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Archive for March, 2011

Review #403

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

Bust-A-Move Universe
Developer: Arika
Publisher: Square-Enix
Genre: Puzzle
Release Date: 03/27/2011

I’ll admit it. I’m a sucker for anything featuring Bub and Bob as long as it’s not Rainbow Islands. If it’s got those two adorable chibi dragons, I’ve played it. Hell, I own at least one version of Bust-A-Move (or Puzzle Bobble as I prefer to call it) or Bubble Bobble for every system I have, from the venerable NES to my Neo*Geo. Now that doesn’t mean I’m blind to when Taito lets Bub and Bob be attached to a stinker. Bubble Bobble Revelations is one of the worst games I’ve ever played and the only thing that has ever given me motion sickness. Bust-A-Move Bash! for the Wii was a stinker too. But when a new game in either Bobble series comes out, I know I’ll be playing it.

When the 3DS lineup was announced and I knew I’d be receiving one, Bust-A-Move Universe was my number one pick for the launch game I was going to purchase. Thankfully though, Square-Enix was kind enough to provide me with a review copy of the game before the official launch of both the system and it is now my third straight 3DS review. So far it’s been a push with me enjoying Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars, while finding Super Monkey Ball 3D to be less than desirable. So does Bust-A-Move Universe rival Space Bust-A-Move as one of the best incarnations of the series yet, or is the latest Puzzle Bobble title just a bust?
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3DS Friend Code

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

0087-2299-5696

Review #402

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

Super Monkey Ball 3D
Developer: Sega
Publisher: Sega
Genre: Puzzle
Release Date: 03/27/2011

Back in 2003, I picked up a Nintendo Game Cube on launch day along with four titles: Luigi’s Mansion, All-Star Baseball 2002, Batman: Vengeance and Super Monkey Ball. Out of the four, Super Monkey Ball became my favorite. The game was great, but it appears Sega let the success of the title go to their heads. In less than a decade, the game had spawned eleven sequels – none of which came close to capturing the magic or the quality of the original. They were all lacking in some way.

However, with the announcement that there would be a Super Monkey Ball game as a 3DS launch title, I knew this would be one of my day one purchases in hopes that history would repeat itself. Thankfully, Sega actually was kind enough to provide a review copy of the game before the official street date so that I could get a review up of the game in time for you, our readers, to see if Super Monkey Ball 3D is worth your $39.99 or not. So was Sega able to finally recreate the formula that made the original SMB so awesome, or is this just another in a long line of subpar sequels?
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Review #401

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars
Developer: Ubisoft Sofia
Publisher: Ubisoft
Genre: Tactical RPG
Release Date: 03/23/2011

To be honest, when I first saw the launch lineup for the 3DS, the two games that interested me the most were Bust-A-Move Universe and Super Monkey Ball. I’m not a fan of first or third person shooters so when I saw a Tom Clancy game on the list, I just whipped past it without a second thought. Then when I started doing a little digging on each title, what I discovered about Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars blew me away. First, it was actually a SRPG rather than a tactical shooter, which makes this the first ever Tactical RPG launch title I can think of. Second, the project was headed up by Julian Gollop. Now I’m old, so that name probably does mean anything to anyone under thirty, but PC gamers knbow him well thanks to titles like Time Lords, Rebelstar, Lasersquad and of course X-Com. For those of you who have never played X-Com, it is often cited as one of the best video games ever made and it is often mentioned in the same breath as Planescape: Torment as arguably the best PC game of all time.

So, one of the biggest icons in tactical gaming was making a launch title for the Nintendo 3DS? Well that title that was once the least interesting game for the 3DS to me just shot up to the game I had to get. Now 2011 already had one PC gaming guru returning to the industry 0 that of Jane Jansen and the PC/360 point and click adventure game Grey Matter. Would Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars make it two for two or has Gollop’s move from PC to handheld console caused him and his team to miss a step?
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A Look Back at 400 Reviews

Monday, March 21st, 2011

http://diehardgamefan.com/2011/03/21/400-reviews-a-statistical-analysis-of-playing-way-too-many-video-games/

This is going to probably be boring to anyone but me, but it’s a DHGF exclusive and I tend to plug those here. Basically it’s me sitting down and doing some number crunching on all 400 reviews I’ve done and trying to extrapolate any trends or biases I might have towards a specific system or genre. It actually surprised me in some cases what types of games do best with me, so if you’re interested in see me do math on myself, click on through.

Review #400!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Phantom Brave: The Hermuda Triangle
Developer: Nippon Ichi
Publisher: Nippon ichi
Genre: Tactical RPG
Release Date: 03/08/2011

Holy crap! Is this really my FOUR HUNDREDTH Review for the site? That’s both awesome and sad at once. It’s kind of neat that this milestone is also Phantom Brave as the original PS2 version was my 48th review way back in September of 2004. That’s six and a half years ago. Jesus.

The PSP version of Phantom Brave is basically a port of the Wii version which Nate Birch covered for us back in 2009. He though it was an above average game, and primarily enjoyed that it had budget pricing with an extra full on RPG tacked on in the form of “Another Marona.” For those of you that already have the Wii version and want to know what the differences are, it’s basically a few cameos like the Unlosing Ranger from Z.H.P. . For those that haven’t played either the PS2 or the Wii version of the game, read on and see if this third incarnation of the game is worth your $19.99.
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Busy Busy

Monday, March 14th, 2011

It’s been a busy month for me. Both rabbits had to go to the vet for their six month check up. Chewie had minor GI Stasis and then had to go in the next week for minor facial surgery. He had a lump on his face that I KNEW wasn’t cancerous and that was from him running into a door in the wee hours of the morning, but considering his last bunch of scar tissue nearly killed him, it was better to get rid of this now than risk it turning into something awful down the road. Think of it like having a mole removed before it can become cancerous. So Chewie’s been here with half his snout shaved for about two weeks. He’s all better and his hair has nearly grown back, but he’s a grumpy guy.

My tire exploded on 395 (GW memorial bridge to be exact) at 45 mph Friday morning while I was on the way to a mandatory all managers meeting. Thankfully my boss excused me for obvious reasons. Even better, the tire was under warranty (it was brand new and a month old) and I get money back from the tow via my insurance company. Best of all there was no damage to the car or to me. That was a bit scary to be on an overpass and see that your tire has exploded and is also on fire. Fire + anything on a car = bad.

Lots of trips coming up. I’ll be in Minneapolis for 48 hours to play best man to my best friend’s impromptu wedding. they were planning it in July but decided to go for April Fools Day instead. Almost a month later I’ll be in the Pacific Northwest with Dan. I can’t wait to see Portland again. I’ll probably drive Dan nuts taking him back to things I used to love back in 2000-1 just to see if they are still there, but he’ll do the same thing to me in Eugene. Personally I’m really looking forward to it, but also hoping it won’t be a nostalgic letdown. Two weeks after that it’s off to Philadelphia for the weekend with Bill Quinn to see some New Japan Pro Wrestling and two weeks after that it’ll be helping Guin move again. That will be a very busy month indeed.

Work is awesome. I got another promotion and will be getting a corresponding raise with it. Huzzah. I’m offically done with Pokemon with the release of Black and White and so that’s more free time for me once Guin gets here. Then come December I’m probably done with gaming writing as a whole for a while as it’ll be nine years and over 1,500 articles on the subject matter.

That’s pretty much it right now. Just a lot of work and travel lately.

Review #399

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Gray Matter
Developer: Wizarbox
Publisher: Viva Media
Genre: Adventure
Release Date: 02/22/2011

Unless you are a fan of point and click games for your PC, you probably don’t recognize the name “Jane Jensen” right off the bat. She is, however, the creator of the Gabriel Knight series as well as being an integral part of games like Police Quest III and King’s Quest VI. After a long absence from the traditional adventure game world, Jane Jensen is back with Gray Matter. Now this game has been out in Europe since November, but due to how buggy the Euro release was, I decided to wait for the official US release of the game through publisher Viva Media in hopes that the reported issues would be cleared up. They got it to me a little late, but better late than never, right? Sadly it does look like we’re only getting the PC version stateside, as I was hoping fellow staffer Mark B. would get a chance to play the 360 version.

So how does Gray Matter stack up, especially since 2011 is on tap for a lot of excellent adventure games?
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Review #398

Friday, March 11th, 2011

Ar tonelico Qoga: Knell of Ar Ciel
Developer: Gust
Publisher: Nippon Ichi
Genre: Action RPG
Release Date: 3/15/2011

Gust isn’t my favorite developer- I’ll be honest about that right up front. I tend to find the Mana Khemia and Atelier titles both easy and dull. Which is why I was surprised how much I loved Atelier Rorona last year. I listed it as my second favorite game of the year once 2010 was over with and it appeared that Gust was really taking things to the next level as it said farewell to the PS2 and fully embraced the PS3.

So that brings us to Ar tonelico III, a game where I constantly want to capitalize the word “tonelico” since it’s in the title and not an article. I never played AT 1 or 2, simply because neither the mechanics nor the story impressed me from what I saw of them and I left those games up to other members of the staff to review. Unfortunately for the series, the rest of the staff found the Ar tonelico titles largely forgettable. I was hesitant to do a review on Qoga, if only because I hadn’t played the first two games in the series, but I enjoyed Atelier Rorona and I had skipped the last few games in that series. Being pretty new to the game also meant I wouldn’t have preconceived notions about the huge changes to the series, such as moving from sprites to three dimensional visuals or that the game now used an action RPG engine instead of the turn based one seen in the previous two games. So on one hand I’m obviously ignorant to the continuity of the series and how this compares to the previous games in the series, but on the other hand, it also means I won’t spend the review comparing and contrasting all the changes between the two games and thus will be judging the game on its own merits. It’s up to you how relevant that makes this review for you.
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Books Read -02/11

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

02/01 - School Rumble, Volume 9 by Jin Kobayashi. It keeps on going and never stops being hilarous

02/03 - Hold Me Close Necromancer by Lish McBride. A mediocre and generally unfunny horror comedy

02/04 - School Rumble, Volume 10 by Jin Kobayashi.

02/04 - School Rumble, Volume 11 by Jin Kobayashi.

02/06 - Dying for Dinner by Miranda Bliss. The fourth our of the five “Cooking Club Mystery” series based here in Arlington, Va

02/07 - School Rumble Volume 12 by Jin Kobayashi

02/12 - Chapter & Hearse by Lorna Barrett. The fourth and most recent book in the Booktown mystery series. Starting to lose its steam.

02/12 - School Rumble, Volume 13 by Jin Kobayashi

02/13 - Amnesia Labyrinth, Volume 1 by Nagaru Tanginawa. A weird mystery/horror/incest series

02/15 - School Rumble, Volume 14/15/16 by Jin Kobayashi. A giant omnibus and the last bit of School Rumble published in English. Now to move to the Japanese volumes.

02/21 - Undisputed by Chris Jericho. Not as good as his first book, but still enjoyable.

02/21 - Captain America: Scourge of the Underworld by Marc Gruenwald. Is it bad to say Gruenwald’s writing has aged horribly?

02/25 - Emeril’s Delmanaco: A Restaraunt With a Past - fun cookbook with a lot of historical stuff about one of the oldest dining establishments still in America.

02/28 - G.I. Joe Special Missions, Volume 3 - Yo Joe!

14 books this month compared to 20 in January. Granted it would be 16 if I counted the final School Rumble Omnibus seperately but still.

5 books (3 fiction, 1 non-fiction, 1 cookbook)
7 Manga
2 TPB (2 marvel)