2007 will bring in new things to what was first started as a simple gaming blog. There will still be game reviews and commentary about the video games industry but I will also like to cast some light on an area which I'm rather enthusiastic about which is games development.
This blog will feature articles touching on areas such as game design, human computer interaction and the nitty gritty task of programming. In short, I'll be bringing on the hard stuff. The objective would be to showcase and chronicle the development of several games in this blog.
Sounds exciting? If so, stay tuned to this channel and Happy New Year!
Saturday, December 30, 2006
2007 will bring in new things to what was first started as a simple gaming blog. There will still be game reviews and commentary about the video games industry but I will also like to cast some light on an area which I'm rather enthusiastic about which is games development.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
After the 3D handheld console experience which was Super Mario 64 DS, Mario returns to its old-school platformer gameplay with New Super Mario Bros. Essentially a 2D platformer with colourful graphics and nice 3D effects, New Super Mario Bros stands as a reminder to a new generation of gamers on the excellent gameplay of its former predecessor on the NES in which it is a remake of sorts.
Having said that, it is hard to fault the game (it is Super Mario Bros in a new skin after all). My only gripe is that I can't seem to save the game before I enter most of the levels.
If you didn't manage to get this game underneath the Christmas tree (I did!) you can get it over at Play-Asia (here)
If you are looking for the old-school Mario which is Super Mario Bros for the NES but you don't own the ancient console, don't fret as you can get a re-release of the game on the Gameboy Advance. Get your copy of the game here.
Monday, December 25, 2006
Christmas time is probably an exciting time for gamers, not only they might get games underneath the Christmas tree, but other stuff as well such as consoles and LCD TVs and stuff. On the other hand, Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Christ (least you forget), and what matters is the giving, not the receiving. So don't forget to spread the cheer all around you!
Should you feel yourself in a pinch, and you have not bought a gift for someone, here are some suggestions (abeit casual gaming style)...some of the items below were previously reviewed on this blog, for games, take a look at the links on the left:
- Nintendo DS Lite
Probably the best handheld video game console you can get for your money and have change for several great games! Available in several colours at Play-Asia.com (here)
- New Super Mario Bros
For the old-school gamer who likes his games in new digs, New Super Mario Bros combines the excellent gameplay of its predecessors with totally new graphics for some real fun! Available at Play-Asia.com (here)
- Winning Eleven DS
Your friend a football (or soccer, so they say in America) nut? This will keep him/her happy for days and with WFC/local WiFi play, that person will be a happy camper. Available at a super low price of USD 19.90 at Play-Asia.com (here)
- Mario Kart DS
Like Winning Eleven, this is a personal favourite of mine. Featuring tight gameplay, a host of characters and game modes (Grand Prix, Battle, Time Trial, etc) as well as WFC/local WiFi play, this games delivers in more ways than one. With excellent replayability, it's available at Play-Asia.com (here)
- Tetris DS
Tetris is probably one of the more well known casual experiences on handheld consoles and this is an update for the timeless classic. Recommended by a friend, it's available on Play-Asia.com albeit the Japanese version, but who need to take note of the language in a game about moving blocks? (here)
Friday, December 22, 2006
So you decided to get Winning Eleven DS, more for its price (you can get it here) rather than the fact that the game is in Japanese. Having experienced the single player game, you feel ready to head online and trash some real opposition but before you can do so, you hit a snag. How do you go online in the first place, given the screens are in Japanese?
Don't fret, here's a guide that will have you playing online in no time (maybe). For starters, it might be helpful to note that my descriptions precede the respective screenshots..so remember, description first then followed by the screenshot.
1. Go to the third option in the main menu of the game:
2. This will bring up the list of sub options, go for the 2nd one, labelled Wi-Fi:
3. This will bring up a new menu, with three options. The first option is to proceed with connecting to the WFC, the second one shows you your friend code and allows you to add friend codes to your game, and the last option allows you to setup the game's wireless settings used to connect to the WFC.
4. The last 2 options are pretty straight forward, so lets proceed with the first option, connecting to the WFC! Selecting this will bring you to a confirmation screen, just hit the first option on that confirmation screen and the game will connect to the WFC
5. Once the game is connected to the WFC, you'll see a new menu with 3 options. Option 1 being Friend Code play while the two other options are either Worldwide or Regional play (I'm not too sure). WFC play on Option 2 seems to feature more lag compared to that of Option 3 (or is it the other way around) but both are better alternatives if you do not have any friend codes added to the game:
For my original review of Winning Eleven DS, click here
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Produced by Tomytec of Japan, the push-peg puzzle that I purchased is one part of 6 puzzles that make up the Dot-S Collection Nintendo Version. This Nintendo licensed collection commemorates characters from notable game franchises such as Mario, Zelda and Donkey Kong.
Each push-peg puzzle comes with a push peg board and quite a number of pegs for you to recreate the pixelated form of a particular video game character. The one that I've got features Link from the Zelda series. I was provided with enough pegs to depict Link in two different kinds of poses, one from the front and the other from the side.
Additional "recipes" can be found at the Dot-S website, although you may need pegs from more than one puzzle to actually accomplish some.
To get your very own push-peg puzzle at Play-Asia.com, click here!
Sunday, December 17, 2006
PS2 gamers might be familiar with the side-scrolling action game known as Alien Hominid, but do they know that this game first existed as an online Flash-based game on Newgrounds.com.
Newgrounds.com proclaims itself as the largest Flash portal on the Internet and even though I can't vouch for that claim, the website's Flash games inventory certainly deserves special mention. A wide ranging library divided into categories (action, driving, sports, etc), this website is bound to please any kind of casual gamer looking for a quick fix.
Aside from games developed by the website, Flash games are also submitted to Newgrounds. A voting system for members tells you which games are hot and which games are not, which is pretty nifty as some games are huge and take a while to load and you don't want to waste your time loading a dud. This being a Flash website, it is also advisable to use a broadband connection.
My current favourite games are:
Matrix Rampage - Play as a Neo look-a-like as you bash through waves of agents in this action side scroller. Use your fists or pick up and use stuff such as pistols, pipes, office desks, chairs, potted plants and even agents as weapons. The action takes place in a multi-storey apartment with destructive environments, which is a cool touch to a smooth and polished 2D game.
This game loads really fast as it is less than 500kb in size. For a direct link to the game's details and on where to launch it, click here!
Alien Hominid - The original game that inspired the PS2 version. Take Contra, replace the guy with a fugly alien, throw in some sketchbook art and there you have it, Alien Hominid. Contra and side scrolling fans should be familiar with the gameplay, so why buy the PS2 game while you can play it for free online?
At 1.904MB, this game (and many others which are larger in size), is reason why a broadband connection is highly recommended when browsing this site. Click here for more details of the game!
All pictures in this post are from Wikipedia.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
There are a variety of game play modes available in the game but since I purchased a Japanese version of the game, I might be wrong in some of my descriptions. First up is the Exhibition mode, where you can select a team and play in an exhibition match or in a penalty shootout.
The penalty shoot out mode is interesting in a sense the player utilises the touch screen to determine where the shot is made and where to block the ball.
The World Tour mode, is well, a World Tour which is self explanationary. The Konami Cup mode provides some knock-out tournament experience for those itching for it. Basically the player can choose to have 4, 8 or 16 teams in the tournament. There is as well a customize your own team mode, a training mode, a mind-your-progress mode as well another mode which I still can't make out.
Graphics wise, I bought this game without expecting much knowing that it is a Nintendo DS title but it does serve its purpose. I liken the graphics to that of EA Sport's FIFA games in 2000, 2001 and 2002 and although its nothing to shout about, it is in 3D. Before I forget, the game suffers from an invisible referee, the man in black is no where to be seen but you can sure hear him whistle.
Sound wise, the game does have some nice touches such as the crowd's noise in the stadium and the nice music in the menu screen.
Despite its shortcomings, Winning Eleven DS makes up with its gameplay, which I makes for quite engaging matches. There are a number of gameplay options that I have not explored, simply because of my inability to read Japanese. The replay feature has this great camera panning system to give a more TV like feel to the replay.
Getting onto the WFC was pretty easy once I had sorted out which menu does what and I have had 2 WFC matches since. The experience so far has been 50/50 with my first game experiencing heavy lag and the second one played out smooth as silk.
To get your very own copy of Winning Eleven DS from Play-Asia.com, click here! For a guide on how to get the game going on WFC, click here.
Christmas time is to most people a time where a lot of shopping is done. I made an order at Play-Asia on Thursday morning for some stuff as a form of a Christmas present for myself. I did something out of the norm by choosing FedEx to deliver my stuff instead of the normal Air Mail option, which by the way is provided free of charge by the nice people at Play-Asia but will result in longer delivery times.
Opting for FedEx added USD 15.90 to the sum of my order sum which was USD 50.78, bringing it to a grand total of USD 66.68. The decision to go with Fedex was a good one, as the package was delivered to my workplace on Friday afternoon, just slightly more than 24 hours since I initiated the order.
The items that I ordered were stored inside a typical Play-Asia brown box and everything arrived in excellent shape. This being the third time I've ordered from Play-Asia, I'm still pleasantly suprised on how my items are packed in individual bubble wrap. The only disappointment being the value of the discount voucher despite the repeat business and the increasing amounts I'm spending on their website.
I had fun though tracking my order through the FedEx website, it went like this:
Friday, December 15, 2006
The problem with consoles and strategy games is that most gamers tend to maintain that strategy games are the domain of Personal Computers, citing the lack of a mouse for accurate control. This however doesn't hold true for the game that I've just played.
Advance Wars Dual Strike for the Nintendo DS is a pretty old title judging by its release in mid 2005. But this oldie deserves to be a keeper for any self respecting strategy game fan out there.
Featuring turn based strategy game play similar to that of X-com and Civilization, AW:DS will have you utilise the abilities of different Commanding Officers to battle the threat of the Black Hole army in the Campaign Mode or in skirmishes in the War Room, Versus, Survival and Combat modes.
There is a lot going for this game in terms of replayability, but if you tire playing on your own, you can battle someone else on local WiFi!.
The problem with old titles is that brand new copies are hard to find, even Play-Asia doesn't stock this game. I got this used copy for less than USD 20. But if you don't mind playing entirely in Japanese, you can get your brand new copy of the Japanese version of AW:DS, known as Famicom Wars, here!
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Ferry Halim's creations have a surreal quality about them; the artwork is simply amazing and compliments the simple but addictive gameplay in each of the games. Guide a rabbit to jump on falling bells (did I mention the games are surreal) or lead a pack of cute dogs through an obstacle course, there is big list of Flash-based games to keep you occupied during your afternoon lunch break.
Visit the site at: http://www.ferryhalim.com/orisinal/.
Friday, December 08, 2006
The supervisor stops to ask you about your work; the conversation takes too long and there goes any hope of topping your previous high score."
The appeal of casual games to both gamers and non-gamers alike lie in the fact the games are often easy to pick up and play. Casual games require very little overhead from the person of playing the game in terms of time and money; these games are often available free of charge and can be completed in a short span of time.
Throughout the years, casual games have out grown their typical mainstays such as handheld consoles and desktop computers to join the Internet and mobile communications bandwagon. Log on into Yahoo Games! and watch as thousands of people who don't associate themselves with video games mingle and engage in single player games such as Bejeweled and multiplayer games such as the Scrabble-clone Literati and card games.
Take the time to observe the people around you during your daily commute and you might find that even though the person standing next to you in the bus seems like she is busy texting someone on the mobile phone, she is actually having a ball of a time playing a handheld game, distracting herself from the boring commute!
To be continued...
Thursday, December 07, 2006
In terms of have and have nots, video gamers are generally a lucky but annoying bunch. You go home to your expensive video games console (or consoles) which is complemented by a decent (or extravagant) sized television set and yet you complain about the price of games, the slowness of your internet connection, how you can ill afford another flat screen tv and how it would suck if you cannot get the latest console from either of the big three (Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo).
What have you actually contributed to other people? Sharing your console with your friends is one thing, but what have you done for the truly unfortunate people, those who are too poor or sick to experience the fun and joy that you normally associate with playing games?
That question would have probably solicited a blank look from you and it brings us to this: Cheap Ass Gamer and Play-Asia.com (my favourite online store for video games) have teamed up to create a fundraiser for Child's Play Charity. This fund raiser takes form of a raffle and each donation costs USD 5 and not only are you supporting a sick child in this endeavor but you also stand to win a $1000 shopping spree at Play-Asia!
For more info about this raffle, head over to this link at Play-Asia. Help someone else for a change.
This just in from the BBC website about a kid who got arrested for opening his Christmas gift, a Nintendo game console, early. The person who called the men in blue... his mum:
Arrest over opened Christmas gift
A South Carolina mother has had her 12-year-old son arrested for opening his Christmas presents early.
The boy was taken into custody after his mother discovered he had entered his great-grandmother's house and taken presents from their hiding place.
The boy was handcuffed and taken to a local police station on petty larceny charges.
The boy's mother, Brandi Ervin, told the Associated Press news agency she had acted to teach her son a lesson.
"He's been going through life doing things... and getting away with it," she said.
He had repeatedly taken the present, a Nintendo video game console, from its hiding place in his great-grandmother's house.
The boy, who has been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is already facing an expulsion hearing at his school for attempting to hit a police officer assigned to the school last month.
The boy's case will be presented to York County's Department of Juvenile Justice, which will decide what action to take.
Ms Ervin told the Associated Press she hoped the authorities could scare her son into behaving himself.
"It's not even about the Christmas present," she said.
"I'd rather call (the police) myself than someone else call for him doing something worse."
Original article over here.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Some of these games are retooled classics such as Minesweeper and Solitaire but with way better graphics. Minesweeper in fact has some nice graphical effects coupled with better stats tracking which makes it a joy to play.
In addition to the classics, there are the new games such as Mahjong Titans and Chess Titans. Chess Titans is basically a chess game, rendered nicely in 3D. Mahjong Titans is best described as a game of match the tiles, but with really pretty graphics and engrossing gameplay, good enough for a game (or two, or three) when the boss is not around.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Here are my first impressions:
The following adjectives can be used to describe the look and feel of the user interface: pretty, shiny, transparent and glossy. Basically the user interface, known as Aero, uses hardware acceleration to basically power all the nice stuff you see on screen when you are using Windows Vista. These niceties come at a cost whereby you'll need a DirectX 9 capable video card with at least 128 megabytes of video RAM.
Navigation wise, it is quite a leap from Windows XP from Windows Vista. At one time Microsoft's corporate slogan was "Where do you want to go today?", I guess that they took that off in time as Windows Vista will have users asking "Where the hell do I go from here today?". Finding a way to even change the display resolution was a pain.
I noticed however that there were additional security features here, there, basically everywhere, which might deter users from doing something stupid with the operating system. This in my book, is a pretty good idea (bug users to death with security messages everytime something is click to deter them from clicking).
Windows Defender comes with the operating system and along with Windows firewall and IE 7 (if you choose to use it, else just download Firefox), you'll have a pretty safe surfing experience. Now all you need to do is find a good antivirus solution..
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Both stores carry items that are highly desirable in the same niche market but pricing wise, Store A commands higher prices as its goods come via official channels and it tends to carry a lot more "official" products. Store A also provides official support and warranty for items bought from the store.
The owner of Store B tends to offer discounts and is more than willing to take orders due to the smaller inventory size, but not before a customer passes through his initial sour-faced test. Also available at Store B are a variety of third-party products which can be as good or offer more versatile functionality compared to their "official" counterparts.
If a consumer were to purchase an item that is available in both stores, what would be the deciding factor in which the consumer will go for a particular store?
Case in point, Midvalley Megamall has the Nintendo counter (Store A, if this were to match the scenario above) and at the same time a small video games shop (Store B) tucked in the corner of the IT centre.
In my opinion, there is no point supporting an official distributor if the price is for a particular game is significantly higher than that of what is offered at a parallel import shop (or website for that matter). Price will always be a major point of contention and having said that, I most probably go to the Nintendo counter to check out game demos, but for purchases, I'll take my chances with the sour owner of the little shop tucked in the I.T centre.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
According to its Wikipedia article, a gashapon translates as a "trading toy". It's also commonly known as capsule toy due to the nature that they come in capsule dispensed from vending machines. Capsule toys have been around for as long as I've known and even when I was a kid, the neighbourhood sundry store used to have vending machines at the store front to entice kids to spent 20 to 50 cents a capsule.
Japanese capsule toys differ in a sense that the capsule toys are of higher quality and the price per capsule is certainly more expensive, ranging from RM 4 to RM 8 and more often than not, the contents are collectible items in a series. The vending machines can be found not in sundry shops, but in shopping centres, Japanese supermarket chains such as Jusco or toy stores such as Toys 'r' Us.
This little fella came along with my Electroplankton package and basically this is an example of how a gashapon looks like outside its capsule.
The reason for it being added to my package was that I needed to bring my order price to slightly above USD 50 (Electroplankton by itself was USD 48.90) in order to qualify for a USD 5 discount. This little fella cost USD 1.99.
This gashapon is part of a series featuring characters from the game Animal Crossing. All together they are 7 of them to collect.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Most reviewers of Electroplankton would stop short of calling it a game due to the strange nature of its design and gameplay. Basically, the game, for the lack of a better word, features various kinds of colourful plankton which you can manipulate via the touch screen of the Nintendo DS using a stylus to produce music!
As for me, the chance of becoming a conductor for a bunch of plankton, and not an orchestra no less, is pretty hard to pass. A recommended way to play Electroplankton is to hook up the Nintendo DS with a speaker system so that you can listen to your musical creations. If you want to replay your creations, it would be best if you have a sound system with recording facilities as one thing this game lacks is a save option.
The contents in the Cartridge Box include a rather thick manual and the game itself:
Monday, November 20, 2006
I had the opportunity to play around with one and even though it was less than 5 minutes, at least two out of three adjectives were found to be true. The unit had the sleek feel of a current generation iPod and the wide screen completes the sexy look.
However, this being my first time with the console, I had some trouble getting used to the controls. All this while I did not realize that there is a row of buttons underneath the wide screen and any of my attempts to work the unit like a Nintendo DS ended in failure.
The unit was loaded with a web browser and the wide screen did justice to viewing web pages on a handheld console but the same thing cannot be said about the text input. A handphone-style input screen was provided in place of a normal QWERTY-styled keyboard screen when I attempted to enter a web address. This isn't really intuitive if the same interface is used to type out an e-mail.
The PSP uses something called a Cross Media Bar for its default interface and at one glance at the options available, anyone would realize that this piece of hardware is really quite an amazing multimedia device. However, navigating the Cross Media Bar is something to get used to and in terms of usability, it is almost the same as the Nintendo DS' setup screen which I find to be irritating at times.
I managed to get an UMD game to load during my time with the console but it took too long and I thought I had broken the unit. As I started to walk away, the game loaded but I had no time to test it out.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
There are many other Asian heroes in the list, so grab a copy of Time Asia's Anniversary Issue.
According to the Wikipedia article, Shigeru Miyamoto is the creator of the Mario, Donkey Kong, Legend of Zelda, Star Fox and Pikmin franchises for Nintendo game systems. Without the Mario franchise, we certainly wouldn't have one of the best kart racing games around, Mario Kart DS.
In an episode of Icons (or was in an article in 1UP) featuring him, I remember him talking about the creation of Mario and on how the character design (mustache, jump suit) was actually used to overcome the hardware limitations at that time.
My own personal opinion, Shigeru Miyamoto stands equal with other great computer/video game creators such as John Carmack (id Software, Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Quake), Will Wright (The Sims and the SimCity franchise; he wrote the write-up for Shigeru Miyamoto in the Time magazine Anniversary Issue), Sid Meier (Civilization), Tim Sweeney (Unreal) and Warren Spector (Deus Ex, Thief). Before I forget, it's the guy's birthday today, so, Happy Birthday!
On a side note, it is way cheaper to get a copy of Time Asia magazine in Malaysia compared to Thailand. I get my issues from a newsstand in KL for RM 8.50 a piece while a copy sells for RM 13.50 in Bangkok!
My purchasing habit is 1 new game a month or 2 second hand games a month, and it seems I'm pretty much on track. This time, I got to use my Play-Asia discount voucher as well!
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
According to its documentation, the ZSNES is a Super Nintendo Entertainment System (console picture on the left courtesy of Wikipedia) emulator written entirely in assembly and C, and it's supposed to be pretty fast.
I got my hands on this curious piece of software today, courtesy of a friend, along with some ROMs to play around with. Having said that, I don't really encourage gamers to download ROMs but in this case I'm using the ROMs for the sake of experimentation and the fact that I've never actually played on this "ancient" console before.
The emulator itself seems to be pretty comprehensive, with lots of options from setting up input options, saves, cheats and to inputting key combinations. A person familiar to the SNES and emulators might make sense of these options/settings but for a layman like me, I'd rather jump right into the games.
I loaded Street Fighter Zero 2 for a spin but not before I checked the input settings, otherwise I wouldn't know what keys to press.
Having nothing to gauge with, I suppose that gameplay on the emulator is pretty fast. But I would feel much better playing a handheld console game on an actual handheld console having missed a real d-pad.
One real benefit though from using an emulator would be it enables really nice screenshots to be taken :)
Posted by tokyo_nights at 12:29 AM
Monday, November 13, 2006
It was maybe a busy night for the service and this might happen to anyone attempting to play a game with friend(s) over the WFC, so patience is the keyword here.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
The I.T Square at Laksi was the first one I visited and it was pretty much a disappointment. There was only one outlet selling original console games on one of the upper floors and a copy of Mario Hoops was going for 2400 baht which translates to RM240.
This newly opened multi-storey and rather colourful mall is mainly dedicated to computer hardware and good luck trying to find an original copy of Windows XP or any other application software for that matter. However, original computer games are easy to find and cheap in Thailand due to strong localization efforts; a copy of Company of Heroes at the I.T Planet outlet was selling for 699 baht (RM 69.90).
The mall is located just next to the Laksi Wat and a 5 minute drive from the old Don Muang airport as well as a 5 minute walk from the hotel I was staying at.
Mah Boon Krong Center, or MBK as it is known amoung the locals, is located at what taxi drivers usually say as "downtown" Bangkok. So just say yes to the question "Do you want to go downtown, shopping?" and you'll most likely end up in the area where the big shopping malls MBK, Siam Discovery, Siam Center and newly minted Siam Paragon are located at.
There are several shops selling console games in MBK and one of them located at the lower floors had a lot of Gameboy Advance titles. The same shop had a bargain bin of sorts for PSP games going for 999 baht (RM 99) each.
The shop situated at the arcade level had an Xbox 360 on display and there were quite a number of youths attracted to the game NFS:Carbon which was playing on screen. This shop had several DS titles but most of them were pretty dated and are in Japanese such as Famicom Wars which is also known in its English version as Advance Wars DS. There is also a shop located at the handphone floor that sells handheld consoles and accesories but no games.
I visited Siam Discovery, Siam Center and Paragon in a span of an hour so I didn't get a good look at the three malls. But if you want to get a better variety (and maybe a better bargain) in terms of console games, visit Pantip Plaza.
It's hard to gauge what handheld console gaming is like in capital in Thailand. On one hand, people hardly bat an eye when my colleagues were playing my Nintendo DS in the airport but on the other hand, I hardly see anyone playing a handheld console save for one female airport staff who was walking around playing her PSP.
Posted by tokyo_nights at 1:40 PM
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
I'll stick to getting one game a month, or two (if they are secondhand) but if there are nice people out there willing to loan me some games to write about, much appreciated. Here are the previous game reviews on this blog:
1. Worms: Open Warfare
2. Metroid Prime Pinball
3. Brain Age
4. Animal Crossing: Wild World
5. Mario Kart DS
And of course, the hardware reviews:
1. WiFi Link
2. Rumble Pak
3. Playworks PS2000 Digital 2.1 Audio Speaker System
5. Nintendo DS
What's up next for this blog? A write-up of somewhere not located in Malaysia and how not to brick your WiFi router.
Posted by tokyo_nights at 6:40 AM
Monday, November 06, 2006
What would the video games industry be without the rabid, obsessive pillar of support known as fan-boys (and to be politically correct, fan-girls)? Hop into any forum, you'll find that they'll be first to jump into the fray whenever someone decides to do a comparison on two consoles that are of different manufacturers with each side having their own set of fan-boys snapping at each other even though the discussion borderline on the hypothetical or the hyperbole.
Now, this blog is not fan-boy friendly but let bygones be bygones, I've got some presents for all you fan-boys out there. Go ahead and use them, at least I would know who am I talking to in the future.
Posted by tokyo_nights at 6:40 AM
Saturday, November 04, 2006
My previous post on ESRB ratings got me thinking on creating my own ratings notice based on the well-recognized template provided by the ESRB boards. So, if you blog or are a frequent forum contributor and at the same time a casual video games player, feel free to use this:
But of course, if you are a Nintendo DS user in addition to all that was mentioned earlier, you can use this instead:
I'll be adding more if I have the time.
Posted by tokyo_nights at 8:13 PM
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
The first one isn't really a store, but more of a very big electronics store with a big video games section in the Ibn Battuta Mall (http://www.ibnbattutamall.com). There were aisles of games for various consoles ranging from the NDS to the Xbox along stacks of hardware and accessories and even bargain bin offers! In addition to that, there was an area in the front display of the shop where customers can play Playstation 2 and Xbox games.
The second store is Geekay Games (http://geekaygames.com) located in the Mall of the Emirates, right in front of the Carrefour check-out counters. I'll always remember this store because this is where I bought my Nintendo DS. The store was full of games and hardware and along with the interior decoration, anything in Malaysia pales in comparison to it. The coolest part was that they had Xbox 360 units for customers to play with and the service was pretty good too.
Over here in Malaysia, I have not been to the game shops in Imbi nor have I frequented the shops in Sungai Wang. The best so far I've been to is Gamers Hideout at Cineleisure. The place comes with a good reputation and I've seen it featured in the newspaper. I like the logo and with Xbox 360 units to try out, I'll probably visit more often.
The Nintendo counter located in Jucso, anchor tenant of Midvalley Megamall carries a sizeable amount of NDS and GBA titles but the prices are quite high. If you are a Jusco card member, you'd probably earn alot of points (and rebate percentages) shopping at the counter which you'll later receive in the form of rebate vouchers
Besides the Nintendo counter, the other stores in Midvalley Mega Mall belong to the same template by which most video games stores in Malaysia subscribe to. You would find the glass display, a TV with some console hooked up to it and poor customer service.
Price wise, there is one particular stall located in the mall's IT centre that holds an edge over the Nintendo counter and one of the staff tends to remember if you have bought anything from them (which is good to ask for a better price).
I'll post more places to shop once I encounter them.
Posted by tokyo_nights at 11:44 PM
Monday, October 30, 2006
Nintendo DS games are in particular more expensive then their PC counterparts. Perhaps it is the materials used to manufacture those cartridges or the fact that no form of localization has been done on any of the titles on the DS or maybe it is due the lack of a large enough customer base to drive prices down.
It might seem a bit discouraging but there are some ways to stem the assault on your wallet. Here are some tips if you are on a budget:
- Instead of "New", think "Secondhand". Pre-owned games tend to sell for much lower prices compared to their retail counterparts. No need to worry about the condition of the games because as far as original games are concerned, they are usually pretty well treated by their owners. I scour a particular Internet forum for bargains and I bought 3 games for an average of RM 60 each. A new game would cost around RM 130 a title.
- Wait. Patience is a virtue and instead of rushing out to grab a hot new game, wait for all the hype (and price) to go down before purchasing the particular game. Besides, waiting allows you to evaluate the game in terms of reading/watching reviews and hearing what your fellow gamer friends have to say about the game. You don't want to rush into things and part with your hard-earned cash for the very latest half-baked trash.
- Bargain Bins. From where I come from, I rarely see bargain bins for Nintendo DS games in game shops, but the same does not apply to game shops like Dubai or the online stores of Play-Asia.com and YesAsia.com. You can get bargain prices for brand new games with the benefit of free shipping as well (applies only to the online sites)!
- Be nice to your game shop owner. This is generally for the more experienced gamer who most likely has a tendency to do his or her shopping rounds in just a few places. Make nice with the shop owner and you probably get a discount.
- Research, research, research. Just like how location is important in real estate, it pays to do some research on how prices are for games selling in different locations where you can actually purchase them (so don't go too far). This applies if you are new to video gaming or are a casual gamer who isn't accustomed to purchasing games all the time. Why is research important? It helps a person in this kind of scenario:
"Once, a guy asked in an online forum where to get a Nintendo DS and a reply came back saying he should get it from a shop he trusts. How would a guy establish a level of trust if he is totally new to video games and has not purchased anything from any video game shop in the first place?"
Posted by tokyo_nights at 11:46 PM
Since Mario Kart DS does not have a lobby system, you would have to contend with the service selecting your opponents for you. There is an alternative however if you don't feel like racing with strangers: Friend Codes!
The closest thing I can use as an analogy for Friend Codes would be your instant messaging contact list. Basically by prompting the game to search for "Friends" for a multiplayer match, it will basically go through the friend codes stored in your copy of the game. Simply obtain your friend's Friend Code and enter it into the game for future reference.
To know your own friend code (so that your friends can add you as well), go over to the Friend Code option in Mario Kart DS' Nintendo WFC screen and select the Confirm Friend Code option.
You can find my Friend Code and my nickname in Mario Kart DS on the side bar of this blog.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
Things get a bit harder when it comes to connecting the Nintendo DS to the access point. I came up with the following settings for Mario Kart DS' WFC setup through some trial and error. My network is set-up as such that my laptop is connected to my router modem via network cable while the WIFI LINK adapter is connected to the laptop via the USB port.
- Set Auto-obtain IP Address to No.
- Set IP Address to something along the lines of the IP addresses in your network, but of course choose a unique address. In my case, my laptop's IP address is 192.168.1.4 and I set the Nintendo DS's IP address to 192.168.1.9
- Set the Subnet Mask, which I set to 255.255.255.0.
- Set the Gateway, which I set to the router's IP address which in this case is 192.168.1.1
- Set Auto-obtain DNS to No
- Set the Primary and Secondary DNS to Streamyx's (or your particular ISP of choice) DNS which are 126.96.36.199 and 188.8.131.52
I made my first order with Play-Asia for a MAYFLASH WiFi LINK adapter on the 17th of October and the package arrived on the 28th of October. It took a little longer to be delivered than expected but it can't be help due to the festivities going on earlier this week; for the record the package passed the customs check on the 21st of October.
The package came in a brown box which seems to have survived unmolested through Customs, unlike some of the horror stories that I've read elsewhere. Inside there was a bubble-wrap pocket containing the box in which the adapter came in, some styrofoam pieces and other stuff.
The adapter's box suffered during shipping with an obvious dent on its side but fortunately this did not damage the contents inside the box. As for the other stuff that came with the package, Play-Asia included a USD 5 discount coupon and a sticker.
In addition to receiving the Play-Asia package, my Aztech wireless router modem was returned to me today after it was sent back to the manufacturer for repairs.
Posted by tokyo_nights at 12:27 AM
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Here are some situations whereby you might find casual games on handheld consoles to be quite handy. I can only think of two at the moment.
1. Babysitting kids
The game is not for you to play with, but rather it's for the kids. If you are babysitting a hyperactive child or basically any kid that has already been exposed to video games, chances are you will have a better chance of keeping the kid occupied with a video game rather than with anything else. If your underage charge starts asking for Grand Theft Auto instead of Mario Kart DS, tell him that playing the game will make him go to hell. Kids are gullible that way.
2. Waiting for your date
Waiting is probably the activity that you do most when you are dating someone who is either a vain pot or a metrosexual. They tend to spend A LOT of time in the bathroom or in front of the dressing table before stepping out with you.
It is normal to be feeling excited over how your date will look like but this only happens at the start of the relationship, the feeling of excitement will soon be replaced with boredom. Short games on your PSP or Nintendo DS will help alleviate your suffering.
Posted by tokyo_nights at 10:29 PM
For fans of the Worms series of games on the PC and PS2, THQ's Worms: Open Warfare for the Nintendo DS goes somewhere along the lines of Worms: Armageddon but falls short of its highly regarded PC cousin.
However, for first timers, welcome to the mad cap world of Worms: Open Warfare. In this game, you take control of a group of worms to engage in turn-based warfare on another group(s) of worms in randomly generated battlefields. In order to win, you'll need to utilise the variety of weapons ranging from the all-time favourite bazooka to the absurd but destructive sheep bomb.
Worms: Open Warfare offers 4 different modes of play: Quick Game, Create Game, Challenges and Multiplayer. In Quick Game, the game immediately sets you up for a match with another group of computer-controlled worms.
The Create Game mode of play offers versatility whereby you get to select your team as well as the other opposing teams and the particular environment you want to play in. It is easy to setup a multiplayer player match where up to 4 people can take turns on the same Nintendo DS.
The Challenges mode gets you acquainted with the controls involved in playing Worms: Open Warfare and the Wireless mode offers up download play capabilities for other Nintendo DS owners in the same vicinity.
Gameplay wise, you control the actions of your "worm" using the directional pad and the A and B keys. The touch screen is relegated to weapons selection and for moving the camera around the map. First time players might notice that it is impossible to move about the menus in the touchscreen with the directional pad and a stylus would be necessary to play this game.
The weapons selection and graphics, even though falling short of its PC counterparts, are sufficient to provide good pick-me-up games. You may also find that the unpredictable but silly A.I helps as well.
Just try not to play this game in an airplane if you are the emotional type, because you'll find yourself referring to the weapons in the game verbally, example: "Damn grenade!"
Get your copy of Worms: Open Warfare at Play-Asia.com
Monday, October 23, 2006
Seeing that I was playing a racing game, he no longer needed an answer but instead proceeded to give comments on my racing style, the opponents and the kart that I was using. The interesting part came when he asked whether he can give it a go.
As with the previous casual gaming experiment, the kid just wanted to know how to get the kart moving. He proceeded to play for more than an hour while I had coffee with the proprietor of the shop.
Sure enough, with humans being curious beings, some of the attendees began to take notice of the device without any compulsion from me. Out of the 3, only one had held a Nintendo DS before but all three have never played Mario Kart.
Games that fit in this kind of category definately warrant a write-up in this blog.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Having no Friend Codes with me, I jumped into a match with a total stranger but not before waiting for the game to look for opponents. The guy that I played against was very fast and I only managed to beat him on my favourite snow covered track.
Overall, the whole Nintendo WFC experience is great and having games against real opponents over the Internet via WiFi provides a real challenge even to seasoned single-player mode gamers.
Friday, October 20, 2006
So here goes:
1. Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis
2. New Super Mario Bros
3. Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime
4. Clubhouse Games
5. Kanji Sonomama Rakubiki Jiten
The last title is some sort of a Japanese-English dictionary with kanji recognition abilities. Nice. I'll write a review of it, if I get it during my Christmas shopping.
I read an interesting entry in a forum that I frequent regarding the official Nintendo counter in Malaysia. Of all the hype, has anyone actually bought anything from there? I have no doubt that people do buy games from this newly minted counter but do they belong to the group that talk about games (and the counter) all day long or those who actually play games?
Posted by tokyo_nights at 1:35 AM
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
While reading a review about a game is one thing, watching a video review of a game is something else. Video reviews are good in a sense that they show the game in action along with running commentary. I know this because I used to have a blast watching X-Play on Tech TV.
Having trouble visualizing a game through words or mere screenshots, you should check out YouTube which is a treasure trove for both amateur and professional video reviews of video games.
Here are some of the video reviews by GTTV (Game Trailer TV) that I found on YouTube, each of them around 4 to 5 minutes long.
Mario Kart DS:
Advance Wars: Dual Strike:
New Super Mario Bros:
Metroid Prime Hunters:
Mario Hoops: 3 on 3:
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
I used to have a clandestine wireless network set up in the classes I attended during my final year in college. Basically, it involved having my laptop hooked up to the college's WiFi network using a PCMCIA card WiFi adaptor and then connecting a Bluetooth adapter to the laptop.
This in turn allowed my friends and I to connect our Bluetooth enabled PDAs to the laptop and surf the Internet through the bridged connection. This was way before WiFi enabled PDAs were affordable and this jury-rigged solution allowed my friends and I to do a little surfing or chatting whenever lectures got boring. The best thing was that lecturers assumed that we were taking down notes with those devices.
On to the present day, I've not been able to get my network hardware to play nice with my Nintendo DS ever since I bought the console from Dubai. As a result, I have not been able to experience the fun playing Mario Kart DS on the WFC.
My first WiFi router, an Aztech 600 series model, was invisible to my DS and nothing short of flashing the router's firmware would make it work with my console. Unfortunately, the router overheated and was sent back to the manufacturer before I could proceed with flashing it.
The second WiFi router, a Dlink DSL-604T, didn't manage to work either. The only solution was to flash the device with a different firmware meant for users in Australia! I'm not really in favour of doing this as the possibility of turning my one and only router into a brick is quite high.
You might be muttering at the other end of the line thinking "Come on, show me something that works for a change". Yes, there are several other alternatives in store for those who want to get their Nintendo DS connected to the WFC.
First up, you can purchase a WFC compatible WiFi router. The list of routers is available at NintendoWiFi.com and you should go for those that are recommended by the site. This will take the guess work out of choosing an appropriate router.
If you are stuck with an incompatible router, just like in my case, don't fret. You can purchase Nintendo's Wi-Fi USB Connector (USD 44.90, available at Play-Asia.com) which acts as a wireless Access Point by which your Nintendo DS can connect to.
Not many of us would like to spend USD 44.90 on a piece of plastic the size of a thumb drive and fortunately there are other USB adapters available.
The Datel WiFi Max goes for USD 34.90 and is available at Play-Asia.com.
Mayflash produces a cheaper USB adapter that goes for USD 24.90. This is also available at Play-Asia.com.
For those of you who have money to spare but do not like the plain jane look of the Nintendo Wi-Fi USB Connector, you can go for the Planex GW-US54GZL Wireless Lan USB Adapter. This adapter is slightly more expensive than Nintendo's offering and you can view the technical specs here.
If purchasing and setting up a router or a WiFi adaptor is too much of a hassle, you can always drop in at the local Starbucks or any other place that features an open hotspot. :)
I opted for the second option and I placed an order for a Mayflash WiFi Link adapter this afternoon. I'll have a write-up when it arrives.
Posted by tokyo_nights at 10:03 PM
Monday, October 16, 2006
As the title of this post might imply, this is not the sequel to "That Rumbling Sound" nor is this about hungry stomachs. This post is about one of the more interesting accessories to go along with the Nintendo DS, the Rumble Pak.
The Rumble Pak attaches to the GBA slot on the Nintendo DS and provides tactile feedback to the gamer when playing supported games such as Metroid Prime Pinball. It is safe to say that Metroid Prime Pinball wouldn't be much of a pinball game without the Rumble Pak, which goes to show how, for lack of a better word, useful such an accessory the Rumble Pak is.
The Rumble Pak not only vibrates, but depending on the duration in which it is vibrating, a certain sound, like a chirp, will be emitted. This might annoy some people and there is pretty much no way of shutting it off.
The vibrations emitted from the Rumble Pak isn't much to shout about, not like the ones that comes from say, a Playstation 2 Dual Shock controller. It is a good thing however that Nintendo didn't go about naming the Rumble Pak somewhere along the likes of personal massagers.
My Rumble Pak came with my copy of Metroid Prime Pinball but I'm not really sure whether it comes with other games. However, I did find several titles that make use of the Rumble Pak:
- Super Princess Peach
- Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time
- Metroid Prime Hunters
- Metriod Prime Pinball
Sunday, October 15, 2006
ESRB is the acronym for Entertainment Software Ratings Board, which is the video game industry's "self-regulatory" body.
The ESRB is responsible for rating games and if you hadn't notice, each game is accompanied with an ESRB notice. This notice is usually found on the cover or the box in which the game came in. This notice rates the game in terms of suitability for different age groups and it usually comes with additional content descriptors such as "Mild Violence" and "Blood".
Some Nintendo DS games have funny ESRB notices and some would have you in chuckles even before you open the game packaging.
I have not played this game, but for a relatively mild-looking game, Cooking Mama has the following ESRB notice:
Next up would be Clubhouse Games, which would make good practice if you are going to holiday in Vegas:
Harvest Moon DS has both the content descriptors and it is a farming simulator? Drop on by for an authentic farming experience:
Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime has a pretty nice rap sheet:
Upcoming Elite Beat Agents' ESRB content descriptors remind me of Jack Black, or an Adam Sandler movie:
Posted by tokyo_nights at 7:15 PM
Saturday, October 14, 2006
The Metroid series of games has been synonymous with Nintendo and its consoles (handheld or otherwise). I don't want to pretend that I know Metroid but it goes to show how influential this series is when someone like me who previously isn't into console games to know the main character's name, Samus Aran and that she is one of the more iconic female video game characters of all time.
Now, the Metroid series has made it to the Nintendo DS and after almost a year since it was first released, I have purchased Metroid Prime Pinball. Yes, it is a pinball game and it comes with a Rumble Pak (more on that next time) to boot!
Gameplay wise, this game provides a very convincing pinball experience. The flippers can be controlled by either the shoulder buttons or the left directional key on the D-pad and the A button on the right. The rest of the buttons X, Y and B are used for weapons and for power-up selection.
No pinball game worth its salt will do without the ability to nudge (bump) the table and this can be done by using the touchscreen!
This game provides several options of play, namely Multi Mission, Single Mission and Wireless Mission. In both Multi Mission and Single Mission modes, playing a table is often peppered with mini-games in which completion will provide you Artifacts or Specials in the respective modes.
Tables can be unlocked for Single Mission play when successfully completed in Multi Mission play.
This game is really fast and vivid graphically with some nice effects thrown in, don't be suprised to see rain in the game. The sound effects and soundtrack compliments the game well and even though I haven't got to the point of hooking the game up with my speaker system, this game sounds great.
Regardless whether you are a casual player or a pinball aficionado, Metroid Prime Pinball makes for excellent pick-me-up games and replayablity. For the hardcore in you, post up your high scores online on the Metroid Prime Pinball leaderboards located here.
Get your copy of Metroid Prime Pinball at Play-Asia.com!
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Creative first released the Playworks PS2000 Digital 2.1 Audio Speaker System way back in 2000. This particular model had a unique way of presenting 2.1 audio in a form "virtual 5.1 surround sound" using a Dipole unit and an active subwoofer which has built-in Dolby Digital decoder.
The highlight of this speaker system would be the Dipole unit which basically consists of two speakers joined together and placed on a stand. The direction in which the speakers are aimed is adjustable to produce the best possible listening effect to the user.
I got this set just a few days ago as a birthday present from my brother and I'm happy to say that besides the matching colours between the Dipole unit and my Nintendo DS, this audio set produces really great sound. I hooked up the DS with the speaker system and it really made my day hearing the sound effects from Mario Kart, especially that of the engine rumbling at the beginning of the race.
This funky looking audio set, which was marketed years ago as the perfect compliment for the Sony Playstation 2 in both looks and functionality, is currently out of production and thus unavailable in most online stores. However, scouting around your local computer store for this will definitely make it worth your time. Did I mention that this unit comes with a full complement of cables and a remote control as well?
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Aside from my Nintendo DS, I have a nearly a decade old Nintendo Game Boy which I found stowed away in a drawer downstairs. I mainly played Super Mario Land on my Game Boy and no other game really mattered. My best achievement on that game was reaching the final level boss but failing to beat it.
Having talked about the games, the thing I like most about the Game Boy itself is the dimensions. It is large, bulky and somewhat heavy but in my opinion, it has a very nice feel to it. The main reason for it being heavy is the fact that it utilizes four AA size batteries.
Some interesting (and geeky) facts obtained from Nintendoland.com about the Game Boy include:
- It was introduced in 1989.
- The processor speed for the device is 4.19 MHz
- Over 55 million Game Boys have been sold.