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    Feb 24th, 2007 at 01:23:59     -    Super Mario 64 (N64)

    After playing so many 3d platform games it has been a strange experience going back to play Super Mario 64 which is the game that started it all. Having played so many more recent 3d platformers it is very easy to see what Super Mario 64 does wrong but it is also easy to see what it has done so well that so many other games have followed step. The most noticeable thing is that while there are so many games out today where fighting the camera is just as difficult as fighting the enemies the camera in Super Mario 64 behaves particularly nicely and you are even able to control it and move it to a better position if it ever gets stuck on anything. Also, the formula for the way the progression in the game works has been reused in countless games...collecting items that unlock doors and allow you to move on to other parts of the level. While this method of progression worked great for when it came out, the standards have been raised some and with the more recent games on the market I got a little bored of collecting the same items over and over again although this was mostly countered by the variety in gameplay and levels.

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    Feb 10th, 2007 at 03:09:52     -    Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin (DS)

    After playing through a couple areas and fighting a few bosses I've got a little better hang of the dual character gameplay in this new Castlevania game. The only thing really annoying me about it so far is that buying equipment for 2 characters gets really expensive. To keep myself equipped with the best gear I have to spend some time away from the main storyline killing creatures to get enough gold. One of the really fun things about having two characters is that the game designers have used it to create some really awesome new puzzles. One recurring one is that you will have to jump one character up onto a pillar, then use the other character to push the pillar, and then use the character on top of the pillar to jump to a higher area and summon the other character. Also you must do things like put both characters on a single panel to weigh it down enough.

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    Feb 9th, 2007 at 03:14:31     -    Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin (DS)

    I've been a fan of the Castlevania games for a while now. I started with the Game Boy Advanced versions (specifically Circle of the Moon) and once I finished those I went backwards in time a little and played Symphony of the Night (which is probably my favorite in the series) for the Playstation1. I was never a big fan of the older games (although I did enjoy Castlevania 4) on the NES and SNES because the controls were not quite as good as what I had come to expect from playing the later versions. I'm just going to pretend that the 3D games in the Castlevania series don't even exist. Basically the Castlevania games represent to me 2d action gaming perfection. The controls have been nearing perfection over the years and far outclass anything else I have played and the level design and art direction are excellent and original consistently throughout the series even though it always sticks to the same general gameplay mechanics. The general game mechanic is that Dracula has somehow come back and you must go into his castle to fight him. His castle has multiple different themed areas full of bosses and obstacles that you must get past. To pass the obstacles you must find new items and abilities that allow you to do things like double jump or shrink down to get into passages that are too high/small. Portrait of ruin adds one big new element to the game by giving you two characters to both at once and separately. You play as Jonathan (who is a descendant of a famous vampire killing family) who is more mele focused and Charlotte who is a powerful magician. The characters are introduced in a cutscene at the start of the game with little background information besides what is revealed in the dialogue, although the information is sparse it is enough to start off the game and introduce the characters. I really enjoyed the in game tutorial that taught you how to play because instead of putting you in a separate "tutorial" area it just drops you into the game and gives you tool tips on how to use the deeper features of the simple controls. One of the first things you learn is how to switch between characters. You can control either one character at a time (and switch between them on the fly) or control both characters at once (where the second character will simply do it's best to mimic you). The advantage of having both characters out at once is that they will both attack so you can do twice as much damage, I didn't realize the drawback for a while but finally noticed that instead of taking damage my second character would drain my MP whenever it got hit (which was often because you don't have direct control over it).

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    Jan 31st, 2007 at 18:25:01     -    Shadow of the Colossus (PS2)

    So far Shadow of the Colossus is one of the most cinematically amazing games I have ever played. Just about everything about the game is epically scaled and amazingly executed. From simply riding through the lands on your horse to climbing larger than life creatures you feel like you are a tiny thing in a huge world. My favorite colossus by far has been the one that I fought over a what looks like a an abandoned gated temple that has filled with water and become a lake with these deserted towers sticking up out of it. The colossus is a giant bird that you have to lour towards you by shooting at it with your bow and arrows, when it swoops down you have to jump onto its wing. There is a huge swell in the music as the flying colossus takes off with you on its back and flys in erratic patters trying to shake you off while you scuttle around on its tail and wings stabbing its various week points. One of the amazing things about the game is how attached you become to the main character without ever actually hearing him speak. All you know is that he is all alone in this forbidden land with only his horse and a dead girl who he is battling giant monsters to bring back to life. Even the horse becomes a character as he is your only company (that isn't trying to squish you).

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    Entries written to date: 9
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    1Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin (DS)Playing
    2Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops (PSP)Playing
    3Shadow of the Colossus (PS2)Playing
    4Super Mario 64 (N64)Playing
    5The Legend of Zelda (NES)Playing

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