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            Can you handle it?
by Ethos

PokéParty Update 02

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

It’s that time again! I fucking love this game.

QuilavaQuilava lvl 25 - This guy is still biding his time…I got the suggestion to incorporate Houndoom, and I loved the idea, so I’m banking on that now. I dropped the Vulpix idea when I realized that Ninetails isn’t as badass as I thought. I also taught the thing cut so that I was able to drop the deadweight, Bellsprout.

FlaaffyFlaaffy lvl 25 - Still a pro, this little sheep. Still waiting for a more powerful electric move, but he knows Strength and Headbutt to supplement his ThunderShock, and Thunder Wave is super-helpful in capturing endeavors.

PidgeottoPidgeotto lvl 25 – Same bird, slightly higher level. I don’t know Fly yet, so I’m a little anxious for that, but Pidgeotto is still holding his weight.

StantlerStantler lvl 26 – Surprise! I’ve decided to open up myself a bit. So that means not always having an identical team to every other time I play. I also used to have some sort of moral opposition to Pokémon that didn’t evolve, but I’ve loosened up about that. This guy is super-strong and definitely worth having for now. I highly doubt this dude will make it all the Pokémon League, but it’s a nice change of pace from the Raticate. Only bad thing is that he doesn’t learn a lot of good moves, so I’m running out of PP fairly quickly. Oh well. Also, this picture doesn’t do him justice. He’s actually quite regal and badass-looking.

Oh, and Riddles? Try actually contributing content during God of War III Week before complaining about my Pokémon Week, at least I’m producing daily relevant content. Nice to see Hey! Look! Listen! return after a 6 week break, or whatever it was.

Hey! Look! Listen!

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

HLLfinal

Day #2 of unemployment. So far, it’s not all bad. That is, aside from the stunning lack of money being made.

Oh well. I remain optimistic. And, on the bright side, I have all kinds of time in the world for Riddlethos now! So, let’s HLL like we’ve never HLL-ed before, eh?

EH?

I know I’m not Canadian, but I can dream. Eh.

dsiNintendo Announces DS Successor in Form of “3DS”

In a surprise move (to me, at least) Nintendo president Satoru Iwata announced that his company will be releasing the “Nintendo 3DS” (working title) sometime during the “fiscal year ending March 2011.” Reportedly, the 3DS will display three-dimensional graphics without the necessity of glasses.

It’s worth noting that Nintendo is specifically calling this thing the “successor” to the massively popular DS. That’s reason to believe that it’ll be more than just a regular DSi spruced with 3D capabilities.

Various Japanese publications have leaked some specs for the device. Japanese newspaper Nikkei reports that the screens will size in at approximately 4 inches diagonally; 2 inches smaller than the DSiXL. (Not that anyone cares about the DSiXL). Fellow newspaper Asahi states that the screens will be a “parallex barrier LCD” manufactured by Sharp.

This strikes me as both an odd and predictable move from Nintendo. That may not make sense at the moment, but allow me to explain: It’s odd that they would announce plans to develop a system based entirely around a cutting-edge technology – that doesn’t seem like their style. But then I recall that, 95% of the time, 3D is still little more than a gimmick. And gimmicks are absolutely Nintendo’s style.

But, I’ll wait until I see the actual software, and how titles will utilize the 3D capabilities before I pass judgment. (VG247)

iPhone’s Share in Handheld Market Grows

…at the expense of both the DS and the PSP. Especially the PSP. According to a Flurry report, the iPhone’s share in the handheld gaming market went from 5% to 19% in the year 2009.

As a result, the DS dropped from 75% to 70%, and the PSP dropped from 20% to a mere 11%. Ouch!

iphoneus

This is a trend that I’m fairly sure will continue. I’m not ready to call it the “future of handheld gaming,” but the iPhone has its place in the handheld market. Speaking personally, the iPhone is where I do all of my portable gaming these days. I almost never play my DS or PSP, but it’s just so easy to whip out my iPod touch and, for example, play Final Fantasy I for ten minutes, five minutes, or 30 seconds. I mean, I guess I could do the same with my DS, but I’m not in the habit of bringing it with me everywhere. I think my example could be applied to a lot of iPhone gamers out there. (VG247 via Flurry)

The Witcher 2 Trailer Debuts

“Hey! It looks just like Dragon Age!”

Now, boys and girls, it’s important to recall that The Witcher actually came before Dragon Age. Years before, in fact, but it didn’t quite get the recognition it deserved, because it was a PC exclusive. Even so, it sold well over a million copies, and received rave reviews across the board. A console port was in development for a time, but much to the chagrin of myself and many RPG fans, it was canned.

I don’t play PC games, but I actually downloaded and played a demo for The Witcher. It ran like shit, but it was actually a lot of fun. The Witcher 2 will be coming to consoles, so watch this trailer and get excited.

ff13_agito_logo

Yes, Final Fantasy Agito XIII Still Exists

This is according to the game’s art director, Yusuke Naora. Speaking on Square Enix’s Japanese Twitter account, Naora didn’t say much – he essentially just confirmed that the game still exists, but it will probably be a while before we see any new information on the game, or any game in the Fabula Nova Crystallis compilation.

Final Fantasy Agito XIII was originally intended to be released on Japanese cellphones, but has been re-tooled as a PSP game.

I have no problems waiting. I’m still only twelve hours into Final Fantasy XIII. (VG247)

Holy Shit: See Heavy Rain’s Scott Shelby in Real Life

So apparently there was some 2005 movie with Clive Own called Derail. Also in this movie was Sam Douglas, the man who provided the voice and face of Heavy Rain’s private investigator, Scott Shelby. Now, in this movie, for the thirty seconds or so that he appears, he played the exact same character. Like… down to the grey trench coat and haircut. It’s fucking weird as hell. And strangely awesome at the same time. Take a look and see what I mean.

QUICKIE: Little Big Planet 2 Confirmed, With PlayStation Move Support

Huh? Oh, PlayStation Move? It’s their new-fangled motion controller. Or whatever. And according to some Dutch site called Tweakers, it’ll be used for Little Big Planet 2. I don’t really care, but I figured some of you people might. (VG247 via Tweakers)

That Tweakers link is in all Dutch, by the way.

Well that’s enough for now. Look for some God of War III stuff later today, and if you’re unlucky, some more Pokeyman-related garbage from Ethos, since everyone REALLY wants to hear about what monsters he has in his little band. Of monsters.

Ahem. Goodbye for now.

Changes, Changes…

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

photoHello, Hello. It’s Riddles. I’m still alive.

Apologies for last week. It was a bit hard on me, to say the least. I won’t go into detail, but to give you a general idea of how weird last week was for me, I’ll tell you that I am now unemployed.

Yep! That’s right! I, Riddles, have no job. I’m a poor, jobless fuck.

Anyway. Hopefully the job situation will be resolved shortly. For now, I have no excuse at all to ignore Riddlethos, so don’t be surprised if you hear a lot from me this week.

Despite the fact I have absolutely no interest in Pokemon. Seriously. Pokemon? Never did get into that shit.

But hey, how about that Blue Dragon review, eh? I wrote that thing almost three years ago. No idea why; for my own personal amusement, I suppose. But now it’s available for the amusement of all!

I actually have a lot of old reviews that I wrote just for kicks back when I was young(er). In fact, I have more than that – I have a lengthy novelization of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time that I wrote during my angsty teenage years.

Quite an amusing read, I have to say. Maybe I should start posting it on Riddlethos chapter-by-chapter. That would be ONE way to kill our readership entirely.

Anyway. I have a feeling this week will be interesting. Look for a Hey! Look! Listen! tomorrow, and some of my belated God of War III thoughts thereafter.

‘TILL THEN!

Blue Dragon Review – Never Give Up

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

facebookIt’s no secret that Microsoft is starved for some support in Japan. Popularity of the big loud box is quite high in America, but in most cases, it’s barely receiving a passing glance from the people across the sea. As a result of this, Microsoft is seeking some help from certain big names in the Japanese community to develop some exclusive 360 titles. Thus was Mistwalker Studios formed, funded by Microsoft and headed up by Hironobu Sakaguchi, creator of the world-acclaimed Final Fantasy series. Blue Dragon is their first in a fairly robust slate of projects that the studio has coming, all of which fall under the classification of the Japanese RPG. Blue Dragon certainly does not contend with such classics as the Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest series, it has more than enough merits of own to stand as a worthy effort, and a hopeful sign of future projects from Mistwalker.

Blue Dragon tells the tale of a boy named Shu and his friends Jiro and Kluke as they attempt to put an end to the tyranny of the maniacal Nene; a man who has menaced their peaceful village for many years. They soon meet up with the plucky Marumaro, who seems to be some cross between a cat, a bat, and a teddy bear. The party is then completed upon the addition of Zola, the essential mature, laid-back, voluptuous swordswoman, who also happens to be the sole adult in the group. The five of them, with the aid of their mysterious Shadows, chase Nene across the world in their attempt to end his reign.

The story has some flare to it, but unfortunately, it is pitifully lacking in substance, or any kind of originality. Hironobu Sakaguchi himself is credited for writing the scenario, and one has to wonder how a man credited with co-writing the stories for games like Final Fantasy VII turned out something like this. There is not a single character, plot twist, or even a line of dramatic dialogue in Blue Dragon that has not been used before-countless times.

Seriously, they all suck.

Seriously, they all suck.

The characters, I’m sorry to say, are some of the worst ever to grace a  Japanese RPG. All of them have been cut cleanly from the encyclopedia of RPG personas, and placed into the scenario of the game without shame. Shu, the main character, is a painfully stereotypical overeager teenager, and by the end of the game, the only thing we know about his character is that…well…he won’t give up. (And the only reason we know that is because he literally says “I won’t give up!” with annoying frequency throughout the game). Kluke? Well, uh…her parents died. (Go figure.) Zola? Well come on, you have to have at least one stoic, mysterious swordsman (Or swordswoman in this case).

It certainly is not a total loss- Sakaguchi manages to inject some of his dramatic flare in few areas, and it’s enough to keep you playing. Overall, though, the plot is the biggest disappointment in Blue Dragon, especially when you consider the expectations from someone like Sakaguchi.

Luckily for us, Blue Dragon has plenty more going for it. The gameplay mainly sticks to some tried-and-true mechanics we’ve seen before, but it does mix things up a bit with some novel ideas. Combat is turn based, although as has been prevalent in most RPG’s of late, the encounters are not random. Enemies are visible on the screen, and can often be avoided. Pressing X will make Shu attack the enemy on screen, which, if done at the right time, can garner you a back attack or a first strike. At  any rate, it will keep the enemy from attacking you first. Also, tapping the left trigger will bring up a large ring around Shu, and you can then choose to attack any and all enemies within the ring. By doing this, you can get certain types of enemies to fight eachother, which is both amusing and useful.

That's what she said.

That's what she said.

Another feature you can utilize are the field skills-these are skills that characters can learn for use against enemies in the field. With these you can turn invisible to enemies, lob bombs at them, make them chase you, or even annihilate weaker enemies instantly with field barrier. You get no experience points for this, although you are still awarded with skill points.

An interesting twist presented in Blue Dragon is the fact that during battle, rather than watching your party members run up and personally beat on their enemies, the Shadows they possess do it for them. This is nothing major, although it is a bit of a change of pace. At the core though, it still a fairly simple turn-based system, similar to that of Final Fantasy X. It manages to avoid being overly monotonous, however. Battles tend to move fast, and there are plenty of options in battle to work with. The Charge Meter is a neat little feature that allows you to charge magic spells (and physical attacks if you’re a monk), at the cost of placing your turn farther back in the order.

Blue Dragon’s battles are unfortunately hampered by the fact that they are simply too easy. There are a fairly large number of boss battles in the game, and almost none of them pose any kind of challenge to your characters. In fact, the only challenging opponents in Blue Dragon are the optional boss battles that become available near the end of the game. The battle system has a lot of options to work with, but the fact is that you could probably defeat every single encounter, and most bosses by simply pressing the attack button.

Arguably the best feature in Blue Dragon would be its version of the job system. Anyone who has played Square’s classic Final Fantasy V will be instantly familiar with what’s presented here, because the two systems are virtually identical. Fighting battles garners skill points as well as experience points, and these skill points are used to upgrade your shadow. Your shadow can choose from over a dozen different classes such as warrior, monk, assassin, white mage, black mage, barrier mage, and more. All of these classes have a multitude of unique abilities. Skills you learn from one class can then be transferred to another, allowing for some very in-depth customization. While   Final Fantasy V only allowed the transfer of one skill, in Blue Dragon, your characters can equip up to twelve. While this may sound like a recipe for characters that will end up as identical cut-outs, this does not happen. The rate at which skills are learned is just right, and thus ending up with characters that share all or even many of the same abilities is not an issue.

Fighting with dragons is so badass

Fighting with dragons is so badass

The game’s visuals are extremely impressive. The legendary Akira Toriyama, renowned for his Dragon Quest and Dragonball Z artwork is responsible for the character design, and it’s just as impressive as you’d expect. The characters have a sort of doll-like polished look to them. The world itself is a vast, colorful creation, and it is a joy to explore. Battle animations are lavish, and cutscenes are usually very good. Unfortunately the game has the annoying tendency to slow down during certain battles. This isn’t a large issue, although it does seem like it should be a thing of the past by now.

One of the greatest features of Blue Dragon would have to be its musical score. The infamous composer Nobuo Uematsu composes his first soundtrack since Final Fantasy X, and as always, his tunes do a lot to enhance the game. The compositions tend to be all over the map-from Korean-style heavy metal, to Carribbean-style melodies, to orchestra/choir pieces. Overall, it may not live up to some of his past compositions, but it is very memorable nonetheless.

The voice acting is solid for the most part, although nothing exceptional. Kluke, Jiro and Zola are all quite good, as well as the villain Nene. Shu, unfortunately, has a voice even more annoying than his personality, and Marumaro tends to hurt the ears with his high-pitched shriek of a voice.

Blue Dragon may not do much to innovate the RPG genre, but other than the lackluster plot, it manages to nail down many of the mechanics in an attractive, polished package. It has plenty of battling, exploring, customizing, and even a few interesting story elements that pop up here and there. It’s a decent length, too-probably 40-60 hours depending on how much of the optional material you explore.  Xbox 360 owners that enjoy a good Japanese RPG would be safe in the giving this a try.

Blue Dragon - 7.5/10

PokéParty Update 01

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

Yes, I’m serious. This is happening. You all get to see who I currently have in my party, and it won’t be the only time. And if you think you have a choice to read this, YOU DON’T!

QuilavaQuilava lvl 22 - As much as I love the Silver entry, it easily has the worst three starting Pokémon. I am not keeping this asshole around until the end. What a boring fire rodent thing. He leaves the moment I get my Ninetails.

RaticateRaticate lvl 22 – This is a bit of an odd one for me. Usually I’d get rid of my Rattata before she evolved, but the classic rats have stuck around for 3 gyms so far. She’s definitely getting the boot before the end, but she’s been useful so far. I seriously don’t expect her to be in the next PokéParty Update, though.

FlaaffyFlaaffy lvl 22 - As you can see, I like to keep my Pokeymans at consistent levels. Flaaffy is a bit of a princess, but once it evolves into Ampharos, these electric sheep are unstoppable. Had them every time I played through Silver, and this time is no exception. This baby’s never leaving my party.

Pidgeotto Pidgeotto lvl 22 – Another staple. I always have a Pidgey or Starly in my team until the Elite Four and sometimes they’re even in my final party. Fast, strong, good against fighting, and pretty badass as well, working toward a Pidgeot is a no-brainer. Expect to see this one in all the updates.

BellsproutBellsprout lvl 12 – This asshole’s only around because I need the HM cut, and I’d rather not teach it to any Pokémon I actually use. Plus, in the beginning, I rarely fill out my 6 slots. I’d rather gather the experience in a team I largely expect to go the distance. Bellsprout is actually pretty good, but excepting Roselia in Platinum, I rarely have any grass on my team.

VulpixVulpix lvl 13 – Yeah, baby! I forgot you could catch these in Silver! I’ve never had one before. I’m not going to use it until I get a firestone and make it a Ninetails, but you can bet that the moment I do, it’s goodbye Quilava and hello Ninetails. Or maybe I’ll just use it now since Ninetails doesn’t learn any moves. We’ll see!

Well, time to play more! I’m loving that you no longer have to hold down “b” to run, and that you can register two key items! Fishing rod and bike easy-access for the win!

Welcome to Ethos Presents: Pokémon Silver Madness Extraordinaire Week!

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

Told you! I love this site, and I’m reviving it. Casting Raise and then Curasa. Wrong series though, I should rather say that I’m taking this site to the Pokémon Centre! It’s never been a secret that I love this stupid series, but I’m not holding back this week. I have Pokémon SoulSilver and I’ve purposefully held back so that I could let it all out if I had the chance. Lazy Riddles has definitely given me that chance. This is my week, and my site. Suck it, Montok!