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8:02 PM on 05.02.2009

What Have I Been up to!?

DESTRUCTOID!! I'm SO sorry that I disappeared from the face of the Earth... I promise that it has been for good reasons. How do I say this? I've been dealing with a lot of personal issues lately. Over the past few months, I've cut myself off from most of the world. I was pretty much content to lock myself in my dorm room and just sleep, pretending that I was never going to have to deal with my mother's second divorce, my relationship with my father and brothers, the fact that I'm failing college atm, mounds of backed up assignments and homework, my troubles with my girlfriend, and my creative slump. Sorry if I'm being too open, but I'm just tired of holding all that in.

Anyway, due to to school, I probably won't be able to resume posting on a regular basis for another couple of weeks. However, when the summer rolls around, I'll have plenty of free time. I promise that I haven't forgotten any of you who read and comment on my posts and I've already got a new Sound Test blog ready to post. So! I'm sorry for my selfishness and I can't wait to get back to writing!

In the mean time, I've been working on a couple of things. Here they are!

1. A Webcomic!

It's still in it's early phases, but it's coming along nicely. It'll have an on-going story and be very action-heavy. Like... To a ridiculous degree. It's based on a terrible story that was written by myself and several friends in Jr. High School. I'm still trying to work several things out, but know that it will parody American Otaku culture as well as the kind of Fan Fiction that a 13 year old would write.

Imagine something that tells a decent story that also parodies itself and it's own origins in the process. Since the story was written when I was younger, I ripped off everything from Cowboy Bebop to Dragon Ball Z. None of that seemed lame to me at the time, but these days it most certainly does. What this comic will do is sometimes parody the fact that it was written by a 13 year old ripping off other anime. I think it'll be good, but it won't take itself too seriously. It's a bit hard to explain.

Here's some VERY early concept stuff.









2. Indie Games!

While it's still too early to show anything, I've been toying with ideas for a few different indie games. I will say that one is an RPG entitled "Driftwood" that takes place on an island. The other is a platformer that is untitled at the moment. We'll see how they come along after a while, I may move development over to the iPhone, but we'll see.

So! There you have it, that's what I've been up to lately. Feeling sorry for myself and conceptualizing. Anyway, I thought I would just update so that noone would think I was dead or something.   read


3:07 PM on 03.20.2009

Suikoden Tierkreis (DS) Impressions!



As I searched for reviews on Suikoden Tierkreis for the Nintendo DS, I could surprisingly find next to nothing. IGN reviewed the game, but I've frequently found that they rate games too high for my taste. Nintendo Power gave the game a resounding "Meh." and Hispanic review site "Meristation" had a review that reeked of teh bias. Therefore, I decided to post my own impressions for anyone thinking about purchasing the game that makes the lofty claim of being "The deepest handheld RPG of all time".

First off, let me say that I like the Suikoden games, but haven't been fully exposed to the whole series or story. I played Suikoden 1 when I was younger, but found it much more confusing than the linear Final Fantasy games and quickly lost interest. However, a little over a year ago, I heard that while the first game was decent, the second could have stood toe-to-toe with nearly any other game in the RPG genre. After playing a good chunk of it for myself, I would have to agree. However, I haven't beaten the game and I've never played any of the Playstation 2 Suikodens. All that being said, I feel like I'm the perfect candidate to jump into this newest entry since it pulls so far away from previous Suikoden games, while still holding on to many of the series best gameplay elements.



I've been pumped about this game for about a year. It was something that I knew I was going to buy no matter what, but mixed reviews made me cautious about investing in it, especially when there are so many other great games coming out for the DS. In the end, I decided to take the leap and buy it. When I got back to my car, I plugged my DS into my car stereo (via headphone adapter) and turned it on to listen to what was sure to be the amazingly EPIC intro music. Instead... I got this...

[embed]125694:18166[/embed]

Had a I bought a licensed Naruto game on accident? Why was I watching solemn anime characters? To give you an idea of what I was expecting to hear, watch the epic intro to Suikoden 2 for the Playstation.

[embed]125694:18167[/embed]

See the difference? One makes you want to play the game and one does the exact opposite. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't the anime characters that turned me off. While I'm not a fan of anime themed games, I would have been fine with the anime opening if it was done right, but it was the spirit of it that irked me. Well... That and the headache-inducing music... However, the nightmarish rape that my ears would experience had only just begun.

When I got home, I began to play the game and was treated to what has to be some of the worst, most over-the-top voice acting I've heard in a while. I frantically searched for a way to turn it off or switch it to Japanese... However, I was disappointed find nothing of the sort. Why? Why Konami? How hard is it to give me an option to turn off the voice acting? Why did we need it in the first place? I would have been fine with none at all, actually, I would have been thoroughly pleased! Within 40 minutes of the playing the game, I was ready to put it for auction on EBay. What had I done!? Why didn't I buy Henry Hatsworth or Valkyrie Profile!?



However, I didn't feel that it would be right to judge a game (especially an RPG) without even knowing what the battle system or story were like. So, I soldiered on, turning the sound off during major cut-scenes. However, one thing I began to notice was that the game's graphics were gorgeous! They featured 3D character models against hand-painted backgrounds. Think a really gorgeous Playstation-era RPG. The battle system really took me by surprise though. It's pretty basic turn-based stuff, but at the same time it feels very fast and fluid. Battles are fun to watch and I didn't mind the fairly high random encounter rate because the auto-battle mode sped things up quite a bit. It seems that this was done pretty strategically too. While you may select commands in a turn based fashion, 2 or 3 characters may start attacking an enemy at the same time as opposed to 1 character attacking, going back, another character attacking, going back, enemy attacking, etc. Like I said, it makes the battles much more cinematic and exciting to watch. Also, when you equip weapons, they show up on you. I love games that have that.

The music in the game is also above average. Some of the earlier tunes could wear on me a bit after a while, but it really is a soundtrack that I wouldn't mind owning. The voice acting continued to take a toll on me though... I continued to turn off the sound during cut scenes, however, the cut scenes with voice acting became less and less frequent. The story also got better and better. Was I actually starting to like this game? A bit later, I looked at my clock and realized that I'd been playing for nearly 6 hours! Not only that, but I was thoroughly enjoying it! Sure, there had definitely been a bit of eye-rolling, but this was shaping up to be a great game. I had also gotten used to the voice acting and stopped turning the volume down at cut scenes.



The game has a very specific PSX-era RPG feel to it and that is exactly what I was hoping for. When I stopped playing, it was at the end of a big battle that resulted in my team owning our own base of operations and being officially recognized as a military company. Sure, it was a bit ridiculous that my character and his rag-tag band of teenagers were now a recognized military force, but like I said, the game has some noticeably anime roots (or flaws, you decide). That being said, the story is good and features some decent twists and turns as well. Suikoden fans may also have realized by now that the whole "You have a huge base, now fill it with people" thing is a staple of the series. Oh, by the way, there are 108 characters to unlock, which should keep you busy for a while.

In closing, Suikoden Tierkreis has some noticeable flaws and will definitely rub long-time Suikoden fans the wrong way at first, but this really is a game that has a significant pay-off for those that stick with it. If you are a Suikoden fan, please don't approach this game expecting the same thing you would from the numbered entries in the series. If you've never played a Suikoden game and like RPGs, this game is certainly a good place to start before moving on to some of the better and more mature entries like Suikoden 2. I really think that's who this game is aimed at, people who haven't played a Suikoden game before. It's apparent that it's attempting to reach a wider audience, but that doesn't change the fact that Suikoden Tierkreis is a great RPG and has something for everyone. Is it a must buy? Probably not, but if you're looking for a good RPG and you've got the cash to drop, I would definitely recommend it.   read


11:08 PM on 03.17.2009

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars Impressions!



Hey guys! Sorry I haven't posted in a while! My internet wasn't working for about a week and then I just got lazy... I'll post a new Sound Test soon! I already know which song I'm going to use!

Anyway! Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars! I have recently become a DS gamer due to my fast, exciting life of woman and rock & roll... Or maybe just college. Anyway, I haven't minded in the slightest since the DS is an amazing console with tons of great games. Well ladies and gentlemen, I'm here to tell you about yet another one of those great games. In fact, maybe the greatest.



As of today, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars is the best reviewed DS game of all time with a stellar score of 95 on Metacritic.com. I knew the game was going to be good, but I had no idea that it would be THAT good. I mean, the lowest review score it recieved was 90! However, I also know that numbers aren't everything and there are many high-rated games that I can't stand *cough* Halo *cough*. Either way, I went into this game with a feeling of excitement and skepticism. Having now spent about 3 or 4 hours with it, I think that I can honestly say that it's an amazing game. I almost don't know where to start... There's so much to talk about. Let me say this. It doesn't feel like the PSOne GTA games. This was a potential complaint that I heard from a lot of people and I'm here to squelch it! No, it feels more like a mix of the PS2 GTAs and GTA 4.



I was under the assumption that Chinatown Wars would remove a lot of things from the GTA games in order to be fitted to the DS, but in fact, it has added more than it has taken away! The ways that touch screen is used are awesome and don't feel gimmicky what-so-ever. There is also a new way to bring your wanted level down by causing cops to crash Burnout 3 style. It all feels natural and just... Fun! Also, I haven't experienced a single frame rate drop, which is very surprising to me, especially considering how great the game looks! There's day and night as well as weather effects!



The game even has a physics system and different vehicles handle in different ways. Did I mention that the city is the same size as the Liberty City of GTA 4? Yeah. It's huge. Did I mention that you can drive boats, motorcycles, and helicopters? I know that I'm not even scratching the surface here, but I mean, how do I else can I say it? You need to go buy this game. It's Grand Theft Auto on the DS. There's hookers, cars, guns, drugs, side-missions galore, and a story that will have you guessing at every turn.



My only complaints? No voice acting during cut scenes and no licensed soundtrack, but both are understandable with the DS' limited capabilities. Especially when you consider everything else that has been crammed into it as it is. That's really all I have to say about the game. It's a Grand Theft Auto game and as such you already know what to expect and how good it's going to be. So, I think I'm just going to cut it off here. Also, I can't stop thinking about getting back to playing it and the best news is that I can now play it anytime I want! Also, keep in mind that this is only after about 3-4 hours of gameplay. To own a DS and to not own this game is a sin. Plain and simple.

[embed]125329:18052[/embed]

Check back tomorrow (hopefully) for my impressions of Suikoden: Tierkreis!   read


3:34 PM on 03.02.2009

Neo Retro Preview- Black Sigil: Blade of the Exiled (DS)



The DS certainly has no shortage in the RPG department, but the anticipation of waiting for some of the bigger DS titles has been killing me lately. I've really had to fight against my inner impulse buyer and keep in mind that I'm on a tight budget right now. However, while checking over Joystiq's DS release list for this week (Destructoid really needs to do something like that), something caught my eye.



I thought to myself "Black Sigil? What the heck is that?". It certainly sounded like an RPG, but I'd never heard of it. So! I decided to do some research.

It turns out that Black Sigil is indeed an RPG, but not just any RPG. It's a low-budget game created by first-time game makers Studio Archcraft. The underdog story of it's development reminds me of the ill-fated Game Boy Color RPG, Mythri. It was originally developed for the Game Boy Advance, but has now been moved over to the DS for obvious reasons. The story involves a main character who lacks the ability to use magic, unlike everyone else in his world. Because of this he is distrusted and ridiculed by just about everyone. Especially since the last person they knew who couldn't use magic became an evil, power-hungry war lord.



The game boasts vivid environments that create a realistic yet imaginative landscape with 40 to 50+ hours of game play and tons of side-quests. As well as the ability to strategically customize a 3 person party from up to 8 unique characters, and the addition of 100+ different physical and magical skills/combos, 100+ different weapons, and 200+ different pieces of armor. Quite an accomplishment for a small, first-time developer.

RPGamer.com certainly seemed impressed with it and stated that the entire style of the game, from the graphics to music, feels like a Super Nintendo RPG. After watching the an early trailer of Black Sigil, I'd have to agree. The graphics, while simple have an amazing amount of detail to them and the music sounds great. The battle system is apparently very reminiscent of Chrono Trigger as well, which is fine by me!



I've become very excited for this game and if it truly is being released tomorrow, it certainly hasn't been getting very much press attention. However, the game's website says that it's being released in April and other sites say that it's not coming out until next week, so who knows. Either way, Black Sigil: Blade of the Exiled looks like it has the potential to be a great game and I thought that I would just try and get it some more attention. I've always been a sucker for small-time and indie game developers and I would hate to see a game that's obviously had so much time and energy poured into it simply flop due to lack of publicity.

Please take the time to watch the trailer below. I wouldn't ask you to go out and buy it without reading a review or two first, but I feel like this game at least deserves some consideration.

[embed]123450:17837[/embed]   read


12:02 AM on 03.01.2009

Dragon Quest 3 SNES Remake English Patch is Released!



Huzzah! For many years I have waited to play this game. Dragon Quest 3 is probably my favorite game in the series (but may be soon be cut down by DQ5) and while I have played it on the NES and Game Boy Color, I've always wanted to play the Super Nintendo remake. However, the game was never released in English... Until tonight!

If you love Dragon Quest or RPGs in general this is one that should NOT be passed up. This remake has been given a lot of care and is easily one of the best looking RPGs on the SNES. Below are some comparison screens and a video of the SNES game's intro in English. Once again, this is a stellar game that should not be passed up. Please enjoy!

Patch Download:

http://www.dqtranslations.com/downloads/DQ3%20English%20Translation%20RC1.zip

Screenshots:

NES:




[b]
Gameboy Color:[/b]





SNES:





Video:

[embed]123230:17821[/embed]   read


7:38 PM on 02.22.2009

Sound Test: Super Mario 64- Dire Dire Docks



Music is relative. It effects us in such a personal way that we can't possibly hope to describe the extent of that effect to anyone. It's why we are so protective (and sometimes even snobby) about it. Your personal taste in music will always be better to you than anyone else. So it's best to probably just accept that.

Here I will weekly (heh...) choose a piece of game music that I love and share it! Then talk about it. Not too complex, but I hope it's something you'll enjoy!

Sound Test: Super Mario 64- Dire Dire Docks

[embed]122499:17721[/embed]

(Sorry, a little bit late with this one. Maybe I'll make it up with a second post tomorrow.)

I was 10 years old. My parents had just gotten divorced and I was now living with my mother. In the process, I had been forced to switch schools and had also been held back a grade. My mother worked long hours and was also putting herself through college. I was completely and utterly alone. It was one of the worst times of my life and this song constantly reminds me of the escape that I discovered in video games.

I never played video games before then and I never stopped afterward. I started out on my neighbor's NES, but he received an N64 one Christmas and along with it came this game. The main thing that I remember about playing it with him is this level, Dire Dire Docks. From those stupid, chomping clams, to the treasure chests that electrocuted you, I barely remember playing any other level until I bought the game myself. Also, what about that huge freaking eel!? I remember wondering what it was, swimming in to get a better look, and then having it lunge out to attack me! I was terrified of that freaking thing.

Anyway, like I said, this song always reminds me of a very hard and lonely time in my life. It seems sad now that I look back on it, the fact that I felt so scarred and alone as a child that I sought out an escape. However, those times are over and now and I can look back on those bittersweet memories with a unique type of fondness.

The song itself brings so many descriptive adjectives to mind that it's hard to put it all into words. It's dark, yet relaxing, haunting, yet simple, sad, yet inspiring. If you pay very close attention, there is actually a lot of expansion as well. As it plays, more and more instruments join into it's simple theme until it becomes a beautiful, resounding chorus. This song is one of my favorite video game themes of all time. If I was to compile an actual list, it would surely be in the top 10. Please enjoy this song and feel free to think back on the place in your life that you were at when you first heard it.   read


11:08 AM on 02.13.2009

Sound Test: Zelda: Link's Awakening- Tal Tal Mountains



Music is relative. It effects us in such a personal way that we can't possibly hope to describe the extent of that effect to anyone. It's why we are so protective (and sometimes even snobby) about it. Your personal taste in music will always be better to you than anyone else. So it's best to probably just accept that.

Here I will weekly (heh...) choose a piece of game music that I love and share it! Then talk about it. Not too complex, but I hope it's something you'll enjoy!

Sound Test: The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening- Tal Tal Mountains

[embed]121562:17558[/embed]

This week's choice was totally random! My good friend SupraDarky uploads his (extensive) list video game music favorites to YouTube, so I just used the last song he uploaded! Fortunately it happened to be this one!

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening was my first experience with a 2D Zelda game. It's such a strange game that I remember playing it and feeling slightly... Disturbed. I was used to the serious realism of Ocarina of Time, so to start playing a Zelda game with Mario characters, self-aware NPCs, and talking animals was quite a shock. I also hadn't caught onto the idea that every Zelda game was a stand-alone story so I was even more confused. Going back to it though, it's definitely one of my favorite Zelda games. Something about it just rubs me the right way... Maybe it's the island setting since I loved Wind Waker so much as well, who knows.

My favorite thing about this game has to be the music though. Koji Kondo is a master of his craft isn't he? This is one of the few Game Boy soundtracks that I actually listen to the music outside of the game. Every track in it just sounds like K.K. had a lot of fun composing them, which is probably the main reason why it's such a fun game to play. There are even some hidden tracks here and there if you know how to find them.

Tal Tal Heights is one of my the best songs in the game and maybe even my favorite. It's such a masterfully executed take on the famous Overworld Theme and just gets me pumped to go kill some Moblins everytime I listen to it. It's very energetic. Also, is it just me or is the music in this game super complex? I mean, what other Game Boy games have like 5 or 6 instruments playing at once? There's so much going on there that it boggles my mind.

I'm sure that I'll be posting more music from this wonderful game at some point, but for now enjoy the Tal Tal Mountains them or the remixed Super Smash Bros. Brawl version below. I don't think it's as good as the original, but it's still great. Enjoy!

[embed]121562:17559[/embed]   read


12:30 AM on 02.12.2009

Retro Game Challenge (DS) Impressions



Oh come on. You had to know that if there's one game I was going to buy this week, it was this one. I've been anticipating Retro Game Challenge for months now and have had my heart broken time and time again as it's been pushed back from it's original release date. I went out to buy it yesterday, but apparently Best Buy has them backlogged. So I did the unthinkable and went to Game Stop, who informed me that they get games a day after the release date and in doing so, reminded me of yet another reason why I hate them. I proceeded, in the pouring rain, to check three Wal-Marts and my local Target as well... To no avail... I went home cold, wet, and sad.

However, today was a whole different story! Apparently Best Buy was going to sell the game for $40.00, but I got it at Game Stop for $30.00! Like I said though, normally Best Buy is cheaper, so it probably would have actually been $30.00 on the shelf. I felt a little dirty for giving my money to The Man of the video game industry, but my excitement for the game distracted me from the bad taste in my mouth.

Impressions:

You probably already know the premise of the game. If not, it's based on a Japanese TV show where a guy has to beat Famicom (NES) games. In Retro Game Challenge, the guy from the show has gotten tired of people like you getting amusement out of his pain, so he decides to send you back in time to live out the gaming era of the 80's. It's pretty much an NES-era simulator. A game about playing games if you will. You get news, cheats, and tips from magazines, play games while your friend cheers you on, and meet challenges presented by the guy from the show (Game Master Arino).

I only just bought it, but I have already met all of the challenges in the first game, Cosmic Gate. It's a shooter that borrows more than a little from Galaga. Enemies fly down, shoot at you, then form into a moving mass as they individually attack you. However, the game has of it's own uniqueness that it stands apart from Galaga. I'm actually starting to notice that while all the games take something from already existing NES games, they add so much of their own features that they feel like homages, yet completely new and fresh.


NOT Galaga?

For instance, in Cosmic Gate you have the added gameplay element of gates that appear when you shoot certain enemies. These gates allow you to skip levels and move through the game faster. There are also asteroid-shooting bonus stages and a power-up that makes your ship shoot "armor piercing rounds" every third shot. Unlike your regular shots, these bullets pass through a whole line of enemies, allowing you to combo up kills for more points. Definitely my favorite feature.

The games feel like 8-bit games, yet totally new as well. I believe this is because they really are new games. These aren't the same NES games that you've already played, even if they share some gameplay elements with them. When it came to the second game, Robot Ninja Haggle Man (BEST TITLE EVER), I actually started the first level and went "Huh?" not knowing exactly how to play. Actually it plays a bit like a mix of Ninja Gaiden (Ninja), Mega Man (Robot), and Super Mario (Haggle Man) with some new elements thrown in of course.


What is a Haggle anyway?

The retro feeling is very authentic as well. My favorite part of the game so far has been the HILARIOUS Engrish included in the games, whose story summaries are filled quote-ammo like "Challenge to the protection of the Mother Earth!" I also love the fictional magazines that you can read. I've always loved reading video game magazines (even more than reading game news on the internet) and the magazines in this game really take me back to a time before I used the internet as my main source of game news. The majority of the game (outside of the games themselves) is a very relaxing and nostalgic experience.

One complaint I had was that the challenges in Cosmic Gate were WAY too easy, but after completing it, a new magazine later gave me a cheat code to play the game in Hard Mode. The challenges in Haggle Man are also harder, so I'm sure it'll get more difficult as the game progresses. My other complaint is that, while there is a notepad for taking notes and writing down codes, you can't save what you just wrote! You can pull up the notepad while your playing the game and write on it, but as soon as you exit the notepad, the page gets thrown away! I would have liked to be able to have a whole notepad that I could write and draw on (like I did when I was a kid) for passwords, strategies, and cheat codes.

Other than those two complaints, the game has been awesome so far. It has a lot of replay value as well, because once you complete the games, you unlock them in Freeplay mode where you can play them to your heart's content. Freeplay mode records not only your high scores, but other things like how many times you've pressed the "A" button and how many Game Overs you've gotten.

All in all, so far Retro Game Challenge seems like a must buy for any retro game fan. It also seems to be partially targeted at them young whipper snappers that don't realize how much harder games were back in the day. I really hope that you go buy this game to support the guys who worked so hard to bring it to the US. It's very creative, nostalgic, and fun, not mention cheap. I love Retro Game Challenge to death and I can't wait to play more of it. I really want to get to the full-blown RPG at the end!


DO WANT.   read


11:19 AM on 02.06.2009

Sound Test: Suikoden 2- Opening Theme



Music is relative. It effects us in such a personal way that we can't possibly hope to describe the extent of that effect to anyone. It's why we are so protective (and sometimes even snobby) about it. Your personal taste in music will always be better to you than anyone else. So it's best to probably just accept that.

Here I will weekly (heh...) choose a piece of game music that I love and share it! Then talk about it. Not too complex, but I hope it's something you'll enjoy!


Sound Test: Genso Suikoden 2- Opening Theme

[embed]120828:17434[/embed]

Man! I've been posting a lot of these lately. I may have to come up with another weekly original feature just to make sure that I'm not posting too many of these. Lately I haven't really been playing anything that's featured a particular stirring theme, mostly because I've been playing Phantasy Star IV a lot and I can't stand most of the music on Genesis games. It sounds like an orchestra of people clanging metallic objects... Stomp? I do like the music in Phantasy Star IV, it's just nothing that I'd listen to outside of the game (so far).

Anyway, Suikoden 2! My experiences with this game are very limited unfortunately... I'm betting that yours are as well. Why is that? Because it's one of the rarest and yet most sought after games for the Playstation. I heard about the Suikoden series when I was in Jr. High and Game Informer had it's 100th issue. In it, they had a 100 Greatest Games of All Time list that was voted upon by their readers. That was the first time I had heard of Suikoden and Suikoden 2. I wanted to play every game on the list, so I went about renting and buying the ones that looked or sounded interesting. I rented the first Suikoden and got stuck within an hour or two into the game... I'm not sure why or how. Either way, I decided that I didn't like the Suikoden so I probably wasn't going to like the second one.

Fast forward to a few months ago. The Suikoden games have strayed rather far from their source material and I was never really interested in RPGs on the PS2 anyway. So the Suikoden series hasn't been on my mind for a while. However, a friend on youtube told me that Suikoden 2 could have rivaled any other RPG on the console. Which is QUITE a statement when you think about the Playstation's RPG lineup. After getting some more opinions, I was so pumped to play it. However, not wanting to go buy a used copy for $70.00-$120.00 I downloaded it.

It was late at night and my roommate was asleep. I sat alone, in the dark with my head phones on and loaded up the game on an emulator... Then the intro video started and I just about shat myself. I got chills all up and down my spine just watching a preview of the intricate story that this game had prepared for me. However, the intro is pretty much just pieces of artwork gliding across the screen, which barely affected me at all. It was the music that pulled me in. The song ranges from happy and peaceful to intense and foreboding. Also, I'm a sucker for anything with an epic choir.

With my general love for Playstation-era RPGs, I obviously am now in love with this game, even if I can't play it at the moment (left it at my parent's house). It's just as good as everyone told me it was and it has exceeded all my expectations, making me an instant fan of the Suikoden series. The story is also one of the best, exploring some very mature and heavy themes. Why did I not play this when I was younger!? If liked Star Ocean, I would have flipped out over this game. Also, playing it has gotten me really pumped for the upcoming Suikoden: Tierkreis for the DS. I only hope the story is as good as this one. If you haven't played Suikoden 2, I would encourage you do go download it asap. You will NOT be disappointed. Please enjoy the music.   read


5:41 PM on 02.02.2009

Sketchbook: 2/2/09- Link and Contra Drawings



Art is personal. It's a form of communication in which a person attempts to convey a feeling or concept through imagery. Of course, music and many other things are also art, but I'm speaking specifically about visual art and illustration.

I have been drawing since before I could read or write and, second only to talking, it's my oldest form of communication. I love to share my creations with others. Even now, I'll do large projects or artwork for different churches or organizations. That stuff is all well and good. However, the majority of my work remains unseen. The more personal stuff that I do throughout the day in my notebooks, on assignments, and in my sketchbooks. Much of it remains there for months or years, a testament to the thousands of ideas and thoughts racing through ADD-driven brain at particular times in my life. Still though, I sometimes wish I could share them with others...

So! Here we are! In this segment, titled Sketchbook, I'm going to weekly (yeah right) share my stupid little doodles and sketches that I've done recently and even not-so-recently. Most of it will be video game related, but all of it will have been inspired by video games in some way. Not all of it may be very good, some of it may be funny, and some of it may be very personal, but it's something that will be nice to get out there. So! With that said, please enjoy my so-called art.

Sketchbook: 2/2/09- Link and Contra Drawings



This particular drawing is a big departure from what I usually draw for two reasons. First, it's colored. Second, it shows an entire environment as opposed to just a character. Of course, what inspired this picture was Contra, specifically Contra 4. It's a little over a year old and I drew it at the children's after-school program I worked for at the time. It's colored with highlighters because that's what was laying around me at the time.

As you can see, I don't do well with texturing outdoor environments, so I tend to make them look how I want them to look. Also through, I don't usually color my drawings, so think of how confusing this would look without the colors there to split it up. Still, this drawing inspired me to get better at drawing landscapes and I'm still pretty happy with how it looks.



This quick sketch was done much more recently in late November. It was a preliminary sketch for a t-shirt design I wanted to make for a friend's Christmas present. It was going to be Link, holding a shield and throwing a Boomerang in mid-air. As you can see, over the last year or so, I've gotten much better with action poses (thanks to some advice from different online comic artists), but I still have trouble pulling away from the anime wannabe art of my youth... Hopefully I can find a good balance.

I'm still mildly pleased with the final product, even if the t-shirt never came to fruition and I didn't even get to ink the drawing. Link has always been one of my favorite characters to draw since he's so recognizable, but I never feel as if I do him justice. He's always either too manly or too feminine.

So what do you guys think? Does this interest you at all? Is my stuff really that horrible? Would be interested in seeing more? Let me know!   read


2:23 PM on 02.02.2009

Sound Test: Dragon Quest V- Ocean Voyage



Music is relative. It effects us in such a personal way that we can't possibly hope to describe the extent of that effect to anyone. It's why we are so protective (and sometimes even snobby) about it. Your personal taste in music will always be better to you than anyone else. So it's best to probably just accept that.

Here I will weekly (heh...) choose a piece of game music that I love and share it! Then talk about it. Not too complex, but I hope it's something you'll enjoy!

Sound Test: Dragon Quest V- Ocean Voyage

[embed]120266:17378[/embed]

I've had to scrape for ideas lately because I've been listening to podcasts more than video game music. However, I keep finding that even when I do resort to scraping for ideas, I always find one piece of music that has effected me lately. It's cool.

Anyway, Dragon Quest V!! Dragon Quest (Warrior) was the first game I ever purchased for my NES. I thought that it had passable, yet not necessarily good, music and that's how I generally have felt about the series as a whole. However, Nintendo Power released an "RPG Special" issue last month and I've vowed to read every RPG related article in it.

I came to the Dragon Quest V article and... moved on. I mean, what is there to say right? You're gonna walk around and grind levels in this very predictable RPG that causes the Japanese to shat themselves. Wrong. Feeling convicted about skipping the article, I went back to read through it. Turns out that Dragon Quest V (for the SNES) was probably the best in the series and showed a level of innovation that was rare for an RPG at that point in time.

In fact, it was so innovative that the game spans THREE generations of heroes (your father, you, and then your son). You can even choose who you want to marry in the game. Also, it included a monster recruitment system that went on to inspire the Pokemon games! After hearing all this, I was not only extremely pumped for the DS remake, I wanted to play it IMMEDIATELY. So I not-downloaded a not-translated rom of the original SNES game.

That's when it happened... After a simple (yet hauntingly emotional) prologue, the game's title displays with the Dragon Quest theme blaring in all it's glory. Then the game moves to you as a child, on a ship with your father. You wake from a dream and your father tells you to go outside and check out the ship... That's when it happens. After the title screen, there is no music. Everything is silent. Then, you go upstairs. Watch and listen closely to the video below.

[embed]120266:17379[/embed]

Did you catch it? When I played, I walked a bit slower than this person and selected "Door" from the menu instead of hitting the "X" button. So, when I went up stairs, the melody of the flute started playing and when I exited to the bow of the ship, THAT is when the full song started. It was almost like, that's the point that you see the world of Dragon Quest V and the first time you're open to explore on your own. It was a very personal experience that's hard to explain, if you haven't played this game I would encourage you to do so. Sorry this post is so long! Enjoy the music!

PS2 Remake Version:
[embed]120266:17380[/embed]   read


12:04 AM on 02.02.2009

10ish things you don't know about jackal27



Here are 10 (11) things you probably don't know about me. Everyone else was doing... I JUST WANTED TO BE PART OF SOMETHING!!

1.) I love culture. I love others' cultures as well as studying my own. I like to be able to find what makes someone tick by putting myself in their shoes, so studying culture is the perfect way to do that.

2.) I love helping people. I almost became a licensed counselor until I found out that licensed counselors aren't allowed, under ANY circumstances, to have social contact with their clients. Dumbest thing ever.

3.) I love art! I draw, paint, write, make music, and pretty much anything else that I can figure out how to do. I love how art can express things that normal communication can't and how it can help me to better relate to what someone is feeling.

4.) I'm in a constant struggle to stop playing video games as much. I love video games, but I feel like they are something that can (and often do) get taken too far. I've spent thousands of dollars (and hours) on games. Now I look back and say, what for? All that time and money was spent gratifying my own selfish desires. So! I simplify things. Last year, I only took my Super Nintendo away to college. This year, I only took my DS. If I can't be happy with what I already have, I'll simply fall into the stupid rat-race of craving even more and more junk. Everything in moderation.

5.) My favorite movie is the 1930's version of King Kong. The pacing, the special effects, the writing. Everything about is just spectacular. Good stuff.

6.) When I was in Jr. High I decided that I wanted to be more like Squall Leonhart from Final Fantasy VIII, who tended to be quiet and a bit arrogant... However, I wasn't like that. After trying as hard as I could, I eventually made myself act like a quieter person just out of habit. I've been trying to reverse that habit for years now...

7.) I love to share my experiences with others. I'm not sure why or if it's a good or bad thing. I worry that it may be selfish. Maybe I feel a need to express myself or have others relate to me. So! I'm constantly showing people movies, TV shows, music, video games, etc. However, I have come to the realization that in order to truly have someone relate to me, I need to relate to them first. So instead of shoving the things that I love in people's faces, I'm more interested in finding things that they will enjoy.

8.) I have an abundance of character flaws that I am constantly working on and sometimes I don't always realize how they effect those around me. It's frustrating.

9.)I'm a Christian. From what I've seen on sites like digg, etc. it seems to be a unusual thing on the internet and within geek circles. I will never try to shove my way of life in your face though. Also, it really is something that I've mulled over and studied up on, so just know that the faith I have isn't blind, nor is it ignorant. It drives me crazy when ignorant Christians automatically pass to "faith" when faced with a good question. I could never make a decision this big without thorough consideration.

10.) Sometimes I talk too much... *ahem*

11.) I love community in general. This one is no exception.   read





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