Notice: Cubed3 are no longer accepting new reader blogs (as of 17th January 2015). Existing blog entries will be available to read, archived below.

Somewhere, Beyond the Sea (Bioshock Review)

Now Playing: Next Up: Oblivion

A problem with being a single console owner is being able to only enjoy one slice of the great games that occur in a generation. You back a horse at the start, and hope it wins in the end. This can end up serving the gamer just fine, or on the other hand very poorly. In the case of video gaming, the best option is clearly to support as many 'horses' as possible. But in many cases that simply isn't possible -- the time or the income to support multiple systems simply isn't there.

That was my situation as I came into this generation of systems. I chose my system, the Wii, and frankly, it hasn't been a good choice. I don't necessarily regret owning the system. Its fantastic fun and has a collection of solid games -- even one of the greatest games ever made, Mario Galaxy. But while I don't regret owning the system, I regret choosing it over other systems this generation. As time stretches on even the PS3 has garnered a stronger library. The payoff we've all been waiting for simply has not happened. The library for the Wii has not reached that balance point that the DS reached long ago, and developers aren't 'getting to grips' with the system as we had hoped. Instead, they're settling with the same or similar level product that was released in the launch window. There's hope, but when I look over the last three years I don't see nearly as much progress as I would have liked.

Which leads to my frustration over missing out on current gen gaming. While other people play MGS or Call of Duty or Little Big Planet...I'm playing Melee 1.5.

But now that I have a PC capable of some actual gaming, I'm going to try to catch up with past gems that I have missed. The first step in that direction comes in the shape of a nifty package containing both Bioshock and Oblivion. Bioshock was definitely the biggest game of this generation that I have missed out on, and I've been dying to play it. And over the past few weekends, I have been. A lot.


Being a late comer to this game, I get an opportunity to examine Bioshock without the enormous hype that washed over gamers upon its release. Its both a blessing and a curse, as coming late to AAA games means missing out on all of the exciting discussion that went on, yet at the same time not being subjected to extreme delirium over a product that isn't as good as it pretends to be.

This isn't necessarily the case with Bioshock, as I firmly believe it is almost as good as it's creators promised. And if it weren't for an unsatisfactorily brief ending, it might have even lived up to the hype -- in my eyes -- almost entirely.

Bioshock is unlike any game I've ever played before. But if you examine it strictly as a first person shooter, it is largely mediocre. Combat is entertaining enough to last for the campaign, but all the same its mostly just hack and slash and run and gun with little true strategy. Plasmids make things interesting to some degree, but they never really feel necessary. Outside of Big Daddy fights, I rarely touched them. The game never makes you be creative, and why exert extra effort to do things creatively when bashing skulls in with your wrench will do the trick just as well? Sure, you might say that the fun is in creativity, but after a while it's merely a waste of time to try to do things without resorting to blunt force. It just slows down your trek to the next story trigger.

And that's where Bioshock truly excels -- not only excels, but exceeds all competition in nearly all genres. Bioshock has one of the most gripping narratives of any video game I've ever played. Yes, even better than most RPG's out there. To experience Rapture is to actually feel apart of something like you haven't in any video game.

This melancholy world, the brain child of genius Andrew Ryan, is falling apart at the seams. Its amazing how one can both feel hatred for the antagonist, and yet all the same feel sympathy for him as his dreams come crashing down around him. It is this that truly makes Bioshock unique.

Forget about the morality -- or "choice" -- based story. That was well overplayed and failed to deliver. Choosing to either save or harvest the little sisters has little bearing one way or the other. Bioshock shouldn't be remembered as a game with morality based choices, it should be remembered for the amazingly well presented fusion of philosophy and tragedy that is Rapture and Andrew Ryan.

With incredible scripting, voice acting, and a story that unfolds brilliantly through radio recordings left scattered around the city, all the right notes are hit. Walking around Rapture listening to the dreams of Andrew Ryan as Big Daddies slowly rumble through the world is nothing short of fantastic. Rapture is breathtaking.

Bioshock's story is close to perfect, but not quite though. For a game based so strongly on motives, its unfortunate that Tenebaum's story isn't fleshed out any further than it is. The story leaves questions purposefully lingering in the air about her past, but never provides any answers. Perhaps we haven't seen the last of Tenebaum, but I had hoped for more in that regard. Furthermore, the ending is far too simplistic for such a complicated story. After the final fight, the ending is summed up in a cut scene that couldn't have lasted more than a minute or two. It is very disapointing, which is unfortunate considering nearly every other pivotal moment in this game does leave the player feeling very satisfied.

Bioshock's combat isn't particularly better than the norm. Though a very interesting component of the game, Plasmids do not represent a major innovation. The gameplay itself isn't all that impressive either, as its comprised almost entirely of fetch quests. These elements are far from bad, but they just aren't wonderful either. They take a back seat to the story, and succeed in being just good enough to support it to the end. And thankfully said story and the world of Rapture make up for any flaw or mediocrity in the gameplay itself. You won't play Bioshock to beat up hordes of splicers or to to track down components of an EMP bomb, you'll play it to experience the world of Rapture. And you'll play it again to remind yourself that even video games can have a story that is truly exceptional.

But Enough About That

Scribblenauts is almost here! It'll be a first or second day purchase for me, depending on how my Uni workload cooperates. I haven't been this excited about a game for a long time. I'm hoping it is a success, as it represents one of the first "new" things in gaming in quite a while. Who all is getting it?

Anyhow, thanks for reading! I know Bioshock is old now, but it'd be cool to get some of you guys recent thoughts on it as well. Have your opinion's changed over time?

Good Morning Crono! (and Creative unveils new PMP)

Now Playing: Chrono Trigger

Haven't blogged in a while, and I figure playing an amazing game is as good a reason as any. So sit back and enjoy, or leave now if large walls of text scare you. Smilie

Chrono Trigger DS

You may know this already, but I've been very interested in picking up Chrono Trigger DS ever since it was announced. Few games are as highly revered as this one, and as a big RPG fan (and an even bigger SNES fan) this one game I knew I had to play.

But Square Enix wasn't exactly cooperating. The $40 price tag for the game really irritated me, and for months served as a deterrent for me. I figured to myself, I just paid $40 for Final Fantasy IV, a game that has been lavishly remade in full 3D with brand new cut scenes, additions to the script, and tons of voice acting, and you want me to do the same for Chrono Trigger, which you've basically just updated a little and then ported over? I was adamant on this, and so I waited. And waited. Until finally an Amazon sale brought the price down to where I felt it should have been for a minimally updated port: $20. I bought it immediately.

I'll tell you know that though I am indeed pleased to have gotten the game at half-price, it would have been worth every penny at full. Every penny. It's already one of my favorite games of all time in the first ten hours of play, and I'm loving every single minute of it. I went in thinking to myself "its going to feel old, but try to think of how awesome this game would have been in the past and you'll love it". But I quickly realized that this was a ridiculous notion. Chrono Trigger is an amazing game now, and I can't imagine it being any better.

Everything about it is so lovingly crafted. For one, it has the best soundtrack I have ever heard. Simply amazing. Every track feels crafted with purpose, and all of them sound amazing. The great sounds combine to create an awesome atmosphere that I simply haven't felt in any game.

My personal favorite

Even though the visuals haven't held up as well as other SNES games (say Link to the Past) they still do a fantastic job of creating the atmosphere as well. At this moment I am in Magus Keep, and I don't think there have been very many times in gaming where I have genuinely been freaked out. But there is something about this place that manages to give me goosebumps. Those of you who have played must know what I'm talking about, walking up the halls seeing images of all the important people you've interacted with during the course of the game. Very few games I've played have been able to convey such a powerful atmosphere.

And then there's the battle system, which is genius. No random battles, fights stay in the same screen, and the techs keep things interesting. Why don't more RPGs use this system?

I just used the word "Amazing" four times to describe this game. If you don't own Chrono Trigger, go get it. Those of you who were penny pinchers like myself no longer have an excuse. Its cheap now, buy, buy, buy. Its one of those games where you'd think for a second "can I give this an 11 out of 10?"

New Creative MP3 Player

I have always loved Creative MP3 players. I think they offer a very solid array of high quality features at reasonable prices. I love my 16GB Creative ZEN. I have a few movies on it, and have a total of roughly 80 something episodes of The Office, Futurama, Seinfeld, King of the Hill, Homestar Runner, and Spongebob (shut up) on it. In addition to my music. Its been an ideal player for me. Wouldn't have survived many a long airport delay without it. I've always believed it to be grossly superior to the iPod Nano line in features and price. It has the Nano beat in virtually every shape and form, including price and value for money.

But the iPod Touch is a different matter. It's always been a very appealing piece of tech to me. Now Creative is releasing their own "iTouch".

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It's obvious where the design inspiration comes from, but despite the resemblance, the Creative "Zii" blows the iTouch out of the water in features:

Zii Egg Specs:

• Capacitive 10-point multi-gesture touch display
• 3.5" 320x480 true-color display
Up to 32GB internal plus SDHC slot (supports up to 32GB of external SDHC Card)
• Supports: MP3, WMA, AAC, WMV, H.264, MPEG-4, AVI, and MOV (These are unconfirmed codecs for now)
• X-Fi audio processing
• Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
• 3-axis Accelerometer
• Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g
Hardware GPS receiver
• 32MB NOR (Linux Kernel Boot ROM)
256MB Mobile DDR RAM *twice as much as the iTouch
Supports 720p and 1080p HDTVs via HD cable
•Headphone socket, built-in speaker and microphone
• Dual cameras
- Forward facing HD camera
- Rear facing VGA camera
• 1200mAH rechargeable lithium-ion
• 115 x 62 x 12 mm (108grams)

I've put in bold the stuff that I find pretty great. On top of this, it uses an optimized version of Google Android as well, which is pretty cool. And it will apparently cost as low as $200. I imagine the higher memory options like the 32GB version will cost more, but its still a great starting price for so much technology. Heck, the thing has far more RAM than the Nintendo Wii has, and it wouldn't shock me if it had a faster processor. (if you want to click on the link its apparently using a very special processor, but its all mumbo-jumbo to me)

Tech Demonstration

Quite a piece of technology, really. Does it stand a snowball's chance against Apple though? I doubt it unfortunately, it'll probably just be Creative fans like myself who buy it...but none the less I'm excited about it.

Is Nintendo's strategy working?

Now Playing: Resident Evil 4 Wii - Disgaea

I'm sure from the title a few of you are going "obviously". Iwata's swimming pool is filled with gold coins. His cigars are wrapped in $100 dollar bills. His house is constructed from solid platinum. Yes, financially the strategy is working.

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But I'm not discussing the financial aspect of the strategy here. I'm talking about Nintendo' efforts to draw in the masses, and eventually bridge them to more 'real' games. It is commonly said on many forums that "non-gamers might play Wii Sports, but I can't see them hopping into Gears of War." I think that is fair enough. Someone may not jump straight into Gears, but perhaps a more gradual path might be taken.

I'll bring in some personal examples. I've had some interesting Wii experiences this Holiday (Wiiperiences). Just for some background, my family loves the Wii. More specifically, they love Wii Sports. We bowl all the time. We play tennis, and we play golf. The Wii is also a big hit with anyone who comes by too.

However, outside of Wii Sports, my parents have never really gotten into any other game we have. But on Christmas Eve, for the first time ever, they played Guitar Hero. And they loved it. On Christmas morning we got World Tour, and its pretty fun (and funny) to have the family band going at it. Obviously they aren't very good (yet), but the fact of the matter is that Guitar Hero is a harder core game than Wii Sports is.

Do I see them picking up Resident Evil 4 next? No. But I would have never thought they'd play Guitar Hero -- and love it -- either. Maybe Nintendo’s evil plan is working.

Now before I go on to my next study, I'll address some things that I'm sure a few of you are itching to say right now:

But Guitar Hero is on every system!!11 So it can't be the Wii!

Yes, but would my parents have approached it if it was for a different console, say the 360? I don't think so. They understand the Wii. They're comfortable with it. They see it as a system that they can use. I believe Wii Sports was the bridge in this case. It helped them to see that they could play games too. I don't think they would have moved onto anything else unless there was something truly enjoyable and accessible that won them over in the first place.

Guitar Hero is not truly a hardcore game.

True enough - its not exactly 'hardcore'. (though it bloody can be, I've been playing a little bit of online. Some people are insanely good.) But none-the-less, its certainly a step or two up from Wii bowling. Who knows what happens next? Maybe nothing. But again, I would have never guessed just a few years ago that my parents would actually get into any video game, if only for the stigma that games aren't meant for them. The Wii has broken that. I don't think it’s crazy to say that anything is possible.

I'm sure there are other qualms a few of you may have, but moving on...

Just a few days later I was at my Grandfather's house. He got a Wii for Christmas. He's 60 something years old, and was pretty skeptical of the thing at first. I hooked it up for him, and he was floored by it. We played golf, tennis, bowling, and baseball for hours. He too is moving up to a harder core game. He's looking to get the new Tiger Woods game. He's also trying to get some of his friends to get the Wii, so that he can play golf with them over the internet.

I'm guessing I'm going to have to help him through that, considering Nintendo's online service is hardly intuitive, but none-the-less its another example of how Wii Sports is helping to bridge non-gamers to other titles. Again, do I see my grandpa playing "Soul-Detroyah 7, Return of the Bone-Crusher"? No. But he has Super Mario Galaxy sitting next to the Wii right now too. Who knows what happens next?

The overall point is that maybe its working. Its frequently said that "well, they play the Sports game but then the thing grows dusty and never gets played". From my experience, that could not be farther from the truth. In fact, the only people I know who have the Wii that are not playing it, unfortunately, are the hardcore gamers.

And that is more or less the problem that Nintendo faces. I think they're having excellent success bringing in new players, and slowly bringing them to other gaming experiences. But at the moment its at the expense of the gamers who have been with them for years. Only the most die-hard fan would say they are completely satisfied by the Wii.

Personally, I'm not complaining. I love my Wii and enjoy the games I have for it, but its certainly understandable that some gamers are disappointed. Nintendo needs to work to get the balance right for the system, as they did with the DS. Besides, eventually they're going to really need those harder core titles for the Grandparent gamers they're creating. Smilie

Other bits

~~~Halo 3~~~

I played 2 or 3 hours of Halo 3 with my Uncle the other day. He has a 60 inch television -- the whole package. We played Co-op and it technically looks brilliant. Its nice to look at textures without seeing the pixels that comprise them. Its pretty nifty to see the AI react to your every move. And the sound. Its excellent.

Unfortunately *flameshield*, I walked away thoroughly unimpressed. I've played the Halos. This just felt completely unoriginal. Sure, it was pretty fantastic to take down a giant scarab, or to ride around running over baddies. But I was left with a feeling that there wasn't anything interesting to do here. I was running around shooting things on some generic planet. And the only thing I can really say about it is that it looked nice.

In fact, don't kill me here, I would have rather been playing Medal of Honor Heroes 2 on the Wii. And I'll be the first to tell you that that games does nothing special at all. Except that it sports Wii controls that are amazing. Maybe the Wiimote adds more enjoyment and intuitiveness to a game than you might think at first. I certainly feel more 'involved' playing that game than Halo 3. And no, its not because I can't handle dual analog. I've been using it for years.

I'm not going to write it off entirely though. I only played the single player for a few hours. I'm sure there's plenty else about the game that is worthwhile. I just don't don't think that if I buy a 360, Halo 3 is going to be on the list of must-buys for me anymore.

There was one thing that I loved about it though:

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The Chopper is an amazing vehicle.

~~~Disgaea DS~~~

Also, I'm still playing Disgaea. I'm near the finish line - could beat it today if I wanted to. But I've been taking time to fully transmigrate my squad (I've logged over 65 hours now..). If you have the game and are wondering what the big deal is about reincarnating your characters, just do it. You'll experience stat gains that are otherwordly. My team is beastly now, and mowing down the last levels of the game fairly easily.

One thing that I'm not so enchanted by is the geo-panels though. They're all just annoying. Except for the ones that give you extra experience. Those make reincarnating your characters and leveling them up much easier.

Well, that's all I got for now. Feel free to hate on me. Smilie

Happy New Year!

Bid farewell to your bloodstained past...

Now Playing: FF4 - Disgaea - Metroid Prime

Hey guys, an update on the latest things I’m playing recently. As the title suggests, I recently picked up Final Fantasy IV for the Nintendo DS. I also picked up Disgaea too, which I am loving, being the strategy nut I am. So far, these two have been darn good. I’ll give you a bit of a “previewish” look at both - I’m roughly ten+ hours into both of them.

Final Fantasy IV

Square Enix is known for really pushing the DS on the presentation side of things. Final Fantasy IV is no different - the game opens with a brilliant FMV video set to epic music that lasts nearly 3 minutes. In addition to this, IV is filled with dozens of scripted scenes that run off the in-game engine, to highlight the more dramatic moments of the story. Many of these scenes even have full voice acting, which I will discuss later.

It is clear that Square Enix put a lot of effort into this remake, and well they should. Final Fantasy IV is one of the most acclaimed games of all time, and one of my own personal favorite RPGs. To go along with the effort put into the cinematic presentation, is the technical quality of the graphics. Battle effects are excellent, and generally fitting, and environments like the insides of castles and towns are very well detailed. Character and enemy models are very nice - especially for the DS. Even with all the bells and whistles I have not encountered any slowdown whatsoever either. I do have to complain about the style of Cecil as a Paladin though. It has to be said, his in-game model goes from being super cool looking as a Dark Knight to a sissy boy Paladin.

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In addition to the graphical and presentation upgrades, the translation seems better too. I don’t have any direct comparisons or anything, but so far I have not encountered any moments where a sentence just seems oddly placed or structured . We will see if the over all quality stays high, but so far, I am impressed, as even games with high emphasis on text like the Phoenix Wright series often have text flaws and bizarre sentence structure from time to time.

Despite extremely high quality and production values, Final Fantasy IV is not for everyone, especially the people who despise RPGs. It might have a fresh coat of paint, but the core game was made in 1991, and has all the things you would expect from a game of that time period, namely, random battles and lots of grinding. Final Fantasy IV is not what I would call extremely difficult, but it certainly can be if you refuse to level up your characters. To make it far, you are going to have to do some grinding. And you are going to have to deal with many random encounters.

This does not bother me, as I am one of those rare nerds who actually enjoys leveling up characters, but it can certainly be a turn off to a lot of gamers. Consider yourself forewarned, though if you have played the original or read anything about the game you should know what you are getting into.

The story is interesting enough to keep you playing the game though, even when the random encounters when your party is running out of health begin to wear on you. In its day it was one of the first games to include a truly epic story, and even today it is still engrossing and enjoyable. I will not waste time going into detail, but in most basic form, it is about Cecil and his quest to atone for his past and to stop an evil man called Golbez.

As previously stated, cinematic scenes and voice acting are used to help add drama to the story. Over all, the voice acting is pretty good. Cecil’s voice is bit boring and lacks punch, but it certainly is not so bad. The rest of the cast do a decent job as well. It will not be the best voice acting you ever hear, but it adds well to the story and does not detract. If you do find it grating though, voice acting can be turned off. I have heard some people who hoped for Japanese voices to be included (why?), but likely due to space limitations, there is only English voice acting on the cart.

Unmentioned to this point is the soundtrack. Sqaure put a lot of work into this as well, as its been entirely redone and does sound excellent over all. At times, it seems the DS speakers are unable to do it justice, so headphones are recommended.

So far, I am really enjoying this game…it bring back so many memories from over a decade ago when I played it on the SNES. Perhaps I am biased by nostalgia, but Final Fantasy IV so far is proving to be one of my favorite games on the DS system already. I am looking forward to the many hours still left…


At first when I powered on Disgaea after playing Final Fantasy IV for a while, I was a bit underwhelmed. It seemed like going from a summer blockbuster to a B-movie. The graphics are blurry and often lack detail and the touch screen control simply does not work well at all. This initially was a huge turn off for me, as I have always enjoyed using the touch screen for my strategy titles like Age of Empires and Advance Wars, but it is so flawed here that you are best keeping the stylus inside the system at all times. The game is a port, and the touch screen controls feel like it.

Remember at the top though, I said that I was loving Disgaea, and this is true. Once you get past the flaws mentioned in the first paragraph, there is an incredibly deep and enjoyable game to be played. It is just difficult at first to see it because the visuals and touch screen controls are often the first thing the player will notice.

Once one reaches the actual gameplay though, all else matters little. Disgaea is strategy nearly at its best, with fantastic depth. Nearly everything in the entire game can be leveled up, whether it’s the armor you put on your followers, or the sword in their hands. All can be leveled up either through the games story, or through the Item World which randomly creates level design for almost infinite replay value. There is a ton of depth here, far too much to cover in any review, let alone a preview.

In addition to the depth, the game is quite charming too. The story is engaging and pretty humorous and well done, and there’s even a bit of voice acting included too. It can be a bit cheesy and over the top at times, but it is decent over all. Not as high-quality as Final Fantasy IV, but that is to be expected from a game that puts less emphasis on presentation and more on gameplay and depth.

If you are like me, and need an SRPG to hold you over until Fire Emblem arrives, I do recommend this highly. Just don’t be put off by some of the presentation problems that can get in the way. Its well worth sticking with to get to the excellent gameplay.

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Thanks for reading! Smilie If you have any questions, just let me know.

Games I am playing: MoH Heroes 2 edition

Now Playing: Weren't you paying attention? ;)

Hey there guys, just blogging about the various gaming goodies I've been enjoying lately, with some hefty impressions on Medal of Honor for those interested in the title. Enjoy!

  • Medal of Honor: Heroes 2

  • A lot of people were suspect about how good the controls of a third party Wii FPS could be, as pretty much all previous shooters from various developers have failed to really bring strong controls to the table. This time though, Team Fusion from EA Canada really nailed it to bring an experience that really shows how precise the Wiimote controls can be.

    At first, however, you might not feel very satisfied with the controls. When I started the game, I was rather disappointed actually. The wiimote controls felt far too lose and uncomfortable, and the precision was poor. Thankfully, these were merely default settings. So I quickly began tinkering around, which ended up being a cool experience as the controls are fully customizable. Nearly anything you can think of can be adjusted. The dead zone (the area on the screen where you can aim without turning) can be set extremely small, or otherwise, can be set very large. The speed at which you turn can be changed, separately for both for horizontal and vertical turns; and the precision with which the wiimote shoots within your viewing area can be changed. Really, it would be hard to imagine more control options, and while it does take a good while to find settings that are right for you, once you do everything really feels comfortable. And if you aren't comfortable in the heat of a battle, or feel the need to change something, its all immediately accessible from the menu at any time. You can even adjust the settings in the middle of online matches!

    The online itself is pretty solid as well. Obviously, its much more fun to play human enemies than the ones in the game. Over all, there are six maps to choose from, all of them offering their own little nuances. In addition, there are three modes to play, capture the flag, death match, and team death match. All of the modes listed are good fun, but it would have been nice to have a few more like King of the Hill.

    The maps themselves are fun and well designed, with a few open areas maps that lend themselves to sniping, and also several more closed off maps that are best left to the machine guns. Over all, its a pretty clean experience that leaves little to complain about. The lack of voice chat is disappointing though, especially in Capture the Flag and Team Death Match, but in the end it doesn't break the game. The choice of spawning directly into a battle is a good one as well in my opinion, as it leaves no waiting around for a match to start. You merely pick a game from the lobby and it drops you straight into the battle with your gun of choice. Occasionally it will drop you into completely stupid places that lead you immediately into death, but for the most part the spawn points are fine enough.

    Contrary to what many thought before the release of the game, using EA servers has not proved detrimental in the least. I haven't really experienced any lag whatsoever, even with 32 players going at it all at once. Say what you will about the EA servers, but so far they've provided an extremely smooth experience.

    In the end, while Medal of Honor: Heroes 2 is a good game, it isn't a perfect experience. Far from it really; while the developer absolutely nailed the controls, the campaign itself really hasn't proved to be anything horribly special (atleast not yet, keep in mind I'm only about halfway through). As mentioned earlier, the enemy seems to be pretty much devoid of intelligence, replacing it with sheer numbers. Graphically, the game also seems to be a bit mixed, with some truly excellent texture work in many areas, contrasting with lower quality ones in other places. In addition, when an enemy dies, often times he merely disappears into thin air, and sometimes the deaths themselves look a bit awkward and not fully animated. It does maintain a high near-unflinching frame rate though, even when the game spits out hordes of enemies, so thats a nice plus that helps make up for some of the graphical shortfalls.

    Over all, it seems to be a fun, nice looking game, but it does lack a bit of polish, and while the online component is strong, a small selection of modes and maps might leave you bored before you would want to be. Still, I'm enjoying the game, and if you are really interested in an FPS that gets Wii controls right, then this seems to be the game to get.

    Other stuff I'm playing:

  • Advance Wars Days of Ruin
  • So far has proved to be excellent. The balance is much improved over Dual Strike, and the removal of battle altering CO powers is a welcomed change. I'm about ten hours in and really enjoying it. To be honest, has Intelligent Systems ever made a bad game?

    Online component seems to work well as far as map trading goes. Its fun to check out your maps rating from other members. Its not quite as full featured as I would have liked: I kind of hoped the map center might be a bit You Tubish, with the ability to search maps by who made them and their rating itself. However, you only have the option to download a "Recommended Map" (a map with a high rating, I'm guessing) or a "Random Map". Still though, its nice to be able to download maps regardless, and I can see this adding serious depth once you clean off the over 100 available maps at the start.

    I'm also liking the story a good bit more. The serious tone is nicer, and the story almost seems a bit Fire Emblemish, which is understandable considering both series are by the same developer.

    Anyhow, enough rambling, great game, go buy it! Smilie

  • Phoenix Wright: Trials and Tribulations
  • Only played the first case, but it was a good one! I enjoyed playing as Mia Fey, hopefully there are a few more cases as her in the game...

    Of course, I'm still playing a slew of other titles like Galaxy and Guitar Hero, but they are taking a back seat to the ones above at the moment. There really is a ton of good stuff to play between the Wii and DS...

    Well, that's all I got. Thanks for reading, hope I didn't bore you too much. Smilie


    Now Playing: Link to the past | Animal Crossing Wild World (yeah, just got back into this the other day)
    Now Watching: Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

    Just general 'I've been playing' stuffs.

    Phantom Hourglass:

    Everyone seems to be posting their Phantom Hourglass reviews, so here's mine:

    The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass reader review

    By the way, I meant to make the length score a 7...dunno how to edit reader reviews.. If you don't care to read, over all I gave it a 9/10, as I really did love it. Thought it a bit short and easy, but had a ton of fun with it. The touch screen usage alone is brilliant.

    Anyhow, that's not the only reason I titled it 'Zeldablog'. Smilie

    The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

    Bought the GBA edition on eBay a week or two ago because I felt like it. Hadn't played the game in years and felt like I needed to.

    My. Goodness. It is every bit as good as I remembered it to be. Every bit. Just playing it makes me smile, as I am constantly going "hey, I remember that! Smilie". Over all, they did an excellent job adapting it to the small screen. And the visuals are still gorgeous. The style is just beautiful. 2D game kick 3D games butt in the aging department..

    The gameplay is just so perfect too. The dungeons are much smaller than recent ones, but they are actually a good challenge! And its not that obnoxious kind that pisses you off after a few goes, its that kind that makes you want to keep playing until you beat it, and gives you a feeling of immense satisfaction onces you have conquered it. Plus, Pegasus shoes just rock. Who needs Epona?! Smilie

    I do have one gripe though. What's the point of heart containers if the enemies just start doing more damage in the next temple? It just negates the whole feeling of 'yeah this will help me survive' when the difference ends up being negated anyway. Aside from that small gripe though, the game is as phenomenal now as ever...

    Anyhow, enough Zelda. I got to play Mario Galaxy last week for literally five minutes. Was the best five minutes of that week though! The control was pretty nice, and the responsiveness was great. Increased my anticipation by a full 2,000 points....

    Well, that's all...thanks for reading.

    My birthday!

    Now Playing: Meteos!
    Now Listening to: Neighbor mowing his lawn

    Yup, yesterday was that once a year time. Things have been hectic for me so I wasn't able to celebrate really, but things went so well, I wouldn't have had it any other way.

    To start I had a baseball game, the second game of our summer tournament, and we trounced the other team. I did a great job and even got a few compliments from the head coach. I also had a timely hit that knocked in two more runs for us and had a few nice plays. In addition some of my relatives came to the game, including my little cousins. so I couldn't have asked for a better birthday. Smilie

    After that we came home and did the dinner, cake, and presents thing. I got some cash, and the Meteos game that I told you all about in my last blog. I don't have my parents gift yet, but they are getting me a TV. Things have just been too busy to actually go out and get it though.

    In other news we're heading to Canada on Monday so I'll be offline for a long week. Behave. Smilie


    Now Playing: Age of Empires DS || Time Splitters 2

    Sorry guys, this is not another Birthday blog. Smilie

    Anyway, lately I've been thinking of some games I have been wanting to get, so I've been eBaying. Now generally I buy all my games brand new, but that ends up expensive and then leaves me with less to buy other games with.

    Enter eBay. There are two games I've been wanting to get, but just haven't taken care of yet. Meteos, and Justice for All. So I started looking on eBay. I was eBaying for Meteos for two reasons: one, it can't be found in stores really, two, I was trying to get it even cheaper, as my sister wants to pay for it as a birthday gift for me, and I didn't want her to have to spend a lot of her money on it.

    The reasoning behind getting Phoenix second hand is because the games don't have too much replay value it seems, so didn't want to pay full price for one play through.

    So the first game I won the other day, was Phoenix Wright Justice for All. Should be on the way now. Got it for $20 including shipping, and from the description and photos, it seems to be in mint condition. Couldn't be happier. Smilie

    Next up, Meteos. Again, won it the other day. From pictures and description it looks to be in mint condition as well. Got it for $15 with shipping as well!

    So if I had bought these games new, including tax and shipping it would be about $55. Instead including all charges, I got them both for $35, and seemingly in very good condition. So I couldn't be happier really, that is unless they arrive and are really in a very sad state. Smilie Otherwise eBay might be the way to go for me in the future.

    Also, as of this Saturday night, I have become even more of a fan of Nintendo's "whole family" philosophy. My sister and I were playing some ClubHouse games and my Mom became interested in trying it. I got out my old DS phat and soon the three of us were throwing darts, playing balance, and trying to outwit each other in "I doubt it". This may sound silly, but I really had a lot of fun playing with both my Mom and Sister. I hope it becomes a weekly thing, and I look forward to some family Wii sessions if we get a Wii this year. Now I just need another DS for my Dad to join in. Father's day is coming up, but that's a bit too expensive for me. Perhaps I'll be checking eBay. Smilie

    In other news, Baseball recently finished, and we had our awards banquet, in which I was the recipient of the Godly character award. Which I am very proud of. Smilie We have a big tournament in a few weeks though, so practices will be starting up again soon. Hopefully things will all go well there. I need to get out and practice, but the temperature is in the 90's (Fahrenheit). Ugh...

    Well that's all for now, thanks for reading. Smilie


    WARNING! If you spot a post made by someone on the below list then please disregard it. Posts may by fanboys are worthless.
    - Spydarlee
    - Gashcroft
    - Marzy
    - Beam
    - Jacob
    - Shipton Craig

    I feel absolutely honored to be in a list with such prestigious company, especially the Beamrider! Smilie

    Joe, you've made my day. Thanks pal! Smilie

    New DS!

    Now Playing: Partners in Time

    I have never written a blog before, but what better occasion then getting a new DS? Smilie

    Yup, I finally caved in and asked for a DS lite, and received it as a very early Christmas gifts for some seriously long road trips coming up. I have to say that I love it. The screens are amazing, everything looks so crisp and vibrant. I can't believe I ever played the same games on the old DS!

    The route to such joy was not so easy though. Upon opening the box and examining my shiny black DSl, I saw right in the middle of the screen a large, and very visible green stuck pixel. I was bummed, two days later my parents and I went to the store and got it exchanged after a long process. The next DSl, ALSO had a stuck green pixel, though this one not as noticeable. This time it was a major pain to get it exchanged because their computer system wouldn't recognize the serial number for some odd reason. It took forever; but the employees--even though they didn't know what they were doing--were very nice about it. They could have been very rude about me being so picky, but they weren't. Anyhow, it got all sorted and I am a very happy guy enjoying some very bright screens, and some non-cramp inducing rounds of Mario Kart. Smilie

    My little sister, ever since she saw Nintendogs, has wanted a DS as well, and so she asked for and received the Pink one. I have to say it IS a very noble pink indeed! She is currently in love with it, showing her dog off to all her friends, and planting flowers in Animal Crossing. lol

    On another note, I also received Mario and Luigi Partners in Time. Wonderful game. I love the humor, and it fills perfectly the RPG void in my DS collection. This game has proved to me again that it isn't graphics that matter; and to be honest, the colorful 2D fits perfectly with the cartoony and humorous atmosphere created by the script. Great game, I love the use of the dual screens, though I am still getting used to the sue of the buttons.

    Later this week I should also be receiving two games I ordered on line, Star Fox Command and Clubhouse Games in the mail. Much to look forward to. Smilie

    Thanks for reading, and I hope your week is going as well as mine!

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