I installed Guild Wars yesterday. It took me less than forty minutes to install the game, create an account and a character, and complete two quests.
The game is extraordinarily beautiful even on a system beginning to show its age. I've only got a AMD Athlon 2500+ with 512MB RAM and a 128MB GeForce4 Ti but the scenes in the beginner area just about blew me away. Everything is rendered with a soft glow and this romantic look is apparently a setup for events to come.
I had little problems with lag which was a relief. My ISP, the much-maligned TM Net, is rarely known for its stellar service but Guild Wars seems to run just fine with few lag spikes or slowdowns.
Overall, I found the game to be a very pleasant experience. This could be described as a massively multiplayer online game for those who find massively multiplayer online games disagreeable for various reasons.
There's no monthly fee after the initial game purchase and the FAQ claims players will not be required to purchase future expansion packs. The biggest draw, though, might be the way the game minimises aggravation from other players. There are common areas where players congregate but once you leave those, the game sets up user-specific versions of areas.
This is a big deal.
This means there's no competing for kills and no whining about kill-stealing. There's no queueing to get into a dungeon or to take on a boss. It's just you and your party members. Furthermore, items drops are allocated automatically to individual players in the party so there shouldn't be any arguments over loot.
Another appeal of the game is the tactical combat. There are 30 possible player combinations to choose from and there are even more ways to customise one's style of play thanks to the humongous skill set.
The designers have made it easy for you to change your style of play by customising attributes and skills. As you gain experience, you get refund points which allow you to subtract points from one attribute and add it to another. Switching skills is even simpler. You may only use 8 skills at a time but you can choose which ones to take on a mission every time you're in a town or outpost. Acquiring new skills and investigating how to use them in conjunction with your other skills is one of the niftiest aspects of this game.
I chose a Necromancer for my first character's primary profession. Some guides note that it's not the easiest of classes of play (with one guide author noting it required finesse) but the thought of slaying opponents and defiling their bodies by creating undead allies was too deliciously bastard-y to ignore. I initially thought a Monk's healing spells would make it a nice secondary profession as undead minions decompose quickly but I haven't found any of the major healing spells yet.
I've pretty much done everything I wanted to do in the starter area so it's time to move on the next phase of the game.
The unthinkable has happened. I broke the hold Lumines has had over me and actually managed to remove the UMD from the PSP for the first time since I got both.
Make no mistake the game is addictive but I seem to have come up against, ahem, a brick wall in Lumines and it's been frustrating me. I've only managed to hit 300+K twice before in the Challenge Mode and on each occasion, I was quickly overwhelmed by the speed of the dropping bricks. I haven't fared better in the other game modes either. I can't see myself improving on my 60-second Time Attack Mode record of 60 and I've been repeatedly bested by the Tin Toy level of the Versus CPU mode.
I doubt I would be able to improve in the short term so I've decided give the other games in my to-play queue some attention. I finally removed the shrinkwrap from my copy of Twisted Metal: Head On (a game I bought almost three weeks ago) and I hope to get around installing Guild Wars soon as well. And my Rome: Total War campaign remains uncompleted. So many games, so little time.
WowWee Roboraptor review. [via]It's from the same people who brought you Robosapien. Annoyingly, the review doesn't mention what the battery life is like.
PSP with, ahem, hot coffee.
Island of FukuFuku.The surprising thing is it's not another PSP porn title.
Future console development will be hell."If writing in-order code [in terms of difficulty] is a one and writing out-of-order code is a four, then writing multicore code is a 10 ..."
EA gets rights to the Lord of the Rings books.Let's hope this doesn't mean the action in future games will stop for the characters to recite long poems.
Kamen Rider Hibiki episode 25 out.A torrent for the unsubbed episode.
I'll begin this review of Bandai's Chogokin GD-79 Souchaku Henshin series Kamen Rider Hibiki set by stating my general indifference to the Souchaku Henshin format. I don't really care to play dress-up with my figures and I'm not a die-cast fetishist and those would the main draws of the series. I would have much preferred a well-articulated figure without unnecessary gimmicks but at the moment, the Souchaku Henshin version is the best representation of the character available for action figure fans.
The figure is retailing locally for RM39.90 which a good price considering the Japanese retail price is 2000 yen. In fact, it's such a good price I suspect the local pricing might actually be a mistake by the distributor. The product code on the price tag is "MRH Hibiki" and I wonder if the "RH" might refer to the cheaper Real Hero series.
I'll add some information about the character once I've translated the bio on the back of the package but in the meantime, if you're interested in the character's background, see this JapanHero forum post.
In the box
The set contents include:
The Kamen Rider Hibiki series breaks with Kamen Rider tradition in many ways both major and minor, and the first pictures that appeared online of the eponymous character were a harbinger of those changes.
The biggest change in terms of the title character's design has been the absence of the grasshopper-inspired elements one usually expects from a Kamen Rider design. The large oval bug eyes are missing and the usual insect antennae have been replaced with oni horns. The belt remains but it's not the focus of the henshin sequence.
The 14cm-tall figure pretty much nails the show look. (Or should that be the other way around?) This shouldn't come as a surprise since the show costume looks eerily like an action figure complete with an action figure's plastic sheen. The minor differences shouldn't bug anyone who isn't a Fussy Bastard. However, I do happen to be a Fussy Bastard so I will make it a point to list all the differences.
I'm amazed at the level of detail on the figure with the helmet's oni insignia especially remarkable. There is some minor paint misapplication but the two-piece helmet is otherwise well done. The only major omission is Hibiki's hidden demonic mouth but that particular feature hasn't made an appearance on the show since the early episodes. Besides, I'm not sure the toy designers could have pulled it off at this price point.
Unlike most of Heisei-era Riders, the oni Riders of Hibiki do regularly go unhelmeted. There's litte reason for this other than promoting the Souchaku Henshin format.
You'll definitely want to keep the figure helmeted, though, as the head sculpt underneath is the most freakish thing I've seen in an action figure. The head, which bears a stunning non-resemblance to Hosokawa Shigeki, is way too tiny on a way too long neck and on top of that, whoever painted the eyes was clearly seeing double. The end result is a visage that that will scare little children more effectively than any oni mask.
The figure is mostly plastic and the chogokin label is earned through a few die-cast pieces namely the chest armour, the feet, the belt buckle and mysteriously, the knee joints.
The four die-cast parts which form Hibiki's chest armour and the ongeki ko (drum/belt buckle) attach firmly to the figure. This is a relief since I was concerned parts might fly hither and thither every time I moved the figure.
I've yet to carry out my usual accidental drop test but there don't appear to be any fragile parts and I have no qualms about fiddling with the figure absentmindedly.
Strike a pose
The articulation isn't outstanding but it will satisfy most action figure fans. The low-down:
I would’ve liked a greater range of motion at the hips but it’s not a deal-breaker considering this Kamen Rider doesn’t do yoga much.
I had assumed the heads on the ongeki bou were done in translucent red on the show to tie-in with the action figure so I was naturally taken aback to find the figure's 6cm-long ongeki bou painted opaque red. It's a strange considering how much effort they took to get the other details right.
The sticks have finger grips which allow the figure to grip them securely and the holes have been made larger than they ought to be to accommodate the figure's fingers which are fused as pairs.
Incidentally, the instructions note that the ongeki bou with the open mouth is to be used for the left hand while the ongeki bou with the closed mouth is for the right. The instructions don't state what penalties one might incur if one should err in this regard but why take chances?
The three plastic discs included in the set aren't, as you might expect, Hibiki's CD-R porn collection but his Disc Animals in disc mode. Stickers have been included to make them look like the red hawk, blue wolf and green monkey in disc form. Being a mere 1.5cm in diameter, the discs understandably don't transform.
That's not to say the discs lack entertainment value, however. You could, for instance, hand them to an unsuspecting child, claim they're candy and watch the ensuing hilarity. This would make an amusing anecdote to relate to your future cellmate.
A separate holder piece allows the discs to be attached to the figure's belt. In a thoughtful move, the peg that attaches to the belt is at angle to prevent impeding the hip articulation too much.
Onkaku and ongeki ko
Two versions of Hibiki's henshin device, the onkaku (a tuning fork), have been included. The first version is folded up with a peg for attaching it to the figure's belt. Additionally, the discs may be placed on the onkaku in this mode so you can act out Hibiki obtaining data from his discs and draw strange looks from your co-workers. The second onkaku is in unfolded form and ready to be used by Hibiki to transform into his oni form. In keeping with the set's strange and mysterious size scales, both onkaku are much larger than they should be.
The final accessory is the ongeki ko, Hibiki's removable belt buckle, which doubles as his makamou-slaying drum. It doesn't look like much without the show's special effects and it would be best to keep it attached to the belt.
Ignoring all the unnecessary Souchaku Henshin figure signature features (i.e. the removable helmet and armoured parts), this is a decent action figure. I believe I got my money's worth having paid a little over USD10 for the set and as such it earns a thumbs-up.
"And so the wicked witch died and everybody was released from her spell. There was laughing and singing in the streets. And there was no more illness. And there were no more poor people. And nobody had to pay taxes. And everybody was happy and contented and lived happily ever after."
Stikfas tales."Man comes to S'pore to get 'married' because of it" and "US submarine crew carry it on board."
PSP numbers.5.07 million consoles, 4.3 million UMD movies and 11.2 million games shipped worldwide.
The Lord of the Rings: Tactics for the PSP.It's a pre-preview of the game.
PSP 2.0 firmware update coming.Lots of improvements but I suspect the homebrew/hack crowd is going to stick with version 1.5 until a more compelling reason (read: game) forces an upgrade.
Guild Wars: the business model.“We have to sell at least five times more copies than a subscriber-based online game in order to get to about the same level of profitability.”
I broke the 300K barrier in Lumines's Challenge Mode last night and was rewarded with the Lights skin (featuring Nobuchika Eri's song of the same name) for my efforts. After listening to the original version, the game version of the song is a bit of a letdown. The squawking seagulls in the game version may have had something to do with that.
I also managed to improve on my 60-second Time Attack mode record again. The record now stands at 55.
Big news! Malaysia has unpegged the Ringgit from the US Dollar after six years.
Do you know what this means? I can finally afford to move into a larger septic tank and perhaps even get three square meals a month.
And buy a Ferrari.
Hibiki Kurenai makes his debut in Kamen Rider Hibiki episode 24. "Kurenai," of course, means "third-degree burns."
Okay, it actually means "crimson" and I imagine it's thus named because the Bandai/Plex designer spilled a bottle of crimson paint all over his design plan and then decided to pass it off as Hibiki's new power-up form.
I had a remarkable Lumines session earlier during which I set four records in five attempts at the 60-second Time Attack mode. My current best is 51 deletes in 60 seconds.
It's still a long way short of the records set by others, though.
Lumines Time Attack 60 video. [via]I'm not sure what I find more extraordinary: 100+ deletes in 60 seconds or a 100+MB AVI file that's only 65 seconds long.
MMORPG player archetypes. [via]Going by that criteria, I'm a hunter/socialiser. There's nothing I love more in multiplayer games than planning an offensive manoeuvre and executing it to perfection with teammates.
A TM Net ad in today's edition of the Star:
On the other hand, porn does make Mr. Happy grow big and strong.
Mr Happy or morals? Mr Happy or morals?
Blackadder: What can you see, Balders?
Baldrick: People in very short skirts, m'lord.
Blackadder: Ah, excellent! The 1960s! At last, we're getting close. I might stay awhile actually for a bit of hippy free love. Not that free love would make a lot of difference to you, would it, Balders? I mean, what would a sheep do with money?
(From Blackadder: Back and Forth.)
PSP UMD porn title reviewed. [via]I especially love the way the reviewer edited an image of a PSP into a screencap of the actress fellating ... something or other. Parody or homage?
Kamen Rider Hibiki episode 23 released.Unsubbed.
Nintendo of America senior vice president of marketing George Harrison on the Game Boy Micro:
Because of its diminutive size and industrial-hip look, Game Boy Micro immediately identifies the person playing it as a trendsetter with discriminating style.
Mega Bloks Mag Warriors released. [via]They're less Magnemo-compatible than I thought they'd be.
World's Best Robots.Presumably, a lawsuit for false claims is imminent.
Tokobot producer interview.Like most game developers, he talks a good game but at least he didn't claim we'd be his bitch.
If WWII had been an RTS. [via]Witty.
Johnny L. Wilson on Computer Gaming World.He spent 18 years at the influential PC gaming mag.
Milan Kundera on the relentless flow of news:
The bloody massacre in Bangladesh quickly covered over the memory of the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia, the assassination of Allende drowned out the groans of Bangladesh, the war in the Sinai made people forget Allende, the Cambodian massacre made people forget Sinai, and so on and so forth until ultimately everyone lets everything be forgotten.
Microman Alien gattai!And you thought the Queen was scary ...
LiveJournal Kamen Rider community.It includes a synopsis of Kamen Rider Hibiki episode 22.
Soccernet's EPL season 98/99 review.Treble triumph in 11 days.
Firefox 1.0.5 released.Security fixes.
Bush administration adult movie titles.My favourite.
Jun 29 2005, 07:56 PM
I said id stay away but i have to come and get a few things off my chest. ... I reluctantly leave this once proud community we have here, i am leaving before this fragile house of cards collapse onto itself under the weight of its piracy. ... And id rather not stay and watch the baby this community have carried over its 8 months of existence, to come out of its womb as an infected mutant halfbred child.
Jul 6 2005, 12:30 PM
Enjoy this "tainted" community, im out.
Jul 9 2005, 11:57 PM
But then again, maybe it is too late.....too late for the community that is...
Lord Flasheart: The first thing to remember is always treat your kite like you treat your woman.
Lt. George: How ... how do you mean, sir? Do you mean ... do you mean take her home at the weekend to meet your mother?
Lord Flasheart: No, I mean get inside her five times a day and take her to heaven and back.
Capt. Blackadder: I'm beginning to see why the suffragette movement want the vote.
Myth Series Aries Mu.As usual, Yusuke's pictorial includes excellent CG-enhanced images.
Sony's UMD movie rentals.Only in Japan at the moment.
One of the benefits of documenting one's thoughts in a blog is that one can review said thoughts and realise one is a bit of a daft git.
I had previously mentioned my resistance to change but upon reviewing the entry, I realised my reluctance to change standard operating procedure in the specific instance I cited was wholly indefensible not to mention just plain ridiculous. After all, I did recognise that changing the default action would be a change for the better so why not change it?
Anyway, short story shorter, I not only changed the damned default action for photo transfers but I streamlined the process even further by configuring Nikon Transfer so that it automatically deletes photos from the digicam after copying them over to the PC.
One silly habit down.
Get Ride!A Mugenbine take on Amdriver.
Mugendairugger XV.What happens when 15 Mugenroid get together.
Kamen Rider Hibiki episode 22 out.Unsubbed. One of the major themes in this very Japanese of Kamen Rider series has been how the collective comes together to help each other and this episode highlights that communal spirit.
PSP allegedly outplayed by DS.The points may be valid but it would be a mistake to place any importance on the PSP vs DS debates by a fanatical few platform evangelists.
PSP sales in Japan and the US.The hardware's doing fine but the software offering needs improving. I wonder if developers are having technical trouble producing for it. There are a few games with poor controls and one game with excessive load-times.
Game Boy Micro preview.In a bid to lower the weight and dimensions of the device, Nintendo used lower-case letters to label the buttons.
Rainbow Jerk.It's a good thing they didn't attempt to work in "peacock" somewhere in there.
Kamen Rider Hibiki's background translated.
Lumines: Bad for your mental health."... i swear i hear someone calling my name (brian) on the puzzle mode levels after i use one of the special blocks, and it clears."
PSPKick: PSP drum machine/sequencer. [via]Homebrewed. It's a peculiar time in the PSP scene. The few games released recently have been getting lukewarm reviews and all the current excitement is being generated by the hack, homebrew and warez crowd. However, there are a couple of titles I'm really looking forward to including ...
Tokobot: Robo-gattai action for the PSP.Due November '05.
I managed to set two new Lumines records earlier.
My new 60-second timed challenge score: 43
And my new 1P Challenge Mode high score: 190, 083
I managed to significantly improve upon my previous high score and on top of that, I earned 5 new skins in the attempt.
In simple terms, Lumines is to Tetris what Half-Life is to Wolfenstein 3D: a new, polished variation of a familiar theme. The game is similar enough to Tetris that gamers will be able to jump right in and enjoy it yet it's sufficiently different to keep gamers engaged. It takes less than 30 seconds to grasp what you have to do but formulating a winning strategy takes a good deal longer.
I find the game to be a great way to kill a few minutes and the PSP's fantastic Sleep mode means I can always put the game on hold and return to it at the exact point I left it if my game session should exceed my free time.
And you will want to return to the game because it's addictive. There are new skins and avatars to unlock and new records to set. Plus, there is enough variety in game modes to ensure you won't get sick of this title too quickly.
All game modes feature the same basic element: blocks of 2x2 squares drop from the sky and your mission, Jim, should you choose to accept it, is to create 2x2 blocks of the same colour which are subsequently deleted. The game ends when the blocks aren't able to drop into the game space.
Ah, but there are additional wrinkles.
Blocks of the same colour are only deleted as a time line passes over them as it sweeps across the screen from left to right and the time line's speed varies with the level. This is an important element because a slow time line gives you ample time to string together combos of blocks to obtain a higher score. (You get a score multiplier every time you delete 4 or more blocks in a single time line sweep.) On the other hand, levels with a fast time line tend to be frenetic and if you're mistake-prone, you're done for.
A whole block of links for all you squares out there:
Another new Lumines high-score.
There's no two ways about it, I'm a creature of habit. I like to do things a certain way and I like to do them that way every single time. There might be a better way of doings things but it doesn't matter. It has to be the way I want it and the way I'm used to doing it.
Take, for example, the digital camera. I've owned my Nikon Coolpix 3700 for over a year now and every time I transfer the photos to the PC, I do it the same way: I connect the Coolpix to the PC via USB cable then the Windows XP Autoplay dialog pops up prompting me to select a way to transfer the images, I choose the Nikon Transfer utility, the pictures are transferred and finally, the Nikon View browser autolaunches displaying the transferred images. For over a year, this has been the way I've done it and this is the way I'm used to doing it.
Well, tonight, I absentmindedly ticked the "Always do the selected action" box when the Windows XP Autoplay dialog box popped up. It's one of those situations where I realised I had made a mistake one picosecond after clicking the mouse button.
Now, technically, this change wasn't a bad thing. In fact, it was actually more efficient since I invariably choose Nikon Transfer to transfer the images from digicam to PC. But again, this was not The Way I've Always Done It and so I had to revert to the more familiar method.
Kamen Rider Hibiki episode 21 torrent.Unsubbed. One scene had me doubled up in laughter. Or should I say ... tittering? The honking sound effect cracked me up.
Avi Glazer pens a letter.
Dogs on drugs.
Mickey Mouse has a really bad day.The figure is based the rodent's appearance in the 1995 movie.
Unofficial Spore FAQ.
Great moments in podcasting # 1"Now this might sound a little complex but it's actually brilliant. It really ... it ... it basically puts in a choke, uh, a chokeneck ... or yeah ... a chokeneck ... it actually puts in a chokehold ... or it puts in ... uh ... y'know, uh ... a method for you to actually limit how quickly people can build the most advanced units in the game." All kidding aside, I'm enjoying these gaming podcasts a lot.
Kids review the PSP."Why should u have one I mean u will drive your parents crazy.You will lose it in the car or it will brack so why have it. It cost to much because it is porteble I mean I love games and geek gadgets Im a noce peson but I do not like it SORRY"
A roundup of PSP emulators.
Downloadsquad. [via]About: "We all spend hours a week downloading and trying new software and web-based services (which are just software hosted somewhere else), but there isn’t one place to get news on the latest Flickr application, Firefox extension, or reviews of new podcsating software. So, we created one called www.downloadsquad.com." Let's hope they download and try a spellchecker.
The problem with music. [via]So much for "money for nothing." Musicians will truly be in dire straits if the chicks are no longer free.
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Made in Malaysia.
Pass comments to tmwarwolf attitude at yahoo dot combut drop the attitude.
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