Shadowgate - PC Review

This throwback to the NES classic hits almost all the right notes

Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth1 - Vita Review

The original game was charming, but flawed. Re;Birth 1 fixes almost all of that.

Akiba's Trip - PS3 Review

It's like playing an anime

Hegemony Rome: The Rise of Caesar - PC Review

Some good takes on the tactical genre, but somewhat lacking in depth in the end

Whispering Willows - PC Review

A memorable, haunting point-and-click adventure

Friday, March 23, 2012

Mass Effect - Xbox 360 Review

I remember hearing a bit about Mass Effect prior to its release, but it was not a title I was terribly excited about.  My only real experience with Bioware at that time had come in the form of Neverwinter Nights, which I had thoroughly enjoyed - but it was quite clear that this science fiction title was going to be a completely different animal.

Finally for Easter after it released, I picked Mass Effect up used because of the overwhelmingly glowing reviews it had released to.  I gave it a shot, did not much care for the shooting mechanics and put the game away in favor of other titles I was working on at the time like Oblivion.

Some months later, I had beaten every game in my current library except one.  I decided to dust off Mass Effect and give it an earnest chance this time.  I made my way through the first few hours, fighting off the confusion over the strange blending of shooter and RPG as I became more comfortable with the mechanics and the game's universe.  Fast-forward about 50 hours and I had just beaten the game, and found myself wondering how things might have ended differently if I had made some different choices at key moments.  I then proceeded to find out as I immediately played through it again.  I would go on to beat the first Mass Effect two more times over the following few years as it became one of my favorite video game titles of all time.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Midweek deals and thoughts

So I'll start with a quick few gaming thoughts off of the top of my head:

- I've been playing a lot of Mass Effect 3 and so far am digging it.  For my initial play through I am not doing an import of one of my prior Mass Effect 2 campaigns as I want to approach it using default settings, something like a new player would experience.

- I'm doing a lot more of the multiplayer than I had originally thought I would.  The mulitplayer ties into the campaign mode by raising your Galactic Readiness - which impacts the final ending it seems.  I got mine to 100% in all areas in about a day and change of heavy multiplayer.

- Multiplayer Pros: The variety sprinkled into the missions is nice, and the ability to create and use a bunch of different classes makes leveling up lots of fun.  The credits system works for me too, because as a one-time sports card collector, the idea of 'opening' a pack of 5 random items is sort of fun, especially if you get a rare or uncommon (I tend to save up for the top-shelf Specter package).

- Multiplayer Cons: The matchmaking needs work. When the host leaves, it gives you a message that you are mgrating, but in truth you're just getting punted back out to the loby.  Also, there needs to be a way to force people to 'ready' status after a time.  You can have four people to a team, 3 of them ready, and you can sit there twiddling your thumbs on that fourth unready person indefinitely.  When you find a good group of 4, you can plow through the waves pretty wel, but for every 1 really good group, I go through about 5-15 failed matchmaking attempts just to get a round of play going

- I'm probably about 1/3 of the way through the single player campaign and I am thoroughly enjoying it so far.  I got the collector's edition, so I will be touching on that as well as my regular review soon.  I'll be kicking off a series of Mass Effect reviews starting Friday I believe.

- Speaking of big, backlogged games, my Skyrim review will be going live soon too.  I don't really plan to go through my impressions quite so much as Mass Effect 3, which is a much newer title, but suffice to say I have enjoyed Skyrim quite a bit as well.

- RPG Maker VX Ace has been awesome so far.  I've been digging into it several different ways.  I made a very short game as just sort of a test demo for my son to play, and I have approached it from the building standpoint, to the ease of adding your own materials and also applying and tweaking scripts.  I will do two different write-ups on the software.  One for Otaku Gaming that is a straight review of the experience, and one here on this blog discussion it and the changes I see from being a heavy RPG Maker XP user and skipping VX to go to VX Ace.  The tiny game I wrote up for my son (seriously, it's like a 10 or 15 minute play through) is something I may post somewhere for others to view as well if interested.

- A little title called Diablo III is announced to be releasing exactly a week before my birthday.  I know what I'll be asking for. :)

So the above are just some bullet point updates for those interested.  I definitely have more on tap to post about here over the coming weeks, but my hope is you will really enjoy the Mass effect series, which will probably span about two weeks of posts on here.  Now, for the weekly deals on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network and more.

Gamersgate has Warhammer 40,000 for 66% off, The Guild Complete for 75% off and Neverwinter Nights 2 for the Mac for a whopping 95% off.

Amazon has a couple of smaller deals like a discount on the latest Mario and Sonic Olympics and an offer to get FF XIII with the purchase of XIII-2.

Steam's midweek madness deal is Portal 2 for half-off and their daily deal up until around 1PM EST today is Spellforce 2 Gold Edition for $3.74.

The Deal of the Week is all Bioshock 2 related - with DLC packs and Avator items being 50% off on Xbox Live for Gold members.

With the PlayStation Plus it is pretty evident that most of the free stuff happens at the beginning of the month, but some of the deals throughout the month are definitely of note too.  This week?  Huge emphasis on the Final Fantasy titles.  Here's the full list below of PSN updates:


PSN Games

Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc HD ($9.99)
Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine ($39.99)
Warriors Orochi 3 ($49.99)


Vita Games

Sumioni: Demon Arts ($19.99)


PlayStation Minis

SAR: Search and Rescue ($2.99)


PlayStation Plus

Dissidia Final Fantasy (PSP)
Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection (PSP)
Final Fantasy V (PSone)
Final Fantasy VI (PSone)
Final Fantasy VII (PSone)
Final Fantasy VIII (PSone)
Final Fantasy Origins (PSone)
Final Fantasy Tactics (PSone)
Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions (PSP)
Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc HD


DLC

Ace Combat: Assault Horizon -- Various DLC (Free-$4.99)
Blazblue: Continuum Shift Extend -- System Voice Arrange DLC ($5.99)
Disney Universe -- Various DLC ($0.99-$2.99)
EyePet & Friends -- Various DLC ($0.69-$2.99)
Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk. 2 -- Various DLC (Free-$2.99)
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning -- The Legend of Dead Kel ($9.99)
MotorStorm RC -- Various DLC ($0.25-$0.99)
Ninja Gaiden 3 -- Online Pass ($9.99)
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City -- USS Wolfpack Uniforms ($2.99)
Rock Band 3 -- Various Tracks ($1.99 each)
Rock Band Network -- Various Tracks ($0.99-$1.99)
Rocksmith -- Various Tracks ($2.99 each)
Saints Row The Third -- The Trouble With Clones ($6.99)
Tales of Graces F -- Various DLC (Free-$3.99)
UFC Undisputed 3 -- Upsets Pack ($4.99)

Vita DLC

Blazblue: Continuum Shift Extend -- System Voice Arrange DLC ($5.99)
MotorStorm RC -- Various DLC ($0.25-$0.99)
Ridge Racer -- Various DLC (Free-$1.49)


Demos

Birds of Steel
Rayman 3 HD
Under Siege


Discounts

Ace Combat: Assault Horizon (DLC)
Coconut Dodge (Mini)
Dissidia Final Fantasy (PSP)
Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection (PSP)
Final Fantasy V (PSone)
Final Fantasy VI (PSone)
Final Fantasy VII (PSone)
Final Fantasy VIII (PSone)
Final Fantasy Origins (PSone)
Final Fantasy Tactics (PSone)
Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions (PSP)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Zuma's Reveng! launch info and Articles on Otaku Gaming

It has been a pretty busy week or two for me.  Some of the games I've been working on have a lot of meaty content to work through and it is definitely going to affect the number of reviews I have trickling out over the next few weeks.  In the meantime, I have had a few other interesting observations and articles I have written. 

I'll start with the Ys series, which I have never actually played despite its long history.  It's one of those I keep meaning to try, and haven't gotten to yet, but for fans of the series, there is an announcement that there will be two titles taken to Steam - one already released and another on the way.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sid Meier's Civilization V - PC Game Review

Civilization has a pretty long history in my house - and not with the usual gamers!  Where as my son and youngest daughter are the two biggest gamers in my household aside from myself, my wife and oldest daughter hardly play games.  That said, I got Civ II from a friend back in college and loved it.  My wife gave it a try on a whim and she also got hooked on it.  We played that game like crazy, but then skipped the next couple of iterations, not playing III or IV.  I did pick up Civilization: Revolution for my Xbox 360 a couple of years ago or so.  My son tried it, but did not really seem to care for it.  My oldest tried it, and took right to it, much as her mother had years before with Civ 2.

Well, a few months ago I picked up Civilization V for my PC through Steam.  For the uninitiated, this is a simulation title where you take control of a culture set way back at what is essentially the beginning of time.  All kinds of different cultures are represented, from the Romans to Americas to the Greeks - so clearly historical accuracy is not a concern.  What is important is the depth of strategy as you try to balance your resources, your armies, the land you occupy and how you interact with other nations.