Saturday, February 28, 2009

My Disposable Income: February 2009

So hey guys, it's the end of the month and you know what that means! Yup, time for me to talk about stuff that I paid money for, and my subsequent opinions of those things!

And I sure did purchase some things!

See which things after the jump.

Seriously, I'm at a loss for pre-list filler text today, just click "read more".

Retro Game Challenge

I'd been looking forward to this title for a while. The basic premise is this: a guy who really likes oldschool video games turns you into an eight year old and teleports you to the 1980's, where you you're told to beat a bunch of challenges he gives you as play an assortment of 8-bit parody/tributes to the games that existed back then. You've got your Galaga-like space shooter, your action-puzzle-platformer that's kind of like "Flicky" for the Genesis, and even a full fledged ancient grind-and-dungeon-crawl RPG, amongst others. When the game was released in Japan it was based off of a TV show about a guy who tries to beat a bunch of old video games, but since that show hasn't been localized over here, most of the references to the show have been stripped from the US version of the game. Anyways, I finally got it around the middle of the month, and I wasn't disappointed one bit with my purchase!

Not only does the faux nostalgia and playful pokes and prods at games of my childhood work their magic awesomely, but most of the games in Retro Game Challenge are also actually really well designed. They manage to feel like authentic games made in the 1980's while still being really fun. And there's a lot of parts of the main game, I mean the part between all the 8-bit fake games, that make you go "oh that is kind of neat and clever! I mean, I want to get back to the actual video games but this is neat and I appreciate it!". As you play the retro games, you'll unlock gaming magazines that you can then read in-game, and they'll have strategy guides for the games you're currently playing, and previews for "new" games that you'll unlock later on. There's like five previews for the RPG title because it keeps getting delayed. See, it's cute little things like that that make the game even more enjoyable!

The game has its flaws. For example there's an 8-bit racing game called "Rally King", and uh remember how much 8-bit racing games actually suck? Unfortunately this game emulates terrible games of the 80's just as well as the good ones. Also there is a little english voice acting, and it is awful. Luckily, they're just short sound clips and they're easy to tune out.

I've already beaten the game, and for the most part I had a lot of fun, even though it runs a bit short with only eight games. There's a sequel coming out soon in Japan with even more fakey-retro-time-amazings, and I hope it gets brought over to the US at some point in the near-ish future.

Lost Odyssey

Now, I've actually played Lost Odyssey before, right after it came out around this time last year. The thing is that back then it was only a rental. I was excited, but hesitant to full-out buy it. On one hand, it was a next-gen fantasy RPG from the father of Final Fantasy, and unlike his first Xbox 360 effort, Blue Dragon, this new game didn't involve Dragon Ball Z's Akira Toriyama signing up for the project and using the same five character designs he's been using for the past 20 years. On the other hand, 60 dollars was a lot of money to spend, especially since I was close to broke at the time from just buying my Xbox 360. So I decided to play it safe and rent it first to see how much I liked it. And it was a fun JRPG with some awesome gameplay features, decent but not great dialogue/voice acting, and a fairly cliche storyline that was still fresh enough to feel tolerable.

However, right around the time I was supposed to return my rental I came across a part of the game I absolutely HATED, which resulted in me deciding not to spend the full 60 freaking dollars on it. Kind of a harsh decision in retrospect, considering how much I enjoyed the game otherwise, but maybe game developers should learn this lesson: if you are going to put something potentially dramatic and touching in your game, say maybe a character death... for the love of god please do not follow it up with FUNERAL MINIGAMES OH GOD THE MEMORIES ARE STILL PAINFUL.

Anyways, after that little tragedy I was never going to pay full price for the game, mostly out of principle for a game element so stupid that upon sitting through it, my brain managed to climb out of my skull and punch me in the face. But recently I was walking through Best Buy, and I saw that the game's price had lowered to a modest 30 dollars. On top of that, I had two Best Buy cards that, when combined, lowered the price of my purchase by 20 dollars. And that was when I caved in and walked out of the store with my 10 dollar Xbox 360 game.

I started the game over and I'm about 5 hours in, and man there were actually a lot of great things about this game, and I'm glad I'm playing it again. I plan to do my best at trudging through the offending part of the game this time... I guess I'll just have to brace myself for a squishy smack in the nose from my angry cerebellum.

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII

This was an interesting purchase for me. Not because it's Final Fantasy, because I think we've already established my weakness for that franchise. No, the main reason this was an odd buy is because this is a PSP game, and I don't actually own a PSP.

"But Thores," you're saying, "that's dumb. Like, really dumb. You're stupid." And I say YOUR FACE is stupid. I also say that I actually planned on buying a PSP alongside the game this month. The initial reason I held off is that I want a PSP-2000. The store I bought Crisis Core at only had the PSP-3000. It's a newer model, and that would usually mean better, but unfortunately that isn't the case here. The 3000 has screen issues, visible "scan lines" you can see blinking on the otherwise pretty screen when you're playing certain games. The 2000 doesn't have that issue, and it also has a better battery life. In fact, the only disadvantage the older model has is that the screen isn't capable of being as bright as the 3000's. But I didn't really care about that! The brightness level the 2000 can pull off is just fine from what I'd seen, so the plan was to buy Crisis Core, a 4 GB PSP memory card that I also bought but am not dedicating a whole section to because it would be about as long as this bold text you're reading now, and then go home and order the older, better model of the PSP off of Amazon.

And when I came home I checked my gaming news and found out that rumors were flying around that Sony's about to announce a new redesign for the PSP, one that would potentially improve upon and eliminate the problems of all the previous models, and also look really nifty. Last time there were PSP redesign rumors flying around, the PSP-3000 was announced a couple of weeks later. So now I'm playing the waiting game! I figure if the next big game conference passes by and nothing new regarding the PSP hardware is announced, then I'll just go ahead and buy the 2000... and then promptly poop everywhere in anger as the PSP-4000 is announced exactly one day later.

Oh yeah anyways Crisis Core is a neat game I want to play.

Hunter x Hunter Volume 25

One of these days I'm going to have to make a full fledged gigantic post about this series, but for now here's a brief covering of the basics: Hunter x Hunter is one of my favorite mangas of all time, and the only one that I still read these days. It's set in a world a lot like our modern world, except there are magic beasts and amazing undiscovered treasures, and also a whole lot more badasses. Of course, access to those three things is mostly exclusive to Hunters, the most sought after profession in the world, and also the hardest to get a license for, seeing as the Hunter Exam is only once a year and generally involves a lot of people dying. The opening of the story involves the protagonist of the series, an 11 year old named Gon, applying to take the Hunter Exam so he can meet his father, apparently a legendary Hunter himself. The story sounds simple enough, but the characters and adventures that result from it are flat out amazing and make for some of the best manga I have ever, ever read, especially in the earlier volumes. It reminds me of the original Dragon Ball sometimes, and I loved Dragon Ball, because it was amazing and unique then, despite my earlier musings on Toriyama's creative abilities now.

Right now it's still good enough that I buy a new volume every time one comes out, as you can see from me purchasing the issues this month pretty much the instant it released, but it's definitely dipped in quality. Using my example from a few sentences ago, if early Hunter x Hunter can be likened to the original Dragon Ball, then the latest volumes of series are a lot more like Dragon Ball Z. Don't get me wrong, it is much better than Dragon Ball Z, but the series just isnt as amazing and charming as back when Gon took his Hunter Exam for the first time. It's still good times though, and I still have a very large soft spot for the series as a whole. I'm just bummed because for some retarded reason, Volume 26 doesn't come out till January of 2010. What the butt?

And speaking of butts, that's the end of my post!


I mean bye!

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