Monthly Archives: September 2009

Harvest Moon

I’ve always really enjoyed Harvest Moon. Learning to manage my time to care for my farm can be stressful, but once I have a routine down, it’s actually relaxing. Feed the chickens, grab the egg, feed the cows, milk the cows, brush the cows, brush the horse, harvest, water. Then I get a little bit of precious free time to go up the mountain or talk to a girl. The dating simulator aspect of the game is also fun although simple, reminding me of the system from Azure Dreams. Sadly, I’ve never finished a Harvest Moon game.
The first I played was Harvest Moon for the SNES. When I picture Harvest Moon in my head, this is the version I see. I played it quite a bit for a while, and I remember talking to William about it while he played it as well. I tried the PlayStation version, Harvest Moon: Back to Nature as well which was 3D and ugly. Some people liked it more, but I just couldn’t get into it. I did have a friend, most likely Shaun, who used to play it at my house, but I passed on it.

 
William let me borrow Harvest Moon 64 for the N64, and that was much more enjoyable than Back to Nature. It was also 3D but just seemed more pleasant. Harvest Moon 64 featured a greenhouse, allowing me to grow plants even in the winter. Even though Harvest Moon is a single player, I really enjoyed talking to William about this game while I played it.
Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town came out in fall of 2003, my senior year of high school. William and I each bought a copy. This was the first time I played Harvest Moon on a portable, and it was great to have it with me wherever I went. I talked to William every night about how far we were and what was happening. In this version, sprites lived around the farm. After I befriended them, they did various work around my farm for me. This version seemed really amazing, and it was by far my favorite. Unfortunately, I lost the game and never did find it.
In my second year of college, I purchased Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life. This was just too stressful for me. I kept having to check FAQs to make sure I didn’t miss things, and I didn’t want to play like that. However, I didn’t want to progress in the game only to find that I was unable to get something because the opportunity passed. I ended up giving up pretty early. Maybe the previous versions also had things I could miss, but I just didn’t know. A Wonderful Life was also the first time I played Harvest Moon without discussing it with William frequently. Luckily, gem played it too so I talked to her about it!
I think it’s time to play Harvest Moon again. On the DS there’s Harvest Moon DS and Harvest Moon: Island of Happiness, and in November Harvest Moon: Sunshine Islands will be released in the US. There’s also Rune Factory and Rune Factory for the DS which feature dungeons and action-RPG elements. Rune Factory Frontier is also on the Wii. Rune Factory seems to be pushing the 3D a little bit too far, leaving the game looking ugly. I’ll start with Harvest Moon DS and see how I like it. Perhaps I’ll finish it this time!

Super Street Fighter IV Confirmed, Gamer Underwhelmed

Okay, by gamer, I just mean me. Joystiq and GameSpot just confirmed the rumors about Super Street Fighter IV. Disappointingly, it’s a retail game, not DLC. It’s adding eight characters, but only three have been revealed – T. Hawk, Dee Jay, and newcomer Juri. Characters have been rebalanced, and new ultras have been introduced. The online features are also going to be “enhanced,” whatever that means.
I’d be excited if this was reasonably priced DLC, but making us pay for a new game while at the same time making our older version worthless doesn’t please me. I’m sure this will also weaken online play in the original Street Fighter IV, thus lowering the value of the game for those of us who don’t want the new version.
Sources:
GameSpot, Joystiq

Battleground Queues

I’ve been queued for Eye of the Storm for 4 hours 14 minutes and Isle of Conquest for 6 hours 20 minutes. Isle of Conquest was my daily yesterday. Unfortunately, I never got a chance to actually play it. I was actually queued for more than 6 hours, but I logged off for a little bit, resetting my queue.
I’m not happy with this.

AV QQ

In every match of Alterac Valley, people bitch about the changes the patch brought. Their biggest problem is, of course, that we used to get twice as much XP. People complain about this a ton. Before the last patch, we didn’t even get XP in BGs at all! Blizzard tried giving us XP, realized we were getting too much, and tweaked it. On top of this, AV was giving ridiculous XP. Was it too much? Well, everyone was saying AV was the best way to level, and it always had a bunch of people AFK just for the XP. This seems like a problem to me. I don’t think Blizzard added XP to BGs as the new way to level. No matter their reasons for adding it, why would they want us to play only AV and not the other battlegrounds? This tweak puts AV more on par with the other BGs.
I’ve also seen complaints about increased queue time and reduced honor. I don’t know any details on the reduced honor. It does seem like I’m getting less, maybe 3/4 of what I used to get. I’m not sure on the reasoning for that, but it doesn’t seem so bad. The increase in queue time makes sense given that my bracket now excludes 80s and people aren’t here just to level any longer.
Overall, I think this is a great change. Yes, I’m sad that I can’t take advantage of the XP, but that was clearly a problem anyways.
I do have to say, only allowing players to queue for two battlegrounds rather than three really sucks. Both Strand of the Ancients and Isle of Conquest have really long queue times in my bracket. Previously I would queue for those two and a third that would pop more frequently. Now I get to participate in BGs much less frequently. When already inside another BG, you can accept a queue to another BG even when in combat or dead. This is pretty cool. But what about while in combat while outside of BGs? The amount of time you have to accept has been reduced significantly, and already I’ve found myself unable to get out of combat in time.

WoW Patch 3.2.2

Onyxia finally became a level 80! I’m happy about that because I already had the achievement, now a Feat of Strength! They also changed the 71-80 AV bracket to 71-79 and 80 brackets. At least, this is what’s being reported. Blizzard didn’t make note of it. They also dropped the XP gain in the 71-79 bracket by half. I think these are good adjustments. I’m sad I won’t get as much XP, but XP gain was ridiculous in AV anyways. The bracket changes are terrific also. Non-80s seemed pretty worthless in game with 80s.
You know what’s dumb about the patch? Whatever they did to make it take a half hour to send a letter, open a container, queue for a BG, or do anything else. This sucks.

Game Update

As usual, I haven’t made a Game Journal post in a while. I’ll try to keep this brief. Most of my time has been spent in World of Warcraft. I’m one bar away from 70 now, and I managed to pick up Save the Day in Warsong Gulch. I had the very best gear I could get at 68 before turning on XP again, so I was really kicking ass. I’ve also managed to do Magtheridon’s Lair and Onyxia’s Lair as well as some other normal instances.
I started Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box. It’s fun, but I’m in no rush to complete it. Scribblenauts came out as well. It’s a really interesting game, and it’s fun in small doses, but it doesn’t really hold my attention for long. I’ve been playing a bit every night in bed. I went back to Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars and managed to finish it. The story really picked up toward the end. Of course, it wasn’t an amazing story. The dialog of the whole game could be read in a couple minutes most likely. Still, I kept wanting to push forward to see what happens next, and that’s what a good story in a game should do.
After the Dreamcast party, I’ve played a lot of Samba de Amigo. It’s really fun! It won’t load my save file though, and I don’t know why. I also beat Three Dirty Dwarves for Saturn, which I made a post about a few days ago.
Lastly, I started Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2 recently. Nothing really new there yet. I do find it strange that they mention that Angie is a really great nurse, but all she seems to do is hand Derek objects and do his paperwork for him. It seems degrading to the nursing profession. In general it seems that people aren’t very aware of nurses really do.
And now my computer’s done copying a file to my flash card so I can get on with what I wanted to do. Time to go play games in bed.

Missing .exe files

After finishing GTA: Chinatown Wars, I went to play the original Grand Theft Auto. I keep in a folder called “Program & Games,” which is where I store all my games that don’t need to be installed. In other words, this folder can just be moved to another computer if I get a new one. Anyways, i couldn’t find the .exe, so I looked at a few other games I had in there. No .exe’s. None. I did a search in the folder and all subfolders, and there isn’t a single .exe in there. What happened? I could have run a script that deletes them all, but I don’t think I’d do that. Also, if every .exe was infected with a virus, I suppose they could have been quarantined. I think I would have noticed either occurrence, but I don’t have any other explanation.
Update:
(7:36:49 PM) TheUser04: what’d you do with all my .exes?!?!
(7:43:20 PM) Linh-Nam: i ate them
(7:43:36 PM) Linh-Nam: they were .execellent

Three Dirty Dwarves

This weekend I had the joy of playing Three Dirty Dwarves for the Sega Saturn! It was my way of paying respect to the Saturn on Saturnday, the first Saturday after Dreamcast Day, 9/9 (in honor of the Dreamcast’s American launch on 9/9/99). It was truly a great example of gaming from its generation.
First I had to hook up the RF adapter, complete with coaxial cable attached to a splitter via duct tape. This both ruined my ability to watch television and also added a gentle, fuzzy interference to the game. Inadvertently, my gaming was given a classic feel!
Three Dirty Dwarves opened with a wonderful cut scene that looked like an 80s cartoon. It was amusing and relaxing and even made me feel a bit nostalgic. The cartoon gave the back story of the game; four genius children are being held by a military weapons contractor (or possibly the military itself) for a super soldier project. They’re all in one room playing a tabletop RPG similar to Dungeons & Dragons. In their game, three dwarves are searching for a portal to our world. They find it and end up entering out world in Al’s Sporting Goods. Thinking the things for sale there are weapons and armor, they equip themselves and set off to save the children. While the three cut scenes in the game are in a great cartoon style, during gameplay Three Dirty Dwarves uses large, excellent looking sprites. In addition, the game features fun rock music that seems to fit very well.

 
For the most part, the game plays like a normal beat ’em up. You control one dwarf with the other two following. At any time you can switch dwarves. Each plays slightly differently. One can throw baseballs in the air and hit them in rapid succession at enemies. This has a slight delay as he throws the balls before hitting them. One throws bowling balls and pins. The attack is rather slow, but the bowling ball can hit multiple enemies. The third shoots a shotgun. This happens immediately, but there’s a reload time afterwards. When the dwarf being controlled is damaged, he gets knocked out and control passes to another. Hitting the knocked out dwarf will allow him to become playable once again.
Enemy design is varied both in looks and weaknesses. The dwarves fight orcs, a dragon, mutant babies, robots, and more. Many enemies are simple to defeat, but many require timing attacks or watching for patterns. Still others require being hit in particular ways to be defeated. Between the normal beat ’em up levels are stranger levels. One has the dwarves running in a circle fighting an enemy in the middle. On screen the game is still 2D; running left or right causes the background to scroll so it appears that the dwarves are running in a circle. Another level is baseball themed. Each dwarf must score a run. Enemies are in the field while the dwarves are at bat. One button causes the dwarf to run from one base to the next, and one causes the dwarf to hit the ball. The batter won’t run unless the previous dwarf has made it home. You can aim the ball at enemies in the field to defeat them although they do respawn. When the path is clear, the dwarf is able to safely run to the next base. This was a particularly fun level to me.
Another great level is the obligatory mine cart level! How many early games had such a level? It seems like a lot of games in this genre feature a mine cart level or some similar level on rails featuring speed. These levels are much more varied today, but I think you can still see games with levels that fulfill the same purpose. It was amusing to find such a cliché level in the game. Don’t get me wrong though; it was fun! Because of enemies and obstacles on the track, you have to blast your way through and have a fast enough reaction time to jump over holes in the track.
One level had the dwarves riding a wrecking ball. This was a 3D level, with the wrecking ball swinging back and forth toward the background. A building contains a dragon breathing fire towards the dwarves. By holding left or right, you can control how the wrecking ball swings. Eventually you’re able to do enough damage to the building that it falls.
Three Dirty Dwarves was very enjoyable, and I’m surprised I don’t see it recommended more when people look for Saturn games to play. I’m glad I stumbled upon it. To add to the classic gaming feel, I even had to leave my Saturn on over night because there wasn’t a save feature. I can’t remember the last time I had to do that! This is a classic I’m sure I’ll play again and recommend to others!

Dreamcast Party

Yesterday was my Dreamcast party, and I had a blast. I started the day by playing Sonic Adventure by myself. I love how beautiful the game looks even today. When I first saw it, I was amazed. It was Sega’s blue skies at their best! I played up to the point where Sonic finds Tails. I just love that first love, complete with loops and a whale that chases Sonic.
Soon after the guests began to arrive. There were eleven people at the party counting myself – Gemma, William, Edward, Pat, Tony, James, Antonio, Linh-Nam, Collin, Duncan, and myself. We had chili dogs in honor of Sonic and cupcakes with Dreamcast swirls on them. We also had a variety of soda, juice, chips, and dip.

 
We started the multiplayer with Power Stone 2. It’s definitely my favorite 3D fighter, and one my favorite fighters in fact. Then we played some Samba de Amigo, which Pat brought. That game’s fantastic! I played the Wii sequel, but the maracas work so much better on the Dreamcast. There’s mat that you put down with a sensor bar that attaches via velcro. It plugs into the Dreamcast, and the two maracas attach to the bar. It senses the height of the two maracas, and the maracas have one button each. It was fun, and now I’m borrowing it from Pat. Thanks!
We also played Chu Chu Rocket, one of my all-time favorite games. It was great to bring that game back out of my closet. Some guests played Crazy Taxi 2 while I took care of food. Then we played San Francisco Rush 2049. That game’s crazy. It was hysterical, but I think it’d be pretty boring in single player. What got crazy was the wings that the cars have. When you’re airborne after driving off a ramp, pressing a particular button causes wings to extend. I’m sure they do something useful, but for me, they just seemed to cause me to spiral out of control before exploding. Every time you run into anything, your car explodes. Crazy, but fun.
Ooga Booga, a game designed to be a party game, was strange and not that fun. After only a few minutes we moved to the next game. Bust-A-Move 4 was fun, but I’m sure no one was surprised. I think we’re all familiar with Bust-A-Move. The guests played Looney Tunes Space Race and Armada while I did other things, neither of which seemed very interesting. They also played King of Fighters for a bit.
Then it was time for KISS Psycho Circus! This game was ridiculous! You play as a member of a KISS tribute band. Apparently the members of the tribute back one day have super powers for some reason. It seemed like a bad Hexen or Heretic clone. The coolest thing about this game was the enemy known as the Arachnoclown, part spider, part clown. Picture a centaur. Now replace the horse part with spider. Now picture the human part very overweight, wearing a stupid shirt and clown make-up. Ta da! Arachnoclown!
Then we played 4×4 Evolution, which to our surprise featured a variety of real cars. I played against William in a pitch black match with rain, although for some reason we couldn’t really see any rain. It was a bit buggy, and for a while William was dragged slowly around the track after driving too far out and getting stuck. After something similar happened to me and he was teleported back on the track, he was able to win.
We tried some Alien Front Online, which allowed us to blow up the Capitol. That game wasn’t that great, but I remember enjoying it when it came out. Then in Ready 2 Rumble Round 2 we tried beating on each other for a while. The character models were pretty strange, and I never really figured out any strategy. It seemed like whichever character had the greater reach would win.
Finally we played Sonic Shuffle. I bought it three years ago and never had the chance to play it until now. It definitely feels very similar to Mario Party, but was still different and fun. By this time the only people left at the party were Collin, Duncan, and William. We played for a while before William had to leave, and then we switched his character to computer controlled. The map was a train level, and different cars of the train would disconnect or reconnect. At one point, the car with Knuckles, the computer player, disconnected and stupid Knuckles was trapped for a while. There’s a helicopter space that can be landed on which causes a helicopter to pick you up and take you somewhere else. Unfortunately for Knuckles, it dropped him back on the same car the first time he tried to use it. Eventually I won, but I was pretty surprised that actually. I hope we get a chance to play it again. Unlike Mario Party’s dice system, Sonic Shuffle uses cards. Each player is dealt a hand of cards, and you pick a card and move the number of spaces corresponding to which card you pick. You can see your own cards and now your opponents, and you can pick anyone’s card. This means you might want to try to remember what cards they have, although they can shuffle their hands so you don’t know which card is where. I’m going to try and unlock some new characters, but I don’t know how much fun single player will be.
The party was a lot of fun, and it was great to honor the Dreamcast. Hopefully everyone who came had a good time. Thanks for coming!

Happy Birthday

Happy 10th birthday Dreamcast! I look forward to celebrating with you today!
I’m also looking forward to hitting 1000 hours played on Devee in World of Warcraft and playing bob’s game!