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10:33 PM on 08.24.2009

Why I love Kristen Bell

Oh wait, I think I'm doing it wrong.   read

10:20 PM on 06.08.2009

Regarding E3: Naia's Adventure at E3, Day 3 and Final Thoughts

I apologize for the delay in getting out my final thoughts on E3 and my last day on the show floor. Day 3 was spent catching up on games I missed (despite still missing out on a lot of titles) and meeting up with the guys at Epiccenter Studios playing Real Heroes: Firefighter.

I snuck into one of the closed door sessions to watch Shadow Complex on XBLA. I hadn't heard anything about this game until I saw it and it looks like a neat adventure game. They promise the game will be about ten hours long, which is pretty substantial for an XBLA title. Hopefully it won't be a $20-30 game, which concerns me knowing Microsoft's business practices. It reminds me of the 2D Metroids; in fact the map screen looks like a replica of Super Metroid's map.

I played another round of Super Mario Bros Wii to try another one of the levels available. I also hoped that if I played the game with friends, it would be less chaotic. Unfortunately I was wrong. The game is still chaotic and I still have problems with the delay that occurs when every player is grabbing a power-up. I do hope Nintendo fixes this.

Finally I checked out Real Heroes: Firefighter. The games controls take some getting used to, but they work similarly to the controls of Elebits (for the five of you that played Elebits). It looks like it has shaped up to be a pretty decent game.

Final Thoughts:

My trip to E3 was a bit unexpected, and a life long dream for myself. I have to admit though that attending as industry is quite different from attending as press. I was limited to where I could go and what I could see. As a result, there were a lot of things that I missed on the show floor. Some of the smaller titles I completely missed despite combing over the show floor multiple times. In a sense, I found E3 disappointing. Obviously I'm greatful to have had the chance to attend E3, but the show floor is overwhelming, and it's easy to miss a lot. In a sense, the coverage is better for the readers who can access everything at will.

The highlights of E3 for me were the Metroid: Other M trailer, and announcement of Monkey Island. Both announcements came out of left field, and as an old school gamer I'm excited for not only a 2D Metroid, but a new Monkey Island game. Unfortunately neither title was playable on the show floor, but I have high hopes for the games.

The biggest surprise for me was Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers. I mostly ignored this title but found the demo to be fairly substantial. The Wii-mote capabilities do not feel gimmicky. Another surprise for me was the improvements in dialogue I saw in Dragon Age Origins. While it's not to the degree of Mass Effect, it is a huge leap from Neverwinter Nights.

If there was any disappointment, it would be White Knight Chronicles. The combat is almost identical to Final Fantasy XII, which I didn't care for. I love Level 5 as a developer, and thought I was supposed to be playing an Action RPG. The game is great for those who didn't mind the combat of FFXII, but it was not what I was expecting.

E3 was a long and tiring week, but an exciting week. It's difficult for one person to take it all in, but it's an experience I won't forget.   read

7:54 PM on 06.04.2009

Regarding E3: Naia's Adventure at E3, Day 2

Hello Robot friends!

Day 2 started a little sooner than day 1 since there were no conferences. Since I spent yesterday in the West Hall, I spent today in the South Hall. It was busy, and almost as packed in the convention center as yesterday.

I began my day exploring the Square Enix-Booth. Many of the games they "showed" were only in trailer form, but looked beautiful on a 100 inch screen. For the first time since the game has been announced Final Fantasy XIII has peaked my interest. If it was playable, it was behind closed doors. The trailer for Final Fantasy XIV was also quite beautiful. I should make note that the display case of Dragon Quest toys was the only mention of the entire franchise at the show, which was very disappointing.

Kingdom Hearts 358/2 covers a part of the story while Sora is in suspended sleep and Namine reconstructs his memories. The story moves over to Roxas and the rest of the Organization. The game plays like other KH games, but the movement isn't quite as smooth due to the lack of analog stick on the DS. The d-pad works fairly well though. If you enjoyed the other KH games, you will enjoy this one.

Dissidia Final Fantasy is Street Fighter meets an RPG. The demo put me in one-on-one battles against other playable characters. Unlike Street Fighter, the characters have HP and a bravery stat that affects certain attacks. I played as Terra and then as Cecil. What I particularly liked about Cecil was his ability to switch between Dark Knight and Paladin in battle. Like Zelda/Sheik in Smash Brothers, Dark Knight and Paladin Cecil have different skills. Terra has some unique magic attacks that make her pretty badass. I'm not sure how much of a story there is, but it still seems like a fun game.

Finally at Squenix, I played Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers. The demo was about forty-five minutes long and showed how the wii-mote is used in game. I played as a character who through the power of the crystals has magical powers. These power include the ability of telekinesis which is controlled via the wii-mote. The player gets to move objects and shake items out of people. The small amount of combat involved aiming and shooting chocobo knights. While I didn't mind some of the wii-mote based aiming in combat, but I I hope there will be options to fighting that don't include excessive waggle.

I had the opportunity to get a sneak peak of Dragon Age Origins, Bioware's next fantasy RPG. The dialogue tree is much more sophisticated; it looks like they took a page from Mass Effect's book. Bioware has taken a lot of care in polishing Dragon Age up a lot since this game in 2005. More importantly, they revealed the first playable build on consoles. As a veteran Neverwinter player, I can't imagine playing this game on anything other than the PC, but once you get used to the interface, it may be a nice option for console owners.

Finally, I played Katamari Forever. I originally thought it was a straight up "best of" port from previous Katamari games, but they have added a few small features that reinvigorate the Katamari series for me. The first is the ability to have the katamari jump by pressing L2 and R2 together. I frequently find myself trapped in an area, so being able to jump out saves a lot of time. The second, while I didn't see but was told by a Namco-Bandai rep that powerups will appear in the stages. The hand-drawn art style in 1080p also looks gorgeous.

Sorry this is up late. I spent my evening with some of the DToid staff at the Scratch Ultimate DJ party. Quincy Jones showed up! Who knew!

(not Quincy Jones)

I will be giving my final thoughts on E3 tomorrow!   read

1:01 AM on 06.03.2009

Regarding E3: Naia's Adventure at E3, Day 1

E3 has been filled with some interesting news so far. I spent a good deal of my first day staring off into space with a "dear in the headlights" face. i devoted the day to one of the halls and tried to play as many games as I could, while also taking breaks to eat and sit down for a bit. Here are some highlights of games I played today. Day one was about taking it all in.

I played an overlooked Nintendo RPG on the DS called Glory of Heracles. The art style reminds me of the recent Fire Emblem remake. The characters are 3D but feel like sprites. The animation is also fairly fluid. You play as Heracles before he becomes Hercules. The demo started with Heracles waking up with no memory (boy that plot NEVER gets old!) and must find a ship at the end of town. Once Heracles boards the ship, the screw join him in a battle against some enemies. The player can use touch screen controls or traditional buttons, and the turn-based battle system is fairly straightforward and traditional.

Golden Sun had a teaser movie that allowed the player to control the main character briefly. The elemental spirits are the same as in past games and move around on the top screen while combat happens on the bottom screen. I look forward to find more information on the game and understand how the alchemy mechanics work in this game. Either way, this was one of the biggest surprises to come out of Nintendo's press conference for me.

New Super Mario Brothers Wii suffers one tiny flaw: whenever players get the mushroom power-up, the screen freezes for Mario to change size. This was fine in single player, but when there are four people changing size at different times, it becomes chaotic. I'd like Nintendo to find a way to fix that, but at the moment I'm not sure how. Otherwise it's wonderful to see a 2D retail game. Yoshi also makes a return and he plays exactly the way he did in Super Mario World. This includes multi-colored Yoshis with different abilities.

Mario and Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story plays the same as the first two for the most part, with two "phases" of the game. The first one controlling Mario and Luigi inside of Bowser, and controlling Bowser on the outside world. Some of the new skills the characters have are more stylus based this time around, but aren't too gimmicky. The humor is just as great in Bowser's Inside Story as the previous two.

Muramasa: The Demon Blade was another pleasant surprise for the afternoon. I wasn't crazy about the controls, but I was using the Wii-mote and nunchuck. The game has classic and gamecube controller support, so I'm not concerned.

I ended my day playing some PSN games and testing out the PSP Go! It's a nice little machine, and was surprised how much smaller it was than the PSP 3000. I like how the L and R buttons feel, but I'm not sure its worth $250. Perhaps when the price drops and such I'll eventually pick it up. I played Critter Crunch, a puzzle game on PSN which involves clearing rows of animals by feeding them lower food on the food chain before they reach you. I also played Trash Panic. Announced at TGS last year, Trash Panic is Tetris with trash but also relies on physics to compact the trash.

While it may be uncool to say this, I'm pleasantly surprised by the number of games I want to play on the Wii. This has been an unexpected turn of events.

I will be visiting TellTale, XSeed, and Square Enix tomorrow!   read

1:26 PM on 06.01.2009

Quick Blog: E3 vs. Naia-the-gamer

Hi robot friends!

As people are learning about the new surprises up Microsoft's sleeve, I'm at the LA Convention center. Someone thinks I'm enough of a part of the industry to qualify for an industry pass so I'm infiltrating the center. Since I'm not press, I don't have a set schedule, so it's mostly squeezing in some networking while mostly playing the games I want to play. I will be giving my perspective on the games I care about and logging my experiences for my first E3.

I'll be posting through out the next few days with some hands on, which you can look at as just another opinion, but hopefully a little more insight than the people viewing at home.

So does anyone have any questions for me? Is there something I should be looking for?   read

4:21 PM on 04.03.2009

Nintendo DSi hands-on

The DSi is launching this weekend. It looks nice, and Nintendo knows how to sell a portable. In fact, I don't go anywhere without my DS. I wasn't sure what to think of the DSi, especially given the $170 price tag, but Nintendo invited me to a preview event a few weeks ago due to my Club Nintendo Platinum Status. Since I registered everything I've ever purchased from Nintendo and will never have this many coins again, I may as well enjoy the perks while it lasts. I went out to Universal Citywalk and played around with a DSi. I figured some people may be on the fence, or just curious as to how it looks/feels, so I am here to share my experiences with the DSi.

For starters, the system is a little bit longer than the DS Lite, but not quite as thick. My guess is due to the lack of GBA slot. The matte feels really nice compared to the glossy finish of the DS Lite. The buttons feel pretty similar to the Lite, but the D-pad is much nicer.

The interface looks a lot like a miniature version of the Wii in terms of how it's set up. You can check the firmware, manage data, etc. You use the stylus to navigate through the menus which include the game menu, camera, and music player. I played around with the camera a bit and messed with my face. Like a simple version of Photoshop, one can change the picture to be in black and white, sepia, distorted or split the picture into multiple mirror images. It was fun, although I can't imagine myself using this very much unless it is incorporated into future games. Since Nintendo has said there will be some games in the future with DSi exclusive features, this is a possibility. The people at Nintendo were nice enough to print one picture per person and gave us a spiffy magnetic frame to go along with it. Overall the whole setup was pretty easy to use.

(That's me in my new glasses)

I didn't do too much with the music player, mainly because I didn't have any AAC files on me. I use either mp3s or snobby raw WAV files for my music, but from watching other people test out the music player it does what the other sites say it does. One can play around with the speed of the music and reverse it. It's basically a very watered down version of audio editing software. Again, this is a feature I wouldn't really use, unless it was incorporated into future titles.

Unfortunately there weren't any DSi ware titles to try out and was one of the main reasons why I decided to attend. On the bright side, I did bring some of my own DS games to try out and compare the DS Lite screen to the DSi screen. I put in Puzzle Quest Galactrix (yes I'm still enjoying the game), into my Lite and then into the DSi. The screen is bigger on the DSi and actually made things easier for me to see. While the resolution is the same, there wasn't much of a visual downgrade due to the screen being small as it is, and with the extra brightness level, it made everything look much more vibrant to me. It was kind of nice being able to take the cartridges out without having to completely shut down the system.

Now this brings the magic question: is it still worth getting? My answer is yes and no. The Nintendo rep was very nice and tried to answer my questions, but unfortunately it's not clear yet if we will be able to play DSiware directly from the SD card or if we will have to do some fridge cleaning. That concerns me, although a little less now than before with the 4.0 firmware update on the Wii. The upgrades are really nice, and once there is enough DSiware out that interests me, I will gladly trade in my lite. Until then I'm not sure it's worth it as a DS Lite owner to upgrade. I would say for those out there debating on picking up a DS for the first time, or those who still have a DS phat should get one without hesitation. It will be much easier to see things and with the DS's library, there's TONS of amazing games to play (unless you hate fun. You don't hate fun, do you?)

I kid about that last comment, but this should give people an idea on what the DSi has to offer.   read

1:17 PM on 03.16.2009

Happy Birthday Mr. Robot!

I haven't been able to post in a while, as I've been busy with work and making life altering choices on my career recently. However, that doesn't mean I can't take time out to wish this community and Niero a happy birthday.

So thank you everyone for making this site great, thanks for becoming my friend and colleague. This place has helped me personally and professionally. For the first time since college I feel like I connect with people.

Also, regardless of whatever bullshit and drama that may happen here, I ignore most of it and focus on the one thing that we are all passionate about here: video games. I know it can be hard sometimes, but I see big picture, and overall Niero has done some amazing things with this place. It's unlike any other gaming site I've visited on the interwebs.

So from the bottom of my heart, thank you. Here's to more snarkiness!

See you all at PAX.   read

3:44 PM on 02.01.2009

10 things Naia shares on the internet [NVGR]

I got peer-pressured by the other students to share with the class, so here goes:

1. Iíve always been into computers. My Dad brought home our first computer when I was three and apparently my parents said I thanked my Dad for ďbuying me a computer.Ē

2. I used to think the age of three was the normal age for people to learn how to read, since that was when I learned how to read. When I was in 8th grade my English teacher made a big deal about Michael London learning how to read when he was only five. I didnít know what the big deal was.

3. I was born with my ears sticking out, kind of like Dumbo or Dopey from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. I chose to have the surgery when I was five to remove the excess cartilage. I still have scars behind my ears.

4. I have perfect pitch. That means I can identify any note without a reference. While it let me skip most of Ear Training I in college, I donít use it as a crutch. Itís just helpful for me to hear things.

5. I was born in New Hampshire and lived there until I was 23. Then I moved to Minneapolis, MN and went to grad school there. I moved to Ann Arbor Michigan for six months and then to Los Angeles, CA. I like to call myself a New Englander who lives in Cali. I will never call myself a Californian. Needless to say, Iím sick of moving, and I want to settle in SoCal. Winter is overrated.

6. A lot of my friends from high school grew up to become artists and musicians. Itís one of my fantasies to do some sort of collaborative project with them for the fun of it. It will most likely never happen because they are scattered all over the United States, but itís part of why I always like the idea of friends working together on projects. I want to extend that same love with other DToiders.

7. I worry a lot, about everything. Iíve had problems with anxiety ever since I was a kid, in a medical sort of way. I got officially diagnosed when I was 22 after trying to ignore it. I have it under control now, but I still find myself getting nervous over the stupidest of things, like get-togethers with friends.

8. I get attached to things and people. If I call you a friend, I mean it. If itís a hobby I enjoy, Iím passionate about it. Itís probably why I play so many video games.

9. I donít know why, but I feel like Iím meant to make the world a better place. I donít mean becoming a famous person or anything like that, but I feel like my purpose in life is important, and when Iím not contributing (like my current state of unemployment), I feel like Iím not living up to my potential.

10. DToid has been one of the best things to happen to me in the last year. I didnít know anybody when I moved to Los Angeles, and I didnít get out much. When I discovered all the amazing people from the community lived so close by and started hanging out, it was the first time in years I felt like I had friends again. I think itís been the constant moving but I havenít been in one place long enough to get to know a lot of people. Then thanks to IRC and PAX I met more nice people. I love Zero with all my heart, but he knows how much I value friendship. I think some married people put too much stock in their spouses and forget that they need other people.

Alright, that was a bit schmoopy. Iím going to go sit back at my desk now.   read

2:44 PM on 01.06.2009

Tyra Tuesday: Redefining Adorable [NVGR]

I woke up tired and sad thinking I lost my keys, but then I realized it was Tyra Tuesday. Magically Tyra found my keys and I was happy.

To thank her I want to show everyone how adorable she is:

Even evil Tyra-head is adorable

Thanks Tyra for finding my keys!

The End.   read

2:13 AM on 12.17.2008

Weddingtoid: How I Nerded Up my Wedding, without Frightening the Relatives

I first met ZeroAtma in the fall of 1999. I was beginning my sophomore year in college and he was starting his freshman year. We both moved in early, so we pretty much had only each other to talk to, as we lived in the same dorm. Iím not sure if it was the huge dragon poster in my room or my SNES, but he knew I wasnít like most girls. We became best friends overnight, and shortly thereafter (I was oblivious back then) we started dating. We quickly discovered the love for video games we both had and it became a huge part of our relationship.

Five and a half years later, Zero surprised me in the middle of the night in my Minneapolis apartment (he lived in Michigan at the time) with an engagement ring, a serenade, and two of our friends to capture the whole thing on film. I was surprised, and a bit groggy. It was 1:30 in the morning, and he underestimated how long it would take to drive from Ann Arbor to Minneapolis. Our own careers put off the wedding itself until after we moved yet again to California, and thought it would be nice to get married on the day we started dating, October 11th.

So what does this have to do with video games?

Like I said before we both love video games, probably a bit too much. Itís the subject of many of our conversations and our non-gaming friends know how much we love them. It was only expected that our wedding reflect that. Iím not a huge fan of dancing and always joked that we needed video games to play at our reception, otherwise I would ditch it after an hour. The joke slowly became a reality. Iím here to share the ways I geeked up my wedding, but at the same time, kept it affordable, classy, and gave the illusion that it was a normal wedding. I figured someone out there may be getting married soon and may want ideas. Either that or you can be entertained by all the geeky things we did.

The Invitations
I donít know how many of you are married out there, but invitations are expensive. When I saw Nintendoís press release for Super Paper Mario back in 2007 I loved the idea that they sent wedding invitations. It became the inspiration for the invitations we used. I bought cardstock and made my own, putting a picture of Peach and Bowser at the altar to put in the center of the invitation. The invitations cost about of third of what they normally would, and everybody loved them. No one had to question whether this was for our wedding or not.

The Music
DJís are expensive and play a lot of terrible music at weddings. I opted to pick out everything and plug an ipod up to speakers at the reception hall instead. While the main part of the reception had fairly traditional rock and jazz music for a wedding, the dinner music and ceremony music is where the inner nerd came out. I wrote an original tune for the processional, but did an arrangement of the Final Fantasy prologue music for the recessional. This is the same tune heard at the end of Final Fantasy IV when Cecil and Rosa get married and so I thought it was appropriate. One friend of ours, who was familiar with the game, cried when she heard the music, which was sweet. It made me feel like I made the right choice. At dinner all of the music played came from Dragon Quest. The composer Koichi Sugiyama has conducted and performed arrangements of all of the tunes from his games, which was great to have as background music. People unfamiliar with the games thought I was playing traditional classical music. I also threw in a little bit of music from Bioshock, because Iím in love with the soundtrack.

The Entertainment
I had music for people to dance to that wanted it, but off to the side I had a few TVís connected up to a couple of Wiis. I had Wii Sports for the non-gamers, and Smash Brothers for the gamers (we were supposed to have Boom Blox too but we forgot the game at the last minute. Weddings arenít perfect). Many of Zeroís older relatives enjoyed Wii Sports and it was great to have our old college friends, many with which we played Melee back in the day, to enjoy the successor.

The Cake
This is the one I know many of you readers want to see. Iíve talked about my wedding cake on Retroforce Go! asking for ideas. We wanted it game themed, but wasnít sure which game at first. We debated everything from Mega Man, to Kingdom Hearts, to Dragon Quest. We decided on Final Fantasy IV because the game has a special place in both of our hearts, plus two of the characters get married at the end!

We went with a three layer traditional cake of which the top layer has blue crystals (which came out a bit large, but oh well), a middle layer with airships and chocobos and a bottom layer with the characters from the game. We brought in pictures of the airship, crystal and chocobo sprites for the baker. To make things look nicer, we got edible images of the characters, which we placed around the bottom layer of the cake. The crystals and ribbon around the cake were blue because it was our wedding color. Finally our cake topper was none other than our figures of Cecil and Rosa that Square Enix released in conjunction with Final Fantasy IV for the DS.

Our wedding was a fun day and unique for us. To the average stranger it looked like a typical wedding, but for those closest to us, it was nerdier than any other wedding they had attended ever. I wouldnít have wanted it any other way.   read

5:55 PM on 11.11.2008

Quick Blog: Dragon Quest V gets US Release Date

Thanks to Square Enix and Kotaku today, I received the good news that Dragon Quest V received a US release date for February 17, 2009. For those unfamiliar with the game, this Dragon Quest title (along with Dragon Quest VI) have NEVER been released in the US before. Those who like to NOT download ROMS can NOT find a fully translated version of the original title for the Super NES, but being someone who does NOT play games like that, vows to purchase games that I NOT download from foreign lands.

From their press release:

DRAGON QUEST V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride
Scenario & Game Design: Yuji Horii
Character Design: Akira Toriyama
Music Composer: Koichi Sugiyama
Publisher: Square Enix, Inc.
Developer: ArtePiazza
Platform: Nintendo DS
Genre: RPG
ESRB: E10+ (Everyone 10 and older)
Ship Date: February 17, 2009

Never before released in North America, this entry in the Zenithia Trilogy follows a journey that transcends three generations. Travel alongside your father on his quest to see the world, grow to set forth on a journey of your own and face life-altering decisions as you continue your familyís legacy. DRAGON QUEST V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride makes its way to Nintendo DS on February 17, 2009.

The official website can be found at

Of course, there are other games, they have announced, but we know that my love is only for the slime.

Given how long it usually takes to localize Dragon Quest games, I'm STUNNED that we are getting this game as early as February.

As someone who has played this game from start to finish and love old school JRPGs I would HIGHLY recommend this game. It's different from DQIV, but does incorporate the world of Zenithia like DQIV does. You get to choose who to marry (which really only changes the hair color of your kids). This version adds a third option of ladies to choose. Who knows what the third lady may affect the outcome :O   read

7:44 PM on 09.29.2008

Why I <3 Destructoid: Naia's Birthday Edition

I had my birthday on friday as many found out when Hamza spilled the beans on my Monthly Musing. I had a feeling my fiance was up to something but wasn't sure what. I come from dinner and find not only a bunch of people in my apartment (all of which are DToiders), but to find out that these people put their money together to get me this:

Yes a 32gig iPod Touch. Like with Chad a few weeks ago, Destructoid shares the love. The engraving on the back of my iPod says "With love, from your friends at Destructoid." I tried to take a picture so others could see the engraving, but the reflection was too much. I hope you guys take my word for it. I'm still pretty speechless and I have to say you guys are awesome. Even if you had nothing to do with this, it's okay. You are still awesome. I know there were at least some people who pitched in that live far away, and you know who you are ;)

Ever since PAX it's been proven time and time again that many of the community members are so friendly and so generous and I really feel like it's a strong point of this community. This birthday surprise is frosting on the cake (no pun intended).

It's been a crazy month birthday-wise and I hope that everyone who did celebrate a birthday this month had a great one! I know I did :)

Chad is right. This community rules.   read

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