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Archive for November, 2010

Review #385

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

Grotesque Tactics: Evil Heroes
Developer: Silent Dreams
Publisher: Silent Dreams
Genre: SPRG
Release Date: 10/15/2010

I’m a pretty big fan of indie RPGs. After this I’m delving into Deadly Sin 2: Shining Faith and Ella’s Hope, but when our head of PR said, “I’ve got this SRPG called Grotesque Tactics; is anybody interested?” I decided to jump on it. SRPGs are my favorite genre of RPGs after all. Whether it’s Shining Force, Disgaea or something like Brigandine, I tend to have a lot of fun with them. However, I’ve rarely played any for the PC (which I’ve been spending a lot more time with than consoles this year), so I figured this would be a fun little romp into the world of German indie gaming.

It wasn’t. By the time I finished, I could honestly say Grotesque Tactics was the worst SRPG I’ve ever played. I feel bad saying that about an indie game, but considering people on the GT also worked on games like Gothic 1-3, I don’t really consider it all that “indie”

So what went wrong? Let’s take a look.
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Review #384

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Marvel Super Hero Squad: The Infinity Gauntlet
Publisher: THQ
Developer: Griptonite
Genre: Action Platformer
Release Date: 11/16/2010

I’m a big fan of the Super Hero Squad cartoon, but I found the original video game to be a mediocre affair. As such, you’re probably wondering why I decided to review the second. Well there are three reasons. The first is as I mentioned earlier, I LOVE THE CARTOON. The second is that it involved the Infinity Gauntlet, which for my money, is Marvel’s best crossover story ever. The third reason is that the original game only came out for the PS2, PSP, Wii and DS. I played the original on the PSP and decided to be optimistic and chalk up the issues with the game to PSP issues. I was crossing my fingers in hopes that the series would perform better on a next gen console.

So did the Super Hero Squad “HERO UP” or did they fail like Abomination trying to beat MODOK at a game of chess?
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Review #383

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Darkstar – The Interactive Movie: Captain’s Box Edition
Publisher: Parallax Studio
Developer: Parallax Studio
Genre: Panoramic Adventure
Release Date: 11/5/2010

Darkstar is a game I’ve been waiting literally years for. I’ve been following for god knows how long now, but finally it’s here. My interest in the game was twofold. First was that the original cast of MST3K (not the Mike Nelson years team) was acting in the game. The other was that this would be the first truly big full motion video (or FMV for short) game in a long time. I’ve always loved this strange little offshoot of adventure gaming. I remember spending many a quarter on Dragon’s Lair and Mad Dog McCree in the arcade. I remember 1992 was a huge year for me as I got Night Trap on the Sega CD (launch version) and The 7th Guest on PC. I remember being wowed by Phantasmagoria in 1995. I remember games like Who Shot Johnny Rock, Dracula Unleashed, Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective, Mansion of Hidden Souls, Brain Dead 13 and the A list acted and high budget production that was The Black Dahlia. But after 1998…the genre went all but extinct. Now when FMV games has arisen, they’ve been a one awesome, but they’ve also been pretty good. Missing Since November came out in 2004 and Casebook in 2008, and although both were pretty fun for what they were, neither truly captured the feel of the horror big 3 (NT, 7th, and Phantasmagoria) in terms of how they revolutionized gaming. A lot of people forget or downplay just how the gaming landscape changed with FMV games. Night Trap brought about the ESRB, The 7th Guest single-handedly made CD-ROMs into a feasible and sellable medium and Phantasmagoria showcased just how gorey and “M-Rated” a game could be.

Now we have Darkstar, the first truly blockbuster FMV game in twelve years, but unless you are a fan of FMV, MST3K, or point and click games, this review is probably the first you’ve heard about the title…unless you’ve talked to me about any of the above in the past few years. As I said earlier, I’ve been watching the development of this game for years and even joked with “TV’s” Frank Conniff about the fact it was finally coming out in Boston at a Cinematic Titanic event. I happily plunked down $75 of my own money for the “Captain’s Box” or collector’s edition with included a strategy guide, artbook (both in pdf format), a two disc soundtrack, a T-shirt, two signed (and mangled by shipping) glossies of the cast and a signed copy of the game itself by the main behind it all, Jeffery Williams. Now that I’ve actually played the game, has it lived up to the hype I made for it in my own little brain…or did FMV games die out for a very good reason?
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Final 50 CAWs for Smackdown vs Raw 2k11

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Hayabusa, Danielson, Hawk, Animal, Angle, Ultimo, Cibernetico, Stan Lane, blonde Sting, Warrior, Doink, Masato Tanaka, Kamala, Gordy, Savage, Vader, Liger, Hakushi, jeff hardy, Muta, Chono, Eaton, Malenko, Parka, Dreamer, Papa Shango, Tully, Magnum T.A., Stan Hansen, Tiger Mask, Hennig, Double A, Yuji Nagata, Flair, Lesnar, Dr. Death, Sabu, Taz, Sandman, Psicosis, Michael hayes, Lawler, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, ric rude, Kensuke Sasaki, barry whindam, sgt. slaughter, kerry von erich, jesse ventura and Yosihiro Tajiri.

I dumped Trish Stratus and Lita for the Midnights, Foley for Gordy and Goldberg for Jinsei Shinzaki (Hakushi)

Six Years of Mr. Chewie Biteums

Sunday, November 7th, 2010

It’s hard to believe that six years ago this evening is the anniversary of the day I found a injured little brown bunny in my next door neighbors yard during a snowstorm, realized it wasn’t wild and brought it in to my flat to nurse it back to health. He’s been with me ever since and has been a source of happiness (and stress) ever since. Looking back at the pictures I have from the first few weeks I had him I know he wasn’t a baby when I found him. He was pretty big even then, although not as big as he is now and his ears were fully formed, but too big for his head and hair hadn’t fully grown in. So he was young, but not a baby. Not like Baby when she was found and obviously a literal baby back then. Because I know he’s six years and some months I don’t think of this as his birthday, but rather our anniversary of finding each other. I love that meticiulous Niles Crane wannabe rabbit so much.

It’s been a rough year for us. In January a freak blood test indicated he had an inoperable heart tumour, but x-rays and follow up tests showed that was a mistake. Then on my birthday he was diagnosed with a type of cancer you don’t get better from. This was made worse from realizing it was where he was set on fire before I found him and the burned skin was turning into cancer. Thankfully we found it far earlier than anyone should have, because I am utterly a helicopter mom with him, and after two long surgeries and some tests, coupled with the fact it hadn’t even become a stage one cancer yet, Chewie was cancer free! God I can’t begin to tell you how stressful and insane that month and a half was. Time slowed to a crawl and all I could think about was Chewie and cancer. Now in early November, it seems like he never had it. He’s hyper, playful, standoffish and his usual self - a far cry from the bunny who after his surgeries just wanted to sit on my lap and be pet until he fell asleep. This was so unusual for Chewie since he hates to be touched a lot of the time, but even though we were both in pain (one mental, one physical), it was him showing me how much he cared for me in his own rabbit way.

He’s a pretty healthy, active and happy rabbit and although he’s getting up there in years for his species, he’s a big part of my life and I’m very lucky to have found him that evening. he got a new cardboard house to play in and a honeycrisp apple for today, so he’s pretty much enjoying the extra attention (but not petting) he’s been getting this morning. Here’s to several more years with Mr. Chewie Biteums!

Review #382

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

Vampire Moon: Mystery of the Hidden Sun
Publisher: City Interactive
Developer: City Interactiver
Genre: Hidden Object
Release Date: 10/19/2010

City Interactive games haven’t fared well here at Diehard GameFAN. Their two best games have been Art of Murder; FBI Confidential (which I found to be merely mediocre) and Chronicles of Mystery: The Scorpio Ritual, which actually received a positive review from Aileen. Their other games have received…less than positive comments from us. I abhorred Hunt for the Puppeteer, AJ loathed his time with Battlestrike: Western and Eastern Front, Guy had nothing nice to say about Code of Honor 2, and Sniper: Ghost Warrior was so bad, Hevia wanted to burn the thing. So with all that in mind you’re probably wondering why I willingly agreed to review Vampire Moon for the Nintendo DS.

There are three reasons. The first is that I like hidden object games every now and then. The second is that I end up playing a lot of vampire games and as bad as City Interactive has been, there’s no way this could be worse than Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. The third and final reason is that I’m always morbidly curious about hidden object games for the DS. After all, they’re 19-29 dollars on the DS, while you can generally get them for $6.99 for the PC. Is portability really worth AT LEAST triple the price. Sure I discovered the Cate West series that way, but I was also annoyed by how much more it cost for my Nintendo handheld compared to what I could get it for on my laptop. Since Vampire Moon was a DS exclusive (which is odd as CI are primarily developers for the PC), I grit my teeth and bought the thing (CI wouldn’t give review copies of the game, which is almost always a red flag). Hey, it was only $19.99 after all. So was Vampire Moon worth my time and money…or did the game flat out suck?
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Review #381

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

Atari’s Greatest Hits, Volume 1
Publisher: Atari
Developer: Code Mystics, Inc.
Genre: Compilation
Release Date: 11/03/2010

Although I know this dates me, I played the hell out of my Atari 2600 as a kid. Even when I got a Nintendo Entertainment System, I would still go back to Warlords, H.E.R.O., Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron and other games for this now venerable system. Unfortunately I’ve spent a good chunk of my adult years waiting for Atari to put out a quality compilation of 2600 games. It hasn’t helped that Atari has gone through more owners and changes than any three other publishers put together, but everything so far has been either too little for your money (Midway Presents Arcade’s Greatest Hits: The Atari Collection 1), not the best in terms of quality or quantity (Atari Anniversary Edition for the Dreamcast) or downright stupid (Atari Classics Evolved for the PSP).

Now Atari tries it again with Atari’s Greatest Hits, Volume 1. This little DS cart packs in fifty 2600 games for $29.99. That’s roughly $1.66 a game, a much better deal than Centipede/Warlords/Breakout, which I picked up for the Game Boy Advance in 2005 for $15. It also contains several games that haven’t seen a legal re-release since the days of the actual 2600 itself. Games like the Swordquest titles and Haunted House, the latter of which had a nice little remake on the Wii last month. The cart even allows twenty-one different games to be downloaded by a friend so you can engage in multiplayer wireless play – a first for all of the titles that offer this. Just remember, you can only download one at a time.

On paper, Atari’s Greatest Hits, Volume 1 looks like a no brainer in terms of awesomeness, but how is it really?
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Long Crazy Week and a Half

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

Tomorrow is Mr. Chewie Biteum’s sixth “birthday” (rather the anniversary of the day I found him) and Daylight Savings Time, which is a neat combo. However it’s been an insane week and a half, so let’s get down to it.

Weds the 27th - Guin’s train arrived into town late. We had falafel, Hummus and bread for dinner. It was a nice evening and a good start to a vacation we both really needed due to a lot of work related stress.

Thurs the 28th - We flew out of Dulles on JetBlue. It’s definitely the best airline I’ve flown with so far. The regular seats have a ton of legroom, the perks are better and yay for snacks. We got into Boston with no problem, picked up our car and went to our hotel which was pretty decent, especially since Priceline got it for us at only $60 a night instead of the usual $160 it went for. We did a little bit of Salem that day. Just a quick look at some shops and the like and then we headed to Blue Ginger for a pretty disappointing meal. Bad service and underwhelming food. I guess third time isn’t the charm after all. Bad Ming Tsai.

Dan was supposed to arrived around this time, but he and his friend missed their connection in Rein (across the Atlantic) due to flying standby, so he was going to arrive the next night. No worries.

Friday the 29th - We didn’t know what was going to happen with Dan so went got up, had a crappy hotel breakfast, made liberal use of the pool (which we had to ourselves) and did a bit of Salem. We only went into a single exhibit (The Witch’s Cottage, which is the best event in the town and I thought Guin would have fun with it), had hot dogs at the Boston Hot Dog Company and got her a French Crueller from Dunkin Donuts, which are like evey few blocks in MA.

We also went to a live version Cinematic Titanic, which features the actual cast of MST3K and not the unfunny replacement second stringers that makeup Rifftrax. They did a movie called “Rattlers,” which was awful, but they made it hilarious. Guin got her ticket signed by the entire cast and I got a CT DVD called “Legacy of Blood” signed by them. Dan and his friend were supposed to come with us to this, but more flight issues and delays didn’t let him get in until midnight and his friend bailed on Salem completely due to exhaustion from travel. Poor guy.

Saturday the 30th - We got up and Guin stayed in bed for a while while Dan and I went to Friendly’s for Breakfast. We both got double chocolate pancakes and I brought an order back for Guin as well. We went to the Square One Mall, if only to make old PBS programming jokes. The mall sucked and they had a very sad pet store with a black bunny I wanted because they kept him isolated from the other bunnies there. Poor little guy. From there we went to the worst Food and Wine festival I’ve ever been to in some town I can’t remember the name of. At least we got free wine glasses. Oh wait, I don’t drink at all and Guin rarely does. Still, yay for freebies I guess.

Then we met Che and her friend (who would break up with her later that night). We screwed around and eventually went to an Uno’s (Ick I know, but Che only seemed to do chain restaraunts). Guin got a call from her aunt and that’s when shit hit the fan.

It turned out Guin’s cat, Boo, was really sick and appeared to be dying. She’s in a little town in WV and they couldn’t raise any vets on the phone. This seemed weird to me because I’ve never heard of vets that aren’t open every day in some way, but I guess tiny towns are different. Her aunt kept calling and calling, trying to find a vet for the kitty, but to no avail. Guin was in hysterics and heartbroken, and so while the others ate, I sat outside with her as she cried, After two cancer scares this year with Mr. Chewie Biteums, I knew how she felt.

This kind of killed the day, and to some extent the entire vacation. We had plans that ended up changing to Guin and I spend the entire rest of the afternoon and night in our hotel room as she waited to hear some sort of news about her cat. Dan ended up spending the rest of the day with Che and spent the night at her place. All things considered, I think we had the better time. :-(

About 9pm, Guin’s aunt called to tell her Boo had passed away and Guin felt horrible guilt about not being there or being able to say goodbye. I had that very issue with Zuel, so I again understood how she felt. She cried for a while and watched some of her NCIS show that she liked inbetween more crying jags. I just tried to be supportive and hold her. She really loved that cat, just like I love my bunnies and she had him for 16 years which is a pretty long time indeed. Eventually we went to sleep but yeah, that was about as a bad an occurance as could happen on a vacation.

Sunday the 31st - Halloween, dude! Guin decided she just wanted to stay in the hotel room and pretty much forced me out to have fun with Dan. So I costumed up as Destro from G.I. Joe (pics are in my facebook) and Dan wore a monster costume from a short movie he made. Dan’s costume was extremely popular, especially with the ladies. Mine was popular only with nerds. Thankfully both our costumes were exceptionally warm as it was only 40 degrees out. We got stopped a lot (although not as much as last year). Overall there were over 100,000 people there, but not as many in costumes and even less that were good. Dan was honestly the most popular costume there and I did pretty well for using an obscure variant of Destro rather his more recognizable outfit. We ate at a vegitarian place for lunch and then continued with our nonstop walking around the town.

Guin eventually contacted us in the late afternoon and decided she wanted to go out, so we had to walk a few miles to our car, wade through insane traffic and got back to the hotel to get her where she was dolled up as Etna from Disgaea. Instead of driving back (which would have been an impossibility at that point parking-wise), we took a shuttle back and resumed our wanderings around the area.

Guin didn’t really enjoy the whole concept of a Salem Halloween, which consists of walking around, checking out costumes, posing for pictures and talking to random strangers, and her costume was pretty skimpy, so combine that with the loss of her cat the day before and she had a pretty miserable time. At least she tried to get out though! We stayed until a little past 10 and then went back to the hotel to call it a night. Yeah, Salem ends its Halloween about 10 and it was freezing, so this was kind of a bad trip all in all. All three of us decided to do New Orleans next year instead. It’ll at least be warmer and have cajun food. Plus it’s a place neither Dan nor Guin have been to!

Monday the 1st - We got up, finished packing, met up with Dan and we dropped him off at the airport. He was flying Sun Country, but Sun Country didn’t actually have a gate at the airport. Eventually we learned it was a United flight he was actually on. Guin and I returned the car, but my GPS died permanently on the way there, so I had to buy a new one when we got home. Ugh. Not a fun trip with lots of stuff going wrong.

We came home, played with the indignant rabbits as best we could and watched the Cinematic Titantic DVD I bought to have signed which…well, it sucked. It was pretty bad.

Tuesday the 2nd - Guin was supposed to leave via train on the 3rd, but I drove her home to Beckley instead so she didn’t have to bury her cat by herself or spend the night alone. It was a long drive but we got there about 6:30pm. We buried the cat at her parent’s house, she cried a lot and then we went to the mall and eventually had dinner at some place. A pretty depressing day all in all.

Weds the 3rd - We spent the day in Beckley. There’s not much to do there.

Thursday the 4th - I headed home at 7:30am, got here at 12:30pm, played with my rabbits and spent my last day of vacation dealing with stupid work issues. Ugh.

Friday the 5th - WORK.

So yeah, this was not a very good vacation at all. I feel really bad for Guin and what she went through on this trip. it always sucks saying good bye to a pet. They’re family and I know how crushed I was with Chewie earlier this year and thankfully got a miracle.