Castlevania - where to start?

I've been interested in the Castlevania series for a long time now, but due to the series' ridiculous backcatalogue of games, I haven't really known where the best place to start is.

I recently found Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles for ridiculously cheap so I decided I might as well start there.  I know this game has the original Rondo of Blood and (an apparently updated w/ new voice acting?) Symphony of the Night.

What I want to know is, should I start with the PSP update of Rondo of Blood, or should I start with Symphony of the Night?  I know the latter is arguably the most popular game in the series so I thought it may be a good place to start.

The only other problem I have is, does anyone know what the specific differences are between Symphony of the Night on XBLA, PSN, and PSP?  As far as I know the XBLA version has altered sound effects, the PSN version is the original PS1 version, and the PSP version in DXC has a new voice cast.

Many thanks to any and all replies that can clear some of this up for me.

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dis this (stupid IM convos)

[20:13] Insanemarine: fuck
[20:13] Insanemarine: dis this
[20:13] Insanemarine: is
[20:13] Insanemarine: pimp
[20:13] buffaloaf: which song? da one i linked?
[20:13] Insanemarine: no this food lol
[20:13] buffaloaf: oh wow rofl
[20:13] buffaloaf: i read dis song
[20:13] buffaloaf: and not
[20:13] buffaloaf: dis this
[20:13] Insanemarine: ive been eating peanut butter out of the jar like all day
[20:14] Insanemarine: LOL
[20:14] Insanemarine: i thought i wrote
[20:14] Insanemarine: shit
[20:14] Insanemarine: rofl
[20:14] Insanemarine: dis this
[20:14] buffaloaf: lol
[20:14] Insanemarine: rofl
[20:14] buffaloaf: looks like
[20:14] buffaloaf: we're both
[20:14] Insanemarine: we both
[20:14] buffaloaf: retarded
[20:14] Insanemarine: yeah
[20:14] Insanemarine: rofl

feel free to add any of your own retarded moments

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Ragequit.

So I was playing Team Fortress 2 a while ago, and I happened to noticed that I had been repeatedly killed by the same demoman in the exact same location numerous times.  I then started to go after him and noticed that he kept camping this ledge in a corner planting stickies everywhere.  After numerous failed attempts at killing him as a spy and eventually ending with him getting a domination on me, I ragequit the game by holding the power button down on my laptop and then I went and ate some pizza while I contemplated my own failures in life.

So GiantBomb, when was the last time you ragequit a game?

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Music of 2008: In Flames - A Sense of Purpose

Over the next while I'm going to be periodically posting individual entries analyzing all of the albums I listened to last year.  Granted there are a few releases from 2008 whose existence I did not even discover until this year, but I will most likely include those later on, since release during 2008 is really the only criteria necessary.  Essentially what I am doing is giving my long-overdue analysis of all the music I have which was released last year.

I don't really have any particular order set in motion, and I will most likely pick albums at random.  This way it gives me more time to re-listen to everything I may not have heard in full for some time.  Once I feel like I've covered all the albums I feel like are worth mentioning I will post a summary of them all and will most likely rank them in some form, or at least give my top 3 or 5 favourites.

One last thing I'd like to point out is that different music appeals to different people, and everyone has a different taste in music.  I consider myself to be pretty open minded so you may be surprised as to the variance of things you will see me posting about over the next little while.  I would also like to ask people that they keep their personal musical preferences and biases to themselves.  If you hate band X, or genre X, that's fine, but please keep it to yourself.  If you have no interest in the band or genre I am talking about at the time then don't read it, and don't comment.  If you have something constructive to say then feel free to add something, but I'm in no mood to tolerate garbage posts on this subject.

So without further ado, I give you...

In Flames - A Sense of Purpose

01. The Mirror's Truth
02. Disconnected
03. Sleepless Again
04. Alias
05. I'm the Highway
06. Delight and Angers
07. Move Through Me
08. The Chosen Pessimist
09. Sober and Irrelevant
10. Condemned
11. Drenched in Fear
12. March to the Shore

Bold = My personal favourite tracks from this album.

If you're an old school In Flames fan then it seems like it would be pretty easy for you to hate this album through and through without ever giving it a second glance.  See, if you're unacquainted with In Flames, they basically started out as one of the original Melodic Death Metal bands who essentially played a huge role in creating the genre.  The issue a lot of older fans have with In Flames is that around the time frame that they released Reroute to Remain they had somewhat drastically changed their style from standard melodic death metal and started experimenting.  The most noticeable change is the singing style used by lead singer Anders Fridén which went from your standard melodeath growling to something that is a bit harder to classify.  However, In Flames began adding clean vocals, and a bit more of a "screaming" style of singing than the growling style you typically hear in melodeath bands.  Essentially this has made In Flames themselves a bit harder to classify these days since they don't really follow the rules of what it means to be a melodic death metal band, and in a sense have almost created their own genre of metal... again.

Needless to say, if you can't tell from the album name and the track titles, A Sense of Purpose deals pretty heavily with personal struggles and introspective themes, so if you generally have no interest in this sort of stuff you will most likely find this album pretty intolerable.  For me however, this album came at a pretty good time of my life.  I had been in a bit of a rut when this came out and I felt pretty unmotivated in general, and for a long time I found it pretty easy to relate to this album.  Now I don't want people to think I'm getting all "emo" or something here because quite frankly I think that term in general is horribly misused and I don't really see anything wrong with emotionally expressive music either.  Isn't all music emotional in the first place? Anyway, the lyrical themes on this album are pretty similar through all of the songs dealing with feelings of inadequacy, hostility, aggression, melancholy, bitterness, bleakness, malevolence... you get the idea.  It can be kind of intense and overwhelming almost, but there's definitely no hiding the feeling of this album since it's pretty strong from the get-go.

The album opens with The Mirror's Truth, which was the first single from the album.  It then goes on for a few more tracks all of which are fairly solid, my favourites from the first half being Disconnected and Sleepless Again.  Disconnected can initially come across as an "emo" song due to the lyrical passage

I feel like shit
But at least I feel something

However Anders Fridén had the following to say about the song:

"When I'm in a tour bus, people can't see me but I can see them, and I see so many sad faces. People go from A to B without trying to break out of that routine, and sometimes I see people like that I want to know what they're thinking. I need to feel alive and sometimes it seems like other people dont feel that way."

Disconnected can come across as a bit simple at first, but lyrically it's a pretty powerful song with this knowledge in hand.

Sleepless Again also deals with some powerful lyrical content, much like the rest of the album, but is especially noticeable due to it's use or powerful vocal harmonies and extremely melodic guitars resonating throughout.  All that said, for me the album really, really picks up at just about halfway through with Delight and Angers.  What happens with Delight and Angers is that the album goes on a stretch of significant consistency through several extremely good tracks.  Move Through Me is an excellent follow-up, which leads into my personal highlight of the album, the +8 minute ballad "The Chosen Pessimist".  This song has an incredibly slow build up with clean vocals that from my perspective resemble Thom Yorke at times, which then leads into an extremely intense final two minutes of powerful instrumentals and a extremely passionate vocal performance which is quite breathtaking actually.  The song's lyrics are pretty deep, and come across as someone stuck in the sense that they can't make a decision between two sides and has essentially become a pessimist feeling that they never will make the right the decision. This is a pretty unusual song for In Flames, so again some people might really hate this song, but I think this is one of those tracks that is more easily digestible by newcomers, or more open-minded listeners.  I mean no offense, but metalheads aren't exactly the most open-minded people when it comes to music.  After the epic 8 minute ballad In Flames give no time to let things wind back down again, and instantly get back into the frantic metal people are expecting with Sober and Irrelevant.  In in these later few songs where there are actually several moments of death growls that will probably put a smile on older fan's faces, but they also make these last few songs feel pretty heavy, especially Condemned which is easily the most brutal and menacing song on the album.

Another personal favourite of mine is found in "Drenched in Fear", which contains a lyrical passage that I quite enjoyed.

I refuse to let you steal my delight
Barely awake, but it strengthens my night rage
I've seen you kill many dreams
But I've got brand new armor,
Any weapons are way out of reach

How does it feel to be demolished?
Vaporized into thin air
Strange new feeling to be nothing

I find this particular passage meaningful because my own perception of the song is that it's about people who try to bring you down/abuse you and the person in the song has overcome them to the point where what they are doing no longer effects them.  The second passage is probably my favourite part though, since it comes across as if he's asking the abuser how it feels to be made to feel nothing which is something they've been doing to others for a long time.

Finally, the album ends with "March to the Shore" which is a pretty powerful album closer, dealing with a theme that seems to be insanity from my view, but it's hard to interpret exactly what it could be.  Needless to say, the entire album is full of extremely melodic guitar, and powerful vocal harmonies, to create a really entertaining listening experience.  This album definitely is not for everyone and I wouldn't call it In Flames best album either, but to be honest I don't think I could even chose a "best album" at this point.  That being said, if you're looking for an album that deals with some interesting introspective and emotional themes you'll probably enjoy this if metal is a genre you can tolerate.  A Sense of Purpose was easily one of my favourite albums from 2008, and I have read some people be really harsh on this album but meh... I really liked it so I say give it a listen with an open mind, there are a ton of great songs on here... you may find yourself pleasantly surprised... this album is definitely a grower.

Note: I haven't decided whether or not I am going to give the albums ratings, but if I do they will be saved for the final blog post summarizing all of the albums I've talked about.  For now I'd rather people read this, potentially listen to the album and then make up their own mind about it based on the text, and the content of the album rather than a faceless number associated with the text.

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Lost Odyssey: Survived

After what has seemed like an eternity I finally had some time to play Lost Odyssey after a couple weeks since my last session. I made quite a bit of progress this time, and completed disc 1.

One thing I have to get out of the way right off the bat is that this game is hard. As a self-proclaimed RPG veteran, even I have been having problems with some of the encounters in this game, almost to the point where it is absolutely ridiculous. That being said, the great thing about Lost Odyssey is the fact that even though you can get into an encounter that is seemingly impossible to win unless you go grind 20 levels, there generally is a method to win but Lost Odyssey makes you figure it out without giving you any goddamn clue as to how to beat it. Despite the fact that a particular battle against 3 infantry men and 2 calvalry right after meeting Cooke and Mack made me want to throw my Xbox 360 off my house's balcony I have found the experience refreshing as well as definitely rewarding too. I have felt a great sense of satisfaction of finally figuring out a strategy that works during these encounters.

Aside from that I'll go ahead and point out that the first boss of the game was another battle which to me seemed genuinly impossible, funnily enough the reason why it seemed impossible was because I was trying to set up my defenses before attacking. After I got royally pwned I decided to just try and unleash a barrage of non-stop attacks from the get-go without any healing or defensive spells whatsoever and I dispatched of the boss quite easily.

The second boss was a bit different, in that I had a significant problem surviving the battle once the second worm appeared, mostly due to the fact that I didn't have a way of protecting myself against paralyzation. I managed to devise a strategy that would allow me to dispose of the first worm without him being able to use his super attack, but seeing as how the second one appears with his super attack charged up already I ran into a significant snag. I went back and looked through my menu and discovered that I had an item which could teach Kaim and Seth paralyze immunity, so I had to do a bit of grinding to teach them that ability. Once they learned it I put the item on Jansen and the fight was a relative breeze.

So I guess what I'm trying to say here is that in a lot of RPGs you can go into most boss fights without that much preparation and usually throughout the fight you can figure out the boss' strategy, attack patterns, etc and come out with a win by adapting your strategy to the boss. Lost Odyssey is not so similar. Lost Odyssey really feels like if you go into a fight without any pre-conceived plan whatsoever you will get completely decimated. Once I knew what I was up against by getting royally pwned once or twice I generally devised fool-proof strategies that allowed me to win without too much difficulty. In a way it's kind of annoying, but at the same time I guess it's good to have a challenge too. Although I didn't find the last boss on disc 1 difficult at all and actually beat this boss in my first try. This boss was significantly easier to deal with than the previous two, as well as the soldier fight. I don't even know if the soldier fight qualifies as a boss fight... more of a semi-boss but I feel almost ridiculous admitting that I lost this fight at LEAST 5 times in a row, maybe even closer to 10 before I finally figured out a way to win. For anyone who has played this who may be thinking I am a complete noob for losing this fight I will point out that I was level 17 at the time. The main reason why I had so much trouble with this encounter was because the two calvalry soldiers were in the back row. The way Lost Odyssey works for the uninitiated is that the characters in the front row create a guard meter that makes it so anyone in the back row takes massively reduced damage to the point where attacking them is completely futile. You must weaken the frontline before you can get rid of the guys in the back. The problem was that they kept using this attack called "Rush" that was dealing 300 damage a hit, and they could effectively kill Kaim and Seth in 2 hits depending on their HP level, and Jansen in 1 hit depending on his HP level. This made the fight extremely frustrating, and I actually beat the fight finally by spamming flare bombs with Kaim and Seth as they allowed me to attack FIRST. This way I was able to quickly dispose of the soldiers in 2 turns, thus destroying the guard meter and then taking out the calvalry before they could take me out with their rush attacks. There was also a bit of luck involved in this fight though too... seeing as how if the cavalry decided to use rush right off the bat I could have potentially stood no chance regardless of what I chose to do.

Anyway, I'm done rambling about the difficulty of the game. It's not as hard as I am making it sound, it was generally just the boss fights on disc 1 aside from the last one that game me trouble. What I do what to talk about is the theme of this game so far. Lost Odyssey has no problem pulling at the heart strings, and one scene in particular near the end of disc 1 literally moved me to tears. If you've played Lost Odyssey you most likely know what part I am referring to, but I won't talk about it because it's a pretty significant scene, as well as a pretty big spoiler too. Man, am I turning into a big softy or what? :P But in all seriousness, this scene was beautifully conveyed to the player and the facial expressions, voice acting, emotions of the characters as well as the absolutely beautiful music combines to just make some really emotionally impactful scenes. The first dream from the Thousand Years of Dreams about the little girl also really got to me emotionally too. There's just so much sadness in Lost Odyssey so far and I'm really looking forward to seeing where the plot goes, especially dealing with Kaim's immortality. A central theme in Losy Odyssey so far has been death, as well as dealing with issues of existentialism which is something I also find pretty fascinating. It's funny how people always say stuff like it would be awesome if they could live forever... but then you experience Kaim's life and memories in Lost Odyssey and it kind of hits you what it would really be like, and it doesn't seem all that great either.

I'll end this here before this gets way too out of hand but Lost Odyssey has been pretty amazing so far. I really like Kaim as a character. I find him extremely refreshing from the usual RPG heroes. A lot of people kind of associate characters like Cloud Strife and Squall Leonhart as "typical RPG heroes" when they really arn't. Hey, I can admit that maybe some features about them are typical of RPG heroes, but their personalities definitely are not. People always go on these tyrades about blah blah cold anti-social RPG heroes, when in retrospect... there really aren't that many. Who else is there outside of Cloud and Squall? Kaim Argonar is the first I've encountered since I played those two games. I guess I prefer these types of characters though because they are more reflective of how I am, so I find it easier to relate to them than people like Zidane, Tidus, or any other happy-go-lucky dude that doesn't have a care in the world. Although I wouldn't say I don't enjoy these characters either, Zack Fair is one of the most out-going and expressive main characters I've ever seen in an RPG and he totally grew on me to the point where he's probably extremely high on my list of favourite video game characters.

As for the rest of the cast, well Seth is alright. I don't really know what to think of her yet. I guess I would say I'm neutral at this point. She's a fairly decent character and has a refreshing design from most female RPG characters, but her character development hasn't really gone anywhere yet. She has a likable personality, but like I said I don't really know anything about her aside from the fact that she is there and thinks Jansen is annoying so... hopefully her life will get a bit more fleshed out further into the game. Jansen is a mix of humourous and irritating, and I'm not really sure what to make of him at this point. I don't dislike the guy, but I find that I go back and forth between finding him kind of charming in a way, to thinking he's a dirtbag. I guess this is probably what they were trying to do, but it seems like everytime Jansen looks like he's starting to have a conscious his worst features start to come back out again. I actually surprisingly like both of the kids so far too. Some of the scenes with them were a bit... odd (mostly the first one) and in a way kind of cheesy, but hey, they're kids, so what do you expect. There's something kind of amusing about them though - they remind me of Palom and Porom from FFIV.

Well I guess that about covers it. Feel free to share any thoughts about Lost Odyssey in the comments. I figure I'll probably update my thoughts on the game as each disc ends, and maybe if all goes according to plan I might actually write a review for it if I feel up to it.

As an aside, I attempted to write a review for Crysis a week or so ago. It never really came to a form that I was pleased with so I saved it and then just kind of stashed it away for later. I'm not sure if I'll go back to the text I have or just start again completely from scratch. I think I my have waited too long after I finished it (beat it in January) to review it, because I have found that the way I was reviewing the game felt really stale to me. Ah well, I'll get it eventually.

Oh, I also bought Fable II. I haven't tried it yet, I kind of want to concentrate of Lost Odyssey, as well as finish up Gears of War 2 first before I move onto that. I'm definitely looking forward to it though, I LOVE the original Fable. (especially The Lost Chapters).

Well then... until next time, folks.

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The most amazing movie I have ever seen.

Anyone who has been following my activity over the last few years has a good chance of knowing that Final Fantasy VIII is pretty much my favourite game ever created.

I feels weird for me to say this, because I have to admit that for the longest time, pretty much since I had first played it my favourite game of all time has always been Final Fantasy VII. You can say what you want about Final Fantasy VII, but there is no arguing the fact that it is an amazing game. Sure, it might not be the "best game ever" for everyone, it was for me, until I played Final Fantasy VIII, but that is beside the point. Final Fantasy VIII is essentially a romance which is probably why a lot of people hate it in the first place. Fortunately however I found this game absolutely touching and found it to have probably the most human characters I have ever encountered in a video game and the game pretty much melted my emotions to the point where over a year later I still haven't even attempted to write a review for it because I don't think I could even possibly ever describe the way I feel about that game in words. This leads me to the point of this blog post.

Today I watched what is perhaps the best movie I have ever seen. It may seem premature to say that, but the emotions this movie made me feel were extremely similar to the emotions that stirred within me when I played FFVIII. I'll just cut to the chase; this movie is essentially a romance too, but it's more of an "intellectual" romance than your typical hollywood movie. I won't even bother to try and convince anyone to watch this movie because it's definitely meant for certain types of people and if you aren't one of them then that is perfectly fine as well as understandable. That being said, if you find anything below the least bit intriguing then you may want to invest an hour and twenty minutes of your life to watch what is perhaps the most amazing thing you will ever see. This movie is the single-most compelling display of pure human emotion I have ever seen. I'm going to be blunt, the ending of this movie made me cry.



A young man and woman meet on a train in Europe, and wind up spending one romantic evening together in Vienna. Unfortunately, both know that this will probably be their only night together.

I know what you may be thinking; something along the lines of "Oh god, this looks like some unbearable Romeo & Juliet-esque love story" trust me, it's not.

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/before_sunrise/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0112471/

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Victim of Plagiarism

So a while back this guy plagiarized a bunch of people's blog posts including one by Gigastormz.

He made a new account and is back at it again, where he plagiarized my review of Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII.

My original review can be seen here.

If you have a GameTrailers account please report this fucker's review, and his entire account, even though he hasn't logged on GT in 3 months he probably just made a new account and is plagiarizing people anew.  When you report him make sure you post a link to my original review on GameSpot as proof.

I appreciate anyone who helps me out, this asshole doesn't deserve credit for shit he didn't write.

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