Inside Story, indeed!

This is what happens when you are in fact not playing any games, no blog posts, not that it all that important, but still!

 As advertised.
 
Right, so a video game that I actually have been playing recently is Bowsers Inside Story. Not that I have a particular love for the series, but I seem to recall enjoying Super Star Saga and to some extent Partners in Time though admittedly (and as pointed out in one of my Giant Bomb lists actually) I've never beaten PiT due to the final boss sequence. Not that I've touched it anytime recently, but still, worth noting I guess. Point being I'm ready for some more of that, and it is more of that, thankfully. 
 
 No thank you.
Actually it's not more of that because it doesn't really take much from Partners in Time gameplay wise at all. If anything they really went back to what made Superstar Saga so enjoyable aka freeroaming Mario world (complete with backtracking) with colorful enemies and challenging combat featuring a bunch of well written characters. Of course this is before the inclusion of the Bowser element which is actually pretty significant because he is basically a third protagonist who has his own completely different move-set from the Bros. Furthermore their is a fairly even split in playtime between the two which might surprise some fans of the series. Also Bowser has his own (for lack of a better term) superbattles which are so super that they require the player to play the DS book style while super Bowser takes on the various giant enemies of the game (and I wouldn't call that a spoiler because footage of that was shown the first time the game was revealed at E3 09) Overall the inclusion of Bowser is a good one and  I didn't find anything particularly wrong with it since the back and forth between the two stories is well done and Bowser is a nice counter to the Bros. story.
 
What I did have a issue with though was that this game kind of doesn't know what it wants to be. On one hand it is very much a return to form for the series as already mentioned though the first maybe 30+minutes of the game is a pretty painfully slow tutorial section that is explaining EVERYTHING to you that you need to know. While I understand that Nintendo has exposed quite a few more people to its system since PiT was released it's still fairly annoying as a fan of the series to have to go through the intricacies of the game when, honestly, the game is pretty straightforward as it is. Also I just have to say on that note the game also has quite the odd difficulty curve. It starts off wtih the mind numbing tutorial section and then proceeds to plop you into some fairly challenging boss battles not long thereafter. At the same time though you find "Retry Clocks" scattered throughout the world which are glorified 'do-over' buttons which restart the current battle. That said the game is generally easier than past entries. The fact that I died only a handful of time and beat the final boss my first time through speaks volumes (about the game or my gaming prowess I'm not sure). 
 
I guess I had some other issues but those are fairly nitpicky in a otherwise incredibly solid game. It charms you to death even in its uneven difficulty, and has some really great combat sequences from top to bottom.  
 
Well, that was a lot of text, and it wasn't even really a review, but that's about the most your gonna get outta me these days.
 
Edit: I just have to mention this. One of the odder moments in the game (about 15+ hours in) is where Bowser hurts his back the Bros. help him by doing their 'drill move' into his lumbar or some equivalent which then for triggers a conversation from Toadsworth which suggests that you take a 'tea brake' and come back in a few minutes. Again, 15 hours in, and this is the first time this has happened, the game is giving you a Wii Fit like message about how you should take a break. I appreciate the gesture, but I'll never get those minutes back. :P
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GBA Love-in'+

Well... let's see here. It's about two weeks til' Summer break. which means it's about two weeks til' finals. And I'm playing video games, why? Oh, right, procrastination. It happens to the best of them I guess, and speaking of procrastination....
Another week, another Pokemon boxart.

Suffice it to say I have not received my copy of Pokemon FireRed. Due to a shipping accident (torn envelopes for the lose) I didn't get it this past week, though I did end up getting a refund soon thereafter, which I appreciated. Of course I shortly thereafter purchased yet another copy of FireRed which I feel slightly better about actually getting to me intact. So hopefully sometime this week I'll be able to waste more ti--- I mean, be nostalgic.  :P

Speaking of...nostalgic... in my never ending quest to find way cheap games I stumbled across (and subsequently won) a auction for Yoshi's Island: Super Mario Advance 3 complete with box and instructions for $8.50+ shipping. Now, I'm certainly not one of those people that always has to have the box and whatnot for GBA games, but I can appreciate it when it's included, especially when it's older (7 years?). Course I guess I'll see what kind of condition it's in when it gets here, but still, props!

What else... I've been playing Plants Vs. Zombies a little bit here and there,
The Zombies, are coming!
but honestly I haven't really played it enough to form much of a opinion about it. About the only thing I can say is that it's kinda all over the place difficulty wise. Perhaps the nature of tower defense type game, but it's definitely in effect here. I like it though, it's a quality product with a lot of little bits of humor for good measure, which I can always appreciate.

And if you haven't seen that Mass Effect 2 Pre-E3 video, check it out, I gotta say it definitely leaves a good impression.

So yeah, have a good weekend. Peace!
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Video...Games?! pt. II

You know what they say about sequels...yeah, anyway...

Let's see, what to talk about, well as you can see a la my Giant Bomb status/update thing I have beaten Phantom Hourglass. Which, ironically enough took my longer to beat in one go than Chinatown Wars. Of course you could argue that some amount of that time was taken doing stuff like sailing and going from the Temple of the Ocean King again (and again), but honestly that stuff didn't bother me. Of course I was also playing it through with a walkthrough close at hand, so there is that.


Probably my biggest issue with the game has nothing to do with the game itself, but the rap that it seems to get on the 'internets'. Sure, I'm not a huge Zelda, nor have a played many of the Zelda games 3D or otherwise, but I felt like this was a more than competent portable Zelda game on the DS. Sure, the touch controls got in the way more than I would of liked, but in some ways I was surprised how much easier it made certain things. Course, I'd like to not have to block the screen at all times with my huge hands, but I digress.

You know what they say

Speaking of...hands... :/
yup.

Ever since I got wind of the news that there will more than likely be a announcement of a remake of Pokemon Gold/Silver for the DS I had the Pokemon fever...or something. Also, I came to several conclusions after learning this promising news:

  1. Pokemon Gold and Silver were awesome, arguably the best handheld Pokemon game ever produced....period. 
  2. I'm honestly not sure why I still care about Pokemon.
  3. While Diamond/Pearl brought back a lot of great gameplay from previous games, nothing touches Red/Blue & Gold/Silver.
  4. I should really re-buy the Pokemon Red remake.
And....number 4 is where we find ourselves now. You see, this is what happens when I get on a train of thought. I start going on Ebay and Amazon and looking at used copies. Now unfortunately there really aren't many people with brand new copies of Fire Red/Leaf Green lying around (I mean, it's nearly 5 years old) so I was forced to go the game only route. Thankfully DS cases are awesome and have that great GBA slot wherein you can store your GBA games in a nice hard case instead of dealing with those paper boxes GBA and GBC games came in 'back in the day'. So yeah, I bought Fire Red, in retrospect it probably wasn't the greatest idea, but considering I haven't played that particular Pokemon game in about 10+ years (and it was actually the first game I ever owned...and subsequently lost thereafter) it's not entirely a impulse buy, just mostly.

So yeah, that's my video game related stuff recently, as said as that is. Over the summer I'll have a bit more time to mess around whatnot, it's just that whole school thing gets in the way of games sometimes. Crazy, I know.
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Chinatown Wars "Done"

"Only 10 hours?"
And so my playing of Chinatown Wars starts to come to a close. And while that might sound strange, what I mean is I'm done with the story missions and now it shifts to 100% the damn thing, or at least as close as I can get to 100% of course. I know I say this every time I play a game, but I'm going to say it again: I really want to write a review for Chinatown Wars. Again, I'm here to say that the probability of that is pretty much nil, but I can dream. Without going too much into it all I will say I did enjoy the game for the most part but I think this game is a bit overrated. It's a good game, don't get me wrong, but it has some issues, issues that in my mind make it far from being the best reviewed game on the DS. I'm not here to hate on the game of course, it gets a lot of stuff right and it's fairly long for a portable game, so you can't complain too much (10 hours for the story mode, about 20+ total). So yeah, I'll probably be playing that for awhile...and I guess I'll get back to Phantom Hourglass at some point (I like the game, but the Temple of Courage is kinda annoying).
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Portables

Yup.
So I bought GTA: Chinatown Wars. Yeah, I know...kind of weird since last time I wrote I had picked up Phantom Hourglass instead of GTA, but the constant onslaught of glowing reviews 'forced' me to pick it up (the 5 out of 5 from Giant Bomb didn't hurt either). So yeah, I've been playing that this weekend and I must say it's actually surprisingly fun. I think a lot of reviewers are probably giving the game a bit too much credit, but it's hard to ignore that it's essentially one the few good free-roaming action games on any handheld (and it doesn't hurt that it's a GTA game of course). Most of my complaints are somewhat minor I will say. Some of it may be my DS actually as it feels like when I have my finger on the accelerator sometimes the vehicle will slowdown if I don't firmly hold down the button. Other stuff like how easy it is to get busted and some of the slowdown that occurs is kind of offputting, but it's not a game breaking. That said, its actually been pretty fun so far. It takes all the 'gamey-ness' that the series has developed recently and completely throws some of it to the wayside and embraces the rest of it. It's a very simple and boiled down experience, but I really don't think that's a bad thing.

I guess I'll have some Phantom Hourglass impressions once I get it/stop playing Chinatown Wars. :P
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Video...Games?!

So more gaming pickups you say? It's almost like I have disposable income or something (almost)...

So for some reason this past week I've had a strange craving for a new DS

Pretty much like Henry Hatsworth and GTA combined, right?
game. I know I bought Chrono Trigger just a few months ago, but Chrono Trigger is kind of a commitment both time wise and ...thought wise...so I was kind of wanting something a bit lighter to get me through this upcoming quarter. It came down (not sure how) to Henry Hatsworth and GTA: Chinatown Wars. Just as a quick aside though, GTA:CW has been getting crazy good reviews (of course after GTA IV I kind of am starting to talk that kind of stuff with a grain of salt), but anyway. So after making myself crazy I came to my senses somewhat and and made a compromise... by buying  a used copy of Phantom Hourglass off Ebay. Ok, so not really a compromise per se, but it certainly wasn't $30+ and it's considered one of the better DS games period, so, yeah! I'll be getting that sometime next week so guess we'll see if that was a 'compromise' worth making, huh?

Worth every penny...
Now a really weird pick-up that I had no intention on getting was this weekends Steam sale...thing...on the Oddworld series. You would think that it'd be a kind of a strange buy considering the only Oddworld I've played is Strangers Wrath and the first two Oddworld games are about as far away gameplay wise from that as you can ask for. The method to my madness being...both games were selling for a grand total of $3.75. Yeah, I mean even if I absolutely hated it it's still less than I would pay for a bad movie or a bad hamburger, so I said screw it and got em' both. While the game is a bit more frustrating than I would of liked it's actually hasn't aged that badly. I mean this is a modern game (Abe's Odyssee was released in '97), but it's just still surprising to me how modern some of these 'older' games feel in 2009 (10+ years later). Regardless, I'm still trudging through it virtual strategy guide in hand, but I dunno its still a bit hard to convince myself it was a waste of money when not only is the game far from bad, but it was way way cheap. Hear hoping that Abe's Exodus is a little more forgiving in the save points.

What else, what else...hmm, I'm still going back through Warcraft 3 and World of Goo slowly but surely. I'm not sure why this year seems to be, "lets play 2+ year old games year" but that's what's it has been so far. Obviously school is coming up, so gaming will have to take a break for a couple of months, but obviously this summer is going to be a return to gamingness since that'll pretty much be the thing besides working/causing general mischief...

Edit: Oh check out my little Tumblr blog if you just need your random Internet images/videos quota filled. I've actually been keeping it pretty updated, so check back early and often. ;)

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Game 'Pickups'

The perpetually empty blog continues unabated!

Warcraft III

While usually I have the "I'm at school, ergo I haven't played anything excuse" I actually don't quite have that one this time. While I am at school and therefore don't have much time/energy to devote the games most of the time I actually have been playing some stuff. I finally re-bought Warcraft 3, which along side Starcraft have kept me quite busying messing around in Skirmish mode desperately trying to emerge victorious over the overbearingly difficult CPU player. It's like, I love playing RTSs, but at the same time I am completely garbage at them. Not that I've given it a lot of time, but I think I am yet to beat a CPU in Warcraft 3 on easy in a 1v1. It will happen eventually, but it's one of those strage loves I've had for some time.

Other than the sporadic Blizzard RTS playing, I've been playing random Xbox Live Arcade games here and there via a friend. Played the Wanted, Riddick, and HAWX demo which...are as about as different as games as you can ask for I think.

So yeah, wish I had more to say, but I've got a school quarter to finish up.
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13 Years later...

Chrono Trigger
So after having some strange / irrational need to play Chrono Trigger on the DS I blindly put down the cash and hoped it hadn't aged too badly after all these years. I must say, it's probably one of the truest examples of a classic I've run across in some time. It's hard to play the game and not think about how long it's been since the games initial release, but again that's not a slight against the game whatsoever, infact quite the opposite. I haven't beaten the game of course, but even after putting 14 hours or so in the game it's really astounding how solid the game is. Theirs so much depth and detail for those who want it, but the game goes out of it's way to remove some of the tedium that plagues many RPGs (new and old). It's not perfect or course, the game relies a bit too much on backtracking, but thankfully it doesn't usually require it infact, the game has fariyl good pacing and so far no need for level grinding, etc. The game is a bit hard, sure, but theirs rarely a boss that you feel like you just can't beat, which is always good. So yeah! Chrono Trigger is pretty damn, cool. I'll probably talk about it a little more if I have the inspiration to do so. :P
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Games x 3

And I thought 2007 was the best year in gaming... my current slate of games says differently.

So...I obviously haven't been able to get a taste of all the games I have on my plate right now, but thankfully among work and Thanksgiving and such I've been able to essentially beat Fable 2 (not really, but as far as major gameplay goes, yes) and beat the single player portion of Gears of War 2 on Hardcore and a good bit of Horde on Casual. First off I'll say I actually enjoyed Fable 2 a good bit, probably more than I should of considering the game is really what Fable 1 should of been the first time around, but I can't hold that against them of course. Regardless, pretty much all aspects are improved and refined and it is really a better game for it. The story is certainly more interesting and if nothing else the environments you explore offer way more variety and settings that Fable 1 did out of the gate. I mean, you don't go into Fable 2 expecting Oblivion-like scale, but you never feel like your not getting your moneys worth, I'm not exactly sure how many hours I have in the game, but I'd expect atleast 15+ hours, which is great considered conisdered how short Fable 1 was.

Of course on the other end of the spectrum in Gears 2 which like I said I beat the campaign on Hardcore. I must say, while I can't say I was quite as blown away with the campaign as some it's still pretty damn impressive at times and if anything the amount of variety is just rediculous. I'm not going to spoil anything of course, but suffice it to say anything left unexplored in Gears 1 is thouroughly done in the sequel, almost excessively so. What really surprised me was Horde, I mean, it's not like this is the first time a game has put this kind of mode in it. I mean, hell, I'm pretty sure MechAssault had it's Grinder mode which was basically the same deal. Still though, Horde is qutie a bit of fun, and I'd imagine if you had a group of decent friends it'd be that much better for it.

So yeah...the backlog continues! I got my copy of GTA 4 in today so I got to finally sit down with that a play through that a bit which is awesome. I'll probably keep trying to get to level 50 on Horde mode in Gears 2 and get as much out of Fable 2 as I can before finally moving on to Fallout 3.  Thank goodness for the winter break.

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Backlog? Bwuh!?

This may be commonplace for some of the more fortunate of you out there, but I have found myself in the (actually quite nice) situation of....the backlog. The backlog, a mystical time where the insatiable gamer finds himself in the predicament of having multiple games he owns he has not yet played. Now it's a little bit different for me as I am physically unable to play said games as I have no 360 down at school, but still!

Sure, I have my backlog here on Giant Bomb, but those are the criminal offenders, games that I've gone nearly a year or so without playing. On the other side we have the big three: Fable 2, Gears of War 2, and Fallout 3, three games I've been dying to sit down and play for months now (well, not months, but you know). With any hope come next weekend or so I'll be sitting down and working my way through this thing. I'll be sure to put up some kind of 'megapost' when I actually get the time to do said sitting down.

Oh, and like I mentioned on my GameSpot blog I also conveniently missed out on the bikes update for Burnout Paradise and Halo 3's title update 2 (with the added achievements), so yeah...good times.

P.S. I don't know if you guys saw the addition of the trivia section on Giant Bomb, check it out.

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