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Toronto Thumbs February 18, 2010

Posted by huymix in Games, Videogames.
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Continuing this week’s theme of “Canadian Blogs”, I present: Toronto Thumbs. They say “We aim to make people think, laugh, and feel what we feel via our detailed and often personal recollections of gaming experiences” and “We will never just cut and paste from press releases for the sake of reporting breaking news because our readers expect and deserve more than that”. If you’re seeing the big red F- I think you have a sense that this isn’t exactly what is happening on Toronto Thumbs. I would say, the site fails on these 2 fronts because:

  • Most of the posts on the blog itself are just news items that have just a huge picture and a paragraph about the topic. It’s largely impersonal and well covered by the time Toronto Thumbs puts up the the news. I’m not saying Toronto Thumbs isn’t timely, it’s just they are often beaten to the punch by much bigger gaming blogs.
  • They aren’t actually funny or entertaining. If you listen to their “regular” podcast, there isn’t much opinion or entertainment to be found. I don’t know what it is about these guys, but they are plain old boring and it can feel as if they are just guilt tripped into doing the show. Not really disagreeable but not really good listening. The same applies for their writing except they tend to write very little anyways.
  • There isn’t much to see/do. There are a couple of posts a day (much more than the Snuhzone but hey, it would be a legit complaint about my site if you wanted to complain about it) but in these posts there is hardly anything to read. Their “regular” podcast is so infrequent you wonder why it’s set up as an iTunes feed.

I have a theory for the internet, if you’re going to do something infrequently, do it well. To have people wait for long and irregular periods between content that is mediocre at best is a formula for anti-success. Hit up that Joystiq or Kotaku if you’re interested in gaming because Toronto Thumbs probably won’t make you “think, laugh, and feel what we feel”.

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The World Ends With You January 28, 2010

Posted by huymix in Games.
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What constitutes a Japanese RPG anyways and what does it matter to you. I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of RPGs since I’ve only really played a handful. Of those that I’ve played I suppose half are considered Japanese and even from that group I have only finished 1. Notably Final Fantasy 3 on DS (which is the original FF3 that was released in Japan). It’s fair to say that of the RPGs I have played, I prefer the more action-oriented RPGs. I typically use DS games as commute fodder and The World Ends With You did a great job of entertaining me on endless commutes because:

  • The combat is very action-packed and varied. For the most part I controlled Neku (the main character on the touch screen) while I let the computer control my partner (either Shiki, Josh, or Beat). Between the 2 different characters and the many types of pin attacks, there is no shortage of combat variety. It’s not confusing as it is a relief to have so many choices.
  • Sound. Everyone has talked about the music and make no mistake I do like the music in this game (I did love both Ouendan 1 and 2 despite not knowing any Japanese). But in this game, it’s more than just the music that plays that is worthwhile. Sound is crucial because in an RPG you will inevitably listen to it for many hours. The sounds in the game stay fresh even after 20+ hours of hearing the same stuff over and over again.
  • Progression. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it many times. The progression mechanic is easily why games will hook me. The right thing The World Ends With You did was to offer multiple levels of progression. The character, and each pin will separately gain experience. In another twist, clothing and food options also allow for progression while adding in a dose of collection instinct as well.

There are a ton of mechanics in The World Ends With You that I could just keep listing off. IGN can handle all the micro-details. For those of you that either like action-y RPGs or have a killer commute you would like to blast through, then I can definitely recommend The World Ends With You.

Punch Out!! (Wii) May 28, 2009

Posted by huymix in Games.
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This review will seem very confusing. I got a chance to play the new Punch-Out!! this past weekend at a friend’s place and it was awesome. Incredibly fun, vivid, and was overall a great experience. Punch-Out!! is an F- because:

  • It’s a terrible value. This is perhaps the single greatest determinant of the review. I’m sorry but for $60 and only 13 fighters + 1 secret fighter is really too much for me. I’ve always said that I only have a Plus/Minus system because the choice to do or buy something is really binary anyways. I can’t recommend paying retail.
  • Nintendo games tend to not go on sale ever. It’s very unlikely it will drop in price to a more reasonable level. Excite Truck seemed to keep it’s full price for years after its release! Freaking Excite Truck (even on E-bay it’s still like $40).
  • If you want Punch-Out on Wii, I recommend the Virtual Console downloads of both the original and Super Punch-Out. It’s a much cheaper option and offers a much greater variety of fighters.

I really had an awesome time playing Punch-Out!! I can’t say enough great things about it.  All I can really say is that if price were no issue Punch-Out!! (Wii) would be an F+ hands down.

Risk May 8, 2009

Posted by crarence in Games, Miniatures.
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Risk is a board game that I used to play to death with my cousins when I was younger. We busted it out the other day to give it another go. 3 hours later, I remember why we had stopped playing it. Now don’t get me wrong, overall,  I had a good time. However, this is mostly due to the company I keep and the funny antics they pull. With people I am less comfortable with, I’m sure Risk would be a disaster.

  • Unless you’re playing “Capital” Risk and “Mission” Risk, the game is too damn long. Especially if you play “Domination” Risk IE: take over the whole map. Even one of the shorter variants takes too much time.
  • The map is poorly designed. 3 of the 6 continents are relative safe havens (North America, South America, and Australia) due to the limited number of entry points. Europe is tough to defend as Ukraine is surrounded by three hostile countries, and Southern/Western Europe can each be teamed-up on from two or more  fronts. Don’t even try conquering Asia – I have never seen anyone take over Asia and hold it for a turn.
  • The bonus guys from cashing in cards gets way out of hand. After a while, cashing in become way more important than taking and holding continents. It’s so unbalanced that we’ve made a house rule to drastically lower the increment you get bonus models.

It was nice to stroll down memory lane, but near the end I didn’t care who won or lost anymore. Thankfully, another company made an update version of Risk (titled Risk 2210AD) which dramatically improves upon the original and eliminates most of the flaws. Keep your eyes peeled for a blog on that!

Arena Montreal May 7, 2009

Posted by crarence in Games, Games Workshop, Miniatures.
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I attended Arena Montreal last month, which is a Warhammer/Warhammer 40k tournament. For the uninitiated, Warhammer/Warhammer 40k is a table top war game that combines elements of Risk and Chess. Essentially, players build, paint, and play with model soldiers in a strategy game. This year, Arena was a doubles tournament, meaning players went in teams of two. This is an interesting format as it allows for neat combinations you don’t normally encounter. I had a great time this year because:

  • It’s really clear that the organizers really care about the quality of the event based on the work and effort that goes into the tournament. This is especially evident in the tables they custom built. Each fantastic table is is made from scratch and themed around one of the major armies in the game.
  • My partner had some bad experiences versus french opponents in the past but this year all three french teams we played were top notch. That is, they were courteous, easy going, and very sportsman-like.
  • I felt the organizers made various improvement over last year. For example,  they dropped the annoying special table-specific rules from last year. They also made the tournament more interesting by banning  special characters. Many special characters are a little un-balanced and make for boring matches as many players take them.

Right now the Warhammer tournament scene in Canada is a little shaky so I hope the Arena organizers are able to continue running their event bi-annually. They have one planned tentatively for this August, and I would definitely be there had it not been a bad time for my long time teammate. Nevertheless, I would highly encourage any other Warhammer enthusiast to attend.