Monday, March 23, 2009

DSi Protector arrives, the DSi VC(?), and a gig at

A quick entry - my Hori DSi Protector arrived today. is very efficient and quite speedy. I will definitely be doing business with them again in the future, and suggest the same to any who have a need or desire to import some goodies.

I'm quite pleased with the Protector, though I knew I would be. I love the one I bought for my DS Lite, and it serves me well. I took some pictures below to compare - even though I've read on the internet and seen side by side comparisons, I had an image in my mind that it (the DSi inside the protector) was going to be a little longer. It's pretty much the same size though, just a touch (pun) bigger.

Length comparison.

Width comparison (sorry for the glare!)

DSi Hori Protector - stand tall!

What's missing from this picture? :(

All I need now is the actual DSi, and I'll be in business!

Rumor has it that the DSi is going to have an often fantasized about Virtual Console featuring Gameboy and Gameboy Advance games that can be played straight from the SD card. Sound too good to be true? Well it might be, since it is awfully close to April 1. This was either leaked info or a rumor created to disappoint many that came out of the recent DSi prelaunch parties that Platinum Club Nintendo members were invited to join.

To wrap this post up, I'd like to mention that I recently applied to join the staff of WiiWare World and was accepted to their main site Nintendo Life as a reviewer/reporter. Nintendo Life focuses exactly on what its name implies - all things Nintendo - reviews, news, rumors, etc. My first review was on Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume for the DS, and I'm working on one for The World Ends With You. I'm pretty excited about the idea of being able to help on a good network, as I really have enjoyed both Virtual Console Reviews and WiiWare World for as long as I've had the Wii.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The World Ends With You (and my DSi case arrives)

I've nickel and dimed 17 hours on The World Ends With You, and beat it last night. I have had this game sitting on my desk since October 2008, and had I known it was THIS good then, I would have played it sooner. As with every Christmas, due to the sudden influx of new games, and I suddenly had a lot of new stuff to play (Castlevania: OoE, Chrono Trigger, Animal Crossing: City Folk, and others). TWEWY is a great game with a brilliant battle system and very catchy music - I now see why IGN gave it DS Game of the Year.

Interestingly, I switched to the original DS to play it. The Lite's brighter screens are nice, but for the first time, my left hand cramped while using the dpad when fighting Minamimoto (so zeta slow!) - to whom I lost the first time, and had to take a break to give my hand a rest. After that, I started using the old trusty brick again (and started carrying a heal to boss battles!), and had no further trouble with top screen fighting.

I got my DSi case in the mail from playasia a couple of days ago. Unfortunately, the clear black DSi protect case by Hori went from 5-15 days to backorder. I'm waiting to see if this will effect my order since I ordered before then, but if it does, I'll settle for the readily available clear blue.

The DSi case carries three games, and even has a little spot for you to stick your extra stylus in (see above game card holders). The inside is very soft, it's like a little cozy bed for your DSi to rest in. I'm glad I went ahead and got it since Amazon's Hori DSi products won't be available until April 15...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Nintendo DSi - Love me or hate me... read this.

I'm pretty excited about the Nintendo DSi now. I wasn't initially, but I see a great potential in Nintendo's newest rendition, and I know I'm not alone in that. The DSi is set to release on April 5, 2009 for $169.99 - it will be launched in Black and Blue (just like our economy!).

In my excitement, I've been hopping around to different sites looking for people talking about the DSi - this has shown me the love and the hate for the DSi. Some of the hate I see comes from misinformation - people who don't have their facts together. Other hate comes from loyalists of other products, iPod or PSP fans? Who knows. Then there's the hate that just seems to be an attempt to ruin other people's fun. Usually a combination of the previous two hates. I've seen some people complain because they've just recently gotten a DS Lite, and now they (understandably) have a bit of a chip on their shoulder.

I would like to clarify some of the "talk-downs" about the DSi, in hopes that at least one person reads this and goes away saying "Oh, I didn't know that..."

"The cameras are 0.3 Megapixel. My cellphone has a better camera than this!"
For the DSi's screen size, the cameras are more than adequate. A simple search on YouTube will yield you some entertaining results. The DSi cameras are not meant to compete with your cellphone or your digital camera - they're there for entertainment. The various photo manipulation techniques the DSi has to offer for example, as well as the downloadable Warioware. I'm sure we'll see some shovelware developed to use the cameras, but I bet we'll see some clever uses for it as well.

"It's $40 more than the DS Lite, and it's a downgrade!"
Wow, there's so much to say about this one... Yes, it's $40 more - but before I address the "downgrade" complaint, I'd like to point out that the original Nintendo DS from November 2004 was $150. Let's not forget how many of us gladly spent that money on a system ridiculed for having two screens.

A downgrade... honestly? The DSi has four times the RAM and twice the processor power of the previous DS models. Developers are sure to take advantage of that, and in the official press release, it's even stated that "In addition to downloadable games, Nintendo DSi is able to play games made specifically for the system and sold at retail." The screen sizes have been increased to 3.25 from 3 inches. The speakers are improved. It has 256MB of internal memory. It's not a downgrade, it's just about a brand new system.

"It's just a filler for Nintendo's next gen handheld!"
Big deal! Who knew there was going to be a DS Lite after the DS? Would you have waited then? Who knew there was going to be a Gameboy Advance SP? Would you have skipped the original? Who's to say there won't be an upgraded DSi [insert catchy abbreviation / phrase here] after the DSi?

The fact is that we don't know for certain what's next.

" GBA slot..."
Some DS games make use of the GBA slot - specifically Guitar Hero, and Pokemon. If there are people making heavy use of their GBA slot, whether it be for trading their Pokemon, rocking out, or just playing GBA games, and you won't be keeping your DS, then the DSi is not for you.

There are a couple of GBA slot accessories, though besides the terrible Rumble Pak (which made more noise than rumble), and the now inferior DS Web Browser expansion pak, nothing else worth noting was released outside of Japan - save for various homebrew tools.

In place of the GBA slot, you're getting a SD card slot, used for storing your music and photos, and more to come. You're also getting DSiWare, which Nintendo of Japan has been getting at the rate of about 8 games/apps per month since launch its launch in November. I would much prefer to have WarioWare, Dr. Mario, and Moving Memopad on my DSi all the time, then a GBA game. But that's me.

"The battery life is half that of the DS Lite!"
No. While the battery life is clearly less than the DS Lite, it's by no means half. On its lowest brightness setting, the DSi lasts 9-14 hours compared to the Lite's 15-19. The reason the battery life is less, is because the new, faster CPU requires more power. There's no question that this is a sad situation, but if you weigh the pros to the cons (better looking/running games), this is one bit I can let go.

"AAC? What's that?"
Advanced Audio Coding.

Open iTunes. Right click your song.

It takes seconds.

In closing... anybody else remember the complaints about the DS Lite? How small the dpad, buttons, and the system itself were? How far the GBA cartridges stuck out? How fragile the system seemed (and ended up being)? Just like the DS Lite, the DSi pros outweigh the cons, and I think it'll be a purchase worthy of your money.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

DSi - to buy or not to buy?

As of right now, the answer is "not to buy." This is due partly to a lack of information on the specifics of the download service, as well as what kind of DSi-exclusive games there will be. The current decision is also due to the fact that since the DS Lite is still selling SO well in the US that we won't see the DSi until late 2009 (aka Holiday Season 2009...) - well over a year.

Also, who knows how long it will actually be before an actual next generation handheld is released? The DS debuted in November 2004, so by late 2009, it will be a five year old system - which is typically the life span of a video game system.

The specifics on the DSi are enticing of course (downloadable games, MP3 and video playback, etc.), but I'm not sure if it's justifiable as of yet.

Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia comes out this month, and I'm pretty excited to play a new Castlevania game. They have been done masterfully on the DS, and I have no doubts whatsoever about OoE.

Silly me, upon reading on that a "storage solution" had been announced where one could play VC games straight from a SD card, I finally decided it was time to buy one. A noble cause, right? There was a correction (and an apology) in article after my purchase though - games will be able to be downloaded directly to the SD card (but not played from). Doh! Ah well... now what to do with that SD card...


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Retro Review - Final Fantasy Tactics Advance

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance is a turn-based strategy game in which you play as Marche - the new kid in town working to be accepted. The game starts off with a basic tutorial on how to navigate the battlefield, and perform basic actions - via a snowball fight. Marche quickly makes friends with Ritz, a fiery little redhead, and Mewt, a shy boy who is constantly picked on. Mewt, Ritz, and Marche later meet at Marche's house, to look at an old book Mewt had found with weird writing inside. That night, the entire world is changed into Ivalice, a world of Final Fantasy.

In FFTA, it was very comforting to see similar monsters as in FFT (PSOne), though I'll admit that at first, I despised the GBA edition. I guess I had my expectations set very high, and was looking for a continuation of the original's dark story. When you compare the original's story of a corrupt church manipulating wars and trying to take control of world by resurrecting an ancient monster whom was written in history as a Saint, to some school children getting sucked into the world of their favorite game 'Final Fantasy' via an old magical book, and your mission is to get back home? Yeah...

Anyway, with I didn't play FFTA beyond the first five minutes for 4 years, until one day when I decided to give it another shot, and treat it as it was - a different game. Story aside, which was very G-rated, the gameplay was great. The music was highly enjoyable, and I still catch myself whistling it quite often.

The various job classes were specified by race, with some jobs being multi-racial. There are 5 playable races - however, each race only has one playable gender, with the only female being the bunny-like Viera.

New skills can be gained via different weapons and armor. As long as you had it equipped you could use that particular skill, and you could master the skill and use it without that weapon or armor equipped by gaining ability points through regular combat. This was an interesting contrast to purchasing skills with Job Points like in the original.

Another interesting element in FFTA is the Judge system, which restricts both teams from using certain abilities or entire skill sets. There is a Judge no the battlefield at all times to enforce the Laws, and breaking the Laws could result in loss of experience, money, or your unit being sent to jail. If Marche is sent to jail, the game is over.

I played my first time through and clocked about 30 hours, and I was quite pleased as this was far longer than I expected it to be.

Sound: 9/10 - The music was excellent, though there could have been more battlefield music. And while the sounds of your opponents' deaths were worthy of rolling your eyes at first, I quickly grew hungry to see hear it again.

Gameplay: 9/10 - Well-rounded job system, plenty of side quests and challenges, and a quick-save system all came together to make this a play-and-quit at any time type of game.

Story: 4/10 - Even though it was an E for Everyone game, the story could have had a little more depth to it. A somewhat poor showing, even for a Gameboy Advance game.

Replayability: 10/10 - After you beat this game, you can just as easily restart and just use different job classes or races for a completely different experience.

Control: 10/10 - Simple and to the point - no problems were faced with controls whatsoever.

Overall - 8.4/10 - All in all, FFTA was a great game that I'd recommend to anyone. But if a game's story is your bread and butter, don't expect much from Final Fantasy Tactics Advance.


Wednesday, March 5, 2008

All my posts...

...are belong to duBiZon.

I am still posting a plenty, just not so much here. Head over to duBiZon to see my latest posts, including my progress report of how my FFTA2 gaming is going.

I'm not going to give up posting on this blog, but right now I'm diverting my efforts to the group to hopefully build it into something more.


Friday, January 25, 2008

The Virtual Console

When the Wii was first talked about back in its 'Revolution' days, and it was announced that the system would have access to an online library of classic titles, I was stoked.

I love old games. I started gaming with Coleco, and that was great, but when the NES rolled out - wow, what a life-altering system that was. Of course at that point in my life, I only played what the parents bought, or what my brother brought home (of what method he obtained these I never asked). He's always had a knack for picking out good titles though - even in the comic book realm, he picked up on good artists, story arcs, and first appearances. I really need to ask him how he knew what was coming without having access to a video game or comic book store...

I grew up on a variety of good games - Super Mario Bros, Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Contra, Castlevania, Kid Icarus, Final Fantasy, Dragon Warrior, among others.

I have to say, that the VC was a large reason of why I wanted to buy Nintendo's new 'Revolution'. The purpose of the VC in my mind is to compile all of my favorite games onto one system, and never having to worry about switching cartridges/systems, or losing save data from battery death (which is sad).

So Nintendo releases 2-4 games a week, every Monday at noon eastern time, for the Virtual Console. Of course every week can't be three A-list titles, but I am sure that somewhere out there, someone is excited about a game that comes each week. Nintendo announces its "Wii-kly Update" on Monday mornings at 8 a.m. eastern on though it is usually leaked the weekend before and found on sites such as GoNintendo. Or if you're extra savvy, you may notice an upcoming game being listed as rated on the ESRB's website, though this does not guarantee any sort of release date.

So far, I'm up to 23 Virtual Console titles, having purchased about 17,000 points. My first download was Legend of Zelda for the NES. There are games already released that I'd like to have in my library, but they're not high enough on the priority list to constitute me downloading them.

About 75% of the games I've downloaded are first party (Mario, Zelda, Metroid), with the remaining 25% made up of games such as Contra, Castlevanias, Ghouls N Ghosts, and Bubble Bobble. I've probably only played through and beaten about half of the games I've downloaded. (See - So Many Games, So Little Time...)

The list of games to still come out for the Virtual Console seems endless, as there are literally thousands of games yet to be released - as well as the possibility of new systems being added in the future. I would love to see Gameboy and Gameboy Color games added...

Finally, a reason to look forward to those dreaded Mondays...


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Endless Ocean or Dragon Quest Swords? That is the question

I'm quite torn. My budget is by no means flexible enough for me to buy myself whatever I like.

So in said limited budget, I currently desire three games for the Wii - Endless Ocean (January 21), Dragon Quest Swords (February 25), and Super Smash Bros Brawl (December 3 February 10 March 9). Though I only plan on getting two of them on their release date, and one of them is Brawl.

So I thought we'd go through the pros and cons I could come up with via scouring the internet for details of the remaining two to help me figure out what I'm going to buy.

Endless Ocean -
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: January 21, 2008
MSRP: $29.99
Genre: Adventure (??)
Rated: E

Pros: A soothing game, full of things to do, without you having to do anything; Online cooperative exploring; Wife may enjoy watching/playing this game; $29.99 price tag

Cons: Perhaps a little too soothing - may not keep me entertained as much as the other two games; underwater games/levels make me tired quickly (especially swimming in any Legend of Zelda game...); novelty may wear off too quickly.

Dragon Quest Swords: The Masked Queen and the Tower of Mirrors
Publisher: Square Enix
Release Date: February 25, 2008
MSRP: $49.99
Genre: First Person Rail Shooter
Rated: T

Pros: It's freaking Dragon Quest on the Wii; use Wii Remote as sword and shield to defeat classic DQ monsters; Akira Toriyama design...; it's a 3rd party game to which I need to show my support to.

Cons: $49.99 price tag; may get redundant being on the 'rail' all the time; wife may not enjoy watching this game and most likely will not play it.

I definitely want both of these games, but after thinking it over, I'm probably going to purchase Dragon Quest Swords. Sometime down the road I will most likely pick up Endless Ocean, probably used on eBay.

Supporting the 3rd party developers, especially Squenix, is pretty important to me, as I rambled about yesterday.

Dragon Quest Swords was the fastest selling game for the seventh generation home consoles in Japan to date, and is also the best selling 3rd party game of said generation. I doubt it will have the same impact here in the States, but I at least have to show my support by getting it at its launch.


Monday, January 21, 2008

"Young X-Men", Not Having a Comic Shop, and FFXII:RW Update

While on the's forums last night, I see the leaked image and info on the Young X-Men. Wow, what a disappointing development.

First off, why are they starting the title over with a new name and numbering when they Could have just renamed the current New X-Men and kept the numbering? I am very tired of 'Collectors Item #1 FIRST ISSUE ZOMG'. I wish someone would have realized long ago where books like Hulk and Captain America would be number-wise had they started over. Title change I can handle, but don't start a book over when you're just continuing the same idea as before...

ANYWAY, so the new team consists of Rockslide (lame), Wolfcub (sigh), Blindfold (she's a precog who has no eyes - a Destiny-ripoff - oh, and she's jumping on the cover - why would a blind person just be jumping? "I forsee if I jump, I shall not fall on my face!"), Dust (who shouldn't be lumped with this loser squad), and two new characters - both of which are bald.

Okay... so in follow up to my post about the New X-Men a few days ago, at least they are indeed implementing some adult leaders to this noobie squad. Apparently the leaders will be Moonstar (depowered), Magma (mental), and Sunspot (okay!).

So where are the current New X-Men ending up? Well X-23 is moving x-Force, and Hellion might be on his way out of the X-teams (possibly to The Initiative), or on his way to the afterlife after he got himself eviscerated by Lady Deathstrike. Surge, Prodigy, Anole and Pixie are up in the air right now, though one of them is supposed to be 'graduating' to the X-Men as I understand it.

I have no comic book store in my town. I typically either get my comics via duB, or from Books A Million, which stocks their comics a week late. So I'm always behind on the times. For all I know, this post is already a week outdated. It can be a little frustrating sometimes, especially now since Messiah Complex is concluding on Wednesday, and I have yet to read Chapter 12. Ah well...

An update on my Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings progress - 76% complete, and around 17 hours of gameplay. My party size has doubled since the beginning, and I no longer have to worry about whether these extra party members are going to be gone next battle or not, thereby allowing me to use them without worrying if the previous mainstays fall behind in levels or not. I've been trying not to play it too much, as I will be sad when it's over, but it's so fun, that I just can't put it down for too long.

This game has truly been a breath of fresh air, as it's been so long since I've played an RTS game - and it merges with all of those familiar and fun Final Fantasy elements one has come to love over the past 15+ years.


Saturday, January 19, 2008


If you are reading this, I encourage you to check out duBiZon.

Two of my friends and me are posting together there - and while we don't have a specific plan set yet, it will basically be about things we love - video games, comic books, sports, as well as who knows what.

B!Z just posted about how he suffers mentally while playing Rock Band on Hard, while duB touchs on Stan Lee's interesting use of exclamation points in the 60s Marvel Comics, while I posted about how there are just too many video games, and not enough time.

If you're interested, check it out!


Thursday, January 17, 2008

My Top 10 Console Video Game List

This was not an easy list. I have been working on this list for a long time – it’s actually been several months since I first wrote these down, but it has been active in my mind for longer than that.

Ask anyone that knows me, I’m terrible at picking out a favorite anything. With all the games I’ve played (which is a lot!), some stick out more than others. I choose games as my favorites by how well they have held up over the years – especially replayability. This list is pretty solid, I don’t see it changing much unless one game moves higher than another because I play it again and love it more than I remember.

I’ll start from 10, and work my way down to 1. More suspenseful this way… no? I’ll also give a little description of the game, and why I chose it. I will not necessarily justify why it is better than the next game though – it’s just not right…

10 – There is no number 10 – Huh? Okay there IS a number 10, but it’s shared by all the games that didn’t make the top 9. Sort of like an “Honorable Mentions” section. When I created this list, I thought of every game that I absolutely loved, and made a list of about 25 games. I added them at the bottom as to not give away what lies ahead. It pains me to see those games, and say to them “You’re not worthy of the top 9!” but my eyes glaze with happiness as I cast them upon 9 through 1…

9 – Legend of Zelda (NES) – the one that started it all. Link’s big debut introduced gamers to the world of Hyrule, where the evil Ganon has kidnapped Princess Zelda after denying him the Triforce of Wisdom. Zelda breaks the Triforce of Wisdom in 8 pieces and Link’s goal is to find them all, and put Ganon in his place.

I have loved this game for over 20 years. 20 years! The music, the items, the octoroks! I have played and beaten this game roughly once a year since it was released. It’s completely non-linear, has no hand-holding whatsoever, and forced you to explore the entire world, use your candle on every bush, plant a bomb on every stone wall, and to blow your whistle on every grid. Maybe I love it so much because I easily remember where everything is still, maybe I love it for nostalgia’s sake, or maybe I love it because it is a truly great game. It’s a combination of those three I am certain.

8 – Super Mario Bros (NES) – Again, the one that started it all for Mario. Sure Mario had other games before this, but this one launched him into the forefront of Nintendo’s market, making him the most easily recognized video game character. Mario runs, jumps and throws fireballs through 8 worlds of 4 stages to save Princess Peach of the Mushroom Kingdom.

And again, a game I have loved for over 20 years… Mario set the stage for all his future games with this one – game elements from this game are seen in nearly every Mario game since. (The first time I saw this game beat was when the controller was in, no, not my hands, but my mom’s!) It is a classic not to be denied.

7 – Animal Crossing (GCN) / Animal Crossing Wild World (NDS) – Hey! Two games can’t occupy one spot! Yes they can, because it’s my list. I chose to lump these two together rather than have them take up two spots because the Wild World is not an actual sequel of the Gamecube game. More of an expanded upon version.

I don’t know that I would have ever purchased this game if not for my wife. I was looking for a game we could play together. I picked up the Gamecube version, and we both instantly fell in love with it. We also both have our own copies of the DS version (Yes, she has her own DS – I love her!!).

It’s a game where you don’t have to do anything, but there is always plenty to do. You start off moving into a new town inhabited by … yes, animals. You move into a very tiny house, complete with a mortgage. When you pay off your mortgage, you’re given the option of upgrading to a larger home, with a larger mortgage, which of course you accept! Digging up fossils, going fishing, running errands for your neighbors, shaking trees, and catching bugs make up the majority of the things you can do in Animal Crossing. A no-stress, very fun (and somewhat addicting) game for the whole family.

6 – Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES) – Link returns in the third installment, and first Zelda game on the Super Nintendo. After Zelda II attempted a side-scrolling route, LTTP returns to the original LoZ style of overhead platforming. The graphics and sound were leaps and bounds ahead of the NES version, and the gameplay itself was absolutely outstanding. New items and abilities, a Light World and a Dark World to explore – all with that classic Zelda feel.

My brother gave me this game for my birthday the year it came out – I remember the price sticker on it being $69.99, and being very grateful that he would spend that on his kid brother. (Thanks brother!) He also played the first couple of hours of it before I did, but I didn’t mind one bit.

The Top 5 – a quick note. If I could only have five video games for the rest of my life to play, these would without question keep me satisfied.

5 – Super Metroid (SNES) – Yowza. Super Metroid is the best Metroid game ever. Period. Metroid Prime was great and everything, and easily the best Prime game, but Super Metroid holds the gold medal in my opinion.

After her mission of eradicating all of the remaining metroids on their home planet – SR388. The last metroid she happens upon mistakes her for its mother, and Samus decides to donate it to science. However, immediately after she leaves the space station, the baby metroid is captured by the space pirate Ridley, and Samus pursues to the place where her first mission took place – Planet Zebes.

With new weapon upgrades, speed boost, super missiles and super bombs, a grappling beam and an x-ray visor at your disposal, what’s not to love? The SNES title expanded heavily upon its NES and Gameboy prequels, and created a beautiful world, with music that is forever favored in my heart.

4 – Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (SNES) – Nintendo and Squaresoft made magic together, combining two of my favorite elements: Mario and RPG. Who would have known that it would have turned out so great? Not the typical Mario story – sure, Bowser kidnaps Peach at the beginning, but that’s resolved after the first five minutes. Bowser’s castle is claimed by Exor, a giant sword that stabs straight through the center of his castle, in the name of the Smithy Gang. You are then tasked with collecting the seven stars and defeating Smithy.

Mario RPG was built upon Final Fantasy-ish turn-based combat, a magic system using flower power, different weapons and armor that you find/buy and equip, and a great cast of Mario characters, new and old. You could have three members in your party at any given time with a total of five to choose from (Mario, Mallow, Geno, Bowser, and Peach). A special highlight in my opinion was the non-random battles. Battles were started when you ran into a baddy on the board (or they ran into you). Another great feature was the Timed Hits. Timed Hits would give you an attack or defense bonus if you could press the respective button at a certain time. It was different per character and per weapon and added an extra element to the game to keep you more involved in battles. The music was also especially phenomenal...

I purchased this game myself for $69.99. This was the first game that I had purchased myself, brand new. I loved Mario, and loved Squaresoft. This was a match made in heaven in my opinion, and was sadly the only collaboration the two ever shared.

3 – Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64) – Again, Yowza. OOT gripped Zelda fans, and guided them into a Hyrule light years ahead of its era. The first third-person Zelda game achieved what many third-person games had failed terribly – great control and camera angles. The game moves fluidly without error. The story told is one now of legend, as our young hero Link travels time as a child and as a young adult to save Princess Zelda from the evil Ganondorf.

OOT was simply breathtaking when it came out over ten years ago, and has aged well over those years. This game set the bar high for future Zelda games to emulate, and I personally don’t think any newer Zelda games have attained that height – which isn’t to say Twilight Princess and Wind Waker aren’t good, they’re just not as good as OOT.

Some of the things that make this game so wonderful: Traveling back and forth through time – accomplishing things in the past impacting the future was brilliant. Using the Ocarina to travel the land was also a great feature, as was having your very own horse, Epona.

The music score ranks very high for me. Just this morning as I was getting ready, I was whistling the tune from all the shops in the game, and to my pleasant surprise, my wife started whistling it too. Some music from the game of course originates from previous Zelda games, but a lot of the music made for OOT is carried on in variations in all future Zelda games (to my knowledge at least!).

2 – Secret of Mana (SNES) – The main character, Randi, pulls the Mana Sword from its resting place, and his town is swarmed by monsters. Believing that if Randi leaves the town, that the monsters will go away, he is exiled. He later meets Purim, who rescues him from being eaten by goblins. As he reaches the next town, he meets Purim again. Purim is on her way to a witch’s castle to free her boyfriend from the witch’s control. Unable to enter the witch’s castle due to an impassable road, Purim and Randi head to Gaia’s Navel where they meet the third member of the party, Popoi. The three are then thrust into a wild journey that involves saving the world from being destroyed by the Mana Beast.

Where to start? I bought this game from a friend for $5.00. It’s an action RPG made by Squaresoft in which the player has three characters, one of which he controls and the other two are controlled by the computer. You can cycle through, and use any of the three that you would like, at any time. Secret of Mana had some truly brilliant music, and a very good story with a surprising ending. Looking back on it, I remember it not being fair, and being a little upset about it, but now that time has passed, I know it was just good storytelling.

This game introduced the Ring Menu – by pressing the Y-button, you pulled up the menu for the character you were currently using, and pressing X-button pulled up the computer controlled character’s (pressing it again, pulled up the other computer controlled character). The ring menu is just what it sounds like, all of your options pop up over your character in a circular format, that you could easily scroll through by pressing left or right. Pressing up or down brought up another set of menus.

Purim and Popoi had access to defensive and offensive magic respectively, while Randi was your fighter. The magic spells were made up by eight different magic spirits. All of three of the characters could use any of the weapons you found – there were no weapon restrictions whatsoever. Each weapon and magic spirit could be leveled up as well.

There have been quite a few Mana games since Secret of Mana, and not one has been able to live up to it. There was a sequel to Secret of Mana that was not released in North America, and though I have heard it was just as good as the original, I have never played it and can’t verify that claim.

And finally, the number one…

1 – Final Fantasy Tactics (PSOne) – There is a special place in my gaming heart for FFT. The story is a deep and dark one, as the protagonist Ramza follows his heart in doing the right thing in a corrupt world. The music from this game very nearly pushes it over the edge to being my number one game – it’s that good. While I don’t own the soundtrack, I do still have plans to pick it up on eBay.

FFT is a turn based strategy game. Just looking at the back of the case will tell you that it’s a Final Fantasy game – at the bottom of the back case are pictures of all of the job classes in FFT. And honestly, that’s what sold me when I bought this game years ago. I was in EB Games, and saw FFT, and upon looking at the back of the case, and seeing the easily recognizable Black Mage and White Mage, I took it straight to the counter and bought it. I was also persuaded by the other class pictures on the case, including the Archer, Ninja, Monk, Mime, Dancer, and Time Mage.

There are 19 available job classes that you can have your units learn ~400 skills from. Classic jobs with the outfits originating from previous Final Fantasy games are present. Once you have learned a skill, you can use it even if you switch jobs (so long as it is in your secondary skill set. With so many job classes, you can play through the game with a different group each time. There are also a ton of player made challenges (as can be seen on Gamefaqs) in which you play through game with all your characters having the same job, or using limited skills, etc.

Besides the original Legend of Zelda, I doubt I have played through a game more times than this. I have a memory card full of save data for this game, but it’s still not an accurate record of my history as I had saved over older game saves in the past. This game probably also holds my record for most hours played upon, though again, I don’t have an accurate record.

FFT also spawned a Gameboy Advance creation, though I won’t call it a sequel. It’s far too lighthearted. While it’s a great game in its own right, it’s apples and oranges in comparing it to the original. There’s also Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings, which is sort of like a Real Time Strategy Tactics game – using many of the same design as Final Fantasy Tactics Advance did. Japan also recently received Final Fantasy Tactics A2, which has yet to be released in North America. Why did I include all this? Because these are all great games, spawned from an even greater game, and it makes me love the original even more.

Honorable Mentions

· Metroid (NES) – the original; great exploring element; epic music; tough game

· Kid Icarus (NES) – made by Metroid’s creator; linear game; extremely difficult, but highly entertaining; beating it gives you a real sense of accomplishment; AWESOME music

· Castlevania: Dawn of Souls (NDS) – I already liked Castlevania, but this first to the NDS made me see it in a whole new light; great story; lots of dark elements to it; very catchy music; soul capturing system is the best yet

· Final Fantasy VII (PSOne) – the only game I have had that I broke the clock on, it stopped recording my time played at 99 hours L; if I absolutely had to choose a title as my number 10, it would have been this one

· Legend of Zelda Majora’s Mask (N64) – Great Zelda game, just not as good as the others, number 5 on my overall Zelda games

· Legend of Zelda Phantom Hourglass (NDS) – Excellent Zelda game, number 4 on my overall Zelda list; it’s a rare instance when I play a game through, and then play it through again – this may have been the first actually.

· River City Ransom – “BARF!”

· Secret of Evermore (SNES) – Very similar to Secret of Mana, though not a sequel; just a game using the same exact engine made by the same creators

· Soul Blader (SNES) – Never played the English version of this game, but I have beaten the Super Famicom version many times without knowing how to read Japanese; holds a special spot among my favorites

· Super Mario Bros 3 (NES) - Leaf power, overworld view and stage selection; this Mario Bros had it all, and took the whole series to the next level.

· Super Mario World (SNES) - SMW expanded upon SMB3, adding the superior graphics of the SNES and a larger world to explore, not to mention riding Yoshi!

· Zombies Ate My Neighbors (SNES) - This game stands out for me as a great two player game; it has quite a cult following as I understand it; a very cartoony game that revolved around you using different weapons to defeat various zombies, chain-saw wielding maniacs, and gigantic babies. Konami at its finest!

Comics Background Info

Since I touched on video games a bit yesterday, today I’ll just talk about comics. I currently have ~1,700 comics – the mass majority of which are Marvel comics, with about 800 of those being X-Men comics. One rainy day I went into the closet and decided I would inventory every book I had onto an Excel Spreadsheet. It seemed like a grueling task though it wasn’t really, and I finished it in two short evenings.

“Back when I was a kid, comics only cost $0.75!” That’s my old man line, because comics now cost $2.99, and $3.99 for monumental issues.

I started collecting comics when I was six. My older brother collected them as well, and I had access to all of his, which gave me a wider perspective as to what I might like. The first comic I ever bought with my own money was Fantastic Four #324 for $0.75 – a comic book my brother did not collect. I subsequently bought every issue of Fantastic Four after that until issue 375, where the art and the story plummeted to a place I had little interest in following. I like to think I’m responsible for getting two of my best friends hooked on comics as well. One of them, whom I mentioned yesterday as the giver of Final Fantasy XII: RW, duB, has in the past year started collecting once again as well.

Once I hit the teenage years, I gave up on comics for a while – and it was a good thing, because the 90s were TERRIBLE for Marvel Comics – plus I needed money for more important things. About four years ago, while in a Books A Million book store, I happened upon a comic book shelf, and just started browsing through. I was so confused by all of the different X-Men titles, and couldn’t figure out WHAT was going on – X-Treme, Ultimate, Astonishing, Uncanny, New X-Men – did any of these tie together anymore, why was someone dead or powerless in one issue but alive in another?

So I started going to BAM a lot, and reading all of the trade paperbacks, along with current issues, to catch up. That year for Christmas, my wife surprised me with a subscription to X-Men, and I have actively been collecting 3-5 comics a month (or every other month in some cases). I currently pick up ‘Adjectiveless’ X-Men, Astonishing X-Men, Runaways, occasionally Uncanny X-Men, and the now-finished limited series of New Avengers: Illuminati.

One big difference between collecting as an adult and as a kid is the internet – specifically eBay. I have been buying and selling on eBay for about 4 years now, and if you have a good eye, you can pick up some Really good deals on there. Through eBay, I was able to bolster my collection by picking up back issues of some of my more favorite titles.

My longest run (without interruption) of comics is ‘Adjectiveless’ X-Men, ranging from 134-206. My goal is have the entire series, though I have no deadline to get this done…

The comic I have the most issues of (with interruptions) is Uncanny X-Men with 157 issues in total.

Next post: More video game stuff – my top 10 list of console video games.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

First Entry - In the beginning,

Welcome to the House of Zon. Great name, I know.

First off, where does Zon come from? Why does Zon need a house?

1) Zon is short for the Amazon class from Diablo II. I have used 'zon' in some form or another in various games since then because I like the sound of it. ReZon was my first Zon. Pay attention, there may be a quiz later.

2) House of Zon was first used while I was playing Guild Wars. My main character was (slash is I suppose, though I don't play hardly ever anymore) Re Zon, and with the rest of my characters I decided they would become part of her house - each with a nice little back story with my main character. While these back stories were barely touched upon (where I regularly posted on the forums), I've always liked the name.

What else? Well, as the intro at the top of the page says, I just want a place to voice some thoughts on random things.

I'm a fan of Nintendo, immensely enjoying the Nintendo DS and the Wii - so you'll probably be hearing more about both of those, and the games I like. I'm also a big fan of older games, especially SNES-era RPGs, and other 8 and 16 bit classics.

I also enjoy reading, but rather than talking about actual books I've read lately, I'll probably just voice some thoughts on Marvel Comics and the events going on there.

Okay, so that's me - or at least the me I'm going to be while posting on my blog. Now... onto to my first story:

Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings

FFXII:RW is a RTS (real time strategy) game, the first under the Final Fantasy name. It takes place directly after the events of Final Fantasy XII. Having not actually played FFXII, I just read the story overview on Wikipedia and then started playing.

My buddy duB gave me this for Christmas, and while I have been swamped knee-deep in video gaming since then, I have put about 14 hours into it, and I can usually get an hour in a day. I'll try to avoid story elements as to not spoil it if you're planning on playing it.

So it was pretty simple up until around 50% through the game - read some story, play a few battles - no big stress. Tons of fun, but not super-challenging. A great casual gamer's game.

Then Lo and Behold, a battle. No, not just any battle, this was an EPIC battle. Or at least I declared it to be after approximately two dozen attempts. I don't recall the length of the battle, but I'm sure it was around 10 minutes, though it may have been longer (it definitely felt longer).

Quick Overview - there are 3 types of units, Melee, Ranged, and Flying. There are 6 types of said unit, 4 relating to the elements (Earth, Water, Fire, Air), one healing , and one neutral that has no elemental strength or weakness. Within these types there are three tiers, with tier three being the strongest. You may have only one tier three unit in your party.

The objective was to beat a boss, who would be surrounded by healers by the time I got there and a tier three unit, AND protect another character not in my party who is conveniently positioned very close to the boss.

My first several attempts were completely offensive. I had the tier 2 healers, and all the rest were fire and neutral type units. After many failures, I began to think it was going to require me to go and grind some levels or something.

So I go and complete the two side quests I hadn't done yet, and one of them gives me access to the tier 3 healing unit, Ultima. As it turns out, Ultima is the ultimate healer, and also has a devastating offensive area attack. I then return to the battle with Ultima as my tier 3, and after about 8 more tries, I finally succeed.

My success revolved around me keeping my army brimming with healing units, and just a few attackers, along with my party leaders, 4 of the 5 which died continuously. The battle lasted so long because of the small number of offensive units I had, and I was forced to slowly wear down my opponent. Interestingly, Ultima never died.

Immediately after the boss was felled, another objective popped up, and I thought 'Ah crap!' because if I lost the second objective after trying so many times on the first, I most likely would have been done for the night. I was going to jokingly say I would have put it down for good, but this game really is just so much fun, that that won't happen until I have beaten it. The second objective turned out to be a piece of cake by the way.

I probably could have written a lot more on this subject, but I mostly just wanted hit the high points to keep it simple.

That's it for now...