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October 10, 2010

EarthBound Review

From the mind of Shigesato Itoi comes one of the most finely-crafted RPGs of the Super NES era - EarthBound. Known as Mother 2 in Japan, this was the Super NES sequel to an off-beat NES RPG that was translated, but never released in North America. EarthBound has a unique style, look, setting, soundtrack, and just about everything else from every other RPG. You play as four kids destined to save the world from an alien threat of total destruction. EarthBound may appear to be kids' stuff on the surface, but its initial appearance belies a complicated and twisted plot, as well as a challenge level greater than most other SNES mainstream RPGs.
GRAPHICS: 8.5/10
First off, I don't really give a damn if someone thinks this score is too high or not! =P EarthBound's graphics are unlike anything you'll ever see in any other RPG, and possibly any other videogame, period. They look like something out of 1950's America. While they may appear cartoonish, and lacking in detail, they have a unique style that fits the mood and theme of the game just perfectly. It's almost like a minimalist style of artwork, but it comes across very nicely.
There are lots of different characters, enemies, and backgrounds. You will traverse cities, deserts, swamps, caves, volcanoes, a neon city, and even more bizarre places above and beyond. And while the graphics may appear somewhat flat at first, as you proceed you'll notice little details here and there that really add a nice touch. A few things in particular I can think of: When you cross the bridge to Fourside, you'll see the shadow of the bridge shimmering in the water below. In the dinosaur world, your characters are shrunk down in size to make everything else around you look huge! There are flowing rivers of lava in the volcano. There's also a wide variety of characters in the different towns and not just the same palette-swapped "man" and "woman" characters over and over again. I like how most of the characters have such expressive faces! I can't really think of any other SNES RPG where you can actually see the expressions on the faces of the NPCs. (Although, it seems like most of them are smiling.)
While there is some palette-swapping of enemies, most areas have plenty of monsters that are unique to that area. During battles, instead of background scenery, you will see the enemies standing against a bunch of vibrating colors. At first, I was not too fond of this, but the more I got used to it, the more I liked it. The enemies are drawn very well, but you do not see your characters while fighting. The spell effects used in battle are quite dazzling! The only real downside of the graphics that I can think of is that overall, they appear a bit "static", and the animation is nothing to speak of.

If they're the Runaway 5, why are there 6 of them?Happy Happy Village is full of people who are
SOUND: 9/10
Much like the graphics, EarthBound's music is very offbeat and unique to this game. Do not expect symphony orchestras like in the Final Fantasy-style RPGs! Much of EB's music is lighthearted and bouncy, but other times it takes on a techno beat, and there are times when it can sound sad or creepy. Mostly everything is quite fitting to the scene at hand.
When you walk through the snowy forest, you'll hear music with sleigh bells. The pyramid music sounds "Egyptian". Dalaam's theme has an Asian flavor to it. When you walk into the haunted town of Threed, the music is really creepy, like something you'd hear in a haunted house. And "Bluegrass Mall Trolling" has to be one of the best videogame songs, ever! I also liked the songs that were performed by the Runaway Five, and the Sky Runner theme. The boss battle music is really good, too. Sometimes, you can hear weird sound effects in the music, like UFO noises, or monsters growling. I think the absolute coolest song in the game is the music heard during one of the final boss fights. It starts out sounding like something you'd hear on the NES, and then it proceeds to thrash into heavy metal! The only music that could've used some work is the normal battle themes. Some of them are good (such as the New-Age Retro Hippie's theme), but most of them are flat and some are really annoying. But at least this game uses several different battle themes, unlike most RPGs that have the same battle music for the whole game.
The sound effects in this game are very good, too. I love the effect of walking up and down stairs! The sound effects for the spells are just as good as the graphic effects. As long as you aren't expecting a symphony, the music shouldn't disappoint.

CONTROL: 8.5/10
Are controls really that important in this kind of RPG? Not really, but it is possible for RPGs to have horrible play control, like when characters walk too slowly, or when menus are difficult to use. Fortunately, the control in EB is quite good! It's easy to move the characters around, and they walk at a fast enough pace that you won't be screaming at the TV, "Move! Dammit! Can't you go any faster?!" The menus can be a little tricky at first, because you open them up by using the A and B buttons, rather than the Start button like most other RPGs. But it's not that big a deal.
The only real problem I have is that the text scrolls too slowly during battles, and you have to keep pushing one of the buttons to make it scroll faster. Sometimes, it can be a little annoying to constantly push buttons during battles just to move them along, but on the other hand, it can be kind of exciting to button-mash during stressful situations. Another thing they could have done better with was the bicycle. You can get a bicycle to travel around faster, but once you have another person in your party, you can no longer use it. You don't even get the bicycle until the second town, which is also where you get your second party member, so you'll never really get much of a chance to use it. Overall, the controls are decent and you won't have a problem with them.

It all began when a meteor crashed outside my house...You've gotta love a game where you fight enemies called Great Crested Bookas
EarthBound's plot cannot be summed up in one word, though "bizarre" comes to mind. It was written, in part, by famous Japanese personality, Shigesato Itoi. The basic premise is that four average kids, some with not-so-average psychic powers, are predicted by the Apple of Enlightenment to destroy the ultimate embodiment of evil in the universe, Giygas. It all begins one night when a meteor crashes outside Ness's house. Ness, being the main character of the story, goes to investigate, along with his annoying neighbor, Pokey. At the meteor crash site, Ness meets a heroic bee from 10 years in the future named Buzz Buzz. Buzz Buzz tells Ness the story of how Giygas destroyed everything in the future, and that it is up to Ness and three other kids, Paula, Jeff, and Poo, to stop him. Ness is given a Sound Stone, and he must use this to store energy from the eight power spots of the world, known as "Your Sanctuary" locations.
Along his journey, Ness will need to find the three other kids who will help him defeat Giygas. As if all that didn't sound complex enough as it is, you will run into many different situations. Giygas's evil is already beginning to spread, and it is taking over the minds of many people. Ness's annoying neighbor, Pokey, becomes the main instigator of Giygas's chaos, and causes quite a bit of trouble for our heroes at every turn. Pokey definitely evolves from being a timid pest in the beginning, to a real threat as the game goes on, and he marks himself in history as one of those RPG villains you really love to hate! (Not unlike FF6's Kefka.) You will face otherworldly dangers, as well as more down-to-earth situations, such as bailing a traveling blues band out of their debt. There's even a part where you go inside Ness's mind.
Overall, EarthBound's plot is very well-done, but it does lack in a few areas. The character development of the main heroes isn't so great. We do learn a little bit about each character, but they rarely do any talking once they're in the party together. Other characters were done much better. I like how many characters you meet, such as Everdred, Pokey, Apple Kid, Dr. Andonuts, the Runaway Five and Tony, come back later on for other parts of the story, and turn up in various situations. Not everyone may find this story to be as interesting as I did, since it is quite different from the usual RPG.

Either I suck at this game, or all the people who say the game is "too easy" are using some sort of special technique for winning that I am unaware of. One thing that is good about the challenge of EarthBound is that it's well-paced, without leading you around by the nose. There are very few times where I had to stop and "level up". If you do level up, it will make some areas easier to get through. But if you don't, you can probably still get through those areas, but it will just be a lot harder.
The challenge of the game can vary a bit depending on how many people are in your party. Things are kind of tough early on when you just have Ness, but as you gain party members, it becomes a little easier. But then later on, you lose one of your party members, due to a plot twist, and you'll realize just how much you miss that member. If you know what you're doing against most of the bosses, and if your levels are high enough, you probably won't have too much trouble defeating them. They are usually susceptible to at least one kind of magic, and you just have to figure out which one.
EB has other challenges besides enemies. You'll be piecing together clues in order to resolve many of the game's puzzles and situations. You'll need to find items and use those items in the appropriate situations in order to progress. These puzzles aren't impossibly mind-boggling, and even if you do get stuck, you can pay the Hint Man a small fee to get a clue as to what to do next. Another thing that adds to the challenge is the limited amount of items you can carry in your inventory. You can't just stock up with a godly amount of items and use them to heal your way to victory! You'll have to choose carefully what you take with you. (Luckily, the hero's sister will store extra items.) EarthBound is also an extremely long RPG, and possibly the longest RPG on the Super NES. EarthBound is not overly difficult, and not insanely easy, either. It's very playable for both RPG experts and newcomers.

FUN: 9.5/10
I think EarthBound is definitely one of the best RPGs I've played. This was one RPG that hooked me from start to finish. What makes EB unique from many other RPGs, besides the bizarre setting and plot, are the many different intricate situations you'll find yourself involved in within each area. You are traveling to each area looking for the Sancturay locations, but it won't always be as simple as walking from Point A to Point B, then fighting a boss. Towns aren't just little dotted places on a map where you stop to refill before moving on your merry way. There's a lot that goes on in each town, and every scenario must be played out before you can move on. For example, when you enter the second town, you are looking for Sanctuary Location #2. But before you can get there, you'll discover a girl with psychic powers was kidnapped, a blues band needs to be bailed out of debt, there's a strange new cult in Happy Happy Village to the east, and you cannot get through the tunnel to the next town because ghosts block the way. Several characters around town, like Everdred the thief, and an inventor named Apple Kid may have some answers for you. But it's up to you to make sense of everything.
The battle system in this game is very similar to Dragon Warrior. You fight the enemies in the same first-person perspective. But the way the battles run is a little different. First of all, you can see the enemies while walking around before you fight them. If you meet an enemy face-to-face, battle will begin. If the enemy sneaks up behind you, it gets the first attack. If you sneak up on the enemy, you get the first attack. Sometimes, if your levels are higher than the enemy's, you will win the battle automatically without having to fight! There's good balance between the characters' abilities, too. Ness specializes in healing powers and attack powers. Paula has devastating attack powers, but no healing magic. Jeff has no magic at all, but he can make inventions that do lots of damage to the enemies. Poo is similar to Ness, but only he can use the Starstorm magic. Sometimes, the battles can be quite amusing. The enemies don't always attack, and sometimes you get NPCs in your party who may or may not help you fight. It can be really funny at times! I still laugh whenever I see the battle dialogue say something like, "Pokey used Ness for a shield" or "the Crazy Robot ate a bologne sandwich", or "the New-Age Retro Hippie brushed his teeth." The battles also feature an innovative "rolldown" HP meter, in which your hit points gradually roll down as damage is inflicted on characters. So if a character is dealt a mortal blow, you have a chance to heal him/her before the meter rolls all the way down to zero.
This game probably also has the biggest assortment of items that I've ever seen, especially healing items. Instead of tonics and potions, you have normal food, like hamburgers, bread rolls, French fries, pizza, and stuff like that. You can even have pizza delievered to you! Different items have different effects. Some restore a few hit points, while others restore a lot. Other items may cure status ailments or can be used as weapons in battle.
The money system is a bit unusual. When you win battles, the money goes into a bank account, and you withdraw it by using an ATM. This may seem somewhat inconvenient, but if you lose a battle, all the money you were carrying is lost when you restart, but not the money in your account. So, it's a good safeguard against losing.
One thing that can be a little annoying is when Ness gets "homesick". If he gets homesick, he becomes useless in battle. You'll have to get to a phone and call home to cure it. This sometimes happens at very inopportune times (like in the middle of a boss fight!) But other than those two minor annoyances, I can't think of too many negative things about this game.

Everyone's favorite purple dinosaurNo RPG is complete without at least one pyramid to explore

EarthBound is definitely one of those games that people either seem to love or hate. Those who love it, such as myself, tend to rate it very high, but that score may not necessarily reflect how everyone will feel about this game. If you were expecting another Final Fantasy-style RPG, you may not like this. If you don't like humorous plots, or fighting battles in first-person perspective, than this might not be your cup of tea. But for those of us who enjoy it, EarthBound is an RPG unlike any other. I don't know if I can call it the greatest RPG ever, but it is one of the best!
OVERALL SCORE (not an average): 9.5/10

October 8, 2010

Wooo! 100!

:) I am so surprised I have 100 followers now!

Thank you all for your support!

And sorry I haven't been able to keep up xD I will soon, School is very hectic and things are just going out of control at the moment. :) I will be back some time soon though!

October 6, 2010

New Stuff!

Right now I'm watching the new season of Myth Busters and it's pretty cool.

Next I'm hoping to watch the new seasons of South Park and Ugly Americans!

October 5, 2010


Sorry for not posting yesterday!

I was extremely sick and busy.

Today there was a career fair which sucked because I'm pre-pharmacy but they only had engineering people there. It was totally not worth it.

I'll have more video game stuff up soon!

October 3, 2010

So I was recently looking through the PlayStation hacking scene and I discovered something very interesting!

This little device allows you to do pretty amazing things. The most amazing is that it does NOT void your warranty! That's right, as long as you have the proper versions of things you will not be having to void anything.

Now this little device does cost about 20 dollars, but as long as you have the money for that and extra hard drive space you can start playing homebrew (programs made for the PS3 or other devices by home developers and not professionals) and game backups.

From what I've read... you have to have system version 3.15 or lower in order to use this device, but I've also seen you can have up to 3.41 of the system menus. Either way, if you're willing and able to do this crazy stuff, I actually think you should. Of course, there's always a chance of bricking your device... so again, don't try anything unless you're sure you want to go through with it. The PS3 is a complex machine and therefore the technology to hack it is not complete. Use it as your own risk, but have fun if you do use it!

October 2, 2010

Quick Update

Hey! I don't have time to do a full on review or anything but I was browsing around the internet today and stumbled upon a PlayStation forum.

You can actually now hack the PS3 to play homebrew and game backups! I find it really interesting!

October 1, 2010

Pokemon Black and White Review

Well since it seems like this is the review most people want, I might as well do it now!

Of course the game isn't out in English yet but I am fortunate and have a Japanese version.

Here is the intro (Can be a spoiler):

It is extremely beautiful! The intro seems to hint at things that I don't know about (or at least I'm going to pretend to not know about the ending or anything for this review so I don't spoil anything). So let us examine the game.

When you start you pick your gender and name and all of that classic Pokemon stuff. One major difference in this is the choice of Pokemon. You get yours right away. You still have to go through that silly intro stuff but at the very beginning you and your two friends each take a Pokeball from a gift box.

You do not start with the ability to run so... that kinda sucks... and you don't really start with Pokegear or any sort of touch controls at the bottom of the screen which is another huge disadvantage. A final big letdown is the integration of the 3D... it sucks. They could have made it a lot better and allowed you more movement behind buildings and such. But hey! The game is so pretty and the story is intriguing!

There are 156 new Pokemon with this game and everyone seems to be excited over them all! One somewhat disappointing, but definitely motivating thing is you have to have Pokedex data of every new Pokemon before you can catch older Pokemon! Now this is bad because you can't play through with your favorites, but it's amazing because you get to actually know these Pokemon. Most games just integrate the new ones into the old, this game makes it feel like a whole new game! If I were to suggest games to play, I would say Red/Blue, HeartGold/SoulSilver, Platinum, and Black/White.

I can't go into much detail about the story at all or else it'll pretty much ruin your experience... but I suggest once it comes out in English you get it. If you are an old Pokevet like me, you'll get that nostalgic and wonderful feeling of when you first shrunk down from that sprite into your room and walked out onto the grass leading out of Pallet town. This game is one you want to get without a doubt.

September 30, 2010

Final Fantasy XIV Official Release

So Final Fantasy XIV has been officially released and I'm sure there will be a large influx of players both today and tomorrow.

Of course I think that, since it's a paid service, you can expect people not realizing that you can get on the game on day one. Also the update download will take a long while due to the massive downloading requests.

If you are wondering how to activate your free trial, here is how to do it:
1) Log into your SE account
2) Go into FFXIV Add Service
3) Choose Add Option
4) Add a Character and pay with Crysta
5) Continue and at the end you'll see a "-1,299 30 day free bonus" so the price will be zero
6) Now you can play while you wait for your clickandbuy account to become active!

Hope this helps a bunch of people :) Have fun playing!!!

New Ideas

Well, someone said something about DS games and I just have to say I completely forgot about those ones!

I will be doing a Pokemon Black and White review, a Professor Layton series review, and some other DS games I can sift through and find amusing.

Thanks guys for reminding me!

September 29, 2010

What will Come in the Future

Right now I'm a little busy, but here is a list of writings I'm going to be doing in the future (within this or next week I should get most or all of them done):
  • Review of Final Fantasy XIV Specs
  • Review of Final Fantasy XIV Special Equipment
  • Review of EarthBound (My favorite game, so it'll include other opinions)
  • Review of Harvest Moon: Animal Parade
  • Some tips for Guitar Hero
  • Motorola Droid X review and recommended apps
So I hope you all look forward to that stuff and I'll be writing soon!

September 28, 2010

WonderKing Online!

Yes... I'm straying a bit from Final Fantasy in order to give you all a taste of something pretty neat.

WonderKing Online is a 2D side-scrolling MMORPG with both modern and mythic aspects integrated into its fantasy environment. Like MapleStory, this game has its own signature animal. They call it the puma.
Pretty cute and, in my opinion, better looking than the MapleStory slimes.

This game, though resembling MapleStory in its most basic senses, is actually quite unique. It is very new, not even a year since the release... But it has amazing content and a pretty unique and individual story line, which MapleStory is lacking greatly. Most of the NPCs have voice actors associated with them. There are Part-Time quests that you can repeat. Making money is super easy with the quest system and from selling the vast amount of equipment drops you can obtain great quantities of money to supplement your travels.

When it comes to leveling... WonderKing wins the great battle of EXP balancing! You get to explore areas fast so you never get bored. You won't spend hours grinding or questing in areas (excluding later levels). You can go from level 1 to level 30 in 3-5 hours, 7 hours if you take it really slow. You get your first job and basic job at the same time, during creation... so you feel like you're advancing more and you have more customization early in the game. Getting from level 30 to level 80 is actually quite fast, it'll take some time but with questing and taking your time to read what the quests are actually asking, you can do it in a week, two at most.

Something WonderKing has that MapleStory not only lacks, but has never even tried to implement, is the PvP system! YES! WonderKing has PvP! Unfortunately it's not as balanced or perfect as you'd like it to be. It's still in the beta stages and no EXP or Gold is awarded... but they are improving it every update and balancing the classes greatly so soon everything in the game will be fixed... since 95% of the problems are class imbalances and don't have to do with PvE content.

Over-all the world of WonderKing is a great place! So if you're looking for a new, free MMORPG (which has cash items but you can do surveys which have extremely high payout rates because WK actually cares about its customers) with lots of new content and exciting stories, then play WonderKing! Or if you're just hating on MapleStory and desiring a way to piss them out, come to WonderKing and lower Nexon's Fan Base!

September 27, 2010

A Disk of Disappointment

First I would like to say that I never expected this bonus DVD to be packed full of information... but it would have been nice if it was longer than 2 episodes of Naruto! (Or 20 episodes worth of actual story progression--100 episodes of story progression in Dragon Ball Z)

So the title screen is a very bland thing, though very clean at the same time.
As you can see there is a Final Fantasy XIV Online logo, followed by the name of the virtual world. Then it tells you it's about the making of the game. Below that there are two selections, either play all or chapter list.

Let's first take a look at the chapters within the disk.
As you can see, both pages are displayed in a very clean and organized manner with beautiful artwork as the background. The designing of these menus certainly was thought of carefully. You see nine chapters in total. The first three chapters are somewhat tied in, each with about the same backgrounds and style of story telling. The next chapter, and the longest, is about the music and the creator of the music for the game Nobuo Uematsu (not only for this game, but he also created most of the Final Fantasy music in all games). The final five chapters tie into one another pretty well. You actually have a difficult time telling them apart which, even though that might sound bad, is actually quite good. This is because it's full of amazing artwork and designs done by the team.

Now... Though things are good... the production value lies in what was actually created for the game. The effects within the movie itself are awful and, even though they used genuine staff members, the acting and enthusiasm was not shown at all in the speaking voices nor postures of the people portrayed within the film. You don't get to see a lot of inside stuff... you see more rigid, expected things that not a lot of people care about and can be found on the internet with ease. Considering the price of this I would expect some good quality documenting and a longer run-time. The total run-time is 35 minutes and a few seconds... paired with the repetative music (they constantly use the theme song/original FF theme instead of switching it up) it makes this DVD not something I'd watch again... and actually I wish I never watched it because everything shown here can be seen in-game.

Now that said, this DVD's lack-luster features certainly don't weigh down the value of this box set... but it does make you wanting more and wishing they would have done certain things better. So if you want to see some nifty things and don't feel like reading, then sure, watch this. Otherwise don't waste your time.

Quick Update

I am about to do a review of the bonus dvd that came with FFXIV. Just thought I would give you all a quick view of what the future holds!
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September 26, 2010

Got the game to run!

Yes, I finally got the game to run, and in full screen too! All you need to do is set the resolution in configuration to the resolution of your display. For anyone who has this problem I hope this little tip helped you out. If not, I will be more than happy to help you trouble shoot!

Hope to see you all online soon!
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Final Fantasy XIV Collector's Edition

I have recently purchased the Final Fantasy XIV Collector's Edition and I have to say I am very happy!
This is the cover art to the giant, 13" diagonal box, both beautiful and mesmerizing. It's a reminder of the old Final Fantasies. The one in dark armor looks almost like Firion or Cecil. 

This is the back cover slip, displaying all that comes within the box and includes the system requirements. The way it's organized is actually pretty well done.

When you take off the plastic cover from the book-like box you will be able to remove the back cover slip and see a pleasant work of art along with a giant XIV.

Inside the box you will find three things. First is the actual game wrapped in shrink-wrap for extra protection. Then you will find your security token and your customized, leather-bound journal. It is all perfectly displayed in the already heavy feeling and beautiful looking book-like case. It certainly (in display and aesthetic appeal) was worth the $75.00 + Tax.

This is actually one of the main reasons I bought the game. This security token is actually quite nifty. They sell them as a stand-alone unit... but who would want a normal one when you can get a Final Fantasy XIV customized one?! That little red button can be pressed and it will display 6 digits that are unique each time (of course that means there are only 10x10x10x10x10x10 unique combinations... or 1,000,000... so press it 1,000,000 times to see all combinations). 

Now after opening the actual game, you will find your game disk, instruction manual, some codes and such for redeeming all of the special stuff you get, and your bonus DVD (a little less than 40 minutes long).

Finally you have the amazing, leather journal. It comes with a built-in orange bookmark and weapon art water-marks on each page. At the end of the book there are images and artworks of monsters and other things within the game. It's quite breathtaking.

Unfortunately my laptop is unable to run this game and I don't have the money to purchase either a new computer nor a long-term account. Still, despite my lack of ability to play this amazing game, I have no problem and have no regret with my purchase. I suggest if you have the money and ability, get this version before it's gone.