The virtue pendant of Oliver probably should've held an additional dosage of restraint for the player; that's how intently I've been staring the TV screen these past four days. Shameless couch potatoing paid off, though, as Ni no Kuni: Wratch of the White Witch finally joins the playthrough pile. The latter half of the game was unabashed mirth as the slightly abusable (on purpose, I believe) in-game casino made the heroes millionaires in just a couple of hours. Also, after locating a couple of rare creatures that dropped obscene amounts of experience, the final foes and side missions bosses were challenged by such an overleveled and übergeared team that I almost started to feel sorry for them. Then again, this eventual, intoxicating power is exactly what I'm after when finishing JRPGs.
The remaining plot twists are best left unspoiled, although the story of Ni no Kuni is hardly anything deep. Nevertheless, aside from the modern and disorderly battle system, the game has been crafted with such lavish amounts of warmth, love, and paying tribute to all those past, golden JRPG times that it borderlines on criminal! Sidetracked with a multitude of optional activities and earnestly discovering secrets hidden in the game world eventually took a commendable 48 hours. A wistful farewell is a bummer but thankfully Ni no Kuni knows that all too well. As an encore, its post-game comes with a fresh offering of additional side content and as I'm still missing more than half of the trophies available, the journey of Oliver & Co. definitely continues towards the level cap of 99 and unearthing everything there is to discover. It really is that good!
Bleh. While The Idolm@ster Shiny Festa: Honey Sound has proven to be an excellent title for a bit of random gaming right before hitting the hay, I'll still declare it played through after a little over ten hours. Grinding for points required to reach the highest SS level isn't even halfway done but after repeating the Star of Festa long enough, I've finally amassed all 20 collectible character cards available on normal difficulty. Additional points and cards could be farmed by challenging the tougher Pro and Master difficulties but although Pro doesn't feel entirely unconquerable, the worst button sequences are already chaotic enough to make it nigh on impossible to get back on rhythm once it has been lost. Short put, playing at that level no longer bears much resemblance to fun.
Granted, practice and tenacity might go a long way but as pink, perky, and energetic as the game's soundtrack is, mere twenty songs is woefully inadequate in the long run. After ignoring roughly half of them due to their general unimpressiveness and playing the remaining other half for those ten or so hours, repetitious girly pop eventually turns into an earsore. If Honey Sound, Funky Note, and Groovy Tune had been stuffed into a single game, it might have been a truly formidable package but as things stand, I'm forced to take a timeout before venturing over to the other two sibling games. On whole, though, the Shiny Festa series feels like jolly good fun for at least as far as one's skills are capable of taking them.
As for the caption of today's entry, it's all about the good and bad news delivered by Capcom this morning, related to the famed defense attorney Phoenix Wright. It was already known that Ace Attorney 5 – from now on known as Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies – would see daylight in the west as well. The schedule has now been defined as this Fall 2013, and the above trailer is sure-fire evidence of there once again being a healthy dose of spectacular court house drama together with sudden plot twists and top-notch humor. It has been so long since the previous games that this blog hasn't been able to properly relay their supreme wonderfulness but, personally, it's still hands down the most awesome and beloved series on the original Nintendo DS.
As for the bad side of the news, the game is only released as a digital download on the 3DS' eShop. I'm not entirely sure whether to get mad towards the publisher or the consumers but either way, it's a goddamn sacrilege that a physical release, even for a cult classic of this caliber, is deemed financially unprofitable. Sure, this asinine decision doesn't stop me from being the first in the virtual line when the game is released but – pardon me – I've again lost some respect towards the publisher and gamers in general. Let's just keep going where we're going and step by step, we're closer to nothing but big budget, DLC-infused HaloCoDAssCreedBafa boredom. What a rosy future, FFS.
Pfft... I've been loafing around on a blogging break long enough to get my act back together and return to blabbering about entertainment. For obvious reasons the past couple of weeks haven't been exactly rife in gaming but damned if I haven't gotten at least something done. Lately, the PS3 disc tray has been vacated by Far Cry 3, which ended up providing 34 hours of surprisingly enjoyable frolicking around the exotic paradise of Rook Island. That's where Jason Brody, together with his brothers and friends, heads for a bit of adventure vacationing. Sadly, the island is also home for modern pirates into gun, drug, and slave trafficking, and it doesn't take long for the hapless tourists to get snatched as well.
Jason manages to escape, although Vaas, the nutcase leader of the bad guys, wastes his brother in the process. Jason vies for both revenge and rescuing his pals that are still alive but there's only so much one man can do against ruthless opression. Thankfully the native Rakyat tribe of the island is also getting fed up with the villains and they're just looking for a brave warrior to lead their people. Thus, it's time to lock and load, strap on some grenades, get some cool tribal tattoos on the arm, and begin the transformation from a paltry Yankee tourist into a jungle guerrilla warfare expert.
Far Cry 3 is a fairly conventional, yet exemplary entertaining and versatile first person shooter. The massive Rook Island holds so much miscellaneous stuff to collect and accomplish that the actual story missions quickly turn into secondary objectives. As well as assaulting Vaas' strongholds scattered around the island, Jason also thins out the local wildlife, handily working their skins into ever-bigger wallets, gun holsters, ammo belts, and loot satchels. The flora of the island, in turn, is good for a variety of syringes that can be used to restore lost health and, for example, temporarily improve lung capacity or awareness. Ascending rickety radio towers slowly opens up the map of the island and seized enemy camps act as convenient fast travel points across the island.
The game's main forte is naturally freedom. Even if the missions themselves are rarely nothing more than killing a whole lot of antisocial hoodlums with a comprehensive array of weaponry, the way to do it is usually up to the players themselves. Going in guns blazing is always an option but it's far more rewarding to stealthily pick out enemies one by one either with a combat knife up close or with a sniper rifle from afar. As a delightful bonus, captive animals can occasionally be freed to cause a bit more of extra chaos.
The storyline, revolving around thematics of insanity, is essentially simple, unsurprising, and utterly trivial, and the most memorable thing about the game's soundtrack were the sudden pieces of bombastic dubstep strewn here and there. As for everything there is to collect, shoot, or do, there's so much of everything that it eventually turns just boring and repetitious. Despite all this, for those commendable 30-or-so hours Far Cry 3 puts up an excellent treat. Even if it isn't much anything else, it excels in creating an open and atmospheric playground that is fun to fool around for a decent period of time!
That experience was part of the attached, personally most intriguing pile of releases that made their way into the collection these past few weeks. Granted, my turn of the year vow to play through more titles than buy has taken an unexpected hit but if Mr. Life would be kind enough not to fling any more shit my way for awhile and once summer vacation starts, I'm going to try and stage a comeback.
A lengthy Easter weekend is always welcome and spirits rise in unison with day temperatures steadily climbing above zero Celcius. Exceptionally even gaming is momentarily all about recent titles. HarmoKnight, the fresh new 3DS rhythm game by Game Freak of the Pokémon fame was released just yesterday and despite its hefty price tag and digital nature, I had no qualms finding it a new home on the memory card. In hindsight, I probably shouldn't have, even if it did provide a brief and original moment amidst brisk tunes. The player takes control of a young boy, Tempo, who wields an ancient note-like staff while running and jumping across the world of Harmonia, rhythmically beating the living heck out of mechanic Noizoid nasties that dream of world domination.
HarmoKnight's idea of combining an action platformer with music gaming is pretty shrewd. Tempo advances through automatically scrolling stages that frequently switch between 2D and 3D viewpoints while providing several alternative routes to take. Keeping in rhythm is achieved by well-timed jumps and strikes which require a good balance of sense of rhythm, keen eye, and reflexes. Noizoid boss stages in turn are Simon Says style challenges in which short button sequences have to be repeated accordingly.
The production values of the game are suitably high. It looks good, sounds good, and, most importantly, totally ignores any motion control gimmickry. Two buttons and the four faces of the direction controller – that's the whole game mechanic in all of its beautiful simplicity. There are even more than 50 stages, so all should be well. Unfortunately, HarmoKnight is undermined both by gameplay and length. The hit window of the notes is just slightly too narrow and there are moments when they come in so thick and fast that Tempo's five heart health reserve is ravaged at an alarming rate. By replaying earlier stages, it is possible to challenge any level with up to eight hearts but even that feels occasionally inadequate. None of this is a show-stopper, though, and the mini-adventure of the young hero can be completed in just a bit over three hours.
Some replay value can be found in improving scores, seeking out extras hidden in stages, or tackling them at a faster pace but rhythm games require an immaculate attention to highly-tuned precision and that's something HarmoKnight is lacking somewhat. It's essentially "nice" and I'll probably return to it every now and then but 15 euros for such a little snack is way too much (･_-｡ )
The 60 hours spent on The Wire were, however, one of the best entertainment time investments I've made in a long while! Tight storytelling was in abundance and the fates of several of its central characters truly wrung my heart. Some even in real life; Felicia Pearson, for example, was recruited into the series straight from the streets of Baltimore and she played the role of a seriously scary and callous ghetto gangsta in a brilliant fashion. Sadly, after the series ended, she fell back to her earlier life and as I understand, is currently serving a drug trade conviction in supervised probation (゜-゜)
Although The Wire seems to be regarded as one of the best TV series ever made, that doesn't mean it would be entirely flawless. The game of street made perfect sense but at times it felt like no one in Baltimore is willing to play fair, so to speak. Whether it was the police, politicians, lawyers, teachers, or reporters, nigh on everyone seemed to be involved in some shady business or the other, resulting in needlessly exaggerated drama. The pacing, too, could have been better. Each of the five seasons was built around one of the aforementioned parties in a slightly disposable fashion.
Nevertheless, The Wire is a starkly touching and frequently surprising series that closes its curtains in style and ultimately while it's still winning. As fun as it would have been to follow the life of Baltimore forevermore, it's better this way. Now to find some other gem that has already finished airing – in this gluttonous internet age, the mere thought of having to follow an intriguing story on a weekly basis, let alone trying to survive season breaks is just plain unfathomable (^_^;)
In other news, let's backtrack to last January, when Xbox 360 came back home, aided by a Microsoft moneyback campaign. The basic premise was simple: buy the console and a game, fill in a campaign form, mail it and the receipt to Microsoft, wait a whopping ten weeks, and get a reimbursement of 50 euros straight to your reported bank account. I was a bit sceptical on how such convoluted scheme would work in practice and – lo and behold – of course it doesn't work. It's now closer to 12 weeks since I mailed all the required documents, the reimbursement is nowhere to be seen, and the customer support mostly excels in escalating the issue somewhere else.
At the moment it seems like my issue is being handled somewhere in Ireland where they first claimed that the payment couldn't be processed due to missing bank details (yeah, right) and after delivering them a second time, they claim all is now in order and that I would get my money in 3-4 weeks. I believe it when I see it but this is certainly some bona fide customer bouncing right here. Granted, it's not a big deal but I'm peeved at how a needlessly complicated process to begin with just keeps on getting worse. Bureaucracy FTW (>_<)
Backtracking further, to the last day of last year, I recall making some New Year's resolutions about cutting down on impulse sale purchases. Although restraint carried a surprisingly long way this year, I guess the innate nature of resolutions is that they're to be broken. I blame, in particular, the local department store chains that a couple weeks back wanted so desperately to get rid of their games inventory that it would've been a crime not to take advantage of their deals. If the retail price of two or three games is enough to bolster the collection with twelve, then so be it. I regret nothing (￣^￣)
Urgh... If sick days during vacation might be taken into consideration in the future, could the same apply to weekends as well? I'm feeling muggy and have a headache but I'm not entirely sure whether its due to springtime flu or the game journalists' pet, Fez; a story about a little pixel thingy named Gomez living in a 2D world. One day his peaceful life gets, quite literally, a whole new dimension, as a mysterious cube pattering unintelligibly gifts him with a bright red fez and the ability to rotate the world horizontally in 90 degree turns. A cool hat and an even cooler skill, so it's big adventure time for Gomez!
Phil Fish's Fez spent a long time in the oven and it's admittedly a most unusual and ingenious piece of work. It's ultimately "just" a 2D platformer in which Gomez runs, leaps, and climbs his way deeper and deeper into the peculiar world, collecting cube pieces and treasures as he goes. In order to grab everything there is to grab and to even be able to proceed at all requires constant switching of the perspective in order to get platforms genuinely residing in 3D space to align themselves properly. It's a wild idea and one that must have taken incredible effort when designing the stages. From a player's viewpoint, the end result is nothing short of impressive.
Fez is a game solely about exploration, through and through. Gomez doesn't face any pesky enemies and jumps into the void or from too high simply reset him back to the latest safe platform. Collected cubes open up locked doors leading to new areas and an in-game map keeps a good track of places that haven't been visited yet or that might still hold secrets to unravel. Exploration on its own would otherwise be an adequate incentive but sadly Fez quickly falls victim to its own prestidigitation.
There are simply so many places to visit that it takes no time at all for the poor player to become lost. When any given area can have half a dozen doors, it's extremely challenging to remember which leads where. The map helps a little, sure, but after amassing all the so-called easy collectibles and one needs to mop up individual areas with greater care, reaching them is confusing, slow, and arduous. Gomez isn't a particularly nimble fellow and climbing is a constant hassle of scrambling over edges. Even if there are no enemies to pester Gomez, pixel perfect jumps and puzzles with tight time limits annoy twice as much.
After playing for three hours, I suppose the journey of Gomez is more than halfway done but I'm just too weary to push on. Going through the same areas time and time again, trying to find anything of value – or even a route to somewhere with stuff still to acquire – is a pain. As an idea, Fez is close to an epiphany but the game around it is lacking.
The hunting season of terrorists, though, is over. Taming Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas on Realistic difficulty was most doable, even if it took a hefty toll on my reserve of expletives. Dying because of one's own stupidity didn't bother me at all but there were a few occasions when the game served a gamer over simply because my Rainbow team didn't go precisely where the game expected me to. Also, having to defend awkward positions against grossly superior numbers a time or two reeked mostly of nothing but cheap game design.
But damn, it was still fun! Rising above the considerable challenge took a commendable 19 hours of which at least half were spent just retrying the same sections over and over again. Prolonged periods would probably have popped more veins than shots but in short, one or two hour bursts it was possible to punish the game with roughly the same intensity as it punished the player. The story ended with a little cliffhanger that saw continuation by Ubisoft a couple years later but that no longer packed nearly the same punch. This first part, however, is a game no fan of calm and methodical shooters should pass – a brilliant experience even by today's standards!
In an unsurprising turn of events, the weather didn't give a flying high for my grumbles, so it's back to gaming. The Xbox 360 still enjoys a somewhat earned reputation of being mostly a shooter console, Still, every now and then the platform is coddled with surprising little gems, few of them shining brighter than Dust: An Elysian Tail. What is most perplexing about it is that aside from sound, it's a production of a single man. Dean "Noogy" Dodrill developed his creation for three and a half long years, ending up with a fantastic and solid presentation that gives even many of the big game studios a serious run for their money.
In the fantasy world of Elysium, a young and almost frighteningly gifted swordsman (swordsfurry, to be exact) named Dust wakes up in the middle of the forest with no recollection of his past. There he is met by a talking blade, Ahrah, and its guardian, a small, yet awfully temperamental nimbat called Fidget; a creature that mostly resembles a flying cat-weasel. This unorthodox trio joins forces to figure out answers to Dust's hazy past, one which seems to be somehow connected with conflicts ravaging the world as well as a sudden spike in monster activity.
Dust: An Elysian Tail is a 2D action-adventure RPG that pays homage to the Metroid and Castlevania series in particular. Dust, dashing and leaping all across Elysium, punishes beasts with impressive sword combos while Fidget provides support with magic projectiles. Their power, much to the chagrin of the airborne furball, leaves a lot to be desired but by swirling Ahrah wildly, Dust can briefly enhance their destructive nature to massive proportions. Dust is also capable of nimbly dodging out of harm's way with a push of the controller's shoulder buttons. Combat is rewarded with experience points used to level up Dust as well as gold that is good for acquiring better gear.
A handy mini-map keeps an excellent track of Dust and his companions as they travel across countless multi-screen areas strewn with treasure and – as an amusing curiosity – heroes of twelve other indie games to be found and rescued, at one's leisure. Faithfully to its sources of inspiration, several places in the areas are unreachable until additional skills have been learned, so there's always plenty of incentive to revisit old locations for a handful of new surprises. Chatty NPCs and the optional side missions they provide are a frequent sight as well.
Not only does Dust: An Elysian Tail play like a charm, look obscenely pretty, and feature gorgeous animation, Dodrill is also a proficient storyteller, especially when it comes to characterization. Depending on occasion, abundant dialogue is either hilarious or touching but never comes across as pure filler material. The hearty Fidget is one of the best and most spirited sidekicks in ages and the chemistry between the threesome works splendidly. Even if playing in a fairly straightforward manner, the adventure lasts closer to 13 hours with those keen to unravel every hidden secret probably looking closer towards 20 hours or more.
Gripes are few and far between. Disposing of sizeable groups of fiends can become a tad repetitious, the quality of voice acting is all over the place, and some save points are perhaps a little too far apart from each other. On whole, though, the game is a first-rate, highly entertaining action-RPG with length and quality that I never even dreamed to expect from "merely" a downloadable title, even less so from one composed (more or less) by a lone individual. Roaring applause!
Springtime is coming slowly but... Well, slowly. A nice way to welcome the season would be colorful puzzle solving, which is exactly what the endearing Ilomilo is all about. Ilo and Milo are cute and cuddly thumblike creatures with a burning passion to find one another. Easy peasy, except in Ilomilo's disorienting three-dimensional cubic world that consists of four areas and closer to fifty stages. A world where one's up is another's left, or any other direction for that matter. Controlling these two one at a time, the player is tasked to bring them together and, while doing so, preferably clean the stages of all the various collectibles they hold.
Ilomilo's levels challenge not only orientation skills but naturally brain as well. Creating a route joining the two pals is done via special blocks that both Ilo and Milo can carry around one at a time. The most ordinary of these blocks simply fills a small gap whereas others stretch, float, or even rotate in 90 degree turns. These blocks provide a surprising amount of variety even by themselves but the game also features springboards and creatures that either hamper or contribute to making progress.
The atmosphere of Ilomilo is brilliant. Lively pastel graphics and whimsical background musics are top notch stuff and the game strongly radiates character and warmth in a way that is sadly becoming rare. The reunion of the pals at the end of each stage always brings a smile to one's face and a touching little background story gives extra incentive to push onwards. There are no time limits or sudden deaths but that's not to say the game would be easy. After a cosy start the level of difficulty ramps up noticeably and a bit of fumbling can even lead to having to restart levels from sratch. Sadly, some ot them are so vast and complex that it can take quite some time before even realizing that. At the very end I nearly forfeited the whole ordeal but after a little break, either my brain or just plain dumb luck carried me over the finish line. Thankfully the playthrough doesn't required completing each and every stage or grabbing everything there is to collect.
For those with an appetite for puzzles, Ilomilo is easy to recommend. It's a high-class, relaxing game that entertains for more than seven hours and most likely even longer, should the player have enough wit and/or perseverance to turn abslutely every level inside out on their own. Also, those with a thing for Xbox avatars are probably happy for a T-shirt and the starring duo as mascots for playing the game.
Oh, it's March already! Well, I'll be! Time flies even when not doing much anything. Still, at least the past weekend allowed me to strike throughone item in my lengthy list of unfinished games, namely the RPG/shooter hybrid Borderlands 2. As some may recall, I began that one back in last year and – somewhat surprisingly – can't think of any genuine additions to those first impressions. The playthrough took around 33 hours that mostly resembled a garden snail (lat. Helix Potamia) dragging itself on sandpaper smeared with superglue. My only driving force was a burning passion not to leave yet another project unfinished after starting it.
Okay, perhaps the game wasn't quite that tragic but it certainly was stingy with any truly enthralling moments. The best way to summarize everything would be uncontrolled cacophony. When you're simultaneously attacked by more than half a dozen enemies, some requiring up to four clips of lead to go down, all of them eager to get up close and personal, all the while something probably quite relevant to the plot is being delivered to your headpiece but you just don't have time to listen... That's not fun. At all. Once things quiet down even a little bit, a new batch of enemies appear. And once they're down, the same happens a couple more times, just for the heck of it.
Meanwhile, trying to follow just the main story stumbles on statistics. Leveling up happens rather slowly and once you bump into adversaries a few levels higher than yourself, there's no other real option but to go grinding with side missions. There are plenty of those, sure, but after bringing down hundreds and hundreds of evil men, women, beasts, insects, and robots, it all starts to feel like working continuous three shifts on a mobile phone assembly line. Looting countless unique firearms should theoretically make everything fun but as the guns found frequently have small clip sizes, lousy accuracy, and pitiful stopping power, their sheer numbers compensate nothing.
The fun factor could very well be hiding in the four player co-op mode but as a single player experience, Borderlands 2 only provides a handful of highly amusing characters and occasional, amusing banter. Its vast and diverse world certainly begs to be explored but when perpetually interrupted by local ruffians, trying to do so is mind-numbingly slow, chaotic, and repetitious. Perhaps the original Borderlands suffered from the same problems and memories of it have just grown sweeter in time, yet I can't shake the feeling that some series would have been better left off as one-hit wonders.
While Sony is preparing to roll out the next console generation (tonight at 6PM EST, 11PM GMT), I have reversed back to year 1991 in order to continue pathetic, yet resilient attempts to charm the opposite sex. Leisure Suit Larry 5: Passionate Patti Does a Little Undercover Work kicks off with a dilemma. Someone is needed to scout out three potential hostesses for a new TV show, America's Sexiest Homevideos. The choice should be a woman so sexy and lusty that she'd get in between the sheets with even the most hopeless of nerds and losers imaginable. No points for guessing where the middle-aged, balding, prone-for-bizarre-accidents cocksman Larry Laffer fits in this equation.
Meanwhile the heroine of the previous game – or rather, the one before that – Passionate Patti, ends up working undercover for the FBI, trying to scavenge incriminating evidence against the mafia that has the country's music and porn industry tight in its grip. The premise is slightly confusing not just for Larry and Patti, but the player as well. No one, you see, can remember a darn thing about the fourth, never-released game in the series. Then again, perhaps journeying across America will shed some light into that particular oddity as well.
LSL5 represented the new, third generation of Sierra's adventures. The graphics shone in all of their 256-color glory, there was enough space for a handful of digitized sound effects, and the text parser used to type commands yielded in favor of mouse control and action icons. Uncharacteristically for Sierra, even sudden deaths were binned. Although the technical advancement in comparison to the third game was immense, progress didn't come with just bliss and happiness What the game won in grandeur, it lost in adventure. LSL5 is an overly short, overly easy, and overly straightforward act that takes less than four hours to complete with one of them spent watching cutscenes. Nicely animated cutscenes, sure, but still.
That's not to say the fifth (or fourth) installment wouldn't try hard to keep things eventful and fresh. The player is constantly juggled between the individual story branches of Larry and Patti, and new locations come in thick and fast. The progress blocking puzzles, however, are mostly strewn across areas of a pitiful two or three screen in size. Therefore figuring out their awkwardly simple solutions is practically never a brain-teasing challenge. The rowdy and sexist humor still flourishes as it used to but the actual playable content is inexcusably feeble this time around. After the particularly impressive third game, it feels like this was the turning point for Larry's escapades.
And so does Alan Wake come to a close in this household as well. It might have been due to the small break of a few days but the auspicious start nevertheless deteriorated into contagious yawning. The Bright Falls battle of light versus dark ended up being more Stephen King than the man himself. Kinda fluent and entertaining, sure, yet awfully bloated and predictable at the same time. Fighting the ferocious Takens quickly grew old and towards the end, I couldn't even be bothered with the collectible novel pages and coffee thermoses strewn about pretty much everywhere. Even the essentially solid suspense turned into awkward camp, mostly thanks to Alan's manager, Barry, who was solely there for comedic sidekick value only. Poltergeists taking control of not just people but local combine harvesters and earthmovers didn't help, either (~_~;)
After an eleven hour long journey, the game case also held a redeemable code for the first of the game's two DLC expansions, The Signal. It turned out to be nothing more but the exact same messy action paired with twice the bullshit of the original game design. Several endless (assumably, at least) enemy waves, overally displeasing chaos, and perhaps two hours worth of content that I couldn't even be arsed to see through. The world of Alan Wake is technically astounding and beautiful, and more often than not, it manages its suspense in a convincing manner. Sadly, everything falls apart with clumsy combat and excessively clichéd, black-and-white storytelling. As said before, Alan Wake might have been far better as an adventure than an action-adventure.
Summary? Quite alright but as with its source, more than past its prime by now.
Good old The Pinball Arcade, in turn, continues to be exactly what is should be. Thanks to decently frequent downloadable content, the number of playable tables has risen to nineteen already. It's still a joy to play, although reservedly so. Whenever you give it a go, you can never be sure how it all pans out until half a dozen rounds. When hunting for high scores just won't click, it simply won't. Period. On a bad day, any chosen table makes no difference whatsoever. The game simply doesn't flow and gutter balls become a frequent eyesore. Then again, on a good day everything is nothing short of rainbows, lollipops, and sunshine!
Either way, inflation has gotten a good, somewhat worrying grip of the game. The last table pack consisted of a single table with an option to pay a little more for pro versions that give access to admire the tables from various perspectives and tinker around with their ROM settings. Sounds neat but in practice, eight euros per table is way too much for continuous support. I think I'll settle with the selection available now. Then again, should it ever include Data East's Hook, which I remember spending many nights in the local gas station with my friend back when we were teenagers, that one could be worth in the range of my left kidney (^_−)
As for the rest of the weekend, I've been busy with new hardware. The Sony Ericsson K810i that I bought back in 2007 used to be a solid camera phone but after half a decade, I'm inclined to think that one of those newfangled smart phones might finally be in order. Easier said than done. The general public seems to favor models with price tags in the 500-600 euro range, enough for my poor self to retreat at least two blocks back from any outlet even selling those. Reading reviews and opinions wasn't much help, either, considering most phone fanatics seem to be even worse and more anal-retentive folk than console fanboys.
Therefore, I happily gave the Internet a finger and used ten minutes to bump into the first phone that would meet my vague and entirely baseless requirements of Wi-Fi, mid-price, medium size, extensibility, decent-ish screen resolution, and Android. Even that last one was solely because I had gotten used to it with my Asus pad. The first phone I came across was Samsung Galaxy S III Mini, which, according to most reviews, is sluggish, overpriced, inferior, and outdated. In other words, it's average. For an average person, that's the best marketing speech there is.
Based on the first couple of days, it seems like an adequate, competent smart phone good for calling, texting, surfing the web, and perhaps some day locating something to play that would be more than just mobile crap trying to make do with just a simple idea. Even if its four inch screen is quite moderate, the phone actually feels rather bulky. Still reasonably manageable single-handedly but perhaps something smaller would've been even better. Oh well, at least Android's latest Jelly Bean operating system, straight out of the box, works like a charm and is fluid and intuitive enough for my personal tastes. Storage space isn't a problem, either. The eight gigabytes of the device itself should be plenty and extending it with a bog standard 16Gb SDHC card hardly broke the bank.
It takes the quite a bit more of everyday life to see whether the purchase was a good one but I'm fairly certain it'll last me the next five years or so. Even the K810i would've continued to serve just fine, hadn't it lacked the means to kill time during those all too common occasions when one has to endure long periods of time listening to something utterly trivial, while the majority of audience has already made the obvious choice of finding refuge in their own, personal mobile heaven. A pad would handle the situation even better but it's always a proactive device whereas a phone serves more as an emergency medi-kit.