Thursday, December 27, 2012

Happy holidays! Award time!

Hopefully everyone is having a good holiday and if you're celebrating Christmas have everything prepared and ready for it. Or more accurately, I hope you had a good Christmas, since this post took me a bit longer than expected with all the things to do over Christmas. I recently finished my exams and was working a late shift yesterday, but thats me free for the next few days until my next shift on Sunday 30th. Time to relax! =)
Anyway, I have a bit of a different post today-its an award I was nominated for by my girlfriend (biased slightly hehehe.) Her blog is getting an awesome amount of attention because its becoming more and more professional in my opinion. Its over here if you are interested in nail art and drugstore/high street hauls. I understand that a lot of my readers will not know what the hell that is about though hehe =p

Anyway, the way the award works is kind of like the "tags" you might see on youtube or some blogs. I've to answer a set of 11 questions and put up 11 random facts about myself. After that I am to tag 11 bloggers who each have less than 200 followers who I think are interesting bloggers in the community.

So here are the 11 questions:

What are you looking most forward to at Christmas?
- I'm looking forward to getting some time off from university, relaxing with my friends, family and awesome girlfriend =) Oh, and how could I nearly forget the Christmas food? Eating way too much of that!
What are you looking most forward to for 2013?
- Hmm this is a difficult one...I'm a bit nervous about 2013 because I'm going into the more difficult half of the university year, where we'll be getting real patients coming in to get their eyes tested. So perhaps I'm looking forward to some time off in summer and relaxing whenever I can!
Classic Disney films or newer Pixar films?
- Classic Disney films are far better in my opinion. The animation and imagination put into films like Aladdin, The Lion King and Fantasia are amazing. Thats not to say I don't like the newish Pixar films, there have been some really good ones like Finding Nemo, Toy Story and Up, but they just don't quite hold up to the old films I watched when growing up. It seems they weren't as scared to make films back then a bit grittier and darker.
Are you at University/College at the moment and what do you do?
- I'm at University at the moment, studying Optometry in my 3rd year out of 4.
Iphone or Blackberry? Or neither?
- Blackberry are much better for me, I couldn't carry a phone around that is worth more than my PS3, Xbox 360 and 3DS combined. They are really good quality in terms of the touch screen, but I'm fine with my (old) Blackberry Curve (and iPod touch if I want IOS apps.)
Favourite animal?
- Not sure exactly...I have lots I like, but might just go with cats of some kind, because I really like having them as pets =p
Favourite beverage?
- Ummm...Tea? Being BritishScottish I like my tea.
Pet peeves?
- I don't like it when people talk in lecture theatres way too loudly, screech cutlery across plates or bowls...and I'm sure there are some other ones. Oh! When people crunch or eat ice cubes..Thats like my weakness...I hate that noise and everything about it
Best/worst moment of 2012? Can be personal or in the celeb type world type thing :p
- I'm really terrible at these...I can't pick one single moment out for my best of 2012. The worst moment? Juggling a job, coursework and studying for exams? It sucks the amount of stress that piles up near exam time.
Most overhyped nonsense of the year?
- The apocalypse? Of course the world wasn't just going to spontaneously end when there was no scientific evidence behind it. No approaching asteroids or alien motherships were to be seen.
Favourite nail polish brand? 
- ... I'm not too qualified to answer this, even though I have picked up a lot of info here and there hehe..

 Right, so I think I've answered everything well enough =) I'll leave the tagging for now or this will take ages to publish. I'm going to try and do an impressions or review post of Crimson Shroud or Inazuma Eleven next.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Some 3DS titles to keep an eye on

The 3DS is quickly shaping up to be a nice handheld console. The pricedrops have helped, putting it in a position where it is a good deal cheaper than the Vita, and it is getting some big game releases. As with all consoles, it started off slowly and is now starting to pick up steam. I hope we are going to get some more titles for "hardcore" gamers (even though I don't really like to use that definition.) I've embedded a couple trailers of games that I'm looking towards to turn the 3DS into the next must have handheld, similar to the way that the DS did back when it exploded. These are games I'm interested in, and some of them might be quite obscure looking at first, but I think the 3DS needs these kind of titles to complement the games which make up the "bread and butter" like Mario Kart 7, Super Mario 3D Land, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time etc.

Hopefully these are interesting to you, they are some of the games I'm looking forward to for next year. My next post might be some kind of impressions or a review of Crimson Shroud on the 3DS. Its a really interesting game and I want to talk about it as much as I can =)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Ni No Kuni Demo Impressions

I'll keep this to a short impression of the demo, as I've got imminent exams on the way...and should really be studying and not writing blog posts about video games.

So the demo for Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch was released on PSN yesterday (or the day before that in America, I believe.) After wrestling the updated PSN store into submission (seriously, it took like 4 or 5 attempts to download just the demo) I got my hands on this demo. The game itself, I've been looking forward to for absolutely ages. Even despite the fact that it sold nowhere near as many copies in Japan as it should have. Studio Ghibli and Level-5 collaborating on a PS3 jRPG should definitely be an interesting project from my point of view.

Graphically, the game looks really nice. Its very sharp cel-shaded graphics, and I spent a good while just rotating the camera to look at the surroundings. It really reminds me of the look of Dragon Quest VIII and IX. It feels like those games until you get into battle, which is much more 'interesting' than the turn based Dragon Quest battles. (Although, I should add a caveat at this point. I'm a big fan of the DQ series, don't get the wrong idea. The enemies are awesome and funny, the battle system has been refined over the years and when you thrown in some monster collection from battles, you're on to a winner in my opinion. "if it ain't broke, don't fix it.")

Before I went off on a tangent, I was going to talk about the battle system in Ni No Kuni...
Some in game stuff now(below), and these are what the battles look like. Very clean interface and not at all cluttered. Smooth speech bubbles and timers for actions and defending (which you can hit a button to cancel out of when you need) You can move around the battle environment freely, as in some other games. This adds a whole different dimension to the battle systems (which I found difficult to get the hang of at first-in fact, I was beaten in the first battle as I didn't realise exactly what I could do.) Hopefully the final game will have some sort of tutorial system to ease new players into the game.

The demo offers two scenarios which you have 25 minutes to play through before they end. The first of the two more or less chucks you into battle against a boss right from the start, which can be very difficult..The second of the two takes place in a volcano and has really nice detail and effects in the environment. I didn't manage to beat the boss at the volcano, but got through the timed rush to the end of the area with fairly few problems. The first scenario took me a couple of attempts to get through. It looks like there is quite a lot to think about in this game, and it makes it difficult in that the game is fairly fast paced. There are a few ways to pause it, but not a pause button per se, its more just the going into menus that will end up giving you a bit of  a break if you need a "cuppa tea." Which brings me to my next point. The game has some..distinctly British localisation, similar to Xenoblade Chronicles or Dragon Quest VIII. While its something I can chuckle about being from Scotland, North American or gamers elsewhere might not get some of the nuances. It hopefully shouldn't be too confusing or anything of a barrier.

The game looks like it could have been the next Studio Ghibli film, with some really interesting character design and high production values. I just hope the game "gels" well together. It looks like the characters in the above picture have completely different styles and looks, almost different artstyles as well. It could end up being quite a fragmented final product, so hopefully it works, but from what I have seen in the demo, it looks to be good.

A couple other links for info and impressions on Ni No Kuni so far;

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Some games I'm interested for next year

Some games I'll be keeping an eye on in the coming year:

Pier Solar HD

This one is an updated version of Pier Solar, which Watermelon released a year or two ago for the Genesis I believe. They are updating the game to "HD" and adding some content, as well as ports to different consoles (PC, Mac, Linux, Dreamcast, 360.) I was really on the fence about whether I would put down money for this. I'm not a huge fan of kickstarter as it can be used in ways I don't particularly trust. They really need paypal options for one thing.
Anyway, I was considering going for one of Watermelon's $125 physical collector's editions, because they do some amazing quality stuff for such a fledgling company. In the end I figured it was too close to Christmas to shell out at least £80 for a game which got fairly mixed reviews and a game that I could get for 10x less than that high price tag. Ended up pledging $10 or 15, I can't remember. This game looks really good, and they smashed all of their stretch goals in the end, I didn't think they'd make half of them :o The kickstarter ends today.

Rainfall: The Sojourn

I nearly missed out on this one, the artstyle and polished look to this SNES inspired RPG really interest me. Check out their kickstarter, which also ends today. It should hopefully be available afterwards if this post is a bit late for you reading it. Really nice sprites and production values, and looks really nostalgic.

Secrets of Grindea

This one is an indie(?) title that has been greenlit through Steam. Again, its another retro-ish RPG, and it has a really detailed fast paced action battle system, complete with features like charging attacks, special moves, frame cancelling and other stuff that is normally more at home in fighting games. Beautifully presented, this one looks like an RPG to keep an eye on, despite the rather silly name (half RPG cliche, half attempt at humour.) The game itself looks really crisp and well done, the only other things that I think could use some work potentially are the character portraits (bit generic RPG-maker look, almost.)

Secrets of Grindea Youtube