Monday, April 27, 2009

What I got this weekend

So as you may know, I attended the Calgary Comic Expo. I bought a few things. Here's a list of what comics I got.
  • Black Axe 1
  • Daredevil 228
  • Daredevil 232
  • Deathstroke the Terminator 25
  • Fallen Angels 1
  • Havok & Wolverine Meltdown 2 (some very nice art)
  • Lost at Sea (you've already seen the picture)
  • Martian Manhunter 2
  • The New Warriors 29
  • The New Warriors 46
  • Q-Unit 1
  • Superboy 64
  • Superman 76
  • Team One Stormwatch 1
  • Turok Dinosaur Hunter 1 (pictured below because it deserves it)
  • Ultraverse Prime 2
  • Ultraverse Prototype 4
In case you haven't noticed, these are incredibly random comics and the majority of them I have never heard of. I only got them cause all that (excluding Lost at Sea) cost me $2 and the Turok one was on the front -- looking incredible:

To add to things, I got Scott Pilgrim 1 and Lost at Sea signed by Bryan Lee O'Malley. Him being there was definitely the highlight of the entire event for me. And finding Lost at Sea, then having the cashier tell me how lucky I was to find it on his shelf for it is no longer in print, was also pretty good.

I also grabbed a free poster of the comic Read Meat. I didn't know at the time what this comic was like and after looking it up, I can safetly throw the poster away for it is terrible.

Overall the convention was a pretty fun and surreal time. I hit up two panels: one about independant comics and the other about Reboot. Seeing the fanbase that show has has inspired me to watch the series again. Hopefully I will find time soon.

On Sunday, I got a new cell phone. Coincidentally with the worst phone name I've heard so far: Chocolate Flip. I like the phone, though my last one was old as hell, and am having a good time with it. Here's a picture of it I grabbed from Google:

And last, but certainly not least, I finally bit the bullet and purchased some Wii Points. I did this for the soul reason of buying Bit. Trip Beat after seeing the concept art for the follow up game.

I like it quite a bit but find it very hard. Though, with only three levels, I'm glad it's hard. Without this level of difficulty I wouldn't be playing this game for very long. If it did have more than three songs to it, I would have liked some more ease of game play when you first start. But for 600 points, it's really good. It involves using the wiimotes motion controls in a smart way, as opposed to a terrible way (like the majority). And it combines my love of Chiptune music and indie games. I highly await the next installment.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Here's a picture of some guy dressed in the best Master Chief costume I saw there:
(It's a bit dark. I don't care.)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

As of Saturday Night

I went to the Calgary Comic Expo today. I bought some stuff. Here was my favorite find:

I will have a longer post about what I thought of the convention accompanied by pictures of everything I got tomorrow. I know you can't wait.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Review: Rhythm Heaven - 8

Rhythm Heaven is a fun and exciting way to spend brief periods of time with your DS and still feel like you’ve completed something. It captures the sense of the more main-stream rhythm games but still sets itself up as a mini-game collection. With more than 50 songs ranging from very different types of music, you’re in for a great time. Though one may find themselves a little thrown off when faced against its sharp learning curve and immediate difficulty.

The basis of the game play comes down to playing along with the game’s music by three main tasks: tapping, holding and flicking. At first glance this would appear as a very simple and an almost too minimalist style of game play as it gets too close to the style of mini-game collections. And though Rhythm Heaven is mainly a collection of mini-games, it structures them in a way that makes almost every one of them unique and engaging.

This brings up the best part of Rhythm Heaven: the music. The music can range from country and jazz all the way to rock or techno. Every song you play will be very different than the last and they’re all upbeat and enjoyable. It will be quite hard to go through the entire game and not find a song you really like. This truly makes Rhythm Heaven a game for everyone.

While listening to the music, you job is to perform actions that play along to the song’s beat. However, Rhythm Heaven actually has quite a high level of difficulty to it that makes itself relevant right from the get go. It becomes quite a difficult game due to its demand for a high level of precision when timing your taps or flicks. This steep learning curve is also the game’s biggest down fall. Going into a game aimed more towards the “casual” gamer and finding it this hard immediately isn’t a good thing. Even veteran gamers may fine themselves failing a couple times on the very first level.

To add to the difficulty, the game doesn’t do a very good job of teaching you what you need to do for each individual task. There is a practice mode that plays before each game (which you can skip if you wish) and for the most part it gives you a good understanding of what needs to be done. Though, there are some cases where I found that even though they told me what motion to perform, I still couldn’t get it. The problem is, Rhythm Heaven will tell you what to hit, but they don’t narrow down enough of when exactly you need to hit it. The majority of the time you’ll be faced with “tap after you hear ‘Yeah!’” And in game, this will sometimes mean to tap on the beat of “Yeah!” or the beat just after – the game doesn’t tell you which. There was even a case where it told me to tap on a beat that registered one too soon. This didn’t help the game as I was struggling on some of the tasks already.

Though it may be hard to first get into, once you have the basics down, it gets very fun. You will be ranked on each game and getting almost a perfect will net you a superb score along with a medal. You use these medals to unlock more mini-games to play with and, just like the main game, these games will require a sense of rhythm to play as well. These games can range from an entirely new song to play along with, or a variation on one you've already come across.

There is also a ton of different games to choose from in the main menu. Rhythm Heaven sets itself up in columns and after you play four songs, the fifth is a combination of the previous ones called the Remix. This lets you revisit the tasks you had to do in a new, fused together song. It also adds different images playing on the screen than the original song had. This adds up to the Remix mini-games being a great idea.

Along with the chance to play more than the main section of the game, you will be constantly reminded that you should try and score a perfect rating on past songs. Any time you achieve a superb score, the game will notify you after a while that you are good enough to try for a perfect. Playing the song perfectly will unlock you the song to listen to in the game’s playback feature. Though, it also comes with a bit of a risk. You only get one chance to play the song while going for a perfect score. This means that a perfect score can only be gotten when the game has notified you of it. So if you got 100% the first time you played, you won’t unlock the song. It also means that if you mess up your one chance, you need to wait till the game notifies you again. This was a bit of a disappointment as I found myself really enjoying a few specific songs and though I played them enough to achieve a 100% rating, I wasn’t unlocking my favorite songs.

Overall, Rhythm Heaven is a great game that, with enough practice, everyone can get into. It features a huge selection of music and wide variety of games to play. And though the game may start off a bit on the difficult side, it makes up for it with being fun and humorous. And the level of enjoyment you will get out of it will overcomes the difficulty as you will be playing the songs many times. The songs are all catchy and easy to enjoy while the inclusion of fun animations playing along with the music makes for a great time. Rhythm Heaven is a game that shouldn't be missed by any fan of the rhythm and music genre and will provide hours of entertainment.

Overall: 8/10

Friday, April 10, 2009

First Impressions: Rhythm Heaven

I will most likely update this periodically as I play more over the weekend.
  • Very fun to play.
  • Very hard from the beginning on. You will be trying each stage several times. Even getting a pass can be hard let alone a Superb or Perfect score.
  • The Remixes at the end of each column are very cool. Having all the last stages you played through together is great.
  • The music is catchy.
  • You need to make sure you have a sense of rhythm.
  • The cafe offering tips and more ways to unlock new things is great.
  • I don't like how there's no way to jump out of one file back to the main menu. So let's say I was playing and someone else with a saved file on the card wanted to play. I have to turn the game on and off in order to open someone else's file.
  • There's no "Retry" or "Restart" button to hit during a game, which would have been nice. If you crapped up the beginning and want to start over, you have to wait till the end up the song or quit out and start it up again.
  • Getting Perfect is much harder than I thought.
  • Constant reminders that I'm very close to getting Perfect on something and that I should keep trying is killing me inside when I have to keep turning it down.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Review: Pokemon Platinum - 9

Pokémon Platinum continues the long running series with an interesting story, hours of play time and a huge diversity of ways to play. The story is always changing and adds new elements and side quests to take on before finally reaching the end. This causes the length of the game to increase more and more. All new comers to the series will find themselves with a wonderful game; however, veterans may find it too similar to some of the past versions (especially Pokémon Diamond and Pearl).

The game starts you off in your home town as a soon to be trainer in the Sinnoh region of the Pokémon universe. You get to choose a gender and name and after a few events unfold, you get your first Pokémon. Pokémon are pet-like creatures that you will collect and use to battle other rivalling trainers. From there you are asked to travel the world searching for new Pokémon and taking on new challenges. As you continue your journey you will encounter new enemies, friendly allies and loads of ways to enjoy yourself in Sinnoh.

Your main task is to take on a total of 8 gym leaders in order to earn badges that will grant you access to the Elite Four – the final challenge of the game. In order to take on the gym leaders, you must first train your Pokémon so that they will become stronger along with catching new ones. Traveling through any uncultivated area, such as a forest, field or even a desert, will set up random encounters with wild Pokémon. From here you must try and either beat them to earn more experiences points or weaken them enough to throw a pokeball and catch them. As your team expands and becomes stronger, you will be able to take on the harder challenges with more ease and increase your amount of accessible options through the game.

Along with fighting your way through all the gyms and stray trainers who wish to take you on in the game. You also have several other choices of gameplay. The two more significant ones are Pokémon contests and the Underground area. Apart from these two, there is also a new online multiplayer mode exclusive to Pokémon Platinum.

Pokémon contests have you select one of your Pokémon to go through a talent show like game in order to win ribbons. In each contest you will have to dress up your Pokémon, which requires selecting specific accessories that relate to the theme specified. You will have to make your Pokémon dance, which translates to a very basic rhythm game. And last you’ll have to show off your Pokémon’s battling moves. This last stage is probably the most engaging since every move has a certain after-effect that will occur. These can range from altering the next rounds placements or even earning extra points. Pokémon contests can also be done through multiplayer against other people.

The Underground area is another fun way to spend time with your game or your friends. Once you receive the Explorer’s Kit in game, you can head into what is essentially an underground maze that can be accessed almost anywhere in the Sinnoh region. In here you can partake in treasure hunting mini-games along with building a secret base. Secret bases allow you to create a room and decorate it however you wish. When playing with friends, you will be able to see them in the underground maze as well and from there you can interact with their character. One of the fun things to do is to try and steal your friends ‘Flag’ from their secret base and bring it to your own – almost like a ‘capture the flag’ style of game. To increase the difficulty of this game, players can set traps on the ground that will activate when stepped on. These traps can vary from sending someone on a track all the way west until hitting a wall or even covering their DS screen with bubbles that they must pop with their stylus.

The online mode is called the Wi-Fi Plaza and it is a new addition to Pokémon Platinum that can only be accessed if you have a wireless internet connection. In here you can move around a room while other people playing online do so as well. However, your only option when trying to interact with them is asking pre-staged questions like “What’s popular?” This causes the tasks of “talking” to people to become quite dull and needless. You can also play a couple mini-games in here that involve using the stylus in certain ways. Playing these games well will upgrade your Tap Toy, an item you receive when first entering the room. The Tap Toy is an object shown on the bottom screen than when tapped will play a noise.

As these games do add a great deal of play time to your game, they also reveal Pokémon Platinum’s biggest downfall: it’s the same as the past Pokémon games. When comparing the game to either Pokémon Diamond or Pearl it essentially the exact same game. You do the same challenges and task and travel all the same routes on your journey to the end. This aspect is also very similar to every single Pokémon game in the main franchise. However, Pokémon Platinum does add a few new aspects to it that try and make it worth playing despite you owning Pokémon Diamond/Pearl or not. These additions are mainly some new trainers to face and a few new key characters to interact with throughout the game. The biggest addition is a plot change with the game’s main story arc in which you encounter the games three most legendary Pokémon. It may end up being an overlying change but it doesn’t come up enough and affect the rest of the game to be different enough. Though these aren’t necessarily bad additions, they are in no way worth playing through the game if you own either Pokémon Diamond or Pearl.

The graphics in Pokémon Platinum are great for the DS. It stays with the 2D side scrolling aspect but still looks great on the hand held. Though it does look identical to the landscapes and character models from Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. However, there are several minor differences added to Pokémon Platinum. The majority of these additions are some of the Pokémon stances are now different and some of the characters now wear different clothing. Overall, the graphics haven’t changed much but they still look great.

The sound in Pokémon Platinum is that great a feature and like the graphics, it remains the same as the past couple Pokémon games on the DS. This is another one of Pokémon Platinum’s disappointments as there wasn’t really anything new to the way the game sounded. It even used some of the sounds that the Game Boy Pokémon games had. It would have been nice to hear some new music and sound effects when playing what could be your fifth or sixth Pokémon game.

Though Pokémon Platinum has some major flaws if you’ve been with the series since the beginning, it’s still an incredibly fun game that can be enjoyed by all. If you are a new comer to the franchise or never got around to picking up either Pokémon Diamond or Pearl, now is your time to get in on the action. With all the different gameplay modes and secrets to unlock, you will be playing for 100+ hours before you complete everything. And if you try and catch all the overall 580 Pokémon, that will add that much more replay value. Overall Pokémon Platinum does what we’ve come to expect from the series, a great handheld gaming experience, it’s just a shame that there wasn’t enough new features to recommend it to everyone.

When it comes to my verdict, I place it under both Pass It and Buy It. I only put it as Pass It for the people very familiar with either Pokémon Diamond or Pearl. They won’t feel the game has enough in it to play through the same story again. However, I place it in the Buy It category for anyone who may have passed on playing those two. It’s a great experience that is different enough from the other Pokémon games, just not the first two DS titles.

Overall: 9/10