Category: Gaming

KH HD First Impressions – Small update

Just wanted to add a couple extra things to my last post about how I’m going through this game…

I chose to take the staff route at the beginning.  I’m usually a magic user in most RPG’s, so I stuck with it this time too.  I believe I played it this way my last time through too.

I’m probably not going to do a full 100% completionist playthrough this time for a few reasons.  First of all, if I’m going to be going through all these games, I just don’t have the time to put 100+ hours into each of them, and in all reality, a lot of the mini games in KH HD aren’t very good or fun (the Jungle slide thing comes to mind).  I will be trying to get all the Trinity marks as well as all the Dalmatians, since you tend to find most of these things just playing through the game normally anyways.  I’ll also try to do all the side bosses (including the new one I hear was added to the Final Mix version).  We’ll see if I can actually do it without spending too much time.  Oh, and I’m basically saying fuck the Gummi ship stuff….I don’t think I know a single person who ever liked those things, and like hell if I’ll be putting in any time into that stupid mini game thing besides using it to get to new worlds.  Whatever possessed the developers to put this stupid thing in the game in the first place?  At least in this version is “seems” easier…either that, or I’ve just gotten better at putting up with dumb shit in games…

Oh, I am also using a guide…I know, I know.  Some people don’t like guides, but they help me blast through the game much quicker.  I’m not using them to spoil any of the story (even though I’ve played this game before)…it’s just there to help speed things up, that’s all.  Once I get to the games I haven’t played yet (like the DS and PSP games), I may change my mind at that point.  We’ll see.

I am currently about 20 hours in.  Just finished up Neverland last night, and am currently wrapping up some side stuff before I head to Hollow Bastion.  Looking super forward to this…I remember loving having the Beast in my party :)

Until next time…

Kingdom Hearts HD First Impressions

KHHDI realize I’m probably a bit late for this to be only first impressions, but here’s my first update in my (hopefully) long-running Kingdom Hearts marathon.

To start, I’m playing the HD remix version of Kingdom Hearts Final Mix that is part of the new Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix release. The HD-ification Square Enix did looks incredible…like really, really incredible. Last time I played the first KH game was probably 8 years ago on an old 28 inch CRT. Does it ever look so much better now. You’ll notice it almost immediately when you start a new game during the tutorial. The large stained-glass platforms of the various Disney princesses you’re standing on look like something out of the movies…so crisp and clean. Framerate also seems much better. I don’t recall the PS2 version running this smooth. The audio mix is also damn good…full 5.1 sound, and when you mix it with some classic Disney themes, I almost fell over…

There are some downsides though, first and foremost being the camera. If I recall from the original, it was awful. And that stands true here. It feels like a game of its time…hell, even earlier. Mario 64 had better camera controls. It just doesn’t move smoothly when you move the right stick, and isn’t very smart about following you. All of this wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the fact that there’s so many platforming elements that require very precise control. Oh well….I’m putting up with it over 20 hours in at this point, so I won’t stop now.

What really does it for me is the awesome mix of action RPG gameplay with a story just as absurd as any Final Fantasy game, all set in the various worlds of Disney. As of right now, I’ve been to Wonderland, The Colosseum, Agrabah, Atlantis, Neverland, 100 Acre Wood, and a few more, including some non-Disney places like Halloween Town from A Nightmare Before Christmas. The nostalgia just keeps running back every time I step into one of these worlds, especially 100 Acre Wood. The music, voice acting, art style….they nailed Winnie the Pooh to a T. I don’t want to continue gushing here…simply put, if you love Final Fantasy and Disney, you need to play this game.

Thats’s probably all I want to touch on today….yes, this game is still Kingdom Hearts, and I realized I still love it after all these years.

Until next time…

So yeah…I guess I’m back…

Heh, so I suppose it’s been a while, eh?  I’m still around, of course (as you can tell by the twitter feed there on the side of the page)…unfortunately, life totally got in the way these past couple years.  Where to begin…

Well, first of all, Mass Effect 3 finally shipped!!  It was a long haul there near the end, but so worth it.  I know most everyone on the team was so proud of the game we made.  For myself personally, I worked a ton on the multiplayer lobby flow, including the store and card reveal UI’s.  I also had my hand in some of the single player screens, including the 2 Galaxy at War screens, plus Character Creation, Squad Selection, and a few others.  We supported the game as well over the course of last year, and while I was off on another project (more on that below),  I came back for a couple months to give a hand with the last single player DLC, Citadel.

After ME3 shipped, I moved over to help out the Dragon Age team with their new project, Dragon Age: Inquisition.  I spent most of 2012 (minus a couple months in November helping out with Citadel) working on various features.  I’ve since moved on, but DA:I had a HUGE presentation at PAX Prime this year…here’s a link to some of the demo that was shown.  The DA team really outdone themselves with that demo…I’m so proud of them!!

As of now, I’m back on the Mass Effect team working on the next game.  I’m mostly working on UI’s, but that’s probably all I can say (oh, besides the fact that I’m SUPER EXCITED to still be working on the best franchise ever!!).  It’ll be a while before I can really say more, so I guess stay tuned…

Been keeping up on a few games in my downtime.  Bioshock Infinite, The Last of Us, and XCOM: Enemy Unknown are some of them, and just tonight I wrapped up Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch on the PS3.  Talk about an incredible JRPG.  Great art, great story, awesome battle system….all around great game.  I won’t go into too many details (as this post is already getting a bit long), but here’s a link to the Wikipedia entry.  If you are a fan of JRPG’s, this is a must.

And, to wrap up, just this week Square Enix released an updated version of the first Kingdom Hearts game called Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix.  It’s not only an HD remake of the KH1, but also the Game Boy Advance/PS2 game Chain of Memories, plus all the cutscenes from the DS game 358/2 Days.  I played KH1, 2 and CoM back in the day, but never made it around to the newer ones (the DS, PSP and 3DS games), so I’ve decided I’m going to start playing all of them.  I’ll be a long haul, but I think it’ll be fun (not to mention I’m very nostalgic for all things Disney…)  My hope is I’ll keep posting as I make my way through them.  Hopefully I’ll be done before they finish Kingdom Hearts 3…but, you know me.

That’s probably all for now.  

Until next time…

What a ride!!

Ok, so I know it’s been a while since I last posted here, but I’m still alive…you see the updated Twitter posts, right??

In all seriousness though, I’ve had a good reason to be away for so long. Things have definitely changed over the past few months, and I thought I should share them with everyone.

To start, I’m living in Montreal now. It was somewhat of an unexpected move, to say the least. To put it in the simplest terms, an opportunity presented itself and I took it. I am now working up here for Bioware Montreal, my dream company. For those that know me, they know how much of a Bioware fanboy I am, and to be given the opportunity to be a member of this team and make some really awesome games is truly a dream come true. I can’t say too much about what I’m specifically working on, but I can say that I’m part of the team making Mass Effect 3.

Unfortunately, I did have to leave a great job in Toronto at Tecmo Koei Canada. TKC gave me my start in the industry, and I’ll be forever grateful to them for that. I worked with some truly awesome people over there too, and won’t ever forget them. Regardless of the games we ended up releasing, I think those were some of the best people I have ever worked with. We had something special there. The truly sad part of this whole story is that I just learned that TKC went through a massive round of lay-offs this week. A lot of these friends are now without a job. I know they were all great people, and I know for a fact that every single one of them will land on their feet in short order. I wish them all the best in their future endeavors. To any of them reading this, you WILL find something you want to do…trust me.

The last bit of news is of course my trip to Italy. My girlfriend and I took a trip over there from December 28th through to January 7th. We started in Rome, and from there traveled to Florence, Pisa and Venice. What a time that was. It’s almost a totally different world over there…almost. There is a lot of stuff that’s very familiar, but also so much that’s different. To start, there is a McDonalds over there, but it serves beer :) The architecture is just amazing. Walking around the Coliseum was a sight to behold, and seeing the leaning tower in Pisa was spectacular. We even took a gondola ride around the canals in Venice. Just phenomenal. If you ever have the opportunity to go, take it. The only regret we have it that we didn’t have enough time to explore Florence. Next time, I suppose…

What else…wow…so much that I’ve missed. Congratulations to the Green Bay Packers for winning the Super Bowl. Didn’t really touch on football much this year. That’s probably because my Cowboys self destructed. I still watched, but just never had the urge to comment about it. I’m sure more thoughts will spill out now that I’ve started to settle down here in Montreal.

Until next time…

Infinite Space thoughts

A couple weeks back, I finished playing a DS game called Infinite Space.  It came out a while ago, and I just managed to get around to starting it back around the first of May.  All in all, I was very impressed with the game.

Infinite Space can be best described as a Japanese RPG, but instead of fighting orcs, elves and giant eyeballs, you’re in a space ship fighting other space ships.  Seems pretty cool, eh?  To RPG it out even more, you not only get 1 ship, but a whole fleet of them.  AND, you can customize your ships too, from what kinds of weapons each ship has, to what modules are in the ship, like Crew Cabins, cargo hold, Sick Bays, engines, bridges, and many, many more.  Oh, and to top it all off, you also assign crew members to different posts in your fleet, like First Officer, Chief Engineer, and even Head Chef.  Yeah, this game is an RPG in the true sense of the genre.

The game starts out as the main character, Yuri, discovers a crashed ship on his home planet.  He helps the pilot get the ship ready, and she (Nia) takes Yuri along for the ride.  You pick up new crew members and other characters along the way, do quests for various people, and discover this incredible force that enters your galaxy and wants to take it over.  It’s kinda your standard plot, but I’ll tell you, the storytelling is really good.  I couldn’t put the game down.  I just wanted to see what would happen next.  It’s got some of the Japanese RPG-type characters and such (like the quiet, but concerned hero, beautiful side-kick with very revealing clothing, and other stereotypes), but hey, this was created in Japan, right?  It’s part of the charm.

As for the gameplay itself, as I said above, you have a fleet of ships.  You’ll fly around from planet to planet, sector to sector doing the story missions and side quests, and you’ll get into random space battles along the way.  When a battle starts, you’ll have a meter that fills up (think the ATB meter from any of the SNES-era Final Fantasy’s).  When your turn comes up, you’ll use a portion of this meter to either Dodge, Attack, or Barrage (super attack).  Regular attacks take up 1/3 of this action bar, and they are just that…regular attacks.  A barrage though uses up 2/3’s of the bar and hits the enemies with a much stronger attack, except that it can be dodged.  Hence this is where dodge comes into play (which itself takes up 1/3).  Once you get into the battle system though, it’s pretty simple to understand.  Later in the game, you’ll gain access to special First Officer powers (depending on what crew member you put in your first officer slot), fighters, and Anti-air guns to combat fighters.  All these make for some interesting battles.

There’s also melee battles, which if I were to pick a weak part of this game, this would be it.  You have 3 attacks to choose from: Leadership, Slash, and Shoot.  Leadership beats Slash, Slash beats Shoot, and Shoot beats Leadership. Each side has a bar that starts to tick up as soon as you make a selection.  This then gives the other side about 3 seconds to choose an action (and their bar starts to tick) before you actually switch to your action.  The AI tends to be totally random though on it’s choices, so there’s no logic here…just straight up guessing, and hoping you guess right.  There are a few things you can control, like your health and attack strength, but if you never guess right, it won’t matter.  I tended to just load up on health and attack, and hope I got lucky.

The main story takes you across many different systems, and you do meet many different characters along the way.  It took me over 55 hours to beat this game, so it’s not for the light-hearted (mind you, I was farming for some of the best ships and components in the game, so naturally this takes a bit longer).  If you’re able to put up with the length and a bit of the JRPG-stereotype stuff, this is a must-play game, and worth every penny.

Overall, I’d give it a 4/5.

You can find it on (kinda expensive) or just try searching on Ebay (if you can get lucky and find a copy for around $40).

Until next time…

Steam bugs

Here’s a funny little one….I just signed up for the new Steam UI beta, and I was just sitting on my games screen when I noticed this:

If you’ll notice, in the Last Played column for Galcon Fusion, it says I last played the game tomorrow (click on the image if you want to see it a little better)…hmm…maybe Steam’s got some new kind of time warp machine that can predict the future?  Or maybe it’s just a bug, as things like this can happen in betas.

Still, funny none the less.

Oh, by the way…you can pick up Galcon Fusion for only $2 on Steam until Friday morning….it’s part of Steam’s Midweek Madness sale this week.  It’s a pretty cool little game.

Until next time…