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Showing posts from 2009

Reminiscing about NES

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Yeah, the title says it all. Recently, I tried to remember all the games I've played on NES, there was quite a few of them. Even though it was a long time ago (about 15 years) since the last time I played NES, I still can recall pretty much every game title I've ever seen. At the time, I didn't really have access to any game magazines and relied on pure luck when buying or renting a NES cartridge, so I managed to miss a bunch of really exceptional games.

Without a slightest doubt, I pick Darkwing Duck as my favorite NES game of all time. I actually never watched a single episode of the TV series by the same name, but the game was a gem. The music, the boss mechanics and the level design - it was all of the highest quality. Even though pretty short, the game never got old, and I had great fun completing it over and over again.

I found this list of 100 best NES games: http://www.sydlexia.com/nes100/. To my considerable surprise, Darkwing Duck is not even on that list, although…

The Spawn

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Couldn't help myself but to mention this: Robin Tunney is the ugliest creature I've ever seen on or off the screen. The first season of Prison Break was severely spoiled by her appearance, and now she poisons The Mentalist, the show which has a pretty interesting cast otherwise. I seriously don't understand how someone like Robin Tunney manages to get any kind of acting job. She is so ugly I literally get nausea every time I see her. I can admit she has something attractive about her eyes, but every other single feature overwrites it in an unpleasant way. As if this wasn't enough, her voice is very annoying. What is more important, she is not even acting. I've seen her on screen quite a few times and can say without a doubt she can't perform for shit, she just opens her eyes wide and starts crooking her already crooked mouth. The moment she gets shot in the first episode of second season of Prison Break is the most satisfying moment in the history of television…

Royal Pedophile

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Started watching Royal Pains just recently. Not that bad of a show really, the first episode was a pleasure to watch to my big surprise (I didn't expect much beforehand). But, as usual, I have a tiny-winy complaint about one of the actors. Meredith Hagner portraying Liby, this emotional sixteen years old girlfriend of an ultra-rich but deprived of parents' attention charismatic boy. The moment I heard Liby was sixteen, I went "what the..." The girl's skin doesn't seem too fresh and she is heavily wrinkled (we get to see all that thanks to extreme close-ups). In my head she didn't look younger than twenty-five. I have never heard of that actress before, so I had to turn to iMDB for reference. Meredith Hagner currently has only two credited works, and she is twenty-two years old. OK, I was wrong (although I still think she looks bad even for her actual age), but still, she is not even close to sixteen. I kinda got used to actors in their thirties playing yo…

Elven Nationalism Ideology

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There are five games in the Fantasy Wars series and I have already covered the first one - Fantasy Wars. This time I am going to review the Fantasy Wars successor, Elven Legacy.

Elven Legacy - There Will Be Blood

Fantasy Wars established itself as a very intelligent wargame with a memorable story and lovable heroes. Elven Legacy continues the tradition, but brings exiting innovations and is quite different from the original. One thing found its way to the sequel unaltered - the game mechanics which made the game so amiable in the first place.

As can be derived from the title, the game story pivots around the Elf folk. The noble Elves were introduced back in Fantasy Wars as one of the playable races of the Alliance Campaign. Instead of having a full-blown army of mighty Elves, we were served only a few Elven units and had to rely on a Dwarven-Elven-Human vinaigrette overall. This time around it's going to be Elves exclusively, new types of units come into play.

Elven army can't boa…

Sidetracked to a Fantasy World

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I was planning to devote myself to playing AGS games for at least a month, but got sidetracked.

While browsing for games to buy, I stumbled upon the Gold Edition of Fantasy Wars. I was aware that the title was well-received by both, the press and players, but never had a chance to play it. I was greatly enthused over the find and thought it would be the perfect specimen for my vast video game collection. Unfortunately, I decided to install and run the game, just to check if it was as exciting as everyone else thought it to be.

The game sucked me right in and didn't let go for three long evenings. After completing it (only the original Fantasy Wars), I felt horribly tired. Not only I barely got to sleep, but also struggled to have a single normal meal during the hours I spent playing. So captivated I was.

Quick Reference

Fantasy Wars was developed by Ino-Co, a Russian video game development company, a subsidiary of one of the biggest (if not the biggest) Russian video game publishing c…

Who Crippled Prince of Persia?

It looks like Blue Omega did. Just checked a couple of trailers for their upcoming video game called Damnation.

There are a bunch of videos dedicated to the game, all of them have one thing in common - they show a dull game with an unmemorable lead character and zero new ideas. And yeah, most of the videos feature lifeless zombie-like people who, one way or another, were involved in the production.

Just to have a point of reference, check this trailer out: Damnation, Verticality Trailer.

If a game features a commentary from the production team, I am used to very bright, interesting presentations. For example, all of Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning videos (with commentaries) were fun and exciting to watch. Tim Schafer is pure pleasure to listen to talking about his upcoming game, Brütal Legend. Well, there are plenty of examples.

The video I linked shows two emotionless guys, they don't look too excited about their game, nor do they say anything interesting about their game. They t…

Undead in Japan

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Ben Jordan Case 5: Land of the Rising Dead was the first game in the Ben Jordan series I played, it also was the first one I wrote about. Just to be true to the chronological order of the series, I played it again after finishing Ben Jordan Case 4: Horror at Number 50 and am going to re-write the original post a bit, moving it to a later date.

First off, lets take a look at the changes in the Ben Jordan's latest case compared to the previous games in the series. Ben Jordan's portrait has been updated, now it looks more realistic (Deluxe Edition of Ben Jordan Case 1: In Search of the Skunk-Ape featured the updated version as well). To tell the truth, I don't see it as an improvement and think that the original cartoony look of Ben's portrait was more adorable.

Simon Booth and Alice Wilkins, friends Ben made in his previous case, re-appear as the lead characters in this adventure. Simon, as well as Ben, received a new portrait. Once again, I find the original portrait much…

It's Haunted, All Right

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It's time to write about another Ben Jordan adventure, Ben Jordan Case 4: Horror at Number 50. This case leads Ben to a haunted house where he, together with his brothers-in-arms - people in the paranormal investigation business, - gets a chance to come face to face with an evil spirit. In the end, the evil is perished and Ben finds good friends.

The plot of Horror at Number 50 is relatively good, even if not that original. Still, I wouldn't say that this is the best of Ben Jordan cases. The problem with the game is that it features an extremely dull gameplay.

Most of the time Ben will have to venture into the same rooms and talk to the same people over and over again. I have nothing against extensive conversation, heck, The Moment of Silence is one of my favorite games only because it boasts with long conversations. Sadly, Ben's fourth case consists of almost nothing but conversations, and they are not good enough to keep things fresh and interesting. Other than talking, th…

Look at Them Float!

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I continue expressing my opinion on Ben Jordan adventure game series. Just to sum up a bit. Case 1: In Search of the Skunk-Ape (both, original and the Deluxe Edition) was a complete atrocity. Case 2: The Lost Galleon of the Salton Sea was pretty good, but a bit boring.

This time I am going to write about Ben Jordan Case 3: The Sorceress of Smailholm. Well, without further introduction, I would like to say that this game is the best of all the Ben Jordan games I've played so far. It tells a story about a Witch Cult and a story of love. It's definitely not The Lost Crown: A Ghost-Hunting Adventure, but is extremely good and deeply satisfying!

The Sorceress of Smailholm has it all: good graphics, logical puzzles and a swift storyline. There is almost nothing to dislike about this title, but still there are at least two things I found disappointing (if only a bit).

First of all, the game is extremely easy. As it came out in the end, there are two different endings, lets call them th…

Cure for Madness

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It is really surprising how Francisco Gonzalez managed to recover from the piece of shit that was Ben Jordan Case 1: In Search for the Skunk-Ape with the follow-up title in the series, Ben Jordan Case 2: The Lost Galleon of the Salton Sea. The game is funny and the plot, even though a bit boring, lacks the stupidity of the predecessor.

Case 2 looks exactly like the original release of the Case 1. It has the same ugly thick gray frames around all the dialogue messages (I don't understand why the frames used for character portraits were not utilized for dialogues as well, they look very neat) and the same horrible blue game menu which is not harmonic with the rest of the game looks. Nonetheless, the game is visually appealing, but what is most important, the story is tenable.

The sad part is that the length of Ben Jordan's second case is only moderate at best. Without a doubt, it is much longer than that of the Skunk-Ape case, but still is very humble, considering all the game puz…

Storytelling at Its Worst

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Adventure Game Studio freeware game engine created the perfect opportunity for people who can draw even a little bit to create great adventure games. There are plenty of games using that engine which are truly wonderful and exciting. Not surprisingly though - with an easy to use, flexible tools at the disposal there is no limits but imagination. There are, of course, plenty of terrible games as well. What is astounding, at least for me, is that some of not so good AGS games are highly praised by the community.

I am going to talk about the first game in the Ben Jordan adventure game series, Ben Jordan Case 1: In Search of the Skunk-Ape. There are two versions of the game available at the moment, the original one and the Deluxe Edition. There are plenty of differences between the two of them, so I played them both in a row. Without a doubt I can say that this title is total crap, deluxe or not.

To explain my opinion better, I will have to mention the key plot elements (I giggled when I w…

The Perfect Evening

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So, I am having the perfect evening. Watching a really fun and warm TV series called Being Erica and drinking whiskey.

This time it's Jameson 1780 12 Year Old Irish Whiskey. The stuff is pretty expensive with a price of around $30+ for a bottle, but it is extremely pleasant. I really wasn't expecting such a smooth taste and a memorable aftertaste. A couple of pipes of Peterson's tobacco on top of that... Mmmm.

To rate the things which could make your evening as enjoyable as mine:

* Being Erica - kind and simple TV series, perfect for a relaxing evening.
* Jameson 1780 12 Year Old Irish Whiskey - one of the best drinks I had so far.
* Peterson's tobacco - I am having Sweet Killarney today. Peterson is not my best choice, but it's also not the worst I had.

It's Free, But There's a Cost

Well, I've been away from the Internet for about three weeks now and had a chance to play a lot of freeware adventure games created using Adventure Game Studio game engine. At first, I was very excited about those games as they were very well done considering them being freeware and developed by a single person (mostly). Still, after thinking about it for a while, I decided that those games could have been much better.

In my following posts I am going to review several AGS games and will start with Ben Jordan series created by Francisco Gonzalez.

There Is Life without the Internet...

Soon this theory will be put to the test.

Tomorrow I am going to see two movies in a row, Marley & Me (2008) and Watchmen (2009). In that order. The tickets were already purchases online and printed out. Hope it won't be too crowded, especially at the Watchmen showing - it's this movie's local premiere day after all.

And the day after tomorrow I am leaving my beloved country. Indefinitely. There is nothing fun about the trip, but it is something that must be done. I will be living in some shithole with population of around 5K. There will be no TV, no Internet and no PC. Well, I am taking my Macbook Pro, but this machine was not meant to be used for fun.

This is the time for my trustworthy PSP and DS to do a lot of heavy lifting. It will be the perfect opportunity to finally play all the games I bought for those handheld consoles.

Still, I am getting depressed already.

Are You a Real Actor? Academy Awards Cometee Doesn't Seem to Think So

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So, finally I got to finish the famous Heavenly Sword (2007). Back when I bought PlayStation 3 in March 2007, with Metal Gear Sold 4 being indefinitely postponed, this game topped my most anticipated PS3 titles list.

Ninja Theory, the developer of the game, showed the world a couple of trailers long before Sony released its latest console. What was shown in those trailers was literally the state of the art. In my believe Heavenly Sword was to become the most visually stunning video game in the history of video game entertainment.

In September 2007, I got the game hot from the new releases shelf. First 10 minutes of Heavenly Sword were the ultimate jaw dropping experience for me. When I passed the shock caused by the game looks, I started to notice that there is no much going on in this wonderful world. I played it for one hour and got so turned away by the boring gameplay, that I had put the game on a shelf and completely forgot about it up until now.

Heavenly Sword is truly a piece of a…

When in Doubt, Say Yes to Pizza

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So, I went out of town for a couple of days to hit the capital city. I don't usually leave my home town during this time of year, but this time there were several reasons for making the trip.

The main reason was to to the concert of a Russian band called Би-2 (Bi-2). I am not a big fan of Би-2 and like only a single song of theirs, Варвара.

This song is a really great fun, I spent almost two years performing it after getting wasted. I don't know how to play the guitar, but the song can be only played with four simple chords. I didn't all the words, but the chorus consists of only one word. So, me and all of my drinking buddies were ending up singing that single word really loud. These were the best days of my dorm life! This song is the reason I can say that Би-2 has a special place in my heart. As I already said though, I don't like the band overall. I think most of its songs are depressing and sound a bit alike. Also, I don't enjoy the lead vocalists' voice.

Би-…

Don't Trust a Bank!

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Just came back from the movie theater where I watched The International (2009). It is a typical political thriller starring Clive Owen and Naomi Watts.

The story follows a generic template. Louis Salinger, Owen's character, is an Interpol agent who is trying to expose a banking organization which is suspected in arms trading. Salinger is always two steps behind and every new lead gets him nowhere. In the end, Louis Salinger realizes that his adversary is too powerful and the only way to fight it is to go "outside the system". The hunter becomes the hunted and Salinger gets an upper hand. But can he call himself victorious? Surely not, one person cannot fight the organization. Typical.

The story is almost as old as the world itself. As for the actors, I never was too excited about Clive Owen and always think of him as the guy who played in Privateer 2: The Darkening. He was good there. Naomi Watts looks much worse than the last time I saw her. It seems that the time was not…

One Thousand and One Nights

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A while ago, I played the latest Prince of Persia (2008). This is the the second series reboot already (there is the Original Trilogy followed by the Sands of Time trilogy) and I was eagerly awaiting its release from the moment I heard about it, being a huge fan of the Prince of Persia franchise.

I ordered the game on eBay and couldn't wait to receive the package. The day the game arrived, I was totally hyped up and cleared my evening plans to be able to completely immerse into the world of a fairy tale.

Without further ado, I would like to say that even if the game looked very impressive in the beginning, I got totally bored with it in an hour or two. Ubisoft Montréal managed to take a step back not only with the Prince of Persia games, but with games in general. Seeing as video games should be the ultimate interactive form of entertainment, I just can't understand why Ubisoft decided to turn their game into some sort of an interactive movie.

There is almost no way to do anythin…

Dan Mahowny Day (Quotes, Part 1)

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Just watched a pretty interesting movie called Owning Mahowny (2003). The movie is based on a book Stung (1987) by Gary Ross which in turn is based on a real-life story that occurred in 1982 in Toronto, Canada.

The movie tells a story about a successful assistant branch manager who is addicted to gambling, his name is Dan Mahowny (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, one of my favorite actors of all time). Dan lives his life from one gamble to another, he plays to get a thrill and can't ever stop. He doesn't play to win, he plays to lose. If he wins, he uses the money he won to gamble until he loses all.

In order to be able to keep up with his addiction, Dan Mahowny requires a lot of money. He takes advantage of his position to embezzle his employer's money by taking loans registered to a phantom client.

Owning Mahowny is a great fun. The story is interesting and the actor performance can't get any better.

Here is a quote from the movie.

Psychologist: How would you rate the th…

Queens of the Jungle

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TV series is my second biggest passion after video games. I wasn't such a big admirer only some time ago. I was always aware of what TV series is really about, but I never actually sticked to watching any show up until some time during 2003. It was the time I started dating this wonderful girl, lets call her Prussakas (in case you understand what this name stands for, don't be misled, it's actually much cuter than it sounds). It was this girl, whom I will never forget by the way, who opened the world of TV series to me.

I got sucked into it pretty fast. First, I was watching Home Improvement and Friends, but soon I discovered Futurama and Family Guy. Both those shows became my all time favorite (well, Family Guy went sour after the reboot).

Since then, I watched hundreds and hundreds of shows and found out something interesting - even though there are favorites, I tend to enjoy watching just about anything. "No show is a bad show" - I could this line as my slogan, …

Internet, You Lying SOB!

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I took an interest in the Oldboy (2003) OST, so I decided to find out who actually composed it. I did some Internet research and here is what I found on the most popular sites:

* On iMDB there are three different people credited for the OST in question: Jo Yeong-Wook (as director of music), Choi Seung-Hyun and Lee Ji-Soo (both as composers).
* On English Wikipedia only Jo Yeong-Wook is credited.

This is a good example of how frustrating the Internet can be. All this information is not very accurate.

I did some more searching and finally found a person who I decided to contact in order to make things clear, Shim Hyun-Jung. As you might have noticed, her name is not mentioned at iMDB or Wikipedia. This talented composer and a a very nice person agreed to help me.

It came out, it was her who composed 15 (out of 24) tracks for the soundtrack, including the memorable The Last Walts. The remaining tracks were composed by Lee Ji-Soo and Choi Seung-Hyun, and Jo Yeong-Wook was the Music Supervisor…

Oldboy, Old Memories, Wild Wild Boy

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Isn't it wonderful how sometimes when you are thinking about one thing, your mind jumps to another?

Only a short time ago I was writing about Rorschach and mentioned its music, which was borrowed from the Oldboy (2003) OST. Soon after making that post, I started thinking about the movie. I watched it a long time ago and could only remember a couple of things from it (not including the fact that the movie was extremely violent, this is kinda hard to forget).

For one, the octopus which was eaten alive by the main hero. A really memorable scene - octopus' legs sticking out of Dae-su's mouth, swirling. And, of course, the legendary corridor fight scene (a very long continuous take, marvelous). This scene was actually the reason I got to see Oldboy in the first place. I heard about it before I even knew what the movie is really about.

Anyway, it seemed only logical to find the DVD and watch it again. What can I say? It is indeed a very impressive movie, a thriller with a message, …