Late to the Party: Mass Effect

Actually, while I'm on the subject of Bioware games, I guess I should mention that I've finally played Mass Effect.  I'd been holding off a while, but the entire chapter dedicated to it in Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter by Tom Bissell piqued my curiosity.
Going in, I thought it was going to be Bioware basically carrying on the Star Wars: KoToR franchise without the actual Star Wars brand attached, but aside from a lot of similar aesthetic trappings (which can't really be helped, considering the genre juggernaut that Star Wars is), Bioware managed to craft a pretty decent setting for themselves.
The combat and planet-based sidequests were pretty lame, but the actual writing and Shepard conversations were pretty awesome. I was extremely pleased with being able to goad Saren into killing himself during the final showdown, even if it did somehow count as a Renegade action. In fact, the only real problem I had with the writing and plot side was the fact that Paragon and Renegade decisions didn't really take into account the context of the action. In real life, while badgering someone to kill himself is definitely not very nice, if the alternative is letting that guy kill hundreds of millions of people, does it really make a person History's Greatest Monster for doing so? 
If not that, then I guess letting Kaidan die because I felt he was getting too clingy is pretty close.


My Dragon Quest continues. In a manner of speaking.

Dragon Age 2 is coming out in just a couple of weeks!
I played through the demo for hype's sake (PC version), but it's always hard to demo an RPG. Especially a Bioware RPG, in which the combat really isn't the point to begin with. That said, the combat changes are interesting, if nothing else. Archers are now a viable combat option, and Warriors are able do things other than tank. I've been told that events in the demo change depending on your performance and/or character build, but I don't really want to obsessively play the same demo over and over again, so I'll take the internet's word for it.
The customization and difficulty options are all greyed out in the demo version, which was a disappointment and again, not really the point of demoing an RPG. On the other hand, it did whet my appetite, and I do indeed know how a usual battle is going to go in DA2, which is the entire point of a general videogame demo in the first place.
On the other other hand, it was free! Hooray for free!


I know it's my destiny.

So after a couple of years of contentedly ignoring Pokemon Diamond, and half a year of halfheartedly slogging through Pokemon Neil Diamond, a few weeks ago I was seized with a relapse of Pokemania.  So I went back to playing both games again, and I even broke through my previous roadblock on Diamond, Sunyshore City Gym. But it hasn't all been fun and games.
Yesterday, I got frustrated with my Elite Four lineup, and then sank to a new low. I dug my old DS Phat out of storage, recharged it, and used it to trade Pokemon with myself.  In retrospect, I could have gone and hit up one of my siblings for their post-game Pokemon, since I'd already gotten all of the badges on both games, but that would have been cheating!
So I guess until Dragon Quest IX comes out, I'm off the wagon again.

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Maybe I should start using this more often...

Games I've been playing lately, in no particular order or noteworthiness:
Rogue Galaxy: Borrowed this from a friend a while back. It didn't grab me at first because it starts off really slowly, and the story is pretty dire, even by JRPG standards (If I took a drink every time were was a Narm moment or ten, I'd be dead long before I could type this up.) But once it gets going, it's pretty much Final Fantasy XII In Space. And that is what I like.
Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box: Professor Layton is still the man. The puzzles still skirt the fine line between entertaining and maddening (god help me, I even built a paper cube to help with the 2D cube puzzle...) I'm not 100% sure, but I think they either recast Luke, or had the actress take it down a notch, because he's not as grating as I remember him being in the first game.
Final Fantasy IV: The After Years: Final Fantasy IV was the very first JRPG I ever laid eyes on, and I've loved it to pieces for years. That doesn't stop me from knowing that this is a terrible game that I should never have bought, one that I really shouldn't be spending more money on to finish out. BUT I CAN'T STOP MYSELF. 


Blogging the important issues.

Okay, Henry Hatsworth... I didn't join in on the naysaying when people complained about you ripping off Professor Layton, but that was then and this is now.

Now I have found out that you're blatantly ripping off the Venture Brothers, and that's unforgivable!

I will continue to not buy your game, sir.