Thursday, October 31, 2013

Top 9 Scariest Pokemon

Pokemon X and Y were released this month. Today is Halloween. Here's a list of the nine scariest Pokemon to commemorate both occasions. Sweet, sweet pagevie-- I mean, uh, candy.

Rotom

Oh look, it's a cute little electric ghost thing. It's almost too innocent... Don't be lulled by its disarming demeanor, because that's when it'll possess your fucking LAWNMOWER and embark on a bloodthirsty rampage. Is this Pokemon or a Stephen King novel?

Ditto


This sly-smiled, beady-eyed, pink blob of putty is possibly the friendliest looking of all the pocket monsters, but as we've discovered with Rotom, these are devious creatures. While Rotom can possess various electronic machinery, Ditto can outright transform into any physical object. Luckily, it seems to have a pretty friendly disposition and probably won't take it upon itself to murder you in your sleep, but that doesn't mean it's not watching you sleep.Has that lamp always been there?

Mr. Mime

http://media.tumblr.com/13964383a6b645b200e39108a45923ed/tumblr_inline_mv8x0ymll81qcy1wq.gif

I WILL MAKE YOU WATCH, CONFINED TO A GLASS BOX, AS I MURDER EVERYTHING YOU LOVE.

Yamask

 http://fc09.deviantart.net/fs71/f/2011/114/e/d/yamask_by_snook_8-d3er00y.png

Yamask is literally someone's ghost. They carry a mask bearing their human likeness, crying and longing to return to the world of the living. Being trapped in this ghostly form, free to be captured and commanded by a corporeal human is an unimaginable hell, so it's safe to say there will come a time when it snaps. Anyone that puts its mask on will become possessed, giving it the disposable vessel it needs to inflict its envious rage on the world of the living.

Banette

 http://images1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20130916055120/spinpasta/images/8/8f/Banette_by_darkfireblast666-d3fxb6c.png.jpeg

Due to the sheer hatred of being thrown away, Banette tranformed itself from a lifeless doll into a revenge-seeking Pokemon. Its psychotic grimace is zipped up to prevent its rage from escaping. It's goal is simple: To find the child that disowned it.

Hypno

 http://fc00.deviantart.net/fs70/i/2012/011/d/a/hypno__s_lullaby_by_deidaraemoartist-d4m2r1c.png

Hypno is a vampire, but instead of blood, it sucks the dreams from the heads of sleeping humans after lulling them to sleep with its pendulum. Like a true predator, it lies in wait on infrequently traveled roads for unwitting victims to meander on by. Once within range, it swiftly hypnotizes its prey and subsequently psychically siphons the succulent dreams from their skulls. 

Espurr

Espurr is essentially a walking nuke. Look at its eyes. Does that look like the face of something that can be reasoned with? No. Espurr is that one crazy guy at the office everyone's afraid to criticize in the event that their one snide remark ends up being the straw that brakes the madman's brain, prompting him to turn the place into his own private shooting gallery. This thing has the power to destroy everything within a 300 foot radius. It clamps its ears down in a constant, desperate struggle to contain its uncontrollable power. Back away slowly.

Garbodor

Hahaha.... heh... This Pokemon is garbage. what a joke. Know what isn't a joke? Life-threatening bacterial infections.

Gengar

http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m2j7fk4ivl1rop2v0o1_r1_1280.jpg

You're  making your way back from some social gathering, walking at a brisk pace, bracing yourself against the chill of the night air. But this night seems unusually chilly, and you feel  shiver down your spine. Suddenly, the shadows cast under the dim glow of the sreet lamps start to dance, and... is that... laughter? Shrill, maniacal laughter? RUN.

Shedinja

Born from the discarded husk of a Nincada during evolution, this ghostly bug floats, completely motionless, invincible to anyone that doesn't know its weakness. If that wasn't menacing enough, this hollow shell of a creature is said to steal the spirit of anyone who dares peer into the crack on its...

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Review: Incredipede

What is an Incredipede, you ask? It’s a creature you control in this quirky game for Android. Incredipede is a green and white eye that you are able to attach limbs and muscles to. Sound strange? That’s because it is. This is not to say it’s a bad game, because it isn’t; it just takes some getting used to.


Considering that this is a mobile game, Incredipede is gorgeous. Its art style is somewhere between an English fairytale and Aztec/Mayan cave paintings. Nothing about this game is normal, aside from the main menu. Visually this game is beautiful on my android device-- no frame rate stutters, plus good lighting makes this game look like I’m playing through a twisted children’s book. It’s important to note that this game wasn’t developed by a large studio, or even a small studio; two people developed and coded this game and a third drew the artwork. Even with a team that small, this game still shines. It’s polished, and it includes bells and whistles that rarely come with an android release, or even a console one. But we’ll get back to that.

In terms of story, it’s almost non-existent. The Incredipede needs to go someplace to do something and there is a guardian at the end of each world, and the guardians won’t let you pass on to the next world unless you collected certain things in theirs. In that way, Incredipede does bare a resemblance to lots of other side-scrollers. I couldn’t help feeling however that if there was ever a video game adaptation of Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis it would look exactly like this. It’s hard not to be creeped out by your bony, slimy, bug-like avatar. After a while I got used to it, I even started finding my little Incredipede cute.


The core gameplay mechanics involve creating your own Incredipede (named Quozzle) and using his various limbs to attach, crawl, swim, hop, swing, and glide your way through the game. You have the option to play normal mode, which allows you to use a pre-determined Incredipede through each individual level so that each Incredipede you use is optimized for said level. Then there is hard mode, which doesn’t up the difficulty of any of the levels one bit. Hard mode simply tasks you with creating your own Incredipede for each level, which is a bit daunting.

Three adjectives I would use to describe Incredipede:
-    Morbid
-    Challenging
-    Rewarding

The sound design is nothing special, but I personally always hope that a game will have a sound track or effects that stay with me long after the game is over. Sadly, this isn’t the case here. Although the sound is a letdown, the developers included a treasure trove of re-playability. Included with the game is a full-fledged level editor so you can create your own challenges and share them with the world. There is a replay feature included that allows you to see how you got through each level and share your successes with friends. One of the most puzzling but intriguing features, however, is the ability to view how any other player completed a given level. I have never seen that feature before in any game, much less an android title.

Overall, Incredipede is fun, but it does have its shortcomings, including meager sound design, lack of story, and a sometimes wonky control scheme. The difficulty of the game ramps up at a reasonable pace, and I rarely felt as though I didn’t know what to do in a level. It does get truly challenging by the 3rd world, but I consider that a good thing, and I like that the community-created levels are fun and sometimes goofy. Ultimately, Incredipede is a great pick-up-and-play game for 10 minutes or your whole night.


Buy it on Google Play

Released: 2013-10-02
Publisher: Northway Games
Developer: Northway Games

Monday, October 21, 2013

Review: Korg DS-10 Synthesizer Plus

Korg DS-10 Plus

Calling Korg DS-10 Synthesizer Plus a "game" is admittedly a stretch. There are no bosses to battle, no points to score, and no way to beat it.

As a piece of mobile software, though, it's powerful, fun, and yes, educational. It's essentially an electronic music composer, putting complex controls into a simple, modular interface that makes learning the ropes a true joy.

Korg DS-10 Plus puts you in control of an analog synthesizer and 12-track sequencer (on the DSi, 6 on the DS). If that sounds overwhelming, don't worry: the twelve tracks are spread over two decks, and four tracks on each deck are dedicated to a drum kit. That leaves two synth tracks plus drums on each deck, plenty to begin your first foray into creating electronic music. Your first real decision is on the number of steps, or beats, in your pattern, but 16 works the vast majority of the time. You can also select your tempo, between 10 and 250 beats per minute, though that can be altered at any time.

Every sound in this program is customizable. Each drum can be edited with a bevy of knobs and switches, further altered through a patch bay, and given effects like delay, flanger and chorus. Furthermore, each individual step of each drum can have its pitch, gate, volume and pan individually adjusted – so every kick doesn't have to sound the same within a pattern.

But enough about the rhythm section. The two melodic synthesizers really let you express your musical ideas, building short sequences that you can later string together into a full song. You can experiment with simple melodies on the touchscreen keyboard, which displays two octaves at a time. Just like with the drums, an editor and patch bay allow all manner of modifications to the basic sound wave; by the time you've fiddled with each knob, you might not recognize the original tone. As with the drums, the sequencer gives you access to the pitch (of course), gate, volume, and pan of each step, as well as two Kaoss effects pads. By default, the Kaoss X pad alters the voltage-controlled filter cutoff for each step and the Kaoss Y alters the VCF peak, but both of those can be set to one of two dozen other properties as well.

Patch bay
A final mixer controls the relative volume of each track, and a final effects bay lets you apply delay, flanger and/or chorus to all tracks, just the drums, just the synths, or just to one of the two synths.

You can build up to 16 patterns this way. Each pattern can have its own synth and drum sounds and effects, but you can copy from one to another so you don't have to rebuild your customized timbres every time. Those patterns can then be arranged into a song 100 patterns long, or you can choose to trigger patterns manually.

Sequencer
With a pre-arranged sequence of patterns, you can still interact with the music in real time. One way is to continue to edit each pattern as the song plays, but that requires you to be in the right pattern constantly. It's much simpler to select one of the keyboards in one of the patterns and play on that, overriding that synthesizer whenever you play. There are also three Kaoss pads to choose from: gate/note, volume/pan, and peak/cutoff (or whatever you configured a couple paragraphs ago).

Keyboard
You can save up to 18 full sessions onto your game cartridge and share them with other DS or DSi consoles, but the inclusion of other export options would have made Korg DS-10 Plus a truly extraordinary composition tool. Saving patterns, songs, or individual tracks as audio files to the SD card in a DSi would allow sample-perfect copies of your creations to be mixed into more expansive pieces using desktop multitracking software. A MIDI export option (like the one promised in the M01D for 3DS) would preserve the actual sequence, letting you change instruments and effects in other programs. As it is, you can record whatever you want through the analog headphone port – a little old school, but it works.

If you're curious about electronic music composition but weren't sure how to jump in, Korg DS-10 Plus could be your ticket. The publisher even offers video tutorials on its Web site. The game won't teach you everything (like what the heck a "gate" actually is), but it's a great start.

Find Korg DS-10 Synthesizer Plus it on Amazon | ebay

Released: 2010-02-16
Publisher: XSEED Games
Developer: Cavia, AQ Interactive

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Review: Muramasa Rebirth

It’s no secret the Vita is in dire need of some quality exclusive titles, and while Muramasa: The Demon Blade originally appeared on the Wii’s eShop, this updated version of 2009’s beautiful action RPG gives Vita owners a reason to be proud of their system. Despite relatively simple gameplay and some superfluous mechanics, Muramasa Rebirth is a fun, addictive, and stunningly beautiful example of what the Vita is capable of.
I can’t talk about Muramasa without mentioning its visuals, as its hand-drawn spritework renders its 2D landscape of feudal Japan with a level of detail and artistry that can only be described as majestic, particularly on the Vita’s gorgeous OLED screen. Rice fields sway in the breeze and streams sparkle with rushing water in the background as main characters Kisuke and Momohime take out the game’s colorful enemies with a wide variety of elaborate sword slashes and ninja magic in the foreground. The game’s painterly art style and reverence for ancient Japanese myths and demons brought Okami to my mind more than once, which is a very good thing.
While the game’s visuals are superb, I found its gameplay a bit shallow for the 15 to 20 hours it takes to complete both characters’ stories. I’ve described Muramasa to friends as Super Metroid if all the enemies were ninja and all the powerups were swords. This sounds pretty awesome on the surface, and the amount of backtracking through old areas to open up new ones makes it a fairly apt comparison. However, the game plays pretty much the same from beginning to end with all your attacks available from the get go. The abilities that allow you to break different colored barriers with your swords are really the only significant upgrades. There’s something to be said for allowing full freedom in movement and combat from the beginning, but it really hampers the sense of progression.

Kisuke and Momohime do level up and obtain new swords through an elaborate network of blade forging, but there are really only two types of swords--heavy and light. The rest is pretty much just numbers. One saving grace however is that almost every sword has a unique active ability that can be triggered with the O button. These range from a flurry of slashes to shooting fireballs to screen-wide attacks. They’re a fun addition that helps break up the standard hack-and-slashery of sword combat at the expense of some of the sword’s durability.

One other issue worth noting is that the game’s attention to detail which, while great in some areas, is somewhat pointless in others. There is a whole cooking system complete with ingredients, recipes, and unique preparation and eating animations that I barely used at all over the course of my playthroughs. Food restores your health and blade durability, but with full health and blade restores at every save point and hot spring (there are hotsprings!) it’s pretty unnecessary. There are also restaurants in the villages that allow you buy traditional Japanese foods and actively eat them bite by bite, which is pretty neat, yet wholly unnecessary for the same reason as the cooking.
I don’t mean to sound too down on Rebirth, as it really is worth playing for the spectacle alone. Fighting the game’s screen-filling bosses while dashing through the air, swapping between blades, and firing off special abilities is nearly as entertaining to see as it is to do. And while most of the swords play pretty much the same, they all have a unique special attack, as well as a unique sprite, which offers some semblance of weapon variety. The game’s two stories and alternate endings also give reason to continue playing after seeing the credits roll, even if Kisuke and Momohime both play pretty much the same.

The Vita is still waiting for its first real system-seller, but for those who already own one, Muramasa Rebirth is an excellent investment whose every moment is a spectacle of ninja-packed art in motion.

Find it on Amazon | ebay

Released: 2013-06-25
Publisher: Aksys Games
Developer: Vanillaware

Thursday, October 17, 2013

SteamWorld Dig 20% off until Oct 20


SteamWorld Dig is a great game. If you were on the fence before, a 20% discount might be just the incentive you need to jump on this steam-powered wagon. This eShop gem from Image & Form has been tearing through the collective gamer psyche like a steam train for a reason. How many more low-hanging puns can I pack into this post? Fistfuls. So go dig up some cash for SteamWorld Dig: A Fistful of Dirt lest your sanity be buried.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Humble Bundle With Android 7 is live


The Humble Bundle crew have put together another excellent package for portable gamers to enjoy, comprised of Anodyne, a Zelda-esque adventure; Incredipede, a physics/structural game; Greed Corp, a tactical strategy game and Ticket To Ride, which is... something. Those who beat the average ($6.39 at this writing) will also get Worms Reloaded, The Bard's Tale, and the yet-to-be-revealed bonus games. Donating $1 or more will also unlock Steam Keys for each of the games. Whether or not you're still playing through the recent Humble Mobile Bundle 2's titles, this is a deal worth acting on. Get it at https://www.humblebundle.com

UPDATE: Broken Sword: Director's Cut, Organ Trail: Director's Cut, Anomaly Korea, and Europe DLC for Ticket to Ride have been added for those who beat the average.

Here's one on us: https://www.humblebundle.com/?gift=MnCXvs6CMecE2VXU

Monday, October 14, 2013

Review: Gang Lords


For the last few weeks, I have been digging. I have been digging through the mountain of free trash on the iOS app store. I have been looking for a gem, hidden in the pile of rotten, fortunately free, turds. I haven't found that gem yet, but I have found quite a few games that are both free and decent. I'm still looking for that gem, though. I will not give up. I will find a free game that is both good and not trying to push me to spend actual cash on its super rare diamond gold currency. You may think this is impossible. It probably is, but, hey, I'm going to keep on trying. I need more things to review, anyway.

Today we will talk about a card-based game by Glu Games Inc, titled Gang Lords. I'm glad to say that this game is actually pretty fun, and pretty damn addictive. Unlike every other virtual card game on the market, it isn't based around medieval fantasy, but is themed around crime and gangs! Quite a change of pace. The card designs are pretty nice, and acquiring cards is pretty easy, as you (usually) 'conquer' one random card each wave during combat. Unfortunately, the game usually gives you uncommon cards, which pushes you to, well, yes, buy elite cards. The game gives you one free elite card, and gives you a special offer for your first time purchase, slicing the price of 60 gold whatevers to 20 gold whatevers. Luckily, you do receive gold when you conquer a 'district', so you can actually get two elite cards without spending much, and perhaps even another after conquering a few districts.

http://images.eurogamer.net/2013/articles//a/1/6/1/9/7/4/9/4.jpg.jpg
Wait, districts, elite cards, waves? Lets go onto the combat, since that is what matters. Is the combat well displayed? Is the combat fun? IS THE COMBAT BALANCED? Give me a moment, and I'll answer all of these questions. First off, the combat is well displayed. It doesn't even look like a card game, as it is actually 3D rendered. Its not pretty, but its different. It is easy to navigate and, well, very simplistic, which is a norm of this game.

Oh, also, the combat seems to be player versus enemy, and not player versus player, which is a weird choice. Why not both? Its wave-based, too.

The combat is a tad tactical. Each card has a timer, which counts down each turn until it can attack. Alternatively, you can have other cards support that card, and for each supporter that card receives, the timer goes down by one. The maximum timer I have seen so far is four, which means you can use it to attack if all of your other cards are alive, as you can have all of your cards support him and allow him to attack. The cards with longer timers usually do higher damage. You can exploit support, though, and easily just support your biggest, most powerful card each turn, dealing massive damage. You'll only attack one card a turn, but it will be an instant kill, most of the time.

A lot of the special skills that cards have are, well, reused. Like, really reused, to the point where it feels INCREDIBLY lazy. When most cards have the same skills, it feels as if cards aren't unique. Plus, most skills are simplistic. Heals, shields, grenades, etc. It feels like the least time was put into the 'skills'.

You'll find yourself frequenting two to three cards each game, mainly due to their sheer power. You'll usually have a deck with two elite or powerful cards and two supporting cards, along with one random 'ally' card. Ally cards are the boss cards of other players, which is very, well, bouncy. One game, you get an incredibly overpowered elite card with 456 health, 225 attack points, and you simply keep supporting it and using its high damage to pick off your generally weak opponents. The next game, you get a card that is the equivalent of a supporting goon, with only 40 health points and 16 attack points. I'd rather have the option to use your own card or an Ally card.

The combat is fun, but gets dull a tad fast. There is an auto-resolve option, which is handy, as the combat does take a bit. You'll play a few rounds, get bored of it, and then after a while jump back into it, and, yet again, play a few rounds, get bored of it, and the loop will resume. It gets stale after a while, especially when it isn't that difficult.

The game uses a faction-based system for cards. Certain factions are vulnerable to other factions, you get the deal. It pushes you to have a more diverse deck.

Its an okay, free card-based, crime themed game that you can grab off the App store and try for yourself. It may be worth your time, if you are into this kind of stuff. If you like what you just, read, then go and download it for free off the App Store or Google Play.


Publisher/Developer: Glu Mobile

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Review: Pokemon X & Y

It's here! It's finally here! And it's glorious!

Before I go on, I'd just like to give myself a pat on the back for taking the time out of my Pokémon adventure to post this review. I'm not even sure how I managed to pry myself away from my 3DS to do it.

Like many Pokémon fans, I've been waiting a long time for X and Y. Technically, I've been waiting since I was a kid. I've always wanted a Pokémon game as amazing as this. If you think you'll pass because you're bored of the franchise, think again.


This game is amazing. Probably the most important point I can make is that Game Freak's done a great job of keeping things the same, yet different. Most Pokémon games can be explained this way -- you have the same general premise, the same Pokémon, but with more added, the same look for the protagonist, but enhanced a little every time, you even have the same basic idea for enemies. There's just some stuff added here and there to enhance the experience.

This time, you've got the same premise -- gotta catch 'em all! Everything else has been more than enhanced. The same basic ideas were kept -- explore, battle, see new Pokémon, etc. That's pretty much where the similarities stop, though. It's a lot like the original Pokémon anime vs. Pokémon: The Origin. The premise is the same, but everything else is made at least 80% more awesome. I'm not even sure where to begin, explaining this in context.

Let's start with the world. It's a very important part of the games. The world is an important part of any game, really. As always, we get a region, like Kanto or Sinnoh. This time we have Kalos. It's beautiful.


Of course, a main reason that Kalos is a beautiful place to adventure through is the new  game design. The Pokémon games have felt like less and less of a top-down experience as time has gone on. At this point, players get to see the world from several different angles, and discover all the nooks and crannies of the world, but still keeping true to the style of every other Pokémon game.

This also helped to transform the battles into much more realistic sequences. It feels a little more like the way Pokémon Stadium presents battles: where attacks actually seem like attacks, and not just sprites wiggling around, and where the background matches the world around the battle. The battle layout is otherwise much the same as always -- which is good. It's tried and true and players know their way around the battle screen at this point in Pokémon's history.

Finally, it's time to talk about the most important new part of Pokémon X and Y -- the new Pokémon! Now, let's be real here -- there will always be haters. There will never be a point that that every single player likes the all new Pokémon. Sometimes you can't even blame them. You gotta catch 'em all, and one of 'em is… an ice cream cone? Well, I guess if I simply GOTTA catch 'em all…

I must say, I'm one of those people that isn't a huge fan of each and every new Pokémon. A lot of the X and Y Pokémon are fairly cool, but sometimes I dislike that the animation style has gotten cuter and cuter. Yes, some people love cute Pokémon, like Eevee's new evolution Sylveon, which is the new type, fairy type. For the first time, they straight-up changed some old Pokémons' types so that some normal types, like Clefairy, are now fairy-type. I'm more of a fan of the badass Pokémon, personally, and fairy type is strong against my personal favourite Pokémon, dragon type. Yes, I understand that it's necessary, in order to balance out the once overpowered type. It's actually a great move to even things up. I'm still grumpy, though. Many people will like the cuteness of fairy type Pokémon, anyway, as well as the new moves that come along with the new type.


If you're anything like me, you won't be completely disappointed by this generation -- the creators did a rather good job of creating an array of Pokémon looks to please various kinds of fans. Both legendaries look really cool -- mysterious, yet awesome, which is really how anything with the title of "legendary" should look. plus there aren't 150 new Pokémon this time. this could be thought of as slacking off, but in this case it seems like quality over quantity. They're probably running out of ideas for new Pokémon anyway. Perhaps that's why they added mega evolutions in -- give certain Pokémon a mega stone, and they'll temporarily evolve into epic, cool new form mid-battle. It's a fun twist on the age-old evolutions that have been around since the 90's.

There are also new mini-games you can play almost any time during the games, so that you can buff particular stats, and make your Pokémon pals exactly to your liking. They're fun and not too tough. If you have a tendency to grind, you'll find yourself playing these games for hours, especially now that there's an item you can  get early in the game that allows EXP to be shared amongst your team. You'll definitely still be playing for hours. And hours, and hours, and hours…

So, if you like Pokémon, you're probably going to love X and Y -- in fact, I'd be surprised if you haven't already bought them. They're everything we've loved about Pokémon, and everything we've ever wanted from Pokémon. It'll be fun to see where they could possibly take the franchise next.

Pokemon X / Y on Amazon | ebay

Released: 2013-10-12
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Game Freak 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Review: Game Boy Camera


Smile, the Nintendo Security Agency is watching.

The Game Boy Camera is a prime example of Nintendo's ability to turn inferior hardware into a fun idea. At first glance, it's a worthless relic that can reliably transform an image of a cardboard box into an uninterpretable mess. Hyperbole, of course, but the quality isn't pretty, even by the digital standards of 1998. However, there's a deceptive amount of content packed into this hunk of plastic.

Kids weren't concerned with resolution; in the days when cell phones were things adults had, they were thrilled to have their very own portable camera. What's more, their amateur photography could be shared with friends using the Game Boy Printer accessory, a solid way to preserve the masterpieces that would otherwise have to be deleted to free up the cartridges limited storage capacity. That's all well and good, but a less than mediocre camera and printer only go so far. Luckily, Game Freak bundled in plenty of activities to keep any hyperactive kid busy.

After frantically mashing the A button to escape the nightmarish dancing Mario, players are presented with "Shoot", "View", and "Play" options. The first opens into a Pokemon-esque menu with further commands. Selecting "Shoot" again will activate the camera, "Items" include self-timer and time-lapse functions, "Check" opens the picture album, and "Magic" grants access to trick lenses, a montage feature, horizontal and vertical panoramic modes, and the ability to customize the various minigames with the player's own face. The "Run" option is there for kicks, allowing the player to escape to Mexico. After selecting this option repeatedly, various doodled-on faces will ask "Who are you running from? Don't be so silly!"

Players can create animations and slideshows in the "View" section, while the actual video games can be found in the "Play" menu, presented in the form of a space shoot-em-up. Shooting one ship will open the DJ game, a digital mixing board used to create and save beats, and the other is the classic Ball Game and Watch. Ignoring these options prompts Space Fever II, the space shooter, to start. It's a simple game consisting of three rounds. There are never more than a few enemies on screen, and rate of fire is slow. The fun is derived from trying to hit every ship and scoring bonuses for nailing two at once. At the end of each round, a face boss appears to unleash a barrage of fire. The first two are built-in to the game while the third is customizable, which might very well have been the inspiration for Face Raiders on the 3DS. Clearing the final round starts the loop over, with each subsequent playthrough upping the pace. But it's Space Fever II, so where's the first one? Considering the goofiness observed thus far, it's safe to assume it's a sequel to nothing.

At some point in playing Space Fever II, a third, title-less game is unlocked in which the player has to mash the A button like a lunatic to jump hurdles in an olympic race. Seriously, without using the finger-vibration technique, winning is virtually impossible. There are other goodies to unlock as well, like a variety of photos/pictures including Mario and Pokemon characters. These were meant to be printed as stickers on the printer's adhesive paper. Like modern-day achievements, many are simple and straightforward, like hitting a certain score in a game, while others are archaic and meaningless, such as deleting a certain number of photos. 

The Game Boy Camera is useless as a camera, but remains an entertaining and quirky package that's easy to come by. The printer is a bit more scarce, and the rolls of paper even more-so. Fortunately, it uses heat-activation to transfer images, so regular receipt paper will do the trick if cut to size.

Find a Game Boy Camera on ebay | Amazon

Released: 1998-06-01
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Game Freak

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Review: Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate

Capcom’s newest entry in the Monster Hunter franchise, Monster Hunter 4, is only just coming out in Japan. Those of us unfortunate enough to be located elsewhere, however, do get an entry in the franchise, and what an entry it is.

Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate may not be the newest, but don’t let that deter you. It is absolutely an excellent and extensive experience. The game is an extended version of Monster Hunter Tri, which came to the Wii in English speaking countries in 2010. While the original is a bit light on content, Ultimate more than doubles the number of quests, items, and monsters, and is the largest entry outside of Japan to date. Fortunately for us, those numbers aren’t just for show.

One important thing to note about Monster Hunter, as a series, is that it is not easy. The game requires a significant investment of time in order to develop your skill and armory. The idea is to take quests at the reception desk, go out, kill the monster, and use the materials that you carve from its body and receive as quest rewards to forge newer, stronger weapons and armor. Most quests give you 50 minutes to search for (and destroy) your prey, which will often be multiple times the size of your body.

The game combines action with pattern recognition. It’s not a matter of just swinging your sword, because each of the twelve available weapons work in very different ways. The sword and shield, for example, is fast, but a bit weak in physical power, while something like the greatsword can use its charge attack to deal single devastating hits to a monster, but it’s incredibly slow. Some weapons can block, some can stun, some can shoot from a distance. My recommendation would be to pick the weapon you like best and focus on getting better with it. This is something the game intends for you to do, as you start out with one of every weapon. My personal favorite is the switchaxe.

The game is very strategic as well. You only have so many spots in your inventory, and individual items have limits to how many of each item can be in a stack. You can only carry ten potions with you at a time, for example. But if you bring too many items with you on a hunt, then that will leave you no room to carve the monster and gain your precious, precious resources. Eating at the bar before a hunt will also grant you certain bonuses, the armor that you choose will grant certain resistances and skills that will help out during the hunt, and even your extras, Cha-Cha and Kayamba, have dances, abilities and masks that can be switched around for certain boosts mid combat.

The variety of monsters is also excellent. Each monster moves and attacks in a different way, and every time you go out to hunt something new, you have to learn the monster’s movements and cries in order to best defeat it. It gets very difficult, especially in the higher level quests when you’re fighting monsters that can generally out-speed your weapons, but as I said before, the game demands your time and attention. The payoff, however, is worth the investment.

In addition to the tight, addicting gameplay, the graphics are excellent. From overlooking the sea atop a mountain cliff to staring intently at the cat that cleans your room, the game looks amazing. The soundtrack is also excellent, which is good, because you’ll be hearing a lot of the same songs very often. The songs that play during the hunts do their part to pump you up (or intimidate you, in certain cases), and when you notice the music, it’s because they want you to.

Gameplay, graphics, sound… That’s all well and good. But the real bread and butter of the Monster Hunter games is the multiplayer. Singleplayer is fun and works well, but it's really rewarding when you and your friends take down a monster together. There are two places to take quests. Moga village is the singleplayer campaign, which is great, but Tanzia Port is where the multiplayer magic happens (you can also go there for singleplayer action). The 3DS version can’t go online (on its own), but it supports local wireless multiplayer with up to three other people. And in case you’re just playing with two people, the game lets you each take one of your sidekick shakalakas to the hunt, which would give you four “players”. The multiplayer can get hectic at times, but there’s little else I can think of that is as satisfying as felling a monster the size of the village with a friend.

I could sing this game’s praises endlessly, but unfortunately, no game is without its flaws. Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate has a very long tutorial period, and while it is arguably necessary given the level of depth of the game, it is a process nonetheless. You’ll be required to pick mushrooms and harpoon some fish (not as fun as it sounds) before you have access to the quests where you’re allowed to hunt the bigger monsters.

The game also turns into a bit of a grind once you begin building specific things. The better weapons and armor require better, rarer pieces of monsters, and more often than not I find myself killing one monster over and over again, trying to get a single drop with a measly 3% chance of being a quest reward after I break the monster’s tail twice and mine it. Certain resources also require a lot of gathering early game, and you will almost certainly find yourself going on the “harvest tour” gathering quests to catch a Carpenterbug more often than you’d care to.

Underwater fighting is also a bit of a pain unless you buy the circle pad pro. If you don’t mind dropping an extra $20 on a peripheral for the second control stick, then you can ignore this complaint. The best way to get by this is to lock onto the monster you’re hunting and use it to guide you, or double tap the L button to get the camera to reposition behind you (if you’re not locked onto a monster, it only needs one tap, but you’re probably going to be locked onto a monster). However, you can also use the customizable touchscreen to add a D-pad to the screen to control your camera, or just use the d-pad under the control stick. None of which work as well as the circle pad, which may be worth it, depending on how much time you spend on the game.

Speaking of which, I like ending on a good note, so let’s revisit the touchscreen. The game allows you to completely rearrange your HUD, so you can keep your health on the main hunting screen, or you can put it on the touch screen for better visibility. Each function takes up a number of blocks on the bottom screen, so while you couldn’t fit everything there (even if you tried, sorry), you can have things fitted to your preferences. What game wouldn’t benefit from this level of customization?

Despite the slow start and really high learning curve, Monster Hunter as a franchise will reward you endlessly if you are willing to invest some time into it. Each new weapon makes it feel like a new game, and each new monster is a new challenge. This may not be the five minute hack and slash you’ve been looking for, but don’t let that stop you from jumping into a game that could very well turn out to be your next favorite. Give it a try and join the fans yelling across the oceans for the newest entry. You won’t regret it.

Interested? You can buy here it from Amazon if you'd like. It's also available on the eShop. By the way, if you're using this in conjunction with the Wii U version, the downloadable game makes it easier to swap save files.

Find Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate on ebay | Amazon

Released: 2013-03-19
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom Production Studio 1

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Mighty No. 9 is coming to 3DS, Vita



Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune's latest project, Mighty No. 9, has raised over $4,000,000 in funding, obliterating the original $900,000 goal and making it the third most funded game in Kickstarter history. This is great news for 3DS and Vita owners, as both systems will be seeing a digital release some time in 2015 along with PS4 and Xbox One versions, while the Steam version will launch in November of next year.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Closer Look at the Fairy Type

With Pokemon X and Y coming out in just a couple of short weeks, I wanted to take a closer look at the new Fairy type, and to share my opinion on why it’s a good thing.

The last time a new type was introduced was all the way back in 1999 with the release of Gold and Silver. There were actually two types introduced, Steel and Dark, which added one type each to the Physical and Special typing pools. It seems rather incredible that it’s been nearly 15 years since a new type was introduced, given that a new Pokemon generation comes out, on average, about every three years.

Fairy is an interesting choice, but when you think about it, it makes sense. The first thing you think of when you hear fairy may be the tiny Tinkerbelle-esque figure, but really, the idea should be closer to Fae (short for Faerie, go figure), a mythological classification of creature which simply includes the stereotypical fairy (which is called a pixie, for those curious parties). I almost prefer to think of this type as “Magic”. But for now, let’s discuss why Fairy is such an excellent addition to the game.

The most popular idea is that it balances the Dragon type. But I question why people think Dragon was so powerful to begin with. The only thing it was (and is) super effective against is itself. And there are some seriously high-powered Dragon-type attacks, but those all have some pretty serious downsides. Outrage, for example, locks the user into using the same move, then confuses the user at the end. Or Draco Meteor, which lands a devastating blow, and then lowers the user’s special attack by two stages. Granted, if they kill in one hit, those side effects hardly matter, but Dragon as a type is not overpowered. Dragon-type Pokemon just happen to have enormous stats. In fact, all the Dragon immunity serves to do is make Ice slightly less viable as a type. That’s not to say it’s useless, but Ice is such poor typing defensively that, with Fairy having only two weaknesses, it’s hardly worth using. Fairy’s just a better option. Speaking of Fairy’s weaknesses, that brings me to my next point.

Fairy being weak to Poison and Steel is absolutely a wonderful thing. Poison, apart from inflicting the status of the same name, has been darn near useless as an offensive type since the first generation. Adding Fairy to its list of type advantages literally doubles it (it was Grass and nothing else). That is how absolutely pathetic Poison has been. A big-shot type like Fairy being weak to Poison is just what the doctor ordered. Steel also needed some help, having only two types weak to it (Ice and Rock). Steel’s primary use may be defensive, but making it an all-around better type couldn’t hurt anyone. Except Fairies. And while Fairy isn’t weak to Fire, Fire being resistant to Fairy also helps it recover from its devastating Rock weakness.

Given the lore behind Fae creatures, the type weaknesses also make sense. In folklore, iron as a metal has been said to be resistant to magic, and even to harm Fae more than anything else, supposedly draining their magic from them. The term you’ll want to search for in your fact-checking is “Cold iron”, in case you wanted it.

When considering certain Fae, such as a dryad or nymph, it’s common to think of nature. This is accurate, as Fae are almost always associated with nature. When you consider their weakness to Poison, you may want to consider Poison to be representative of pollution. Makes sense, huh? Pollute the planet, the fairies are sad. Which is logically sound symbolism, of course, but the practical in-game equivalent is Garbodor propelling a ball of sludge toward Jigglypuff at high speeds.

Those are, of course, the Fairy type’s weaknesses. We talked about its most popular strength already, but the other types that it’s super effective against are Fighting and Dark. Fighting did need to be taken down a peg. Super effective against five types and weak against two? Sure, there are some types that resist fighting, but they’re all pretty uncommonly used (Poison resist Fighting! There’s another thing it’s good at!). This isn’t counting the Flying type, partially because many Flying type Pokemon are part Normal, and that cancels out the weakness, but mostly because most Flying type Pokemon are just really, really fragile, and Fighting type Pokemon have enormous attack strength.

As for Fairy’s strength against the Dark type… It makes sense, but Dark didn’t need to be any worse, really. It’s in the same boat as Steel was, but without an enormous list of resistances. I genuinely feel bad for Dark, as a type, because its only real use is making Psychic-type Pokemon cry (until they learn a Fighting-, Bug-, or, hey, Fairy-type move to counter). Sure, Dark-type moves almost all have secondary effects to make them more useful (lots of flinching), but if it was a little bit more useful, maybe its attacks wouldn’t have to double as stalling tactics?

Also, Fairy resists Bug. Don’t ask me why… Just reaffirming its unfortunate position as a primarily early-game type.


All in all, I, personally, am happy with the Fairy-type. And I look forward to seeing how it holds up against the other 17 types in practice. After all, this all sounds good on paper, but nothing will compare to the first time Jigglypuff uses Sing on an unsuspecting Salamence, letting it go gently into that good night.