A painting of me

Star Wars Battlefront

   17 November 2015, early evening

I bought a PS4. (One of the more decadent purchases I have made in a long time.) I wanted to play this crazy Star Wars game too much. I didn’t realize to play multiplayer Sony now charges you monthly, like Microsoft—break my heart! I suppose I should have seen that coming. For now I’ve been playing the various solo levels they included to basically train you for the online multiplayer game. It is crazy how far video games have come now. This game is unreal. It’s like the movies in video game form. I have died so many times crashing my speeder bike. Time do it some more.

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Crisis Core

    8 September 2008, terribly early in the morning

I finished Crisis Core on the bus ride to work. I’m very conflicted over the game: I know deep down it was a pretty lame. Square had so much to work with, and they basically dropped the ball. Visually the game is amazing: its impressive what they managed to do with the PSP. Sadly, visuals aren’t all there is to a game. The game play is very linear. The storyline is barely fleshed out. Lots of characters are introduced that you’re supposed to care about, but which ultimate you really can’t. Finally, the game itself is very simple. None of the big boss battles are particularly hard. On the other hand, it’s still the prequel to Final Fantasy VII. And for that reason alone I felt compelled to play it and finish it. If the game has any depth at all, it comes from its association to Final Fantasy VII. Bits and pieces Crisis Core’s story show up in Final Fantasy VII, in flash backs. These events are fleshed out — ever so slightly— to create the storyline for the new game. Sadly, the new story just isn’t as good as the old one. Square waited so long to make this game, I don’t understand why they could not have made it better.

Actually, I should add that the ending of the game is done really well. Also, this game has made me reconsider my opinion of Final Fantasy VII. Maybe it is better than Final Fantasy VI?

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   21 July 2008, early morning

I finished Patapon yesterday night. The game is so very enjoyable. The concept behind Patapon is a little hard to explain: it’s part rhythm game, part strategy. You control an army of little eyeball men, and you get them to do stuff by banging out drum beats that correspond to keys on your PSP. You send them off to fight a rival army, hunt animals, or fight giant monsters. (The trailer may explain things better than I just have.) The story line is simple, but cute. The art style is awesome. The only issues I have with the game is that you can’t pause a battle mid-fight, which makes it a pain to stop playing on the go. Besides that it’s a great little game. If you have a PSP you should definitely grab a copy.


My Red PSP

   23 June 2008, early morning

I wish my site was easier to search, because then I could link to all the comments I’ve made in the past making fun of the PSP. (I think my comments can probably be summed up thusly: the PSP was the console you bought if you wanted to play Lumines — and that’s about it. Oh snap!) Despite my making fun of it, the PSP soldiered on. There are two games I really wanted to play that were only available on the PSP: Crisis Core and Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops. And now that they are both out, the weekend seemed as good a time as any to buy a PSP. I have a red one. The fact they aren’t $400 anymore was a nice bonus. For now I’m enjoying Gods of War: Chains of Olympus: mindless button mashing is makes the subway ride to work fun.

My red PSP

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   22 November 2007, terribly early in the morning

A screen shot from Portal.

I was up later than I should have been last night playing Portal. It’s a new sort-of-puzzle game from Valve that uses their Source Engine — that’s the same engine that powers Half-Life 2. The game is simple enough: you walk around with a gun that can shoot portals on to certain surfaces; you can then jump through these portals to travel from one point to another. There are 19 levels, each with puzzles that involves doing something funky with portals and your environment. The trailer basically sums up the game better than I can with text. The story is also simple enough: you wake up in a lab and are tasked with doing stuff with the portal gun; a computerized voice basically explains your situation, and is there talking to you throughout the game. You’re basically a lab rat for the Aperture company, testing out their portal gun. The game is funny; far funnier than I would have thought it would be. The computerized voice is constantly saying the sorts of things you hear at the end of a drug commercial. The game is fairly short. I went to bed after getting to level 18, just shy of finishing the game. I think there are bonus levels and other things to do once you’ve finished the core game. I imagine people will start making their own levels as well. Portal is selling via Steam for $20 right now. I bought it as part of Valve’s Orange Box, which also nets you Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2 Episodes 1, Half-Life 2, and Team Fortress 2. (Games you already own you can give to friends, so Dave is now the proud owner of Half-Life 2.) Portal is a lot of fun and I can’t recommend it enough.

(Aside: Playing the game reminded me somewhat of the sorts of nonsensical levels you could build in Marathon Infinity. The way you built levels in Forge let you do things that didn’t make any sense in the physical world. You could have tunnels that only existed if you viewed them from the front, that led to invisible rooms inside other rooms, and all sorts of other strange stuff. You could basically construct levels with fixed portals: lots of fun in multiplayer games.)

Update: I just finished the game. The last level is really something else. It’s like you’re playing a whole other game. I can’t wait to try the advanced levels. The ending was kick ass.

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Final Fantasy II

   30 November 2006, terribly early in the morning

I finished Final Fantasy II for the Gameboy Advance late last night. Shima was over using my computer, so I had some time to sit down and plow through the last dungeon. FF2 is a strange game. It starts off quite difficult, and as the game progresses gets fairly easy. In the beginning of the game, you’ll wander off the beaten path and the monsters you encounter will kill your ass so fast. However, I finished the last dungeon in one go. Killing the last boss was easy as pie (thanks to the Blood Sword). Usually Final Fantasy games have final bosses which are orders of magnitude more difficult than everything else you’ve been fighting up to that point. If they had kept the difficulty of the original NES game it might have been more of a challenge, but less accessible to people who don’t play Final Fantasy much. (Final Fantasy I, which is also on the same cart, was also crippled in this way.) The story is pretty lacking — I’m not even sure it’s a step up from Final Fantasy I. You play a group of three friends who are helping the resistance fight the emperor; you do all this without it feeling epic or exciting. Since I just finished playing FF4, this lack of story was all the more glaring. FF2 is a very old game, so Square probably hadn’t reached their stride just yet. The game clearly shows its age. Still, FF2 is a lot of fun. I can’t say I didn’t enjoy playing it on the bus.

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Final Fantasy 12

   30 October 2006, early morning

Final Fantasy 12 is out this week. I haven’t been a big Final Fantasy fiend in a while. I like the old games just fine, but I haven’t played any of the post-SNES games to completion. I’ll usually make it to the end, or close to the end, and then get my brother, who is a Final Fantasy fiend, to finish the game with his quest so I can see how the story plays out. World of Warcraft is fun and all, but I find the lack of a real story a bit of a suck. It’s all a bit mindless. I’m not sure if this is the case with all MMORPGs or not. It is certainly something I miss coming from playing games like Final Fantasy. No doubt my brother will be in line buying this game tomorrow; I expect to hear about how it is the next best thing ever shortly.

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Intel iMac Notes: Half-Life 2

    7 September 2006, early morning

As soon as Bootcamp was announced, many Mac users went out and installed Half-Life 2 in their newly created Windows XP partitions. (Cabel Sasser, Todd Dominey, and Michael Heilemann all made a go of it.) Yesterday I installed Half-Life 2 on my Intel iMac. The process is very straight forward. I was waiting for the game’s price to drop, but apparently it’s just too popular. I bought Half-Life 2, the game of the year edition, for $50 at Electronics Boutique. It’s the version that comes with the original Half-Life, plus Counter Strike Source.

Since the last time I used Bootcamp, Apple put out a new version of the software. Upgrading is straightforward: you need to install the new Bootcamp assistant, burn a new CD of the drivers, and install them in Windows. Once this was out of the way, I started installing Half-Life. That took a while. Why they don’t release these games on DVDs I don’t know. 5 CDs later, I was ready to play—well, almost. Half-Life uses this software called Steam for copy-protection (and a few other things). I started up Steam, registered my game, and waited while Steam patched my copies of Half-Life 2, Counter Strike Source and the original Half-Life. I have a quick connection to the net, so thankfully this wasn’t a long process.

The game plays great. Running around is smooth, and I can play at the iMacs native resolution of 1680 by 1050. I didn’t play too much of the game, because my computer is still at my old flat. Once I can actually play for a bit I’ll write more about how it runs. The real question I am faced with is this: should I play Half-Life before playing Half-Life 2? I’m thinking yes, but once you see how nice Half-Life 2 looks, it is hard to bring yourself to play the original Half-Life

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Nintendo DS: Day 224 (Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney)

   13 July 2006, early morning

I finished Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney last night. Dave lent me the game a few weeks back to play. It took a lot of effort for him to get the game, as it is way more rare than it probably should be. The game is fun, but wasn’t as good as I had thought it would be. There are 5 cases in the game you as Phoenix Wright, a young defense attorney, must solve. You’re sort of like Perry Mason or Matlock in that you normally prove your client is innocent by finding the culprit of the crime, which in this game is always murder. Part of the game involves listening to testimonies from witnesses and finding contradictions in what the witnesses say. The other half of the game is spent traveling around searching for clues and evidence, and talking to people involved with the case. It’s a very novel idea for a game, but one that can get a bit tedious at times. The story is very linear, and a few times I was unsure what specific sequence of events I needed to do to advance the plot. I also wasn’t that impressed with the dialog in the game, though there are some really funny gems here and there. All-in-all it’s a good game, but since the replay on it is essentially nill, you should probably rent it or buy it on the cheap.

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Nintendo DS: Day 227 (Everyone Wants One)

   26 June 2006, mid-morning

Carvill and I had brunch together at the Easy, and then headed off in search of a DS Lite. She had decided to get one after playing Super Mario DS on her brother-in-law’s Lite. Elsewhere, earlier that day, Dave also picked up a DS Lite. Like myself, Dave already owned a Nintendo DS. Dave gave his old DS to Sarah, his girlfriend. Between the lot of us we had 4 Nintendo DS systems; the only reasonable thing to do would be to meet up, order pizza, drink import beer, and play lots of Tetris—which is what we did. The fun factor of Tetris seems to increase uniformly with the number of players you have. I’m still not sure if playing with items on is fun or not—it certainly is crazy anyway. The DS version of Tetris is excellent. It’s definitely a must-have game if you own the system.

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Nintendo DS: Day 224 (Tetris DS)

   23 June 2006, early morning

Some of you may recall my annoyance with the people that play MarioKart. With MarioKart, most people are so anal about keeping their wins high and their losses low that they’ll drop out of a series of races when it looks like they aren’t going to get the top spot. Tetris DS has corrected this behaviour by assigning a loss to the player that drops out in the middle of a game. Now, this is unfair to those players who are being dropped from games because of bad connections, but I imagine this sort of thing doesn’t happen all too often. All is not well in the world however.

Read the rest of this post. (378 words)

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Nintendo DS: Day 215 (The DS Lite)

   14 June 2006, early evening

Yesterday I wandered around Yonge and Eglington looking for a Nintendo DS Lite. I had been informed by the Future Shop website that they had one in stock, but when I arrived at their store they were all sold out—as was the Toys R Us, EB Games, and random video game store in the area; Dufferin Mall’s Toys R Us and EB Games also didn’t have any; Ditto the Eatons Centre and the Future Shop downtown. The DS Lite is selling fairly quickly by the looks of things. I managed to find one today. Best Buy lets you order online for pick-up, which is what I did, and I picked my unit up just North of Yorkdale Mall.

Now, as you may be well aware, I am already the happy owner of a Nintendo DS. It’s probably more than a little decadent to replace it after owning for about a half year. I liked my DS a lot, but it just doesn’t compare to the DS Lite. The Lite is really what Nintendo should have put out from the get go. The original system, which is ugly in and of itself, is all the more ugly when compared to Sony’s PSP. I think one of the big things holding the DS back when it launched was the fact it didn’t look nearly as good as the PSP. (The fact it lacked some really good launch titles didn’t help matters I suppose.) The Lite still may not be quite as nice looking as the PSP, but it certainly comes close. Of course, the Lite has the advantage of not being anywhere near as fragile as the PSP.

I haven’t had a chance to play with it for an extended period of time. I am hoping the smaller and lighter form factor will make the unit easier on my poor wrists.

The Nintendo DS is a nice portable system. I think everyone should own one.

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Intel iMac Notes: Warcraft III

   25 April 2006, early morning

Yesterday, after work, I picked up a copy of the Warcraft III Battle Chest, which has the original game, the expansion, and some strategy guides for the two games. I had played through part of the game with my cousins while in Sydney, and thought it was pretty fun. I hadn’t played Warcraft in a long time. Warcraft II wouldn’t run on my 486 (with 4 megs of RAM). There is this whole of computer games I missed out on since I replaced my 486 with a Powerbook 5300cs. I think my iMac looks like it could be a good computer game box, were it not for the fact it’s a Mac. Mind you, Bootcamp may change the Mac gaming landscape — by letting Mac users revel in the Windows gaming landscape. I digress. I was quite impressed with how well the game ran on the iMac, despite it not being a Universal Binary. (Mind you, the game is 3-4 years old now.) I can run the game with all the video settings maxed out, and at my screens native resolution of 1680 by 1050. The game play is very smooth. I have noticed one hiccup, however: In most (all) cases so far, switching from the game to a video works, but you can see the finder flash in to view; switching from a video back to the game leaves the game in windowed mode, not full screen mode. Despite this, the game runs great, and has been fun to play thus far. Anyone else have Warcraft?

Update Jan 23rd: As pointed out in the comments below, a new patch lets the game run natively. You can get the patch by logging into BattleNet, or from Blizzard’s FTP site. (You will want to download War3TFT_121a_XXX.bin, where XXX is the language you want.)

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Nintendo DS: Day 96 (Shampoodle)

   15 February 2006, early morning

The first time I got a hair cut in Animal Crossing, I ended up with this blonde surfer-dude type of haircut. It was really ugly. I knew there was a chart online that told you how to answer the hair dressers questions to get the cut you want, but I thought it’d be more fun to just do it at random and see what I turn up with. It wasn’t more fun. A week later, sick of my blonde hair, I got it cut again today. Learning nothing from past experience, I decided to answer the hair dressers questions at random and see what happens. I now have super short hair. And it’s blue. So, in Animal Crossing, as in real life, I can’t get a good hair cut.

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Nintendo DS: Day 76 (A New DS in the Works!)

   26 January 2006, mid-morning

Shima is getting a used Nintendo DS in the near future. I am not sure if she wants one or not. If she doesn’t, I’ll give my Nintendo DS to Krishna I suppose. I must have the new, white, smaller, lighter Nintendo DS. This new DS won’t be out in Japan till some time in March, so I have some time to save up my moneys. I’m not sure when it will make its way over to North America. It looks very similar to the old DS, just lighter and smaller. I’m hoping the ergonomics of the unit are better this time around, though it looks like it will just be more of the same. (The lighter weight may actually help a lot, we’ll have to wait and see.) It seems a bit cold, announcing a new Nintendo DS so close to Christmas, but in Japan there has been a serious Nintendo DS drought, so this news will probably be recieved well.

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Final Fantasy IV Advance

   20 December 2005, early morning

I have been patiently waiting for the Final Fantasy IV remake to be released for the Gameboy. Final Fantasy IV was released as Final Fantasy II here in North America, and was probably the most expensive games my brother and I had ever bought. I think it cost just over $90 when you factored in the taxes. It was a really expensive cartridge. The game was excellent, with a compelling story and great game play. Compared to the very generic story in Final Fantasy I for the NES, Final Fantasy II was something else. I picked the game up this Monday. I had actually forgotten it was coming out so soon. It’s just as good as I remembered. I’m only a tiny bit into the game thus far. They’ve fixed the dialog (a lot apparently), and touched the graphics up ever so slightly, but as far as I can tell, it’s a very faithful port of the original.

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Nintendo DS: Day 30 (Animal Crossing is Engrossing)

   14 December 2005, late at night

There is a cat that lives in my Animal Crossing town called Monique. She collects pink furniture. She was feeling sick today. I was going to get her medicine, but the store in my town was closed for renovations. Luckily, you can play Animal Crossing: Wild World online. I logged into Animal Crossing Live and informed the web site I was looking to travel to another town. A few moments later I was visiting Joebilly in Lattleto. (I am very impressed with how well Animal Crossing Live works; it is a shame the site is so ugly.) I wandered around her town for a bit, talking to the other animals and grabbing some new fruit, and then bought myself some medicine before I left to go back to my town. I visited Monique, who was still feeling ill, and gave her the medicine I bought. She perked right up and thanked me for my troubles. Animal Crossing is strangely engrossing.

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Nintendo DS: Day 27 (The Problem With Friend Codes)

   10 December 2005, mid-morning

I have two Nintendo DS games you can play online, Animal Crossing: Wild World and Mariokart DS. Mariokart will let you play with anyone you please online, but Animal Crossing limits you to people you tell it are your friends. This is done by entering your friend’s friend code; keep in mind that your “friend” may be a complete stranger you met on the internet. Nintendo offers no means of exchanging friend codes, so it has to be done through other channels—for example, Chris and I exchanged codes when I first mentioned I owned Animal Crossing. The problem is that this really isn’t enough to start playing with your friend; you also need to coordinate when you are playing your game for the friend codes to be of any use. If I log into the Nintendo WiFi Connection to challenge my friend online to a game of Mariokart, he also needs to be online. The only way I can determine he is online is to either: try and challenge him and see if I get a response, or communicate with him through some other channel and tell him to log on to the WFC as well. I’ve seen people posting their friend codes online all over the place, but this is really only solves half the problem of playing with your friends online. You need a means of communicating with all your friends that you are playing online. Since in many cases your “friends” are in fact random people you are meeting on the internet, you may not have their telephone numbers, email addresses, or IM names. Communicating when you are online in a simple manner is just as important as exchanging friend codes; I will need think about how to do that more.

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Nintendo DS: Day 24 (Animal Crossing: Wild World)

    8 December 2005, late at night

Rambot lives in Robotica. (I’m still not that good at picking names.) Although my copy of Animal Crossing for the Gamecube is only a month old, I couldn’t resist getting Animal Crossing: Wild World. My big problem with the Gamecube game is that I’m hardly at home to play it, and when I am home I don’t feel like hogging the television, since my roommate isn’t one to surf on the net when she is bored. A portable Animal Crossing is perfect for someone like myself.

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Nintendo DS: Day 21 (Advance Wars DS)

    5 December 2005, late at night

Advance Wars DS is another great game for the Nintendo DS. I’ve been playing it non-stop for the past week and change, putting aside Mario Kart DS and Meteos to do so. Advance Wars is a turn-based strategy game, similar to the various Tactics games available for the Playstation and Gameboy Advance. You control an army, and face off against a rival army. The game is really addictive; I usually play it whenever I have a spare moment. By far the best thing about Advance Wars DS is the absolutely horrible dialog. I’m not sure if the translation team did a bad job on purpose or not—I think they must have, because some of the lines in the game are classic: “You got dropped like a phat beat!” and “Get the plates, ‘cause you just got served!” Bad dialog aside, the game play is great. The game is highly regarded by the people at 1UP. If you have a DS, the game is definitely worth checking out. All it needs is a mode that lets you play over the Internet and it’d be a perfect time-waster.

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Nintendo DS: Day 14 (My Poor Hands)

   24 November 2005, early morning

I have pretty bad RSI, the result of years of very poor posture while using the computer. Keep this in mind when I bring up the following criticism of my Nintendo DS.

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Nintendo DS: Day 11 (Punk MarioKart DS Players)

   21 November 2005, mid-morning

Toys “R” Us had a sale last week; all the Nintendo DS games they sold were selling for $10 dollars off. I bought two games, AdvanceWars DS, which Ju-lian had recommended, and MarioKart DS, which most everyone on the planet had recommended. I hadn’t planned on getting MarioKart DS so soon, but $10 off a $45 game is a pretty big discount. I played a few rounds of the game on the subway ride home. The game plays pretty much like all the other MarioKart games that have come before it. MarioKart is like Grand Turismo, but without the spinning out all the time.

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Nintendo DS: Day 6 (Nintendo WiFI is Awesome)

   16 November 2005, mid-morning

With Nintendo rolling out a free world-wide network to play games over, I think the built in Wi-Fi of the Nintendo DS could turn out be its killer feature. First, and probably most important, the network is dead easy to connect to. Second, and perhaps even more import important, you can play MarioKart DS over the network. To say everyone is going mental over the game would be an understatement. Over at Penny Arcade, Tycho gives a very favourable review of the game and the DS’ Wi-Fi capabilities. One of my favourite Nintendo blogs, Hello Nintendo, offers up a similar opinion on the game. Reviews of the game have been stellar, 1UP’s review pretty typical of the scores the game has been earning. Joystiq thinks the release of MarioKart and the new network may cement the DS’ place in the market. They are probably right on the money. The game comes out in Canada today.

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The Nintendo DS: Day 4 (Meteos!)

   15 November 2005, late evening

After reading a few reviews, I went out and bought Meteos on Friday, before heading off to Heather’s rocking birthday party. (I should mention in passing that Dufferin Mall, where I bought my game, reminds me an awful lot of the Scarborough Town Centre circa 1999.) Meteos is produced by the same company that made the super-awesome Lumines. They are also the company behind the infamous psychedelic shooter Rez. Meteos is fun, and definitely worth owning if you have a DS. It is similar in a very trivial way to Bejeweled. I picked up my copy used for $32 at Electronics Boutique. There are videos of the game play over in the Meteos Strategy Guide you can view to get a taste for how the game works. The reviews at 1UP gives a much better overview of the game than I have here.

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The Nintendo DS: Day 1 (The Beast)

   11 November 2005, early morning

So I’ve had my DS for less than a day, and I haven’t really had a chance to play anything on it. I’ll just briefly say something on the form factor. I’ve played with the Nintendo DS a couple times before, clamped down inside a Future Shop and an Electronics Boutique. I never really got the impression it was huge. Big, yes, but nothing like the mammoth PSP. Let me tell you, for those who will also be buying a DS blindly, the thing is a brick. It’s bigger than my old-school GBA. I think it is about the same size as a PSP, only a little less wide, and a little more fat. The thing is pretty ugly. All that said, I didn’t buy the thing for it’s visual appeal. I look forward to trying out my GBA games on it when I get home this weekend.

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