Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Nancy Drew: Alibi in Ashes Artwork

Her Interactive just made the webpage for Nancy Drew: Alibi in Ashes.  It's starting to look like this game will be released in October, because preorders start on September 26th.

Also, we have the box art for this game. It looks like we've got George, Bess and Ned in the upper/right, with a jailed Nancy Drew in the upper/left.


Did I mention this game looks awesome?

Zelda: Skyward Sword

Amazon.com recently sent me an automatic email, saying they are going to send me a copy of Zelda: Skyward Sword on December 9th.

I am terrified by this game.


It's been five years since Link's last adventure. Does he still have what it takes to make a great game? Or will this be another large stumble into mediocrity? I'm not sure I'm ready to find out.


One of my frience once said something like, "I haven't played any Zelda games since Link to the Past, but it sounds like they're still exactly the same".

And he's right. Most Zelda games are exactly the same. The series doesn't like to deviate from its successful formula. There are small changes in each entry, to be sure--a new item here, a new villain there--but other than that, it's a Japanese series made in the United States of Generica.

I can live with generic challenges and generic dungeons. The Oracle games were rather generic, but still lots of fun. I'm slightly worried about Skyward Sword sticking to the Zelda formula, though, because Twilight Princess followed the formula religiously, and the game suffered as a result.

Here's an example that I can't remember if I've used before. The Zelda formula dictates that, in every game, Zelda is only allowed to be in these three scenes:
  1. The Link meets Zelda for the first time scene.
  2. The OMG Zelda just got kidnapped! scene
  3. The endgame sequence

This works for a short game. It's kind of stretching it in a game like Ocarina of Time, which is ten hours long. But Twilight Princess is twenty hours long, which is too long to only have three scenes with Zelda. You'll forget who she is and why she's important about halfway through. (She was important to the plot, right? All I remember is that she was locked in a tower and never left. Maybe I'm confusing her with Rapunzel.)

So, if Skyward Sword is even bigger than Twilight Princess, which it claims to be, I really hope they break the established Zelda formula, at least in that regard.  I don't want a super-long game with only a few characters that affect the plot.

I don't know why I'm making such a big deal about this.  I loved Twilight Princess, and it was a great game.  But the characters and plot in that game were so lacking that I kept forgetting them, while playing the actual game itself.  Even the simpler Zelda games like Link's Awakening outperform Twilight Princess in the characters department.

My favorite Twilight Princess characters are the Yeti, the bug girl and Midna.  None of the other characters made a big impression on me.  Link's girlfriend had a brief moment of interesting, before she got kidnapped (and got amnesia), which basically prevented her from doing much to affect the game.  But even if she got a lot of screentime, I think it'd be really hard for them to have a well-developed relationship between Link and his girlfriend, because Link rarely ever talks or shows emotion.  He's basically the worst boyfriend ever, you know?  Poor Ilia.


In conclusion, I guess I'm saying that I will be satisfied with this game, if all the dungeons and areas are generic.  However, I really hope that the characters and the plot aren't, because a bare bones plot is not what I want in a game which is longer than, say, the entire Harry Potter movie franchise.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Washington DC

I promise that someday, hopefully soon, I'll write about my recent trip to Spain.  It's probably going to take me over a month to talk about the entire trip, just like with my trip to Washington DC...

...Which was in May, but I still haven't finished writing about it.  Gee, I should finish with that trip first before moving onto Spain. Let me see, after the trip to the Washington DC Zoo, there were only two places we visited.  One of them was Washington DC proper, the place with all the famous monuments like the Lincoln Memorial.


Personally, I found it interesting just to see how the monuments and memorials are laid out.  I knew about most of them ahead of time, but nobody ever explained to me where the monuments are, relative to each other.  They're all close enough that you can walk to all of them on foot, but unless you can take a break from walking to rest, you're better off taking the bus.  It's kind of hot in DC.

I was with my mother, and we went around the area on foot.  From the Lincoln memorial, we went to the Korean War memorial and the Vietnam War memorial.  From there, we just followed along the park to the tiny and ofter overlooked memorial to the signers of the Declaration of Independence, which is basically just a series of 56 plaques with names on them.  It's still kind of nice, and a very low-key area, so you can sit and relax and watch the ducks on the pond if you like.

We walked over to the FDR memorial area, which has several statues and many quotations, and a tour group of students who didn't really want to be outside in the sun.  From there, we went along the Japanese trees area, and the spot where they were building the now-open Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. memorial.  We went to the World War Two memorial, which I thought was very nice looking, even if water fountains don't have anything at all to do with WW2.

We decided against going to the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Library, because that would require walking too far.  We got enough pictures of the Washington Monument from far away, anyway.  Plus, the large reflection pool in front of the Washington Monument was closed for repairs.  Tons of bulldozers were in the roped-off area.

We got onto the Washington DC Tour Bus after that.  We didn't have tickets for it; we figured we'd buy tickets on the bus.  However, the conductor didn't come around to check our tickets, so we never actually bought any.  I guess we got on at the stop right after the one where they check tickets.

We rode the tour bus for a long time, and we got off at the northern part of DC, where we saw the White House and the Andrew Jackson park area.  Close to the park is the church which brags that every President from the past 100 years has gone to mass there.  Personally, that just made me disappointed in John F. Kennedy, who was the only Catholic US President.  He really should have gone to mass at a Catholic church, instead of going to mass at the closest possible church to his house.  Maybe I misunderstood the church's claim to have presidential parishoners, though.

After that, Mom and I had lunch together.  We were tired, and it was hot, so we decided to skip going to one of the fancy museums in DC, and we went back to the hotel instead.  That is one of the good things about travelling alone or in a small group; you can decide when break time is, whenever you want.  With the trip to Spain, I was in a large group, so I could never ask for an impromptu break, on account of the heat.  That's a shame, because Spain had about triple degree weather the whole time we were there.  Why is it that trips always take place during the summer, when it's too hot to go somewhere?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The HD TV Argument

As I mentioned earlier, my family got an HD TV recently.  Dad has liked the HD so far, but the other day, the bill came in from Comcast.  Now Dad wants to get rid of the HD, and go back to normal D, which costs less D-dollars.

It was...interesting to see my parents debate about the HD, because neither of them are entirely sure what it is.  They have some idea that HD involves an upgrade in picture quality, but they can't really see the difference between HD and non-HD TV, because they both need glasses to see things well.

So, Mom couldn't defend the HD by saying it has better picture quality.  Instead, she argued that HD has a bigger screen than normal TV.  I don't think she realized that she was talking about widescreen TV, not HD TV.  In any case, Dad didn't seem too impressed by the "it has larger edges" argument.  Nobody wants to pay a lot of money, just to see a picture which is more stretchy.

The argument ended in a stalemate, with a definite "to be continued..." sign on it.  Maybe the HD will disappear, and maybe it won't.  Fortunately, when next month's bill comes in, I won't be at my parents' house anymore, so I won't have to be part of the great HD debate.

Question: Is there any way I can explain HD so my dad will understand it?  As I said earlier, he doesn't understand the "it has bigger picture" and "it has better quality" arguments.  I'm not sure what else there is to emphasize.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Nightmare Realm and Bandit's Treasure

Okay, so I decided to go ahead with the walkthrough for Nightmare Realm, just because it's very popular.  As in, more popular than my other plan, contining with the Phoenix Wright videos.  Nightmare Realm got about five times as many views as Phoenix, twice as quickly.

...Clearly, you people have no taste in videogames.

Okay, just kidding!  I love you guys!  Just don't get disappointed when the game gets boring-ish. It's not the kind of game you want to play in one sitting.

And speaking of videos, here's a video I made yesterday, of Nancy singing a song in Nancy Drew: Secret of Shadow Ranch (Mobile Mysteries).



Friday, August 26, 2011

Nightmare Realm - Demonstration Video

So here's the video I made yesterday.  I'm not going to do a full video walkthrough for this game, but it interested me enough to play through the tutorial and first "world" of the game.


I played ahead after this, and to my complete dismay, I found out that about forty minutes into the game, they have hidden objects screens.  Noooooo!  Why must they ruin this good adventure game with hidden objects challenges?

No, seriously.  The hidden objects thing completely ruined the flow of the game.  I had to stop playing after the third screen (which is doing the first screen again, looking for different objects this time) because I wasn't enjoying it anymore.  The Internet says there are only 11 hidden object screens, but still...I'm not sure if I'm willing to suffer through them.

Which is a real shame, because this is a great game otherwise, and I think a lot of people would like to see me actually do a full walkthrough for the game.  What do you guys think?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Back

Hey everyone,

I'm back from Spain. Google locked me out of my email account because I was in a different country, so I wasn't able to update this blog at all.

I'll write more tomorrow, when I'm not suffering from jetlag.  Hopefully.  In the meantime, check out my three Phoenix Wright cases, now on the same channel as the Nancy Drew videos:

Case 1: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLFF7B9046EA2A2963
Case 2: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL50449C9D95CB814A
Case 3: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLB561A4034B1ED2E7

-Michael

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Spain

Hey everyone.  I'm off to Spain for two weeks, for the World Youth Day.  Or am I in Spain already?  I don't know how to calculate the time difference.

In any case, don't expect any blog posts until the 25th or so, when I come back.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Nintendo 3DS

Yesterday, Walmart dropped the price of the Nintendo 3DS by $80.  The price drop goes into effect everywhere on the 12th, but Walmart got a three day head start.

This is all kinds of exciting, because Nintendo is offering a "get 20 free games" program that ends on the 12th, when the price drops.  So now you can get the 3DS at the cheaper price and get the 20 free games as a bonus.  Thanks, Walmart!

There are only three Walmarts within a thirty minute radius of my home.  I decided to call them, because people are reporting that only some Walmarts are accepting the early price drop, while others aren't.  The first store had the price drop, but they were sold out.  The second one didn't have the price drop.  The third one had the price drop, and they only had one left.

I managed to get to the Walmart in time, and I bought the 3DS.  I've activated the "give me 20 free games" program, hidden in the e-shop.  I didn't buy any 3DS games, so it's just going to sit on the shelf for a month or so until the free games come in.

And then I'll realize that half of the games are old NES games, which I already owned/played through years ago, such as Super Mario Bros., and I'll put the 3DS on the shelf again.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

More iPod Questions

Hey, everyone.  Thank you very much for answering my questions about the iPod Touch the other day.  I'm still sort of figuring things out, and I'm sure it will still take a while before the iPod becomes myPod.

I have a few more questions, and then I'll let you guys go.

1.  How do I connect my iPod to the radio in my car?  Do I need a special connection cable for that?  I bet I need a special connection cable for that.

2.  Is there any sort of auto scroll function on the iPhone?  Whenever I read somehting, I have to scroll down after every paragraph, and it's so much of a hassle that I don't want to read eBooks or news stories or my own blog entries on the iPhone.

3.  Why doesn't Apple explain of these things, in the manual that comes with the iPod Touch?  The manual was mostly pictures, which showed off cool things you can do, while not really telling you how to do them.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Big Fish Games for the iPod Touch

I recently purchased an iPod Touch.  Not knowing which games to purchase, I decided to check with Big Fish Games, because they're the guys I go to for my casual gaming needs.
It seems that BFG has ported a lot of their games over to the iPad, most of them in HD.  I guess it's pretty easy to port PC games to the iPad, probably because the screen sizes are the same.  The bad news is that it's more difficult to port PC games to the iPhone, because the screen is tiny, compared to your basic computer screen.

Most of BFG's games are hidden object games, and those don't run very well on a too-small screen. Sure, the iPhone makes it easy to zoom in and out of a hidden objects screen, but it still feels more natural to play a hidden objects game on the computer, so you can see the whole screen at once.

Since I'm an adventure game fan, I decided to try out the three iPhone games which are listed as adventure games.  This might sound weird, but instead of playing the iPhone "free trial" verson of these games, I played the PC "free trial" version.  That's because the PC free trials are much longer.  Here are the results of my investigation:

Nick Chase: A Detective Story is a film noir game, starring an edgey PI who's investigating a painting theft.  The comic book style graphics are very nice, as is the voice acting.  One downside is that the game is rather short; I bet if you knew what to do ahead of time, you could probably get to the end of the game before the one-hour trial finishes.  I liked it, even if it's a collection of puzzles I've seen many times before (like the "repeat the pattern of the musical notes" puzzle).

Azada is an adventure game...I guess.  It's basically a collection of unrelated screens, and each screen has four or so puzzles to solve.  These puzzles include finding objects and using them on other places on the screen.  I stopped playing on the third screen.

Awakening: The Dreamless Castle is a fairytale game about a princess who has to break a curse or something like that.  This is to be expected, because I've noticed that the three most popular casual game genres are...
  1. Fairy tale games
  2. Mystery games (most common mystery: find a friend/family member who disappeared under mysterious circumstances)
  3. Zombie games
Awakening is one of those hidden object games, which has so many adventure game challenges that it really should be labelled as an adventure game.  For example, you only solve one hidden objects screen in the first twenty minutes; the rest of the time is made up of adventure game challenges.

I decided to buy Nick Chase and Awakening, because they were pretty good.  I'm not the only one who thinks so, because both of those games were popular enough to get sequels.  However, this resulted in a dilemma: do I buy the iPhone versions of these games or the PC versions?  On the one hand, the small iPhone screen would make the hidden object challenges more difficult, and besides, I didn't want to restart the games.  On the other hand, I specifically picked games without many hidden object challenges, and it seems dumb not to buy iPhone games after going through all the hassle of looking for some that I like.

Eventually, I did the math. It would cost $20 to buy the PC versions.  It cost $5 to buy the iPhone versions.

Needless to say, I am now the proud owner of two new iPhone games.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Randomish Video

Someone shared this video with me recently. It's the audio of me losing the fire challenge in Nancy Drew: Message in a Haunted Mansion...

...Set to Kingdom Hearts.



Maybe Disney will see this and hire me to do voices for the next Kingdom Hearts game.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

IPod Touch - And Questions

Okay, so I finally got an iPod Touch, which is basically an iPhone, without phone services.  The reason I bought it is basically so I can play games.

No, seriously.  I had to decide which portable gaming system I want: the 3DS or the iPod.  And I went with the iPod, because it's cheaper, has loads more games, and it's an American system, so I won't have to wait six months for translation on most of the games.

Since I'm guessing you readers probably know more about iPods Touch than I do, I'm going to use you as my tech support!

Question #1: What free apps/games do you recommend?

Question #2: What non-free apps/games do you recommend?  Of course, I already bought Angry Birds, Phoenix Wright, Nancy Drew and Final Fantasy Tactics.

Question #3: How do you quit an application?  I can only figure out how to get back to the main screen, by pushing the "main screen" button.  When this happens, the currently-running app doesn't close.  It just runs in the background.

I'm asking this, because with Final Fantasy Tactics, I accidentally hit "new game" when trying to hit "continue".  This has happened twice now, and whenever you hit "new game", they force you to watch the long opening scenes.  So I have to wait fifteen or so minutes, before I can get back to the main menu.  There's gotta be a way that I can quit the application and reload it, without having to play the same fifteen minutes over and over again, right?

Question #4: How do I get the iPod to play music that I did not buy through iTunes, such as music I got from my CDs?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Professor Layton #4

People are wondering why I'm not going to do a video walkthrough for Professor Layton 4, whenever it comes out.

(Side note: When does it come out?  The official trailer didn't give us any sort of release date, not even a ballpark release date like "2011".)

The second Layton game was 2-3 hours longer than the first one, and the third Layton game was 2-3 hours longer than the second one.  If this pattern continues, the fourth game is going to be far too long. Oh, I'll still play it, but I won't record myself doing so.

That tends to be a problem with people who do video walkthroughs.  They'll get so focused on playing games, just to entertain other people, and they completely forget to play games to enjoy them.  Pretty soon, they don't enjoy games (or video walkthroughs) at all.

And as I think I mentioned earlier on this blog, once summer's over, I'm going to be too busy to do video walkthroughs.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Video Recording Plans

Okay, everyone!  Here are my latest video/video recording plans.

1. I've got 50 or so videos, of the background music in the Nancy Drew series.  Since no one seems to be very excited about these videos, I'm going to put off uploading them until later.

2.  The walkthrough for Professor Layton 3 is underway!  I'm going to upload a lot of Layton videos every single day this week, so by Sunday, I'll be at the ending to the game.  It's quite a long game.  57 videos?  That's pretty long.

I would like to do a video walkthrough for the fourth Layton game, as soon as it is released.  However, I will not.

3.  Layton will be done on Sunday.  On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, I'm going to upload the videos for the first two cases of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney.  Yes!

EDIT: It turns out I will not upload Phoenix Wright during those days.  Whoops!


4.  I'm currently recording a walkthrough for Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney.  It's a good game, with some major problems.  I'm trying my best to be nice and cheerful during the walkthrough, but there are a few moments where I break down and start ranting about how horrible Hobo Phoenix is.

5.  On Wednesday evening, I fly to Spain.  And there won't be any new videos, until I get back two weeks later.  So that will give everyone time to digest the Layton and Phoenix Wright walkthroughs.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Three Hail Marys

Here's the Scripture reflection I gave at both masses yesterday.  It's more of a reflection on the saint of the day, than a reflection on the Scriptures.

---
 
Today is the feast day of Saint Alphonsus Liguori, one of the doctors of the church.  He wrote extensively on moral theology, and he had a strong devotion to the Virgin Mary.  Today, I am going to talk about the prayer style that he used, which is known as "The Three Hail Marys".

The Three Hail Marys is a very simple devotion.  Every morning, after he got out of bed, St. Alphonsus kneeled and prayed three Hail Marys.  Every night, before he went to sleep, he prayed three Hail Marys.  In other words, he said the Hail Marys at the start of the day and at the end of the day, to ensure that Mary's blessings would be with him throughout the entire day.

You can pray the Hail Marys for an increase of faith, hope and charity, or patience, kindness and goodness, or something similar along those lines.  St. Alphonsus specifically prayed the three Hail Marys in honor of her power, wisdom and goodness, and he used them to ask for a special blessing.  He asked, "By virtue of your Immaculate Conception, O Mary, make my body pure and my soul holy."

It is important to know that you should not limit praying the three Hail Marys to just the beginning and the end of the day.  Some people will pray them every hour.  Some people will pray the three Hail Marys before and after important events.  The one that I find most useful, and the one that St. Alphonsus recommends the most, is praying three Hail Marys in times of difficulty.  That is whenever we are afraid, whenever we are in danger, whenever we are inclined to be angry, and whenever we are tempted to sin.  During these moments, we should have recourse to Mary, because she is the Help of Christians.

St. Alphosnus says, "The person who remembers having invoked the name of Mary in an impure temptation, may be sure that he did not yield to it," and again, he says, "When the devil wishes to make himself master of a soul, the first thing he does is to make it give up devotion to Mary."

Praying the three Hail Marys is a recommended practice, due to its great effectiveness.  The Virgin Mary is an excellent guide along the path of virtue, because she avoided all temptations that came her way, and she is eager to see us, her children, do likewise.  Her path is easy and secure, because she loves us as a mother, and she leads us directly to her son Jesus.  In fact, "after the love which we owe Jesus Christ, we must give the chief place in our hearts to the love of His Mother Mary."

Monday, August 1, 2011

Nancy Drew: Alibi in Ashes

So, how do people feel about the next Nancy Drew game?



This game takes place in Nancy's hometown.  Who do you want to see in this game?  Here's a list of all the possible characters I can think of:
  • Bess and George: Nancy's friends.  They're in the preview, after all.  It's probably a good bet they'll be there.
  • Ned Nickerson: Nancy's boyfriend, who is also mentioned in the preview.  The conversations between Nancy and Ned in the previous game make it seem like he's going to be there, for certain.
  • Carson Drew: Nancy's Dad, who has been absent from the series since Nancy Drew: Secret of the Old Clock (2005).  You could call him in that game.
  • Hannah Gruen: The Drew family housekeeper, who has been absent from the series since Nancy Drew: Message in a Haunted Mansion (2000).  You could call her in that game, and in subsequent games, when you call the Drew house, it's her voice on the answering machine.
  • Togo: The Drew family dog.
Nancy's dad and Hannah haven't appeared for a while, but they get mentioned every now and then in later games.  Usually, Nancy's start-of-game and end-of-game letters are addressed to one of them.  They'll probably at least get mentioned in the next game.
As for the other residents of River Heights, it seems that who lives in the town changes, depending on which Nancy Drew book series you're reading.  Probably the closest there is to a cross-series regular is Chief Police McGinnis.  His personality changes depending on who's writing him, though; I've seen him appear as "the nice guy", "the bumbler" and "the person who's not-so-secretly jealous of Nancy because she solves every mystery in town without even trying".

So who will appear in the game?  Will they be characters you can actually see?  Or will they just be characters you can call?  Will you get to play as one of them, like you've done in other games?  No matter who's in the game, though, I have a feeling it's going to be exciting.