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!  

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Top 5: Ultimate JRPG Swords

I am a fierce advocate of Top 5 lists.  They are, in my humble opinion, an ideal way to express one's views and tastes in an outlined and organized view.  They are also featured prominently in my #3 movie of all time, High Fidelity.  But mainly it's that first part.

I'm also a lifelong fan of RPGs.  One element found in this genre--especially JRPGs--is some sort of 'ultimate weapon.'  There are sometimes multiple ultimate weapons in a game, one for each character, but most are in the form of swords.  I took the liberty of compiling my list of favorite powerful blades.  Really, this should be called 'Top 5 Ultimate Swords in a JRPG'...but that's a tad lengthy.

5. Vorlik Blade (Skies of Arcadia)
Skies of Arcadia is a game that will always hold a spot in my heart, despite being rather hard to sit through these days.  It pushed exploration like almost no other JRPG before it--in fact, you obtain your airship within the first twenty minutes of the game.  The main character--Vyse, of the Blue Rogue sky pirates--is a lovable, albeit flawed main protagonist.  Being all pirate-y and all, it's no small wonder why Vyse uses a cutlass as his signature weapon.  The best one you could obtain for him in the original release of the title was the Vorlik Blade.

Balthier, eat your heart out.

There's a reason why I love this blade so much.  Without getting all spoiler-y, to obtain the metal necessary in forging it you are required to fly to a place that--in any other ship than the one you use--your crew would be instantly destroyed by the severity of the environment's conditions.

4. Ultima Weapon (Final Fantasy VII)
I tried really, really hard to limit the amount of Final Fantasy weaponry that would make it onto this list--but it doing so was inevitable really.  You can't talk about the Top 5 anything in the JRPG realm without FF rearing its spiky, anime-inspired head at least once.

The Ultima Weapon first appeared in its current form in Final Fantasy VII, as an enormous blue and white blade.  The sword is enormous, even for Cloud, whose fame is built upon wielding realistically impossible blades.

Pictured: Imminent death.

Because of its unique design and legendarily high attack power, the Ultima Weapon has become one of the most easily identifiable blades in RPG history.  Personally, I love how it looks like an enormous white-hot flame.  The sword is reiterated in other Final Fantasy titles, and Squeenix IPs at large.  For instance, protagonist/scene kid Squall of Final Fantasy VIII wields a remarkably similar blade, albeit in a different shape and entitled Lionheart.

3. Mana Sword (Mana/Seiken Densetsu series)
It's one thing for a game to revolve around a specific holy sword.  That's almost a given for any prominent JRPG/RPG in general.  However, when an entire franchise tells the legends and stories of one particular blade, said blade deserves special attention.  The Mana Sword of Secret of Mana fame is a magically imbued sword capable of wreaking great destruction or bring fantastic miracles to the wielder, depending on who its wielder is.

What's interesting about the Mana Sword (in Secret of Mana anyway--different entries in the series feature it in different ways) is that you have it literally for 99.9% of the game.  That Rusty Sword you pull from the stone at the behest of the mysterious ghost in the game's outset? Yup, that's the relic that'll either doom or redeem civilization.  You're told that pretty early on in the game, believe it or not, as one of your main goals is to power it up.

2. Rainbow Sword (Chrono Trigger)
Crono didn't need any more help getting to be one of the biggest badasses in RPG history.  Without a single word, he united a team of history's greatest heroes and saved the world from an alien entity.  What then, is a fitting ultimate blade for the savior of time and space?

The world will know no pain like that from the power of rainbows.

That's right, folks.  A katana made out of a rainbow.  Granted, its primary material is that of an ancient hunk of metal called the 'rainbow shell', but still.  Once you obtain it in-game, watch as your pathetic enemies crumble and flee at the sight of the power of the rainbow.  Specifically, your critical hit ratio goes through the roof.

1. Sol Blade (Golden Sun series)
Maybe a bit of an obscure one, but please take this into consideration--

How'd you like a space boulder to the face?!

Because seriously, what better way to completely smite an enemy than to drop a freakin' meteor on them?  It's unfair enough to random enemies that by the time this blade is obtained, all of your characters are ridiculously powerful.  And this blade can only be wielded by one of the two main protagonists (in The Lost Age), meaning its user is going to have a physical attack stat through the roof.  So yeah, let's call it good by giving the Sol Blade's wielder the power to summon an Armageddon--through a regular attack. The Sol Blade was the ultimate sword of Golden Sun: The Lost Age and its sequel, Dark Dawn.  A wonderful eccentricity unique of this series of games is that weapons can sometimes unleash a spell instead of using a regular attack.  In the Sol Blade's case, said unleash is an extraterrestrial rock that takes up the entire screen.

What are your top 5 JRPG swords? Leave a comment and have a chat!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Pokemon Black 2 and White 2: Trailer Thoughts

First of all,


Following the mad rush of preliminary B2W2 details, Nintendo has released a gameplay trailer for the upcoming games.  In the two years between the games, something drastic has clearly occurred in the region of Unova, seeing as how three quarters of it are underneath a mammoth sheet of ice.  Time will tell how and why Unova is faced with this crisis.  Here are some of my thoughts on this trailer...
  • Kyurem's new forms (Black Form and White Form, obviously) look pretty cool.  It's clear that each is Kyurem's fusion with either Zekrom or Reshiram.
  • That forested area to the south west is apparently retconned to have civilization inside it.  Makes sense, I guess, after how they brought Johto into existence back in GSC.
  • My real copy of Chrono Trigger on the SNES says that Kyurem is responsible for the glacier freezing most of Unova.
  • Looks like seasons have returned.  Good.  I loved that feature in BW.
  • I've read around the internet that the protagonists in this game aren't the two from Black and White.  This is weird, considering that the protagonists in these new games look like slightly older variations of those original heroes...
  • The new rival's hair looks like an upside down peacock.  Just sayin'.
  • REALLY curious as to what those stadium-buildings are...maybe the musicals from BW, but kicked up a notch?
  • The chick holding the guitar is a new Gym Leader, and a rarely-featured user of the Poison-type.
  • And the dolphin-man (whom I shall forever refer to as Pablo) is clearly a new Water-type Leader.
  • There's part that looks like it's out of a manga...hmm...
  • Was that a Mincinno in the middle of the forest...?
  • Looks like you'll be able to use older Pokemon in the main game.  I'm interested to see the original Unova Gym Leaders use updated teams, for sure...
  • Did I see that Office Clerk (F) reach for her Pokeball...?
  • Despite looking like Kyurem's new forms will be Ice/Fire and Ice/Electric, they in fact retain his original typing of Ice/Dragon.  For better or worse...
I realize suddenly that the majority of these posts have been Pokemon related.  I think the Resurgence Pack DLC in Mass Effect 3 is calling my name, which should be a good distraction until the June 23rd release of Pokemon Black 2 and White 2...

And again, check out this blog and my Twitter account (@MTIdeas) when the games do release for an awkwardly-translated, hilarious romp through a frozen-over Unova in Pokemon Black 2 and White 2!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

First Dance

Today's post will be a short one, friends, for with the homework and the real work and the getting ready for B2W2, my free time is almost nonexistent.

I'm also in the midst of renovating this blog's template--I have something much more simple in mind.

For those that don't know, I am getting married this coming June.  As you might expect, I've incorporated a slight bit of my gaming culture into the big day--as a gamer it's pretty much my obligation, right? Namely, I chose the song my bride-to-be and I will share our first dance to.

Even more exciting is that I have a buddy whose going to play this live. :)

Friday, April 13, 2012


If you couldn't tell by now, I am a ridiculous fan of Pokemon.  Have been since the 6th grade (199...9? I think?).  Throughout high school it was my secret guilty pleasure, something only my immediate family and closest friends knew I partook in.  When I got to college, I did what most adult fans of Pokemon do--banded together with my fellow dorm-dwellers and brought about our own Pokerevival.  These days, it's common knowledge to most of the people in my life that I'm a Pokefanatic...and nobody cares.  It's great!

In my Pokeventures, I'm a blatant user/fan/spammer of the Water-type.  I always figured it's because I've been a lifelong resident/lover of the Pacific Northwest, with its record rainfall and close proximity to the ocean and whatnot.  Incidentally, I'm also a frequent user of Grass- and Ground-types.  And my signature Pokemon?

What a playyyyyyyyya!

It's no surprise then that I am exuberantly excited for Pokemon Black 2 and White 2.  Like I did with Pokemon Black in 2010, I will import one version from Japan, and then buy the English version of the other on its launch stateside.  In fact, stay tuned to this blog and my Twitter account for a play-by-play cover feature on Pokemon Black 2.  Also expect my full written (and mostly unbiased!) review on my partner-in-crime, inMotion Gaming, around the same time.  

So what do we know about BW2 so far? There was a big ol' information drop through Japanese magazine Coro Coro the other day.  We know that the region of Unova has been expanded, and that the game begins in a new area in the southwestern expanse.  Several old locations have been renovated, including Route 4.  There are now underwater tunnels, as well.  

It also looks like the Unova Dex has been expanded--it now includes previous 'Mons, unlike the original BW, which only featured new ones.  So far, Tyrannitar, Lapras, and Marill are among the Pokemon being added.  There will be a Poison-type Gym Leader, a younger gal who is pictured holding an electric guitar.  Quick sidebar here, I found that awesome--I've always associated the Poison-type with punk rock music (not bashing it, I'm a huge punk fan).  There's also a new Water-type Leader, making me wonder if the Striaton Trio is going to return.

Definitely fans of the Poison-type.

The new artwork for the player characters looks exactly as you'd expect--like the protagonists of BW aged a couple of years.  The girl went from sporting cut-off jean shorts to yoga pants, and the male's hair literally exploded out of his hat, turning it into a visor.  There's a new rival, a smug-looking kid who has spiky blue hair.  What this means for Bianca, Cheren and N, I've got no clue...though I can speculate. :)

Do you think Pokemon Black 2 and White 2 will be as great or better than their predecessors? Let me know! Or if you want to battle/trade, I'm always happy taking new Friend Codes. :)

BW2 news via Serebii.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Brief History of (Final Fantasy's) Gilgamesh

Earlier today (and totally out of left-field), Gilgamesh was released as a DLC opponent for Final Fantasy XIII-2.  He launched together with PuPu (a monster from FF8), and a new outfit for both Serah and Noel.  His scenario is entitled 'Clash on the Big Bridge.' Which is fitting, considering the BGM that plays is his classic theme (also entitled, 'Clash on the Big Bridge').

Gilgamesh...with guns.

The character Gilgamesh is always depicted as an extremely tall and very muscular humanoid.  He has several arms, and each one wields a different sword--usually these swords are some of Final Fantasy's most identifiable blades, such as the Excalibur, Masamune, and Buster Sword.  A recurring joke is that sometimes Gilgy will pull a blade called the 'Excalipoor,' which will do little (if any) damage.

Gilgamesh has appeared several times throughout the Final Fantasy series.  Most recently, he appeared as a bonus character in Dissidia 012: Final Fantasy.  However, his first appearance was in the much-older Final Fantasy V.  Let's take a look at Gilgy's appearances throughout Final Fantasy history...

Final Fantasy V-1992

This was Gilgamesh's first appearance, and was a recurring boss enemy.  In-game, he was second in command to the game's primary antagonist, Ex Death.  Gilgamesh established himself as a unique character through his hammy, over-the-top dialogue.

 Suuuure ya did, Gilgy...

Final Fantasy VIII-1999

Gilgamesh's next chronological appearance was in 1998's Final Fantasy VIII.  He didn't appear as an enemy, however.  He appears as Guardian Force (this game's version of summons) that the player can't control--his appearances are randomized.

Awwww, yeah...

Final Fantasy IX-2000

Gilgamesh only kinda makes a half-appearance here.  He appears as an NPC townsperson in Alexandria.  His identity is only revealed much later in the game, however.

Final Fantasy XI-2004

In a completely different appearance, Gilgamesh appears as a regular human NPC.  He a political leader of Norg, a city on Elshimo Island.  

Final Fantasy XII-2006

In an appearance more akin to his original, Gilgamesh appears as a boss.  In this incarnation, he is an elite mark found in the Lhusu Mines.  He makes a return appearance for the game's sequel, Revenant Wings.

That Buster Sword sure looks funny...

Dissidia: Final Fantasy-2009

Gilgamesh makes a brief cameo in the original Dissidia as a Summonstone.  If called, Gilgy will either triple your Bravery (referencing Excalibur), or reduce it to 1 (referencing Excalipoor).

Dissidia 012: Final Fantasy-2011

Dissidia's sequel features Gilgamesh much more prominently, almost as much as his original role.  He is available as a bonus playable character, marking his first appearance in the series as a PC.  He is aligned with Chaos, and retains his trademark goofiness (and resentment towards Final Fantasy V protagonist Bartz).

And the fandom rejoiced...

Other Appearances and Remakes

With so many remakes/updates to older Final Fantasy games, Gilgamesh has been retrofitted into several games.  In the Dawn of Souls and 20th Anniversary reissues of the original Final Fantasy, Gilgamesh is thrown in as a bonus boss.  In Final Fantasy 4's sequel, The After Years, he's another cameo boss.  In the GBA edition of Final Fantasy VI, he's a new Esper.

Gilgamesh is just one of Final Fantasy's recurring, memorable characters.  Although no other one is quite as humorous as Gilgy, there are plenty of others to keep him company.  Let's hope Squeenix continues to give him those small but memorable cameos! :)

"Enough expository banter! Now we fight like men! And ladies! And ladies who dress like men! For is morphing time!"

Friday, April 6, 2012

MW3: Observation!

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 became a gaming phenomenon over a spectacularly brief matter of time. Every subculture of the gaming industry has to observe that. Take me as an example--I'm not the biggest fan of FPSs (nor am I very good...), but I respect the commercial and financial success of MW3. The following infographic details that success. Thank you, inMotion Gaming, for allowing me to use this infographic! Visit their site to nab the infographic's embed code for yourself. :)
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Infographic
Created by Broadband Choices in partnership with inMotion Gaming.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Review: Colors! 3D

I am not artistically gifted--at least not in the visual sense.  Any time I'm presented with a situation where I have/get to display my lack of artistic skill, I usually cringe, and then reluctantly draw the most average-looking stick-figure people you've ever seen.  I'm fairly talented with photography and setting up subjects, but drawing/painting/'s a lost cause.

Programs and applications that would otherwise enable me to enhance my lackluster drawing ability usually have no effect.  I do enjoy them, though, especially when they exhibit uniqueness and have interesting intricacies.  Colors! 3D, one such drawing application, has finally hit the 3DS's eShop after much anticipation.  And, it's kinda fun.

   I call it, "Sunbeams." Yeah...."Sunbeams"....

My take on Colors! 3D is this: it's hard to classify it as a 'video game.'  In my opinion, it's more like an application, or what I like to call an 'application game' (others being AR Games, Face Raiders, or the StreetPass Plaza).  

The biggest selling point for Colors! 3D is that it allows you to paint very detailed pictures in three dimensions.  While on your 'canvas' you can select from one of five fields of stereoscopic depth.  You've got several tools available to you by pressing the L shoulder button.  Most of these are standard fare for a painting app--different brush sizes and styles, a multitude of colors, etc.  You're able to zoom in on certain parts of the screen, enabling you to get in to super detail.

With this being a 3DS title, some emphasis is placed on sharing and sociability.  One of my favorite features about Colors! is local play.  Over local wireless, two people can team up to paint on the same canvas.  You can also export your completed artwork to your SD card, and then go on to share it.  What's awesome, is that you can export your 3D.  You can adjust the depth of each export via your 3DS's depth slider.

Colors! 3D is a bit of a drawing app disguised as a video game.  But, it works.  Really well, actually, and is definitely worth its $6.99 price point.  Now if you'll excuse me...I'm going to work on 'Sunbeams II'. ;)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


I was standing in line at my college's bookstore this afternoon--an hour long endeavor--and my tireless mind started thinking about loading screens.

Patience, thy name is Now Loading...

They've been plaguing the games of our noble hobby for years.  Some are worse than others, and some games don't even have them.  But we put up with them--we know that just beyond this screen, just a few more seconds later, we'll be head-deep in video game awesomeness.

What I find really impressive is when developers 'hide' loading screens, either during cutscenes or in the background of gameplay.  For instance...

"Don't worry, guys.  Saren will totally wait for this elevator to go..."

Mass Effect might have gotten a lot of crap about its elevator sequences, and don't get me wrong--I wasn't particularly fond of going baaaaaaaaack and foooooooorth between floors on the Citadel like this, but it beats a dinky little loading screen.  Granted, ME2 and 3 load much quicker, but still.  

And what about loading screens of the future? Do you even think we'll have them? It's possible they'll just blend into the background--a perfected Mass Effect elevator situation, if you will.

I think I'm going to go play some Loading Elevator Adventures, featuring a Galactic War now. :)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Pokemon + ???

I love crossovers between franchises.  I really, truly do.  When the N7 Armor DLC launched for Final Fantasy XIII-2, I was ecstatic.  It might have gotten a lot of flack from Mass Effect's loyalists, but seeing a move like that (even if it was just a publicity stunt to drive EA's sales in Japan) warmed my heart.

Just a little bit ago, a very...unique title launched in Japan, entitled Pokemon + Nobunaga's Ambition.  It's the first time Pokemon has mixed up with another game franchise (excluding Super Smash Bros., of course).  The game is a strategy/RPG, and is basically feudal Japan...with Pokemon.

Featuring some truly badass Pokes...and Jigglypuff.

For those that don't know, Nobunaga's Ambition is a Japan-only franchise of strategy games, somewhat akin to the Romance of the Three Kingdoms series of games.  It features samurai warlords, tactical battles, and everything you'd expect from a strategy game.

In the spirit of this, I couldn't help but awesome would it be if Pokemon crossed over with other gaming franchises? Here's a few of my ideas hopes fantasies...    

1. Pokemon + Monster Hunter
...on second thought, maybe not.  Take a game about collecting monsters heavily marketed as a children's game and combine it with a more mature game revolving around the hunting and slaying of monsters...

Yeah.  That's basically what would happen.

The thing is, for this to work you'd have to not censor anything.  I would pay GOOD MONEY to be able to hunt down Chansey with a Gunlance.  One in a bajillion chance of finding her in the Safari Zone? Nope! Lure her out with some poison meat!

I gave that Chansey some poison meat...Chansey LOVES poison meat!

2. Pokemon + Angry Birds
Ok, seriously.  The opportunity to fling a Spearow into a castle housing several pigs Tepig? How could you not buy that??

The premise would be simple.  A big ol' bunch of bird Pokemon are roosting up in a tree, when along comes a veritable army of Tepig, which then pilfers the birds' young and runs away.  You would start out with a few Spearow, but as you progressed through the game you'd get more powerful Pokemon--like a Staraptor that explodes uses Brave Bird, a Hoppip that bounces uses could even evolve them!

3. Pokemon + Call of Duty
It's 1944.  You are an unnamed soldier, crawling up the Normandy beach.  The rain--and your own blood--are soaking you to the bone.  You think you've finally made it to momentary an opposing soldier spots you.  The next thing you hear before death's cold embrace is...

"Finish him! Scizor, Bullet Punch!"

Now imagine an army of him...

As with a Pokemon/Monster Hunter crossover, this one wouldn't be for the kiddies.  I think it would still be an FPS, only instead of a gun...totally be holding a PokeBall.  You could still prestige yourself over multiplayer.  Call it collecting badges, anyone?

4. Pokemon + Mass Effect space.  Think about it! It could totally be a DLC to ME3...while scouring the galaxy for War Assets, Shep and company come across a strange, remote planet...inhabited by nothing but Pokemon.  You could even recruit one as a new squad member! I 'unno about you guys, but if I could have Garrus and Zapdos on my team...hide your wife, hide your Reapers!

  Reaper used Laser Beams! It's super effective! Mankind fainted...

If anyone else has a grand idea for a Pokemon crossover, let me know! Totally get a Kickstarter movement going for one. :)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Review: ARC STYLE Soccer!! 3D

Last Thursday at 9am PST, Nintendo's eShop updated once again.  With Nintendo's lineup of first party releases (Dillon's Rolling Western, Pushmo, Sakura Samurai, etc.) behind us, the eShop has almost grown stagnant.  A while ago it was graced by a triplet of classic GameGear titles, but nothing really new on the 3DS original front.

Cue Soccer!!3D.  First off, the very fact that I'm reviewing this should be noted--I strongly dislike sports video games.  There have been exceptions, primarily in the form of NBA Jam and NFL Blitz, but as a genre as a whole it just doesn't 'do it' for me.  But I really enjoyed Soccer!! 3D.  It's a simple, lighthearted little experience that doesn't take itself too seriously.

The game consists of several imaginary soccer clubs, and two slots for your own 'Custom' teams.  I rather enjoyed this game's customization options, and thought it was surprisingly deep.  You can customize nearly everything, right down to each teammate's face.  The customization screens present several different choices for you to consider when creating your players.  Each player can have one 'special skill' based on their position.  For instance, one of your forwards can get 'Header,' which is exactly what you'd think.  The only customization feature I was a little disappointed with was choosing your team's emblem.  Despite the screen saying 'Original Design,' it forces you to choose from one of a few pre-made patterns.

Let's talk controls.  If you've read my Kid Icarus: Uprising review on inMotion, then you'll know how critical I am of a game's control scheme.  And honestly, Soccer!! 3D isn't bad.  There is no touchscreen function.  This is a little annoying when doing all the game's customization stuff, as typing in letters would have been much more streamlined with touchscreen support.  But other than that, the actual soccer part of the game controls just fine.

I think my biggest gripe with the game is that it's incredibly easy to exploit.  Regardless of the computer's difficulty, once you figure out an offensive pattern that works, the AI doesn't adapt to it--it makes the same mistakes over, and over.  It's entirely possible to get upwards of 30 points against the AI, even on more difficult settings.  Again, this may be in the game's best interest with its simpler design, but upping the AI even a hair would have been great.  Also, aside from the customization features, there's not a lot of depth to Soccer!! 3D.  No unlockables, no hidden teams, just the same, exploitable soccer match time and time again.  Soccer!! 3D does have a multiplayer feature, which could potentially add to its replay value.

From a game called Soccer!! 3D, the graphics are somewhat of what a reasonable person would expect--more cartoony.  It goes well with the game's lighthearted approach.  The game's music is a little repetitive, such as the same victory fanfare going off every single time a goal is made on either team.  

Soccer!! 3D is a cute little time killer on the 3DS.  It isn't going to be remembered very much, but it will definitely tide a few people over as they wait for the next major 3DS release.