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Friday, August 28, 2015

Top 10 Unlikely Allies and Heroes in Video Games and shows

In many video games, you control a protagonist bent on foiling the schemes of one of the many different video game villians in the industry.  Of course, one can't always save the world alone.  In this post.  Of course,some allies come from unexpected places.  In this game, I will talk about some of them.

1. Yoshi from Super Mario Bros

Yoshi was first debuted in Super Mario World (Super Nintendo era Mario Bros) and is a dinosaur that is pretty much capable of swallowing just about anything in his path, even enemies.  Of course, he becomes a useful ally of Mario and Luigi in their neverending quest to defeat Bower and rescue Princess Peach (who often finds herself kidnapped by Bowser).  Yoshi's appetite can definitely be a blessing or a curse for the plumbers as he could easily view them as food and *accidently* swallow them if they do not keep him well fed.  Of course, is very useful to have as he can easily defeat enemies, fly, eat and shoot fireballs, eat pirana plants and has even been a very good babysitter for Baby Mario in Yoshi's Island (Super Mario World 2).  As you can see in the video above, Yoshi can be a nuisannce sometimes.    

2. Alucard from Castlevania Symphony of the Night

Did you know that Alucard's name spelled backwards spells "Dracula"?  In the Castlevania series Alucard has proven to be a powerful ally of the Belmonts (and similar protagonists) in their quest to stop the latest schemes of Dracula and his goulish army.  Of course, Alucard is a vampire, son of Count Dracula and was supposed to be evil like his father is in the series.  Unfortunately, Alucard has often alligned himselves with the humans and helped foil Dracula's plans on more than one occasion.  Perhaps the most notable role for Alucard was in Castlevania Symphony of the Night, where he becomes the primary protagonist in the game after Richter Belmont gets kidnapped by the evil priest, Shaft and is given his own castle (brainwashed by Shaft and Dracula).  Death (Dracula's closest associate) even tries to dissuade and even stop Alucard from his quest, but gets defeated in the end too.  Hey, if it weren't for Alucard's intervention, Symphony of the Night could have ended alot differently, with Dracula taking over the world and using Richter as his puppet.  This is not the only  time Alucard has a role in a game.  He was also an ally of Trevor in Castlevania 3 as well as a support character in Aria on Sorrow and Dawn on Sorrow (disguising himeslf as Arikado) when Dracula's spirit tries to possess Soma.  In Dawn of Sorrow, in Julius mode, Alucard becomes a playable character in the quest to stop Soma after becoming "Dracula" (Julius mode follows an alternate storyline that assumes Soma turns into dracula based on the second bad ending of the game and Alucard is one of the 3 playable characters in that mode).  He is also a playable character in Harmony of Despair (Xbox 360) as well aimed at defeating his father once again.  Can't you imagine having to fight against your own father?  Even Luke Skywalker from the original star wars trillogy was faced with the same dilema after learning the truth about Darth Vader (him being Anakin Skywalker after turning to the dark side in Episode 3)  and Darth Vader was definitely a monster in the Star Wars universe considering his track record (i.e., betraying and killing former Jedi allies including Obi Wan Kenobi, destroying Alderaan with the Death Star, killing Biggs, using Lando Calrissian to betray Han and Leia on Bespin, etc).  Alucard's quest begs the question: is it ever okay to go against your father?  If so, when?

3. Protoman from Mega Man 7-10

Protoman has  been a close ally of Mega Man starting with Mega Man 7.  He is even a playable character in Mega Man 10 (helping Mega Man in his quest to defeat Dr Wily and foil the Robofluenza outbreak).  Of course, Protoman was not always an ally.  In Mega Man 3, for example, he was one of the boss characters you had to fight (aka "Break Man") and proved to be a hinderance for Mega Man.  Apparently earlier versions of Protoman had him being more antihero and alligned with Dr Wily.  Protoman's loyalty to Dr Wily seemed to have fractured in the events of Mega Man 4 (after Mega Man defeats Dr Cossack, who was an unwitting puppet of Dr Wily after his daughter was kidnapped by Wily) and more so after being framed by Wily in Mega Man 5. Even after joining Mega Man's cause, he does seem to have an antihero personality, as was the case in Mega Man 7 when challenging Mega Man to a duel (Protoman is an optional boss in that game) possibly out of jealousy/  Hey, envy can do that sometimes, causing people to become jealous of one and another and somtimes corrupt otherwise good people and we do see that happening time and time again in various video game storylines (for example, in Castlevania Circle of the Moon, Hugh becomes envious of protaginist Nathan Graves and unwittingly becomes a pawn of Dracula and even becomes one of several boss encounter Nathan faces during the course of the game).  Protoman is also a playable character in Mega Man Power Battles 1 and 2, once again helping Mega Man stop Dr Wily once again.

4. Zero from the Mega Man X series
In the opening sequence of Mega Man X4 Zero has a vivid dream about Dr Wily (who orders Zero to destroy Mega Man X)
 In Mega Man X5, you can see X and Zero duking it out in a boss style fight:

Have you ever watche the old Disney Movie, "The Fox and the Hound"?  I used to watch the movie when I was a kid.  Anyways, the movie is about a tamed red fox named Todd who friends a hound dog named, Copper.  Initially they had a close knit relationship.  However, Copper's owner is a poacher that likes to hunt red foxes and has another dog that hates Todd and both want to drive a wedge through Todd and Copper's friendship.  Of course, if you have seen the movie, eventually the poacher succeeds in causing Todd and Copper to turn against each other, though eventually they become friends once again at the end of the movie.  Anyways, if any video game friendship or alliance were to closely resemble that of that of "The Fox and the Hound", it would probably be Mega Man X and Zero.  From the beginning of the series, Zero has been a close ally and mentor of X.  In Mega Man X1, Zero even saves X when he was about to be destroyed by Sigma's henchman Vile both in the prologue sequence of the game, and later in the first level of Wily's fortress and even helped X to get stronger in the process.  From time and time again Zero proves to be a powerful ally of X too.  In X3, he helps X defeat Dr Doppler and Sigma.  In X4, Zero and X work together to stop Repliforce (on seperate storylines).  In X5, he works with X to stop the Eurasia Colony from crashing to the earth. This list can go on, but what X probably does not know is that Zero was actually created by Dr Wily (presumably before he died sometime between the events of Mega Man 10 and X1, though the gap between the 2 series has yet to be bridged and might never be bridged anytime soon) and was supposed to be an enemy of X (much like Bass was in the original series, though more powerful than Bass).  Wily even tries to goad Zero to kill X in his dreams (much like what happens at the beginning of Mega Man X4).  Sigma tries to turn Zero against X too on at least 2 occassions (first in Mega Man X2 and later Mega Man X5).  Interestingly, at the end of Mega Man X3, in the ending credit sequence, the game hinted that X will have to destroy Zero someday, and vice versa in Mega Man X4).   In Mega Man X5, the Dr Wily subplot seems to reach a climax as Sigma tries to turn Zero into a Maverick by causing a virus infected space colony to crash to  the earth (which can happen should the colony crash to Earth or if both the Shuttle and Laser missions fail with X facing off with a more powerful version of Zero in the 3rd Sigma stage).  Mega Man X5 even makes some obvious references to Dr Wily (such as when Sigma faces off against X as the final boss of the game, talking about someone other than him hating Mega Man, obviously referrencing Wily).

Interestingly, the Dr Wily subplot seems to disappear after the events of Mega Man X5 and the series has yet to reach a definitive conclusion (apparently, according to the wikipedia article of Mega Man X5, the game was supposed to be the final game of the series, but that was before Mega Man X6-X8 were released (unless if those ones are not canon).  The series seems to be on hiatus mode after the events of X8 and it is not clear if or when (if ever) the series will reach a definitive conclusion, but there could still be an epic duel to the death between X and Zero someday that surpasses that of X5 (maybe Wily will make his first official appearance besides appearing as a shadow in Zero's dreams in the series too when that happens along with the Elf Wars that bridge the gap between X8 and Mega Man Zero 1, but those remain to be seen).  Till then, Zero remains a major ally of X and is a primary protaginist in the series.  He also appears in the Mega Man Zero series (presumably after freezing himself at the end of Mega Man X6) and helps foil the schemes of the evil Dr Weil in that series too.  
5. Knuckles from the Sonic the Hedgehog series

In Sonic's never ending quest to defeat Dr Eggman's (aka Robotnik) latest schemes, he has acquired many allies in his quests, such as Tails, Amy Rose, big the cat, silver the hedgehog, and others.  He often teams up with Tails and Knuckles as well.  Of course, Sonic and Knuckle's friendship was not always there.  In Sonic 3 and Knuckles, he was tricked by Dr Eggman into thinking that Sonic was a villian bent on sending Angel Island into the sea) and becomes a thorn in Sonic's side to stopping Eggman, creating various traps and obstacles in Sonic's path.  Perhaps one of  the more insidious of Knuckles' traps (among many others) was that in the Sandopolis Zone where Sonic is ventures through a massive pyramid and inadvertantly releases ghosts stumbling across a trap presumably by knuckles, making for an extra dangerous adventure for sonic as the ghost quickly become hostile and start attacking sonic (especially when it is dark) with the only way to ward them off is to make sure it never gets real dark (unless if he manages to become super sonic and then the ghosts are no match for him).  Eventually, Knuckles challenges Sonic to a boss fight in the Hidden Fortress Zone and is quickly defeated by sonic before finding out that Eggman was the real villian in the game.  Interestingly, Sonic 3 and Knuckles is not the only time that Knuckles gets brainwashed by Dr Eggman.  He also gets tricked by Dr Eggman in Sonic Adventure 1 and becomes hostile towards Sonic when they first meet in the game not knowing that Dr Eggman is trying to create a powerful monster in his plot to take over Station Square, as well as the Sonic Adventure Series.  There seems to be some rivalry between the two sometimes as well.  

6. Tommy the Green Ranger and later Kat from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
Picture of the green ranger (Tommy)

I have to admit that I was a power rangers fan when I was younger (especially back in the 90s).  Who else had a celebrity crush on the pink ranger Kimberly (aka Amy Jo Johnson) by the way?  Anyways, in case if you never seen power rangers, it is an ongoing series about these teenagers who become heroes after being recruited by Zordon (an interdimensional being who becomes the supreme leader of the rangers, at least in the old school version of the series) who team up to battle the latest monsters and cronies created the evil Rita Repulsa (who literally wants to destroy the planet) and later Lord Zedd (along with other villians in the series, such as King Mondo, Master Vile, Divatox, and others).  Anyways, a well known leader / figure of the classic power rangers (besides Jason, the red ranger) was Tommy the green ranger (later known as the White Ranger, Red Ranger, etc).  Tommy was perhaps the most powerful ranger known in the classic series (wouldn't know if that is still the case) and even became an adept leader of the team after Jason stepped down in season 2 and even had a romance going with Kimberly (the pink ranger) before she left the show in season 3 and later broke up with him in Power Rangers Zero (via a "Dear John" letter).  Anyways, Tommy was not always an ally of the rangers.  Initially, he was recruited by Rita Repulsa to help destroy the rangers (see the first season) and nearly succeeds in doing so but was eventually subdued by Jason after a lengthy duel with him and eventually he redeems himself by joining the other rangers.  Interestingly, Rita gets back at Tommy by having his power drained by Golddar and later on lord Zedd manages to sap the rest of his power, but eventually he becomes the more powerful white ranger and becomes a powerful leader of the team (at least through the Power Rangers turbo season becoming a major foil to the plots of the villans).

(video or pic will be added a later date)

Interestingly, in season 3, Kat (aka Catherine Sutherland) does the same thing, starting off as an ally of Rita and Zedd and even develops shape shifting powers to spy on the rangers as an ordinary kitty cat (she even becomes one of Rita and Zedd's monsters too in one of the episodes before gettign defeated by the rangers).  She even manages to wreak havok against the rangers and help zap Kimberly's powers.  Like Tommy, eventually learns the errors of her ways and redeems herself by taking Kimberly's place after she steps down as the new pink ranger. Interestingly, allies in the series can start of as enemies as we have seen on more than one occassion.

7. The Borg (Star Trek Voyager series

 I used to watch Star Trek Voyager when it was on back in the 90's (the official sequel series to Next Generation besides deep space 9) and did you know that the Borg temporarily become allies of Star Trek crew?  At one point in the series, the crew went up against a hostile alien race known as species 8472 and proved to be defenselsess against them.  Eventually they were forced to turn to the Borg for help, and while they did help neutralize the Species 8472 threat, their help did come at a price as they tried to assimilate the Voyager crew afterwards.  On the positive note, eventually the Voyager crew was able to redeem at least one person that was turned into a borg: Seven of Nine (who became a permanent member of the star trek crew for the remainder of the series).   

8. Shadow and Silver in the 3D era Sonic the Hedgehog games
(video or pic will be added a later date)
Ah, Shadow and Silver the hedgehog.  Prior to Sonic Adventure 2, one used to think that Sonic was the only hedgehog in Sonic's world, however that soon changes from Sonic Adventure 2 onwards.  Shadow is first introduced as one of the primary antagonists in Sonic Adventure 2 and works with Dr Eggman in his scheme to take over the world and even manages to frame Sonic in the early part of Sonic Adventure 2 for his crimes.  Eventually, Shadow and Eggman get defeated and Shadow's alliance with Eggman seems to get fractured after the events of Sonic Adventure 2 and he becomes more of an antihero.  Depsite being rivals with Sonic on more than one occassion, he has known to align with him sometimes, as was the case in Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 when he helps Sonic in his quest to defeat Dr Eggman, Mephiles (basically an evil twin of Shadow) and later teams up with Sonic and Silver to  take down the monster Solaris at the end of the game.  He has also helped Sonic in Sonic Generations going against the Time Eater machine that Dr Eggman creates too.  Still, he can be a wild card and sometimes he can ally of sonic or an enemy too.  Silver the Hedgehog is another hedgehog that was introduced in Sonic 2006, and like Knuckles before him, he was tricked (by the evil Mephiles) into believing that Sonic was evil and tries to defeat sonic.  However, he later becomes an ally of Sonic after Shadow reveals that Silver was being brainwashed by Mephiles and he eventually helps Sonic and Shadow take down Solaris in the final boss of the game.  He has made a few other appearences in the series, such as Sonic Generations.  Interestingly, Amy seems to have feelings for Silver in addition to Sonic, there could be a love triangle between the 2 in future sequels.

9 . General Morden and his army - Metal Slugs X, 2, 3, and 6
In the Metal Slug series, the games are loosely similar to contra, where you control one of several commandos in a shoot em up arcade style game going up against the villianous General Morden (basically a Saddam Hussein look alike in my opinion) as well his army of thugs.  Usually Marco and his allies are fighting against Morden's army, but when things don't go as planned for Morden and his army, sometimes they are forced to form an uneasy alliance.  This happens the first time in Metal Slug 2/X (pretty much the same game) at the final boss when the aliens turn on Morden and his men and launch an Independence Day style invasion and a co-op final boss fight takes place where Maro, Tarma, and their allies team up with Morden's army to destroy the alien craft (btw, much like Independence Day, a fighter pilot sacrifices himself by flying into the ufo's main core and taking out the ship with him).  And this is not the only time that Morden and his army form an uneasy alliance with the herose.  The same thing happens again during the last mission of Metal Slug 3 where "Morden" turns out to be an alien disguised as him and the real Morden gets abducted by the aliens once again and the heros are forced to team up with Morden's army once again to defeat the hostile alien forces in a more epic final showdown than that in Metal Slug 2.  Interestingly, even Allen (usually hostile towards the players) makes and appearence fighting along the heroes (doesn't happen every time though) as they up against the aliens during the final level.  They also team up once again in Metal Slug 6 when mutant insects launch an invasion against the human race as well.  Of course, the alliance usually falls apart in the aftermath of the games ad the two sides are usually fighting each other once again in the sequels (with the exception being Metal Slug 5 since the heroes are up against a new foe in that game with Morden and his men mostly absent from that game).  Metal Slug 7/XX marks the first time since Metal Slug 1 when Morden is the sole antagonist and final boss character at the end of the game, recruiting soldiers from the distant future in his plot to take over the world and challenges Marco and his allies to an epic multi-tier show down at the end.

10. Trevor Phillips Grand Theft Auto 5

If you haven't played through Grand Theft Auto 5, you have definitely missed out on perhaps one of the best Grand Theft Auto games yet and the first game in the series that I am aware of where you can control up to 3 characters throughout the game (plus the online mode character).  Initially you control Franklin (at least after the prologue), but as the game progresses, you can also play as Michael (a former gangster who becomes a family man living in Rockford hills) and later Trevor Philips, who is basically the red neck type in the game.  Trevor is definitely the most scandalous and antihero character you will meet in the game.  Initially, he is living out in a trailer in the desert near Sandy Shores (GTA's version of real life Desert Shores in California) and literally soon goes to war with a biker gang after an incident where he pretty much steals Johnny's boyfriend (a biker gang member) and later kills Johnny) and develops other enemies as well (such as the Aztecas, a chinese gang known as the Yakuzas and many others).  Trevor is very short tempered and is known to kill sometimes (as is the case when he is first introduced after the Jewelry Store heist mission as well as an incident while stying at Wade's cousin's house) when angered to a point.  After learning that Michael is still alive after the events of the game's prologue (which inevitably happened when the FIB agents learned about Michael's Jewelry store heist mission) he soon seeks out Michael and later meets up with Franklin as well.  Initially he is friends with Michael, but he grows hostile over time (especially while exiled from Los Santos after double crossing a mexican kingpin called, Madrizo) and Michael and Amanda soon seperate after Trevor resurfaces.  Trevor also inevitably meets Franklin too.
Throughout the game, Trevor is definitely a loose cannon.  At one time he can be a powerful ally, but when his temper gets the best of him, he can become a fierce enemy (as players see time and time again) and his storyline is arguably the darkest of the 3 (moreso then Michael and Franlin in myopinion) and will likely be offensive to some players.  He is definitely the type you probably woudn't want to have as a room mate in a dorm or apartment type setting (like Floyd finds out around the midpoint of the game) and is great at making enemies too.  Throughout the course of the game, he makes enemies with biker gangs (such as the Lost and Damned from GTA 4), the Merryweather security firm (especially after his infamous Merryweather heist mission), Chinese gangs, the Aztecas (rival weapon smugglers), and many others.  Despite his scandalous and borderline antagonist nature, he does have some redeeming sides to him making him an unlikely ally.  For example, in a mission where he is forced to help interrogate a mexican immigrant the FIB agents want Trevor to kill him, but Trevor cuts the guy loose and helps him to escape back to his own country.  In a drug deal gone wrong mission (Hood Safari) that Franklin does, Trevor comes to the rescue and help Franklin and Lamar escape an otherwise dire situation (especially with Ballas and later cops constantly gunning for them).  He even helps rescue Michael and Dave Norton towards the end of the game when Steve Haines tries to betray Michael and Dave by having them arrested with Merry Weather, FIB agents and AIA agents joining in on the fray despite officially being enemies by that point in the game. He also proves valuable on some of the later heist missions of the game as well (especially the Paleto Bay score and later the Big Score mission).  By the way, Trevor, like Michael can be killed of permanently by Franklin at the end of the game if the player chooses (can be useful for players who hated Trevor during the course of the game), though that action is permanent so you might want to save before the final mission and be sure to complete all of Trevor's missions and side missions before killing him off if you are going for 100% completion. Trevor is definite quite a character in GTA 5 and is definitely the classic redneck type.

Well, that wraps up my top 10 list.  I hope you liked it.  If you have more to add to the list, feel free to share them in the comments section below.

Honorable mentions:

1. Klingons in Star Trek Next Generation - although the Klingons were common enemies for the Federation when Captain Kirk was captain, by the time Captain Picard came to the scene, the hostilities between the klingons and the Federation seems to have largely come to an end by then.  The USS enterprise even recruits a Klingon to help run ship (aka Lt Warf).
2. Cerberus and the Illusive Man in Mass Effect 2 - When the evil alien race known as the Collectors start abducting humans and processing them for the reapers (the primary antagonists of the series) from various colonies across the galaxy, Cerberus forms an uneasy alliance with the alliance (particularly with Commander Shepard and his crew) much to the the distrust of the council on the Citadel as well as Shepard's closest ally and potiential love interest, Ashley (male captains) or Kaiden (female captains),  temporarily straining Shepard's relationship with them.  To cerberus' credit, they did help save the human race from certain extinction at the hands of the Collectors (considering that they were killing off their prisoners at their base near the center of the galaxy) and literally raised Commander Shepard from the dead after his apparent death after being ambushed by a reaper ship during the game's prologue (Shepard would have been dead as a door nail if it wasn't for cerberus resurrecting him). They even helped him reunite with some of his former crewmembers (such as Garrus, Lliara, Tali and Mordin) and even provided him a potiential love interest too that rivals Ashley (Miranda).  Still, Cerberus was not entirely insane as they almost got Shepard kidnapped by jailers on the Purgatory jail ship that Jack was on (she seems to have been driven insane by Cerberus), sent them on a suicide mission to take out the Collector base (the Illusive man probably didn't care if Shepard came back alive or not) which could prove tragic for the crew depending on the choices the players make throughout the game and especially on the final mission, and even creating some mistrust for Shepard (they were probably one of the reasons what Shepard was detained at the beginning of ME3 besides the incident involving the Batarian race and their system's relay).  Of course, after the events of Mass Effect 2, the alliance with Cerberus comes to an end and the Illusive man and his cronies become hostile towards Shepard and the alliance by the time Mass Effect 3 comes around (though some cerberus agents like Miranda and Jacob side with Shepard in ME3).  They even take over the Omega space station too.

3. Magneto in Xmen Clone wars - in Sega Genesis' X-Men Clone wars, Magneto (usually an antagonist in the series) becomes an ally of the X-men when they face a threat from a hostile alien race that has the ability to clone the mutants and wreak havok across the galaxy.

4. Clone Troopers, Anakin Skywalker, and Palpatine - Star Wars Prequel trillogy as well as Clone Wars - long before the events of Episode 4-7, the peace of the galaxy was threatened by the Trade Federation, Commerce Guild, Corporate Alliances and other hostile alien races, with Count Dooku leading the charge between Episodes 2-3.  Of course, what the Jedi and republic heroes don't know was that Palpatine was really Darth Sidious and was pulling the strings on both sides of the conflict and in episode 3 Palpatine's alliance with the Jedi came to an end after Anakin turned to the dark side, the infamous order 66 was given, and the clones soon turn on the jedi permanently.

5. Malificent and Pete in Kingdom Hearts 2 (World that Never Was world) - although Malificent and Pete are considered antagonists in Kingdom Hearts 2, often clashing with Sora, Donald and Goofy throughout the course of their quests in the game, the real villians pulling the strings was Organization 13, lead by Xemnas.  In the final world of the game when Sora, Donald, Goofy, Mickey, Rikku (initially disguised as Xehonort), King Mickey, Ansem the Wise, and Kairi officially go to war with the entire Organization 13 (with boss fights against the remaining Organization 13 members they have not defeated), Malificent and Pete join in the fray against organization 13.  Of course, Malificent has ulterior motives for the alliance as she wants to take over Castle Oblivion (which she presumably does in the aftermath).  What she does with the castle and remaining heartless remains to be seen in the sequels (Dream Drop distance and later KH 3).      

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Serbio's Castlevania Fighter Arcade Review

Hey, who here is a Castlevania series fan here?  I came across a fan made game called Castlevania Fighter Arcade Created by Serbio.  Here is a gameplay video (featuring Shanoa) below showing how the game works:

Note that Shanoa is just one of many characters you can play as in Castlevania Fighter Arcade

Before I write this review, have any of you played Mega Man Power Battles 1 or 2?   Mega Man Power Battles actually came with the Mega Man Anniversary Collection for the Xbox (probably PS2 as well).  In that game you can play either as Mega Man, Bass, or Protoman and each "level" consists of a boss fight from a previous Mega Man game usually chosen at random from previous games.  After you beat all of the robot masters, there is one Wily Castle boss, and the end boss is none other than Dr Wily himself (much like how it is in Mega Man 1-10).  Anyways, in Castlevania Fighter Arcade, you can choose from a whole host of characters to play as, such as Simon Belmont, Richter, Julius Belmont, Soma Cruz, Alucard, Shanoa, Death the Grim Reaper, and many others.  Interestingly, you can also play as non castlevania characters such as Ronald McDonald (since when was he in a Castlevania game?) and several others.  After choosing a character, you can choose a difficulty level (with beginner being the easiest mode and "nightmare" being the hardest) and then the ggame begins.  Like Mega Man Power battles, each "level" consists of a boss fight from various Castlevania games (such as Circle of the Moon, Dawn of Sorrow, Portrait of Ruin, Dracula X Chronicles, Order of Ecclesia, and others).  The boss fights chosen for each level is generally randomized (meaning you might fight different bosses in each play through) though there are definitely some recurring bosses you are likely to encounter in most if not all playthroughs.  Of course like many Castlevani games (despite not being an official castlevania game) Count Dracula (the primary antagonist in the series) is back and serves as the game's final boss and his close associate, Death the Grim reaper marks the second to final boss in the game.  Other noteworthy boss fights I have encountered includes:
- Giant bat
- Dario and Aguni (usually happens back to back of each other)
- Carmillia (from Circle of the Moon)
- Richter (plays out much like the SOTN version of Richter)
- Albus
- Stella (from Portrait of Ruin)
- Brauner (one of the primary antagonists in Portrait of ruin, besides Dracula and Death).
- Barlowe from Order of Ecclesia
- Zephyr from Dawn of Sorrow
and many others.

Pros about Castlevania Fighter Arcade
- This game is definitely going to be a hit for long time Castlevania fans in my opinion.  All of the boss fights in this game are pretty well known in the Castlevania franchise (especially for people who have played through the game).
- Multiple difficulty levels.  If you think the game is too hard, I might recommend starting with beginner mode.  Think the game is too easy, you might consider cranking up the diffiulty.  By the way, some of the characters will have a better chance of beating the game than others.
- Characters come with both basic and advanced attacks and moves.  By the way, at the Serbio website, it does list all of the characters as well as all of the moves they can perform.
- Follows the classic scheme of castlevania games.  Boss music is very similar to the ones in previous games and changes for each boss fight.  Also, this is definitely one of the few newer Castlevania games that features Dracula as the final boss.  Not every new castlevania game features dracula as the final boss.
- Leveling up system.  As you beat each boss you can use points to purchase potions, power ups, defense boosts, extra continues, etc from Renon (from Castlevania 64)  by holding the start button (I have mine mapped to the enter key) after beating a level till the screen advances to the next level.  Also, there is a unique trick where if you jump and catch orbs while attacking right after they appear, you can get bonus hit points, defense boosts, level ups, and possibly continues too (I haven't confirmed it yet).
- Bosses do have patterns they follow (much like their counterparts in the games they were in) so the game does get easier over time if you find yourself struggling.  For example, Dracuala's first and 3rd form are very similar to those in Order of Ecclesia.  Gergoth, Aguni, and Zephyr function much like themselves from Dawn of Sorrow.  Some bosses are faster though (such as Brauner) and unpredictable too (such as Richter).
-  With all of the difficulty modes and characters you can play through as, replay value is pretty high in my opinion.  By the way, Dracula has 3 forms on Beginner Mode, and 4 forms in Normal to Nightmare Modes.  Also some of the boss patterns changes by the change of difficulty.
- Multiple gameplay modes.  Besides arcade mode, there is also a survival mode, vs mode (can be useful if your computer supports 2 players), co-op survival mode, and training mode where you can test out your character's moves before playing through the game.

Cons of Castlevania Fighter Arcade
- I might recommend checking the installation requirements before downloading. Also some versions do work better than others.  By the way, I have encountered crashes of the game a few times too.  It has gotten better for me over the months and seems to be rare, but it can happen.
- No save feature.  Once you start a new game, it is recommended you have at least 1-2 hours to spare since there is no save feature.  Also, you only get a limited amount of continues (sometimes you might not start with continues at all, especially early in the game) to work with and once they run out, game is over and you will have to start over.  This can make the game extra challenging, especially as you get farther in the game and bosses get progressively harder to beat, and there are some recurring boss fights that will likely take multiple attempts to beat (some of the most challenging bosses I have encounted includes: Aguni, Stella, Brauner, Barlowe, Death, and Dracula).
- Controls can be a bit confusing at first.  By the way, there is an app that lets you configure the controls.  Also, some of the moves each character has are going to be easier to learn than others.  Consequenlty, I might recommend starting with characters with less moves such as Simon Belmont or even Ronald McDonald (he can actually hold his own in the game and is suprisingly formidable to play as too).
(more will be added over time)

Over all, I thought that Castlevania fighter arcade was a pretty fun game to play through.  It certainly is challenging and might not necessarily be for everyone, but I definitely recommend it to the many long time castlevania fans out there (at least if you have a good computer to play it on).  Sure fighting boss after boss can get repetitive and might be a turn off for some people and devoting time to play  through the entire game will likely be challenging for some people, but it is definitely one of the best fan made castlevania games I have played through.  You probably won't beat the game as every character, and you will likely find yourself having better luck with some characters than others.

If you are curious, you can check out the game at http://serio.piiym.net/cvbla/.  The game is currently free to download.

General gameplay tips (based on my experiences with the game):
- I might recommend starting the game on beginner mode (at least for your first several times through).  It can seem easy, but it lets you get familar with the game, how each boss fight plays out and it is a little more forgiving than the higher modes.  I would advise against "nightmare" mode until you are fully confident as the enemies get tougher to defeat the higher the difficulty.
- Whenever you defeat a boss, red orb will appear that you can collect to beat the stage.  Interestingly, the game has an interesting reward where if you jump and hit the attack button right after the orb appears and get the orb at the same time, the game offers bonus health, strength, hp upgrades, defense upgrades and other bonuses (possibly extra continues as well, though unconfirmed).  If you see the video near the beginning of this post, you can see what I mean (it actually works best with whip users like Simon), but if you do it correctly, you should see a good, excellent or great message when done right.  It can take several tries, but it is very useful when you get it down.
- Each boss has his or her own unique pattern of moves and attacks.  Familiarizing yourself with the enemies' attack patterns can be very useful for your success.  By the way, many of them follow the same patterns as they do in their original games.  Dracula's pattern (at least the first and 3rd form) is very similar to that in Order of Ecclesia.  In his second form, he is very much like his demon form from Circle of the Moon.  Aguni (one boss fight that will likely be a challenge for some) has several patterns.  He can swoop in one or more directions, try to swat your player, shoot fire at the player, and even try to divebomb the player (much like how he does in Dawn of Sorrow).  Dario behaves much like he does in Dawn of Sorrow (same with Zephyr).  Brauner's attacks are very similar to that in Portrait of Ruin, though he seems to be somewhat faster and some of his attacks can be harder to dodge (especially the poison attack), and he can also try to suck the player's blood too (which doesn't happen in the original game).  I will post more detailed tips on the boss fights (at least ones I have seen) in a future post.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Most memorable Mega Man games I have played, classic Mega Man and Mega Man X era games (work in progress)

You know what I did today after getting home from work?  I plugged in my Playstation 2 and played Mega Man X5 all the way from the beginning to end (sadly Zero went maverick in that playthrough even though originally I was playing as him before having to switch over to X).  Anyways, I can definitely say I have been a longtime player / fan of the blue bomber (Mega Man) franchise.  I have no idea when new games will be made in the series, but in this game I thought I would share some of he most memorable ones I have played through:

Classic Era Mega Man

Game 1: Mega Man 2 - Nintendo NES

 Mega Man 2 was perhaps the first mega man game I ever played (I don't remember playing Mega Man 1 till later).  Mega Man 2 is arguably one of the hardest and most challenging Mega Man games I have played (I thought Mega Man 9 was pretty challenging too).  I remember when I first played Mega Man 2, I was just a little kid (maybe 7 years old?) living in Illionois and used to have friend (his name was Stephen) and he had that game and I used to go to his house sometimes ad play that game with him (of course, now days I have the Anniversary Collection version of the game).  Mega Man 2 was quite fun, yet perhaps one of the most challenging games in the classic Mega Man franchise.  Noteworthy moments and notes about the game:

- First mega man game to feature 8 robot masters (if I remember correctly, Mega Man 1 only featured 6)
- First mega man game to feature Dr Wily's castle.  While Mega Man 1 did have Dr Wily levels, it did not have a full castle to play through like Mega Mans 2-10 does.
- To date, currently this is the only mega man game where the boss music remains the same throughout the whole game.  The robot masters, Dr Wily stage bosses, Dr Wily's first form, and Dr Wily's Alien form (his final form) all have the same boss music.  Even Mega Man 1 had 2 different boss musics (the robot masters boss fights and later Dr Wily stage boss fights) .
- Noteworthy boss fights includes: Metal Man (interestingly he is very weak to metal, which can kill him in 2 hits when you fight him in the teleporter room), Wood Man (he had the wood shield), Quick Man (his primary weakness is Flash, but it only takes out half of his energy bar),  Mecha Dragon, the turret boss battle (the one that you have to use crash bombs to defeat), as well as Dr Wily in his alien form.
- Another unique thing to Mega Man 2: the infamous Wall turret boss (4th stage in the Dr Wily castle).  This is the only boss in the series I am aware of where one popular strategy involves using the crash bombs on the explodable walls, die, refill crash bombs, and face the boss again (the second time around has those walls gone) with all of the turrets exposed.  Apparently, there is another way to do it without dying at least once, but that sees trickier in my opinion.
-  Mega Man 2 has perhaps one of the most the most Dr Wily castle levels in the series (6 levels long).

Game 2: Mega Man 3

Mega Man 3 was definitely a gem in the classic Mega Man series in my opionion.  This game was the 3rd installment in the series.  I remember I first saw the game when an old friend of mine brought a copy over to my house and played through the game with me, though eventually I would get my own copy of the game (especially the Anniversary Collection of Mega Man for Xbox). This game was pretty addicting too, as sometimes would spend hours playing the game from the beginning to the end.

Notes about Mega Man 3:
- This game has perhaps that longest robot master section of the game.  In addition to the usual 8 robot master levels, you have to play through 4 of them a second time through and fight robot masters from mega man 2 (reincarnated as "gamma robots"), with 2 major boss fights in each level.  After those, there is a boss fight with "break man" (protoman?) and then after that is the Dr Wily levels.
- To date, Mega Man 3 marks the only game in the series that I am aware of where all 8 robot masters from a previous mega man (from mega man) game make an appearence in the sequel version.  Sure Mega Man 7 has a resurrected version of Guts Man, and in Mega Man 10 "The Archives" boss fights in the first Dr Wily stage have abilities from various robot masters in the previous games (i.e, Wood Man, Slash Man, Tornado Man, etc), but those ones are not quite the same as how it was in Mega Man 3, where all 8 robot master from a previous game make a reappearence
- First game to feature Protoman, this time more as a "close associate".  I think at the time the creators of Mega Man weren't sure if Protoman was going to be an ally or enemy, though Protoman does eventually become an ally of Mega Man (probably after being framed by Dr Wily in Mega Man 5 as well as turning on Wily in Mega Man 4).  
- To date, Mega Man 3 is probably the most creative game when it comes to the final boss fights with Dr Wily in both forms.  In his first from, he attacks Mega Man in a huge spider walker machine (not sure what else to call it), and in his final form he pilots a huge gamma robot (the one with the horns)

 From Mega Man 4, onwards, while the creators are pretty creative with Dr Wily's first form, his final form is more or less the same where you are in a room and he teleports around the room (much like what Count Dracula does in the Castlevania series, where he teleports around and attacks when reappearing).
- Mega Man 3, in my opinion, has probably the easiest Dr Wily stages compared to most of the other games in the series  I thought the Dr Wily levels in Mega Mans 2 and 4 were much more challenging.  Also, some of the bosses (such as the turtles and mega man clone) can easily be beaten by the regular mega buster.  Even the blog monster has a pattern that is relatively easy to remember (he is more challenging in Mega Man 1 and Mega Man X5).
- Interesting cheat: if you think the game is too hard, there was a cheat where if you had 2 controllers, one person can hold down "right" on the d pad on controller 2 and if you fall down a hole, you would lose all of your health bar, but would not die an would pretty much become invincible.  The only way he could die then would be to fall on spikes or get smashed.
- One of 2 mega man games to feature Rush Marine.  He can be very useful for some of the underwater sections of the game, such as gemini man stage as well as the first Dr Wily castle level.  Rush Marine seems to have disappeared from Mega Man 5 onwards. Also, there is a cheat using the password menu that makes it so that you can start with all 9 E tanks as well as one that makes it so you can start the game with at least one robot aster already defeated
- Mega Man 3 is also the first game in the series to feature Rush the dog (aka Rush Coil, Rush Jet, and Rush Marine)

Game 3: Mega Man 4

Mega Man 4 was definitely another classic in the series.  This game does seem to several firsts in the series.  Here are some notes about Mega Man 4:
1. First game in the series to feature the powered up version of the mega buster.  Starting with Mega Man 4, players could hold down the attack button to charge up the mega buster shot and shoot a charged shot at enemies (can be somewhat effective against bosses and stronger enemies).
2.  First game in the series to feature balloon and wire power ups that Mega Man can get  The balloons function much like their counterparts in Mega Man 2 (they have the helicopter blade underneath and mega man can use them to move upwards and is an alternative to rush jet and and rush coil)
3. First game in the series where Dr Wily is not the only primary antagonist that Mega Man is up against (aka Dr Cossack).  Dr Cossack is a russian doctor that unwittingly became a pawn of Dr Wily after Wily kidnapps Dr Cossack's daughter and forces him to fight Mega Man.  Interestingly, for first time through players of the game (especially back when it was first released back in the 1990's long before the internet as we know it became main stream), they wouldn't know about Dr Wily until after defeating Dr Cossack (the game makes no mention of Dr Wily before that point)  It is only after you defeat Dr Cossack when Dr Wily is revealed as the puppet master behind Dr Cossack and then the Dr Wily Stages of the game begin.
4. This is also the first game in the series to feature 2 castles players have to play through (first Dr Cossack's castle and later Dr Wily's castle).  By the way, there is no save point or codes in between the 2 castles, so players had to play through both on in one setting (otherwise if they turn off the console they would have had to start over in the game's final levels).
5. First game in the series to feature Dr Wily's usual final form, where you are in a room and Wily teleports around and attacks after reappearing.  This version of Dr Wily's final form is pretty much the same in the remaining classic Mega Man games (though in Mega Man 10, Mega Man is up against 2 Wily saucers) .
6. This game is the first game in the series where the boss music remains the same in the robot masters, Dr Cossack, and Dr Wily Castle bosses of the game.  The boss music does not change until you fight Dr Wily's final form (that is also pretty much the same kind of deal in Mega Mans 5 and 6 too).
7. This game also marks the first Mega Man game to feature a giant Metalloid as major boss fight (sure there were some large metalloids in Mega Man 3 during the second time through in Needle Man's stage, but it was not a major boss fight, like it's counter part is in Mega Man 4).

Game 4: Mega Man 7

Game 5: Mega Man 10

Mega Man X era
Game 1: Mega Man X1
Game 2: Mega Man X4
Game 3: Mega Man X5
Game 4: Mega Man X8

Friday, May 15, 2015

Information about Boost Insider: an online income opportunity that lets you monetize your blog posts

Hey fellow readers.  Are there any webmasters or bloggers here today?  Do you like to blog?  How would you like to monetize some of your traffic?  In this post, I will talk about Boost Insider, which is basically an online affiliate network where you can shared sponsored posts and links and get paid each time visitors respond.

Boost insider can be a very exciting and lucrative affiliate opportunity for bloggers, article writers or web masters looking to earn some extra cash with their blogs.  I have been an affiliate at Boost Insider for about a month now and have made at least $2.20 as of today's post (it is not alot of money, but it is a start.  In this post, I will share with you what I know about the opportunity.

What is Boost Insider?

Boost insider is an affiliate network that basically pits advertisers and publishers together where advertisers will share affiliate links and sponsored posts and publishers can share some of that content on their blogs, and usually publishers get paid each time visitors click on the links they are given to post.  There are many different campaigns that people can choose from.  Boost Insider often targets blogs on video games, but they have content that can relate to other niches and fields as well (such as ipads, android phones, health issues, making money online, etc).
Here is a list of campaigns I can choose from to publish on my blog.  You don't have to do every campaign, but I recommed doign at least one or 2 campaigns per week minimum since the more exposure you have to the links, the more profitable it should be.  Note that that the campaigns with the red circle means that those ones are paused or cancelled, while the green ones are fair game.

Already interested?  Click here to visit Boost Insider 

What you need for boost insider?
1. Website or Ad Enabled blog

While boost insider is free to join, you do need to have an ad enabled blog or website to use to host the sponsored links and posts advertisers post.  If you are looking to use a free blog, Google Blogger can make a very convenient choice since they do allow affiliate links (as long as posts are not real spammy) and is pretty easy to use and post new posts.  If you are looking to build a website, I might recommend either Site Build it or Global Domains International as both companies make it possible to build affiliate websites for relatively low costs.  Site Build it costs $30 per month to use and they do provide lots of resources to use, including their signature site builder, niche brainstorming tools (similar to word tracker where you can research good key words and niches to build your website around), built in email marketing system (can save webmasters from using 3rd party services such as Aweber or Traffic Wave from using those services for email marketing, for example creating email newsletters). Global Domains International is another option as it only costs a mere $10 per month to use their services and it comes with a domain name, site builder (though more advanced webmasters can opt to use their own html software), email boxes, as well as wordpress.org blogs you can set up as well.  Can be useful for building affiliate websites or blogs on a low budget.  Host gator and Empower Network are also popular networks for building affiliate websites and blogs.  Anyways, once you have a website or blog set up, you are ready to join Boost Insider and use their system.  Warning about free blog hosts: if you plan to use free blog hosts for boost insider, I recommend checking the terms of service before posting affiliate links from boost insider since some hosts (for example, wordpress.com, squidoo, myspace and hub pages do not allow affiliate links) and can susepend or terminate your account if you are caught using affiliate links (this is where paid web or blog hosts can be useful).

2.Traffic (preferably lots of it).
As a fellow affiliate marketer and in the field for several years now, I hate to break it to you, but without traffic (preferably lots of it), you will not get paid (and it can literally take months or even years before you start getting paid without adequate traffic levels and response rates).  Much like Google Adsense, Kontera ads, or Adhitz ads, most of the sponsored links (though some pay on a per lead / sale basis as well) you are given to post pay on a cost per click rate, which means visitors have to click on the links for you to get paid (an no you can't click on your own links).  In my experience, most visitors probably will not click those links so you will need to get logs of people viewing your sponsored posts for you to earn money from the clicks.  100 hits per day minimum is a good start, though at least 1000 hits or more per day is ideal.  There are many ways you can advertise your website or blog, including: word of mouth, including your blog ling in your email signature file when sending out emails, taking part in forums that allow links in your signature file (note that not all forums allow links in the signature file so I recommend checking the rules of forums you want to join before joining them),  doing paid advertising (Bing Ads and Adhitz can be good places to start for PPC advertising).  I would recommend Google Adwords, though they have gotten more stringent when it comes to advertising affiliate website or blogs and they are notorious for banning people who get their ads rejected alot. (happened to me a few years ago when I tried advertising my other blog http://rjanimalvideos.blogspot.com for "site policy" violations, probably because it has affiliate links on it or something).  Social media (such as Facebook and Twitter) can also be useful for sharing posts you make too if used properly.  More savvy bloggers and webmasters can also use Search engine optmization techniques as well to help boost their ranks in search engines as well (though it can be easier said than done to less experienced bloggers ro webmasters).  How you promote your website or blog is up to you, but the more traffic you are getting each day, the better.  By the way, I am not an expert when it comes to boosting traffic levels or boosting conversion rates on ads (if I was, I would be alot richer than I am now and could blog on a full time basis instead on taking part time jobs, but obviously I am not at that point at this time).

3. Choose campaigns and share sponsored posts and links. I recommend sharing sponsored posts that interests you and is relevant to your blog and share those.  Be sure to log into Boost Insider periodically and check your balance as well as for new campaigns to host on your site or blog.

Things I like about boost insider:
- Good variety of links to share and you do have some control over what ads you host and which ones you don't.  Some ad networks (such as Adsense and Adhitz) choose ads for you and they are not always relevant (for example, ads on income opportunities on say a blog that is about pets and animals) in my opinion.
- Better cost per click rates than Adsense and Adhitz.  Most ads pay $.10 or more per click, which is somewhat more compared to other display advertisign networks.  Some also pay on a cost per lead basis as well.
- You get paid each time you earn the required hits in a campaign.  Can go rather quickly or slowly depending on traffic levels.  This is where hosting more than one campaign can can be useful.

Down sides to boost insider:
- Like most affiliate opportunities, making huge bucks with Boost Insider can definitely be easier said than done for typical affiliates.  In the ideal world, almost every affiliate would be making $1000 or more each month in ad revenue, but we do not live in an ideal world, and some people can make alot of money with this, while others might make very little if any money.  I wish I can tell you a fool poof way to ensure you are making at least $1000 per momth minimum but I am not an expert when it comes to income opportunities or affiliate programs, so some people will probably have it easie than others.  My guess is that traffic is king when it comes to cost per click systems.  Without traffic or at least click throughs you will probably not make a dime with Boost Insider.  I recommend setting up a strategy to get more traffic to your sites for best results.  If you have money, I might recommend setting up ad campaigns on Bing ads or Adhitz as that can give you extra hits to your sites each month.  Paid to click sites, safelists and traffic exchanges (my favorite ptc site to advertise on is Clixsense) can be useful for getting lots of traffic too, but most people at those kinds of sites tend to view ads for the money or traffic, so the response rate can be low that way.
- Quotas on each campaign can be tricky to meet for the averange novice.  In the ideal world one can hit the required ammount of clicks for pay out every day, but it is definitely not as easy as it looks, so it can be a while for average affilaites to hit the minimum payment threshold for the campaigns.

Well that is all for now.

For more information about Boost Insider or if you are interested in joining, feel free to click here to visit their site (sign up is free by the way).   

My earnings so far as of 5/15/2015: 2.40

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Kim Kardashian Hollywood game first impressions review Facebook version

Here is my first impressions review of the Kim Kardasian Hollywood game (Facebook version)

In my last post, I did a a sponsored post for the Kim Kardashian Hollywood game for the iOS (which you can download at http://bst.is/yVENW8.  Anyways, I noticed that there is a Facebook version of the game (do a search for "Kim Kardashian Hollywood" and you should find it) and decided to try it out myself.

Overview of the game:

So, this game is pretty much a point and click adventure game (kind of reminds me of games like Yoville, Cityville, Sims Social, etc) where you assume a role of a guy or girl that moves to Los Angeles with aspirations to become a star or starlet.  You start out as a sales associate at a department store called So Chic, but early on in the game you encounter a virtual version of Kim and she becomes your mentor and basically helps you to get started on an adventure to become a successful celebrity like she is (you almost get a virtual glimpse into her world in the game).  Lots of things you can do, including:
- Meeting new people in the game (btw, you can also invite Facebook friends to play the game too and interact with them in the game too)
- Traveling to various locations (such as Los Angeles, Malibu, Las Vegas, Miami, Florence, etc)
- Take on girlfriends (if you are playing as a guy) or boyfriends if you are a girl.  Btw, I think it is possible to have same sex relationships too, though personally, I'd rather date a girl over another guy (yeah, I am straight).  You actually get your first relationship rather early in the game too (my guy is currently dating a girl named Michelle).
-  Do photo shoots and ad campaigns.
- Visit parties

By the way, there are several antagonists in the game you will encounter (they seem to hate your player without a cause other than jealousy) and will try to make your life in the game miserable.  For example, one girl my guy met got my guy fired from working on a movie because she didn't like my guy in the movie.  Also, they will try to eat at your fan base too.  How you stand up to them is yet to be known but it is worth mentioning too.

Pros and cons about the game:

The good:
- Fun point and click adventure with lots of variety
- Who doesn't like Southern California even though it is not the real thing?
- Who doesn't like Kim Kardashian as a celebrity?  Not that I personally know her (I can't say I have ever met her in person other than "knowing" her on TV like most folks do) of course.
- Lots of tutorials, places to visit, things to do, etc.  Makes becoming a celebrity look easy (I am sure it is not nearly as easy as it looks being an average joe myself).
- Dating simulator elements.  This game also functions as a dating simulation game (where you meet virtual girlfriends and do some virtual dating).  You get your first girlfriend or boyfriend early on in the game.  Also, relationships can seem to evolve into marriages too.

The bad:
- Annoying energy bar system (which refills slowly every 4-5 minutes).  The energy bar system is rather limited and drains quickly as you do various tasks (such as going to parties, photo shoots, dates, etc).  Once the energy bar runs out, unless if you are willing to buy energy, you have to wait a while (usually 4-5 minutes per energy level) for the energy to refill.  This can definitely put a crimp into doing some tasks in the game, especially visiting parties, dates, etc within a time frame as you can use up all of your energy points rather quickly and then you have to wait a while for your energy bar to replinish before doing anything which can make it difficult to beat certain missions (especially within a time frame).  At most venues, as you do various tasks you earn stars which count as progress towards completion of them and sometimes it can be easier said than done to get them all within certain times.
- Redundancy.  Some things can get redundant after a while (such as doing photo shoots, working, etc).
- Pressure to put extra hours into the game (expect to have at least 2 hours set aside per play if you want to make real progress in the game).  The game does seem to operate at real time (no way to pause or save and reload progress int the game).  Alot can can happen between logins (for example, missed meetings, opportunities, etc).  Also, you have a fan base system that increases or decreases over time depending on your energy level.  Consequently, pressure is on to log in almost every day and spend at least 2 hours minimum (preferably more) per session.  This can definitely be a turn off for people who have busy schedules.  Sure if one has alot of free time on his or her hands, then the real time feature would not be a problem, but for most people who have jobs, school, church, or other responsibilities to attend to, one can only do so much in a given session.  Also, vacation mode might be recommended for the game too if one anticipates being offline for an extended period of time, such as vacations, work, family activities, etc (considering that summer is just around the corner, what if people have to take off for a whole week)?  Who knows what can happen if that happens.
- Probably appeals more to girls than guys.  Definitely a feminine style game. This is not to say that some guys will play the game, but it definitely seems to be geared more towards women (such as fashion, glamour, relationships, etc).
- Dating system is flawed and may or may not be worth the effort (you might be better off remaining "single" in the game rather in a relationship.  Integrated with the Kim Kardashian hollywood game, is a built in dating simulator where you can meet "girls" or "guys" (depending on your preference) in the game.  In my experience, players usually get their first "significant other" early on in the game.  While the dating system does add more interactivity in the game, the dating system does seemed to be flawed in my opinion.  From a guy's perspective, girls in the game can be high maintanence and you never know when they are going to call and want to break up (especially if you miss a day).  Originally I hooked up with a girl named Michelle.  A few days later, she called and wanted to break up (got a little busy doing other tasks in teh game too).  My guy met another girl met another girl (I think her name was Paige) and today I had to work my real life job and when I came on, she wanted to break up (I guess creators of the game are expecting players to have lots of free time on their hands).  You know, people can be busy in real life (I have 3 part time jobs myself, with Crossmark currently being my primary job) and I don't always have time to play the game.  It might be easier to hold off on the dating sim part of the game until you have lots of time to invest into the game.  It is alot easier to play through the game without girlfriends or boyfriends in my opinion.

Overall Grade: B
Good, though perhaps not the best choice for everyone.  Will definitely appeal to Kim Kardashian fans though.  

Well, that is all I can think of for now.  This game will definitely be a hit for many people who are into the Keeping up with the Kardashians franchise and looking for some games to play on facebook (can make a good alternative to games like Candy Crush or Farmville).  By the way, it appears Kim may have had a hand in making the game (see http://www.businessinsider.com/kim-kardashian-hollywood-game-history-2014-8).  Of course, this game will probably not appeal to everyone, especially people not into the point and click adventure style game as well as people who don't have time to play these kinds of games.  Note tthat this is only a first impression review I have and I will try and do a more detailed review of the game at a later time.

Other thoughts and tidbits:
- This game definitely makes becoming a celebrity look easy.  I am sure it is not as easy as it looks.
- Important disclaimer: I do not personally know Kim Kardashian nor am I working for her in this post.  I got the sponsored post via Boost Insider (fellow bloggers, you can check them out at http://bst.is/lnHPW8, sign up is free by the way, though you do need an ad enabled blog to host the referral links).  Like most people, I know her on television (such as in Keeping up with the Kardashians), but I don't personally know that lady (can't say I have ever met her).
- The game definitely makes you feel like you are in Southern California.  Like I said in my last post, I have only been to the Los Angeles area twice in my life (back in 2001 and 2006).  I have been to California on several other occasions, but those times I usually mainly visited the Sacramento area (my aunt lives there, and so did my grandfather too before he passed away back in 2005).  I have also been to the Lake Tahoe and San Francisco area on more than one occasion.  I do live in the Seattle area, which is 2 stats north of California (right along the Interstate 5 corridor).
- Important disclosure: this review is based on my own experiences with the game and may not necessarily reflect the thoughts of other people who played the game.  I don't personally work for the people who made the game (just an affiliate), and I may earn a commission if people click on the referral links for the game (same with the Amazon link for Grand Theft Auto 5).

Similar games:

Grand Theft Auto 5 (San Andreas is very similar to Southern California in many ways, barring some obvious differences).  

Have any of you played the Kim Kardashian Hollywood Game?  What is your experience with the game?  How would you rate it?  Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

#KimKardashianBI Hollywood Video Game -Let's Play (Gameplay), Sponsored Post (updated)

Here is a

I think it is time for another sponsored post.  Are any of you Kim Kardashian fans?  Here is an interactive adventure game where you can "work" for Kim.

You can get this game at: http://bst.is/yVENW8 

1. Game features and information:
Join KIM KARDASHIAN on a red carpet adventure in Kim Kardashian: Hollywood! Create your own aspiring celebrity and rise to fame and fortune! Have you ever dreamed of visiting Hollywood?  This game offers a simulated Hollywood experience (IOs style).  Obviously it is not the real Hollywood, but it is based on it.

? CREATE YOUR OWN STAR and customize your look with hundreds of style options, including Kim Kardashian’s personal picks!  The game lets you customized your own character.

? STAR in a huge interactive adventure as you encounter other celebs, dedicated fans, persistent paparazzi… and even hang out with Kim herself!  It is basically an interactive story game (choose your own adventure style).

? RULE THE RED CARPET as an A-list movie actor, cover model, fashion designer and more – what you do is up to you!  The goal of the game is to become a virtual celebrity.
? TAKE OVER L.A. in a virtual world complete with exclusive clubs, upscale boutiques, and luxury homes! Travel to New York City and Miami!  Probably based on some of the locations the Kardashians have been to (such as New York and Miami).
? DATE AND DUMP CELEBS at the best parties and hottest clubs! Flirt and become the next huge celebrity power-couple!  Reminds me of of dating simulation games on Newgrounds a bit.
? BRING YOUR FRIENDS ALONG FOR THE RIDE using Game Center and Facebook – help each other rise to fame, compare styles, send gifts, and see who can be the biggest star!  Like many Facebook style games, you can invite friends to play as well.

I don't have an iphone, so I haven't been able to try this game yet, but it looks pretty neat and creative.  It also seems to promote the Dash brand too.  I can't say I have ever been to Dash (only been to the Hollywood area once and that was back in 2001) considering that Dash doesn't seem to exist in the Seattle area, but I do work part time at Kohls, which is kind of like Dash in a way (retail clothing store environment) so I could almost relate to the Kardashians that way.  By the way, Grad Theft Auto 5 also makes you feel like you are in LA too in a much bigger world and adventure.  
Have you tried The Kim Kardashian Hollywood video game yet?  Feel free to share your experiences with the game below.

Update (April 27, 2015)

I noticed that there is also a Facebook version of the Kim Kardashian Hollywood video game and to be fair (sadly I don't have an iphone or ipad, have a Windows Phone and Dell Tablet instead) I will play that version of the game and post a full review of it at a future date.  Though I could share my first impressions of the Facebook version of the game in my next post.

Similar games: Grand Theft Auto 5 (you are basically in a virtual version of Southern California in that game too, barring some obvious differences).

Foods for thought:

1. My experiences in California.
I have only been to the Los Angeles area twice in my life.  The first time was during the summer of 2001 and in 2006.  In 2001, I had recently graduated from high school that year (at Jackson High School in Mill Creek) and for my senior trip, my family flew on a plane to the Los Angeles area.  Highlights of that trip included:

  •  visiting Disneyland and staying there for a whole week (lots of time to see the many different rides and attractions they offer).
  • Visiting universal studios in Hollywood
  • Driving around the Hollywood and Beverly Hills area
  • Driving up the Coast to Monterey via highway 101.  Stopped a a beach near Santa Barbra (forgot the name of it) and San Luis Obiso along they way.  Probably drove right past Calabasas that time on the freeway (obviously I didn't know anything about the Kardashians back then, at least not till the tv show started airing).
  • Visiting my grandpa in Sacramento before flying home.
In 2006, my family did a road trip to the Los Angeles area.  Stayed at my aunt's house in West Sacramento for a few days and then drove to Palm Desert and stayed at club intrawest there for a whole week.  Afterwards, we visitied Disneyland again for a few days and then instead of taking Interstate 5 home, we went up 15 and visited Las Vegas (marked my first time there, we stayed at the Luxor casino / hotel that time)), Bryce Canyon, and Twin Falls, Idaho on the way home.  By the way, I have been to the Sacramento on various occasions too, especially back when my grandfather was still alive (he passed away back in 2005), with the most recent trip being back in 2012 when I visited my aunt there.  

2. I do have some experience working in the fashion industry myself (at least in the way), via Kohls.  I can't say I have ever been to Dash retailers (the business Kim helps run) or similar retailers in Southern California, but I do have a part time job working at Kohls, usually working in the men's department, so I do have some experience when it comes to apparel and similar kinds of merchandise (even helped in the Misses and Juniors departments on more than one occassion).  In the video game, your characther works in a clothing retailer, which I am quite familiar with.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Grand Theft Auto 5 Online: A ghost town now?

Who here has played Grand Theft Auto 5 Online on Xbox One lately?  Considering that I have already played through the storyline mode on the Xbox 360 version of GTA 5 I have decided to try and focus a bit more of my time in the online version of the Los Santos area.  My character is officially at level 14 as of today and will likely level up again in the near future as well.
Example of a ghost town.  Looks like a town, with nobody in it (maybe ghosts though, considering that some do have ghost stories).  Image source http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a6/Bodie_CA_-_ghost_town.jpg

Introducing Uncle Steve on GTA 5 Online
Here is a picture of my GTA Online character.  I named him Uncle Steve (was trying to be creative with names)
Anyways, while playing through the online mode, I have noticed that the streets Los Santo has been rather empty lately (besides npc characters).  At onetime, GTA Online has been quite lively with lots of people online, doing missions together, organizing races, doing pvp matches, etc.  Now days, it seems to look more like a ghost town.  There are npc characters you can interact with and some missions can be doable even on single player (though some missions can be considerably more difficult to do when playing alone as opposed to teaming up with people), though the online mode is definitely funner to do when other people are online too.  By the way, some missions and mini games are unplayable or nearly impossible to complete on single player mode (especially ones requiring 2 or more players).  I remember doing this one drug deal mission gone wrong mission where you had to go to a drug deal, though the people you had to meet turn hostile and you have to steal the drugs and destroy their vans (can't remember the name of the mission right off), but that missions was nearly impossible to do in single player (even on easy mode).  Not only do you have to take on an army of gang members but you also have to destroy vans too in that mission which pretty much suicide when one attempts the mission alone.

By the way, I am disappointed and suprised to see the empty map in GTA Online, especially now they are advertising the new GTA online heist missions that people can do on GTA online now.  Obviously you can't do a heist mission if there is nobody to team up with.  I hope Rockstar will fix those issues with GTA online, otherwise GTA 5 Online could very well be dead (much like how it was on GTA 4 was when GTA 5 came out) and you might be better off just sticking to the single player mode.  I don't have any pictures of the empty map yet, but if I see an empty map again, I will share it to show what I mean.  

Is anyone else having these issues with GTA Online?  By the way, I am not sure if this is issue is just affecting the Xbox One version or if it is affecting PS4 as well, but if you play GTA online you just might find yourself in a ghost town for now.