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1/31/2012

I want Zone of the Enders HD Collection

I haven't really cared much for the tsunami of HD collections that have been coming out recently, many of them are very good but I only have the one with God of War 1 and 2 so far. But after looking at a small article in gamekicker.com I got interested in Zone of the Enders HD. It's a compilation with the two PS2 games remastered for both the 360 and PS3. 

I have the first one for the PS2 but I never actually played it because I only bought it to have it in my collection. But my small experience with it and opinions from many gamers in the internet make me believe that they're both very good games. And the fact that they come from a famous developer like Hideo Kojima make me trust my money on the game.













It is supposed to be coming out sometime in 2012, still not an exact date but I'll definitely be on the lookout for the game to buy it most likely for my Xbox 360.

1/30/2012

Happy 15th Birthday (in Japan) Final Fantasy VII!

Today marks the 15th year of the release of Final Fantasy VII in Japan. Considered by many (including myself) one of the best video games ever made, FF7 has been the causes of countless debates and discussions about whether the game is overrated or not. I personally do think it stands among the best in the entire industry. I played the game very late, about three years after it came out because I only had a N64 so I was only able to enjoy it (along with FF8 and 9) after I got a PS2 in Christmas 2000/2001. 

And even though I was already playing much newer and better-looking games like Perfect Dark, Majora's Mask and Banjo-Tooie. I was literally blown away by Final Fantasy VII and I fell in love with it. The characters, story, narrative, music and battle systems were simply incredible and trust me when I say that I even like the old-school graphics a lot. For me, Final Fantasy VII definitely sits in the throne among the most valuable games in history. 

When rumors about a PS3 remake start to pop out, I wonder if we really need one. If the decision was on me and only me, I'd choose yes, but I'd only make very little changes to the gameplay like being able to see your two companions when walking around the places or a "dynamic camera" inside the battles like the one in FFXIII and XIII-2. I'd also make Vincent and Yuffie join the party no matter what and better their personal stories. But other than that, I'd pretty much leave the battle system, story and progress of the player untouched. 

But when I see Square-Enix commenting about not being able to make a good FFVII remake because they don't have time, I support them. I mean, If the remake is going to be a rushed mess, then don't make it and SE already has too many plans like Versus XIII, Kingdom Hearts 3 (they are working on KH3 trust me) and other games so a FF7 remakes seems like a no-go.

If for any reason at all, you haven't played Final Fantasy VII. DO IT NOW! If you manage to look beyond the dated graphics (which are obvious, it is an early-PS1 game), you'll find one of the best characters, story, environments, narrative, music and battle systems ever created. If it's hard to find a physical copy of the original game, you can buy it for 9.99$ (now 4.99) in the PlayStation Store. Don't listen to the stupid haters, FF7 is one of the best games ever and you should definitely try it out.

1/29/2012

Final Fantasy XIII playthrough update (spoilers)

I've been playing a lot of FFXIII in the weekend. I'm currently at the point where Sazh gets his Eidolon after finding out Vanille was to blame for his son being a l´Cie. I'm truly in awe at this game, it's amazing. Simple gameplay but the graphics, story, music, voices and characters are way better than most of the games in this generation.


Of course, that is just my opinion. But my experiences with the JRPG genre and the others make me think that I'm right when I say the game is good. The hate it originally got when it came out was just something that was popular, like everyone was "oh hey let's all hate Final Fantasy!". And I truly think that's extremely retarded.

Choosing to play FF13 again was the best choice now that XIII-2 is about to come out and since the terminology and story are a bit complicated to understand, I'll now be able to enjoy the second game even more. I'm even thinking about writing an article defending the whole FFXIII game and comparing it to other titles in the genre to prove that it is superior to most of them. But I'll finish it first.

Kirby's Return to Dream Land 100% completed!

Today I managed to 100% complete RTDL. It was an amazing experience but I have to admit that I really wanted the game to end. The boss battles in Extra Mode are actually much harder and required a few tries, except for the giant tree in the first world but other than that the game was VERY cool. The coop gameplay is great though a bit uncomfortable for the non-Kirby players who get a game over every time the hero dies.


I didn't get the gold medals in the challenge rooms and I don't think I ever will. In fact, I won't get back to this game in a long time. Unless I have to show it to somebody, but I loved it and it's definitely worth a try.  Games like this really make me be sure that I'm a fan of the series. Now I still have to complete Kirby's Adventure, Mass Attack and Amazing Mirror so there's still a lot of Kirby stuff to come. 

1/27/2012

Final Fantasy XIII new playthrough

I decided to make another run of Final Fantasy XIII before starting XIII-2. Mainly to get everything from the storyline fresh and because I really wanted to play the game again. I pulled up a good six-hour session and managed to reach the point where the party is divided in three. I'm exactly after Lightning gets her Eidolon and the player takes control of Sazh and Vanille again. 

This is definitely one of the best-looking and overall best games of this generation. Yes, it's very linear and probably doesn't feel like "real Final Fantasy game", whatever the fuck that means. But the haters can really put their shitty opinions up their asses. FFXIII is amazing.


I won't do any of the end-game things since what I'm trying to do is a quick run of the plot but with luck, I'll mange to finish the game before I get my hands on my copy of XIII-2. Now that I completely understand what I'm doing, I'm really enjoying the beginning of the game which I hated the first time I played it back when it originally came out. 

It feels kinda bad to replay FFXIII instead of just finishing one of my other JRPGs but I just love the FF franchise that much. I'll try to keep the blog updated with my new Final Fantasy XIII run. In the meantime, you can check my review for the game here.

iPhone games

I'm posting this from my iPhone, testing out the Blogger app. And I'd like to take the opportunity to talk a little about some games that I'd played since I got the device back in Christmas.

The first is Crystal Defenders, which I've only tried on a lite version because I haven't bought any apps yet. It is a very sweet "tower defense" game where you place warriors, black mages, rangers and other common Final Fantasy around an arena and try to stop several hordes of enemies from reaching a given destination and stealing your crystals.

There's a similar one which is free right now called Fantasy Defense which play almost the same and is very addicting as well.

The devs of Fantasy Defense have a bunch of very cool-lookimg rpgs for free right now called Zenonia (2, 3 and 4), Hybrid and Destinia. They all look awesome to be honest so I'll give them a deeper look in the following days.

Besides those, I'm looking for easy-to-play things like vertical shooters kimda like Ikaruga and Radiant Silvergun and other genres like a dating sim, platformers and the like.

I used to think the iPhone was not a good comtestant as a gaming platform but after lookimg at many of the games (not angry birds), I'm starting to understand why it is becoming such a popular thing to play with.

1/26/2012

PHOTOSET: Halo Reach Play Arts Kai - Jun

These photos are for the Halo Reach sniper Jun Play Arts Kai. He looks excellent in this version of him. The figure has a great amount of articulations to pose him in almost every way and he comes with a huge sniper rifle to carry. It's a beautiful and very detailed figure and I recommend it to every Halo fan out there.

Enjoy the pictures:














PHOTOSET: Halo Reach Play Arts Kai - Jorge

Yesterday I took a couple of my Halo Reach Kais to my garden and took a few pics of them to show their details and things, while the pics are weird because they have Jorge on a table, I think they look pretty cool. He comes with his usual minigun and a set of hands, the figure has a lot of articulations so it's possible to pose him and almost every way imaginable. Enjoy.










1/25/2012

REVIEW: Super Mario 3D Land (3DS)



It seems estrange that after so many months out in the market and struggling so much to find its rightful place in it, the 3DS didn’t have a Super Mario platformer. The public wondered many times if the game would give justice to the two Super Mario Galaxy games for the Wii but fortunately, 3D Land manages to be one of the best games in the console and though not even close to being the best Mario game ever, it’s a great platformer to play and the fact that it can be played literally anywhere makes the experience even better.

Super Mario 3D Land is the common Mario platformer where the Nintendo iconic hero runs and jumps around incredible and awesome stages to collect items, reach a given destination, acquire great power-ups and yes, save Princess Peach from Bowser once again.

Even though there are other games in the 3DS catalog with excellent graphics, like Ocarina of Time 3D or Dead or Alive Dimensions, one can’t help but stand in awe at the visuals of 3D Land. This game looks amazing. The stages are beautifully designed, they’re full of colors, objects and enemies that make everything seem in perfect harmony. The textures are cartoony and things don’t really look realistic but inside the Super Mario context, this is definitely one of the best-looking games in the franchise. In fact, it would be the best if the two Galaxy games weren’t around.

The antialiasing in it is pretty good as well and has very little mistakes that can especially be noticed when playing the game with full 3D effects. These are great and really make things feel like they’re outside the screen. Fortunately, the frame rate of the game is never affected by the 3D effects so playing it with them on will usually be a preference of the player, rather than a performance issue. The graphics are incredible no matter what mode the player uses.

The sound effects are very cool and stay faithful to what the franchise is famous for. The jumps, attacks, enemies and objects make many iconic sounds that will instantly be recognized by most gamers out there and feel excellent. Super Mario 3D Land is a game that manages to create a perfect mix between the old-school and next-gen eras of the franchise.

Since it is a Super Mario game, it’s obvious that there won’t be any voice acting but when comparing it to other platformers in other consoles, it can’t be helped to wonder whether Nintendo could make use of things like voices to give Super Mario games a different and more engaging feeling. Still, the game is excellent even without characters actually speaking to each other.

It has an excellent soundtrack with tons of cartoony songs that fit perfectly into the game. Many of the songs are remixed versions of iconic tunes from previous Mario games that haven’t been used since the NES era and hearing them again feels awesome. Each type of stage has a different song so there will be one for the “grassy” stages, one for the snow ones and another for the fire/lava worlds and so on. The music is definitely one of the best things about this game.

The story is exactly the same as always. Mario is around minding his own business when Bowser kidnaps Princess Peach for no reason at all and he goes on an adventure to save her. Honestly, it’s about time Nintendo came up with something different as an excuse for Mario to go traveling, and the sad thing is that the possibilities are endless, there could be new characters, new villains and a different tale that would not affect the gameplay and style of the game in any way.

In gameplay, the game stays faithful to the 3D Mario games like Super Mario 64, Sunshine and the Galaxy ones. The players control the hero with the analog stick and are able to jump in different ways, crouch and attack depending on which power-up they’re using. But unlike the more modern games, the goal of the stages in the 3DS game is to reach the flag, like in the very first Mario game instead of grabbing the gold star. And instead of just having a set amount of health, Mario becomes small when touched by an enemy and grows up again by taking a red mushroom or power-up.

Super Mario 3D Land brings back the famous Tanooki suit from the third game in the NES. When using it, Mario dresses like a raccoon of some sort and is able to either attack enemies with a tail or hover in the air and slowly fall to the ground, making the “hard” platforming parts of the game way too easy. Besides the Tanooki suit, the usual fire ball power-up is also in the game. This one doesn’t give Mario any jumping abilities but it allows him to spit fire balls that bounce around places to easily defeat enemies. There’s also another suit that allows him to throw a boomerang that can grab far-away items and a helicopter-box thing that makes him fly for short periods of time.

So in gameplay, 3D Land is never repetitive. Each stage has its own tweaks, beauty and things to do, they all have three optional “star coins” that allow the players to unlock challenge rooms and a second set of worlds where it’s going to be possible to play as Luigi after Mario saves Peach.

But a negative thing in the game would be the difficulty. Most of the mothership titles in the Super Mario franchise are usually not very easy and require patience and lots of trial-and-error to successfully finish the stages but in 3D Land, Mario seems a little overpowered and enemies don’t really try too hard to defeat him so even if someone doesn’t have a lot of experience with gaming, they won’t have much trouble to complete the game.

The second set of worlds are a bit harder but they’re still not challenging enough to make a hardcore gamer get stuck on a single stage and lose a good bunch of lives. In fact, when most players die, it’s usually because of a silly mistake and not because of the stages being hard to complete. Another thing is that gaining lives is way too easy since coins and green mushrooms are scattered all over the place so dying a few times is not something to worry about.

The game has a lot of replay value since it is possible to go through the stages again in order to get all the star coins, unlock the second set of worlds or simply try and finish everything with Luigi whose jumps are a little different than Mario’s. 3D Land is a game that can easily be grabbed at any time and played for either a short or a long session and most of the stages are very fun.

So in short, Super Mario 3D Land is an excellent game and definitely the best platformer available on the 3DS right now. The mix between the old-school style and the innovative and crazy stage designs of the modern games is amazing. It looks and sounds very cool and makes perfect use of the 3D effects. Anyone out there can have a great time with and every owner of the console should definitely own this game.

Pros:

-          Excellent mix between the old and new style of Mario games.
-          Great graphics and 3D effects
-          Awesome and catchy soundtrack
-          Lots of extra stages to play.

Cons:

-          It’s not very challenging.
-          Limited Streetpass use.


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

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


DOA5 demo difficulties

Trying to to get my hands on the Dead or Alive 5 demo has proven to be a pain in the ass. Sometimes I really hate not living in the USA or Canada... I'm having a serious problem understanding what the hell I need to buy in order to get the demo. Every site I visit has different info. Some say the regular version comes with two characters on each console and others say they come with nothing and I need to buy the big box with the figurines. Personally, I want the Collector's Edition but since Gamestop is crap, it does not allow me to pre-order the game with an American credit card only because the billing address is in my country (even though the shipping one is an APO/FPO inside the US). That's fucking retarded and frustrating since that version of the game will not be available in Amazon.com (website that NEVER gives me trouble to pay for my stuff).


I wouldn't mind having to buy the regular version twice (one for each console) to be able to play with the four characters and pay $120. But Amazon.com doesn't have any info on whether the demo comes as a pre-order bonus or not. So I really have no idea what to do. If it weren't for the DOA5 demo, I'd just buy a regular version of NG3 since I like the franchise a lot but not as to preorder it 2 months before it comes out...

1/21/2012

New Dead or Alive 5 screenshots!

Four new screenshots were released last week for Dead or Alive 5. Sadly, no new characters have been revealed yet but we're shown a couple new costumes for Ayane and Hitomi. The four guys look incredible, I can't wait to play the game...

Anyway take a look!





REVIEW: Kirby's Return to Dream Land (Wii)



If there’s a franchise among Nintendo’s most famous that has gotten a lot of innovation on its games is Kirby. In just over a year, gamers all over the world have had the opportunity and pleasure to enjoy unique and extremely charming games like Mass Attack and Epic Yarn. But in Kirby’s Return to Dream Land, the pink and cute Nintendo mascot goes back to his roots and provides everyone with a 2D action platformer where he will be able to inhale his enemies and take their powers again, and the truth is that this game is the perfect proof that getting back to “normal” can be a great thing.

Return to Dream Land is a very simple video game that makes players travel in several 2D stages using Kirby, Meta Knight, King Dedede and a spear-holding Waddle Dee, if you’re playing the game on the new cooperative mode. Each character has an exclusive set of abilities and powers making them unique and varied. The players are allowed to use different-colored versions of Kirby in case they want to enjoy the powers the enemies sometimes provide but the non-Kirby characters are excellent additions.

The story in the game is pretty simple, like in all games in the franchise. An alien ship crashes on Dream Land and its most important pieces gets scattered all over the place. The pilot then asks Kirby and the other three guys (who were strangely living in peace) for help to rebuild the ship so they immediately accept and go adventuring around the planet like every good Nintendo hero does.

Graphically, the game is very good. It is inferior to others which came in the same months like Skyward Sword but good nonetheless. It’s very colorful, charming and has a really great variety of textures, places to visit and see around the entire game. It is possible to see some minor inconsistencies here and there with the visuals, especially in the anti-aliasing but none of them make the game look bad or anything. Sadly, going back to the normal style of the franchise makes another game in it, like Epic Yarn, look prettier. But that’s definitely an artistic style thing.

During the game, Kirby and his companions will run, fly and walk around plains, beaches, old dangerous factories, frozen lakes and even on space itself. The environments are all different and they do a perfect job at avoiding repetition in both the visuals and the things the characters must do to effectively go through the stages.

The music and sound effects are awesome. As common with the Kirby games, the soundtrack will be very charming and relaxing but many of the songs will sound a little estrange for being in a game from the pink guy, especially in the Ice and Factory stages. Still, they’re all very cool and catchy and it’s not going to be weird if gamers all over the place start trying to find the songs online.

In the sound effects department, they have great quality as well, but since this is a cartoony and childish game, it is logical that the sounds will be cartoony as well. Sounds for Kirby’s powers, explosions around the stages, the wind flowing, waterfalls and even the cute ones emitted when Kirby jumps are there and the mix is very cool. Sadly, there’s no voice acting on it. It sound weird to complain about the lack of voices in a Kirby game but when the public had the narrator in Epic Yarn, it is only logical to be concerned about it. The game will make an excellent job on telling the story using videos that perfectly explain what happens in the story anyway.

The gameplay is a blast and definitely the thing everyone will think the game is awesome for. When playing as Kirby, the players will control him like in most 2D platformers, he will walk, jump, slide, block attacks, float in the air and inhale enemies to either spit them as a star which damages things or eat them completely and steal their powers. Several of the enemies don’t have any special ones, like the normal Waddle Dees but most of them will do. The game offers around 20 different power-ups, each with its own unique moveset and usefulness and they’re all amazing.

Among Kirby’s powers, the players will be able to enjoy the returning magic wand which shoots beams of light, the fire-breath, bomb-throwing techniques, martial-arts and many new ones like the razor-leaf, tornado power, and the water one that allows him to slide through the stages as if he were surfing and feels incredible. The variety in the power-ups is top-notch and will most of the times make going through the same levels a different journey depending on which powers the player uses.

But the normal powers are not the only ones. Some of the stages in the game will have a special, glowing enemy that will provide the pink hero with a huge, over-powered ability to literally spread chaos. He will be able to carry a sword the size of the screen and slash everything on his path with it, or call a fiery dragon to burn everything in a straight line or cover himself in snow and roll around places splattering his enemies. These special power-ups will usually result in Kirby opening a black-hole to an optional challenge stage where he’ll be able to fight a sub-boss for a prize necessary to finish the game with 100% completion.

Besides Kirby himself, the other three characters will be able to defend themselves in excellent ways as well. King Dedede holds a big hammer and has a great move set to destroy enemies with it. He’s great for dealing big amounts of damage to the bosses. Meta Knight is very fast and uses a sword like usual. His moves look similar to the ones he uses in Super Smash Bros. Brawl and the Waddle-Dee carries a spear he can use to melee attack with a barrage of stabs of throw several of them at once to damage enemies from a safe distance.

This brings a problem with the gameplay; Return to Dream Land is extremely easy. Like most of the games in the franchise, the variety of environments, story, enemies, powers and music are excellent but since Kirby’s games are aimed at very young audiences, they end up being great games that are really easy to complete. And the fact that this one can be played with three friends causing rampage on the stages doesn’t give the bad guys any chance. The only way for the game to be slightly difficult is to go solo to the boss battles in each world in the “Extra Mode” which is a second run of the main quest with half health and faster and bigger enemies.

Fortunately, the main quest is not the only thing available for play. By getting some “energy spheres” scattered around it, the players will be able to unlock a few challenge missions and a couple of very cool minigames. The challenge missions make Kirby go alone with a set power-up to a special stage he must finish within a target time and grabbing as many coins as he can. Finishing these missions earns him bronze, silver and golden medals and they can be very tricky to complete, let alone get the golden medal. The two minigames are “Scopeshot” which makes the four characters use the Wiimote to aim and shoot at a big robot on the screen and slowly destroy its parts until it dies for points and “Ninja Dojo” which is a very cool minigame where the four heroes (and villains) use the Wiimote’s motion sensor to throw shurikens at some targets that move really fast around the screen. Both of them are very simple, yet fun as hell.

Besides that, there’s an amazing survival mode where Kirby and the other three characters can go and fight each of the sub-bosses and bosses in the main quest, one after another with a limited number of tomatoes to heal themselves. Getting a good score in this mode in “Extra” can be a pain but with team play and three friends who actually play good it can be achieved. As mentioned before, after finishing the story, the Extra Mode will unlock and allow the public to go through a harder version of the game.

In short, Kirby’s Return to Dream Land is a great game that pretty much every gamer out there will enjoy. Playing it in co-op is certainly much better than going through it with just Kirby but both ways will be a blast. It looks very good though it’s not the best-looking game on the Wii, the music is great and very charming and the gameplay style is incredible. The game doesn’t innovate o reinvent 2D platformers in any way but manages to be a very welcome addition to the roster of the Nintendo Wii.

Pros:

-          Charming and colorful levels.
-          Great soundtrack.
-          Simple, yet great cooperative play.
-          The power-ups are awesome and very varied.
-          Different cool extras.

Cons:

-          Extremely low difficulty level.
-          Not much to do after getting 100% in Extra Mode and challenges.
-          Most of the “hidden” items are on plain sight.



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

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

1/19/2012

New Blu-Ray movies!

The blu-ray movies I ordered with my dad during Christmas finally arrived. He got some old titles for himself including a very pretty set of Star Trek motion pictures. He's a big fan of that franchise so when we stumbled upon the article in Amazon.com he went and ordered it immediately.  That set looks awesome and has a lot of extras. For myself, I got Matrix 1 and the complete Star Wars saga which from what I understand, has a lot of negative reviews in Amazon because the old movies are the remastered versions instead of the original ones with the 70s special effects. I'm not sure about it but once I watch the movies this weekend I'll definitely know. Take a look:


New tab

After posting the gallery of pics for the Elf. I decided to organize them a little more so I created a new tab in the upper side of the blog exclusively to post links to my entries with figure collecting in them. Galleries of photos specifically. Now, the Anime and Figures sections will be separated so people will be able to find exactly what they're looking for more easily that way. Just like with gaming reviews, the Anime and Figures section now have pictures with links to their related articles and posts. I hope everyone out there finds them useful. 

Besides that, I'm thinking about renaming the "Gaming music and videos" and "Video Game News" tabs in shorter ways to allow for more space in case I decide to create a new tab in the future for something else without having to see a third line of tabs up there. I should definitely not pay attention to non-important stuff like this but I want the site to look as organized as possible.

Lineage II Elf bootleg photos

This is a group of pics I took to my bootleg version of the Lineage II Elf at my garden. As I mentioned in a previous post, I got her at a local market with a stand where a Chinese family sells a huge lot of stuff from geeky things to common decoration. Even though I did order the original pink-haired version from Amazon.com, I couldn't help but get this one as well given the insane price she was at. 

Though it's just a copy of the real thing, I think she's very pretty. There are a lot of mistakes in several parts of the figure like the chest section that can be taken out, the eyes which are bigger than the ones in the real figure, parts of her jacket and shirt and her white heeled sandals which aren't as detailed and pretty as the original one. But still, she looks very cool and for people out there refusing to pay the ridiculous 200$ of the blonde version, this one gets the job done. 

Unlike the original, the clothes on this bootleg can't be taken out. The skirt seems to be removable but I didn't want to force it in case she broke. The jacket can't be taken off either even though the head, both arms and chest are removable like in the Orchid Seed version.

Once the pink-haired gets here I'll try to take the same pics to compare them and then sell the Chinese bootleg one. Enjoy:
















And THESE following ones were taken with my iPhone: