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10/30/2011

Books, Arcade Stick and Comic

The next weekend is going to be my birthday, but my girlfriend decided to give me a gift a week early so we headed to a local mall we always hang on at and after looking at many things we decided to get the first two books from the Game of Thrones series which we loved when we watched in on TV some months ago. The books are in English and are very long but I've heard incredible things about them. I have enough good stuff to read until 2013 at least. 

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Besides that, my DOA4 Arcade Stick got here much earlier than I expected. As I mentioned, it didn't come with the original box but it was clearly new since it was covered in the plastic Microsoft uses for the Xbox 360 and the normal controllers. I tried it for Virtua Fighter 5 and it's definitely like starting to play the game from scratch but the feeling is great, I can actually escape from the stuns and several moves feel more comfortable.

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Finally, two of my friends attended an Anime convention I decided not to visit during the weekend and they bought some cool stuff on it, especially on the comics department and gave me this awesome gift: An issue of Deadpool where he teams up with Ghost Rider. This is awesome because these comics are incredibly hard to find where I live and since I'm hyped for playing as GR in Ultimate MvC3 they bought it for me.

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10/28/2011

Next anime article

Now that my BUE article is finally up, I feel the need to write about its "prequel": Burn Up W which fortunately I can watch in just an hour and a half since that one is just four episodes. The truth is that the one I really loved when it was aired back in the late 90s was W, not Excess so I really feel like the OVA deserves a spot in my blog. I'll try my best to watch them during the weekend and see if I get an article ready before monday. It's going to be cool.

Other than that, my next anime articles will focus most likely on High School of the Dead, Azumanga Daioh and Excel Saga. I own the original DVDs and Blu-rays for them so it's just logical for my to work with those before going to the pirated ones I have (yeah I pirate my anime series since NO ONE sells them where I live). Then I'll most likely continue with Blue Dragon which I started, loved but never actually finished watching for some reason.

ANIME REVIEW: Burn Up Excess



Burn Up Excess is an old and rather obscure anime series from 1997 which features a group of police officers, mostly female, named WARRIOR with special abilities and skills each that work together to bring down organized crime and terrorist groups in a somewhat futuristic version of Tokyo. It only has thirteen episodes total telling a short and interesting story with tons of action, humor and ecchi content.

The main character in the series is a blonde girl named Rio who is very cheerful, loud and clumsy and is always in need of money to buy girly things like make-up, clothes, shoes and the like. She’s not very intelligent but due to her insane strength and fighting ability she gets chosen to become part of WARRIOR.

Along with Rio, we get to see Maya, a green-haired girl who is obsessed with guns and other fire weapons and feels a lot of pleasure firing them, Nanbel, a tanned beautiful girl who is a genius and always builds weird but useful machines, Lilica, a girl with incredible hacking abilities, Maki, the leader of the group and the one giving the orders and finally Yuki, the only male member of WARRIOR who excels at driving the vehicles and is a pervert who is obsessed with filming Rio at all times.

Almost all the episodes feature a different “case” where a terrorist group or the like will somehow cause some chaos and the WARRIOR group will have to stop them but slowly, a story about a deeper evil plan from a crime lord named Harry along with a girl named Ruby will develop. In each of those cases, Rio will be the character with the most screen time and will usually be the one who somehow solves the entire thing, even without meaning to.

The other members will also get a lot of time to explain who they are and give them some character development in an attempt to avoid focusing the entire series on Rio. Example, some of the episodes feature a “Yuki part” at the end where he will try to sneak into the girls’ bathroom and will always get caught in different and very funny ways. The screen time and participation of each character is well balanced and have a great pace.

The animation is very good, taking in count that it is an old anime series and a very obscure one.  The characters, colors, movements and the like are very good and almost feel like a most recent series. Same with the voices who can be enjoyed in three different versions: Japanese, English and Spanish. The first and third options are very well done, especially the Spanish one which is almost perfectly recreated and synchronized with the lips movements. The music is also good for the most part; the opening and closing songs are very cool and feel like they should have been more famous to the anime genre

The series focuses a lot on action, humor and ecchi. It has tons of very cool fights between the WARRIOR members, usually just Rio and Maya, and the terrorists who can be Ruby, cyber cops, Arabic soldiers and even a tall dude who thinks he is a woman. The humor and ecchi are great as well. The series makes a lot of fun of how Rio never has money for anything, Nanbel’s silly inventions or Yuki trying to get the girls on camera while they are in underwear which usually results on him getting his butt kicked like in most series with a pervert on them.

With very few exceptions, the series does everything in a great way but a negative aspect could be how short it is and the inconclusive ending. It feels a lot like the series had tons of potential to be much longer, with about 25 episodes and could have developed the main story more slowly to give the public the opportunity to enjoy more of its action and humor.

In short, Burn Up Excess is a great series that should have been more famous and known than it really is. Even finding content about it on the internet is difficult and it feels unfair that a series this good never got the attention it deserves. It has a great balance between very hot girls fighting bad guys and showing their attributes as well as a simple but interesting plot, jokes, music and action. 

10/27/2011

Weekly update

I'm already about halfway through Burn Up Excess. It is a very short anime series, featuring only thirteen episodes, I already watched seven of them and the truth is that I might just go and watch the rest in a bit since I'm pulling and all nighter in an attempt to fix my sleep cycle (I suffer from insomnia and some nerves sickness) since I gotta go to classes at 6am and it's already 1am so there's no point on trying to sleep. If I do finish watching the series tonight I might write a cool article about it tomorrow and finally be able to start my Virtua Fighter 5 review as well.

Besides that, I started reading the second (first) Unreal book and for some reason it feels like better written than what I just finished. Weird since it's the same two authors. In gaming, I haven't played anything to be honest, not even a little Forza or F1 2011 so I don't really have anything to update but I'll be sure to play a lot during the weekend.

10/26/2011

Unreal book number one (two) is finished

Today I finished reading the first (second really) book of the classic PC game Unreal. The truth is that I liked it but halfway through my read, I was googling the name of the author, Ryan Hughes and came across a message he wrote back in 1998 stating some problems when the books were printed.

The thing is that he and another author each wrote a different book, Hughes wrote the story of how a Nali resistance group defeat a Skaarj invasion several centuries before the events of the game take place while the other guy wrote a story of three humans that survived the Vortex Rikers crash along with the player character and their story fighting the Skaarj side by side with the Nali.

The thing is that the chapters of each book (called First Occupation and Second Occupation) are mixed so you get chapter 1 of the first book, then chapter 1 of the second book, then chapter 2 of the first book and so on. There is no problem at all with this because it give the opportunity to follow both stories at the same time, but the shitstorm starts when Hughes states that the covers were actually backwards, which means that Hard Crash, identified as book number one, is actually the second while Prophet's Power is the first.


I didn't know anything about these besides a small warning in Amazon stating that Prophet's Power was a prequel. But I didn't think this was the actual problem so I started reading Hard Crash anyway and couldn't help but feel that the book started in the middle of things and developed up to an OK ending . Now I understand, both stories actually begin in the book identified as number two: Prophet's Power.

Besides the cover switching, there is a disorder in four chapters in Hard Crash where chapters 16 and 17 are actually 14 and 15. I also didn't know about this and when I read Hughes' old message, I was already at chapter 19 of the book. I know this sounds like a total disaster and the truth is that it is. Both stories are interesting though they do have a lot of problems that I will state in an article once I finish reading Prophet's Power which I'll read anyway even if I already know how both stories develop and end.

10/25/2011

New DS games

Today in the afternoon I was walking around one of the local malls looking for the Captain America movie and went inside a gaming shop to say hi to a friend. While talking to her I noticed two of the Kirby games for the DS and she told she could give them to me at a very low price to I couldn't resist and bought them...


As you can see they're Super Star Ultra and Mass Attack, which is fairly new with about two weeks in the market. But since the DS sales here are starting to decline they were willing to give the games to me for cheap. I'm really dangerous in a game store. I went to the mall looking for a DVD and I came back with it and two DS games. Oh well. I'll try them out during the week.

10/24/2011

I started watching Burn Up Excess

I think I already mentioned this anime series a while back. I've been wanting to watch it since I own it on DVD and would like to write about it. Burn Up Excess is a mix between humor, action and ecchi featuring a group of female police officers solving crimes and chasing bad guys.


A very old TV channel that doesn't exist now used to air the series when I was a young teenager in the late 90s and I remember loving it deeply so I bought it about a year ago on DVD. I started watching it again to be able to write about it. So far I've only watched two episodes of it and will probably watch a couple more before going to bed. 

The storyline so far is somewhat weak but the characters are very funny. I'm watching it dubbed in spanish because it reminds me of how I used to enjoy it when I was younger. I'll keep the blog updated with my progress on it.

In other news I FINALLY watched the Captain America movie, I found it in a local DVD store and was able to enjoy the film. I liked it a lot and the Avengers trailer at the end is very cool. I can't wait to watch the Avengers together fighting a common enemy.

Also, I'm almost at the end of the first (second really) Unreal book. It is very cool but there are some problems with them that I will elaborate and explain on an article once I finish reading both which should happen sometime next week.

Finally, I'll try to write a Virtua Fighter 5 Online review on Wednesday night to have it available as content here, just like the DOA4 one. I would do it tomorrow but I gotta take care of an university essay that will probably take up all my time tomorrow night.

10/23/2011

Dead or Alive 4 Arcade Stick coming!

I made yet another purchase at Amazon. This time it is an Xbox 360 Arcade Stick. Specifically the DOA4 one that I've been seeing around the internet since the game first came out. But because I've always felt comfortable with the normal controller, I never had any interest in buying it. And the truth is that for DOA I won't play with an arcade stick (at least seriously) but now that my love for Virtua Fighter is back and kicking I decided to invest in these controllers for both VF5 and Final Showdown.

The stick is from the HORI brand which are very cheap but the quality is great according to the online reviews. It has a pretty Kokoro image on it and six face buttons that can be configured for almost any fighting game. I'll try my hand on it once it arrives on my Xbox 360 fighting games (DOA4, VF5 and Soul Calibur 4). 

I'm also putting a PS3 one on my Amazon wishlist which I'd buy probably in November to have it here for Blazblue, MK9 and UMvC3 (I still don't know which version of King of Fighters XIII I'll buy so there). That one is from the same Hori brand so it's cheap as well (around fifty dollars) compared to the common Mad Catz SF4 arcade stick that is usually available at 130 dollars of more.

I'm really excited about this and can't wait to get my hands on it and start playing Virtua Fighter 5. I'm guessing that Akira's and Aoi's weird commands will get somewhat easier with it and the Arcade Machine feel on it will be awesome. I'll post pictures once it arrives!


Retro gaming section delayed

I had to make the decision to delay the RETRO gaming section till next week. I've been busy with some things and the truth is that I didn't play Episode I Racer at all and while I could simply go and write an article about it, it wouldn't come up as good as I'd want it to. Still, I'm not abandoning the thing, simply delaying it and will most likely start doing it next week.

What is going to happen for sure is some current-gen reviews. I noticed something incredibly odd, I never reviewed Mortal Kombat 9 so I'll probably write an article about it. And keep with the Xbox 360 ones which will most likely include Virtua Fighter 5 and Halo 3 ODST. I'd like to get reviews up for Bayonetta and Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts but I'd have to replay those games and that's not going to happen at least until Christmas.

So, to keep track of those I'll simply update the "Blog Projects" page up there to keep myself organized on this. Also, I'm going to write a couple of "First Impressions" articles for Forza 4 and F1 2011 which are incredible games and deserve a lot of attention in the blog.

REVIEW: Dead or Alive 4 (Xbox 360)


Dead or Alive 4 is a 3D fighting game developed by Tomonobu Itagaki’s famous development company Team Ninja, who are also responsible of creating games like the Ninja Gaiden series. Like in every common fighting game, the objective is to use attacking and defensive skills to our advantage to KO the opponents. DOA4 is the first and (so far) only game of the series in the Xbox 360 and as usual with it, it features several modes for gameplay both online and offline, a huge roster of incredibly deep characters to choose from and multi-tier stages to fight on.

It is a very fast-paced fighting game where a single round can be over in about 10-15 seconds even if the players aren’t very experienced and the characters fighting are among the slowest which is something that has always brought the public to the franchise. There are more than twenty characters to choose from and all of them are different, each with an exclusive fighting style and command list that goes from the extremely fast Kasumi and Christie to the slow but insanely hard-hitting Bass or Bayman.

The characters retain their usual looks and designs from the previous games so none of them will be unrecognizable but many have drastically changed their fighting styles like Bruce Lee’s kameo Jann Lee or Bayman who now play completely different from their DOA2 and DOA3 versions. Of course, the girls are still extremely beautiful and do their eye-candy job or ecchi to perfection and as usual, all of the fighters will have a good amount of costumes to choose from so it’s almost impossible to not find a character to like.

The game looks very stunning graphically, especially on the characters. They all have a lot of details in their clothes that have gotten much better from the old entries of the series, like for example Leifang’s dress, Gen Fu’s martial arts suit and Jann Lee’s muscles. They look better than ever and in some cases the clothes themselves have movements that make them look very realistic.

The environments are great as well, there are many pretty-looking places like the top of a high-tech building, an African savanna with animals walking around (and a cheetah that just loves to run into careless fighters) or one of Halo 2’s stages from the beginning of the campaign of the game. But some of them use low-quality textures on the background and while polished because of the high-resolution, you can see that they were recycled from Dead or Alive Ultimate for the Original Xbox. Another negative thing to the visuals are some of the girl’s hair like Leifang that sometimes look very weird then she’s moving around but other than that the game looks very good.

Just like Dead or Alive 3 and Ultimate, DOA4 only has the Japanese voices which are all the same from the Original Xbox games except the new characters of course. The voices are all pretty cool and fit perfectly with each fighter, no matter if they’re yelling in an attack, screaming of agony or just talking in match’s intro. The same can be said about the sound effects. You can usually hear the sound of water, people cheering in the background or the “electric explosions” that happen when a fighter is thrown to the walls or floor of several stages.

The negative thing in the sound department is definitely the music. The only song that is really good is the one from the Halo 2 stage because it features the main theme from the game. Other than that, the music is not cool at all and will start to get very annoying quickly. Fortunately, DOA4 (like all Xbox 360 games) can be played using your own music if you have songs saved on the HDD or plug an mp3 device via USB. Choosing your own music really betters the game greatly.

Gameplay-wise the game is very easy-to-get-into but hard to master. There are only three action buttons: Punch, Kick and “Free” which is used for blocking and counter-attacks. The rest of the actions are done by mixing two of those three actions. You can move freely around the stages and each character has around 100+ moves which can all be done with those three buttons and the directional ones that can be either the D-pad or the left analog stick, whichever you find more comfortable.

Those counter attacks are defensive moves common to the franchise where by pressing the “free” button along with a set directional input, you can catch an opponent’s arm or leg to do a quick damaging animation and put you in an advantage. All the characters in the game have these and using them correctly can easily turn the tides in a close fight.

The combos and moves of the characters are generally easier to pull out than in other fighting games (with very few exceptions like Ryu Hayabusa’s Izuna Drop or Hayate’s Raijin throw) but while they’re easy to handle, the key to victory in DOA4 is to play lots of mind games, use the game’s rules to your advantage and avoid getting counter attacked. DOA4 features a juggle system when each character has a set of “launch” moves that throw their opponents to the air and give the attacking fighter the opportunity to land a few hits before they hit the ground.

By mixing the juggle system with the stun one, you can throw your opponent higher in the air if you stun them enough while they’re on the ground, if successfully pulled out, the launch blow will send the opponent higher and you’ll have the chance the land more hits before they fall down. This, of course, requires lightning fast combo execution and has a great risk of getting counter attacked if you start repeating the same stings over and over so the key is to get to know what each character is capable of.

Dead or Alive 4 features several game modes like Story, where you play a bunch of fights and watch a video exclusive to each character at the end, Versus, where you can play against a friend in either 1 on 1 or Tag battlers (2 vs. 2), Survival mode, where the AI keeps giving you opponents to defeat so you can beat a high score, Training, a mode you use to practice and get to know the character’s move and skills and of course, the online mode where you play people for points and get high ranks.

In the online multiplayer (which generally runs very smoothly, compared to other games of the genre), you can walk around a weird but cute lobby before getting into a fight using an avatar than can be a penguin, small ninja, crocodile and the such. You can buy them things to wear like glasses and hats with the “Zack dollars” you earn by winning fights. This is a fun way to hang out with people in the online and wait for your turn to play in the multiplayer, which is usually very competitive.

Being a fighting game with so many characters with so many moves and all those game modes give Dead or Alive 4 a pretty much infinite amount of replay value. No matter how good you think you are with a character, you’ll always be able to use new combos and find new and effective ways to use the ones you already knew. You can always try your hand with a new character and get good challenging fights either online or offline.

In short, Dead or Alive 4 is probably one of the best fighting games ever made. The insanely varied roster of fighters and stages, deep system it uses and all the game modes make each fight unique, challenging and fun. The game’s speed is lightning fast which makes it fun even if you’re only looking at it. Some of the background graphics and the music can have small negative things but overall, this is a great game that no one with an Xbox 360 should miss no matter what.


Pros:

-          More than twenty different characters to choose from, all with different fighting styles
-          Deep fighting system rewards high skilled players
-          Easy-to-get-into but very hard to master
-          The girls are extremely beautiful
-          Almost no lag in the online modes
-          Infinite replay value


Cons:

-          Recycled backgrounds from DOA Ultimate in some stages
-          The soundtrack is not very good
-          The Story is uninteresting and makes almost no sense at all


Graphics and Visuals………..9
Music and Sound Effects……..8
Gameplay……………………10
Replay Value………………..10

Overall Score……………….. 9.25 / 10

10/21/2011

Dead or Alive 4 review coming in the weekend

It's been bothering me that there are only two Xbox 360 reviews in the blog. A very old Tales of Vesperia one and the Halo Reach one that I wrote some months ago and I really want to have several articles about my Xbox 360 games since I own more than thirty of them. And though I will be writing about Forza 4 and F1 2011 soon I'd like to have some of my favorite games in the console reviewed by me, even if the games are old so I'm starting with my favorite: Dead or Alive 4 which is a game I play at least once a week and love with a huge passion like anyone who knows me knows.

I'm already halfway through it and I think it's coming along nicely. I'm trying to keep the tech talk out of it and be as objective as possible and I'm sure that I'm doing a good job on it. Since today is Friday and I will most likely be out of the house or playing with some friends I'll probably not be able to finish it by tonight but I'm sure that it's going to be up during the weekend.

Some other Xbox 360 games I'd like to have reviewed are Virtua Fighter 5, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts, Halo 3 and ODST, Bayonetta, Mass Effect and the JRPGs that I'm eventually play that are Blue Dragon, Lost Odyssey and Eternal Sonata. I also need to remember to write reviews for F1 2011, Forza 4 and Halo Anniversary (once I own and finish it). With that, I'd also like the Wii section to have a review for Super Mario Galaxy 2, Metroid: Other M and Metroid Prime Trilogy but that will take time since I have to replay all those games to have everything fresh about them.

The final plan is for the blog to have some kind of balance in content because it looks like I only play PS3 and 3DS to the people who don't know me and that's not the case. I just haven't reviewed many games for the other consoles but from now own I won't care if a game is a bit old, if I play and finish it I'll review it.

10/20/2011

An amazing Final Fantasy XIV interview

A fellow Twitter user @Nova_Crystallis who writes for rpgsite.net interviewed Naoki Yoshida, the leader of the team with the responsibility of almost remaking Final Fantasy XIV from the beginning. The article, questions and answers are incredible and even give me a lot of hope of seeing the game getting good and becoming a strong Final Fantasy titles.

Many changes from actions, battle system and even the jobs will be completely redone eventually in what Yoshida-san calls "2.0 version" and he says the team is working with all they have to finally bring the game to the PS3 and who knows¿ maybe even the Xbox 360.

You can read the article HERE. I truly recommend it even if you already experienced the game (which I haven't) and hate it like most people do. Cheers to Twitter user @Nova_Crystallis for this.


10/19/2011

REVIEW: Catherine (PS3)


Catherine is the latest game developed and published by the famous developers Atlus, specifically the team responsible for the Persona series which has seen releases in both the PS2 and PSP recently. It is available for the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. Unlike Persona and the rest of the company’s games, Catherine is not an RPG. It is some kind of mix between a puzzle game and an erotic graphic adventure.

The game tells the story of a common man named Vincent in his early thirties who is dating a beautiful girl named Katherine. Vincent is starting on a new job, lives alone in a very tiny apartment and like his life full of adventure, drinking with his friends at a local bar and having fun while Katherine is a serious girl with a strong career who wants to marry Vincent soon, but the thought of this terrifies Vincent.

One night, after his friends leave the bar, Vincent stays behind to drink some more when a gorgeous blonde girl named Catherine sits next to him and starts seducing him until without knowing it, he wakes up in the morning next to her in his apartment and he starts to try to avoid Katherine from finding out about his affair with Catherine. Yes, sounds confusing at first.

The game looks incredible, the visuals are amazing in the characters; environments and even the nightmare puzzles, there are tons of details in the textures, clothes, objects and especially the facial expressions of the characters that are some of the best in both consoles. Their movements feel very realistic and they help bringing them to life in an excellent way.

The sound effects are very cool as well though there are some weird annoying sounds in the nightmare levels. But the music is incredible, with piano and jazz themes everywhere that are among the best in the current generation, and the voice-acting is probably the best in both consoles. The dialogs and voices are so varied and great that they tell the story in an amazing way.

With this, Vincent will have a nightmare every night for nine days where he will grow some horns and will be put along some talking sheep to try and climb some extremely weird and sometimes extremely difficult towers made of blocks in the form of cubes. This is where the gameplay takes place. Every night, Vincent will have to climb a set number of towers and answer some questions before each one. The way you climb and the answers to these questions will determine the future outcome of the story.

While climbing the towers, Vincent will be able to pull and push the blocks to try and make way for him to keep going up. There are several kinds of blocks like the bomb ones that will damage every object nearby when he steps on them, the traps that will kill Vincent with some blades if he stops moving above them or the dark blocks that are way too heavy for Vincent to move. Knowing what each block can do and its capabilities is the key to success in the game.

Also, in every puzzle, the lowest floor of the tower will fall off every few seconds, forcing Vincent to try and be quick when climbing. Sometimes, a “boss” will be climbing along with him trying to kill him and he will have to transform the tower to make his way up while avoiding the boss’ attacks at the same time. Vincent will sometime find other sheep trying to climb the puzzle and he will be able to push them down to get them out of his way or be pushed himself so he has to be really careful.

Between every puzzle, Vincent will be able to walk around a church-like platform and talk with some other sheep to exchange climbing techniques, know more about their lives, why they’re having his same nightmare and even buy items with the coins you pick up in the towers and earn each time you finish one. And after a boss “battle” he will finally wake up at morning having survived another day.

When Vincent is awake is when the “graphic adventure” part of the game plays. He will usually have lunch with his friend Orlando who works with him, drink a coffee with Katherine, talk with Catherine in his apartment and in the nights before going to sleep, he will always go drink with his three best friends (Orlando included) at the local bar named the Stray Sheep.

In the bar, Vincent will be able to walk around talking to the NPCs finding out more about the nightmares people are sharing and that are resulting in young men appearing dead every morning, answer his calls on the phone or the text messages, drink some alcohol (which will result in him running faster in the nightmares the more drunk he is), play an arcade machine called “Rapunzel” with puzzles very much like the nightmare levels, change the music and even watch the news.

What he does while awake is vital to the outcome of the future events and the ending of the game. Whether he answers to his text messages, keep Catherine’s sexy photos in his phone; say something rude to Katherine or to one of his friends. Each action will have a consequence and it is possible to see how he’s doing with a bar with an arrow that will lean to a blue side if he does good things and to the red side if he does something inappropriate or incorrect.

The result of this mix is a very interesting and innovative game with an excellent visual presentation and even better voice acting and music. The game is much different from pretty much everything everyone has ever played and Atlus did a great job with it. It has many endings ensuring that those who want to try to get different ones will be able to play through it in several ways to try it so there’s a lot of replay value. It is also possible to try to finish the nightmare levels in a harder difficulty setting (that is a little too hard) or with a friend in Co-op mode which sometimes has devastating results.

For closing comments, Catherine is a great game that everyone out there should try their hand on. As I said, it is something very different from the rain of shooters, fighters and adventure games bombing the gaming market now days so an innovative title like this one is a very welcome addition to the roster of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

Pros:

-          Excellent story with fun and varied characters
-          Voice acting is one of the best in all PS3/X360 games
-          The puzzles are very challenging and feel rewarding when finished
-          Different endings provide motivation for several runs

Cons:

-          Insane requirements to unlock new modes
-          Controls get inverted when Vincent is hanging in the back of a tower
-          There are some camera problems in the nightmare levels


-          Graphics and Visuals………...8
-          Music and Sound Effects….....9
-          Gameplay……………………9
-          Replay Value………………...8

-          Overall Score……………….. 8.5 / 10


My Atelier games arrived today

The Atelier Rorona and Atelier Totori games I ordered from Amazon arrived this morning. They're in excellent condition, completely new and I'm really pleased once again with the website's service. I got interested in buying these games for the same reason I bought Hyperdimension Neptunia: an investment, nothing more. I'm 100% sure that they're not even close to the really good JRPGs like Final Fantasy XIII, Tales of Verperia and Eternal Sonata. I've heard they're simple turn-based classic JRPGs like the ones we all used to play in the PS1 era. Yet, the collector editions of the games, rarity of them and the insanely increasing prices of them made me make up my mind and finally buy them.

I haven't even tried them but probably will during the week (I'm currently hooked to my new racing games on the 360) but in the trailers and gameplay videos the games look MUCH better than Neptunia so who knows¿ I might end up enjoying them eventually and refusing to sell them in the future.

Both of them are part of a "trilogy" where the first one is Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland and the second one is Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland. The third chapter is already out in Japan and is called Atelier Meruru and is expected to be localized sometime in 2012. I'll stay tuned to the release date to try and catch it as cheap as possible.

Owning these games makes me wonder how some other game companies sell their games at the very same prices but you get nothing more than the game disc and the plastic cover. It just happened to me with NHL 11. That one only has the disc and a three-pages black and white manual (Gears of War 3 does this as well), while most JRPGs feature great colored books and some of them, like the Atelier ones give you beautiful content like the one you're about to see.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for getting recycled game boxes and using less paper but if you're going to sell me a recycled box and a black and white manual with less than five pages then don't fucking charge sixty dollars for it geez.

I took several pictures of the game boxes and the contents, take a look:


Both of the game boxes. The come with an art book each and Totori features a soundtrack CD.


Opened Rorona box, the insides are just like the Hyperdimension Neptunia one.


Box, art book and game box of Atelier Rorona. This was supposed to be an exclusive Gamestop version, and the game cover does mention it. Yet, I was able to get the game from Amazon.


Inside Atelier Rorona's art book.


Back of Rorona's art book and game box.


Back of Atelier Rorona's big box.


Contents of the Atelier Totori's Collector's Edition: Art book, game and soundtrack.


The insides of the art book and the music CD.


Back of Atelier Totori's game box, art book and music CD.


Same, from the opposite angle.


Back of Atelier Totori's box.




Both games resting on one of my shelves among some of my PS2 titles.

10/17/2011

DOA / VF local group coming along nicely

I managed to put up the first "official" activity of the gaming group I created for my country focused on Dead or Alive and Virtua Fighter. Since everything was planned in an hour, we could not come to an agreement on the presence of an Xbox 360 so I just took a PS2 there with DOA2 Hardcore and Virtua Fighter 4. Surprisingly, a lot of people got interested and we played both games for about five-six hours with excellent matches and many wins a losses in them.

With the passing of the weeks, my friends and I will try to do our best to get together every two of three weeks to play on an Xbox 360 so we can successfully move to DOA4 and VF5 along with Dimensions of course. With luck we'll be able to handle a group of about 20 people (that's the plan) to play seriously once Dead or Alive 5 and Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown are released next year. I hope everything goes right.


RETRO GAMING Week 1

I'm opening up a new section for the blog which is going to be about old video games, from the NES to the N64 era. As I explained before, every Monday I'll choose a random game from those years and try my best to play it several times during the week to finally write a very small article about it on Sunday night. With luck, I'll be able to pile up a good bunch of articles about retro games with the passing of the weeks. 

Since I do have a life outside gaming, with university, Japanese studies, girlfriend, friends, family and other hobbies, I might miss some weeks of this and probably take more than one week for a single game. Still I'll do my best to keep the section as active as possible.

Still, retro gaming is something that I appreciate a lot not only because I grew up with those games but also because I still find tons of quality aspects in them in terms of gameplay, sound, presentation and yes, even graphics and I feel the need to keep playing this titles and share my experiences and opinions about them in my blog.


The first game I'll be playing and writing about is "Star Wars Episode I: Racer" for the Nintendo 64. I'll be playing both the console and emulator versions and try to advance as much as possible in the career to come up with a good and well-elaborated article. I already wrote a little about it here but will work on it as the first game in the section anyway.


New game purchases

As I've been mentioning over the last weeks. I wanted to buy both F1 2011 and Forza 4 together for the Xbox 360 because the local store gives me a free game every time I buy two of the same console. I had the money saved since my Argentina trip and when Forza 4 arrived at the store on Saturday afternoon I went and picked them both. I got NHL 11 for free and it's very cool. I already owned the 09 edition and liked it a lot as well.

I tried Forza 4 first and can't believe how better it got since the third game. It looks and plays better and it recognized my old file from the previous game so it gave me some cars and credits to make my experience better from the beginning. The tracks are more of less the same except for two but the game is still awesome.

Same with F1 2011, some things are just like last year's edition but now the graphics and weather effects are better, the game feels more realistic in both gameplay and sound and the menus are improved from F1 2010. I'm very pleased with the three games which I'll be playing during the following months. I don't think my reviews for them will come fast but I expect to have them ready around Christmas time since the three games need many hours of gameplay to know what to talk about in a good article.

Here's a picture of the three boxes:

Unreal novels are here!

The Unreal novels finally got here on Friday afternoon. I was expecting them to arrived in a pretty bad state, with yellow pages, torn covers and the like because of the insanely cheap prices I got them for and the descriptions on Amazon but surprisingly, both of them are in great condition. Almost new, in fact I don't think they were ever used by anyone, though one of them has a very old 1998 receipt from a previous owner who also bought a Star Wars novel at the time.

The first one is Hard Crash which tells the story of a couple of humans who survived the Vortex Rikers accident in planet Na Pali and their stories in the planet and the second one is Prophets Power which is about a Nali warrior who befriends an Skaarj AI and manages to put of a good fight against the invading forces in his planet. I already started reading Hard Crash and so far it's very cool. Both of the books are around 250 pages long so it won't take me long to go through both of them. Here's a picture of the books:

10/14/2011

RETRO GAMING section coming next week

I've been thinking about a new section to create for the blog. I want to make a retro games section to give love and remember some of the best old games from consoles from the NES to the N64 era. I want it to work like this: I'm going to randomly choose one game every Sunday night and during an entire week I'll try to play the game at least three times for a couple hours in order to get the experience on it fresh enough to then write a very small article each Sunday about it talking about how the graphics, gameplay, music and all those things are before picking up another game. 

I'd have to create a completely new page for it but I believe Blogger won't let me do that so I might sacrifice the "Top 5" page since it's not important at all. I'm gonna try it starting on Monday with one retro game and try my best to have one every week. Right now I'm between Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 for the PS1,  Megaman 4 for the NES, Darkstalkers 3 for the Dreamcast or Star Wars Episode I Racer for the Nintendo 64. In fact, I think I might work with those four for the first month of the section.

With luck, over the weeks page would have a link with the name of the game that would take readers to the article I wrote with some screens and videos too. So, during the weekend I'll try to make up my mind and decide which game I'm going to pick up to start the new section.

In other news, I did create a Facebook group to try and keep people from my country interested in Dead or Alive and Virtua Fighters. We already have six members willing to go to places to play and organize cool activities around both franchises. I think that with a little motivation, the group might actually work. And finally I finally finished Catherine. I liked the game a lot but won't go back to it at least in some time. It's a great an innovative game and I recommend it. The review should be up either tomorrow or Saturday. I'll do my best with it.

10/10/2011

I might get back into Virtua Fighter 5

Last night one of my friends came over and played MvC3 and DOA4 with me but before finishing we decided to have a few "button-smashing" fights in the good-old Virtua Fighter 5. We forgot EVERYTHING we learned from the game three years ago but decided to slowly start playing it again since the latest update is coming in summer 2012 and at least I will definitely get into it.

My buddy plays with Vanessa and Brad while I like Akira, Aoi and Eileen. I used to be kinda good with them but simply forgot everything because I stopped playing it for three years. Hopefully, with some practice, my basic VF5 will return and I might be able to even form a small team of friends to play it together every once in a while.


We also got this funny idea of creating a Facebook group especially to gather people interested in Dead or Alive and Virtua Fighter, two of the least popular fighting games in my country in an attempt to get people interested on them and probably form a small but working community for the two fighting game franchises. I need to talk to my friend about this to see if the group will actually be created and how to organize activities and the such. Who knows¿ it might work.

Because of VF5 I'm actually starting to get interested in purchasing an Arcade Stick for my Xbox 360 to play it since the game obviously works better with it, just like Street Fighter 4 and Marvel vs Capcom 3. I'm thinking about getting the old DOA4 arcade stick but it's only available used in Amazon but it's cheap at least. I will think about it.

With that, the plan is to get used to VF5 and keep playing DOA once the new versions of each franchise come out. I'm sure that I will abandon pretty much every competitive game once Dead or Alive 5 comes out but to be honest, I think Virtua Fighter 5 could be an excellent companion to DOA5 and also, I'm really excited to see what Taka-Arashi and the karate guy are capable of in the game.