Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Gameritis, v2.5

It's been almost 5 years since I started this Gameritis blog. What started as a way to monitor what games I've finished as I finish them has become an outlet for my inner gamer. Whether or not this blog is read or not, having one puts a written perspective upon myself and my "affliction." Which is why I've decided to make a few new changes to the site!

Monday, August 29, 2011

"Days until Disgaea 4" progress - Day 4 - Not all trophies earn bragging rights

In the past 3 days, I've spent whatever free time I had to buffing my party's current weapons in Disgaea 3, which required vast trips into the Item World.  For all you non-Disgaea players out there, gamers have the potential to upgrade any item in the game by parsing through the Item World and conquering the random dungeons generated inside. Every dungeon you successfully pass is another level upgrade for your weapon.

Friday, August 26, 2011

"Days until Disgaea 4" progress - Day 1 - Surprises and Sacrifices

I've managed to successfully finish off the last 2 levels of Chapter 7 in Disgaea 3 last night, giving me a lot more confidence in my party of mishmash characters.  I don't know what's the average number of characters players create, but since we're only given a limit of 10 characters per map, my party is not much more than that.  In fact, only about 8 of the characters in my party are custom made.  The rest were characters that joined on their own.  But for such a small group of character to select from, I'm doing surprisingly well.  Aside from the typical main characters, this is what I have:

  • 1 fist brawler (m)
  • 1 axe fighter (m)
  • 3 mages - fire, ice, and wind (f)
  • 1 archer healer (f)
  • 1 shooter thief (f)
  • 1 spear fighter (f)

In the upcoming battles, however, I may need more magic users, so I may spend some time doubling up on fire, ice, and wind characters.  Another healer would be good, too.  Then I can buff up the rest of my party to have more health.  Currently, my mages, healer, and thief all are less than 1000 health, which can't withstand even one skilled attack from enemies.

The one thing I'm learning to accept during this challenge is the fact that not all my characters will survive in the end.  In my early days of playing a Disgaea game, I've tried my best to keep everyone alive, so that everyone got a chance to survive and level up; if anyone died at any point, I would reset the game and start the level all over.  As you can imagine, I never got very far because of this.  But realistically, I could've probably finished the levels even with the sacrificed characters.

A good example is in the last level of Chapter 7.  Due to storyline aspects, I was already short one player, but I had Mao (the main character) still.  Halfway during the battle, Mao took a fatal blow due to a misjudgement in the enemy's attack, leaving me slightly upset.  However, I still had the upper hand in allies and attacks, so I did the best with the remaining people I had left.  The lesson here?  Party members dying is not the end of the world...unless it's part of the story.

I can't believe I'm very close now...one more chapter to go!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The "Days until Disgaea 4" self-imposed challenge.

So Disgaea 4 is coming September 6th.  And yes, I've made my pre-order for it already.  And no, I have not finished any of the previous Disgaea games prior to it.  But in the days before it's released, I hope to change that.

From today until Disgaea 4's release is about 13 days.  So I've challenged myself to complete Disgaea 3 at least once before the game comes out.

I'm already making some progress, on the second-to-last chapter right after the 4th level.  I have roughly 6 more levels to go before I reach the end, but each requires me to consistantly power myself up more and more.  Even with assistance from the official strategy guide, Disgaea 3 is just a wealth of micro-management to digest.

To sweeten the deal, I've foolishly purchased some discounted DLC for the game as well as incentive.  The thing with this DLC is that it's only unlocked after you finish the game once - which means my purchase would be in vain if I never complete the game.

I'll try to post some day-by-day progress, all leading up to Disgaea 4!

Shadow Complex...finished?

I didn't expect to finish Shadow Complex this fast.  The ending came suddenly, and felt a little anti-climatic.  And after 6.5 hours, the game felt like it should have had a bit more meat on its bones.  But aside from that, the game is quite the Metroid clone, except your protagonist has a penis.

While enemies respawn in places after you progressed far enough, there doesn't seem to be much replay other than scouring the map to find all the places you didn't explore before.  And with my character at level 17 (out of a potential 50) and armed to the teeth with 90% of my armor, the only things that can cause lethal harm are the environment dangers of electrified water, lasers, and thermal ovens.

Even with the training missions, Shadow Complex feels a bit shallow in content.  I'd probably have to start a new game all over just to feel the full enjoyment of the game.

Overall, get the game for a quick Metroid-platformer fix.  If you crave some more, look elsewhere.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Rez HD added in continuing quest for Xbox-only titles

I realize the title above is not entirely true, seeing that Rez HD started on the Dreamcast and migrated to the PS2 before making the virtual jump to XBLA.  Unfortunately, I've never had the pleasure to experience this game in its previous iterations until now.

The game plays like your typical on-rails shooter, where you're on a fixed path taking out enemies as they fly past.  You play a small program in a human-like shape, trying to infiltrate the main system.  You have the simple abilities to lock on to targets to take down multiple enemies at once, and you can deploy bombs for a quick area kill.

What makes the game a greater thrill for me especially is the game's presentation.  Similar to watching commands on a command prompt screen like linux or dos, your actions are listed like executed programs to the upper left corner of the screen, detailing all actions done.  If you lock onto enemies, it says so.  It also details when you fire, when you bomb, and when you take damage.

Leveling up your character is not only a nice visual upgrade, but it also increases the number of hits you take and the number of lock-ons you can perform.  But the task to do so requires you to collect 8 health icons just to progress to the next level, yet it takes only one hit from an enemy to bump you down a notch.

The challenge factor of the game is a little unbalanced, with conditions fluctuating from fairly simple to extremely difficult, but the game's short enough for you to keep trying again and again.  Plus, the programmer in me geeks over the "lines of code" that appear in the upper left.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Shadow Complex, to fulfill my "Metroid-vania" urges

In a focused effort to only grab the "creme de la creme" of Xbox exclusive titles, I've downloaded Shadow Complex (1200 Microsoft points) on XBLA.  With a very familiar map system and level-up stats, it's no secret how the game gets its "Metroid-vania" label.  What sets the game apart is its clever use of camera angles and detailed backdrops that make the experience more than a platforming romp through static level design.

After playing a lot of Dead Nation these past few weeks, the gameplay in Shadow Complex came almost naturally.  You move with the left analog stick, while aiming your gun's laser sight with the right analog.  And not only do you have free-angle aiming of your gun, you can take out enemies in the background thanks to the depths of certain rooms.  In one, you'll have guards running towards you from the background, and your laser sights (when aimed properly) will aim straight into the background, allowing you to gun them as they come towards the screen.

The playful use of different camera angles also keep the game's story fresh and lively, and reminds us how Shadow Complex is much more than your typical platformer.  Most of the time it emphasizes the level's scope and depth, and sometimes it's there to assist for hard-to-see angles.  And sometimes it gives you a front seat on a hot turrent gun ready to take out a group of unlucky soldiers.

The game's item-upgrading system is practically in parallel with Metroid with the progressive gun upgrades and gradual increase of grenade inventory.  And the level-up system improves your character stats over time, increasing things like precision and stamina.

Shadow Complex is a good mix of old gameplay style with a new graphics look, and will tickle the "Metroid" and "Castlevania" bones in veteran gamers.

Fruit Ninja Kinect slices its way home

My wife, GameritisGal, is half the instigator for me acquiring the new Xbox 360 console with Kinect, really wanting to play more Dance Central at home.  Which is fine.  When I told her that Fruit Ninja was coming for the Kinect, however, she became quite obsessive on when the game's coming out.  I'm glad that it came out today, which is selling for 800 Microsoft points - $10 to us nickel-and-dime people.

Compared to the $0.99 and $2.99 prices on the iPhone and iPad respectively, Fruit Ninja Kinect is hoping to bank much of the increased price on the fact that you don't need to smear smudges on a screen to slice strawberries.  With a flail of the arms, you too can be a ninja, slicing imaginary fruit!

Here's hoping GameritisGal doesn't knock my block off.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Gamer Fanboyism, and why there's no place for it now

Fanboy - it's a stereotype that has grossly evolved over the years, dividing gamers into compacted factions of "this is better than that" all across the board.  Whether it's console vs console, console vs PC, company vs company, genre vs genre, or game vs game, it's an ugly war that rages between all gamers.  Any marketing executive would argue that fanboyism, positive or negative, is still publicity in their eyes.  But, is our verbal hatred toward the lesser party denying us of quality games?  When does gamer pride turn to gamer ignorance? 

"Nintendo is for kids."  "Xbox is for hardcore gamers."  "What's good on the PS3?"  All these remarks are used on a daily basis, like a stick poking a hornet's nest, yet few are ever supported well.  Why is that?  Simple - they are short and abstract, two things that forums and comments thrive on for heated fanboyism discussions on the internet.  But even the opinions one uses to support these claims are fallacious because they're just that - opinions.  Someone out there just hates seeing lots of games geared for children on Nintendo, or sees that there are only Halo and Gears of War players on Xbox, or that they can't find something of interest at all on a PS3.  Someone just finds one thing that they do not like about something, and then throws out their opinions out there as if speaking for the greater good.

But why all the hate?  If you don't want to have nothing to do with something, then just leave it alone.  Just because it does not bring you enjoyment and satisfaction doesn't mean you need to project that feeling to others to "help them not make a bad choice."  There are plenty of good games around, and some of them are exclusive to certain devices.  Is it that hard to be an unbiased gamer and play games simply because they're good?

"Nintendo is for kids." - Try playing Eternal Darkness.  Sure, it came out for GameCube, but you can play it on the Wii.  A story well-told through the heroine's generations, Eternal Darkness is most certainly dark and bloody, and its insanity effects will have you practically question your own.  Another good game is Epic Mickey, with its dark undertones of an alternate Disneyland.

"Xbox is for hardcore gamers." - Don't like FPSs?  Try out something like Shadow Complex for "Metroid-vania" style gameplay.  Or play Dance Central on the Kinect and get your groove thang going.  And then there's Fruit Ninja coming for the Kinect this Wednesday.

"What's good on the PS3?" - If you're an SRPG fanatic, you can try your hand on Disgaea 3.  Or maybe some good ol' platformers like the Ratchet and Clank or Sly Cooper series.  Or if you like action, there's Uncharted 2 (with the sequel coming out in November).

There are good games all around, and if you're a true gamer, you can find a good game anywhere, on any platform.  It shouldn't matter what system it's on, or where it's from.  If you enjoy a game, then what's stopping you from playing it?  Someone else's opinion?  Please...

Monday, August 8, 2011

Xbox 360, Dance Central, and GameritisGal

I've acquired an Xbox 360 with Kinect and Dance Central over the weekend, completing the trifecta of gaming consoles in the household.  And while I performed the initial setup and got the system going, it was my wife, GameritisGal, that started right on Dance Central.  I'm happy and glad that she's all into it, but it's a bit weird to have someone else in the house looking forward to games as much as I do.

And she's definitely looking forward to Fruit Ninja Kinect when it comes out Wednesday.

So, now that I have an Xbox 360 now, can anyone suggest any exclusive games on it besides Gears of War and Halo?

Limbo downloaded...and finished!! (Already?)

I just purchased Limbo for the PSN over the weekend...and finished it a day later.

That's not to say that the game isn't good at all; it's very stylish and dark, and the gameplay is simple and uncluttered.  The $15 price tag, however, left me feeling like I slightly overpaid for the experience. 

There's still a few more rounds of replay in the game, but they'll only be for earning other trophies and showing off the gruesome deaths to others.

I recommend this game.  I'd recommend it more if you can find it for sale.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Feeling charitable? Humble Indie Bundle #3 is here for you!

What better way to donate to charity than to get some awesome games for the act?  Humble Indie Bundle #3 is set to do just that with its latest bundle of games.  In the bundle you get:

Also, they threw in a sixth game, Steel Storm!  Not enough?  Well, for your donation, they'll throw in the previous Humble Indie Bundle #2 as well, which includes:

And might as well throw in the ability to play Minecraft for free until August 14th, when this bundle is over.

While you'll get Bundle #3 for any donation you wish to donate (whether it's $0.01 or $100.00), you'll only score Bundle #2 if you pay more than the average, which is just a little more than $5 at the moment.  And you have control over how you want your donation to be distributed - to just developers, just charity, or an even distribution to all parties.

But you really can't go wrong with getting games for donations.  And some pretty nice games, from the looks of the lineup.

Needless to say, I've made my contribution and will be heavily enjoying these games soon enough!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Tales of Monkey Island...finished!

I believe a quarter of my developed wit came from the clever wit-involved sword fights in Monkey Island.  I'm not talking about the Tales of Monkey Island episodic games, but from its earlier predecessors.  To take something active like swordplay and convert it to a still-engaging thinking man's game is no small task, and is ultimately one of the many references that defined the series up until now.

Monkey Island games reward clever players with a hilarious take on the pirate life, and Tales of Monkey Island is no exception.  The five-episode series does a great job reminding us of what makes a Monkey Island game memorable, and the wit here is as sharp as ever.  If you're a fan, you owe it to yourself to at least give the game a try.

Frankly, I want to see more of these point-and-click adventures.  They certainly hold a special place in my gamer heart.

Back to the Future: The Game...finished!!

I'm such a fan of the Back to the Future trilogy.  It's something I don't mind watching over and over, and I find much more enjoyment every time I do.  So there was some reservation when the Back to the Future: The Game episodes came from Telltale Games, despite the acquirement of Christopher Lloyd reprising his role and an almost-vocal equivalent to Marty McFly by A.J. Locascio.  It wasn't until I heard that Michael J. Fox was lending his voice to the final episode that I actually bought the bundle and had a look for myself.

This wasn't my first Telltale game.  In fact, I downloaded the Tales of Monkey Island episodes before this and completed those as well, (What?  I didn't post that?  I'm ashamed!) so it's not my first dip into the Telltale pool.  And after playing through two seasons of two different games, I'm very pleased with Telltale's work.  It's something when the game gives you a lasting impression, but it's another when it makes you want to relive those moments again, and both games (especially BttF:TG) make me want to play through them again.

Personally, I found the new storyline to the original series a welcome addition to the plot, and I hope to see a second season from them if it's ever possible!