Category Archives: Gaming

That reminds me of a puzzle…

Professor, what are going to do?!

Professor Layton was one of my favorite game series for the Nintendo DS. I loved the short, but wonderfully animated and voiced videos sprinkled throughout the series. I enjoyed the setting, music, and really just about everything about it. Oh, and the puzzles. But what I hated was how EVERY GOD DAMN THING LED TO A PUZZLE!

“I think we should eat our way to the clues!” — Something Layton would probably not say

Hey Prof, my dog died last night.
I’m sorry to hear that. Say, that reminds me of a puzzle!

Can you help me put this book back on the shelf?
Of course. By the way, can you figure out this riddle about books?

Regardless, I still enjoy the series. And so do the Japanese. A few months ago in Japan convenience stores around the country were selling small boxes of Professor Layton chocolates. Also, inside each box was a puzzle similar to what a player encounters in the games.

Below are pictures from inside the box as well as a puzzle and the solution. Continue reading That reminds me of a puzzle…

Review: Super Mario 3D Land

This was written back on Nov. 30, 2011… but I only realized now, Oct. 1, 2012, that I never posted it. Whewps!

 

If you want to feel like you’re a rock star and god of video games, pick up Super Mario 3D Land. It’s that easy.

What I mean, is that after going through the first 8 worlds with little challenge. I had 220+ extra lives in reserve.

I was told the special worlds would be more challenging. I then went through the first 5 special worlds (S-1, S-2, S-3, etc.) I’m almost done with S-6 and I now have 240+ lives. I’m disappointed.

That’s not to say the game isn’t fun–it is. It’s very fun, but it’s not challenging. Almost all of my deaths in the game were from not being able to judge distance between foreground and background platforms. The 3D effect hasn’t remedied this, as I do just as well playing with the 3D off.

Segue! Other than a few little effects, the game doesn’t benefit from the addition of 3D to it. Sure, throwing a boomerang toward the screen is neat, but it doesn’t add anything. As I stated above, it didn’t really help me with judging distances between platforms.

Level designs are great otherwise, and there are some new items and interactive elements, such as ! switches that, when it, produce platforms that appear and disappear. Yes, platform switches. That’s one of the things that sticks out to me.

The tanooki suit is back from Super Mario Bros. 3, but it has been altered. You can no longer fly, but floating down no longer requires tapping the jump button repeatedly, but can instead be accomplished by merely holding the button. there’s a new boomerang suit as well, where you throw boomerangs.

Maybe the game is hard and I am a rock star. But with the trend of Nintendo trying to gain audiences by dumbing games down (my opinion), I doubt that.

In summation, the game is fun but too easy.

Review: Xenoblade Chronicles

Xenoblade Chronicles
Xenoblade Chronicles

Xenoblade is one of the most amazing games I’ve played in the past 10 years that I can remember, and it’s a shame most people in North America won’t have the chance to play it. Even though it’s been fully localized into British English.

I must admit the game was something I dismissed when I first heard the name of it a year ago, but it wasn’t until a few months ago it piqued my interest. See, Nintendo of America announced it would not release the game, even though Nintendo of Europe had the localization just about finished, and a group of people got together and started a letter-writing campaign to NoA begging for its release. Well, Xenoblade and two other games–The Last Story and Pandora’s Tower. This was called Operation Rainfall.

Well, I picked up Xenoblade Chronicles from an online store (Amazon UK doesn’t ship games outside of Europe, ugh) and fell in love with the game. 70+ hrs in and I’m not finished with the game. There’s just so much to do. Continue reading Review: Xenoblade Chronicles

Sweet places for games

Gamestop has never been a place I go to with a smile. No, I only go there when I need something right away, or for something quite old. We’re talking several years old, not the latest copy of Dudebro that came out last week with used copies currently selling for $55. I’m talking GBA-Gamecube Link Cables. But I almost always prefer mom & pop stores over Gamestop. Luckily, here in Austin, there are many choices.

Unfortunately, some of these stores (Gamestop too, of course) don’t quite know their gaming history. I understand you can’t hire someone who knows the release date of Goonies II for NES off the top of their head (1987, btw), but I’d at least like someone to be able to know what a Turbo Grafx-16 is. To me, that’s the litmus test. If a store has employees who have heard of it (even better if they’ve played it), I will be much more willing to give a store my money.

Today, during my lunch break, I stopped by Apollo Games, a store that opened at the end of 2008. The owner, Parker, knows his stuff. He’s a gamer through and through. Knew what a TG-16 is, could talk games for hours, and seems to genuinely want to spread his love for games to others and offering some great prices on his stock. People in the North Austin/Round Rock area should check it out.

Why does it work in Japan but not North America?

Last week, I made a guest post over at Sure You Can Fight, a new site started by some people in the Austin-area fighting game community. While writing that post, I found out that Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition is crazy expensive. Well, arcades in general. Roughly $5,000 per cabinet, and you can only officially purchase it in sets of 4 (more than $20k!).

Arcades are a tricky beast. Are they expensive because they’re dying out, or dying out because they’re expensive?

I remember as a child there was many arcades in the area. Heck, the local 7-11 usually had two arcade cabinets. Grocery stores had ’em too. Pizza parlors always did. Oh, and of course the dedicated arcades. In Texas, I only find them now in family fun centers–places with putt-putt, redemption games galore, bumper cars, etc.

In Japan, I was able to find arcades without too much difficulty when I wanted. Usually they are multi-level buildings with each floor dedicated to a particular genre of games. Sports, medal (redemption) games, UFO catchers (crane games), fighting games, shooters, music, etc. They’re fun places for me to go, and there are always people. So why are arcades still fairly sustainable in Japan versus North America and much of the rest of the world? I think it’s because of the society.

In Japan, if you want to do something social, almost everyone goes out. Homes are usually small, and having many people over is just not practical, so people go out. Want go drink? Go to a bar or 居酒屋 (いざかや/izakaya). Play video games? Go to an arcade. In the metropolitan areas of Japan, a large majority of people walk. And with all that foot traffic, arcades are a great place to stop off for a few minutes. And they’re usually not out of the way.

In Texas, everyone drives. When you go to an arcade, you might have to worry about parking. Is it easy to get to? Will there be other people?

The plus side to arcades here. They’re almost always non-smoking. In Japan, be prepared to cough a lot and have burning eyes from the smoke that inhabits many, but not all, arcades.

Silence is broken

Since returning from Panama, work has been non-stop busy.  But the month from hell is just about over, so now I may resume posting.  I’ve found motivation once again to really focus on my Japanese classes, so I’ve been focusing more on that when I’m at home.  Oh, and playing Street Fighter IV.

Street Fighter IV has been a blast thus far.  It’s easy to pick up for a few mins (which oftentimes turns into hours).. sort of like most DS games.  Pick up for a few mins, play, put it back down.  Of course, it takes a huge commitment to become really good at the game.  Lots of precision timing and learning to read opponents is required.

Continue reading Silence is broken