Monday, September 17, 2012

Dragon Age 3: Inquisition Announced

Turns out BioWare doesn't like to sit on its laurels for too long after a major release.  Today they released an official statement acknowledging the existence of Dragon Age 3: Inquisition.  It will be the third entry into the company's dark fantasy series, and is due out sometime next year.

The official press release:

EDMONTON, Alberta–(BUSINESS WIRE)–BioWare, a Label of Electronic Arts (NASDAQ: EA), today announced Dragon Age™ 3: Inquisition, the next chapter in the award-winning role-playing game (RPG) franchise, is in development at BioWare Edmonton and BioWare Montreal. Coming in late 2013, Dragon Age 3: Inquisition combines the storytelling legacy BioWare is known for, with deep RPG gameplay, all on a brand new RPG game engine underpinned by EA’s critically-acclaimed Frostbite™ 2 technology.
“The Dragon Age team has been working on Dragon Age 3: Inquisition for almost two years now,” said Aaryn Flynn, General Manager of BioWare Edmonton and BioWare Montreal. “We’ve been poring over player feedback from past games and connecting directly with our fans. They haven’t held back, so we’re not either. With Dragon Age 3: Inquisition, we want to give fans what they’re asking for – a great story with choices that matter, a massive world to explore, deep customization and combat that is both tactical and visceral.”
Added Flynn, “At the same time, we know we need new technology to truly make this vision become fully realized. And we’ve been working with DICE to make Frostbite 2 the foundation for the engine that is going to power Dragon Age 3.”
The Dragon Age franchise has received over 80 awards from critics around the world, and has sold over 8 million copies to date*. Created by BioWare, the property has spawned many novels, an animated film, comic books, collectibles and more since Dragon Age: Origins launched in 2009.
For more information about Dragon Age 3: Inquisition, including updates from the development team and a letter to the fans from Executive Producer Mark Darrah, please visit the game’s official web site at Dragon Age fans can also receive updates on Twitter® at, or on Facebook at
You can be sure both MT Ideas and inMotion Gaming will cover more DA3 as and when it comes.

Friday, August 3, 2012

This Month on inMotion Gaming #1

This has been an exciting month for us over at inMotion Gaming.  It's definitely been our most prolific month yet.  Whereas in previous months we were lucky to get two articles up, we've managed to produce several.  Here's what we've been up to in iMG-Land. :)

The Amazing Spider-man Review

This was the excellent debut piece by one of our new writers, Jonathan Gipson.  It's also inMotion's current lowest-rated game, at 3.25/5.  Seems like it wasn't so amazing after all, eh? Still haven't seen the movie...I should do that...

Lollipop Chainsaw Review

Here's another debut article from a new writer, one Jordan Haslett.  Aside from being the one member of our writing squad that prefers the multiple-heading format, he delivered a strong review of a game I never would have given a second glance at. 

Dawnguard Review

My review of Skyrim's first round of big-boy DLC, Dawnguard.  I totally went with the Dawnguard
when I played through, despite Isran turning out to be a giant d-bag.  

Top 10 Video Game Cutscenes

Created by inMotion Gaming.

Quite possibly the biggest non-giveaway article iMG has published yet, courtesy of David Wyatt at Ryatta Reviews.  It's a well done video depicting ten of gaming's greatest cutscenes, some of them I bet you wouldn't have thought of. ;)

Top 5 Most Determined Video Game Heroes

A very original top list depicting the five most hell-bent, stop-at-nothing heroes from video gaming.  The second article from our man Jonathan.  It did really well when it hit N4G a few days ago.

Theatrythm Final Fantasy Review

My review of Theatrythm.  An odd game...I loved it on a raging Final Fantasy fanboy level.  I think I need to start using other characters, though.  My main four hit level 99 days ago and I rarely rotate out. Bartz represent!

Max Payne 3 Review

By our guy Brandon Morgan.  A solid review for a surprisingly solid game.  Remember Max Payne 1?
All I really recall is walking into a hotel and then getting wasted...many, many times...

Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance Review

This review was teamwork at its finest.  Jordan lives where KH3D was released eleven days prior to its US release.  The day before, he sent his draft over to me to have a look at.  I subsequently dropped everything else to get it edited and fit for publication.  inMotion's Director and I got it live as the game was hitting US shelves--all thanks, of course, to our guy Jordan.  

I'm still playing through Dream Drop Distance myself.  I'm right at the end of Riku's side of the Country of the Musketeers.  Fun stuff.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Obligatory Where I've Been Post

There are certain life events that, when they occur, can completely derail your plans and projects.  Getting married is one such event.  Not that it was bad in any way, shape or form--in fact, it was the best couple weeks of my life.

But therein lies the reason as to why MTIdeas was left in the dust--you can't take just a day to get married.  The entire week beforehand is filled with family and friends getting in to town, and spending time with them.  The week after is spent visiting with family who like to linger just a little while after the event.

One thing leads to another, and before you know it, your blog hasn't seen the light of day in three weeks.

Another reason why I haven't been around is due to taking an editorial spot with inMotion Gaming.  Previously, I've been a contributing writer, mainly doing reviews.  Long story short, I'm being trained as a publisher, and I now manage a small but talented pool of aspiring writers.

Regardless, I'm back in the blogger's chair once again.  It may be confined to a post or two a week, but compared to the past month, I'd say that's a win.

So stay tuned. :)

The Carlsons ;)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Pokemon Black 2: Part I

Note: My playthrough of Black 2 has been postponed indefinitely due to my marriage to my wonderful bride on June 30th.  The next post will briefly touch on this, and then pick up as if nothing ever happened.  It's an illluuuuuuussioooooon... ;)

And thus, our adventure through Unova begins.  Or should I say...continues?

And away we go...

  • LOVED the intro.  
  • Unlilke every other game in the series, the PC lives in a bigger city--complete with a Pokemon Center and School.  Also, there's no local Professor.
  • Looks like the player's mom comes up and gets a call via Xtransiever
  • Introduced right off the bat to the rival, whom you get to name this time around.  Intimidating dude with enormous, spiky blue hair.  His default name in Japanese is 'Hyuu,' or 'Hugh.'

  • Found Bianca! (a central character from BW) in the north part of town.  Ooh, lookie what Bianca's got with her:

  • Went with Tepig this time around.  Named him 'Sunny.'  To oppose when I played through a Japanese copy of Black, with an Oshawott called 'Rainy.'
  • And of course, soon after this is the first rival battle.  Hugh's Oshawott against my Tepig...he went down in flames. :)
  • The new rival battle music is intense! Leaving now.
  • Bianca gives you your Dex, shows you the basics of Pokemon training, and gives you your first ten Pokeballs.
  • She has you meet her in nearby Route 19, where she shows you how to catch Pokemon with a Lillipup.  I wonder if her Stoutland from BW had puppies...
  • Ok, annoying Youngster is annoying, and isn't letting me into the School.  Deciding to move on with my life.
  • Finding nothing but Patrat and Purrloin on Route 19, no thanks...
  • Later on Route 19, we run in to the former Unova Champion, Alder...
  • ...who goes ahead and jumps off of that cliff.  Ballsy guy.  He then proceeds to...check you out...then lets you continue.
  • Next Japanese, its Sangi Town.  Not much to see, moving on.
  • In the north part of Sangi is a worn building with a battlefield in front of it, to the east is the entrance to Route 20.  Alder, being the douche he is, isn't letting me near that battlefield.  Eastward it is!
  • At Route 20, we find our first regular trainer battles! Easy stuff...a Youngster and a Lass.  
  • And then in the tall grass...

  • Sewaddle! Didn't use one in Black or White, so I'll give him a spot on my team for now.  Named him 'Gucci.'
  • FOUND A SUNKERN.  Was so excited to find one at first I forgot how poor of Pokemon it is...caught one, but deposited it right away.
  • One little detail I noticed, when you leave a building during the daylight, you'll notice a sun glare towards the top left of the screen.  Minute, but nice.
  • Alder still isn't letting me on his battlefield.  Moving on.
  • Trained Gucci to level 5, and had him fight his first real battle.  Success!
  • North of Route 20 is 'Sangi Ranch.'  
  • Immediate rival battle! Hugh with his Oshawott, level 8.  Cinch.  
  • Following the battle, a couple of...ranchers? I think?...come up to us, proclaiming something.  Can't tell if they're yelling at us for fighting on their property or just really excited about something.  One of them gave me a potion, sweet.
  • And suddenly, we're moving again.  Following the path the fences make, and Hugh repeatedly catches up to me.  
  • Mareep in the grass! Caught one! Won't use it, but caught one!
  • Azurril? Flippin' nice! Again, won't use it (seeing as how Azumarill is my signature in every other game I play), but cool to have so early on.
  • Found a Psyduck.  Don't think I've played through a game before with one, so she'll stay with me for now.  Named 'Cider.'
  • ....RIOLU?! Wild? Early game? YES!
    • Named it 'Edge.'  So boss!
  • Thing is, Tepig's higher forms are part fighting, and Riolu's line is Fighting...don't want an overabundance of weaknesses to the same type.  Might as well train both right now and see what happens.
  • Towards the back of the ranch, found a weirdly dressed person with a Herdier.  I think that's what we've been chasing all along.  Not quite sure what I said, but the person fled and I got a TM from it!
  • Back in Sangi to heal...Alder is finally letting me in!
  • His house...two kid trainers, one with a Pansage, the other with a Panpour.  Easy stuff.
  • Trying to head home now, Alder stops me again.  Gives me a few Oran Berries, lets me be.
  • Seems like I can at last enter the Trainer's School.  Go inside, check things out...and out back is a Gym.
  • ...Cheren's Gym!

  • Cheren was a rival and central character in BW.  Seems like he finally got what he was looking for.
  • Has a Youngster and a Lass training under him, they're both easy.  Time for the showdown...
  • Cheren uses a lv. 11 Patrat, and a lv. 13 Lillipup.  They can hit hard if you're not prepared.
  • Ha! A well-timed counter from Edge, and his Lillipup is down.  Victorious!
  • Basic Badge get.
Stay tuned for Part 2...

Pokemon Black 2: Unboxed

It's here!!!!!


Good day, and welcome to MT Ideas' episodic playthrough/journey of Pokemon Black 2.  Follow these next few posts as I take on the sequel to the revolutionary Pokemon Black, in glorious Japanese.  

No really, I'll do my best.

I'm a little surprised I'm even still at the computer, to be honest.  Thought I'd get the ball rolling, though!

Pokemon Black 2, Unboxed

A little funny how this time around it's just a case, whereas last time the game came in a box.  But whatevs.

Stick around for the next segment of this journey.  A new post will be up in a little bit after I've collected some notes.  So stay tuned :) 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Pregaming: Pokemon Black 2

My dear, dear friends: We are close.

So very, very close.  In two days, Pokemon Black 2 and White 2 launch in Japan.  My order for an imported copy is in, and thanks to some good ol' fashioned expedited shipping, I should hopefully be receiving it around the 26th.  You know, just in time for my wedding.

I've plugged it a few times before, but I really want to get the ball rolling: Stick around this website and my Twitter account for a frequently-updated, episodic coverage of the game, starting from the hour my copy goes into my DS.  

Excited? I sure am.

Of course, this certainly helped my excitement...

I wish I'd had the time to post to MTIdeas when this video was released last month.  It by itself deserved a dedicated post praising its awesomeness.  If only the anime had turned out like this...

For the record, the rival looks almost like he was designed to be paired up with Samurott.  Just how warrior-like he looks with his hair all...uppity... And of course that's Cheren paired up with Herdier.  Being the Normal-type Gym Leader this time around, I'd totally expect it.

I have a nasty habit of pre-determining which Pokemon I'm gonna use every time a new release comes out.  Been that way for ages.  Part of the reason I loved Black was that I imported it from Japan; there were maybe 5 words written in English.  It's true when they say that if you've 'played one' Pokemon game, you've 'played them all,' but being immersed in a brand new setting, with completely foreign Pokemon, and not being able to read a damn thing...that was a fantastic experience.  Felt like I did when I got my copy of Pokemon Blue, way back when I was a kid.  This time around, I know most of Unova (save for the new bit added on for the sequel), and I know the newer generation of 'mons.  

Well, mostly.  One thing BW2 are featuring is the 'addition' of the hidden/mythical/you-have-to-cheat-or-hack-your-game's-programming-to-find Pokemon; Keldeo, Meloetta, and (presumably) Genosect.  Specifically, they're really plugging Keldeo.

D'aww....just look at him!!

Keldeo is the fourth member of the 'Musketeer Trio,' consisting of legendary Pokemon Cobalion, Terrakion, and Virizion.  Keldeo draws his inspiration, most likely, from the character D'Artagnan, who essentially became the 'Fourth Musketeer' in the literary classic.  While it's been known for a while that Keldeo will be featured, one thing GAMEFREAK threw in to the mix is Keldeo's new 'forme,' called 'Resolution Forme.'

Like a My Little Pony for dudes...

The World Tournament feature is also something I'm way too excited about.  It was also foreshadowed from a bit of postgame dialogue with a character in BW, who basically suggests that a tournament be held between all the champions of the known regions.  Getting a chance to re-battle Gym Leaders from the previous games is a wonderful idea.  

Pokemon Black 2 and White 2 are going to rock, just as hard in Japanese as they will in English.  Again, keep it here for my interpretive, poorly-translated playthrough of Pokemon Black 2, as soon as the game arrives in my mailbox. :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Review: Mad Dog McCree

First of all, I'm not even sure this technically counts as a video game.  I would probably liken it more to an 'interactive, knock-off-of-a-knock-off episode of Walker, Texas Ranger.'  Also, beware: Even though it is advertised as a '3DS Download,' there is no 3D.  Honest.  In fact, as soon as the game loads, the 3D light to the right of the top screen goes dark.

Warning: Not actually in 3D

So, what is this, then?

Mad Dog McCree is a port of an arcade 'game' that came out in 1990.  You know, 22 years ago.  Just saying, I was two years old when bad ol' Mad Dog saw the light of day.  The big thing about Mad Dog, back in his day, was that it was a major laserdisc release.  What that means, for those who aren't aware, is that the game is basically an interactive movie.  A laserdisc game uses pre-recorded video as the graphics engine.  The laserdisc format was the precursor to our (increasingly obsolete) compact disc.  The Mad Dog Series (yes, series--its sequels are called The Lost Gold and The Last Bounty Hunter) have been ported to various devices, such as the iOS and Wii.

Basically this...but in the Wild West.

Back in the day, supposedly, Mad Dog was top dog.  It was a well-received game that started an apparently decent trilogy.  But, sadly, it hasn't withstood the test of time--like red wine mixed with whiskey and tears and let to sit for two decades, it didn't age well.  Mad Dog McCree was essentially a first-person shooter, set in the American 'wild west.'  Back during the time of its initial release, FPS's were pretty bare-boned; you basically ran and shot things, with no regard to limited amounts of ammo, multiplayer, storylines, pretty graphics, snipers, heavy weapons, etc.  You just ran and shot.  And that worked for the time.  If Mad Dog had been updated in any way, shape or form, then I feel it would be a much better purchase.  But because it was merely ported, it falls short of the thralls and intricacies of modern day first-person shooting.

  Also, this guy.

The setting is pretty straightforward.  You play a nameless gunslinger, who just arrived in a town taken over by a gang of wanted fugitives.  The gang is lead by a truly fearsome outlaw--Mad Dog McCree.  Your character won't stand for this, I guess, and decides to rid the good people of their unwanted guests.  The town consists of several different 'stages': the Sheriff's Office, the Bank, etc.  Each stage is a different firefight with more and more of the Dog's goons.

Gameplay in Mad Dog is very, very simple.  You aim the crosshair (on the top screen) with the stylus (on the bottom).  Tapping whilst holding the L button will allow you to fire; simply tapping without the L button being depressed lets you reload.  Aaaand, that's it.  You point to a bad guy and fire, hopefully not hitting a citizen in the process.  Your character is a one-hit wonder, and has three lives cowboy hats.  Every time you take just one bullet the screen gets a 'shattered glass' effect, and you lose a cowboy hat. Lose all three, you're treated to a game over screen, but don't worry--you have unlimited continues.  Should you choose to carry on, the next thing you see is the town priest--come out of nowhere, to revive you.  After you're revitalized, you have to win a duel with a random thug--win, and you can jump right back to where you were, no penalty.  Lose, and it's the priest all over again.

Forgive me, Father...

And really...that's pretty much all there is to the 3DS's port of Mad Dog McCree.  I'd go in to detail about the graphics...but it's hard to review live-action.  The acting is pretty awful, though.  Decent for the early '90s, but not too hot by today's standards.  The music has an apt, appropriate wild west sound, and is actually kind of alright.

I'd reccommend this for anyone who remembers it from twenty years ago, and is in the mood for a nostalgic kick.  Or for you truly die-hard wild west fans. Anyone else, save your monies!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Review: Devil Band: Rock the Underworld

Per normalcy, the 3DS's eShop has been updated today, once again.  Nintendo's online game stores have built quite a reputation for playing host for a ton of 'subpar' games.  On major review sites, they garnish the majority of lower-end scores--3's, 4's, so on.  Occasionally, higher-name games perform quite well.  These would be your Pushmo, your Sakura Samurai, etc.  If a game released through these outlets is even professionally reviewed at all, however, they really don't perform too hotly.

Just released today, Devil Band: Rock the Underworld is a perfect example of the mediocrity and lack of quality being pumped into Nintendo's online shops.

Devil Band is an interactive strategy/defense game.  You take control of a demonic metal band called 'Xaviors,' which rules legions of underworld fans with an iron fist.  In the opening bit, an NPC called "Biggest Fan" is praising the members of Xaviors, when all of a sudden,

"Look at the sky, it has grown dark all of a sudden."

Great...great writing at its finest, folks.  The line comes out of nowhere, and then suddenly the band's minions are being eaten by demonic beasts.

Yep.  Carrying on.

There is no backstory to the game, and barely a tutorial.  Devil Band plays uncannily similar to Plants vs. Zombies, just unpolished, and sloppy.  In fact, the game can be thought of as Plants vs. Zombies's goth, sub-par second cousin.  You have a selection of troops ('Fans') that you can place on a grid in the center of the touch screen.  On the left is the band, and enemies approach from the right...

Look familiar?

Devil Band's single uniqueness is how it lets you play as each member of the band.  You can tap each member to select (although I personally found using the up/down buttons on the D-pad to be much more effective), and then stroke from left to right to use a specialized attack.  For example, the lead guitarist shoots sound waves, the drummer creates rifts in the ground underneath enemies, etc.  One thing I think would serve to enhance this feeling of playing as different characters, would be to have the background music sort of 'highlight' different instruments.  When the keyboard player is selected, the keys part in the music would be slightly louder than the other tracks.  Play as the drummer, and the song's beat would be more pronounced.  I thought it was cool that each character had a different attack, but it still feels a bit incomplete.

Good luck getting past the first wave of enemies.  Devil Band is incredibly unforgiving.  And I mean, that's ok--challenging games are good games, usually.  But on the first level, when you don't have the in-game money to spend upgrading your fans, you will get slaughtered.  Repeatedly.  I feel that this could have been done so much better by implementing an actual tutorial.  Games with intricate and/or complex intricacies and systems are all well and good, but to be successful a very thorough establishment is needed.  Devil Band just doesn't perform well here, at all.

Speaking of music, for a game revolving around a band, it's surprisingly lackluster.  The score makes sense--I guess--but the sound quality isn't exactly swell.  Think of the music as a regular Castlevania sound, but done with a garage metal band.  Graphics are what you'd expect--cartoony and goth.  The game gets its 'T' rating from the bits of blood that spill out of enemies as you attack.

Devil Band: Rock the Underworld gets far from a standing ovation, or any sort of round of applause, really.  There is some depth beyond the defense nature of the game, such as upgrading your characters and fans, but it doesn't add enough value to warrant the game as playable.  With a textbook-dry story and dialogue, douchebag characters, and a needlessly unforgiving difficulty level, avoid this one--even if it is only $1.99.  That's basically $2 better spent towards a Virtual Console title, in my humble opinion.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

In Other News...

Hello again, gameblogging world!!!

I apologize for the tragically long lapse in posts.  Life has been interesting, and several things have been demanding my attention and energy.  Even my time being able to just sit back and enjoy a game has been sorely diminished.  It's tragedy, I tell ya.

Some of the things that have been absorbing ALL of my free time include...

  • Cats
The one towards the top likes to piss on EVERYTHING.
  • School
Studying this... I can professionally do this.

  • Work
Basically what I do for a college job now.  Just not in space.

  • Wedding
The wedding isn't until June 30th and I've already learned this.  
Thank you, Boromir.

Now that I'm just about off from school for a couple months, I can finally devote more free time to MTI.  And inMotion Gaming, the primary website I write for.  So what's next?

Lots, and lots, of this.

Well for one, my "hilarious/awkwardly translated playthrough of a Japanese copy of Pokemon Black 2" project is still happening, in a big big way.  Coincidentally, its release falls on the same day as my bachelor party--the23rd, so my coverage won't start until the 25th, or 26th...or whenever my copy gets in from Japan.

The next bigger writing project is going to inMotion, but that's okay! Microsoft revealed their lineup for the Summer of Arcade 2012, and I'm already in love with at least one of the titles they're bringing us.  Lighter reviews are completely fair game for MT Ideas.

Glorious days of the 6th grade, prepare to be revisited!

The highly-anticipated Episode 2 of Telltale's The Walking Dead is due out by the end of June, so stay tuned for my review of that one.  According to the E3 articles out there, this episode is going to be MUCH gorier than the last one...and that's saying something.

I'm definitely excited to be back in the blogosphere, that's for sure. :)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Review: Bird Mania 3D

Every Thursday at 9am, Nintendo's eShop gets updated with new titles.  One of today's new games is called Bird Mania 3D, and it has a price point of $1.99.  

Bird.  Mania. 3D.

Drink it in...

I'm not gonna lie, when I first saw this in the eShop, I immediately dismissed it as some sort of lesser knock-off of Angry Birds.  I thought, "Great, it's another off-week.  Thanks, Nintendo." The unusually cheap price only furthered my instant disregard for it.  So, I  closed my 3DS and went on with my day.

But for some reason, the name Bird Mania grew on me as the day went on.  I was genuinely curious.  'What exactly about this game features birds in a manic fashion?' I had to find out.  When I was able to get back to my 3DS, I hastily opened up the eShop, scrolled over to Bird Mania 3D and bought it.

Long story short: Surprisingly good.

Bird Mania 3D is a side-scrolling action/platformer title.  The set-up is this: You control Mojo, a bluebird living with his bluebird friends in North America.  Apparently, Mojo's a little lazy, as when it's time to fly south for the winter, he's still asleep and his friends have left him behind.  Now he's got to fly maniacally to get to Africa and catch up with his buds.

...It's kind of a hard story scenario to swallow, to be sure.  Fortunately, you don't have to pay any attention to it to get experience out of this game.  In fact, I'd almost recommend ignoring any ramblings of a story outright.  The game provides a fun, challenging and addictive experience through its core gameplay alone.  The 3D effects really only concern the background--this is still a 2D game.  Liken it to some of Nintendo's 3D Classics, if you will.

During gameplay, Mojo will fly automatically from the left side of the screen to the right.  A brief tutorial is given upon starting your first round with the game, but the gist of it is this: Collect stars and don't hit things.  Mojo's a one hit-point wonder, and will crash and burn the moment he touches another bird, bee, boulder, or the foliage of a tree.  Your primary goal is to obtain a high-score; I'm not even sure if the game really ends, or if it just loops ad infinitum.  But that's okay; there's plenty to do while you're maniacally flying about.  As you collect stars and progress, Mojo speeds up and it becomes harder and harder to dodge obstacles.

I think why this game works so well is because it's so simple.  Even the controls.  There are four control schemes you can use altogether, although only one I'd really recommend.  Because Mojo's flight path is set, you merely control his vertical movement.  You can use the analog stick to move him up or down.  Or up or down on the control pad.  The X and B face buttons will also move him up or down, respectively.  All three control styles work, although his handling's a little sloppy.  You're given the option to control him with the stylus and the touch screen, however, and this is far and away the best choice.  Movement is super responsive, and he handles like a charm when you're using the stylus.  Regardless of your choice of vertical controls, you can use either the L or R shoulder buttons to give Mojo a brief 'turbo' moment--during which he can attack other animals to increase his point multiplier.  

The developers of Bird Mania 3D included a host of achievements to work on, possibly in an effort to extend the life of the game.  There are several, and are each based around different elements of the title's gameplay; fly such-and-such amount of miles without being hit, score this many points, don't attack anything for this amount of miles, etc.  They all seem fairly well thought out, and work well with the core gameplay's addictive nature.

Bird Mania 3D is a surprising gem--if you're looking for a quick and cheap side-scroller fix, look no further. On the other hand, though, there's not a lot going on--there's no hidden depths or anything.  This would have almost made more sense to release on either iOS or Droid.  But I suppose that's why it's only priced at $1.99.  Get it, and you'll have a maniacally good time... ;)  

Monday, April 30, 2012

What I'm Playing: April 2012

Seeing as how this is a blog about video gaming, I thought I'd share the very games that have been distracting me from said blog, and other, more important critical demanding parts of my life.  So, here's what I've been playing over the month of April.

1. Soul Calibur V

This totally came out of left field for me.  I picked it up when it came out at the end of January, spent several hours in it and then started getting ready for Mass Effect 3--and hadn't been back since.  It's a shame, because SCV really is a quality game, once you get past the extraordinarily shallow single player mode.  

I really need to start using a character-style other than Siegfried's, though.  As much as I love kicking ass and taking names with an oversized blade, I'm noticing that I just don't move fast enough.  His biggest drawback, to be sure.  I fiddled around with a character based on Patroklos, though, and didn't do too terrible.

2. Mass Effect 3

I have a terrible habit of not playing through games a second-time around.  Seriously, there are only a handful of games I've played through mulitple times.  I liken it to, say, reading a book.  It's really challenging me to retain an interest level in material I've already read through once--I know how everything will end or get resolved.

While I've barely touched Mass Effect 3's single player campaign since I finished it, I have been playing a ton of its multiplayer mode, 'Galaxy at War.'  It's still pretty fresh, at least for me, and the free Resurgence Pack BioWare released for it a couple weeks back only sweetens the deal.  Email me if you'd like to get a match going sometime!

3. Skyrim

I once swore off Skyrim.  After spending ~109 hours and getting every Achievement, I decided that I'd force myself to put it down until its first DLC came out.  So, I did just that--within the game, even.  I had my character--Aarnyr, if you cared to know--return to his wife and home in Whiterun, hang his swords and shield up above his bed, store all his inventory around the various containers scattered throughout his tiny home, and change from Dragonscale Armor to a fancy robe.

But, on a whim I decided to head back out into the province of Skyrim once again.  I geared up, said goodbye to my wife and left for adventure and danger.  Because even after getting every Achievement, there's still so much more to do. 

4. Blue Dragon

Here's one that came out of nowhere.

I picked it up for about 10 bucks several months ago when I repaired my year-dead 360, because A) I'm still a huge fan of JRPGs, and B) the same core team who developed it, developed my favorite game of all time (and that of course, is Chrono Trigger).  But I spent only a few hours in it and left it alone for months.

With some time now between major releases on my hit list for 2012, I finally got a chance to go back and finish some games I'd left incomplete--Blue Dragon being one of them.  Even though the game is five years old at this point, it still looks nice.  Although, personally I find the characters and their voices to be a tad bit annoying--which is par for the course, I guess, seeing as how it is a JRPG.

5. Batman: Arkham City

I picked this up just yesterday from a Blockbuster for $20.  I walked in on a whim, saw the $19.99 sticker on its cover and couldn't say no.

I'd only ever played a demo for its predecessor, Arkham Asylum, was a badass demo.  And I'd only read good things about it.  I can definitely see why this newest Batman series earns so much praise.  Soaring around the sleaze-infested Arkham City as The Batman is just wonderful.

What games have you been playing over the month of April?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Review: The Walking Dead: Episode 1

First thing's first: I've never seen any media for 'The Walking Dead' before, including its comic book and TV series iterations.  

Now, I know I'm probably one of the marginally few gamers out there who hasn't seen the award-winning zombie-apocalypse series.  Friends and co-workers alike have tried to get me to watch it.  "It's even on Netflix for crying out loud!" they proclaim.  And I mean, it's not like I have anything against zombies.  I read "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" last year, and I loved every page.  Shawn of the Dead? Easily on my top 5 favorite movies.  I just haven't gotten around to watching or reading 'The Walking Dead.'

But now, I think I just might.

Because after playing through the first chapter of Telltale Games's episodic The Walking Dead series, I'm left with a fervent desire to get to know this franchise better.  The first of a five-part series, The Walking Dead: Episode 1 is an incredibly well-crafted adventure, in terms of production value, gameplay and atmosphere.  You control a new character introduced to the franchise by the name of Lee Everett.  When the game opens, he's sitting in the back seat of a police car as it's driving down a freeway in Georgia.  You're not initially given an explanation as to why he's been arrested.  After a few minutes of conversing with his arresting officer, Lee notices a strange figure walking down the middle of the road... 

Telltale Games's The Walking Dead series serves as a side story and prequel of sorts to the comic book series of the same name.  As such, the art direction is decidedly cell shaded--with a healthy dose of realism added in. The result is a unique graphical style that lends itself to the comic book and live action TV natures of the franchise's other mediums.  One thing I positively loved was how animated each character's facial expressions were.  Because of how each character model is drawn, their emotions come to vivid life as they try their damnedest to survive.  This goes hand-in-hand with a statement from TWD creator Robert Kirkman regarding how the video game series will "focus more on characterization and emotion than action."

You can truly see the terror in their eyes.  Bravo, Telltale.

Gameplay in The Walking Dead is well done.  The user interface is sleek, and most of it can be hidden so as to enhance the game's realism.  It's accurate to think of the game as a hybrid of survival horror and adventure, with a dash of action and an ever so slight pinch of hidden object puzzle.  In fact, the experience is largely cinematic.  Most of the game is spent interacting with the characters that Lee encounters.  As such, every decision you make carries weight--not unlike, say, Mass Effect.  There are a couple points in the story where you're given a direct, mind-crushingly challenging decision to make that will have immediate and game-altering effects.  The survival horror portions of the game are legitimately frightening.  I'm not a fan of the genre and I still genuinely enjoyed having the beans scared out of me.  I likened the sequences of the game where you search for supplies to a hidden objects game--even more so when the UI is hidden.  

Gameplay is sort of like an interactive movie...but in a good way.

The production values in The Walking Dead are fantastic.  The aforementioned beautiful graphics and art direction, the stellar voice cast and general 'the world is about to end' atmosphere provide an excellent and compelling--if short--experience.  For only 400 Microsoft points (or $4.99), this is a steal.  Upon completing the first episode, you're given a short preview for Episode 2.  If the first episode is any indicator, Episode 2 will be another epic ride.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a zombie-related TV series to start watching... :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Dragon's Dogma Pre-Review

As of today (April 24th), the demo for Capcom's upcoming Dragon's Dogma has hit the online stores.  This game offers a Dragon Age-esque high fantasy outing, and is a title that any fan of open-world RPGs should not miss.

Initially, I didn't know too much about Dragon's Dogma.  I'd heard the name dropped a couple of times, but didn't really explore it at all.  Now, I kinda wish I had.  If the demo is any indicator, this is going to be a high-quality game, and has officially made it on to my Must Have list for 2012.  Capcom has stated that Dragon's Dogma will feature elements of open-world RPG, action/hack 'n slash, and survival horror.  Given that the game is being worked on by vets of the Breath of Fire, Devil May Cry, and Resident Evil franchises, Dragon's Dogma should be ridiculously good.

Warning: Hydras in mirror are larger than they appear!

As soon as you open the Dragon's Dogma demo, you're treated to a beautiful title screen--a soft, heavenly soprano veiling hellish flames and a desolate background.  This demo is unusually generous for an unfinished product--it fully allows you to customize your character.

That's how I began my time with it.  The character creator is surprisingly deep.  You first enter your character's name.  DD enforces you to choose a 'monicker' from a preset list--this is done to screen inappropriate character names for players with parental controlled consoles.  I'd say that's a pretty stand-up thing to do on Capcom's part.

Even for a demo, the character customization is wonderful.  After choosing your basic appearance, you're allowed to edit your character's finer features, such as face shape, eyes, and brows.

Dragon's Dogma gives you an assistant character--an AI controlled companion who is with you at all times.  This character is called your 'main pawn,' and you can edit them as well, just as you did your main character.

The demo features two different scenarios: 'Prologue Quest',' and 'Countryside Quest.'  I started playing with the former.  You're treated with some flavor text detailing a little about the world you've suddenly found yourself immersed in, and then the actual gameplay begins.

Gameplay feels wonderfully tight.  There are a ton of controls to memorize, as not only is every button on the controller utilized, there are different combination effects, too.  For example, holding Right Bumper and pressing one of the attack buttons will enable a special attack.  The HUD and menu system is great, and there are lots of things to do with the items you have on your person.

The production values of Dragon's Dogma seem like they're among Capcom's best.  If this is indeed the company's answer to Skyrim and Dragon Age, then they're on the right track.

Dragon's Dogma launches on May 22nd.  My full review will be elsewhere, but I'm sure there will be plenty of tales to tell here at MT Ideas!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Pokemon Black 2 and White 2: More Trailer Thoughts!

I had planned to take this day off from blogging.

You know, kick back and play a glorious combination of Soul Calibur V, Mass Effect 3, and Final Fantasy XIII-2.  And for most of my day, that was exactly how it went.  Had some coffee, played with our kittens, and started my multi-hour gaming marathon.

Then, I came across this.

This new gameplay trailer comes from Nintendo's 'Nintendo Direct' broadcast, which aired last night and included announcements and news for several games.  I think it's pretty awesome getting a second trailer over the span of about a week, despite this one recycling a few scenes from last week's.

As in the style of my last trailer article, here's some elements I took notice of...
  • Is it me, or is the revised Unova map shown in greater quality this time around?
  • The inevitable showdown between Black/White Kyurem is going to RULE.
  • The second city they show towards the beginning looks so familiar...
  • Is the vista an updated Accumula Town?
  • There's that theater-esque building again...I no longer think it's for an updated musical.  Movies, perhaps?
  • It confirms that Dolphin-Boy's Gym is the one with the player character traversing multiple lilypads...
  • Also shown once more is BW2's animated trainer sprites...freakin' awesome!
  • Black Kyurem just launched a wicked Freeze Bolt at it was a one-hitter. ;)
  • Who is the chick guy chick manwoman...? with the book and freaky hair?
  • KELDEO.  As a Water-type want!
  • At 1:15 is why I think those new theater buildings are for movies.  First the green room, and then the scene with the girl encountering a Tyrannitar.  That would rule so hard.
So, I have to ask...which of Kyurem's new forms look more appealing.  I was a fan of Zekrom over Reshiram, but for some reason I seem to prefer White Kyurem...

And once again, this blog will feature episodic coverage of Pokemon Black 2 and White 2 when the games release in Japan on June 23rd.  Once my import comes's gonna be awesome. :)

Friday, April 20, 2012

The World...Doesn't...End With You?

Either I've died and gone on to the next realm of existence, or this may just be the happiest piece of gaming news I've heard all year.

According to IGN, it looks as though Squeenix is "heavily hinting" at a follow-up title for The World Ends With You.  This would make total sense, seeing how TWEWY's main cast appear as supporting characters in the upcoming Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance.  

Although nothing has been confirmed know how Squeenix operates.  A higher up such as Tetsuya Nomura drops a brief, nondescript hint at a game being either developed or planned, and months later it turns out to be true.  According to Nomura, the producers of KH3D decided last minute to add a voice actor in for TWEWY character Rhyme, "out of consideration of the future of The World Ends With You series." Additionally, Nomura stated that he can't comment on anything else related to TWEWY right now.

I mean, come on.

So I'm thinking, what are they going to call it? It would be pretty lame to simply entitle it 'The World Ends With You 2,' especially considering how unique and creative the original is.  Here are some ideas I think would be possible contenders...

  • The World Doesn't End With You
  • The World Ends With Me/Us/Them
  • Outside The Game (kudos if you get that reference... :)
  • The World Is Not Enough Damn, scratch that one.
  • The World Ends With You: Round II
And for those who never got to experience the original The World Ends With You, please, do yourself a favor and check it out! It came out in 2008 for the NDS, and is quite possibly the most original, creative title not only to come out of Square Enix's production studios, but on the entire DS platform as well.  It follows the story of Japanese, headphone-wearing Neku Sakuraba, as he explores a creepy alternate reality version of Tokyo's Shibuya district.

Cast of TWEWY, being badasses.

The World Ends With You featured the most intuitive and creative battles in nearly any video game, ever.  Each fight is split between both screens.  With one hand, you control Neku on the touch screen, and use the stylus to guide and control him.  On the top, his current teammate's action is displayed, and you manipulate that by pressing whatever directional button is indicated.  It takes a while to grasp, but when you is completely and utterly fantastic.

Should a The World Ends With You sequel be real, you can bet MT Ideas will be following it! 

News: Via IGN.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Colors! 3D Showcase (Part One)

Strange, immaculate things happen when I'm home sick from school and work.  Namely, I get unusually productive and yes, a little creative.  In this case, while resting on my couch to chicken noodle soup and a Psych marathon, I picked up Colors! 3D and painted/finished a few pictures.

If you read my review on Colors, then you'll know how addictive I find it.  Seriously, I'll pick it up and then can't put it down for at least an hour.  Today, I have five finished paintings, two of which demonstrate the really cool function of painting over a 3D picture.


...And yes, those are seagulls, or some other type of bird, not flying mustaches.  

"Boss Fight Kitty"

This was a picture taken utilizing one of the AR Cards that come with the 3DS system.  Enjoy my poorly drawn hearts. :) And the boss kitty depicted is my cat, Panda.

"Unknown Rainbow"

Not much to say on this one.  I tried to go for some sort of 'clashing' or 'contradicting' effect.

"Legacy of Friendship"

Please remember, I am terrible at drawing things.  The foreground is a grassy area, and the background is supposed to be an ocean.  Supposed to be.  (And those stick figures are just lying down, not deceased.)

"Mi Amore"

I'm actually sorta proud of this one.  This would be my fiance, Monica.  I started with a regular picture of her, painted the background red and threw the date of our wedding in for good measure.  Even more impressive is that I convinced her to let me put this online. :)

I would love to host some sort of showcase from people! If anyone has Colors! 3D and the courage to show their work online, please get in contact with me!