Beware of Dog
It's been a while since I've been around these parts, so I suppose I'll provide inquiring minds with a bit of an update.
I've been employed at a hostess club now going on 6 months and the money/perks may be decent, but I am exhausted. Dealing with unruly drunks and selfish little girls on a daily basis has gotten to me...but I suppose I should at least be used to the drunks by now because I've been bartending for years. Oh well...quitting isn't an option, I've been down that road too many times before. I might inquire with the owner of the club about other opportunities however...I feel like I could be doing something more useful to the company than just parading as the token white man. Granted, my race does seem to put a smile on people's faces...but the daily racism has gotten old after all these years in Japan. Is this the most sheltered country in the world or what? I can't go a single day of work without explaining my life story and how I ended up here to at least 5 people.
Meanwhile...I had a great 4 days off for New Years. A life-long friend came to visit for 3 days and my wife's birthday was on the last day of the vacation and we went on our first date in over 6 months...it's hard with these work schedules...
I finished Uncharted 3 a few weeks after receiving it for Christmas and was a bit torn about it. The sequences with the pirates were pretty epic, but on the whole it was rather meh. Ranked best to worst, the series goes 2, 3, 1 with a significant drop off from 2 to 3. I just had this feeling that I wanted to explore some more but was forced to bypass that exploration to maintain the story's frantic pace. And the drugged up parts...gag. Who ever decided that hazy dream sequences are a fun game aspect should be shot. I don't really remember why the baddies near the end had super powers...something to do with the water or something? Oh well, the 3 games had a lot of missed opportunities as far as I'm concerned. Oh, and that blond woman from the first game was back...ugh.
I am part way through Skyrim (it's not so much on the back burner as I just want savor it over the months as I take care of other, shorter, business along the way). Skyrim is so massive it's a bit overwhelming at times. My character is a Khajit archer highly skilled in stealth. I am almost always moving in stealth and with the 3.0x bonus on stealth damage (plus all the bonuses from my gear) I am pretty unstoppable with just a bow. Even in cramped spaces with multiple targets I can usually remain unseen in the middle of them and wipe them out with one-hit kills. It always perplexes me when people run all over me looking for me...but I guess that's why it pays to put skill points into stealth. I am not into magic and really never have been in most RPGs I've ever played...that said this is also the first time I've ever made a ranged character, so there's a first for everything I guess. Another first---no bugs or glitches whatsoever! A MIRACLE!
I am also part way through Rage (which I am currently focusing on). Rage really is beautiful (and disgusting) with a lot of shared aspects of Falllout and Borderlands. As all the reviews say, it doesn't top those games but it is still an excellent bit of fun. Definitely recommended if you find it on sale. I am playing on normal, but there is significant challenge to be found here, especially against melee opponents and mutants. Gun toting enemies can be easily dispatched with well placed shots, grenades, RC car bombs, etc...but the melee baddies are fast as hell and usually come at you in a zig zag pattern to avoid fire. They also bound over obstacles and swing from low ceilings or through doorways like hellbent monkeys or something...and when they get up close and personal they can kill you pretty swiftly if you're not careful. Receiving damage causes the edges of your screen to turn red like many shooters out there, and sometimes you resort to firing blindly because things are so frantic. That's why the shotgun is a man's best friend...and is always the gun I turn to when faced with melee attackers. They are usually just too fast to kill before they are right in front of you. Then it's SPLAT! Exploding brains cover your vision as you fend off these beasts of hell!
Anyhoo...yeah, Rage is pretty awesome even if I am nervewracked by all the mutants. Bandits I don't mind...but those vile abominations are really horrifying...
So I guess that's a peek at what's up around here in Hamamatsu. Just some good old fashioned disgruntled-ness at work and a way to take out that RAGE on some wasteland scum.
And how might you be, people?
1) An update on my drive to get fit...
Since May 4th I've run/walked over 75 miles through 30 workouts and burned about 8500kcal. I've only dropped from 212 to 208lbs in that span, but for the sake of motivation I'm going to believe that the reason I haven't lost more is because I've developed a lot of muscle (especially in my legs) and we all know muscle weighs more than fat. My goal is a "ripped" 195-200lbs...so simply dieting won't be enough to make it there. I need to start lifting weights if I want to build more upper body muscle, but all in due time.
Two weeks ago I began serious dieting. I count every calorie, gram of fat/carb/sodium/protein/etc. I've finally figured out how to successfully keep myself under 1800kcal, but it's not easy. Images of pizza, beer, pasta, french fries, milkshakes, ramen, gyoza, curry rice, and hot dogs flash before my eyes every night. Still, it has to be done. You'd really be amazed at how much sodium we poison our bodies with everyday. Sodium is the one category I can't seem to lower to the healthy range, even though I cook all my own food and don't add any salt. Even raw lettuce and cabbage have sodium...what a pain in the ass.
Recently I've come to discover that mental and physical wellness go hand in hand. Keeping fit and healthy is a major key to living a happy life. A friend of mine is in his early-40s and has already lost a leg to diabetes and recently was told he only has a few years left with his kidneys. I won't let myself go down the same path.
2) No luck in the job hunt. The guy who offered me a job has been less than forthcoming with further details. We've met on several occasions but either he's talking out of his ass or Japan just moves at a snail's pace. It has now been 4 months since I quit my job and luckily I had enough saved to survive this long (in addition to my wife's salary), but things are quite difficult now. I am going to tell the man with the job that I am moving on and go back to staving off racist employers looking for work. Staving or starving. Ugh.
3) My unbridled and often unparalleled negative view on life has once again reared its ugly head. I am displeased with much of my world (and that at large) and wonder if I might not be better off living alone in the forest in the spirit of Thoreau's Walden for a time. I would like to spend some time away from face-to-face human interaction, playing both the role of scientist and rat by studying my own struggles to survive without many of the amenities considered essential today. Unlike Thoreau however, I would be required to make lodging in the Japanese wilds, where hand-sized spiders rule as kings of old. Perhaps my previous blog title is a more apt one here. Arachnids...my most feared and hated enemy.
I've broached the subject of simple-living with a motley assortment of my fellow conspirators, but it seems like something that the general population scoffs at and dismisses as lunacy. My theory however, is that humankind was not meant to dwell like bees and ants---on top of eachother in cubicles condensed into a city (or nest/hive). We are also not meant to commute like drone bees to an office 5-6 days a week and toil for some bloated and unseen queen.
How I convert this negativity into rational thought and later, action, still remains to be seen. Though I use the word "negativity" to descibe my thought-process, it is admittedly labeled so by others. It may appear spirit-draining (and will really be so without action), but I think it's an idea all should adopt. A true life-revolution must take place, but the earth is already plagued by over-population that simpler times may be just something from a distant and healthier past. In this case, then yes, I am a negative person that will never find happiness.
I've already begun my journey towards healthy living by eating right and exercising accordingly (now to clear out unneeded belongings). The next step will be discovering a means of living comfortably on basic necessities (with a few games for good measure ) while working as little as possible, or better yet, working towards something (like growing crops and building things). Money is just paper...something I both despise and crave. But why should we crave it? Because it costs money just to breathe in this godforsaken world.
With much regret I must bid thee farewell for now, dear reader. Housework awaits.
No, this blog has nothing to do with a book known as The Hobbit, nor does it have anything to do with Bilbo Baggins or spiders (especially not those vile denizens of Mirkwood's inky depths).
It's summertime and the living ain't so easy. It's hot already in Hamamatsu and I am done with the season. Aye! Tl'be a scorcher I'd wager! These old bones'll crack under this hellish heat b'fore long.
So what does one do to "beat the heat?" Go swimming I guess. My good pal just bought himself a brand spankin' new speedboat and it's almost time to take her out. I need to keep up with my running so I can get in shape for those beach BBQs with all the hot hostess girls. Here's a bit of my album from last year's secret beach rendezvous: Forgive My Goofiness.
In other news, it's hot...oh wait, I already covered that.
TV Shows I am interested in and waiting to continue:
The Walking Dead
Game of Thrones
AMC, HBO, AMC, HBO...what a coincidence! I am most interested in Mad Men---easily the highest quality show I've seen since The Sopranos (HBO again!)
Video Games I am waiting for (or HOPING FOR as it were):
Assassin's Creed Revelations & AC3
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Chrono something-or-other (I can dream)
Lately I find myself less and less attracted to role-playing games...there just haven't been many in recent memory that I really had fun with. Fallout 3 was good despite the bugs...as was most of Oblivion...Borderlands yes (though I hesitate to use the RPG label)...and then I draw a blank. Mass Effect 2, DA: Origins and DA2 were a waste of money for me...as was the criminally bugged New Vegas. Tales of Vesperia & Eternal Sonata were just plain bad. That being said, I hope Skyrim doesn't fully turn me off of RPGs...something's got to bring me back.
So I guess I've gotten the most enjoyment this generation out of open, sandbox-type games. Assassin's Creed 2 and Brotherhood were excellent, Mafia II was spectacular, Red Dead Redemption was outstanding and I already mentioned two open-world RPGs: FO3 and Oblivion.
Here's hoping for one more decent RPG this generation.
Unemployment has provided me all the time in the world to play games and write reviews, but I seem to have trouble writing freely these days. All my life I've loved reading & writing (perhaps more than gaming) because they are wonderful (and quiet) escapes from everyday life...but where once I could take up my pen or splay my fingers across a keyboard and instantly create something magical, now I've lost the power to concentrate...
It is for this reason it has taken me so long to churn out another game review. Recently I attempted to write reviews for Fallout 3, Red Dead Redemption, and Borderlands...but to no avail. I just couldn't get started...
...which makes my new reviews for Heavy Rain and Fallout: New Vegas all the more remarkable.
How can one properly put into words the feeling of utter helplessness in the face of this horrendous disaster?
Just moments after the magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck the northeast coast, tremors were also felt by myself and many others here in the city of Hamamatsu. At first I was sure I must be light-headed or something of the like, because I couldn't find my balance while standing in the kitchen. A swaying motion, not unlike that of standing on a boat or moving train, made the apartment slowly roll, though luckily not enough to cause damage. It was then that I turned my television to the news to see if there had been any seismic activity and discovered, to my horror, that a giant earthquake had just rocked the Tohoku region. For such a massive earthquake, I was a bit surprised at the relative absence of structural damage. Not to say that nothing was harmed, but one expects something more disastrous than what was shown by the video footage. It was then that the tsunami warnings first appeared on the screen…
Fast-forward to Monday.
A beautiful place, once familiar, is in ruins, the people displaced or dead. In one fell swoop Japan's coast has shifted 8 feet and the earth's axis as well.
I am haunted by the images of roaring water and fleeing villagers. We've felt aftershocks here in Hamamatsu but it's the imaginary ones that have been bothering me most. Every time I am sitting quietly I can't help but feel vibrations whether they are there or not. Last night I even had a nightmare about being in a quaked-rocked building. How can one escape this horror? I can't turn on the television without breaking down into tears…but not turning it on could potentially mean missing life-threatening information about a nuclear meltdown.
This situation is unlike anything I've ever experienced before and is truly frightening. I wish I could be there today, helping find survivors and bringing supplies to refugees. I feel helpless here in my home and guilty that I even a home.
I am confused and not quite sure what I wish to say. In a strange way I wish I had been there to experience the disaster, though whether that feeling is sincere or not is beyond my comprehension. I think we all have a selfish need to "play the hero," and I wonder if my immature attitude toward the situation doesn't fit this theory. The one thing I do know is that this is going to be hard.
Since this is a games site, I will mention that I've been trying to turn away from the news by playing Heavy Rain…not the light fare I should probably be focusing on, but a bit less disconcerting than what I was in the middle of, Fallout: New Vegas. Without work I am trying to find anything to pass the time. I am trying to figure out how to go up to the disaster area to assist, but until things are made safe people like me are not allowed in. I hope there is something I can do.
They say catastrophe brings out the best and worst in people. I've seen and felt a bit of both. Only time will tell how this situation will change Japan, but I don't think there's any question that it will come. I hope it is for the better…and I hope I am here to see it.
I was born in Boulder, Colorado and lived my first few months on this planet in a little town by the name of Nederland. Not long after my mother took me to live closer to family in NE Ohio, more specifically the Cleveland metro area. We spent time in a number of communities, but just before I was to enter high school we opted to move to the west coast to be closer to those mountains she loved so much. Portland, Oregon was a wonderful place...beautiful mountains within driving distance, a gorgeous coastline, mysterious rainforests, it was an outdoorsman's dream. In high school I moved even farther away, to Nagasaki, Japan, where I spent a year studying nothing and having fun away from home. I would go back to Portland for another year after that, but quickly returned to Japan for what I hoped would be eternity...
...Visa complications would sideline that plan for the time-being and I was forced to return to the US...but to where? I chose to go back to Cleveland for a little while to see what was up with the relations...and ended up staying another 3 years. In that short period I reaquainted myself with the hometown teams, the Indians, Cavs, Browns, and Buckeyes...and became that which I'd always feared: a rabid fan.
People ask me how I have the energy to cheer for teams perpetually in the cellar and to them I reply: Cleveland is home. The city I love is mocked across the US for having a high crime rate, a dirty image, a cursed sports scene, and just simply because people have never gone there. I love it though. Sure it doesn't have a nightlife like New York, a hot beach like Miami, the glamour of Hollywood...and you know what, I don't care. Clevelanders are a hard-working people. We break our backs to support families and like to take a load off afterwards with our beloved teams. We have barbeques with friends and family on the weekends, grab a cold one after work at the local hole-in-wall bar and live honest lives.
I don't live there anymore, but I love Cleveland. I cried uncontrollably when my Tribe gave away game 7 in 1997...and again when Visquel's tear-filled face was plastered on all the newspapers across the country. Again the Indians got me in 2007 when they gave away the ALCS to those Red Sox after holding a commanding 3-1 series lead. A match-up with the lowly Rockies in the World Series was a championship lock as far as I was concerned.
2009 represented the first year I truly believed Cleveland's once abysmal basketball team, the Cavs, had a chance at greatness...and were stuck with the worst match-up possible in Orlando. LeBron's heroics couldn't save the squad from elimination...and left them with too much doubt heading into the next season, the last of LeBron's contract.
Aside from those of you living under rocks, or foreign countries...you probably know how it turned out. We lost in 2010 to an aged Celtics team and LeBron bolted for the sunny shore of Miami.
To clear up a misconception, it's not the fact that he left his fans in the lurch...it's the cruel method by which he made his "decision." With absolutely zero heads up for the owner that gave him everything he wanted for 7 years, the players that made their careers as LeBron's teammates, and the fans that supported him since high school, he announced to the world on national television that he's hitting the road. I felt like I was punched in the gut and stabbed in the back...how could we not?
The truth is we were foolish. We should've seen this coming 2 years ago, afterall LeBron did. Though at this point it's nothing more than an assumption, I am convinced Reilly, Wade, Bosh, and James had a plan in place as far back as the Beijing Olympics. Why collusion on this level is accept by Stern is beyond me. This is on a bigger level than ref fixes...this is the inmates running the asylum and no one being able to do anything about it. I pray to whatever deities are out there that Dan Gilbert's investigation finds what it needs to and puts a stop to this madness...but that's a topic for the coming months.
In the meanwhile, we Clevelanders must pick up the pieces and realize James was never one of us. James can claim he was never a Clevelander, that's fine. He rooted for the Yankees, Cowboys, and Bulls as a lad...a frontrunner through and through. Akronites however, are Cleveland sports fans. James is no Akronite either.
What separates us from LeBron (aside from the millions he earns) is loyalty. We are loyal to our state and not afraid to admit it. We try to defend Ohio from the slings and arrows of the New York media (ESPN) and though we can't fight them all, we never give up. This is a city of winners, because winners never quit. LeBron James quit and there's no way around it. He stopped playing for the Cavs even while he was still on the payroll. If that doesn't deserve Dan Gilbert's scorn, I don't know what does.
So it's almost 2011. I'll be 26 in less than two weeks and might be 46 before another Cleveland team competes on a national scale. I am resigned to my fate because I love Cleveland teams and would never root for another.
Just a game? Perhaps. But it's also a love...a passion...something that brings NE Ohioans together and affects the economy in a big way. To marry my wife I left Cleveland behind...essentially breaking up with my teams and only being there in spirit. Today it feels more sad than it ever has before...because Cleveland needs it's fans. We're down but not out. 3 teams stuck in a rut and I cant be there to cheer my guys and boo the opponents. It brings a tear to my eye.
I miss my hometown and am having a hard time adjusting to life away from sports...and I'm probably the only jackass you know that actually cries at the end of Major League.
Like most of my friends I love music. I listen to rap, rock, jazz, trance, enka, and more...though lately I've come to the realization that I haven't listened to anything new in years. I like some Lil Wayne and T-Pain, but certainly not as much as anything older. All the new stuff I've heard is just...boring. I can't turn on a tv anymore without hearing some CRAP from another dime-a-dozen J-POP boy/girl band, and I stopped listening to new American music back in the 90's (except the aforementioned).
So what do I like?
I know you don't care, but here's a list of my favorite bands/groups/singers.
(In no particular order)
Compton's Most Wanted
Yes, I love gangsta rap. I listen to Eazy E, Dre, Snoop, whatever...but Compton's Most Wanted is my favorite by far. If I was ever going to commit a driveby, I think these guys would be playing in my car.
Wu Tang Clan
Wu...TANG...Wu...TANG! Love these crazy mofo's. I carved a Halloween pumpkin back in elementary school with the Wu Tang "W". Protect Ya Neck, CREAM, Triumph, Ice Cream, etc...There are a lot of Wu Tang songs I learned to rap by heart back then...in fact I used a verse from Triumph for a poetry project in high school. The teacher was a little taken aback...
The only Japanese music I really love. Misora Hibari's voice is otherworldly...and her songs, timeless. Kanasii Zake, Ringo Oiwake, and Tokyo Kid are some of my favorite songs. She served as my introduction to enka (Japanese blues) and now enka is my genre of choice at karaoke. One of those once-in-a-generation talents...
An American icon and one of the world's most recognizable voices. St. James Infirmery is my favorite tune, but I listen to everything this man has done. If you've got a chance, listen to some King Oliver and his Creole Jazz Band for a bit of Satchmo's roots.
Another of those angelic voices...Gloomy Sunday and Blue Moon stand out for me, but I listen to all of her stuff. For a great movie you should try and pick up New Orleans starring Louis Armstrong, Dorothy Patrick, and Billie Holiday. Great stuff!
What I like to listen to when I'm in a bad mood. I also enjoy forcing others to listen to the same stuff, so I roll down my windows and blast some Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap or Thunderstruck for the Japanese people walking down the street. Love me some AC/DC.
I really love the soundtrack and all around atmosphere of this game. The music is so quirky and spot-on that I constantly find myself humming these songs in my head (eventhough they aren't memorable songs per se). The music alternates from electronic to bossanova to pop to harmonica to classical to metal so seamlessly it never gets old. In particular, there is a mountainous area you do a bit of adventuring in that rocks to a elevator-music type jazz beat. It's so bizarre but it just works perfectly.
The voices are done equally well, though I can see people having problems with a few of them. I'm sure there'll be plenty of you that complain about Vanille's voice and personality but I think it's great...we need more happy-go-luck girls oozing optimism and good vibes. Hey---they beat the introverted, pouty broads (I'm lookin' at you Polka!).
On the other hand, Hope is about as hopeless as it gets. He is such a typical Japanese character I cannot stand him. Afraid of everything and getting in everyone's way most of the time, then gaining confidence and wanting to take on the world...but you can always hear the doubt in his voice no matter what. Everyone but Hope oozes confidence. This kid oozes idiocy.
Luckily you don't need to use some characters once you get to the middle of the game. In case they do need to come off the shelf at some point, they still accumulate CP the same as everyone else so it doesn't matter if you use them or not. I've actually played with the same party for the last 20hrs or so. Lightning, Vanille, and Fang are my dream team and there is no reason to change.
One thing that still boggles my mind is the absolute absence of armor, and the utter lack of weapon variety. I've collected maybe 4 weapons for Fang after 55hrs and she's still using the 2nd one I found. I am used to shopping for weapons, trying to get rare drops, looking for treasure chests, etc...but FFXIII does not utilize the methods most RPGs do. Rather, the physical attack points that you get in the Crystarium make up your total attack basically (for example, Fang: physical attack=1217, weapon's phyiscal attack=34). It doesn't matter which weapon she uses, her attack won't change more than 10-20 points total. Some weapons do however possess attributes like automatic protect/shell when battle starts and stuff like that...but nothing to get excited about.
In that respect, FFXIII is a bit "off it's rocker" compared to other titles of the genre.
I am still a good week or so away from beating this thing because I have a lot of grinding to go before I can tackle some of these tougher missions. That gigantic Cactuar is a pain in the ass...not to mention beating an Adamantoise...
At this point I am glad I made this purchase, but also surprised by many things both good and bad. I guess I had my hopes up in a certain direction after the masterpiece that was FFXII...which is unfair to this game because it's a very different experience.
First off, let me start by apologizing for neglecting everyone's blogs recently. I've been locked in the Temple and haven't been out to view my profile in a while...
Okay! Now for Final Fantasy XIII...a game both hyped and derided by the masses! The game arrived at my doorstep while I was at work last Thursday and I've been at it ever since (about 28 hours). I rushed home and popped the disk in, only to be blessed with another of SE's gorgeous trademark title movies. Brilliance! Beauty! But can the game live up to all that jazz?
Hold onto your butts! Sam Jackson's at the computer monitor and there's a tropical storm a'comin! Good thing you're broke down in front of the T-Rex enclosure! Yes...FFXIII starts quickly with some fast paced action as you're thrown head-first into a war to save Cocoon. Our heroine, Lightning, makes herself known around the town as the baddest babe around! That PSICOM scum is gonna pay! But of course she couldn't do it alone, so let's thank our lucky stars she's got a pretty good motley band to go along on this adventure.
Sazh, a comedian...but thoughtful and heroic.
Hope, a weakling...with some healthy ambition.
Vanille, ever optimistic...but owner of a mysterious past.
Snow, a fighter...and a lover.
Yun Fang, strong of will...with dark secrets.
Like any game, you'll love (and hate) some of the characters all of the time and all of the characters some of the time. Anyway...you'll notice some beautiful graphics and then some pretty bad looking stuff thrown in. Really the game is a mixed bag in the graphics department. Guess we still haven't learned anything from the Uncharted series!
If you leave the option on, a tutorial will pop up and help you battle everytime a new concept/technique is introduced. I left it so because I am playing in Japanese obviously...and didn't feel prepared to tackle fast-paced battling and translation all at the same time. The tutorial was very helpful in teaching me the basics in a nice slow-paced way. As you probably know, FFXIII utilizes Active Time Battles, so any hesitation can cost you a victory when faced with a tough foe. There are times you'll face 10 enemies in one battle...so believe me when I say strategy and speed are key. If you take time to think about your next move with 10 foes unleashing hell and healing eachother, there's a fat chance you'll get far. The good news is that waste of time moves like potions and other items don't use up your action gauge.
Key to FFXIII's battle system are Optimas (apparently called Paradigms in other versions of the game). Each character has different tactics they can use (i.e. Lightning-melee, magic attack, healing) and when you have 2-3 characters in a party, you mix and match those tactics to make Optimas. (i.e. Lightning-melee, Hope-healing, Sazh-magic)---that is one Optima. Any team can have a max of 6(?) I believe. You set your Optimas outside of battle and select which one you'd like to start the battle with. Your choice will obviously change depending on the opponent...but once battle starts all that planning can go down the drain quickly if you're not ready to flip flop Optimas on the fly, sometimes every few seconds to combat your foes. Since you only control your party leader, you don't need to worry about what the others are doing. Their AI is above average and they always heal the most injured member first.
There is a problem with this system though as I've found. If you change party members at any time and then switch back, the optimas you programmed will all be reset. Why they couldn't do something about this is beyond me. It's not hard to reset them, but it's a pain in the ass when you realize midway through a rough battle that you forgot to program an important Optima. I restarted my game a few times during boss fights when that happened.
When your battle ends you will be shown a screen rating your battle (rating is based on speed). They tell you how long it should take and compare the results. I don't really enjoy being pressured into speed battling, but as far as I can tell the score doesn't count for much (maybe a trophy, I dunno). There is however, one perk to getting full 5 star marks that I won't go into. Everyone will also be awarded Crystal Points (even dead/inactive characters). That said, if your target is almost dead and you have 2 dead party members, don't worry about raising them. Just finish it and improve your time. After the battle they will be fully healed and status ailments will disappear.
What are Crystal Points?
CP are the currency of the Crystarium, a leveling system that resembles the Sphere Grid of FFX. Items on each level of the crystal cost X crystal points and you move around it like a spider's web grabbing things like HP+, Magic+, Defense+, Aeroga, Cura, etc. The aforementioned tactics govern what is found in each member's crystarium (i.e. there is no magic in the melee branch). It's not possible to really 'power level' because new areas of the crystarium only open up after you reach certain points in the game. Stockpiling CP when you have already filled out your available crystarium is only good for future use.
That brings me to another point. Levels are pretty much non-existent as most rpg gamers know them. I am well past the half-way point of the game (I think) and all of my characters are on level 3 in all their tactic branches. What that means in rpg level terms...beats me.
- Gil is virtually absent. I haven't purchased ANYTHING yet up to this point. Every save point gives you access to a list of different stores...but I haven't spent anything at all. I've amassed something like 20,000gil ONLY. On the other hand, upgrading weapons/items is encouraged by using the loot you find around the place.
- Armor doesn't exist in this world.
- Weapons are not varied (at this point I've only gone through about 2-3 weapons per person)
- Vanille is my favoritest thing in the whole wide world. No foolin'.
- The bird in Sazh's afro is a baby chocobo (I never knew they could fly as chicks)
- Summons are about as useful as they were in FFXII >_>
Anyway that does it for today. I got tired of Cid stomping all over me so I stopped playing for the day...gonna be back at it tomorrow! Stay tuned for my review within the next few weeks.
Because WKC hasn't released yet in the US I can't post this apparently...so here it is, in my blog.
First-off it should be noted that this review is of the Japanese version of the game.
From the makers of Rogue Galaxy, the Dark Cloud series, and other titles comes White Knight Chronicles, an RPG for those without a lot of time on their hands.
Like most role-playing games, WKC utilizes a party system. As you progress you will meet a few new (and forgettable) characters and join forces with a number of NPC party guests. When battling, EXP points are doled out to all characters, active or not, making it so that you really have no need of ever using your weaker characters. Also while leveling, each character receives 4 SKILL points to be spent on various attacks, raising stats, magic, etc. The rudimentary system is comparable to the License Board of FFXII, though nowhere near as interesting. One complaint I've heard about FFXII is that all characters can learn all the same skills; in this game a few of the skill trees are off limits for some, making those characters weak and pretty much useless.
Battling is easy and somewhat fun as everything is done in real-time, but you are only ever in control of one character, just like another Level 5 game, Rogue Galaxy. How do the others fight, you ask? You simply give them commands in the main menu and they will perform them dutifully. The downside is that the command menu is less detailed than say, FFXII's similar system. In FFXII you had the power to give commands based on certain conditions (i.e. Heal after X% HP loss, etc). In this game you have to learn to trust your AI party members and more often then not they will come through for you…but still it's quite a crapshoot (i.e. All members need to be healed but your healer will only heal 1 person even though s/he also has a 'group heal' command programmed as well). In all though the game is extremely easy and if you find yourself dying often you're probably doing something wrong.
Another important aspect of the battle system is your AC or "Action Chip" meter. Landing blows on your foe (or taking hits yourself) can give you action chips, which are the currency you pay to use skills. A basic attack requires zero AC but more advanced moves can take 4 (and combos even more). When your AC meter is nearly full you'll have the option of transforming into the White Knight, a process comparable to Usagi transforming into Sailor Moon, no joke.
Usually you won't need to transform for anything less than a boss fight (or on occasions when multiple massive enemies decide to attack your party together)…but user be warned! Fighting as the Knight is as clunky and slow as a beat up old truck. He walks like his feet are in cement, but at least he can attack swiftly and do massive damage.
Quests can be attained throughout the game and are accessible from the World Map. When you select a location on the map a list of available quests in that location is also shown, making it quite easy to see what you've got. Partaking in said quests is not as simple as all that however. First off, you should know that the level recommendation for each quest is not to be paid attention to. If you are level 8 and go solo into a level 8 and above quest you will likely be served up on a silver platter to some trolls. You see, you have 2 options when questing: online co-op or offline solo (and solo means ONE CHARACTER). The online co-op gives you the opportunity to join a friend, or to be matched with another player also working on the same quest. Personally I found questing to be disappointing, and wish you could use your entire party.
Graphics and Sound:
This isn't the most beautiful game I've ever played, but it's no slouch either. The environments aren't all that and a bag of chips, but the subtleties are nice: sand blowing through the desert, the sway of plants in the breeze, the babbling brooks, etc. The real beauty of this game however, is in the cinematic cut scenes. Wow, talk about spectacular…if only WKC lived up to the pace of those scenes. The music is also decent, though nothing to write home about and the Japanese voice-acting is above-average.
Within the first 20 minutes of White Knight Chronicles, you should pretty much have grasped the gist of the entire plot.
Our hero Leonard has a job at the local liquor store and is sent to the neighboring village to bring back wine for the feast at the castle. At said village he meets up with our heroine Yuri and they return to the castle together---dreaming of the luxury and riches within. Surprisingly they are not shot dead on the scene when they decide to sneak in for a better view…but they are there just in time to be caught in a massive attack on the city by an evil organization called Wizard. The fiends proceed to slay his majesty, the revered king, and pursue Leonard and the princess into the bowels of the castle…
…where the White Knight's armor awaits…
Too bad for Leonard, the fair princess is kidnapped and thus begins your harrowing journey into lands unknown! Along the way you'll run into an adulterous amphibian organized crime boss, learn to fly dandelions, and much more! To be fair, it isn't THAT much more. I finished the main quest in 26hrs with extensive item searching and so on…so don't expect an epic adventure.
It's a shame really…I would've been content to continue my quest much further.
Like I said, the main quest lasted a grand total of 26hrs for me. Searching for weapons, items to improve your equipment, etc. can take some time…but you shouldn't feel the need to spend such time. Weapons/Armor you find/buy along the way will prove more than adequate to complete your journey and employing the services of the amphibian smithies is unnecessary. It's a shame things couldn't be a bit more difficult…I may have had more fun (and that's probably the first time I've ever said that). Regardless, there are a number of multi-player oriented quests out there for you to try out, but if you're a gamer that wants to play alone, don't bother with WKC until you find it discounted.
There are plenty of trophies to be had for you trophy nuts out there and also a town-building option in GeoNet (WKC's online service) so you should be able to get a lot of time out of this title, but again, it won't come from the main story itself.
This is a game I've heard hyped by a number of people for quite a while and I discovered it one day at my local game store selling for 1700yen ($17) so I thought I'd check it out. At first I was sucked into it and quite excited to get started…but in the end I sat there scratching my head, wondering what I had just played. White Knight Chronicles was the equivalent of a 30-minute television episode…when I was expecting a 2hr movie. My final word? Wait until the price drops.
Graphics and Sound=9
I fully expect to receive some flack for the comparatively low score I awarded this game...but I think I gave enough reasoning behind my decision. The survival horror element was a detractor from the experience, but not just because I dislike the genre. Rather, I felt the sudden jump from one genre to another was ill-conceived and lacking a necessary cohesion...muddling an already questionable story.
About this time last year my wife and I were finalizing our move into the new apartment and spent the final few nights in the old place sleeping on a blanket on the hard floor. Sometime in the morning I was still mostly asleep (though conscious of my surroundings) and I rolled over onto my stomach. In an instant I was waked by the most blinding pain I've ever felt and looked down at my extended leg to see something under the skin slide OVER my right kneecap from right to left. The pain was so intense I immediately burst into tears and attempted to get up in a panic. Then my leg contracted a bit and I found I couldn't fully extend or close it anymore...
...my wife was going to call for an ambulance because I couldn't move...but I begged her not to and mustered up the strength to hop down 2 flights of stairs on one leg (practically screaming all the while). Somehow I managed to fit myself into the car and we sped off to the hospital.
I was examined (and tortured) by a number of doctors, subjected to X-Rays, and an MRI, but no one could confirm what had happened nor what I saw with my own eyes. They did however tell me that the ligaments in my knees are abnormally 'loose'...and I am convinced that somehow the pressure I put on the hard floor while rolling over somehow forced that loose ligament over the kneecap like a rubber band.
Anyway...I went home to rest (there was nothing the doctors could do for me) and was left alone while everyone else went off to work. So there I laid in a real bed, slowly forcing my leg straight (per doctor's orders), a few degrees at a time every 15 minutes or so...
...after hours had passed I nearly had it straight...and after one more intense stretch...I saw that same ligament slide itself back to the right side and into it's original position. Instantly most of the pain subsided and I was left with a dull ache and some dried out eyes.
This experience left me in something of a state of shock, similar to post traumatic stress. A year later and I still cringe every time I bend my knee and I haven't gotten a full night's sleep because I am terrified of it happening again.
Why have I brought this up? Because my knee is starting to ache again...and the doctor's last words to me were if the aching comes back it's time for surgery. I have an uncle that went in for routine knee surgery a few years back and died on the operating table after an allergic reaction to the (can't remember the word in English...) sleeping medicine?
Needless to say I am terrified of the surgery but I may need it in coming years if this worsens...my knee aches all the time now and it's getting really frustrating not being able to stay healthy...
Has anyone had any experience with something like this...?
Hello all...it has been quite a while since we last spoke.
What have I done over the last 2 months? Well I'm glad you asked...
I am in Japan now. More specifically, I am now living in Hamamatsu. My girlfriend and I are currently staying together in the living space above the office until we save up a bit more yen for a new place (we just left the last place we were at because the neighbor was racist and terrified of me, the white devil). She complained and it became a mess so we said "f*** you, goodbye." I am working full-time now, both at the family's snack bar and main company (which makes sushi lunches for funerals). Those that haven't been to Japan will not likely know what a snack bar is...it's nothing horrible, just not for me. Mixing drinks is one thing, but actually having to hang out with customers at their table and whatnot and listen to the drunks hit on my girlfriend is a bit too much for me. Typically guys don't often work at these places, but I guess I am a pretty hot commodity since most of them have never had the chance to speak to a foreigner and jump at the opportunity. The other half jump at the opportunity to talk to my girlfriend...which I am not too pleased about. Luckily the two of us only work there once a week. The sushi is the job I really like. Eventually her mom will pass the company down to us, but right now we are still learning all the ropes. I haven't had a position of power in any of my previous lines of work and I kind of enjoy running people into the ground :-P
Anyhoo...we're officially getting married at the end of this month--->and I have to go all the way to the American Embassy in Tokyo next week (I just found out today), the closer consulate in Nagoya doesn't accept people from this prefecture...sigh...
In the meantime, I played through what I think in most of FFT (though haven't finished) and am currently playing Brave Story, which I actually really like. I saw all the less than stellar reviews and sort of wrote it off as a side project, but I am having quite a bit of fun with it, though it's quite simple really. I think I am near half-way at about 8 hours...and I've never been in danger of dying once yet so I guess it's on the short and easy side of things.
I went the whole of February and most of March without playing anything...and then one day my girlfriend was bored and asked about my DS (she hates video games). Well, she hasn't put it down since...she beat New Super Mario Bros. inside and out, ran Mario Kart into the ground, and is now destroying Phantom Hourglass. I have the JPN version of PH so she has no problem with the dialogue but I don't think she'll be able to do much with any of the other games I have for PSP or DS. She doesn't like music games so that takes care of Elite Beat Agents. It's cool now that I have an excuse to go look at games but she has yet to play an RPG and I wonder what she'll make of them. Anyway, that's how it is...
And I think I will leave it at that for today...it's 4:16am...I just got done with work...now time for some Brave Story...
So here I am...totally stressed out on the eve of my great migration across the United States and the Pacific Ocean. Will my voyage end happily ever after or am I destined for failure and depression? Only time will tell.
To those unfamiliar with my situation, I have a girlfriend in Japan (she's Japanese of course). I met her when I was living in Nagasaki after I graduated high school in Portland, Oregon. It's been 3.5 long years since we met and 3 since I returned to the U.S. for visa related issues (I didn't have one; not the credit card. ). Anyway, I've been traveling back and forth between Cleveland and Hamamatsu since then (she came here for 2 months in '06) and neither of us can get a visa for the other country unless we finished school or are married. I am still 2 years out from finishing college and she stopped after 2 years...so that wasn't working.
This summer when I was over there for a few months, I propsed without a ring (a sort of spur of the moment thing) and she enthusiastically said yes. When I got back to the U.S. we started planning and looking for apartments, etc, but a number of events (including the present distance) acted to help her lose faith in herself and our chances in general. Her passion is salsa, and she's had some issues with her foot over the last half a year. I am still unsure of what the situation really is, but I know the doctors told her not to wear heels when she dances...anyway the pain in her foot and lack of dance time has been really depressing for her...and her parents' recent divorce has been even more stressful for her and the family.
As a result we've lost touch a bit...Her depression has led to my own and we have been stuck in a rut for months. And then a few days before Christmas, her mom and sister called me and told me the only way I can try and fix anything is to just go there. It is really the only option (other than breaking up) and so I agreed and began planning the big trip. I quit both of my jobs on Friday, I got rid of my car, and I gave more than half of my clothes away to charity as I packed up the essentials and ditched the rest.
Those unfamiliar with Japanese immigration: a tourist visa allows for foreigners to stay in Japan for 90 days. Most everyone can get into Japan on a tourist visa and that's what I've used everytime I went except for my yearlong exchange in high school. At the end of the 90 days I must leave the country unless I get a different visa before then...and that is exactly the plan. Pending progess in restoring the glory our relationship once had, I will propose again (maybe on White Day 3/14) with the diamond ring I bought a few months back. I can only hope things go well between us. One way or the other I will be employed full-time when I am there by her mother (the plan is to eventually take over the family businesses).
Anyway...a classic case of butterflies in the stomach I've been panicking lately about everything. I've never been nervous about going to Japan (rather I am usually ecstatic)...but this time...it's not the proposal...it's that I can't be sure what I am walking into. Has she already made up her mind about our chances? Is it hopeless? Things always seem to get rocky when we are apart for too long, but everything is amazing after we've been together again for a few weeks. This time I don't know if it will be that simple...
On top of all that, I feel bad about leaving my mom this time around. Maybe it's that I've matured a bit since the last time I planned to leave home for good...but I am really feeling bad about leaving her alone like that. At least there is quite a bit of my family in NE Ohio so she has plenty of sisters around to keep her busy...
So I guess I've rambled on quite long enough. Anyway wish me luck, I'll need it. If I am forced to leave Japan who knows where my next stop will be. One way or the other this is the eve of a brand new life.
Just weeks ago I was vehemently protesting this year's presidential primary race because none of the democratic candidates garnered my respect. Tonight, I sit in front of my television, glued to CNN and Barack Obama's speech in front of supporters in Chicago, Illinois. Barack Obama is the best hope this damaged nation has and for once I am hanging on a politician's words like dear life…
But Mike, what could possibly have quashed your voter's apathy? Well I am glad you asked. Quite simply Obama's words have captured my attention. He speaks with a certain eloquence and sincerity far too rare in today's political world…the Kennedy's describe Barack as today's John Fitzgerald; others have compared him to Martin Luther King Jr. I was not alive to witness the rise and fall of either of those great men so I cannot comment either way, but Obama truly gives me hope for the future.
At one time I had great respect for Hillary Clinton (save for her unwarranted attention to the video game industry) but the more research I do the less pleased I am with her stance on key issues. I am a staunch opponent of war and Hillary's vote of support for military force in Iraq is inexcusable. She claims she would have voted differently "if we knew then what we knew now." That is all good and well, but supporting a war in the first place is nothing short of disgraceful. The war turned out to be a sham and a turned Iraq into a mass grave of Allied forces and Iraqi civilians. I am ashamed to be a citizen of a country that so arrogantly charges into any situation unprepared and unconcerned for human life…On the topic of Iran, Hillary "advocates diplomacy" but refuses to meet with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and states that "no option can be taken off the table."
Call me a peacenik if you desire, it bothers me not. I support the lives of our troops and the civilians caught in the middle, not faulty missions without positive outcomes. Barack Obama voted against the use of military force in Iraq and says he will meet with the leaders of the countries that fool Bush blacklisted and placed in his "Axis of Evil". Amen man, that's exactly what I want. North Korea terrifies me…like the abused kid that knows where his father keeps a loaded gun. Nothing will happen on a massive scale, but the neighbors might get shot in the process. Japan's proximity to North Korea is the source of my fears…and until we can find a way to make real progress with Pyongyang it's a very scary situation in East Asia…
You may have noticed that foreign policy is my biggest concern going into the presidential elections…but that is not all of course. The economy is another chief concern of mine, but I feel it's also tied closely to the war in Iraq right now. The war is a financial sinkhole, sucking up funding that could go towards fixing our schools or the environment. As they say, improvement starts from within…
Yes, the environment…practically destroyed by humankind. Capping emissions, raising vehicle emissions regulations, and penalizing heavy polluters are good places to start, but that cannot be the end. Clean energy is our only hope for a clean tomorrow...
But wait a minute Mike, isn't there another major party besides the Democratic Party? Yes, there is…and it is the party of non-secularism, the party of rewarding the rich with lower taxes, the party of ignorance, etc. The front-runner from the Republican Party is the ancient and ever idiotic John McCain. B-B-B-But he's a war hero! Replace the word 'hero' with 'hawk' and you are closer to the truth. John McCain voted to support the use of military force in Iraq, supported Bush's veto on a bill to withdraw troops by 2008, and was an early proponent of sending additional troops. He also pledges to increase the numbers in the army and marines and spend more on the defense budget. So it sounds like he is big on defending Americans from the dangers outside the borders…what about the dangers within? McCain voted against a 10 year extension of the assault weapons ban and opposes legislation requiring trigger locks. At the same time he is against allowing women to choose whether or not they get abortions. Hypocrisy in action! Still not convinced? The balding senator calls himself "the biggest free marketer and free trader that you will ever see." NAFTA is so…15 years ago. Fair Trade is what we really need…
The one issue that I lean towards Clinton is healthcare. She supports a national healthcare system like Canada's and frankly this country desperately needs it. But because of her stances on other major issues I will not support her run for the presidency. If, unfortunately, she wins the democratic nomination I will not cast an absentee ballot in the presidential election. I cannot be bothered to choose between her and McCain even though she would be a much better choice for this country that that old b******.
Super Tuesday is basically over now, and Clinton and Obama are virtually in a dead heat. I am disappointed Obama couldn't win California, but his numerous victories across the US are very important. He clearly holds the African-American vote (as he proved by wins across the south) but he also won in some very white states (UT, MN, ID, AK, CO, CT, KS, etc). It will be interesting to see what happens next…though I fear Clinton's iron fist will stamp out Obama's glorious campaign in the end…but all is not lost. Barack Obama has taught me that there is still hope for this country. I am alive and closely watching this race...and I've finally found a politician I can rally behind.
This is dedicated to David.
There was a time when I was young and innocent, an introverted yet bright 5th grade pupil of St. James School in Lakewood, Ohio. In addition to the standard curriculum and my band practices, I was also a boy scout juggling a paper route. In a word, I was busy…
…and then I met David. David was everything I wanted to be: a dreamer, a leader, a rebel. It was he that first introduced me to pogs and he that worked to feed my lust for the cardboard disks. I used to think it was David's skills of persuasion that led me down the dark road, but now I know it was the paper-made seductress herself that turned me.
It began casually, a Simpsons pog here or there, maybe a Lion King one…but it was only a matter of time before I was strung out on Poison and 8-Ball and chasing it with a Ying Yang. From there I moved to the harder stuff, slammers of all shapes and sizes.
Ripping my mother's sofa apart looking for lost coins, rifling through my schoolmates' cubby holes for a quick pick-me-up…those were dark times for me. Now that I am clean and sober I can talk openly about my experience, but back then I might have killed a man for telling me off.
The Brief History of Pogs:
The exact origin of pogs is debatable, but the story supported by the most evidence is that they were invented by prison inmates in the late 1800s as an escape from the horrors of jail. Circular stones were first used, but due to popularity other inmates quickly developed means of fashioning the original cardboard pogs from the covers of books in the jail library. Similar to baggy pants, pogs quickly spilled out into the streets as a romantic sport, played for high stakes on street corners and in pog dens across America. The photograph below shows a group of men playing with original pogs:
As my case clearly illustrates, pogs would soon find their way into the suburbs, where rich white children ate it up like candy. In fact pogs were often branded with images to attract children:
Pog labs across America switched priorities and focused on the youth market, though by no means wrote off the OPs (original pogstas) that made the game what it was…
It would be years before the American government recognized the growing threat posed by pogs, but Ronald Reagan finally took the initiative to declare a War on Pogs. The ever beautiful Nancy Reagan would take her husband's message to the streets and even made an appearance on the then popular prime-time comedy, Diffrent Strokes. The "Just Say No" message has been mocked over the years as being overly-simple, but there has been progress in the war. Below is an LAPD photograph from a raid on a pog lab:
The number of pog labs and dens across the country has dwindled in recent years, but law enforcement estimates there are at least 1,000 labs and twice as many dens still in operation. The war continues…
Some say the biggest advancement in the war on pogs came with the pog-deaths of rappers Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur, but no official connection has been made. Shakur's famous "Pog Life" tattoo across the abs is a statement to the game's hold on the culture of the early to mid '90s.
As for me…
My wakeup call came when I arrived at school to find a media circus and flashing lights in the parking lot. David was found by a teacher, dead with a Poison slammer down his throat and a litter of pogs around his body. They called it a pog deal gone-bad but I knew what really happened. He always told me he wanted out, a new lease on life…but the addiction was just too strong. David killed himself that morning as a message to me, a message to all of us…Friends don't let friends play pogs.
I finished my review very early this morning and didn't catch a few typos, so please ignore them.
Here is the review: Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure.
I was just about to start the final battle before my battery died so I am going to jump back into it when the little light turns off. Gurumin is a fun game, but lacks enough depth to be your primary gaming project.
In the non-gaming world---
Clearing out my belongings from my mother's house is proving quite a challenge. It's hard to grasp just how much of the little things there is. I did make some progress, and decided at least 75% of my book collection needs to go to the local library, where someone may get good use out of it. The books I am keeping in storage for myself include a fairly old set of Tolkien books (The Hobbit, The Silmarillion, and The LotR), an old set of The Chronicles of Narnia, a set and a half of Harry Potter books (both American and British adult versions), a complete Japanese Dragonball set, a Vagabond set, and all my Yoshimoto Banana books. A few others will come with me on my travels:
Books of course, are but a sidestory in my quest to pack my life into 2 suitcases. I've got to make room for the necessities rather...the most important of which are shoes. I wear a 12 (30cm) and most men's sizes are limited to 27cm in Japan. Finding shoes that are both cool and actually fit my feet is no simple task and I hate buying shoes online.
Then there are the photo albums, important papers, music and movie collection, and of course my video game collection. The only piece of my luggage that seems to be totally put together is my backpack, and I give my condolences to anyone sitting around me on the planes. It's going to be huge as always, but this time it will have some significant weight to it. My music and dvd collection are in a big book of 300 discs and weigh too much to be practical for my suitcase. So that will be in backpack...as will my PSP, DS, iPod, digital camera (see below) and a book. Photography is a hobby of mine, and I hope to go on some interesting shoots around the Japanese countryside in coming months. I also have a Mt. Fuji climb planned this summer...
I will post further travel updates in the coming weeks, but for the time being I've got to get back to Persona 3 and get started on something else on my PSP. Somehow the PSP has given me incentive to play handheld games at home again...and I've even been trying my hand at Elite Beat Agents for DS. I can't say it's the best rhythm game I've played---that title goes to the Taiko no Tatsujin games---but it has its merits nonetheless...
The Wii conundrum has been taken care of and it's time to delve into happier thoughts. For those not in the RPG Temple, I traded in my Wii, some extra controllers, a Game Cube controller, my Wii games, and a handful of DS games. The grand total in Gamestop store-credit was $361 and I spent it all. I bought the Daxter bundle PSP, some accessories, FFT, Jeanne D'Arc, VP: Lenneth, Gurumin: AMA, Phoenix Wright: TaT, and Elite Beat Agents. The last two are of course DS titles.
Now to return to topic. I am basing these titles on the sheer enjoyment I had with them and on the impact they've had on my gaming career. As I age, my feelings towards certain games/genres evolves accordingly and the placement of these titles may fluctuate...but rest assured these games are on this list for a very good reason and are all very deserving of praise:
5. Final Fantasy XII
My most recent brush with perfection...Some o_O will have you believe FFXII is pitiful and not worthy of the series, I cannot really argue either way because I am still fairly new to the Final Fantasy franchise. In fact the only titles I've played are FFIII(DS), FFVI(GBA), FFX, and FFX-2. FFXII's gambit system and license board are features I'd never experienced before and I absolutely love them. In the $tyle of Chrono Trigger and others I also lean heavily against random battles these days (though they still can be implemented well ala Rogue Galaxy). FFXII was the first game I played on a PS2 of my own and will go down as one of my favorite games of all time.
4. Chrono Cross
Chrono Cross was my very first experience with the Playstation, and my most memorable. In a word, I'd describe CC as beautiful. The opening score when the game is inserted is simply mesmerizing and may be my favorite game track of all time...and the artistry that went into crafting the characters and locales stunned me and still impresses me today.
My very first memory of this game is from the commercial that appeared on tv advertising it. I remember watching the Green Dragon open its frog-like mouth wide to roar and the damage was done...I was hooked...and from this first step I've turned into a Sony gamer for the most-part (though I am still catching up!).
3. Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
I wasn't (and still am not) a big fan of The Legend of Zelda or Zelda II: The Adventure of Link and hadn't yet played A Link to the Past, but was head over heels for Link's Awakening. This minimal exposure to the vaunted franchise did not deter me from begging for this title for my birthday a few weeks after it released and I am very glad for that. I'll never forget seeing Ganondorf pursuing Princess Zelda in the rain. The pounding of hooves on the draw bridge and then the sight of him...hideous...an epic moment in gaming history.
That mischieveous Skull Kid, the crazy Owl, that lard King Zora...the game is full of memorable moments and NPCs...Never has slicing into chickens been so fun (and dangerous!).
2. Pokemon Red/Blue
Phew, putting hundreds of hours into a game is not always easy...I can't imagine how many batteries I used up leveling my pokemon for battles, but it's sure to be off the charts. The only time in my life I've participated in a gaming tournament of any kind was when Pokemon: The Movie came to theaters and my local shopping mall hosted a tournament. My friends and I lined up at 6am to be included in the excitement and all those long nights of practice paid off as I destroyed the competition. In the first round I was paired up with my friend's little brother. His beefy Snorlax and Venusaur were both annihilated by my Articuno...and in the following round my Alakazam flattened the opponent's Dragonite.
Three of the lasting friends I made in this lifetime were thanks to Pokemon, the lamest meeting being when I asked this nerdy Chinese kid in my science cla$$ "Sooo, how many Pokemon do you have?" To which he replied, "50!"...and now he has an invitation to my future wedding. Wild #@$ 'M ##'s on the Cinnabar Island beach are a man's best friend...
1. Chrono Trigger
I am not entirely certain when I first played CT, but I think it was when I was between Pokemon Blue and Gold. Quite tardy, I agree, but I never owned an SNES so cut me some slack. Anyway, how can one explain Chrono Trigger in a brief blog? It is undoubtedly the pinnacle of role-playing achievement and will likely never be surpassed.
From the epic battle for the fate of earth with Gato at the Millennial Fair to the hair-raising race with Johnny across the rubble of Lab 32 to Spekkio's torturous lessons in magic to Nu hunting in a rainy 65,000,000 year old forest, Chrono Trigger is the most exciting experience I've ever had in a video game. There are games that suffer from the pangs of graphix envy over time, but Chrono Trigger's SNES graphical $tyle never gets old, the game was made to transcend time afterall! The sountrack is legendary, the characters endearing...If there is such thing as perfection, Chrono Trigger is the poster child in every way. Watching Frog Squash never gets old...