Monday, June 29, 2009

Ace Attorney Series Review

I confess to my crime. The Ace Attorney game series by Capcom for the DS platform makes me humor the idea of becoming a lawyer or a prosecutor whenever I play it. The Ace Attorney series puts you in control of a defense attorney (Phoenix Wright for the first three games, and Apollo Justice in the 4th game) where you must investigate crime scenes, gather evidence, and talk to witnesses, detectives, and your computer controlled opponent prosecutors and defend your client in court from the crime he has been accused of.

This review is of the series thus far as a whole (Excluding the title where you play as Edgeworth and prosecute instead of defend because that is only released in Japan at this time). That means the games are as follows (Chronological Order)
Gameplay - 8.5 out of 10
Phoenix Wright is a very fun and humourous game but it is not without problems, namely linear gameplay. There are two main parts of the game, investigation days and court trial days. On an investigation day you walk around collecting evidence and try to figure out exactly what went on where as on trial days you battle with the prosectutor to get your client a "Not Guilty" verdict. Although I must admit, many of the battles end up being against the witnesses instead of the prosectutor since the witnesses never make a case too easy for you (well maybe in the first couple games tutorial cases).

In any case, the lack of co-operation from witnesses and a pleathora of funny dialogue make the game very enjoyable even at it's toughest parts. You might have heard some of your friends quoting the games famous "Objection!" statement at some points. Both the defense attourney you play as and the prosecution often get into heated battles trying to contradict each others points, and it's great when they both end up with the desire to punch the nearest wall because of some new detail that contradicts them both pops up and drives the case in a whole new direction.

One thing that must be said about the game is that it's good at keeping you guessing. Just when you think you've figured out the case inside and out the game crushes your line of thought. It really does add to the mystery of the game and its ability to keep you interested. After all, if you had the case figured out from the start where would the fun be in reaching the dramatic conclusion.

I mentioned that a key problem with the game was it's linear gameplay. For the first couple cases I was under the impression that it was up to the player to make the case and that you could take whatever you wanted as evidence to make your case and the game and end result would change as a such. Sadly, this is not the case as the evidence that all the evidence that's availale is used and you don't get a choice. That means that there is generally only one answer to every puzzle which can be very annoying when you've come up with another logical conclusion using a different piece of evidence but the game won't accept it because it's not what the game wants.

Storyline - 7.0 out of 10
Believe it or not the game has it's own set of "lore". The cases you go through in the game actually effect the world and you'll be able to see the results by playing later cases and later games (part of the reason I listed them chronologically). This is a pretty rewarding feature of the game actually. It's fun to visit old locations and be able to think "Oh I remember this place, it was involved in that one case."

That said, the game is still somewhat limiting in how far it takes the storyline. Understandably, the game focuses on court cases not the game world just because of the type of game it is. The story works out in scenarios that are loosely related through references to old cases. When is comes down to it these scenarios are only a little more then just that, scenarios. It's like if you reached into a bag, grabbed out a piece of paper, and then the paper said to roleplay as an attorney and then the next few times you do it your classmates or co-workers make references back to the early roleplay excercises.

The story quality could be summed up as "Better than expected for the genre, but doesn't compete with in-depth rpg games"

Sound - 8.0 out of 10
I'll be the first to admit that the game doesn's have a lot of sound effects. Furthermore, there are no voice overs for the game, a lot of the time you just get the sound of the text going by your screen. However where the game truely shines in this department is the game's music. It has a bit of a MIDI type quality but many of the tracks I would not mind hearing on the radio or something. Of course, naturally all the music tracks have no vocals but they are incredibly catchy.

Another cool thing they do with the music is controlling the intensity of the music as the case reaches a dramatic point. The same track will be calm at one point giving you the though "Hmmm ok I better get to the bottom of this witness' story" and then at another point "WHAT!? But that changes everything! Damn, if I don't come up with something fast my case is finished!"

Although there is little sound effects, they are there when needed (i.e. door's opening or closing, gunshots, etc). The music soundtracks are nicely composed so this doesn't actually turn out to be a problem most of the time. One last nice thing to say about the music is that they don't use the same tracks for all the games, I'm glad they did this because some of the tracks would have gotten dull after four games.

Graphics - 6.8 out of 10

The series is for the DS so you really shouldn't be going into it expecting top of the line graphics. The majority of the series is done with simple sprite graphics with backdrop screens that occasionally allow you to pan the camera to the left and right. While the graphics arn't impressive, they are quite cute in a sense. Many of the witnesses have a tendency to tilt to the left and to the right while they talking and when you combine it with the neat music it's quite amusing and entertaining to watch. That said the series is totally lacking of special effects like explosions, vortexes of flame, awesome mystic artes (Ahh Tales ^^), etc. It has acceptable graphics for a game of this type.

Replay Value - Low
The game is fun and enjoyable. However, the lineariarity of all the cases means that there is nothing new to see should you want to play through the game again. A good joke is generally only funny the first time you hear it and the same applies to the series.

Overall Rating - 8.2 out of 10
Ace Attorney is a great series and I wish I had found it earlier. You can easily kill hours on end with the game series and still maintain interest. The combination of mystery, humor, and a great soundtrack make a seemingly boring concept into a great experience for just about anyone. Well in all honesty you probobly wouldn't want to teach your five year old kid the concept of murder and betrayal so it's teen rating is probobly there for a reason. That said I could see middle aged and casual gamers getting a kick out of the game.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Higurashi Rei Ep4 Finally Subbed

If you didn't see the last post, I made it pretty obvious that Higurashi was an anime that I love to watch. For some reason it always takes a long time for the people who sub the anime to get it done. Maybe there team is small, or maybe they just don't have a lot of time. (In any case, I'm grateful to them since I can't speak japanese)

I didn't originally host it, but to save you a trip, here's the episode on

Watch Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni Rei 4 SUB in Anime | View More Free Videos Online at

On a side note, the first episode of Higurashi Rei was rather strange. I watched it a long time ago, but for a 1st episode in a season it seemed more like a comedy special since it had very little to do with the actual storyline. I guess maybe they did it to show that following season 2, everything was all fine and dandy in the world.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Is Higurashi being overdone?

Some of you may have already heard of this anime called Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (AKA When the Cicadas Cry). It is a ongoing horror/mystery anime which has been going on since 2006 and is now into it's third season Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Rei. Many anime that go long ongoing production such as the oh-so-popular Naruto and Bleach have tendencies to develope filler episodes (episodes created to stall the story and are unrelated to the main plot). These anime often get criticized by the anime comunity for this and the quality of the shows tends to drop dramatically in many peoples eyes.

Higurashi is by no means several hundred episodes long like some ongoing anime, but on the other hand Higurashi seems to be the type of anime that couldn't go on that long and stay interesting in my eyes. With fifty episodes out in the original two series and four out so far from the third season, is Higurashi pushing the envelope on how long the anime should go on for?

Here are a few key points I would like to make about the series so far (I'll try to keep it as free of spoilers as possible)
  • The original Higurashi included several arcs which told the story in a different way, releasing more information about what was happening around town each time.

  • At the end of the original Higurashi it almost seemed that everything had finally worked out right in the world for a happy ending, and then it turned out this was not the case.

  • In Higurashi 2, more elements were added to the story which completely turned around what the original had let you to believe. It's arcs focused on getting to the true bottom of what had been going on around town. However what Higurashi 2 lacked over 1 was original content. It was more of an extension onto season one and was in danger of getting dull (atleast IMO) towards the end. In the end, everything really did work out peachy fine for all the characters and it seemed that it would be a true happy ending.

  • If Higurashi 3 had been to two what two had been to one, it could be easily argued that the anime was dead by now and it was time to move on. However, Higurashi 3 has taken a new spin on the series. It is not that Higurashi 2 was another false ending but rather a specific event that happens at the start of 3 leads into a very different world yet still in the same town where many original events never happened. A certain character has to get back to her world.
The key thing here is that Higurashi 3 is a very different world where as Season 2 was more along the lines of closing up the loose ends of the first season and leading into a true ending. I believe that Season 3 is actually quite promissing because of how they've set up the new story, there is a new and original mystery and I think that is the key. If Higurashi were to create yet another new mystery would it be able to last four seasons? On the other hand, will this new mystery turn out to get dull towards the end similar to the second season?

Personally, I have high hopes for Season 3. I like how they've set the story up this time around and I hope they can keep the momentum going till the end of the season. Because it has proven to be a quality show already, I feel that the story writers will do this. However, who can really say. Maybe they'll make a fourth season but with a completely different cast and location and only keep the show name and arc structure of the show.

I'm curious to know you're thoughts. Do you believe that Higurashi is nearing death or just getting started?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

5 Major Problems with The Sims 3

The Sims is one of the most popular video game series in existence. One of the things which have made it so popular is it's appeal to a huge audience of people. However, as popular as the game is, it is not without it's own share of problems.

Here are 5 huge issues I personally have with the game
  1. Low Maximum Game Speed - Sometimes you just want to get through a day, but the game only lets you go so fast. This tends to make you bored waiting for a chance to actually do something in the game rather then waiting around watching your sim sleep.

  2. Lack of Originality - It's really hard to argue that the Sims 3 is worthy of being a completely new game and not just a upgrade from it's ancestors.

  3. Unrealistic Time Tables - Who in the world takes over two hours for a single bath? When my sim wakes up at six in the morning I damn well expect him to be able to be ready for work by eight, but apparently he's incapable of taking a bath in two hours let alone make and eat breakfast.

  4. Annoying pop-up advice - The game basically assumes that the player is totally incapable of figuring anything out. Everytime you try out a new function of the game it asks you if you need help with the game.

  5. Lack of Value - Remember the Sims 1 and 2 and how they initially were playable but pretty incomplete as far as being able to live a second life to their fullest. Sims 3 is the same way, and your paying $50 for it. Undeniably, EA will release a large number of expansion packs and charge a premium for them. If you buy all the expansion packs to make the game truely complete, then the Sims 3 will be one of the most expensive games you've ever played. Might as well get the previous games in a value pack and save yourself the money since the games are practically the same.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Getting the MMORPG Mindset: 4 Tips for Everyone

Whenever people decide to play an MMORPG, the vast majority of said people struggle in some way which having the knowledge on how to do well in the game would easily conquer. Hence this guide, dedicated to anyone who's starting up a new MMORPG, even one that isn't out yet (like say FFXIV). Going into a MMORPG is all about mindset and knowledge since you can't actually work on your in game situation till you've actually started.
  • Handling Economy: As with all things, at the beginning you are nothing more then a whelp. In most cases you will not be able to have what you want (I.E. the good/expensive gear) until you've reached a level where you can get things either at a fast rate or obtaining things that not everyone can. At lower levels in almost all games you can still make meager amounts of money. Generally the best source of income is selling crafting ingrediants to higher level characters. Therefore, if you want to be running around with anything more then 5 copper/gil/*insert currency hear* sell things that are useful to higher level players. The other way to be broke all the time is to waste your cash, in most games you really don't need the expensive stuff so don't bother blowing your money on it.

  • Leveling up: There is only one thing that matters in leveling up the fastest. That is experience points per hour. I say per hour because killing a tough monster for more experience points does not nessesarily make you level faster. The sweet spot really depends on the game, and you definetly want to factor in the chance of dying and down time when determining the level of reward that killing a certain group of creatures really grants. Questing is a very good idea in many games and there is a reason you can find so many guides to point out the best quests for leveling up. Many quests in any game can be a complete waste of time. Watch out for these quests, if you don't want to do the quest for lore or for the reward skip it.

  • Grouping: Grouping can be very fun, or a pain-in-the-ass. It can also be good for leveling, or just slow you down completely. If you plan to group with other people in a game, you should network with other players so that you can always get a group going when you need to. Many people sit around hours waiting for a group. This is a huge mistake, the best way to get a group is to make your own. It is very easy to do especially if you network like I said. In addition, as leader you can make the group makeup to your liking and kick people who piss you off.

  • Maximizing Your Personal MMO Enjoyment
  1. Play with people you can stand, do not sell out yourself just to get something out of it. Odds are you'll just be disapointed or miserable by the end
  2. Play how you want. In almost every mmo there are jobs that people want in their groups and jobs that are utterly useless and laughed at. If you take my advice about making your own groups you don't have to play a healer or a buff class to get a spot because its everyone else who does that to get a spot in your group.
  3. Play with friends. MMOs are a social game, if you can manage it find some of your real life friends to hang with you online. The game will be better the more people you can relate to in game.
  4. Take the free trial offers. If there is one, play the free trial until you're sure its the game for you. It's a good idea to research anything you want to buy to make sure its a worthwhile purchase and games are no exception. Free trial offers are the best way to try out online games before you pay them the money.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Toradora and Osu!... What's the connection?

I recently started watching another comedy/romance slice of life high school comedy anime that goes by the name of Toradora. So far it's pretty interesting since the characters seem to have a lot of.... hmmm Spice might be one way to say it. In any case it's pretty hard to forget the characters personalities. If you've watched the anime i'm sure you know the intro and ending songs.

When I heard these watching the anime I was thinking to myself "Where have I heard those before?" Well two places actually, the first is a site that offers downloads for just about all anime music you can imagine.

You might of heard of it, it's Extremely spectacular site in my opinion.

The second is a game called Osu!. Osu is based off of a DS game called Elite Beat Agents and is very similar to DDR in the fact that it is a rythmn game which you move to song. In this case you use your mouse though instead of a pad for your feet. Now wheres the connection I mentioned in the title, well I realized after hearing the intro/conclusion songs that I've played these before in Osu! These songs are ones that I enjoyed enough to play several times I might add. So in honor of bumping into the anime in which they were from I recorded a playthrough of them in Osu!

For the record, the songs are as follows
  • Opening: Pre-parade by Rie Kugimiya
  • Ending: Vanilla Salt by Yui Horie
Pre-parade Video

Vanilla Salt Video

Here's a link to my combined Osu! Video Collection encase your interested:

And my Osu! Profile:

Lastly the home page of the Osu! Website (It's Free!):

Back to Final Fantasy XI? What's this about Final Fantasy XIV?

If you've been keeping up with E3 this year, you should have heard about Square Enix's new announcement for FFXIV. FFXIV is set to be a new MMORPG that is going to take many of the good things from FFXI and mix it up with new concepts. That is not to say however, that FFXIV is a direct successor to FFXI. It is made by the same company, however they've stated its going to be very different in many ways.

When I first heard this announcement I was so psyched that I must have watched the trailer atleast 10 times, which at the time is just about the only thing to speculate things off of other then the logo for the game and the few interviews that happened at E3. However, waiting really isn't my speciality so I decided "Hey, maybe I should go back to FFXI".

Yes, I used to be an avid FFXI player, but I quit the game for a multitude of reasons. Like many ex-FFXI players I ended up in World of Warcraft eventually but that wasn't one of my actual reasons for leaving the game. I can safely say that these two MMOs have by far been my favorites to this day. In the last year or so World of Warcraft had just gotten boring for me. Endgame activities in the game such as raiding and PvP had turned into grindfests for epic quality loot (which ever since Burning Crusade happened, were more like common loot to be honest) or situations where there was a strong need to smash my face into the keyboard in frusteration.

So about a week ago I grabbed a 14 day free trial for Final Fantasy XI to see if I would enjoy comming back to the game since I lost all my information about my old account, and to be honest Elvaan (A very tall, rather muscular, but thin weight wise race of Elves in the game) do kind of have awkward animation sets.

So what did I choose this time as my race? Mithra, Medium Size Face 6-B to be specific.
Encase your interested I'm currently up to a lv20 Warrior/Monk named (Yeah you guessed it) Darkskeleton on my old server, Garuda.

If I switch to FFXIV when it comes out, I might roll a Male Mithra if they decide to implement them. Male Mithra seem pretty likely since there is and has been such high demand for them. Since the FFXI races are only similar in appearance, they could easily say this time around Male Mithra arn't rare enough to not be playable.

The bottom line is that FFXIV looks awesome, and I'm tempted to keep playing FFXI till it comes out. FFXI is a lot of fun and there is a ton of content I never got to see on my old character, so I could easily entertain myself as far as MMOs go for the next year with FFXI.