Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Making the plunge: PSP

I decided to make the plunge and get a PSP in January. If the current bundles are still available, it will be difficult to choose between the God of War bundle and the Ratchet and Clank bundle. The GoW one interests me more because I love GoW and think that the red PSP is gorgeous, but the R&C one has a 1GB memory card and a downloadable game (not to mention National Treasure 2), so it's a better value for the same price.

I guess that nonetheless, my choice will be thus: GoW first, Ratchet second (if the GoW bundle is no longer available anywhere).

If anyone wonders why go for the PSP when I have a DS and an iPod for movies, well, it's simple. There's one genre sorely lacking on the DS, and it's hack-and-slash. Another advantage to having 2 portable consoles is that Eric could play one while I play the other when we're on the go -- it's not fun to watch someone else play videogames all the time (granted we could do that with the GBA SP...).

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Happy 10th anniversary, Penny Arcade!

I recently bought the first two reprints of Penny Arcade's webcomic in book format (btw, they're highly recommended, if only for Tycho's comments with hindsight and the practical factor of being able to read PA anywhere). Incidentally, the first PA comic was published 10 years ago, November 18, 1998.

It is weird to re-read about older games -- sometimes it feels like it was yesterday, and sometimes, like it was eons ago.

I just read the following comic from March 2006:



2 1/2 years later, Bioware announced that they were making a KOTOR MMORPG...

Monday, November 3, 2008

The saga of trying to play Baldur's Gate on a G5 iMac

So, in keeping with my resolution to play through my gaming backlog, I decided to start playing Baldur's Gate last night. I have the original Mac version on 5 CDs plus the expansion pack (CD 6). I had an old install from 2004 on my external hard drive (from back in the days when I'd use my ex-boyfriend's iBook to play the game) and tried running it on my G5 Mac with Panther.

I double-clicked on the BG icon. Classic booted up, the BG icon appeared in the Dock, and then... nothing. The game wouldn't boot. I tried inserting Disk 1, thinking that it might be required to play, but my computer actually kept on rejecting the CD. After some online research, notably on insidemacgames' forums, I found out that some older CRPGs have issues running under Panther.

I didn't give up though. With a further search, found Bioware's support page for BG with an outside link to Graphsim's 1.02 update. After checking my app's version (1.0), I downloaded that update and rebooted Classic, following the instructions in the read-me file. This time, I got a "Cannot run .ini file" error message. Trashed the .ini file, but it still didn't work. I then decided to give one last try by trashing the old game install, reinstalling the game from scratch off the first CD, and rebooting Classic via the 1.02 launch icon.

It did work this time, at long last! Of course, since my computer is much faster and much more powerful than the Macs that were on the market 10 years ago, there are some overperformance issues (the game runs too fast, as my character doesn't walk but runs; also, the sound is off -- women's voices sound like men, and men's voices including the narrator are really deep; this is an issue that I might be able to solve by tweaking the Mac's sound prefs), but the game is basically playable.

After playing the game for a bit, I can say this though: in the world of CRPGs, it's difficult to go back in time. I find that CRPGs have evolved a lot more over the years than their console counterparts did -- all the tweakings and improvements in gameplay mechanics make later games run more smoothly. It also means that you expect an older game to behave in a way it does not. For instance, in BG, I expect to be able to keep my character moving in a given direction by clicking and holding at a point in the map or ground, as in Neverwinter Nights. Not so in BG... This said, doesn't mean that the game won't be enjoyable (especially if I manage to fix the sound issues). But I need to adapt much more so than I did with NWN 2 (although with the latter game, there were elements that I found frustrating compared to NWN, such as the delays in combat).

Monday, October 27, 2008

My gaming resolution

No need to wait until New Year's Eve to make a resolution!

I have an extensive gaming backlog, and my portable games are the only ones that get completed. Therefore, I decided that I should take at least one hour per evening for gaming at home, whether on console or on the computer. For instance, I'm pretty hyped about Fallout 3, which I will likely get when I have a 360, but how about Fallout and Fallout 2? I own both games but never played them.

I also never finished Zelda: OoT, Majora's Mask, Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, nor Dragon Quest VIII. These 5 games alone total dozens of hours of gameplay combined...

So, here goes: I am making a list of games to play and finish, which you can see below. Maybe that will encourage me to play through what I already own...

Games to play (note: I only list games with a clear beginning-middle-end storyline, rather than more open-ended and arcade-like titles like sports games):

PS2
Dragon Quest VIII
X-Men Legends
X-Men Legends II
Marvel Ultimate Alliance
God of War
God of War II
Okami

Mac
Diablo II + expansion -- offline only
Baldur's Gate
Baldur's Gate II + expansion
Neverwinter Nights + expansions + premium modules -- offline only
Icewind Dale
Knights of the Old Republic
Fallout
Fallout II
Freedom Force
American McGee's Alice

PC
Neverwinter Nights II + expansion

GameCube
Paper Mario 2
Ocarina of Time + Master Quest
Majora's Mask
Wind Waker
Twilight Princess
Metroid Prime
Metroid Prime 2

DS
New Super Mario Bros. (priority, as it belongs to a friend)
Yoshi's Island DS
Dragon Quest Heroes
Dragon Quest IV (have technically finished the game, only have the post-game dungeon left)

GBA
Final Fantasy IV Advance
Final Fantasy V Advance

GBC
Zelda: Oracle of Seasons
Zelda: Oracle of Ages

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Dragon Quest IV

I've been playing through Dragon Quest IV ever since I bought it (no, I never played it on the NES, so it's really a new game for me). I've done something I never do: I changed the language preferences on my DS to French and been playing DQIV in French from the very beginning. The translation is actually excellent. Only qualm: later in the game, there is less hand-holding about where to go next. Problem is, the town names are different in French. So, as I'm trying to use Gamefaqs to figure out where to go next, I find it challenging since the names aren't quite the same (some are easy to figure out but it's not always the case). Fortunately, I found the world map with the locations indicated on someone's Blogger blog. :)

All in all, it's a pretty good game. Highly recommended if you like old-school turn-based RPGs. Incidentally, the touch screen is not used at all; however, the top screen is used to display the world map or the characters' stats during fights. I'm really looking forward to DQV and DQVI, whenever they come out in North America (still indicated as TBD on the official North-American DQ site).

Friday, July 4, 2008

Am I just blasée or?...

For some reason, yesterday I was in the mood for some dungeon crawling. I remembered that I have a copy of Dungeon Siege installed on my computer, but unplayed. So I decided to give a try at last, thinking that it should be a pretty decent game, since reviews at the time (circa 2002) were pretty positive.

I seriously wonder if they played the same game I did (ok, granted, it was the Mac version I played, but it's supposed to be a direct port). Had it come out a couple of years earlier, I would be more lenient on my judgement, but this is a game that came out the same year as Neverwinter Nights? The AI is unbalanced, your party has to be raised from scratch (or almost) when they join you (even though you may be stronger) and I just hate how the potions can only be used by the person carrying them.

To be frank, I'm not really impressed. Maybe it's just because there has been so many good action and RPG games released since then, both on console and PC, but it feels like it's missing something in its gameplay mechanics. Don't get me wrong, I love hack n slash games (I'm probably the only person to have finished Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance several times on the GBA), yet I'm disappointed by this game and find it to be overrated. Is it just me?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

OMG! Boobiegate over at the Age of Conan game!

O noes, horny male gamers who like to confuse their videogames and their pr0n fantasies are pissed off because the latest patch to the Age of Conan MMORPG accidently shrank the boob size of the game's female characters...

http://adweek.blogs.com/adfreak/2008/06/gamers-will-not.html
(warning -- the link's links lead to serious sanity points-draining nerd territory and are also be NSFW)

You know... this is completely unacceptable! After all, only young, single, straight adult males play videogames! You know, why have flat-chested girls like Olive Oyl (Popeye) or Pauline (Donkey Kong) in videogames? Heck, Mario dumped Pauline for Princess Peach! Or what about that plus-size gaming queen of the 80s, Ms. Pac-Man? Totally unacceptable in this age of so-called obesity crisis! Keep her away from the power pellets and put her on the Wii Fit asap!!!

Seriously, I'm getting really sick and tired of videogame designers thinking that there must be only one gamer demographic out there. There should not be a correlation between a female videogame character's boob size and the quality of the game. Would have Tomb Raider been as popular has Lara Croft been a plain-jane type? Dunno. On the other hand, the bra size of Samus does not impact the quality of the Metroid series. I couldn't care less how sexy and eye-candy a character is, if the game is good. However, if it serves as a lazy cop-out to cover the fact that the game is crappy, then go back to the designing board and come up with a game with solid gameplay.

Personally, if you're threatening to cancel your subscription to a MMORPG just because the female characters are suddenly less male-porn fantasy material, either you're not a gamer, or the game itself actually sucks.

It's days like this where I really like my CTRL-ALT-DEL webcomic t-shirt featuring the series' Lilah, saying "Girls play videogames too. You'd know this if you went out of the house sometimes".