Saturday, September 09, 2006


Please Visit the NEW Blog Site

I have moved the blog to a new domain. I'm also switching handles at this time to match my Xbox 360 GamerTag. Please visit the new blog: Virtuadept's Game Blog, which is the only content I have so far up on CasualGamer.Net (but that will become a lot more later on, with gaming news, reviews, and forums for gamers with lives, who don't have enough time to game. Thank you so much for continuing to visit and putting up with the switch. If you are reading this via RSS you are going to need to visit the new site to pick up the new feed links. The good news is the comments now have a feed of their own, and all the posts are now tagged with categories information.

I'm keeping this blog up long enough for people to get the news about the new blog site but I won't be updating it. Since all of the posts transfered over, eventually I'll delete this site.

Friday, September 08, 2006


Moving again.

I just registered my own domain and successfully transfered Knight Games to it, but I need to edit some stuff on it first before it is ready for prime time. I just wanted to post here to let my readers know that Knight Games is moving soon, and I will be holding off on posts until I get the move complete, which if I bust my ass might be this weekend or early next week.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


Dead Rising - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Recently got Dead Rising for the Xbox 360. This game is not based on Dawn of the Dead or any other George Romero zombie movies (wink wink, nudge nudge). The fact that you're in a shopping mall surrounded by zombies? Pure coincidence, honest.

First, the Good. The game has a decent interface that only takes 30 minutes or so to get used to. You can aim and shoot or attack in first person, or you can leave it in third person mode and just "shoot from the hip," which works very well for melee weapons but not so much firearms. Since ammo is scarce, you'll end up killing a lot of zombies with melee weapons. The story seems interesting, but honestly it's the same old cliche so nothing really new there. The graphics are decent but nothing stellar. This could probably have been an Xbox game as far as the graphics are concerned. Graphics kind of reminded me somewhat of State of Emergency but are better than that. The camera is a nice touch, being able to take cool pics to gain experience is a really good idea. Being able to pick up anything and everything in the mall and use it in some way is probably the biggest selling point for this game. Almost anything can be a weapon, and nearly everything else is usable in some way.

Now, the Bad. You get one save. One. Save. Save points can easily be a good 30-40 minutes in between each other. The missions are timed. You can run out of time overall and not be able to complete the game. For many people, this will be a deal killer.

And The Ugly - well, actually this is the "not so bad". Even though you only get one save, you can save on each memory device one time. So if you have a memory card and the HDD, you get two saves. Another not so bad is that when you die, you can chose to restart the game rather than restarting from the save point. I know, that sounds crazy. Well, you get to keep your stats. So lets say you make it to level 4 and die, you can restart the game at level 4 from the beginning, meaning you'll be able to do a lot more early on quicker and shaving a lot more minutes off that ever present time limit. Also, if the time runs out, you can still play the game, you just can't complete the story (at least, not in a positive way). You can still keep playing in order to rack up experience and levels which can be useful to you on your next play though. In fact, some of the achievements are clearly designed to be completed only by ignoring the main story and just playing free-form mode.

Bottom line, if you like zombies, get this game. It does not disappoint on the zombie-killing front in any way. Great at that, in fact. The restrictive save system seems like a burden at first, but since you keep your stats when you restart the game, it's not a game killer (for me anyway). There is a demo on Xbox Live that is kind of short but gives you a good idea of the freeform gameplay. Rating: A- (could have been A+ with full featured save system, ah well).

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Playstation Portable Initial Impressions

I had been hesitant to get one of these newfangled PSP's every since the initial launch because I thought that $250 was too much to spend on a portable gaming device. Now, things are different. Now there are plenty of exclusive games I can only play on the PSP, to make it worth my while to justify a purchase. Plus, I didn't have to splash out any cash, I was able to procure a PSP via trade for an extra Xbox 360 I had received from doing one of those "free offers" sites. In fact, I got a nice, excellent condition used PSP and ten (10) games for it. Schweeeet.

Here are the games I snagged, and my tentative grade on F to A scale, based on pretty limited gameplay time so far.

Daxter - A+
Burnout Legends - A+
Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror - A
Mega Man Powered Up - A
Mega Man Maverick Hunter X - B
Street Fighter Alpha 3 MAX - B-
Wipeout Pure - B-
Ridge Racer - C
Field Commander (haven't tried it yet, it was sealed, didn't want to devalue it)
Frantix (just haven't had time yet)

I also picked up PoPoLoCrois, an RPG, but haven't had time to play much yet so no rating.

I have rented:
Blade Dancer: Lineage of Light - B+ (an RPG)
Legend of Heroes: A Tear of Vermillion (no rating yet)

What do I think about this device? Well, it's far too precious to actually use as a portable gaming device. :-P

Actually I have used it a few times on the bus ride to and from work and it does very well. The screen is amazing, absolutely mesmerizing. Sound is fantastic as well with my earphones, heck even without earphones the built in speakers aren't too shabby compared to say the Nintendo DS. But the buttons on the right side are a bit too far apart from each other, and it is awkward to try and use the D-pad AND the analog nubby in any games that make you use both (thinking of Syphon Filter here). I haven't gotten used to the shoulder buttons yet either but in time I'm sure I will.

How does it compare to the Nintendo DS? Well, the DS is still more fun overall I think. I have a ton of DS games and the touch screen just adds a lot to the gaming experience, plus stuff like the microphone and being able to hold in in different ways is innovative. But there is no doubt that the PSP is a much beefier system, and capable of doing a lot more graphically, and not to mention the UMD format allows PSP developers to put more frills in like voice acting and FMV movies.

Load times, on the other hand, are non-existant on the DS but plague just about every single game I have on the PSP. While 5-10 seconds of load time doesn't seem like much to bitch about, when you have that over and over and over in games, it can get pretty irritating once you realize you're spending a considerable percentage of your precious play time staring at a progress bar.

Overall I do not regret my "purchase" of the PSP, I think I will definitely enjoy it especially for all the great RPGs that are out now and more on the way. Some of the games are really amazing, such as Daxter which could easily be mistaken for a PS2 platformer, or Syphon Filter, which has all the complexity and flash of the series, or Burnout Legends which I could easily mistake for Burnout 3 Takedown on the PS2 if I weren't paying close attention. Here's hoping that more games of that nature come to the platform.

I'm thinking of trying some homebrew if I can do it without downgrading my firmware. I heard there's some new hax out. I'd like to run an SNES emu on here, that would own.


Xbox 360 Update

I have, as previously blogged, recently (June) gotten an Xbox 360. My library of games is slowly growing. Here are the titles I have so far, in the order that I aquired them. I also give each game a letter grade, A+ is best, F is worst.

Perfect Dark Zero - B+
Kameo: Elements of Power - A+
Tomb Raider Legend - A
Burnout Revenge - A+
Project Gotham Racing 3 - B+
Condemned: Criminal Origins - A-
Far Cry Instincts Predator - B+
Dead Rising - A-
Saint's Row - A+

Xbox Live Arcade:
Geometry Wars - A

I'll be posting mini-reviews of each game over time.

I have also rented the following games, but decided not to purchase:
Full Auto - C-
Battle for Middle Earth 2 - B- (decided to buy PC version)


Sony PS3 Delayed in Europe and Smaller Launch in Japan/USA

Sony set up us the bomb!

They are delaying their launch in Europe to March 2007! But wait! That's not all! Sony is also saying they will have fewer than 500k PS3 units for sale at launch in the USA and about the same in Japan, with as few as 2 million units produced before the end of 2006!

I imagine the fellas at Nintendo and Microsoft are laughing their asses off. Another Christmas with no PS3's in sight can only be good news for Sony's competition.


Long Time No Post

I haven't posted in a long while. I'm going to try to make an effort to post more often. I will just post shorter blurbs that are more snackable and easily digested.

Monday, June 12, 2006


Weekend Gaming Binge

This weekend I spent quite a bit of time gaming, and had a blast.

Perfect Dark Zero

I played Perfect Dark Zero, which is a first person shooter where you’re some kind of spy/troubleshooter character. I haven’t actually figured out what you are – it’s like you’re a spy, but you work for a private organization it seems, that works for money, not a government.

Graphics are pretty good but not better than anything I’d seen before on the PC in most recent FPS games. It really takes a lot to wow me on FPS graphics, and PDZ doesn’t really wow me.

However, the gameplay is good, albeit it’s kind of easy. I’m playing on easy, so I may bump up the difficulty and restart. I’m only on mission 4 or 5 so far. I like the fact that you can use cover, by hugging a corner of a wall, or getting behind a crate, whatever. Since I’m on easy, however, that isn’t mandatory, in fact it can just make things harder, when the easiest thing actually is to dodge and move to melee against your opponents then take them out with punches/kicks, or a quick blast from an SMG or shotgun at point blank. I think if I bump up the difficulty to the next level maybe cover will become more necessary and make the gameplay better. So far the puzzle solving has been pretty simple and not a big part of the game.

So far I'd give Perfect Dark Zero an 8/10.

Kameo: Elements of Power

I also played some of Kameo: Elements of Power. This game is a classic Rare platformer, it’s fantastic. I’m surprised it didn’t get better reviews, this game is truly special. You are Kameo, a fairy. Yes, you are a fairy. And you have magical powers to switch your form into different creatures, like you can turn into this plant guy called "Pummelweed" who can beat up on trolls and orcs, and also dig under ground to get under really low places. At the start of the game you can switch between 3 creature forms for a lot of puzzle solving opportunities. But after the first large ‘level’ (I’d guess about 2 hours of play, maybe 1 if you’re really good unlike me), you get your powers taken away in a cut scene and you have to start all over re-learning all your creature powers.

The graphics in this game are truly "Next Gen", they are amazing. It has a cartoonish feel to it but it is incredibly detailed and has all kinds of cool special effects. The gameplay also seems Next-Gen to me because it is so unique to be able to switch powers by changing forms and that makes for a lot of cool puzzle solving opportunities. Different creature-forms are definitely better at different tasks or against certain enemies. For example, the Pummelweed guy is great against orcs, while the roller-ball troll guys you can only kill by pushing them into a hazard, like lava, so the roller-ball form you can do works well for them. Figuring out how to get by all the different enemies and obstacles is what makes this game a blast.

I'd give Kameo: Elements of Power a 9/10 so far.


I also played a PS2 game that was a renter from GameFly, called Teen Titans. This is based on the Cartoon Network cartoon. I love the Teen Titans. This game, however, is not that great, it’s just one big massively long fight, interspersed with Teen Titan cut scenes, which is the main reason I keep playing, and that’s it. So far about 4 hours into it there have been no puzzle solving whatsoever.

You learn tons and tons of combos you never need to use, and no matter which character you use, it seems like it makes no difference really, as none of the titans seem like they are better at the enemies than any of the other titans, so you could just stick with Robin the entire game and it makes no difference. Even the flyers Raven and Starfire don’t make any difference, because they hover, not fly, so it’s still essentially a 2D game even for them. Even if you’re almost out of health, switching to another Titan doesn’t help, because the titans all have a linked health meter, so whatever you’re active character’s health meter is like, that’s what they all are.

The best scenes so far have been with fights against the H.I.V.E. Five villains, Jinx, Gizmo, and Mammoth. But even against these potent super-villains, it’s still just a button masher, and the super-villains don’t require using different Titans or anything like that. Admittedly it can look pretty cool when you have all five Titans beating the crap out of everything all at once with superpowers flashing all over the screen, but gameplay is still kind of trite.

Graphically, this game is woefully ugly especially after having just played Kameo, but even compared to other PS2 games, the graphics of this game blows chunks. The Titans are not cell-shaded, comic-book style like you would expect (and like found in other PS2 games such as Ultimate Spiderman). Instead they’re goofy deformo looking versions done in 3D. I guess, though, I still enjoy this game because I like the Teen Titans so much, and it does have good voice acting that seems to have been done by the same actors from the show (or competent sound-a-likes). So I will probably end up finishing it.

Since the game’s price plummeted I was able to "buy-it" from GameFly for $15, so probably worth what I paid I guess. I did that so I could get the next games in my queue sent to me, some Xbox 360 games. Speaking of GameFly, if you are thinking about signing up for it, let me know, I can send you a referal email and I get some bonus credit if you sign up that way.

I'd probably only give Teen Titans a 5.5/10, unless, like me, you love the Teen Titans, and then maybe a 7.5/10. Loving the show gives a bit of a blind spot to overlook the game's obvious flaws. Still, it's budget priced now, at $19.99 at Amazon for PS2/Gamecube/Xbox, so if you don't expect much, and if you like the Titans, I'd say it's worth a rent for sure and maybe a buy.

Tomb Raider Legends Demo

The only other thing I played is the demo for the Xbox 360 version of Tomb Raider Legends. This is a great demo, and pretty long, it took me about an hour and a half to beat it. Someone more dexterous could probably beat it quicker, or who could figure out some of the puzzles faster. I had fun with it though. I died a lot. And I fell down a lot and had to re-climb to wherever I was. Sadly the gun fighting parts were a bit too easy, even handling 10 or 15 bad-guys at a time was no problem for Lara. They need to make it so if she gets hit it hurts a lot more. Other than that one minor flaw, I felt this game really captured the feel of the original Tomb Raider game, which was a classic. I’m definitely renting this one as soon as it becomes available on GameFly. I heard it was like a 10 hour game so I’m not paying $60 for it.

Retro Gaming

Oh, I also did play a little bit of Baldur’s Gate II for the PC. It’s a great RPG, but it’s oldish, so unless you like retro gaming you probably won’t like it. Still, it has an awesome story line, with tons and tons of quests, and great characters. You could do a lot worse! The graphics aren't that dated, yet.

I also figured out how to get Infocom games on my new phone (Treo 650). So now I can play Zork, Enchanter, and all the other Infocom Masterpieces text adventures on the bus ride every day. Plus, I can also play more current z-code adventures written by fans, available on the Interactive-Fiction Archive. Right now I'm using a z-code interpreter called FrobNitz to play them, which is nice, but there is a more feature-rich interpreter called CliFrotz that requires and supports the memory card slot that I'll be using when I get my 2gb memory card. Totally sweet! Retro gaming with a high-tech twist!

The Treo 650 phone is really cool, BTW, and I’m thinking about writing some software for it, if I can find some Palm developer tools on the cheap somewhere.

Sunday, June 11, 2006


Color Change

Decided to get rid of the University of Texas colors and go with a blue theme. Let me know if something looks goofy.

Friday, June 09, 2006


Treo 650 First Impressions

Work was giving me some hassles about using my work phone for personal calls, so I felt I needed to just get my own phone. I did a lot of research. I already knew about the Palm Treo 650 from checking out Lyndal's phone, but I still looked at all the competing smart phones from all the major providers, comparing total cost of ownership (price of phone plus monthly plan charges), features, etc.

I looked first at T-Mobile, because Kim's phone was already on T-Mobile. T-Mobile, if you're reading this, the primary reason you lost our account is because your sales people are idiots. Kim was already getting 1600 minutes for $40 a month. They would not let us keep her minutes, we would have had to pay more money to get a family plan with less than half the minutes. That's just stupid. So that turned me off to them right away. Then after comparing their smart phones to the Treo and others, I determined that they didn't fully offer what I wanted. The only phone they had that I would consider a valid competitor to the Treo was the T-Mobile MDA. The MDA had a better camera than the Treo 650, and a very nice touch-screen and hide-away qwerty keypad. So ergonomically the MDA was I think probably at least as good if not better than the Treo 650. It also has Wi-fi support which would have made for faster browsing in wi-fi enabled areas. It used a Microsoft OS, so I assume there would be plenty of software for it, however from what I could tell you had to buy through T-Mobile. I was already partial to the Treo's software suite. The MDA was quite a bit pricier, though, at $400 with 2 year agreement versus $300 which is what I paid for the Treo via sprint. I guess the real deal killer was they treated us like 2nd class citizens when we had been loyal customers since 1998 or so, and their new deal they were going to offer us was less attractive than Sprint, our minimum would have been $90/mo, for 700 shared minutes. So we'd have paid a lot more, for a lot less, and that just ticked me off. Plus they were going to charge us $70 per phone for setup fees. Way to reward loyalty, T-Mobile!

There was also a phone called the Nokia 9300. Ergonomically, this phone is a very cool, with a bar-phone look including a color screen on the outside, but you can open it sideways and it has a really cool, extra-wide screen and full qwerty keyboard. But reading about it, the phone used Symbian which I didn't know much about, and the deal killer for me was that the reviewers I read said it wasn't very responsive compared to their palm-based Treo's. I also wasn't sure what kind of software I could get with it. Plus I could only get this from Cingular. So I passed on it.

The cheapest plan by far, which is the bulk of my expense, was Sprint PCS. To get a shared minutes family plan with free mobile-to-mobile calls and free evenings and weekends starting at 7 pm, and unlimited data for the Treo, it was only $75 a month. The next cheapest plan was Cingular, who had a plan with a few more anytime minutes with Rollover, but their data cost was higher and as a result the total monthly from them with unlimited data for the Treo would have been $110 a month, and their nighttime didn't start until 9 pm. Verizon's web site wouldn't even let me pair a Treo 650 into a family plan at all, and their cheapest single-line, unlimited data monthly fee was starting at $105 a month, plus we'd have to get Kim a plan on top of that!

The Treo does a lot of cool stuff. I've been using it to read my Bloglines feeds, it can do email, sync with Outlook, and of course, run Palm software, which I haven't got any yet but will soon. The phone comes with a USB cable you can use to sync to a PC or you can use BlueTooth for that also if your PC supports it. I haven't tried syncing yet, am about to do that today. Looks like I will definitely need a memory card, however, to store applications and mp3's.

The screen on it is just awesome. Very visible, even during the day, and in the dark it's nice because the qwerty keyboard is backlit. I like the heft of the stylus, it's fairly large and heavy, which is nice for my big ass fingers. Using the stylus is nice for navigation, but when you need to type something it is a bit awkward to have to hold the stylus while "thumbing" out what you want to type. I'm sure I'll get used to it.

The one downside to this whole affair is that they sent me the 650 sans camera, and I wanted the camera model. After about two hours on the phone last night with their support, I should be getting a new one with the camera sent to me sometime next week. Then I can ship them back the old one in a return box they are sending to me. I'll post again when I have tried more software for it, including... games!

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