Saturday, January 30, 2010

Haruhi Special Supply Set が手に入った!

On Thursday, I randomly accessed Facebook from my office and randomly did a search on Rapid Culture. There I saw it: The Weiss Schwarz Special Haruhi Supply Set for S$115. Cursing at my stay-in status and the fact that the time taken from my camp to city will take 2 hours at least, I made the humanly correct but otakuly wrong decision to wait till my Friday bookout, even considering that the Nanoha version of the set has already sold out.

Well, of course I didn't leave it at that. I called Rapid Culture on the same day to find out if they have any stock left, which they apparently have quite a few left, so I left it at that.

Well, that's another $120 gone lol. Nevertheless, I was very happy to obtain it; my inner otaku screaming in joy. It's quite a bundle: 2 boosters, Haruhi sleeves, Yuki sleeves, Mikuru sleeves (all came with their PRs), a small 4 piece card album, a DIY card box and a playmat.

And there I was, kidding myself that I would get a foil if I'm lucky. Well, not only do I get a foil, it's yet another Yuki foil! That makes the 4th Yuki foil I have! *sigh* Yuki must've really liked me ^^

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

BlazBlue Continuum Shift leaked!

*UPDATE 28/01/2010* - No more stick input problems!

Well, it leaked lol. The pirates won again and we get to play BBCS in our own PC. I've been getting complains about stick input problems from my friends, but so far it's running well on my office computer (Windows 7, GeForce 6 I think, 1GB RAM) with lag on certain stages.

Do a search on google; it's up everywhere. And enjoy the game =p

Monday, January 25, 2010

Back from Batam trip

Well, I just got back from Batam just yesterday night. There's nothing much to describe actually; it feels like a poorer area compared to singapore of course, but overall it's not so bad. At least in town areas, traffic control is quite good, much better than what I've experienced in Shanghai.

Stuff there is cheap, as long as you don't count international brands. A can of Heineken cost less than S$2 per can. In fact I had trouble spending the S$50 I changed. There wasn't really anything I want to buy there (ya I'm a lousy shopper); I ended up spending on stuff like arcades and movies. Speaking of movies, it only costs like S$5 there. Also, it's nice to see popcorn at theaters costing what they should cost in my opinion.

Although shopping there is quite boring, aside from the long lost A&W outlets that were gone from Singapore for years, I still had a fairly enjoyable time there since I got the chance to loosen up and get drunk. The resort we stayed in (Harris) is actually pretty good IMO, and it is always a good experience to see what other countries are like.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I can drive!

After 7 panadols and a couple a antibiotics, I finally made it even with a slight fever and a horrible horrible cough.

One less thing to worry about in life. :p

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Review: "Dragon Age: Origins"

Dragon Age is possibly one of the most highly anticipated games of 2009. Everywhere you go, you'll see reviews and sites singing praises for what a great game Dragon Age is. I would only go as far as to agree it's a 'good' game, just not 'great'.

Maybe because I was expecting something like Baldur's Gate? Maybe because I play enough Bioware games to see that Dragon Age reuses the same formula that was used with Bioware's previous games? I honestly don't know. There's alot of things to talk about Dragon Age, good and bad, so I'll divide them accordingly;

The first part of the game
When I first created my character and entered the game, I was rather overwhelmed. The graphics, the scenery, the ambiance of my surroundings, the voice acting and the plot building up; it was all done very well. Eagerly, I did whatever I was told and eventually entered combat.

At that point, combat seemed fun. When I leveled and actually took a glance at my skills, I felt there could be so much potential in this game. In fact, at this point, I could already feel myself replaying the game once I completed it. Maybe I should play a tank next? Or maybe form a mage party? To put it bluntly, at this point, I felt that all the things I've read in all the positive reviews are coming true.

Unforunately, it didn't last that long.

Being the cocky guy I am, I decided to set the game to 'Hard'. It wasn't very bad, until I faced my first enemy spellcaster, hiding behind a bunch of archers and traps. It's still okay, since it is common RPG strategy sense to try to disable the casters first.

It's not only until later in the game where enemies hit a lot harder and where 1 caster getting off a "Chain Lightning" or "Fireball" spell can change the whole tide of the battle field towards their favour. There's only 4 of us after all, and 10 of them. Fireball flies in and I lose 2 melee guys while they lose 4 of theirs (rest are ranged characters all spread out). Suddenly the odds don't look so good since my tank is dead, or almost dead.

Once in the middle of my first major quest, I sheepishly switched back to 'Normal',

Mages are incredibly incredibly incredibly broken in Dragon Age. So much that a team of 3 mages and 1 super tank can easily run through the game, possibly in 'Nightmare' mode, without breaking a sweat. Spells like 'Forcefield' can make every battle easy. Basically, that spell prevents something/someone from doing anything as well as render them immune.

So every battle, you just run in, pause, and 'Forcefield' as many mages as you can. Once you do that, everything should be a piece of cake. Also mages can heal. Spirit Healers can mass heal. On my first run in Dragon Age, having my first Spirit Healer effectively made my subsequent battles around...50% easier? Since I don't have to rely on potions anymore.

And don't even get me started on Arcane Warrior specialization. Anything more broken than a mage is a mage in plate.

When John mentioned to me how itemization sucked in Dragon Age, I didn't really realize it until I killed some boss character. So far, of all the boss characters I fought, I think only 10% of them actually drop good stuff that I will actually use. By the way, I haven't seen any items whose names are worth remembering, aside from the most powerful weapons in the game of course. I don't think I actually saw a ring that made me go "holy crap!".

Why is that so? I don't understand. Isn't basic RPG sense that every end of the dungeon lies uber lewt? Why take it away? Why take the only motivation for anyone to try a quest away? When I was sidequesting, I thought, "Why am I doing this when I know that the loot is shit? Am I just doing this to level up?" With that question, every quest and dungeon I do suddenly ceased to become interesting.

Also, why are some of the best weapons bought off merchants? What is Bioware trying to be? Unique by killing off an important aspect of RPG?

Reused formula
Well, this isn't really a good or a bad thing for the game, more for Bioware. Thanks Bioware, I know how to make an open RPG that you preached now.

Implement character origins -> go through the tutorial stage -> brief player on major quest -> give the player 4-5 places he needs to go but can go in any order he wants (open choices, you see) -> meets with party members, some evil, some not, some a bit weird -> eventually needs to do one more chain of quests -> enter last dungeon -> kill BBEG.

Hmm...I wonder if I've played any games by Bioware that goes like that?

Outside of the mechanics, this is where Dragon Age truly shines. A forest that feels like a forest, a bustling city that feels alive, I think they managed to capture the essence of each area they created. You can feel the amount of effort they placed to each area of the game.

Overall, Dragon Age is still a game worth buying and trying out. It's been a while since there was a fantasy-setting RPG and Dragon Age manages to capture the feel of the setting itself.

I'm upset only because they destroyed the feel of 'killing monsters for loot', and that it felt like I'm playing Mass Effect or KOTOR on a different packaging. However, looking at it as a game itself, it isn't too bad and definitely worth a runthrough.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Going back to GGAC?

After spend an evening playing GGAC at prinnyd00d's house, and watching old SBO vids axel brought over, maybe I should go back to playing it. As it stands now, BBCS seems a bit 'borked' atm. It doesn't really feel right dying to a Ragna or Bang who can do 3.5k+ combos with their eyes closed. It doesn't really feel right playing them to kill people either, though its fun now and then...but that's another rant for another time.

I'm kinda glad that some of the BBCS players here are expressing interest to playing GGAC. I really don't mind going back; I missed spending hours at home practicing combos and setups. I'm thinking of picking up some Venom, hence the combo video above, though I have no idea if those are even applicable on real play since I really haven't seen them being used before.

Still the setups are quite insane.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Review: "Assassin's Creed"

I figured I'd get this over with before I proceed with "Assassin's Creed 2".

Assassin's Creed was rather hyped up before release, mainly because everyone was awed by, aside from the graphics, the fluid combat and rooftop to rooftop chases shown by the trailers and demos. Unfortunately, that was all there is to it.

I like to associate AC to my impression of FFVII: The starting was estatic and fun, but after the first hour or so, everything just goes downhill. For AC's case however, it's the monotony that kills it.

Altair's favourite hobby: Jumping into hay!

Let us look at the pros of the game first, which is its fluidity. Everything just feels extremely smooth in Assassin's Creed; the way you run and jump around, the way you scale the walls, the way you shove your way through the crowd, the swordfighting; there's only a few occassions where things are a little jerky.

For the whole game, you are required to climb up one of the taller towers in the area to open up 3-5 minigames of around 4 variations. They vary from pickpocketing (sneaking up behind a guy to touch his butt), interrogating (sneaking up behind a guy to beat him up in the shadows)and evesdropping (...just...sitting at a bench).

Once you have completed enough 'minigames', the main area for your assassination will open up, in which they will pit you into various scenarios to deal with to get to one guy and kill him. Like most stealth games, there are more than one way to deal with one objectives. Sadly, these scenarios are the only carrots to look forward to in the entire game.

The city have lots of guards to spare. I really mean lots.

The 'trill' of the game, or so they claim, is running away from guards on the rooftop. Well you can actually lose them on the streets but the crowd makes it rather difficult since running directly into a person will cause you to fall face-first towards the ground. So you run rooftop to rooftop, planning your next move at a whim so that you don't accidentally fall off and find a stack of hay in a shelther on the rooftop...or take a leap of faith down to a (again) stack of hay.

This game is not without sidequests to keep you company, although they come in form of "kill X templars" and "collect X flags". At least it prolongs the game's life span for those perfectionists out there.

This is actually the cheapest way to enter a city, no matter how cool it seems

"Assassin's Creed", in the end, feels like a beta (maybe even alpha) test for its sequel. One can't help but feel that there's a huge hole in the game waiting to be filled. So far, it seems to be just cheap thrills after cheap thrills. There is no sustaining value...nothing for me to look forward to obtain and look out for. Other than the worthless crowd of NPCs loitering about, the cities actually seemed dead content-wise. In fact, it IS dead.

Still, roaming freely and smoothly around a huge city is pretty cool, and the visual effects are very well implemented. Just be warned that such excitement might only last for an hour into the game, unless you are very very excitable.

NeetGeek score: 7.0/10

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Japanator Top 50 animes of all time

Japanator's Top Anime #01-#10
Japanator's Top Anime #11-#20
Japanator's Top Anime #21-#30
Japanator's Top Anime #31-#40
Japanator's Top Anime #41-#50


Here we go, finally a list of animes recommended to watch. Honestly I have something against watching animes that is ongoing for more than 3 full seasons (26 episodes per season), espacially those which doesn't seem to have a time lapse after like 70+ episodes *cough*NarutoBleach*cough*.

I'm not complaining about character development; there's lots of them, although they usually come in form of a character slighty maturing and gaining a new power. I just find 70+ episodes on a time frame extremely lengthy. Animes like that are usually either trying to tell too many things that happen at the same time, or have too many draggy scenes.

Hopefully with this list, I will get down to watch more animes. With my new external HDD, it seems very possible ^^. With this list, I can kinda stop asking people for awhile for what anime to watch to get the same "NarutoBleachCodeGeass" reply.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Review: "The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass"

Considering that this is on the DS, and the first Zelda DS game at that, I expected a bunch of innovative gimmicks throughout the game. I wasn't really expecting anything really new; the Zelda series has always been using the same basic stuff: boomerangs, going from one dungeon to the next, maybe bombs, arrows, etc. The packaging is always different however, with an idea that stands out within each game.

For "Phantom Hourglass", it is actually a continuation from "Wind Waker" on the GameCube. You are Link and you are trying to save Tetra (who is actually Zelda who is either overly tanned or a nigger) from the clutches of Bellum. The game world is an archipelago, and you have to sail from island to island to unlock stuffs and gain more power and...stuffs.

Plot your routes and draw your maps!

One thing that made "Phantom Hourglass" and "Wind Waker" unique is 'sailing'. I don't think any other Zelda games have that. Don't worry, no more talking ships this time, just a really annoying person tagging along.

Straight off the bat, you can see the game making use of the DS technology. Maps at the top, using stylus to walk, enabling you to draw notes on your maps (very useful honestly), the way you execute the spin attack, drawing the path for your boomerang...the list just goes on.

But Phantom Hourglass focuses on sailing itself. To move your ship, you actually have to draw out the route for it to take on the map. From there it will obediently follow the lines you drew. Of course, you can choose to abort the path and draw another one. A novel idea, but it gets boring after awhile. Watching your ship getting from one place to another (with random monsters appearing occasionally) isn't exactly fun, but they get a thumbs up for trying to implement it.

The Phantom Hourglass! Top screen's map's pretty useful for dungeons.

Navel combat is pretty decent. Like "Wind Waker", there are still boss fights on the sea, though it's just simple point and click, or rather, touch. At the same time though, you have to keep your ship moving using the map, so I guess you are expected to actually alternate between both the map screen and the actual game screen.

So what does your ship actually shoot? Wait, your ship can shoot? Yes, this time, your ship comes equipped with a cannon. But not only that, you can upgrade it. In fact, you can upgrade and customize your entire ship. Traveling around the world will land you some ship parts which you can equip your ship with. A ship have 8 parts to customize with and having it equipped with a 'set' item gives it more health.

For more on ship parts, here's a pretty in depth guide.

Kids' don't ever try this at home -_-;

So what does "Phantom Hourglass" mean? As you travel through the world, every boss fight will 'fill up' your 'phantom hourglass', which is essentially a magical hourglass that lets you survive in the last dungeon. To prevent disappointment (for those who already starting thinking too much), this idea actually causes the last dungeon to be much more interesting because your terrain becomes your enemy. However, as a small spoiler, you are required to enter this dungeon several times throughout our journey so you are forced to redo some parts of it.

Also, in this dungeon, there are Phantoms, monsters that are literally invincible and will chase you down until you reach a safe point (marked my the terrain) or it catches you. As opposed to previous Zelda games where you are mostly forced to beat the shit out of your enemies, these Phantoms requires you to 'stealth' through the dungeon (you get to see their triangular field of vision).

What's a sailing game without fishing?

All in all, 'Phantom Hourglass' was a fun runthrough. The new controls are easy to handle and the whole feel is rather intuitive. Despite it using the old Zelda formula, its repackaging really causes it to stand out among the rest of the Zelda games. There are still many little things I haven't mentioned in this review,

There is also a multiplayer mode where you play some pacman-like game where one player controls Link and the rest controls the Phantoms, armored monsters that Link can't defeat without certain help. Unfortunately, not many people around me own DS or this game for me to actually try it out.

To me, I think this game is a must-try for all DS owners.


NeetGeek score: 8.5/10

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year 2010!

Well, looking back at this post, its kinda amazing what I've been through this year, jumping from camp to camp, vocation to vocation. Well, it's only 6 more months before the end of everything.

2009 was a blur to me, since I spend most of my time in camp. News came to me very slowly (and I already suck at getting them) and more often than not I felt as if nothing is happening out there. It's only towards the end of the year when I suddenly obtained more access to the internet than usual that I started posting more. Thinking about it, that's when the blog actually got revamped.

About this blog, I'm not really happy with the current design tbh. It feels small and constrained. I'm forced to lower every 560-width youtube embeds to 425-width and cut every paragraph that are more than 5 lines on the post editor so that the post doesn't seem wordy.

Getting a new desktop really killed my X360. I feel as if it is at the bottom of the food chain right now; PC > PS3 > X360. If my dad hadn't taken the Wii to US, it would slot nicely between PS3 and X360 just because it actually has exclusives. Well, having an arcade stick for my X360 means I'm forced to play my fighting games on it, so it'll last for now thankfully.

About what I'm doing, I'm going back to playing the piano. It's been a very long time since I seriously practiced. Hopefully, I can get to upgrade my theory certs to 8 soon. Also, I'm trying to figure out what I need exactly for video capturing on consoles/PC. I've always been thinking of taking down vids for a long time now, and I should start doing it soon before it bugs me again

Well, hopefully 2010 is a better year. Things have been looking up towards the end of 2009 and I hope it stays that way. Now the question is whether I can get into a U. And even so, do I still want to study computer sciences in the first place (since my diploma is related)?

Sometimes I hate decisions like these. It makes you feel like you checkmated yourself.

If I have resolutions for this year, they are:
1) Play more piano
2) ORD
3) Get a video cam
4) Record videos
5) Get into a U??
6) Play more games

Not that I will actually do them, considering what I resolve to do (and ended up failing anyways) the past years. I mean, I made 4 last year and failed like 3 of them? I think, at least, these 6 resolutions are pretty safe for me to execute :)

Here's to a happier 2010, and best wishes and etc to everyone ^^