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    Apr 26th, 2009 at 01:48:58     -    Okami (PS2)

    Overview:

    Okami is an adventure game based on Japanese mythology, with artistic license taken for story reasons. Shinto gods are often referenced and shown, as well as Japanese historical figures and artistic styles. This game was made by Capcom's Clover studios. Clover put out three series of games (Viewtiful Joe, Okami, and God Hand) before Capcom decided to close the studios.


    Story:

    The player Takes on the role of Amaterasu, the sun goddess. 100 years prior, Amaterasu took on the form of a white wolf which people named "Shiranui". She then killed a the 8-headed serpent Orochi with the help of Nagi, a swordsman in the village that Orochi had decreed must sacrifice a maiden every year to sate his hunger. The battle caused Amaterasu to become mortally wounded and she expired in Kimiki village after the battle.

    The villagers erected a statue to Shiranui in honor of her deeds. 100 years later, darkness once again comes to the land, causing the wood sprite Sakuya to resurrect Amaterasu. Amaterasu emerges, weakened from her 100-year absence, to once again save the land of Nippon from the darkness that pervades it.


    Gameplay:

    Okami is both innovative and more of the same. It is extremely similar to the Legend of Zelda and other adventure games of its type with its standard combat system and exploration modes. Amaterasu attacks in a 3-d world, chats with people, and interacts with objects. However, it is unique in its implementation of Amaterasu's divine abilities (she is a god, after all). When the player presses the L1 button, the screen changes to the color and texture of parchment. The objects in the world are like brush strokes on the paper. A brush appears and the player draws on the parchment. Depending on what the player draws, the world is altered. For instance, a circle can cause the sun to rise or cause a tree to bloom. A straight line across an enemy will cut the enemy in half. A circle with a line partially crossing it will create a bomb that will very quickly explode. Depending on what you draw, a certain number of "ink pots" will be consumed. When you run out of ink pots, you are unable to do any drawing until they regenerate.

    These techniques are not all accessible from the beginning of the game. The game is paced by when the player can obtain these techniques. Amaterasu has to find the 13 "brush gods" throughout the world to obtain her brush techniques again. These spirits are actually aspects of Amaterasu herself, left alone for a century.

    One of the big draws of adventure games has been obtaining the keys that block the doors in the dungeon to proceed onward. Okami, while still having a few of these, gets around a lot of it with the brush techniques. Instead of a locked door preventing further entry, a puzzle that requires a certain divine power to proceed is placed.

    Amaterasu becomes stronger in two major ways. The first is, of course, getting new brush techniques. The second is collecting "praise". Praise is obtained by performing acts that help to restore the populace's belief in their gods. This can be as simple as helping someone to catch a fish or feeding local animals. This praise can be used to buy more units of health, more ink pots, a larger wallet, or larger astral pouch.

    A life system isn't really used in Okami. Amaterasu carries an astral pouch, which is a container for food that you find in the game. If you run out of health in battle or otherwise, the astral pouch revives you, assuming it is full. If the astral pouch is not there to save you, you respawn at your last save.


    Conclusion:

    This is a wonderful game that everyone should play. The art style is very Japanese, the story is well-based in mythology, and the gameplay is extremely unique. A fun activity I found is to study a bit of Shinto mythology, or at least Japanese history, then seeing where the the designers got their inspiration from. Numerous parallels are apparent if you know the subject material. Even without knowing this, the game is solid and enjoyable.

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    Mar 6th, 2009 at 21:18:17     -    Circle Pong Extreme (PC)

    Alright, Circle Pong extreme. Let's do this.

    First session started off fairly well. Had a bit of issues with getting it to start, but that was easily circumvented. Game boots up without any splash screens or anything of the sort. That's alright, since this game was written up from the ground with Java. For this accomplishment, my kudos to team Alpha.

    I hit "New Game", and I see my paddle with its red ball attached. Ready for some pong-based fun, I click the mouse. And then I lose. My ball had disappeared into the void. Alright, just a glitch, no big deal. It took a few tries, but I managed to get the ball to actually stay within the circle. Now that the mysterious death of my ball had been circumvented, the game took a very pong-like tone. Surprisingly, it didn't disappear into oblivion any times after that.

    Now that the ball was bouncing within its circular prison, I was ready to do some pong action. And pong was played. Unfortunately, time has not aged this classic very well. Less than 2 minutes passed before I was bored again. When the powerups began to appear, it became a bit more fun. I got the multi-ball along with the sticky paddle (the sticky paddle seems necessary for the multi-ball) and tried my best to aim the blasted balls.

    For sheer retro cred, I have to give it to this game. It's like the original pong, save the radial twist. However, my short attention span, common in today's gamers, caused me to not have as much fun with this as I should.

    This would be a perfect game for a mobile device (which my co-worker and I tried, but to no avail). I noted in Gurjot's gamelog that it would indeed be perfect for an ipod. So, due to Java's portability, I would say that this was a success.

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    Jan 21st, 2009 at 17:48:26     -    Dungeons and Dragons, 4th Edition (Other)

    Dungeons and Dragons 4th edition, games 1 and 2

    Dungeons and Dragons is a very versatile game in that no two games are similar. The premise is that a player known as the Dungeon Master (DM) creates a story and the other players play characters in that story. The rules given the rulebooks help the DM to control the story and help the players keep a steady pace throughout the game.

    The game starts with character creation. Each character has six stats (strength, dexterity, constitution, wisdom, intelligence, charisma) which are created by rolling three six-sided dice. Then the player appropriates a certain amount of points to their skills, feats, and in the case of magic users, spells. They then name the character and decide how to create the character's personality.


    Game 1:
    My roommate decided to run a one-shot campaign, which indicates a game that is a single session long. I played a halfling rogue named Lolwut, Gentleman Adventurer. There were two other players, one who played a warforged (a construct similar to a golem) fighter and another who played a Shadar-Kai (a race of shadow people) bow-using ranger. The DM explained to us that the world had become a world of undead. A small village hired us to go kill a cave full of zombies. So, we get close to the cave, where there stands a single zombie at the entrance. The ranger and I successfully flank the zombie while the fighter moves directly towards it. We tear it apart without taking really any damage.

    As we enter the cave, we see that the cave quickly ends. I notice that there is marks similar to a shuffling zombie leading through the wall, so I decide to throw something to see if the wall is an illusion. Thinking that a zombie may be on the other side, I threw a flask of alchemist's fire (a viscous liquid that ignites on contact with the air). Due to confusion with the DM, the fighter got in the way and was set on fire. He ran out of the cave, running over the ranger in the process. We figured out that the wall actually an illusion case on a wall of chains. We pushed through, moved through the cave, and found a statue at the base of the cave. A elven woman was hanging on the top of the statue surrounded by a various types of undead. We had found a spring of holy water that actually led to the room, so we used it as a barrier and engaged in combat with the undead.

    We defeated them. Afterwards, I tried talking to the elven woman. She didn't understand me, nor anyone in the party. So, I tried to loot the statue (since I am a rogue), and she defeated me by using a spell that overloads the senses of living creatures. Eventually, I managed to communicate with her (she spoke Dwarven for some reason). She convinced us to follow her to find her father. As we followed her, the fighter thought it would be a good idea to pick me up and throw me at the ranger. He threw me back and the impact broke open the rest of the alchemist's fire that I was carrying. So, now the fighter and myself are on fire. I was dropped, put myself out in the holy water, and then proceeded to kill the fighter. The DM decided this would be the most appropriate time to stop the game.


    Game 2:
    The same roommate ran another one-shot campaign in which I played a dwarven paladin of Moradin, god of Dwarves. We had a halfling rogue, a half-elf rogue, and a human warlock. The story this time was that a village of multicultural races (our village) was being besieged by a large group of goblins and orcs. The village elders called us together and came up with a plan. We were to go behind enemy lines and try to kill their leaders, which we expected to be infernal in some way, which would explain their unnatural cooperation. We ended up fighting wolves in the forest, nearly killing one of the rogues in the process. I saved the day by cleaving most of them in two. At this point, it was much too late to keep playing (we had a newcomer who took a long time to get ready), so the DM called the game.


    Overall:
    D&D is a great game if the DM is good at storytelling and creating interesting worlds for the players to enjoy. It takes a bit to get used to the world, but I still remember just about every D&D campaign that I've played, which speaks to the fun of the game.

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    1Circle Pong Extreme (PC)Playing
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