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venus577 Blog

Games & Love

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There's nothing quite like gaming with someone you care about. I've been dating my boyfriend for the past 3 months. He very vaguely mentioned playing a "multiplayer, D&D-ish game on the PS2" while he was stationed in Cuba. He said it's the only video game he remembers having fun with. Apparently he & his friends stayed up all night, playing marathon sessions of this game. I was inspired to discover what this amazing game was. Some investigative legwork led me to my best conclusion, Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance. I did some trekking and found a decent copy for cheap at a used game store in the area.

When he came over last night, I surprised him with it. He wasn't sure it was the game he played before, but was willing to give it a try. We played all night. Cooperative play works very well between us. There was no struggle as to where we should go. Neither blamed the other for a game over. I would charge in head first while he backed me up with fireballs. We would just play around as well. He'd try to hit me with the fireballs as my little dwarven legs ran around him in circles! We had a blast.

Unfortunately, I was almost correct in figuring out which game. As we were playing, he mentioned little differences that only appear in the sequel. The sequel goes for much more than the original, sadly. Regardless, we had fun and that's all that counts. Besides, this game won't be over tomorrow. I have time to search for Dark Alliance 2 at a more reasonable price.

I got it!!!!!

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I decided to play MegaMan Battle Network 2 on my way home from work today. Normally, I don't play games on the trolley. It's only a 20 min ride so I wouldn't get that much done and I get motion sickness from gameplay & reading. But I just felt like playing it today instead of listening to my iPod.

The FAQ I have been casually following recommended a certain area to get chips to construct a folder around the "Gatter" Program Advance. For those who do not know, a Program Advance is picking 3 specific chips in a succession in a single turn. The result is an attack much more powerful than the sum of the chips that make it up. By stacking my folder ("deck" for those who play collectable card games), I can get this combination more easily. Mindless enough & easily broken up so I could battle some while I went home. So I had been just defeating enemies hoping they'd drop the chips I was looking for. Wasn't happening for the most part. Mostly getting money & chips I didn't want. Then something happened. I saw a chip I wasn't expecting.

ZapRing2 B

I could not believe my eyes. I was certain I was wrong. After all, I didn't S-rank that battle. I only got a rank of 10. I immediately checked my pack to see if it was in there. It was. I saved. Then I saved again. I did not want to loose this chip for any reason. I'm happy. I no longer have that lingering over me. I'm going to continue the game and enjoy it, not worrying about what will happen when I reach the point that I gave up last time.

MegaMan Battle Network 2, attempt 2

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So I decided to try my hand at MegaMan Battle Network 2 again. Last time I played I almost reached the end. However, I was required to trade a item to progress the story. The only way to obtain the item (a ZapRing2 B chip) is to S-rank a battle with a specific enemy, the TuffBunny. Getting an S-Ranking requires you to finish the battle in less than 5 seconds, take 0-1 hits, and move 0-2 times. You have a little leeway if you can kill more than one enemy with a single attack. Even if you do achieve an S-Rank, the game randomly decides to give you money OR an item at the end of battle.

The frustration of being required to achieve that level of perfection to progress the story, then having a random chance of not getting the item frustrated me to no end. I deleted my nearly complete save file in disgust. I'm going to try it again, but I know this frustration will be coming back. I think the thing that bothers me the most is that I like the game otherwise. It's just this one point in the story that I can not stand.

Finally out of the Morlia Gallery

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All I have to say is that the Morlia Gallery / Dwarven Ruins in Tales of Phantasia is a one of the biggest pains I have undertaken in an RPG. Levels 10-21 took THREE HOURS of nonstop playing. I played with multiple walkthroughs, all 3 torch-like items and a very well leveled party (~60). This does not count all the attempts I did prior where I died partway down. Getting down the other 9 levels of the Dwarven Ruins and all the way back up to the surface took another 2.5 hours. I think the only reason that the trip back up was faster was because one of the items I found allows me to lower the encounter rate permanently. In all, I spent almost 6 hours on this stupid side quest. Arghhh.....

To be fair, some of the things I obtained were worth it. Pluto, Extension, and about 30 levels for Suzu are the big take aways. Black Hole, Chameleon, Golden Armor, Excalibur, Gremlin's Lair, and the Analysis Orb really weren't that worth it. Whatever, I'm done. Time to continue the story and get this game over with.

Five Things You May Not Know About Me

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I got tagged by usagi704. Guess this is good prodding as any to update my blog. :)

1) I am an avid collector of all things Sailor Moon, both original Japanese and various localization efforts. I own all 200 episodes and the 3 movies in both Japanese & English (save season 5 which is only in Japanese), making for quite a few DVDs. I have considered purchasing the Japanese Laser Discs if for nothing more than the beautiful art included with each one. I am still searching for a decent copy of the three SuperS specials. This passion exceeds reason. I drink beverages out of a Sailor Moon mug and I have more on display. I have stuffed Sailor Moon characters permeating my apartment. I spent about $150 for the Sailor Moon SuperS import game for the PlayStation. It is the only game in my collection that I refer to as "the precious". I smile every time I look at it, despite having only played the game once and not currently having a method to play it.

2) I love stuffed animals/plushies. There is no rhyme or reason to the collection. Eternal Sailor Moon is next to a rhino from F.A.O. Schwartz I got in NYC (who's proceeds went to charity). Roll from Mega Man Battle Network is sitting in front of my keyboard watching me as I type while the Final Fantasy trio (Tonberry, PuPu, & Cactuar) & a Kiwi Beanie Baby look on from the background. Big Bear (a favorite from my childhood) wearing a shirt I wore as a baby & Bedtime Bear whom I have had since I was a baby are sitting on the same shelf as Kirby.

3) I love video game music. I would say about 90% of my 11,760 song library (currently) is from a video game. I would be unable to handle it all if it weren't for the robust organization iTunes provides me. My favorite composer is without a doubt Yoko Shimomura (Legend of Mana, Kingdom Hearts I & II, Parasite Eve, Super Mario RPG, etc.) I have an iPod with me at all times since the first iPod was launched in late 2001. It allows me to go into analysis mode whenever I want. For instance, I was comparing random battle themes from the Final Fantasy series after noting how "bouncy" the random battle theme from Final Fantasy X was.

4) That being said, I'm not very musically inclined even though the rest of my family is. I played 2 instruments (guitar & piano) for a number of years, but ended up quitting out of frustration. Both of my little sisters could master a technique in a few weeks and I would still struggle months later to even be competent. DDR songs I needed to practice on for some time in order to pass with more than the minimum score, they could rank A on the first try and AA not much later. It's great having playing a game with my non-gamer sisters, but my competitive side gets a little depressed to see them out rank me so easily.

5) I am extremely detail and organization oriented. I imagine many of my fellow members of the CCU could relate to this. Everything has a place and it must be in that place or I go nuts. My music benefits from this. My video game collection benefits from this. My job (and my salary) greatly benefits from this. My apartment is very clean because of this.

I tag Foolio1, HallowBastion, & vashkey.

Bank Error In Your Favor?

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So everyone's heard of this Monopoly card right? "Bank Error in your favor. Collect $200". Apparently Gamestop has done that to me, twice.

So I go to my local Gamestop yesterday to pick up a copy of the Eternal Sonata strategy guide. Strategy guides aren't a normal purchase for me. The last one I bought was Devil Summoner: Kuzunoha Raidou vs. the Soulless Army nearly a year ago. The reviews aren't even making out Eternal Sonata out to have extras that I'd miss out on without a guide. I'm just getting it for the pretty pictures. I've been known to pull out the Chrono Cross strategy guide on occasion to marvel at the art or re-examine the plot progression. Regardless, the clerk gives me one of the faceplates that were supposed to be given out with pre-orders for the game, not the strategy guide. I thought about protesting, but it's two days after release. If you haven't picked up your pre-order by then, Gamestop policy won't hold it for you anymore. I learned that bit of fine print the hard way with Xenosaga III. Thus, all of my pre-orders are now done online.

Online brings me to my other fortune. I found not one but two packages waiting for me when I got home from work, both from Gamestop.com. I opened them to find two copies of Eternal Sonata even though I only ordered one. I checked my orders page on their site and only found the one. I checked my credit card bill online and only found the one charge. I'm a little hesitant on what to do, but it looks like I have a free second copy of Eternal Sonata! Too bad I don't know anyone (not including online friends) who has a 360 and would enjoy the game.

Moving, Otakon, & Old School Games.....Oh My!

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It's been a long time since I wrote a blog. Had a lot of opportunities to; moved, Oakton, and a rather large old school purchase. Guess I'll discuss them all!

So I moved about a month ago. My video games and I now have a new place to live. It's a nice apartment on the second floor, so no worries about flooding. My roommate and I got a nice setup for things. In fact, I was kinda distraught over loosing the nice built-in wood cabinets my games lived in the old place. He wasn't going to use this nice cabinet his parents brought up, so I have my controllers and smaller collection subdivisions (GCN, Wii, XBOX, 360, & PS3) in there.

As for Otakon, this year's haul was dominated by import games. I added Kingdom Hearts II: Final Mix +, Princess Crown PSP, & Namco X Capcom to my collection. I also grabbed Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology & Riviera PSP while I was there. No soundtracks this year, but that is because I couldn't find a vendor selling them. I was disappointed, but it's probably for the best. Other swag included three LocoRoco keychains (yellow, pink, & red), a mini-statue of Tear from Tales of the Abyss, the Tales of Phantasia OVA, & a box set of Sakura Wars TV. All awesome stuff.

Lots of other cool things happened at Otakon 07. I went to a panel focusing on the Tales series. I won a raffle that net me a pin of Mint from Tales of Phantasia, which is now residing on my laptop bag. I also correctly answered a bit of trivia from Tales of Eternia. That got me a bag of gummy candy! Not only was it gummies, but they were all gummies that actually are in the various Tales games! A nice touch. I spent an hour after the panel talking to the people who ran it. They're really nice and knowledgeable.

I got Hitoshi Sakimoto to sign my copy of the Breath of Fire Special Box!! For those who don't know, Sakimoto is a composer known for his work in Final Fantasy Tactics, Final Fantasy XII, Legaia 2: Duel Saga, Breath of Fire V: Dragon Quarter, among others and my favorite composer. To see him in person and have him sign an already rare soundtrack is something I won't forget. He was also there with a small part of Eminence, an Australian orchestra performing video game & anime music. Their concert was incredible. It was so awesome to hear it all in person.

Moving away from Otakon, I found an NES top-loader for $30 that I couldn't pass up (sorry -_-Nintendo-_-). This spawned me getting 17 NES games at present, which I have listed below. They're all tons of fun. In fact, last night I had a few friends over and we played NES games all night. Fun times.

Adventure Island
Adventure Island II
Adventures of Lolo
Blaster Master
Bubble Bobble
Castlevania
Castlevania II: Simon's Quest
Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse
Dr. Mario
Kickle Cubicle
Kid Icarus
Mappy Land
Solomon's Key
Super Mario Bros.
Super Mario Bros. 2
Super Mario Bros. 3
Tetris
Wizards & Warriors
Ironsword: Wizards & Warriors II

A lot of stuff in this entry deserves a picture. I promise I will post some soon!

Time to Join the Masses & Blog About E3

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Well, I watched the press conferences. Certainly wasn't easy being here on the east coast. I stayed up till 1AM watching the Microsoft one when I have to get up for work at 6AM. I canceled lunch with a good friend so I could stay at my workstation and watch the Nintendo conference. And I got my boss to let me leave 1.5 hours early because the Sony conference straddled my commute home and I would miss it otherwise.

All in all, they were worth the hassle. Each conference had its highlights. I had problems watching the Microsoft conference on my computer, so I hijacked my roommate's computer and watched it with him. It was great to hear "Want!" out of him for 90% of the things Microsoft showed. Resident Evil 5 looks awesome and should prove to be as big of a success as Resident Evil 4 was. Gears of War for the PC got me really interested, but for reasons I'll discuss later. Oh, and MARATHON!!!!!

Nintendo's constant "We're awesome and everyone knows it" got old really quick. I'm also disappointed by Nintendo's continued interest in excessive accessories. These "accessories" extremely hurt Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles and I don't want to see such a thing happen again. Those dates for Smash Bros. Brawl & Mario Galaxy could have easily been done in a press release. There was no need to devote stage time to something like that. Stage time was much better served in the demos shown for Phantom Hourglass, Metroid Prime 3, & Wii Fitness. Ahh, Wii Fitness. Initially, I thought that it was more trash in the vein of Wii Play. But, the more I watched, it seemed like a good attempt to capitalize on the "Wii gets you moving and gets you in shape" idea. In fact, depending on the price, I may pony up for a copy, since I really don't get enough exercise.

Sony' conference was probably the best. I really liked how Home was integrated into the presentation. Sony's promoting it as integral to the PlayStation 3 experience, so it was nice to see them integrate it so well into the presentation. I liked new PSP, not for the slimmer design, but for the increased battery life & video out feature. I would love to see my PSP games on the big screen, but I never expected Sony to deliver on this. (Hey Nintendo, gonna gimme a DS player anytime soon?) I'm glad that the new model will be packaged with Daxter. I've heard a lot about the game and it's certainly something I'd use as a pack-in game. The Killzone 2 trailer was nice, as was Metal Gear Solid 4 still being an exclusive. But what got me most excited was the inclusion of mod content in Unreal Tournament 3. Granted, I would have liked it more in an Elder Scrolls game, but just the idea of mods on a console is enough to get me excited. I'm glad mods are taken seriously as an integral part of the game.

But back to Gears. The thing that surprised me the most about Gears was that it wasn't a 1st person game, it was 3rd. I had shrugged it off as "another Call of Duty-type" game. A very nice game, but just another FPS. That demo reminded me of Megaman Legends, a game I am extremely fond of. The two are probably nothing alike, but I'm now interested. So I go into work the next day and ask a coworker with a 360 if he knows anything about it. He starts raving about how awesome it is and how it plays similarly, but like no other FPS he's played before. He offered to lend me his copy, which I took him up on. Unfortunately, due to moving this weekend, I won't be able to touch the game Monday. Oh well.

In the end, it was all fun. In my opinion, Sony had the best conference, followed by Microsoft's sometimes boring conference and Nintendo's arrogant, but still worthwhile showing.

Multiplayer Woes

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So I've had my 360 for about 2 months now. Still loving it. I play through the Eternal Sonata demo that I downloaded from the Japanese store at least once a week. Though one thing has struck me. Despite using a system designed for multiplayer, I still almost exclusively play single-player games.

Many of my Unions have been organizing game time for the entire Union. Unfortunately, I don't really have any multiplayer games, even on the 360. This really stuck home when I got an invite from Vashkey to play Halo 2. I don't own Halo 2 or Crackdown, the other game he suggested, turning it into a wasted opportunity. I was left with two options 1) buy games I'm not really interested in so that I can engage in multiplayer or 2) just keep my normal gaming habits and let multiplayer come in time, if ever.

I'm not really fond of either option, but I'm going with the latter. I tried a little multiplayer with Resistance: Fall of Man, playing against people I don't know. To tell the truth, it really wasn't that fun. Maybe it's because I'm not that good at the game. Maybe it's because I just don't enjoy multiplayer. Regardless, I'll wait and see what comes along. I still have that Comand & Conquer 3 demo sitting on the 360. I've heard it actually controls quite well for an RTS on a console, a stark contrast to Warcraft II on the PS1 & Starcraft 64...

Oh....A review of Dawn of Mana had described the game as "wasted potential". I can't agree more!

It's 360 Time!

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It's 360 Elite release day today. And what a surprise, I have one just like I planned. Unfortunately, none of the games I ordered came in yet. Viva Pinata, Dead Rising, & Panzer Dragoon Orta are still in transit. But all is not lost. I got DDR Universe new (cause it's not a smart idea to get a DDR pad used) and I downloaded Castlevania Symphony of the Night (confiscated my computer's Internet temporarily). So I still got stuff to play.

DDR Universe is fun. Much harder than DDR I'm used to, but fun nonetheless. Castlevania is cool too. The emulation is spot on and the pixel smoothing makes the picture much nicer than playing the original PS1 game on the PS3.

As for the annoying roommate, I got a few complaints from her. Initially, she was screaming "Nooo!" that her beloved DDR was on on the evil Microsoft console. But she played for a bit and enjoyed herself so much that the complaints stop. In fact, she's been playing Hexic HD for the past hour quite voraciously and is continuing to do so as I write this (with a smile on my face :) ).

Anyhow, I've got a Live account now, same name as here on GameSpot. I'll be adding people as soon as my wireless adapter in the mail. Post your Gamertag if you want to be added.