Friday, September 30, 2011

The Fourth Graders, Sixth Graders

Here's more info on my fourth grade class.  I didn't notice this until I looked at the class roster, but there are three sets of twins in my class.  Two boys, two girls, and a boy/girl pair.

Now I understand what was happening on the first day of class, when Joey switched nametags with the boy next to him.  Fortunately, they started laughing like crazy when I called one of them by the wrong name, so I was able to figure out what was going on instantly.

The fourth graders are most well-behaved. The main problem is that they're all so enthusiastic that everyone will shout out the answers at once.  That's bad, because some of the shyer students don't get a chance to speak up.  Also, once the students are all talking at once, it's kind of hard to get them to stop.

The teaching guides say that fourth grade children can get restless during class, especially because our class takes place right after donut time.  The guides recommending having some sort of activity halfway through the class, to get the kids to stop being so antsy.  Last week, I had drawing time as the halfway break, and it seemed to work well.  The kids loved drawing, and they're good at it.  I'm going to try drawing time again someday, after I try out some other class activities.

---

The fourth graders are not the only kids I teach.  I also teach a group of middle schoolers, who are mostly sixth graders, I think.

It's hard to believe how different the sixth graders are from the fourth graders, given that they're only two years older.

I said that the fourth graders all shout out the answers to questions.  The sixth graders, on the other hand, seem to have a disease which prevents them from ever answering any questions.  During the 30 minute group discussion time, I kept on trying to get them to give good answers to the discussion questions, but mostly they just sat there and stared at me, never saying anything.

It's just so weird.  The fourth graders need time to cool down, because they get hyper.  But the sixth graders need time to warm up, because they will literally sit there and not do anything for the whole hour and a half.

Drawing time didn't work so well with the sixth graders, because only one of them actually put some effort into making a good drawing.

In conclusion, the fourth graders are fun, but maybe a bit too enthusiastic, while I have no idea how to get the middle schoolers to react to much of anything.  Suggestions?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Days of Our Lives

Last Thursday, I was watching Days of our Lives.  It was a really strange episode, because every plotline dealt with them kicking characters off the show.  Every single plotline.

Here's who got the boot:
  • Dario, who somehow got an amazing job promotion that involves moving to Argentina, even though he doesn't really have a job.  I don't think too many people will miss him, because he wasn't good at acting.  He's one of those actors who acts the same way in every scene.
  • Gus was arrested and thrown in jail, where we'll never see him again.  This kind of disappoints me, because Gus was a consistently funny character.  Also, because he knew he's leaving the show, he pulled out all the stops in his acting this week.  He basically stole the show in some of his scenes this week.
  • Vivian, the other member of the Gus/Vivian comedy duo.  She's very over-the-top, which is why I enjoyed her work on the show.  The way they kicked her off the show was interesting.  They brought back the actor she worked with in the 80's or so, and she left with him to go to India, so she could star in a Bollywood musical.  I'm surprised they went through the trouble of bringing back an old character, just for one day, so he could escort her off the show.
  • Chloe is moving to Chicago.  You could kind of see this coming, because her plotlines kind of fell flat.  I mean, they tried to keep the Chloe and Parker storyline going for a while, but since Parker (her son) is no longer on the show, it just didn't work.
  • Carly is leaving for a Euro Trip.  Like Chloe, her main plotlines ended, and they didn't pick up again with any engaging new plotlines for her.  She's leaving with Melanie and Nick.
  • Taylor and Quinn are leaving for who-knows-where.  I don't think it's really in her character to run off with a guy without any notice, but that's the easiest way to get both of them to leave.
So that's...nine characters kicked off the show at once.  It was a pretty busy episode.

Of course, this week, they're bringing back five old characters, so it sort of balances out.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Phoenix Wright is Finished

Okay, I'm finally done with the first Phoenix Wright game. The last two videos took forever to get up, because somebody (i.e. my friends at faqs.ign.com) messed up the video compression or something like that.  Their version of the video looks like this:

 


 
And I had to fix that.  Lucky me. Guess I won't be running videos through them again.
 
Anyway, that means all the videos for the first Phoenix Wright game are done!  What should come next? Now that Phoenix Wright is gone, here are the video walkthroughs left on the list.
  1. Phoenix Wright 2 (edited)
  2. Phoenix Wright 3 (edited)
  3. Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney (edited)
  4. Time Hollow (an hour and a half has been edited, four hours remain)
  5. Pajama Sam 3 (about an hour has been edited, an hour and a half remains)
  6. Emerald City Confidential (not edited in the slightest)
So cast your vote today, because we're going to zoom right through this list.  I want to get these videos up before Nancy Drew: Alibi in Ashes, after all.  I'll have to move quickly!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The HHS' Proposed Health Care Regulations

The Department of Health and Human Services is busy creating new rules and regulations for health care. The United States Council of Catholic Bishops has stepped up and spoken out against several of the proposed rules, especially those which deal with life issues and religious freedom.
Today, I would like to explain these rules and why the church finds them objectionable.

The Catholic Church maintains that life is both good and sacred, because it has been created by God.  Therefore, we do not support actions which destroy life, such as abortions or warfare.  We also do not support contraceptives, such as condoms or birth control pills, which actively prevent the creation of life.

#1. Preventative Services.  The first major problem with the proposed health care regulations is that they place pregnancy on the list of diseases covered by preventative services.  Pregnancy is not a disease; it is a natural, healthy process, and it is how each of us came into being.  While the Catholic Church promotes abstinence outside of marriage, we do not believe that the government should actively try to prevent pregnancies.

#2. Contraceptives.  The second major problem with the proposed health care regulations is that they require all health care providers to provide contraceptive drugs and sterilization procedures to their clients.  This includes abortion drugs, which are disguised under the title of "emergency contraceptives".  Again, these mandates apply to everyone, regardless of your personal views or beliefs on contraception and abortion.  The current California laws on abortion, which are flawed enough as it is, state that the right to abortion is a woman's choice.  The Federal government now seeks to remove that choice by making access to abortion pills mandatory.

#3. Exemptions.  The rules for religious exemptions and conscientious objectors are incredibly limiting.  For example, the only way a Catholic hospital can avoid is if every single person who works in the hospital is Catholic, and every single person who goes to the hospital is Catholic.  This is a horrible exception clause, because it legally prohibits our hospitals from helping everyone in need; it requires us to practice religious discrimination against non-Catholics.  Jesus himself helped everyone, no matter what their religion was.  The government should not force us to act contrary to Jesus' life and teachings.

In conclusion, the Catholic Church does not support the government's proposed rules and regulations concerning health care.  All concerned Americans are highly encouraged to contact their elected representatives and let them know our opinions.

The US Declaration of Independence affirms that everyone is created by God, which means that everyone has a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  These proposed regulations aim to end life, and they do not allow for the liberty of religious or moral freedom.  They are therefore both anti-Catholic and anti-American.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Nancy Drew: Legend of the Crystal Skull

I just went over the music files in Nancy Drew: Legend of the Crystal Skull, and it's pretty amazing.

I mean, in the actual game itself, I think there are only about two songs. It turns out they recorded a lot more music than just that. Many of the songs are upbeat, jazzy New Orleans-style music, with a lot of horns. I guess they had to cut those songs out of the game, because the game is too dark and scary to have upbeat songs.

So here are some songs you probably missed while playing the game:

A Bayou song, that features accordions, banjos and a techno beat.



The original background music for Zeke's Curio Shop:



A jazzy jangle:



A Hawaiian luau song?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

September Newsletter

The September Nancy Drew Newsletter has been released.  It's mostly about the upcoming Nancy Drew game, and their latest contest: a CEO for a day contest.  Sounds interesting!

They also have some new screenshots of the upcoming game, as well.

Friday, September 23, 2011

iPhone Games Recap

Thanks for all the iPhone help yesterday, everyone.  The phantom apps have disappeared, like they've been attacked by the Ghostbusters.

It'll probably be a while before I go looking for more apps.  I love how games for the iPhone cost about one to five dollars, compared to $50-$60 PlayStation games.  But really, I want to finish playing the games I already have, before buying a bunch of new ones.  Since my free time is limited, this will take long enough as it is.

Speaking of which, you might remember that over a month ago, I wrote about my attempt to find some good adventure games for the iPhone.  I bought two games, but the experience was really a hit-or-miss.
Nick Chase: A Detective Story was good on the computer, but the iPhone version suffers from really bad controls.  As in, you'll probably have to skip over half the puzzles, because the controls make them impossible to solve.  But wait, it gets better!  When you skip a puzzle, the game also skips the cutscene following the puzzle, so you miss out on plot points and have no idea what's going on!  I give it a 2 out of 10.  PC version, 6 out of 10.

Awakening: The Dreamless Castle was good on the computer, and almost as good on the iPhone.  The porters got the controls working properly, even during challenges where it's really important to tap in just the right spot. My only complaint would be about the graphics quality, because I know they have an HD version of the game.  They also sort of messed up the in-game hint system, so it's less useful than the PC version.  I'd like to complain that most of the puzzles were repeats/variations on earlier puzzles, but really, that didn't bother me at all when playing the game.  I give it a 7 out of 10, PC version 8 out of 10.

I might as well rate Nick Chase 2: The Deadly Diamond (PC), while I'm at it.  I bought it because I liked the first game, but the sequel was just ugh.  First off, they got rid of all the great voice acting.  They also used a number of programming "tricks", such as making you revisit a location multiple times and copy/pasting things directly from the first game.  And worst of all, the sequel switches genres on you, so you're expecting another adventure game, and you end up with a hidden objects game.  Argh!  The plotline was good, though.  4 out of 10.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

iPod Stuff

Hey, everyone!  Here's the latest with my iPod Touch.  I continue to be confused and need a little bit of tech support.

I tried looking at the help menu, but apparently, the online guide for iPods Touch is not online.  Instead, it's in a handy eBook format, that you can download to your iPod Touch and read.

Now I feel bad for all the people who want to check tech support, because their iPods can't download eBooks.  They're basically out of luck.

There are two problems with my iPod right now.  The first problem is that my iPod screen is filled with apps that I never use, such as "stocks" and "notes".  I don't need to check the stock market, and typing up anything on the iPod takes forever.  Those are two apps I'd like to get rid of right away.

But for some reason, the iPod refuses to let me get rid of those apps.

Speaking of apps that won't go away, I have some phantom apps now.  They didn't install correctly, so I had to delete them.  But for some reason, even though iTunes says they're completely gone, the apps are still there, on the screen.  They're like phantoms; they're grayed out boxes that don't do anything, ever.

Oh, wait, they do one thing.  Because they weren't properly installed, and they think they're still installing, they cause the iPod to ask for my password every two seconds or so. Fun!

I think the only way I can get rid of these phantom programs is by doing a system reboot on the iPod, which will delete unimportant data like save files on any games I downloaded.  No biggie, really.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cooking for Myself

Here's an update on the cooking situation at my new place.  It is a good thing that I decided to play it safe when getting grocies for the first week, because I accidentally bought two weeks of groceries, not one.  Either I don't eat as much as I used to, or I bought "family size" portions of everything.

For example, I thought I would cook up a can of Bush's Baked Beans one night for dinner, mainly because they advertise on Days of our Lives.  But the one night's dinner ended up being "dinner and lunch's leftovers for two days".  This has happened with most of the dinners I cooked.

My thanks to everyone who suggested easy cooking recipes. I will make sure to investigate them when I go shopping tomorrow.  In particular, I think I'll try out some of the more complex recipes, such as "microwave hot dogs" and "microwave pizza".

All in all, I think the cooking experiment was a success.  I mastered some of my goals, such as "use the oven for the first time", which was difficult because they have a completely different kind of oven here.  I failed in other goals, such as "don't accidentally spill water on the table".  But I think the successes and failures even each other out, and next will be more successful, with more complicated recipes.  Maybe I'll even try cooking up a chicken recipe.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Nancy Drew: Alibi in Ashes -- Offical Trailer

The official trailer for Nancy Drew: Alibi in Ashes has been released.




Edit: The release date is officially October 18th.  Check it!

Yes, I think I'm going to like this game.

Fourth Grade Class

I'm in charge of teaching catechism to a fourth grade class, every week.  Today, as part of a brief "Show and Tell", I showed them a picture of my confirmation, from 2000.  They were able to recognize Bishop McGrath pretty easily, which is impressive, considering that none of them have ever met him.  However, no one was able to recognize me in the picture.  Funny how that works out.

Once the kids learned that the picture was taken in the year 2000, they all agreed that I am "really old" because I was alive back then.  Apparently, none of them were even born yet when that picture was taken.

They also all agreed that I shouldn't assign them any homework.  I think it took about three seconds for them to come to that group decision.  It's amazing how quickly kids can decide things sometimes.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Phoenix Wright VS Professor Layton Recap

Phoenix Wright fans got super excited this week.  For the first time since, I dunno, 2006, Capcom announced a special half-hour Phoenix Wright presentation at the Tokyo Game Show.  30 minutes of Phoenix Wright news!  That's pretty interesting.

Fans had all sorts of theories about what we'd see in the presentation.  A trailer for the upcoming Phoenix Wright VS Professor Layton, for sure.  Maybe an English translation of Miles Edgeworth 2.  (That one was more of a desperate hope than a real theory.)  Most likely the announcement of a new game, either Miles Edgeworth 3 or Ace Attorney 5.  After all, Mr. "I wrote Miles Edgeworth 1 and 2" has been talking about his desire to work on Ace Attorney 5 for a while now, and he's currently assigned to an "unknown" project.

Before the Tokyo Game Show, a Japanese gaming magazine ran an article on Phoenix Wright VS Professor Layton and...hmmm...what's the best way to phrase this?

The magazine article was the entire 30 minute presentation.

Don't get me wrong, the article was pretty cool.  But the presentation was pretty much unnecessary to everyone who read the article.  They didn't announce any new games or show any new trailers or screenshots or anything.  Kind of a letdown.

So what did we get out of the magazine article?
  1. Seven or so screenshots of PW VS PL.  They're okay, I guess.  As we've seen before, most 3DS screenshots look pretty bad, with clunky 3D models.  They should really just run the game in 2D mode and use those as screenshots.
  2. Voice actor info!  The Professor Layton voice actors will be the same as always.  Meanwhile, Phoenix Wright and Maya Fey will be voiced by the people who play Phoenix and Maya in the upcoming Phoenix Wright movie.
  3. We learned that the crossover was more of a corporate decision, not a personal decision.  In fact, the game was in development for a while, before they told the executive producers of both series about it.
  4. On the one hand, it looks like this is a normal Phoenix Wright game, notwithstanding the fact that it takes place about 400 years ago.  They've got a courtroom trial, an innocent defendant, and a smug prosecutor all ready.
  5. On the other hand, it looks like this is not a normal Phoenix Wright game.  Instead of courtroom trials, you have "mob trials", which are more disorganized.  Then...why have we seen so many courtroom scenes?
They still haven't announced whether or not this game will be released outside of Japan.  The closest we got to that was a press sheet at the event, which had the title of the game written in English and said "English names are TBD".  That kinda makes it seem like the game will be released in English, but then again, I've seen Japanese games with English text in them before, so it's not conclusive proof.

The next time we hear about this game is when Level-5 (the Professor Layton company) has their big press show, which is about a month away.  They claim that they're going to have a playable demo of the game, and they'll probably mention how Professor Layton fits into the whole game, because right now, it looks like he doesn't.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

eBook Editing

For those of you who don't know, I like to edit and produce eBooks in my spare time.  Recently, I had to completely redo my "books to edit" list.  Some books got thrown out, and other books got picked up.  Here's a recap of the changes.

Books that I will no longer work on:
  • Would You Kill Him? is a novel about the stock market, believe it or not.  I was hoping it would be a murder mystery.  In any case, I couldn't continue work on this book, because the source material was inproperly copied, so 15% of the words are missing.  Ugh.
  • Charlotte and Lucy Temple has gone missing, so I can't edit it.
  • Twinkle and Chubbins is a book of fairy tales by the man who wrote The Wizard of Oz.  I have no idea why this was on the "books to finish" list, because I finished it two years ago.  Dealing with the tech guys is sort of a pain, so it's easier to leave this on the list than to ask them to remove it.
  • The Short Stories of Apuleius is a collection of stories in Latin.  It had super-weird formatting, so I decided it'd be too much work to produce.
  • Aids to Endeavor and Legends of the Virgin and Christ were finished by other people (Google), when I wasn't looking.
Books still on the list:
  • In Illud: Omnia mihi tradita sunt a Patre
  • De Tribus Habitaculis Liber
  • Charta Sancti Patricii
For some reason, only the Latin books have been accepted onto the official list.  Odd.

In any case, there are many English books I'm working on, such as a book of Irish fairy tales, a book of Indian fairy tales, and an American fairy tale named The Rescue Syndicate which makes no sense whatsoever but I decided to produce it because it's short and well-illustrated.  I have about six books on various saints, about six books by L. Frank Baum, and I'll try not to accept requests until I dwindle the list down from about 20 to 5.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Alibi in Ashes - Characters

Hold on to your hats, everyone!  More Nancy Drew: Alibi in Ashes news was released!

Do you remember the teaser that was released Monday?  It has some characters in it, and I thought it'd be fun to make up names for those characters.

Those characters now have official names.

The characters are Brenda, who is apparently a reporter from some of the Nancy Drew books I haven't read.  There's also Deidre Shannon, who is a character from some of the Nancy Drew books I've read.  I'm also friends with her on Facebook.  She'll be happy to hear she's in the game, I'm sure.  And wrapping up the characters from the books, we've got the Chief McGinnis, the Chief of Police.  The description makes it seem as if he is sympathetic to Nancy's plight in this game.

We've got two characters who I don't know, but they might be from the books.  It's Alexei Markovic and Toni Scallari. Alexei is an ex-detective and current antique store owner.  Toni is on the city council, and she works at an ice cream parlor.

In addition to these five characters, we have the four characters we already knew about: Nancy Drew, Ned Nickerson, Bess Marvin and George Fayne.  But wait!  They look...different!

Okay, forget what I said about Bess and George looking the exact same as they did in Ransom of the Seven Ships.  That was in 2009, after all.

The sneaky people at the Nancy Drew company put up a picture of concept art for Ned Nickerson, rather than a screenshot.  I guess they want to keep his character model a surprise, until the actual game is released.

Our Lady of Sorrows

Here's the reflection I preached today at Our Lady of the Rosary, about Our Lady of Sorrows.

I think I'll post most of the reflections I write up here on the blog.  It's not because I'm particularly proud of them, and I want to show off.  It's more like "it took me an hour to write these 300 words, so I might as well post it here".

---

Today, we remember Our Lady of Sorrows.  The Church gives special significance to the Seven Sorrows of Mary, and today's Gospel describes the First Sorrow, which is the Presentation at the Temple.  In this scene, Mary and Joseph take the Child Jesus to be purified at the temple, according to Jewish custom.  During the ceremonies, the priest Simeon publicly declares that Jesus will suffer greatly, and a sword of sorrow will pierce Mary's heart.


The Presentation at the Temple has a special significance for everyone here at Our Lady of the Rosary, because it is one of the twenty mysteries of the Holy Rosary.  However, you will note that the Presentation is one of the Joyful Mysteries of the rosary, and not one of the Sorrowful Mysteries.  Why is it that we remember one of the joyful mysteries for our Lady of Sorrows?  How can the same event be both joyful and sorrowful?  Isn't that a contradiction?


Yes, it is a contradiction.  But as the Gospel says: Jesus is a sign that will be contradicted.  Jesus' death on the cross is a great contradiction, in that it is both a great and terrible event.  It is the single greatest event of human history, because by Jesus' atoning death, heaven has been restored to us.


But think of how terrible the crucifixion must have been for the Virgin Mary!  She saw the death of her son firsthand, and this is when the sword of sorrow pierced her immaculate heart.  But still, Jesus' great love for us was not satisfied by his death on the cross; after giving us the gift of his great sacrifice, he left us with a second gift: the gift of his mother.  It was while dying on the cross that Jesus officially gave the Virgin Mary, his mother, to be our mother also.


Today, at this Mass, we celebrate and remember these two gifts that Jesus gave to us, even though we are not worthy to receive them.  We remember Jesus' death, as it is made present to us in the Eucharist, and we remember our mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, today on the memorial of her seven sorrows.  As the Book of Sirach tells us, "Do not forget the sorrows of your mother" (Sirach 7:29).  Amen.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Nancy Drew: Legend of the Crystal Skull

Okay, so I finally started my remake walkthrough of Nancy Drew: Legend of the Crystal Skull.  In case you've forgotten, I thought about starting this project in July of 2010.

Better late than never?









Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Nancy Drew: Alibi in Ashes (Again)

This is, what, the third time I've written about Alibi in Ashes this week?  In any case, the latest Nancy Drew newsletter was released, and it's all about the upcoming game.

http://www.herinteractive.com/newsletter-view.php?id=1109_newsletter.html

It seems our hero, Nancy Drew, has followed a bad lead, and as a result, everyone thinks she's an arsonist.  I bet that somebody specifically set her up, in order to make her look guilty!  But who?  And...why?

Crazy prediction: I think it's Nancy's Aunt Eloise, who is upset that Nancy didn't call on her birthday this year.

I will be super happy if they have a scene of Nancy yelling, "I didn't do it, I tell you!  I was framed!" at the police while they arrest her.  Let's hope that, while Nancy is in holding, she doesn't have a nasty run-in with one of the dozens of criminals she's helped put away.  That could be awkward.

Preorders for the game go from September 26 to October 10th.  As usual, if you preorder, you get the Special Edition, which has some bonus content.  Please note that this is only the case if you preorder with the Nancy Drew website.  If you preorder with Walmart or something like that, you won't get any bonus content.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Nancy Drew: Alibi in Ashes Trailer

Here's a new trailer for the next Nancy Drew game!



I'll try to get it up on my channel later tonight, when I have free time. For now, let me just say this:
  1. What is the reporter's hair stylist thinking?
  2. There are characters onscreen at 0:26.  Let's make up names for them.
  3. Do you think this will be a scene in the actual game?  When in the game will it occur?  I remember getting excited by one Waverly Academy preview which had all sorts of exciting cutscenes, but when the actual game was released, it turned out most of them were just the opening cutscene.

The Local Sports Teams

Sports season is starting up!  Or winding down, depending on the sport.

I know a lot of people like to pick which sports team they like.  Usually, they pick the winning team.  Me, I just root for the local sports teams.  It's easier, but there's a problem.

Pretty much all of the local teams stink.

Baseball: The San Francisco Giants are a great team, and they always try really hard.  The problem is that they just can't ever seem to be successful, not even when they have superstars like Barry Bonds on their team.

Last year was their best year in a long time, thanks mainly to their great pitchers and superstar catcher.  They managed to win the World Series, for the first time since 1954!  That's a really great achievement, breaking a 46 year losing streak.  This year, however, they're not playing so well.  Right now, the season is winding up, and it's pretty much certain that they won't even make it to the playoffs this year.  Ah, come on, Giants!  We want a second championship!

Football: The two local football teams are the Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers.  I'm pretty sure that both of them lost over half of their games last season; they are in the worst division in the NFL.

Basketball: The Golden State Warriors have bad luck, I'd say.  Many of their players go on to become NBA superstars, after they get traded to another team.  We'll still root for them faithfully, just like with the Giants.

Hockey: The San Jose Sharks play great in the normal season, and they die in the playoffs.  Sometimes, just to trick everyone, they play really well for a few games in the playoffs, and then they get slaughtered.  And every year, in the offseason, they trade about 40% of the team, so last year's team is never an indication of how this year's team is going to play.

...Okay, maybe I'm slightly bitter, because I just watched the game from this year's playoffs, when the Sharks were eliminated.  The other team scored with ten seconds left to tie the game, and they won in overtime.  Oh well.  It's still better than the playoff game where we lost in overtime, because the defenseman scored on his own goalie.  That one still stings.

Maybe this year, we'll make it to the playoff finals for the first time.  Maybe?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Nancy Drew: Alibi in Ashes

Woah, woah, what?  We've got more details about the upcoming Nancy Drew game, Alibi in Ashes!

According to the new "Key Features" box on the website, the game includes these things:

  • Explore River Heights! Search for clues in Nancy's hometown

  • Play as Four Characters! Assume the roles of Ned, Bess, George and Nancy Drew

  • What's Next for Ned & Nancy? Will their relationship finally blossom?

  • Ask Tough Questions! The answers vary depending on the character asking questions

  • Use Police Forensics! Identify fingerprints at the local police lab


  • All right, so #1 and #3 tells us information we already knew.  #2 and #4 are new, though.  We knew that Bess, George and Ned were in the game, playing some kind of role.  Now it's confirmed that they are all playable characters.  And of course, depending on who you're playing as, the various characters will react differently.  Nice!

    Question: How will you switch between the various playable characters?  In some games, you automatically switch between characters.  In other games, you can call a character or something like that, and the game switches to let you control them for a while.

    The last feature indicates that we have a fingerprint identification challenge/minigame.  So we can look forward to that, as well.

    Saturday, September 10, 2011

    Top Ten Games

    My buddy Paul just wrote his Top Ten Games of 2011 list.  And I just know that he'll want me to do the same, so he can make fun of my choices.

    The problem is that I don't buy new games all too often.  So every year, my top ten list is really just a "the ten games I played" list.  And of course, the top ten list always ends up being wrong, because I haven't had time to play any of the games that came out during the holiday season.

    Anyway, here's my top ten list.  The links are to my walkthroughs for these games.  Only two of them don't have walkthroughs, which I think means I was overly obsessed with making walkthroughs this year.

    1. Matches and Matrimony: A Pride and Prejudice Tale is probably the best game ever.  This game is on my top ten games of all time list, not just my top ten games of 2011 list.  It's a dating based on Pride and Prejudice, and it was way more fun than I ever expected.  The dialogue was clever, the five or six different storylines were engrossing, and the character models were none too shabby, either.  I particularly like George Washington as Mr. Bennet, and Colonel Brandon's awesome mustache.

    2. Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective was a genius game.  The plotline was very well thought out, and unlike the Miles Edgeworth game, the translation team did a very good job.

    Actually, the reason I liked this game so much was because of Missile, the dog.  That's basically it.  Missile carried the entire game for me, and he single-handedly brought it from "okay" to "great".

    3. Nancy Drew: The Captive Curse was the Nancy Drew game that came out this year.  It was one of the scary games; several times, the investigation gets interrupted with "monster sighting" scenes, all of which were exciting.  I liked the puzzles, myself.  There were only two characters that I really liked--sorry, Renate, but you spend most of the game sleeping!  You don't make it onto my top characters list that way!  Oh, and the subplot with Ned was super interesting, and I know it's a great setup for Ned's appearance in the next game.

    4. Nightmare Realm was a good 2-3 hour casual game.  It had a nice blend of horror, adventure and fantasy.  I liked the horror aspect and the main storyline the best.  I thought it was "pretty good" at best.  There are some things that I think detract from the flow of the game, and bring it down a bit.  Other people disagree with me, though; they think this game is one of the year's best.

    In fact, this game had an unexpected explosion in popularity since its release.  It was so popular that it got a DLC chapter, which is a half hour to an hour of new material.  Casual games don't usually get DLC, as you probably know, except for the sneaky ones who purposely plan to release DLC ahead of time, as a marketing gimmick to raise the game's price after its release.  This game had one of the better casual game DLC packages I've seen; it's certainly more than just "we slapped on a few pieces of concept art".

    5. Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions for the iPhone is a port of the PSP game.  It's slightly inferior to the PSP version, what with the lag and the unneeded difficulty in selecting enemy targets.  It's still a decent FFT game, though.

    6. Back to the Future: The Videogame gets surprisingly little love from me.  I liked the games, but none of them forcibly grabbed my interest and refused to let go, the way the other good games did.  I think the pacing of the games is the problem.  Episodes 1 and 2 have intolerably long intro sections, Episode 3 ends before its plotline is resolved, and Episode 4's outro section is a little forced.

    7.  Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (3DS) gets even less love from me.  See my review for more details.

    ---

    There are several games that will come out later this year that are sure to be popular, such as Super Mario 3D Land and wait, that's the name of the next Mario game?  It's not on the SNES; it doesn't need Super in the title.  It's not on the GameBoy, either, so it doesn't need Land in the title.  Just call it Mario 3D.  Yep.  That'll work.

    Friday, September 9, 2011

    Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (3DS)

    I'm told that I have to write a review of Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (3DS) now, because I worked so hard on my video walkthrough for the original game.

    ...This is awkward.

    I want to like this game, I really do.  But if I had to choose between playing the original game and this remake, I'd pick the original every single time.  No questions asked.  The original is loads better than this paltry remake.

    There, I said it.  Please don't hate me, Zelda.

    It's just...this game isn't a remake.  It's a graphics update.  That's all.  But even worse, it's an update to the censored version of the game (different dialogue, music and graphics), instead of the original gold cartridge edition I know and love.

    It'd be nice if the remake actually had some new material, to make it different from the original.  That's the sign of a good remake, you know?  Actually being different from the original in some way.  They could have had an extra dungeon or more characters.  Maybe a new plotline, even.  Oh, and they could have used this great opportunity to put in some of the things that got cut out of the original game, due to time constraints, such as the Beam Attack that Nintendo Power promised us.



    So that's my big problem with this game.  It's a lazy remake.  I was hoping for more.

    To be fair, there are minor changes between this game and the original.  Unfortunately, these all seem to work against the game's favor.

    1. Controls

    The controls for this game don't work so well, because the game is designed to be played on an N64 controller.  That was kind of a problem with the Gamecube version of Ocarina of Time, too.  It's not a game-killing problem, but it's still there.

    With the 3DS Ocarina of Time, they decided to move everything to the bottom screen.  And since the 3DS doesn't have enough buttons, half the buttons are touchscreen buttons.  So it's one of those games where you need both hands to use the normal buttons, and a third hand to use the stylus on the touchscreen buttons.

    It's not that bad, because you don't use the touchscreen that much.  But still, it kinda bugs me that every time I want to use a new item, I have to pause the game, pull out the DS stylus and set the item I want to the "use item" button (X or Y), then put my stylus away and press the "use item" button.  Let me do this manually, without a stylus!

    Also, the "talk to Navi" button really shouldn't be on the touchscreen, because Navi wants to talk to Link all the time.

    The other problem I have with the controls is Z-targeting.  On the N64, you press Z, and the Z-targeting locks onto that enemy until you press Z again.  But on the 3DS, you press L, and the L-targeting locks onto that enemy, until you let go of the L-button.  This is a pain in boss battles, where you need to be locked on to the boss for minutes at a time.

    The other, other problem I have with the controls is with the aiming system.  When using the bow and arrow or other similar items, you can aim manually with the control stick, just like in the N64 version.  Alternately, you can use the 3DS as a targeting device!  Move the 3DS up, and the target goes up.  Move it left or right, and the target moves accordingly.  This is a pretty good idea, but it doesn't work if you have the 3D on.  If you move the 3DS to the left, suddenly the 3D effect dies as you get a face full of motion blur. Owsers!

    I'm guessing that the 3D motion blur is a mistake on my part, not the game's, though.  This is the first 3D game I've played on the 3DS, and I'm still learning how it works.  You have to be at a certain angle/distance from the 3DS for the 3D to work well, and the problem is I'm kind of fidgety when it comes to videogames.  I end up having to readjust myself/the system every five minutes or so.  I'm sure that eventually I'll get it down, but for now, it's kind of a bother that I need to stay relatively still while playing the game.  I mean, handheld games are supposed to be played while you're moving, right?
    2. Sheikah Stones

    You know how Nintendo is putting the Super Guide feature in all its games now?  The feature that basically shows you how to beat the game in case you're stuck?  There's one of those in this game.

    Yep, that's the new material they decided to add.  You can see brief (five second) video clips, which show you how to solve the various puzzles in this game.  You access these videos by talking to the Sheikah Stone located next to Link's house.

    Isn't Navi supposed to be the in-game hint system?  Do we really need another one?

    [Edit: I have been informed that Navi has taken on the job of telling the player to take a break, if they've been playing for too long.  Blech.]

    3. Graphics

    OMG, the graphics are great.  OMG.  They cleaned up all the polygonal character models and everything.

    My only complaint is that they left in the various N64 graphics glitches, so you will sometimes see walls disappear for no good reason.  Really, Nintendo?  You decided to leave that glitch in?  Other than that, the new graphics are utterly brilliant.

    4.  Master Quest

    Remember Master Quest, the version of the game included on the GCN version of the game?  That's the bonus game which pretended to be the Ura Zelda project.  It's really just a glorified ROM hack that swtiches things around in the dungeons, without adding anything new.

    Master Quest is on this game.  This time, it's reversed, to make it more difficult than before.

    ---

    In conclusion, I am a grumpy old crumudgeon who hates new things.  I mean, the 3D remake of Ocarina of Time is inferior to the original version.  Harrumph.  Although the new graphics are super-awesome, it's really the exact same as the N64, Gamecube and Wii releases.  And all of those other releases are cheaper than this one...

    If you already own a 3DS, there's no doubt that this will make a great addition to your tiny collection.  (Fun fact: the "3" in 3DS refers to the number of games for the system that you will actually purchase.)  Fans of the original will love the new graphics, and they can live with the fact that nothing has changed.  People who haven't played the original will most likely love the time-travelling Zelda fun in this game.

    Thursday, September 8, 2011

    Cooking for Myself

    I recently moved into a new parish.  I'll be living in the rectory, with three priests, for the next nine months.  It's going to take me a little while to adjust to the living situation here.

    First off, now I have to cook for myself.  If you've watched enough sitcoms, you've seen the cooking episode.  You know, the one where the guy has to cook for himself for the first time, and he has no idea what he's doing, and he makes hilarious mistakes, like using Coca Cola in place of baking soda. That was the subplot of I Love Lucy's well-known vitameatavegamin episode, as I recall.

    Anyway, that sitcom episode is my life now.  For dinner last night, I cooked macaroni and cheese, because it's a nice, simple dish I've made dozens of times before.  But somehow, I managed to get cheese all over the counter, and cleaning it up was a nightmare.

    Everyone is on their own when it comes to food, because there is no way we will ever agree on what kind of food to get.  One guy likes exotic food, while I suspect one of the other guys secretly lives on frozen pizza.  We're all bachelors for life, so there's no need for us to get super-fancy when cooking food, except when we have guests over, of course.

    It's my first week, so I decided to play it safe.  Oatmeal and/or an apple every day for breakfast, a sandwich every day for lunch, and dinner is one of various options: mac and cheese, Bush's baked beans, carrots and frozen pizza.  Oh, and I have applesauce, but someone else put that away in the kitchen while I was unpacking groceries, and now I have no idea where it is.

    The food budget for the four of us is about $500, which equals $20 per day, per person.  I was worried that I would go overbudget, but then I did some quick math.  A Big Mac costs about four dollars, and four times three is twelve, so I can have three meals a day, no problem!

    Wednesday, September 7, 2011

    Blog Writing, Part Two

    Time for more fascinating insight into how I write this blog.  On rare occasions, I have five or six entries that are completely finished, all at the start of the week.  I release a different one each day, maybe writing a new one in case something comes up, and it's a good week because I don't have to do much work on the blog.

    What usually happens, though, is that I don't write a week in advance.  I write one or two days in advance, that's it.  Whenever I try to write a bunch of blog entries at once, I just end up with a bunch of half-written entries.  That's not so bad, though.  It means that, whenever I have no idea what to write about, there's always a half-finished entry at my fingertips.

    The thing is, though, that the half-finished blogs just sit there, untouched for months at a time.  Examples of this would be the half-finished entries about my Washington DC trip (from May) and my series about the Castlevania games.  You know, that series I started in March?  Entries #4 and #5 are still on the way.  Also, there's a series of three entries about the second Professor Layton game, which I really should finish up before the fourth game is released.

    On the flipside, there are some half-finished entries that I work on continually.  For example, my review of Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3DS.  I write a little bit of it each day, and I'm sure that when it's done, it will be super long and no one will want to read it.  Perfect!

    Tuesday, September 6, 2011

    Blog Writing

    I tend to write these blog posts at nighttime, before I go to sleep. This is because it's one of the times that I know isn't busy.  If I picked an arbitrary time for blog writing, like 11:00 AM, some days I'd be free to write a blog post, and other days I wouldn't.  But "right before going to bed" is usually a time that I have free every day.

    My bedtime, which is self-imposed, is the two hour gap between 10:00 and 12:00.  I like to go to bed earlier so I can get more sleep, but sometimes I'm too busy reading or writing or something like that, so I stay up later.  Midnight is the deadline, however.  If I'm up until then, I immediately drop whatever it is I'm doing and go to sleep.  Unless it's an emergency, of course.

    Writing before I go to sleep works well with stories.  In the fifteen or so minutes of lying in bed until I fall asleep, I just go over the story and characters and plotlines, coming up with new ideas and things to write about.  Of course, I probably forget half of my good ideas, but it's still a good time for brainstorming.  I'm not doing anything else, after all.

    The downside to this scheme of writing before bedtime is that sometimes, I'll be tired, and I won't feel like writing. That's when I tend to write short blog posts, which basically consist of me saying, "Hey, check out this funny video I found!".  I usually do the same thing whenever there's a new Nancy Drew newsletter.  Apparently, I'm lazy when it comes to writing blog posts.

    I've got more to say about writing, but I'll save it for tomorrow.  See, by splitting up a blog entry into two parts, I save myself a day of writing!  Yes!

    Monday, September 5, 2011

    Nancy Drew: Alibi in Ashes

    Everyone, you remember the artwork for the upcoming Nancy Drew: Alibi in Ashes game?


    Some people made comments about how they redid Bess and George.  But to be totally honest, I don't think they did.  I think that's just the cover art version of them.

    For reference, let's take a look at the cover for Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill.  The characters look different there than they do in the actual game.  I think that's what happened here; Bess and George look slightly different because they're on the cover.  In the actual game itself, they'll probably look just like they did in the other games.  Reusing character models is a lot easier than building brand new ones, you know.

    Sunday, September 4, 2011

    The Fairly Oddparents

    Confession time, everyone.  Ever since I saw the live action Fairly Oddparents made-for-TV movie recently, I have been on a Fairly Oddparents spree.

    I'm not sure why.  I didn't really like the movie that much.  It was okay, but not fantastic.  The little cameos from the various characters in the series were nice.  I especially liked the Dad, who did a great job because he's played by the same guy who voices the Dad in the animated show.  The villain in the movie was nice, too.

    I liked The Fairly Oddparents when it first came out, but I sort of stopped watching after they made the first TV movie, Abra-Catastrophe.  After that, they replaced several cast members, and the show's creator kinda-but-not-really left the show, so he could work on Danny Phantom.  People generally agree that's when the show stopped being so good.

    And my relatives who have small children have told me that, once they introduced the baby character, the show really stopped being good.

    I decided to check the show out again, and I'm surprised to find that I actually really like it.  It's a lot of fast-paced, zany comedy, and there are a lot of great one-liners thrown out all over the place. It's not the show I originally liked, which had a lot of clever storylines and ideas.  But it's not as bad as my relatives made it out to be.

    So now I guess I have about five years of Fairly Oddparents episodes to catch up on.  The only problem is that the show airs at six in the morning, or something like that.  I'd better hope that the new place I'm moving into has a DVR (and that I can explain to the other residents why it's necessary for me to take up DVR space with children's cartoons), or else I might have to buy episodes on iTunes.

    ---

    As a bonus to this post, here's my impersonation of Mr. Crocker, the fairy-obsessed teacher from that show.  Start watching at 2:01.

    Saturday, September 3, 2011

    Upcoming Video Walkthroughs

    After Labor Day (Monday), my summer officially ends, and I'll no longer have time to do video walkthroughs.

    So I've been making up for it by doing a lot of video walkthrough recording over the past few weeks.  I figure it's only fair to tell you guys what walkthroughs you'll be seeing on my Youtube page in the months to come.
    1. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
    2. Phoenix Wright 2
    3. Phoenix Wright 3
    4. Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney
    5. Time Hollow
    6. Pajama Sam 3
    7. Emerald City Confidential

    The last three haven't been edited yet.  I have all the video files, but they haven't been put together into Youtube-length videos yet.

    I suppose I'll let you readers make the decision.  Which video walkthrough should I put online first?  The order I put them up doesn't really matter to me, although I'd like to put the Phoenix Wright videos up in the proper order.

    Friday, September 2, 2011

    Fun With Educational Games

    I just made some video demonstrations of old educational games I used to play: Number Munchers, Treasure Mathstorm, Treasure Cover, Outnumbered (and its close relative, Midnight Rescue) and Operation Neptune.











    Thursday, September 1, 2011

    Time Travel, Radiant Historia

    Recently, I had to decide which videogame I wanted to play next.  On the list of possible games was Time Hollow, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3DS, and Prince of Persia: Sands of Time. Once I saw that half the games I wanted to play were time travel games, I began to wonder if I am a time travel fan.

    Am I a time travel fan?  Or is it just the case that time travel seems to make things better?  After all, everyone says that the best Zelda game is Ocarina of Time, the one about time travel.  Same for the best Professor Layton game.  Same for best Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game.  Maybe not the case for the Mario and Luigi series, but that's because Partners in Time is not so much a game, as it is an excuse to show off the DS' new X and Y buttons.

    Not every time travel game is as glorious as Putt-Putt Travels Through Time or Day of the Tentacle, though.  The most recent time travel game--here, I'm transitioning into a review--is an RPG called Radiant Historia.  It has the potential to be a great game, but it's not time travelly enough.

    See, time travel in Radiant Historia is weird.  Our hero has a time travel book, which lets him go to any point in time he wants.  He basically ignores this power for the duration of the entire game.  Instead, he just jumps back and forth between two different timelines in order to progress.

    Let me explain, using the game's most disturbing challenge as an example.  At one point in the game, the hero's crippled best friend gets in a fight and ends up losing his prosthetic arm.  What should our time travelling hero do after this?

    A. He should go back in time and warn his friend about the upcoming fight.
    B. He should go back in time and help his friend win the fight.
    C. He should go to the other timeline, and then kill his best friend.  That way, he can take the prosthetic arm off of the corpse, return to the normal timeline, and give the arm to his friend as a replacement.  It'll fit perfectly, because it comes from his alternate self!

    ...The hero of this game decides to go with option C.  Remind me never to make friends with him.

    That's how the time travel aspect works in Radiant Historia.  The hero technically has the ability to time travel to any major plot point he wants to, but he never takes advantage of it.  A normal person would use his foreknowledge of the future to change things, or at least, do things differently.  Not our hero!  At all times, he pretends he doesn't know the future.  This means he does things like walk right into traps, not warn people who are going to be killed, and not stop the villain who will eventually try to take over the world.

    So I guess that's what I mean when I say Radiant Historia isn't time travelly enough.  The time travel feature just functions as a gameplay mechanic, with a hint of plot importance at certain points in the game.  It does not reflect the way a real person would use the ability to time travel.  Other than that, I'd say the game rates somewhere from average to good, depending on my mood.  There are a few things that are a pain, which keep the game down (such as 2-3 of the party members who are basically useless), and a few things that are extra fun, such as the mysterious Time Twins and the one desert level.  The game just sort of oscillates between average and good; it's your average RPG that still has it moments, but as far as time travel RPGs go, it's no Chrono Trigger, eh?