Saturday, December 30, 2006

What's in store for 2007?

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!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Old Wine in New Wine Skin - Mario Style

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

Merry Christmas and Gift Recommendations!

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:

  1. 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 (here)

  2. 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 (here)

  3. 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 (here)

  4. 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 (here)

  5. 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 albeit the Japanese version, but who need to take note of the language in a game about moving blocks? (here)
There are alot more games and stuff that you can look for your gamer pals, the Play-Asia bargain bin (here) is a good start but one does not really need to venture online for a good bargain. Go to your local game shop, stuff like controllers, memory cards or even CD/DVD racks (you might not find these in a game-shop but IKEA does help) make thoughtful gifts for your gamer friend.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Getting Some WFC Action With Winning Eleven DS

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 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

Riding Lines

One article led to another and I eventually ended up in the Line Rider website (, featuring a Flash-based game like nothing I've seen before. The premise is simple, draw lines on the drawing board and watch the rider hit the lines like a surfer hits the waves. Yes, it is pretty much a no-brainer but soon you'll have roller coster like designs and while you are at it, take a look at the jaw-dropping videos for some crazy inspiration!

Watch a video of Line Rider in action on Youtube at

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Connect the Pegs

Trust the Land of the Rising Sun to come up with something quirky. Some call it a puzzle, some call it weird, some call it "some more Japanese stuff", just what are they referring to? These are some comments I got for a push-peg puzzle which I purchased just recently with my copy of Winning Eleven DS (review here).

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, click here!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Breaking New Ground

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 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

Football's Winning Ways

Playing football on a handheld console is a pretty good time killer but most of the time, you'll be stuck playing on your own against the game's AI which might lead to a not so fun time. With Winning Eleven DS, you can take your game on the road (or to the local cafe) and challenge people via local wireless connection or via the Nintendo WFC if a hotspot is available.

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, click here! For a guide on how to get the game going on WFC, click here.

Brought to You by FedEx

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

And You Thought Consoles Don't Do Strategy

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

Orisinal, and that's no typo

Imagine that you are in a child's picture book, featuring the likes of Brear Rabbit and friends, characters from the Grimm Brothers tales, and even more cute rabbits, like those from Watership Down, put all these into a collection of games and you'll get Ferry Halim's Orisinal.

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:

Friday, December 08, 2006

Casual Games - Part 1

"30 seconds have passed since you first started and your score is at an all time high. In an instant you realize that your superior is passing your cubicle any second now with your LCD monitor in full view for him to see. Immediately you reach for the Windows key + D combination to quickly hide your game of Solitaire in the sanctuary of the Windows Taskbar.

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

Cheap Ass Gamer

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 (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.

Pity the Kid

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

Casual Gaming Delight

Casual gamers will be in for a treat when they use Windows Vista. This is because the operating system comes with, in my opinion, a nice collection of games that can and will keep casual gamers like me occupied for quite some time.

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

Ultimate Confusion

Diverting from video games, this post is about Microsoft's latest operating system, Windows Vista. I got to install an original copy of Windows Vista Ultimate Edition RC1, courtesy of the Microsoft Partner Program, onto my PC.

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.

Windows Media Player 11 and Internet Explorer 7 are no longer exclusives to Vista having been released for the Windows XP platform. But this being my first time using Windows Media Player 11, I dare say it looks great and probably ownes the version of iTunes that I'm using on my laptop. On the other hand, Internet Explorer 7 gives the Internet Explorer line a reboot, having being strip down to basics (in terms of user interface) but the end result, I don't like it at all.

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..