Thursday, June 5, 2008

Guild Wars Nightfall, My Life as a King, Spider-Woman (Nooooo!)

Picked up Guild Wars: Nightfall on eBay for $17 total the other night, even though I’m not finished with Eye of the North yet… But I’m glad I went ahead and got it, because there are some skills that are really beneficial to my characters and my heroes. It also added two character slots to my account, which I used to create the two classes exclusive to Nightfall. I thought the spear-tossing Paragon was going to be my preferred class from this campaign, but it turns out that it’s the scythe-wielding Dervish that has snagged my attention. I guess I’m a sucker for melee classes. The scythe has the inherent ability to slash up to three targets (which I instantly fell in love with), and there are some pretty devastating skills to use that I already have access to because I unlocked them through Re Zon’s heroes. Woot! I also recently created a Monk, but I’m not sure what I’m going to do with her yet...

The wife and myself will start Day 104 in FFCC: My Life as a King tonight. I was certain we were at the end last week, but it’s just kept on going. No compalints there! The game doesn’t keep track of how long you’ve played (and I’m too lazy to go add it up through the daily record keeping the Wii does for you), but we play approximately an hour an evening, and more on the weekends, so I think it’s safe to say we’ve played it at least 20 hours. We just recently purchased all of the rest of the Add-Ons (except new outfits for Leo and Chime – meh), which add a TON of new dungeons to the game. It’s rare that there is a game that my wife enjoys THIS much, so the Add-Ons are worth it in my opinion. She says it could quite possibly be her favorite game, and I feel a great sense of joy when she says ‘Ready to play Final Fantasy?’ Best. Wife. Ever!

Spider-Woman… a skrull??? Curses!! Ah, I really didn’t want her to be a skrull, but things are definitely looking that way. Hopefully after this whole Secret Invasion thing is done, good old Jessica Drew will still be in the mix. Her appearances in Wolverine in the 80s, as well as her return to New Avengers a few years ago made me a fan, and recently spurred me to pick up about 20 issues of her original series (along with her first appearance in Marvel Saga). I really hope she ends up still playing a role in SI before it’s all said and done.


Monday, May 19, 2008

Guild Wars, and My Life as a King

Shortly after Guild Wars came out, I created a Ranger/Warrior build that ended up becoming pretty popular since it was somewhat unorthodox. It was specifically used in farming loot from high level monsters in a few areas of the game. One type of monster in particular, the Grawl, became the primary candidate of farming with this build.

In Guild Wars now, each year for a character’s birthday, they are awarded a Miniature of a monster or character from the game. When I first heard about this, I quickly searched for a Grawl, and found there was indeed a Miniature version, but not available through birthday presents. It was a special promo obtainable at PAX (as well as a few other places, magazines, etc.). It was also pretty expensive, since they are pretty rare.

My goal since returning to Guild Wars has been to get myself a Miniature Grawl, and over the weekend, my goal was achieved. It seemed only fitting that Re Zon have one of these, since my entire livelihood in the game has been based upon continually slaying those poor Grawl. Fortunately, despite all of the nerfs/skill changes, the build is still plenty doable, and I was able to save up the money/items I needed fairly quickly. Woot!

Guild Wars is still hording nearly all of my game time, but I have been making time for Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King. I mainly play this after dinner when my wife can watch. I have to say that it definitely has exceeded my expectations – there is a lot more depth than I thought there would be - a story within a story. It’s also a lot prettier than I thought it would actually be, considering it’s a downloaded game.

There’s also (the very evil) Add-Ons you can purchase. So far, I’ve only purchased the additional 3 races (Yuke, Selkie, and Lilty) to add to the initial race (Clavat). It simply isn’t a Crystal Chronicles game without all of the races. Also available for purchase are new buildings, additional dungeons to send your adventurers to, different outfits for Leo, the king, and Chime, his hoochie chancellor.

I have to say that it is almost necessary to use the Nunchuck with this game, as moving Leo around with just Wii Remote is unbearable. I breathed a deep sigh of relief when I tried the Nunchuck and saw how much of a difference it made.


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Short and Sweet

This is just the quickest of updates, just to get something down on paper. I have been extremely busy as of late, I hope to relay some of those adventures here soon. I was unable to sleep this morning and decided that it was a sign to be productive. The site has been on my mind, especially as of late. I want to discuss so very many things that it has prevented me from writing anything at all. I plan to do some serious cataloging this morning. First the stack of comics on my pool table, then on to my arsenal of video games. The plan is to get around to my DVD and book collection at some point.

Hope to have more to add later today.


Thursday, May 8, 2008

Back to Tyria

I have recently been playing Guild Wars on the PC – this game and I go way back (to 2005), where I spent a great deal of my time as part of the GWO community, and met some really great people. Some of those people still play, though some don’t – but most of them are still active on the forums because of the community that was built there. We were a part of it from the very beginning, and shared a lot of laughs while goofing off on the forums instead of working at work. More recently, while browsing those forums (mostly in the Off Topic Forum), I was asked by an old pal, Aretelio, to give the game another shot. Not really being interested, I still gave it a go anyway, and discovered that my year and a half break was just long enough for me to be excited about playing again. There were my characters, just as I left them, patiently waiting for me to log them into the world to hack some monsters. I’ve rejoined the guild I was in (Veritus Invictus), and am in the process of helping to build activity back up again.

I give Guild Wars’ developers a great deal of credit - there are still weekly updates, events every weekend, new content at no charge, and still no monthly subscription fee. They also go out of their way to listen to the community at large, implementing changes in the game, and heading off scams and exploits, from information found on fan sites.

I purchased the expansion, Eye of the North, last week. I’m really impressed with how it’s not just ‘more of the same’ like I thought it would be. They’ve added in an array of new items, titles, buffs and upgrades, as well as customizable Heroes, and I honestly feel like I’m playing a brand new game. The Eye of the North also happens to introduce new races that will playable in the upcoming sequel to Guild Wars, as well as the ability to preserve certain things about your characters, their names and titles, for example. Presently, I don’t have any intention of buying the other two ‘stand alone’ campaigns, but we’ll see what happens after I have thoroughly played Eye of the North.


PS – I strongly recommend seeing Iron Man – you are not required to be a fan of Iron Man to understand or enjoy the movie, and I give it my highest recommendation.

Friday, March 28, 2008

PokeBrawl, Game Updates, WiiWare

I have an interesting situation... when playing Super Smash Bros Brawl, I enjoy brawling most with Pokemon characters. This may not be so odd to some, but I haven't been much for Pokemon. I played through and beat Pokemon Yellow on the original Gameboy many years ago, and while it was fun, I didn't pick up on the series again. I think it mostly had to do with the hype of Pokemon more than anything else.

But while playing Brawl, and testing out everyone, the characters I ended up liking were Pikachu, the Pokemon Trainer, and Lucario. During the Subspace Emmisary, my group of 4 always contained Pikachu and Lucario (along with Captain Falcon, and a random fourth) - and I'm certain that Nintendo knew back when the first Smash Bros was being developed, that this merging of franchises would have the potential to interest gamers in games they had not yet dabbled in...

So Pella (my wife), after seeing me brawl with the various Pokemon began asking questions about Pokemon, what the games are like, what they're about, etc. Not having clear answers for her, I've decided to pick up one of the DS titles on eBay. Though when we will have time for it is uncertain, as I recently got her into playing Puzzle Quest - and if you've played Puzzle Quest, you know how consuming it can be. And now that she's got another game that has pulled her in (like Zoo Keeper, Yoshi Touch & Go, and Animal Crossing did), she has began to notice how much better my DS Lite is than her original. So it will be off to purchase a pink DS Lite once the funds are rounded up...

Some game updates - Finished FFTA2 at 51 hours, though I most certainly didn't complete all of the side missions. Also, FFTA2 is coming to North America (finally!) on June 24, and includes some new features from the Japanese version (like stylus control - gasp!).

FFCC Ring of Fates story mode took 14 hours on normal, but after you beat it, you can start playing from the beginning with your current level and equips on Hard Mode (which features a new dungeon to explore, plus plenty of new loot). There's also a Very Hard mode, but I haven't played that far. The multi player (which can be played solo) would definitely be a lot of fun, but the game loses some points for no online coop. I've played Story and Solo Multi for about 25 hours.

I'm very excited about some of the WiiWare titles coming on May 12 - in particular FFCC: My Life as a King, and Dr. Mario. Dr. Mario will be playable online, and also features a demo version which you can send to a friend. Nice touch Nintendo!

FFCC: MLaaK is looking great, and while it is the most expensive of the bunch (1500 points), it is definitely the best looking. Plus it has become apparent in the past few days that Square Enix will be putting DLC out there for it (as part of Nintendo's Pay and Play deal).

March has been a great month for gamers. (and I won't even complain that we still don't have Everybody's Nintendo Channel either - whoops!)


Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Prediction for the next Nintendo handheld

Nintendo initially said that the DS was not a Gameboy, but a third tier. Since the DS is a huge success, Nintendo is no longer producing the Gameboy Advance SP or Micro, and desires to focus its attention on the success of the DS.

I thought I would go ahead and post my prediction for the next handheld. For fun, we'll call it the DS Advance (see what I did there?) - yes I think they'll stick with the dual screen system. Here's a rundown of what I'm thinking:

*Dual Screens
*Touch Screen
*Backwards compatible with DS cartridges
*New media will be on mini discs like the Gamecube
*Graphics will better than Gamecube games - at least Gamecube quality
*No GBA slot
*System will have applications - internet browser, pictochat v2, a day planner/calendar possibly?
*Friend codes will still be in place for games (and pictochat v2)
*No hard drive (except small space for internet cache) - games will still be the primary focus, not mp3s or videos - and this keeps the cost down

And a couple of my own personal wishes...

*Comes with DS1 storage cart
*Better Wii connectivity - download Virtual Console games to your DS that can be stored on a DS1 cartridge
*Download Gameboy, Gameboy Color, and Gameboy Advance games to your DS1 cartridge - Also, upload-ability to Wii (I would actually prefer the WiiVC get GB, GBC, & GBA games...)
*DS Network - see your friends online - send single card multiplay data to friends via the internet, not just locally. Any game that is multiplayer should be playable from any distance.

I don't think this is too unrealistic of an idea, and I think I would be pretty easily persuaded to make the purchase. I can't imagine Nintendo making another handheld system that didn't take advantage of the DS's success and large game list.

Time will tell!


(PS - on a side topic, I am now cruising into 40 hours on FFTA2. I really expected to be finished with it already, but I'm definitely not complaining...)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Final Fantasy Tactics A2

I have been playing Final Fantasy Tactics A2 pretty much all of my free time since I got it last Wednesday. I’m 20 hours deep and still going strong. Over the weekend, I played until my DSL’s red light came on, then switched to my wife’s DS. Coincidentally, when her red light came on, my charge light went off, so I was able to continue my playing without interruption. The language difference hasn’t been any trouble – in fact, it’s actually been a lot of the fun.

In FFTA and FFTA2, each battle is regulated by Law. In FFTA2, there are 100 laws, and it is crucial to know what those are so you can get bonus items at the end of the battle – and to prevent your characters from going to jail.

Thankfully, a wiki site exists (run by Penguin Knight) that has translations for all of the laws, skills, job classes, etc. I’ve printed out and made myself a little handbook to use at home (and I have a print-out of all of the laws that fits neatly in my DS case for on the go). Within the first two days of playing, I already started recognizing certain characters – which was a nice sense of accomplishment. There are some walkthrus on there too, but that's not my style.

As far as the story goes, I of course have no idea what is going on. But that can wait for the North American release. If you read my FFTA retro review, you’ll know I wasn’t a big fan of that story, so that’s not the real appeal for this game. This game might have an excellent story, and I will definitely buy it and play it all over again when/if it comes stateside.

There are two difficulty levels - normal and hard – and when I finish the normal mode, I have every intention of playing through again on hard. A great aspect of the Tactics series, and specifically in FFTA2, is that you can play through multiple times and have a different experience each time due to the fact that there are 7 different races and over 50 job classes to play as, and the maximum amount of people you can have on the battlefield is 6…

The side-questing can be a little tricky – I basically just take on 3 or so quests, and then hop around the map looking for where they are located. If I were really diligent (and I may still do this), I would make a list of all of the areas on the map, and then figure out exactly in the quest text where the location is. But one benefit of map hopping is random battles and recruiting new units.

There is also an item crafting process, where you use various materials you find from defeating enemies and winning battles to craft new items. This is the only way to gain access to new weapons, armor, and accessories, as once you use your materials to craft new items, you then have to buy the items from the store. It seems a little silly, especially as money was a little tight in the beginning of the game, but it’s all gravy now.

Here are a couple of vids I took to show off FFTA2 (sorry for the crackly button clicking!).

That’s my progress thus far – as you can tell, I’m very pleased with my purchase. I would have bought it months ago when it came out if I knew the NA translation was going to take so long (or possibly not happen…). I will not make the same mistake again in the future.