Archive for March, 2006

Fanboy Nerd Test

Joystiq led me to this Fanboy Nerd Test: 25 questions that determine your level of fanatacism towards any of the current big three console makers.

Here are my results:

Nintendo Fanboy: 38%
Sony Fanboy: 32%
Microsoft Fanboy: 15%

This means you’re: Not a fanboy

What does it mean?

You like all the systems pretty equally, or at least don’t love any of these systems. Good for you, you like variety.

I have to say that the Nintendo DS and the prospect of the Revolution have got me all excited about Nintendo again. I think I’ve become pretty platform-agnostic over the years, insofar as my knee-jerk Microsoft-hatin’ allows me to go. 😀

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Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Hold it, fool!

Though renting games means greater exposure to a wide range of titles, it exerts an artificial urgency on my cheapskate tendencies: hurry up and finish so the monthly rental fee retains its value. I don’t take the time to savor all the subtleties a good game delivers, which is not the way I like to consume my games.

Still, I held onto Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney long enough that it would have been cheaper just to buy the title. At it’s core, the gameplay is a bunch of dialogue trees that significantly reduce replay value. But being a lawyer has its own appeal, especially since I had already displayed my prowess in the operating room as a doctor. That, and the game is loads of fun. Too bad there weren’t enough copies at the time to buy one of my own, though I see that stock has finally been replenished.

I think this game was originally released for the GameBoy Advance not too long ago. But Capcom added touch screen and mic functionality as well as an entirely new chapter specific for the DS, if memory serves. Like most video games, it seems, you play an up and coming young man determined to prove hisCheck the name - Oldbag worth/manliness to his peers. Though there are a good number of strong female characters, they are relegated to the role of assisting Wright in the courtroom by providing you with hints during trials. Played out archetypes like the buxom hussy (whore), dried up harridan (hag) and ingenue (virgin) all take the stand at some point. But that’s a whole other post. 🙂

Another drawback of renting is not having a manual. I’m one of those people who reads them cover to cover. And not knowing about a critical game mechanic that allows you to punctuate cross-examinations with some damaging evidence meant I kept getting a GUILTY verdict (game over) in my earliest cases: the famous “Hold It!” move that you can pretty much call upon at any point in a cross-examination. Once I figured this out, I started to make some progress.

The logic operating behind the dialogue trees was a bit impenetrable at times. Quite often actually. Part of this is a natural result of getting the timing right in presenting a piece of evidence or pressing a witness at a specific point in their testimony: the fine art of being a lawyer, I suppose. But there were many times when it was way too opaque, beyond all sense and savvy sleuthing. At this point, I would tap every item in the court record/inventory (which can get very bloated with all the evidence you collect), and still I’d get a GUILTY verdict.

One thing that mitigates this considerably is a save feature that you can invoke at just about any point in the game. Make sure to use it often, especially before your cross-examination, otherwise when you restart, you’ll be at the beginning of the last testimony. You learn to recognize the tough parts of a trial when saving is a must if you want to progress.

Some of the imagery was surprisingly graphic.

Manellan00b!The localization is excellent, with really strong characterization. There’s even a geek who mouths off in l33t. w00t! The writing demonstrates a delightful sense of humor and cleverness–something you can get a feel for in this amusingly self-referential video promoting the game. It pokes fun at Prosecutor Edgeworth’s decidedly uncool ignorance of the Nintendo DS. It’s eight and half minutes long, but well worth watching.

Like Trace Memory, there’s no voicework in the game (despite the promo above). But it’s amazing what a small amount of character animation and ample sound effects can convey. I especially liked witness transformations whenever you succeeded in calling them out with a contradiction in their testimony. “YEEEARRRGGGHH!”

At the end of each chapter, there’s an opportunity to give a character something from your inventory: another chance for you to employ your deductive skills. I got it wrong every time. You only get one chance (unless you save beforehand), but whether or not you pick the right item, it doesn’t affect the game at all (if the walkthroughs are to be believed).

OMG!The final, made-for-the-DS-chapter, has more complex puzzles that require you to use the touch screen in a different way than the game previously called for. You need to rotate and zoom in on items, as well as blow into the mic in a few key places (don’t worry, I would’ve warned you if this was a spoiler). The chapter is actually quite long. Which reminds me that I almost put the game down around this point. It might have been a combination of that “rental-urgency” kicking in, along with the sudden jump in difficulty level given the new touch screen mechanics, the protracted and increasingly complicated trials, low level boredom and the quirky logic that required lots of backtracking. And I’m pretty obsessive about finishing a game, especially this close to the end.

But I stuck it out, and I’m glad I did. I wasn’t able to keep the game, even though I had kept it long enough to accumlate enough rental fees to buy two of them. If I ever acquire it, I’m not sure I’ll play it again. But it’s definitely worth having and yet another title I can share with friends to show them the incredible range of quality titles for the DS.

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Doing the Unthinkable

Though this happened in mid-December last year, I still cling to it as proof of what I’m capable of:

I said no to fried chicken!

Fried chickenApparently, Ezell’s is so much of a big deal, Oprah orders take-out all the way from Chicago (or so the local lore goes). I knew it would be served at this meeting I had to go to, and I girded myself accordingly. The vegetarian offering last year was really nasty, so I wasn’t sure if I could hold out. But like that first step a few weeks before, passing the meat by was shockingly easy.

Sitting down to eat, I looked around at everybody else, smacking their lips, talking about how good it was. And I was fine. I remembered that Ezell’s never really did that much for me. Maybe the Colonel has my heart. Still, in the past, I would happily eat Ezell’s the few times I encountered it. That instinctive reaching for something fried, memories of my siblings and I each having our own favorite piece every Sunday (mine was the drumstick), the promise, and ultimate letdown, of having it taste like Kentucky Fried from 25 years ago.

But looking at the greasy fingers, recalling that slimy feeling that never really washed away, the disappointment spun into the batter, leaving an aftertaste of flavorlessness and regret, I was content.

Maybe it helped that I loaded up on the fries, so I had my fix of fat. And the vegetarian option was pretty OK. But I still did the unthinkable. Hooray!

Now if only bacon was so easily refused…

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Get Yer Game Soundtracks Here

The save couchWow, this post on Kotaku led to a goldmine of game music. The soundtrack to Rez is there. And Ico too (another all-time favorite game of mine).

K always liked the song in Ico that would play whenever you saved. Sitting on the couch with Yorda to rest a bit, K would sometimes just let the music play, and we’d bob our heads along. I did some research on how to pull sound out of games or hook up a computer to the PS2, but we never really got far with it.

As far as game soundtracks go, I bought the one for Katamari Damacy and found the Rez tracks a while ago. As a game lover and music lover, I’m not as into listening to game soundtracks as you’d think. It feels a bit off-putting in a weird way. Like the two things shouldn’t mix for some reason. I wonder where this comes from.

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