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Archive for August, 2008

Review #210

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

Disgaea 3
Publisher: Nippon Ichi America
Developer: Nippon Ichi
Genre: SRPG
Release Date: 08/27/2008

We’ve all been big fans of the Disgaea series here at DHGF. At least at first. In 2003 the original Disgaea won damn near every award it was nominated for, including our GOTY. In 2006, Disgaea 2 won our best SRPG award. Now it’s 2008 and Disgaea 3 has arrived on the PS3.

I’ve always been the Nippon Ichi guy around here, having raved about Rhapsody since it came out, and having reviewed D2, Phantom Brave, and Makai Kingdom, I have to say I’ve enjoyed every NIS SRPG I’ve played, even if I do feel they’ve been going to the well once to often and even regressed a bit with Disgaea 2 jettisoning a lot of the innovation from PB and MK.

So how is the third Disgaea? It’s the first SRPG for the system and its MSRP is ten dollars less then most games, but is it still worth buying?
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Review #209

Friday, August 29th, 2008

Review: My Chinese Coach (NDS)
Developer: Sensory Sweep
Publisher: Ubisoft
Genre: Educational
Release Date: 08/27/2008

Okay, two rambling stories. First, in the beginning of 2007 my friend Dan wanted to go to China and thus wanted to take a Chinese class so that he could know some basic words as both a sign of respect to the natives and also to help him if he got lost. He didn’t want to take it alone, so he asked me and I said yes. We spent the next few months in an introduction to Mandarin class that ran once a week for three hours. It was a lot of fun and I would have loved to take a follow up but I moved shortly thereafter.

Story #2. While attending a Pokemon event at Toys R Us, I spied a copy of My French Coach for $15 bucks. I speak French pretty well but I am a believer in constantly practicing my language skills to ensure I don’t forget anything and decided to buy it so I had something other then Pokemon games for my DS. Well, it turned out to be one of the best purchases I’d ever made. I absolutely adored the game and how it taught you to write and speak francais. It still remains one of the best games I’ve ever played on the DS.

So with My Chinese Coach, you can see how the two stories go together. Mandarin however, is a very different language from French and due to the five tones and the completely different way of writing, I was curious how the game would be able to teach this added element in addition to everything else.

So how was the game? Is it worth your thirty bones, or would your money be better spent saving up for a Rosetta Stone set of cd’s.

That’s the language tutor, not the awesome band.
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Review #208

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

Murder in the Abbey
Developer: Alcachofa Soft
Publisher: The Adventure Company
Genre: Adventure
Release Date: 08/30/2008

Murder in the Abbey, or just, The Abbey as the game tends to call itself, was a title I was looking forward to all year. Heck, I’ve been watching it for more than a year actually, checking in on the developer’s website every few weeks and really enjoying how it was a homage to the visuals of the old Lucasarts point and click games like Grim Fandango, and The Secret of Monkey Island. I fell in love with the art style the second I saw it and thankfully, The Adventure Company decided to bring it over saving me the cost and time to import the title from Europe via Crimson Cow.

God knows this has been the month for adventure games, with the quality being as high as The Sinking Island and as low as Dracula 3. Murder in the Abbey marks my fifth Adventure game this MONTH, but it’s also the one I’ve been most excited to play. So did my journey to a Benedictine Abbey live up to my own personal hype, or did it fall as flat as a certain other fang filled Adventure game that came out this month?
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Jesus God, I’m busy

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

Did reviews of the Genghis Kahn DVD and a book for Amazon last night. I’ll be doing a review of Murder in the Abbey tonight and one of My Chinese Coach Friday and then one of Disgaea 3 on Monday. This is a busy fucking week. I also have another booker Amazon sent me to review. Jesus, between video game companies and now Amazon, I’m getting most of the things I usually purchased for entertainment for free. Still, lots of busy writing.

The Great Outdoor Fight arrived yesterday and it’s very snazzy.

I’m looking forward to delicious, delicious chili on Sunday. I’ll probably go see Hamlet 2 on Saturday or Monday, depending on what my schedule looks like. Anyone seen it yet? A nice morning jog with a 12:30 showing sounds nice.

Duckman comes out of DVD in a few weeks. I had nearly forgotten about that show. Man, I loved Duckman.

Alas, Venture Bros. is over for another season. Not enough Orpheus this season though. Orpheus and the Monarch are my favorites, but damned if Tim-Tom and Kevin haven’t claimed the #3 spot. Freaky pervert psycho midgets.

Book of the Week - Week 2

Monday, August 25th, 2008

I’m a Stranger Here Myself was a book written by Bill Bryson upon moving back to the United States after living two decades abraod in England. It is also known as Notes From a Big Country in England and while both versions have some exclusive content and little differences, they are fundamentally the same book.
This is the first Bill Bryson book I ever read and it became my gateway into travelogues. Bryson remains my favorite travel writer, although his books on history and the English language are complete crap.

Each “chapter” in the book is actually a weekly column he wrote in a British newspaper called the Daily Mail(Which was the preferred paper of choice for Elisa and her parents). They range from the differences between the two countries postal services to his first experiences with a basement (something they don’t have across the pond). It’s quite a funny read and it’s a wonderful example of how we may speak the same language, but there is a huge difference between the two countries. It’s pretty cheap these days on Amazon I believe, and although I prefer A Walk in the Woods and The Thunderbolt Kid, this is probably the best book to break you in on Bryson.

Review #207

Monday, August 25th, 2008

Fading Shadows
Developer: Ivolgamus
Publisher: Agetec
Genre: Puzzle
Release Date: 8/28/2008

Well, never let it be said that we here at Diehard GameFAN don’t give a lot of attention to the under the radar games. To be honest I’ve never heard of Ivolgamus until Agetec decided to bring over two of their titles to the US.

I’m pretty much a sucker for Agetec games as they’ve brought to America titles I love like Board Game Top Shop, RPG Maker, Echo Night and Clock Tower. I’m also deficient in any sort of puzzle games for my PSP save for Lumines which I don’t really play per say‚Ķ

So Agetc + puzzle game equals an “I’ll review it!” response from me. After all the last puzzle game of theirs that I picked up was Puzzle Star Sweep and I adored it. Plus the fact the review copy came with a bag of marbles (something I’ve actually never played before) was a cute little marketing gimmick.

So how was Fading Shadows? Was it another quality title brought over by Agetec, or did this one fall under the category of Shadow Tower?
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And it’s Monday

Monday, August 25th, 2008

Friday - Went to Ikea and had lunch with Aimee and got a crap load of work done. Came home, worked out and got a crap load of writing done.

Saturday - I was up at 8am to drive to Great Falls National Park in MD to go hiking with Kim and a bunch of her friends. AND a bunch of their kids. I think I knew I was in for a bit of trouble when one of the kids was dressed as Ash Kethcum and two had homemade t shirts from a summer camp they attended with Pikachu emblazened on them.

What followed was 7-8 miles of hiking and rock climbing intermixed with, and I shit you not, FIVE HOURS of nonstop Pokemon chatter from children. The only time it stopped was when they were eating or drinking and even then that was not always the case. All the adults, including Kim at some point were said one of the following phrases:

“I’m so sorry. They’re just really excited to meet you.”

“Do you want me to tell them to change the topic?”

“Thank you SO MUCH for being patient with the kids.”

The funny thing was at no time was I exhausted or annoyed. I mean, they’re children. Children tend to have one track minds and if you have a gaggle of Pokemon loving kids in one spot, of course the conversation is going to be one topic and one topic only. It’s like an Anime convention or comic con or the like. Even as adults we do this. So I was fine it. They were well behaved kids. They just REALLY liked Pokemon. I guess I can’t get annoyed or bored when I see these children enjoying someting that I’ve had a hand in, no matter how minute. It’s things like Saturday that remind me why I do the things I do.

So it was a lot of fun hiking from about 10am-3pm. The views were great, the trails were hard and I got an amazing amount of exercise out of that. After the hike, Kim’s kids went with her friends and the two of us went into DC. We ate at Nando’s, then walked all around DC, for about 5-6 miles or so. We did some touristy stuff like the Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, WWII, Korean and other monuments/memorials and then we had a late supper at Jaleo. We also discovered that they are opening a WAGAMAMA in D.C. Holy crap, is that awesome! We parted about 11-ish, and then I came home, watched a Speed Grapher DVD, showered, and called it a night.

Sunday: LAZY day. I got up about 11, wrote two articles, finished Speed Grapher, and well, that was really it. I had no energy or drive, which is really rare. I was just mentally and physically exhausted from Friday and Saturday and so I was in a bit of a funk. I played so Fading Shadows which was sent to me Saturday while I was out. It’s an okay game. Nothing special. Other then that, I did absolutely nothing of note.

Next Sunday I’m going up to Hanover, PA with Kim for the largest chili cook-off east of the Mississippi river. Five bucks for all you can eat of FIFTY different chilis. It’s a veritable FOGO De Chili. Should be a lot of fun, although I’ll probably want to roll the windows down coming home.

All and all an awesome three days. Now it’s time for a busy work week.

Two Things that suck

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

1. I’m really hating that sometimes Wordpress converts my ” to ‘ when I cut and paste from a Word.Docx with no rhyme, reason, or warning. And generally only one end of the quotes and not the other.

2. Hamlet 2 is only playing in a single theatre in all of the DC Metro area. LAME!

Friday!

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

Okay, looks like the DHGF server is down. Not cool.

I’ve done WAY too much writing this week. Thankfully the last two games I was supposed to review have been pushed back so it means I can just finish my essays on Krillian Photography, and some Pokemon stuff. I’m putting the fishing touches on a piece about Ghost Pokemon for October.

Speaking of Pokemon, Nintendo sent me the new DS lite Pokemon bundle, in effect giving me 3 DS’ - all limited edition Pokemon pieces that go for a crap load of money. In fact looking at my GBA and GBASP’s, they’re all Pokemon limited editions. That’s a little weird.

The bundle came with a dvd of Pokemon Mystery Dungeon. it was cute, but most interesting that Maddie Blaustein and Rachel Lillis were in the voice acting cast. This was a huge shock as they had left along with everyone else during the big voice change over of doom. I know Pokemon USA fired the production team that took over from 4Kids due to some “Rodimus sucks, Optimus rules” type anger from fans and the residual anger from my branch about the whole thing, so here’s hoping that the real Meowth and Jessie/Misty/Jigglypuff get their characters back.

1/3rd done Speed Grapher. Wow is that fucked up. It’s like Cowboy Bebop meets Eyes Wide Shut. Very well done, but probably not for everyone.

Amazon’s started requesting me as a semi-professional reviewer for their site, which is neat. I did a few last month. Now I’m back doing some more. If you had ever told me a decade ago I’d be an attractive Jay Sherman, I’d have laughed. IT STINKS!

Whooo for Hike and Nando’s tomorrow!

Back in Minnesota it seems to be goth baby season. Two of my friends Hypxoia and Laurapalmer813 have had babies in the past few days. Expect a package of early brainwashing mate….Pokemon goodness coming your way once I have your addresses (mainly because I think jessica and Christopher have moved since I left the state.) Congrats you guys!

Today is a wonderful day of photoshopping and writing along with a side trip to Ikea. Yay!

Review #206

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

Dracula 3: Path of the Dragon
Publisher: Microids
Developer: Kheops Studio
Genre: Adventure
Release Date: 8/12/2008

Ah Dracula, my old namesake. We have a lot of history together, especially with gaming. It was the first game in this series, Dracula: Resurrection that reintroduced me to Adventure gaming back in the summer of 2000. Dracula: Resurrection was by far the most visually stunning game I had ever seen up to that point, and the puzzles, characters, and plot were amongst the best I encountered in gaming that year. I had such a great experience with it, that Dracula: Resurrection made #19 on my Top 30 Spooky Games Countdown. Just looking at the screenshots I took for that Nyogtha column makes me love the game even more as it’s easily OS3/360 quality and it’s EIGHT YEARS OLD.

The sequel Dracula: The Final Sanctuary was a disappointment. It had some great visuals and a nice plot, but the puzzles and gameplay were a huge step down in quality. Alas this was to be Canal+ Multimedia’s (Also known as France Telecom Multimedia) last game as it was broken down and the company’s titles were picked up by Microids.

Fast forward to 2008. First comes Riddle of the Tomb, which is a game I unfortunately had to review for DHGF in March. It was a truly awful panoramic point and click which was also made by the creators of the mediocre Safecracker and Return to Mysterious Island. Of course, this is the same team that Microids picked to make Dracula 3. Insert sad face here.

A few months later, Dreamcatcher published Dracula: Origin. Although Dreamcatcher was the US publisher of the first two Dracula games, Dracula: Origin had nothing to do with the now owned by Microids series. Although the story degenerated from awesome into a weird Cthulhu crossover complete with Cthulhu worshipping cannibals, it boasted some of the best and most unique puzzles I’ve ever seen in an adventure game and it turned out to be one of the best games I’ve played all year.

So now we’re here with Dracula 3 and it’s legacy of one really good game, one mediocre game, one development company I really liked, and one that makes me cry tears of blood when I see they’ve put something new out. So how was Dracula 3? Did Kheops finally make a quality game, or have they managed to destroy the last remnants of a once popular franchise?
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