things I like to keep to myself like the emo brat I used to be.
- Got some interesting news last month. I mentioned an appointment I had and asked you guys to wish me luck with it, remember? Well, it was with a specialist disability charity, and the smart-looking guy I saw finally helped me clarify why I've had so much trouble with emotions and basic understanding over the years, when I thought something was wrong but couldn't pinpoint it.
Turns out there is a very high chance I have Aspergers Syndrome. As per my own understanding this isn't a true disability in the sense of restriction, but of difference in the way of thinking. Whereas most people would operate on impulse to a situation, those with Aspergers over-analyse and critique the situation before acting, subconsciously avoiding any course of action that would result in embarrassment or negative emotions, a sort of enhanced self-defence trait. This extra time of reasoning would lead looker-ons to believe the person in question is slow or mentally handicapped, when it's anything but. Thinking numerically instead of grammatically, if you will.
I'm on a waiting list to see a trained Psychologist to help bring this line of thinking out into the open, and I bought a self-help book on how to control the emotions connected to love and attraction in the meantime, but otherwise I'm not too bothered about it. It's fantastic that I finally know what is different about me, but giving it priority over any aspect of my life would be making it a stronger issue, and I just want to get on with things, so this'll be the last time I mention it probably.
- So many games this month. Bloody ridiculous! Aside from the review game I'm currently beavering away at, I've got the 10 awesome GBA Ambassador games (and subsequently my first Fire Emblem game) to go through, there's Tales of the Abyss that just won't bloody end (I want new game plus goddamnit!), Mario Kart 7, Valkyria Chronicles, Gears of War 3, Ghost Trick, the Persona games, the rest of Sonic Generations, the two review games I'm expecting in the post any day now...GAH! Why oh why does the really good stuff get released now of all times!?
- How are you guys enjoying the Persona 4 Animation vids I post links to every week? I like how they've differed in key points of the storyline so far, and the events in the Camp Trip episode has me nearly pissing myself.
- Spent a lot on presents this year? Kinda went overboard a little, but am really hoping my Dad likes the huge gift I got him. I'll mention what it is in the Christmas spoils thread (when someone makes one) just in case he's secretly cyber-stalking me. Though knowing his technological mastery he'd try feeding the mouse with cheese or something.
- Got a lot of resolutions lined up for next year. I'd check off the ones I accomplished this year but can't seem to find where that thread went to. Got my Teeth fixed (), didn't get a girlfriend () or go abroad (), but hey there's always next year. ^^
Okay that's enough, I've been up nearly a whole day now and need a swing of Mountain Dew (f***in amazin' stuff). Ciao!
Yup, another of those random thoughts threads again, with a No-More-Heroes-inspired touch of trickery involved to guide ya in. There's a fair bit for me to talk about this time, with luck it'll be interesting and provoke thought and interest amongst the C3 populace. Or it'll make you point and laugh, it's all good.
- Someone needs to get The Doctor on the line, 'cos time is seriously messed up. We're in November already, the Christmas lights and decorations are going up, and my week off went far too quick for me not to suspect some voodoo involved.
- Still, I made the week interesting. Went to the train station yesterday and just hopped on one going to Cambridge. Wasn't planned, just did it for the hell of it. And boy, what a place! Bikes everywhere! Sat down on a bench to nosh on some cookies I bought for a snack, and threw some crumbs down to a nearby pigeon because I was in a chariatble mood; little bugger jumped onto my knee! Twice! Really should have gotten a pic, but the flash might've made him crap himself so I didn't risk it.
- Hands up, who else got their Tax Return details this week? I did, and turns out I owe the gits a hundred quid. Thieving buggers.
- 6 days until Skyward Sword guys! I'm still on blackout and haven't spoiled anything for myself, so this'll be the most unknown Zelda game I've played yet. Can't wait!
- Started a computer course with a local training agency lately; I'm learning to touch-type! As in, rythmic hand movement over the keyboard instead of the one-finger approach I'm using right now. It's going okay, but very difficult to adjust to.
- Got an appointment next week to see an specialist regarding some personal health suspicions I have. Wish me luck.
- Quick note to Azuardo; I'm keeping an eye out for a copy of TWEWY for ya; even looked when I went to Cambridge yesterday, but no joy thus far. Is £15 your limit? (just so I know what price to look out for)
- Guess which day New Years Eve falls on this year? He he, party time!