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Sunday, December 8, 2013

Top 10 Favorite video games I have played for this past year year (2012-2013)

Looking for some good video games to get this winter?  Here is a list of 10 games I thought were great for this year (in no particular order).  Note: I haven't posted reviews for some of the games on the list, but I can do that later as I get the extra time.  Note: this entry is too long to do in one post, so I will have to break it down into several posts

Game 1 - Mass Effect 3

Mass Effect 3
Mass Effect 3 is currently the epic finale to the Mass Effect franchise.  This game was awesome.  In Mass Effect 3, the Reapers arrive and wreak havoc across the galaxy (makes you feel like you are in a War of the Worlds type of movie in a way) and it is up to Commander Shepard, who was supposedly suspended as captain and detained on earth in the aftermath of the events of Mass Effect 2 (probably due to both his time working for Cerberus, who later become his enemies by the way, as well as the incident in "the arrival" expansion pack where Shepard was forced to destroy a relay station when the reapers were about to invade a Batarian colony), to unite the galaxy in their efforts to stop the reapers from brining about Armageddon to the galaxy (they basically want to destroy the universe and wipe out the human race along with other races).  This game is definitely one of the kind and I definitely like the "choose your own adventure" style system that the series offers where you can determine how the game plays out and ends, by the way, this game is best played in conjunction to both Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2 since not only do they give you a good backstory to what is going on prior to Mass Effect 3, but the series is revolutionary in that what happens in the first 2 games determines how Mass Effect 3 starts out and ultimately ends (such as who survives the events of Mass Effects 1 and 2 and who dies, as well as how people perceive shepard as well as romances Shepard gains in the course of the story).  While the ending could have been better, Mass Effect is definitely a thrill ride you will not want to miss (especially if you are into science fiction style games and movies like Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek).   By the way, there are multiple ways this game can end and it is possible for Shepard to lose to the reapers.  He can also get into romantic relationships with certain crew members too (my guy for example, dated Tali in his tenure, though I have heard that both Miranda and Ashley are popular girlfriends for Shepard too). 

Game 2 - Elder Scrolls 5 Skyrim

Is dragon slaying your style?  Elder Scrolls Skyrim has lots of it.  It is essentially the latest game in the Elder Scrolls Franchise and is the official sequel to Oblivion.  You assume the role of a hero (who was almost got beheaded by the Imperial Legion that has taken control of Skyrim before dragons start attacking) who later becomes known as a "dragon born", who is essentially a hero that can not only defeat dragons, but he can also gain special powers and abilities whenever he defeats a dragon (much like how Mega Man can steal the abilities and weapons of robot masters he defeats throughout the series).  Like Morrowind and Oblivion before it, Skyrim offers a huge open ended gameplay system and a huge map you can explore.  Lots of towns and villiages to visit and explore, quests to complete, factions that you can join and be a part of, abilities that you can gain, and more.  This game will likely take several months to complete (unless if you have lots of free time on your hands) but it is definitely worth it.  You can build just about any type of character (I played as a Khajit that I named after Tiger Woods) and make him a soldier, fighter, thief, mage or rogue.  There are plenty of factions that you can join too, such as the mages guild in winterhold (which makes you feel like you are in a harry potter movie in a way), the companions guild in White Run where the dragon born can gain the ability to turn into a werewolf and easily defeat enemies that might otherwise be difficult to defeat, the thieves guild inn Riften (btw, you can get access to the skeleton key which makes it so that you can break into almost any lock  in the game without having to worry about wasting lockpicks and can even give you free lockpicking training skills too), as well as the Dark Brotherhood too (which is essentially the assasins guild in the game). You can also get involved with the civil war between the imperial legion (even though they tried to kill your character at the beginning of the game) and the Storm Cloaks too.  In the main story line, the dragon born sets out to eliminate the dragon threat and defeat the evil Alduin who is an evil dragon that wants to destroy the world.  Definitely a good game to get, especially if you are into RPGs.

Game 3 - Castlevania Harmony of Despair (Xbox Live)

Quick question for you all.  Are any of you fans of the Castlevania series?  I used to not be a fan of the castlevania games, but since the SNES era of Castlevania I have been a longtime fan of the franchise and have played though many different installments of the series, including Symphony of the Night, Castlevanis 64, Lamment of Innocents and most recently, Order of Ecclesia.  Fans of the Castlevania games (especially symphony of the night era Castlevania games such as SOTN, Dawn of Sorrows, Portrait of Ruin, etc) will likely get a kick out of Harmony of Despair.  This game seems to the the direct sequel to the Gameboy DS Castlvania games (namely Dawn of Sorrows, Portrait of Ruin and Order of Ecclesia) and even comes with an arcade style feel where you go through remixed levels of the previous games (with lots of content borrowed from DOS, POR, AND OOE) fighting through hordes of ghosts, skeletons, monsters and other signature Halloween-style enemies that you would find in a typical Castlevania game.  Initially you can play either as Shanoa, Alucard, Johnathan (one of the few whip users in the game), Soma and Charlotte, though there are expansion packs that let you play as other characters such as Julius Belmont, Richter (from Dracula X Chronicles and POR), Maria (she plays much like the version from Portrait of Ruin), and even Simon Belmont (for any of you who are into the NES era style Castlevania games).  There are also 6 huge levels that you can play through, though if that seems to be too short, you can also download 4 more levels, including the pyramid level from POR, 2 maps from SOTN, a remixed level from Castlevania 1 and 3 (even has a remixed version of Vampire Killer playing in the background), as well as a level from Legend of Fuma (seems to be a spin off from the castlevania series).  By the way, if you don't like playing alone, you can also play the game on Xbox live and play with up to 8 other players on cooperative mode too.  It is also worth mentioning that the evil Count Dracula makes a return in the game (not all of the newer Castlevania games seems to have Dracula) in a 3 part final boss battle. 

Other games (note: I will expand on them over time)
Game 4 - Fall Out New Vegas
Game 5 - Hard Corps Uprising
Game 6 - Mega Man ZX Advent
Game 7 - Candy Crush Saga (facebook)
Game 8 - Battlefield 1943
Game 9 - Mass Effect 2
Game 10 - Spiderman Shattered Dimensions.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

New Super Mario Bros. Wii - Death Collection [Part 1]

Just for some laughs, here is a video I found on youtube showing off funny deaths on New Super Mario Wii.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Hard Corps Uprising Review - an explosive new addition to the Contra series

You know an Xbox 360 game that I have been playing lately is Hard Corps Uprising.
Hard Corps: Uprising
Picture of one of the levels from Hard Corps Uprising

Overview of Hard Corps uprising

I've seen Hard Corps uprising on Xbox Live and it looked awesome and so I decided to buy the game on Xbox Live (got a free Xbox live gift card for my birthday back in September used the free points to buy the game).  Anyways, despite the name, Hard Corps uprising is basically the latest installment in the Contra franchise (and this is also the first Contra related game that I have played since Contra Hard Corps on the Sega Genesis).  This game is the official sequel / prequel to Contra Hard corps (depending on how you look at it) where you play as either Bahamut or Christer (there are also several DLC characters too that you can buy, such as a sword wielding lady) as they set out on a mission to topple a dictatorship regime set up by the evil Tiberius, which is essentially an Antichrist type figure that wants to take over the world.   The game has 8 huge levels in different terrains and environments, including the desert, jungle, ancient ruins (filled with traps much like how it is in an Indiana Jones Adventure), urban environments, and even a battleship you have to infiltrate to name a few.  As with many contra games (especially Contra Hard Corps), each level is packed with enemies to shoot, power ups to get (such as the spread shot guns and other special weapons), mini bosses to defeat as well as huge major boss fights as well.   The game has 2 modes: Arcade mode (which is geared more towards hard core gamers) and a Story Mode, which is somewhat similar to Arcade Mode except that as you get points, you can let them accumulate and use them towards power ups to make your character(s) stronger, such as having more lives (up to 30 lives max), better weapon upgrades, special moves (such as being able to deflect certain bullets and shots), triple jump (similar to double jump but you can jump 3 times in a row), as well as "tough guy" which makes it harder for you to lose weapons if you get hit.  The levels are pretty much identical on both modes (though on arcade mode, you start with 3 lives and you can only get hit 3 times before your character dies whereas in story mode you can level up your character and both start with better vitality and more lives for example) and hard core gamers (as well as old time contra fans) will like Arcade mode, while casual and first time contra players will probably enjoy the story mode. 


Things you will probably like about Hard Corps uprising:

Here is a video of level 4 in the game posted by a random user on Youtube.  This level should give you an idea of what the game is like

+ Very nice next generation feel.  Definitely beats the retro versions of Contra in my opinion.  By the way, the game almost has Mega Man X9 style graphics with the 2.5d look, great bgm music, controls, voice acting and all.
+ Has many of the elements of a typical Contra game.  I like the music it plays in the title screen (reminds me a bit of how it was in Contra 1), the power up weapons, the challenge it offers, etc.
+ Huge boss fights.  Also like in Mega Man X4-X8, a warning message pops up just before you fight a major boss and unlike in many previous Contra games, almost every boss has a health bar that appears and runs down as the fights progress.  Some boss fights even have several phases too (like the boss in level 4).  Also, as with Contra Hard Corps (and parts of Contra 3 as well) you can expect at least one or 2 mini boss fights (on average) in each stage.
+ Excellent enemy design and voice acting.
+ I liked the anime scenes that appear in the opening as well as at the end.
+ There is a narrative appears on the introduction of each stage (gives you a background for each level).  It also gives you an idea of what to expect in each level
+ Excellent level variety too.  Sometimes you are on foot (much like a typical contra game), though other times you can be riding a motor bike and fighting enemies via the motorcycle (including at least one mini boss fight), surf board, hoverboard, and even a train.  Each level has its own unique theme and terrain too (the first level, for example has you going through the middle of a desert) filled with enemies, mechanical sandworms (that eat you alive if you get too close to them too), and even a boss fight where you have to fight a huge worm like boss (much like the Thresher Maws from Mass Effect or the man eating worms in Dune) in the middle of a huge quicksand pit.  Other levels include a jungle, ancient ruins, city streets, a secret laboratory you have to infiltrate, and even a level where you fight on top of a huge flying battleship (kind of like the Helicarrier from the Avengers in a way).
+ The level up system is nice to have (especially if you find the game too hard at first).  Your character starts out weak, but as your points accumulate, you can use them to buy upgrades (such as improving your weapons, having a bigger health bar, having more lives, getting special moves such as deflecting enemy shots, as well as being able to move faster to name a few).  Hard core gamers probably won't like the level up system, but they can always to Arcade Mode which doesn't have the upgrade options and everything is pre-set.  By the way you can replay levels with the upgrades (which can make them easier, especially level one).  Also, since the game is only 8 levels long, you will likely finish the game long before you get all of the upgrades (especially the more expensive ones like the 30 lives upgrade).
+ Awesome new weapons layout.  Besides classic weapons like lasers, spread shots and machine guns, Hard Corps uprising also has several new weapons worth mentioning, including: grenade launchers (shoots rocket propelled grenades that explode on contact), heated plasma rifles (it is similar to the mega buster in some of the mega man series, where you can either shoot regular flame shots or charge it up and shoot huge fireballs that go across the screen instantly defeating enemies, destroying certain enemy bullets and even doing extra damage to bosses), as well as a ray gun that can reflect bullets back at enemies (which can be more efficient against bullets instead of the reflect ability).  One DLC character even has a light saber style weapon that you can use too.
+ Climatic final boss fight that has several different phases.  I won't spoil it for you, but it is definitely climatic in my opinion.
+ Innovative controls.  At least for Bahamut (I am not sure how it works with the other characters), Hard Corps Uprising definitely takes advantage of the extra controls that the Xbox 360 offers.  Your character can shoot rapidly (with an upgrade), run/walk, reflect bullets, perform certain actions (such as hurling sandbags at enemies and causing explosive barrels to explode on enemies), do a double jump (one upgrade even lets you do a triple jump where you can jump 3 times in a row), do an air dash (one upgrade even lets you dash twice in a jump), and change weapons (similar to how it is in Contra Hard Corps as well as contra 3).  One button even lets you to become stationary and aim your weapon in all directions (can be useful when it comes to taking out enemies that sneak up behind you, shooting at turrets at an angle, etc).  Also, there is also an auto-fire upgrade that you can get that makes it so that your guns can fire automatically.


Neutral aspects about this game (things you may or may not like about Hard Corps uprising)

- New villians.  In the older Contra games (especially Contra 1-3 and even parts of Contra Hard Corps depending on the storyline paths you take), the main antagonists were an alien race known as Red Falcon.  However in Hard Corps uprising, aliens are largely absent from the game.  Sure you do get some alien-like enemies (such as the level 5 boss fight where you fight a "grey" alien and level 7 boss fight where you fight an alien looking Cerberus creature), but the vast majority of the enemies are human and machine.  Also the main villain is an anti-Christ type figure known as Tiberius (I won't spoil the final boss for you though). 
 - No more one hit deaths.  In older contra games, one hit usually meant the death of the hero (though you do usually get several lives before it is game over).  In Hard Corps uprising, your character can take several hits before he/she dies.  In arcade mode, 3 hits can kill your character, while in story mode, your character can take up to 6 hits before dying.  Obviously if you are into one hit deaths (like earlier Contra games or even the Metal Slug games), you won't find it in Hard Corps uprising.  However, if you have found previous entries in the Contra series to be too hard, you will find some relief in Hard Corps uprising (especially in story mode).
- Next generation feel.  I know that Xbox live has several 8-bit style games in circulation (like Mega Man 9, 10, and even super contra).  Hard corps uprising has an 128 bit feel (much like how it is in Mega Man X9 where it is 2.5d).  Personally I like the next generation feel the game has, but if you prefer classic 8 or 16 bit Contra, you are probably better off getting Regular or Super Contra instead).


Things I did not like about Hard Corps uprising:

- Relatively short game.  The game is only 8 levels long.  It definitely could have been a bit longer, especially with all of the upgrades available.
- Upgrades can be expensive to get and so you will have to play levels over and over again to improve your character(s). 
- Replaying each level can definitely get redundant.  BTW, don't feel like you have to get every upgrade available and so you will probably want to be selective.  If you don't like playing levels over and over again, you might not like Hard corps uprising (though you can also try Arcade mode instead or even try doing the levels without upgrades).
-  Death can come pretty cheap in some areas.  For example, in the desert level, there are quick sand sections and your character can die if he/she sinks all the way (btw, it seems like you sink faster if you crouch).  In the jungle level, alligators can eat you alive.  In some levels (especially the second to lass level of the game), it can be easy to fall to your death. You also get sniper enemies in some levels (like the ones in level 2) and if you get hit by their shots, it drains at least 2-3 units out of your health bar (which means that you have to defeat them fast and avoid their shot to stay alive).
- Special weapons are easy to lose. It is a lot like how it is in the Metal Slug series where getting hit can cost you the weapon upgrades you have (i.e., spread shot, plasma rifle, etc), forcing you to use your regular guns (though your regular gun can also be upgraded too).  There is an upgrade (at least for Bahamut) that you can get called tough guy that supposedly makes it so that it is harder for you to lose your upgraded weapons (though I haven't tried it yet).  Ideally it would have been nice if you only lose your weapons if your guy dies.  On the positive note, you can actually switch between weapon layouts you have and if you have a weapon you don't want to lose, you can switch it out with a weapons you don't care for (such as your regular guns) and save the heavier guns for when they are needed (such as boss fights or taking out bigger enemies).  For example, the reflect beam can be useful against certain enemies and boss fights that shoot bullets you can reflect (such as one of the mini-bosses you fight in level 1). 


Final thoughts about Hard Corps Uprising

Hard corps is definitely a good addition to the Contra series.  It is highly innovative and will definitely be a hit for Contra fans.  It also takes advantage of the next generation set up that the Xbox 360 offers, including better graphics, remixed music (there is even a cheat that plays a remixed bgm from Contra 1 on the first level in the game), more innovative controls, huge boss fights, as well as other changes.  Obviously this game is not going to be for everyone.  Levels can get redundant after a while (assuming you are going for upgrades). There are changes to the storyline that not everyone is going to like (such as having new villians and the lack of alien enemies which were typical of earlier contra games).  Hard core gamers will probably not like the fact that one hit deaths are gone, though arcade mode does add extra challenge to the game, though casual gamers (like myself) will probably like the story mode system that the game offers.  Even with the upgrades, levels do get more challenging as you play through the game (as you would expect in any contra game) and deaths can come pretty cheaply in various sections of the game (such as chasm deaths for example).  You start out with 2 different characters you can play as (and you can do 2 player modes too both locally and via Xbox live) each with their own unique abilities and styles, though you can also download other characters if you choose.  Despite the flaws, Hard Corps Uprising definitely does not disappoint (at least not in my opinion) and very nice and explosive addition to the Contra series.

Game grade: A

Interested in playing Hard Corps uprising?  You can find it on the Xbox Live Arcade Market place.

Similar Games you might like:
- Contra Hard Corps (Sega Genesis)
- Contra 4 (note: I haven't played this version yet)
- Contra 3 (SNES)


Spoilers section  - this section assumes either you are planning to buy the game anytime soon (maybe you just want to see how it plays) or you have played through the game at least once.

1. New villians - Hard Corps uprising has an interesting array of new villians, including clownlike thugs (not sure how else to describe them) that function as henchmen for emperor Tiberius.  Plenty of other new enemies too, including snipers, man eating alligators, security bots, turrets, etc.
2. Lack of alien enemies - unlike many earlier contra games, Aliens are largely absent in most of Hard Corps uprising (which may bring into question if Hard Corps uprising is really a sequel to the contra series or just a spin off, I don't know for sure, though it does have the classic contra feel to it).  3 of the bosses do have alien like appearances though: the end of level boss in level 4 (particularly the final form where it looks like an alien robot machine), the end of level boss in level 5 (doesn't the "person" driving the saucer thingy look more like a "grey" alien?), as well as the Cerberus boss at the end of level 7 (has an alien look to it).  In most Contra games you do have an alien race you are up against (such a Red Falcon in Super Contra and Contra 3).  Even the first Contra Hard Corps game had alien plenty of enemies and bosses you can fight.

 3. Emperor Tiberius and the final boss battle - Emperor Tiberius is the official antagonist of Hard Corps uprising and is pretty much an anti-Christ figure.  He is a charismatic dictator that forms an empire aimed at world domination.  At the end of level 8, he is the final boss of the game.  What is interesting about Tiberius is that he seems to be a monster in human form, because after you defeat his human form, he takes on a more beasty form during the second phase of the final boss, and later a demon like form (during the final phase of the final battle) that you have to fight each stronger and more fierce than the last form.  It is hard to really describe him without showing you so here is a video from youtube below that shows off the final boss fight in all of its phases.

4. Prequel to Contra Hard Corps?
While Hard Corps uprising is the latest installment in the Contra Series. I am not sure if it s actually a sequel to Contra Hard Corps or a prequel to it.  Interestingly, the main protagonist of the game is Bahamut, and coincidentally, it is also the same name of the main villain in Contra Hard Corps for the Sega Genesis.  Also, in one of the levels you have to rescue a doctor and if you remember in Contra Hard Corps, there was an evil doctor (initially he was good, but he sides with the evil Bahamut in the original game) you are up against, which may or may not be the same person.  I don't know for sure, but there do seem to be some coincidences there.  Plus there are shows and movies where a hero becomes a villain (such as the Star Wars prequel series that follow Anakin Skywalker's storyline from when he was a hero until he turns to the dark side and becomes the evil Darth Vader) and this may be the case with the hero in Hard Corps uprising, though the game doesn't actually show Bahamut turning evil (even at the end of the game).  Interestingly, according to Wikipedia, Hard Corps uprising is the official prequel to Contra Hard Corps and so the game does make an interesting backstory to the original game. 


Secret Codes and Easter eggs.  Hard Corps uprising does have a few easter eggs and cheats.  (Original source: http://www.gamefaqs.com/xbox360/997471-hard-corps-uprising/cheats for details)

1. Change the stage music in level 1.  While level 1 is loading, you can quickly enter the komnai code (up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, b, and a).  If you enter the code correctly, you should hear the words, "let's rock", and when the level loads, the background is significantly different (the same one from level 1 in Contra 1 just fyi). Note: it is not the default music in level one (a different tune will play if you don't enter the code).  Also the music does change when you fight the mini bosses and main bosses of the level.  Note: this code does not work on the other levels of the game, so it is only good for level 1.
2.  Get 30 lives: in the title screen, enter the code: Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, Click Left Stick, Click Right Stick.  If you enter the code correctly, if you go to the skill customization shop menu, a new item should appear that lets you start with 30 lives.  Note: unfortunately, you will still need to buy the 30 lives upgraded from the shop before it takes effect and it is definitely not cheap to buy either.  You will need to save up a lot of experience points before you can buy it.
3. Wall mini-bosses in levels 1 and 2.  They remind me of the stage 1 "boss fight" in Contra 1 if you remember correctly.  See the 2 images below.  The wall mini boss is essentially an upgraded version of the one from Contra 1.  2 notes: there are 2 "wall" boss fights in Hard Corps uprising (the other one takes place in level 2).  Also, unlike Contra 1, the "wall boss" is just a mini boss and not is the official end of level boss.  The real one is a giant worm like creature called the Lotus Wyrm (which is essentially Contra's version of the thresher maw from the Mass Effect series barring some obvious differences).

   That is all for now.  Do you have any comments or anything you want to add?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

What would happen if video game villians won? Top 20 villian scenarios part 1

Hey everybody, it is me again.  Have you seen the latest Thor movie yet?  I just saw it on Sunday myself.  Anyways, just thinking about superheroes, have you ever wondered what would happen if the villians were to win somehow?  For example, like in the youtube video above, Mario always manages to defeat Bowser.  Of course, they always make it look easy to defeat a villain.  However have you ever wondered what might happen if the villians were to win in the end?  In the next few posts, I will talk about several scenarios of what might happen if video game villians were to win.  Note: this article is too long to do in one post and so I will break it up into 4 different posts.  Here we go.  These scenarios are based on pure speculation and based on the patterns are in the games and movies and may or may not be accurate, but they are my best guess.

Scenario 1: Mr Burns in Simpsons Road Rage

As you can see in the video above, Mr Burns taunts the players after each drive through in Simpsons Road Rage.  Mr Burns is definitely a character.  He is Homer Simpson's boss at the power plant and often seems to be a villain in the simpsons games and in Simpsons Road Rage, he basically wants to force citizens out of their cars and ride radioactive busses.  Homer and gang's plan to stop Mr Burns is to become taxi drivers themselves (pretty similar to how it is in Crazy Taxi) and raise several million dollars to buy and shut down the mass transit system.  Of course, doing so can definitely be easier said than done as $1,000,000 is a lot of money to raise, plus driving people around in a timely fashion can be tricky too (especially the impatient characters).  Anyways, do you ever wondered what would happen if Mr Burns had his way? Here are some pros and cons to his ambitions

- Busses and similar mass transit options do offer alternatives to cars (especially locals)
- Roads are getting more and more congested every day (with more and more people out on the road, especially in cities) and not enough is being done by local governements to fix the problem.  Sure, the local department transportaions do have plans to improve the roads and help ease congestion, but the sluggish bureaucratic process can cause projects to take decades if not centuries to complete.  Even here in the Seattle area there are many projects planned by the government to help improve the roads (such as the Alaskan way viaduct tunnel replacement, adding more lanes on 5, 405 and 90, extending the 509 freeway, upgrading 522 between Maltby and Monroe, etc).  Of course, who knows when any of those project will get done and traffic congestion will probably continue to build in the mean time. I am sure the traffic situation is worse elsewhere too (especially bigger cities like Los Angeles and New York where some of the freeways can get pretty congested all of the time).  Obviously traffic is not going to get better any time soon.
-  Curbs aggressive driving and road rage.  Obviously you never know when you will encounter an aggressive driver on the road (such as people that speed up behind you and start tailgating you like crazy even if you are going the speed limit) and I have observed that some drivers look like they have short fuses and are likely to "explode" when some unlucky driver gets in their way or the road gets unusually slow.
- can be a good way to socialize too

So, I can see where Mr Burns is coming from in his bus industry.  Of course we do have some drawbacks:
- The busses seem to be radioactive and cause harmful side effects (at least in the opening sequence of the game).  Obviously most people are not going to face radiation sickness after riding the bus, which would be inevitable if Mr Burns had his way (unless if he fixed the busses).
- Obviously it does cost money to ride the bus
- When commuting from outlying areas sometimes it is easier more convenient to drive than to ride the bus.
- Seem like there could be long lines at the bus stops and bus stations if everyone is riding the bus (which means not everyone is going to be able to catch the bus on time or make it to work/school on time either).'
- Mr Burns is not always the most environmentally friendly person in the world.  I remember in the simpsons game for the Xbox 360, he wanted to cut down all of the trees around springfield and turn them into toothpicks even though it might cause environmental disaster (according to Mr Smithers).  If he had is way, the entire planet would be like a giant industrial area without trees, less animals, and possibly more radioactive due to the fact he runs the nuclear power plant.

Scenario 2: Dr Robotnik defeats sonic
Here is a funny video posted on youtube showing Sonic's speed getting the best of him and Dr Robotnik laughing about Sonic's doom.  Here it is (warning: the video might be offensive to some):

Ah, Dr Robotnik (aka Dr Eggman) is the primary evil genius in the Sonic the Hedgehog series.  His main goal is world domination and turning animals into robots.  Standing in his way is the pesky Sonic who is a hedgehog that happens to be extremely fast and have special powers (along with his sidekicks: Tails, Knuckles, Amy, and the rest of the Sonic game).  Now what do you think it would be like if Robotnik were to wisen up and defeat Sonic for once?

- The world would be much more techonologically advanced than it is now
- the rise of robots is almost inevitable in this world and could make life easier in the long run.
- He is supposed to be a genius too.

Of course, here are some of the downsides to Dr Eggman taking over:
- Expect a totalitarian style dictatorship.  Dr Eggman is definitely hungry for power and would likely rule the world with an iron fist if his schemes at world domination were ever to succeed.  Anyone who opposes his rule would probably be arrested and either executed or turned into robots. 
- He has been known to mess with forces that he doesn't understand and could easily lead to catastrophic results.  You see this in many of the newer sonic games, such as Sonic Adventure 1 (with the Perfect Chaos monster), Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 (the Solaris project, especially with Mephiles coming on the scene, who has much more sinister intentions with Solaris than Dr Eggman does), and Sonic Heroes (where Mecha Sonic turns on Eggman and does his own thing).  Can't you imagine what it might be like if Sonic was not there to stop him?  The chaos monster would probably liquefy all of Station Square and possibly the rest of the world too.  Solaris would probably destroy  time and the fabric of the universe itself.  Mecha sonic would probably usurp Dr Eggman's throne and wreck havoc on the world.
- Most of the animal species would likely get wiped out sooner or later as Dr Robotnik roboticizes more and more animals.  Of course, with Sonic out of the way, nobody would be there to oppose him. Tails probably would have turned into a robot too (much like he almost does in Sonic 2 for the game gear when Dr Robotnik kidnaps tails), Knuckles would likely be a unwitting pawn of Dr Eggman (considering that he is prone to being tricked by Eggman), and Amy would probably be forced into a relationship with Mecha sonic (even though her real crush was Sonic) .

Scenario 3: Dark Queen from Battletoads

In the video above here is a short video of one of the battletoads getting defeated and a typical game over screen.  Note: the game over took place on level one, and that level is easy compared to many of the levels in the rest of the game (especially levels 3-12).

If you have played through Battletoads on the NES you probably know about the Dark Queen.  I haven't really played through the sequels of Battletoads, but I have played through the first game and know that she is a crazy lady that wants to make life miserable for the Battletoads and ultimately rule the world.  She is probably one of the sexiest and smartest villians out there too as she kidnaps Pimple and Angelica (one of the toad's girlfriends) and Rash and Zits (the game's protagonists) are forced go on an extremely dangerous and daring rescue mission going through 12 levels full of traps, enemies and powerful bosses each getting progressively tougher than the previous ones to save them and put a stop to the Dark Queen's schemes.  By the way for the average player, it is more likely that Rash and Zits will meet demise long before they reach the Dark Queen at the end of the Tower of Shadows level (level 12).  Battletoads was definitely one of the most difficult games I have played in my life and it took many years, tries, continues and frustration to finally beat the game.  By  the way if you thought level 3 was hard (turbo tunnel), that level is just the beginning with 9 more levels to go with each level getting progressively harder than the last ones, especially levels 7-12 where things get really crazy and there is less room for error (especially the last 4 levels of the game where there are lots of ways you can die and get game over). Anyways, it would have been interesting if the Dark Queen did succeed.  She would probably hold Pimple and Angelica as captives, while Rash and Zits would have probably been food for the Dark Queen (there is a game over scene where the Queen eats frog legs by the way) and nobody would have stopped her from taking over the world.  Also, anyone who wants to stop her would have had to go though the same 12 levels full of traps, enemies, bosses and many other ways one can die and get game over.

Scenario 4: Bowser Koopa defeats Mario and Luigi
Here is a bloopers video on Super Mario bros (the first one) and in one scene Bowser gets his revenge on Mario (see 0:29-0:42 in the video).

Bowser seems to be infatuated with Peach and probably wants to give Mario some competition from the girl (which is probably why Princess Peach often seems to get kidnapped by Bowser).  Of course, he would be corrupt ruler of the mushroom kingdom if he had his way.  Also, I am not sure if Bowser would make the best husband for Peach either considering that he is a dragon and evil.

Scenario 5: Count Dracula defeats the Belmonts.

Here is a video below of Richter Belmont facing off and defeating against Dracula in Castlevania Dracula X for Super Nintendo.

As you can see in the video above, Dracula gets owned for the 5th time in the Castlevania series (counting Castlevanias 1-4 and not counting the Gameboy versions of the game).  Count Dracula is the primary antagonist of the Castlevania series and is usually (though not always) the final boss in a typical Castlevania game.  One interesting thing about Castlevania is that in each incarnation if the game, there is usually (though not always) a new hero that ends up defeating the dark lord (be it Simon Belmont, Trevor Belmont, Richter Belmont, etc).  In some games he even gets defeated by unlikely foes too (such as own son, Alucard in Symphony of the Night, Hector in Curse of Darkness, Shanoa in Order of Ecclesia and Jonathan and Charlotte in Portrait of Ruin).   Now, have you ever wondered what it might be like if Dracula succeeded in his world domination plan for once?  Here are some pros and cons.

- He would make a charismatic ruler.
- Some people in the game series want his rule.  For example, in Order of Ecclesia and Dawn of Sorrows, there are cults, corrupt church leaders, and other people that keep wanting to resurrect Dracula.
- No matter how many times Dracula gets defeated, he almost always manages to come back (except for the Aria of Sorrows and Dawn of Sorrows timeline where it assumes Dracula was defeated for good even though his spirit still seems to linger and posthumously indirectly influence the chain of events in those two games). 
- He is a pretty fitting icon in the Castlevania series given the halloweenish feel the series has,(monsters, frankensteing, ghosts, and all).

- As with Dr Robotnik, he would probably establish a totalitarian style dictatorship and rule with an iron fist.  Like Vlad Dracula from Romania, he would probably use impalement as a form of execution too.  Of course, he might also turn foes into vampires too.
- Paranormal events would probably rise dramatically.  Can't you imagine what it might be like if you lived in the world where ghosts are everywhere (even in places and homes that are not normally haunted), alien abductions occur almost every day, strange creatures (like bigfoot and the Jersey Devil) starting going beserk and revealing themselves to everyone (including skeptics).  Demonic activities would probably rise too (such as posessions, the occult, etc).  Of course, if nobody was there to stop Dracula and his minions, nothing would be done to stop it either
- Dracula could also be a genocidal maniac too (kind of like Hitler during World War 2) considering that Dracula wants to wipe out the human race (at least in some of the Castlevania games, that seems to be his goal).  Only those loyal to Dracula would likely survive (though they might be turned into vampires too).

Food for thought: If you read the book of Revelation (and similar prophecy books in the bible), from a Christian standpoint, the bible predicts a time when there will be a dark lord that rules the world during the days of the 7 year tribulation period that precedes the returns of Christ.  Nobody really knows who the antichrist is (theoretically, he could be any politician that comes to world stage for all we know), when he is going to come to power or how is rule comes about, but according to the bible, the time is coming when the Antichrist will be revealed and will essentially set up a global dictatorship (probably the New World Order system).  Much like Dracula, the Antichrist will be a charismatic leader (many people probably won't recognize him as the Anitchrist and will instead think he is a hero and some might even think he is God, even though he is not) and will essentially be the dark lord type.  He will also be controlled by Satan himself (especially during the great tribulation period during the last 3.5 years of the tribulation period).  The Antichrist will be so powerful that he will manage to establish a totalitarian style global dictatorship and only Jesus Christ himself will be able to stop him at the end of those 7 years.  By the way, the Left Behind Series makes a pretty good portrayal of what the end times might look like and what the Antichrist (Nicolae Carpathia) will be like during those years. 

Well, that is all for now.  Stay tuned for more.  By the way, what do you think of these scenarios?  What do you think would happen if the villians above were to succeed (note: it assumes they are able to defeat the heroes too).

Friday, November 8, 2013

Xbox One commercial on IGN

Well, the next generation of game systems is almost here (a first since the debut of the xbox 360, Nintendo WII and the PS3 back in 2005).  Now in 2013 (about 8 years later), the next generation of game systems is finally here.  Nintendo has the Wii U (which is their official successor to the Wii) along with the Nintendo 3DS which is an upgraded version of the Nintendo DS.  Sony is currently developing the Playstation 4 and Microsoft is about to release the Xbox One to the public (which is their latest game system).  As an Xbox 360 fan and owner myself, I think it is fitting to share a trailer of the Xbox one posted by IGN on Youtube.

Commentary about the video:
The Xbox One looks pretty awesome at the first glance and seems to have the built in Kinect sensor too.  I am not sure when the new system will debut (though I bet it should be released in time for the holidays this year) but it looks pretty awesome.  I want to get an Xbox one myself, though I will probably do it when I have the extra money for it.

Thinking about getting an Xbox One?  You can preorder one at Amazon here

Other game systems you might like:

Xbox 360 (current generation game system)
Playstation 4
Nintendo Wii U
Nindendo 3DS

EPIC FAILS - Wii, Kinect & PS Move Funny Moments


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Castlevania Dawn of Sorrow Review

I have been playing through the game, Castlevania Dawn of Sorrow for the Gameboy DS (via the 3DS) and I thought that I would share my take on this innovative installment of the Castlevania series.

Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow
Picture of Castlevania Dawn of Sorrow for the Nintendo DS

Brief Reviews of the game:

Overall Grade in my opinion: A

Pros about the game
+ Huge map and storyline.
+ Soma Cruz's soul system is pretty revolutionary for the castlevania franchise as you can steal enemy abilities and use them to your advantage (similar to how it is in Mega Man games where you can copy abilities of bosses).
+ Expect many huge boss battles throughout the course of the game.  Also, the game does make use of the stylus system that the DS offers in various ways (such as drawing symbols when you are about to defeat a boss.
+ 3 possible endings.  By the way, you can see all 3 endings in one play though.
+ Great replay value: once you beat the game as Soma (or at least get the 2nd ending) you can unlock Julius mode where you play as Julius Belmont, along with Yoko Alucard which follows along an alternate timeline that assumes that Soma becomes "Dracula"
+ Nice storyline too
+ It is also worth noting that DOS is one of one of the few modern Castlevania games that brings back remixed versions of some of the music from some of the classic castlevania games (especially when playing on Julius Mode), such as the "Vampire Killer" theme in the "Silenced Ruins" level of the game.  Also (***spoiler alert***), if you are playing on Julius mode, the final boss fight against Soma plays out much like a typical boss fight against Dracula (teleportion, beast form, etc) from Dracula X and similar games and even has the classic "Dance of Illusions" theme song there.  Many current Castlevania games don't have music from the classic castlevania games (Portrait of Ruin for example, did not have them, neither did Lords of Shadow too for that matter), so it is worth pointing out with this title.

- The stylus system can make some of the boss fights harder than normal, especially some of the later ones.  Also the symbols do change periodically too and become more and more complex as the game goes along.  You will definitely need to practice your drawing to make some of the boss fights much easier (at least when it comes to using the "magic seals" to defeat the bosses).

Overview of the game / Story:

Castlevania Dawn of Sorrows is definitely one of my favorite Castlevania games (being a veteran Castlevania player myself) and is on par with Symphony of the Night, Portrait of Ruin and Harmony of Despair.   Dawn of Sorrow is the direct sequel to Aria of Sorrow (for the Gameboy Advance) and continues the storyline of Soma Cruz.  Basically in Aria of Sorrow and Dawn of Sorrow, the storyline assumes that the evil Count Dracula (the "evil genius" of the castlevania series) has been defeated "for good" by Julius sometime during the 2000's.  Ironically while Dracula never makes a formal appearance in Aria of Sorrow or Dawn of Sorrow, apparently his spirit still lives (kind of like how it is with the Sigma virus system in the Mega Mega Man X series where Sigma always manages to come in one form or another no matter how often you defeat him) and wants to use someone to posess and use in is ongoing schemes for world domination.  Soma Cruz is a convenient target for Dracula and he tries to influence Soma through the soul abilities system and turn Soma into the Dark Lord.  In Dawn of Sorrow, Soma is sent to investigate a shadowy cult lead by an evil lady named Cecila, along with her minions, Dario and Darus, who want to basically want to revive the evil Count Dracula and it is up to Soma to stop Celia's schemes (much to the dismay of Julius Belmont) while also battling his own inner demons that want to turn Soma into the evil Dracula.  The cult hideout is pretty much another incarnation or Dracula's castle and plays out much like Dracula's castle from Symphony of the Night and similar castlevania games, filled with ghosts, gouls, monsters, demons, huge and hideous bosses and other enemies for Soma to defeat.  The game does have 3 possible endings and it is possible for Soma to lose to Celia or even turn into the evil Count Dracula.  (see spoiler section for ending details). 

Julius Mode:

As with Portrait of Ruin and Order of Ecclesia, after you finish the main game, new modes open up and one mode worth mentioning is Julius Mode.  While in many similar castlevania games where the extra modes (such as Richter Mode in Portrait of Ruin) tend to be a bit bland, Dawn of Sorrow does add some unique twists to Julius mode.  Some of the twists include:
- Alternate storyline, which basically assumes that Soma turns into "Dracula".
- While initially you assume the role of Julius Belmont, Yoko and Alucard (yes Alucard does make an appearance in Dawn of Sorrow, perhaps a first since Symphony of the Night) join in Julius' quest to defeat Soma (aka "Dracula") and become playable characters as well, and so you will assume a trio of characters, each with their own unique abilities, skills and personalities.  Julius is a classic whip user and uses his whip and sub weapons to defeat enemies.  Note: Julius automatically has all of his sub weapons equipped (unlike in other castlevania games where you have to find sub weapons in candles) and you can switch between them (including he throwing knives, cross boomerangs, a cross crush attack, holy water bombs as well as throwing axes.  Yoko is a magic user and wields 3 different kinds of spells that she can use against enemies and bosses (such as ice bullets that shoot almost every direction, lightning balls, as well as a fire bullet attack).  Also, whenever she hits enemies with her staff weapon, she steals the enemies' health (which you can use to help restore the trio's hp bar).  Alucard is a tonned down version of himself from Symphony of the night and wields his signature alucard sword and shield.  He can also shoot the hellfire fireballs at enemies (the they shoot out in 3s) turn into a bat (great for reaching high places), jump really high (by holding the dpad up and pressing the L button) and do the backstab attack (where he teleports behind an enemy and attacks him/her from behind with his sword).
- The background music does change in some of the maps.  By the way, old school Castlevania fans will like the fact that DOS is one of the few newer Castlevania titles that does offer remixed versions of music from some of the classic castlevania games (namely, Vampire Killer. Bloody Tears, and "beginnings" if you are familiar with those songs).
- Different final boss fight.  Instead of fighting Menace, you will fight a Dracula version of Soma which plays out much like a typical Dracula boss fight from Dracula X and Rondo of Blood (even has a remixed version of the "Illusionary Dance" boss theme for those of you who are familiar with it).
- The map is not as linear as it is for Soma (especially once Alucard joins the trio) and you can change alter the route and boss fights you can take on (note: the Mine of Judgement section still does not become available until after the Aguni boss fight). 
- Note: unlike Soma mode, the trio cannot heal themselves with potions and food.  Instead Yoko can steal health from enemies and bosses when she hits them with her staff (though the healing process is slow, especially early in the game), which makes this mode more challenging and does mean you will need to save more often too as you pass through the various save points in the game.

Soul System:
If any Castlevania game were to take after a typical Mega Man style game, it would probably be Castlevania Dawn of Sorrow (Aria of Sorrow too for that matter).  You know how in most (if not all) Mega Man games, whenever you defeat a robot master boss, you get to steal that boss' abilities (such as their weapon).  Dawn of Sorrow has a similar system where whenever you defeat a monster, ghost, boss or whatever, there is a chance you will receive their "souls", which is essentially their abilities and weapons.  For example, if you defeat an Axe armor and get their soul, you can hurl axes at your enemies.  Or when you defeat Gergoth (one of the bosses in the game), you get to shoot a huge laser that kills enemies in your path rather quickly.  Some abilities will let you fly, have enemies forced to become allies (such as summoning Gaibon to follow you and charge at enemies he encounters), move around in water, etc.  Obviously some enemies have better soul drop rates than others, but there are incentives to getting more souls, such as getting stronger, having more abilities and skill, plus if you get all of them, you can get a special ring (Chaos ring) that gives you almost unlimited MP points.  Obviously some souls (abilities) are better than others, while others can be worthless.  My favorite abilities includes: the flame demon's fireball attack, summoning a pet gabion (he charges at enemies at random), the final guard's shield abilities (great for blocking otherwise hard to avoid attacks and is great against bosses), magnora, bat company's flight ability (lets you fly, plus if you have flame demon's fireball attack, you can shoot fireballs at enemies while flying) as well as abaddon's locust attacks.  Bosses always drop souls when you defeat them while other enemies will not always drop them (which meiceans that you will have to defeat them multiple times to gain their souls). 

Boss Fights and Magic Seal system:
Watch the youtube video below for a sample boss fight against Abaddon (this also shows the magic seal system in action)
Like just about any castlevania games, Dawn of Sorrow has plenty of huge and goulish boss fights each with their unique patterns, weaknesses and difficulites.  Some of my favorites were Puppet Master (the spider like monster that tries to kill you by placing voodoo dolls in iron maidens), Paranoia (a mirror monster you fight), Aguni (a huge fire demon monster), as well as Menace (the huge final boss at the end of the game).  Unique to Dawn of Sorrow (both Order of Ecclesia and Portrait of Ruin has this) is the magic seal system.  This is a unique system that utilizes the stylus that comes with the Gameboy DS / 3DS system and it is essentially where whenever you are about to defeat a boss (with the exception of a few boss fights), a huge circle appears and you have to draw symbol correctly and quickly in order to defeat the boss.  The symbols start out simple (with the first one being a "V" shape), but they do get more complex and trickier to complete as you progress through the game.  If you draw the symbol correctly, the boss gets defeated and you move on.  Get it wrong, the boss regains health and the fight continues with the magic seal prompt popping up periodically again and again until you get the symbol right (or Soma dies).  This system will likely be either a blessing or a curse for people playing Castlevania Dawn of Sorrow.  The magic seals were not too difficult for me to master, but I am sure that some people will have it easier than others.  By the way, the game does offer a mode that lets you practice drawing the magic seal symbols at your convenience (which you can use to practice and master the symbols you are struggling with) and it can definitely be frustrating for some people, especially if you are fighting one of the more difficult bosses in the game (such as the Puppet Master or Gergoth) and you can't defeat the boss since you are not able to draw the magic seal symbol(s) correctly. By the way, you will need a stylus for Dawn of Sorrow, if you don't have a stylus you will definitely need to buy one (I am not sure how you can use the magic seals system otherwise).  Note: the magic seals do not apply to Julius mode and Julius, Alucard and/or Yoko will automatically defeat the bosses they fight once their hp runs out.

Final thoughts of Dawn of Sorrow:
DOS is definitely one of my favorite Castlevania games ever.  It is a fitting sequel in the symphony of the night era castlevania games.  The soul system is fun to have it gives Soma plenty of useful power ups, abilities and skills to use.  He can also equip weapons like swords, guns, staffs, spiked knuckles and even Death's Sythe to defeat foes as well (my favorite weapons are probably the Valamway sword and the Death Sythe) and he can be customized to your fitting and likings.  The soul system does offer Soma extra skills, abilities and even sub weapons he can use, such as shooting fireballs at enemies, summoning monsters (such as Gaibon) that attack enemies, improve his luck (useful for finding rare items and soul abilities), shooting laser beams at enemies (obtained from Gergoth), or even transform into some of the monsters he defeats (like Barbosa which is invincible and charges forward and defeats enemies as he runs into them). Dawn of Sorrow has just about all of the elements that any castlevania fan would like, including all of the signature monsters from the series, Halloween style feel, huge boss fights and even remixed versions of some of the background music from the classic castlevania games (one area in the game even pays tribute to some of the earlier castlevania games complete with a retro feel, a bat creature boss as well as "vampire killer" playing in the background).  I also like the alternate storyline that Julius mode offers, which is a change of pace from typical castlevania games where alternate modes tend to be mediocre in comparison to the main story line.  Dawn of Sorrow does have a few flaws though.  The magic seal system for example, while innovative will take some mastering to do and may be a frustration to some players (especially if you have poor drawing skills).  Also, Soma does start out weak which adds to the challenge, though he gets a lot stronger as he levels up and gains more abilities and skills.

Overall Grade: A

 Spoiler Section: (note: this section assumes you have either played through the game or don't mind spoilers)

Endings: Castlevania Dawn of Sorrow has 3 possible endings.

Ending 1 (bad ending):
in the pinnacle level of the game, you will fight Dario a second time (the first confrontation with him takes place in the Garden of Madness level).  To get the first bad ending, ignore Aguni (the fire demon boss that you can see in the mirror behind Dario which you can only reach if you have Paranoia's ability that lets you enter mirrors) and simpy defeat Dario.  The fight plays like a watered down version of a typical boss fight against Dracula where Dario teleports around, shooting fireballs and other spells against Soma.  Eventually Dario will go down and gets killed by his inner demon (Aguni).  Then in a cut scene, it shows Soma leaving the Castle with Genya Arikado (with Celia no where to be found) and Soma suffering mysterious symptoms (probably after his fight with Demitri earlier in the game in which he accidently absorbs Demitri's "soul") and Genya refers Soma to the church for examination.  The ending is pretty bland and implies that he lost to Cecilia and is at risk of becoming "Dracula".

Ending 2 (worst ending):

  To get this ending, when you get to the second boss fight against Dario (in the Pinnacle Level), make sure you have the Paranoia ability equipped and defeat Aguni (ignore Dario).  After that, there is are some boss doors a bit early in the garden of madness level (the one that is guarded by a giant snail monster) that you couldn't get into area earlier in the game.  Go in there without Mina's Talisman equipped and watch the cut scene.  Long story short, Cecilia basically provokes Soma into a rage by killing a fake version of Mina (Soma's girlfriend) and Soma succumbs into becoming the Dark Lord (Dracula).  It also shows Julius, Genya Arikado (who is really Alucard) and Yoko going into the castle to defeat Soma (who is essentially "Dracula" at this point).

Ending 3 (best possible ending): Note - the video below also contains the final boss fight

Equip Mina's talisman before the cut scene with Cecilia (see Ending 2) and the game will be extended considerably longer (it won't end with Soma turning into Dracula). Continue to the Mine of Judgement and later the Abyss levels and defeat the final bosses of the game (namely Death, Abaddon and Menace).  In the ending, Soma puts a stop to the cult's schemes, avoids turing into Dracula and is reunited with his girlfriend.

Other spoilers:

-As mentioned in Ending 2, Genya Arikado is really Alucard from Symphony of the Night (though this fact is not fully revealed until Julius meets up with Alucard in "Julius mode").  
- For old time Castlevania games, Dawn of Sorrow is one of the few newer games in the series that features classic bgm titles, namely: "Bloody Tears" (plays in the background during the Dark Chapel level of the game on "Julius Mode"), "Beginnings" (plays during the Lost Village of the game on "Julius Mode", "Dance of Illusions" (plays during the boss fight against Soma at the end of Julius mode) and Vampire Killer (plays during the Silenced Ruins level of the game on both modes).  Note: Bloody Tears and Beginnings do not appear in the main story mode, so you will have to play on Julius mode (which should open up when you get Endiaeng 2 and / or 3) in order to hear those sound tracks (the music is considerably different during the Lost Villiage and Dark Chapel levels in the main story mode).
- If you get all of the possible souls in the game (will take time, skill and patience to accomplish even with the soul eater rings equiped), the chaos ring will appear in one of the sections of the Abyss level and basically gives Soma almost unlimited MP (makes it easier to use bullet, guardian and support souls that would normally drain Soma's MP bar and basically gives Soma an unfair advantage when fighting enemies and bosses).
- Soul eater ring: if Soma has enough gold, he can buy at least one or 2 soul eater rings (they are expensive to buy) at Hammer's Store (which is located across from Yoko's shop in the Lost Village level) and basically increases Soma's chances of obtaining souls (especially rare ones).  Note: the Soul Eater ring does not guarantee that Soma will obtain rare souls since enemies do not always drop souls even with soul eater ring equipped, but the chances of obtaining the rare souls should increase a bit with those rings.

 Optional Bosses (though necessary for the best ending):
 there are actually 2 "optional bosses" in the game.  Note: While you don't have to fight them if you don't want to and are satisfied with the bad ending (see ending 1), you will eventually you want fight them, especially if you want to extend the game and go for the best ending of the game (after all, Dario is not really the final boss of the game you know).
1) Paranoia - this is a 2 part boss battle lurking in the top of the Demon guest house level (the Demon Guest house is unique in that it actually has 2 boss encounters instead of one like most of the levels have in the game). In the demon guest house level, there is a huge tower you can climb (with the top area closed off until you have made it to the Pinnacle level of Dracula's Castle (there is a switch that you can access when you enter the demon guest house level via the Pinnacle that lets you access the top levels of the tower), and near the top of the the tower there is a passage that leads to the boss door for Paranoia.  It is a 2 phased boss fight (a small version of Paranoia followed by a larger version of him) where you fight a monster that lurks inside a mirror (look up the Paranoia boss fight on youtube to see what I mean) that has wiered mask.  By defeating Paranoia, you will gain the ability to enter mirrors (if you explore Dracula's castle, you will find areas with mirrors and with Paranoia's ability you can enter the mirrors and access hidden power ups and items with it) as well as access the Aguni boss fight.
2. Aguni - When fighting Dario in the Pinnacle level, you should notice a mirror in the background with a fire demon monster (not sure how else to describe aguni) lurking in it.  If you have Paranoia's ability that lets you enter mirrors equipped, ignore Dario and enter the mirror.  You will now be fighting Aguni instead of Dario.  Obviously Aguni is a much more formidable foe than Dario is in many ways. 

That is all for this post.  Have you played Dawn of Sorrow (or Aria of Sorrow for that matter) and have your own take on the game (or have comments you want to add)?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Thinking about getting Dawn of Sorrow?  You can get yourself a copy either at your local game store (such as Gamestop) or buy one online at Amazon.com. 

Note: You will need either a Gameboy DS or 3DS in order to play this game.  Note: I use a 3Ds which is the latest system from Nintendo and Dawn of Sorrow plays perfectly on the 3Ds.  Note: there is a secret rare ring item (along with several other easter eggs you can find) by inserting aria of sorrow into a Gameboy advanced slot on the Gameboy DS, but there doesn't seem to be a Gameboy Advance slot on the 3DS and so you will need a DS if you want to use the Aria of Sorrow cartridge or even play Aria of Sorrow.

Note: I also just recently played through Portrait of Ruin as well as Order of Ecclesia as well. I will post reviews for those two games when I get around to it.

Similar Games you might like (from Amazon.com):
- Castlevania Order of Ecclesia. 
- Portrait of Ruin.
- Castlevania Aria of Sorrow (Gameboy Advance).  This is he official backstory to Dawn off Sorrow.
- Castlevania Harmony of Despair (Xbox 360), which you can download on Xbox 360 live and seems to be the direct sequel to DOS, OOE and POR.
- Castlevania Dracula X Chronicles (PSP).  I haven't played this game, but it seems to be a remade version of both Castlevania Dracula X (SNES) and Rondo of Blood (neo geo?).

Monday, May 6, 2013

Super Hero costumes at Seattle Emerald City Comicon 2013

Have you ever wanted to see your favorite super heroes, star wars characters, etc?  You get tons of people in costumes at the comic con and here is a video showing off a bunch of people dressed up.  By the way, who is your favorite character?

The xenophobia ironed a pancake

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Emerald City Comic Con 2013 recap

Hey everyone.  Have you ever been to a comic con?  I have been to the Emerald City Comic Con 2 times now and went to the comic con this year back in March.  I was there for most of the day, took pictures, saw celebrities (such as Adam West from the Classic Batman movie), got pictures of people dressed up as super heroes, and others. Below are a bunch of the pictures I took (using my Windows phone).

2 Boba Fetts Posing for the Camera (including a white Boba Fett)

Me Posing with "Captain America" and a random imperial moff

Battle Droid?

Michael Rooker and Danai Gurira from "Talking Dead" Panel discussion.

Here is a funny picture of 2 business men posing as Darth Vader and Boba Fett

Darth Vader "force choking" (not really of course) a random jedi character

Random booth at the comic con

It's gumby

Justin with a random person dressed up as a robot (he got a bunch of pictures too)

Isn't this impressive: a huge lego castle.  The person who built this  definitely has talent.  I wouldn't know how to do something like this myself.

Natalia Tena at the Comic Con.  She is one of the support characters from the Harry Potter films.

Star Trek Improv.  Yes, there was an entertaining Star Trek Improv at the Emerald City Comic Con.  Pretty funny too.  

Adam West and Burt Ward at the comic con.  If you are ever looking to   see celebrities in person, comic cons (like the one in Seattle) are a good place to look.  You probably won't meet them in person unless if you pay to get an autograph with them, though.

Here are some people posing as Batman (pretty authentic costume if you ask me), Loki (from the Avengers and Thor), and Hallie from Batman
There was a section at the comic con where a bunch of the Star Wars characters congregated., such as  Darth Sidious (aka Emperor Palpatine), a Storm Trooper, tuskan raiders, etc).
It is Darth Maul and a random female Sith (not sure who she is trying to portray)
Galactus Posing for the camera.  Can't you imagine if Galactus was real?  No planet would be safe from his ravenous appetite (including Earth).  
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Justin posing with Super girl.  Like in this picture, Justin taught me that comic cons can actually good places to meet people (especially people of the opposite gender) as he was able to meet some cute (not sure how else to put it) women this way too.  I will have to try that out myself next year.
Justin and Wonder Woman?  
It's Luigi and Zelda!  Link and Zelda probably gone together better though in my opinion.

Random Lady posing with R2 (the R2 unit looks pretty authentic).
Hey, do any of you like the power rangers?  At the comic con , there were a group of people who were dressed up as the power rangers.  They looked almost like the real thing too (costume and all).  Note: this picture can also be found at www.rangerboard.com.  I actually got a picture of them too before leaving the comic con (they were posing close to where some of the celebrity panels were) on Justin's camera, but he forgot to post the picture, but this picture will do.  By the way they look almost like the real thing from the TV shows (though I doubt that they are the same actors, though I did not see who was behind the masks either).  By the way, I have been watching some of the episodes from the original power rangers series for old times' sake, so getting a picture of them was pretty cool.  By the way (especially to you fellow guys), who all used to have a crush on the pink ranger?  I know I did back in the day.

Those are a bunch of the pictures from the comic con (not all inclusive, but I am sure you can find more pictures and videos from others on the net).

Overview of the Emerald City Comic Con

I went to the comic con with Justin (my brother) on Saturday (back in March) and we were there for almost the whole day (longer than we were last year).  It was a fun filled day and we did quite a bit.  We walked around, took pictures, saw all of the different booths and stations people set up.  We also sat in several panel discussions, including: one that offered tips on dating and relationships (I probably could have benefited from it myself considering that I am still single, at least at at the time of this posting, will update you if that ever changes of course), a star trek improv (which was pretty funny skit where a bunch of dudes pretend to be from the original Star trek series and venture to worlds that visitors come up with and they do a star trek style episode), various celebrity panels (such as Natalia from Harry Potter, Adam West / Burt Ward, along with several others).  We did quite of other things too, including trying out a new mech warrior style game coming out in the near future (can't remember the name of it), took pictures of people dressed up as super heroes, star wars characters, etc.  By the way, there were some celebrities at the comic con I did not see, including Patrick Stewart, the guy who played "Alpha 5" from power rangers, Billy Dee Williams (Lando from Star Wars Empire Strikes back), Will Wheaton, the lady from X-files, and several others, but I am sure you can find them on youtube and elsewhere on the net.  By the way, when I saw the "talking dead" panel, it was originally supposed to be a panel for Carrie Fisher (Leia from Star Wars), but she was a no show (unfortunately).

Highlights of our visit includes:
- Watching a panel discussion on meeting women for nerds (at least from male perspective)
- Watched a Star Trek improve episode
- Saw several celebrity panels, including Natalia Tena (from Harry Potter), Burt Ward, Adam West, Michael Rooker and Danai Gurira
- Checked out the many different exhibits and booths
- Tried out a new mech warrior style game coming out in the next few months (online based)
- Took pictures of a bunch of people in costubes (like the ones in the pictures above).  There were a bunch of other people in costumes too and I wish I could have gotten them all, but I am sure you can find more cosplay pictures on google and bing.
- Along with a bunch of other things.

This year, I did not dress up, but next year, I probably will try to dress up.  Some ideas I am kicking around includes:
- Spiderman
- Deadpool
- Nick Fury (btw, before Samuel Jackson's version of Nick Fury, he wasn't always protrayed as an African American as was the case, for example in Marvel Ultimate Alliances 1 and 2).
- Power Ranger character (probably the red ranger), though I bet those costumes would be expensive to buy.
- Superman
or whatever.

Well, that is all for now.  Were any of you at the comic con?  Feel free to share your experiences.  Also, feel free to like and share this post with others and your support would be most appreciated.