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Kristina Pino's blog

8:04 AM on 11.17.2010

I found my PSP at long last!

Between the site upgrade/mishaps/downgrade and being productive (or something) - oh yeah, and forgetting my password on Dtoid (cause I'm a noob), I haven't had much of a chance to post on here as of late.

I suppose that should change, right? Here's a brief update on what's been going on with me:

After YEARS of searching, and I mean YEARS (at least 4) I finally found my long-lost PSP. I'd been searching in my room for so long, and all this time it was inside what initially looks like a CD album, but is really an ultra bulky PSP case with space for games/charger/accessories. I always overlooked it thinking it was a CD album of some sort, until a couple weeks ago when I was doing some more heavy "Spring Cleaning" and I actually picked it up to see what was inside. Yeah, I know. Lots of /facepalm happened.

Now that I have it back though, I'm really happy I can finally play some games I've missed out on! It wasn't until recently that I've been wanting to play some stuff on it, but not badly enough to consider purchasing another one, you know? My games right now are LittleBigPlanet PSP version and Guardian's Crusade (anyone remember that game from PS1?)

About Guardian's Crusade: I remember playing that game back in the day, and I have fond memories of it. I played that along with Monkey Island and other RPG/adventure games - so maybe it wasn't that great of a game and it just got lost in the storm with all those other types, but I'm about to find out soon how well it holds up! I would like to believe that my fond memories will stay that way.

Another good thing about finally finding my PSP is that now my boyfriend could show me a bunch of games without losing access to his own portable. I was playing Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep on his system until I found mine - so he transferred my save file and I can now play it whenever I like. I have to admit though, ever since then I haven't played it again. I've also not made too much more progess on Kingdom Hearts II.

I get distracted from games too easily. I've also been really busy lately.

I need more hours in the day! (Or a ONE steady job, rather than like three part time jobs that I'm juggling right now)

(that last image ganked from Jobi Wan Kenobi on DA)   read

2:28 PM on 10.19.2010

The gamer ADD is setting in slowly

I've been slowly but surely moving along in Kingdom II, but as always as I get more and more invovled with a game, I become more easily distracted! The culprit this time is Kingdom Birth By Sleep.

The good thing about my BBS distraction is that the only way I can play it is by borrowing my boyfriend's PSP whenever we have some idle time together. The bad thing is that the longer I spend playing other games and not completing KH2, the longer it will be before I can get back to Arkham Asylum!

The reason I opted to focus on KH2 is that Batman is much easier to drop for a while and swing back into later, while the other...not so much. I'm about 30 hours in, and I think that puts me about halfway. Since I want to have full completion of the game, including beating Sephiroth, I think I set my total time to what, about 64 hours? I suppose I'm not doing all that bad!

For a five year old game, I think KH2 holds up really well. I can't give it TOO MANY props, because really, Prince of Sands of Time really surprised me wit   read

8:23 AM on 09.28.2010

My progess and impressions: KHII Style

So I've been playing Kingdom Hearts II for maybe a week or so now, and I am a good 12 hours and 24 minutes into the game (last I checked). This is huge, I didn't think I'd actually get past the first annoying hump of the game, much less over 12 hours into it. With that, I believe I am about a fifth of the way through, as far as total game time goes. I know the game is supposed to be about 45 hours or so, but I want to beat Sephiroth, so I'll have to grind harder.

When I play games, I like to do so as completely as possible. This means I tend to work on all the side quests, beat all the side bosses, all that good stuff. This is part of the reason why I never seem to have enough time to invest in said games, or why I tend to not even finish them at all. It's really daunting to pick up a game and know that I have to invest at least 60 hours of my time into it.

Now, for my impressions and whatnot.

I am really enjoying the flow of the game. While I was playing the first KH game, I only really got bored towards the end, during the "endgame" stage as I call it, when I only really had maybe 1 or 2 stages to go to finish the whole story, but I wanted to go back and get all of the puppies, beat all the bosses in the Colusseum, get all the trinity stamps, etc. That destroyed the flow of the game when I played it, and I actually didn't even finish it because I couldn't get every single thing done. I know what happens, but I didn't finish the last stage.

As far as KH2 though, I managed to keep myself way out of the loop, and came into the game not knowing anything about it (except that it has the horrible prologue that I had to start four times before I actually pushed through to get to the rest of the game). It's because this was such a put-off that I am surprised I've gotten this far, anyhow.

I'm really happy that the game holds up as well as it does, and another thing that really impressed me: whenever I change Sora into one of his other forms, and he jumps into a cutscene, he still appears to be in that form (with the different color outfit, etc). I always appreciate that kind of detail, and of course it goes without saying that the soundtrack is also great.

As I get further along, I'll probably write again and share what my continued impressions of the game are, because it has become really exciting for me. I like a lot of things about KH2 that are in complete contrast to the way the first game played, especially that it doesn't look like I'm going to be revisiting the other worlds to look for random little chests and mickey symbols to get 100% completion.   read

1:20 PM on 09.22.2010

DCGG: Tutorials Rant

If there's one thing that really turns me off to certain games - without fail - is a bad tutorial. I don't even mean bad in the sense that it doesn't explain the mechanics properly, I mean bad like, I don't want to friggen know it's there.

Final Fantasy tutorials have this habit of being "in your face" and wasting hours of your time. I really like FF games; don't get me wrong, I've played them all to some extent. I haven't played through Final Fantasy XIII, though, only because the tutorial process is a cumbersome 20 hour commitment that I don't want to waste my life with. Why does Square do this?

They did something similar with Kingdom Hearts II as well. I started playing that game at least 4 times, getting no further along than 1 or 2 hours because of the weird beginning with Roxas tutorial mode. Recently, I noticed I had a lot of games backed up that I've been meaning to play, and I now actually have time to play them! So I took a little break from Batman to start Kingdom Hearts II again, and I am now a good seven and a half hours in. You should be proud!

I wish tutorials were usually more like the kind in Batman: Arkham Asylum. I like the way it just shows you what you need to do at the moment you need it, without stopping the flow of the game to give you a rundown. If more games had tutorials like this, my life would be so much easier. Of course, I understand that games as complex as FF types which involve a lot of customization, menus and so-forth would call for a more sophisticated tutorial; I just would prefer all of the FF games to have it, like say, Final Fantasy VIII which as I remember gave you the choice to skip the tutorial from the beginning of the thing. It's nice to have a choice. If I remember correctly, XII also made tutorials optional (beyond the very first 20 minutes or so in combat skill and whatever).

I don't think a lot of other games have such a stupid process. All the Zelda games I've played just have a quick little dialogue box telling you what to do when the moment arises. The Mario games I can remember just had signs posted with directions, if anything. Maybe this post is just a complaint about Square games and how they suck at tutorials.

Ah, well.

End rant.


8:06 AM on 08.31.2010

DCGG: Moving on (short post)

As a quick note, that DCGG is a shortened version of my series title "Diary of the Casual Girl Gamer". It looks nicer than typing out the entire thing, and the series will change soon - I'll explain why.

So I finally got around to starting Batman: Arkham Asylum, now that I've got the time. Currently, I've had two sit-downs with it and I'm about 5% through. I've already realized very quickly that the game has a hell of a lot of content! This makes me happy...because if I want to take a break from the story for a while, I've got plenty of Riddler challenges, or outside of the story-mode itself I can actually play challenge mode or look at trophes and achievements. The controls are good in my book, too. Actually, speaking of achievements, I should look at the list so I don't miss out on any (might help!). Really, I like to play RPGs as completely as possible and unlock everything. Also, I kinda like being able to switch on the 3D when I'm feeling like quite the cool kid.

As I thought I might, I've found myself with more time on my hands. It isn't just my boyfriend, but most of my friends have gotten busy with school back in and still keeping jobs; so the time I previously allocated to getting out of the house is now being used to go out and shoot pictures and whatnot, or I write stuff on Tomopop. I found out I have another week or so to wait for the respose on movie blogger, and I got hired to update a local photog's blog for compensation (for the win!). Eventually, I would like to put up my own site with my work and pro/personal blog (meaning, I'll be looking for help soon from someone who can write php!! Cause I really stink at that...). In the meanwhile, I spend my free time watching movies or now sitting down and playing me some Batman.

/end excited post!

p.s. Since I'm phasing further away from 'casual' status with the amount of time I spend gaming, this series will go on break to make way for a newer set in my Gamer Diary. As such, I am accepting ideas for the new series' name! Please comment with your idea if you've got one. Rather than titling all my posts with the new name, I am also heavily considering the title as a header for my blog here. I am preparing artwork for it, but yeah. Feedback greatly appreciated~   read

3:09 PM on 08.24.2010

Idle Time Idly Spent

In todayís world, unless youíre doing it on purpose, idle time is generally ďwastedĒ time. Most ďproductiveĒ members of society use would-be idle time to read the paper, phone a friend, anything; as long as itís not a whole lot of nothing, right? As long as said person doesnít feel like their time is wasted.

So what do I end up doing when I have some spare time that I donít intend to spend idly? I flip on my handy-dandy Nintendo DS Lite and play. My current game is Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time. The other two DS Lite games that I havenít managed to finish are Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass and Super Mario 64: DS. This is mostly because I donít usually have enough idle time to complete long games like this in a timely manner (and get bored of trying to figure out where I left off every time I play it) and finding myself feeling further and further away from completing the game. Granted, itís really simple to tell where you left off in Mario 64 since you have a star count and whatnot; but these other RPGís donít have convenient story markers like the journals on, say, Kingdom Hearts or Final Fantasy XIII (different systems, but itís the point Iím trying to make, here).

Reading DToid is rapidly becoming a replacement (itís a strong contender) for my time spent waiting or just sitting around, along with keeping at least 2 cameras at the ready in case I see something I want to keep for later (grin). Itís nice to have a smart phone.

Also, as a side note, Iíll be posting some news on (Squeee) Tomopop, if any of you read that site. Itís all very exciting; my first writing internship. Sorta. I get to post news. Stuff. Iím still waiting on the response for another one I applied to. If I get that, Iíll have even less idle time, for the win?

Honestly, I wish I had the patience to carry around books and more things like I used to, because I donít always feel like taking out my DS and figuring out where I left off in a game I maybe havenít played in 2 weeks, and more frequently running out of battery about 15 minutes in (because I always forget to turn the dang thing off properly). Recently I prefer to just travel light: 1 handheld (DS), my phone, keys, wallet and a camera.

So what do you do with your idle time? PSP? Book? Nose-Picking Olympics? An Inquiring Mind Wants To Know!   read

4:12 PM on 08.18.2010

Diary of the Casual Girl Gamer: Achievement Unlocked!

After 3 months, I finally finished playing Prince of Persia: Sands of Time (and the crowd goes wild)! I know itís only about a 10 hour game, but it definitely feels nice to finally be through with it when I havenít really dedicated much time to games like I used to (until recently). I will probably have more time in the coming months to play more, so hopefully it wonít take me a year to play through Batman, which is next on my play list.

I played Sands of Time on PS2 (borrowed it from my boyfriend), and I must say, it holds up really well. The only real complaint I would have is the choppy soundtrack; because it really is a beautiful score if youíve ever listened to it, but it seems like maybe trying to load the game all on a single disc limited what they could do with the music. If itíd been a 2-disc game instead, it would have been that much better, even with having to deal with a disc change.

Also, a lot of people (Iíve heard) complain about how the hardest battle is towards the beginning, rather than the end. I didnít have a problem with this, because even though the battles werenít terribly difficult as the game wore on, the puzzles and stages got progressively more complicated. I think the difficulty level is fine as it is.

The graphics themselves were satisfactory, and I experienced no lag or mishaps in general. The only time I got any sort of glitching in the game was towards the end when one of the monsters got stuck in a wall. I donít know if this was done on purpose as a counter to possible glitching or if it was a happy coincidence, but most of the enemies in this game teleport to you as you approach them or try to run away from them. So, the glitch was a non-issue when I just walked away far enough that the dude would port to me.

I always have a love-hate relationship with the princess characters in these Prince of Persia games, because they usually land my ďbane of my existenceĒ list by the middle of the game. Once you get past the tsundere factor, though, I think theyíre really cute. I also like that Sands is narrated, so it does play like a story, complimented by the lack of EXP, currency, etc. Just plain story. The Prince can be a bit of a whiny bitch, but itís still all good to me.

What I liked most though. is although the game basically guides you through everything (tells you what to do, where to go), it is still a challenge. Some of the puzzles are not as difficult as they seem, or vice-versa, so it really made the game much more exciting for me. This is definitely going to stay up in my top list of games. The one drawback of putting in the effort of playing this game now is that when I was already like 80% through, I find out PSN is going to be putting out a new copy. I definitely had one of those ďFMLĒ moments, but when I thought about it againÖI would have probably played the original at some point, anyhow. Iím probably better off having played it first either way (that way I can really appreciate the new one whenever I do get to it).

Cheers!   read

9:53 AM on 08.16.2010

Grinding IRL.

Changes can be good sometimes. I've gone from being a total loser bum with no job or much of anything to do, to part time job + internship (maybe even 2 internships) and exericising again. With all the time I have now (opposed to sleeping in every morning) I have been 1000% more productive in the past 2 weeks than I have in months. It's been weird to get used to a new sleeping schedule (I've had to nap often) and I spent a week or so walking around like (or not walking, wobbling) like I was crippled due to lack of exercise for the past year and a half, then suddenly going back to intense workouts.

I've finally gotten into a comfortable swing. Weekday mornings I work, hang out with the bf and have lunch (or have lunch with my brothers), internship in the afternoon (some days) or work on my own writing and photog stuff, exercise in the evening, then whatever. Games, hanging out with friends, movie, etc. I've been less cranky now that I got used to it. I'm actually happy, because I feel like I'm getting closer to my real career path (at least I hope it's my path) and becoming pro journalist.

A wild schedule change appears. The boyfriend is starting school again next week, so now I have more time (again). When I first started working, I had -too much- time. Now I don't have enough hours in the day. Come next week, I think I'll be back in a balance where I'll have more spare time, but it kindof sucks, y'know? I like spending time with him when I've got it. Usally it's his schedule that we work around, now we'll both be busy.

This is good news for you folks, though, because it means I'll have more time for games. I'd been holding off on c-blogging for a bit in hopes my next post would be when I finished Sands of Time. Naturally, when I only have about an hour or so left in the game is when I can't find any time to finish it. Speaking of games, I also played some of Scott Pilgrim vs the World. My boyfriend downloaded it the night it came out and we played for a few hours. So much fun! I agree with everyone who keeps saying there should be online co-op. A friend of his also lent me the comics, so eventually I'll get to reading it, too.

When I mentioned earlier a possible second internship; this application is what's taken my time from gaming, aside from my usual laziness. I've applied for a writing intern position and I'm undergoing the second phase of the whole process now. Tomorrow night I have to turn in some articles, and then I get to wait a while until I find out if I'm hired or not. Wish me luck?

Anyway, my next post will be less about IRL and more about games. I promise. :)   read

1:29 PM on 08.05.2010

Random Awesomeness: Tonberry Style.

There was once a lonely Tonberry. He's the quiet type; doesn't talk much. He doesn't even have a name. All he did all day was sit around with his lantern and knife, wondering when he'd ever make a friend. Stabbing things in the throat is good and all, but it just wasn't enough.

In comes the good boyfriend, who sees this lonely Tonberry and thinks to himself, "I think my girl would be a good friend to this Tonberry."

So he picked up the lonely Tonberry, and brought it home to her. She smiled gleefully at the sight of it, and named the cute, green monster Poochie Pirate. Poochie for short.

Poochie now hangs out at the crow's nest of her ship and stabs the throats of any traffic offender in her way. He is the happiest Tonberry in the world, because he now has a best friend; to listen to, to travel with, and to stab for.

Now she can drive with confidence and vindictiveness, because she has her Tonberry with her. Always.

That is all. =) Have a nice day!

P.S. Update! I'm past the 60% point in Prince of Persia: Sands of Time now. I can't wait to finish it so I can play Batman already. If I stop with PoP, I more than likely won't get back on it and finish the game later, so I must do it now!

P.P.S. There SO needs to be a tag for "Semi-video game related". Yeah.   read

1:57 PM on 08.02.2010

A Belated Intro of the one and only me.

So this isnít my first post, but I quickly found out that introducing myself properly is more important than I initially thought. I am here as living proof that spontaneous combustion will not occur if you post a story on DToid without writing this post first. I am also here to say that hurr hurr I know that the world of video games is 80% ripoffs and 10% decent games (it's upto you to decide where that other 10% went). 'Cause lawd knows I haven't been playing video games since Turok was on a floppy disc (Oh yes, I played that. On a floppy.).

Now, teh real introduction: (the long version)

As I have listed in my bio, my name is Kristina and I live in Miami. I like to play games, mostly RPG and puzzle game style, and lately Iíve been more of a casual gamer. I donít really limit the sort of games I play, because I do enjoy FPS like Borderlands and Left4Dead2. I also sometimes enjoy random time-wasters like Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook (but that's about the limit with facebook games).

When I measure a gameís worth, I consider all aspects [such as cost (vs time) efficiency being very important, animation, soundtracks, storyline, player interaction (if itís multi-player/MMO)]. Naturally, I think that paying $60 for a game that can be beaten in 1 day is a waste of money. Itíll take a lot of convincing to get me to ever shell out more than $5-10 for a short game. Either that, or itíll have to be a Monkey Island game. Iíve been playing those since the 90s and I was lucky enough to catch the 2-for-1 special on Steam recently; Both Special Editions (for Monkey Island 1 and 2) for $9.99. That was a steal.

I donít have too many games (anymore) in general because I usually wait for sales. Iím not an impulse buyer. At all. I also hang out with enough people that play games that I can usually borrow what I want to play, rent it or pitch in with a few folks to just buy 1 copy between any number of us. I didnít get a PS3 until this past Christmas (2009), and for nearly half a year the only game I played on it was LittleBigPlanet (also, I canít wait for LBP2!). My boyfriend gave me Batman: Arkham Asylum (Game of the Year edition) for my birthday (Which was in June), so Iíll be playing that really soon, after Iím through playing Prince of Persia: Sands of Time (which he lent me after we saw the movie).

Batman is my absolute favorite superhero, never forget that. Another factoid: I make superheroes fabulous. One of my hobbies is to prettyfy superhero t-shirts. Another one of my hobbies is to collect non-import local-brew beer bottles whenever I travel. Disney pins make me happy (yeah, Iím a Disney whore). I like to paint and read, and my most time-consuming hobby (hopefully soon-to-be job > eventually professional occupation) is photography. I also work for 2 professional photographers in Miami, aside from my morning part-time job.

Besides all that, I like to write and share my experiences with others. My ultimate goal is to be a travel journalist, but I have to start somewhere, right? I applied for that internship for Modern Methodís upcoming website for movie reviews, and blog in several places for now. One of the blogs Iím a part of is FemmeGamer. All the things Iím referencing in this post will be added to my bio via links, btw.

Last, but not least, how I got around to Dtoid to begin with! My boyfriend writes for the other 2 sites, Japanator and Tomopop, so for the past half a year Iíve been getting more and more involved with the online gaming/figure community and keeping up to date with new stuff. Some of our friends also have writing experience with other sites or local papers, so Iíve lumped myself with a good crowd to grow in the field of journalism. Iíll be updating my blog on this site as often as every week if I can find enough to talk about.

A lot of my posts will be headed with ďDiary of a Casual Girl GamerĒ. Whenever you see that, youíll know itís me. Unless someone else decides to be a biter. But I think itíll be me. Iím excited to write here and be a part of the Dtoid community, and I hope that my posts will bring some enjoyment to your day, at least for a few minutes. And as a disclaimer Iím not the biggest technical maniac about all the games I play. I donít really care about the best gear and the best weapon and the most DPS in most games I play casually, because in the end it doesnít really matter when all you want is to enjoy yourself. The only game I know that much about is Final Fantasy XI, an MMO Iíve been playing since 2004. I have nothing to say here about that subject, but I already plan to make a post about it in the future. I like to play Final Fantasy games, and Iíll tell you why I still play the MMO when you see the post: "Diary of a Casual Gamer Girl: A Rabid Final Fantasy Addiction" (Or something like that. Maybe that title is too long. Actually, I still refuse to play FFXIII.). Iím also testing the new game, and have very high hopes for it.

tl;dr : My name is Kristina, and I like to write stuff, and take pictures. It's nice to meet you all, and I'm happy to join the DToid community. I also play games. And I love my boyfriend. The end. <3


4:36 PM on 08.01.2010

Diary of a Casual Girl Gamer: Rip-off Edition.

I cannot be the only person that can tell that Zombie Bowl-o-Rama is a total rip-off of Plants vs Zombies. MumboJumbo not only released a game that I find inherently boring (Iíve never seen the fun in any sort of virtual bowling), they managed to convince me within 11 minutes that they want to be as successful as PopCap but lack the creativity to make an effort. I say 11 minutes, because I watched a trailer/intro and then played the demo for 9 minutes before I was too mortified to go on.

Plants vs Zombies is a very addictive game, for a lot of reasons. Thereís nothing really special about it, graphically, and the levels arenít even much of a challenge most of the time. Moreover, you get from beginning to end rather quickly, story-wise. On the flip side, the content is hilarious, and there are so many puzzles and mini-games that youíll get a lot of enjoyment out of the game despite the short adventure mode. That, and the variety of zombie types is good, I always got a kick out of every new zombie I saw when I first started playing that game. Also, the soundtrack was pleasant and I think it added to the humor.

So what did MumboJumbo do? They created a completely different game. Iím not gonna lie, it is a different game. BUT. A lot of the elements within this different game are obviously not original ideas. A heavy metal soundtrack and poorly animated, blocky-looking 3D zombies totally didnít mask the fact that if you didnít knock the zombies down, they advance, and the ultimate goal is to not get your brains eaten by the zombies coming toward you.

I looked at the opening of the game, and saw this hand bursting out of a grave, and thought, what the hell? Isnít that what the PvZ menu looks like? Yup...pretty much. Couldnít they have one-upíd PopCap and have like, a zombie burst out of the ground or something? Or maybe they can just, you know, not use graves in the opening. Or for the in-level menus. Sure, I totally get it. Youíre totally NOT biting off PvZ.

So Iím bowling for zombies, and I look at the default NPC that appears on my screen. Guess who it looks like? You guessed it. Crazy Dave! Oh, boy. In the promo, they used a different-looking picture. Maybe itís random. Maybe it isnít! This is what I saw on my screen when I started playing the demo matches.

Last, but not least, I definitely /facepalmíd when I saw the end of the trailer Ė a zombie disco dancing at the end of the bowling lane. RightÖlike the Michael Jackson with back-up dancing zombies isnít one of the most popular in PvZ.

Needless to say, this demo left a bad taste in my mouth. I really like zombie games, so I downloaded it out of pure curiosity. Itís been out since last year, but I can see why it hasnít been popular enough for me to have noticed it back then. Having a bunch of ugly, blocky zombies groaning ďbraaaainsĒ at me from the end of a bowling lane didnít help win me over, either.   read

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