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my vice

Written: 21:07 on April 14, 2010  |  By: anthony  |  MORE…
I recently upgraded my XBOX 360 to a PS3. That it to say, Kijiji is awesome for selling people things when they have no idea how much said things are worth.

Case in point, I sold an XBOX 360 (Elite) with:
  • 120GB Hard Drive
  • Two controllers (one wired one wireless)
  • One quick charge cable
  • One headset
  • Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 1 & 2
  • Gears Of War I
  • Bioshock I
  • Fallout 3
  • Mass Effect I
  • Rock Band (Disc only)

For a grand total of $550.00, which was rapidly transformed into a Playstation 3 and several games.

That being said; I think the PS3's online mode far exceeds the 360; it's free and offers the exact same service set. Not to mention that streaming media from a Windows Based PC is as simple as turning the machine on. Microsoft has had years to work out the bugs in the streaming features on the 360. However the system is unreliable at best, and unworkable the majority of the time.

Also, the PS3 has Blu-Ray….which I've yet to use. But is somehow a huge selling point for the console, according to the Self-Admitted-Non-Gamer EB Employee. (Seriously, why work in a store that you don't even USE what you're selling? And who the fuck hires people that have no idea about the industry they are servicing.)

I'm an occasional reader of Penny Arcade. That is to say, I view what comes in front of me with a certain amusement. Sometimes they are dead on. Sometimes they miss, but the comic itself is fairly iconic. The other "Arcadeism", if you will, are the news posts from the creators, Tycho and Gabe. Normally, I avoid them based on one simple fact: You don't learn a godamn thing. Apparently they are not happy with the new Final Fantasy, but I don't see HOW based on the post.
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sex, violence and videogames.

Written: 09:51 on July 15, 2009  |  By: jon  |  MORE…
I thought this was really well done - entertaining as well. Who said sex doesn't sell? Just to note: this video may not be safe for work.


Kotaku dropped this intro earlier today; It's the start of a German documentary, which begins with a montage of arcade classes such as Pong and Pac-Man set to a beat, but steadily escalates into crazy sex and violence between Space Invaders, Guybrush Threepwood, Street Fighter's Ken & Ryu, Lara Croft, Mario and many others.
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i sing the body electric

Written: 17:19 on April 11, 2009  |  By: anthony  |  MORE…
Has it really been 10 years? I can remember when the lobby fight scene was the most hyped thing I'd ever heard. Still amongst my favourite all-time sequences, despite the cheesy techno music.

Excuse the link to xkcd. I'm torn on still enjoying it. While I used to really enjoy the comics, a lot of them now just feel rushed to fulfill a deadline. I think I liked it more when Randall just updated when he had something funny to say.

I'm glad the snow is finally melting here. Winter gets old after about January 1st or so, which is long before we had our week long -40c cold-snap.

As the snow melts, I've discovered the fence running along the drainage ditch is broken. The soft ground looks to have gave way, causing the fence posts to slide into the ditch. We had planned on building up a containing wall last summer, but never got around to it.

Time has become a rare commodity lately. My day is made up of work, and then spending as much possible time with Jaedyhn before she goes to bed for the night. Weekends are the same, with brief rest periods when she naps or is occupied with her blocks, books or some other toy.

That in mind, explains why my skills at games like Counter-Strike Source have become atrocious; no time to even keep them up to par. Let alone get better! I could stay up until dawn playing, but when your child WAKES UP at dawn, it's no good.

I try to sit down and write a good post about her growth over the days. Truth be told, a lot happens in terms of her growth every day; she learns new words, co-ordination improves, figures out a new toy or generally causes havoc around the house. Our current battle is keeping her out of everything in the house; every cupboard, door, nook, window, couch and table is an adventure for her at this stage. It's not uncommon to take her down from a chair, only to find her crawling onto the window ledge a few moments later, or swinging on the rocking chair yelling "ROOOOOOCKY!" to everyone that passes by.

Jaedyhn's trying really hard to learn to jump, her balance needs some more improvement before she can do it (Bonus Tip: Lift her up and say "JUMP!", she will be your best friend forever).

I'm introducing her to music, slowly. She already has an affinity for Protest The Hero, which is amusing.

On a complete sidenote, congratulations to Microsoft for finally making an advertisement that I enjoy and isn't completely pointless.
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will we finally see some online rpg's on the ds?

Written: 14:07 on November 10, 2008  |  By: ethan  |  MORE…
If announcements hold true, yes we will. In the form(s) of:

Dragon Quest IX
Dragon Quest IX


&

Phantasy Star Zero
Phantasy Star Zero


Party up now, peeps.
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mother 3 fan translation

Written: 17:19 on October 23, 2008  |  By: ethan  |  MORE…
Mother 3!Guys, it's out. And it's fantabulous. Get it here.

I'll have more to say on it as I play through it, but even two hours in, I can tell you it is by far the best fan translation ever to be completed. It feels official; it's that good!

If you don't know what Mother 3 is, I'm sorry. I don't think Europe ever experienced the magnificence of Earthbound, so it may be a bit lost on a lot of you. Why not do some reading?
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nintendo announce the nintendo dsi

Written: 11:24 on October 02, 2008  |  By: jon  |  MORE…
Nintendo announce the new Nintendo DSi handheld console

This morning in Tokyo, Japan - at the Nintendo's Fall Press Conference, it was announced that they will be updating the Nintendo DS with a new model, known as the Nintendo DSi (see above).

Nintendo is currently (and has been for a long time) the dominant force in the handheld gaming market, commanding a 70% share. The announcement of the new handheld device comes only a couple of weeks after Steve Jobs' (Apple's CEO) laughable statement about the iPhone as a gaming platform, where he said "…you can make a pretty good argument that the [iPod Touch/iPhone] is the best portable device for playing games on".

The move is entirely unsurprising of Nintendo, who do have a habit of releasing minor revisions of their handheld consoles every few years. The new console has an interesting new feature set, and it is difficult not to get excited by the prospects (scroll down and watch the video if you are impatient!).

In a nutshell, the new Nintendo DSi will:

  • be 12% lighter
  • have a 17% larger screen (now 3.24 inches large)
  • have improved speakers, and AAC support
  • contain a 0.3 mega-pixel VGA camera (capable of 640x480)
  • have two touch-screens! Both are now touch sensitive
  • NOT have a GBA game slot…
  • …instead, have a SD Card slot
  • support web-browsing (probably via Opera Mini)
  • run downloaded 'DSiware' games: similar in concept to Wii ware
  • come in two colours (see above): "White", and "Frosted Black"

So, when can we get hold of it? It is currently slated for a November 1st, 2008 release in Japan, which is a little over a month away at the time of writing. Nintendo has thus-far been relatively tight-lipped about release dates of the Nintendo DSi in other territories. Currently, the Nintendo DSi release date is pencilled as Spring 2009. Price wise, it will be released at JPY 18,900 (which is we work backwards, comes out as about USD 179, EUR 129 and GBP 99). As you can see, it's not all that different in price to the existing Nintendo DS. And what about games? Well, check out this video for an overview of expected releases. It's probably worth noting that some of these games look very Eastern, and as such I will be surprised if all of them make it over here to the most conservative West (which is always a shame).




I was interested to hear about the DSi Shop. Apparently, customers will get 1,000 points free upon purchasing the console that they can spend at the DSi shop, which do not expire until March 2010. Games (and other such things) in the shop fit into four categories: Free, 200 points, 500 points and 800 points. The top level, I assume, will be for premium games such as new releases. This is fantastic news. If I understand correctly, it equates to at least one free game upon purchasing the console!

One final thing I have heard regards the built-in camera. Although I find 0.3 mega-pixels terribly disappointing (couldn't they fit in a 1.0 mega-pixel camera, at least?), it's a nice addition. A lot of people have critisised the decision to introduce a camera into the DSi, stating that most people these days have at least one device that can already do that, and better (a typical mobile phone these days has a camera at least five times better). I suppose they didn't want to include a camera capable of massive resolutions due to the lack of storage space on the DSi. It was probably part of the reason they chose to include an SD Card slot on the console just for memory. Oh, and another thing: photographs taken on the DSi can be put straight into your "Photo Channel" on a Nintendo Wii console.

Overall, I'm happy with the announcement. I think the games are the clincher, especially a new Kirby game and of course Chrono Trigger. The camera, I couldn't really care less about. The lack of a GBA game slot? Hmm, we'll it's a shame that the old Advance generation has been put to sleep by Nintendo, but it has to happen at some point. I am interested in how well Activision are going to take it however, since their new-ish "Guitar Hero on Tour" requires the GBA slot for their fret peripheral. The improved audio capabilities are welcome — although, I play many DS games with the volume off. Perhaps the new sound capabilities will have me turning up the sound, or using headphones. Larger screen, yes, good. Lighter? Doesn't bother me too much. Thinner? Good I
suppose, but a lot of this just feels superfluous: I just want it to play games. One genuine improvement over the original though, is two touch screens. I can imagine that will make the next iteration of Wario Ware a lot of fun!

So what do you think of the new console? And have you heard anything else as laughable as Apple's claim? Leave me a comment.
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ea's spore released on 7th september 2008

Written: 02:13 on September 04, 2008  |  By: jon  |  MORE…
Sandbox game addicts, get your wallets ready. One of the most anticipated games of the year, and perhaps even the past five, is about to hit stores on 7th September 2008. Spore's release date has been widely publicised since it slipped last winter by six months.

So, what exactly is Spore? It comes from the terrifyingly clever mind of Will Wright and his team at Maxis (the same company behind the phenomenally popular 'Sims' franchise), now a subsidiary of Electronic Arts. It is also a game which has proven difficult to explain, although the best explanation I have heard so far is “it is Sim Everything”. You start out as a small organism and, much like the real world, it's survival of the fittest. Progress through the game is rewarded with upgrades, where you can spend DNA points on upgrading your lil' fella. As the game progresses, you move from simple organism to pond life, to a land animal, and from there to founding society, then civilisations, and onto becoming the dominant species of your world. But that is not all – from there, the game folds out allowing intergalactic travel to other worlds, where the local monsters have been populated from a huge database of other people's creations.

I toyed with the 'creature creator' a few weeks ago. It's a small part of the game that EA released early, so we could get a taster of what is to come. The creator is fantastic fun – I made a crocodile with a huge head for instance, and I laughed at it for probably fifteen minutes straight. The bright and colourful models together with the very cutesy animations your creation performs (my crocodile almost shat itself in excitement when I gave it an extra set of eyes, for example) not only entertained me, but roped my non-gamer girlfriend in too. It was interesting to see what monsters she came up with. Inevitably, the first one looked very sappy and cute, some sort of hug-monster. I have a sneaking suspicion come this Friday, I may have competition trying to get on my PC!

So what is this blog about? The pitfalls, really. I don't mean to be cynical but I'm British, and it's in my genes. I really want this game to succeed, I really do. A few things worry me, however. First off, great, it's a game where you can 'level' your monster up (reminds me of E.V.O. on the Super Nintendo, if anybody remembers that game), which is great. I'm familiar with that concept, and together with the creation mode, it sounds like a game I'd have a lot of fun with. What about the other areas of gameplay? If you watch the trailer, it shifts from top-down munch-em-up to a third-person action game, then to an RTS, then to a space-faring sim. The variety looks great and I applaud it, but I hope it doesn't feel like I'm just playing a set of mini-games with a tentative link between them all (the link being your creation, as it will be constant throughout, although you can 'upgrade' it). It's that sort of detached feeling that made Wii Sports a decent game and not a great game, in my eyes.

The second is the fact that content comes from other people. If this thing gets as big as 'The Sims' did, which lets face it is likely, there will be a hell of a lot of content within Spore. Somebody has already mentioned: what happens when the Star Wars, Pokémon and Futurama creations start appearing? Are they protected from take-down notices? Will EA have to screen all the content? If you're new to the whole concept of Spore, or gaming in general, you may not be familiar with the one core concept rooted deep within our kind. If you give a gamer (especially a male one) a sandbox environment where you can build or model things, they will. make. a penis. I haven't got the statistics to hand, but apparently there have been thousands of cock-monsters uploaded already and the game isn't even out yet. Spore has an ESRB rating of E10+. Would you want your ten year old daughter and her interstellar pal 'Mr. Cuddles', the green snuggle-monster to suddenly arrive on a planet filled with huge pulsating penis-monsters, wriggling around and oozing god knows what? I'm not so sure either.

I hope it lives up to the huge weight being placed upon its digital shoulders by the Internet. I'm sure it will pull me away from reading and programming in the evenings for a while, at least. The game has to be admired, just for the sheer scale, the ingenuity (you can give a creature a billion legs and it just works out how to walk), and the love that has gone into designing something this complex. At five or so years in the making… let's see if can match the hype.
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nintendo learned a thing or two from the riaa

Written: 18:54 on July 29, 2008  |  By: ethan  |  MORE…
Legitimate uses for flash carts be damned, WE'RE SUING!
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final fantasy iv is back, and it's baaaaaaaaaaaad.

Written: 15:16 on July 24, 2008  |  By: ethan  |  MORE…
But as Run DMC says, not bad meaning bad, but bad meaning good. As every nerd knows, Square-Enix just pushed out its latest Final Fantasy IV Final Fantasy remake, for the DS. Final Fantasy IV has always been a favorite of mine, thanks to an enjoyable cast and a story I adore. Seriously, you take a whale to the moon. What's not to like? So, is this another cashgrab, or is this actually worth it? Let me answer that for you.

Short answer: Yes. It's a nicely polished remake of a great game, with additional features to boot.

Long answer: FFIII was okay, I guess. It was a good remake of an okay game, and thus it ultimately lacked any real draw for me. Class changing was a hassle and the story was reeeeeeeeal light. FFIV changes all that. It's a remake of a great game, so the foundation is more solid. What it adds, however, is what really makes it.

First off, the Active Time Battle system isn't much changed. The meter still fills, you still pick an action, and then perform said action. Nice touch: you know see how long it will take until the spell you just selected is cast, as the gauge starts filling up again, in a different colour.

Secondish, also related to battle: Each character's battle commands are now customizable. Do you think Edward's Hide command is useless? Replace it with a shortcut to a potion. That's right, instead of just being able to pick "Items" to throw on their list of five battle commands, you can specify which item. Same with magic-users. Why dig through the menu to cast Cure or Fire, when you can put it smack on the commands list up front. The only ones that must stay static are Attack and Items. The other three slots are flexible. AND, since characters now have the full complement of actions they had in the Japanese version of the original 16-bit game, there's quite a variety. Rosa now has Pray, not just Aim. Edward can use Salve, to use an item on every party member. Palom and Porom, Yang, too — every character I've used has extra commands.

EDGE Thirdforth, also also battle-related (let's face it, the bulk of time you spend playing an RPG is spent in battle, so it better be good and tweaked): Auto-battle. No longer must you sit and pay attention to every single random encounter. Push X and the party will fight for you. What's awesome about this, aside from the time savings? It's completely customizable. You choose the command. If you want Cecil to fight, Tellah to cast Thundara, Yang to use Kick, and Rosa to heal, you can do it. It's all set up in the same menu as their battle commands. Reeeeally tricky, Square. Nice.

Fourthwise, and this is a plus that potentially was a minus: Cut-scenes and voiceovers. Any time you take material this old, with a following this large, you run the risk of shattering everyone's mental impressions of characters, which have been established for what, about 15 years now? I'll admit: at first I hated the voices. Cecil sounds younger than I always imagined. Kain sounds too growly. Everyone else, however… has been pretty spot-on. I've even started to accept the others. Combine them with cut-scenes — thankfully NOT FMV — and it's a nice touch. Cut-scenes use the same character models as the rest of the game, so there's no shocking switch from 3D to FMV. It's a nice touch, and I don't usually like these things. I do, however, wish that you could skip them, which you can't.

So what's not to like about it? Not much. It's hard, for one. You will die. You will probably die multiple times. You will have to level your party or face death at every boss, and occasionally in random encounters. For serious. I also don't understand why they missed out on a couple little tweaks that would've made a big difference. For example: You can't set the cursor to memory mode, meaning you have to pick your action again and again every time you're in a battle. That's an annoyance. Also not configurable is the battle message speed, so you'll have to sit for five seconds after you're done reading, every time someone says something in-fight. Not major items, but silly just the same.

To summarize: If you like Final Fantasy IV, you'll like this. If you don't, you should. If you want something easy, don't get it, and miss out. It's up to you. I just can't imagine passing this gem up.
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chrono trigger ds announced!

Written: 13:35 on July 02, 2008  |  By: jon  |  MORE…
Chrono Trigger's main playable characterIf you're a fan of RPGs like myself (obligatory link to rpg2knet), the fact that Chrono Trigger has been announced for the Nintendo DS probably hasn't escaped your attention. It's pretty fantastic news if you're a fan of the struggling Square-Enix. Lately, they seem to be pretty obsessed with releasing poor rehashes or half-sequels of their old classics. Fanboyism asside, I played through and thouroughly loved Final Fantasy VII when it was first released. I locked myself in my room with my friends Playstation and played it solidly, only coming out for toilet breaks and meals. I cared for the characters, and I don't feel any other game has managed to surpass it so far. Even a fool can see they are attempting to cash in on VII's success by releasing tripe like Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII.

Finally it feels like they are getting back on track by developing something that the fans actually want. I mean, I know it's still a bit of a cash in (with it probably being a direct port of the SNES game [although people have hinted Square-Enix will continue porting the FMV into the DS versions of their games, as seen on the PlayStation edition of Chrono Trigger) but at least it is a product that the fans will actually be interested in. I think the Dirge of Cerberus tie-in was a complete insult to the intellect of their fans (duuur you like FF7 so you'll immediately buy this game). A large cross-section of their fans would not have played previous Final Fantasy games and bought FF7 on the strength of the reviews it received. If you're the sort of gamer, you're not going to rush out and buy any title that has been labeled an obvious doozey by a reputable magazine such as EDGE. Final Fantasy tie-ins are no exception.

Well… rant over. I'm just glad to see something that, in my eyes, is worth doing by Square-Enix. With this announcement, I thought I'd compile my top 5 16-bit era role-playing games that I would like to see get the DS treatment:

  1. Earthbound. And Mother 3. I will CRY if they announce this.
  2. Secret of Mana (imagine link-up play for co-op!)
  3. Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals
  4. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the 7 stars
  5. Shining Force 3 (I wish they'd done the map engine in 2D, though)

All relatively unlikely, but a gamer can always dream…
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