Monday, August 31, 2009

Automatic Mahjong Table

On the subject of Mahjong, I actually doubt magical automatic mahjong tables exist, but apparently I was left in the dark for too long and found this:

Heard it costs like $1700. I guess I'll put it into my wishlist =/

Anime: "Saki"

I love mahjong. A lot. So when my friend introduced me this anime, I was hooked. However, the anime being a mahjong game is not the only reason I liked it.

Saki is, a the very basic, a female mahjong tournament game. Like most animes involving competition and growth, there are mahjong players with so-called 'powers'. Thankfully, most of these 'power' or rather 'attributes' of the players can be quite realistic to a certain extent. So far the only players with "Goddess of Mahjong" powers (ever seen those chinese gambling shows where a person has a certain affinity to the cards/tiles/dices?) are the main heroine, Saki, and loli-trap Koromo, both which some characters in the anime regard as 'demons'.

Aside from mahjong, the anime also seemed to promote yuri. The fact that every girl blushes all the time, occassional turn-on liners (eg "Your eyes are beautiful..") and the yuri-buildup scenes. It seems that for 90% of the female characters in the game have a relationship with another female character. The whole damn show is a total turn on half the time.

But what makes a gambling game good to watch are the effects. "Saki" captures it by exaggerating even the slightest moves (as they should, no one like just watching people pick tiles off the table). In fact, they probably overdid it, in a good way. Suddenly wings will start growing on backs, suddenly a character will be on a wasteland surround by spears, suddenly water floods the room, the list goes on. Other than that, the animations and the viewport (or do they call it in animes?) sequences are also done nicely. It comes close to being a shonen anime if not for the yuri scenes and the female dominanace of the anime.

I would really recommend this anime. It can get really exciting at many parts (except for filler episodes of course), and if you love mahjong, all the more you should take a look!

You can stream this anime @ AnimeSpark: Saki

Here's a sample episode.
"Saki - Episode 11":

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Review: "Ikaruga"

When you think about airplane shooter games, you think about dodging bullets. The only thing that seperates airplane shooter games between each other is the different airplanes your can choose in every game, which usually revolves around how fast a plane can move, the amount of control, the 'bomb' you use, or the way the plane shoots.

In Raiden, you try to get power ups within a stage to change your plane's way of shooting that suits your situation.
In Striker 1945, you are able to choose different planes with different attributes. Same with Touhou Fantasy.

'Treasure' took a different approach and worked on the dodging element, which is a rather static and different element to reshape. The result was Ikaruga.

Ikaruga's main gameplay focuses are that there are 2 different kinds of attacks an enemy can throw at you: Black and White and your plane's ability to change from White element to Black element and vice versa. There are 3 kinds of action your plane can do:-

1) Shoot - normal shooting all airplane games have.
2) Bomb (lets call it that because it is a commonly used term that is shared among airplane games) - Invulnerability and does damage to the enter area. Limited to your bomb gauge. Bomb gauge is charged up by absorbing attacks (explained below)
3) Change element - Change your element from black to white and vice versa

The rules of airplane games is simple: Dodge bullets and kill the boss.
Ikaruga added on this element of gameplay into: Dodge OPPOSITE ELEMENT bullets and kill the boss.

For example, if your plane is currently a white element, it will be able to absorb all white colored attacks, but it will be instantly destroyed should it touch a black colored attack. Same if your plane is in a black element state. You will absorb black attacks and will be destroyed on contact with a white attack. Note that absorbing attacks increases your bomb gauge.

Black and White elements

Due to this mechanic, the designers are able to come up with creative ways for an enemy to attack the players. The hard part of this game is to remember your color and remember what you are supposed to be dodging. In the midst of battle, it is easy to get confused and forget, causing the players to foolishy run into the opposite colored attacks without them realizing what color they are.

The last thing to consider about the game is the graphics. Ikaruga is rendered in 3D for both the background and the foreground. Explosions are not obstructing the views of the players, and the attacks the enemies throw at you are very clear and obvious. All in all, Ikaruga is quite a beautiful and polished game. A definate "must try".

This game is currently avaliable at Xbox Live Arcade.
random Ikaruga YouTube video.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Review: "Rhythm Heaven"

Have you ever played a rhythm game without so much of a visual indication? Enter Rhythm Heaven for the DS! Rhythm Heaven is a special rhythm game that does not focus entirely on visual aid. It's predecessor was on the GBA.

Rhythm Heaven is actually a compilation of rhythm minigames. All the minigames are quite different from each other; from songs, to sound to even graphics, but they all have one thing in common and that is they do not depend so much on visual aids. In fact, you can even play the minigames without even looking at your DS.

Rhythm Heaven uses 5 techniques of the stylus and touch screen to create sound:

1) Tap (tap on the touch screen, ie quick hold and release)

2) Hold (touch the touch screen and hold it there)

3) Lift (release the hold of the touch screen)

4) Slide (a shaking motion, sliding your stylus up and down)

5) Flick (as if drawing a 'tick')

Every minigame uses up to 3 techniques to play. As long as you have a good sense of rhythm, the game should be fine, although there are really difficult parts later in the game.

One fun part about the game is that there can be unexpected occurances in the middle of the minigame, like sudden change of rhythm (eg suddenly going to a irregular beat timing), blackouts and camera pans. Focusing too much on visuals may cause alot of misses (espacially the ping pong minigame). It is best to focus on the music, with the visuals acting just as in assistant.

There are 3 outcomes you can expect while playing a minigame. There's "Try Again", "Just OK" and "Superb". "Try again" simply means you screwed up too many times and there's way too many mistakes for you to advance to the next stage. "Just OK" simply lets you advance as you have probably hit most of the beats. "Superb" will be obtain when you hit most of your beats in the correct timing (elaborated next paragraph), and thus reward you with a 'Gold' medal. 'Gold' medal are like points used to unlock many different random and fun stuff.

About timing, although most minigames focus on only 'Hit' or 'Miss' for each beat the player must hit, some have another condition that works like a 'half-miss', or rather, an imperfect hit. Excessive 'half-misses' may cost you your 'Gold' medal, so be careful.

Finally, one cool thing I find about Rhythm Heaven are the Remix Stages. After every 4 mini-games, you will have to go through a Remix Stage, where they combine minigames together to play a single music. Speaking of music, worry not. Rhythm Heaven have a great collection of music, in which all of them correspond very well to the minigames.

In my opinion, it is really hard to describe how good this game really is, considering it's wide variety of minigames. I can't possibly review each and every one of the minigames, so my recommendation is to really get this game and try it out. It is one of the better games DS have to offer. If you are still unsure, the best way is to search for videos from YouTube. Trailers and video captured videos about Rhythm Heaven won't show you anything since, like I mentioned, visuals are only secondary and the interesting part about the game is the creative usage of the stylus + touchscreen, so just look for gameplay videos.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Demo: Batman, Arkham Asylam

I just got my copy of the 1.5GB demo on my X360 and was eager to get started. Although it was only a 15-30 mins demo, Arkham Asylum already got me hooked.

First you will be presented by the dark opening, of Batman delivering the Joker to Arkham. It was night and raining, a perfect sinister setting. Trailer looked very 'batman' like, if you actually watched the movies and the animated series, so off the bat, the game step on the right direction.

After a series of events, you will be immediately thrown into unarmed combat. The combat mechanics are very fluid; you can feel each punch or kick you deliver to the opponent. Every end of an attack chain will end in bullet time, creating a cinematic effect, although I personally feel they abused it. The targeting system is very much alike to Prince of Persia series: you can attack a target halfway, and continue the chain to another target.

Soon, we go into the puzzle part of the game. The demo introduces the "Detective Mode" mechanic. It is much like Assassin's Creed's Eagle vision, but it is littered with cool effects and information, like the target's heart rate and whether he is armed with firearms. Oh it even lets you look through walls. With so much information, I was afraid I would end up playing the whole game in detective mode.

And finally you have batman's stealth attacks. There are various ways of sneak attacking a target. One is the classic melee 'sneak up from behind' takedown. There are various ways of subduing an enemy like using the bat-a-rang (boomerang thing), (homing) glide kick from above, takedown throw a glass ceiling at the top, etc.

Oh before I forget, there are people online that gripe about the graphics. However most of the opinions are based on their own personal feelings. For me, the graphics are probably on the level of Gears of War 2, though I can't say it's 100% the same.

Anyway, that's all for the demo. Hopefully what I've tried here in the demo isn't 80% of the gameplay. If it is, then the rest of the game will end up being boring and repetitive (*cough* Assassin's Creed *cough* ).

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Loading...80% complete...

I'm officially dropping the bomb on my wordpress blog and finally shifted back here to blogger. Needless to say, I'm a bit surprised at how rough blogspot has become to work with.

I did some cleaning up of the blog. I have deleted most of those one-liner posts as well as stupid random posts that doesn't really mean anything to anyone who reads them, so right now, hopefully, we are looking at a much cleaner blog.  There are still more modifications to be done, espacially the skins, I begin to get tired of these colors. 

This blog has come a long way since 2005. It has evolved from a personal blog to a blog that reviews and rants about games, with otaku and programmer stuff at the sideline.  Because I am rather slow at obtaining up-to-date games, due to lack to financing on my side or ultimately not enough motivation to get them, I would be mostly blogging about games from the past, and making comparisions between games.  I usually like to explore non-mainstream games (again, partly due to lack of finance), like NetHack.

Hopefully, with that being said, I could get off with a flesh clean start with this blog, NeetGeek, where NEET meets GEEK.

Oh ya btw, feel free to comment and post any game you wish me to review/talk about. I promise to read the comments when I have time, but I cannot garauntee that I will review the game.

EDIT: a testblog for testing a new skin is currently underway. Nothing will be updated until the skin is more or less complete. Until then, please be patient and wait :) Lots of cleaning up to do.

EDIT2: Since blogspot is being such a b****, and since I would be busy until the weekend, progress will be delayed until next week.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Anime: "Hayate No Gotoku"

I finally decided to watch Hayate No Gotoku, after hearing about it several several times. I had no clue what is it about and I can't really bring myself to watch something which I have no clue about (aka I always have something else better to do).

So I watched. It's a Love/Comedy genre, with a fuckton of anime/game references. I always liked Love/Comedy genre, since it mostly involves two idiots trying to get together in some strange way. The latter reason obviously appeals to me; it's the reason I watched and liked Lucky Star. This kind of anime usually brings about randomness, calling the /b/tard in me.

So now it has, what, 52 episodes and already 18 episodes into the second season. Looks like I missed alot in the anime world. I haven't even watched Soul Eater, Beserk, and many others either.

If anyone got any of these anime, feel free to send me a message. Examples include Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, Lucky Star and Azumanga Daioh.

While I'm at the topic of anime, I can't seem to find (or rather, I'm lazy to find) good shonen animes (Naruto, Bleach, Gundam series, etc). Again, feel free to inform me about it.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Return to Full Metal Alchemist

I just realized one week ago that I haven't been following the FMA manga. So I went ahead to read it. What can I say? Now up til chapter 97, it hasn't disappointed me one bit. It could ever well be my favorite manga of all time...

On the side note, I need to start cleaning up the blog abit. The categories are either overused, or under utilized.