Posts Tagged ‘Games’

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Metroid Prime 3: Corruption

So I got Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, for my Wii. The release date was listed as Aug 27th, so I went out to grab it late that day. However, Nintendo only ships on Tuesdays (for whatever reason) so I had to wait another day – what’s one more day, anyway? I haven’t played too much of the game yet, but I would have to agree with what most of the reviews are saying: it is awesome in nearly every way.

The controls are a big part of the awesome: well implemented Wii controls (thanks, Retro) make for the best console FPS experience I’ve ever had, only rivalled by the mouse and keyboard on pc. (Mouse and keyboard don’t lend themselves well to the couch, however.) Quickly changing Prime’s controls to the more sensitive “Advanced” mode, I find it hard to imagine anything coming as close to the mouse and keyboard in the living room. After taking a little while getting used to it, I found I was double-jumping around enemies and firing down at them while airborne with ease. I simply can’t imagine doing that on a dual analog control scheme. And a lot of the combat in Corruption takes advantage of this new found accuracy of the wiimote. I like the added immersion of the controllers representing each of Samus’ hands, even though at times it seems glitchy. Moving the wiimote backward (pull) and forward (push) when operating some controls, for instance, sometimes requires multiple attempts. Luckily, these situations are never in the heat of battle.. and when they work, they’re very satisfying.

Having read a couple reviewers’ comments on the game’s difficulty level being a little easier than the previous Metroid Prime games, I started on Veteran mode. A few puzzles have had me wondering around rooms for a while, but until this latest boss fight I’m on (the third boss, I believe), I haven’t really been out-performed by enemies too much. But wow this latest boss is really kicking my ass… after a few failed attempts, each getting a little closer, I decided to call it quits for the night. The boss fights are AWESOME, of course. 🙂

The game, in general, simply oozes polish – which makes sense, considering it was delayed nearly a year. The graphics are great and the frame rate is buttery smooth. There is quality voice acting and many nice in-game cinematics. Samus doesn’t talk, which is generally a good thing. This surge of other characters into the generally solitary you-alone-on-an-alien-planet Metroid universe is a bit of a mixed bag… Some of the added characters seem a little shallow and forced. There is some background provided through scanning objects and reading (optional) but a little more backstory on the other bounty hunters would be nice, for example – before first meeting them in the introduction.

Anyway, the game is fantastic, even though the original Prime blew people away more. Definitely not a casual game, which is a huge relief. But I’m trying to limit my time with it. A few hours a day, kinda thing. I haven’t actually played it for a couple days… Gotta get back there and beat that boss…. later tonight, I think. Oh yeah, I have to mention: Super Metroid, or Metroid 3, has been out on Virtual Console for a while, and that game is a classic.

2D Game Art and the Virtual Console

HD Pixel Art

I’m a bit of a game art aficionado. Actually, I’m an admirer of many things related to games (shock), but right now I’m going to talk a little about art specifically. Concept art: awesome. 2D art: awesome. Animated pixel art: awesome. And now HD pixel art? Well, Capcom is redoing their infamous game, (Super) Street Fighter 2 (Turbo), for the XBox 360 and PS3 in glorious 1080p HD. What they’ve released so far, looks pretty cool.

More images and information at the Capcom Digital Blog.

But with the resolution so high, I don’t think it’s fair to call it pixel art. The artist no longer has to be concerned with having enough pixels available in the character’s head to portray a complete face, or how they’re going to fake multiple digits on the character’s hand that is only 4 pixels wide. It is simply… digital art now. 🙂 It’s fun watching in-game art approach polished concept art!

However, I must watch this HD generation from afar, for now, as I have neither an HD system nor an HD TV. I have only a Wii and a small CRT (not even wide screen). But I’m among the majority, so I’ll remain confident I will receive some high quality games that I can enjoy for a long while yet – they just won’t look as pretty.

Some cool articles on video game sprite evolution: Mario, Castle Vania, and Sonic.

Interesting quote:

Shigeru Miyamoto made him look the way he does because of hardware limitations of the time. He was given a mustache to seperate his nose from his face, overalls so arm movements were visible, and a hat because hair was hard to draw.

And the book they’re from.

Virtual Console Rant

Speaking of Wii, Super Mario Bros. 2, often referred to as the black sheep of the series just came out on Virtual Console, yesterday. That game is great, but why can’t Nintendo just release Super Mario All-Stars on VC and get it over with?! I have All-Stars on SNES, so I can’t justify getting anything less on VC. Same with Capcom and Street Fighter! They are guilty of starting with the oldest game of the series some six months back, just to release the next in the series (an improvement in the existing game, nothing uniquely different, making the previous version obsolete) a week or two ago, making all the people that bought the original feel ripped off. Awesome way to treat your fans, guys. Really impressive.

Both of these Street Fighters are the same price on the VC: 800pts. One can’t help but feel that Wii owners are getting the short end of the stick. PS3 and 360 owners get a revamped HD version of the latest (best) version with added net play and other goodies. While Wii owners get to progressively download all of the classics from the nineties in their original form, starting with the first. At least Street Fighter 2 Turbo: Hyper Fighting is the last version released on SNES, so we shouldn’t expect to be shafted any more in the SNES VC. Of course, Street Fighter Alpha 2 may be on its way, but at least it’s a reasonably different game. I wonder if we’ll get to witness this same fan-milking by SNK when the Neo Geo becomes available on the VC this summer. Samurai Showdown 1, 2, 3, …. I hope not. Go straight to the good stuff. Quality over quantity, please.

And in a store, when the newer game comes out, the older one goes into the bargain bin. Where is the bargain bin on the Virtual Console? There’s no stock to get rid of. The older game, smug with defiance, remains equally priced next to its usurper. Any consumer considering the older game is likely doing so because they found it first, unaware there is a better title for the exact same price, making them a victim. This is made even worse with the lack of sorting options and meta data on the Wii shopping channel. A “Related Games” link for each game could be very useful to the buyer. A virtual bargain bin would be awesome, and could even increase sales (baseless blind guess). The Virtual Console is obviously very successful and still very young, but I hope Nintendo plans for some evolution in its life-cycle to make it more dynamic and mature.

Free Games and Entertainment

UFO2000

So for the last month or so… some friends (one, in particular) have been nagging me to get UFO 2000 to work. If you’re not familiar with XCOM: UFO Defence or XCOM: Terror From the Deep, they’re really awesome turn-based strategy/simulation games originally released by Microprose in 1993, for the PC. My friends and I would huddle around a 15″ CRT and play hotseat with this single-player game by naming and customizing our squad. We would control our own dudes, watch them improve and get better equipment, then plead for the game to be loaded when a favourite takes one for the team. (That got ridiculous, and we eventually had to agree that we would do no loading of saved games for that purpose.) Anyway, UFO 2000 is an open source project based on X-COM, and currently (only) supports 2 player multiplayer. Each player builds a squad according to set rules and money allowed, then places their their team on a randomly generated map, and go at it, exploratory style. The UI is atrocious, and unless you’re running Windows or Gentoo the setup might be a pain, but the game’s pretty awesome.

I documented the steps I went through to get it working on Ubuntu Feisty in the site’s forums here. However, I wasn’t able to see my friend on the server, so I still haven’t been able to play! :'(

Point and Click Adventures

If you’re into dry sarcastic humour and point-and-click adventure games, you might want to check out these (also 100% free!):

I tried using WINE to run them, but the performance wasn’t acceptable, and there was no sound. 🙁 Damn. Even so, I played the first bit of Spooks and it seems well written. I’ve played King’s Quest before and they’re pretty fun. 🙂 Space Quest was my favourite Sierra Adventure game, though….

Some videos

I found these videos entertainingly simple and accurate:

Website

I did take a quick look at a modified kubrick theme I had been working on a while back. One of the main changes is the menu on the right, and when I looked at what I had done in IE… wow, do I have some work to do! hah. Wait, that’s not funny….

After many hours of playing…

I finished Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii), the other day. After beating the game and watching the ending cinematics, I thought about the overall experience. It’s an extremely long game, but not terribly difficult. Yes, some of the puzzles stumped me for a while, and when I figured them out, they were thus a little more rewarding. Well, that’s not entirely true. Sometimes, it was more of an “Oh my god, I just wasted my time on that!?” kinda feeling. This usually occurred when I missed something obvious, or the game failed to make something obvious.

But I had almost no troubles at all surviving. I can think of a few moments that were intense, but I had trouble recalling if I actually died. Ever. I had to load up my game and let the nearest baddy kill me to see if I recognized the death sequence. I did, so I must have died at least a few times. The boss in the Sky Temple (3rd last dungeon), I beat without even getting hit. The final boss I got hit quite a bit, and I think I even used a fairy (maybe two), but I did not die. There’s a place called the “the Cave of Ordeals” in the desert, which contains a long series of levels (50, actually) filled with increasingly difficult enemies, and rewards at every 10th floor. I went in a little cocky and very nearly died on the last couple levels, making it very intense. I had to use 2 fairies and a fairy tear. I was down to just a couple hearts at the end. This was possibly the hardest part in the game, it’s completely optional, and was very satisfying. 🙂 The desert temple boss is awesome. I didn’t die, but it’s very fast paced and exciting. There’s also a moblin camp outside the temple that is quite difficult (and fun) if you charge through it. It’s very difficult to balance difficulty of the game with frustration of the player… and the difficulty must come from the game, not from the crappy controls. Zelda has awesome controls & game play, by the way. It looks like the New Super Mario Bros (which I thought looked awesome) may suffer in a similar way.

I enjoyed the story of Twilight Princess, and I could even feel a little emotion swirling around in my hollow interior during the ending sequence. But I feel a lot of the characters and relationships could have been fleshed out a little more. A lot more. Without giving away spoilers, I’d say the Ooccaa are a prime example. I got the feeling that the game was rushed in parts. Being originally created as a Gamecube game and ported to Wii in time for its launch, it very likely was. Here and there it seemed to lack the Nintendo polish that I’ve come to expect. But overall, it was still an awesome game.

I broke down and downloaded Gunstar Heroes for the Wii Virtual Console. 800 of my precious points… gone. About $10 CDN. I’d say that’s way too much for a Genesis game, but the game seems pretty good and is most definitely not too easy. 🙂 So who wants to spend a night playing GSH w/me? 😀 gameplay clicky!

Tofino Fishing, Link Dump

Tofino

Alright, so I’ve returned from my fishing trip. Actually, I returned like a week ago. ^_^ I went to Tofino with my Dad, his girlfriend, and my brother. I caught the biggest fish both of the trip (my dad hooked it, I reeled it in), and of my life: a 22.5 pound Spring Salmon.

Altogether, we kept 13 fish. A good variety of Halibut, Rock Cod, Spring and Coho Salmon.

Tofino is also a well-known surfer hangout. I’d never been to Long Beach before, and it was really beautiful. After seeing so many people enjoying surfing, I think I’d really like it. Anyone up for a surfing trip? I’m 25 now, so I can finally rent a car. We could camp on the beach, rent a couple snowboards and wetsuits, and we’d be set! Aw yeah! 🙂 Seriously, let me know if this strikes your fancy.

More photos.

Links

Software

Great UI stuff, if you haven’t seen ’em!

IEs 4 Linux. Amazing. Scary, but amazing. Good for testing websites.

Blog of Adobe guy (team?) working on Macromedia Flash player 9 for Linux. (What isn’t odd with that sentence?) Here.

Games! Total Annihilation Reborn! Twice! Here and here.

Videos (not related to software)

Kids in the Hall Classics

Colbert Roasts Bush (entire conference also available via… google)

Funniest commercial. I LOL’d.

The next big conspiracy movie. Looks good.

Other

The VPL hold music! Yes!

Update

Almost forgot! Happy Canada Day! Woooh! Now, I must go celebrate by punishing my liver. I suggest you do the same. 🙂

Spicy Shrimp “Kebabs”

Okay. Apparently, my last blog post was in March. If that’s true, … well, that can’t possibly be true. Let’s just forget about that.

I finished my 8-month internship, last Friday, and have now returned to school. yay for me. Actually, I’m only taking one course for the first term, so it should be pretty relaxed. A math course; if all goes well, and it should, this will be the last math course I have to take. Ever. 🙂 After this summer, I think I’ll need just 8 more courses…. ugh. it’s… never… ending.

Last week was actually pretty eventful. Aside from completing my internship, there was a Co-op Japan reception, and that was pretty cool. Free wine and sandwich meats! I definitely drank too much wine, however. Work was extra long the following day. It was good seeing everyone again, though. ????????

Went to an open house put on by a game development studio. I’ve always been interested in developing games, be it programming, designing, or art, it’s one of the primary reasons my interest in computers sparked. I wasn’t actually looking for employment, I was just… curious. So I didn’t feel like I fit in with a huge crowd of “recent-graduate-networkers,” but the experience was still enough to rekindle a bit of a spark. Plus, the spicy shrimp kebobs were fricken delicious! I bet you’re thinking, “Steve, aside from the shellfish, what made your interest grow again?” In a word: passion. These people generally love what they’re doing. On my last internship, I felt I had to poke some of my coworkers with a stick just to get a “good morning” out of them. They’re not bad people, but they’re just there to do their job – they don’t necessarily enjoy it. I’m still not sure exactly what I want to do, but being around passionate people would definitely be a huge plus.

Speaking of video games, E3 is this week: Wii will rock you. … C’mon, that was funny. Seriously, though, I still have complete faith in Nintendo’s new system. There’s some pre-E3 stuff on the net now. And I guess it’s starting, today. I’ve already watched all the cool videos I could find. DSLite is coming out June 11th. Wii will arrive sometime by the end of the year. And there’s two versions of zelda being released at the same time, one for Wii, and one for Gamecube; not sure how that’s going to work….

Oh yeah, also on the video game thread, I bought Resident Evil 4. New. For $30. I’ve been waiting forever for that game to go down in price. Now that I’ve got it, I’ve played it quite a bit, and it is fucking great. That’s all there is to it. Action packed. Total 3D. It’s WAY better than any other RE game. Ever.

Wow, would ya look at the time. I’d best get to sleep.

Update (25/05/06): The pictures from the CJP Wine & Cheese.

I want to make ramen

My Laptop! Got my laptop back, on Thursday. Amazing, it was almost exactly 2 weeks after I dropped it off that they called and said I could pick it up – exactly what they predicted. Turns out the PCMCIA was just loose, so they just fit it back into place and everything works again. New machine would have been better, but this is fine w/me. 🙂 Goodbye warrenty. 🙁

Visited Ben & Mayu after work, on Friday. Had a relaxing evening of wine, sushi, and the food network. I should stop by more often, they’re practically on my way home from work. Oh, and Ben lent me Tanpopo. I’ve wanted to see this movie ever since we were given a 5 minute teaser scene at the Co-Op Japan orientation at UVic (3 years ago?). Its uniqueness drew me in, and I couldn’t stop. What initially started as a 10 minute “I’ll just see what it’s like” session, turned into a 2 hour “I must completely consume this movie” session. Yeah, a little bit of a pun (the movie’s all about food); I’m allowed one.

TV Stuff

24. After fervently getting through the first season, I understood why everyone liked it. Currently awaiting the completion of the 2nd and 3rd seasons. Oh marathon, here we come. And House is one I got interested in during its 2nd season, so now I’m watching the first. Awesome show. The main character is constantly playing psychological games with his staff and patients. Plus, he has a DS.

The DS

Metroid Hunters looks pretty awesome. Wireless handheld classic Deathmatch. Yummy. And I haven’t actually tried playing it, but the control looks like it is much closer to mouse aiming than analog sticks. And the new DS (Lite) looks way better. Nintendo’s gone and sexed it up some good. I’m not sure how popular the DS is in North America, but I had no idea it was so popular in Japan… so popular that some retailers are actually “buying units back from customers to support the shortage.

Also… Zelda DS (check the vid – music gets me pumped every time) and the New Mario Bros. DS look pretty sweet. Couldn’t find a good (recent) video of Mario DS….

Lastly, I must pimp Lux and mention that I’m now on book 7 of WoT. (Holy crap, when will this monster end?!)

Oh yeah, 8 comments needing moderation since adding that “kindergarten” question, nearly 2 weeks ago. Well, off to bed. Another week begins.

jibber jabber

First, some links:

Made a small change to my blog. You now have to answer an incredibly difficult skill testing question when making comments. The idea was to reduce comment spam. I made the change a couple (or maybe it was only one?) days ago, and I’ve only received one comment spam since (versus 10-20/day), so it seems to be working. yay.

I’ve been super tired, recently. Waking up later. Getting to work later. Staying at work later. Getting back later. Eating later. … It’s a vicious cycle. I finished WoT book 6 on my way home, today. Good stuff. Now, I think I’d like to fool around w/my Zaurus a little… try a different environment while I’m in between books (since that’s mostly what I use it for – reading). Side note: holy crap it was cold outside! Not a good night to miss the bus and have to wait 1/2 an hour!

Now, about that sleep….

Yes, that was a long time between posts. I’ve been… busy (killing time). I haven’t felt so motivated to bother doing the alt-tab mouse input thing in Metacity (the official window manager for GNOME), as other things which seem to eclipse it are being developed:

  • Gimmie (which looks awesome!)

3D is on it’s way to the Linux desktop. 3D cards – This has always bothered me. Put aside the fact that the drivers are not open. ATI cards always looked nice, to me, and they’re a Canadian company, so I would choose to support them given a choice of NVidia or ATI. However, ATI clearly does not offer competent drivers for Linux to support their nice cards. If I want any kind of performance, there’s no choice, really: NVidia. Since I’m not playing intensive games all the time, however (I did enjoy the Doom3 demo, though), I would be willing to go with a card that is backed by an OSS supporting company. Not sure what my options would be then.

The USB flash card reader I got is working awesome. Yes, it’s pretty small w/a short cable for using on your PC, but it’s got GREAT portability. Doesn’t need any extra drivers for Linux or Windows (the reader is cross platform!) heh. I’m ecstatic with it for $9. I almost bought a second when I saw them on sale again at NCIX.

Google Page Creator got slashdotted, so I didn’t get a chance to try it. Oh well.

And after watching a wicked sweet 30 minute gameplay video (140MB) of Spore, I’m not sure if I can resist setting up a windows box that can run it. I mean… Oh My God. Best game evah!~

I should upload some pix. So behind on pix it’s ridiculous. I thought about flickr… but i’m convinced there is a better personal solution, if I don’t care about the communities (that much). Maybe take a look at WordPress Gallery2 when I have time.

Oh yeah… I was working on a new blog design (like I said I would) and things were going ok. Then I stopped for a while (a week?) and wanted to work on it again after. But.. I couldn’t find it!! I thought I had accidentally deleted it in my clensing! I was pretty irritated with myself. Luckily, I only moved it… and I found it just today.

Oh man, stupid-me number two (far outdoes the first): I was keeping my laptop on the floor of my bedroom, near my bed. You know, for easy access to porn… on my bed. Anyways, when I stepped closer to my mirror to examine a couple odd hairs on my head (what else?), I felt something bend under my foot, and looked down. FUCK! My wireless card that was poking out of the pcmcia slot in my laptop! :'( I now present it dead. RIP 1000yen wireless card. Anyone know where I can get a cheap wireless card? Laptop’s pretty useless without it. And a cheap CF wireless card, for that matter… would be nice for my zaurus.

UPDATE:

On second inspection, the PCMCIA slots are totally shot. One doesn’t work at all, and the other never successfully registers a card… (BEEP beep). I’ve tried both my wireless card and a regular CF adapter. So possibly in addition to my 1000yen wireless card, I have to do something about my $2000 laptop. *sigh* Guess I’ll be heading to Futureshop again… I hope they don’t remember me. 😐 Damnit, this sucks.

During the last month…

It’s been a while since I’ve actually blogged anything. Like Jon observed, you get used to a routine, and if blogging isn’t part of it, it’s just not gonna happen. I’m less likely to spend time on the computer when I get home from working with a computer all day. Been spending more time with the idiot box, actually – I guess I find it more relaxing. 🙂 I still use the computer, of course, (I still have a pulse, after all), but blogging hasn’t been high on ye ‘ol todo list.

Let me see… what’s happened, recently?

Soccer
Somehow, I got conned into joining an indoor soccer tournament at work. Practises are about once a week at a place called SportsTown, in Richmond. I didn’t know what I was getting into; these guys are good… really good. I used to play soccer, but that was ages ago, and I was never that good! I feel totally out of my league, but my team is in pretty desperate need of players, so there I remain. We played with some other soccer team at Slocan park over the weekend, and it was really fun. My main concern is disappointing my team mates. 🙁 We got a tournament game, this weekend. We (they) are defending champions, so there’s a lot of pressure. But I’m just gonna play my best and have fun – can’t do much more than that. I’ve suffered a ridiculous number of injuries due to my jumping into this, but I am glad I joined.

Southpark Me
Inspired by Shirley’s photo-realistic South Park personality, I created my own. Unfortunately, he looks nothing like me… but It’s as close as I could get without making him naked… and trust me, you don’t want that.

New Computer
After my first (or maybe it was second) paycheck, I bought a cheap desktop computer. Pretty much a bare minimum at $600 after tax, sans monitor. I’ve since bought a nice 19″ LCD flat panel monitor (cost almost as much as the desktop), a friend’s old graphics card (so I got 3D acceleration now! – thanks, Haseeb!) and a wireless PCI card. Oh, and a 10′ DVI cable. Did you know 10′ DVI cables are cheaper than 6′ DVI cables? Crazy, I know.

Getting all the hardware was the first step. I actually built this computer, which is a first, for me: I figured, if I’m supposed to get a degree in Computer Science, then I owe it to myself and that piece of paper in my distant future. There were a few kinks, and I had to complete a quest for thermal paste, at one point, but everything seems to be working now. I must go out of my way, however, to say that mother board manuals are completely useless pieces of shit. I respect a good piece of documentation, but motherboard manuals get no love from me. None.

I’ve installed the latest Ubuntu on my new desktop. It’s zippy and I like it. I had gotten so used to my laptop having to page-swap all the time, I thought it was normal. I’ve been really impressed with Ubuntu, despite having a few problems, but I will write about those later (and possibly somewhere else). With my new found space, I’ve also started migrating all my personal data to one location (to rule them all -sorry). This is an extremely long and boring task, but it simply must get done.

Some quick software I recommend checking out:

  • Newton – I like it better than TomBoy, at the moment,
  • Neverball – very nice monkey-ball-ish game,
  • Automatix – an install script for some more inconvenient tasks.

Learning New Things
Recently, I’ve been spending time with a few interesting things, including:

  1. Javascript – I thought I knew it at least a little. I didn’t.
  2. DOM (w/Javascript) <– really cool stuff!
  3. Perl (yup)

I also reviewed Java, but didn’t use it that much. I’ve been working a lot with web-related stuff at work, I encountered the need to write scripts, hence, the Perl. As someone who likes clean, and well structured things, it is my duty to loath all that is Perl. I have always hated that vile language. There is a well known (among the Perl community, at least) acronym that sums up the language quite accurately: TIMTOWTDI (pronounced TimToady). It stands for: There is more than one way to do it. And with Perl, there really is; for absolutely anything, there’s a thousand ways it could be done. And I don’t mean algorithmically, I mean syntactically. To me, this is a huge problem.

A simple example:

1. print "hello";
2. print ("hello"); # parentheses are optional
3. print 'hello'; # single quotes are significant, but not in this instance
4. print qw(hello); # just like single quotes
5. print qq(hello); # just like double quotes
6. print qq.hello.; # here you need something, but who said anything about parentheses?

OOP example:

1. door->open("a little");
2. open door "a little";

That being said, it has been extremely useful. 🙂 Especially regular expressions (a whole other language in itself!)