I feel like I've been playing wrong this whole time

In any RPG that gives you the option, I always create a magic heavy character. I've just always seen the standard warrior type—wielding a sword and shield—to be boring and sorcerers to be unique and interesting in contrast. So obviously, the first thing I did in Dark Souls was create a sorcerer with which I've been putting points exclusively into Intellect and Attunement for his 53 levels. 
A few hours earlier, I decided to create a new character—a bandit—because I wanted to experience how it was to be a melee focused character. And man, it's amazing how much the the game changes when you go from casting spells from a distance as being your only offense to hitting enemies with an axe. Important game elements like loot, weapon scaling, weapon upgrading with shards, etc. were all practically unknown to me until now. I knew of their existence, of course, but they didn't matter at all to me. When I picked up shards, I couldn't care less about their types because I knew I wasn't going to be using them. The stamina bar was also unimportant to me, as I didn't need to take it much into account based on the way I battled; all I needed to do was roll around. But with this new character, the dynamic has changed. I'm sure most of you have known these things already, since this is probably how most play Dark Souls, but it's surprising that the melee class is a more tactical one than the magic class. 
I feel as though my decision to play as a magic class in Demon's Souls and Dark Souls has made me miss out on so much. There's barely anything to look forward to as a sorcerer/mage, equipment wise, other than rings. Combat for those classes is also less complex, because most of the sorceries tend to do the same thing with little variation. Playing as a melee class is actually more fun and it's kind of sad that my favorite kind of class isn't as developed as those in the 'Souls' games.


How did this get screwed up so badly?

And by "this", I mean retail supply. How the hell does a game that is this anticipated, perhaps surprisingly so, get its shipment fucked up so bad? Several people who pre-ordered it from Amazon are getting their shipments delayed and a vast number of Canadian retailers also got shafted. Because of this, I wasted $6 taking the bus to the store and back as well as 2 hours of my life.
So I was sitting in front of an EB Games for 40 minutes, waiting excitedly for it to open, only to be disappointed when the clerk told another guy who was waiting for Catherine, sitting in front of the store for an hour, that he has no idea when they'll receive the game because the supplier fucked up. I went to a Best Buy and they didn't have it either. I went to a GameStop and encountered two people who also wanted to buy Catherine but were told by the clerk that they didn't get it because the publisher's unreliable and they apparently didn't even set a street date. So now Atlus is essentially saying "Sell it when you get it!" and people who pre-ordered the game, a couple of months ago, might not even get their damn copy. This shortage or problem or whatever is also apparently happening in Canada because they didn't manage to think about making enough bilingual documentation before the game was supposed to ship. How did this happen? 
Did anyone else expect to get the game today, only to be Catherine-less? 


DMC3 is pretty awesome

Devil May Cry 3
Of course, I suppose everyone except for me knew that already. Just finished playing it and I'm very happy that this game is much better than Devil May Cry 1 was (which I also played recently). I had practically no issues with the controls, except for one irritating platforming segment near the end of the game, and the camera didn't get in my way. I absolutely loved the combat, with the various styles and weapons at the player's disposal making for a variety of ways for one to tackle battles. I'm kind of disappointed that I stuck with the default style of "Trickster" (even though it seemed like the smartest path to take for a beginner) and if I ever play through it again, I'll be eager to experience a rather significant change in the way I fight by primarily using another style. 
The voice acting wasn't horrible, the story wasn't either and I liked the characters (and finishing this game made me wonder why Capcom decided to include Trish in Marvel vs Capcom 3 instead of Vergil). The game was fairly forgiving when playing "Gold" on "Normal" difficulty and, overall, I had a much more pleasant experience than I had with the first DMC. I'm slightly disappointed that playing Vergil doesn't offer a unique story mode, but he still plays differently enough to make it worth it.

Devil May Cry has aged horribly.

I've never been one to care much about a game's graphics. I didn't mind how Deus Ex, Metal Gear Solid or Half-Life looked when I played them for the first time rather recently and I currently play games on an SDTV, never having really experienced what it's like to play in HD. 
That said, playing Devil May Cry for the first time has made me realize that I've never experienced a game that I felt had truly aged badly. I've put 5 hours into the game—I'm at Mission 18—and I'm forcing myself to finish it. The controls are clunky as hell, mainly because of the camera that the player has absolutely no control over. This makes for frustrating platforming and combat (as it is difficult to perform a roll with Dante instead of jumping when you need to dodge quickly). Minor issues such as menu navigation and voice acting also make for an unpleasant ordeal, but the controls are really what make the game awful today.  
The game's also not easy, which kind of took me by surprise when I started playing.


My Thoughts on Ōkami

I've just finished the PS2 version of Ōkami today and I think it's simply amazing. The game's defining characteristic is its artstyle. Inspired by Japanese woodblock prints, the game's visuals are unique and exceptionally well done. The way it looks is part of what makes the world of Nippon, the feudal Japanese environment explored in the game, so engrossing and interesting. The excellent music is another aspect which complements the world so well. 
But the strengths of Ōkami are not exclusive to its aesthetic properties. The main mechanic of the game, the Celestial Brush, is a great puzzle-solving mechanic even though trying to perform the proper "brush technique" can sometimes be troublesome. The puzzles themselves are often simple, but they require an understanding of how the various "brush techniques" work and it's gratifying when one successfully links several of the techniques together to solve a lengthy puzzle. The combat, however, is not that fun with the exception of the bosses. Normal enemies are usually easy to deal with, providing little to no challenge, and can take more time to dispatch than it's worth. For the bosses, one actually needs to identify their weaknesses and exploit them and, even then, they provide little challenge as you utilize a rinse-and-repeat formula to eliminate them. 
The story is intriguing (albeit perhaps slightly confusing with some time traveling that occurs near the end) and many of the characters are as well. The game might have been a bit too long and I felt like it had become relatively tiring near the end (especially with an annoying boss rush before the final boss), but Ōkami is definitely worth playing and finishing as the ending provides a great conclusion to an awesome game.

Why is FLCL so great?

Now, I've not watched a lot of anime, but I'd say that FLCL is probably the worst series that I've ever seen.  

   A robot coming out of Naota's huge, oddly shaped bump totally means he's having an erection... or something. 
The animation and music may be alright, but the English voice acting is terrible (I'm not one to believe that there's a "proper" way of watching anime), excluding a few characters.  The show was barely funny and it was mostly composed of utter nonsense.  I'm all for "coherent absurdity", but all I was seeing was stupidity after stupidity.  Sure, apparently it's full of symbolism about sexuality, a boy's coming of age (2 themes that I very much dislike) and all that junk, but I'm not going to dig hard to find it and derive some sense through all of that garbage. 
Is this series so great because it's open to many interpretations?  Is the problem here that "I just don't get it"?  In moments where the craziness was a bit toned down, I could see some aspects of the story that were genuinely interesting, but then it quickly degenerated once more.  It was just lacking any semblance of a comprehensive story, one of the most important parts of an anime, for me.

In need of feedback or arcade stick art

Context: I'm soon going to be starting a school project—a project that consists of me making my own arcade stick.  One of the important aspects of a stick involving aesthetics is the displayed top art—I think—and I realized that I had to actually learn how to use Photoshop instead of using Paint, as I always did in the past, in order to use templates of the arcade stick that I was going to use.
I began "seriously" learning the program a couple of days ago and I managed to make some images that could be used as art on my stick.  I'd really like to have some opinions on which ones you think are relatively good and such.  I know most of them are crap; that's mostly why I decided to post this.  The art has to be either abstract or "serious" as this is for a high school project (it can't be an image of Cammy or something in a pose), but I'll be able to easily replace it once the project is done. 
The first 4 images have some weird logo in them.  That logo is my high school's logo which will be present, in some form, in whichever image I finally use in the art of my stick. 
tl;dr: I need some opinions on the following images as arcade stick art!  Thanks in advance.



[EDIT] Ah, crap.  This was meant to be attached to the SSFIV forums.  Oh well.

Games I've finished in the 2nd quarter of 2010

This is a continuation to the other blog I did on the games I finished in the 1st quarter of this year.  So, as you could have guessed, this is about the games I've finished from April to June, 2010. 

  • Finished: April 3rd
  • Final Time: Around 15 hours and 30 minutes.
  • Score: 3 out of 5
       Most of the various gameplay aspects that this game employed often felt bad, to me.  The platforming puzzles were boring and left me unsatisfied when I completed them, the boss fights consisted of a rinse-and-repeat formula of observing its movement, identifying its weak point and exploiting that weak point and many of the items found in the game are useless except for key moments when they are necessary.  The portal gun found late in the game, for example, is rarely used except for in a few puzzles and boss fights (going against the exact same boss 3 times) and its usage is restricted by circular platforms, which are the only things that the portal gun can be used on.  The combat was fun, though, and I had a fun time chaining purchased combos and abilities together against hordes of enemies. 

  • Finished: April 5th
  • Final time: 12 hours, 55 minutes and 53 seconds
  • Difficulty: Normal
  • Score: 4 out of 5
       This game's nuts and I love it.  The combat's slick and the "Witch Time" mechanic that it revolves around—a mechanic that makes time slow down when the player dodges an incoming attack at precisely the right moment—is very well executed and just feels awesome, once you get the hang of it.  That aspect is so incremental to the combat that the few moments when "Witch Time" is disabled feel weird and make the fighting much more of a hassle.  The boss fights are frequent, grand and really fun to fight against, but it's disappointing that several of them often get recycled, sometimes more than a couple of times.  So, the combat's really fun, but the other parts of the game—such as the platforming, puzzles or the levels where you're on a motorcycle or riding a rocket—are not really fleshed out and just feel quickly added in so that the game wouldn't be just about the cool combat.  Also, the music was great.

 Mass Effect
  • Finished: April 20th
  • Final time: 26 hours and 59 minutes
  • Difficulty: Normal
  • Score: 4 out of 5
       This was the second time I had gone through this game (the first was in 2008, I believe).  The first time, I had gone through it very quickly as I had only rented it, so I decided to go through it again so I could actually remember the story and recreate a Shepard in preparation for Mass Effect 2.  I got to learn much more about the deep and well constructed Mass Effect universe and accomplish all the side quests I could find.  I played as an Adept and I didn't have many problems with the shooting, except for the fact that I was stuck using a pistol for the whole game.  The inventory, though, was a pain to navigate and keeping track of all of the augmentations that you put on your weapon and armor could, at times, be a hassle.  Also, like many, the segments where you needed to travel on the Mako—the unstable terrain vehicle—were frustrating and long to go through.  But the story was very enjoyable and I liked how dialog choices were made. 

 Mass Effect 2
  • Finished: May 24th
  • Final time: 36 hours and 3 minutes
  • Difficulty: Normal
  • Score: 4 out of 5
       I very much enjoyed this game.  Most of the problems that the previous one had were rectified in this sequel and everything also looked a lot nicer.  The core story didn't progress much, but I still enjoyed it very much and I liked how the members of Shepard's crew were more fleshed out with their histories explained and their personalities being explored with their own individual missions.  The shooting was much more responsive, effectively making the game more of a 3rd person shooter than the last game, but it was disappointing that, this time, as an Adept again, I relied a lot more on my weapons than I did my biotic powers.  Many of the references to the previous game and Shepard's decisions being in the form of electronic mail and quick encounters were also disappointing and made it feel as though none of the decisions made in Mass Effect actually mattered that much.  I hope that won't be the case in Mass Effect 3. 

 Chrono Trigger
  • Finished: June 23rd
  • Final time: Around 17 hours
  • Score: 4 out of 5
       For reference, I played this on a PC emulator but I rarely used save states or any tricks to cheat my way through this.  In the beginning, I didn't much care for the story, but as it went on, it got more interesting and I found myself wanting to know what was going to happen next.  I found the battle system to be... weird.  It's time based, as many of you know, but I sometimes felt like just enabling the option to make it a normal turn-based because it can be pretty difficult to quickly navigate the menu to find that one item you need to immediately use, in a boss battle, before the boss gets his turn.  At times, it was hard to know where I needed to go next, exactly, and I had to check an internet guide a couple of times so I could find out.  The music was great and it was really fun, though, and I intend to go back, someday, and attempt to get another ending with another playthrough via New Game+. 
       Currently, I'm playing Deus Ex so that's probably going to be the next game I finish.  That's a fun game, by the way.  Maybe you wouldn't enjoy it now, as it's 10 years old, but if you haven't checked it you should at least try it out.  Thanks for checking my blog!  Hopefully I'll have more games to talk about at the end of the 3rd quarter of this year.

Have you ever been really competitive at a video game?

And I don't mean simply playing against your friends, against the AI or against random people a bunch and trying to beat them.  I mean playing a game for weeks of total playtime; studying the underlying mechanics of the game, trying to comprehend them; getting involved in the competitive scene of that game and frequently play against other people.   
Have you ever been that competitive at a single video game?  If so, what drove you to get that much better at the game?  If not, what's stopping you from going the extra step in any particular competition based multiplayer game you enjoy and getting competitive at it? 
I think the first game I truly got competitive at was Super Smash Bros. Brawl.  After being able to constantly beat my friend with any character, he no longer wanted to face me in that game.  I proceeded to find other ways I could face real people, instead of searching for "randoms" online.  I ended up finding a community that pertained to my interests: AllIsBrawl.  The way matchmaking worked and how individual player statistics were tracked immediately appealed to me.  Later on, I sold my Wii to get a 360, and what probably made me regret that the most was the thought that I'd not be able to play SSBB anymore.   

Second game I got competitive at was Street Fighter IV (naturally leading on to Super Street Fighter IV).  Figuring I enjoyed fighting games with my experience with Brawl, I figured that SFIV was my best bet for the 360.  Before the launch, I read up on several things from the previous games to prepare myself for the new one.  I even (reluctantly, at the time) bought an arcade stick; probably my most expensive video game accessory purchase ever.  What I found was a much more harder game to grasp than Brawl, but more enjoyable as well.  Still play it quite a bit and "study" from time to time, today. 
Now, I'm getting into competitive Pokémon (don't laugh at me).  Before all of the other games I mentioned, I was kind of "hardcore" when Pokémon Diamond was released (I got into complicated crap like EVs, attitude and complex breeding).  I stopped when I sold my DS Lite.  Now, especially with the recent news on Pokémon Black/White, I'm realizing that this might be a game I want to get into on a competitive scale. The fact that it's a competitive multiplayer JRPG—which is pretty damn rare—appeals to me.  The fact that lag is a non–issue in this game and that there's absolutely no manual dexterity or execution required also greatly appeals to me.  All you need to do is think and know basic math and you too can be a true Pokémon master!  There are tons, tons, of variables in Pokémon (IVs, EVs, Moves, Held Items, Breeding, Weaknesses...), which makes everyone's team so diverse and unique, so you won't be finding yourself facing the same character/team in high level play.  I've read up on a bunch of info from sources like Bulbapedia and Smogon University; I've even started playing a virtual, PC Pokémon battle simulator called Shoddy Battle, which is essentially Pokémon stripped down to only the battle aspects of the game where you can make your own Pokémon team via menus without any grinding and duke it out with other, online players. 
As to why I like getting competitive at these games?  I'm not entirely certain.  I guess I enjoy just being competitive at something and seeing myself gradually improve.  Maybe also because it gives me the opportunity to be good at something.  Anyways, it's not always enjoyable to get professional at a game (I hate reading up on stuff, in particular), but in the end, I find it to be very rewarding and it's just fun to go against other players that are as good as you are and experience really, really tense battles, with only one person being victorious in the end.    

Games I've completed in the 1st quarter of 2010

To start off, I'm mostly typing this out because I want Giant Bomb's blog achievement.  I'll admit it.  But hopefully it doesn't turn out too terrible as I still put in some effort into writing this.
So, just like the title indicates, this is a blog about games I've finished from January to March, 2010.

 Halo 3

  • Finished: January 2nd
  • Difficulty: Heroic
  • Score: 4 out of 5

     I enjoyed it.   At times, the campaign seemed a little too difficult (thank god for frequent checkpoints) and seemed geared more towards the co-op of the game, though.   But I enjoyed the large and (mostly) colorful environments along with the impressive soundtrack.   Overall, it was a fun experience.

 Final Fantasy X
  • Finished: January 30th
  • Final time: 46 hours and 22 minutes
  • Score: 3 out of 5

     I disliked it.  The story was abysmal, the characters were, for the most part, unappealing and simple and most of the voice acting was terrible.   I enjoyed the music and (thankfully) the combat, but random encounters and unskippable summoning cutscenes quickly got frustrating.   Near the end, it just felt like a chore and I didn’t want to continue.

 Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

  • Finished: February 12th
  • Final time: 19 hours, 50 minutes and 26 seconds
  • Difficulty: Normal
  • Score: 5 out of 5

      I had played and finished both 1 and 2 before finishing this one.   I loved the previous games (first more so than the second) and this one did not disappoint.   I loved the story which was thankfully less absurd and complicated than 2 and the Cold War and survival setting which brought an interesting twist on the previous mechanics in the series.

 Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
  • Finished: February 17th
  • Score: 4 out of 5

      Second time going through this one, and I still love it.   The characters are charming and the cases are unique and interesting.   Having played the other games in the series, it’s hard not to notice the dated look of some of the sprites, though.   And the audio quality of the game, even though the music is awesome, is kind of bad, too.

  • Finished: February 27th
  • Score: 4 out of 5

      Just like all the other games in the Ace Attorney series (even though this is technically not one of them), this was very enjoyable.   The various twists on the established game mechanics of the series (direct control of the character, the “Logic system”…) were very welcomed and the overall presentation of the game is great.   The lack of any real court scene was disappointing, and some parts in certain cases were just plain boring, though.

 The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

  • Finished: March 3rd
  • Final time: 75 hours, 13 minutes and 40 seconds
  • Final level: 19
  • Saves: 153
  • Score: 3 out of 5

      If all aspects of this game could come together perfectly, I would have probably enjoyed it a little more.   I liked that the world was so developed and vast, but I’ve never been one for these fantasy settings.   The most fun I’ve had with the game was with the guilds and, even then, it was just a select few of them (the Dark Brotherhood, most notably).

 The Elder Scrolls IV: Shivering Isles
  • Finished: March 13th
  • Final time: 8 hours, 6 minutes and 2 seconds
  • Final level: 19
  • Saves: 19
  • Score: 3 out of 5

      Now, why the hell would I even play this expansion if I disliked the main game so much?   I’ll tell you why: achievements.   That’s right; this is basically the only thing I’ve ever bought for the sole purpose of achievements.   It just pained me to see 1000/1250 for my score with Oblivion.   So, what I got from this was basically a whole lot of "fetch" quests for the main questline.  I needed a podcast to listen to while I ran across the place or else I would fall asleep.   There were some fun parts, it being the land of madness and all, but there just wasn’t enough for me.

 Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
  • Finished: March 21st
  • Final time: 32 hours and 31 minutes
  • Level: 20 (max)
  • Score: 4 out of 5

      Playing this on the Xbox 360 was total hell.   Frame rate dropping constantly, audio lagging with sound effects getting completely removed in certain parts and the game getting completely frozen.   But, I loved it so much that I continued playing.   I actually enjoyed doing sidequests in this game!   I’m not a Star Wars fan at all, but this game got me interested in it, at least a little.   I loved the combat and team management, the dialogue, the characters and the music.   But I especially loved the excellent story.

 Assassin's Creed 2
  • Finished: March 27th
  • Time: 16 hours, 40 minutes and 55 seconds
  • Score: 5 out of 5

      I played a few hours into the first one and never touched it again.   I liked the concept, but the repetitiveness of it got to me.   In AC2, every aspect of it was awesome.   The progressions of both the story and of the game mechanics themselves were excellent.   I was unsure about the renaissance setting at first, but I soon enjoyed it as much as everything else.   The voice acting, the music, the duality between the present world with the Animus and Ezio’s world… I absolutely loved it. 

 Bioshock 2

  • Finished: March 30th
  • Difficulty: Normal
  • Score: 4 out of 5

      Finished the first Bioshock and enjoyed it very much.   Finished this one and I didn’t enjoy it as much.   Overall, a better “game” than the first one, with being able to control your powers at the same time as shooting your gun being one of the big updates to the combat.   The story of a Big Daddy and his Little Sister was interesting, but not that engaging.   The game served more to teach you about Andrew Ryan’s political opponents down in Rapture and giving you a broader view of that world, but I really hope the next one (because there will be one) doesn’t take place in the underwater city.

     That's it.  I'll probably play less in this quarter as my focus will mostly be on Super Street Fighter IV, but I'll probably post another one of these as I feel an obligation to now...  I've finished 2 games recently: Darksiders and Bayonetta, but i guess those will be included in the next one of these.  The next game I finish is probably going to be Mass Effect (1), which I've already finished once but that I want to go through again to learn the story once more and actually do some of the side quests before playing the sequel.
     Any tips or tricks to how I could improve my writing or my blog or anything would be appreciated.  Thanks!