Pyro Sand 2

Wow, I haven't laid out a game for play in a while.

Pyro Sand 2 isn't technically a game, but it is a fun time waster.

Layer concrete and then use water. It gets you a great waterfall effect.


Other Titles For...

Other Titles for Super Mario Brothers:

Biodiversity of Fungi by Mueller
Biology and Control of the Smut Fungi by Fischer


The Tech Specialist

I'm tiered of hearing people bitch about the Tech Specialist for D20 Star Wars.

"It can't fight! It can't do anything! Waaaaaaaaaa!"

No, the original Tech Specialist can't fight. But that wasn't the point. The Tech Specialist is exactly that: a specialist.

I play a Tech Specialist for the Star Wars Eats Your Soul! Campaign. My tech's ranks center around astrogate, pilot, computers, technology, droids, and various types of starship weaponry. My tech is not Force-sensitive. This is the list of what the character has accomplished so far:

  • built transforming knife droids that hook onto their target and dig in
  • distracted, injured, and incapacitated dark jedi and sith wannabees by playing with gravity controls, hacking computers, blowing up their stuff, decompressing rooms, and tossing desks.
  • crawled into a ship's mainframe from a vent and rewired the whole thing
  • jacked an assassin's speeder to flip on top of him when he tried to get away
  • started a gang war on Tatooine
  • hacked sith technology
  • exposed an Imperial remnant base just by paying attention to floor plans
  • saved Jaina Solo
  • talked shop with Luke Skywalker on moisture farming
  • found home holovids of Anakin and Padme
  • turned a tourist submersible into an actual submarine with turbo lasers
  • disarmed a shield array, upside down, under water
  • found one of Vader's imperial installations in the undercity of Coruscant
  • rigged a dying ship to go four times its speed in order to go half way around the Outer Rim in half the time
  • saved the mother of the jedi heroine of the story
  • ran a blockade of Star Destroyers to get to a sieged planet
  • saved two Corellian ambassadors and their guests at a party
  • paraded as a mercenary on Star Destroyer to get into a cloning lab in the Deep Core
  • piped a static feed into the headsets of mind controlled Stormtroopers to disorient them
  • hijacked a capital ship
  • hijacked a Star Destroyer with Imperials on board (decompression's a bitch)
  • built an ion cannon out of farm equipment
  • was mentioned, not by name, but by nickname, by Grand Admiral Thrawn (scary bastard) to the senate and Jedi counsel as having considerable skills. He was rather impressed with her ability to hijack his new Star Destroyer and out manuevar his ship.
  • was also mentioned by nickname by the technical genius (if idiotic sith wannabee) Dalt as being almost as good as him
Dalt was, in fact, quite flattered when she said, "I've seen you with a lightsaber. I'm more worried about the cortex bomb."

To play a Tech Specialist you need two things: a smart player and a GM who isn't drooling over lightsaber battles. The Star Wars world, leaving Jedi aside, is a Tech dream. Everything you do is guided by some form of technology. Buildings, ships, even whole planets, are climate controlled. Droids serve almost every function and cyborg parts are readily available. A tech can take any part of his surrondings and use it to his advantage. A tech who's small and agile can not only hide behind fighters, but crawl into vents and machinery to control it from the inside.

The most useful character in the enter Star Wars universe is the tech. Sure, Jedi are uber-cool, but they die just as fast as everyone else in the vacuum of space. And sure, scoundrels, fringers, and soldiers have weapons skills, but tose same weapons turn to crap when introduced to a strong enough magnet. And sure, dark side jedi are evil and cunning, but zero-g training just isn't in the sith handbook.

The tech specialist wins. Hands down.

me out.


All I Want for Christmas

With the shark-like present frenzy that will happen in my mother's basement on Christmas morn approaching, there are really only three things I can think about:

1. Jesus (I am a Christian.)
2. Origins (yeah, I know it's seven months away)
3. Payday (with which I will buy more games)

I have Legos Star Wars (both) on my list for Christmas, so I'm not allowed to purchase them for their sweet, sweet inards. Instead, I will have to drool over Okami, dot.Hack G.U., Raving Rabids, and Bully.

I am a BIG Rayman fan. I played the original Rayman on the Atari Jaguar. They've always wanted to do crazy rabbits for Rayman and finally, I get to see some crazy rabbit action. And cow tossing. Did I mention cow tossing? The only thing, besides cow tossing, that will make me happy is Globox punching. Man, I hate that thing. (Yes, I know it has children. I feel sorry for them.)

dot. Hack has its own problems. The original series was phenomenal with a ton of TV, straight to DVD, and toy tie-ins. There was a reason for this. dot.Hack is produced by Bandai. Bandai will not do a video game unless it has an audience before production. Street Fighter, Inuyasha, Naruto: all of these things had serious fan bases before the games were released. dot.Hack was a shot in the dark for them. To make sure they could sell the games, they created a fan base in reverse. While producing the game, they inundated the market with an animated series and tons of cool toys.

They didn't need to. The games took off on their own. Finally, we get to see more of the dot.Hack world. Bandai still hasn't learned their lesson though. They are still producing a ton of stuff to go with G.U., even though it can stand confidently on the shoulders of its predecessors. Everyone who loved the original series will give the new game a go.

Though I haven't heard a lot of positive things about G.U. (battles are quick, but controls are clunky). I have seen that most people are giving it at least a 70% out of 100. That means it's doing better in reviews than my fav game Shadow Hearts (the original). I have a feeling I won't mind plunking money down on it.

Bully is still calling me. I think it's funny that with the rush of two new console releases and Gears of War on the horizon that everyone seems to have forgotten about Bully. Which is good since it doesn't deserve the bad hype. And before anyone mentions kissing boys, most gamers will play the glitch once for kicks and then get back into the serious game play.

People play games for two things: fun (which is stress relieving) and stories. You can't get Lord of the Rings everyday, but video games seem to manage an epic that can change your life once a year or so.

More on that later.


A Note About Reviews

Reviews, reviews, reviews.

They're everywhere. Everyone is giving their opinion of something (myself included).

That's why I've decided to stop doing reviews of video games. They really aren't that productive, especially when you can go down to Blockbuster and rent a title to see if you like it enough to buy. Honestly, if I'd listened to the reviews of some of my favorite games (Shadow Hearts, Chaos Legion, Aria of Sorrow) I would have totally missed out on the fun.

I've decided that the best way to find out if I even want to go through the trouble of renting is to ask someone who has similar taste in games. I know I can read whatever Gabe (Mike Krahulik of Penny Arcade) has to say about an rpg or adventure game (note that he doesn't do reviews either) and find out if I want to take a walk down the hill (where blockbuster is located).

The only time I've found game reviews helpful is when everyone who has touched a particular game says you absolutely must play it (like Shadow of the Colossus and Okami).

So from here on out, I'll talk about a game and tell you if I enjoyed it. If you have similar taste in games, this will help you. If not, ignore me.

Me Out.

Portrait of Ruin... Continued

Finally, a day straight of nothing but game play. It would have been two but... stupid car with it's stupid battery terminals. Anyway, there are more important things than transportation and Castlevania is one of them.

One of the things I liked about Dawn of Sorrow was the wide range of color pallettes and interesting scenery. Portrait of Ruin takes this a step further by developing a wide range of locales for exploration to the paintings. No longer is Castlevania just the traditional castle. You can now go to strange places like Ancient Egypt, something we only saw a taste of in Dawn of Sorrow.

Portrait of Ruin, while being 32 bit in play is 64 bit in some of the background rendering. Since 64 bit games tend to make me a little woozy, I was pleased to see soemthing I could interact with and not get motion sickness. Speaking of the backgrounds, not only do they look fantastic, they have a life of their own. Cans fall when you land on food store shelves, making change at a cash register will net you some food, hell, punching meat will get you a quest item.

And then their are the quests: run by the ghost of Eric Lecarde, you get some pretty nifty stuff for completeing them.

We've got some griping about the anime style art all over forums and message boards. (i.e. no Kojima). To be honest, I'm glad. I don't think his style would have worked well for this one. Jonathan has a very animated face and a wide range of expressions. Kojima has traditionally done singular portraits for the characters and left it at that. Since I like to see more than one expression on the face of the characters, I'll take the new art. (Though the artist for Portrait is different from DoS, I like the new Soma better.)

I've also seen some people dissing the game before it was even released. That's just bad form, people. I'm not anywhere near finishing the first castle and I'm enjoying it immensely. The game forces you to use your brain and come up with strategy. Dying a few times with Jonathan means you need to be using Charlotte more and combining their attacks more often. It also means using the talk function. Jonathan and Charlotte will give you valuable information here.

So far, the game, which was cheaper than previous releases in the franchise, is giving me my money's worth.


Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin

I pre-ordered Portrait of Ruin early enough to get the sweet, sweet bonus package. The bonus consists of a black box 'wax sealed' with what has become the Castlevania logo. Inside was a cd chalk full of music from all of the games, a book filled with artwork (alas, it did not have my fav work from DoS), and the new official timeline, which actually makes sense. Iggy and his marketing department did a fine job with this one.

I haven't started the game yet (damn you work!), but I'll give my impressions of it later.

On the work note, we like to play a little game here in the library. We like to take the titles of books we find and use them as alternate titles for other things. I do the video games. Here's an example:

Other Titles for Final Fantasy 7:
When Corporations Rule the World
How Wal*Mart is Destroying America
All Marketers are Liars
Principles of Biochemistry

Yeah. We are sick people.

Hybrid Happiness

Do you know what this is? It's a box of 8 and 16 bit goodness!

The FC Twin is a hybrid that plays both NES and SNES games. It goes for sixty bucks and I want to enshrine in my home next to Mother Mary (Yes. I am a Catholic geek.).

What makes this system special is that I don't have to worry about my older systems shorting out on me anymore. Though I am lucky enough that there's a student in my town who will fix old NES and NES games for a couple bucks, he hasn't quite gotten the hang of the SNES and I have games that need to be played.

When I think about it, I will save a boat load of money not having to pay $40 or more for a re-release of old NES and SNES games for the Gameboy and DS. Which means I can tell Nintendo to stick those prices in a place the sun doesn't shine.

Now there is one draw back. The patent on NES expired, but not on SNES. That makes the system illegal. If Nintendo wants to push it, this is prime lawsuit material. If you are interested, find one fast.


Tike Gamers and Crisis Core Previews - Not Really a Post

I wrote previously about making rash judgements about the claim that video games are too complicated for children. Here's an article about young pro gamers, one an eight year old who learned to game at two thanks to his father.

On a different note, here is a link to a Crisis Core preview. It's five minutes long and totally in Japanese, but you get the gist of it if you aren't a speaker. I'm not going to get my hopes up after Dirge of Cereberus, but I'm not going to play it anyway, since I consider the PSP a waste of money. Zax looks awesome though and we do get Bahamut sign.