Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Winter-een-mas: Day Six

My Winter-een-mas Celebration continued when my friend happened to be online last night. We played World of Warcraft from 2 to 6 am last night. Right now I'm blogging just so I can stay awake at work. Fortunately, my job tends to take care of itself and there's nothing against me blogging as long as I check on everything every 15 minutes.

Tomorrow is Thursday, which means Visual Basic class. I still have to finish my assignment, so I doubt I'll get in any gaming tonight.

Good news is, my wife will soon be getting a MacBook, which is good because unlike her previous laptop, this one will be capable of playing World of Warcraft. This means she and I can finally play together instead of the two of us sharing one account on one computer.

That's all I have to say right now. Catch you later.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Winter-een-mas: Day Five

My Winter-een-mas plans were slightly derailed this weekend. This was partially because my GameFly game, Marvel Ultimate Alliance didn't come in the mail until yesterday, but mostly because my Internet went down and didn't come back on until yesterday either. So I spent most of my Sunday in the outside world with my Wife. It was a nice change of pace.

Unfortunately, it's back to the weekly grind now. Work, Classes, Exercise. I've got a Visual Basic assignment due this Thursday and a C++ assignment due next Tuesday. Hopefully I'll get some gaming in next Friday, but unfortunately, Winter-een-mas will be over by that time. Oh well. It was fun while it lasted.

I leave you with this:
Video Game Voters Network

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Day One

Well, the first day of Winter-een-mas is drawing to a close. Today I managed to beat Super Paper Mario (Yeah, I skipped Paper Mario 2), and spend a few hours playing World of Warcraft. Now I'm going to sleep, because I've got another day of gaming tomorrow. More updates then.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Hail to the King Baby!

Winter-een-mas 1
Originally uploaded by scorp_stanton
My First Winter-een-mas Picture. I intend to use the cape and crown for my gaming this weekend.

Happy Winter-een-mas!

Well, here it is, the first day of Winter-een-mas. For those of you who don't know, Winter-een-mas is the Holiday created by gamers, for gamers. I'd give you an in depth origin of the holiday, but instead I'll just tell you to follow this link.

Needless to say, I'll be spending this holiday playing Video Games. I've only got the first three days off, but I'm going to make it count. Here's my itinerary:
Friday: Finally finish Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door [GC]

Friday night: All night session of WoW with my friend Meredith in Japan.

Saturday: Finally finish Super Paper Mario [GC]

Saturday night: Another all night WoW session (hopefully)

Sunday: Super Mario Galaxy [Wii] & Marvel Ultimate Alliance [Wii]

Happy Winter-een-mas to all, and to all a good game

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Review of "Bleach: The Blade of Fate"

Ok, first off, let me just say that I am a Huge, fan of Bleach, I started by watching the Dub and Adult Swim, then I moved on to the fansubs when I thought that was moving too slow. After reaching a dead-end with the fansubs, I started reading the Scanlations of the Manga. Needless to say, hearing that there were two American released Bleach video games, I was desperate to try them both. Unfortunately, when the games came out, I didn't have the money to buy them.

Enter Gamefly. I'd used Gamefly the previous Summer, but I didn't have a my yet so my selection was limited to GBA, DS, and GC games. Now with the Wii, I had access to even more games.

That aside, I decided to get the Bleach DS game first.

The game follows the Soul Society Arc of Bleach (both Manga and Anime). It includes voice acting from the English dub (by far the best English dub of an Anime I've heard). All the fighting takes place in a 2-D environment on the upper screen.

As I said earlier, the game follows the Soul Society Arc of Bleach, though if you're looking to just play exactly what happened, you won't be able to do that. Not right away anyway.

The Story Mode starts with Episode 1, which follows Ichigo as he tries to infiltrate Soul Society. Along the way, He'll fight Ganju, Renji, and 12 of the 13 Captains, leading up to a dramatic confrontation with Rukia's Brother, Byakuya Kuchiki. The story is mildly interesting, with some stark departures from the Plot line of the Manga and Anime.

After Episode 1, you can begin unlocking episodes 2-22, each of which focuses on a different character from the series. After completing the first 22 episodes, you unlock episode 23: Soul Reaper Cronicle. This final episode details the events of the entire Soul Society Arc from beginning to end and has you fight as multiple characters.

The graphics of the game consist of highly detailed, highly animated, 2-D sprites. I know it seems a little outdated in this world of 3-D, fully-rendered, highly-textured games, but I find it a refreshing change. I've always been a fan of 2-D fighters since the second Mortal Kombat. The backgrounds are well detailed and recognisable for fans of the series.

First off, let me say that the DS delivers excelent sound. This game is no exception. The game starts off with the 3rd Bleach Anime intro, and it sounds as good as if it's coming off the TV (or in my case, the computer). The rest of the music is not that spectacular, but doesn't get annoying either. The voice acting is Good, but has a tendency to get overpowered by soundeffects.

As I said earlier, this is a 2-D fighter. That's not to say it's by any means conventional. First off, fights can have anywhere from 2-4 players aranged into 2-4 teams. If you have 3 or 4 players, you're not confined to just one stage either. Using the L button, you can shift from the lower stage to the upper stage. In most cases, attacks made in one stage don't effect another, though in some cases, the attacks effect both stages.

The fighting game consists of 3 modes: Story Mode, described above; Arcade mode; and Vs. Mode. Arcade mode consists of a series of 1 on 1 battles, after which you earn a reward based on which character you beat the level with.

Vs. Mode has within it 4 seperate selections. The first is vs. CPU. In this you, the lone Human player, can fight up to 3 Computer controled characters. Computer characters have an AI dificulty rating between 1 and 9, with a default rating of 2. You can select each CPU character as well as organize everyone into up to four teams, allowing for 1 vs. 1, 1 vs. 2, 1 vs. 3, 2 vs. 2, 1 vs. 1 vs. 2, or free for all.

The second and third selections allow for you to play other local DS players. While one is for multicart play, the other allows for Download single-cart play. Others with a DS can download from your DS and play multiplayer, even if they don't have the game themselves. The only drawback to this feature is that it has to re-download every time it switches between the character select screen and the fight, even if all you want to do is replay the match with the same characters.

The third selection allows you to connect to others using the Nintendo WiFi Connection. I attempted to use this, but wasn't able to find anyone to fight.

By far, the most unique thing about this fighting game is how it utilizes the lower screen. Sure, you could spend all your time learning button combinations to moves, but you'd miss out on some of the fun. Bleach: BoF, lowers the learning curve by making all of you Special and Super moves available to you at the push of a button, or more accurately, the touch of a screen. In order to execute a Special or Super move, all you need to do is touch the move on the lower screen. The game will automatically use your most powerfull version of that attack if you're capable of it, and If you can't do the move at all, the move will be grayed out. Of course, it doesn't tell you what that move does. That part you'll have to figure out for yourself.

The second part of the lower screen is the card deck. Before chosing a mode, you can enter deck construction to asign ten cards to up to 5 slots. You have a limited number of cards, but you can put the same cards in different slots. Also, If you don't feel like sorting through the cards, you can select a deck personallized for each character.

The game features 28 characters and you can play every one of them (though only 22 are playable in Story Mode). Certain characters lend themselves more to certain playing styles, but you'll likely play all of them through arcade mode for completion.

In General
This game is probably the best 2-D fighter I've played in quite some time (in fact the only one). The touch screen makes the game easy for both the newbie and experienced player alike.

Rating: 9/10

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

An Open Letter to Kevin McCullough

UPDATE: [1/17/2008]It looks like this guy's initial article was pulled by I tried to update the link with a cached version, but all I could get was the first half. Anyway, I think I agree with the guys at Penny Arcade that we're giving this guy too much attention. It might be best to let the issue drop for now.

I read this guy's stuff online, then I realized I had something to say, so I started this Blog. Hopefully it goes somewhere. I sent him an email too:

[An Informed Point-of-view]Re: The "Sex-Box" Race for President/Life Lessons: GAMER Nerds' "Rights" to Lesbo-Alien Sex!

Hello Mr. McCullough,

I read both your article and your Blog post regarding Mass Effect and I found them to be interesting, if misinformed. I understand you've been reading a lot of hate mail because of your opinion, but I was wondering if you've heard a calm, clear-headed, rational-minded person like me argue against your case.

Now when I say argue, I do not mean in a negative context, but rather I intend to present evidence that pokes holes in your arguments. I will start with your article.

First, you mention that it is disgusting that people are able to customize the physical appearance of their main character. Now forgive me if I'm wrong, but people have been creating customized humans for several Millennia. That's what Art is. You mention being able to remove imperfections, but you failed to mention that you could add these things in. It's ok; you haven't played the game; you couldn't have known.

Moving on to the title: "Mass Effect". You seemed to imply that it was a carefully veiled attempt to convince parents that it was a war/virus game instead of an epic Space RPG. Perhaps our values are a bit different, but I would never let my young children play a Video Game as violent as you describe until I'm sure they are aware of the consequences those actions have in real life. I'll spare you from not knowing this in the future, and tell you what the name means. In the game, Mass Effect is another name for Dark Energy. Put plainly, this is very close to the "Force" in George Lucas's Star Wars Franchise. It's ok; you haven't played the game; you couldn't have known.

The rest of your article goes into the 2008 elections and I won't even bother to get into that. Not because I don't care, because I do care about who sits in the White House, but because I believe no good can come from attempting to legislate games. The amount of game-legislation has been going up, but so far, everything that has been challenged has been defeated. Every Judge who has been handed these cases has struck down the laws as unconstitutional. As long as the ESRB continues its job, it will take nothing short of repealing the 1st Amendment to make the legislation hold.

I next refer to your Blog Post. You made a five point list, so I'll comment on each of the five points:

  1. You can't judge a game that takes hours upon hours to play based on a few 60 second clips that people put up on YouTube; however, even based on that footage, I would say that the game is tame in comparison to some PG-13 rated movies that I've seen (Titanic anyone?).

  2. See my above, my third paragraph. I don't think I need to address this again.

  3. To further whittle down your arguments, I'd like to point out that there are a total of Three (3) romantic options for the main character in Mass Effect to pursue, and only two (2) of them are available at any given time. Two of these relationships are 100% Heterosexual. The Female Shepard has a Male character and the Male Shepard has a Female character. Shared between the two is Liara T'Soni, the Blue Alien shown in your YouTube videos. Liara, while possessing a Female form, is not truly female. Her species has only one gender, and generally couples with any gender of another species. That probably seems like too much information to you, but I think an informed opinion is a healthy opinion (though still not necessarily correct).

  4. You made a criticism of the game's "M for Mature" rating, basically saying that it amounts to nothing and does nothing. In this area, you are 100% misinformed. The ratings Early Childhood [EC], Everyone [E], Everyone 10+ [E 10+], Teen [T], Mature [M], and Adults Only [AO], not to mention the Content Descriptors, too numerous to list here, are provided be the Entertainment Software Ratings Board [ESRB] and are the most complete and thorough ratings system ever devised. There is no "depending on your state" involved in this either. I've provided links later on pointing to the rating guide, ESRB partner stores (which are required, per their contract, to be sure that they are not selling M and AO games to people below the ages of 17 & 18 respectively), as well as the Parental Controls settings of all three Current-Gen systems, something that every parent of a gamer should be aware of.

  5. Lastly, you state that you have been challenged to play the game or "...keep your fat mouth shut". Would it surprise you to know that I haven't played the game either? I don't even own an Xbox 360 (yet), but I'm still well versed in what this game is about. Why is that, you ask? It's because I did research. I utilized the internet, the world's largest repository of knowledge, and, weighing content based on its reputability, made an informed judgment.

In Gamer culture, there's a bad tendency to react to criticisms with hostility. While these people are among the most vocal, they do not represent all gamers. I am attempting to present a higher standard with no profanity or attacks, just presenting the facts and conclusions based on those facts.

Truth be told, Video Games are an art form, as much as painting, writing, or making a movie. The thing is that we are the first to create an art form that is affected differently by different people. I wouldn't censor your art, so please don't censor mine.

ESRB Retail Partners:

ESRB Ratings Guide:

Xbox 360 Parental Controls:

Wii Parental Controls:

PS3 Parental Controls (the url is way too long to type out)

Video Game Voters Network: